Stop the hate

Anti-Semitism has no place at IU.

Throughout the past several weeks, tensions have escalated against many Jewish institutions — from the Hillel Cultural Center to Zeta Beta Tau, a traditionally Jewish fraternity.

In my heart of hearts, I want to believe that these are a series of unrelated, yet unfortunate, events. However, the magnitude and persistence of these hate-based attacks have increased, and we as a student body have done relatively nothing about them.

I applaud IU Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson’s campus-wide e-mail, as well as the forum that Dean Pete Goldsmith had about sensitivity issues, but the student body has not followed our leaders’ lead.

Where is our student government? Aren’t they supposed to be leading us?

As a Christian, a member of a greek fraternity and an executive officer of the College Republicans, I can state with confidence that IU’s Christian community, its entire greek community and the politically-active community stands both with our Jewish brothers and sisters and with the Israeli cause of peace. It’s time that we start standing up for it.

To the perpetrators of these actions, I pray that you can come to know acceptance, tolerance and respect, but I doubt that the architects of these attacks will read this column because their demonstrated ignorance has shown a disdain for responsible discourse.

Although columns have been written, conciliatory e-mails have been sent and assuaging forums have happened, it’s regrettable that these actions, though noble, have not ceased the occurrence of these malicious attacks. We need to change the hearts and minds of those who would perpetuate hate, small-mindedness and bigotry — and we need to do so in an uncomfortably public manner.

I recognize that people have problems with Israel and with Judaism (as others do with the United States and Christianity) — I don’t agree by any means, but I recognize that. But vandalizing Jewish cultural centers, threatening members of our University’s 4,000-strong Jewish community and urinating on Hebrew texts are absolutely and categorically unacceptable.

What problems do these assailants have with Judaism? Jews do not actively try to pressure others to convert to Judaism. Jewish organizations do not condone or perpetrate violence in the United States as radical Christian, Muslim, white-supremacy, black-supremacy, anarchist and Marxist movements have done.

On campus, Jewish cultural centers — especially Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, one of my favorite places — provide valuable services to the entire campus. It is a little-known fact that if you are sick and call Hillel, the culture center will deliver Matzah ball soup to alleviate your pain — regardless of whether you are Jewish or not.

What problems do these attackers have with Israel? This nation has acted as a protectorate of sacred Muslim, Jewish and Christian sites throughout the Holy Land.

Even though virtually the entire Muslim world declared war on Israel the day after Israel declared its statehood, Israel has never sought revenge or military retaliation against its Muslim neighbors. Lest we forget, Israel is an outpost of freedom, democracy and civil liberties in a region with an overwhelming democratic deficit. If you value peace, if you value the freedom of speech, if you value women’s rights, then you should be a staunch defender of Israel.

The Jewish faith is one of peace, generosity and hospitality.

As a Christian who recently visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall to pray for peace alongside my Jewish brethren, it rips my heart in half to come back to IU — a place where we pride ourselves on truly accepting people of all faith traditions, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and political opinions — to witness a direct assault upon a peace-loving faith.

So, in short, stand up, IU!

We will not tolerate these actions. I hope when the FBI and local law enforcement officers ascertain the identities of these hateful vandals, that these detestable hate-mongers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent our justice system can handle.

There are proper avenues to discuss issues you have with other religions and other nations.

Throwing rocks through windows and disrespecting holy texts are not those proper avenues. Organize a debate, protest or write to a member of Congress. Attend a cultural event at Hillel — they would be happy to have you.

Or, if you seek a complete understanding of Israeli and Jewish issues, make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see how followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism interact in a respectful and (somewhat) productive manner.

But don’t promulgate hate. We already have enough hate to go around. At the risk of sounding like an idealistic, liberal hippie, love and acceptance heal the wounds that hate creates.

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