Before I start writing my first piece on the conference, I would like to thank Executive Director of Hunter Hillel Lisa Pollack and the Hunter Hillel Executive Board for sponsoring me to go to the Jerusalem Post Conference
On Sunday April 28th, 2013 I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd annual Jerusalem Post conference, entitled “Fighting for the Zionist Dream”. Caroline Glick, a senior contributing editor to the Jerusalem Post, gave a speech during the first part of the conference. Glick had decided that instead of focusing on Israel’s security and domestic issues, she would focus on American Jews and their feelings, actions, and attitudes towards Israel. Specifically, she spoke about the lack of an effective defense against attempts to delegitimize Israel in the public sector.
Glick gave examples of what she deemed to be failures in combatting attempts to delegitimize Israel. The first that she listed was an incident at the University of California (UC) at San Diego. Recently, the UC San Diego Student Government were voting on a resolution of divesting from businesses and companies that do business with Israel. According to Glick, the leaders at the Hillel of UC San Diego told the students not to focus on the resolution’s lack of merit when trying to prevent the passing of this resolution. Rather, they should focus on how the students would feel if the resolution was passed. Glick said that because of this approach the resolution to divest from Israel was passed.
On a side note, Glick went on to talk about what the BDS movement’s true motives are. The movement claims that Israel is racist and therefore does not have a right to exist. By saying this, you talk about destroying Israel and not about trying to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. That essentially says that the movement wants and therefore promotes a state for the Palestinians before there can even be talk of a Jewish State or even peace.
Another example that Glick used involved a recent incident at the 92nd Street Y. The 92nd Street Y had invited Roger Waters of Pink Floyd to perform. Waters is a musician who is very vocal about his dislike of Israel. He is even on of the leaders of the BDS movement. Due to public outcry, the 92nd Street Y cancelled the event. Glick claimed that this was only because they were embarrassed and not because they actually wanted to cancel the event.
While I do agree with Glick that feelings alone is not the way to answer any resolution to divest from Israel, it is not 100% wrong to use in conjunction with other methods. On Yom HaShoah, the day when people across the world remember the Holocaust and those who were lost, I was alerted to a fascinating video made by MTV. The video opened in a New York City Subway train packed with what seems like hundreds of people. Then, the train doors open at a station where all of the passenger’s were forced off the train by guards, with dogs and guns, yelling orders out. At the very end of the video, the footage stops and a picture of the train platform at Auschwitz is shown, with the same exact situation being portrayed. The message of the video was “The Holocaust happened to people like us”, which implies that anyone could have been targeted not just Jews*. That is why I advocate a combination of showing how you feel and actual facts, unlike Glick who seems to advocate for facts alone.
Another part of Glick speech that I found irritating as an Israel Advocate is the huge expectation that she has on all of those in America who advocate for Israel. Her complaint about the 92nd Street Y incident was that the Roger Waters event was cancelled only because the administration at the Y was embarrassed as a result of the public outcry. My question to Glick is so what? The goal was to cancel the event and not brainwashing the administration. If we want them to change their views on Israel, we do not educate them during a protest. Rather, we should organize events that would encourage people to learn more about Israel. As the old adage goes, you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.
Finally, Glick spent her whole speech criticizing what she viewed as the American Jewish community’s failures in defending Israel. What about our successful defenses of Israel? Take the BDS even at Brooklyn College for examples. Mind you, Israel advocates were not able to get the event canceled, yet they were successful in a different way. They were able to show that the opponents of Israel would be willing to go to any extreme to silence the people who support Israel. They do this because they fear the truth, which would silence them forever.
*The video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFmkwmc1xKY