Jewish college students stunned to find hate coming from progressive peers

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The most surprising thing about this story is that it was published by CNN. The story focuses on two Jewish college students, both of whom consider themselves progressives interested in a host of progressive causes. But both have also felt themselves excluded and even targeted for abuse when their progressive peers discover they are Jewish.

“I never [before] had the experience of being scared to leave my home,” says [Julia] Jassey, who is now 20 and just finished her sophomore year at the University of Chicago.

She started a “Jewish on Campus” group on social media for students like her. And she found many were like her — Jewish students finding themselves the target of hate from both the left and the right, and increasingly from their own peers.

“It’s intense,” Jassey says of her online experiences. “I’ve gotten death threats, I’ve gotten sexual assault threats, I’ve gotten called lots of slurs, my family’s gotten death threats.”

Blake Flayton, another student who is studying at George Washington University in Washington, DC has had very similar experiences being the target of anti-Semitic attacks from the left.

“An American Jew is only used to perceiving anti-Semitism as Nazis in Charlottesville carrying tiki torches, or a swastika being spray-painted onto a synagogue wall, or the Christian right saying that Jews killed Jesus Christ. We’re not very attuned to and good at recognizing anti-Semitism when it doesn’t come from that extreme side of the political spectrum,” Flayton says. “But we are going to have to get used to it, because that’s what’s coming here. It’s already here.”

Some of the worst abuse comes on social media where people on the left don’t care about his progressive positions. If you support the right of Israel to exist, you become a target for others on the left. But even in person he’s found there’s no room for nuance.

“I’m a white supremacist. I’m a Nazi. I kill babies. I’m a genocide apologist. I am a racist. I support ethnic cleansing and colonialism,” Flayton says, quoting some of the abuse hurled at him. “I get more death threats than my parents would probably like to know about.”…

Flayton says, “If a Jew who is a liberal, who is left wing says, ‘I’m a Zionist,’ they’re not given the space to explain all of what that means. That word means is that you support the Jewish right to self-determination in part of our ancestral homeland, not even specifying where the borders are, not even specifying which government they would like to see in charge in Israel,” he says. “They’re not given the space to explain that. They’re banished.”

The story even names Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as elected Democrats who even other Democrats think have crossed the line into anti-Semitism. CNN doesn’t accuse the of inciting the kind of hate that Blake and Julia have received, but suggests they are emblematic of an anti-Semitic element on the far left.

Again, none of this is going to come as a surprise to people on the right who’ve been paying attention to progressive anti-Semitism but I suspect it may surprise some CNN readers. In fact, the headline of the story suggests as much: “Not just neo-Nazis with tiki torches: Why Jewish students say they also fear cloaked anti-Semitism” But there’s nothing “cloaked” about the anti-Semitism described in the story. Singling out Jews for death threats and slurs is about as blatant as it could be.