Thursday, August 25, 2016

Preparing for the Campus Battle

Dry Bones, BDS, boycott, campus,Israel, Zionism, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, students, camera, According to the Connecticut Jewish Ledger:
Amid rise in campus antisemitism, pro-Israel students prepare for challenging year ahead
By Sean Savage/

For most students, the dog days of August are one final chance for summer traditions such as hitting the beach or visiting national parks with their family before heading back to campus. For dozens of pro-Israel college students, however, learning about ways combat increasing campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activism was their focus during summer’s final weeks. Over 80 college students from nearly 70 campuses around the world attended the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’s (CAMERA) student conference in Boston, Massachusetts August 7-10.

“Reports of intimidation on campus are becoming all too common across the globe,” said Aviva Slomich, CAMERA’s international campus director. “Unfortunately campus antisemitism seems to be on the rise, which explains why so many students are eager to learn the skills that are offered at CAMERA’s conference.” The program comes at a critical time for Jewish and pro-Israel students. A recent report by the AMCHA Initiative found an alarming spike in campus antisemitism during the first half of 2016. “Nearly 100 more incidents of antisemitism occurred on campus during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first six months of 2015,” according to the AMCHA Initiative’s mid-year study. Antisemitic activity was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS (the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign) was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine), and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotter, the report noted.

Now in its sixth year, the CAMERA conference seeks to help students learn necessary skills for dealing with anti-Israel activists on campus. The three-day event tackles a number of important issues for students, ranging from educational seminars on the BDS movement to learning about bias in the media. Additionally, the conference allows students to put the knowledge they gain from the seminars to practical use, such as learning about techniques on how to talk with extreme anti-Israel activists on campus and how to work within student government to fight BDS resolutions. “What we offer students is high-level intellectual training and emotional support to meet the challenges of the modern college campus,” said Gilad Skolnick, CAMERA’s campus program director. “Throughout the year we give students the resources to counter anti-Israel activity on campus, such as providing films, speakers, teach-ins, rallies all funded by CAMERA.”

Rezwan Ovo Haq, a University of Central Florida economics and political science student, told that the CAMERA conference helped him set the foundation to combat anti-Israel activity on campus. “I thought that the CAMERA conference was phenomenal and it truly arms [us] with knowledge and information to combat anti-Israeli rhetoric and BDS on college campuses. I look forward to working with CAMERA during the upcoming school year,” he said.-more

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