Dear Mr/Mme. President,
Ever since I was little, I remember comments about Jewish people being made in the most stereotypical of ways. Jokes about the Holocaust, which my family marginally survived, and statements about Hitler and chasing coins have become the norm in almost all settings, with nothing set to limit them. Not only this, but people and the media portray the country of Israel in a biased way that leaves many individuals with opinions that do not mirror the truth of the situation. When I am sitting on a bus and hear someone joke, “What’s the difference between a pizza and a Jew? A pizza doesn’t scream when it’s put in the oven,” I am thoroughly disgusted. This disgust does not stem exclusively from the sheer horror of the origin of the comment, but that the other patrons on the bus simply laugh and encourage more of this outlandish behavior. The most unsettling part to me, however, is that I know that if this “joke” was made about another race or tragic event, such as African Americans or 9/11, it would be extremely looked down upon. Events and comments such as this should not be taken lightly, and should not be considered an acceptable way to speak in our society.
Recently, in my community, a student at one of the local high schools decided to send a series of death threats and many more to all of the Jewish students of both his school and a neighboring one. Rightfully scared for their safety, the Jewish student population of these schools were not even able to attend their classes until the situation was handled. After the incident, the principals and administrators simply approached the situation like any other, completely ignoring the anti-Semitic nature of this crime. The principals promised that the affected students would receive counseling if needed, but absolutely nothing was done in terms of preventative measures. The parents of the Jewish students called a large conference, including not only the administrators of the schools in question, but the FBI director and the sheriffs of both Sunnyvale and Cupertino. During this meeting, the parents made one case. They stood by the fact that although the situation had been handled, it was only a temporary fix. They pleaded with the principals: Show your students that acts like this will NOT be tolerated. Call an assembly. Don’t discuss this specific case, but teach the rest of your students how to be good, kind members of society. If nothing is done, it only perpetuates the situation and ruins the chance of a perfect learning opportunity for the future.
Anti-Semitism has always been a problem, especially in colleges. In the past year alone, anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 45% and will only continue to rise. Unfortunately, it has escalated to the point where not only are Jewish students being discriminated against, but people are being bullied for simply supporting Israel. At the University of California, Los Angeles, the president of the Graduate Student Association, Milan Chaterjee resigned from his position due to excessive harassment. This bullying came from the group Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS), a group that believes Israel oppresses Palestine, and tirelessly creates waves of anti-Semitic incidents all around the nation. In this UCLA case, Chatterjee resigned because he simply supported an event that was pro-Israel. The fact that the school did not step in to stop the harassment before it escalated to this point is very worrisome. It has become evident time and time again that episodes targeting Jewish people and the country of Israel are not taken seriously.
For this reason, Mr/Mme. President, I am reaching out to you. I must ask, rather beg, that you give equal consideration to all religious groups. America is the land of free, yet I am still afraid to apply to certain colleges because of the hate I will receive simply based on my beliefs. I ask that you order all schools to have a strict protocol when it comes to anti-Semitic attacks, and that groups such as BDS will be closely watched. Most importantly, I ask that there will be preventative measures taken, whether it be in the form of a guest speaker or presentation. It is said that the future of our society lies in prevention rather than treatment. Take the stand against anti-Semitism today, and stop these painful experiences before they even have the chance to occur.
A Concerned Jewish Citizen