In the midst of our current nationwide antisemitic upheaval, specifically on our college campuses, I was recently asked by a friend, a friend I have known for a great number of years, ‘Why don’t the Jewish kids on these campuses just keep their heads down and keep a low profile until this “blows over” … Isn’t that basically what Ann Frank and so many like her did in Nazi Germany?”

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As a Jewish person myself I felt compelled to reply and reply appropriately as the subject’s seriousness dictated. So after my initial shock to be getting this question from an extremely educated and indeed good person, a person who I have known for over 20-years, and after the initial response I gave, I did a lot of reflection on the question. That is to say I did “more” reflection on our times and the current activities in our country, centered around antisemitism, than I already was doing and have done just about every day since the atrocities brought down on Israel by Hamas on Oct 7, 2023.

It is worth mentioning that I personally was not offended by my friend’s question, more just taken aback, and I knew right off I needed to give more thought to this question and and also more of an answer. Also please know that I mean no disrespect to anyone - not to anyone - here in my opinion piece. Ok in full-disclosure, I probably do mean some disrespect to the “haters” and if you are one you probably just stopped reading this anyway, so I’ll go on…

Many on social media, in our very own government, even people stopped on the street, continuously say that these are “peaceful” protests and “free speech” and that we are, as a nation, assured such rights in our constitution. I for one would never disagree with that. If that in fact was what these rallies are. THEY ARE NOT. Some have compared these protests to how students marched against the US involvement in Vietnam, but the ones they speak of in comparison, were in fact peaceful and the chants were all about love and peace. THESE ARE NOT. Under the guise of seeking a stop to the oppressions faced by the Palestinian people, THESE PROTESTORS CHANT GENOCIDE TO ALL JEWS, DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL. Even… UP WITH HAMAS DEATH TO THE UNITED STATES. In what universe does that sound loving, supportive, equality-seeking? I’ll answer that… NONE!!!

So it is ok to rally in support of one minority while actively calling for the destruction and genocide of another? Is that what Abraham Lincoln taught us? Is that what Martin Luther King said his own people should expect and accept? Of course not and it shocks me to see other minorities - especially African Americans, joining in the hate rhetoric. Against a minority smaller than they are. Same goes for those of the LGBTQ+ community who would be even less welcomed and possibly even more hated by Hamas and almost all of the Arab nations, including the Palestinians. And what about all the “me too” women who oppose rape and sexual misconduct, as they should, but uphold and praise a terrorists group who raped and dragged women naked thru the streets of Gaza on Oct 7th. Nope that’s not an issue - they were just Jewish women.

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It has now (and of course historically) become (once again) OK to blame the Jews for just about every hardship known to man - now including - military action against a group of universally-identified terrorists that without provocation attacked, raped, beheaded and slaughtered women, children, men while sleeping peacefully in their beds or enjoying a celebration of music under the stars. A group of, let us not forget, CIVILIANS whose only crime was they were born Jewish and dared to try to make the world a better less hateful place and sleep or celebrate in close proximity to Gaza. Somehow that narrative has been skewed and actually all but lost. Oh and let’s not forget all the hostages taken by Hamas on that horrific day - many of whom have been held in God only knows what conditions, if even still alive. AND YET THE NATION’S CAMPUSES ALLOW THESE (completely non-) peaceful demonstrations to go on and on and on. A few brave states and legislators have stood up to the agitators but not many and for this Jewish person, born and living in the United States of America in the year 2024, it is nothing less than horrifying, unnerving and absolutely unthinkable.

And yet it is seemingly OK for me to feel all that anxiety and agitation and it is OK for the antisemitic agitators to prohibit tax-paying, tuition-paying Jewish students from going to class. Why? Because it again is “just” the Jews. Can you imagine if an African American or Muslim student was told to leave campus by a group of KKK, white robe wearing, agitators who created an encampment on the college campus and stayed for weeks at a time - let alone 1-hour? Do you honestly think people would sit idly by and tell the Black or Hispanic students to keep a low profile until this blows over - in 2024 when everyone including my cat has civil liberty rights to peace and welfare and the correct pronoun of their choosing. HECK NO. But hey it’s only the Jews. Most of the people marching in these hate encampments are not even US citizens. And yet they come here for their education. Heck we have congresswomen now who denounce the US in the very same sentence they denounce Israel and Jews. And this isn’t considered treason? Of course not. They are a “protected” class - they are Muslims. But not so much when the defendant or victim is Jewish Nope then we hear that ‘we need to let this play out after all it’s everyone’s right to free speech and free assembly”. WOW.

I myself have never hidden my faith or my background or my ancestry - and I have been blessed to live amongst good God-loving people who accept me as I am and how I choose to pray and believe. I do however wish I was more of the activist type and I praise those young, intelligent and brave Jewish kids for NOT hiding. NOT cowering in a basement or a closet as Anne Frank was forced to do. (and of course even that did not save her life - learn from history folks). In closing I’ll ask, would anyone ask me that same question, in 2024 America, or make that same “suggestion” if the students were Black or Hispanic or Transgender or even Protestant? FACT; Haters hate everyone and eventually they will come for everyone who is not exactly what they deem agreeable, and quite frankly history has proven that is quite a short list. So, I urge people of all colors and faiths and genders to pay attention to how the Jews are fairing today right here in the US of A in 2024 (almost 80 years since the Holocaust and an entire world between us) and do NOT for a minute think “oh it’s just the Jews”… because tomorrow it won’t be.

Dawn Formea

Godfrey, IL

Opinions expressed in this section are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of RiverBender.com or its affiliates. We provide a platform for community voices, but the responsibility for opinions rests with their authors.

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