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Winning the War

As Israel Apartheid Week returns to college campuses across the country, how should supporters of Israel fight the battle for hearts and minds?

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The eighth annual Israel Apartheid Week began this weekend, and over the coming days, walls and mock checkpoints will go up on campuses across the country. What is the best way for Zionists to respond to campaigns that aim to smear the Jewish state? We asked students at Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Penn—as well as professional Israel advocates—to weigh in.

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Don’t Go Negative

David Bernstein is the executive director of the David Project, a nonprofit that positively shapes campus opinion on Israel.

The best response to anti-Israelism on campus is pro-Israelism.

It’s important to remember that the United States is not the United Kingdom, where anti-Israelism is widespread. According to the most recent Gallup poll, Americans are more sympathetic to the Israelis (rather than to the Palestinians) by a margin of 63 to 17 percent. While levels of support for Israel are lower on campus, most college students are more inclined to support Israel than the Palestinians.

There may be a more serious problem at elite colleges, where the discussion of Israel is driven by a far-left and postmodern worldview, as well as by radicalized Middle East study programs. But even at schools like Columbia and Berkeley, the problem is mostly not outright hostility but a drip-drip negativity.

In an environment trending negative, the best approach is not to “respond” but to promote. When we spend our energy responding to anti-Israel accusations, we engage the battle on our adversaries’ terms—not ours. Further, by taking on the detractors, we help them get more publicity than they could on their own and can end up sounding shrill ourselves. The average college student, faced with dueling arguments, will say “a pox on both of your houses,” which, in the American context, constitutes a loss for Israel.

A much better strategy than responding to the detractors is to take a targeted, pro-active, and positive approach that meets segments of students (and faculty) where they are and brings them closer to our view. AIPAC has successfully used this strategy to identify and build ties with college students most likely to serve in Congress one day.

The organization I lead, the David Project, just released an in-depth report, “A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges,” that lays out our view on the issue. Here’s a quick summary of our strategy for winning the campus battle:

1. Help pro-Israel students identify and reach out to “influencers” on campus, from members of student government to the heads of ethnic organizations to campus celebrities. These relationships can be enhanced by trips for these influencers led by pro-Israel student leaders themselves.
2. Hold small, targeted events in partnership with non-Jewish organizations (and avoid large-scale events that usually only attract our side and theirs).
3. Take advantage of the growth and influence of business departments and a corresponding interest in Israel’s growing economic successes.
4. Combat the influence of anti-Israel professors by organizing pro-Israel professors and training others to teach more courses on Israel unaffected by anti-Israel propaganda (like at the Summer Institute for Israel Studies at Brandeis).

There is no easy fix for the problems on campus. But by moving from reaction to action, we can assure that future generations of influential Americans remain broadly supportive of the Jewish state.

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Expose Biased Professors and the Influence of Petrodollars

Rachel Fish is a doctoral student in Israel Studies at Brandeis.

The new white paper published by the David Project, an organization I worked for between 2003 and 2009, should prompt serious community discussion about anti-Israelism—a growing, decades-long problem that is doing real harm to Israel’s standing among American elites and reshaping Jewish life on campus. For the most part, the description of the problem is on target: Leftist faculty and student groups, along with Muslim organizations, work consistently—and typically in concert—to defame and undermine the Jewish state and its supporters in the guise of “academic freedom” and under the banner of “human rights.”

This campaign has successfully made “Palestinianism”—the notion that an innocent, indigenous people suffers a senseless, cruel oppression by the Jews of Israel—the cause célèbre on many campuses. It has created a hostile environment for pro-Israel students who are sometimes intimidated, harassed, and, in the worst cases, physically threatened. Mostly, however, supporters of Israel on campus are simply silenced. They correctly understand that if they stand up for Israel, they risk being mocked, marginalized, subject to receiving lower grades, and perhaps limiting their career opportunities. After speaking to scores of pro-Israel professors, students, and some Hillel professionals, it is extremely clear to me that many Jewish students are cowed into silence by social pressure and career concerns.

Given the depth of the problem on campus, focusing education efforts primarily on students will not ultimately change the university. Students are an important component of the campus community, and their education about Israel must begin before they step foot on campus, but they are not the decisive constituency at universities. They alone will not be able to alter the discourse.

