Photo Credit: Via Instagram
UCLA student Eli Tsives confronting the mob.

In the room where we often called for G-d to bring peace, the students and faculty around me watched a screen and celebrated like our prayers had been answered.

It was September of 1993, and my classmates and teachers cheered watching the historic handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.


I did not.

A friend berated me.

“What’s wrong with you? You don’t want peace?” he asked.

I was 15 but knew enough about critical thinking to understand that to be for or against something, you need to know the details. I had watched on TV where they said some issues would not be included in the deal and would be left to a later time.

There was tremendous peer pressure back then – as there is today –in order to look virtuous, to proclaim you were in favor or against something.

I attended the Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., which was a rigorous and great school that helped prepare me for life, and from meeting current students I can say without bias that it is one of the best high schools in the country.

But there is a new challenge that all Jewish schools must meet. There needs to be a class called “Debating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” It should start next year.

The majority of Jewish high schoolers will not go to Yeshiva University. And many will go to Ivy League schools, despite the recent protests, as well as to other schools where professors have been indoctrinating students to believe that Israel is a white colonizer.

Douglas Murray, Ben Shapiro and Hillel Fuld all articulate cogent messages about Israel but I don’t know that all Jewish high school students are aware of them.

Jewish schools teach the kashrut question of batel b’shishim. If, for example, a drop of milk fell into a pot of chicken soup, if the drop is not greater than 1/60th of the soup, it may still be deemed kosher.

It’s a good idea to teach that. It’s also a fine idea to teach the same students important facts about Israel so that when they hear slander, they don’t feel like 1/60th of a Jew.

We now live in a reality where people, especially younger people, are inundated with message from TikTok and other social media that are anti-Israel. From watching TV and podcasts alone, I must have seen it said that Israel is committing a genocide at least 500 times, mostly with nobody disputing it.

Two great examples of someone speaking against it were Coleman Hughes, an author and speaker who was the guest on American’s top podcast, “The Joe Rogan experience.” The other was a man named Steven Borrelli, who goes by the moniker of Destiny, who was on a show called Breaking Points, debating Omar Baddar.

Hughes told Rogan (who by his own admission is not knowledgeable on the topic) that if including estimates of those in Hamas who were killed the ratio of combatant to civilian is similar to when American soldiers fought in Mosul, and that if Israel did not go into Rafah, that would create a blueprint for any future group to jump over the border and kill civilians, then go back and hide among civilians with impunity. Rogan had no counterpoint.

Destiny explained the same thing regarding the ratio, and in this and other debates he asked why only Israel is accused of genocide, but America was not for Iraq or Afghanistan, or World War II, and explained that there is a double standard.

We just finished Pesach where we teach about the son who doesn’t know how to ask. Too many Jewish youngsters don’t know how to ask at colleges: What is your definition of a genocide? Why would Israel give warnings? What is the ratio of civilian/combatant?

Another fallacy is that Jews are not allowed to criticize the Israeli government. That is of course, false, but the problem is when too large a portion of criticism is put on Israel and little blame to terrorists. (It is also important to acknowledge the pain and suffering of Palestinians who have been under the thumb of Hamas.)

Another question one must ask: What are the details? You may be in favor of lunch, but not if the waiter then brings you a plate of fire.

Many ignored part of New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s speech when he said Palestinians must drop their demand for a complete right of return (because the demography would mean there would be more Palestinians than Israelis in Israel) and a Palestinian state would be demilitarized. Schumer’s speech likely encouraged these protests, but absent from his talk was that there is no indication Palestinians would agree to both conditions or care what he says in that regard, let alone what the Israeli people want.

There is a video of a UCLA student Eli Tsives who questions a woman who claims to be a professor at UCLA. He does know how to ask, and the woman is so flummoxed she asks for help. The reason she has no answer is that bullying works until you come up against someone who is not afraid and knows how to ask the right questions.

It is very telling that when journalists ask questions to the protestors, most have no answer.

The protests against Hamas are small but should be larger. And Jewish schools should prepare students to be able to know what questions to ask and how to give an answer. Jewish schools in New York should also have trips to the Nova Exhibit which I went to and I interviewed survivors; I also interviewed Hannie Ricardo, a woman whose daughter, Oriya, was murdered by Hamas.

I held back tears as Ricardo told me she took some solace in knowing that while her daughter was murdered, she was not burned or defiled.

On that same day, back in 1993, my Judaic Studies teacher, Mr. Zucker spoke with me.

I asked him if he thought there would really be peace.

“Nobody knows,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens.”

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Alan has written for many papers, including The Jewish Week, The Journal News, The New York Post, Tablet and others.