Americans were not surprised about antisemitic and pro-Palestinian rallies breaking out on college campuses across the county as the Israel-Hamas war intensifies.
“I think they need to grow up and become adults,” Brian, from Massachusetts, said on Nashville’s famed Broadway street. “Stop acting childish. Wake up.”
But David, from Illinois, disagreed, despite the rise in antisemitism.
“People are very vocal, as they should be,” David said. “I think everybody should be voicing their opinion.”
Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrations have broken out across U.S. college campuses following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 ambush. Many colleges have seen anti-Israel rallies paired with antisemitic incidents and violent threats, leaving some Jewish students feeling unsafe on campus.
“I think most people couldn’t find Israel on a map if they had to,” Becky, of South Carolina, said. “It’s very saddening.”
There were 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23, a nearly 400% rise year-over-year, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The increase led the Biden administration to partner with universities to combat threats against Jewish students.
“It’s sad,” one woman said. “You fear for any kids who are in college that are anywhere right now in the world.”
There have been 8,000 TikTok posts in the U.S. tagging #StandwithPalestine while only 3,000 sported the #StandwithIsrael hashtag over a two-week span, according to TikTok data obtained by Axios. Nearly 90% of the pro-Palestinian hashtags were posted by users under 35.
“The support for the Palestinians just blows my mind,” Bob, from Pennsylvania, said. “It opens your eyes up to what’s going in America.”
At Cornell University, online threats were made against the Jewish community. A Cornell student was arrested in connection to the posts, which included threats to “slit the throats” of Jewish males and “rape” Jewish women.
“I am very surprised nationally and locally how much [antisemitism] is going on around here,” Brian said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Kathy, of Connecticut, said college students are growing up in a different world with access to social media and misinformation. Students choose what they want to see and what they don’t, she said.
“They don’t see things as they really are,” Kathy said. “They’re just pampered.”
Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack led to at least 1,400 Israelis killed and over 200 taken as hostages, including children and the elderly. The terrorist group was accused of brutal acts against Israelis, including beheading and raping innocent civilians. Israel, in response, launched an assault on Gaza that’s led to thousands of Palestinian deaths.
“I’m saddened that our youth don’t know more about history and what’s going on in the world,” Rick, from South Carolina, said. “I think history has shown, without the support from the United States, Israel wouldn’t exist.”
Pro-Palestinian protesters have been heard at several demonstrations on college campuses chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which the Anti-Defamation League notes can be understood as a call for the elimination of Israel. A Cooper Union college student recalled pro-Palestinian protesters “calling for the murder of Jews.”
“I think they just like to protest anything,” Sharon, from Pennsylvania, said. “I don’t think they even know what they’re protesting.”
To hear more from Americans about antisemitism on college campuses, click here.