Bronfman Big Idea Series: Using the Internet to Fight Anti-Semitism & Anti-Zionism in Higher Education

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What is anti-semitism? What is anti-Zionism? Why have these forms of discrimination taken hold with unusual intensity on college campuses, and what are the consequences on and off campus? How can the global Jewish community unite to tackle these serious problems in a revolutionary way?

About This Post

This is the first post in the Bronfman Big Idea Series.

This post outlines a proposal submitted to Charles Bronfman’s Big Idea Contest at Brandeis University seeking the next big idea in Jewish communal innovation. It is entitled “Using the Internet to Fight Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Higher Education.”

The author, who shall remain anonymous, is an attorney living in the United States who became interested in combating anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in academia after experiencing these forms of discrimination on campus firsthand.

After working to spread awareness about serious problems locally, the author launched the Anti-Racist Blog, which has the mission of exposing anti-semitism and anti-Zionism on American college campuses.

The website now covers topics on a global scale and reveals the immense scope of the problem that confronts the Jewish world. The Anti-Racist Blog was the inspiration for the proposal submitted to the Bronfman contest.

Attention Readers of The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy!

The author has created a website just for you to help you understand his proposal more fully. After reading this post, please continue to Stop Campus Hate, where you can read the proposal’s executive summary. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to get further involved in developing this idea.

Defining Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

So let’s get to it. What is anti-semitism? What is anti-Zionism?

The author defers to the US Government’s Commission on Civil Rights for the four main sources of global anti-semitism in recent years.

  1. Traditional anti-Jewish prejudices that pervade European and other countries, including ultra-nationalism and other movements that claim Jewish communities control the government, media, international business, and the financial world
  2. Anti-Israel sentiment that crosses the line between objective criticism of Israel’s politics and anti-semitism
  3. Anti-Jewish expression by Europe’s growing Muslim population, based on longstanding antipathy toward Israel and Jews, as well as Muslim opposition to developments in Israel and the “occupied territories,” and more recently Iraq
  4. Criticism of the US and globalization that spills over to Israel and to Jews in general, who identify with both

Examples of anti-semitism can be seen here.
AntiIsraelSpeaker

As far as anti-Zionism, the author refers to Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl. Prof. Pearl states:

“Anti-Zionism earns its racist character from denying the Jewish people what it grants to other collectives… namely, the right to nationhood and self-determination.”

He continues, “Jewishness is more than just a religion. It is an intricate and intertwined mixture of ancestry, religion, history, country, culture, tradition, attitude, nationhood, and ethnicity, and we need not apologize for not fitting neatly into the standard mode of textbook taxonomies– we did not chose our turbulent history.”

While anti-semitism and anti-Zionism are conceptually separate, they often overlap.

The Premise

While Jews around the world have made incredible strides in acceptance and equality, the rise of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses reveal that all is not well. Almost every day, reports of harassment, vilification, and outright prejudice against Jews and those who support Israel come from our college campuses.

AntiIsraelDemonstration ARB

“This assault on the identity of Jewish students, our future leaders, at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives is a troubling trend that has implications reaching far beyond academia,” the author writes.

Besides attacks on Jews and Israel supporters themselves, a troubling acceptance and support for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments on campus creates even more problems for the Jewish people. “In reality, these problems will not dissipate unless the Jewish community across the globe unites to reverse their momentum.”

The status quo for combating anti-semitism and anti-Zionism is not working. The author’s proposal aims to tackle these problems in a revolutionary, comprehensive, and modern way.

He states: “My proposal consists of creating a first-of-its-kind multipurpose internet site with a range of capabilities and functions, which will combine to form the most powerful tool against anti-semitism and anti-Zionism that has ever existed. The research plans, and abilities of this proposal have the capacity to be duplicated to fight these forces around the world.”

(Keep reading to learn how these ideas will be put into action.)

The Core Components of the Idea

1. Global Incident and Library Tracker Website

A website will serve as a central hub for documenting all incidents of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in acadedemia worldwide. Reports will be collected from schools, Jewish organizations, surveys, and the media. As well as documenting incidents, the website will also analyze trends and patterns by type, school, region, and country. Tools can then be developed and refined in order to combat the trends.

Such a website will fulfill multiple purposes: it will be documented proof of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism reported in the first person. It will record history so that “in the future, people can see the reality of the problem that Jewish people have faced on campus.” And it will be a mechanism for government’s to track and find targeted solutions to such actions.

USCommission CivilRights Seal

The US Commission on Civil Rights has previously stated that they have insufficient data to properly track such incidents and crimes. This website would solve that problem in the US and around the world.

The website will be the first of its kind to have a global incident tracker for college and university anti-semitism and anti-Zionism worldwide.

The author says, “I envision a virtual map with marks made in the locations where an incident occurs. Users will be able to click on a location and read a description of what occurred. This interesting and useful resource will give visual life to these problems, which have all too often been minimized or ignored.”

ARB ClusterMap

This map tracks visits to the Anti-Racist Blog. It gives you an example of what an incident tracker could look like, although the proposed map would differ significantly. The proposed incident tracker would be three dimensional, interactive, and movable. The map would have have options enabling users to look at either anti-semitic incidents, anti-Zionist incidents, or both.

2. Blog, Web-Based Community Discussion Forum, and Videocasts

In concert with the website, a blog, such as Anti-Racist Blog’s existing one, would be a forum for posting news and discussing stories, events, and videos related to combating anti-semitism and anti-Zionism.

The blog would provide an alternative avenue for tracking from the mainstream media and would promote user buy-in by allowing users to talk about creative and innovative ways to solve these problems.

The author is interested in developing two programs which would enhance the blog and website’s use. They are:

  • ETR Project: A Global Initiative to Expose, Track, and Reduce Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Higher Education
  • SIR Project: Stop Internet Racism

The new blog would include more in-depth global coverage. Unlike the Anti-Racist Blog, the second blog would be a place where users could post their own writings and initiate their own conversations on areas of concern. The blog will be an important resource for quick communication and discussion on these topics.

The blogging section of the website would additionally include weekly videocasts reporting on the events of the past week and keeping users up to date on trends and patterns around the country. It would serve as an action alert system for users on college campuses worldwide.

3. Blogging Alliance Among Students, Professors, and Activists

Out of the website and blog, a new blogger organization will be created with chapters around the world. The author would train bloggers and develop information so that students, professors, and university alumni could start physical chapters of the organization, using their own affiliated blogs or sections of the parent website to track issues on their home campuses and record how the issues are addressed.

TakingBackCampus ARB

Members of the blogging alliance would feed information and local stories to the larger website. The fact that blogs are free and have virtually no barriers to entry makes this endeavor very feasible. When stories around the world are covered on the larger blog as a result of being received from the smaller blogs, then the Jewish community worldwide can come together to devote attention, energy, and resources toward finding solutions.

Activists around the world will be able to compare issues and results in order to form a best practice database, helping them compound their efforts and deepen their results. From the best practice database, training sessions and manuals would be developed.

4. Scholarly Article Forum, Online Journal, and Symposium

The website would also have a scholarly function. It would feature an independent section devoted solely to scholarly articles and research, reaching out to scholars across the globe, and asking them to contribute on such topics as why anti-semitism and anti-Zionism exist on campus; where are they most prevalent; how to reduce them; and methods for getting schools, communities, and governments to fight these prejudices.

The author proposes publishing an online scholarly journal comprised of submissions to the site, and other academic articles discussing anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in academia. He adds that the website would sponsor symposium, presumably at Brandeis University, where experts, politicians, and students from around the world could come together to discuss and define ways for combating campus anti-semitism and anti-Zionism.

5. Help Line

HelpLine

A key feature of the website would be a help line where users could write in and be able to record the issues they were facing in return for attention and action plans.

Through the help line, they could also be connected with the closest alliance and receive ongoing support and regular check ins to assure that their issue was dealt with appropriately and that their safety was ensured.

Author’s Notes

“There are few issues of more concern to the Jewish community worldwide than the safety of its young adults, the prevention of erosion of Jewish identity, the molding of our future leaders, and the prevention of the spread of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism…

The website will safeguard young adults by highlighting problems they face, and then providing information, help, resources, and support to them. By making a problem outside of the isolation of academia, the larger Jewish community will be able to exert its force and resources to protect students who are now facing problems largely on their own today.

