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Young Jews Brace for ‘A Day of Global Jihad’ Maya Sulkin

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Pro-Palestinian students demonstrate at Columbia University yesterday. (Photo by Yuki Iwamura via AP)

I was a deeply unpopular student at Columbia for a simple reason: I was a Zionist. When I posted photos on Instagram of swastikas graffitied across campus, I received private messages telling me I was “attention-seeking.” When I hosted pro-Israel events, commenters online accused me of blood libel. 

I left Columbia earlier this year in part because of this bullying. And now, after more than 1,300 Jews were slaughtered by Hamas in Israel, the hatred that once hid behind my Instagram DMs is appearing in broad daylight right at my alma mater, an Ivy League bastion that has educated politicians, CEOs, and Nobel Prize winners. 

On Wednesday, female Columbia student Maxwell Friedman, 19, was arrested and charged with assault after she beat an Israeli student with a stick outside the school’s main library. 

The following day, hundreds of students gathered outside Columbia’s Alma Mater statue to cheer on the mass genocide of Jews. (In this, they were merely echoing the views published by tenured professor Joseph Massad, who described the scene of “Palestinian fighters from Gaza breaking through Israel’s prison fence” as “awesome.”) 

For hours, students encircled the quad, waving Palestinian flags and chanting the ten rally cries sanctioned by on-campus activists, including “End the Zionist occupation” and “Stop defending apartheid.” 

Many covered their faces, pulling sweatshirts over their heads in the face of cameras. A few wore N95 masks, sunglasses, and hats all at once. Earlier, one of the student groups behind the event, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, encouraged participants to cover their faces “for safety from doxxing.” 

Pro-Palestinian supporters move the rally outside Columbia’s gates. (Photo by Olivia Reingold for The Free Press)

A counterprotest of Jewish students stood mostly silent except for one point, when they sang in Hebrew. Later, as they poured out of the front gate on Broadway, some walked with their heads hung low, their eyes averted. 

“Something has changed,” Sophie Kesson, an 18-year-old Jewish student at Columbia, told The Free Press.

This weekend, she says, is parents’ weekend. She had been looking forward to bringing her mother to a Shabbat service at the university’s Hillel, a community for Jews on campus. 

But former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal has called for a day of global jihad on Friday, and the group’s commander Mahmoud al-Zahar said “the entire planet will be under our law; there will be no more Jews or Christian traitors.” 

Given the threats, she might just stay inside.

“My parents have warned me plenty of times that this isn’t really the safest place to be Jewish,” she says of the campus, which she says has “a very big pro-Palestine movement,” endorsed by many professors. 

She pauses, fumbling to grab her necklace: “And now with all of this happening, they’re increasingly worried. And so am I.”

To be clear, this is not just a Columbia problem.

On Tuesday, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, a Jewish student’s dorm room was set on fire. No other door in the hall was vandalized, and the student believes she was targeted due to her outspoken support of Israel. Police are now investigating this as a possible hate crime.

At Stanford on Wednesday, the Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a “teach-in” attended by about 250 people, where a source told The Free Press that a student speaker advised the crowd that the Israeli government’s “goal is to kill all Palestinians.” 

On Thursday at Stanford it was reported that an instructor divided his students at a mandatory undergraduate course called “Civil, Liberal and Global Education” into two camps: Jews and non-Jews. The teacher told the Jewish students to gather their things, stand in a corner, and said, “This is what Israel does to the Palestinians.” The teacher then asked, “How many people died in the Holocaust?” When a student said, “Six million,” the teacher replied, “Colonizers killed more than 6 million. Israel is a colonizer.” In a public statement, Stanford revealed multiple students had reported this conduct, and it was now investigating “identity-based targeting of students.” 

Also on Thursday, George Mason University in Virginia students waved Palestinian flags and chanted “glory to the resistance fighters.” 

At UCLA, many hundreds of students gathered to chant: “intifada, intifada”—a call for an violent uprising against Israel.

At the University of Washington, a crowd of Students for Justice in Palestine filled the air with chants of “There is only one solution” as a Jewish student cried and begged a guard, “They want us dead. How are you allowing this?” Olivia Feldman, the 20-year-old co-president of Students Supporting Israel at the college, told The Free Press, “I’ve been called a terrorist and a colonizer. I’ve been called a baby killer in the past. A lot of students are really afraid to go to class tomorrow.”

