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The Daily Tar Heel

Op-ed: UNC must do more to combat antisemitism

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It was my junior year of high school, after the shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue, when I truly realized that I would have to deal with antisemitism as I grew up.

Throughout my college experience, I have witnessed a consistent level of hatred — but since Oct. 7, it has taken a turn for the worse. As an Undergraduate Senator and chair of the Undergraduate Senate Oversight and Advocacy Committee, I have tried to use my voice to push back against the recent antisemitism I have seen.

In the past months of being a kippah-wearing Jew on campus, I have been harassed, flipped off, yelled at from cars, and my mezuzah went missing. This hatred is not new at UNC. In previous years, swastikas have been found on campus and some professors have promoted ideas that have been perceived as antisemitic. At Still Life last spring, a person performed a Nazi salute at me.

On March 26, UNC was featured in a video post on the X account Stop Antisemitism, not for the first time this academic year. On April 10, UNC was given an F on the ADL’s campus antisemitism report card. Since Oct. 7, I've seen some UNC students sympathize with Hamas, a genocidal terrorist group that harms both Israelis and Palestinians.

We’ve also seen an erosion of nuance on this campus. I have been called a bad person for advocating for the release of the hostages who have been in Hamas captivity for more than 200 days and have been told that “Bring Them Home” is hate speech. There is no limit to grief. I can grieve the countless innocent lives lost in Gaza and also want to bring home the Israeli hostages. This erosion of nuance is dangerous.

As a representative of the Jewish community on campus, I call upon interim Chancellor Lee Roberts to take action to protect Jewish students on campus. UNC has a Title VI legal responsibility to protect Jewish and Israeli Tar Heels. This includes protecting them from the glorification of terrorism and calls for political violence against Jews. UNC should be a place of growth and welcome for all students, which is impossible if minority groups are made to feel unsafe.

I cannot in all good conscience recommend that Jewish or Israeli potential students attend this University if the administration continues to ignore campus antisemitism. UNC needs to be proactive in protecting its Jewish and Israeli students. I love this University and want to see it become a safe place for all.

As the transition to a new student government continues, I invite all of you to join the conversation about fighting antisemitism on our beautiful campus. It is a problem that affects all of us. 

— Max Pollack, class of 2024 and oversight and advocacy chair for the 105th Undergraduate Senate

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