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March 15, 2013 9

So What Are You DOING About it?”… How ADL Counters Anti-Israel Activity on College Campuses

Amer­i­can col­lege cam­puses con­tinue to be a prov­ing ground for var­i­ous anti-Israel cam­paigns, tac­tics and mes­sages. Last week, our blog reported on sev­eral dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives we’ve seen recently, includ­ing non­bind­ing Boy­cott Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) res­o­lu­tions at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, River­side and Irvine; Israeli Apartheid Week and, of course, uni­ver­sity spon­sor­ship of anti-Israel pro­grams.

So what role did ADL play to counter these mes­sages and advo­cate for Israel?

Out­reach to Uni­ver­sity Admin­is­tra­tors: ADL encour­aged the Chan­cel­lors at Irvine, River­side and San Diego to speak out against the non-binding divest­ment res­o­lu­tions that passed on these cam­puses and reas­sure the Jew­ish and pro-Israel com­mu­nity that the uni­ver­si­ties intend to fol­low the UC-wide pol­icy against divest­ment. The chan­cel­lors at all of these schools have com­mend­ably done so.

In a few days, Naim Ateek, the direc­tor of a “Pales­tin­ian Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy” orga­ni­za­tion called Sabeel, is sched­uled to speak at Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity and West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity. Ateek fre­quently uses Chris­t­ian imagery to demo­nize Israel and Zion­ism, includ­ing claims that Israel is engaged in a “cru­ci­fix­ion” cam­paign against Pales­tini­ans. Sim­i­larly, he has accused Israel of com­mit­ting a Holo­caust against the Pales­tini­ans. His appear­ances are spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments at the two uni­ver­si­ties. ADL has com­mu­ni­cated to both uni­ver­si­ties that the school’s spon­sor­ships of Ateek are inap­pro­pri­ate and that the uni­ver­si­ties should con­sider host­ing pro-Israel speak­ers as well.

In the past few months, ADL staff has also met with high-level admin­is­tra­tors at a vari­ety of cam­puses to talk about how Jew­ish stu­dents expe­ri­ence anti-Israel activ­ity on cam­pus. We have brain­stormed with them about ways to make the col­lege cam­pus a true “mar­ket­place of ideas” where all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict are ade­quately rep­re­sented. Over the past 100 years, ADL has devel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as an hon­est and cred­i­ble voice for the Jew­ish com­mu­nity. ADL is there­fore uniquely posi­tioned to edu­cate uni­ver­sity offi­cials about the Jew­ish and pro-Israel community’s per­spec­tive and encour­age them to speak out against extreme anti-Israel activ­ity and anti-Semitism.

Expres­sions against Divest­ment: ADL responded to a non-binding Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion urg­ing divest­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, by sub­mit­ting a state­ment against divest­ment to the stu­dent sen­a­tors con­sid­er­ing the res­o­lu­tion. The state­ment, read dur­ing the pub­lic dis­cus­sion on the res­o­lu­tion, described how BDS doesn’t advance the cause of peace because it “deep­ens the divi­sions between Israelis and Pales­tini­ans” and places all the blame for the con­flict on Israel. The state­ment also warned that the res­o­lu­tion tar­geted com­pa­nies that help Israel bet­ter pro­tect its cit­i­zens and that a call for divest­ment would illus­trate the UCSD stu­dents’ lack of com­mit­ment to Israel’s legit­i­mate right to self-defense.

Expos­ing and Edu­cat­ing: In this week’s edi­tion of J., a Bay Area-based news­pa­per, the regional direc­tor of ADL’s Cen­tral Pacific office con­tributed an op-ed about how the three stated goals of the BDS move­ment demon­strate that the movement’s objec­tive is to iso­late Israel, not cre­ate the con­di­tions for peace. ADL reg­u­larly exposes anti-Israel activ­ity through op-eds, as well as our blog, web­site and other platforms.

Train­ing Stu­dents: In San Diego, ADL runs a pro­gram called I-Pitch for Israel which helps train pro-Israel stu­dents on cam­pus to lobby against divest­ment and other anti-Israel cam­paigns. Train­ing also includes infor­ma­tion about free speech rights and the myths and facts of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. Sev­eral I-Pitch par­tic­i­pants spoke out against divest­ment at the pub­lic dis­cus­sion as well.

As anti-Israel cam­paigns con­tinue to play out on col­lege cam­puses across the coun­try, ADL will stand with our part­ners in the local Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties and with stu­dents to counter these ini­tia­tives and advo­cate on behalf of Israel and the Jew­ish peo­ple. Do you have any other ideas for respond­ing to anti-Israel activ­ity? Use the space below to let us know!

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