The site will also prevent the erosion of Jewish identity by: fighting anti-Jew prejudice that often tries to attack and erode a person’s Jewish self-affiliation; connecting Jewish students from across the globe, thereby showing students and other readers that they are part of a proud and strong community that cares about its members, and by providing a sense of empowerment among young Jews and other readers will have a resource to proactively fight back against the prejudice they face.”

Curriculum Ideas

The Bronfman Contest also asks applicants to submit ideas for classes they would like to teach. I am including this section in our series because I have found the responses to be interesting and creative overall.

Among the classes that the author would like to teach are the following:

BrandeisLogo

  • A comprehensive class studying modern anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in academia
  • Creating a blog or website as an action tool on an issue that is important to each student
  • Federal laws and legal methods for fighting discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, and national origin
  • Role playing class in which students would be assigned different roles in the Middle East conflict and would have to maintain and react to them throughout the course of the class in an effort to better understand the real world situation– you already know I love this idea

Your Contribution

So what do you think of these ideas? Are they valuable? Are anti-semitism and anti-Zionism issues that affect you? Are the ideas suggested here the best way to fight them? How could these ideas be developed to address your needs more fully? What are your reactions and thoughts?

We can’t wait to hear your comments.

Comment and Click On

After you comment here, head over to Anti-Racist Blog and Stop Campus Hate to see these ideas in action.

(This entry was co-written by the authors of the Anti-Racist Blog and The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy. All images sourced from the Anti-Racist Blog.)

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34 Responses to Bronfman Big Idea Series: Using the Internet to Fight Anti-Semitism & Anti-Zionism in Higher Education

  1. […] “Using the Internet to Fight Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Higher Education” (by the creator of the Anti-Racist Blog, official submission)– UPDATED! Read the post here […]

  2. Thank you so much for covering my topic Maya.

    Your dedication to promoting ideas that will hopefully help the Jewish community reveals the truly wonderful nature of your character. The world needs more people like you.

    It has been a pleasure working with you! I’ll stay in touch.

  3. Ted Wilcox says:

    This proposal is a terrific idea! Anti-semitism and anti-Zionism are big problems on college campuses across the United States. I’ve had personal experience with it myself. I think using the internet to educate, inform, and unite is an excellent way to help… especially considering the technological inclination demographic of the people affected by anti-semitism on college campuses… the internet is a great way to reach these people.

  4. Shai says:

    I like the idea, too. One of the problems with anti-zionism is that it has significantly increased the perceived “cost” of identifying as a Jew, and as a supporter of Israel. With all the competing claims, it’s easier to not identify as either.

    If you could help turn the tide, that’d be a great contribution. The question I have is, whether it might be an even more powerful enterprise to establish a consorteum of resources such as those that deal with bias in the media, race crimes (like the ADL), and institutional bias (such as UNWatch)?

    Also, in your opinion, why haven’t these organizations been able to reverse the trend, and how will your idea succeed where they’ve not?

    Lastly, one of the greatest problems we have in trying to make the case for Israel and Jews is one of credibility. This problem is often due to a lack of skills of discernment – for example, discerning the difference of Islamophobia, when there is a legitimate fear, and Anti-Semitism, when the fear is of something imaginary. Same with Zionism – a fear of nuclear weaponry in the hands of a responsible state (no neighbors of IL felt the need for a nuclear arsenal to defend themselves against IL) vs. putting it in the hands of Iran (whose prospect of acquiring these weapons has set off a chain reaction of other ME nations wanting them to defend themselves). How do you maintain a sense of credibility, when so many find it difficult to determine what’s real, and what is not? How do you defend against Noam Chomsky’s, or provide a defense against people who claim “international law” is on their side, without giving everybody a law degree?

    Just how much of anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism, is a result of misinformation, vs. a desire to be fooled?

  5. thenewjew says:

    Hi Ted,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Given your own experiences, what do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of this proposal specifically? If you were going to engage with it as an activist on the blogger alliance, what parts of it would be most appealing to you and which would you be least likely to engage in?

    Interested in hearing your thoughts.

    Maya

  6. thenewjew says:

    Shai,

    You make excellent points here about Israel and by association the Jewish image in the media and from a PR point of view.

