So what drives a group of second and third year students at UCL, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to embark on a campaign called Illustrate4Israel? In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, we believe that the world has a heightened sense of the importance of free speech and the medium of cartoons. We want to make sure that during Israeli Apartheid Week 2015 people have the chance to be creative and not fear the personal abuse or hijacking of the campaign. By submitting a cartoon and caption anonymously there is a degree of protection which opens up opportunities for frank discussions on complex and emotive issues.
The Campaigns director at UCL Jewish Society, Ben Hayton is the brains behind the concept and has given a number of presentations on the campaign, particularly aimed at Jewish students in London. He said, “In Britain we are increasingly seeing the demonisation of Israel in place of condemnation for atrocities committed against Jews in Europe and the uncertainty that now haunts our lives. This competition is some means to express our frustrations with the inaccuracy and simplicity surrounding the narrative of Israel. It is also an opportunity to transform this week of hate into a momentous occasion of solidarity with our international Jewish family as well as those who share in our dream for a thriving Israel living at pave with her neighbours.”
We hope to branch out to the United States, Israel and beyond through organisations such as the AEPI fraternity, StandWithUs and the World Union of Jewish Students. Lewis Barber, a second year European Politics and History Student at UCL and the Treasurer of the UCL Friends of Israel Society said the following. “I knew immediately I wanted to be part of this campaign. Illustrate4israel is a great and fun way to help defend Israel against defamation during Israeli Apartheid Week and provide an alternative narrative to the vile and plain false claims made by those that seek to destroy the only free nation in the Middle East. This year we will not be silenced.”
How does the competition work? You think up a cartoon, draw it & send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A substantial cash prize will be awarded for most likes. We have an active Facebook page currently with over four hundred likes and our work has been shared on the StandWithUs international page with a reach of over one thousand. One of the most popular cartoons shown above depicts the three flags of France, Denmark and Israel will bullet wholes puncturing the surface of each flag. The caption: ‘We are hurt, we are imperfect, we fly for freedom’ is a captivating message at a difficult time for Jews in Europe.
Our aim is to challenge some of the simplistic narratives, which have become entrenched in the discourse of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The double standards at play in comparing Israeli actions to other nation’s military campaigns or politicians from all over the world equating Israeli government actions with Jewish populations. We believe Israel unequivocally does not cause Anti-Semitism, though we cannot deny that the growing levels of attacks on Jews are driven by the media’s selective use of the facts and images from the conflict. We want supporters of the State of Israel to use this opportunity to paint their vision of the country, a bustling diverse democracy with equal rights for all it’s citizens irregardless of their race or creed.
Please join us in combatting the Apartheid smear through the medium of art and political discourse. Let’s make our voices heard!
Link to the page: https://www.facebook.com/Illustrate4Israel?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Henry Tilbury and Lewis Barber, President and Treasurer of UCL Friends of Israel Society
Daniel Gross, Elliot Miller and Ben Hayton, Presidents and Campaign officer at UCL Jewish Society