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November 29, 2012 - Image 55

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-11-29

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Commentary

Israel On Campus

Preparing high school students for the advocacy road ahead.

D

Los Angeles

2001 to counter anti-Israel bias, mobi-
lized to empower students by provid-
wring my recent speaking
ing the tools they needed to stand up
tour at a few Jewish high
for Israel: education, advocacy train-
schools in Detroit, I found
ing, print materials and financial sup-
that most students were bright and
port for their events.
knowledgeable and felt connected
A new study suggests that anti-
to Israel. I also found that a few had
Israel activism may not be a serious
heard about anti-Israel campus cam-
problem because it occurs at only a
paigns from older siblings or relatives,
handful of colleges and there were
but the majority was unaware of these
"only" 674 incidents in 2010-2011, the
campaigns that are prevalent at too
year the study examined.
many of our colleges. "Why would any-
However, there is cause for
one say terrible things about Israel?"
serious concern.
one bewildered student asked.
Most would agree that
This student's bewilderment was not
the number of incidents is
unique. When Palestinians launched
unacceptably high; and the
their terrorist war in 2000, it was
selected time period is not
accompanied by an anti-Israel propa-
a good barometer.
ganda campaign whose epicenter was
That year, Israel was
college campuses. Anti-Israel speak-
not forced to take any of
ers and texts falsely accused Israel of
the self-defense opera-
committing all the worst sins of the
tions that commonly trig-
20th century, distorted Israel's history
ger anti-Israel activism.
and denied its right to exist. Students
And the aftermath of the
who support Israel were stunned by
Arab Spring diverted attention away
the attacks, felt isolated and obligated
from Israel. More significantly, the 10
to respond; but they didn't know how
schools with the highest number of
to counter the aggressive tactics and
incidents included some of America's
rhetoric. StandWithUs, founded in
most influential institutions: Harvard
and Columbia,
and large state
schools, such as
four University
NOGOODNIKS
of California
0
campuses and
0
the University of
SYRIA IS NOT A
Maryland.
BATTLE BETWEEN
IRANIAN
Most important,
THE GOOD GUYS
BACKED SYRIAN ,L , )
the
study docu-
AND THE BAD
GOV'T FORCES (7 0 .'
mented a more
GUYS
serious, growing
problem: anti-
Israel faculty who

spread canards
against Israel in
the classroom or
on academic pan-
els, and who some-
times co-sponsor
IT'S BETWEEN
anti-Israel events,
THE BAD GUYS
giving them unwar-
ranted credibility.
AND THE EVEN
Consequently,
the
SADDER GUYS
odds are that high
school students
will face some chal-
lenging anti-Israel
bias when they go
on to higher educa-
tion.

Dry Bones

ONES. COM

z

Stage Setting

During high school, students support-
ive of Israel should be as well pre-
pared for these anti-Israel attacks as
they are for college academics. The
high school curriculum StandWithUs
developed familiarizes students
with the typical anti-Israel accusa-
tions, demonstrations and displays
so they won't be caught off guard or
feel ambushed when they encounter
them. The curriculum helps
students learn how to dis-
tinguish legitimate criticism
of Israel from the bigoted
accusations that often
cross the line into what has
been called the "new anti-
Semitism" where "Israel"
replaces "Jew" in tradition-
al anti-Semitism.
Warm feelings about
Israel are not enough.
Students should be able to
counter factual distortions
with facts. They need to know basics
about the Jewish connection to
the land, about Zionism, and about
Israel's rebirth, government, society,
gifts to the world and search for
peace, and about the nature of the
enemies it has faced.
Above all, they need to understand
that in standing up for Israel, they
are standing up for a just cause.
However, even facts are not
enough.

Filling A Need

Students also need strategies and
techniques. What is the best way to
counter an anti-Israel argument?
What recourse is there if a professor
is openly biased in the classroom or
assigns only biased readings? When
should students simply walk away
from anti-Israel rhetoric? How does
a student bring pro-Israel events to
campus or form coalitions with other
campus groups? What resources are
available to answer questions about
Israel or bring pro-Israel speakers to
campus?
Not every student is an activist.
So how do we encourage those stu-
dents to remain engaged with Israel?
With our high school curriculum,
materials, campus coordinators and
experience working with college stu-
dents over the past 11 years, we have
developed ways to address all these

issues.
This year, StandWithUs launched
a new program, MZ Teen Interns, to
prepare students to be pro-Israel
leaders in their high schools and
at their future colleges. Fifty high
school students were selected
from across the country, four of
them from the Detroit area. This
is an outstanding group of well-
informed, passionate young people.
When I completed my Detroit visit,
I was encouraged by the interest and
enthusiasm of the students I met,
and more convinced than ever that
they would welcome the tools and
training that will empower them to
confidently stand up for Israel and all
it represents.



Dr. Seid is the education/research director of

Stand With Us.

standing
guard

... For
Israel And
Our Jewish
Community

Now that the November election
is over, it is important for
members of the Jewish community
to get to know their elected
representatives. Detroit's Jews
live mainly in the 14th, 11th and 9th
congressional districts. Please contact
your congressman/woman. There are
a range of fundamental and significant
domestic and international issues,
including Israel's right to defend itself
against terrorism. Also, state legislative
districts were redrawn in 2010. Do you
know who your state representative
is? The JCRC website, www.detroitjcrc.
org , provides contact information for all
elected officials.

Prepared by Allan Gale, Jewish
Community Relations Council of
Metropolitan Detroit

© Nov. 29, 2012, Jewish Renaissance Media

November 29 • 2012

55

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