Since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, anti-Israel demonstrators have staged large-scale events on college campuses around the United States. Numerous students are feeling insecure and afraid to go to class as a result of the increase in events combined with antisemitic remarks and acts of violence against Jews.
“So we’ve had a plethora of incidents happen at UC Berkeley, everything from two physical assaults of students getting physically hurt on campus. We’ve had professors offering bonuses and extra credit to students for attending pro-Hamas rallies. But the most concerning is Jewish student leaders getting an email from administration telling us to avoid certain parts of campus, to avoid showing our faces, to avoid filming these incidents and at these events, due to a fear of our safety,” UC Berkeley student Danielle Sobkin said on “FOX & Friends First” Tuesday.
“So what does it mean when administrators are telling me to not be a target, which is leading me to believe that in order to be safe on campus at UC Berkeley, I need to hide my Jewish identity.”
A growing number of hostile environments and the most violent anti-Israel protests take place on campuses, especially UC Berkeley.
Most recently, according to social media posts by pro-Palestinian student organisations, there was a nationwide walkout on Wednesday in support of Gaza and to protest US sponsorship of Israel.
According to the social media post, more than 100 colleges and universities participated in the walkouts, including UC Berkeley, Tufts University, Columbia University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Rutgers, New York University, Howard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown University, and Howard University.
“Going into UC Berkeley, i was really hopeful of four years of education and learning and being alongside my peers. And now I’m looking at peers that are supporting terrorists, that are supporting violence, that are supporting innocent Israelis getting murdered,” Sobkin said.
According to a screenshot shared on social media, a Berkeley graduate student offered extra credit to students who participated in the student “walkout” in support of Gaza. This prompted the university to take action after a flurry of criticism broke out.
Allison Lax and other students have gone through similar experiences at NYU.
“There have been multiple anti-Israel rallies at NYU where I’ve heard students chanting ‘Death to Jews,’ chanting ‘death’ to anybody that supports the Zionist state. I mean, these are horrific things to say at a so-called peaceful protest. I’ve heard students chant, ‘globalize the intifada,’ just horrific things in classrooms. Professors are spewing absolute misinformation. And it’s just it’s a horrible situation,” Lax told host Todd Piro.
Students at NYU were observed defacing Israeli hostage posters earlier this month on October 16 in front of Tisch Hall.
One of the three pupils recognised in the widely shared video, Yazmeen Deyhimi, apologised on social media.
Lax, who has been a strong supporter of Jewish students and a critic of the demonstrations, revealed that she has even received threats at NYU.
“People know who I am. I get death threats daily on Instagram. It’s very scary. In class, I sit next to my peers who cheer on Hamas and support the murder of over 1,400 innocent Israelis,” Lax said.
“It’s really horrible. And I don’t think I’m ever going to feel safe again on campus.”
There have been acerbic protests with strong sentiments made on other campuses. Supporters of Hamas demonstrated their presence at George Washington University by projecting their message onto the Gelman Library building’s exterior.
“Glory to Our Martyrs,” one message read.
“Students sat in front of the library and projected hateful messages, including Glory to our Martyrs and Free Palestine from the river to the sea. And GWU you have Palestinian blood on your hands onto the library, which, mind you the Gelman library. they’re Jewish. So it was definitely heavily anti-Semitic,” GWU student Sabrina Soffer said.
In a subsequent statement, the university said that the “unauthorised” messages “violated university policy, and leadership intervened to ensure that these projections were removed.”
The university continued, “The statements made by these individuals in no way reflect the views of the university. We are reviewing this incident and will take any appropriate steps with respect to the individuals involved in accordance with university policies.”
Soffer also related an incident in which pro-Palestinian demonstrators allegedly approached a fraternity house on campus to “harass” Jewish members. The demonstrators were attending a rally in Washington, D.C.
“There were a few demonstrators who came to the … frat house and started waving flagpoles at brothers, trying to harass them. And this is really where we talk about hate speech turning into hate crimes. Somebody could have gotten hit. And that really made me scared,” Soffer said.
Soffer claimed that despite the general climate on college campuses being more unfriendly towards Jewish students, the animosity towards her because of her identity has only increased.
“Since the moment I got to GW, even just saying that my family was from Israel really granted me a lot of hostility on campus from a variety of students. I didn’t understand this at first, but over time I came to understand this whole radicalized ideology and a lot of the propaganda that’s being perpetuated in the classroom, it made me feel antagonized, not necessarily unsafe,” she said.
“But now what I’m seeing on this campus where students are shouting this from the rooftops and thinking that they’re moral, it’s pure idiocy and it’s really concerning. And no, I do not feel safe on my campus. Students know who I am. I’ve been a public face of this for a long time… So long as this institutional damage isn’t changed, I will not feel safe on campus.”
Sobkin added she feels “unsafe every single day going on campus” at UC Berkeley.
“I feel unsafe sitting in classes next to peers that are supporting these terrible acts and listening to professors that are also supporting this. So unless this institutional damage is adjusted and changed, no, I will not feel safe at UC Berkeley,” she said.