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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Growing harassment of Jewish students on college campuses across Britain, the US and Canada has prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to announce plans for an international effort to counter the phenomenon.
The whole idea of the campaign is "to debunk the mythology of the anti-Israel forces," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The campaign will include a so-called "iCAN" ad to run in student newspapers during this year's Israel Apartheid Week (which starts on Sunday), in which protesters worldwide will attempt to compare the Jewish state with the former racist regime in South Africa.
The ad, which features two aluminum cans connected together by a string, asks where modern society would be if it boycotted Israeli technology.
"Committed to boycotting Israel?" the ad asks. "Be Zion-free - do not use cellphones, voicemail, AIM and ICQ instant messaging, Google (which runs on Israeli algorithms), Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, Microsoft Office, Intel microchip, Pentium chip and microprocessor, and firewalls and virus protection software."
The ad goes on to relate that all of the items were developed in Israel, and implies that those who wish to go ahead with a boycott, should understand exactly what that entails.
The ad is part of a wider campaign to counter hostile events that have taken place on college campuses with increasing frequency and severity in recent months, especially since the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Recent incidents on college campuses in Canada - most notably a near-riot at York University in Toronto in which Jewish students were besieged in the school's Hillel house - are among the reasons for heightened concern, along with other anti-Israel efforts, including calls to boycott Israeli academia and products.
Earlier this week, B'nai B'rith Canada sent a letter to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police regarding "the inadequate policing of university campuses, which have become breeding grounds for promoting hatred against Jewish students," and decrying "clear and emerging patterns of support for radicalism, civil disobedience, and ultimately violence, on university campuses."
California schools have also been hotbeds of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities in recent years, including the University of California, Irvine, where anti-Israel activity has reached a fever pitch during previous Israel Apartheid Week events.
UCLA professor Dr. Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl, is slated to join the Wiesenthal Center's effort, and will attend a protest in Los Angeles on Friday with senior Simon Wiesenthal officials to denounce the increasing intimidation of pro-Israel students on California campuses and the demonization of Israel by academics.
"The Wiesenthal Center has received calls for help from Jewish students at prestigious universities in the UK, Canada, throughout the United States, and especially right here in the state of California," Cooper and Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement. "The intensity of these incidents has escalated since Israel's incursion into Gaza to stop Hamas's relentless rocket barrage against its civilians."
"In addition to meeting with chancellors, presidents of universities and law enforcement, with this ad, we are launching a major effort to expose the hypocrisy of all who hide behind the facade of academia to target one country and one country only - Israel - for vilification," the Wiesenthal Center said.
The iCan ad is scheduled to run in student newspapers across the UK and North America, including York University, the University of Toronto, Columbia University, the University of Chicago, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, San Jose State and San Francisco State.