Clickbait And Fear-Mongering Don’t Define Northwestern’s Thriving Jewish Community

Once again, Northwestern has been included on a wildly inaccurate and non-scientific list of “anti-Semitic” American college campuses. This time, it is Algemeiner’s “The 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students.” It is clear that Algemeiner’s editorial staff chose not to engage with the Jewish communities at the schools they listed; instead, they ranked them based on subjective factors that typically do not affect Jewish student life. My experiences as a Jewish student at Northwestern, as well as the experiences of my many Jewish peers, have been overwhelmingly positive. After just one trimester at NU, I have found multiple homes within the campus’ vibrant and active Jewish community, where I have celebrated my heritage and practiced Jewish rituals in complete comfort. An abundance of Jewish organizations and classes compliment the welcoming community and offer Jewish students constant opportunities to engage with their faith.

It can be inferred that the success of an anti-Israel BDS resolution at Northwestern in 2015 drives this ranking. Personally, I am vehemently against BDS; I believe the movement is counter-productive to the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and unfairly targets the only Jewish State. I am active in Northwestern’s Wildcats for Israel organization because I strongly support Israel’s right to exist and the majority of Israeli policy and actions. With this said, I am grateful for the dialogue I have shared with those at Northwestern who don’t share my perspective; it has expanded my understanding of a conflict in which students on both sides are often too entrenched in their views. Many of these viewpoints make me uncomfortable, but progress and understanding are impossible without productive discomfort. Does Algemeiner really seek to distance Jewish students from campuses where their voices are needed the most?

The article also references an anti-Semitic incident earlier this month, in which a Nazi salute was aimed at a professor from a man in a car on campus. The Algemeiner should be ashamed of their lack of journalistic integrity for suggesting that an entire college campus is one of the “worst colleges for Jewish students” based on an isolated (albeit disturbing) incident.

Unfortunately, these lists matter. Upon hearing that I attend Northwestern, countless parents (often of prospective students) have asked me how I deal with the campus anti-Semitism they read about online. Many have indicated that their son or daughter is no longer considering Northwestern due to the fear being targeted for their Judaism. Studies have empirically shown that online rankings affect student applications and enrollment; the editorial staff of the Algemeiner should reflect on their roles in encouraging lazy, fear-mongering studies that spread false information and discourage Jewish students from attending colleges with thriving Jewish communities.

Please - especially if you are a Jewish student considering future colleges - do not fall for these clickbait, non-scientific “studies” of campus anti-Semitism. Northwestern has a wonderful and safe Jewish community that I am proud to be part of. Anti-Semitism on college campuses is a real issue, but the dystopian situation that Algemeiner and similar sites present is simply not reality.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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