If we want to see real change, the structural elements of campus life—faculty, administration, and funding sources, all of which have far greater power than students—must be confronted. As important as it is to work with and educate students, their stints at the university are short, and they have limited influence. They will likely be overwhelmed by radical professors, multimillion dollar programs funded by countries like Saudi Arabia, and administrators bullied by tenured faculty and insensitive to Jewish concerns.

Teaching about Israel’s remarkable achievements is insufficient; a “defense-only” approach cannot win. Bias against Israel has to be shown to be the shameless hypocrisy that it is.

The Jewish community must deal with the institutional issues: professors who abuse the power of the podium, the influence of petrodollars, and insensitivity by the administration. Moreover, instructing students to mostly ignore and be silent about the lies, distortions, and half-truths propagated by Israel’s detractors reflects a lack of moral courage. History has shown that silence has not been a friend to the Jews.

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Publicly Confront Pernicious Arguments

David Fine is a junior at Columbia. He is editor in chief of the Current.

It had all the trappings of a bad one-liner—a liberal and a conservative, a socialist and a libertarian, and a smattering of others, all seated behind microphones in the grand rotunda of Columbia’s Low Library. What followed, though, was amazing: an actual substantive debate.

It began when a representative from Columbia’s International Socialist Organization said that Hamas, as the “democratically elected government” in Gaza, had every right to “resist” the Israeli government.

Instead of answering the next question posed to me by the moderators, I turned to the ISO representative and asked: Was she really justifying lobbing missiles into apartment buildings and schools, or blowing up children on buses? She countered very simply, saying that people have the right to respond to political conditions by whatever means necessary. So, my fellow debater endorsed killing civilians as a legitimate means of political action.

It was the moment I had been told to fear—the dreaded campus debate about Israel—and yet no lightning struck. It turns out that it was fairly easy to expose this person’s despicable worldview.

It’s important to remember, as the fake walls and fake checkpoints and fake tanks of Israel Apartheid Week come and go, such spectacles are just that—spectacle. Ideas and arguments hold more sway. And if we know our stuff, and believe in the truth of our arguments, then we should win the real debates every time.

So, while we hold up placards and hand out fact sheets on campus this week, we should look forward to the rest of the semester. We should sharpen our wits and confront those whose aim is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The best that happens is that they reveal their ideologies for what they truly are.

Persuade the Undecided—Especially in the Classroom

Gilad Wenig is senior at New York University majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Earlier this month, the Israeli government announced that it would be dispatching over 100 Israelis to college campuses in the United States. Timed in accordance with Israel Apartheid Week, the “Faces of Israel” campaign is meant to counter anti-Zionist activities on campuses. But will this strategy work? I’m skeptical.

Quite often, speakers sponsored by the Israeli government come across as overtly partisan, and, in my experience, the people who go to such events already support the Jewish state. In addition, as a report recently released by the David Project claimed, pro-Israel speakers can often be “counterproductive” because they invite protest and controversy.

When he visited NYU in 2009, Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s minister of Information and Diaspora, asked a small group of students how to effectively rebrand Israel on campus. Overall, the answers were uninspired. Three years later, I have a suggestion: Leave it to us.

The key is shifting our focus from debating the anti-Israel types to engaging the much larger group that is undecided, uninformed, and vulnerable to persuasion by a politically assertive teaching assistant or controversial reading assignment.

Contrary to popular perception, students who support Israel can have a meaningful impact in the classroom. Empowering pro-Israel students to engage professors, teaching assistants, and even peers on contentious points should be highlighted as part of a multipronged approach to dealing with anti-Zionism on campus.

Just last year, in a survey course of modern Middle Eastern history, my professor made a comment insinuating collusion between colonialism and early Zionism. Based on sources I had read in another class, I immediately met with the professor and expressed my concern with linking the two, especially in an introductory course. After our lengthy and frank discussion, she publicly clarified her comments during the following lecture and insisted that she strives to maintain an unbiased atmosphere. And indeed she did so the rest of the semester.

Pro-Israel Jewish students can challenge professors directly. Just remember to stay cool-headed, and be sure to have your facts in order. Otherwise, you’re in for a very rude awakening.

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Abandon Talking Points, and Embody the Right Values

Yoav Schaefer, a former IDF soldier, is the director of the Avi Schaefer Fund and a student at Harvard University.

