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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Editorial: Antisemitism rises in the name of freedom of speech

Prospective college students to consider how universities respond
Editorial%3A+Antisemitism+rises+in+the+name+of+freedom+of+speech
The Feather

As the Israel-Hamas war wages on, the excessive free speech we see in protests across the nation continue to unveil antisemitism and the rise of hate speech, deface property and harass students on college campuses. Many of these disturbances are left with little to no consequences creating a deafening silence from those in authority. 

Freedom of speech is one of the five pillars of rights protected in the First Amendment. Should free speech have limits? Does freedom of speech mean free of consequence? When does free speech cross the line? 

On Capitol Hill, December 5, Jewish students attending prestigious ivy league American institutions shared their experience on these campuses. Eyal Yokoby from UPENN, Bella Ingber from NYU, Tallia Khan from MIT, and Jonathan Frieden from Harvard Law testified before the Committee on Education and the Workforce, recounting assaults, mobs, and harassment they faced. Ignber, a junior, speaks on what it is like to be a “Jew at NYU.”

Video source: Fox news 

“Being a Jew at NYU is walking to class passing torn and defaced posters of innocent hostages with the words ‘occupier’ and ‘murderer’ written across their faces,” said Ignber in a measured but passionate tone. “Being a Jew at NYU is being surrounded by students and faculty who support the murder and kidnapping of Jews, because after all as they say, ‘resistance is justified when people are occupied.’ It is being surrounded by social justice warriors and self-proclaimed feminists whose calls for justice end abruptly when the rape victims are Jews.” 

She punctuated her final statement with her own experience of harassment: “Being a Jew at NYU has meant being physically assaulted in NYU’S library by a fellow student while I was wearing an American-Israeli flag and having my attacker still roam freely throughout the campus.” 

Not far from NYU, a Queens high school teacher who posted a picture on Facebook at a peaceful pro-Israel rally, unintentionally incited hundreds of students to riot and destroy property, causing law enforcement to hide her behind locked doors until the chaos was controlled, Nov. 20. This incident provoked controversy over the administration’s handling of the situation. As of Dec. 1, only a few students are still facing possible suspension as the teacher continues to receive harassment via social media, her personal home and targeting of her family. 

On Dec. 4, a pro-palestinian rally gathered in a “blatant act of antisemitism” against a Philadelphia-based Israeli restaurant owned by Israeli chef Michael Solomonov. The protestors with signs and Palestinian flags waving in the air exploited their free speech shouting,“Goldie, Goldie you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.” Philadelphia police were nowhere on the scene to control and end the antisemitic behavior and threats of the protestors as they moved throughout the city. 

A 2022 Knight Foundation Poll showed, 9 in 10 Americans believed that protecting freedom of speech is an important part of American democracy. In the same survey, 77% believed all opinions and views, even those that are offensive, promote healthy debate within a society. 

Free speech has broad legal protections under U.S law and can be used as the justification for hate speech, and racially- infused bigotry. Most institutions have adopted the same definition of antisemitism as the Anti-defamation league (ADL) which reads:

The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.

Adopting a clearly defined definition but failing to protect against it exposes the antisemitism that lurks just below the surface. Students across college campuses should feel safe and free to advance themselves no matter what geo-political alignment, religion, or racial creed they identify with. “Context,” which has been the most used excuse, does not justify the hateful actions. 

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana, 20th century philosopher

Are we reliving a modern version of the road to Hitler’s holocaust with the allowance of unchecked antisemitism? 

We stand with those who are vulnerable in this present climate. We call for strong leadership on college campuses and in our government when free speech crosses the line into harassment and threats.

College application season recently came to a close as many seniors await acceptance letters. As decision time comes quickly, will students consider college’s response, action or inaction during the rise of antisemitism and hate speech on campus? Students eyes should be opened to an institution’s response to the radicalization of free speech.

For more from The Feather visit Students expand wardrobes through thrifting or Athlete Spotlight: Blake Bay.

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