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The Carletonian

Jewish students voice concerns over rising antisemitism on campus

In the wake of the recent escalation in Israel and Gaza, many Jewish students have noted the recent rise in antisemitism that they’ve seen on campus, both online and in person. The Jewish Students of Carleton, Carleton’s only Jewish student body, issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the increase in antisemitism by members of the Carleton community and around the country: “In this attack, the world witnessed the largest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust.” The memo continues by stating that “We are scared by what’s happening, and we are scared by what some of our peers have been putting on social media.” 


Many students noted concerns surrounding a Fireside chat hosted on KRLX, Carleton’s radio station, with the student organization Students for Justice in Palestine. During the interview, many Jewish students pointed to specific statements made that they found antisemitic. An anonymous first-year stated that they found many statements to be “deeply offensive.” The student, who emphasized that they worried that sharing their identity would place a “bullseye on their back” went on to say that they found the language offensive because “it sounded like traditionally antisemitic talking points.” 


This student went on to say that “If you replace the word ‘Zionist’ in many of their statements with ‘Jews,’ then you’re left with something that’s classically antisemitic. That may be coming that feels rather antisemitic.” The student went on to add “you can’t make comments like, ‘Israel is the chief cause of instability for many people around the globe’ without it sounding like a problematic talking point.” 


An anonymous senior agreed that the statements lacked nuance and added to a culture of “Jew hatred” on Carleton’s campus. “A lot of my non-Jewish friends seem to think that the only good Jew is a Jew that wants the destruction of Israel, and I don’t know if I can do that.” The senior then said that “I think this interview on KRLX didn’t do anything to dispel this idea. If anything, it almost seems to have made it worse. There was a point where they said that people need to ‘pick a side between the Palestinians and their cause or the Zionists and Jews.’ I think that just feels like it isolates [those of us] who don’t feel fully invested in the conflict and just want to exist as Jews.”


The Carletonian has since verified that the comment in question from the SJP interview was not that “you either support the Palestinians and their cause or the Zionists and Jews,” but instead was: “…or you support the Zionist entity.” 


A junior, who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of backlash, concurred, stating that they thought that the students speaking on KRLX are “all fucking antisemites.” 


“I think there’s legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel, I don’t think anyone on this campus thinks differently. I just think that the line between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is a very thin one.” The student, a secular Jew who does not attend JSC events, further said, “I got upset when they started talking about what is and isn’t antisemitism when none of them are Jewish. I’m a liberal. I think we should believe Muslims on Islamophobia, women on sexism, et cetera. Why don’t people believe Jews on antisemitism?”


The Students for Justice in Palestine stated in correspondence with the Carletonian that “we want to unequivocally state that we neither have nor ever will condone anti-Semitism. It has been profoundly disheartening to witness the JSC’s misquotation of our SJP fireside chat and their insistence that a “thin line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism” exists, perpetuating a dangerous conflation that poses a significant threat to the Palestinian cause. We are not presenting any novel ideas; it is clear that a substantial majority of Jewish individuals worldwide assert that anti-Zionism does not equate to anti-Semitism. Addressing the JSC’s concern about the removal of ‘Zionist’ with ‘Jew,’ it is important to clarify that we did not use the term ‘Jew’ because our reference was NOT to Jewish people. Employing ‘Jew’ in this context would not only be anti-Semitic but also factually inaccurate. We wish to emphasize that this is not a theological conflict; it is a struggle for the liberation of Palestinians, including Palestinian Jews, from the Israeli Occupation.” (To read the full comment offered by SJP, check out this link). 


Rebecca Reinhold ’25, President of the JSC, thought that the JSC needed to put out a statement in order to combat the antisemitism that she saw on campus: “I mostly wish there was more awareness of antisemitism on campus.”


“I’m glad the JSC board was able to put out a statement; before then, it definitely felt like there was a lot of casual antisemitism that we weren’t addressing or calling antisemitism.” Reinhold does acknowledge that many students don’t intend to be antisemitic, but she doesn’t see that as an excuse. “I know a lot of students sharing antisemitic posts on Instagram don’t realize they’re antisemitic, but it’s still hard to open social media right now.” 


Some students, like the anonymous first year mentioned before, went as far to say that “It’s not just online; if it were online, then I could log off. These statements are in my classes, to my face and in conversations with people that I thought were my friends.” 


Reinhold thought that this kind of antisemitism is hard to call out. “If you post on your Instagram story about antisemitism, you’ll get multiple responses by people who aren’t Jewish saying that you’re wrong about what’s antisemitic or that you’re diminishing the suffering of Palestinians. I think there’s a sense from a lot of people on campus that you can’t both support Palestinians and believe that some criticisms of Israel are antisemitic.” Reinhold went on to say that “if you’re only ok with Jewish students who call for the destruction of Israel, that’s antisemitic.”