Israel Apartheid Week is an unfortunate manipulation of the discussion about Israel-Palestine on campuses, but I believe its bark is worse than its bite. Negative and extreme forms of advocacy tend to alienate the very people they are trying to reach. This isn’t just true of the activists that organize campaigns intended to demonize Israel: It’s often true of the Jewish community’s reaction to such displays. Our overly robust response tends to confer greater legitimacy and publicity to anti-Zionist activities. This occurred in reaction to the University of Pennsylvania’s BDS Conference earlier this month and, unfortunately, seems likely to happen at Harvard’s One-State Conference that begins this weekend.

Consider the fact that about 65 percent of the coverage of last year’s Israel Apartheid Week was in Israeli or Jewish publications. It’s time to reevaluate the ineffective and often counterproductive forms of advocacy promoted by many Jewish organizations, and explore new ways to educate about Israel on campus.

As an activist fighting against divestment at the University of California at Berkeley in 2010, I watched as pro-Israel students, with their well-rehearsed advocacy points and flyers packed with facts, failed to combat the emotionally powerful narratives of pro-Palestinian activists. Our advocacy failed us at Berkeley, it has failed us on campuses across North America, and it will continue to fail us. And, let’s be honest, with the current direction of Israeli politics, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make the case for Israel on campus.

We cannot allow our Israel education to be defined by those who are anti-Israel. Nor can we fall into the trap of debating the merits of every Israeli policy—that’s a losing strategy. Instead, our task is to defend Israel’s fundamental right to exist. This can’t be accomplished through a well-oiled hasbara machine, but by personally embodying values and aspirations with which people can identify: empathy, understanding, and peace.

We need to admit upfront that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, and confront anti-Israel sentiments with nuance and sophistication. Most importantly, we need to engage students with whom we disagree.

Rather than respond directly to Israel Apartheid Week, pro-Israel students should work to promote a culture of civility on campus, and focus on positive forms of Israel education that portray the Jewish state’s vibrancy. One-dimensional advocacy is counterproductive—uninformed students see it as anti-intellectual and ideological spoon-feeding. Only by discussing the fundamental meaning and purpose of Israel—not defending the status-quo, but challenging students to build a more perfect country that embodies the values of the Jewish people—can we transform North American universities into mechanisms for positive change. Indeed, the most important work on campuses is not countering anti-Israel groups, but changing the outdated models of advocacy and education within our own community.

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Pro-Palestinian Doesn’t Mean Anti-Israel

Logan Bayroff is the president of J Street U National Student Board and a junior at the University of Pennsylvania.

When it comes to political activism on campus, it’s important to distinguish between what is anti-Israel and what is pro-Palestinian. At J Street U, we believe many parts of the Palestinian narrative are worthy of Jewish consideration. Israeli and American leaders have long understood that ending the conflict requires a two-state solution—and that means supporting Palestinian self-determination.

Of course there is another, uglier face of campus advocacy. Some groups denounce Israel’s very existence, often using the extreme language of apartheid. Understandably, this rhetoric, coupled with demonstrations involving “apartheid walls” and mock checkpoints, causes a great deal of upset among many pro-Israel students. Unfortunately, this tends to lead to exaggerated, pre-programmed responses that ignore the intertwined nature of the Israeli and Palestinian causes and hastily label various activities as anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.

Instead, we should encourage dialogue and pragmatism. Inviting students to discuss Israel’s strengths and challenges gives campus advocacy a productive focus. When the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement held a national conference at Penn last month, our Hillel and Israel advocacy leaders responded by organizing over 50 student-run dinner discussions for the general student body, where Israel was the focus. At dinners hosted by J Street U, students of different backgrounds and opinions came together to share their love for and critiques of Israel.

Weeks later, we held an event in conjunction with a pro-Palestinian student group, with a former IDF officer who is now a representative of a major Israeli human rights organization. Students were confronted with the hard reality of settlements and occupation and were at the same time exposed to a fiercely proud Zionist who is working to achieve the Israel envisioned by its founders. An approach like this trusts in students’ ability to appreciate complex situations. In campus advocacy, as in the conflict itself, extremism is best answered with moderation and engagement toward the achievement of shared goals.

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Roy Earle says:

Bernstein’s retreaded sha-shtil, Israel 21c style positive messaging approach has been instantly disproved. Who is getting traction at Harvard over their one state conference? The in your face, aggressive, and most certainly not politically correct Dershowitz, backed up by CAMERA and other groups. His ‘in depth report’ is another rehashing of old tactics, mostly glaringly obvious, and some downright ridiculous and an after the fact justification for doing less and less.

Pamela Villars says:

It’s also important to not continue the polarization that this event creates. We must share and educate others about our Jewish values and how we can act on them to create viable and peaceful solutions. J Street is a good place to visit to see how we can be pro-Israel and pro-peace.

While I, as a Jew, regard Israel as a possible haven in the event of rabid antiSemitism in the US, I am tired of reading all this histrionic, alarmist stuff about anti-Israel college Jews routing for the Arabs.
It, anti-Apartheid week, happened before, and nothing much came of it. Maybe you guys at Tablet should ignore it instead of giving publicity to the wrong people.

To conduct a reasonable dialogue you must have people on both sides with a regard for the truth. If one side tries to conduct a reasonable debate while the other side spews lies and shouts down anything don’t like you can not have a dialogue. It is best to expose the anti Israel left for the liars they are. If you were to face them in an honest debate the apartheid charges would be stupid. The left will not meet in an honest debate. If we need examples just remember the arab boy “killed” in the crossfire or the Jenin massacre. It is better to attack them for the liars and bigots they are.

PLEASE write about the work of the Jewish Dialogue Project (based in Philadelphia). We have worked on campuses, in synagogues and in the community bringing Jews together to listen to and talk with each other about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. These dialogue opportunities are often transformative experiences for participants with across-the-spectrum viewpoints to engage humanely.

We have a basic disagreement about what constitutes “truth”. The devils who are running and ruining Israel refuse to play by the same rules of “truth” that the devils expect of others. The “rule” is that the devils rule.

The Lavon Affair, the attack on the USS Liberty, bombing of the King David Hotel (Likud dressed as muslims), and 9/11 are turning events leveraged by “narratives” that, in the good universe are also called “lies”.

In the anti-universe, truth is lies and lies are deemed “the truth”. People are awakening to the deceptions. That you have to strategize about how to handle your nefarious deeds–to conceal the depravity–is encouraging to those of us who realize that real truth is prevailing.

ReDiscover911.com

If given the choice of penitence or Samson option, I know the choice the devils will make.

Binyamin in O says:

I think Peter Beinart said it best: Israel does not have a PR problem; it has a policy problem.

For Zlota says:

At a social gathering I went to recently, in apparenly random conversation, a guy loudly announced that Israel was solely responsible for there being no world peace.

I considered not responding, afraid arguing would be bad, making a scene, afraid of drawing attention to myself.

I decided I was being spineless.

So I just responded, conversationally, that I disagreed with him, and that he didn’t know what he was talking about. That I support Israel,.. And since it was too late in the evening to begin a factual academic debate, he can just blame me instead. I take full responsibility for world peace.

Immediately he ripped into me, it was amazing. All war is all my fault, who knew? Sorry.

After he left, everyone who watched this in a bit of shock said, “wow, never saw anything like that, you were so calm, if it was me, I would have hit him. You won.”

Obviously it shook me up a little, I mean I feel the need to relate the story here even.

But, it really wasn’t hard to defeat the argument, if I could do it. Of course, if I am personally responsible for world peace, maybe I’m underestimating myself.

The best way to defend Israel would be Israel to become a decent Nation, for Israel to change it’s behavior. It’s going to get harder and harder to get people to change their perceptions of reality,.. and indeed, fewer and fewr Americans are supporting Israel as they begin to see the manipulations in our Zionist owned and controlled media. Thanks to the Internet, more and more people are becoming aware of Israeli malfeasance ie; the USS Liberty, and 9/11. Check out Rediscover9/11.com, as per Ed Kendricks above comment. Lot’s of info there. God Bless the Truth, that rare commodity, and to hell with PR. If you live in the sunshine of truth, and are proud of what you do, you won’t need Hasbara. Peter

It’s nice to see Sacha Baron Cohen taking time out of his busy schedule to comment on Tablet’s postings in character as The Dictator. Guerrilla marketing at its finest! Bravo!

