Diaspora students to tell Knesset of challenges

Jewish students from around globe seek to establish joint int'l task force to deal anti-Israel, anti-Semitic activities.

campus protest 224.88 (photo credit: Archive)
campus protest 224.88
(photo credit: Archive)
Jewish student leaders from around the world will be in the Knesset on Tuesday to tell MKs about the growing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities on their campuses worldwide, and are looking to establish a joint international task force to deal with these issues. The meeting comes as part of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) conference taking place in Jerusalem. Israelis and Jews from abroad "are not united on this issue," said WUJS chair Tamar Shchory. "There's ignorance on both sides about what's happening to the other side. The fact that students from overseas are in Israel to tell the Knesset what's happening on their campuses is important." "Over the weekend, I heard from [the students that we in Israel are not giving them the tools to carry out this struggle," said MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, which is hosting the students. "We're not taking this challenge seriously. Tomorrow we're going to demand from the Education Ministry and other groups to do their part to help them." Melchior is devoting an entire session to hearing the students' concerns. Israeli student unions, educators and officials from the higher education system are also invited, and the guests from overseas hope to find a receptive crowd to discuss their activities. "We have many similar issues," said Caylee Talpert, national chair of the South African Union of Jewish Students. In South Africa, said Talpert, "there isn't a problem of anti-Semitism in the traditional sense, but being Zionist is a problem," and she wants to encourage the Israeli government to do "anything it can to promote itself." "The situation on each campus depends on the influence of the extreme Left on that campus," said Jessica Roth, president of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, a federation of Jewish student societies at universities in Australia and New Zealand, explaining what she plans to tell MKs Tuesday. "Some campuses are quiet, on some Jews are spat on, and some have more subtle issues of academic bias." Overall, she says, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Australasia "are not as bad as on European campuses, but they're rising." "To a large extent, it's ignorance on campus of the situation in the Middle East that brings about the [anti-Israel] sentiment that we're seeing there," according to Avi Mayer, who works for Hillel and is the coordinator for the American delegation to the WUJS conference. "We need to work more on campus."