Many Jewish students, however, felt that the responses to the events on campus need to include more self-awareness. An anonymous student commented that they were cautious about the way that students go about talking about the events transpiring, saying that “I think it’s important for Jewish students like me to remember that we are not the only ones suffering and afraid right now. Palestinian students are also scared and suffering.” 


Some expected the Middle East Studies Department to address the rise in antisemitism in the lecture it hosted last Wednesday on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Many Jewish students, however, did not leave satisfied. Many students agree that the talk did not seem to have antisemitism in mind. An anonymous junior commented that “the talk just shows me that Jews are only an afterthought to these [professors]. There were some alarming things said that I wish Stacy [Beckwith] responded to.” 


The student, referencing Professor Stacy Beckwith of the Judaic studies department, went on to say that “it also didn’t feel like an environment where people wanted to learn. There were students who entered the room with loaded questions. This wasn’t just people that I know are pro-Palestine. There were also people that asked loaded questions that I know are pro-Israel.” 


The teach-in, which included a designated period for questions after five professors, Adeeb Khalid of history, Summer Forester of political science, Yaron Klein of Arabic, Zaki Haidar of Arabic and Stacy Beckwith of Hebrew and Judaic studies, concluded their statements. The student continued, “If you don’t want to learn, then don’t show up to a learn-in. It just makes the conflict and its consequences more hurtful to the rest of us.” 


When asked why she thought so many students interviewed in this article opted to remain anonymous, Reinhold stated that “I think students are scared to say there’s antisemitism on campus. The vast majority of Jews in this country have a strong connection to Israel, and, on campus, it feels like there’s a litmus test of who’s a good Jew and who isn’t based on being willing to reject that connection.”

Baxter Meyer is also a member of the board of the Jewish Students of Carleton.

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About the Contributor
Bax Meyer
Bax Meyer, Managing Editor
Hey, all! I'm Bax (he/him), and I'm a junior Econ major with a Middle East Studies minor. I love talking about Middle East politics and American Indian Treaty Rights. I'll always send you good book or movie recomendations. You can probably find me on campus wandering the arb, on 1st libe, or at step areobics. I like dad jokes, American Indian Treaty Rights, shawarma, and publishing my hot takes in the Carletonian anonymously.
Red flags: econ major, will judge you for using the Oxford comma, and hates geese
Green flags: Middle East Studies minor, still uses the Oxford comma, and quotes the Star Wars prequels on the daily
Bax was previously Managing Director and Viewpoint Editor.

Comments (5)

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  • C

    Concerned StudentOct 27, 2023 at 10:17 pm

    The tactless remarks in this article are disappointing to read. If it’s “hard to open social media” in the comfort of your own home in the US, imagine how hard it must be to live in Gaza, where there is no access to social media or the internet at all due to the thousands of bombs Israel has dropped on Gaza. Imagine how hard it must be to be one of the Palestinian students at Carleton who can’t contact their family and friends due to the internet blackout. Why is the Carletonian choosing to prioritize the feelings of American students over the safety of Palestinians?

    • J

      JewishOct 28, 2023 at 5:05 pm

      This feels like a case of whataboutism. Just because someone else is struggling does not mean that my struggles or the struggles of any other human being are invalid.

      Antisemitism has been on the rise since Oct 7 and it is very concerning to Jewish people across the world.

    • S

      Stop whitewashing antisemitismNov 3, 2023 at 12:26 pm

      Dear concerned student, perhaps you should be cognizant that there is no monopoly on suffering. Do you recognize the suffering of nearly one million Jews expelled throughout the Middle East at the same time as the displacement of Palestinian families? That they too became refugees? Are you cognizant of Jews being targeted throughout the US and made to feel unsafe? You have fellow classmates that are facing traumas no lesser than your Palestinian classmates.

    • C

      Charles BenderDec 6, 2023 at 10:00 am

      I feel your pain, Concerned Student. Imagine how hard it is to be a hostage in Gaza, where there is no access to your family, including your Mommy, who was still nursing you when you were kidnapped, and your daddy, who was murdered in front of you, and your sisters, who were gang-raped raped in front of you. Imagine how hard it must be to be one of the American students at Carleton who can’t contact their family and friends due to their being kidnapped by Palestinians. Why is the Carletonian choosing to prioritize the feelings of Palestinians over the safety of Palestinian kidnap victims?

      Class of 1987

  • B

    BOct 22, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    The link to the SJP comment is broken. Please fix it.