Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

BDS Challenge Being Met on Campus, Experts Say in Israel

June 27, 2013 1:31 am 0 comments

A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – JERUSALEM—Within the past year, three student-run legislative bodies at University of California (UC) state schools – UCBerkeley, UC Irvine and UC San Diego—passed resolutions urging divestment from Israel. These votes occurred amid allegations of the harassment of pro-Israel students on UC campuses. Yet at the same time, such resolutions were defeatedat UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Santa Barbara, as well as outside the UC system at Stanford University.

Who has the upper hand in the ongoing struggle on campus between Jewish students and advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel? Experts at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference last week in Jerusalem expressed optimism about where pro-Israel students stand—with the most positive tone coming from University of California President Mark Yudof.

“Despite what you may have heard, Jewish students are thriving,” Yudof said on a June 19 Presidential Conference panel titled “Campus as a Crossroads in the Life of a Young Jew.”

Yudof’s fellow panelists were Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Taglit-Birthright CEO Gidi Mark, Chairperson of the European Union of Jewish Students Andi Gergely, and Israel Government Fellow and recent Cornell University graduate Rachel Greenspan.

Talking about BDS, even Sharansky, the most restrained panelist in terms of his optimism, appeared to cautiously agree that anti-Israel efforts on North American campuses did not appear to be picking up steam. “It seems

like there is less energy to anti-Israel movements on campuses, but it is hard to say if you are winning or losing,” he said.

Nevertheless, Sharansky made clear his views on the need for college campus communities to mobilize support for Israel, recounting what he told then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a decade ago.

“Our main battlefield for the future is on American campuses,” Sharansky said he told Sharon. Sharansky attributed the improvement on campuses since that time partially to the work of organizations like Taglit-Birthright, Caravan for Democracy, StandWithUs, and others.

Much credit was given during the panel discussion to Birthright in particular, for shoring up young Diaspora Jews’ identification with Israel. According to numbers presented to the panel by Birthright’s CEO, Gidi Mark, more than 330,000 Jews from 62 countries have visited Israel on one of Birthright’s 10-day organized trips. Mark also noted that according to a study by Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Birthright trip participants were 46 percent more likely to feel very connected to Israel and 51 percent more likely to marry a Jew, compared to trip applicants who did not end up participating on a trip.

Yudof has responded to BDS efforts in the California state school system by reiterating a 2005 UC Regents policy that UC divest from foreigncountries only when the U.S. declares that a foreign government is committing genocide. As part of his response to allegations of on-campusharassment of pro-Israel students, in 2010 Yudof instituted a system across UC for reporting incidents of intolerance or bias as a means to provide reliable data on harassment on campus communities.

Nevertheless, Yudof doesn’t think the BDS is much to worry about.

“I don’t see much political base or gravitas, in a political sense, for the BDS movement,” he said.

Yudof also expressed his opposition to suppressing BDS activities on campuses.

“We aren’t going to silence these people on campus, nor should we,” said Yudof. “If anything that effort will backfire,” he added.

During both the panel discussion and an interview with JNS.org, Yudof said he seeks to create positive ways for Jewish students to be more informed about their own identity. In particular, he mentioned the UC system’s reinstatement of its foreign exchange program to Israel in 2009, which he oversaw. The exchange program returned following a seven-year hiatus due to the U.S. State Department putting Israel on its travel advisory list.

Yudof told JNS.org that while he believes it is acceptable for organizations outside the campus community such as pro-Israel advocacy groups to provide support to students when they request it, he sometimes thinks those outside groups treat campuses too much as battlegrounds.

“Have a little

faith in your own children,” Yudof said. “They are not pawns to be manipulated.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    An artist is auctioning on eBay a Wonder Woman doll he purchased and repainted to create an uncanny replica of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will play the superhero in an upcoming 2017 spin-off film. Noel Cruz purchased a 19-inch action figure of the Batman v Superman star and replaced its plastic hair with a new wig, and added a material belt and Princess Diana’s lasso, according to the blog Io9, which first reported on Cruz’s work. He then painted the doll to make it look like the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    Racist and antisemitic rhetoric supported by white supremacists can be defeated by opening channels for meaningful dialogue, British-Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe said, ahead of the release of his new film, in which he plays an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a neo-Nazi group. “[White supremacist ideologies] have more power the less we talk about them. So hopefully this does start a kind of conversation, which would be a tiny part of a much larger conversation that needs to happen,” the actor, 27, told The […]

    Read more →