My biggest college fear: Anti-Israel bullies, lies

I am a senior at Burlingame High School, but I could be a senior at any American high school. I am beginning the college application process. And I am scared. I am scared, but not for the reason that you might assume.

Most incoming college students are worried about having an awful roommate, missing their friends and family, or not being able to keep up with a challenging academic workload. However, these are the least of my fears.

I am scared because of the false propaganda and bullying — yes, bullying — taking place on college campuses nationwide over the Israeli–Palestinian/Arab conflict.

A large amount of the anti-Israel bullying is led by two student groups — the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is another popular anti-Israel movement on college campuses.

College administrators have shown much less sensitivity toward anti-Israel activity on campus than to the mistreatment of other minority groups and women. But what is even more disturbing is that some college professors themselves are teaching bias and propaganda instead of facts.

There is clear moral confusion on college campuses concerning the Israeli–Palestinian/Arab conflict. And it makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about it.

I spent a semester abroad in Israel during my sophomore year, and it was on this journey where I developed a deep connection to the land of Israel. I am a spiritual person, and living in Israel gave me a great sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. I remember standing at the Western Wall for the first time. I cannot find the correct words to describe such a magical experience, but it was in that moment that I finally understood why Israel is such an amazing place.

After spending five months living in Israel, I can assure you that while the news makes this small sliver of land appear like the biggest problem in the world, Israel is nothing like it is presented by its opposers.

Unfortunately, I am going to be surrounded by many of Israel’s opposers when I leave for college next year. A million questions run through my mind when I think of going away to college and the many students and professors with false perceptions of Israel whom I will encounter.

How does one relate to classmates when our truths are so far apart? How does one defend himself or herself when professors are indoctrinating students with biased information?

Lies are very dangerous, especially if they are believed. Liars scare me, but liars who believe their lies are frightening and must be called out.

And quite frankly, I am sick and tired of the lies.

I don’t believe that we all need to feel the same way about the issues. I do believe, however, that we need to be clear about the facts. I wish that all college professors who teach a class on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would begin their first lesson with a few simple yet important facts:

• The majority of Palestinians want there to be no Jewish State of Israel — they feel Israel has no right to exist.

• Israel is not an apartheid state. I wish everyone could visit Israel, because they would then realize how absurd this claim is. Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population; Arab citizens can, among other things, vote, serve in Parliament and become judges. Miss Israel was an Arab.

• Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. The security fence, similar to the one between the U.S. and Mexico, was created to protect its citizens from suicide bombers — and terrorism has decreased significantly because of its existence.

If every professor were to teach these facts, I would feel much more secure about going away to college.

Hannah Wren is a senior at Burlingame High School. She is on the board of the Teen Federation, North Bay, and a participant in Write On for Israel.