For Mokhtarzadeh, an Iranian Jew at UCLA, her freshman year was punctuated by incidents of anti-Semitism that were both personal and met with national controversy. She was shocked during her first quarter in school, when students entered the Bruin Cafe to see the phrase “Hitler did nothing wrong” etched into a table. Months later, Mokhtarzadeh’s friend Rachel Beyda was temporarily denied a student government leadership position based solely on her Jewish identity, an event that made news nationwide.
The campus was supposed to be her new home, her new safe space — so why didn’t she feel that way? She went to the conference hoping for some answers.
But on the first day there, she was horrified when the discussion became an attack on Israel — and soon devolved into attacks on the Jews.
“Over the course of what was probably no longer than an hour, my history was denied, the murder of my people was justified, and a movement whose sole purpose is the destruction of the Jewish homeland was glorified. Statements were made justifying the ruthless murder of innocent Israeli civilians, blatantly denying Jewish indigeneity in the land, and denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered,” she said. “Why anyone in their right mind would accept these slanders as truths baffles me. But they did. These statements, and others, were met with endless snaps and cheers. I was taken aback.”