On Thursday evening, February 28th, Jeff Daube, Director of the Zionist Organization of Americas Israel office, together with Dana Barnett of Israel Academia Monitor, conducted a seminar for 20 Israeli Hebrew University students at the SIACH Center in Jerusalem.
The three-hour seminar was designed to acquaint Israeli university students with the problem of anti-Israel rhetoric and activities in Israel and overseas. Barnett did an excellent job of describing the nature and extent of anti-Israel vitriol coming from Israeli professors who lecture in Israel and abroad.
Daube concentrated on the situation that has existed on American campuses since the outbreak of the Intifadah in 2000. Utilizing video clips from the anti-Israel violence at Concordia University, when former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was prevented from speaking, and other incidents on various campuses in combination with his own experiences at his alma mater, Columbia University, Daube was able to help the Israeli students gain a newfound appreciation for the challenges American pro-Israel students face. Most of the Israeli students professed astonishment, saying that they had heard something about it but were unaware of the extent of the problem.
The Hebrew University students were heartened to hear about the ZOAs efforts to combat these activities; including work by Julie Sager and the entire ZOA Campus Activities team to support Jewish students pro-Israel agenda. Some of the students expressed a desire to get together with American students on the next ZOA campus mission to Israel.
In addition, many of the students were fascinated by the explanation of the Title VI challenge to the University of California, Irvine, which was mounted by Susan Tuchman, Director of the ZOAs Center for Law and Justice, because of the universitys lack of response to anti-Semitic intimidation of its Jewish students. The seminar participants were encouraged by ZOAs determination to address this issue, which it is now pursuing through the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights; they expressed the hope that the ZOA would continue to seek appropriate redress despite temporary setbacks.
Daube then described a technique, known as A.R.M., which is commonly used to counter accusations. He illustrated by way of video how one spokesperson who did not use the A.R.M. method failed to make the case whereas another spokesperson, who did successfully deploy the method, was convincing and credible.
Daube completed his portion of the program by posing a number of charges commonly used by anti-Israel activists on campuse.g., Zionism is equal to racism, Israel is an apartheid stateand asked the students to respond using the A.R.M. technique. The students volunteered responses which were almost exactly like the suggested responses.
I went into this program with some trepidation, given what I had heard about the predilections of many Israeli university students, said Daube. I was pleasantly surprised, though, to find a group of Israeli students who really get it. They understand that the Arab-Israeli conflict does not originate with Israel, and is actually part of a much more universal Arab dysfunctionality. I came away from this experience feeling that we have our work cut out for us but there is also much reason for hope and optimism.