Recently I realized that by the mere fact I believe in Zionism, I am an antisemite and an abhorrent racist. Yes, you read that right. Because, as the Twitter logic goes, Zionism is a political opinion, the wrong-side-of-the-line political opinion, and therefore, a person who considers themselves a Zionist needs to rethink this flawed ideology.
Along the same lines, these critics state that there is no persecution of Jews taking place today, and Jews are free to live anywhere in the world, including, most prominently, the United States. The fact that many Jews believe in the State of Israel and pray and hope for its survival, makes each and every Jew who lives outside of the State of Israel a threat and burden their country of residence. They reason that each Zionist is really just an Israeli who must immediately give up their dual obligation, regards and devotion to the only Jewish state in the world.
Rose Ritch, a University of Southern California student, recently resigned from her VP position at that school, stating that she was bullied for being a Zionist. She was told that it was important for the university to acknowledge the dissatisfaction of the Palestinian students and amplify their voice on campus. Essentially that the issue surrounding her “personal” beliefs should be put aside in favor of the dissatisfaction of the Palestinian students’.
This train of thought, this ideology that has become so rampant on college campuses across the country, is one that has put so many bright, smart, and eager Jewish and Israel loving students under pressure, in danger and in the line of fire from various directions. In an era in which the new face of antisemitism is anti-Zionism, and students willingly buy into the plight of the Palestinians, being an outspoken Jew is fast becoming a liability.
So, it begs the questions: what is one to do to ensure that our children have the strength of character to stand up for what they believe in, even when it risks their social standing, puts them out of favor with professors, and makes them a target of harassment?
For me and my family that answer is education. Honest, real education about Israel and what it stands for. The things that it has done that have worked beautifully and the things that it continues to do in order to improve its relations with all of its Arab neighbors. All the ways that is has always extended an olive branch to its neighbors in hopes of peace and all the ways which is continues to treat its citizens with dignity. ALL of its citizens.
A trip to the State of Israel and an in-depth visit to the history of our people is an empowering move. It gives life to all the good that Israel puts out into the world.
And to know that we are still living in a time that there are still a dwindling number of holocaust survivors among us. The hard truth is that the State of Israel may not have been created because the Holocaust happened, but we can be sure that the Holocaust happened because there was no State of Israel.
I am so proud of Rose. Her bravery to stand up for what she believes in, for Israel and for her Zionism is truly something to be upheld. In an era that so many shy away from their love for Israel and would rather remain silent, she stood tall and proud. My heart breaks for Rose and for countless other Jewish students on college campuses who are in the midst of a national climate where they are alienated and forced to stay quiet. In her letter of resignation, Rose so eloquently, and so very unapologetically stands up for what she believes in. It was empowering to read.
I hope that more of us have the strength to do that.