Six Proactive Strategies to Prevent Anti-Israel Activity…

...and What to Do if It Happens Anyway

In an average academic year, around 500 anti-Israel events take place on American college campuses. 

There are things that you can do to respond effectively. In fact, there are proactive steps you can take year-round to prevent an anti-Israel event from taking place on your campus, and to be prepared if and when an anti-Israel event does take place. 
 

Before anti-Israel activity occurs on your campus:

  1. Know the tremendous resources and support you have right on your campus: fellow students and faculty, Hillel, Chabad, and pro-Israel activists from organizations like J Street U, Stand With Us, and The David Project.  Older students can tell you about what’s happened on your campus in the past and what you can expect. Off-campus organizations like ADL, the Israel Action Network, Israel on Campus Coalition, AIPAC, your local Israeli Consulate, and many others can also offer you advice and support along with materials, programs, and speakers. 
  2. Get involved on campus.  Run for student government.  Write for the campus newspaper.  Join committees and other student organizations.  Holding leadership positions on campus provides a great opportunity to meet new people, build coalitions, and exchange views with your peers.  With a seat at the table, you can more effectively speak out (or even vote) against anti-Israel actions, including divestment resolutions.  
  3. Build coalitions with other student groups. Take the time to understand the needs and priorities of other groups and learn how to be an ally to other communities.  Attend their events and meetings.  Join advocacy efforts for issues you care about. Think about opportunities for co-sponsoring events with these groups.  
  4. Educate yourself about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. People make a lot of claims about what Israel is and isn’t. If you don’t know the facts, you won’t be able to discuss them intelligently. 
  5. Talk to people who have different perspectives about Israeli policies.  There are many ways to support Israel, and it’s important to be aware of different viewpoints. It is even worthwhile to talk to students who are anti-Israel – although this can be difficult. Many anti-Israel students refuse to talk to their counterparts who are supportive of Israel (a policy called “anti-normalization”). But if you can make it happen, having a conversation early on in the school year can help create a more civil environment. 
  6. Organize. Brainstorm with your fellow students about Israel-related events you’d like to have throughout the school year, and start planning them.  Try to plan a range of activities that highlight different perspectives and aspects of Israel.  Hillel, the Israeli consulate responsible for the region in which your campus is located, ADL and other organizations, on campus and off, can help provide you with speakers and ideas. 

If anti-Israel activity occurs on your campus:

  1. Assess the nature of the event. If the speaker has a position on Israel that you disagree with, but that is not extreme or incendiary, you may decide to express your own viewpoint at the event or in another forum, like the campus newspaper. If the speaker has a record of extreme statements about Israel, or the event promotes divesting from or boycotting Israel, consider a more active and organized effort. You can find out more about the speaker or organization by contacting Hillel, ADL, ICC, or other organizations. If the speaker is a regular on the college circuit, look online for videos of past speeches and articles they have written.
  2. Share information with fellow students attending the event about the speakers and organizations they’re about to hear from. Prepare fact sheets in advance that highlight how extreme the views of the speaker really are. ADL and other organizations make it easy to access information on extreme speakers who frequently appear on campuses.  
  3. Send a small contingent of pro-Israel students to the event to question the speaker about their views. Prepare some questions in advance based on what you’ve learned about the speaker in your research. Be respectful, non-confrontational, and to the point. This is an opportunity to highlight the speaker’s history of extreme anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic statements. 
  4. Write an opinion piece for the campus newspaper explaining why you disagree with the views of the speaker or the event, emphasizing any extreme statements and calls to action. 
  5. Contact the university administration and campus law enforcement if you believe a speaker or student has engaged in threatening behavior or hate speech, including anti-Semitic comments.  
  6. Counter their speech with your speech. Organize an event that presents the messages you want your fellow students to hear about Israel.