    When I first read the proposal, I wanted to be really clear about how we were defining anti-semitism and anti-Zionism, because I know the two definitions can often merge and criticism of Israel (regardless of the speaker) can be called anti-Zionism. That’s why I asked the author to define them, and I think he did a really good job differentiating between criticism or commentary of Israel as opposed to be against Israel’s right to exist as a state.

    If you check out the link under the anti-semitism section for examples, I think this may help clear up some issues.

    I am also interested in “Islamophobia” in this context as it runs along the same lines. How much cultural sensitivity do we need to have when discussing Islamic fundamentalism (for instance)? Is it a matter of cultural relativism? Are we grouping people together by a few in their number whose behaviors and by extrapolation characteristics we find threatening? What would anti-semitism toward Muslims look like within this framework?

    When we are getting into our greatest defenders on the public stage, I always feel safe with Alan Dershowitz around. I believe he is the greatest voice against anti-Zionism today.

    Your turn. 🙂

    Maya

  7. Shai,

    I’m glad you like my idea.

    I’ll try to answer your questions.

    The website I proposed would fill a void, that even the major Jewish organizations and civil rights organizations have yet to fill. Besides the features that I propose which don’t exist yet, my idea would connect Jewish organizations and concerned people, so that they could tackle problems as they come up. The website is like a keystone, identifying problems, and trends, and providing information and help as it becomes available. So in some ways it does create a consortium, or a coalition or network if you will (especially the blogger alliance).

    Some reasons I don’t rely completely on existing organizations to unite are: 1) they are often hesitant to work together (some may be surprised how orgs fight for funding, attention, and credit); 2) I think one organization devoted solely to these problems would be more powerfull than a number of orgs that sometimes discuss these problems; and 3) the capabilities of the internet site (like the tracker, video journal, scholarly journal, blogger alliance) are unavailable as of yet by another organization and may be too revolutionary for an established org to take on.

    You are right that my proposal stemmed from a worsening situation in academia, which existing organizations have been unable to improve. One problem is that Hillel, ADL, ZOA etc. are not primarily focuses on fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in academia. Groups like StandWithUs are, but they have not tackled the problem in the ways I suggested.

    Unfortunately, groups that should be fighting these forms of discrimination on campus have often been silent, particularly to the threat posed by anti-Zionism. Even when confronted with anti-Semitism, some students have told me that their campus based organizations are too closely connected to the University, and are therefore unwilling to cause a fuss which might risk their friendships with the University. Of course I personally have dealt with similar situations, and have stories that would make donors to some of the major Jewish organizations supposedly helping students on campus cringe.

    That is why I believe that my idea is new, and why I think it could have an impact unlike existing organizations. Another interesting thing to note is that most Jewish organizations are not using the Internet much at all. Especially in the blog-o-sphere, Jewish orgs are almost uniformly absent. Their web presence also leaves much to be desired. The internet is an untapped resource, which the Jewish community should be utilizing to its fullest extent. G-d knows that the enemies of the Jews and Israel are using it to their full advantage.

    Your last point is very important: When do we know that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are taking place? As of now, without the data on actual incidents, it is hard to prove that these forms of racism exist, to what extent, and where.

    The US Commission on Civil Rights noted that an absence of incident reports and data is a huge problem preventing the government from acting, even though it wants to. This is where the incident library and tracker comes in.

    Individual incidents will be reported, and available for the public to see. It won’t track general anxiety (as in the case of people being scared of Iran having nukes), but rather actual incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I agree that both anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism need to be clearly defined, and proven through documentation. I am interested in tracking the actual problem, as manifested in actions, writing, words, and other forms.

    Generating this data will help us see the scope of the problem, where it exists, and what forms are most prevalent. The discussions and articles on the website would also help define the problem, and the solution.
    A helpful post on Anti-Racist Blog may help illuminate the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Some of the information is mentioned in Maya’s post.

    http://antiracistblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/what-is-difference-between-anti.html

    I also encourage you to look through the articles an Anti-Racist Blog. You will see that I often document actual incidents, which are clearly anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

    As part of my research, I would seek to establish a set definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and what types of things fall into those categories. That foundation will be helpful in identifying incidents, and tracking them. That would be part of the foundational work for the website.

    I hope that answers some of your questions. Please keep them coming, and I will try to answer them.

