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We Stand with Israel
Submitted by Bryan Goldberg, Knoxville Jewish Alliance President
October 29, 2023

Incidents of antisemitism across the globe are proliferating at a rapid pace that shows no signs of abating. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has recorded a significant spike in antisemitism incidents across the United States since October 7. The ADL Center on Extremism notes a 388-percent increase in harassment, vandalism, and assault over the same period last year.

This week in Knoxville, several media outlets reported obscuring and generalizing information on the Israel-Hamas war during coverage of the Free Palestine rally.

The Knoxville Jewish Alliance and Jewish Federations of North America stand in total and complete solidarity with Israel, which has every right to defend itself and protect its citizens. The United States has pledged to support Israel. The current actions in Gaza are in response to the horrific attack on Israeli citizens which included kidnapping children and Holocaust survivors, slaughtering 260 young people in cold blood at a music festival, and murdering families in their homes. Overall, 1,400 Israelis have been killed and over 200 are being held hostage. Sorrowfully, the Red Cross has been denied access to hostages.

Israel closed its border with a territory which just engaged in murder and kidnapping. This action was to defend its citizens. Israel and Egypt, both share a border with Gaza. Egypt could open its border with Gaza and allow the free movement of people and goods into Gaza.

I encourage you to respond to the following information with facts:

Israel targets Palestinian civilians. Reality: Hamas terrorists do not wear military uniforms; they blend in with civilians. They build bases, store bombs, and launch rockets intentionally from civilian neighborhoods. Israel is recognized by the world’s best militaries for the care it takes to avoid civilian casualties.

Free Palestine: From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be free. Reality: This statement is not in support of a two-state solution, or any form of co-existence. It calls for destruction and elimination of the entire Jewish state – from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, threats to Jewish students are rising on college campuses with pro-Hamas protests acting well beyond the bounds of free speech. With Knoxville housing the flagship university of our state, it is more important than ever for media to have knowledge and language that extinguishes the spread of antisemitic rhetoric.

Incidents creating unrest include:

After competing pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies yesterday at Cooper Union - a college in downtown Manhattan - a group of Jewish students barricaded themselves in the college library for self-protection from a mob of protestors who were cheering, “Free Palestine.” A video shared on social media shows the pro-Palestinian students pounding on the door of the room where the Jewish students had taken refuge.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, Students for Justice in Palestine members at George Washington University projected a slideshow of virulently antisemitic slogans such as “Divestment from Zionist genocide now,” “Free Palestine From the River to the Sea,” and “Glory to Our Martyrs.”

The incident comes after students at both Georgetown and American University recently told Fox News that they no longer feel safe on campus in the wake of the war and in the shadow of vitriolic accusations that their peers are making against Israel. They also expressed that their institutions are not doing enough to affirm Israel’s right to exist and its right to self-defense.

The Secure Community Network (SCN) reported today that since the Hamas attacked they have logged 94 incidents on college campuses, a significant 15% of the 614 total antisemitic incidents logged across the country in the month of October. This is on pace to be SCN’s highest month of antisemitic incidents ever recorded.

These antisemitic episodes on campus follow the well-publicized letter signed by two dozen student groups at Harvard University that blamed Israel for the brutal Hamas terrorist attacks. Today, the White House condemned the delegitimization of Israel and the “disturbing pattern of antisemitic messages being conveyed on college campuses.”

I am working with the Jewish Federations of North America to create a space for our community to gather and to support one another with facts. I will reach out later this week with details. All Jews/Knoxvillians deserve to feel comfortable living as their true selves.

Am Yisrael Chai - May the people of Israel be strong,

goldberg bryan


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