‘I did feel unsafe’: Jewish student at Virginia Tech reacts to campus protest

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Jewish students at Virginia Tech tell 10 News they feel intimidated today, not just in the wake of Sunday night’s protest, but in the entire last few months following the initial attack by Hamas.

“As a Jewish student walking by that knowing that they don’t not only not support me, but don’t even believe that maybe I even have a right to be at Virginia Tech. They’re saying Virginia Tech divest from Israel, that’s where I’m from,” President of Hokies for Israel Noa Benitah said.

Noa Benitah is a Jewish student at Virginia Tech, and said she will never hide her faith.

Benitah decided to go to the protest, after hearing concerns from her fellow Jewish classmates.

“I felt more uncomfortable than anything I would say I did feel unsafe with my necklaces. I always wear them loud and proud, so I did feel unsafe knowing that most of the people around me are not my biggest fan,” Benitah said.

She said this sense of discomfort stemmed from harassment she and her classmates received on campus.

“We had a situation where we had some pro-Palestinian, I don’t know if they were part of any organization, but just some students waving flags directly at our table, waving middle fingers at us. Then it got to the point where one of my executive members was walking alone and was shoved from behind,” she said.

Benitah is concerned this will only ramp up after the protest.

“I know a lot of them have a connection to their Palestinian homeland and Gaza, which that’s completely valid. But I feel like a lot of people don’t know what they’re talking about, or are just there because they think it’s the right cause to support, and that’s where I’m scared antisemitism will rise,” she said.

Benitah tells us she fully supports the protesters’ rights to protest but thinks the focus should be on caring for students here at home.

“Their feelings are completely valid. But that doesn’t diminish how we feel,” she said.

Benitah said they reported that incident of harassment, as well as several others, to VTPD.

Resources for Jewish students during this time can be found at Hillel, the Jewish student center.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

Recommended Videos