A vital college course for Jewish students this coming spring
Picking classes, studying, arranging social schedules, clubs, fraternities, and the freedom to engage in meaningful dialogues and discourses on a variety of subjects, are some of the things that every kid looks for in the college experience. As parents, we just “pay the way” for them and observe with vicarious fascination as they start their adult lives. These are, and should be, happy times; unless, as mine, your children happen to be Jewish. My older son proudly wears a Star of David outside his t-shirt. His roommate’s girlfriend, whom he was meeting for the first time, saw it, and remarked: “That is a symbol of oppression!” There’s no doubt about it — our kids are having a rough time on campus, an unnecessary burden; and it’s a total shame and it’s scary.
This year, as in recent ones, anti-Semitism on campus, thinly veiled as “anti-Zionism,” “anti-Israel,” is the new campus war cry and leftist fixation. It is encouraged by many professors, even some administrators. Hatred of Israel runs a very close second to the anti-Vietnam War protests of the sixties, and probably exceeds it. It includes suppression of free speech (Jewish and any other dissenting voices mostly), Holocaust denial, revival of old anti-Semitic canards and diatribes; even a new interest in the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This phenomenon is not limited to an occasional school; you can see it at the University of Pennsylvania, almost every campus of the California State system, especially Berkeley, SUNY Binghamton, Harvard, Florida Atlantic University, Brooklyn College, NYU, even Brandeis, and especially severe at Wayne State University, and the University of South Florida in Tampa — two of the most venomously anti-Semitic university campuses in the country.
We need to send our kids off prepared and armed. Not with physical weapons, but with an education of the facts about the Middle East situation, and Jewish and Israeli history. I like to call it “Verbal Krav Maga 101.” Many Hebrew high schools, synagogues and JCC’s run classes and seminars on these topics. I’ll come back to this, but first, you need to really know what is happening. I’m going to use one particular campus with a very vociferous pro-Palestinian Arab presence — Florida Atlantic University ( FAU), in Boca Raton, FL.
A student walking across the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida two years ago, would have seen a disgusting, and nauseating site on the mall; child-size, human shaped bundles wrapped in white, bloody sheets, and tied, as if being prepared for Muslim burial. The “child bodies” were laid out in two rows, and standing near by were FAU students in Muslim head dress, and holding signs saying “Israeli child victims of war crimes in Gaza,” “Stop Palestinian Genocide,” and others. In addition, other anti-Semitic activities at FAU include a mock “Wall” that represents the fence Israel installed to separate Israel proper from Arab areas on the West Bank (which has effectively stopped the homicide bombings of Israeli civilians), mock “eviction notices” placed under the doors of Jewish student’s dormitories, and an anti-Semitic “Apartheid Week,” and accusations against Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” The irony here is that the FAU campus is in Boca Raton, a city in Florida that has a very large and diverse Jewish population.
These “events” are sponsored by the Students For Justice In Palestine (SJP), an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic organization and hate group that is widespread on American college campuses. I make no distinction between “anti-Zionist” or “anti-Israel” or “anti-Semitic,” because these terms are all synonyms for the same thing: The genocide of Jews all over the world — a second Holocaust — i.e., “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” quoting a popular chant from this group which leaves no doubt as to their true intentions.
SJP gets it’s monies from the “American Muslims For Palestine” (AMP) – a well-funded professional organization with ties to Islamic radicals and supporters of terrorism against Israel. Appeals to the administration of FAU to remove SJP as a hate group from campus have fallen on deaf ears. According to the March, 2013 issue of American Thinker:
“In January 2011 FAU’s SJP, along with other chapters from universities around the state participated in an organizing conference sponsored by the American Muslims for Palestine organization (AMP). The objective of the meeting was to have SJP become more effective in its efforts by having experienced anti-Israel activists provide training, and to help regional chapters coordinate with each other and share their resources.”
AMP is best noted for the infamous “Irvine 11,” a Muslim radical group at the California State University College at Irvine, which effectively prevented former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Michael Oren from speaking at the college. You can see the nine minute video on YouTube. So much for the free expression of ideas on university campuses.
The “ears” of the FAU administration are only deaf to what is right. Their role in the ongoing anti-Semitism at FAU is glaringly complicit. Dr. Charles Brown, the Dean Of Student Affairs at FAU, was implicated in the posting of mock “eviction notices” on the dorm room doors of FAU students (to supposedly simulate Israeli destruction of Arab houses of terrorists in Judea and Samaria) which even had a seal and authorization stamp from FAU’s student housing authority. Dr. Brown denied the authenticity of this, but SJP not only said the stamps were real, but were issued by someone in the administration! Dr. Brown was dismissed in 2013.
FAU professor Bassem Al-Halabi, of the engineering department, is a close associate of USF professor Sami Al-Arian, and worked under him, Prof. Al-Arian was indicted as being the head of the American branch of Islamic Jihad, giving money and support to the murders of countless innocent Israeli civilians and several U.S. citizens. After a lengthy trial, in which he pled guilty to certain conspiracy charges, he was deported to Turkey in February of this year. These are the faculty on campuses our kids have to face – horrible! Al-Halabi is still on faculty at FAU.
