I wholeheartedly support fellow University Zionists. We are in an intellectual battleground where our ideas are being stifled by the regressive left masquerading as liberalism and free speech.
We risk becoming social pariahs for standing with morality and against those who would happily support another Jewish and Israeli genocide. And we often stand alone.
Anti-Israel groups use intersectionality to justify partnering with the black, native LGBTQ+ and other oppressed minority student groups. The term intersectionality means oppression between different groups is connected, and if we are to stand up against one form of oppression we must stand up for all. This is a phenomenon which should have been beneficial for Zionist groups. We are a people, indigenous to Israel, that have been expelled for over 2000 years, something we share with Native Americans, and finally in 1948, returned home. We have been targeted as an invisible minority similar to the LGBTQ+ community. We were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, standing with black and coloured communities.
However, the Palestinian and anti-Israel groups have hijacked our narrative. They claim that Israel is this malevolent oppressor, persecuting an “indigenous” Palestinian people. They claim that we do not experience discrimination and only claim to, to justify atrocities being committed against Palestinians. They claim that “real Jews” stand with them and against Zionism to try and justify latent antisemitism. If you have a few legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government and are similarly critical of other liberal democratic governments, that is fine, although I do not understand why you care personally. If you demonize, hold Israel to a higher standard than other democratic moral countries or say that there should not be a Jewish state, that is antisemitism.
Most Palestinian student groups if pressured will admit they do not want Israel to exist, whether they explicitly or implicitly state it. Their groups’ existence holds Israel to a double standard. And I have seen several of those groups demonize Israel.
I am starting to notice an alarming trend among Zionist groups on campuses. We are beginning to subscribe to the liberalism that has infected the rest of our campuses. We are afraid to call them out on this antisemitic behaviour and because of this missing out on valuable opportunities to take part in intersectionality. Zionist groups favour “cherry tomato” advocacy where we talk about what we love about Israel and when confronted with hateful campaigns against Israel and Jews, say that our school should not be involved in international issues.
I am not referring to any particular school or student group when I describe this, but just this is an alarming general trend. This is a crucial aspect of Zionist advocacy but we need to do more. We need to be activists. We need to be apparent and vociferous with telling the truth about our narrative and in addition to the “cherry tomato” advocacy. We need to vehemently condemn and thwart antisemitism. With the truth and morality on our side we can be more effective than any Palestinian club. We can make the Israeli narrative the popular, non-partisan view.
I will reiterate that I will always support fellow Zionists but we need to do more.
Aedan O’Connor is in her third year at Ryerson University, studying pre-medicine. She is VP-Programming of Students Supporting Israel at Ryerson and the Social Justice Chair on the Hillel-Ryerson Board.