San Diego Jewish World
September 10, 2020
Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO — StandWithUs on Wednesday evening presented a packed webcast, nearly an hour long, demonstrating the diversity of people who support Israel and the urgency that support has for Jewish and pro-Israel students attending high schools, colleges, and universities in North America and around the world.
The program, emceed by the StandWithUs (SWU) director in Israel, Michael Dickson, also included entertainment by comedian Elon Gold; a quickly-done portrait of Theodor Herzl by Israeli artist Solomon Souza, whose paintings of famous Israelis have become a popular way for merchants to beautify their roll-down doors at Israeli souks; and a Zionist rap song by Noah Shufitinsky, a Black Jewish American whose stage name is Westside Gravy.
Another feature of the fast-moving program was a tour of underground chambers near the Kotel, at which an onsite archaeologist and SWU tour director Yoni Zierler examined evidence of life during different time periods stretching back to Rome’s destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Demonstrating the diverse support for Israel were speakers Carly Gammill, an American Christian who heads the Center for Combating anti-Semitism; Hussein Aboubakr, a pro-Israel Egyptian; Yoseph Haddad, an Arab Israeli who fought for Israel in the Second Lebanon war; Joshua Washington, founder of Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI), and Col. Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan.
Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on campuses across North America were discussed in rapid succession by affected students and alumni of Santa Monica College UC Santa Barbara, Washington State University, Florida State University, and Tufts University. One young woman said, “we were called racists, anti-Black, that we all look the same, that we were ugly — all this because we were having an event in support of Israel and had an Israeli flag.”
A student at UC Santa Barbara said she had signed up for a course called “Introduction to Middle Eastern Studies” and soon realized “it was actually an opportunity for my professor to bash Israel at every instant that he could.” The professor called Jews “colonizers” and described Israel as “an apartheid state,” prompting the student to contact StandWithUs and seek resources, documents and speakers to tell the true story of Israel.
Another student said every year he had endured anti-Semitism in one form or another. One year his temple was vandalized, another year anti-Semitic posters were spread across the campus.
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and international CEO of StandWithUs, said the organization was founded 19 years ago to combat such anti-Semitism. Over the years SWU hired professionals to work with high school and college students, created a research and marketing strategy department, instituted educational training programs from middle school up, and created a corps of 170 pro bono attorneys “who stand ready to help students or faculty members in trouble because of anti-Semitic bullying.” Furthermore, she said in a fundraising appeal, SWU is “even offering rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of hate crimes against Jews and their property.”
“A Tapestry of Voices” and other programs produced by StandWithUs may be accessed via this website.
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