By Lauren Rabin
Community Relations Council
Editor's note: This is the first piece in our new "Voices from the CRC" series.
I was invited to join the Community Relations Council (CRC) after a conversation with Amy Fels, who was chairing the committee at that time, and with Federation Director of Campaign and Security Planning Aaron Gorodzinsky regarding the rise of anti-Semitism in our country and around the world.
I wanted to join the CRC because I was feeling frustrated with the rise of anti-Semitic incidents I was witnessing, and I wanted to channel that frustration into action. At that time, as I continue to be today, I was especially worried about the rising number of incidents occurring at colleges and universities, where the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement continues to target the progressive movements and make life very uncomfortable for our Jewish students by harassing them, interrupting their events and forcing them to denounce their love for Israel to feel accepted. This is not okay.
The world today is very different from what it was two years ago, but anti-Semitism, even during the pandemic, continues to be on the rise. Our college students continue to be targeted by student groups determined to pass BDS resolutions that are disruptive and aggressive against any attempt by our Jewish students to show pride in their love for Israel.
Since joining the CRC, I have learned that our Jewish community is fighting back against BDS at college campuses by supporting the Israel Action Network (IAN), an organization created with the support of our Federation dollars that advocates, supports and trains college students, Federation professionals and volunteers to combat BDS.
Even during the pandemic, IAN has held twelve virtual events and trained nearly 3,000 community members, including one regional event sponsored by our community. At the same time, IAN helped Jewish students at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) file a formal civil rights complaint under Title VI because of a documented pattern of anti-Semitic attacks and discrimination by the university that forced the school to admit their inaction and the creation of an Advisory Council on Jewish and Campus Life to address concerns about the future.
I feel encouraged that other Jewish students, supported by Federations, Hillels and IAN, are forcing their universities to abide by their obligation to protect Jewish students from harassment and intimidation. We are fighting back and using our legal rights against those who want to discriminate against us.
To learn more about the work of the CRC contact Aaron Gorodzinsky at email@example.com.