Christian Students – Stand in the Gap!
Dexter Van Zile
My oldest daughter went off to college a few weeks ago. Like most parents, I have a lot of questions about what the campus is like. Is my daughter attending a “party school”? Will there be a lot of drinking? And just how rigorous are the academic standards at the school she is attending? Will the money we invest in our daughter’s education be worth the sacrifice?
These are tough questions that every parent confronts when their children leave home. Christian leaders are in a wonderful position to help families address these questions in a prayerful manner. As I prepared for my daughter’s departure from home, I spent a lot of time speaking with a Franciscan Friar who told me one thing my daughter needed from me was the knowledge that I wanted her to be safe and happy. Prudence is also required, he reminded me.
Christian leaders, pastors especially, can help parents with college-age children confront the threats and challenges they face on campus. Sadly, one challenge college students will be forced to confront is growing hostility toward Israel, Jews and Christians who support the Jewish state. Antisemitism is a virus that is infecting higher education in the United States and it’s a problem that college administrators have a tough time confronting.
The problem doesn’t start with swastikas being spray-painted on bathroom walls. It begins in the classroom where anti-Israel propagandists, disguised as college professors, indoctrinate students with anti-Israel conspiracy theories that portray the Jewish state as singularly responsible for the Arab-Israel conflict and a singular source of suffering in the Middle East.
These professors, many of whom promote boycotts against Israel, ignore human rights abuses elsewhere in the Middle East and give people the sense that there is something wrong with Jewish sovereignty and with Christians who support Israel. Sometimes these professors, and the student activists who follow them, go so far as to bring members of terrorist organizations, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to speak on campus. In this way, these professors and their students send a very specific message to the campus at large: It’s OK to attack Israel and intimidate its supporters.
This is no joke.
The AMCHA Initiative, which monitors the atmosphere on colleges and universities throughout the country, reports that, “The presence of faculty who have expressed public support for an academic boycott of Israel on a particular campus is associated with a significant increase in the likelihood that the campus will play host to incidents that target Jewish students for harm, including assault, harassment, destruction of property and suppression of speech.”
Fortunately, there are ways to fight back. CAMERA’s campus program (CAMERA on Campus) has taught hundreds of young people —many of them Christians — how to stand up to the antisemitic propaganda offered in the classroom and the bullying it provokes in the quad.
The message Christian leaders need to offer to parents of college age children is a tough one. Christians who attend college in the U.S. have a mission. In addition to preparing themselves for adulthood, they are called to stand in solidarity with Jews when they are the targets of hostility promoted by professors and student extremists.
Christian students need to stand in the gap. And with God’s help, they can. God will give them the strength and courage.
CAMERA’s Partnership of Christians and Jews can give them the knowledge.