GUY BENSON SHOW EXCLUSIVE: Anonymous Jewish Columbia Student Shares Campus Experience, Antisemitic Discrimination

Today on the Guy Benson Show, Guy was joined by an anonymous Columbia University student dubbed “Ethan”. “Ethan” was a member of the special forces for the IDF, and he worked from the bottom and saved to be able to come to New York City and attend Columbia to become a surgeon. Now, he questions his dream as he is surrounded by antisemitism on the campus that he always wanted to attend. Guy and “Ethan” discussed his background, experience in the IDF, family history, and the antisemitism that he facing in the United States just two decades removed from the Holocaust. Listen to the full interview below.

Listen to full interview:

Listen to the full podcast:

Read the below for the full transcript of the interview:

GUY BENSON, FOX RADIO HOST:  Well, I am pleased to be joined here in studio by a student at Columbia University. And we have been talking about what’s happening on that campus and, frankly, a lot of other campuses. It’s spreading, but the nexus of this, ground zero at the moment has been this Ivy League school here in Manhattan, in New York City, and it has been very, very ugly.
And my guest is Jewish. He’s Israeli. And Columbia for a long time was his dream school, and he ended up there. And it’s become, for obvious reasons, something of a nightmare. And we’re going to call him Ethan.
It is great to see you and meet you. Thanks for coming in.
ETHAN, STUDENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY:  Hi. Nice to meet you and thank you for having me.
BENSON:  So, just give us your background a little bit on what brings you to the city. I know that you had dreams of attending Columbia one day. You attained that dream.
Before we get to what’s happened since and recently, just give us a bit of background about yourself, if you would.
ETHAN:  So, I’m a 20 years old, international student at Columbia University.
And since ever, my dream was to be a physician. I really want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. And I can’t really explain why, besides the fact that Columbia University or New York generally is the home of many — most of the best cardiothoracic departments are located in New York.
And I wanted to break limits. I wanted to go and receive the best education I could and I can. And, unfortunately, now it’s kind of, like, questionable. But I started my medical career as a volunteer in Tel Aviv Medical Center in the pediatric E.R. Eventually, I finished there. Like, I got — I transferred to the adult E.R.
And I trained as an EMT for Magen David Adom, which is like the ambulance — ambulances and emergency organization that Israel — it works a bit differently in Israel. We do a lot of — we don’t have many companies. It’s all under one umbrella.
And when I needed to join the military as part of the mandatory military service, I volunteered to the special forces. I trained as a fighter and a commander of the medical team. I also trained as a special forces EMT. And I was able to use my military skills to save lives.
My main concern was to develop method of how to sustain patient in war zones, but at the same time how to treat anyone. I didn’t care if it was non-Israel — like, not even — like, someone that is not Israeli or not a soldier.
I was very lucky to be part of humanitarian mission that rescued casualties from the civil war in Syria and treated innocent people that got hurt during this horrible war. So…
BENSON:  I didn’t see a lot of protests and yelling about genocide during the Syrian civil war and what was happening to the people of Syria. That’s been reserved, strangely, for one specific instance and one specific country, where the word genocide I think has just been completely abused, to the point of making it meaningless.
There’s also this lie, this slander that the IDF is just bloodthirsty killers committing all these atrocities, killing all these civilians. Based on your time in the IDF, and specifically what you did on the medical side, speak to that.
ETHAN:  I can tell you from firsthand, in — compared to those people who protest right now outside, that I lived there. I treated people there, rescuing and actively putting my under — like, in danger, like, endangering my life, to save people from a country that — considered to be an enemy country.
I didn’t care. And if you will speak with Israelis or Jewish people, no one cares. Like, people want peace. No one — like, I don’t know anyone who comes and say, I resist to Palestine, I resist to Palestinian people. I don’t even — like, I haven’t heard people say, don’t protest for Palestine.
We are here because we want to live peacefully, safely. And I saw it — like, I saw it for, like, when I served, when I needed to treat terrorists and take their — take a terrorist that was injured when he tried to stab — sorry — she tried to stab soldiers.
I came with one — in one hand — like, one hand, I had a gun, one hand, I had a defibrillator. I took the knife out and we treated her, because my job and what I’m qualified to do is to save — like, saving life. That’s what I need to do.