  8. Maya, you are great. Thanks for all your support and encouragement. I look forward to reading your write-ups on the other proposals.

  9. thenewjew says:

    Anti-Racist Blog,

    Here are some of the strongest points I take out of your proposal and comment:

    — The need for Jewish organizations to use the internet– I’ve read quite a bit about this from a philanthropy perspective, but have yet to write about it in depth because quite frankly, I just don’t get it. Where is the responding and where is the reporting that other nonprofits or community groups are doing? Where is the accountability and transparency? I think one of the major reasons that Jewish organizations find themselves faltering is– ARB, as you say, and Shai, a PR/media issue as you commented– their ability to have a solid international internet presence.

    — The ability for Jewish groups to stand at attention on important issues like this. Do we think that talking about anti-semitism or anti-Zionism will make other people not like us? What possible excuse is there for leaving college and university students stranded with only their student Jewish groups to back them up? Perhaps this falls into the issue of a missing piece in Jewish organizations’ visualizations of the life cycle and Jewish needs where young people who are post-Hebrew school and pre-family are often forgotten

    — ARB, the spin on fear is very interesting here. Why are Americans more concerned about nuclear weapons than anti-semitism in their own lives when the second has a potentially much more direct effect. We have been spinning this cultural fear of the other as a distant other much more than the close fear of something that could happen in reality. Sure, nuclear weapons and we’re all wiped out, but for me, education and domestic issues are much more important and pressing in the present than security (I am speaking as an American here and not as an Israeli).

    Shai, do you agree with ARB’s definitions as he establishes them of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism or are there things that you would either add or subtract from them?

    Maya

  10. thenewjew says:

    ARB,

    Thanks so much for your support and your willingness to engage in this process at every step– including going first. Your values, ideas, and spirit are so very appreciated.

    Maya

  11. visitor says:

    Hello everybody. The immediate question that came into my mind when reading of this new program was how do you intend to prevent abuses? After all, “antisemitism” is both a real problem and sometimes a phony charge used for political (and psychological) purposes. Who will do the differentiating, and are you as worried about the latter as the former?

    For example, how exactly do you intend to deal with situations like that of Rabbi Farhi in France recently?

    (And just out of curiosity, how many of the posters here are already familiar with the developments in that case?)

  12. Visitor,

    You bring up an important point.

    I read your question as: How to prevent abuses of the terms anti-semitism and anti-zionism, and how to prevent false reports from influencing the data compilation?

    I believe that defining these terms is an important step. So is fact checking. This would all be an important part of the project. Faulty data doesn’t help anyone, so all efforts would be made to avoid false positives.

    Along the same lines, how does the NAACP prevent abuse by people claiming anti-black racism when none happened. How does the ADL do it? Clearly preventing abuse and manipulation is a concern, but other organizations do it, so there is no reason it couldn’t be done with this project.

    I believe the Rabbi Farhi case is a situation where a rabbi may have stabbed himself and blamed others. That situation is similar to the GW student who drw swastikas on her walls, then claimed someone else did it.

    Anti-Racist Blog posted an article in response expressing concerns that false claims may endanger the response to legitimate incidents:

    http://antiracistblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/false-swastika-reports-at-george.html

    That is why investigating incident is so important. Talking to victims, administrators and police will be an important part of the fact checking process for this project.

  13. visitor says:

    Indeed. Ultimately it is just a matter of recognizing that this is a highly politicized area and not pretending otherwise.

    For example, if you insist on defining every American who might be repelled by the notion of a racially-defined “Jewish state” as an anti-Semite, then you will have so watered down the concept that it will have become meaningless.

  14. First I would refer you to this article, discussing the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism:

    http://antiracistblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/what-is-difference-between-anti.html

    Remember that while the concepts sometimes overlap, anti-Zionism is different than anti-Semitism. But both forms of discrimination are bad.

    Also check out Judea Pearl’s article which discusses the “Jewish State” argument used against Israel that you touch on:

    http://antiracistblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/anti-zionism-is-racism-by-judea-pearl.html

    To briefly excerpt,

    “The appeal to Jewish nationhood is necessary when we consider Israel’s insistence on remaining a “Jewish state.” By “Jewish state” Israelis mean, of course, “national Jewish state,” not “religious Jewish state” — theocratic states (like Pakistan and Iran) are incompatible with modern standards of democracy and pluralism. Anti-Zionist racists use this anti-theocracy argument repeatedly to delegitimize Israel, and I have found our students unable to defend their position with conventional ideology that views Jewishness as a religion.

