Israel haters and Hezbollah at the University of Washington

While life goes on as usual in the caffeinated city, a concentrated and vicious strain of Israel hatred has taken root at the center of Washington State’s flagship University. 

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No room for Israel on this map of the Middle East.

I received the call in the late afternoon, “do you want to go to BDS 101 at The University of Washington tonight?”. BDS stands for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction of Israel and represents a radical movement bent on the destruction of the Jewish State. The D in BDS should stand for demographic destruction as the core demand of the BDS movement is the flooding of Israel with over five million hostile Arabs. Such an influx would mark the end of a Jewish majority in Israel and thus the end of Israel as a Jewish state. The Anti Defamation League, the American Jewish community’s central human rights and advocacy organization has identified BDS as an anti-Semitic movement .

The  BDS 101 program was held in a lecture hall filled with a mix of Muslim and Progressive students and a small handful of pro-Israel students and community members. The program  featured a four member panel anchored by Stefanie Fox of the anti-Israel group, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and included Cindy Corrie, mother of the infamous Rachel Corrie. Two co-ed hosts from the sponsoring group (SUPER-UW) opened the event by declaring their solidarity with all of the other righteous struggles on the planet “we condemn all injustice” they said.

 The panel members each on cue took their turn at demonizing Israel. The perky Ms. Fox educated the students that Israel is a rogue apartheid state run by war criminal olive tree killers that must be penalized until in compliance with basic civilized norms.

Anti-Israel extremist panel members. Stefanie Fox of Jewish Voice for Peace. Huda Giddens, President of the Arab Center of Washington. Cindy Corrie, Mother of the infamous Rachel Corrie. Jesse Hagopian, History teacher and Student Adviser at Garfield High School.

Anti-Israel extremist panel members. Stefanie Fox of Jewish Voice for Peace. Huda Giddens, President of the Arab Center of Washington. Cindy Corrie, Mother of the infamous Rachel Corrie. Jesse Hagopian, History teacher and Student Adviser at Garfield High School.

As JVP’s  Fox told the wide eyed students how she is “excited about BDS” and went on to advocate for the end of Israel as a Jewish majority state I could not help but be reminded of how the Seattle Jewish Federation’s newspaper, the JTNews, continues to legitimize and provide a ready platform for this radical hate group.

Fox flaunted her Jewish bona fides with her comparison of the BDS call to boycott the Jewish state to a 1902 Lower East Side boycott of price gouging kosher meatIMG_0346a producers. The only thing missing from her heimish plea to destroy Israel was a fiddler on the roof. There was a clear effort made to divide Jews into good Jews (JVP supporters and the like) and bad Jews (the rest of us). In fact the use of Jewish and Jew in a negative context was bandied about with uncomfortable ease and frequency. In a new and clearly deliberate effort the word Jewish was consistently attached to Israeli with the new amalgam identifier of “Jewish-Israeli” used  at every opportunity.

Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle told of recently being part of a Christian delegation on an educational tour of the Palestinian controlled areas. He related to the impressionable students of how an elderly woman from Mississippi also on that junket told him that “Israelis  are worse than the Ku Klux Klan, because at least the Klan are too ashamed  to show their faces”.  Hagopian shared that while meeting with local activists in Hebron a breathless young local dramatically burst into the meeting to alert the group that Israeli forces were poised to bulldoze an ancient Olive tree. I wondered how often that same shtick was used on credulous touristas.  

Hagopian offered hope to the Israel haters in the room by sharing of his own inspiring victory against the tyranny of… standardized testing. He got applause for this, not kidding.

After the program a few pro-Israel members in the audience found themselves in an impromptu conversation with three  anti-Israel college students. The most engaging of these was a young man who had a kaffiyeh draped over his shoulders.

The young man told of being in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon-Hezbollah war against Israel. He shared of the horrible things he witnessed, things that no child should ever see.

When a pro-Israel woman sympathized but explained that Hezbollah was to blame for what he had suffered, he responded coolly with “I am Hezbollah”. As the discussion continued, the young man defended the bombing of pizza restaurants and buses “what do you expect them to do?” he said with a righteous dose of indignation.

Postcard swag given out at the BDS event.

Postcard swag given out at the BDS event.

As the woman, seemingly unfazed,  firmly challenged the young man point for point, he began to  back away from her and said “I feel threatened by you”. “You feel threatened by me?” responded the surprised mother of four to the young man a head taller than her. At that moment I recalled the scene from a comedy film of a few years back where the grossly anti-Semitic Borat was petrified in fear of a pleasant elderly Jewish couple with whom he was staying. But thus is the victim mentality.

The Hezbollah Husky politely listened as I tried to plant a few seeds of truth in his college addled brain. I reminded him that there are 22 Arab states, 49 Muslim states, 126 Christian majority states and one Jewish state. I shared with him the 2000 year old lesson of Jewish history, we die when our fate is left to others. I told him that this is why we will never give up our land and that his efforts in this regard are futile.

But to counteract the slick anti-Israel indoctrination that this already angry young man had been subjected would be a tall order indeed.BDSposter

It is not hopeless; tough questions were asked during the Q & A by the few pro-Israel members of the audience. The BDS panel were ill equipped to respond to the tougher, better formulated of these questions.  In addition, I saw that many of the ostensibly anti-Israel students were eager to engage with a contrary point of view and several positive impromptu discussions did take place.  

Unfortunately as it relates to the difficult hand to hand combat for hearts and minds, American Jewish establishment organizations, with the notable exception of StandWithUs, have been AWOL on our campuses. While organizations like Hillel do much good work,  their approach is sometimes closer to Woody Allenesque hand wringing than to proud Israel advocacy.  For  example Hillel UW has screened films like “A Two Sided Story” which artfully equates Israeli self defense with Arab terror and have hosted organizations like “Breaking the Silence” that disseminate the harshest aspersions against Israel. Meanwhile groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and SUPER-UW confidently peddle their concentrated hatred on a near empty playing field with few visible opponents.   

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