Why Academic Boycott?

Last week I thoroughly dealt with the not-so-scholarly and o-so-fallacious Nobel Laureates’ statement on BDS.  In almost pure cosmic irony I just got a link from a friend to a Prime Minister’s Office “non-tender”: Request for information about improving Israel’s image on U.S.A campuses.

Now that those talkback-esque arguments are out of the way, let’s get into the direct cynical use the Israeli government makes of the academia, in order to further its propaganda.

[Limited by my translation]:

Request for information about improving Israel’s image on U.S.A campuses

Tender Properties
Subject / s: Education / Courses | Advertising / Marketing
Advertiser: Prime Minister’s Office
Release Date: 06/12/2010

Submission Date: 12/19/2010
Status: Active

Related files:
Tender text in Arabic | All files

Ministry of Hasbara and Diaspora

Request for Information (RFI) –

1. Ministry of Hasbara and Diaspora (the “Ministry”), is interested in considering the possibility of a project for members of senior American academic faculty, who teach topics related to the state Israel.
Project purpose: Strengthening academic discussion spaces, which will improve Israel’s image in major and influential and universities in the United States. The body with which the Ministry will contact, to carry out the project will provide a full and comprehensive solution, including full responsibility for the project.

2. The Ministry hereby invites those with knowledge and expertise (the “Participant”), which have the ability to begin preparing activities in the shortest notice possible, to file a response to the request for information on improving Israel’s image on U.S.A campuses (hereinafter – the “request for information”).
Details of the request for information appears in the Prime Minister’s Office website at: http://www.pmo.gov.il, entitled purchases / contacts / Request for Information RFI – Improving Israel’s image on U.S.A campuses.

3. The purpose of this procedure is to get detailed information, from the participants, about the feasibility of the project in its proposed format, either as detailed in the request for information, or in another format that requires information.

4. In the framework of examination of the obtained material, the Ministry will be permitted to contact the participants, all or some, for the goal of clarification and additional information, in writing and verbally, as may be needed. Among other things, the Ministry will consider inviting the participants, that submit a response to this request, to a meeting or conference, or contact them with questions in any way and without obligation on its part.

5. This request is intended for information acquiring and considerations of feasibility and worthwhileness only, and does not constitute an invitation or offer to any contact for contractual ties, and it is not an auction or other binding procedure and it does not create a contact or other legal relationship between the Ministry and any of the participants.

6. Questions and requests for clarification should be directed to Ms. Michal Dasa, coordinator of the Tender Committee, in writing only via facsimile number 02-6587133, no later than 12/19/2010 until 12:00 noon.

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive

Israeli schools are a fantastic example of miseducation. Directing young minds into the arms (pun so intended it hurts) of the Israeli army has been the goal, when I was there 10 years ago, and it’s only improving to that effect, with the rise of Minister of Education, Gideon Sa’ar. Even if I was pleased with the regression of Israeli education into uniforms and visits to Jerusalem, what interest does it hold for the most highly regarded educational institutions in the US? Well, if the Education Ministry can go nationalistic, it’s only logical that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can go educational!
You’d think the above is just a single, never-before-attempted Israeli government infiltration into (north and south) American universities (and others), but the fact is that this is not only the norm, but part of an intricate web of campus activity which sole purpose is to disseminate Israeli-government (not “Jewish”, not even “Israeli”, and definitely not “Semitic”) propaganda. Looking into my old assessment of the Hasbara (here’s that link again), I repeat myself (with the goal of correcting myself):

The Hasbara project is not an official one. There are many separate  and often independent (I’d say “grassroots” but I just love the word too much to have it hijacked) components.

A deeper look into these organizations will find the endorsement of the Israeli government. That said, some of these groups and organizations began out of a genuine feeling that not enough is being done to “protect Israel on campus”. These grassroots fascists were so in line with government policy, that the government took it upon itself to publicly support them. More often than not, money is involved.

For a quick taste of what we’re up against, let’s have a look at our local grassroots campus fascist, Im Tirtzu:

It’s not every day a grassroots student organization gets the Netanyahu seal of approval. But what’s a seal, when you can close a deal, right? Im Tirtzu is funded by the government funded Jewish Agency. So if this is what we do at home, imagine what we do in your home!