BENSON:  Even if it’s a terrorist who just attacked soldiers.
ETHAN:  Like, if the terrorist — like, she wasn’t a threat at the moment, yes, we — Israel and the IDF is not — is — operating — operates under international — by international laws.
We have a democrat, a very advanced court and legal system. And we need to follow the protocols. Now, I don’t say that everything is perfect, and there is a lot of place to criticize.
BENSON:  Of course. Of course.
ETHAN:  But, generally, a system, to compare the IDF to Hamas is ridiculous. And that’s why we’re here.
BENSON:  Yes, I, of course, agree with that. And people compare the IDF unfavorably to Hamas or to even the Nazis. It’s just — it’s so unbelievably insulting.
I want to ask you this question before we get to present-day New York City and Columbia. October 7, how did that affect you personally?
ETHAN:  Wow.
I think those — I’m kind of speechless when it comes to 7th, to October 7, because I remember I was awake. And I heard the conversation when people called the news channel — channels to report that they are stuck in a burning house when they — like, they could hear the shooting before they got murdered.
BENSON:  Were you here or in Israel?
ETHAN:  I was here.
BENSON:  You were here?
ETHAN:  I was here.
I lost a lot of friends, and I still have — one of my friends’ father is still kidnapped in Gaza for 202 or 203 days. And my heart is truly broken. And since then, we saw a very concerning trend in Columbia University especially, when people support Hamas and some of them even justify what happened.
And I have picture of, like, on the tents right now when they explain how resistance is legit in any matter.
BENSON:  Oh, yes.
ETHAN:  And, sorry, it doesn’t work like that. But I must say at the same time that I heard a lot of people from the other side condemn those actions.
So I do have hope that there is a place for a healthy dialogue. But since October 7, my dream started to crumble down and started to — from being the thing that I’m, like, the most proud of to be something that I’m not ashamed of, but, like, I don’t want to be in campus.
I paid all of my money and all of my parents’ pension to attend this school. And, suddenly…
BENSON:  So you don’t come from wealth and money?
ETHAN:  No, I don’t.
BENSON:  You had to really work…
ETHAN:  I come from a not low-income family, but we don’t have money. Like, my parents doesn’t have that.
BENSON:  So, this took a huge amount of effort on your part and sacrifice just to get here.
And now what we’re hearing from some Jewish students and faculty and others at Columbia is, and the rabbi, for example, who came out over the weekend with Passover approaching, saying, it’s unsafe for Jewish people on that campus. And the response comes from sort of the pro-Hamas mob, that’s not true. They’re exaggerating.
Look, we have some Jews here with us protesting with us. They’re not unsafe. These other people are just making it up or exaggerating.
What is your experience been?
ETHAN:  Oh, I love — that’s a good — it’s a deep and broad conversation.
I think, since the Holocaust, antisemitic actions or the word antisemitic is kind of like a taboo. You can’t say it. But Columbia, kind of like those radical movement, shifted the mind, shifted — like, kind of created a new slang of anti-Zionism doesn’t mean antisemitic.
BENSON:  Right.
ETHAN:  And it’s OK. Have you seen on the videos when people are — it looks like a cult that they pushed away Zionist people when they are…
BENSON:  Chanting together, yes.
ETHAN:  Yes, yes, when they’re completely synchronized with their speech and repeating after one…
BENSON:  Very creepy.
ETHAN:  I will — yes, very creepy.
So, big anti-Zionist is legit. But if you support Israel, it’s not even — it’s not — it isn’t about Judaism. It’s just — it is about Judaism. If you support Israel or if you not condemn Israel, you can be part of this camp. You can be part of this side.
But if you’re Jewish that doesn’t stand loudly against the state of Israel, you can be part of us. Like, you need actively to call for the destruction of Israel.
BENSON:  And then you’re in.
ETHAN:  And then you’re in, oh, of course.
BENSON:  And if not, then you’re one of the bad Jews and you’re not welcome.
Is that different than a lack of safety? Because I have seen videos that are very disturbing. I read a piece from one of your fellow students who was assaulted by this…
ETHAN:  Yes.
BENSON:  … by this mob. When they say the threat is exaggerated?
BENSON:  Why — why do you say it’s not exaggerated? What have you experienced?
