Nate Watson: Regarding the college encampment protests and antisemitism

UMass students participate in an encampment Monday in support of Palestinians.

UMass students participate in an encampment Monday in support of Palestinians. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Published: 05-10-2024 9:22 PM

If handed images of the college encampment protests and told to mark the antisemitism, many people would circle students wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags. The rise of antisemitism in America is undeniable, but I hear the call from elsewhere in the house.

This McCarthy-esque antisemitism scare, led by many of the same figures who stayed silent on Charlottesville, weaponizes Jewish safety for political gain. From Congress to cable news, the rhetoric furthers the idea that supporting Israel politically is a valid substitute for supporting Jewish communities domestically.

More and more, our value as Jewish Americans is measured by our willingness to be tokens for Zionism and by our consent for its violence. On my copy of the encampment images, a circle surrounds the mass arrest of Jewish students who resist this paradigm.

To those still conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, or Palestine with Hamas, I invite you to attend our protests and see for yourselves. There’s no shortage of reasons to join. If you’re priced out of the housing market or crushed by student debt, protest your taxes funding Israel’s military, tuition-free college, and subsidized housing. If you enjoy food, protest forced starvation. If you enjoyed college, protest the destruction of universities. If you have children, protest the killing of 15,000.

And if you will not stand for those whose lives you don’t personally value, know that by allowing these precedents to be set, by any country, you erode the safety of those whose lives you do. 

Nate Watson


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