Anti-Semitism Knocking at Our Doorposts

It did not take very long for the first anti-Semitic event to occur at the 5Cs this year. The same day my article “The Double Standard Against Israel” was published, an Alpha Epsilon Pi brother reported that somebody pried the screen off his room in Green Hall at Claremont McKenna College and stole his Israeli flag. Three days later, he had his mezuzah ripped off his doorpost.

For those who do not know, a mezuzah is a tiny scroll with a handful of holy verses from the Torah, placed at a doorpost. The Jewish people have placed mezuzahs at entrances to most places in their home for more than 3,500 years. It is one of the 613 mitzvot (or commandments) instructed of all Jews in the Torah.

These specific attacks on one of my brothers indicate a continuous targeting of a proud, Jewish student on the basis of his presumed opinions on the State of Israel. By stealing the mezuzah, it cannot be deemed as simply anti-Zionism but rather undisputed anti-Semitism.

When I referred to the differences between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, I explained the use of anti-Semitic language to demonize Israel. This act exactly demonstrates what I warned Claremont students about. I hope that the culprit(s) of this hate crime see the justice that they deserve for their blatant Jew-hatred.

However, to say that this is the first instance of anti-Semitism in Claremont during my time here would be a lie. A year or two ago we read bias-related incident reports of swastikas drawn in the library. Three years ago in the Scripps dining hall, two students accused a vocal, pro-Israel activist of personally committing crimes against Palestinian-Arabs. Two years ago, one of my friends was also referred to as a “kike,” which is the equivalent of the N-word for Jewish people. Last February, anti-Israel activists posted fake eviction notices on doors at four out of the five colleges claiming that Israel runs a policy of “Judaization” in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.

This latest act at CMC only continues a pattern of anti-Semitic undertones in a consortium that claims to preach tolerance, acceptance and respect toward other people.

However, one of the least-discussed origins of campus-wide anti-Semitism manifests itself in the classroom. One of my friends told me that their class talked about the history of Jews in America and discussed how we became labeled as “white people.” The discussion apparently resulted in people making ridiculous claims about Jews, including a claim that Jews became more assimilated after we acquired “higher paychecks.”

Such claims are preposterous as the Jewish people defy the social construct of race. Various Jewish tribes exist, from the Sephardim of North Africa and Spain, the Mizrahi from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, to the Beta Yisrael from Ethiopia.

And the issue goes well beyond the 5Cs.

At Kent State University, a tenured professor named Julio Pino attended an event by a pro-Israel group and screamed, “Death to Israel.” He also refers to his students as his “little Jihadists.” American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett claimed that anti-Semitism is nonexistent in the Middle East, despite the fact that Islamic State recently called for a second Holocaust against the Jews. Recently, the University of Illinois rescinded the contract for a professor of American Indian Studies for tweeting that he hoped that all “West Bank settlers would go missing,” following the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Jewish Israeli teenagers.

This and many other instances of professors making life uncomfortable for Jewish students plague my fellow brothers of the Jewish fraternity, as well as my friends in the pro-Israel community.

I have yet to personally experience anti-Semitism in Claremont. This was not the case whatsoever during the summer.

Being referred to as a “baby killer” or a “kike” killed me inside. After I got assaulted in front of the Israeli consulate, I sought comfort from my mother, who experienced anti-Semitism throughout her childhood. I asked how she dealt with it because I could not imagine growing up constantly being called a “dirty Jew.” She said that, after a while, she did not care because she would rather be a Jew than anything else.

An irrational, 2000-year-old hatred of our people did not deter my mother from living her life nor prevent her from embracing who she was. For that reason and many more, I am proud to be Jewish and to be a Zionist.

This summer, I made it my life goal to defend my people from Judeophobia. I will no longer accept anti-Semitism against Jewish students in the Claremont Colleges. I was not kidding two weeks ago when I said that anti-Semitism is at one of its highest points in decades. I just hope that the Jewish community in Claremont no longer experiences it after I graduate.

My hope is that this column reminds the Claremont Colleges that anti-Semitism remains a persistent problem in the world. But more than anything, I want the Claremont Jewish Community to feel safe, and the more we raise awareness to combat Jew-hatred, the less we have to worry about being targeted for being who we are. 

Elliott Hamilton PZ '15 is an economics major and a politics minor. He is the Jewish Identity Chairman and a Founding Father of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.