Israel Musings January 5, 2015: American Historical Association (AHA) rejects anti-Israel resolutions at meeting

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American Historical Association (AHA) rejects anti-Israel resolutions at meeting

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Historians gathering at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in New York City voted on Sunday evening, Jan. 4, 2015 against adding to their agenda a vote on two anti-Israel resolutions with an overwhelming vote of 144…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 27, 2014: Concordia voting on BDS contradicts Canada’s staunch support for Israel

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Concordia voting on BDS contradicts Canada’s staunch support for Israel

Source: Times of Israel, 11-27-14
Concordia University’s student union in Montreal, Canada is deciding between Nov. 25 to 27, 2014 whether they will officially support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel…….READ MORE: Bonnie K. Goodman | The Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/bonnie-k-goodman/#ixzz3OUDz11ut

Israel Advocacy News May 13, 2013: Attempted divestment at University of California Santa Barbara and the BDS machine

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Attempted divestment at UCSB and the BDS machine

Source: The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A., 5-13-13

Over the last month the UC Santa Barbara student government has been voting on a resolution to divest from companies doing business with Israel….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News April 24, 2013: Defending Israel against campus attacks

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Defending Israel against campus attacks

Source: New Jersey Jewish News, 4-24-13

This past month has seen an intense increase of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activity on North American campuses, especially in California. Motions brought by anti-Israel students to their student governments calling for the divestment….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News March 5, 2013: Countering Israel Apartheid Week on Canadian University Campuses

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What students are talking about today (March 5th)

Source: Macleans, 3-5-13

It’s Israel Apartheid Week again and both Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the annual hate-fest on Monday. So did at least one student op-ed, in Trent University’s Arthur, whose author argues the term apartheid is inaccurate. There was also a review of a film that compares Israel and apartheid South Africa in The Concordian.

Here’s part of Jason Kenney’s statement:

“I share the concerns of other Canadians about the reckless and overheated rhetoric associated with anti-Israel activities on many Canadian university campuses, and the toxic manner in which these activities are often carried out. There is no better example than the so-called ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW). Its organizers and participants have a regrettable history of promoting and holding events in ways that disregard the security and rights of Jewish faculty and students, censor other points of view, and limit academic discourse. The disproportionate vitriol directed against the democratic State of Israel during ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ stands in stark and ironic contrast to the silence of IAW organizers on the ongoing atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its own citizens, and on the rampant brutalities and denial of rights in non-democratic countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world…. Operating under the guise of academic freedom, Israel Apartheid Week is a misleading attempt to delegitimize and demonize the only true liberal democracy in the Middle East.”

Israel Advocacy News February 19, 2013: Creating A New Vision For Israel On Campus at Brandeis University’s Visions for Israel in an Evolving World (bVIEW)

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Creating A New Vision For Israel On Campus

On Jan. 27, Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst and an adviser to six secretaries of state, spoke to arguably the most important people in the American Jewish community. They were not lay leaders, rabbis or presidents of Jewish organizations.

Miller spoke to 250 students from more than 15 universities who were gathered at Brandeis University for the first Brandeis Visions for Israel in an Evolving World (bVIEW) conference. Those who came to Brandeis were not ordinary students; they were leaders of organizations, many of which were pro-Israel groups, at their universities….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News May 16, 2012: A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

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A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

Source: Israel Campus Beat, The Jewish Press, 5-16-12

israel+in+the+mirror
Photo Credit: Israel Campus Beat

UN vote reactions. BDS efforts. Anti-Israel Conferences. Gilad Shalit’s release. Social media advocacy. Failed and successful collaborations.

It’s been an eventful year on campus, and through it all, Israel Campus Beat has been reporting on the Israel-on-campus reality. Here’s a look at the 2011-2012 academic year through the keen eyes of ICB.

In the Beginning

The year began with the debate over Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly (GA) in September. In preparation for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid for statehood at the GA, Hillel’s Center for Israel Engagement led an initiative, Tents for Israel, to educate students about Israel and enable them to ask questions about Israel in a secure space.

