anti-Israel protesters (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
anti-Israel protesters

Unless progressives worldwide undergo a fundamental shift that includes Jewish and Israeli voices, I will never call myself a progressive again.

By Gabriel Gaysinsky, The Algemeiner

I once considered myself a progressive, but the word has lost its meaning. From college students to United Nations officials, “progressives” are compromising their values to support Hamas, a terror group that murdered over 1,200 Israelis and took approximately 240 hostages on October 7th.

The “progressive” movement, which began in the late 19th century, has long defended the rights of women and minorities. It is a movement that I aligned with during my college years, while also connecting with my Jewish and Israeli identity. I never thought, however, that I would be forced to choose between the two. Disillusionment set in as progressive friends and colleagues spoke negatively about Jews and Israel. Mentioning my national origin often barred me from conversations, and I was ostracized in classes, particularly in political science courses. Being proud of my identity caused me to face slurs, constant demonization, and a number of illogical accusations.

I was accused of doxxing students, being responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza, and committing a number of crimes simply for being an Israeli Jew. I was told I couldn’t be a proud Israeli and a progressive simultaneously. Why should I have to compromise my identity to maintain friendships in progressive and academic spaces? How could antisemitism exist so pervasively on the left when it claims to oppose all discrimination? These are questions I still continue to ask myself.

The final blow to my trust in my peers came on October 7th. Hamas’ genocidal rampage in southern Israel included sexual violence, with numerous eyewitness accounts describing women with broken pelvises from repetitive rapes and autopsies finding considerable evidence of brutal sexual assaults of Israeli victims. A Position Paper published by Physicians For Human Rights Israel describes these horrific sexual crimes against innocent Israelis in agonizing detail.

Even The New York Times reported on the sexual brutality committed by Hamas terrorists, despite being accused of holding an anti-Israel bias. Yet, progressives’ responses were disturbingly inadequate.

In Canada, an open letter by city councilor Susan Kim and provincial parliament member Sarah Jama dismissed accusations of rape by Hamas as misinformation. This letter was endorsed by the head of the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Center. After facing significant backlash, Jama doubled down, blaming the “Zionist lobby” for pressuring the Canadian government into reprimanding her.

At the United Nations, it took eight weeks for an official condemnation of Hamas’ rapes to be released by UN Women. Sarah Douglas, Deputy Chief of Peace and Security at UN Women, has endorsed 153 tweets attacking Israel and Zionists, and attended UN meetings with pro-Palestine posters, violating UN neutrality guidelines. Suffice it to say that a key leader in the UN’s initiative to uplift women is actively working against the very women she is charged with uplifting.

The traditionally progressive Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, particularly its Chicago chapter, has also faced criticism for endorsing terrorism. Mere hours after the release of the first October 7th footage, BLM Chicago posted a tweet with a hang-glider image, referencing Hamas terrorists who used hang-gliders to attack and kill hundreds of partygoers at the Nova Music Festival. This blatant support for a violent attack on innocent civilians by an organization that has committed itself to the fight for equality is shocking, especially considering the fact that Hamas has held Avera Mengistu, a mentally ill Ethiopian-Israeli man, in captivity since 2014.

On college campuses, the situation is dire. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UC Davis, the university I attend, justified the October 7th attack and glorified the attackers. Their rallies have featured slogans like “We don’t want no Jewish state” — which is a call for the eradication of Israel — and “Globalize the Intifada,” which calls for the violence of the intifadas to be repeated against Jewish communities worldwide. Professors also joined in; Jemma Decristo, a university faculty member, tweeted threatening messages against “Zionist journalists.” Another professor stated that “all Israeli residents are legitimate targets,” actively calling for violence against his own Israeli students and colleagues. After UC Davis students began an encampment mimicking those already established on other campuses, several professors reportedly required classes to attend the space, or have given extra credit for doing so, despite the fact that many Jewish and Israeli students are extremely uncomfortable with its messaging.

The aftermath of October 7th revealed that the hatred I experienced at my university is not unique. Higher education, while more radical, mirrors the outside world. The antisemitism and disregard for basic principles of human rights when it comes to Israelis might start on college campuses but can spread throughout society. I see this hate everywhere. Unless progressives worldwide undergo a fundamental shift that includes Jewish and Israeli voices, I will never call myself a progressive again.

Gabriel Gaysinsky is a student at the University of California, Davis, majoring in International Relations and Middle Eastern/South Asian Studies. He is a 2023-2024 CAMERA Fellow, executive board member of Aggies For Israel, and is an active student leader within his university’s Jewish community. Originally from Haifa, Israel, Gabriel hopes to utilize his experience and knowledge to pursue interfaith dialogue and peaceful solutions in Israel/Palestine.


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