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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘on campus’

A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

UN vote reactions. BDS efforts. Anti-Israel Conferences. Gilad Shalit’s release. Social media advocacy. Failed and successful collaborations.

It’s been an eventful year on campus, and through it all, Israel Campus Beat has been reporting on the Israel-on-campus reality. Here’s a look at the 2011-2012 academic year through the keen eyes of ICB.

In the Beginning

The year began with the debate over Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly (GA) in September. In preparation for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid for statehood at the GA, Hillel’s Center for Israel Engagement led an initiative, Tents for Israel, to educate students about Israel and enable them to ask questions about Israel in a secure space.

Even prior to Hillel’s initiative, however, the Israel on Campus Coalition and partners launched the Real Partners. Real Peace (RPRP) campaign in July to prepare students on campus to deal with questions about the Palestinian statehood bid. The RPRP campaign promoted the need for direct negotiations between responsible partners to end the conflict by encouraging students to write op-eds on campus, circulate petitions, and undertake other efforts to raise awareness in the campus community. At the launch, students gathered from across the nation, sharing ideas for effective campus advocacy, and used ideas from their discussions not only for the RPRP campaign but also for larger Israel advocacy efforts. To help spread the campaign and keep students connected, RPRP relied heavily on social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Advocacy

Social media was a major tool for Hasbara Fellowships, who created the “Friend Request Pending” campaign (as part of RPRP). Using Facebook as their theme, Hasbara created a YouTube video to spread the message that Israel wants to become “friends” with Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and others, but the friendship requests are rejected.

Activists on other campuses, such as Brandeis University, have also used video to promote pro-Israel messages. Other students attended the David Project’s Video Production Seminar back in November to learn more about promoting Israel through video; one video, created by a David Project video intern, has been viewed more than 20,000 times.

Social media is quickly becoming a top tool for Israel advocacy. When IDF soldier Gilad Shalit’s release (after more than five years in captivity) was announced in October, Israel supporters turned to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the good news and share their support. Campus Israel groups use Facebook and Twitter to keep students informed of upcoming meetings and events on campus. Students are taking advantage of the technology of the 21st century and using it for Israel advocacy.

Reaching Out

As important as social media is, it does not replace the fundamental need for building relationships. In the past year, pro-Israel students have sought to establish relationships with pro-Palestinian student groups, though the efforts are fraught with challenges. Early in the school year, ICB reported on a coalition between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Noles for Israel (NFI) at Florida State University (FSU). Such efforts are so rare that they can seem too good to be true, and in this case, it was. A mere month after the start of this new, hopeful coalition, FSU’s SJP invited Norman Finkelstein, a notoriously anti-Israel speaker, to campus and the partnership ended bitterly.

A successful partnership, however, blossomed this year at a different Florida university. At the University of Miami, an MZ-Grinspoon Intern started a new pro-Israel organization on campus, the I-Team, that includes Jewish, Palestinian and Christian members who work together harmoniously.

Countering anti-Israel Sentiment

In response to a conference at the University of Pennsylvania that sought to advance the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort, Israel supporters galvanized to offer a broad range of activities designed to counter the anti-Israel activity. Student activists from all over traveled to Penn to engage students in discussions about Israel. With Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the keynote speaker and over 800 students attending Friday night dinners devoted to discussing the conflict, the effort succeeded in creating a positive view of Israel on campus and yielded an Ivy League joint leadership statement condemning the BDS movement.

Later in the year, Dershowitz shared his views with ICB about the Harvard University student conference in March, entitled “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution.” Student activists and the professionals who support them have learned a lot from the encounters with anti-Israel activity on and off the campus over the past year. But the most prominent lessons to be learned may be the importance of building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships with diverse groups.

Amb. Michael Oren to Pro-Israel Student Advocates: No Substitute for Knowledge and Experience

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Ambassador Michael Oren has been on the move lately, visiting college campuses and communities in California, Michigan, Chicago, and Boston.

Israel Campus Beat caught up with him last week at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, after he addressed a crowd of students and community members.

The New Jersey native, who earned degrees from Princeton and Columbia and has served in faculty positions at Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, the Hebrew University, and Tel Aviv University, has served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States in May 2009. As the author of two best-selling books and a former contributing editor of The New Republic and the Shalem Center’s quarterly journal, Azure, Oren has a long history in academics and prose, and a profound ability to connect with his audience.

