Universities see rise in hostility towards Judaism
As anti-Semitic feelings increase on U.S. college campuses, the Biola community evaluates their part in the conversation. | ungevenstre.no
Anti-Semitism, or anti-Jewish feeling, has existed on college campuses for decades. The subject’s controversial nature often causes it to lack space in public discussion, especially if students do not think they are anti-Semitic.
However, in the wake of recent events regarding the United States’ political support of Israel and increasing Israeli/Palestinian controversy at various colleges across the U.S., the subject has come to the forefront for both religious and nonreligious universities.
Professor of history and Middle Eastern studies, Judith Rood, recently experienced the division between support of either Israel or Palestine on college campuses. As a Messianic Jewish woman, Rood feels passionately about the conflict in the Middle East.
While attending an Ottoman Studies Workshop at University of California Davis at the end of January, Rood encountered hostile opposition regarding a paper she had written and was going to present from Susan Miller, a UC Davis professor of history specifically of North Africa and the Middle East.
“As we were driving home, I received an apology from her and it was because the organizer of the conference told her that she had to apologize. I was really surprised..then I wrote her a response and explained to her that there’s a bigger problem of anti-Semitism on campus and I reached out to her to say maybe we can do something about this. But she never responded,” Rood said.
Miller is a Jewish woman who is a supporter of the worldwide anti-Israel campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, Rood said. BDS is part of the Palestinian Resistance Movement, which has been working for the past five years to delegitimize Israel as a nation. The number of BDS supporters in the U.S. has grown exponentially due to the three different approaches that they utilize. There is a diplomatic approach, a violent approach and a non-violent approach, which many American Christian Evangelicals often adopt.
The American movement for social justice is evolving into an anti-Israel stance with American financial support of the Palestinian resistance. With BDS movement sweeping through college campuses, causing Jewish students to feel unwelcome and even fearful, Rood said, who has spoken with Jewish college students across the U.S.
During the conference at UC Davis, there was a motion that the student senate was urging to pass that would begin the boycotting of BDS companies. Surprisingly, both non-Jewish and Jewish students alike spoke against the motion. This disunion resulted in a large group of Jewish students leaving the room in protestation. That night, the Jewish fraternity house was vandalized with spray-painted swastikas.
“For Jewish people, it’s a sign of frightening, horrible hatred,” said Rood.
AWARENESS ON CAMPUS
At Biola University, however, the recent attacks based in anti-Semitism have gone largely unmentioned, leaving many students unaware of the depth of the animosity some people feel towards the Jewish community. As a theologically based university, the student body at Biola can become informed on the conflict and its relevance to the modern church.
Senior history major Jon Mayhack, a student in the Middle Eastern Studies class, says that students need to figure out how Messianic Judaism fits into the evangelical world. Since Jewish history classes are not required at Biola, students can become confused as to how Israel and the Church relate to each other in the modern-day.
Junior history major Madison Fry says that students in her Israel-Palestine Conflict class lacked interest.
“The majority of the class believed that the Church has replaced Israel,” Fry said.
Fry says that the roots of this particular belief stem from the New Covenant, which students often cite as a reason for which the land of Israel no longer matters.
“Students are confused on which side to stand, both sides are killing people,” said junior history major Anahit Muradyan.
To understand the relevance of the Middle Eastern events, Rood strongly believes that students need to process the conflict in conversation, not just in their heads.
“We don’t have Jews and Muslims on our campus, but we live in communities. We need to go to other campuses and if Jewish people are being intimidated by the BDS movement for supporting Israel, we need to be standing by them. We can’t let the radicals have the spotlight,” Rood said.