    Jewishness is more than just a religion. It is an intricate and intertwined mixture of ancestry, religion, history, country, culture, tradition, attitude, nationhood and ethnicity, and we need not apologize for not fitting neatly into the standard molds of textbook taxonomies — we did not choose our turbulent history.

    As a form of racism, anti-Zionism is worse than anti-Semitism. It targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the people of Israel, who rely on the sovereignty of their state for physical safety, national identity and personal dignity. To put it more bluntly, anti-Zionism condemns 5 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal statelessness, traumatized by historical images of persecution and genocide.

    Anti-Zionism also attacks the pivotal component of our identity, the glue that bonds us together — our nationhood, our history. And while people of conscience reject anti-Semitism, anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in Europe and in some U.S. campuses.”

    The project is not meant to stifle legitimate criticism. Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are real problems, which deserve a solution. I agree that it is important not to dilute the terms, and to focus on actual incidents and examples of them.

  15. thenewjew says:

    Dear Visitor,

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will come back to read the upcoming posts in the series as well.

    To add on to what Anti-Racist Blog’s author said, honest reporting, taking full responsibility for the accuracy of documentation, and integrity in all respects are completely within the credibility of the organization. These are good questions and ones that we need to take into context of other organizations that are doing similar anti-racism work across all fields.

    Your example is important, but as much as each one of these unfortunate scenarios embarrasses and humiliates us, its worst effect is to draw attention away from other very serious matters.

    I encourage you, also, to follow the links in this post and see if it might clarify terms and situations for you. We tried very hard to provide examples that help answer these valid questions.

    Look forward to seeing you again and hearing your thoughts.

    Maya

  16. Ilene Kirschner says:

    I think this is a terrific proposal. Antisemitism and antizionism are big problems where I live. As the mother of a college aged daughter I hear stories all the time about these problems on campus. She and her friends have not been able to find adequate support. I applaud the author and hope that his plan is implemented.

  17. Ilene Kirschner says:

    Or her plan.

  18. Judy P. says:

    Some of the best ideas are born out of personal struggle, and adversity. This is clearly one of those great ideas.

    I also think it is great because it can touch the lives of all Jews, no matter their denomination. I am a non-religious Jew, but that mattered little to anti-semities and Israel haters I went to school with about a decade ago. Seems like the problem has only gotten worse.

    Kudos to the author. It would not be a gamble for Bronfman to pick this idea.

  19. visitor says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t think I will be coming back. Your project is doomed from the start because it is built on dishonest foundations.

    If you read ARB’s proposals, it is obvious to anyone that what he is concerned about is promoting Israel. Now that is a fine thing to do, but not when you are claiming to be working against racism and anti-Semitism.

    If promoting Israel is your goal, then you must try to do it honestly. If you disagree with those who find Zionism inherently racist, then you must engage with them openly and argue your case. But trying to smear those who disagree with you as irrational haters (which of course is what the anti-Semitism charge is all about) is not going to work any longer.

    (PS If on the other hand opposing racism really is your goal, you’ve got a perfect place to start in the comments of “Shai” up above.)

  20. Shai says:

    Visitor, I suggest you read http://www.azure.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=405
    This article, by Uri Shavit, is entitled “Islamophobia: A Critique”.

    It is my opinion, and Shavit’s apparently, that claims that Islamophobia is the new Anti-Semitism mistakes imagined fears for real ones. Nobody is proposing or supporting beating up on Muslims for their beliefs, which you interpret my comments to mean apparently.

    Note my words, Visitor – I said “WHEN” the fear is legitimate! When it is not legitimate, it is like Anti-Semitism – there is no legitimate fear that Jews are taking over the world or lacing Palestinian chewing gum with prophylactics or using Christian blood in our matzot. There is a legitimate fear that persons who say they want to destroy your country and make it an Islamic state mean what they say, and the advantage of a site such as the one proposed is that it would attempt to make this position clear.

