How to Fight for Israel on College Campuses
I know that Hillel on campus will promote Israel. I know they love Israel. I know that they educate students positively about Israel.
But will they fight for Israel?
Last week, a Hillel campus director – who I criticized for their failure to protest the guest speakers on their campus who claimed that Israel is guilty of genocide – wrote me a long email saying that he would not work with me to defend Israel unless I apologized.
Apologize for what? I had never written a negative word about him. Rather, he was insulted that I had highlighted how his campus was going over to Students for Justice in Palestine.
The truth sometimes hurts.
When I was with Dennis Prager in Oxford two weeks ago for our big debate on Israel at the Oxford Union, he told me he was not surprised that I was coming in for so many attacks from Jewish groups that were failing to fight for Israel on campus. He gave me an axiom for the ages: “Those who fail to fight wickedness end up fighting those who do fight wickedness.”
And if BDS is not wicked, then the word has no meaning.
The sole purpose of BDS is to destroy Israel. It has no interest whatsoever in Palestinian rights. If it did it would be boycotting Egypt for destroying hundreds of Palestinian homes on the Gaza border last October to stop Hamas from smuggling weapons.
BDS has no interest in protecting Arab life. If it did it would be boycotting Syria for murdering 150,000 Arabs.
BDS has no interest in protesting an occupation. If it did it would be boycotting China for occupying Tibet since 1950.
BDS has no interest in promoting Arab human rights. If it did it would be divesting from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, Lebanon, and every other Arab country where Arabs are denied the most basic rights like freedom of press, freedom to protest their government, and the freedom to vote, all of which are guaranteed to Arabs only in Israel.
BDS trades in anti-Semitism, with its primary objective being the economic destruction of the world’s only Jewish state and the Middle East’s only democracy.
So why isn’t Hillel fighting BDS on campus?
The truth is they are. And they care. But they’re ineffective.
The success of SJP is its visibility. On any one campus their numbers are small. But they fight big. They make a big Israel Apartheid Wall. They do public die-ins with tens of students pretending to be killed by the IDF. They do public protests against Israeli speakers, often denying them even the right to be heard as they did to Ambassador Michael Oren at Irvine.
To all this Hillel’s response is that they don’t wish to legitimize SJP by directly confronting them. And they don’t wish to appear belligerent by mimicking their methods.
Sorry, that ship has sailed. The silly refusal to publicly call out BDS for what it is has led to it slowly becoming mainstream without serious opposition. BDS slipped in under the radar.
It’s time for Hillel to start copying SJP – but without embracing their immoral side – and do public and visible events that demonstrate the truth of the Arab terror organizations that are committed to Israel’s destruction.
A gay die-in that would highlight the brutal fate of gay Palestinian men who are shot in the head by Hamas as collaborators would be a beginning.
An honor-killing die-in that would show tens of women lifeless on the streets, murdered by their families simply for falling in love, would effectively demonstrate the fate of Palestinian women living under Hamas where the maximum penalty for murdering a woman for an honor killing is two years imprisonment, if it’s punished at all, which it most often is not.
How about a Palestinian Apartheid Mound that demonstrates how Jews are not even allowed up to the Temple Mount, or an Apartheid Circle that captures Mahmoud Abbas’ promise that no Jews will be allowed to live in a Palestinian state.
Rounding it all up would be a Human Shield School, where a couple of school desks are put in middle of a campus with students sitting with missiles beneath them, demonstrating the fate of Palestinian children under Hamas rule.
But let’s also publicly tell the positive side of Israel that no Arab country can match. How about a Unity Bench that shows Jewish and Arab judges sitting together on the Israeli Supreme Court?
And a BDS Student Togetherness Tent with students wearing “Omar Barghouti” badges showing him as he truly is: a Palestinian doctoral student at Tel Aviv University who has the chutzpa to lie that he is denied equal status in Israel.
Our purpose on campus must be to convey the truth, that while Hamas and the Palestinian Authority incite violence against Jews in state-sponsored media, we Jews continue to affirm the infinite value of every human life – Arab and Jew alike – both of whom are created equally in the image of God.
I believe in Hillel. It’s an amazing organization that courageously promotes Jewish identity on campus. But it’s time for Hillel to take off the gloves and realize that while dialogue is of course important and should continue, there is also a time to fight those who are our implacable enemies in public.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, winner of The London Times Preacher of the Year Competition, and recipient of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. He has just published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.