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.