They meet in small groups on campus; funded by foreign money. They understand that this method of operation gives them more influence than any act of physical violence would. They are young people who convince others; they are builders of public opinion. Step by step they take control of the leaderships of student unions and organizations; pro-Palestinian activists join extreme left-wingers in activism against Israeli elements.
This is the new intifada. You won’t hear about in the next news update; it is not an uprising within Israel’s borders, and it stopped being just about the settlements, occupation and peace treaties a long time ago. It is far away from us; it is influential, exhilarating; it speaks in a new, young language and has one goal: The annihilation of Israel as a Jewish state.
Anti-Israeli elements have reached the conclusion that burning an Israeli flag does not make for good photos. It is too extreme, too controversial, and too barbaric; it doesn’t do the job anymore; the world has changed. They found that burning the Zionist idea rather than the flag is much more effective.
Over the past few months this campaign has been taken to the next level. At the University of California public university system, at the University of California, San Diego, at Brooklyn College in New York, at Oxford University in Britain and on other campuses there are calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and activists also disrupt lectures of Israeli representatives – it is all part of a broad campaign to delegitimize Israel.
It is not coincidental that a significant part of the delegitimization campaign against Israel is talking place on campuses. The arena was carefully selected. Campuses have always been fertile ground for exchanging ideas, for activity aimed at fomenting social change and for calls for universal ideals because it is easier to plant the seeds of unruliness in the minds of 18 year olds, who are more open to innovative and revolutionary ideas. Within a decade millions of young, influential people within government, the economy, the arts, culture, the judicial system and research – those who have been inculcated with the anti-Israel idea – may adopt the notion that Israel does not have the right to exist as a Jewish state. ‘Why do the Jews need a state of their own?’ They will wonder.
Perhaps the greatest danger is the fact that the influence on campus permeates slowly, without stopping, even when it comes to young Jewish students. Regrettably, many young Jews do not possess the tools to deal with the harsh accusations and incitements against the country grandpa called the Jewish state. Besides, what incentive does a young female Jewish student have to confront the boisterous, provocative anti-Israel protesters on the campus lawn?
Those who do not take the phenomenon seriously and say ‘anti-Semitism has always existed in some form or another, and yet, look how far we’ve come,’ and those who believe this phenomenon will disappear as soon as a peace agreement is signed here, should realize that it will not stop and it will not subside. Those who believe it will disappear should take notice of the inconceivable increase in the number of North American campuses where significant anti-Israel activity takes place. They should ask themselves how is it that within just a few years more than 50 leading universities in the US began marking “Israel Apartheid Week,” which is characterized by hatred, lies and anti-Semitism?
The State of Israel cannot and should not deal with the global phenomenon of delegitimization alone. We must call on the leaders of the Jewish people to wake up, because all this is happening on the campuses of their hometowns, where their children study. Wake up! Because when people call for the end to Israel as a Jewish state they are destroying the home of the Jewish nation with a single blow. Because when scholars explain that in a time of globalization and universality without borders there is no need for the Jews to have Israel – thousands of years of Jewish heritage of exile, yearning, suffering and hope are crushed.
The large Jewish clock is ticking again. The delegitimization campaign is a wake-up call for the State of Israel and the Diaspora. This camping threatens Israel, and it must be addressed by the new government.
Attorney Tzahi Gavrieli served as an advisor to prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert