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May 23, 2003 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

When • •

Mixed Signals

From the pages of the Jewish News
from this week 10, 20, 30, 40, 50
and 60 years ago.

Pro-Israel activists saw a major difference at U.S. colleges this year.

John Engler is the first Michigan
governor to address the Jewish
Community Council's annual meeting.
Mara Benjamin, a University of
Michigan senior, is the winner of the
national United Jewish Appeal's
"Come To Israel" contest.


Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York City
sraeli rock music filled the
Greenwich Village basement
where New York University stu-
dents downed kosher hot dogs
and chips for Israel's 55th birthday.
But despite the celebratory atmos-
phere, two students lamented what
they see as the anti-Israel animus of
the school's Middle Eastern studies
"Jewish professors are afraid to take a
clear stand for or against Israel," said
Scott Dubin, an activist with Gesher, a
Zionist group on campus. "Part of that
comes from a desire to remain academ-
ically neutral, but at the same time, just
like the rest of the world, they're leav-
ing the fight for Israel up to students."
The NYU party reflects the broader
picture on North American campuses,
pro-Israel activists say: It capped a year
during which pro-Israel students felt
relief, pride and progress regarding
Israel's profile on campus, but the
struggle is far from over.
Campus debate on the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict has lost a bit of its
urgency during the past year, overtak-
en by activism surrounding America's
war against Iraq. Anti-Israel activists
found a home in the anti-war move-
ment, but they made little headway in
building support for the Palestinian
cause, and even alienated some stu-
dents who supported U.S. troops.
At the same time, Jewish groups and
activists answered the call to defend
Israel's name. Twenty-six groups, rang-
ing from Aish Ha'Torah to the Reform
outreach group Kesher, came together
to form the Israel on Campus
Coalition, a national coordinating
body that provided high-profile speak-
ers and advocacy training for students.
A movement to have universities
divest from companies that do business
with Israel garnered headlines, but it
was roundly condemned by university
presidents and sank under the weight
of counter-petitions supporting Israel.





Dialogue even bloomed on several
of the most heated campuses.
"Tides really have turned," said
Daniel Spector, 20, formerly president
of Georgetown University's Jewish
Student Association. "Two years ago,
American college campuses were really
in a bad way for Zionist Jewish stu-
dents," who now "feel comfortable on
the campuses again."
But the pro-Israel
activists aren't
declaring victory yet.
Some worry ani-
mosity will resume
once Americans no
longer are preoccu-
pied with rebuilding
Iraq. Officials with
Jewish campus
groups fear anti-
Israel forces will link
America's occupa-
tion of Iraq with Israel's presence in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They
also anticipate increased pressure on
Israel as the world presses for imple-
mentation of the road map to rejuve-
nate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"I don't think anti-Israel activists
produced any major results on campus
in the second semester," said Wayne
Firestone, director of the Israel on
Campus Coalition. "The question is
whether they will regroup under this
new banner of 'End the occupation'
for the coming semester."
The slogan already has surfaced at
several conferences of anti-war groups,
according to Jonathan Kessler, leader-
ship development director for the
American Israel Public Affairs
Committee. Anti-Israel activists never
intended to focus on the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict during the war,
Kessler said. Instead, they wanted to
broaden their constituency within the
anti-war movement, building alliances
they could plumb for new supporters
once the war ended, he said.

Academic Diatribes

But activists say students are only part

of the problem: Some of the most
entrenched anti-Israel voices belong to
professors, campus watchers said. "In
the 39 years that I've been teaching,
this is the worst year," said Alan
Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor.
"The deliberate lies that have been put
forward by distinguished professors
has had no match in this country."
While pro-Israel students have been
louder than in the past, "the faculty still
has been deafeningly mute," he said,
calling the silence of some pro-Israel
faculty members a "great scandal."
Barnard student Avigail Appelbaum,
20, agreed. "I can't take classes at my
Middle East studies department at
Columbia unless I'm willing to sit
through diatribe after diatribe given
by professors who are not willing to
hear that Israel is legitimate," she said.
Students are "afraid to be connected
with Israel," she said.
Appelbaum, who founded and
chairs the North American Jewish
Student Alliance, a new group on 62
campuses, said national Jewish groups
"truly failed the students" by adopting
a posture that was too defensive and
not sufficiently aggressive.
But most Jewish students inter-
viewed for this article lauded national
Jewish organizations and resources,
saying they had been instrumental in
pro-Israel forces' gains on campus.
With a grant from the Avi Chai
Foundation, Neta Retter, 19, organ-
ized a "Got Israel?" campaign at the
University of California at San Diego.
Activists from the school's Hillel
papered the campus with fliers inquir-
ing "Got Genes?" or "Got AIM?" and
then mounted a blue and white bal-
loon arch on campus to publicize how
Israeli research — on genetics and
instant messaging, for example — per-
sonally affect students' lives. The
activists also passed out condoms
emblazoned with the slogan "Israel:
It's still safe t _ o come."
Like many other campuses, UCSD
was more tranquil this year than last. Last
spring, for example, anti-Israel students
CAMPUS on page 31



The Meals on Wheels program,
sponsored by the Jewish Family
Service and the National Council
of Jewish Women, started in 1973
with 18 recipients and now rotates
200 volunteers five days a week to
serve 136 clients.


The first package in the Adopt-A-
Family program of the Detroit
Action Committee for Soviet Jewry
was sent recently from Tikva Lodge
of B'nai B'rith.

Irving I. Katz, executive secretary of
Detroit's Temple Beth El, together
with Myron E. Schoen, director of
the Commission on Synagogue
Administration of the UAHC,
authored a new book, Successful

Synagogue Administration.


Walter Schmier was re-elected pres-
ident of the Suburban Temple at
the congregation's annual meeting
held at the Burton School in
Huntington Woods.
Congregation Ahavas Achim buys
the lot next to its Detroit synagogue at
Schaefer and Seven Mile.

IM4W:Wk\c\ZA , t,a,kn '‘N

Despite resistance put up by the
Jews of Warsaw, aided and armed
by the Polish underground, the
Warsaw Ghetto is completely "liq-
uidated" by German troops.
Leon Gellman, president of the
Mizrachi Organization of America,
outstanding journalist and Orthodox
Jewish leader, will be in Detroit.

Compiled by Holly Teasdle,
archivist, the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin
Arch. ivesof Temple Beth El

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