Shaping the World
College is a time for social action, student protest and the formulation of ideas and worldviews; a time to broaden one’s mind and for students to begin to shape the world they live in. In North America, college students have been instrumental in some of the biggest protest movements of the 20th Century, including the fight to end the Vietnam War, Women’s Rights and the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the activism continues with students fighting against the genocides in Tibet and Darfur and the war in Iraq.
Anti-Israel or Anti-Semitic?
There is one issue that seems to evoke more hostility then any other - Israel. Israel’s Operation Cast Lead at the close of 2008 evoked feelings of resentment and hatred from people throughout the world. There was something “different” about the protests that this war sparked as the line between anti-Israel policy and anti-Semitism became blurred. These protests weren’t just against Israel but also against the Jewish People. Around the world, synagogues and Jewish graves were desecrated and anti-Semitic chants were shouted at protests – even on the streets of America.
Bringing the War to Campus
The anti-Israel hostility that had been raging for years on American campuses came to a head during Operation Cast Lead, whereby the situation on North American campuses deteriorated dramatically. Pro-Palestinian groups held vehement anti-Israel protests along with graphic outdoor theater performances demonstrating the perceived brutality of Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians.
In the Classroom
Instead of offering fair and objective views of the Middle East conflict, some professors are leading the charge against Israel, often taking advantage of their positions to express pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel views on campus. When this happens, students receive a one-sided and biased view of the conflict. In this scenario, many Jewish students feel uncomfortable in the classroom and are scared to express their views on the Middle East conflict.
In recent years, there have been numerous incidents on college campuses during which Jewish property was desecrated and Jewish students were assaulted. For example, in February 2008, four Temple University students used anti-Semitic language and assaulted two Jewish males, severely injuring one of them. In April 2009, a swastika was found painted on a Jewish fraternity house at the University of Florida.
"3D Test" of Anti-Semitism
Israeli politician Natan Sharansky uses the “3D Test” to help distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. Sharansky identifies three categories: de-legitimization, double standard and demonization.
This refers to the argument made that Israel doesn’t meet the requirements of a legitimate state and therefore should not exist. Rather than addressing the particular issues at hand, there is a call for a destruction of the State of Israel.
This is when criticism of Israel is applied selectively. Although other countries can be criticized for human rights violations during times of war, the finger is continuously pointed at Israel and often exaggerated. Little attention is given to the atrocities committed by other countries.
Israel is accused of behaving like a demon and its actions are blown out of proportion. For example, comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz.
Lies, Half-truths and Distortions
On American college campuses, many pro-Palestinian activists use unverified news stories and misleading information about the facts on the ground. One example of this is that during Operation Cast Lead, college students put forward the unverified story that Israel had hit a UN school in Gaza. Later reports proved that mortar shells fell in the street near the compound, and not on the compound itself. However, by that time, the damage had already been done as many students had already formed their opinions based on the original misinformation.
Follow the Money
Over the last twenty years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into American universities by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries which are hostile to Israel’s very existence, with the specific goal of influencing students’ views on the Middle East and Israel. The education that students in Middle Eastern departments are receiving is likely to be unbalanced and anti-Israel as a result of this direct line of funding.
The Muslim Student Association
The MSA organizes anti-Israel events on campus, often sponsoring events with radical speakers that support violence and suicide bombings. The MSA has foundational ties to the Muslim brotherhood, a group created with the explicit goal of implementing Sharia Law across the world. The MSA often works to advance one of the Brotherhood’s goals by advocating for the destruction of Israel.
Not Just about Israel
Another of The Muslim Brotherhood’s aims is to destabilize the West. They believe in a “grand Jihad,” claiming that Western civilization needs to eliminated from within. The Brotherhood is not just fighting against Israel, but also against America and western countries that promote democratic values.
What should Jewish students do?
Jews have a historical connection to Israel. Jews have been living in Israel continuously for thousands of years, never leaving Israel voluntarily. Jewish students should be proud of Israel’s achievements over the past 61 years, including the production of numerous technologies that are advancing the world. It is important for Jews to educate themselves, and be proactive on campus, to express their Jewish views proudly, show solidarity with Israel, and correct misinformation campaigns launched by opponents of the Jewish State.