Anti-Israel sentiment is increasingly pervasive 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 diminish the impact of anti-Israel activity taking place on your campus, and to be prepared if and when you do need to react to an anti-Israel event.
Before anti-Israel activity occurs on your campus:
- Know the tremendous resources and support you have right on your campus from fellow students and faculty, Hillel and myriad other pro-Israel organizations. Your peers can tell you about what’s happened on your campus in the past and what you can expect. Off-campus organizations like ADL and many others can also offer you advice and support along with materials, programs and speakers.
- Get involved on campus. Take advantage of the opportunities to make a difference on the issue you care about. Run for student government. Write for the campus newspaper. Join committees and other student organizations. Learn about the concerns and priorities of other communities on campus and show up for them. Holding leadership positions on campus provides a great opportunity to meet new people, build coalitions and exchange views with your peers, including about your connection to Israel and your concerns about anti-Israel campaigns.
- Educate yourself about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. People make a lot of claims about what Israel is and isn’t. Keeping up to date on current developments, learning the history and confronting tough topics and complexities will ensure that you are more confident in addressing this issue in conversations with others. Also, make sure you look at a variety of news sources for information from diverse perspectives.
- Talk to people who have different perspectives about Israeli policies and actions. There is a lot of diversity of opinion even among people who support Israel. Being open to different viewpoints helps create a more civil and constructive environment on campus.
- 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 and other organizations, on campus and off, can provide you with suggestions of great programs, topics and speakers.
If anti-Israel activity occurs on your campus:
- 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 or social media platforms. If the speaker has a record of extreme statements about Israel or Zionists/Zionism, 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 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.
- Share information with fellow students attending the event about the speakers and organizations they’re about to hear from, including their record of harsh and unconstructive or even antisemitic rhetoric. ADL and other organizations make it easy to access information on extreme speakers who frequently appear on campuses.
- Organize a contingent of students with diverse perspectives to attend 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 antisemitic statements.
- 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.
- Contact the university administration and campus law enforcement if you believe a speaker or student has engaged in threatening behavior or hate speech, including antisemitic comments.