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A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Antisemitism breeds solidarity on WashU campus

Aron Goodman

As anti-Israel and incidents of antisemitism escalate on the campus of Washington University, concerns remain about the safety of Jewish students.

On Saturday, April 27 a group of anti-Israel protesters gathered outside the Olin Library before moving to the east end of the Danforth Campus near Skinker Boulevard where they set up approximately 10 tents. Despite the university’s swift response, which led to police arresting more than 90 protesters, including 23 WashU students and 4 university employees, tensions remain high.

“We are dismayed to see anti-Israel protests at colleges and universities using terms like Intifada, which refers to two periods of indiscriminate violence directed at Jews in Israel,” said Jordan Kadosh, regional director of ADL Heartland. “A call for intifada is a call for violent terrorism that targets civilians.”

WashU’s Chancellor Andrew Martin emphasized the university’s commitment to free expression while maintaining a safe environment for all. “We expect everyone to respect our policies,” he stated firmly. “No one has the right to disrupt the ability of people in our community to learn and work. Those who choose to do so will be subject to swift action.”

According to Aron Goodman, a Jewish freshman from Morristown, N.J., the incidents were affecting his ability to focus on his studies.

“I’m not really doing any work. I haven’t done work in the last couple of days. I’m not doing any work because I’m watching them to make sure it’s not going to evolve into another major protest,” said Goodman. “All of this prevents students here from studying and from being able to focus on our work, especially Jewish students, because we’re now in fear.”

Campus antisemitism breeds intimidation

The wave of demonstrations, which began at Columbia University in New York and has included some violence and antisemitic statements both verbal and on banners, has left many Jewish students intimidated.

“I do feel intimidated and I know many students who genuinely expect there will be violence against them,” said Goodman. “As a result, it’s also reassuring walking around campus and seeing people with their hostage necklaces because you know there is a Jewish presence around you.”

While no reports of physical violence have been reported at WashU, Goodman has witnessed verbal abuse and intimidation firsthand.

“I was in Graham Chapel for the student event and talking to Dr. G. (Anna “Dr. G” Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs) when a group of protestors came in and moved towards us,” said Goodman. “They started yelling obscenities at her. There was a line of police officers in front of us that separated us. Without that line of law enforcement, I do believe they would have surrounded us.”

As WashU continues to grapple with the troubling anti-Israel and antisemitic discourse, Rabbi Hershey Novack, co-director of Chabad at WashU, emphasized the importance of supporting students during these challenging times.

“It’s crucial to emphasize our commitment to young people,” Novack stated. “We pledge unwavering support to students, providing guidance grounded in Yiddishkeit and available to all. Our doors remain open 24/7, ready to assist and stand alongside students in need.”

Campus antisemitism breeds solidarity

Despite the tensions, Goodman believes that solidarity has grown within the Jewish community on campus.

“We are a tight-knit community, and we support each other,” he emphasized. “It’s reassuring to see people wearing symbols of their identity, despite the risks.”

Goodman says many Jewish students are taking advantage of Chabad and Hillel, gathering at their locations for meals on campus.

“We’re all gathering together because they are the only places other than the dining hall where we can eat and feel comfortable. We’re all sticking together. We have our community, and we know we’ll get through this adversity,” said Goodman, proudly.


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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.