With a new academic year underway, Jewish college students across America are in receipt of yet more empirical evidence that the anxiety they are experiencing is not a figment of their imaginations. A poll released last week by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law found that more than 65 percent of Jewish college kids have felt unsafe on campus because of verbal, social media or physical attacks. Approximately 50 percent find it necessary to hide their Jewish identity. Almost 70 percent either personally experienced some form of anti-Jewish assault in the recent past or were familiar with one.

These findings, said Kenneth Marcus, the former assistant secretary of education for civil rights who chairs the center, "reveal that students for whom being Jewish is a central or important aspect of their identity are feeling increasingly unsafe visibly expressing their Judaism for fear of harassment, social bullying and other anti-Semitic attacks." This, says Marcus, "is driving more and more students to hide their support for Israel."

This is exactly what is intended by those leading the harassment campaign, who hope that by making pro-Israel kids afraid they will make them silent. Some who wouldn't be caught dead declaring war on non-Jews' civil rights do so enthusiastically when it comes to kids who identify as Jewish and who care about the Jewish state. Bari Weiss summarized the current vogue perfectly. "Bullying in theory is wrong," she wrote of the fashion on the left. "The bullying of the right people is not just okay. It is a virtue."

In the Middle East, the normalizing of relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors has accelerated with last year's Abraham Accords. The exchange of diplomatic credentials and news of increased trade between Israel and Arab countries seems like a weekly affair. A new and historically diverse Israeli government is taking pains to revive the outreach to Palestinians characteristic of the pre-Netanyahu era. But on American college campuses, the efforts by the anti-Israel lobby to overwhelm Jewish students with cries of "Nazi" and "apartheid" and "white privilege" are not only persisting but intensifying. The boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement, whose purpose is to render Israel and the Jews who care about her pariahs, is the vehicle, and it features untethered rhetoric which more than makes up in intimidation what it frequently lacks in intellectual honesty.

The Brandeis Center's new poll arrived the same week as a flare-up in Congress over funding for Iron Dome, the purely defensive antimissile system on which Israel relies to try to intercept the thousands of Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians that the Gaza-based terrorist group launches every few years. In May, Hamas fired about 4,500 of them, which depleted the Israeli capacity to fend them off. Mensa-level genius is not required to discern that Iron Dome saves Jewish, Christian and Muslim lives in Israel; without it, Israel would be defenseless, and that is how a tiny handful in Congress, half consisting of the group of congresswomen known as "The Squad", would like to have it. The system also saves the lives of Gazans; if Israelis have to conduct air strikes against Hamas rocketeers to stop them, innocent Palestinians will get hurt or killed, and that is how Hamas, for its part, would like to have it.

The anti-Israel crowd flopped badly in opposing funding for Iron Dome, mustering only nine votes in Congress in opposition, with 420 votes in favor. This followed what was for them a discouraging summer, in which the cities of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Burlington, Vermont, rejected BDS measures. If Cambridge and Burlington are not buying BDS, it is not clear who is.

But for Jewish students hoping simply to navigate their college years free of venom and scorn, these positive developments offer minuscule comfort. They have lives to live. The trouble is that there are others who, managing to believe when they look in the mirror that they are bona fide progressives, are attempting to make those lives as difficult as possible.


Jeff Robbins, an attorney specializing in the First Amendment, is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.

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