The Jewish Agency – The Israel Lobby in Your CampusThe Jewish Agency Lol Cat

Who is this Jewish Agency? Their website tells us (there’s much more interesting history on there, just ignore the propaganda and enjoy the relations to the Mossad):

For 80 years, the Jewish Agency for Israel has been synonymous with the efforts to rescue Jews at risk and the resettlement of the Jewish people in its homeland… The Jewish Agency was established by the World Zionist Organization at the 16th Zionist Congress, in August 11, 1929… As the de facto government of the state-on-the-way, it was recognized as the official representative of the Jewish community and world Jewry vis a vis the League of Nations, the British Mandate government, and foreign governments….

The Jewish Agency has been pivotal to Israel’s remarkable growth. As the only global Jewish partnership organization, linking Jews around the world with Israel as the focal point, it continues to play a central role in the lives of countless Jews. Major activities include the rescue of Jews in distress, facilitating aliyah and absorption, Jewish Zionist education, and building a global Jewish community. In addition to extensive programs in Israel, it operates in close to 80 countries on five continents through a network of over 450 emissaries, including hundreds of formal and informal educators. The  2008 Core budget is $314,760,000.
The world Jewish community participates in the Jewish Agency’s decision-making process through the Assembly, its supreme governing body, and its Board of Governors, which is responsible for policy making and oversight.

The Jewish Agency is the Yiddishe Momme of all “Jewish Zionist Education” (then they scream “antisemitism”…). As you can see from the link, education is very broad topic in the Jewish agency, so in the name of focus, I’d first like to point you in the direction of the Jewish Agency’s “IS-CA: Combating anti-Semitism on Campus” project:

Anti-Zionism, Holocaust denial,and conspiracy theories are prevalent on many college campuses, parading as thinly veiled guises for Jew hatred. In this course, students will examine these expressions and analyze the messages and materials that are being propagated against the Jewish people. The instructors will present real case studies, analyses and resources. They will also provide a wide range of effective responses with which to combat anti-Semitic incidents on campus. This course is presented in conjunction with the Israel Government Office of the Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Jerusalem.

The IS-CA is just one course out of all the Jewish Agency does, however, I aim to prove (and they don’t make it tough to do so) that it’s an inherent result of the Jewish Agency’s understanding of Jewish education. Thus the Jewish Agency mission sounds like this:

At the Jewish Agency, we remain committed to putting Israel into the lives of the Jewish world’s young people and to bringing Israel into worldwide Jewish communities – working closely with our global partners to increase exponentially both the quality and the quantity of Israel-centered education.

Under the “Mission” tab, you’ll find the ways in which the Jewish Agency works: Exchange teachers programs (we’ll send a teacher to your children, who’ll urge you to come to Israel), youth group trips to Israel with Birthright Israel (your child will sign up for a subsidized field trip to another country, it looks something like this), as a result, an endless array of sister communities proliferate [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,…And these are just the campus activity bits of it. It’s really not as complex as it looks, as we’l soon find out.] and information sharing and media channels mature. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that this is an incredible grassroots initiative of a surviving people, trying to preserve their culture! But make no mistake, the “Leadership” tab makes it very clear who’s behind this partisan educational initiative:

Study after study has demonstrated that transformative short and long-term experiences have a tremendous  impact on young people’s connection to Judaism and Israel. For this reason, the Jewish Agency’s Education Department and the Government of Israel have partnered to create MASA – an initiative designed to bring young people to Israel for a semester to a year.

So While IS-CA is bringing the mountain to Muhammad, Masa will bring Muhammad to the mountain. Along with countless other indicatives the IS-CA and Masa are just two strings the Jewish Agency web of educational programs aimed at confusing young American adults and furthering the misunderstanding that Judaism equals Zionism:

  • Machon was “founded in 1946, as an initiative of the World Zionist Organization, primarily to provide and enhance training programs for the graduates of Zionist Youth Movements from abroad, whose educators required the tools to respond to the major challenges facing Zionism – namely, encouraging immigration to [then still known as “Palestine”] Israel and settling the land, the principal goals of the Zionist movement.” It’s vision hasn’t changed much in the past 65 years, but we can definitly identify through it the sucess of the Zionist project:

    To develop among its future graduates a sense of commitment to themselves, to their communities, to Israel, and to the Jewish people, in order to enable them to become agents of change in their communities and in Israel, and to contribute to transforming Israel into a model state by helping to strengthen its Jewish and democratic identity.

