Jews gather in support of Israel.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Jews gather in support of Israel.

Ellie Hasenberg, The Lion's Tale, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

American Jews should not criticize Israel on social media because it fuels antisemitism. It is imperative to fully understand both sides of a conflict before expressing one’s views, yet many students from CESJDS, who should know better, encourage hatred towards Israel through their misguided criticism.

By solely blaming Israel for the chaos in the Middle East, many JDS students are unknowingly opening a door for antisemitism and anti-Zionism among their non-Jewish followers.

Sadly, in today’s society, many teenagers rely on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter for their news and believe everything they read. On May 10, after the riots in Sheikh Jarrah, I scrolled through Instagram posts in hope of finding support and validation for the worry and sadness I was feeling. Instead, what I saw from my Jewish friends was shocking.

Palestinians were evicted from their homes because they had not paid rent for many years despite warnings issued by the Israeli government. I was stunned to see the unjustified hate Israel was receiving from the world, but specifically from my fellow JDS classmates.

Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah refused to pay because they knew it would incite violence against Israelis, and somehow my classmates fell for their strategy, as did much of the world.

The criticism of Israel on my Instagram page was clearly based on misinformation and what seemed to be a strong desire to vilify Israelis. Some common threads I saw were: “We should be mourning the Palestinian men killed by Israel’s war machine,” “Listen to Palestinians. It has never been more critical to center their voices,” and “Israelis aren’t evicting Palestinians from their homes, they are evicting them from their humanity.”

Upon posting an image stating “I stand with Israel” after thousands of rockets were fired by Hamas and an IDF soldier was murdered, I received countless Direct Messages shaming me for standing in solidarity with the country, and at least twenty people unfollowed my account. Once again, I was shocked and saddened by the words and actions of my classmates.

JDS students, I call on you to be more aware of the impact your posts may have on the broader Jewish community. Solely condemning Israel on social media can very easily be misinterpreted as disagreeing with the existence of the State of Israel. Your actions do not go unnoticed – as evidenced by the protest last week at Walt Whitman High School equating Israelis to Nazis – and you are fueling the disgusting amount of antisemitism and anti-Zionism in the Washington area.

It is our role as Jews to stand by Israel. This does not mean blindly supporting every action the government takes or cheering for the death of innocent Palestinians. It means defending the Jewish state – a land that would take you in if our history of persecution were to persist – and being able to both criticize and praise the actions of its government.


This story was originally published on May 19, 2021.