Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

CAMERA Helps Jewish Students Fight Back on Campus

August 28, 2013 9:09 am 1 comment

The campus of the University of California, Berkeley, where an Israel divestment measure passed in the school's student government in April. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Lighting up the screen at Boston University Hillel is a progression map of Israel titled “Palestinian Loss of Land.” The image isn’t surprising to the students attending the annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). Similar sights are frequent at their own schools.

“During Israel Apartheid Week, there are a lot of skits and performances. Students wrap keffiyehs around their heads and people mock Israel while dressed as IDF soldiers,” said Beata Samel, a CAMERA Campus Activist Project (CCAP) student representing City University of New York (CUNY) Brooklyn.

Highlighting the growing need to combat anti-Israel campaigns on campus, and equipping pro-Israel students with the tools to motivate others to action, is the focus   of the student conference of CAMERA, the Boston-based media watchdog that seeks to promote accurate news coverage and commentary about Israel and the Middle East.

In attendance from Aug. 18-20 were students ranging from native Israelis, to those that have never been to the Jewish state, those planning their Birthright trip experience, and those that have already served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Some pro-Israel students at the conference—like CAMERA Fellow Abraham Mercado, who was the only Jew among 8,000 students at Morgan State University before transferring to Florida Atlantic University—have faced significant isolation on campus.

After finishing his IDF service, Scott Ehrenberg, a CCAP student at CUNY Queens, asked himself how he could support Israel despite being back in the United States.

“The least we can do is to advocate for Israel,” said Ehrenberg, “to hold events on campus wherever we go to college in order to protect and support Israel’s name.”

Twenty-six of CAMERA’s yearlong Fellows joined the organization’s CCAP participants for the three-day conference to learn skills they can bring back to their campuses. According to CAMERA Regional Campus Coordinator Gilad Skolnick, “arguments of the heart and arguments of the mind are the best weaponry” in defense of Israel.

For the CAMERA Fellows, the conference marked the beginning of their yearlong program. Chosen for their commitment to countering anti-Israel activity at their schools, 53 students representing 39 colleges partake in a series of events meant to help them organize pro-Israel events like CAMERA’s “Less Hamas, More Hummus” campaign.

The campaign, which all Fellows are required to run on their campus, was inspired by student Ellie Rudee, the current president of Claremont McKenna College’s CCAP initiative, who drew on Hamas’s own materials to educate students on her campus about the biases against Israel in the media.

During the presentation, CAMERA Campus Director Aviva Slomich cued up a clip of a Hamas kindergarten graduation ceremony where children brandished automatic weapons and sang of their aspirations of death on behalf of Allah.

“Conflict continues because of hateful indoctrination,” Slomich said.

A graphic of a child in tattered clothes being stabbed in the neck by a Jewish star is just one example of the propaganda many students are presented from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) or other anti-Israel groups on campus.

“The SJP has risen up and become pretty prominent on campus,” said a CAMERA Fellow from Duke University. “I remember waking up one Monday morning and seeing they had posted an eviction notice on my door. It said something along the lines of, ‘You have 48 hours to get out of this dorm room.'”

The CAMERA conference’s itinerary was designed to present effective techniques to counteract the rise in SJP activity; Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement campaigns; and the proliferation of Israel Apartheid Week around college campuses in North America. Presentations included “How to Plan An Effective Event,” “How to Educate Yourself and Others,” and “Standing Up for Israel on Campus.”

Other events included talks from Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, Twitter software engineer Danny Hertz, and a seminar in Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts) from Israeli Museum of Martial Arts inductee Gershon Ben Keren.

“It’s not enough for Israel to defend herself,” said Michelle Soicher, a CAMERA Fellow at Concordia University in Montreal. “We need advocates internationally. It is important to fund people who want to educate themselves and the people on their campuses. It’s the idea of perseverance: it’s not enough to just be okay, we have to help Israel thrive and grow, and we have to change the, unfortunately, declining view of Israel internationally.”

Despite their accounts of anti-Israel sentiment on campus, the students seemed hopeful for the upcoming school year. Their ideas about increasing the integration of Jewish and Israel education in campus life bounced around the conference room. Many of these ideas were based on the use of social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to draw attention to facts about Israel and the Middle East.

“One of the biggest ways to get people to attend your event is to partner with other groups on campus,” said Eliana Butler, a CCAP student from the University of Chicago.

The consensus among the students was that establishing cooperation and communication with other groups on campus could act as a steppingstone to changing anti-Israel sentiment.

“You never know,” said CCAP student Chloe Valdary of the University of New Orleans, “some people that don’t necessarily agree with your politics may just end up your strongest supporters.”

1 Comment

  • Salomon dayan

    All Jews have to be unified in eradicating college anti Israel policies and bds movements. These are nothing but expression of anti semitism being promoted bu Arab students who find easy preys among naive college students

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...

  • Food Jenna Jameson Flips Janice Dickinson the Finger for Raiding Her Kosher Fridge on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (VIDEO)

    Jenna Jameson Flips Janice Dickinson the Finger for Raiding Her Kosher Fridge on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (VIDEO)

    Former adult film star Jenna Jameson slammed Janice Dickinson on Sunday night’s episode of U.K.’s Celebrity Big Brother after she found out that the former model took food from her kosher refrigerator, the Daily Mail reported. A hungry Dickinson took a pack of celery from Jameson’s fridge, which was reserved for food adhering to kosher dietary laws. When Jameson, who converted to Judaism, found out, she shouted, “I’m about to go eat Janice’s f***ing face.” The previous porn star then stormed into the kitchen and confronted Dickinson. She […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →