HRC / AVI Campus Media Fellow Published In The Toronto Sun: Jewish Students Need YOU To Speak Up: Combating Extremism On Campus

June 3, 2024

On May 31, 2024, one of our Campus Media Fellows, Jonah Beckenstein, was published in The Toronto Sun about how in 2024, Jewish students are living in a new reality where Canadian educational institutions that pride themselves on fostering inclusive environments allow the spread of anti-Israel disinformation and targeted fear-mongering against Jewish students on campus.

Masking hatred for Jews under a socially acceptable anti-Israel lens has created a campus environment that allows antisemitism and ostracizes and creates social ramifications for those with opposing and different views.

It’s time to call out extremism and hate speech and stand with Jewish students.

Jewish students need YOU to speak up: Combating extremism on campus

By: Jonah Beckenstein

Aren’t universities supposed to be beacons of academic freedom? Shouldn’t diverse viewpoints be respected? Here we are in 2024, living in a new reality where Canadian educational institutions that pride themselves on fostering inclusive environments allow the spread of disinformation and targeted fear-mongering on campus.

Even after many administrations condemned encampments as a form of protest, they have failed to take appropriate action. Almost half of Canadians also oppose encampments as a form of protest, believing they should be dismantled. While many of these encampments pose as student-led and student-run, the administration at the University of Alberta encampment estimated that only 25% of encampment participants were students.

Beyond the overt anti-Semitism perpetuated at these encampments, these extremists pose a severe threat to Western values and society. If glorifying terrorist organizations and Intifadas (periods of Palestinian terrorism that killed many Israeli civilians) is not enough, how about glorifying Che Guevara, a mass murderer?

Hidden within the agenda of the extremist anti-Israel encampment movement lie anti-Canadian values. Allowing the presence of hate speech on campuses is a threat to everyone, not just Jews. When hate speech is coupled with harassment, intimidation, violence and support for Islamic terrorism, society needs to take a stand.

Masking hatred for Jews under a socially acceptable anti-Israel lens has created a campus environment that allows antisemitism and ostracizes and creates social ramifications for those with opposing and different views.

How can we combat these movements? Stand with Jewish students, one of the targets of the extremist encampment movement.

The first step to being an ally to Jewish students is to understand the nuances and evolution of anti-Semitism.

One can be critical of Israel and the policies of the Israeli government while advocating for better treatment of Palestinians without needing to spread blatant disinformation, smear campaigns and libel against the one Jewish state.

Natan Sharansky, a prominent author and human rights activist developed the 3D Test of anti-Semitism to see if anti-Israel rhetoric is fair criticism, or anti-Semitic. Demonization, double standards, and delegitimization are the three Ds.

Demonizing Israel includes:

• Spreading libellous rhetoric such as “committing genocide,” “being apartheid” and “being a colonial state.”
• Comparing the actions of Israel to those of the Nazis.

There is clear proof that none of these claims are true.

Anti-Semitic Double Standards include people (especially those with no connection to the conflict) who selectively use their voice and platform only when Israel is painted as the ‘oppressor’ but are silent about other conflicts such as Russia’s war on Ukraine or Hamas’ barbaric acts against Israel on October 7th

Delegitimization is aimed to discredit Israel’s right to exist. Jewish people have the right to self-determine in their Indigenous homeland, which they have had a continuous presence in for the last 3,000 years.

Using Sharansky’s test can help identify lies and libels used by the anti-Semitic and anti-Canadian encampment movement.

The second step requires calling out hatred and disinformation. Spot the lies and call them out. Below are some common lies, dog whistles and reverse dog whistles spread by the anti-Israel movement to gain support, spread antisemitic rhetoric and scare campus Jewish communities:

“Genocide” – Sometimes, in conflict, civilians die. As unfortunate as this is, genocide requires an intent to kill an entire population. There is clear evidence that there is no genocide happening. Populations do not grow in a genocide, and casualty count on its own is not a reliable metric to measure a genocide; intent is required as well. Not only does Hamas lie about the casualty count, they purposely use civilians as human shields to increase casualties.

“Colonizers” – The word “Jew” comes from the land of Judea, the indigenous homeland of Jews. Despite millennia of war, ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide, Jewish people have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel. Despite this, student protesters continue to spread this false libel and pretend that Palestine was its state before Israel declared independence. It was not. It was the British Mandate of Palestine, and Palestinians were offered their own land on several occasions, even before Israel declared independence. Not only is the accusation of colonization a blatant antisemitic lie, ignoring thousands of years of history, the creation of the state of Israel is the most successful modern attempt at decolonization.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Palestine was never its own state, implying that the natural borders of Israel need to be freed, which would mean that Israel needs to be removed from the map, along with its people. It is an anti-Semitic genocidal chant and anti-peace. Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace, so why are campus protesters against a two-state solution? These protesters seem to care more about calling for the destruction of Israel rather than lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

“Intifada Revolution” is a reverse dog whistle in the conflict, meant to scare Jewish communities across the diaspora. The First and Second Intifada were periods of Palestinian bombings and terrorist attacks in Israel that took many lives of innocent civilians. When protesters on campuses chant “Intifada revolution,” they are chanting support for more terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews, which is a reverse dog whistle aimed to scare Jewish students.

The third and final step is to listen to Jewish students. Despite many encampments violating university policy, university administrations fail to act. Participate in letter-sending campaigns and call out the antisemitic chants you hear at these protests.

Don’t let anti-Semitic BDS movements pass motions within student unions that demonize Israel and alienate Jewish students based on the false allegations of “genocide” and other libellous claims.

You can advocate for the needs of Palestinian people without delegitimizing Israel’s right to exist and still support a Palestinian state without endorsing Hamas and their vicious attacks on October 7th.

It’s time to call out extremism and hate speech to protect groups on campus that are often facing relentless harassment, intimidation and bullying.

It’s time to stand with Jewish students against hate speech and intimidation.

And it’s time to protect Canadian values, stand on the side of morality, and refuse to believe the lies of the anti-Israel movement.

Jonah Beckenstein is a Political Science student at the University of Ottawa, originally from Toronto, Canada and a campus media fellow with HonestReporting Canada and Allied Voices for Israel.


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