A Jewish Student’s Defiant Stand Against Campus Antisemitism — Brother Levi Fox (Texas, 2027)

“October 7th was the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the holocaust. The horrors of that day will remain in our memories for generations to come. However, we have to decide how it defines us. Do we get scared and hide our identities or do we show the world how proud we are to be Jews? Well, I don’t plan on hiding anything,” said Levi Fox (Texas, 2027). The rising Sophomore from Houston – recently elected vice-president of his AEPi chapter — has been at the forefront of helping to develop much of that pride.

“I graduated high school in 2022 and took a year off before enrolling at UT (University of Texas – Austin) because I had been elected Grand Aleph Godol of BBYO. In that role, I had the opportunity to travel all over the world talking about Jewish identity and community. So, when I got onto campus last Fall, it was natural that I gravitated towards the Jewish life UT had to offer.”

And, then, October 7 happened, and it changed his life.

“October 7th really changed my world. I had just finished this year as Grand Aleph Godol of BBYO and I felt really out of place because I was used to being the person who knew what to do and when to do it; but then I was just a part of the crowd. I knew I had to get involved in the Jewish community on campus the second I stepped on campus, but October 7th increased my desire to stand with my fellow Jewish students. We’re lucky because here at UT, we have so many amazing Jewish organizations here to support us.”

Since October 7th, UT had been the scene of many Pro-Palestinian demonstrations. One that Levi recalls was on November 9th, 2023. If that date sounds familiar – that was the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht. “There is no way that could be a coincidence,” said Levi.

By the spring, Levi had begun getting more involved in Jewish life on campus and then the campus encampments started. “When the protests started at Columbia, I was nervous they were going to come here. At first it took a while but eventually, the first protest began on April 24.”

Though organizers promised that the protests would be peaceful, that soon proved untrue. “They had to know that Texas doesn’t deal with this BS. If you bring hatred, violence and terrorism to Texas, you’re going to get pushback.”

“I’m not sure how anyone can say that the protests were going to be peaceful. They chanted ‘There is only one solution. Intifada Revolution.’ That’s an outright call for the violent murder of innocent people, innocent Jews. That’s an outright call to target innocent civilians in terrorist attacks. Some people later claimed they didn’t know what they were chanting but that’s on them. If you’re using phrases like ‘intifada’ and ‘from the river to the sea,’ and you don’t know what it means, that’s your own fault.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety (responsible for statewide law enforcement) made a decision to break up the illegal protests and encampments. “I was there at the first rally on April 24 along with a lot of the Jewish community. It was…there’s no other word for it…shocking. It was a moment in history, and we had to witness it. I still don’t believe it really happened. I was there wearing an Israeli flag around my neck like a cape and waving Israeli flags. People started calling me ‘Captain Israel’ because I guess I looked like the Israeli version of Captain America.”

As law enforcement moved in, the protesters became violent. “I saw a police officer get hit in the face. The police found all kinds of rocks placed around the encampment so the protesters could throw them at people and at least one gun was found. When you’re violent, you’re going to get arrested. It’s that simple. On top of that, more than half of the people arrested weren’t even students or affiliated with the university.”

“I was asked to be the director of external partnerships for Longhorn Students for Israel, and I ended up doing a lot of interviews with local and national media. A few weeks later, I was asked to testify in front of the Texas State Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education.”

The Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education held hearings on the protests and the outcomes and Levi was asked to be the first one to testify. “I came back to Austin and stayed at the Pi house the night before the hearing and headed to the Capitol early the next morning to give testimony. I think the Senators were shocked by what they heard. Honestly, it surprised me to see that they were so surprised at how bad it was and what we had to face.”

“My AEPi brothers have been there for each other all year. We have several Israeli brothers in the chapter, and they were dealing with a lot after October 7, and we ensured they had support. When the protests happened, our chapter was unified and committed to standing up against hatred.”

When he was a fifth grader at a Jewish elementary school in Houston, Levi and his class visited a local Jewish nursing home and met and talked with some holocaust survivors. He became friendly with several of them, and they invited him to come for lunch each Friday. “It was awe inspiring to hear their stories and to hear how much they still loved their Jewish heritage and community. I’ve never forgotten them. One of them, Zoly Zamir, had a massive impact on me.”

“I even twinned [Zoly] at my Bar Mitzvah because he wasn’t allowed to have a Bar Mitzvah when he was 13 growing up in Nazi-occupied Romania. When he passed away, his family gave me one of his old ties. I wear that tie for every significant event in my life. I wore it when I was installed as Grand Aleph Godol of BBYO. I wore it at the BBYO international convention. I wore it when I testified in front of the Texas legislature.” Zoly Zamir, serves as an inspiration to Levi to continue fighting Jew hatred and Holocaust denial wherever and whenever it arises.

As a result of the protests & the backlash and the hearings, there is significant legislative movement – on both sides of the political aisle — to mandate holocaust, genocide, and hate education in Texas’ school systems. “We’re more proud of our community than ever before. We’re more unified. After the protests this spring, we know that the administration and the state of Texas have our backs and will ensure student safety and security.”

“It is our responsibility, the brothers of AEPi, to stand up to Jew Hatred now and forever. Together, we can work to make a better world.”