    If you’re against, for example, sending undercover agents into mosques where extremists are known to gather, to gain information that could prevent an attack against your country because you think this is Islamophobic rather than prudent, then your reading of the situation is not more careful than your reading of my comment.

  21. Shai says:

    Maya, regarding your question of me – the definitions provided seem fine. recognizing as was said, that the concepts overlap.

    Part of the problem is seen in Visitor’s concept of a ‘dishonest foundation’. Implied in Visitor’s criticism seems to be the belief that one does not advocate for a version of the truth, rather, it just simply is. One chips away at the lies until the truth and only the truth remains. Anything that is not truth is a “dishonest foundation”. I might be reading too much into his words, but that view is not unique and how I’ve interpreted it is usually how it’s meant.

    But is this treatment of “truth” confronting the world as it really is (incidentally, highly recommended is this months issue on “honesty” of In Character at http://www.incharacter.org/)?

    Personally, I think life requires more heavy lifting than that. For example, if one were to look at http://www.snopes.com, to see whether a rumor is true, false, or partially true and false, one would typically find a whole report of what was being claimed, and any rebuttal. I don’t think that proposal was aiming to do anything less than that. Visitor’s complaint seems to be that it might do more – that is, actually advocate for a version of truth, a version that sustains Jewish community interests, because in fact anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are at the crux of many competing claims about rights and obligations, and their nature.

    A site that advocates for the welfare of Jews will sometimes find this welfare to be in conflict with the welfare of others, and a choice will have to be made about which side you want to come down on, or what the shape of a fair compromise might be. People make those choices all the time. But that seems to be a choice between two versions of truth, not between truth and a “dishonest foundation”.

  22. Rick M. says:

    I really like the idea. It is not surprising that anti-Israel activists who try desperately to convince themselves that hating Israel is ok, would find objection to this project. But the truth is that the project tackles important forms of discrimination against jews; both anti-semitism AND anti-zionism. Whether visitor wants to admit it or not, anti-zionism has a terrible effect on the jewish people, and that form of prejudice is wrong. Just as anti-semitism is terrible.

  23. Rick M. says:

    Unfortunately for Anti-Racist Blog, the proposal will make anti-semites and anti-zionist racists defensive. I say that is great. It is about time someone stood up to them. The failure to do so has made the problems of antisemitism and antizionism unbearable.

  24. Ilene Kirschner says:

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.”

    Mahatma Gandhi

    I see we’ve reached stage three.

  25. thenewjew says:

    Dear Visitor,

    I am sorry you feel that way, but I don’t see any evidence to support your point in the post or what has been written.

    I do appreciate you expressing your opinion honestly and hope that you will come back and contribute your thoughts to the rest of the proposals in the series.

    Maya

  26. thenewjew says:

    Dear Rick, Ilene, and Judy,

    Thanks for your great comments. Would love to hear what you think about the upcoming proposals.

    To be perfectly honest, I am glad that some of the readers are upset by the proposal. If they weren’t I would feel as if it wasn’t strong enough or that we weren’t doing our job here. Anti-semitism and anti-Zionism are very real and very upsetting. Something needs to be done about them and to sit back and apologize for defending Israel and be ashamed of what we have to say because it might upset someone would 1) exacerbate those in opposition to us and 2) make us contributors to our own problem.

    On the other hand, I do want to hear your honest arguments and opinions, so please don’t hesitate to contribute if you disagree. We have much to learn from each other.

    Respectfully,

    Maya

  27. Shai says:

    ARB, you might find the article by Shmuel Sandler, Toward a Theory of World Jewish Politics and Jewish Foreign Policy, interesting. It appears in Hebraic Political Studies , Vol. 2, No. 3 (summer 2007), pp . 326–360. Following is the abstract:

    “Abstract: The central question addressed in this paper is whether it is possible to characterize the interaction between Jews, whether in a Jewish state or in exile, and other national groups in terms of international politics and foreign policy. This question is not limited to a particular time or place. It begins with the Bible, continues through the period of the First and Second Temples, through generations when the Jewish people was stateless, and concludes with the era of a sovereign Jewish state. The point of departure is the school of thought that sees the political regime in Israel as the outcome of a Jewish political tradition of thousands of years, one that existed even when there was no Jewish polity in the land of Israel, a perspective that stands in contrast to the accepted approach in Israeli political science. This paper examines the main theories and concepts accepted in international relations today and then applies the analytic framework of international relations theory to the Jewish case. The conclusion is that after at least three thousand years of Jewish presence on the world scene, a coherent “Jewish foreign policy”—or international policy—can be discerned, defined, and studied as the subject of scholarly inquiry.”

