This Is Not a Peace Movement

Tags: Federation, Blog, Israel

  • Share This Story

Like you, we have watched in disbelief as pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses across our country have rapidly become violent, anti-Jewish rallies – complete with direct threats and physical attacks on Jewish students, as well as destruction of property.

To be clear, what is happening on our campuses is not a peace movement as we witnessed in the 1960s. If it were, there would be demands for increased humanitarian aid to Gaza. There would be calls for Hamas to return the hostages so a ceasefire can be reached. There would be advocacy for an aspirational future with a two-state solution that could provide Palestinians and Israelis the opportunity to live safely and peacefully.

No, this is not a peace movement. Far from it.

This is a hate movement and part of a well-funded, international effort to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people. Calls to “globalize the intifada” and for “October 7 to happen 10,000 times over” make clear they want to eliminate the Jewish people. Celebrations of Iran’s recent missile attacks leave no doubt they want the Jewish State of Israel destroyed.

This is – by its very definition – antisemitism. And we are not going to sit quietly by while our students are being harassed and intimidated because they are Jewish.

For weeks, we have been in constant contact with local university leaders, local and national Hillel executives, elected local and state officials, and others to monitor the conditions Jewish students are facing on campus.

At the same time, we have been taking the necessary steps to ensure that our college students feel safe, secure, and supported. Among other things, this includes:

  • Advocating for the mental health and physical safety of our Jewish students.
  • Demanding that existing rules on university campuses be enforced and applied to all students, faculty, and visitors. The protesters on college campuses must not be allowed to break the rules by obstructing access to buildings, restricting the movement of Jewish students, preventing Jewish students from participating in university life like any other student, and more.
  • Coordinating with local campus security and law enforcement to ensure Jewish students on campus can continue to live vibrant Jewish lives safely.
  • Collaborating with Cleveland Hillel and Hillel at Kent State to understand the evolving needs of Jewish students on campus, including offering on-campus mental health counseling.
  • Providing food and other supplies for Jewish students so they can prepare for finals and complete their studies in a safe and peaceful environment.

This Sunday, we will be holding a special webinar to discuss what’s happening on college campuses and ways we can support our students at this alarming time. Hillel International CEO Adam Lehman will be participating in this conversation. We hope you will join us. You can find more information about the program and register to attend here.

To be clear, you can be a Zionist and want the war between Israel and Hamas to end. You can love the people of Israel and love the Palestinian people. You can demand the hostages be returned immediately and be deeply concerned about loss of innocent life and humanitarian needs in Gaza. This does not need to be an “either or” situation, and we need to remain committed to our efforts of not dividing our community between people who care deeply.

Likewise, we need to ensure the Jewish community is afforded the same rights and freedoms that other communities enjoy. “Freedom of speech” cannot be a convenient excuse for hate speech or antisemitism to go unchallenged.

And we must not allow anyone to forget about the hostages. Hersch and others are still alive and they need to be released. NOW.

The hostages need all of us – whether you are active in international human rights or not – to demand their freedom. College students need all of us – whether someone in your family is enrolled or not – to support them on campus. Our community needs all of us to continue to work together and help restore the sense of humanity that feels lost today.

If you or someone in your family is in need at this difficult time, please contact Access Jewish Cleveland at accessjewishcleveland.org or call 216-292-4636. We are here for you.

Daniel N. Zelman
Board Chair

Erika B. Rudin-Luria

p.s.: If you would be interested in participating in a support group for college students or one for parents of college students, please contact us via Access Jewish Cleveland.

Learn More: Federation, Blog, Israel