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Katie Draisen is a junior studying Social Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
In less than a week, Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at Boston University. While various student groups have come together to organize protests, rallies and town halls in order to voice their concern for Shapiro’s upcoming appearance, the university’s Jewish organizations have been shockingly silent.
As a Jewish student who is heavily involved in BU’s J Street chapter, as well as other branches of Jewish student life, I am alarmed by the nonexistent response that our organizations have had to the University’s support of Shapiro’s presence on campus. And while individual Jewish students have indeed been involved in spearheading protests against Shapiro, the lack of support from well-established Jewish organizations is a remarkable cause for concern.
Even though Shapiro describes himself as a devout Orthodox Jew, this has never stopped him from shaming other members of the Jewish faith. He has claimed that only Orthodox Jews know what it means to be Jewish, and that all Jews who criticize the Israeli government are self-loathing. He has attacked Jews who support progressive American politics, labeling us as “JINOs” or “Jews in name only.” He has frequently advocated for Israel’s continued military occupation of the West Bank and has denied that the Palestinian people have a right to self-determination in their homeland.
Above all, Shapiro has proven time and again that he disregards the central Jewish commitment to tikkun olam, or, “repairing the world,” and beyond this he has earned an indisputable identity as a hatemonger and white supremacist. He has built his platform on the basis of contempt for racial minorities, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other groups that face oppression.
And yet, none of the prominent Jewish organizations at BU have come forward to condemn his presence on our campus. None have come forward in solidarity with other communities who have reason to fear his hateful rhetoric and the racist sentiment that it will promote in a place where all students deserve to feel safe, regardless of their identities.
Jewish students and organizations at BU do not have an obligation to take responsibility or apologize for the extremist views that Shapiro has presented, but we do have an obligation to denounce them. And we do have a responsibility to call each other to action against the spread of hate, division, and propaganda that Shapiro has committed in the name of our religion.
We ought to understand the danger in silence and complacency.