New York, NY – Combating growing attacks on Israel’s legitimacy on college campuses requires breaking the cycle of rallies and protests in favor of targeting outreach to campus influentials, according to a new white paper released today by pro-Israel campus organization, The David Project. The white paper, A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges lays out a new strategy for Israel advocacy rooted in relationships with key campus stakeholders and organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
The white paper finds that, “campus activism by Israel supporters is generally not strategic,” and that campuses are predisposed toward “radical political views.” This allows “anti-Israelists,” those who believe Israel is an illegitimate state, to be increasingly successful in their efforts both in influencing the thinking of future generations of Americans and in using the campus as a venue to disseminate anti-Israelism into the wider culture.
The white paper further shows an alarming consensus that university and college campuses are the leading mainstream venues for the acceptance and spread of anti-Israelism. There is also growing concern among those interviewed that this will deeply impact the long-term worldview of a significant percentage of Americans, including its opinion and political elite, ultimately eroding long-term bipartisan support for Israel.
Key Findings include:
- The campus serves as the most important venue for disseminating anti-Israelism in American society. Anti-Israelists make effective use of the more widespread acceptance of anti-Israelism to promote their views both on campus itself and in general society.
- Students do not appear to have deeply held views. Anti-Israelism may therefore be a widespread but thinly-held belief that can be relatively easily discarded in light of a compelling pro-Israel point of view.
- Since anti-Israelism is not pointed at Jews directly but at the state of Israel, Jewish students can avoid the negative consequences explicit identification with Israel may cause for them by disassociating themselves from Israel. Willingness to identify oneself with the Jewish state and speak out on its behalf requires strong moral courage and, for Jews, a strong Jewish identity that includes a feeling of connection to Israel.
The full report is available here.