Parent Program Addresses Anti-Israel Sentiment on Campus

In the face of growing anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses, The Associated is taking a lead in educating our community.

This summer, in partnership with The Louise D. and Morton Macks Center for Jewish Education and the Baltimore Jewish Council, the organization held its first-ever program for parents of college-age students, providing them with information on what their kids might encounter at school.

From BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) 101 to campus anecdotes and trends, the experts shared insight into what is happening on campus today. Introducing case studies into the conversations, they also discussed how to handle common anti-Israel scenarios.

The panel included Chana Siff, assistant director of Israel and Overseas at The Associated, Rabbi Josh Snyder, director, Goucher Hillel and Amalia Phillips director of Israel and Overseas Education, Macks Center for Jewish Education and offered everything from tips on what to do if one’s college professor links Israel to colonialism to resources for parents and students.

The BDS movement, which sponsors the economic, cultural and academic isolation of Israel, calling for an end to the democratic homeland, has found its biggest success to date on college campuses. The group uses tactics that include staging “die-In” protests, protesting pro-Israel events and gatherings and bringing referendums before student councils calling for the university to divest from Israel.

“We actually discussed a case study with the parents about what to do when a professor says something disparaging about Israel. College students don’t know how to respond, and they don’t want to risk antagonizing him or her because they fear retribution. We explained most universities have mediators who can help navigate these situations in ways that don’t harm the students,” says Philips.

Nancy Hudes, whose daughter just started college this fall, hosted the summer program. For her, it was important that parents and college students not only understand what they may encounter but are armed with information and ways to respond.

“We’ve taken our children to Israel; we’re involved with our synagogue and I know our kids have a love of Israel. But I don’t know if my kids have the information and awareness of how to respond to what they might see and hear on campus. They care about Israel, but I’m not sure they know the history, the facts,” Hudes says.

Believing that the program raised important issues and provided good resources, Hudes would like to see the educational program expanded, reaching parents and high school students earlier in their high school years so that they can have a solid base before they start college.

Following the success of the program this summer, The Associated and its agencies will continue to plan programs for the upcoming year to educate and prepare parents and students for potential challenges they may face. Because the movement to delegitimize Israel, especially on campus, is real, The Associated believes it is our community’s responsibility to ensure that our students are well-prepared to stand up for the right of the Jewish people to a Jewish homeland in Israel.

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