This article was originally published in The Daily Iowan, an independent daily newspaper for the University of Iowa. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Growing up, my mom always taught my brother and me not use the word “hate.” That it was an ugly word. That it defined the ignorance of its user. That it was the cause of so many of the world’s problems.
It is a premise with which I wholeheartedly agree. However, the climate of prejudice in today’s world is testing my patience.
Last week, according to the Sacramento Bee, the Associated Students of the University of Calfornia-Davis passed an advisory resolution that requests California regents to divest from businesses with connections to Israel. Following the events of this past summer, this organization is far from the first — student or otherwise — to recommend or implement such actions.
However, the timing of this vote is nothing short of infuriating. Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz — responsible for the killing of at least 960,000 people.
Not only that, but on Jan. 31, the Bee also reports, swastikas were found spray-painted on and around the Cal-Davis Jewish fraternity house, Alpha Epsilon Pi.
The medium through which I am voicing this opinion does not permit the appropriate expression of my anger, but then again, few do. The disdain I feel toward the individuals who spray-painted these symbols is only matched by the embarrassment I feel for their ignorance, their ignorance of just how significant that symbol is.
What upset me, however, were not the images themselves; after all, it is an unfortunate fact that these types of displays of hatred happen fairly often. What upset me was the timing.
The audacity of anyone to perform such acts at all is appalling, but to do so on this particular date of Auschwitz’s liberation, which is what seems to be the intention, is indescribable.
I have been where too few people alive today have been. I have seen the shoes, watches, glasses, and other personal belongings of men, women, and children stolen from them as they marched to their death. I have seen the living conditions to which millions were subjected. I have stood in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
And while I will never understand what it was like to be in these camps as they were running, I know all too well that this hatred still exists.
Divesting from Israel and Israel-associated companies is simply politics, and while I am mad about this, groups are free to make this decision as the please. But spray-painting swastikas on a building for a Jewish organization is unforgivable.
Incidentally, in order to divest from Israel, Cal-Davis would have to fundamentally change the way the university operates. The inventions and products that are a part of our daily lives upon which Israel has had an impact are innumerable — from computers to Soda Streams and USB jump drives to cherry tomatoes. Even some of the biggest companies in the world are heavily invested in Israel (Samsung, for example, invested in eight Israeli startups last year alone). But I digress.
Hate will never be eliminated from this world. It’s just a fact. But when it appears as intentional as this past week at Cal-Davis has been, I fear that not only is hate not being eliminated, but it’s growing.
Joe Lane is a sophomore at The University of Iowa studying marketing and entrepreneurial management. He grew up in St. Paul, and attended the Temple of Aaron where he was very active in USY. He frequently writes current events pieces for the Daily Iowan and tries to incorporate his Judaism whenever appropriate.