Now is The Time

An open letter to the world…

Dear world,
    While you may believe that because the images and the numbers make it appear that Israel is attacking Palestinians, that is not the case. Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas because a) it is a terrorist organization and b) it kidnapped over 240 innocent men, women, and children ranging in age from infants to octogenarians.
    What we are witnessing here in America right now is an attack on Jews and making us uncomfortable to represent ourselves. The protests, the sit-ins, and the occupation of college campus buildings, let alone the intimidation and fear factor that is being wrought on Jewish students and faculty, are one-sided. While I am sure that there have been incidents of Jewish college students trying to intimidate Palestinians or Muslims, those numbers are far outweighed by the number of incidences of Jewish students being targeted.
     Jews are not attacking Muslims; Jews are not intimidating or causing fear in the Muslim world in a way that the pro-Palestinian movement that we are seeing sweeping across the country on college campuses is doing to Jewish students. The number of incidents on our local college campuses is inundating the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other Jewish organizations because people do not know what to do or how to handle the situation.
    When parents send their children to college, let alone elementary, middle, and high school, they do so with the understanding that the administration at each of those institutions will keep their child safe. As we have witnessed, students no longer feel safe. So much so that Jewish students are afraid even to go to campus; in fact, many students left school early for Thanksgiving because they no longer felt safe on their college campuses.
     More must be done to protect the safety of Jewish students, and the administrations are not doing enough to mitigate, minimize, or even eliminate the amount of intimidation and fear being caused by those who are supporting the Palestinians in Gaza. The cries of “Free Palestine” or “From the river to the sea” are doing nothing more to inflame people and antagonize Jewish students and faculty.
    Instead of ignoring the Jewish community, I urge institutions to work more closely with institutions like the ADL and their local Jewish Federations to provide support and security for our Jewish students and help the university understand that it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. You can support the students’ rights to protest and free speech but also call out and hold students accountable for their actions when their speech crosses the line. More needs to be done, and the Jewish organizations are willing and able to help the university navigate this difficult time.
    No one… and I mean no one… should ever be afraid to identify themselves as one group or another. No one should be made to fear that they can’t wear something that represents who they are (like a Star of David or a yarmulke). But at this moment, institutions are doing an abysmal job protecting that freedom for Jewish students and faculty.
    Now is not the time to try and litigate or argue the past. Now is the time to deal with the present and prepare for the future. There’ll be time to debate and discuss what happened in the past. Once all of the hostages are released, and Hamas is condemned and punished for their actions, that is when it will be time. But that time is not now.  

Jason Moss is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater
San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.


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