During a private reception last week at GW’s Elliot School of International Affairs, he offered advice to pro-Israel student activists and advocates.

“You need to know your subject, back and forth,” he said. “There is no substitute for knowing the history and knowing the current affairs.”

There is no substitute for experience, he added, even those that are difficult.

“Getting the stuffing knocked out of you sometimes is a very educational experience and I’ve been through it all,” he said. “Today, I get to a point where it is very, very rare where I will get a question, even a very difficult question that I haven’t received many times before. Being able to have the information at your fingertips is indispensable.”

He stressed the importance of treating every question with respect, noting that there is only one question that he refuses to respect.

“I won’t respect any question that draws a comparison between Israel and the Nazis,” he said. “I won’t respond to that, at least not respectfully.”

Oren demonstrated his knack for staying calm when a dozen George Washington University students left his event, minutes in, carrying signs that said “Oren Supports Colonialism.” Oren stood at the podium and urged those leaving to stay and hear what he had to say.

“I’ve been through that a lot,” he said. “You don’t have to lose your cool.”

The title of Oren’s presentation at GW was “Ultimate Allies: Israel and the United States,” and he discussed the strong connection between the two countries.

“We agree on the end game. We agree on the strategy. Strategy is creation of two states for two peoples, the nation state of the Jewish people called Israel, the nation state of the Palestinian people called Palestine living side by side in mutual security and mutual recognition and peace. Those are our common goals,” he said, explaining that although Israel and the U.S. sometimes disagree on certain tactical subjects, both countries are determined to prevent a nuclear capable Iran.

“Historically, because of the deep roots, because of the democratic connection, because of our great military alliance and growing commercial relationship, I say that Israel is not just an ally of America, not even a great ally of America,” he said. “Israel is America’s ultimate ally.”

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Shagririm: Israeli-American Ambassadors, on Campus

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Imagine an elite network of pro-Israel students in the region where you attend school. They host meetings, enjoy access to events both in their city and nationally, and ultimately work together to increase support of Israel.

In Southern California, this dream is a reality, through a rapidly growing initiative called Shagrirm, meaning “ambassadors” in Hebrew. The program binds together activists and advocates in Los Angeles and Orange County to build support for Israel.

Shagririm caters to the large population of Israeli–Americans in Southern California and their American born children. The program connects these individuals in order to effectively generate pro-Israel programs and initiatives.

Although its goals are similar to many pro-Israel initiatives centered on young adults, Shagririm is the only program of its kind that currently functions solely on a local, multi-campus level, rather than nationwide.

“Shagririm is different in that its purpose isn’t to go out when anti-Israel activities go on. Its goal is to form relationships with other clubs who can become pro-Israel,” UCLA senior Barbara Efraim said. “It’s a more grassroots approach because the connections we create are original.”

Brett Cohen, the national program director of StandWithUs, agrees that the program is one of a kind.

“Shagririm is a different sort of fellowship from your average Israel advocacy internship,” he said. “While they are responsible for many of the same things as StandWithUs Emerson Fellows [many of] the Shagririm are Israeli-Americans empowered to speak up for their country. It makes it very personal, whereas for most American supporters of Israel the connection isn’t the same. We are always excited to have the Shagririm at our Israel In Focus conference because they bring a unique perspective that I feel helps American supporters of Israel understand a deeper connection that can only come from being Israeli.”

The Shagririm program, which began in 2010 with 12 students from UCLA, USC, and California State University, Northridge (CSUN), has expanded to include 54 students from USC, UCLA, Santa Monica College, Cal Poly Pomona, Chapman University, UC Irvine and CSUN.

Run through the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC), an organization that works to build an active and giving Israeli-American community in Los Angeles, Shagririm seeks to secure the next generation in Israel advocacy, preserve Israel as the Jewish state, gather Israeli-Americans throughout the country, strengthen community ties through program development, and target young Jewish Americans.

“Shagririm has given students the resources and the chances to form relationships with other clubs, further spreading the pro-Israel message,” Efraim said. “It gives us the liberty to do whatever we wish, so all options are on the table and we can use our imagination to create the best event possible.”

The student leaders are trained to build coalitions with non-Jewish campus groups by synthesizing Israeli contributions in culture, art, science, technology and more, with initiatives created by non-Jewish groups on campus; this is a skill whose power was demonstrated during the recent Israel Apartheid Week on Southern California campuses.

