Students for Justice in Palestine has managed to make itself look Jew-friendly, like a home for Jews, in part by actively and aggressively recruiting and employing Jews and, notably, Israelis. SJP at
It must, however, be noted that the overwhelming majority of Israelis, whether living in Israel or abroad, are Zionist--they support the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination in their historic homeland. The shocking number of virulent anti-Zionist Israelis in Berkeley’s SJP, and in the anti-Israel movement worldwide, should not be taken to suggest that Israelis are generally anti-Zionist or that Israeli youth is anti-Zionist today. Indeed, the anti-Zionist Israelis who can be found in SJP and similar groups are an aberration—they comprise an extreme minority in Israeli society, just as those who call for an overthrow of the American government are an extremist fringe group in this country. Nonetheless, the anti-Zionist Jews and Israelis in Berkeley’s SJP and in similar groups make it their mission to attack Israel as savagely as possible: “I lived in Israel for ten years, everything SJP says about the country is true” is a powerful statement when its hearers don’t know much about Israel to begin with. It would not be rash to say that SJP and groups like it each have a small army of Jews, many of whom are Israeli, ready to leap forward and attack Israel whenever called on; and this ‘army’ is large enough and speaks passionately enough that it often succeeds at making non-Jewish bystanders (such as the aforementioned ASUC Senator) think that Jews must be more generally divided on questions like Israel’s right to exist, than would otherwise be assumed. A cautionary word: the great majority of Jews and Israelis at
The second thing to note concerning SJP’s fight to look Jewish and gain acceptance in its ‘Jewishness’ or status as an almost ‘Jewish’ student group, is that SJP at Berkeley – and, from what I hear, this is something groups like SJP are starting to try to do at colleges nationwide, more generally – has managed to successfully infiltrate Berkeley Hillel, the “center for Jewish life on campus”. This is how it manages to spread its venom from the inside of the organized student Jewish community and is part of the reason it manages to gain Jewish and Israeli recruits. The way SJP has managed to do this is quite simple: an ‘Israeli’ student group, Kesher Enoshi, was founded several years ago at
I will not make any pronouncements on whether or not ‘Kesher Enoshi’ was always a plan designed to infiltrate the Jewish community. But the fact remains that the Jewish establishment on campus – certainly at Hillel - is reticent to ‘exclude’ any Jews, for fear of making some Jews on campus feel uncomfortable or unwelcome as Jews in the Jewish community on campus. Hillel sees their mission as being that of bringing in all Jews, of all opinions and stripes, in a glorious and harmonious ‘big tent’ (that this is impossible seems to me to be obvious). This sees them, perhaps with some discomfort, allow Kesher Enoshi not only to make their presence known in Hillel but even to do recruiting and put on events in the Hillel building itself, which are often attended by SJP members among others. The anti-Israel forces have therefore found an ‘in’ into advertising directly to Jews, from within the Jewish community. Thankfully, I have heard things recently which suggest that Hillel International may be changing their policy somewhat in order to ensure that anti-Israel groups are kept outside of Hillels on college campuses; I hope this is true.
4. How to counter SJP?
We now reach the pivotal question: In light of all of SJP’s successes, how did we at
I have written at great length concerning SJP’s strengths; the key to defeating them and
It’s no secret that many members and supporters of anti-Israel groups, including college anti-Israel groups like SJP, are fanatics who hide their extremist goals and support of terrorism in the rhetoric of terms such as “peace and justice”. Many assume – and this is the intuitive, natural response to attacks on Israel, I think – that the best way to do Israel advocacy and to fight BDS efforts is to ‘defend Israel’, that is, to refute claims made about it and to try to portray it in a positive light so as to counteract the image of it painted by its detractors. I think that this ‘defend Israel’ approach, while well-intended, is not the most effective approach to Israel advocacy, not least because it’s typically not even done well; a friend of mine coined the term ‘Cellphone Zionism’ to describe that school of thought in Israel advocacy which is very prominent, which holds that the natural and correct response to demonization, delegitimization and double standards when it comes to Israel (Natan Sharansky’s “Three D’s” which identify when legitimate criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism) is to respond by asserting Israel’s accomplishments or strengths: “But Israel invented cell phones!” I think it’s evident that responses such as this, or similar responses like “Israel is the most environmentally conscious country in the world” and “Israel has great minority/LGBT rights” do not even challenge the central claim made by BDS and anti-Zionist advocates: that Israel is, in addition to being illegitimate in its very existence (the “Occupation started in 1948” claim that SJP and others openly espouse), so morally odious as a state that supporting it makes one a supporter of apartheid and genocide. When the bad guys bring out the big guns, when they paint
Now what are the aforementioned ‘big guns’ our side, the side of
5. Exposing the links between SJP and radical Islamists
The strongest point of attack, then, against anti-Israel advocates is to expose these people and their ideology for what they are. It doesn’t take much digging up to find out that, for instance, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), whose
Americans are by and large not fond of radical Islamic terror; given how easy it is to point out the links between college groups like SJP, their members, and terror, I see no good reason why this strategy is not taken more often.
