850 גג

'Their songs call for the rape of Jewish women,' Israeli student in Geneva says

Noam says he can fight back when attacked by pro-Palestinians handing out flags with swastikas outside the Geneva university but worries for others; S. worries for her degree in case of boycott

Zeev Avrahami|
"Outside Geneva university, they sing songs calling for the rape of Jewish women," Noam, an undergraduate student at the Geneva School of Diplomacy, says. He has been studying there for two years and is one year away from earning his degree. Being a private institution, it is a bit less harsh than in the public universities he says, "but in light of the situation I am considering getting out of here as quickly as possible."
The antisemitic trend of setting up encampments on university campuses to express support for Palestinians, and at the same time instill fear in Jewish and Israeli students, has moved across the pond and is now found all over Europe. From the Scandinavian countries to Italy, from Spain to Germany, more and more young people are joining the protests and demanding their universities cut all ties with Israel.
3 View gallery
סטודנטים פרו-פלסטינים בז'נבה, שווייץ, לצד שלט שקורא "לשחרר את פלסטין" ומאשים את ישראל ב"רצח עם"
סטודנטים פרו-פלסטינים בז'נבה, שווייץ, לצד שלט שקורא "לשחרר את פלסטין" ומאשים את ישראל ב"רצח עם"
Anti-Israel protest at Geneva University
(Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi / EPA)
"I came here for a good, fun experience, to study abroad and experience a different environment," Noam says. "But what is happening now is a mixture of confusion, despair and depression. I cannot even concentrate on my studies."
Until October Noam felt safe. "I live in a neighborhood where it was not so wise to speak Hebrew or identify as Jewish, but since October 7 it has become unbearable. I am known here for my work for Israeli organizations, and as an Israeli, I walk around with my star of David," he says and proceeds to describe an altercation he had.
"I walked out of campus Of Geneva university, I encountered two people wearing Kufiyahs, holding Palestinian flags, their faces covered, who were distributing flags with swastikas. They suddenly said that Jews and Israelis must identify themselves. That is not a comfortable moment, considering our past. They attacked me with their flags but as I am trained in self-defense, I grabbed the flag and used it for a stranglehold on the assailants. The school then summoned me for a hearing."
Were they Muslims? Arabs? "There are many here who are pro-Palestinian, communist, progressive, feminist. There's a limit to how much I can take and I much I can bear to see the local Jewish community lower its head and impose self-censorship," Noam said.
"There are protests everywhere, even on the train. I go to a party, and there are Palestinian flags, keffiyehs and anti-Israel stickers. When I approached a policeman to complain, he told me to lodge a complaint with the public complaints' office, while indicating at a trash can. I fear for those who cannot fight back like I can. There is an atmosphere of terror as if we are in Gaza," he said.
Noam now doubts his choice of degree. "What am I doing studying diplomacy?" he says. "You realize there is no room for dialogue here. It’s a war. But it's not just us that are impacted. There are many in the local community who are dumbfounded about this violence erupting around them. It takes fortitude to handle it."
3 View gallery
סטודנטים פרו-פלסטינים השתלטו על חלק מבניין בבית הספר הפוליטכני הפדרלי של לוזאן (EPFL) בשווייץ
סטודנטים פרו-פלסטינים השתלטו על חלק מבניין בבית הספר הפוליטכני הפדרלי של לוזאן (EPFL) בשווייץ
Anti-Israel protesters at Geneva University
(Photo: Jean-Christophe Bott / EPA)
Noam needed more than fortitude to reach the library at Geneva University, which required him to cross through the main building. "This place has been uncomfortable from day one, with posters calling for an end to genocide and songs calling for the rape of Jewish women," he says. I am known there so I am greeted with shouts calling me a baby killer and that my people should be screwed. I've become an expert in biting my lip."
But when he and his friends entered the university a couple of days ago, they were shocked to see that the building was taken over by protesters who dragged sofas and beds in and sat on the tables playing cards and eating. S. who was also there, describes the scene as resembling some youth group on an outing.
"I know what their signs, From the river to the sea," means. So I immediately silence myself. Once when I was at a demonstration, someone saw me texting in Hebrew and began shouting at me with a level of hate I had never before experienced. So this is frightening on a personal level but also on a theoretical one. You cannot figure out what they want. They are obviously not interested in dialogue, so you cannot help but wonder what would happen if their demands for an academic boycott are met," she says.
My CV states that I am from Israel. Would this have an effect? Would I be boycotted? This is shocking stuff, worrying and heartwrenching," she says. "Because of the legitimacy now, to be anti-Israeli, I keep a low profile and think carefully before doing anything. It is a feeling of helplessness and a loss of control. I would hope that the authorities would do something and if not them, then official Israel. This is wrong," she says.
3 View gallery
בניין באוניברסיטת ז'נבה שאחד האולמות בו "נכבש" בידי פרו-פלסטינים
בניין באוניברסיטת ז'נבה שאחד האולמות בו "נכבש" בידי פרו-פלסטינים
Palestinian flags and anti-Israel posters at Geneva University
(Photo: Martial Trezzini / EPA)
Or, a first-year medical student in Rome, says, "There can be a protest outside any time I leave home. Then I find myself in an unpleasant and aggressive conflict, as an Israeli."
She says the faculty is very supportive of the protesters and promotes pro-Palestinian narratives in their lectures, while Palestinian lecturers are permitted to show documentaries on Palestinian suffering, without any counterbalance. "This is not a matter of intellectual integrity, but rather a question of basic humanity," she says. "There are hundreds of Jewish and Israeli students here and no one has enquired about how we are feeling. The university is promoting an encampment that will be built on May 15, on its Instagram page," Or said wondering why no one is asking how this can be allowed.
"If no one intervenes, the campus in Rome will be like Columbia University's campus in New York, with Jews being stopped from passing by and physical violence. Frightening."
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.