“Bringing all the organizations together means that we can pool a greater number of resources,” Efraim noted.

UCLA senior Tomer Schwartz is president of Bruins for Israel and a Shagririm intern. He stressed that collaboration with other groups is the best way to bring a taste of Israel to non-Jewish groups and show Israel beyond the conflict.

“We try to show them that we’re big supporters of Israel or Israelis and show them a different side to what being Israeli is all about,” he said.

He hopes that after Shagririm participants develop connections with other campus groups, the groups’ members will want to support Israel based on the positive interactions and new information they learned about the country through their coalition-building event.

Eran Hoch and Neri Johsnon are Israel Fellows in Southern California and both play a key role in Shagririm. Hoch said that the program’s main goal is to help participants grow and become leaders in their communities.

“We want to see these leaders go back to their campuses and have other people following them and learning from them,” he said.

Beyond planning events, participants can take part in a wide range of education and training opportunities, including StandWithUs’ Israel in Focus conference, AIPAC events and hearing from speakers such as Myra Clark-Siegel of Project Interchange, Israeli Consul General David Siegel, AIPAC’s Elliot Brandt and commentator Dennis Prager.

“StandWithUs is very proud to host the Shagririm at our Israel in Focus conference, because as Israeli-Americans they bring a unique perspective,” Cohen said. “Our mission is to help them articulate their own powerful personal stories to help educate others about Israel.

“StandWithUs works with lots of diverse groups of people to connect them with what interests them about Israel,” he continued. “With the Shagririm, it is a very natural collaboration, because as American-Israelis they can bring their personal connection to Israel into their outside interests, and share that with their peers.”

In Honor of Israel’s Big Day, One Movie on 64 Campuses

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.

As Israel turns 64, campuses across the country are throwing major birthday bashes in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Whether opening hookah bars on campus, giving out free falafel, renting camels or creating a Tel Aviv beach party on the quad, Yom Ha’atzmaut on campus is something not to be missed. But Jerusalem Online University (JOU) has spearheaded a new sort of birthday celebration that is educational as well as fun. JOU is throwing a movie party to celebrate Israel’s birthday.

In honor of Israel’s 64th birthday, JOU is premiering the movie ‘Israel Inside’ in 64 locations. The screenings began on Wednesday night and continue through the day on Thursday.

Rather than the typical movie about Israel that discusses politics, conflict and violence, ‘Israel Inside’ tells the story of the Israeli people whose resilience has propelled Israel to the forefront of world innovation and progress.

“There seems to be no limit to the amount of bashing Israel receives, be it on television, in the newspapers or online,” ‘Israel Inside’ Associate Producer and Director of Film Distribution David Coleman told Israel Campus Beat. “On top of that, Jewish students on campuses across the country have to face often overt hostility to anything related to Israel from their professors, from student groups and at campus demonstrations.

“Realizing how difficult it was for anyone to present Israel and its people in a positive light was exactly the inspiration for ‘Israel Inside,’ Coleman stated.

The 55-minute film, hosted by former Harvard lecturer Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, explores the core strength of Israelis that has enabled them to succeed against incredible odds.

“Each year as Yom Ha’atzmaut approaches, many communities and individuals around the world look for ways to appropriately celebrate Israel from afar,” Coleman said. “This film, which makes no mention of politics, provides a perfect platform to celebrate the miracles and splendor of Israel and its people. We felt it would have been a waste not to share this message with others on a day dedicated to celebrating Israel’s individuality.”

Film screenings are taking place throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Jerusalem, South Africa, Romania, China, India, U.K., Chile, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Ethiopia.

The film will also be shown in the coming months as part of a college screening campaign in partnership with StandWithUs and Hasbara Fellowships.

“In a time when Israel is increasingly viewed solely in terms of the negative connotations of the Israeli-Arab conflict,” Coleman concluded, “this film gives today’s Jewish Americans plenty to be proud of the State of Israel and its vast accomplishments on such a special day.”

The Challenges and Triumphs of Student-Aliyah

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.

As college seniors approach graduation and questions about their “next step,” they are faced with the difficult reality of a tight job market and a slow economic recovery. These facts have prompted a small but significant number of students to explore the professional benefits, as well as the Zionist fulfillment, that might come from life in Israel; for some soon-to-be college graduates, campus Israel activism is giving way to a different kind of action: moving to Israel, or making aliyah.

