Boycott Israel sign.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The past year saw a ferocious fight for the survival of the Jewish state, both military and in PR. Israel defeated Hamas on the Gaza battlefield, though amid serious casualties. But in the PR war, Israel suffered an outright loss. Four months after the war, Israel is under greater international assault than ever before. It’s no longer the paranoid who see the world ganging up on Israel. It’s the politically aware.
In the coming year we may see sanctions against Israel from the EU. As if that weren’t shocking enough, there have even been press reports of possible sanctions from the Obama administration. What is certain is that the PR onslaught will continue. Israel’s implacable enemies smell blood and, like the bloodthirsty sharks they are, will press their case.
This coming year the momentum needs to reverse. The time has come for us to bolster our ranks. We need to expand the draft of Israel’s defenders, as more and more of us join in the battle for Israel. And of particular importance are the two arenas where Diaspora Jewry can contribute most: in the media and on campus.
As for media we’ve already gotten the ball rolling. This past year, we organized advertising campaigns supporting Israel in print, broadcast and social media. Just over the past few months, our organization, This World: The Values Network, has produced ads that have exposed the child-sacrifice barbarity of Hamas, the anti-Israel bias of William Schabas, the obscene human rights abuses of Iran, and the humanity of Israel maintaining the highest morality in combat even as it defends itself from genocidal threats. Most of our ads have been produced in full pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.
But Israel needs much more. We must bring the PR war to our foes, exposing the duplicity, corruption and lies of organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine. Which brings us to the war on campus.
It will be the purpose of our organization, in the coming year, to provide funding to student groups who fight for Israel. We are looking to assist those student groups who take the step beyond communal grass-roots activism and provide a markedly visible defense of Israel, on a level large enough to be impact their entire university.
That means, to give a few examples, demonstrations against SJP incitement on campus, large-scale public events exposing the monstrous lie of Israel Apartheid Week, and campus advertising campaigns shedding light on the human rights abuses of Israel’s enemies, especially Iran and Hamas. Students who are prepared to organize public campaigns and events like these are those with whom we wish to partner. Nurturing small pro-Israel communities with Horah nights and falafel theme-parties will not suffice. The time has come for us to broaden our horizons, reach well beyond our familiar circles, and turn the tide on campus as a whole.
The world needs to know what Israel is facing and why it is hated. Those who seek to impose a radical Islamist order on the Middle East, returning the region to the Stone Age, hate Israel because of its democratic freedoms. Europe is ridiculous in lending support to this barbarity, even as it threatens their own societies at home. It’s our job to make that even clearer.
We intend to expose the hypocrisy of Palestinian leaders like BDS founder Omar Barghouti, who, even while working toward a subsidized doctorate from Tel Aviv University has the chutzpah to call Israel an apartheid state. In fact, by calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions – of which he is a part – Barghouti is actually boycotting himself.
You can’t make this stuff up, and it would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. It needs to be exposed.
We intend to fund more debates on campus that bring together Israel’s best defenders with whomever BDS wishes to field, confident in the fact that Israel can and will win arguments in the marketplace of ideas.
I find it amusing that some Hillels around the country consider inviting Peter Beinart as the featured speaker when they seek to stage a pro-Israel event, even as he calls for a boycott of all Jewish manufactured goods from Judea and Samaria. Meanwhile, ole’ Peter is using Chinese manufactured goods even though China has occupied Tibet since 1950. One can likewise presume that Beinart has no problem using Turkish goods though Turkey has occupied half of Cyprus since 1974. Beinart has made his name as a Jew who is a severe critic of Israel. His inconsistency and double standards toward Israel merit exposure.
While I was in Israel last week I saw a thriving, industrious and healthy democracy – a heroic society that has maintained its humanity and decency while being the target of genocidal threats and actions in its six-decade-plus existence. But it also struck me that Israelis are not fully aware of just how vilified their country has become around the world. And who can blame them? They have enough problems just trying to protect their citizens from constant terrorist attack and murder.
In the end, then, it is for us Jews who live abroad to join the battle to protect Israel’s good name and reputation. But we need to act fast, before irreversible damage is done to the integrity and standing of the world’s only Jewish state.
The author, whom Newsweek and The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the Founder of This World: The Values Network, the world’s leading organization defending Israel in the media. He is the author of Judaism for Everyone and 29 other books. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.