How I Was Harassed by UCLA’s Jewish Community for Being an IDF Veteran
In 2007, I was severely wounded and nearly killed by a Hamas rocket while serving in the IDF. I eventually recovered (from near fatal brain damage), and enrolled at UCLA in 2009.
My troubles there started on Day One, when I visited UCLA Hillel. Hillel was well-known to be a pro-Israel organization. I was certain I would feel at home. As I got to Hillel, I saw a few students leaving. I heard one of them speak Arabic, and then I heard something horrible: these were the leaders of Students for Justice in Palestine.
Hillel’s student administration had agreed to work with Students for Justice in Palestine! SJP is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and actively works to defame and delegitimize Israel on every college campus where it has an active chapter.
Hillel was allying itself with a movement that supports and encourages the use of terror to remove all Jewish presence from Israel. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears.
On my second day at the UCLA Hillel, I met a Jewish girl to whom I told my story. She didn’t take my side, however. To her, I was an extremist baby-killer because I had served in the IDF. I soon found out that she was a member of J Street, then the rulers of the UCLA Jewish community: either you believed their lies or you supported oppressing and murdering the Palestinians.
I did well at UCLA that year — especially for a brain-injured man — and I got onto the Dean’s List. I wasn’t harassed by Christians or Muslims (though some Muslim groups held anti-Israel events), but I was constantly looked down upon by Jewish students.
The next year, things got worse. I was kicked out of a pro-Israel group for no reason at all once it was taken over by J Street followers. I also felt an increased anti-IDF sentiment. Being anti-IDF is also being antisemitic; without an army, Israel would be instantly destroyed by the Palestinian leaders who want “peace.”
The spring of 2011 was the most horrid spring in my life (worse than the rocket). There was a hostage crisis on Glenrock Avenue. A month later, at a Chabad dinner, two agents who claimed to be from the Israeli Ministry of Defense had been waiting for me. I checked — they weren’t. They demanded secret information. I lied. As soon as the summer came, I went on a “vacation” to Israel and never returned.
To my American friends: wake up to what is happening on your college campuses. As an Israeli student and IDF veteran, I was unsafe on campus. I felt extremely isolated, disheartened and betrayed.
We desperately need a movement that works towards making Israeli and Jewish students feel safe on campus. I will not send my children to a university outside Israel unless I can feel comfortable that major changes will be made to ensure their safety.
Avi Dorfman is an IDF Disabled Veteran who was critically wounded on September 11, 2007, by a Hamas artillery rocket that caused brain damage. See his story here. After his sophomore year, he had to run away, fearing for his life.