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December 12, 2014 12:42 am

How to Fight for Israel on College Campuses

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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

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.

Here’s why.

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.

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  • Yale

    At the very least, Hillel should declare boldly that BDS and SJP are organizations of bullies.

    Bullying has been a target in many lower, middle, and high schools for more than a decade, and connecting these movements with bullying will put it into the proper context with the right connotations.

  • Yes, it is long overdue for Hillel to take off it’s gloves. No more Mr. Nice-Guy. We Jews always want to be loved, or at least liked. If they don’t like us to begin with, we have nothing to lose if we learn how to confront and move the debate to another aspect of what people call the ‘Israeli-Palestinian’ conflict. Never go on the defensive and never try to out talk the aggressors. It’s an Arab hate fest against Israel and the Jews.Move the debate elsewhere. Ask questions that take these aggressors by surprise. Make them doubt the validity of their ideas.
    The ‘Palestinians’ are just the pawns of the Arab countries who have been brainwashed into thinking that they are the victims of the Jews. Yet, they are really victims of their own Arab brothers – and this, since 1967.
    There’s an education problem among our college youth that the Hillel, if it had the proper materials and speakers, would be better prepared to make their campuses healthier places to get a true higher education.

  • Dr Lawrence Kanter

    The Arab world is homophobic,misogynist and fascist. The unfortunate truth must be told. We as Jews must be nice but truthful. Your comments as to Hillel and the BDS movement are ‘right on’.

  • barry panensky

    Barry Panensky

  • charles kaplan

    did a Hillel director and the Jewish chaplain at Wellesley College just get fired for some trumped up reason.. ??

  • NCS

    The Rabbi is right. You have to fight fire with equal fire otherwise Hillel will remain impotent to the threats surrounding Jews and Israel on American college campuses. This is a propaganda war that we need to win.

  • EthanP

    Salient points, all.

  • and you will know more than 95% of the population:

    Islam is Evil. What part of Evil do people not understand? Islam enslaves your mind, your body and your soul. It must be destroyed.

    They use “Takiah” the Islamic law to lie in order to advance Islam.

    The 1400-year Islam Cultural War is taking over Europe for the Third Time and Now Threatening America.

    Only knowledge and working together will win this battle.
    They use “Takiah” the Islamic law to lie in order to advance Islam.

    The Third Choice by Mark Durie: One choice become Islamic, second a slave, third death. Add one choice if you act now, Freedom.

    Culture and Conflict, by P. Salzman: Shows we are in an Islamic Cultural war.

    The Arab Mind by R. Patai: US military uses this book training their soldiers and officers.

    Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali: good for young women.

    Lifting the Veil by I.Q. Ali Rassooli: a translation of the major religious books. On the web at

    The Prince by Machiavelli; the methods use by Feudalistic kings are the same methods Islam uses today.

    Books of Islam Culture War Against Israel

    BattleGround, Fact and Fantasy in Palestine by S. Katz

    From Time Immemorial J. Peters, Commissioned by Arafat to show Palestinians were in Israel from the beginning of time but ended up showing Jews were in Israel from the beginning of time. Source MI6 secret documents.

  • Most of America Hillel has Abandoned and betrayed Israel.