The concern that must upsets me about the anti-Israel/anti-Semitic atmosphere on American college campuses — or I should stress: the current atmosphere, as in the 1960s, my university years, it also existed and was worrying — is, what seems to me, the inability of Jewish students to confront it and take back the narrative.
I received this:
March 7, 2016
Statement of Action
Today, UC Davis students, alumni, and members of the broader community came together in response to the presence of George Deek — the so-called “Arab-Israeli” diplomat — on our campus. Our response was not organized by any single organization or group but rather, emerged from shared principles of anti-colonialism in general, and anti-zionism in particular. The protest took the form of a walk-out accompanied by the following chants:
Free, free Palestine
Long live the Intifada
Israel is an apartheid state
Israel is anti-Black
When Palestine is occupied, resistance is justified
Palestine will be free, fight white supremacy…
You can watch a short video of the event here.
If there was a strong Jewish student club there (and I do not if there was or not but for my purposes, it doesn’t matter), they would have immediately countered by pointing out:
a) “Intifada” is not a sport or a competition or a contest. It is a campaign of murderous violence directed almost exclusively against innocent civilians. There was one during 1936-39 is pre-state Israel, one during 1987-1992 and another from 2000-???? and we have a so-called Knives Intifada since last October so we know quite well that it is a term for popular terror.
b) That “anti-black” charge is ridiculous. Arabs are very less black than all our thousands of Ethiopian immigrants as well as many Yemenite Jews. And that “white supremacy” doggerel is racist.
c) “Palestine” was first occupied by invading Arabs in the early 7th century CE when it was still mostly a Jewish-populated country although ruled by the Romans, Byzantines and Persians since the Second Jewish Commonwealth lost independence in the 69 CE and 135 CE revolts against foreign oppression.
d) And if “Palestine” indeed was occupied by Arabs, Jewish resistance is then justified should be the logical conclusion.
I wonder: do Jewish students ever take this material and much more that is out there and confront Arab rallies and confabs? Or is it all a one-street of imperial Muslim aggression?
Of course, worse than perhaps being intimidated, our Jewish students are being undermined by J St., IfNotWhen, Open Hillel, JVP as well as programs like Encounter and Olive Tree.
Instead of paying Hillary Clinton outrageous sums, could not Federations and other Jewish Establishment groups teach and embolden Jewish students?
Knowledge is strength. But also tactics need to be taught.
Jewish students require our assistance so that they can do the task they confront.