    Machon is a world wide project, encompassing “young women and men from: South America and Argentina; Mexico and the USA; Europe; South Africa and Australasia; North African countries (in the 1950s); and – in recent years – the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.” But “In 2006, the Machon opened its doors to Israeli participants for the first time in its 60-year history. Through Partnership 2000 and UJIA UK, young Israeli adults involved in the Galilee region program now have an opportunity to join a UK Gap Year program, which includes the Machon. For the Israeli participants, this forms part of their National Service prior to their recruitment into the IDF.”

  • Nitzanim“is a project of the Educational Resource & Professional Development Division at the Department for Jewish Zionist Education of the Jewish Agency for Israel… targeted at young Jewish educators… will guide our future educational leadership, both within Israeli society, and in its encounter with Diaspora Jewry.”

    Program in Conjunction with Hebraica University, Mexico. The curriculum integrates both courses and distance learning technology, through the Department for Jewish Zionist Education's eAcademy, which is based at Kiryat Moriah in Jerusalem.
    Program in Conjunction with Hebraica University, Mexico. The curriculum integrates both courses and distance learning technology, through the Department for Jewish Zionist Education's eAcademy, which is based at Kiryat Moriah in Jerusalem.
  • Educator Training Programs are a number of projects where “Participants acquire a deeper knowledge of Israel and re-inforce their professional connection to Israeli educational institutions.” (sponsored by the Hebrew University) The Program in Conjunction with Hebraica University, Mexico, or the ‘Melamed’ Program Argentina “integrates both courses and distance learning technology, through the Department for Jewish Zionist Education’s eAcademy, which is based at Kiryat Moriah in Jerusalem.” All these programs are integrated with the Masa program, mentioned above.
  • Shin Shinim (“service-year-ers”) are “volunteers in  various frameworks active in: Schools, Youth movements and JCC’, and works to educate the community about Judaism and Zionism in the context of the Hebrew calendar. The Shin Shin is hosted by adoptive families in the community,   He strives to promote contact between his home in Israel and the Partnership 2000 community in which he is active.” (requirements: “He/She postpones their IDF service for a year in order to serve in the partner community.”) The Shin-Shinim are part of the Shlichim and Arevim programs.
  • Shlichim and Areivim (“emissaries”) Programs who give out Zionist Seminars (requiring “completed IDF/national service”) and instruct Summer Camps ( requiring “IDF or National Service graduate”). The Shlichim are also sent NGOs of the Jewish Agency’s choice:
    • Tora MiTzion– A select Kollel program that “establishes centers for the study of Torah and promulgates the connection between Torah and Israel. These learning centers take the form of a Beit Midrash in which Torah scholars immerse themselves in study and practice of successes in enriching and enhancing Jewish communities around the world by promoting the lofty ideals of Torat Israel, Am Israel and Eretz [=the state of] Israel.”
    • Bat Ami Shnat Sherut – National Service (requiring “Israeli High School graduate from the religious Zionist sector; completion of first year of National Service and resident in Israel”)
    • World Bnei Akiva (requiring “Graduate of a pre-army Mechina or Hesder Yeshiva…”) which has “for decades, been the leader in providing informal Jewish education, with an emphasis on developing a strong connection with Israel, to Diaspora youth. Its main goals have always been educating towards religious Zionism, encouraging Aliyah, and inspiring community involvement amongst its members, whether in the Diaspora or following Aliyah, in Israel.”
    • Ben Ami who are “sent on behalf of the World Zionist Organization’s Spiritual Services Department, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency.  The shlichim are graduates of a pre-army mechina or hesder yeshiva and work in the community’s educational institutions.  They serve as youth counselors in the spirit of Torah, Zionist and Israeli values, and operate youth clubs and movements.”
  • Makom was founded in 2004 as a “North American Jewish communities” and Jewish Agency “partnership”. In that short period of time it’s managed to erect the following projects: ELUL, Eretz Acheret, Real Talk, TalkSpace (“Post-Birthright Programming on Campus”), Thinking Out Loud, Chag Ha’atzmut (made possible by UJA Federation of New York, who have their own campus advocacy plan– I’ll give you a hint: they don’t like “intermarriage”).
  • Bama who’s mission is “that of continually improving educational quality with the purpose of enhancing Jewish identity, community participation and commitment to Medinat [=the state of] Israel.”

