WHILE IT IS POLITICALLY INCORRECT TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT ISLAM, IT IS POLITICALLY CORRECT TO TELL LIES ABOUT ISRAEL.]
It’s that time again.
In my office, September is one of the busiest months of the year. My students, located all around North America, are returning to college.
Almost as soon as they arrive on campus, the stories start pouring into my inbox. From UC Berkeley to Smith College, from the University of Central Florida to Arizona State, from Cornell to Tulane, my students monitor perceptions of Israel throughout their campus communities.
The news is generally mixed. Some students talk of the success and popularity of their Israel-activism groups, while others tell of fighting divestment initiatives in student government. Every campus is different, but my students share a common goal: to educate their campuses on the facts about Israel, and to fight her demonization wherever it may be found.
Fighting the “Three D’s” of anti-Israel activism on a college campus is no easy task. The opprobrium Israel and her supporters face in academic circles can be especially vicious and overwhelming, but as I tell my students, that is even more reason to stand strongly against it. Those who perpetuate lies should be opposed, and forcefully.
When I arrived at Hampshire College in the fall of 2006, I had just spent a year in Israel; I was tan, ebullient, and full of excitement for the semester ahead. It had not occurred to me that Hampshire’s name would soon become associated with some of the worst campus anti-Israel vitriol in the United States.
Hampshire, a selective, small, private liberal-arts college nestled in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, is a place where hatred of Israel was common, judged a socially-acceptable bigotry, and, in some cases, was required to be accepted in the local social hierarchy. Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine (HSJP) was formed in 2006, when I was a freshman. During my first year, the group was not very active, and I took little notice.
But, then, halfway through my sophomore year, HSJP took off. The group staged an Israeli Apartheid Week, and built a mock wall on the main campus quad. They passed out propagandistic literature and accosted students on their way in and out of campus buildings, to talk about Israel’s supposed war crimes.
HSJP’s wall in front of the library could be seen from all directions, and students passed it on their way to and from class. The first time I saw it, I stopped dead in my tracks in shock, disgusted at HSJP’s egregious claims. Spotting my open-mouthed incredulity, an HSJP member approached me and said, “Hi, do you know anything about the Apartheid wall that Israel is building in the Occupied Territories of Palestine?”
Disturbed at the biased nature of his question, I pointedly replied, “Yes, I do, as matter of fact. I know that it is not a wall made out of concrete. Rather, most of it is simply a chain fence. And I know that the …read more