WLU ’22 — Conflict

TW: Anti-semitic language

Being Jewish at W&L is a unique challenge. As someone who is white and does not wear a kippah, I am not identifiably Jewish when I walk around campus which I recognize allows me a level of privilege that other marginalized students do not experience. 

That being said, antisemitism still exists on our campus. I have had a few small incidences of antisemitism in my two years at W&L, but one in particular stands out the most. I had been hearing rumors about a boycott of Sabra hummus a while back and didn’t think much of it. 

But then I started getting sent pictures of the posters that were displayed on campus. [Image below]

The posters that contained the words “Sabra Hummus is mixed with the blood of the Palestinians.” The posters continued to make the unsupported claim that Israel is committing genocide and apartheid. 

Whether or not the student knew or intended it, these posters contain blood libel, one of the most insidious and hateful forms of antisemitism that has existed throughout history and still exists today. 

Blood libel is the accusation that Jews kill people (in the origin of blood libel, this was Christians) and then use the blood of their victims in baking matzah (an unleavened bread eaten by Jews on Passover) and then eat it.

I didn’t know what to think after seeing these posters. I felt so confused and upset.

I felt unsafe on our campus as a Jewish person who supports the existence and survival of the only Jewish State in the world. After the Tree of Life shooting happened, the W&L and Rockbridge County community rallied around their Jewish neighbors. How could this be happening? 

Although the posters were taken down at the direction of OIE and Public Safety, the student responsible for creating the posters has not been held accountable. It seems as though we’re all in favor of condemning and taking action against Nazis and white supremacists who hate Jews, but overt antisemitism coming from other outlets is not condemned by non-Jewish students and administrators.

It’s taken a while for the Israel/Palestine conflict to become a contentious topic that is talked about on our campus. 

I believe that there are many productive conversations to be had surrounding the issue. 

What I don’t find productive is starting the conversation with blood libel, antisemitism, and accusations of genocide and apartheid. It’s important that everyone who wishes to participate educate themselves about the conflict from many sides and then come to conclusions based on facts and history. 

It’s a complex issue with no easy solutions and it’s important that we remember that. I have faith in the W&L community that we can elevate this conversation to one that makes us all feel included and welcome on our campus.

WLU ’23 — “Jokes”

It’s been so upsetting to see the normalization of Anti-Semitism in America as a whole and even in my life. 

Last year at school, a friend came into my dorm room and was showing me some videos. I could tell they were supposed to be comical, although completely missing the mark, but one of them was strictly about Jewish people. I was surprised that my friend thought the “jokes” were funny, especially because the video clearly made fun of harsh stereotypes including noses. My friend is a great person, and I don’t think anything harmful was meant by it, but my nose has always been my biggest insecurity.

My mom has asked me if I have ever been made fun of for my last name (my Great Grandfather was Jewish and the reason why my last name is such).

Thankfully I have not. It’s sad, though, because I catch myself hesitating to sign my last name on return addresses for fear that my packages or letters won’t be delivered, and I often wonder if we even get all our mail.

WLU Alumni — Anti-Semitic

Weird anti-Semitic stuff I saw as a student at WLU:

1. Seeing guys chucking coins at their only Jewish fraternity brother

2. Going to a frat party where a Jewish pledge was told to dress in a suit and play the theme from Schindler’s List on violin at the entrance of the party (to be fair, he was very talented, and I watched bc it was more entertaining than drinking Robitussin trashcan juice)

3. Being asked 19th century/Borat crap like “where are your horns?” from people I didn’t really know

4. Christian people trying to go on our Hillel trip to convert Jewish people

5. Hearing fraternity pledges were told they needed to dump their girlfriends because they were Jewish

6. Reading an op-ed in the student newspaper about how unfair it was that the Hillel house was being built faster than the new sorority house (lol wut?)

7. Being told to read Bible verses during sorority initiation (maybe not explicitly anti-Semitic, but certainly not my fave)

8. Overhearing sorority girls complaining about how nice the “Jew house” is when there are so few Jewish students… AT THE HILLEL HOUSE while they were eating bagels from said “Jew house.”

9. “Wow you don’t look Jewish!” “… Thanks?”