Chantelle Moghadam is the co-founder and current officer of Students Supporting Israel at the University of Missouri.
Since taking French classes in elementary school, I had dreamed of spending a semester abroad in Paris. It wasn't until last semester, while I stared at my acceptance letter for an exchange program at one of the most prestigious universities in France that my dream finally became a reality.
Rewind to a few months before, when I was in Paris and southern France for two weeks with my parents. As the war between Hamas and Israel raged on in the Gaza Strip, you could feel the effects in Paris. Thousands of protesters claimed to be demonstrating against Israel but used chants like, "Gas the Jews!" — in French of course. They proceeded to break the windows of Jewish shops in the area. Thousands of French Jews have moved to Israel to escape anti-Semitism.
Through my anticipation to study abroad, I tried to ignore the fact that every time I thought about Paris, the only thing I saw were those demonstrations. More news came out every day about the rising anti-Semitism in Europe until, finally, I admitted to myself that even a dream I had had since I was a little girl was not worth risking my life.
From then on, I decided to make the remaining semester I would spent at Mizzou worth it, which is why I decided to found Students Supporting Israel at the University of Missouri with one of my best friends. We are currently one of 35 Students Supporting Israel chapters (and growing) in three countries dedicated to educating our peers on Israel and supporting its right to exist.
When my father left Iran in 1978, just before the Islamic Revolution and just after his father was killed for being a Jew, he was one of thousands of Iranian Jews who either went to the United States or Israel to escape anti-Semitism. Israel took them in without question, immediately providing a safe haven not far from their home, and had Israel not existed, many of them might never have made it out of Iran.
Over the past few years, a campaign called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement has swept across college campuses in the U.S. and Europe. This campaign was created for the sole purpose of advocating for the boycott of Israeli goods in hopes of influencing the government to change its policies, specifically regarding the West Bank and other settlements. But more broadly, the BDS Movement compares the Israel-Palestinian conflict to the Holocaust (an offensive comparison at best, an anti-Semitic one at worst).
Regardless of one's perspective on the conflict, the BDS Movement does not help Palestinians. The Israeli companies that the movement is boycotting are some of the largest employers of Palestinians in the area. They provide Palestinians with better pay, more equal treatment and better working conditions than they would ever receive in their own country. It is high time we realize that this is not about Palestine; this is about Israel. This is not about protecting Arab and Muslim lands; it is about erasing the only Jewish one.
Jews are the minority in every single country in the world except for Israel. Anti-Israel sentiment has been so strong that Jews are too intimidated to speak out against it. Well, popular opinion has not always been correct, and we all have a responsibility to speak out when it is harmful. We must not be silent in the face of such anti-Semitism. We must never forget why we created Israel in the first place.