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.