web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Lessons for Israel-on-Campus from Scarlett Johansson


MSU Hillel students stage pro-peace rally on campus in response to ant-Israel rally.

MSU Hillel students stage pro-peace rally on campus in response to ant-Israel rally.
Photo Credit: NJJN

Scarlet Johansson has demonstrated tremendous courage in facing down the anti-Israel, double standards of Oxfam and other organizations that trade in condemnation of the Jewish state. SodaStream, for which Johansson now serves as global brand ambassador, employs 500 Palestinians and 400 Arabs from Eastern Jerusalem. SodaStream’s Maale Adumim factory in the West Bank offers both a mosque and a synagogue, and Jewish and Arab employees share the company cafeteria together.

Last January, SodaStream CEO, Daniel Birnbaum, stated in an interview with Arab publication Al Monitor that “We practice equality and full cooperation both on the job and off it.” And upon receiving an invitation to the meet the Israeli President and receive an award, Birnbaum brought guests that included some of the Palestinian employees from the Maale Adumim factory and subjected himself to the same security checks.

Still, Johansson was condemned by Oxfam for associating with a company they claim contributes to the “denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.” One would have expected her to buckle. After all, she is, while Jewish, not a professional pro-Israel spokesperson. Many have no idea that she’s even Jewish. Yet she responded by resigning as Oxfam’s global ambassador due to a “fundamental difference of opinion” and stood up for the Jewish state against ferocious international assault.

Bravo!

It’s a lesson that should be taken to heart by those who are concerned that Israel cannot win arguments in the marketplace of ideas.

Executives at Hillel and other Jewish campus leaders have expressed consternation at my organization’s announced plan to stage large-scale debates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to demonstrate the fearless conviction that Israel can win arguments in the marketplace of ideas.

Many have written to me pleading that dialogue is better than debate. They believe our debate series across the country will undermine harmony on campus and create friction and tension.

If only.

It’s time American Jewry faced up to facts. There is no harmony at the nation’s most troublesome campuses. There is, rather, an active, militant, and growing attempt to delegitimize Israel with Jewish students and other Zionists steadily losing significant ground. It’s happening on prominent American campuses, with leading academics from Yale, NYU and Northwestern, among others, supporting the American Studies Association boycott of Israel. It’s happening in Hollywood, whether it’s Emma Thompson’s protest of an Israeli theater group’s participation in a 2012 Shakespeare festival in England, or Elvis Costello cancelling two performances in Israel out of “a matter of instinct and conscience,” or Stevie Wonder not performing in Los Angeles at the gala benefit for Friends of the Israel Defense because he has “… always been against war, any war, anywhere,” or Roger Waters, former front man of Pink Floyd, branding Israel a “racist apartheid” regime.

But the lack of response to such anti-Israel sentiment is not because of cowardice or impotence but because American Jewry – especially those working on campus – has yet to accept that we have a battle on our hands.

There is noone to talk to at the BDS movement. These are people who hate Israel and employ garish double standards, wanting to punish one of the most humane democracies on earth while they overlook the glaring human rights abuses of nations like China and large swaths of the Arab world. They want to punish Israel even more than they want to stop the slaughter in Syria.

It’s time that we accept that for many campuses, organized, rules-based debate is exactly what is required.

Trying to secure pro-Israel speakers on campuses like UC Irvine or McGill can result in the kind of dangerous riots and chaos that prevented former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Natan Sharansky, and Benjamin Netanyahu, from even being heard. Such hooliganism has been common in Britain for years where, for example, Deputy Ambassador to Britain Alon Roth-Snir was prevented from speaking at the University of Essex, Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was shouted down at Oxford by shouts of “Itbah Al-Yahud” [Slaughter the Jews] and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and at Edinburgh where Ambassador Daniel Taub, despite bring protected by a small army of British police and Israeli agents, still had his lecture disrupted.

Debates are different, inviting as they do from the outset the other side to present its case. The idea is not to bring anti-Israel speakers to Hillel, but to organize the debates in neutral, leading University venues where Israel’s case can finally be made.

I am traveling back to Oxford University, where I served as Rabbi for 11 years, for a debate on Iran, and the threat it poses, at the Oxford Union on 6 March. There will be many detractors of Israel, to be sure. But as I learned with the tens of debates I personally organized at Oxford, there is no better way to communicate one’s message than to demonstrate fearlessness and a belief in the courage of one’s convictions.

The Union is famous for its debates, something at which Oxford leads the world. It was at Oxford that I started the first modern debates on science and religion, featuring the world’s leading atheists like Richard Dawkins. Later I would debate the world’s other most famous atheist, Christopher Hitchens, at the 92nd St Y, a debate that has garnered nearly a million views online. In each of those cases there also was the assumption that religion could never hold its own against a modern science. But the many religious people who engaged Dawkins and Hitchens helped to demonstrate the intelligent side of religion and win over adherents.

I am astonished that our community is afraid of Israel debates. Does it stem from fear that Israel can’t defend itself? That students are not fair and will immediately support the Palestianian side?

Sometimes you have to accept that you have a battle on your hands and the only way to move forward is to embrace the fight.

The only bright spot in the failed campaign of Mitt Romney was the night he stunned the world in Denver with the power of his ideas and presentation in debate. Adlai Stevenson began turning the tide of Soviet propaganda when he engaged the Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin in debate at the United Nations, challenging him directly on his assertion that there were no offensive missiles in Cuba. Until then the communists were able to assert their bullying views in international forums almost with impunity. And that’s why Stevenson’s retort to the Soviets is today regarded as a classic moment.

The same applies to Israel’s need to fight on campus with its most eloquent spokespeople.

In my last column on this subject I argued that while falafel parties and Israeli dancing are important, there is no substitute for the kind of intellectual inspiration that can be offered in intelligent, rules-based debate. We are not the people of the matzo ball but the people of the book. It’s time to win the world over to our ideas by overcoming our reluctance to share and defend those ideas.

It is the purpose of our organization, This World: The Values Network, to offer the world’s foremost defenders of Israel, at our expense, along with an advertising budget and PR support, to pro-Israel campus organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who are prepared to help organize these debates.

If your organization qualifies and if you’re at a campus where Israel is under siege then please reach out to us.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

4 Responses to “Lessons for Israel-on-Campus from Scarlett Johansson”

  1. Anonymous says:

    How is being anti-settlement anti Israel? Palestine does NOT belong to you, you stole it and set up shop. If Saudi Arabia came to Israel and set up shop Bejacan't Netany coo-koo would have a heart attack, yell anti-semmitism and nuke Saudi Arabia. Yet when you do it, you are in the right?

  2. Nathan Katz says:

    We are doing much better on our campuses these days. The students have had enough of Israel-hatred and they have learned how to advocate and are taking the bull(s**t) buy the horns, so to speak. And they are supported by many, many opportunities to learn something accurate about Israel.

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    Druglez Please explain where you get your information from? I would like to see the source of your statements.

  4. There has never been a Palestinian state. Therefore there is no Palestinian land. The illegal occupation by Jordan of the West Bank and east Jerusalem did not give any rights to the land to the Palestinians. The land was promised to the Jews. The Palestinians are going to have to negotiate for the borders of their state or they will not get one.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Rami Levy in one of his supermarkets.
Rami Levy Quietly Helping Families of the Fallen
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/lessons-for-israel-on-campus-from-scarlett-johansson/2014/02/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: