Combating antisemitism on campus today

By Jason A. Horowitz —

As antisemitism continues to rise in the United States, ZBT remains as strongly committed as ever to being a voice for the Jewish people, especially on college campuses.

In March, ZBT brought me back to serve as the Director of Heritage Education and Partnerships. As part of my role, I have taken on the oversight of our Hate Against One is Hate Against All campaign, which aims to combat antisemitism and other forms of hate. This has led to the development of the Antisemitism: Past and Present training, which I led for brothers from the Eta Mu Chapter at California Polytechnic State University, the Interfraternity Council at the University of Kentucky and brothers at our International Convention. In all, over 400 people have been reached through this program in only a few short months.

The training focuses on teaching brothers the history of antisemitism and Jewish persecution. We start as far back as Hebrew slavery in Egypt. The goal is to show audiences that antisemitism is not just a modern phenomenon but millennia-old oppression that grew more and more violent as time passed. The training moves onto post-Holocaust antisemitism and modern antisemitism. This includes conversations on white nationalist antisemitism and antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism and anti-Israel activity.

I look forward to bringing this training to more campuses and reaching more people in the 2021-2022 school year.

Both the Cal Poly and Kentucky presentations were done in response to antisemitic incidents on their respective campuses.

After a swastika was drawn on the house of another Jewish fraternity at Cal Poly, the Eta Mu Chapter brothers were proactive in their response. They took this hate incident and used it as an opportunity to learn more about how to combat antisemitism. Additionally, they hosted a book club and discussion with me on the Holocaust graphic novel Maus.

The University of Kentucky, where ZBT is currently restarting a prospective chapter, asked ZBT to lead this training for their entire fraternity life community after a Jewish member of another fraternity was singled out and harassed for his Judaism. The program was well-received and Kentucky Fraternity & Sorority Life staff were grateful for ZBT’s presence in this space.

In addition to expanding the frequency Antisemitism: Past and Present training is offered, we look forward to conducting additional Words to Action programs through our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League. This workshop teaches our brothers to recognize and respond to antisemitism when they see it.

ZBT continues to recognize its Jewish heritage through these programs. We were founded because Jewish men were excluded from joining other fraternities and we will continue to combat antisemitism when we see it today.