For those of us who are less mobile, the Jewish Agency has created online courses, complete with, written articles archives [1,2,3,4,5,6,7]  a video library and web conferences. All courtesy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. There’s also a book shop, where you can buy maps where the Occupied Territories are marked “for historical purposes”, or books that “arm” students with knowledge that enables them to “combat Israel’s detractors effectively, confidently and with their heads held high.”

Since I’m trying to limit myself to young adults, I’ll only add, that the Jewish Agency has something for everyone:

Aish’s headquarters is located in the Western Wall Plaza in the Occupied Territories.
Aish’s headquarters is located in the Western Wall Plaza in the Occupied Territories.

Aish – Agents of the Agency

While the Jewish Agency officially endorses a long list of organizations and initiatives on their website, it gives only part of the picture, for an unknown reason (lack of server space?!?). The web Zionist campus activity grows as you find other organizations, which have Jewish Agency (a.k.a. Israeli government) endorsement and sponsorship: Aish is a “non-profit organization… relies solely on private support… an apolitical network of Jewish educational centers in 35 branches on five continents.” This educational network’s headquarters is located in the Occupied Territories, is heavily supported by the government and government officials, such as Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu and, of course, Natan Sharansky, founder of rightist Yisrael Be’Aliyah party and chairperson of the- you guessed it- Jewish Agency:

Aish HaTorah’s Hasbara Fellowships program provides the knowledge, the training and most importantly, the motivation to student leaders to defend Israel where she most needs it: on the campuses.

Sifting through Aish’s list of daughter organizations, we find:

  • Jerusalem Fellowships which “brought tens of thousands of university students to Israel from around the world” its “Inspiring and interactive seminars” include the topics of “Jewish Philosophy, Jewish History, Israel, Anti-Semitism, And much more!”
  • Hasbara Fellowships “is the largest and most comprehensive Israel education and activism program for North American university students.” The program “was
    started in 2001 in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs… Hasbara brings hundreds of students to Israel every summer and winter, giving them the information and tools to return to their campuses as educators about Israel.” It also endorses the Thank Israeli Soldiers site (sponsored by “Havilot L’Chayalim B’Ahava”, the IDF and the Aguda LeMaan HaChayal, and was responsible for this little troop appreciation project), on its front page.
  • Israel 2.0 “is a non-profit organization that sponsors Jewish educational tours to Israel for Jewish college students and young professionals in North America. Israel 2.0 works in coordination with many Jewish outreach organizations on college campuses and in cities across the US and Canada. Israel 2.0 is for ages 18-28, and for people of all types of Jewish backgrounds and affiliations.” It’s mission statement is “To provide the opportunity for young Jews to go back to Israel and reconnect with Israel and their Jewish heritage.” and one of its stated goals is “To empower participants to be articulate ambassadors for Israel on college campuses, in work environments, and elsewhere.”
  • Israel Free Spirit is similar to Israel 2.0 in that it wants to take you to Israel, so where is it unique?

    Our trips are special in that we believe that experiencing Israel should be about more than just taking a tour. The Israel Free Spirit experience is a hands-on journey. Participants on our trips gain a rich appreciation for the beauty of Israel and gain a deeper connection to our global Jewish community and our vibrant and enduring Jewish Homeland.

    Of course this is affiliated with Taglit Birthright, which takes us right back to the Jewish Agency.

  • For the more religious, there’s Essentials, where students get to study Judaism in the new Aish building, beyond the green line.

     Jewel, daughter program of EYAHT (daughter program Aish, daughter program of the Jewish Agency), located in the ssettlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, Ramat Eshkol.
    Jewel, daughter program of EYAHT (daughter program Aish, daughter program of the Jewish Agency), located in the settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, Ramat Eshkol.
  • EYAHT is the wife of Aish founder’s project, for Jewish “women of valor”, which would have been perfectly fine had it not been sponsored and endorsed by Aish, and itself shot off daughter programs, such as Jewel, catering to Jewish princesses, who wish to “explore [their] Jewish heritage in [the] easygoing environment” of the settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, Ramat Eshkol. Or Gem, a “fun, re-Jew-vinating, and intimate 10 days” for +30 women delving “into Torah, Jewish Philosophy, Mysticism, The Afterlife, Improving Relationships, Increasing Happiness, Understanding Suffering, History, Israel and more.”
  • Go Sephardic is, of course, geared at the non-Ashkenazi Jew wishing to “reveal that there’s more to Sephardim than rice on Pessah… [don’t look at me, I didn’t write it]”. The seems to believe Sephardic Jews should be preoccupied with  a rise in intermarriages and the rise of unmarried +30 year old women and makes it a personal goal to marry off its participants.

