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How students can respond to anti-Israel sentiment

San Diego Jewish World

Marcia Berneger

June 17, 2020




SAN DIEGO — StandWithUs is an organization that supports Israel and fights anti-Semitism around the world. On Tuesday, It presented a webinar geared to helping parents and grandparents navigate conversations with children about Israel, anti-Semitism and other challenges facing pro-Israel students today. On the panel were several experts including the organization’s CEO, Roz Rothstein; Executive Director of Research and Strategy Max Samarov; Southern Campus Coordinator Talia Lerner; and UCLA student and StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, Justin Feldman.


While I had hoped for a bit more generic information (including the advertised question, “ Is it okay for a student wear a kipah to school?”, the panel did an excellent job in presenting information to help college students with issues they face in today’s world.


The bulk of the presentation addressed the basic scenario of students being harassed or excluded from events because they are seen to be pro-Israel. Issues ranged from college professors openly advocating against Israel, to students being kept from marching with or supporting groups like Black Lives Matter because of their beliefs.


The advice offered by the panel was to first assess the situation to determine if the resistance is stemming from a lack of knowledge or from actual anti-Semitism. Perhaps the professor is repeating information provided by a colleague and assumed the facts were valid? In that scenario, it might be best to request a private meeting with the professor and offer education and material to clear up any misinformation. Below is a list of helpful strategies to employ in various other situations.


Prepare your child in advance:


Provide experiences to strengthen ties to Judaism and to Israel as children are growing up. These could include trips to Israel, either with family or on teen programs, sharing personal experiences and helping children share special foods, holidays and traditions with their friends.


Finding resources to help children gain the knowledge and confidence to speak about where anti-Semitism comes from, its current causes and what to do when encountering it. StandWithUs.com has pamphlets, videos and speakers to assist with this.


Share stories about Jewish history and how the Jewish people have survived to show our strength to overcome hardships.


Treat anti-Semitism in younger grades the same as handling bullying. Help children learn either to stand up to the bully or to walk away. (If the child tells about an incident, handle it carefully so as not to exacerbate it.)


What students can do now:


If there is resistance to joining a particular organization on campus, due to being either Jewish or pro-Israel, check to see if that resistance is from the older, established leaders who might have more inflexible, outdated views. Focus on peer-leaders who might be more open to being educated and informed.


When a small group forms that excludes students based on their beliefs, form a separate group and educate the members. If it’s a large group or demonstration, bring in powerful speakers who can educate a larger crowd.


Read the class syllabus first. If a problem is anticipated, meet with the professor before class even starts and establish an open relationship where information can be exchanged without fear of repercussion.


If supporting a large social justice movement (i.e. Black Lives Matter) and there is resistance to students joining an event, check to determine if the pushback is from a smaller focus group and not the entire movement.


Contact StandWithUs.com for help and support at the high school and college level.


The message from this panel was clear. There is no conflict between Social Justice and being Jewish or loving Israel. Keep on supporting important issues and make sure our voices are heard.


Read the article here.

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StandWithUs (SWU) is an international and non-partisan Israel education organization that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism.

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