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Free Speech on Campus
Building and Effective Response Strategy
Anti-Semitism: Prejudice and Discrimination Against Jews
When Does Criticism of Israel Become Anti-Semitism
Frequently Asked Questions
  Israel
Responding to Anti-Israel Campaigns on College and University Campuses
Building and Effective Response Strategy
Updated: January 20, 2009

The key to responding to an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel campaign is to think strategically. Students often feel that confrontation and counterprogramming are their only options, and in some cases, protesting is not only appropriate but necessary. Anti-Semitic incidents and speech should not go unnoticed. However, in the long run, it may be strategically more effective to spend your time presenting a positive image of Israel rather than reacting to negative attacks.

Being Positive: Making the Case for Israel on Campus

The best strategy for students who support Israel is to be proactive rather than merely reactive on campus. Your job is to make a positive case for Israel, instead of focusing solely on refuting and counteracting anti-Israel agitation. The latter puts you in the position of always playing catch-up and acting within the parameters of an agenda that is set by others. When you move first, with positive programming, you get to set the tone and the agenda.

The people you most want to educate are not anti-Israel activists, who may never agree with you. Rather, seek to educate campus opinion leaders, potential student groups who may be allies and the general campus population who are amenable to hearing the case for Israel. Indeed, a number of your peers may become important public and private sector decision makers in the years to come after they graduate.

In making an affirmative case, you will need a long-term, though flexible, plan of action in which you identify your target audiences and come to know them well.  Such a campaign requires that you develop a level of expertise on the complicated and vexing issues of the Middle East conflict. You need to know your facts, which can only come through a lot of reading and some hard work. Most of all, you will need to communicate to others what Israel stands for and what it means to the Jewish people.

Here are some specifics to consider:

  • Bring effective speakers and programs to campus to make a positive case for Israel, at least once each semester. Consider bringing in nonpolitical speakers and programs such as pop stars, artists and musicians, in addition to speakers and programs focusing on current political events.  Israeli academics on sabbatical in the United States are often available for speaking engagements.  When on campus, these academics should not only be used for evening, extracurricular events but also as guest lecturers in appropriate courses as well.  In addition, set up an interview for speakers with a reporter from the campus newspaper and schedule an appearance on campus radio (and TV if available). Always reach out to the campus media and invite them to cover your events. 
  • Provide concise, well-written and researched letters, op-eds and longer articles to the campus media.  Submit items on a regular basis, but do not overdo it. These submissions should not always come from the same person or small group.
  • Have a supply of literature on Israel on hand and seek to distribute it widely. Download and post such material on your group’s Web site.
  • Present an image of Israel beyond the conflict. Engage students through music, literature, films and other cultural elements of Israeli society.
  • Take the lead on campus-wide campaigns that connect Israel to the mutual interests of other student groups. For example, Israel has a long history of providing equipment, financial resources and volunteer assistance to countries and people in crisis. By working on a campaign to end the violence in Darfur, helping victims of natural disasters, or promoting awareness about HIV/AIDS, you will find common ground and potential allies. 
  • Utilize Web sites like Myspace, YouTube, Facebook, IvyGate and other popular campus blogs to distribute positive messages about Israel to your peers.
  • Be in regular contact with Jewish organizations and the Israeli embassy and consulates which can be a source of timely information, literature, speakers and programs.


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Media Watch
ADL is monitoring electronic and print media coverage of the situation in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the region. More
Archives: Updates on the Middle East since 10/26/00
Terrorism in Israel
Chronology of Recent Terrorist Attacks Against Israel
Fighting Back: A Handbook for Responding to Anti-Israel Rallies on College and University Campuses (.pdf - 248kb requires Acrobat Reader )
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