For new college graduates, the decision to make aliyah can be complicated. It means leaving behind family, friends, budding careers and a life of comfort and familiarity.

Indiana University-Bloomington (IU) senior Avi Coven’s path mirrors that of many of his peers. “When I was applying to colleges,” he said, “I figured I would go to a good business school, get a good job in America and maybe retire in Israel.”

For others, aliyah has been a longstanding dream, and graduation brings an opportunity to make it come true.

“I knew I had to spend the rest of my life [in Israel],” noted IU junior Melody Mostow. “It might have been a rash, drastic decision, but I’ve stuck with it since I was 15.”

“After my first month [at school] I knew, I needed Israel in my life,” said George Washington University (GW) junior Emily Seckel.

What exactly is drawing students like Coven, Mostow, and Seckel to give up their predictably comfortable lives in the United States for an unknown future halfway around the world, separated from family and friends?

Long-term programs in Israel, strong Jewish upbringings and the desire to live out the dream of moving to the Jewish homeland are leading factors in students’ decisions to make aliyah.

Long-Term Programs in Israel

Programs like USY’s Nativ and Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY), Young Judaea’s Year Course, North American Federation of Temple Youth’s (NFTY) Gadna army training, study abroad in Israel, and the many MASA programs offer students the opportunity to experience life in Israel.

“I recommend programs [like those of MASA and a semester abroad] to students who want to make aliyah” said GW’s Israel fellow, Noam Aricha.

Israel fellows like Aricha have been stationed across the country at different universities and, among their many roles, they provide students with a wealth of knowledge about how to proceed with aliyah plans.

“I try to represent to the students how life really is in Israel,” Aricha said. “I can connect with them and work with them through what can be a challenging process; I’m here to help, and I’m here to be their friend.”

Coven and Mostow met each other during their gap year before college on United Synagogue Youth’s (USY) Nativ program. The two started dating on the program and plan to make aliyah together after graduating from IU.

“Israel became part of my daily life. It made me tick,” said Mostow, commenting on her semester in Israel on TRY. “I’ve gotten back to Israel for pretty much free, almost every year since 2006.”

During his time at IU, Coven has been involved in Hillel as well as the university’s Aish HaTorah chapter. His focuses as a student leader gravitate toward religious programming on campus.

When Mostow started at IU, she knew she would be involved in Israel activism. She quickly became involved in the university’s AIPAC contingency, IIPAC, and worked in AIPAC’s Chicago office during the summer of 2011. Mostow is currently IIPAC’s vice president, and will take over the group in fall 2012. IIPAC focuses on supporting Israel through politics, lobbying Congress, and engaging and educating student leaders about Israel.

“This is a cause I truly believe in,” said Mostow. “I find it to be the best way to advance Israel’s cause while still on an American campus.”

For Seckel, it was her deep involvement in Young Judaea that really started her role as an Israel advocate.

“I had always grown up with a strong appreciation of Zionism and of Judaism,” noted Seckel. “I decided to take the initiative and become an advocate [for Israel] on campus; Israel is not a war zone, and it’s important to teach people that it’s a real place and it’s more than just the conflict.” She currently serves as the president of GW’s pro-Israel group, Student Alliance For Israel (SAFI).

Financial Stability — and the Dream

While the economic downturn continues to plague college graduates in the U.S., Israel’s job market has been booming and unemployment is at record-low rates. Nevertheless, financial successful is more difficult to achieve in Israel than in the United States.

In a new job market, with a new language and skills marketable for a different country, being financially independent and stable is no simple task. “In Chicago, I know exactly what I need to do to succeed and I have no clue how to do it in Israel,” Coven acknowledged.

The Real Danger To Israel On Campus

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

There is a serious threat facing Israel’s long-term standing in this country resulting from a prolonged campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state on campus. But it’s probably not what you think.

What commonly incurs Jewish indignation are the more blatant anti-Israel spectacles. They range from “apartheid walls” – barriers erected by anti-Israel students to signify the Israeli security fence – to mock security checkpoints, from boycotts and divestment initiatives aimed at impeding university investments in Israel to hostile anti-Israel protests such as last year’s disruption orchestrated by students at the University of California, Irvine, of Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech.

While these hostile activities unquestionably are meant to portray Israel as an oppressive and illegitimate state, such inflammatory acts do not resonate with the vast majority on campus. In recent focus groups conducted by The Israel Project, a diverse set of students was nearly unified in its opposition to boycotts and other such tactics, regardless of the students’ feelings about the Jewish state.

The use of these tactics is certainly growing, but support for them is not.

In the fall semester of 2010, a watered-down resolution calling on Princeton University to sell non-Israeli hummus alongside the Sabra brand was defeated overwhelmingly because it smacked of a boycott. At Columbia, a mock checkpoint, where volunteers were blindfolded and forced to kneel at “gunpoint” in front of students dressed as barking Israeli soldiers, failed to resonate with more than the radical fringe of the student body.

The real danger is that the present campus environment in the United States may adversely affect the future of U.S. support for Israel. Americans may never become Israel haters, as we see in parts of Europe – hostility has been mainstreamed there, potentially affecting diplomatic and economic ties with Israel, and London has been dubbed the “Mecca of delegitimization” by the Israeli think tank Re’ut – but they may cease to be Israel lovers.

Last fall, the student Democrats at a prominent university wrote to the pro-Israel student leadership of the university that they had adopted “a policy of non-endorsement on Israel-Palestine issues.” The student Democrats explained that there was too much division in their own ranks to continue to co-sponsor pro-Israel student activities.

Such a letter may not make your blood boil like an apartheid wall, but it is far more ominous.

For decades the pro-Israel community has enjoyed bipartisan support for Israel in the United States. Congress members from both parties typically vote overwhelmingly in Israel’s favor. This support influences the actions of the White House, which in turn acts to protect Israel from the scourge of hostility it faces elsewhere in the international community.

While young people and particularly mainstream Democrats exposed to hostility on campus may not now or ever join the movement to boycott Israel, over time they may feel less sympathetic toward the Jewish state and more ambivalent about the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. When these young leaders become the next generation of Democratic Party representatives, it may become much tougher to garner those large bipartisan majorities.

While it is important to oppose walls and boycotts, it is far more critical that we create the kind of environment on campus that will sustain two-party support into the future.

(JTA)


David Bernstein is executive director of The David Project.

All Is Not Well On The Eastern Front

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

By now, many are aware of the tough anti-Israel situations on college campuses. Colleges and universities in California and Canada have earned themselves especially notorious reputations. But what is happening along the East Coast? I’ve been speaking to far too many people who are comfortably numb because they “just don’t feel or see it.” Reality check: The wind is blowing the wrong way on the eastern front, too.

At Columbia University last month, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tabled and railed against Israeli checkpoints, portraying Israel as a discriminatory aggressor state and conveniently omitting the point that Israeli checkpoints are security measures against Arab-driven terrorism. “SJP had a mock checkpoint where they bound, hit, blindfolded, and taped the mouths of ‘Palestinians.’ It was a new attack on the ‘inhumane’ state of Israel,” said Avi D. Gordon, StandWithUs’s East Coast campus coordinator. “These occurrences were usually saved for West Coast schools such as UC Berkley and Irvine, but now this dramatic rhetoric has shifted east and can be seen all over campuses. A little more than a month ago, University of Pittsburgh’s SJP had a die-in where ‘soldiers’ shoot ‘Palestinians’ and they lay dead on a main street.” Anti-Israel activism at Columbia goes beyond this one incident. Eric Schorr, vice president of Columbia’s pro-Israel committee called LionPAC, said there is “always [anti-Israel activism] in the classroom and on campus, with Israel Apartheid Week.”

The Palestinian Club at Brooklyn College also staged dramatic checkpoint propaganda, just days before Columbia. “Anti-Israel activities at Brooklyn College have become increasingly more frequent, and more dramatic than ever before on campus. The barely one-year-old Palestinian Club has already disturbed many Zionist and Jewish students by creating events solely to delegitimize Israel,” said Batya Reyz, a pro-Israel student activist. “A few weeks ago they had large signs that said ‘checkpoints,’ with members of the Palestinian Club crouched down with their hands tied behind their backs, playing the part of oppressed victims. When students stopped to observe the table, members of the Palestinian Club took the opportunity to ‘educate’ them on what’s happening in the Middle East and Israel.”