Even prior to Hillel’s initiative, however, the Israel on Campus Coalition and partners launched the Real Partners. Real Peace (RPRP) campaign in July to prepare students on campus to deal with questions about the Palestinian statehood bid. The RPRP campaign promoted the need for direct negotiations between responsible partners to end the conflict by encouraging students to write op-eds on campus, circulate petitions, and undertake other efforts to raise awareness in the campus community. At the launch, students gathered from across the nation, sharing ideas for effective campus advocacy, and used ideas from their discussions not only for the RPRP campaign but also for larger Israel advocacy efforts. To help spread the campaign and keep students connected, RPRP relied heavily on social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Advocacy

Social media was a major tool for Hasbara Fellowships, who created the “Friend Request Pending” campaign (as part of RPRP). Using Facebook as their theme, Hasbara created a YouTube video to spread the message that Israel wants to become “friends” with Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and others, but the friendship requests are rejected.

Activists on other campuses, such as Brandeis University, have also used video to promote pro-Israel messages. Other students attended the David Project’s Video Production Seminar back in November to learn more about promoting Israel through video; one video, created by a David Project video intern, has been viewed more than 20,000 times.

Social media is quickly becoming a top tool for Israel advocacy. When IDF soldier Gilad Shalit’s release (after more than five years in captivity) was announced in October, Israel supporters turned to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the good news and share their support. Campus Israel groups use Facebook and Twitter to keep students informed of upcoming meetings and events on campus. Students are taking advantage of the technology of the 21st century and using it for Israel advocacy.

Reaching Out

As important as social media is, it does not replace the fundamental need for building relationships. In the past year, pro-Israel students have sought to establish relationships with pro-Palestinian student groups, though the efforts are fraught with challenges. Early in the school year, ICB reported on a coalition between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Noles for Israel (NFI) at Florida State University (FSU). Such efforts are so rare that they can seem too good to be true, and in this case, it was. A mere month after the start of this new, hopeful coalition, FSU’s SJP invited Norman Finkelstein, a notoriously anti-Israel speaker, to campus and the partnership ended bitterly.

A successful partnership, however, blossomed this year at a different Florida university. At the University of Miami, an MZ-Grinspoon Intern started a new pro-Israel organization on campus, the I-Team, that includes Jewish, Palestinian and Christian members who work together harmoniously.

Countering anti-Israel Sentiment

In response to a conference at the University of Pennsylvania that sought to advance the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort, Israel supporters galvanized to offer a broad range of activities designed to counter the anti-Israel activity. Student activists from all over traveled to Penn to engage students in discussions about Israel. With Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the keynote speaker and over 800 students attending Friday night dinners devoted to discussing the conflict, the effort succeeded in creating a positive view of Israel on campus and yielded an Ivy League joint leadership statement condemning the BDS movement.

Later in the year, Dershowitz shared his views with ICB about the Harvard University student conference in March, entitled “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution.” Student activists and the professionals who support them have learned a lot from the encounters with anti-Israel activity on and off the campus over the past year. But the most prominent lessons to be learned may be the importance of building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships with diverse groups.

The Collaboration Key

Israel groups are learning that their events are most successful and best received when they utilize cross-cultural programming that engages a wide cross-section of the campus community. Long gone are the days when Jewish students are seen as the only Israel advocates; nowadays, Israel advocates span a broad spectrum of diverse backgrounds, whether they are Christians who are trained on a summer tour or students who attend advocacy leadership training in Texas, Jewish and Latino students in a coalition at the University of Texas, or non-Jewish fraternity brothers keen on helping their Jewish fraternity brothers advocate for Israel on campus.

The 2011-2012 academic year has been filled with ideas, challenges, and successes for the campus Israel community. Israel advocates have strengthened their resolve to build partnerships and share information, and they have become increasingly aware of the many organizations and networks that are available to assist them.

Israel advocates can reflect on a successful year of activity, but are not wasting time to plan for the future. Summer offers many opportunities to gain insights and build skills that will serve Israel on the nation’s campuses next fall, when the cycle begins again.

