Israeli President Isaac Herzog and pro-Israel activist Noa Tishby welcomed students from U.S. and Canadian college campuses to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Thursday for a discussion on the rise in antisemitism across North America.
The delegation told the president about their experiences on the campuses, including intimidation attempts and attacks on Jewish students and pro-Israel associations, Herzog’s office said in a statement. They also discussed the importance of defending the Jewish state.
“We’re very happy to have you here. These are the most challenging times that our nation has endured, but we shall overcome, and we shall overcome together,” Herzog told the students.
“You’re here and seeing the real battlefront, but the impact of this war, this battlefront reaches all the way down to your campuses,” he said, adding that “you are our sons and daughters, and we encourage you, support you and bless you.”
Tishby told the students: “We know what you’re going through. This is the battleground. You guys and girls have been on your own for a very long time. You’re no longer on your own. Everybody woke up.
“When somebody comes up to you and says, ‘I am not antisemitic, I’m just anti-Zionist,’ ask them, ‘Which other countries would you like to dismantle?’ In essence, you cannot separate being Jewish from being a Zionist,” said Tishby.
Until April, she served as Israel’s first-ever special envoy for combating antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
‘We’re not going to be afraid’
Corelle Gabay, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recounted that about a week or so after Oct. 7, the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter held a rally on campus. “I was on my way to my dorm. I was yelled at and told to get off my bike,” she said.
She continued, “I was wearing my Israel bracelet. I was yelled at. ‘F**k you, you f****ng Jew.’ … When we went to pass a motion condemning Hamas’s attack at the student senate, protesters blocked the exits and called out the senate president, who is Jewish.”
The delegation to Israel was organized by the Hasbara Fellowships organization, which helps train young student leaders to become pro-Israel activists on campus.
“When we get back to our campuses, we’re not going to be afraid—not of antisemitism, not of expressing our Jewish identity, and we’re not going to be afraid of standing with Israel,” vowed Hasbara Fellowships executive director Alan Levine.