On Thursday, a Fox News reporter said that at least three protesters at the University of Massachusetts Amherst followed her into a parking garage, demanding to know her ethnicity, address, and phone number. When she refused, one of the protesters told her “I’ll have my lawyers contact you” and “have a terrible day.” (One of our reporters was denied an interview at a rally earlier this week because she was not Arab.)

At the pro-Palestinian rally at the University of Washington, a Jewish student asked a guard, “They want us dead. How are you allowing this?” (Photo via X)

It’s happening off campuses, too. Jewish people across the West—from London and Paris to New York and Sydney—are seeing the creeping telltale signs of hate.

The NYPD has been ordered to be out in force and in uniform all day Friday, amid fears of violence. Religious centers have been told to ensure all their doors are locked and guards remain on high alert. Jewish day schools across the city are ratcheting up security. Jews aren’t the only ones suffering from violence; three Palestinian supporters were reportedly attacked by a group waving Israeli flags on Wednesday night. 

In Toronto, three men were arrested for making threats to the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. Authorities are now investigating the incident as a hate crime.  

In Paris, after the government banned pro-Palestinian protests out of fear of civil unrest, several hundred still showed up in the downtown area chanting “Israel murderer.” Riot police eventually disbanded the crowd using tear gas. 

In front of the Sydney Opera House in Australia Tuesday night, over one thousand protestors demanded “gas the Jews.” A group of men attended another rally in Melbourne that night, where they reportedly said they were “on the hunt to kill Jews.”

In London, women in hijabs were seen ripping down posters of Israeli hostages from buildings in the streets and scurrying away. At least three Jewish schools—Ateres Beis Yaakov Primary School, Torah Vodaas Primary School, and Menorah High School—are closed until Monday as a precautionary measure. 

Alexis Price told The Free Press that her childrens’ Jewish day school in north London is trying to stay open while amping up security. Normally, the school has two guards and a fence. On Friday, they are beefing up with two police officers and three community volunteer guards. 

“It’s going to look like a prison,” said the 40-year-old mother of two kids, aged nine and five. 

Price said boys have been told not to wear their kippahs on their way to school. She added that she knows families who’ve pulled their kids from class all week to keep them safe. 

“I discussed it with my husband because I am scared, but we decided to send the kids because what sort of message would we be sending them if we didn’t?” Price said. “We don’t want to let the terrorists win.” 

Aliza Licht, a 49-year-old entrepreneur and author based in New York City, told The Free Press that while her inbox and social media feeds have been filled with fear, her local community has inspired her with their strength. 

“We know that if we support each other, we will get past this,” Licht said. 

On Friday, she is sending her daughter to school and later that night, she will join a group of New Yorkers who are planning to lean out of their windows or head to their rooftops and sing the Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem. 

“My grandparents did not survive the Holocaust for me to be silent,” she said. 

Free Press staffers Olivia Reingold, Francesca Block, and Julia Steinberg and London-based freelance writer Nicole Lambert contributed reporting to this piece. Read Bari’s column Campus Cowardice and Where the Buck Stops.

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Your Constitutional Right To Zyn Kiran Sampath

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Photo illustration by The Free Press

According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, they are a “sinister new threat to the health of young Americans.” Vox says they explain “the new ethos of conservative young men.” Business Insider frets that its users belong to “a subculture on the right that doesn’t just tolerate nicotine use, but venerates it.” 

A new front has opened up in the culture war, and the fight is over inch-long nicotine pouches called Zyns. The product was developed as a cleaner, healthier alternative to “Snus”—moist tobacco pouches tucked inside the gums. Zyn pouches offer all the nicotine without the sticky mess. In other words, Zyns are to Snus what Juuls are to cigarettes—and the latest wave in the push for ever more refined, automatic, and hassle-free nicotine delivery.

And they are popular. Nicotine pouches debuted in the U.S. in 2016 and sales grew by over 540 percent between August 2019 to March 2022. Brands like On! and Velo have played their part, but Zyn, the brand born in Sweden in 2014 and acquired by the tobacco behemoth Philip Morris in 2022, commands 75 percent of the market share as of 2023.

“Part of the appeal is the name.” says Wilson Nesbit, an economics student at Yale University. “It’s short. It’s sweet. And you can put it in a lot of words.” 

