For the first time, anti-Israel feeling on Campus.
I spent my first years as a college student studying Biomedical sciences, so I rarely came across fellow students who knew anything about Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, things change when I changed my study field and chose another career, when I got out of the biomedical science classes to the International Relations classes I came across students that knew about and wanted to debate one the most famous conflicts in the Middle East.
It was the first time I became aware of what both American and Israeli newspapers call "anti-Israel feeling on campus", and it wasn't nice. One of the new students of my class, while I was explaining my research to him, came up with "you are very pro-Israel". I was surprised by such affirmation about my political opinions since I don't openly express any pro-Israel statement or feeling in class, not because I fear anti-semitism, but because our topics of debates are usually related to Latin America politics or Amazon Rainforest strategic importance for Brazil.
Anyway, I was surprised by his comment, not just because I barely knew him but because I always considered myself a bit of a critic of Israel's internal and external politics, specifically I'm a critic to the settlement expansion, to the military occupation in West Bank, to the orthodox religious establishment and to the rampant nationalism among certain right wing (religious or secular) groups, even if I can't stand the socialism that influence israeli left and, therefore, never considered me an enthusiastic of Israeli left-wing ideas or political parties. In my conservative, orthodox, right-wing and religious Zionist community, I always thought of myself as the one who is not "enough pro-Israel".
I asked my knew classmate why he thought I was pro-Israel. He said that he has checked my Facebook page and he only saw pro-Israel articles and posts, and not one single thing about the Palestinians. So, for him, I was very pro-Israel.
One can check my Facebook page and see a lot of articles about Israel, many of them are from one particularly famous Israeli newspapers that many Israelis would classify as left-wing, elitist, Ashkenazi and very critic to the right-wing establishment (religious or secular). But, for my classmate, it was all Jewish and pro-Israel.
Such simplistic way to interpret one's political opinion caused in my heart a strange feeling of fear. I said to my friend that some more right wing Jews would question my "pro-Israel" side, but I considered myself pro-Israel even with my critics to it's politics and religious establishment, just as I like Brazil, I don't close my eyes to the wrong things that happen here, I do the same with Israel.
He continued our dialogue with "of course you are pro-Israel, you're a Jew and every Jew is pro-Israel", that strange feeling of fear come back to my heart. It was the first time that someone I barely knew said I was Jewish and it wasn't with the purpose of asking me for tips for a future travel to Israel, it was to say I was in favor of a colonialist project that subjugated the Palestinian people. I didn't like it, something inside of me didn't like it. What made he think I was Jewish? Couldn't be the clothes, I incorporated tznius in my life in a very modern orthodox way and I'm not married, so it would be hard for anyone to distinguish me as a Jew. He said it were my pictures in Israel on my Facebook page.
This dialogue happened right after the moment I was sitting alone on a chair on the college restaurant sad because every Shabbas, in my orthodox community, I feel as the most goyish thing of the shul because I’m not observant enough, because I’m not "really" jewish, because I’m not an enthusiastic of religious zionism…
During my dialogue with my new classmate he told me about his friend on the other campuses of International Relation who was very pro-Palestinian and wanted the destruction of the state of Israel. He also told me about how he thinks that it would be nice "if the Israelis just drop their weapons and negotiate with Hamas, because Israel is much more powerful than Hamas and why you guys expect Hamas to drop their weapons in order to negotiate with them?” or “what Hamas could possible do to hurt Israel if Israel militar power is much stronger than Hamas militar capabilities?"
"You guys". Suddenly I had become an Israeli, that was ironic, I'll just have the right to make Aliyah one year after my conversion and when do, after my arrival in Israel I'll have to undergo an orthodox conversion in order to be considered a Jew.
My new classmate wasn't expressing anti-semitism - although I believe that his friend on the other compus is. He was mistaken in many of his assumption, specially about Hamas and he was expressing what someone who doesn't know a lot about Israel and just read Brazilian newspapers would say. He was expressing misinformation, he wan't looking to a conflict and seeing this conflict many faces and realities and he was expressing the anti-American prejudice commonly found in Brazilian universities and colleges, specially on study fields like mine.
The problem with the anti-Israel feeling on campus isn't just that it exist, which by itself demonstrate how much people are receiving misinformation and analyzing a complex conflict in a simplistic way, the problem is those misinformed people or the one's who are simply anti-Israel do not find Jews (and non-Jews ) who are able to debate and not just say "you're wrong, Isrsel is perfect, I saw that perfection during my Birthright trip".