ETHAN:  Because when you’re saying constantly intifada, intifada, look at the definition of intifada.
Listen, my grandmother, she is a Holocaust survivor. I fought for this country for 10 years in my way and — almost 10 years. And we can’t just spread it — like, look what happened globally. Look on the trends. Like, Jewish constantly are threatened, regardless to — of the situation of Israel.
Before the — like, the existence of Israel, the Holocaust happened, and six million Jews were brutally murdered because of their religion. And when I try to speak with those extreme — like, those people who scream and chant for the destruction of Israel, and they always bring up the word Islamophobia as a counterargument to antisemitic events.
And I try to ask them seriously, there are two Muslim people who live in Israel peacefully. You saw, like — under the massive Iranian attack, you saw, like, Israeli defense systems intercept rockets above al-Masjid Al-Aqsa that — so important for the Muslims.
BENSON:  And you said there are Muslims living in Israel. You said two — it’s two million, right?
ETHAN:  Yes.
BENSON:  Two million.
ETHAN:  I think they’re almost two million, yes.
BENSON:  Yes. No, that’s a huge number of people.
And they kind of just discount them. They just sort of wipe them out of the conversation somehow.
ETHAN:  I have many friends who are Arabs in Israel. My mom, most of my mom’s employee are Muslim people. And I love them. I’m — I celebrate Ramadan with them. I — like, my grandmother, she’s from Libya.
We speak and we have so much in common, which makes it even more frustrating that no one is willing to listen to find the common denominator.
BENSON:  Yes, what do they say? If you try to explain that to them — it sounds like there’s really no communication happening at this point. But if you have tried to engage, how do they process what you’re telling them? Or do they just call you a liar?
The fact that you’re Israeli, they must really — some of them have a problem with that?
ETHAN:  Automatically, since I’m Israeli, and you can’t miss it by my accent, you — they shut — like, they shut me down.
They are not willing to speak. I’m also gay. So when I try to speak with the LGBTQ+ community and try to explain that they probably — they can’t be gay in Gaza. It’s like they probably would be executed.
BENSON:  They would be executed.
ETHAN:  Yes, probably.
And, in Israel, it’s the only place in the Middle East that they can celebrate pride. The only response I received was, “Shut up, you Nazi.”
ETHAN:  I was like, how can you call me a Nazi when I’m a Jewish? And I said — like, I told — I tried to say, my grandmother, she’s a Holocaust survivor, but no one — no one was willing to listen.
And when you try to say and find a reaction about the missile attack and say that the only casualty, when my heart is truly broken, is a 7 years old Muslim girl…
BENSON:  This is Iran’s attack on Israel.
ETHAN:  Yes.
ETHAN:  Where are you? Where is your reaction?
Why, instead of alienate, like, push us away to make — make so many people so concerned that they’re not willing to come on campus, why can’t you, as the next leadership, and us as the next leadership from both sides, to come together and speak and talk and find how we can solve?
And we all — like, I’m open and everyone I know is open for criticism. And I don’t think you would ever — and I think it was also in the hearing that President Shafik — you want here protest against Palestinian people. You want find people condemn Palestinian people or celebrating the death or glorifying horrible things. The opposite.
We want to find a solution. We all think that Palestinian — the Palestinian people should have a place to live in.
And I think that coexistence is the main thing that we need to focus on, instead of keep fighting and alienate so many people and attract so many hostile — I’m trying to be very cautious with my word, but so many hostile people and shift minds to be so radical, instead of find and promote a dialogue, something so…
BENSON:  Well, it seems like — two points.
On being gay and being attacked as a Nazi by just pointing out that Israel protects gay rights and the neighborhood, otherwise, generally does not, they call that pinkwashing, which is crazy. They’re like, oh, because you have gay rights in your country, you’re using that as a cover for your genocide or whatever. It’s — it’s just a brain worms thing.
I can’t process the queers for Palestine movement and that whole hostile attitude that they gave you. And they’re very open about it. But in terms of dialogue and finding solutions, I think the cynical, but probably correct answer, not for all of them, but for many of them, is, they don’t want a dialogue.
They don’t want a solution. Their solution is the annihilation of the Jewish state. That’s their solution. There is no two-state interest. Hamas rejects it. Many of these people openly support Hamas. Therefore, when they chant “From the river to the sea,” they know what they mean. Some of them are idiots and ignorant. They don’t know.
