HRC / AVI Campus Media Fellow Published In The Jerusalem Post: Every Jew Around The World Is Fighting Hamas

On March 24, 2024, one of our Campus Media Fellows, Judah Eisen, was published in The Jerusalem Post, about how even though Canadians are thousands of miles away from the physical conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists, Jewish students on campus are still greatly affected by it.

It is incumbent upon both Jewish and non-Jewish students to recognize the current reality, organize, and stand strong in the face of adversity.

Every Jew around the world is fighting Hamas

By: Judah Eisen

I feel like I’m living through history. Like many Jewish kids, I grew up in the traditional Jewish day school and camp system. I learned all about Israel, Jewish history, and the Holocaust. I have always understood that there was this historical anomaly called antisemitism. Up until October, this was just something we learned about in history class. Then Hamas attacked.

My world and the world of every Jewish person I know turned upside down. It all happened so suddenly. Having heard of antisemitism or campus anti-Zionism in the past, I now see it and feel it in every fiber of my being. Every university campus, friend, and relative I know is affected by a fierce anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment that makes me quiver. 

With zero lead time, a violent wave of emotion erupted like a volcano. Neither I nor anyone I know has a clue how to handle this. We have no lived experience that guides us through this. Our parents are also inexperienced with this. In fact, my own parents tell me they have never personally experienced palpable Jew hatred before this. 

While we struggle here in our universities and in every city on the planet, our brothers and sisters in Israel are suffering through a long, grueling war. It is agonizing for us to see our people under such a heavy military burden, feel the guilt of not being there, and have to find ways to survive here. Like I say, this is all new to me. This added dimension complicates our everyday life here at the University of Western Ontario.

So how do I, a newly developing but rapidly maturing young Jewish student, handle all of this sudden and fierce emotion? All of us have had to find support from each other. We’ve had to talk much more with family than we ever did (or wanted to). We’ve reached out to our friends and joined student groups that we might not have otherwise joined. There are more students going to Hillel and Chabad dinners than there ever were before. 

We all want to huddle together and share the warmth that comes with togetherness. There’s no way to handle this much pain and confusion alone. And this strikes me as the silver lining in this calamity and poses a potential opportunity. 

It seems clear to me that in a very brief moment, Hamas was able to convert a sharply-divided Jewish nation into a tightly unified one. We now reach out and hold onto each other tighter than ever before in recent history. It is, I realize, internal division that weakens us and I think, that invited this disaster. It is unity and better put, achdut, that will be the key to our survival here in exile and in Israel. 

Diaspora Jews must fight for Israel on campus

And so to me, the way forward is clear: I am no longer just some kid going to Western to get a degree. In record time, I have become a warrior for the Jewish people. It is incumbent upon me and every student on every campus (Jews and allies alike), to recognize the current state and get to work. We must organize. We must reach out, to each other and to non-Jewish allies. We need to find every friend that we can. And mostly, we need to stand strong in the face of adversity. We need to make noise when noise needs to be made.

We need to engage university administrations when they are weak or just getting it wrong. I feel like we are the modern-day Maccabees. We didn’t ask for this war, but we are definitely not going to lose – it if history is any indication. In some regards, I feel a burst of energy that I’ve never had before. 

Although we are thousands of miles away from the physical conflict, as students on campus we are still greatly affected by it. The only way to cope with all the hatred in the world is to come together as a community and show our strength in numbers.

The slogan I see on signs in Israel now means everything to me: “Beyachad nenatzeach” (“Together we will win”). 

The writer is an undergraduate student at Western University studying kinesiology and business and a campus media fellow with HonestReporting Canada and Allied Voices for Israel.


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