An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
No Ceasefire on Campus
conflict in Gaza and Israel swept over American campuses in the past
two weeks like a tidal wave. From the beginning of Operation Pillar of
Defense until now—including last week’s Thanksgiving holiday, during
most of which American campuses were closed—my organization, the Israel
on Campus Coalition, tracked 55 anti-Israel protests and rallies that
sprang up on campuses across the US; in the same period, at least 44
pro-Israel events took place (although our tracking of both types of
events is still incomplete and many additional events, particularly
pro-Israel events, may not yet be reflected). This wave of activity
represents a dramatic increase in a very short period.
The Israel on Campus Coalition tracked events on campuses during Operation Pillar of Defense
In most cases, anti-Israel events occurred in places and took forms that
largely followed the precedents of recent conflicts such as Operation
Cast Lead in 2009 and the second Lebanon conflict in 2006. In a few
cases, some events were more comparable to the fiery protests of the
second intifada of a decade ago. In one extreme example, anti-Israel
protestors at the University of California, Davis—a campus with a
history of inflammatory protests—occupied a campus building and harassed
According to one news report,
the protestors raised a banner outside the occupied building reading
“Davis + Gaza Are One Fist,” while the group inside discussed why
“people who support [Z]ionism support genocide.” When the protestors
noticed three observers, including one filming the event on a camera
phone and two identified as Israelis, the protestors confronted them,
“yelling ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘F*** Israel’ until they left.” The news
15 minutes later, a student who asked to remain anonymous vocalized
disagreement with one of the signs in the room. A protester grabbed him
by the shirt collar and raised a fist…. Protesters said that because
they overtook Dutton Hall, they could decide who had a right to be
present, and [Z]ionists were not allowed.
extreme behavior remains the exception rather than the rule on the vast
majority of US campuses; in most places, both protests against and
rallies in support of Israel were peaceful. However, even one such
incident is extremely disturbing and represents a significant problem
for the Davis administration to address.
less troubling, in a different way, was the response to the conflict in
campus media, which also settled into familiar patterns. An editorial
from the University of Pennsylvania campus newspaper’s editorial board
captures the views of much similar coverage. Entitled “Objectivity: Lost in the Fray,” the
Penn editors lament the failure of rallies and counter-rallies to
respect the campus ethic of discussion and engagement—one that they
believe they have seen ignored by Israel detractors and supporters alike
in the recent past:
grating rhetoric that has emerged on campus over the last few days
harks back to the campus climate during the Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions conference in February. While pro-Israel and pro-Palestine
students have condemned the killing of civilians on these very pages,
they’ve also voiced seemingly irreconcilable views on the conflict. No
resolution or coalition will be achieved unless students on both sides
of the aisle are willing to listen to each other.
news coverage on many campuses reflected the reality of the US campus
environment that rallies and counter-rallies, as much as they help
campus Israel supporters to feel better and to find an immediate vehicle
to express their solidarity for Israel under fire, tend to alienate the
vast majority of campus residents, who do not see in those rallies a
way to relate to or engage with the issues in meaningful ways.
all events fell into this disappointing cycle. Some campus Israel
supporters, either in conjunction with or separately from public
rallies, engaged leaders and peers much as they do year-round in direct,
personal appeals for support, or called upon those relationships they
had previously cultivated for support at this crucial time. As the Israel Campus Beatfirst reported,
for example, campus Israel supporters at Rutgers gathered hundreds of
names on a petition of support; in Boston, campus Israel supporters
joined the broader community in thanking elected officials who were, in
turn, expressing their support for Israel. Sophisticated students, many
of whom received AIPAC training, mobilized quickly to capitalize on the
relationships they had nurtured for months and years.
pattern of behavior, from detractors, supporters and observers alike,
is not new. It follows predictable patterns of prior conflicts from even
just four years ago. But while the lessons are not new, the campus
Israel community constantly must re-learn them because generations of
students and campus professionals have passed through and exited the
campus environment since the last conflict, leaving new generations to
learn in their wake.
this reason, there is never a ceasefire on campus. The process of
engaging and educating pro-Israel students, as well as campus
professionals, is continual, not just on the core of their relationships
with and basic nature of the modern state of Israel but also on the
most effective ways to share that knowledge and passion with others. The
learning cycle is remarkably short; in the span of just a year or two, a
student or professional can pass from novice through leader to alumnus.
In the three years that I have served in my current role, I have been
struck how often issues can recur in the same places in a short period
of time—and that the prior work of many can quickly come undone if we do
not remain vigilant.
the rockets stop falling, the time for learning and re-learning begins.
Will we as a community learn the lessons in time, before the next
crisis occurs? We have no ceasefire for our diligence and hard work.
Stephen Kuperberg is executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition,
an organization dedicated to weaving and catalyzing the campus Israel
network to create a positive climate regarding Israel on campus, and
publisher of Israel Campus Beat.