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The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

Why I’m Scared to be a Jewish Person on a College Campus

Daniel Weisskopf
Gaza solidarity encampment on Princeton’s campus

Note: The opinions expressed in this op-ed represent the perspectives of its author, not the voice of The Forum.

In college counseling class, we start the year by ranking college characteristics in order of importance to us. Some students prioritize Greek life, and others prefer an urban campus or access to undergraduate research. I never thought that one of my top priorities when choosing a college would be my safety as a Jew on campus.

Schools that I used to dream about, namely Columbia University, now make me feel unsafe and unwanted. The Rabbi at Columbia previously recommended that Jewish students leave campus because their safety was compromised, and I have since canceled my visit. Some of the most elite and prestigious universities in the world are not supporting Jewish students in their biggest time of need.

My grade report is unfortunately not the only report card I will be anxiously checking as the school year comes to an end. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-governmental organization that works to combat antisemitism and extremism globally, recently released a “Campus Antisemitism Report Card” that grades universities according to various criteria regarding the prevalence of antisemitism on their campuses. The need for such a resource is in itself revealing.

The common defense to the college protests is that they are simply critiquing Israel’s actions and that banning the protesters would infringe upon their right to free speech. Nonetheless, calling for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state—which I recognize is not what every protestor is doing—is antisemitic, and hearing that on campus would make me feel unsafe.

Posters hung on campus walls comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler make me feel unsafe. Students who say that supporting Israel means supporting genocide make me feel unsafe. Students proclaiming that “Zionists don’t deserve to live” and attacking pro-Israel protestors with a flag pole make me feel unsafe. A college student asking for their administration to protect “anti-Jewish students” makes me feel unsafe.

As a Jew with family and friends in Israel, delegitimizing its right to exist also delegitimizes my family and my people’s right to live there in peace.

I’m scared to be in an environment where this rhetoric is normalized, and I know that I’m not alone in these sentiments.

While this fear can be isolating, it has also brought me closer to my Jewish community and served as a reminder always to speak up and fight against the ignorance that fosters antisemitism.

“In this moment, it’s important to seek healing, supporting each other as well as the communities around us,” senior Ethan Weiss said. “After all, we’re not the only people that have reason to be scared on college campuses. Let’s grant each other and those around us some empathy.”

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About the Contributor
Natasha Benjamin
Natasha Benjamin, Arts Editor
Natasha Benjamin ('25) is excited to serve as an arts editor this year! This is her third year writing for The Forum, and she enjoys writing film reviews and covering student opinions. She can’t wait to continue to share her passions and interests with the Latin community. Beyond The Forum, Natasha is on the basketball team, plays piano, and loves to consume media in all its forms.

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