But a lot of them know exactly what they’re chanting for, and they mean it. That’s what’s frightening.
ETHAN:  I agree.
But I also want to say — like, I agree, yes, but there are so many people that don’t know what they’re chanting for.
BENSON:  True. Absolutely true.
ETHAN:  I think that they — they were able to find a lot of people that came from a background of discrimination. I think they were able to find a lot of people who felt reject and suddenly found comfort and affiliation to be part of a community that accept them without — just come, just be part as long, as you go against the state of Israel.
BENSON:  Right. It gives them some meaning. And it’s a — sort of a tribal thing, and they feel they belong, and they’re doing something.
ETHAN:  I don’t think that they really know what — what happens.
And that’s the most frustrating thing that, you know, Colombia, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to pretend and go this — to this school, is that I believe that those institution and the connection that people are — like, are — have — that you can create in this kind of institution will lead to a better future.
I believe that the next president, the next congressmember, the next CEO of the of a global bank are currently sitting in classes at Columbia University. And we want to work toward a better world. I want to support a common dialogue.
And I never and no one ever told them to stop protesting. It’s just the way you choose to do that. Like, the way that they actively push us away, and I don’t see those radical movement that promote and support and organize those protests actively condemn the intifada songs or, like…
BENSON:  No. No, they don’t do anything — they sing the songs. They chant the chant. “Globalize the intifada.”
I saw the huge sign at the encampment on your campus, “Globalize the intifada.” They had photos glorifying known terrorists. Some of the people know exactly what they’re doing. Others, though, to your point, you’re right. A lot of them have no idea. They’re there for the excitement of it all.
This was from NYU, so downtown from Columbia, but same city. This video is going around today. These are students being asked why they were protesting.
Cut 15.
QUESTION:  And what would you say is the main goal with tonight’s protest?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think the goal is just showing our support for Palestine and demanding that NYU stops. I honestly don’t know all of what NYU is doing.
QUESTION:  OK. Is there something NYU is doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I really don’t know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I’m pretty sure there — do you know what NYU is doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  About Israel. Why are we protesting here?
PROTESTERS:  Palestine will be free!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I wish I was more educated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I came from Columbia. I was there at Columbia, and we came down. They said NYU students needed our support. So I came down.
I have heard there’s lots of cops. Some people were saying it was getting dangerous.
BENSON:  All right.
“So I wish I knew what we were protesting. Do you know? I don’t know. I wish I were more educated.”
“Me too.”
That’s kind of funny, to some extent. And it makes me almost a little bit feel relief.
ETHAN:  I’m smiling because I’m scared.
BENSON:  It’s both disturbing because of the indictment of what that says. It’s also, still, that ignorance is better, I think, than being steeped in pro-Hamas sentiment, where you genuinely are rooting for terrorists.
But that’s still pretty bleak.
ETHAN:  It’s insane, because I’m trying to look at the bigger picture, and, globally, listen to what’s being said on those protests.
They — like, a lot of them calls, like, resist to the Western civilization. They call against America, against Europe.
ETHAN:  And what will happen when, like, this propaganda weapon will be pointed on America or on other countries, despite of Israel?
Or what will happen when the administration won’t be so supportive to some community, like, for some communities? What will happen like in 30 years or 40 years, when it’s so easy to manipulate and shape the mind of those students?
That should be — it’s kind of like that should be the alert for everyone…
ETHAN:  … that something is wrong in the system, that something is going to — like, something is hiding in the not-that-far future.
BENSON:  Yes, I think 30 years might be optimistic. And this could come a lot sooner.
And a lot of the people, the hardcore folks who hate Israel, almost all of them also hate America. And in the Middle East, they call Israel the little Satan. They call us in some of these quarters the great Satan.
And, of course, there are many people — for example, the people of Iran hate the regime. And yet you have people in this country rooting for the regime that throws gay people off of roofs and hangs them and kills women if they take their headscarves off.
And you have people who call themselves progressive at some of the most elite institutions in the country yours just overtly rooting for this oppressive, theocratic regime in Tehran. It’s just — it’s completely backwards.