In other words, it’s memeable. “Monica Lezynsky,” Nesbit offers. “Zyn-Manuel Miranda. Qui-Gon Zyn.”

Nesbit lives on Lynwood Place, a small street just off Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut. Lynwood is home to two churches, three fraternities, two secret societies, one Chabad house, and a boatload of nicotine. Hence the block’s new nickname, Zynwood. 

“It’s been known as Zynwood for two years,” says Nesbit, who lives with six boys in a house on the street. “The guys who lived here before us had a tent with the Zyn brand stamped across it.” More recently, he underwent an artistic project to solidify the community’s identity, collecting the empty Zyn tins from throughout the neighborhood—277 of them—and spelling out ZYNWOOD on the wall of their living room. 

The Zynwood sign. (Photo courtesy of Wilson Nesbit)

But Zyns aren’t just for college kids. Twentysomethings in corporate jobs now see them as a sophisticated way to get a nicotine hit.

“Vapes are unprofessional,” Andrew Schuler, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, former vaper, and Zyn user, tells me. “We need nicotine to cope with our jobs because they are extremely stressful,” says Schuler, who goes through three to four pouches a day. “But you’re not going to rip a clunky-looking, purple-colored vape at your desk.”

It’s also about optimization, he said. “Smoking a cigarette requires a break.”

“The guy who used to work at the desk next to me used to take meetings with a Zyn in his cheek,” says one friend, a former Goldman Sachs banker. 

For some, nicotine delivered via Zyns isn’t a nasty addiction, but something of a macho life hack. Arch-techbro Peter Thiel claims nicotine raises your IQ 10 points, while Tucker Carlson (Carlzyn?) proclaimed on Theo Von’s podcast, “Zyn is a powerful work enhancer” as well as “a man enhancer.” (Last December, the Nelk Boys podcasters gifted Carlson the world’s largest Zyn, delivered via helicopter.) But it isn’t neccessarily just right-wingers who use Zyn: a recent picture of Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed a Zyn pack-shaped bulge in her white jeans. 

Tucker Carl-zyn with the world’s largest Zyn, and a regular-sized packet for scale. (Image via X)

In January, Chuck Schumer called for a crackdown on Zyns. “Amid federal action against e-cigs and their grip on young people, a quiet and dangerous alternative has emerged and it is called Zyn,” Schumer said, warning that Zyns “lock their sights on teens and use social media to hook them.”

As part of his crackdown, Schumer wants to investigate how Phillip Morris has marketed Zyn, and whether the firm has targeted minors. In 2023, Juul agreed to pay $462 million to settle lawsuits into the marketing of vaping products to children. But, rather than investing in social media influencers or extensive advertising campaigns, Zyn has relied on organic viral traction in the U.S. 

A spokesman for Zyn says the company’s marketing practices “are focused on preventing underage access and set the benchmark for the industry.” 

But even Nesbit says Schumer is right to worry about young people getting hooked on the pouch. “It’s an easy introduction for youths that haven’t used nicotine,” he told me over the phone from Zynwood. “Mitigating youth usage should be a top priority, but finding the right approach is another story.” 

Others see ingesting Zyns as a constitutional right, and Schumer as an enemy of freedom. As Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene recently exclaimed on X about his crackdown : “This calls for a Zynsurrection!”

Kiran Sampath is a researcher and reporter. Read her last piece about the temple in New Jersey that took 12 years and $96 million to build.

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South Korea Is Running Out of Kids. Is This America’s Future? Anna Louie Sussman

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In January, more than 150 schools in South Korea had no new first graders. (Photo by Busà Photography via Getty Images)

If you’ve been on TikTok in the last few weeks, you might have seen that American women are talking about 4B. The South Korean feminist movement gets its name from the “Four Nos” its adherents commit to: no dating, no sex, no marriage, no childbirth. In short, 4B, which began around 2019, encourages women to actively avoid men as much as possible. That it’s now trending in the U.S. raises an uncomfortable question: Are our gender politics starting to look like Korea’s? And if so, will the demographic consequences be as extreme?

