Arming Students for the Battles Taking Place in the Halls of Academia
In an attempt to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity on college campuses in North America, Jerusalem U released a documentary titled “Crossing the Line 2: the New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus.” Directed by Shoshana Palatnik, the film was created primarily to promote awareness of the struggles that students face and to educate the public, demonstrating when reasonable criticism of Israel can “Cross the Line” into perverse anti-Semitism.
Raphael Shore is the CEO and Founder of Jerusalem U, an organization dedicated to disseminating film-based educational programs aimed at helping young Jews feel proud of their Jewish identity and Israel connection. “Anti-Israel activities on campus cause students to feel embarrassed to be pro-Israel, or could lead them to adopt negative opinions about Israel,” he states. “Raising awareness of this growing problem is crucial. We made this film to give Jewish students the knowledge to differentiate between education and intimidation, debate and hate.”
Anti-Israel activity increased by a total of 46% over the 2014 Fall semester, following Operation Protective Edge. This year alone, the amount of anti-Israel events taking place on campuses nationwide reached 759, with over 124 anti-Israel events in the Tri-State area. The number of campuses with anti-Israel activity increased by 51.4%; university departments increased sponsorship of anti-Israel events by 142%; and the number of anti-Israel guest speakers brought to campuses increased by 56%.
Pro-Palestinian groups such as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions or Students for Justice for Palestine also grew in numbers on campuses, using staged die-ins, protests, fake eviction notices, and other activities to spread their message.
It is essential that students facing harassment, intimidation, or discrimination learn to defend their rights. “Failure to provide students with the right tools will lead directly to a lack of Jewish pride and identity,” states Shore. “And in terms of the next generation of voters and leaders throughout America, the implications for the US-Israel relationship could be profound. “
Palatnik herself experienced anti-Semitism for the first time while attending York University as a graduate student. Arriving onto a somewhat chaotic campus one day, she learned that a student advocating on behalf of Israel was physically assaulted by a fellow York student. “I had known that anti-Semitism existed, yet this was the first time I fully grasped how deep the hatred ran,” she said. “While I was raised in a pro-Israel home and could defend myself, other students do not necessarily know how to. I created this film because I didn’t want anyone else to be in the position I was. It’s also important that people realize that campuses are not a horrible, hopeless place. We are seeing arise in hatred, true; but it comes in tandem with a rise in pro-Israel advocacy.”