Another note on this topic: Portraying, correctly, the Jewish people as one historically hunted and discriminated against, and now, in their own land, still being hunted, is to portray a moving and accurate story. The anti-Israel forces have liked to portray the Palestinians as the hunted underdog, but the Jews, as historical perspective shows, have been history’s hated underdog, and remain the underdog in the Middle East today—far outnumbered by nations who desire to see them violently removed from the region, constantly facing terrorism on a level no other country in the world has to deal with, at the mercy of a world addicted to oil and which is in the pockets of powerful dictatorial Middle Eastern regimes who, behind the scenes, funnel much oil money into terrorism and the spread of anti-Israel propaganda. One cannot fail to move a crowd of impartial Americans by correctly pointing out what’s going on – the same Jews who’ve always been, consistently, the world’s scapegoat and undesired minority are now, upon finally living in their own land, away from the European anti-Semitism which plagued them for millennia, finding themselves attacked again, by a worldwide propaganda and terror movement which has an obsession with seeing their state fall. The campaign of anti-Israel propaganda which has taken hold on so many American college campuses is, of course, merely the newest tactic of a relentless, bloodthirsty Arab enemy, after conventional wars have failed to see
SJP and similar groups are trying to force student governments, like at
So I feel that the best way to counter BDS offensives is to launch a counteroffensive and expose the BDS effort and its perpetrators for what they are. And there was some of this – but not as much as there should have been - going on in the midst of the BDS debate on campus. I would like now to draw attention to several other things which can help fight BDS on campuses.
6. Making the student government responsible to the student body
One thing that the anti-divestment bill side of the debate on campus used to great effect was making the point that ‘our side’ promoted the philosophy that the student government on campus should be used to pass bills and pronouncements relating to campus matters rather than those abroad, and that the pro-divestment CalSERVE party cared more for passing this divestment bill and tying up the senate in that debate than for dealing with pressing on-campus matters which directly affect students. Moreover, we noted that the CalSERVErs, as it were, had no problem making a mere plurality of 20 senators, voted on only by a low proportion of Berkeley students, the spokespeople for the university’s 35,000-member student body at large by promoting BDS in the name of the entire student body. We also noted that none of the serving senators had campaigned on a platform of divesting from Israel, or of opposing Israel at all; rather they, as elected representatives, were weighing in on an issue far from the minds of many student voters, an issue they could not reasonably and honestly say they represented campus opinion on. It is inherently undemocratic to feed a small governing representative body of a larger body of individuals (the Berkeley student body, in this case) propaganda intended to get them to vote a certain desired way on an issue which a great many of the voters who appointed the representatives care and know little about, and to then declare that the vote represents the opinion of that student body. We also noted that to support divestment would be to support a bill that would inevitably alienate, at the very least, the great majority of the thousands of Jewish students on campus, and make our campus a hostile atmosphere for these students and their like-minded friends– an action directly counter to the ethos of campus inclusiveness that Berkeley students, and especially CalSERVE officials and senators claim to support and deeply value. In fact, Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman, Executive Director of Berkeley Hillel, suggested to the ASUC in a speech that were this bill passed over the ASUC President’s veto, it is likely Jewish enrollment at Berkeley would decrease in future years – a result counter to the progressive notion of campus inclusiveness. By noting that our political opposition felt an apparent need to bring in extremely charged political issues to the table of campus student politics, whatever the cost, we successfully and honestly portrayed our enemies as fanatics who put the desire to weigh in on complex international affairs ahead of the need to pass campus reforms which would directly impact all students for the better.
The tactical decision to brand our enemies in SJP, and in the CalSERVE party more generally, as being content to ruin the Cal experience for thousands of Jewish students by making controversial pronouncements on murky issues totally unrelated to the campus and the campus experience, was an extremely important decision –it was why we secured many students’ support for our stance on the divestment bill. The enemies of
 As a colleague of mine in Tikvah: Students for
 Pictures of Huet-Vaughn at an ISM conference can be found in Lee Kaplan’s great article “The ISM-Terror Connection”, which recounts in depth the proceedings of an ISM conference in 2006 in
Kaplan’s aforementioned article, largely a recounting of an ISM infiltrator’s experiences at the 2006 conference, points this out (with the aid of pictures, no less).
 I am not suggesting that Arabs are inherently or generally anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, by the way.