Providing the tools needed to stand up to the hatred.

BDS on Campus Video

‘ADL provided a road map for which conversations could be had. It’s difficult to know where to start the conversation with BDS—there’s just so much to cover. Having ADL come in with its institutional backing and provide definitions was empowering and gave me confidence. It was invaluable.’

Maya Horowitz
Recent College Graduate

BDS turns a college campus into a battleground.

2016 AR BDS Moment 01

Jonathan Greenblatt speaks at United Nations conference on BDS.

Maya had never heard about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement before she started college, so she wasn’t prepared for how aggressive an active BDS campaign could be.

Maya was a member of the student council, and from the beginning of the school year, BDS was on the council’s agenda. Maya wasn’t concerned, though. She thought her views would be especially relevant as a Jew who loves Israel while being critical of some of its policies. After all, she was part of the progressive-liberal-activist faction of the student government.

Instead, she was ridiculed. And she was silenced.

‘Your views aren’t valid. Your perspective is flawed.’

2016 AR BDS Moment 02

In every other conflict on her campus, Maya noticed, there was a desire to elevate the voices of those involved and listen to as many perspectives as possible. But this one was different. As a Jew, she was assumed to be pro-Israel, and therefore, her perspective was assumed to be inherently biased and invalid. How could she care about Palestinian issues and lives? When she spoke about Palestinians, she was accused of tokenizing them or being disingenuous about her sympathy.

And it wasn’t just Maya. Other students were being confronted by anti-Israel words and actions. In one case, an Israeli who was speaking Hebrew on the phone with her mother outside the library was called a “Hebrew terrorist.” 

Empowering students to respond. Bringing worldwide expertise to the problem.

2016 AR BDS Moment 03

On college campuses across America, BDS campaigns isolate students who support Israel. Jewish students like Maya feel singled out when they speak up—and sometimes even when they don’t. 

High-profile academics, charismatic speakers and influential student leaders present a one-sided version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demonize Israel. At times, the atmosphere on campus becomes hostile toward students who actively engage in pro-Israel activism, and on occasion, anti-Israel bias crosses a line into anti-Semitic rhetoric and behavior. 

Across the country, ADL’s Words to Action program empowers students to identify and respond to anti-Semitism. It increases understanding and awareness of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias, and it gives them tools and resources to counter stereotypes and myths. 

When ADL brought the Words to Action workshop to Maya’s campus, she recalled that the event itself was controversial. But it provided her with a safe place to talk about what she was going through with others who were having similar experiences. 

And she learned that she wasn’t powerless, that she could act. No one was going to step in and solve her problems for her—but they would train her to do it herself.

She left the workshop with an information packet and the confidence to use it. Then she was prepared—with facts and examples, with language to use when she found herself in difficult conversations. And it worked.

Maya felt that she had a partner in ADL, and she’s grateful. “I’m still in contact with ADL today. I was just at a volunteer orientation, and I’m hoping to become an education ambassador.”

Recognizing the need for a new strategy to combat the widespread BDS movement and other forms of delegitimization of Israel, ADL and the Reut Institute in Tel Aviv announced a new joint initiative in 2016 to assess the mounting challenge.