Jewish fraternities and sororities on campus, Alpha Epsilon Pi in particular, and Sigma Alpha Mu, are havens and support for Jewish students on campus. These frats and sororities give their student members information on the Middle East situation, support, and have speakers and events on some of their campuses.
Additionally, as I mentioned briefly above, before our kids go off to school, most synagogues and JCC’s have speakers and programs addressing this as well. But just what are the things our kids should know for self-defense and intelligent discussion about Israel, when responding to this hate? In a nutshell, here are some of them. But first, we should be aware that knowledge, correctly applied, can squash the opposition in a debate – depending on who organizes the debate.
The first statement is that Israeli Jews are interlopers in “Palestine,” and are living on what was always Arab land. This is false. There was ALWAYS a Jewish presence in Palestine going back 3,700 years. With Russian and Yemenite Jews making the first great migration to Ottoman-controlled Palestine from 1882 through 1903, called The First Aliyah, they actually purchased the land from the Arabs; mostly uninhabitable swamp land and desert, which they reclaimed through hard work and determination, making it useful farm land. These Jews numbered about 25,000 – 35,000.
Throughout the centuries since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, there were smaller migrations of Jews to the area, notably Safed in the north, and by groups of Jews with religious motives in mind, such as the “Vilna Gaon’s group.”
The second statement is that “The State Of Israel” was established illegally on Palestinian lands.” Again, totally false. The Ottoman Empire, with its capital in Istanbul, Turkey, controlled the entire territories of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, from 1553 – 1918. There was NEVER a separate country or state known as “Palestine,” or Syria or Jordan. There is no history of an Arab people being called “Palestinian,” no statesmen, no flag (other than the Turkish flag until 1918), and no international recognition of such an entity. Going back farther, the first Arabs migrated to that whole area in the Eighth Century CE. “Palestine” was a name given by the Romans to the land of Judea, just after the Bar-Kochba Revolt in the middle of the Second Century in order to punish the rebellious Jews. It was a play on the word “Phillistines,” who were an ancient enemy of the Israelites even before the time of King David. The name stuck throughout the British Mandate period from 1922-1948.
The third statement is this: “The Jews declared their independence in May 1948, and drove thousands of Palestinians out of their homes into exile.” Again, not true. The Israel War of Independence is really divided up into two periods: pre-Independence, and the post-Independence periods. The pre-Independence civil war began shortly after UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947 allowing for the partition of Palestine. The Jewish inhabitants accepted partition, but the Arabs, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, attacked Jewish settlements, convoys of food and medical supplies to Jerusalem, which they had cut off. Husseini swore to kill all Jews, and they were assisted by the British, who supplied them with large caches of arms.
When Israel declared Independence in May, 1948, regular Arab armies attacked, including those of Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The Grand Mufti especially, exhorted the Arab inhabitants of Palestine to leave and flee while the Jews were being killed; then come back to their homes when the Jews were gone. The Jewish civil and military authorities pleaded with the Arab civilians to stay and not to flee, but it was no use.
This next statement is perhaps the most telling: “We are not anti-Semitic; we are anti-ZIONIST, and against the Occupation.” A total lie. Before a Jewish State was declared, and the word “Israeli” was completely unthinkable, there was murderous violence committed against Jews who lived within the British Mandate. Arab riots in 1920, 1929, and 1936, killed many Jews, for no other reason than they were who they were. In Muslim countries Jews suffered for the same reason — they were Jews. In fact, when the State Of Israel was declared in May, 1948, the Arab states of Yemen and North Africa kicked out their Jews. These Jewish refugees, numbering around 850,000, had but one place to go, that European Jews did not only ten years before — Israel.
The Palestinian refugee problem, could easily have been solved back in 1949, when hostilities ended. Arab countries, especially Jordan, could have taken these people in. Ethnically, over 80% of the population of Jordan is “Palestinian.” They share the exact same culture, language and religion. The Arabs who did not run away were accepted as Israeli citizens, with the full rights of citizenship. Unlike their Arab brethren across the Middle East, these people can vote in free elections, and even have membership in the Israeli Knesset.
Furthermore, I would ask one of these SJP student activists; who would last longer — a Palestinian standing on a street corner in Gaza City protesting against Hamas, or an Arab-Israeli citizen of Israel protesting the prime minister? The longer-lasting person in this scenario would be the Arab-Israeli protester because . . . he or she is living in the ONLY democracy in the Middle East.
This hatred of Israel is ONLY about hatred of Jews; your kids in college should know this, and the “Palestinian refugee problem” is just a stick, kept sharp by Arab governments pointed at Israel, to invoke world sympathy for Arabs, and hatred of Jews. It has always, and will continue to be so, unfortunately.