The Harassment of Jews Is Not a Consequence of Israel Apartheid Week. It’s the Goal

April 22 2019

For many organizations devoted to the elimination of the Jewish state, Israel Apartheid Week (IAW)—which most recently lasted for two weeks in March—is the climactic moment of the year, complete with aggressive propaganda, ugly stunts, and vicious lies. Having interviewed a number of Jewish students on multiple campuses, Carly Pildis comments on the ways this event, and anti-Israel activism more generally, becomes an occasion to harass and to threaten Jews:

Israel Apartheid Week—which now takes place on approximately 37 campuses around the country—is an annual event of protests, rallies, film screenings, lectures, and actions designed to promote the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) of Israel and the idea that Israel is a colonialist apartheid regime. It is increasingly funded by the schools themselves: this year . . . Harvard provided the Palestinian Solidarity Committee with $2,050 to host Israel Apartheid Week. . . .

The Israeli government and its policies are out of the reach of these student activists, but Jewish students and other campus community members are right there—and boy, do they make a convenient target. . . .

Israel Apartheid Week is sponsored intimidation. It isn’t about learning or debating; it’s entirely about attacking. Harassing Jews because of their Jewishness is not a consequence; it’s the goal. Think about it: could you imagine any other school-sanctioned event, in today’s climate, in which a minority is deliberately singled out for harassment? If Jewish students were standing outside [places where] halal meals are served or outside Muslim cultural centers harassing the students within, with their classmates taunting them with chants and slogans, . . . I would advocate the university censure the students.

Yet Hillel houses and other Jewish institutions are routine targets of coordinated harassment and demonstrations. As Pildis notes, “Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that regularly organizes IAW events, is calling for a boycott of Hillel and Chabad of Emory University.” She also details some of her own experiences as a student ten years ago, which, in her words, seem “quaint” compared to what occurs at universities today:

I was [once] screamed at in the dining hall by a fellow student who told everyone around us that I [had] spent my time in Israel killing Palestinian babies. Another student told me he hoped my entire family would be murdered by Palestinian terrorists. I had a classmate show up for a Halloween party dressed as a suicide bomber, and my roommates were puzzled when I threw him out of the party. While attending another party, I mentioned I was heading to Israel to do academic research. Someone around me actually booed.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy