MARSCHALL: Nazis forbade my Jewish grandfather from journalism. Now this prof wants to kill me for being a Jewish journalist.
It is not lost on me that I am leading this publication at the exact moment the entire nation is fixated on rabid anti-Semitism in higher education - which we covered for years despite national indifference to the problem.
Campus Reform reported Thursday that Jemma Decristo, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, apparently threatened death, home invasion, and kidnapping of Jewish journalists.
The post reads:
one group of ppl we have easy access to in the US is all these zionist journalists who spread propaganda and misinformation.
they have houses w addresses, kids in school
they can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more 🔪🪓🩸🩸🩸
I emailed the university this message and offered them an opportunity to comment for Campus Reform’s article:
A simple Google search of me shows that I am a Jewish journalist on the record as pro-Israel.
What steps are UC Davis or law enforcement taking to prevent Decristo from trying to kill me, or other Jews (and their children) in my profession?
The university chose not to respond.
It is not lost on me that I am a Jewish journalist leading this publication at the exact moment the entire nation is fixated on rabid anti-Semitism in higher education - an issue I, as well as Campus Reform, have covered for years despite national indifference to the problem.
In 1938, the Nazi Party was unaware that my grandfather was Jewish when it awarded him top prize in a national essay contest for students. My grandfather’s picture accepting the award from a Nazi official ended up running in a Mannheim newspaper.
But my grandfather, who pursued writing with hopes of becoming a journalist, never got the chance. The Nazi regime soon learned of his identity not long before they carted him off to the Dachau concentration camp near Munich.
It is not lost on me - nor does it shock me - that Decristo would try to kill me with knives or an ax should she get the chance. I am Jewish, and I do support the state of Israel, which did not exist in its modern form until three years after the end of the Holocaust.
But to explain why I’m not shocked, I need to preface.
I’m aware some readers may think the headline, and my framing of Decristo’s tweet, indulge in exaggeration to make an inflated point.
While I understand likelihoods and the concept of hollow threats, that is simply not the case here.
What Descristo wants to do to Jewish journalists is what the Nazis did to German and Austrian Jews only a few months after that award ceremony on Kristallnacht. On “The Night of Broken Glass,” Nazis destroyed Jewish businesses and temples, and killed Jews or rounded them up for labor camps.
Decristo’s intention is not limited to Jewish journalists in her vicinity; it does not name names. It doesn’t have to. The individual and collective impulse to eradicate Jews - whether from Decristo or the Nazi officer who awarded my grandfather - does not distinguish between Jewish individuals because it does not recognize Jewish humanity.
That incapacity explains why people who hate Jews cannot bring themselves to condemn the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. Rep. Rashida Tlaib cries and doubles down on misinformation before she recognizes the humanity of the Jews who were tortured, beheaded, captured, raped, and killed.
Tala Alsharif, President of Students for Justice in Palestine at Youngstown State University in Ohio, refers to Hamas as “we” when speaking with Campus Reform before trying to walk it back.
”’Hamas does not have a milit[ary]–We don’t have–I’m not–I’m not here to support Hamas,” Alsharif said.
Alsharif contradicts herself because she needs to disassociate from her own affiliation to make her lack of humanity for fellow humans palatable. Tlaib is no different.
In that context, Decristo’s threat speaks to the larger truth about being the Jewish target of anti-Semitism. Being Jewish is to be under threat and that existence collapses time.
To borrow the title of the popular action film, anti-Semitism and the experience of it happens Everywhere and All at Once. It is a totalizing Everything that can affect anyone inside or outside of Israel, and it has for millennia.
When American students parade on college quads in support of Hamas terrorists who tortured and killed Jews, their genocidal chants “From the river to the sea” transcend time and space. For the Palestinian terrorists and the American anti-Israel activists, 2023 is both 1947 - when Palestinian leadership refused the United Nations proposal that would have given them a state at the same time as Israel - and 132 AD - when the Roman Empire renamed Judea as Palestine to erase the memory of its Hebrew population.
The best book I’ve ever read on the conflict in the Middle East is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Jerusalem, a 784-page epic on the history of the city from approximately 1000 BC to 1967 AD. The first and last chapters are haunting because in bookending the history of Jerusalem, they demonstrate nothing has changed for those connected to the land.
In 2013, I went on Birthright and visited Masada, an ancient Israeli fortress overlooking the Dead Sea about 80 minutes from where Hamas terrorists butchered Jewish families. In 73 AD, Masada is where a group of Jewish resistors died fighting Roman occupation in the same rebellion that saw the destruction of the Second Temple. The Western Wall in Jerusalem, where New York Governor Kathy Hochul prayed on Thursday, is all that remains of the latter.
Masada is the first thing I thought of when I saw the X post of Israeli reservists lying on the floor of an overcrowded El Al plane rushing from Bangkok back to their units.
On Tuesday morning I returned to Israel from Tokyo via Bangkok. ✈️
Before boarding the plane from Bangkok to Israel, the terminal was full of young backpackers who wanted to return to Israel to the reserves.
Upon boarding, they announced that all those who still do not have a… pic.twitter.com/dDnbs4TYUT
— Living Lchaim (@LivingLchaim) October 15, 2023
The post’s text, “During the entire flight, they slept on the floor wherever possible including near the cockpit, on the floor in the business class and in every corner of the plane,” evokes the feeling of standing in the deep suffocating chasms of Masada where Jewish rebel fighters 1,950 years ago on the other side of Asia held out against Roman occupiers.
If you take away anything from my analogy to Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, let it be that the threat against one Jew is life and death for the Jewish people. It is the reverberating echo of the 1993 movie Schindler’s List’s invocation of the Talmud that, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
And if action movies have taught me anything, it is that the guy with the pink eye mask is probably the most lethal one of the lot.
Editor’s Note: After publication, Director of News and Media Relations James Nash responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment, stating that the original request had gone to a spam folder. Nash directed Campus Reform to a prepared statement from Chancellor Gary S. May, who said he “absolutely condemn[s]” Decristo’s posts and found the comments to be “revolting in every way.” May confirmed that Decristo is still employed, but that the university is “carefully reviewing this matter” to ensure its “response is consistent with universitywide policy and state and federal constitutional protections.”
Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.