At NYU, Rebecca Kadosh noted that, “Pro-Israel students on NYU’s campus are starting to realize just how well-organized and very close anti-Israel activism is. We’ve seen the manipulation of coalitions, with NYU’s pro-Palestinian faction linking up with students across Manhattan, from the New School to Columbia. We need to be just as united in our response.” Binghamton University is having its share, too. Tamar Skolnick, vice president of Bearcats for Israel, said, “Binghamton has had some anti-Israel activity, such as when former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney spoke against Israel while prohibiting Bearcats for Israel to distribute Israel facts outside of the auditorium in which she was speaking – and more recently, tearing down BlueStar Israel posters.”

These are just a few examples proving that East Coast campuses are not being spared from the anti-Israel onslaught. Fortunately, the situation is not as dark and dirty as on the West Coast or in Canada. This translates into one thing: It is prime time for East Coasters to double their efforts to educate fellow students and communities about Israel – before the situation worsens.

So how does anyone build on the moment and make a difference in clearing the air about Israel? Natalie Menaged, national director of Hasbara Fellowships, emphasizes that “the best tactic for preventing this sort of situation is a strong offense that includes building and maintaining key relationships and spreading meaningful messages about Israel.” She adds, “Students, campus professionals, and concerned community members can take proactive measures for Israel, such as educating and engaging the campus community on Israel’s efforts for peace, and the historic lack of a peace partner for Israel, and Israel’s democratic nature. There is a variety of print material, lecturers, talking points, and programming ideas available about these topics, produced by Hasbara and other Israel advocacy organizations.

“Through educating their peers, forming relationships and coalitions with other student groups, engaging the campus media, and conducting quality programming, pro-Israel students can establish a solid base of support over time. This is of primary importance, as the most important goal is to positively engage people about Israel.”

Schorr, from Columbia, highlights the importance of community mobilization to help students on campuses. “LionPAC, along with our fellow Hillel groups, helped coordinate an incredibly successful and positive response to this [SJP checkpoint] farce of a demonstration,” he said. “We mobilized our own students, as well as those around the city from multiple universities, and promoted a theme of discussion and debate grounded in factual information and the true reality of the situation with checkpoints.”

Some, however, are ready for a more direct pro-Israel approach. “With anti-Israel activities on the rise, many pro-Israel students, myself among them, feel that it’s time to take student activism and advocacy to a whole new level,” said Brooklyn College’s Reyz. NYU’s Kadosh urged that, “We need to foster strong and knowledgeable leaders from the Jewish community. This is not a time for passive activism.”

David Kadosh, ZOA’s East Coast campus coordinator, voices similar frustrations. “There’s a disconnect when responding to anti-Israel activism. Israel groups on campus, especially those linked to Hillel, are trying not to be confrontational or explicitly pro-Israel, whereas anti-Israel activists are going at it with as much shock factor as possible,” he said. “Pro-Palestinian students are creating politicized events against Israel, and Israel supporters are meeting it with fluff, not responding with meaningful pro-Israel messages and missing the opportunity because they are scared of a backlash. They are scared to take a stronger stand, but could fluff events match, for example, Norman Finkelstein coming to campus?”

Kadosh also points out the need for “some kind of a support network where students send out an action alert that is broadcasted to other schools, organizations and communities, so people could come out in support. Columbia is one of the few schools who have the resources, and was able to mobilize many people during the mock checkpoint. But what if this happens at a small school like Kingsborough [Community College]? Students need to know that they can send an alert to one active person who can notify and rally many others. Community support is essential. What happens when Finkelstein gets 300 anti-Israel demonstrators, and a pro-Israel event gets 30 people? This sends a strong message to the school.”

While anti-Israel activism is intensifying on campuses, the Jewish student bodies and communities are still in the developing stages. There is an urgent need to reach out to pro-Israel supporters, build up the support network, and get active in meaningful ways. It is critical to go beyond emotional support of Israel and have the facts and messages to communicate while tabling on campus, writing about Israel in the campus newspaper, or engaging fellow students in conversation.

Make sure you know the facts. A good way to start is with JerusalemOnlineU.com’s Israel Inside/Out online course. And be sure to reach out to excellent pro-active groups like the ZOA, Hasbara, Hagshama, and StandWithUs. The resources exist; it is up to each Jewish student on campus to make a difference. Don’t let the East Coast deteriorate to an anti-Israel frenzy zone.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/all-is-not-well-on-the-eastern-front/2010/12/15/

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