    The reason for suggesting this article is that it has the potential to provide lift for your idea, so that it is international in scope and perspective, differentiating the idea further from existing responses to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism that are largely reactionary and geared to American politics.

    After all, the “interaction” occuring in your proposal is not so different from a form of Jewish foreign policy! Seeing your mission as an outgrowth of our People’s principles and values, and tying all Jews into it regadless of where they live, can give it lots more power, and a framework of thousands of years that anchors it more strongly to Jewishness.

  28. I am happy to see such a lively debate on my project.

    1) To its supporters, thank you so much for your words on encouragement. They mean a lot to me. Ilene in particular, please tell your daughter to visit and e-mail Anti-Racist Blog. I will try to help her out in whatever way I can.

    2) Shai, thank you for the links and the input. I will certainly consider all your suggestions. I look forward to reading about your idea in the coming days.

    3) Just so everyone knows, I fully expected a great of opposition to my idea. I agree with Maya that if the proposal didn’t get some heat, then it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

    Some people may wonder why a project calling for the protection of the civil and human rights of the Jewish people would garner opposition? I have a few theories for some of the current, and future criticism [excluding of course people who just don’t like the idea, those who don’t think anti-semitism and anti-zionism in academia are a problem, or those who think that the internet will not be a useful tool in combating these problems]:

    A) Anti-Zionism in particular has become so mainstream that anti-Zionists are almost offended when you challenge them. Too bad, they better get used to it
    B) Like all minorities that stand up for themselves, some people will always try to keep Jews down (Just look at the fight African-Americans had to endure to end prejudice, and they are still dealing with it today).
    C) This post comes up as one of the first when you do a google blog search for anti-semitism or anti-zionism, so hard core activists roaming the internet (there are plenty) that are no friends of the Jewish people may certainly stumble upon this site, and take issue with it; and
    D) Anti-Racist Blog has quite a few enemies who would be happy to bash this proposal when they find it. It comes with the territory, and my skin is thick already. People would be shocked to see some of the hate mail I get for writing Anti-Racist Blog. Slurs, conspiracy theories, threats, and of course personal insults are a routine part of the e-mails I receive. It only serves to highlight the problem, rather than deterring me.

    While I think about all comments, I will never apologize for opposing discrimination that affects Jews. I will not backtrack on my idea either.

    4) “Visitor” was wrong when he claimed that my project is only about supporting Israel. It may have that side effect, but the primary purpose is to end discrimination and racism against Jews wherever they live. The project combats both anti-Semitism (Visitor forgot to mention that), and anti-Zionism. Both are forms of discrimination and/or racism that have a negative effect on Jews.

    So please keep the discussion coming.

    Thanks again for your support Maya.

  29. Tova says:

    Anti-Racist Blog has done a remarkable job in tracking today’s disturbing trends of anti-Zionism and antisemitism on college campuses across North America.

    As a student who constantly faces these sorts of problems at my university, I greatly appreciate what Anti-Racist Blog has done for me and my fellow students. Every Jew-hating/anti-Israel event or incident that takes place at my school gets covered by ARB.

    The blogger does some outstanding work, and should be commended for spreading the realities of Jewish/Zionist college life and challenges across the Internet.

  30. […] Big Idea Series, Proposal One: “Using the Internet to Fight Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Higher Education” by the author of the Anti-Racist Blog and Stop Campus […]

  31. ivrydov says:

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, another Jewish billionaire is facilitating anti-Semitism on the Internet big time. He can stop this at a stroke simply by enforcing the user agreement at his site.

    http://www.root-1.co.il/reddit.htm

  32. MooShoo says:

    This is a great idea.

  33. texas yid says:

    what if the israeli govt is behind antisemitism in order to stop Jews from assimilating?
    Never thought of that did you, maya?

  34. I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering problems with your site. It appears as though some of the text in your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This may be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen
    before. Kudos

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