Anti-Israel Jews Helping to Erode Support for Israel in America
For the last several years, Israel’s detractors have staged hate-fests on college campuses. While the rhetoric is disturbing, the most dangerous aspect of these conferences is the time spent developing strategies to subvert American support for Israel.
While it would be distressing enough to report that the principal culprits are Arab-Americans, the truth is even more vexing; Jews are playing a leading role in the campaign to discredit Israel. And they are seeking to become a "fifth-column" that will work within Jewish institutions to corrupt the young and sow dissension in the community’s ranks. In addition, Israel’s enemies seek to influence future generations of Americans by propagandizing in public schools.
Anti-Israel Jews hope to exploit the openness of Jewish organizations, in particular Hillel, to take over student groups and control internal debate. Their game plan is to get on organization boards, invite anti-Israel speakers to campus and promote dissent based on misinformation. Jews are also being encouraged to infiltrate Israel trips and instructed how they can then join anti-Israel activities in the territories.
Just as the Palestinian Authority has engaged in a campaign of incitement to teach young Palestinians to hate Jews and Israel, their supporters in the U.S. apparently hope to do the same here. At the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference this year at Duke, a workshop was held to instruct participants how to infiltrate public schools, and ways to teach children lessons that portray Israel in a negative light and encourage sympathy for the Palestinians.
Participants were instructed to bypass principals and go directly to teachers to get permission to make presentations to their class. They cleverly suggest offering "balanced" presentations to schools, meaning the pairing of an anti-Israel Jew with an Arab. Detractors are especially targeting inner city schools and minority students.
The person leading this strategy session – yes, a Jew – suggested that lessons could be directed at students as young as nine or ten. One exercise she suggested was to ask children to draw pictures of their families and homes. Then the guest instructor is supposed to show the children drawings made by Palestinian kids depicting bulldozers, tanks, funerals, and other dramatic images. One objective is to make minority children feel that they share with the Palestinians feelings of being oppressed.
In another activity, students are divided into three groups, one large group crowded into a small space symbolizing the Gaza Strip, another group in a slightly less crowded area signifying the West Bark, and the remainder in a spacious area meant to be Israel. The teacher then gives the children in "Israel" several buckets of water and five toys per child while the kids in the "West Bank" get only one bucket of water and one toy per child, and the "Gazans" receive a cup of water and one toy for every ten children. It is a simple exercise that dramatically suggests an inequality between Israelis and Palestinians; the Israelis have most of the toys and the water – and the unfair distribution is all Israel’s fault.
In another exercise, the kids are given a hula hoop and told to crowd around it. One child is chosen to stand in the middle of the hoop and the class is taught that the Palestinians are crowded together while the Israelis have lots of space.
The campaign to discredit Israel is going to be taken to a variety of arenas, including libraries, churches, and community centers. The detractors also hope to expand the divestment effort beyond the campus to other large institutions that invest in Israel. The immediate focus has been on the Presbyterians. Besides divestment, they are launching boycotts against a range of corporations, such as Estee Lauder because of Ron Lauder’s support for Israel, and the Caterpillar Company because of its sales of bulldozers to Israel.
One lesson to be learned from the exposure of the agenda of Israel’s enemies is that it is important to monitor the activities of these groups. Unfortunately, their actions also put our community on the defensive, forcing us to put out all the fires they are setting. Although they have had minimal success — the campus divestment movement has been a failure — a great deal of energy has been diverted from positive activities to address these attacks. Part of the concern is that any success our enemies might have will mushroom. Thus, for example, the decision by the Presbyterian Church leadership to divest could prompt other churches to follow suit.
Rather than play defense, it would be nice if the pro-Israel community began to go on offense. For example, we could be calling for the application of the Sullivan Principles (which undermined South Africa’s racial policies) to the gender apartheid practiced by Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations. We could do more to highlight the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the treatment of Jews who became refugees from Islamic countries.
I prefer a more positive agenda that would include working to get quality books on the Mideast into libraries, promoting Israel scholarship at universities, and submitting works sympathetic to Israel to film and book festivals. We also need to insure that students of all ages, at public and private schools, have access to faculty, curricula and textbooks that can educate the next generation about the real Israel, the one most of us know and love, warts and all.
The prospects for peace in the region may have improved recently, but the war for the hearts and minds of the American public continues, and Israel’s enemies are escalating their attacks.