In an age when everyone seems to be fighting for a cause, what does it take to be noticed? And what does it take to get what you want?
Consider with me Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). As a group in campus, they advocate for Palestinian students on campus, as well as for the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as the name implies.
Over the past two semesters, tensions have run high between SJP members and members of some of the Zionist student groups on campus. Let me make very clear where I stand. I am not conflating all Jewish students with Zionism. And I do not believe that the creation of Israel was a “land without people for people without a land”.
On September 22, the Dean of students sent an email to the student body “regarding recent acts of Anti-Semitism” that “create a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty, and community members”. The next day, in response student protest, he sent out another emailing, clarfying that it was not Anti-Semitic hate crimes, but hate speech “specifically targeting community members of Students for Justice in Palestine“. While hate speech in any form in unacceptable, so is covering up the victimization of one group to support another. Why would the university ignore hate crimes carried out against its Palestinian students, while reminding the student body to make the campus safe for Jewish students?
A month later, in October, students of the Zionist student group Tikvah disrupted an anti-Zionist lecture with bullhorns. One student, John Moghtader shouted “Fuck you, you’re a disgrace to our people.” No action was taken.
A month later, three Zionist supporters, identified as student senator John Moghtader, alumni Gabe Weiner, and Yehuda de Sa attacked three Arab students, two female and one male, after the Arab students hung a Palestinian flag. Senator Moghtader was recalled in a election, but remains in office at this point.
My point is this: even after these incidents, no one on campus seems to care. Or rather, very few people even seem to know about them. A group of students is currently pushing for the University to divest from Israel, much like it divested from South Africa to protest apartheid. They are also pushing for the recognition of a sister university in Palestine.
Which brings me back to the original question: what does it take to make people care?