Right now, South Korea is running out of kids. Last week, it was reported that the Education Ministry plans to reduce the number of teacher training places, citing the precipitous decline in students, which is so extreme that in January of this year more than 150 schools across the nation had no new first graders. Six years ago, the average number of children a South Korean woman had in her lifetime was 0.92, a figure rarely seen outside wartime; since then, it’s fallen all the way to 0.78, with a projection of 0.65 in 2025. In Seoul, the capital, it’s already at 0.59

When I visited Seoul in 2022 to report on why Koreans aren’t having babies, I often found myself wondering: Could this happen in America? Our nation’s fertility, though significantly below the replacement rate of 2.1, is currently higher, at 1.8. But, in the course of dozens of conversations with Koreans of reproductive age, I heard more extreme versions of sentiments I’d started to observe at home. 

Today, Americans who want a good old-fashioned heterosexual relationship struggle to find someone who shares their values. Analysis has shown a gigantic mismatch in the nation’s dating pool: for each single liberal woman, there exist 0.6 single liberal young men. Conservative young men have it even worse, with just 0.5 single conservative young women available to choose from. At the end of last year, the pollster Dan Cox found that this divide is particularly intense among American members of Gen Z, whose oldest members are now 27, the average age of a first-time mother in 2022. 

In Gen Z, Cox showed, women and men are much further apart on fundamental questions of gender equality than the generation before them: whereas 52 percent of millennial men say they’re feminists, compared to 54 percent of women, the equivalent figures for Gen Z are 43 percent and 61 percent. In 2019, a third of adult men under 30 said they face discrimination based on their sex; only five years later, that number has increased to almost half.

Recent data suggest this gender divide is global—and growing. In January, a Financial Times report showed the wide, and widening, divergence in political values between young women and men. This is true in South Korea and the U.S. but also in China, Germany, and the UK.

Americans haven’t given up on having a family to the extent that South Koreans have. In 2023, about 35 percent of Koreans said they don’t think having children after marriage is necessary, a figure that rose to more than 57 percent among 19- to 24-year-olds. By contrast, a recent Gallup poll found that the vast majority of Americans under 30 “either already have children (21 percent) or hope to someday (63 percent).” 

But young American women haven’t just been making TikToks about 4B out of curiosity—an increasing number are genuinely swearing off male partners, with the hashtag #celibacyjourney racking up tens of millions of views. A New York Times op-ed published in February described going “boysober” as “this year’s hottest mental health craze.” Meanwhile, men who identify as “involuntarily celibate” are retreating to online echo chambers that, one 2022 study suggested, now harbor eight times as many instances of degrading language toward women than they did in 2016. In the twelve months after December 2022, self-described misogynist Andrew Tate’s following on X increased from 3 million to 8.5 million.

Conservative politicians across the globe are capitalizing on these divides. Not long before I arrived in Korea, the president Yoon Suk-yeol had coasted into office in May 2022 on a wave of anti-feminist campaign promises, in what multiple observers described as an “incel election.” For the first time, young men describing themselves as anti-feminist were seen as an influential voting bloc, with Yoon promising to abolish the nation’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. (He has not yet succeeded.)

In the U.S., the Republicans also appear to be aggressively courting the male vote. Since the fall of Roe, the Republican Party has become actively hostile to women’s reproductive rights, pushing female voters left. And some of the party’s most influential members are now stoking a war between men and women.

In a breathtakingly offensive comment last January, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz called for the Republican Party to all but forget about female voters, saying that “For every Karen we lose, there’s a Julio and a Jamal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement.” Fox News host Jesse Watters has been even more explicit in singling out liberal single women as the GOP’s nemesis, alighting, somehow, on matrimony as an electoral strategy. 

“Single women are breaking for Democrats by 30 points,” he said after the 2022 midterms. “We need these ladies to get married,” he warned, following up with an order: “Guys, go put a ring on it.” 

And yet a recent poll found that 40 percent of Republicans said they don’t believe marital rape should definitely or probably be prosecuted, suggesting the party’s not overflowing with eligible bachelors. 

All signs point to an ever-widening rift between the sexes. And if women and men become sworn enemies, America is going to start running out of kids, too.

Anna Louie Sussman is a journalist covering gender, economics, and reproduction. She is a 2024 Alicia Patterson Fellow

For more on America’s gender divide, read Rikki Schlott’s piece, “When It Comes to Sex, My Generation Is Screwed,” and become a Free Press subscriber today:

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April 15, 2024 Garamond

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