The ICC – Running in Circles

While looking into Aish, I found the ICC icon on the bottom of the Hasbara Fellowship site. The ICC is the Israel on Campus Coalition:

… in cooperation with a network of national organizations committed to promoting Israel education and advocacy on campus. The ICC’s 33 member organizations are dedicated to working collaboratively to assist students in fostering support for Israel on the college campus.

So who are these 33 member organizations promoting support for Israel, an appreciation for Zionism”?

It all goes back to the Jewish Agency/Israeli Government. Feel like you’re running in circles? So do I. That’s why I won’t go into all these organizations. Many call me “antisemite” , and I call them “lobby”. I’d like to focus on the ones that have to do strictly with campus work:

  • Stand with Us, “an international education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told”, for example,  [train] in the art of Israel advocacy with the help of government officials, IDF soldiers, and Natan Sharansky.
  • The David Project boasts “Our groundbreaking Israel education curricula are taught in more than 130 Jewish high schools and middle schools, impacting thousands of students across North America and Israel. Each year we educate and prepare hundreds of college students to assume leadership roles and bring Israel programs and events to their college campuses. We are guided by a commitment to provide students and adults with the knowledge, strategies and skills to ensure that effective support for Israel thrives on campuses and in our communities.” (They were lucky enough to get Sharansky on video)
  • For a more conspiracy-theory, kind of frat-brat side to the Israeli government… EHEM!… I mean anti-terrorist activism, there’s Fuel for Truth:

    Fuel For Truth equips young Americans with the basic skills and facts necessary to advocate on behalf of Israel and the United States…Enemies of open societies, such as Israel and the United States, are pouring millions of dollars into PR campaigns to foster hatred here on our native soil. It is imperative that misinformation is countered with accurate depictions of events, past and present, to protect generations of the future.

  • Yavneh Olami is “a Jewish international student organization in the spirit of Religious Zionism that utilizes innovative resources to inspire, educate and empower Jewish students from all around the world to strengthen their connection to Israel and the Jewish People.” Their vision is “to establish an international community of active Jewish and Israel-minded students who possess a firm commitment and deep sense of responsibility to Israel and the Jewish People.”
  • Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach is, of course, a division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, it aims to “forge strategic alliances with campus groups, faculty, staff and students, to foster a new awareness of contemporary human rights, social justice and ethics in today’s college and university students. By exposing the truth behind anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism…by fighting for America’s energy independence…by promoting human rights and dignity…by standing firmly with Israel…and by celebrating our unique identity as Jews…”
  • Last but not least- more government connection for an academic boycott of the 5 major Israeli universities (Ben-Gurion University, Haifa University, Hebrew University, the Technion and Tel Aviv University): The Israel University Consortium:

    Our programs for international students provide many wonderful ways to continue your academic pursuits, contribute to Israeli culture, and earn credits that will transfer back to your home schools.

    The Consortium offers a tour of all 5 universities and “Masada, the Dead Sea, Sea of Galilee, Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva, and Jerusalem…Five-star hotel accommodations… A licensed tour guide…All tours will be accompanied by Israeli security… Academic presentations on Israel’s history, society, and politics; Middle East regional cooperation; Israeli innovations in education, agriculture, and technology.”

This is how the ICC address[es] campus challenges [such as BDS].”

It’s a huge web of organizations and they all center at the Jewish Agency, and I doubt a-bit-over-a-4000 words is enough to cover it. More sites can be found on the sites listed here. I hope this article gives a clear picture of the extent of the Israeli government violation of American students. And always with a practical goal in mind:

Say NO to the world-wide Israeli educational “offshoring” project! Academic boycott now!

3 thoughts on “Why Academic Boycott?”

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