And I just — I keep thinking, if you can have young people in the United States hear about October 7, see what happened on October 7, and then instantly decide that the victim is actually the bad guy, if people can be convinced of that, they can be convinced of anything.
ETHAN:  Every time that something bad happens in the protest or something go a bit too far, they just, oh, those are Zionists who try to shift the majority away from us. The videos from October 7 massacre are — like, it’s completely fabricated. It’s all A.I.
I have seen everything. People just are not willing to listen. It’s insane.
BENSON:  Now, you can say you specifically lost multiple friends, and they say that you’re lying? Like…
ETHAN:  So many. Constantly, every day, I try to — I try to explain, I believe that our job, because it’s also very important to mention that there are so many people that support us. It’s just not so urged.
Like, it’s so — like, it’s not — they don’t want to go and shout with Israeli flags, we support Israel. But I received a lot of e-mails and messages that support Israel.
BENSON:  From students?
ETHAN:  Students, professors.
ETHAN:  A lot of the STEM departments that I had the pleasure to work with. I have seen a lot.
And, also, there are a lot of people in the middle, and my job is not to — our job is not to try and convince them to stop supporting Palestine. Our job is to tell them the truth, to show them really what happened, and find to bring the two sides to speak, to engage with each other, to find a solution, because screaming intifada, that won’t get us…
BENSON:  Yes, intifada is killing Jews.
So when they’re screaming that and they’re wanting another expanded intifada, that is extremely menacing, threatening language, given the meaning of that word and the history of what has been done under the auspices of that word and that term.
Before I let you go, what do you think needs to happen at Columbia to at least get this somewhat back under control? And do you plan to stay there? Are you going to try to stick it out and graduate, or are you looking to leave? What’s your plan?
ETHAN:  So I think that Columbia should — eventually, Columbia should step up and condemn and try to shift those violent protests into something that hopefully will lead to a healthy dialogue and to find a solution and talk and nurture a friendship and work as a community together in an elite institution, instead of separate between us, because the hybrid situation that Jewish are studying from home, well, everyone can’t go on campus, it’s ridiculous.
Why can’t I enjoy the dining halls, the libraries, everything that I paid, everything and more than what I have to be, to enjoy those…
BENSON:  Amenities and, yes, those facilities.
ETHAN:  Yes. But I can’t.
So, I think Columbia, the fact that they’re negotiating? In what world something that’s peaceful would go to negotiate? And it shouldn’t be there. So I think we need to speak. We need to find a common denominator, to find a solution, to speak, to engage with each other, to explain the frustration of both sides and be able to eventually lead and promote agendas that support both sides, because we are here.
The Jewish people are here. Israel is — like, Israel is a country, and it will continue to stand and be a prospering nation that brings a lot of good. Like, it does — like, Israel does a lot of good things as well…
BENSON:  Of course.
ETHAN:  … which we need to recognize.
So I’m not going to let them win. I’m not going to find myself another education. Columbia has one of the best programs in the world for what I’m studying. And I also believe that we need to fight for our voices, and we need to promote peace, because I want to speak with those protesters. I want to sit with them over coffee and explain the situation.
I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to stand with flags and chanting on microphones and speakers against each other. I want to sit. I want to talk. I want to engage with a deep conversation that it’s not biased.
And we are all willing to do so. I feel I’m representing now the Zionists, the majority of the Israelis, students. And we would love to sit, to engage, to promote education, to promote science, to promote so many aspects.
BENSON:  Yes, but it has to be mutual.
ETHAN:  Sure.
BENSON:  And the other side has to want that too. And, right now, it looks many of them really want something that looks like the opposite.
And that’s what you’re confronting every day on this campus…
ETHAN:  Exactly.
BENSON:  … which has been just stomach-turning to watch on the screens. I can only imagine what it’s living through it, feeling like you can’t even be safely welcome on your own campus that you’re paying to attend in the United States of America within months of a genocidal slaughter of Jewish people by terrorists.
It’s just so backwards. It’s made me angry. We have been talking about it here ever since. And we’re really glad that you were willing to come in here and have this conversation with us, for our audience, to hear your voice and hear your story.
Ethan, thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for coming in today.
ETHAN:  Thank you for having me.
And I sincerely hope that we will be able to find a common denominator and speak and talk and find a solution for both people, both sides.
BENSON:  It’s “The Guy Benson Show.”