'Jewish students being attacked on US campuses need Israel's help'

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter suggested that the activists have become more aggressive because the Palestinian issue is less prominent lately.

August 16, 2016 19:21
2 minute read.

Jewish groups at UC Berkeley campus rally against anti-Israeli events. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

Anyone attacked for being Jewish should receive help from Israel, Avi Dichter, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman (Likud), said at a discussion of anti-Semitic actions by BDS activists on US college campuses.

The meeting opened with NGO Reservists on Duty, which seeks to fight misconceptions about IDF soldiers, presenting a report about intimidation Jewish college students in the US faced from activists calling for boycotts of Israel.

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One example Reservists on Duty’s research director Amnon Goldstof gave was eviction notices posted on the doors of Jewish students on college campuses. The eviction notices were reported at Connecticut College earlier this year. In 2014, the same tactic was used at NYU by Students for Justice in Palestine.

Goldstof said the number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses in the US nearly doubled in 2015 to 90 from 47 in 2014.

“Jewish students are the most persecuted minority on campuses in the US,” he stated.

However, Tzahi Gabrieli, Strategic Affairs Ministry deputy director-general, said the “eviction notices” phenomenon is decreasing – in the 2013-2014 academic year, there were 11 such incidents, in 2014-2015 there were three, and in the last year, there was just one.

NGO Monitor representative Yona Schiffmiller said activists are advised by lawyers to make sure to put up a few eviction notices in places where Jewish students do not reside, so that they can claim the act isn’t anti-Semitic.

“That’s why we can’t only focus on the eviction notices and have act against the legal aid and funding they receive,” he said.

Dichter called BDS a “wave of anti-Semitism that, unfortunately, is taking place in supposedly enlightened countries and campuses that are considered intellectual.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman suggested that the activists have become more aggressive because the Palestinian issue is less prominent lately, including in the Arab world.

Incidents targeting Jewish students take place in an attempt to harm Israel, but it won’t work, he said.

“We in the Knesset and in this committee have a responsibility to every Jewish person who is attacked for being Jewish,” Dichter said. “We have a responsibility as the nationstate of the Jewish People to help however we can, without breaking local laws.”

MK Anat Berko (Likud) recounted that, when she was supposed to give a lecture on a US college campus, it had to be moved because protesters blocked the hall where it was supposed to take place.

“Students don’t feel safe on campus, and professors suffer if they contradict Palestinian propaganda... while there are professors who chair departments funded by countries like Qatar who spread the propaganda,” she stated.

Gabrieli said the physical intimidation of the sort Berko faced is the most common on campuses.

The rest of the meeting, during which Gabrieli presented the Strategic Affairs Ministry’s strategies to fight the phenomena described, was held behind closed doors.

Also Tuesday, Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov was appointed chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy. He replaced MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), who is now a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Ilatov said the committee will “fight boycotts, incitement and anti-Semitism that is rising in the world.

We will keep these burning issues on the agenda and do everything to bring a significant change.”

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