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UNC Jewish Student Leader: I Urge Chancellor to Better Protect Jews Like Me

It was my junior year of high school, after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, that I really realized that I would have to deal with anti-Semitism growing up.

Throughout my college experience at UNC-Chapel Hill, I have witnessed a constant level of hatred, but since October 7, the situation has gotten worse. I graduated this month after majoring in political science and peace, war and defense. As an undergraduate senator and chair of the Undergraduate Senate Oversight and Advocacy Committee, I have tried to use my voice to combat the recent anti-Semitism I have experienced.

In recent months, as a kippah-wearing Jew on campus, I have been harassed, knocked down, yelled at from cars, and the mezuzah attached to my doorpost has disappeared. The response I received from the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance was that they could not take any action on any of these incidents.

This hatred is not new to UNC-CH. In previous years, swastikas have been found on campus and some professors have promoted ideas perceived as anti-Semitic. Last spring, at Still Life, one of Chapel Hill’s most popular clubs, someone gave me a Nazi salute.

On March 26, UNC was present in a video posted on the X account Stop anti-Semitism – and not for the first time this academic year. This post showed UNC students erasing the names of hostages held in Gaza. On April 10, UNC-CH received an “F” – a failing grade – on the Anti-Defamation League’s report card on campus anti-Semitism.

Since October 7, I have seen UNC students sympathize with Hamas, a genocidal terrorist group that attacks Israelis and Palestinians. The students shouted “We are Hamas” at a rally a week after the brutal October 7 terrorist attack and flyers featuring Hamas images were posted around campus.

We have also seen an erosion of nuance on campus. I was called a bad person for advocating for the release of hostages held by Hamas for over 200 days, and told that “bring them home” was hate speech from Hamas. from the president of my campus section. students for justice in Palestine.

There is no limit to grief. I can mourn the countless innocent lives lost in Gaza and I also want to bring home the Israeli hostages. This erosion of nuance is dangerous.

As a representative of the Jewish community, I call on Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts to take action to protect Jewish students on campus. The university has a legal responsibility under Title VI to protect Jewish and Israeli Tar Heels. This includes protecting ourselves from the glorification of terrorism and calls for political violence against Jews. The university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance needs more training on anti-Semitism and the Office of Student Conduct needs to be more responsive to anti-Semitism from student organizations. UNC should also adjust its policies to handle online harassment from students and groups on campus.

The UNC protests, which turned violent on April 30, show how important this issue is. Protesters attacked police and pro-US counter-protesters, tore down the US flag and showed support for the Iran-backed Houthis and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group. They also made calls for the Intifada and for Palestine to become Arab “from water to water”.

UNC should be a place of growth and welcome for all students, which is impossible if minority groups do not feel safe. If the administration does not pay more attention to anti-Semitism on campus, I cannot in good conscience recommend that prospective Jewish or Israeli students attend this university.

On April 30, when asked what he would say to Jewish students Chancellor Roberts said: “Tell students that we are going to protect them from the very small minority of students who want to disrupt their experience. This university is for everyone. That’s a good start, but it needs to be reflected in how UNC trains its staff, writes its policies and handles anti-Semitic incidents on campus and online.

UNC must be proactive in protecting Jewish and Israeli students. I love this university and want it to become a safe place for everyone.

Max Pollack graduated earlier this month from UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Raleigh.


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