Are we waiting for a Swastika spray painted on our Chabad House? Are we waiting for our Hillel’s Mezuzah to be torn down? Are we waiting to be harassed for wearing a Kippah or Magen David? Are we waiting for something worse? God forbid. What will it take for our community to wake up and act? Penn is one of the last college campuses in America where Jewish students feel safe. Jew hatred, as we know, has been rising every year.
Do we really think it will stay this way? Only if we express our Jewish selves and support of Israel in the places where we ‘live’ — sports teams, preprofessional clubs, performing arts groups, volunteer initiatives, networking circles, and social gatherings.
We are currently being manipulated into believing that there will be no antisemitism at the upcoming "Palestine Writes Literature Festival." But many of the speakers have no connection to Palestinian literature. They have dressed up as Nazis, praised terrorists for targeting civilians, celebrated BDS, called for violence against Jews, called for ‘death to Israel’, been fired for antisemitism, have called most Jews evil, raised money for terrorists, and even directly supported terrorists. Worse yet, Penn departments, professors, spaces, and resources are contributing to this. The bottom line is, unapologetic antisemites are coming to gather here on our campus. Is that enough for us to stand up? What are we waiting for?
At best, this conference will continue to normalize this kind of rhetoric and behavior on college campuses, and at worst can lead to serious safety issues for Jewish students. Either way, it is not hard to see where we are sadly heading.
More importantly, how will we respond? We need everyone’s skills, connections, and ideas to work on fighting for our community. It’s not too late to think about who you are and your place at Penn. How can you make a stand for Jews of all backgrounds to practice and express our beliefs?
Do something about it! Jewish students and allies alike. Write and share news that highlight Jewish and Israeli achievements. Invite Israeli speakers to your preprofessional entrepreneurship, engineering, and health care clubs. Build partnership events with other cultural groups on campus. Collaborate with and cite researchers from Israeli universities working on cutting-edge science. Schedule your performing arts groups’ shows to be Shabbat and holiday-friendly. Speak out against antisemitism in casual gatherings and class. Create art and music that highlight our culture, history, and peoplehood. Use Israeli stories and Jewish heroes as case studies in course projects. Point out friends’ biases and double standards against Israel. Engage with the Jewish communities on campus and encourage social groups to join you. Infuse supporting this cause with the activities you are already involved in and have influence in.
And while you’re at it, love every Jew. We must be united in this fight. Don’t let current political disagreements, differences in observance, or distractions come between our 3,000 year old people. Work to uplift, not detract.
If we remain indifferent, this campus will turn into yet another place where antisemitism rages on, but no one should be surprised. What are we waiting for?
Signing a petition is important and super easy — you should sign here. In addition, though, take time to think about what you, and only you, can do.
NOAH RUBIN is a Wharton and Engineering junior studying Electrical Engineering and Economics from Boca Raton, Florida. He is currently a co-president of the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee. His email is email@example.com.