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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
State of the Campus
Commentary By Fred Taub,
Divestment Watch
If my next lecture were to be about the challenges Jewish students face on American college campuses today, it would focus on the current level of parental involvement with their children's public school education; meaning, virtually zero involvement.

Jewish college students on most campuses are left to fend for themselves against an onslaught of anti-Semitic propaganda, while their parents stick their heads in the sand like ostriches pretending everything is fine. They are placing a specious trust upon universities to instill good moral values in their children.

At the same time, there is some excellent professional pro-Israel activism happening on campuses. For starters, the Zionist Organization of America has filed complaints to the US Civil Rights Office regarding Jewish Students at UC-Irvine who have been harassed and intimidated just for being Jewish.

This problem, however, is not new and is actually the secondary result of the Jewish leadership establishment ignoring campuses. In the 1980s, Arabs on campuses campaigned to create the idea of a Palestinian state. At the time, Zionist activists exposed the "three-phase plan" of the Arab world, which was to first create an interim Palestinian state as a launching pad to destroy all of Israel. The Arabs won the idea of stage one, mainly because students in the '80s were left to fight that battle virtually alone. Parents in that generation thought their kids were crying wolf.

Today, that battle has changed slightly - phase two evolved into the divest-from-Israel campaign, which promotes economic warfare against Israel. The planned stage three is a dismantlement of Israel campaign after destroying Israel, G-d forbid, economically.

To further their goals today, Palestinians are actively intimidating Jewish students on campus to make them embarrassed to be Jewish, let alone publicly support Israel. Thankfully, there are students on campuses who refuse to be intimidated and are standing tall.

While walking on one campus recently, I saw three Muslim women sitting on a concrete bench. Before I passed them, I clearly heard one of the women speaking about G-d in English, and when she saw my kippah after I passed by, the language immediately switched to Arabic with calls of "Wa-Allah" followed by some insults in Arabic. These students wanted to intimidate me, but I stood proud because I, too, will not be intimidated.

It is important to note that intimidation tactics are primarily used by the weak or those with inferiority complexes. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught people not to fear racist intimidation tactics, a lesson pro-Israel students need to remember.

Jewish Students are not totally abandoned, as some Zionistic groups such as Betar, the ZOA and Stand With Us, as well as religious groups such as Chabad, have stepped in on many campuses to bring students what they need - actual Jewish life on campuses and the tools students need to combat anti-Israel propaganda.

At the same time, two new major initiatives have been launched this year to help students. The first is Light Unto Nations, which produces pro-Israel posters weekly and faxes them to campuses. Light Unto Nations is a new concept in pro-Israel activism, as it teaches students about the great things happening in Israel via a series of posters that can be read in one minute or less and are politically pareve; so, every group can get behind the campaign, regardless of their political orientation.

The second major campus initiative for this school year is The Peace Resolution. Arab groups are pushing a campaign to destroy Israel economically under the guise of forcing Israel into peace, yet economic cooperation is essential to peace between nations. Nations at peace have economic trade and nations without peace do not have trade. It stands to reason, therefore, that we should demand the end of the Arab League boycott of Israel before Israel makes any further concessions for peace. You can not have peace with those who are sworn to destroy you, including those sworn to destroy you economically, as is the Palestinian Authority, which is signatory to the Arab boycott of Israel.

Hillel is a wonderful Jewish student service. Their goal is to help Jewish students with their own Jewish programming on campus. While college students are exploring their new independence, Hillel is in a unique position to be a leader in Jewish education, but they can not do it alone. Community leaders, therefore, need to offer their services to their local Hillel, volunteering to teach Zionist and religious classes. Hillel has offices and buildings that serve virtually all campuses, but without Jewish educational content those buildings are underutilized.

College campuses are a major battlefield for the hearts and minds of America and over future world support for Israel. It has been that way since before 1948 and campuses will continue to be a battlefield for many years to come. Remember, today's students are tomorrow's public opinion. While great tools exist for Jewish students on campuses, we all need to take the time to show support for the students who are fighting Israel's battles world wide, as they are "the other IDF." We need to redouble our efforts in support of campus organizations, while at the same time, demand that organizations designed to serve the needs of Jewish students are proactive.

© Fred Taub, 2007
© 2007 Divestment Watch