Breaking The Silence: Israel Activism & American Students

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Just days after the Durban II conference in Geneva, and on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, New York University’s campus is being inundated with anti-Israel events and propaganda. Just today, Ynet news reported an anti-Israel event that was fraudulently planned as a climate change event and promoted as ‘The Hidden History of Zionism: The Road to Gaza’s Killing Fields’. Today, on the sidewalks around the village campus I spotted the statement “Zionism is Racism” written in chalk. On Wednesday, there is a “Free Palestine” gathering organized by BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) Intifada and the NYU Palestine Solidarity Coalition in Washington Square Park.

Why am I publicizing these events instead of shoving them under the rug so I can enjoy my falafel on Israel’s Independence day? Because Jewish students have to start caring more.

Zach Novetzky, a fellow NYU student who attended the Durban Conference recently stated in a an article titled, “A Shift is needed on American College Campuses:”

“During my time spent with the European Union of Jewish Students (especially the French students), I have seen a passion for action that shames the campus activism in America, where a real and unjust war is being waged against Israel. Yes, there are exceptional students  in America who do great things but sadly, such characters are rare. The EUJS students are not concerned with “not sounding politically correct” or “being ostracized by the larger community” because they fervently believe in the political correctness of their message.

There must be a paradigm shift on campuses across America: Jewish students need to stop being complacent, remaining silent and acting cowardly when libelous events like Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) sprout up on campus. When the charade that is IAW began, it was unknown; now, it is on more than seventy-five campuses. Why is there no American Union of Jewish Students uniting nationwide to combat this farce? Why are there no students ready to dress up as clowns, peacefully disrupt and expose the parody of IAW? There must be a revolution on the American campus, composed of creative students who are both human rights advocates and defenders of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)”

Just last Friday StandWithUs organized a protest at the UN in New York in response to the Durban II racism conference. The protest was sent out on Facebook, Twitter, listervs and beyond. Much like the French Jewish students did at the conference, the protesters at the UN wore clown wigs to expose Durban II as a masquerade, as well as taped their mouths shut to express the “Silence of the UN” on issues of oppression and racism.

I was excited to gather all of my friends and make a public statement representing young, American Jews. I emailed friends about the protest, messaged people on Facebook and invited hundreds to the event. When I arrived on Friday at the UN, I was greeted by 50 other students impassioned to show their disdain for the conference.

It definitely sent a powerful message, but where were the thousands of Jewish college students who care so much about Israel and Human rights?

They, like most others, remained silent.

I just saw this Youtube video below from a 2007 Human Rights Council meeting which sends a powerful message about speaking out, even in the midst of adversity.

Here’s a description:

“Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, first president of the council, duly thanks every offensive statement at the supposedly reformed council: denial of crimes in Darfur; mocking of human rights experts; invective against women and gays; glorification of terrorism; Holocaust denial; demonization of Israel — all of that was admissible. De Alba ruled only one statement “inadmissible”: UN Watch’s criticism of the Council for ignoring victims of violations in 192 countries, and its failure to live up to the noble dream of its founders” (UN Watch)

Hillel Neuer knew that his message was right and just. He read his speech even though he knew he would be condemned for his honesty and accusations. American Jewish students must wake up and start defending Israel on their campuses. If they don’t speak up then who will? If they remain silent, the lies about Israel will continue to spread and the definition of human rights will continue to be distorted.

Here’s some footage for inspiration from the StandWithUs protest last Friday.

I’ll see YOU at the next one.

Tomorrow at NYU their is a Pro-Israel Rally in Washington Square Park from 1-3. Come show your support for Israel and bring your Israeli Flag. Isn’t it time to break the silence?

Posted on April 28, 2009

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