Martin says:

Three words: “Palestinian Terrorism Week.” Palestinian terrorism, after all, accounts for the “apartheid” wall. At the same time, all of the positive things the pro-Israel people quoted in the article could be done.

Bayroff raises a legitimate point about the difference between pro-Palestinianism and anti-Israelism. However, such distinctions require also distinguishing between pro-Palestinianism and pro-Palestinian National Movementism (PNM). The difference is that pro-Palestinianism is advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian people, pro-PNMism is advocacy on behalf of the PNM, the collection of groups speaking on behalf of the Palestinians as a nation, primarily Fatah and Hamas.

Being pro-Palestinian means being concerned about the state of Palestinian living conditions. Being pro-PNM means supporting the demands of the PNM, whether or not it is connected to any legitimate objective of the Palestinian people or if such objective could be achieved at a lower cost to Israel. Someone who is pro-Palestinian wants to extract a cost from Israel in order to secure benefits for the Palestinian people. Someone who is pro-PNM seeks to secure benefits for the Palestinian people in order to extract a cost from Israel.

One counter to the Palestinian campaign would be to bring in Palestinians like Khaled abu Toameh to discuss what really matters to ordinary Palestinians and expose who is using help for the Palestinian people to justify harming Israel and who is actually seeking to help the Palestinian people.

The founding fathers of israel were the original terrorists in the middle east – the very white, non-semitic Ashkenazim – Stern Gang, Palmach, Irgun, terrorists every one. The Ashkenazim aren’t even Semitic Hebrews, as opposed to the Semitic Palestinians, many of whom are the remnants of the Hebrews who converted to Mohamedism and some to Christianity. Most of the Jewish lineage cannot trace their roots to the middle East, but to the Caucuses between the Black and Caspian seas. You people are living in a fantasy. Zionism is a mental virus. Before I forget, check into your Bolshevik roots and the Red Terror you people wrough upon the Gentile Russians. What? 30,000,000 murdered? Your co-religioists did this. Something to be proud of

Michael says:

So Pete, you’re really going to come onto a Jewish news site and spout some of the oldest lies about Jews? I hope you don’t expect anyone to actually believe you.

Another tack I would like to see is to change the narrative of Israel’s coming into being. The current Arab line is to admit that Europe did incredible wrongs against its Jews which may or may not include the slaughter of 6 million in the Holocaust and atoned for these wrongs by dispossessing the Palestinians.

The response should be to go back to the 19th century history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire. (Note the time I emphasize, the conventional wisdom is that Islam was better for the Jews than Christendom, a notion based entirely on the middle ages. By the 19th century, things had reversed with Europe embracing emancipation and Islam importing the worst of Christian anti-semitism.) Such a history would show that the Jews were indeed indigenous to the region and that the Arabs have their own misdeeds towards the Jews to answer for.

It would also reveal that the social position of Jews in the Middle East was the same as the blacks in the Jim Crow south. The conflict stems from the fact that the Arabs, like the southern whites as Jim Crow was dieing, were outraged that the proper order of the universe was being overturned. It persists because too many of the Arabs, unlike the southern whites, have not been broken of the notion that the prior social order should be restored.

Ephraim says:

There were Caucuses between the Black and Caspian Seas?

What was discussed at these Caucuses? Did the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea both send delegates? Did the Aral Sea and the Mediterranean Sea also send representatives, or was it an all Caucasian event? (Those racist bastards!) And what aboiut the Sea of Azov? What platforms were decided upon? These maritime Caucuses sound like they must have been interesting events.

Why was I not informed of this? Someone fire my social secretary at once!

What? Come again? Oh, you mean “Caucasus”, not “Caucuses”.

Never mind.

Every time one you idiots writes a letter, you just prove all of the stereotypes all over again.

Seriously, Pete, how can you represent for anti-Semites everywhere when you’re so damned illiterate?

Oh, wait…

Bill Pearlman says:

Peter. who was on the grassy knoll in Dallas. And what happened to Amelia Airhart and judge Crater. I always wondered. Tell us, please.

P. Sydney Herbert says:

“We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments” Oh? When are you going to do it?

