In the pro-Israel camp and in the Jewish community, there are many divisions and disagreements regarding how we should handle our advocacy for Israel. While some of the greatest differences in opinion concern Israel’s policies, many concern which candidates and political parties would best support Israel and continue to foster the warm relationship that the United States and Israel have enjoyed for so long.
And at the end of the day, these disagreements unfortunately tend to produce an inordinate amount of bickering and rancor. This hostility then manifests itself on college campuses when it comes to Israel advocacy, leaving students questioning to which organizations they should commit their time, efforts and resources. This leads to an enormous lack of productivity in the Israel advocacy space.
So much could be done if the U.S. Jewish community were unified and concerted in its efforts. As it stands now, these tensions and frictions too often pit Jews against each other, resulting in a lack of progress.
This past weekend, much was made about the Campus Maccabees conference, hosted by business magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson and held in Las Vegas to promote pro-Israel advocacy on campus and to combat anti-Israel vitriol. While certain press outlets were sure to highlight the many organizations not invited to the conference — in turn producing mounds of coverage regarding the organizations that did not attend for fear of being associated with this initiative — they lost the bigger story: a partnership and friendship forged between two of our community’s most successful businessmen and leaders. Their willingness to put their political differences aside and come together to support Israel, a topic that should unite us all, is inspirational.
I of course speak of the friendship between Adelson and Haim Saban. Saban, a leader in the Hollywood entertainment industry, is a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, and he has proven his loyalty to the party with the use of his “war chest,” pouring millions of dollars into political campaigns, such as President Barack Obama’s in 2012 and now Hillary Clinton’s quest to win the presidency of the United States.
Adelson, on the other hand, a man whom I have the privilege of knowing personally, is the Republican Party’s biggest donor. Yet Adelson and Saban have put their political differences aside to forge an alliance to combat the greatest threat facing our youth and our whole people: the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses being perpetuated by promoters of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement. These two pioneers of business and philanthropy have realized what matters most is that our love for Israel and its future trump all else in our list of priorities. They know that when it comes to challenging Israel’s detractors and anti-Semites, aligning ourselves with a certain political party doesn’t matter. We as a people must band together to fight our enemies. We must unite in the face of these grave circumstances to defeat the BDS Movement.
And this message needs to be embraced on a smaller scale, as well as in the larger political sphere. Being a recent college graduate who was quite involved in Israel advocacy both on and off campus, I am intimately aware of the friction that exists between various student organizations. The leaders and members of these organizations ought to follow in the footsteps of Saban and Adelson. Our community needs to seize this opportunity to applaud Adelson and Saban and their choice to put aside their differences and unite for Israel. Their example ought to be emulated by all donors and activists, young and old.
I am bone-tired of hearing the many pro-Israel organizations bickering with each other concerning politics — whether those politics be Israel’s policies or U.S. partisan squabbles. Fighting the BDS Movement and the “tsunami of Anti-Semitism” that is on its way, which has already overwhelmed the college campus environment, is a mission that will require our labels and egos to be slashed. It’s time for us to come together and to take off our partisan hats in the process. This threat is bigger than any differences we might have when it comes to policy. This perception fight we are in is for the continuing survival of the Jewish people and our traditions.
Kudos to Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson for leading the charge. Now let us all follow them and unite to tell our enemies: We will prevail and defeat this strain of anti-Semitism that is permeating the confines of college campuses and classrooms across North America. If we can do this together, we will ultimately be victorious.