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UConn Jewish Students Describe Uptick in Antisemitism on Campus

Ari Gerard, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, arrived at his seminar three hours early on the morning of the November 8 protest organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). He told himself that this would prevent him from seeing and hearing their slogans: “Resistance is not terrorism” or “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

“It didn’t make any difference in the end,” he admits. “They were talking so loudly that I could hear them from inside the amphitheater.”

Opposition to Israel has been rampant on campus since UConn Jewish students held their first candlelight vigil on October 8 in memory of the 1,200 victims and 240 hostages of the Hamas terrorist organization, which runs the Gaza strip.

Initially, the brutality of the October 7 massacre captured the world’s attention: entire families were burned alive in their homes, 260 festival-goers were killed in cold blood during a rave and, in addition to sexual assault, terrorists tortured and dismembered numerous victims, including women, children, babies and the elderly. Israel has vowed to oust Hamas from power with an ongoing military offensive.

As the war between Israel and Hamas has intensified, the climate at UConn has become tense. So far, the university has avoided the spotlight on other institutions around the country, donors have not threatened to withdraw their funds, no threats of physical violence have been recorded, and the UConn chapter of SJP still works.

But walking across campus means passing posters depicting men armed with rifles and dressed like Hamas terrorists who say: “Resistance is not terrorism – Victory for Palestine.” This means reading comments on Instagram calling for the eradication of Israel. This includes seeing hostage posters vandalized or chalk messages that say, “Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.”

“I’ve had enough of this. Mentally, it’s torture. They are constantly outside shouting,” denounces Gerard, a finance student.

Gerard is one of eight Jewish students who took part in a roundtable discussion with the Times of Israel on November 8. Coming from varied backgrounds, with different levels of commitment to Judaism and different views on the war, they testified about what it was like to attend university during a time of unabashed antisemitism. .

This student’s testimony corroborates the findings of a recent survey of Jewish students conducted by the national Jewish academic group Hillel International. According to the survey, 56% of Jewish students surveyed say they are afraid on campus, and 25% of them report violence or acts of hatred on their campus since the start of the war.

There are an estimated 2,000 Jewish students out of UConn’s 19,000 undergraduate student body, and there are several Jewish organizations on campus, such as Huskies for Israel, Hillel and Chabad. The university’s dining service offers kosher meals at no extra charge. Until the war, Jewish organizations coexisted with the UConn chapter of the SJP, which did not respond to requests for comment.

There had indeed been some antisemitic incidents in the past, such as in 2020, when the words “The Third Reich” were written on the door of a student’s room, or four incidents in 2021, including one just before Passover, with a swastika sprayed on the Chemistry building.

Still, the general atmosphere was nothing like it is today, says first-year student Julianne Katz.

“It’s terrible and very painful to feel that everyone hates you and wishes you were dead. We feel sad all day and very alone. I don’t feel safe at all on this campus,” she explains.

Source: https://fr.timesofisrael.com/des-etudiants-juifs-americains-se-confient-tout-le-monde-vous-hait-et-souhaite-votre-mort/