Talia Khan, MIT Israel Alliance

Startup Nation United
MIT Israel Alliance fights for the safety of Jewish students on campus

Talia Khan tells of the rampant antisemitism in their prestigious campus and how a group of students have banded together to combat the anti-Israel bias

As this war rages on, Jews outside of Israel are having to face threats of their own, particularly young Jewish students studying in some of the most prestigious US campuses.
In this episode, we speak to Talia Khan, an MIT mechanical engineering student about how she and the students in MIT Israel Alliance are fighting for their safety and security while fighting against the anti-Israel bias running rampant in these campuses.
Talia’s story is part of Startup Nation United, a series showcasing how individuals and organizations have united under a common vision to do their part during the ongoing war. The podcast is produced and moderated by Michael Matias and Yaffa Abadi, in collaboration with CTech, as a spin-off of the popular podcast series “20 Minutes Leaders”, also published in collaboration with CTech.
Talia walks us through the experience of Jewish students on campus that morning of October 7th. There were barely minutes to grieve and mourn before groups on campus, such as the Coalition Against Apartheid, began posting images of Hamas terrorists who they praised as freedom fighters. “This was before any IDF soldiers even stepped foot in Gaza,” she notes.
Since then, the plight of Jewish students on the MIT campus has worsened, marked by rallies with large crowds shouting "from the river to the sea," 'Die-ins' in the main lobby featuring people lying down with the names of Palestinians reportedly killed, and angry crowds searching for the Israel international student offices door to door—an eery parallel to the Hamas terrorists on their rampage October 7th.
It is little wonder Jewish students feel anything but safe on campus.
Yet rather than be paralyzed by shock and fear, Talia and the MIT Israel Alliance have united to raise their voice over these shocking incidents. In response to October 7th, Talia realized that the most efficient way to stand for Jewish and Israeli students' safety was an organized and unified front. So rather than having five scattered WhatsApp groups, Talia and her partners established a club with an executive board and specific people leading specific domains- they have a social media chair, an events coordinator, an education coordinator, a treasurer, and more.
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Talia Khan MIT Israel Alliance United
Talia Khan MIT Israel Alliance United
Talia Khan, MIT Israel Alliance
(Photo: Noam Dor)
“I think what's special about the [MIT] Israel Alliance is that it's not just the people who are already active in the Jewish or Israeli community. There are people who, before October 7th, hardly identified as Jewish and didn't really care about Israel, but when October 7th hit, that's when a lot of people realized if Israel didn't exist, there would be no place for us to be safe.”
MIT Israel Alliance shoulders more responsibility than fighting for the safety of the Jewish students on campus, as Talia says, “The people who graduate from MIT are going to be the next tech leaders, they're going to be the next leaders in science and biotech, the next financial leaders of the world. So it's our responsibility to make sure that these future leaders don't have these anti-Israel biases”
Their activities include bringing in guest speakers to provide diversity to the anti-Israel rhetoric, such as Bassem Eid, a Palestinian rights activist.
Beyond bringing in these speakers, MIT Israel Alliance also acts as a voice defending all Jewish students on campus. An open letter they penned recently criticizing how the MIT faculty has dealt with the threats against Jewish students, went viral on X. The letter gives voice to the harassment Jewish students are going through and the incompetence of their administration in facing the growing antisemitism on campus.
Talia and MIT Israel Alliance are taking a brave and finite stance in the name of Jewish students of prestigious colleges around the United States, doing their part to impact Jews abroad and fight for Israel’s name where it carries significant weight.
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Michael Yaffa United
Michael Yaffa United
Michael Matias and Yaffa Abadi
(Photo: Omer HaCohen/Hagar Bader)
Yaffa Abadi is the founder and CEO of Abadi Brands, a boutique consultancy specializing in personal branding and thought leadership for investors.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the CEO of Clarity, a startup that preserves trust in digital media by fighting deepfakes, and an active angel investor in the AI and Cyber domain.