Offensive Advocacy: Changing the Tone

It is another September in New York City and college students around town have by this time begun class and are switching from beach-mode to study-mode. The United Nations General Assembly is also getting ready for their annual meeting, which this year has the potential to cause mayhem with the Palestinian Authority pushing forward their agenda to create a state of Palestine unilaterally through the UN process. In the same week, some of the world''s most gruesome dictators, such as Iran''s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be speaking at the anti-Semitic Durban III Conference. The conference will assuredly be dedicated to the bashing of Israel under the guise of condemning racism, but the participants will most likely not be engaging in any self-reflections. For that reason, there is not much of a chance that they will spend anytime focusing on the many areas of the world where grave violations of human rights are now occurring. Instead, they will in all likelihood spend the day bad-mouthing the one country in the Middle East where pure justice exists.
On top of this, the recent policy changes in countries such as Turkey and Egypt make it more important than ever for Israel advocates on campus to step up and take an offensive approach. Both on campus and within the world community, Israel has been maligned time and time again for protecting her sovereignty. Whether it''s about approving construction inside of Jerusalem or for defending against rocket attacks on civilians, those who look to smear Israel can always find a way to do it. While strongly condemning the Jewish state though, Israel''s detractors have consistently ignored the constant promotion of hatred and violence towards Jews that has never ended in Palestinian society. On top of that, they blatantly ignore the history of the region and refuse to see the justice that currently exists inside of Israel.

For the new school year, the Zionist Organization of America''s (ZOA) Campus Department has developed two important campaigns to highlight these facts. The first campaign being disseminated by the Campus Department is centered on the history and status of Jerusalem. Through an informative seminar and printed materials, students on campuses are now able to show the justice that has come about through a united Jerusalem under full Israeli sovereignty. The campaign highlights the religious freedom that exists in a united Jerusalem, the status of Jerusalem under illegal Jordanian occupation, the eternal Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and Israel’s legal right to Jerusalem.
Before Jerusalem was united, there was no religious freedom in the city because under illegal Jordanian occupation, all holy sites were off-limit to Jews, and Christians were given only limited access to their holy sites on Christmas and Easter. In addition, the Jordanians desecrated holy sites by destroying all 58 synagogues that had existed in the Old City and passed discriminatory laws that made it illegal to establish a new Christian school or for Jews to own land. In modern-day Jerusalem, none of this could ever happen because Israel treats all religions equally. In fact, immediately after reuniting the city, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law, which ensures that anyone found guilty of desecrating a holy site will face imprisonment; it also stipulates that all religions will be able to access their holy places. Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues facing Israel, and many students who advocate for Israel do not often feel comfortable addressing the issue. The ZOA Campus Department believes that it is very important to run a campaign that provides students with the real facts about the history and current status so they can be strong advocates for a united Jerusalem.
In addition to the campaign focused on Jerusalem, the ZOA Campus Department is also unveiling a new campaign to highlight Palestinian incitement - the promotion of hatred and violence against Jews. Using the format of an educational seminar with printed materials provided, the campaign demonstrates that incitement has gone on unhindered for years in Palestinian society. Both the western-backed Palestinian Authority (PLO) and Hamas promote this poisonous hatred, which directly kills any chance for peace, as generations of children have been taught nothing but hate. It is extremely important that all Israel advocates raise awareness of this problem by discussing the issue with peers who are unlikely to know the facts, since the mainstream media is obsessed with vilifying Israel rather than reporting about what is really going on.
Shown in the incitement campaign are streets and sites under the control of the PA that have been named after terrorists, who are seen by a large amount of the population as “martyrs.” The PA also regularly names popular events, such as youth soccer tournaments, after terrorists, promoting them as heroes. This is detrimental to the Palestinians if they ever intend to coexist with Israel though – not to mention that it is also a grave violation of previous agreements made under the Oslo Accords. In addition, the PA’s education system does not promote coexistence with Israel, and textbooks distributed by the PA do not recognize Israel’s existence – instead the entire country, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Eilat are labeled as “Palestine.”
Lastly, the campaign around incitement highlights that leaders of both the PA and Hamas have refused to live peacefully alongside Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, for example, is quoted in the campaign''s seminar saying, “If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.” This was declared to neighboring Arab countries in July, 2010, during the time in which Israel temporarily froze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, in an effort to restart negotiations with the PA. The PA did not come to speak with Israel until the final month of the freeze though, and when they came, all they asked was that Israel extend the freeze for a longer amount of time.
Throughout the ten months that the construction freeze was set for, Israel was condemned by the U.S. and European Union for building homes in Jerusalem (the country’s capital city). Contrary to that, the PA escaped without criticism when in March, 2010, they named a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi – the terrorist responsible for the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre that took the lives of 38 civilians (13 of whom were children). For reasons like this, it is of utmost importance that college campuses have an understanding of the Palestinian incitement that promotes abhorrence of Jews and Israel.
Those who are unaware of the situation will never be able to grasp the fact that the chances for peace are really not being deterred by Israel building more houses or by targeting those responsible for cowardly attacks. The real issue that is destroying the chances for true peace and co-existence is Palestinian indoctrination of their society to hate Israel and Jews, along with the refusal of the world to recognize the true justice that exists within Israel. With that said, it is our job as Israel advocates to show the truth and to speak strongly on behalf of the Jewish state.