Jewish students attending Boston-area colleges said Sunday that the rise of antisemitism has made them fear for their safety on campus.
Speaking at a forum on antisemitism organized by the Anti-Defamation League, Emerson College student Bailey Allen said she has to gauge whether she should wear something that represents her Jewish identity.
"It's still really, really hard to navigate,” she said. “Do I wear my Hillel sweatshirt today? Or, do I wear my Star of David necklace today.”
Wellesley College student Nechama Huba said she felt ostracized after returning from studying abroad in Israel.
“Students will ask me where I studied abroad. And when I left, I had only told my closest friends where I had decided on even though I had already known since my first year,” said Huba. “Once I came back though, everyone knew where I had studied abroad, and people came and asked me so many uncomfortable questions about it, both in class and in social situations.”
The students did assure concerned parents in the audience that their colleges were making resources available if they ever felt unsafe or targeted on campus.
Allen and Huba, along with students Jay Greenwald, Miky Rahmani, and Gemma Schneider, spoke at the ADL New England’s Good Fight Forum in a Boston Seaport hotel.
“We have gathered to confront antisemitism to create a safe and just world,” said Joe Berman, Board Chair of ADL’s New England Regional Board. “We know that confronting antisemitism is critical to stopping hate and bigotry in all of its forms.”
New England has seen an alarming rise in antisemitic acts, including regular public demonstrations by avowed white supremacist groups like NSC-131. College campuses have also seen a spike in antisemitic activity
The Wellesley College newspaper also generated a storm of controversy earlier this month when it published an editorial endorsing The Mapping Project, an online database of Jewish organizations and public figures who are described as being engaged in or complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. In response to the editorial, Wellesley College President Paula Johnson wrote in an open letter saying, “While it is not my practice to comment on the newspaper’s editorials, I do feel the need to make it clear that Wellesley College rejects the Mapping Project for promoting anti-Semitism.”
Speaking at the event Sunday, Rep. Katherine Clark, whose district includes part of Wellesley, said, “The Mapping Project is an echo of other times when stereotyping and isolation of the Jewish people led to their dehumanization and then led to their destruction,” said Clark. “And the rise of antisemitism is a blaring red warning light for all of us.”