Stella Goldschlag says:

Pro-Palestinian Doesn’t Mean Anti-Israel… what a crock of crap. Palestine was stolen from the Palestinians and must be returned. I feel our audience is mature enough to hear the truth. Zionists must exercise their right of return so the Palestinains can exercise theirs. Otherwise we are as RIchard Silverstein says, Progressive except for Palestine

Peter: There’s a lot of truth on the internet, but also a lot of misinformation. Take as an example the USS Liberty. It was a misidentification. Countless Congressional investigations have reached that conclusion. NSA tapes of Israeli internal communication demonstrate that the Israelis thought they were hitting an Egyptian target. Friendly fire happens during wartime. That has not stopped the antisemites, especially those who were on board the Liberty, from plying their tales that it was a deliberate attack, often finding sympathetic audiences at organizations that should know better.

As for the Communists, would you hold the actions of a bunch of apostates as an example of what the community is. Marx and Trotsky were born Jewish, but had zero connection to any organized Jewish community when they did what they were most known for.

As for the lack of anything useful from Israel, are you saying that there is no use for improving agriculture in arid conditions? no use for disaster response all over the world? Or is your real objection that Jews have cast off the yoke of the Pact of Umar?

Lou Adams says:

What a nice sampling of Jewish and anti Jewish insanity. Please G_D let the folks who think they are so smart and have the answers be struck with insight, humility and the realization that they are supporting genocide of the Jewish people, perhaps only peter recognizes the meaning of his words. The others are so smart they cant see the hate speech and bias on the tip of their noses. j street is a Trojan horse.

Christopher Orev says:

Oh, my….

A complex, distressing topic (of the post) followed by a simplified, depressing comment thread (with a few exceptions). G’night, yidden. G’night, loons.

“Bill, I just read a wonderful book by an ex-jew name Gilad Atzmon, called “The Wandering Who”?, it’s excellent”

That is all I need to know about you. You’re entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts. Organized Jewry does not control the financial system. Israel is not engaged in organ trafficking. The Nazis marched the Jews back to the reich towards the end of the war because otherwise the Russians would have liberated them. Genetic studies have shown that Ashkenazi Jews are more similar to Sephardi Jews than they are to other Europeans. The Protocols of Zion is a czarist forgery.

Perhaps you’re just ignorant and don’t know how full of crock Atzmon is, that you simply fell for his line hook, line and sinker despite the lack of any support to his claims. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Don’t take over someone else’s theory without testing it.

For Zlota says:

Participating in online discussion forums with trolls seems like it might be good prep for the type of “crticism ” one might encounter in real life.

I learned for instance, that you shouldn’t call an anti-Semite an anti-Semite because they don’t like it, and you should never bring up the Holocaust, for the same reason.

While it could be potentially dangerous in real life, it is easy to poke a troll.

Suzanne says:

I agree with Binyamin in O. Why did Tablet not select any contributors who are pro-Israel but opposed to continuing occupation, opposed to Israel holding up the peace process, and opposed to Israel becoming a poster child for the worst excesses of ethno-religious nationalism?

Bill Pearlman says:

Hell Suzanne, you can’t swing a dead cat around the average moslem student association meeting without hitting a poster child for religious excess

marcella wachtel says:

Regarding the name “Israel Apartheit”, there are so much that isn’t mentioned- the word “Apartheit” makes no sense; There are no seperate restrooms, entrances, cars or facilities. Check out any bus, library, public park, shopping mall, department store, hospital, (staff and patients) doctor’s office, etc., etc. There is no apartheit. Start from that. That way the haters are forced to call a spade a spade: “We hate Israel”. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Arandi Oreno says:

Interesting how Israel’s wicked and twisted legacy of trade and relations with South Africa’s aparthied regime now has come back to haunt them and their supporters.

Jerry says:

Pro Israel students should set up several barrels and label the display “Recycle Israeli Products”. Each Barrel should have its own label – “Medicine”, “Technology”, “Alternative Energy”, etc. The people staffing the table should tell students as they pass by: “If you believe Israel should not exist or is an oppressive occupying force, please dispose of those items you own that were either developed in Israel or by Jews around the world.” And then hand out a list with a small sampling of the items developed by Israel and a second list of Jewish Nobel prize recipients.

