It is 2023 and, still, Jewish college students on many campuses, both locally and across the country, are fearful for their lives.
Antisemitism has run rampant as Israeli Defense Forces launched a counterattack after Hamas — the Palestinian terrorist group — launched a gruesome surprise attack on Israeli civilians, killing 1,400 and injuring about 4,200 including women and children.
At The Cooper Union, a prestigious college in the East Village, a pro-Palestinian rally turned ugly last week as protestors broke from the rally and proceeded to spread the threat of violence on campus, forcing Jewish students to lock themselves in the library building at the school.
The students who sheltered in the library reported that protestors were banging on the glass doors and shouting antisemitic slogans while holding signs with similar slogans.
The mother of a Jewish Cooper Union student said her child “has been afraid to come to school” since the Hamas attack on Israel.
And while Cooper Union president Laura Sparks insisted there “is no place at Cooper for hateful and violent language or actions,” a graduate student at the school, who is also Jewish, nevertheless called the incident at the library “very upsetting.”
So upsetting, in fact, that Brooklyn City Councilmember Inna Vernikov charged that the library incident showed that Sparks failed to protect students’ safety at Cooper Union, and called for her resignation.
Universities are supposed to be places of learning and free dialogue. There should be freedom to explore your ideas without fear of being intimidated and silenced.
College professors are supposed to open up their students to new ideas. Instead, they are now taking a partisan side on the debate, which alienates a portion of the student body.
Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas there has been a surge of hate crimes reported according to NYPD statistics.
The ripping down of posters bearing the images of Israeli hostages has also been rampantly reported by the media here in the city.
Seeing the posters around town brought back memories of the posters put up by families in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. They too were searching for family members lost in an attack.
And the religious attacks were not limited to Jewish people. A swastika was scrawled on the church door of a Catholic church, St. Charles Borromeo in Brooklyn Heights, on Sunday, Oct. 29.
We condemn violence in the name of religion, and toward that end, the Diocese of Brooklyn came together with a Day of Prayer Mass on Friday, Oct 27, simultaneous with a worldwide Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Penance that Pope Francis called for to bring peace to the Middle East.
Bishop Robert Brennan led the Holy Hour and Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James.
“Prayer is about trying to conform ourselves to God’s own will and God’s own mind,” Bishop Brennan said. “So, what we’re looking to do is change ourselves and then to change one another, and change the world.”
The Tablet can only agree with Bishop Brennan.
As tensions rise with Israelis bringing ground forces into Gaza, we pray that each side of the conflict respect each other and work together toward a peaceful solution in which no more hostages, or lives, are taken.