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I knew students at my college were protesting Israel. I didn’t expect what they would say in class.

(JTA) — I am a non-religious, 20-year-old-Jewish student in New York City. I have not been to Israel since I was 9. I was raised in what you might call a “naturally occurring Jewish community”: Riverdale, in the Bronx. I attended Modern Orthodox schools through high school. Once I graduated, I left for Binghamton University, which boasts a massive Jewish community. It wasn’t until I transferred this fall to Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, that I left the Jewish bubble.

The last month has been the worst of my life. The horrors of Oct. 7 left me — along with my whole community — in a state of shock. While going through the videos and firsthand accounts, I couldn’t help but think about the losses yet to come: Hamas laid a trap so horrific that Israel would respond with overwhelming force. I knew there would be angry, difficult discourse in response. Sure enough, even before Israel launched retaliatory attacks, denial and outright celebration of the atrocities spread rampant online.

I was hoping to find more compassion in person. But I soon realized that if I expected to find it in one of my classes in the media department at Hunter, I’d come to the wrong place.

CUNY, a diverse public university system with 25 colleges spread across the city, has often been a hotbed for pro-Palestinian activism even as it has a deep Jewish history and many Jewish students today. Jews and pro-Israel activists, both inside and beyond the university, have complained that the school has tolerated expressions of antisemitism and anti-Zionism from faculty and students — allegations that led, in 2016, to a probe by the university.

On Monday, Oct. 16, I went to my Interview Techniques class. As an exercise, my teacher decided to record the lesson while he interviewed each of us in front of the class. He decided, perhaps not understanding the raw emotions of the week or perhaps because of them, to ask us about the Hamas attacks. Out of the eight students, I am the only Jew; the rest are Christian or not religious. What followed was a dialogue devoid of compassion for the perceptions of Israelis and Jews, or curiosity about the facts of the situation.

As tensions over this conflict rise on college campuses around the country, attention has largely gone toward protests, rallies and open letters. But the recording from my class illustrates a different frontier for Jewish students — discourse within the classroom. The quotes that follow are directly from the recording.

When the teacher asked, “How have you been following the news?” one student said they had been watching ABC and CNN. “It’s horrible … Just the devastation, especially in Palestine,” said the student. Another student added: “I don’t really like what’s going on in this war. I know it’s been going on for 75 years. I guess I see Palestine’s side more.”

“The Palestinian people?” asked the teacher.

“Yeah,” said the same student. “I don’t want to say I don’t understand the other side, but I understand the Palestinian side more.”

Later on, the conversation turned to the more than 200 Israelis taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.

“Because of where I stand on this issue… I don’t think we should be bombing people’s homes to get the hostages,” said a third student. “I mean, me specifically, I don’t think Israel is a legitimate country. Let’s start from there. They are a colonial country.”

“What do you mean?” asked the teacher.

“Israel is not legitimate,” the student went on. “The U.N. placed them there. … They literally took people’s homes in order for them to be a country.”

According to the student, Jews had no claims on any part of the region when, in November 1947, the United Nations voted to divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states. “I mean, the U.N. did that for them,” said the same student. “And then they kept expanding and taking people’s homes and lives.”

No mention was made of the Arabs’ rejection of the partition plan, or the war they launched the following year to destroy the newly independent Jewish state.

“And the Hamas are reiterating… I mean, I don’t support terrorism but — there has always been conflict before Hamas bombed Israel. Palestinian lives have been lost for 75 years and no one cares. But then when they retaliate on Israel, suddenly it’s making headlines. That just doesn’t… I don’t know — the U.N. and every country in the U.N. partook in the taking of the land.”

When the same speaker was asked about the Holocaust, they dismissed any notion that it had proven a need for a Jewish refuge, or that the Hamas slaughter of Jews might trigger traumatic memories for Jews. “Israel being made may have something to do with the Holocaust, but I’m saying the Palestine and Israel war right now has nothing to do with the Holocaust,” they said.

Nine days after Hamas killed 1,400 Israelis in a single day of bloodshed, another student was ready to move on.

“This sounds like old news,” they said. “How did this all begin again? Didn’t they have a truce? The news shows Palestinians in here, in New York who are protesting the war, and they wore signs saying ‘Palestine’s not for sale.’ My guess is that might have something to do with why this whole thing started up again.”

“There was a massacre,” the teacher pointed out.

“Who massacred who?” asked the student.

“Don’t you have qualms with Hamas?” asked the teacher.

“No, I have no qualms about anything,” said the student.

“Don’t you know what Hamas did?” the teacher pressed.

“No,” said the student. “I have no idea.”

Later, it was my turn. “I am trying to do my breathing exercises, but I feel a bit attacked,” I explained. “I am not trying to fight anyone here. This is incredibly personal to me. It’s not you I am angry at, It’s the situation.”

What is not shown in the transcript are the dirty looks and fierce head shakes I received. One student sitting two seats to my left vigorously shook their head at everything I said. My one friend in the class remained silent. After attending a pro-Israel rally in front of the U.N. and posting about it on social media, the same friend was bombarded with condemnation. They got blocked by former friends and ghosted by others. After class, my friend told me they could no longer support Israel publicly from fear of losing more friends.

A few days later, at a protest of Hunter College students in the school’s courtyard, protesters cheered “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “Globalize the Intifada” and “It is right to rebel, Israel go to hell.” On the side, I ran into a friend from high school who was proudly wearing an Israeli flag. As I spoke to him, protesters took photos of us.

At the end of this terrible week, however, I had some reasons for hope. As I ate in the cafeteria, sobbing over the lack of human compassion, I saw a text saying that someone had set up a booth on the third floor of the main building with a sign reading “let’s talk about Hamas.” When I walked over to the booth, there sat my aforementioned friend from high school. On one side sat three Jewish students; on the other were five Muslim women wearing hijabs. Some people on both sides clearly just wanted to argue, but I just wanted to talk to people.

On the outskirts of the conversation, a Muslim woman said to one Jewish student, “I can’t talk with you until you answer: Is Israel doing a genocide?” My friend kept arguing with her, which clearly kept their conversation from going anywhere. I took a different approach by saying, “First of all, I feel so awful for the civilians in Gaza. This isn’t their war and they don’t deserve to be punished. I am sure there are radical racist Israelis who would love nothing more than to kill all Palestinians. I am not on their side at all, they don’t represent me or the vast majority of Jews and Israelis. I had been protesting Bibi my whole life. We all hate him. Neither side’s civilians are responsible for the radicals in their government.”

After this concession, our conversation continued for another couple of hours as we continued to explore common ground. The Muslim students talked about their hatred for all the Arab governments including those in Egypt, Lebanon and others. They recognized that the victims of the Oct. 7 attacks are not their enemy; they don’t bear responsibility for their government’s actions nor deserve to be punished for them. By the end, four Jews and five Muslims became friends by realizing our similarities outweigh our differences.

These weeks have taught me some difficult truths. Uninformed, incurious people can easily be radicalized past the point of human compassion. No groups are immune from blind rage: I have Jewish friends too who have forgotten empathy, who are blinded by our pain and can’t see the suffering and fear of other students; however, once we take our blindfolds off and see each other as humans, even the most treacherous field still has common ground.


The post I knew students at my college were protesting Israel. I didn’t expect what they would say in class. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law pic.twitter.com/d2uE16ZzQ1

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’ pic.twitter.com/DmHjwfHtPV

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

The post IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.

REMEMBERING THE DEAD

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

The post One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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