Israel Advocacy News April 19, 2012: Israeli Harvard University students take to ‘Hasbara’ Israel Conference

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Israeli Harvard students take to ‘Hasbara’

After Harvard hosts controversial “One-State Solution” conference, Israelis try to change students’ perceptions on home country.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-19-12

Harvard University Photo: Thinkstock

Israeli students at Harvard University have long felt that many aspects of their country get overlooked in the campus dialogue. This week, they hope that will change.

Last month, Harvard students hosted the controversial ‘One-State Solution’ conference. But long before that meeting took place, a group of Israeli Harvard students has been hard at work planning a two-day inaugural Israel Conference at Harvard to shine a light on the reality of Israel.

On April 19 and 20, a group of non-partisan Israeli Harvard students will gather to feature a confab of top leaders in Israeli discourse and innovation to promote another face of Israel.

The conference will feature panels that focus on innovations in technology, medicine, humanitarian aid, culture and peace. Featured speakers in the conference include Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Dennis Ross, who worked under multiple US presidents to advance the peace process.

Israeli and Palestinian pundits will examine the status of economic development initiatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In addition to these experts, Harvard professors and Israeli academics will give their input on the topic.

Aside from the entrepreneurial focus, the conference will feature the results of the Avi Schaefer Peace Innovation Challenge, in which Harvard students developed ideas aimed at bridging the gap between Israeli and Palestinian societies. The author of the winning idea will be awarded a prize of $1,000. The idea of the initiative is to propel the conversation further instead of remaining in the deadlock in which most campuses find themselves.

The winner will be announced on Friday….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News April 11, 2012: Global Frontier Justice Center Calls to Prosecute University of California Davis anti-Israel campus protesters

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Rights group: Prosecute anti-Israel campus protesters

A US civil rights legal group called on Tuesday for pro-Palestinian student protesters who interrupted a pro-Israel event at University of California Davis last month to be prosecuted.The Global Frontier Justice Center in Brooklyn, New York, have sent a letter to Jeff Reisig, the district attorney for Yolo County, California, asking him to open criminal proceedings against the protesters, whom the rights group say violated California law.

In their letter to Reisig, the GFJC cite article 403 of the California Penal Code, which prohibits protesters from  deliberately disturbing a lawful assembly or meeting.

Two Israelis – an IDF reservist and a Druze woman whose father and brother served in the IDF – were due to speak at the UC Davis event, organized by StandWithUs, Chabad of Davis and the Chai-Life Club….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News March 6, 2012: One-state conference at Harvard signifies possible new front in campus Israel wars

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One-state conference at Harvard signifies possible new front in campus Israel wars

Source: JTA, 3-6-12

To critics, the one-state conference held at Harvard University was a thinly veiled assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

To organizers, the condemnations and calls on Harvard to cancel the conference amounted to thinly veiled attempts to silence any criticism of Israel.

In the end, “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution” — arranged by a group of graduate students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and held at the university — held few surprises.

Activists and academics came together over the weekend to talk about how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a colonizer-settler relationship. A handful of pro-Israel activists stood outside the Kennedy School bearing signs that read “Shame on Harvard, Haven for Jewish Hatred.” Organizers declared the conference a success, while critics denounced it as a sham.

“The reality is, no matter what the conversation, if it’s critical of Israel, the response is the same,” Israel-born Elisha Baskin, one of the conference organizers, said of criticism of the event. Baskin is a research fellow at the Kennedy School and a graduate student at Brandeis University.

The fact that the conference took place at all — and at Harvard, of all places — may have signified a possible new front developing in the campus wars over Israel.

Until now, most of the campus agitation over Israel has centered on the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel known as BDS. But the Harvard conference, and the intensity with which opponents fought to derail it, suggests a great anxiety among pro-Israel groups about the one-state solution turning into a new anti-Israel rallying cry on U.S. campuses.

“To the extent that the idea of a one-state solution is gaining currency, it is important to fight this line of thinking,” said Rob Leikind, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Boston office.

In the weeks leading up the event, pro-Israel groups sought to discredit the conference as an exercise in delegitimizing Israel, and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called on Harvard to cancel the forum….READ MORE