Rob Braun says:

The biggest problem with the American view of Israeli democracy is that it’s main aim is to create a Jewish state. This creates ethnic and religious winners and losers for those who live in Israel that to most Americans doesn’t seem to jive with their understanding of Jeffersonian democracy-”all men are created equal.” On the other hand, even Jefferson had a hard time with that statement of his since he owned over 300 slaves. Israel needs to sell itself to the western world that even with this important identifying distinction of being a Jewish state, it is still, nevertheless, a western liberal democracy that protects the rights of all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews.

For Zlota says:

News flash, Israel has been a Jewish state since it was founded in 1948.

Isn’t it rather tyrannical to suggest that self determination ok for everyone but Jews?

Shalom Freedman says:

As one not directly involved in the events on American campuses I do not have first- hand sense of how to contend with the forces that would delegitimize Israel. I do however think it important to point out the absurdity of attacking the one democratic state in the Middle East, and accusing it of all the things the most avid proponents of the Palestinian Arab cause are in fact guilty of. I would too focus on the damage such advocacy groups are causing to the University itself and its fundamental values: the values of objective inquiry, of tolerance in dialogue with those who disagree with others. I would shift the onus and not be afraid to accuse the accusers of Israel of anti- democratic processes on the campus itself. I would too be especially forceful in highlighting the hypocrisy of the radical Left in its excusing the Islamists who violate systematically values the Left claims to hold sacred.
I would in short not simply be positive, but not leave the delegitimizers off the hook. They should be exposed for the , hypocrites and anti- democratic fanatics that they are.

N. BOYACK says:

i don’t want my son dying for israel…fight
your own battles for once

For Zlota says:

Interesting that anti-Israel/ anti-Semitic hatred are both filled with weird contradictory accusations, making it impossible to satisfy the criticism.

Maybe haters are stupid? not that there is anything wrong with that……:-)

Although it does limit the usefulness of a fact based intelligent defense.

Dubala says:

Norman Finkelstein has come out openly and said that while he supports the tactics of BDS he thinks the movement is really a “cult” that pretends to be for a two state solution but is really calling for Israel’s destruction.He underscores Israel’s legal borders and argues these should be respected by BDS, Just as he argues for legal borders for an independent Palestinean state. Israel is just as “legal” as a country (not in the expanded borders) than any other.

Ephraim says:

N. BOOYACK says:

“i don’t want my son dying for israel…fight
your own battles for once”

This implies that you believe that we (the Jews) want you (the gentiles) to fight for us.

Sorry to disabuse you of your paranoid fantasy, but the absolute opposite is true. I don’t want your son dying for Israel either. G-d forbid.

At the same time, I do not want Israel to be forced into a position where it is so weak that it has no choice but 1) to hope that the gentiles come to its rescue, or 2) be destroyed again, G-d forbid.

We do not expect you, or want you, to fight our battles for us. We simply want you to not make it so that it s impossible for us to fight our own battles.

May I suggest boredom is the best approach. The tactic is to concede that life for the Palestinians is hard and then start piling on vast amounts of basic detail about water supplies, sewage treatment, numbers of people accessing Israeli emergency specialist health care provision, etc etc. The last one is good because the counter is that it is a right – to which the response is “then you’d agree with Mexicans and Canadians having access to healthcare for free here in the US?”
Don’t forget things like the volume of counterfeit currency passed by Palestinians when they broke out of Gaza into Egyptian Rafah (approx $500,000)- a very large amount in a small town.
To charges of people going hungry, cite the cost of 7.62mm ammo and the amount Hamas blast off pointlessly into their air. That money could go on providing bread. 1 clip of AK47 ammo feeds a big family for a day!
Point out that in Palestine under Palestinian law an alleged collaborator can be arrested at night, interrogated, charged @ 09:00hrs, tried & sentenced by 11:00hrs and executed before midday, and has no right of appeal whatsoever. Can this be right?
Never forget that most Pro-Palestine activists are focused on the highly emotive. They generally are willfully ignorant of the petty realities of daily life for either side. They are attracted to it because of its emotive highly polarized and simplistic nature. Thus they are uncomfortable with detail and find it boring, so use boring detail as a weapon.
Avoid being anything other than being measured and understanding.

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Winning the War

As Israel Apartheid Week returns to college campuses across the country, how should supporters of Israel fight the battle for hearts and minds?

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