Jacqueline Blyudoy, president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at City College of New York, was at the Arutz Sheva Jerusalem Conference in New York on May 22.

Her organization’s mission is “to be a clear and confident pro-Israel voice on college campuses and to support students in grassroots pro-Israel advocacy.”

“Students Supporting Israel is very important nowadays, especially here in New York where we are battling against the rather negative narrative of Israel,” Blyudoy says. “At Students Supporting Israel we provide a safe haven for students that believe Israel has the right to exist.”

Blyudoy says that it’s a battle against Jewish identity.

“It always shows itself as antisemitism at City College of New York, which is where I attend, but I also know many students, for example John Jay College where just this past week student government published a statement with I believe many professors that they stand against Israel. So it always manifests itself in something more.”

When does criticism of Israeli policy cross the line into antisemitism and how and when do they call it out?

“Right at the beginning,” she explains. “Here in New York, I’d say definitely right at the beginning because it always manifests itself in an emotional narrative and it’s about framing Israel as an apartheid state, which it clearly is not, and saying that Israel simply should not exist. Unfortunately, I can say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a rather intellectual conversation in which it is truly a discussion about maybe Israel isn’t doing this correctly or that. It’s always very strong feelings and just simply diminishing Israel’s right to exist.”

How much does the anti-Israel campus atmosphere interfere with Blyudoy and other Jewish students’ ability to be a student and learn on a day-to-day basis?

“To be quite honest, for me a lot,” she says. “I grew up not religious at all so for me, my Jewish identity is purely cultural and with my connection to Israel, it’s why I marched in the Israel Day Parade today. It’s why I'm here, why I took the time out to come here to this conference today.

“When someone tells me or I see on social media or I hear in the neck of the woods of New York that people feel so strongly about Israel’s right to exist, it hurts me a lot and that’s why I’m part of Students Supporting Israel, why I dedicated so much of my college experience.”