Quoted: Jihad on campus: inside and outside of classrooms, Gil Troy says

By Joanne Hill, Jewish Tribune, 3-1-11

There are “two different jihads” taking place on campus today, said Prof. Gil Troy: “the campus jihad,” which takes place outside of classroom hours, and “the academic jihad,” which takes place inside the classroom. To counter both, it is necessary to “get out of defensive mode” and insist on a return to traditional academic values.

“How do Zionists get a passing grade on campus? By bringing academia back to academic values. And if we do it right, we won’t just improve the situation for Jews and Zionists on campus, we’ll remind professors, administrators, students and parents about who we are and what our mission is…. Because there’s a broader issue on campus today: a lack of concern with quality of teaching (and) a lack of concern with the quality of the students’ interactions and feelings.

“There’s a paradox today: this is a Golden Age for Jews on campus…but we have to notice that it’s also a Golden Age for Israel-bashers on campus.”

Troy gave several suggestions for ways to create positive change.

“First, we have to rescue academia from all these corrupt academics…. When we talk about the content of the pro-Palestinian professor, we lose…. We’ll always lose the battle over academic freedom. But if we talk about educational malpractice, if we talk about hijacking the podium to advance your own personal political position, whether it be for the right or the left, whether it be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, if we link it to a broader conversation about how to improve teaching quality…then we have a chance at succeeding and a chance at improving the university.”

Salim Mansur said the West cannot solve the problems of the Arab/Muslim world but must instead focus on fixing its own “desperate” situation. He warned that the separation of religion and politics in the West might be lost because too many intellectuals are “ready to surrender it to sharia (Islamic law).”

People of the West must remember their own “bloody” history as they view the “convulsion process” currently taking place in many Muslim countries and not indulge in polemics. The focus should, instead, be on principles that are exemplified by the affirmation of individual rights such as freedom of speech and the rejection of multiculturalism.

“We are a culture that affirms individual rights and the ultimate minority in the world is the individual. The minority of the world is not a Jew, it’s not a Hindu, it’s not a Confucian, it’s an individual. (When) we protect the rights of the individual, we protect the Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, everyone, because we protect that person as an individual.”

“What are we teaching our students: to respect sharia? I am a Muslim and I have no respect for sharia…. Shariah is a legal construction of the 8th, 9th, 10th century. What has it got to do with Islam? It’s got to do with the thinking of 8th, 9th, 10th century men that puts the privilege of men over women, Muslim over non-Muslim, free person over slave. That’s 8th century thinking and it’s being upheld in the 21st century not simply by Iran…. Where are all the Jewish students and where is everybody else standing up? That’s the principle we need to fight for.”

Dr. Catherine Chatterley’s contribution to the panel was an academic look at the evolution of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

“Today Israel is confronting a coordinated global strategy to weaken its connection to the West, including the Jewish diaspora. If speaking out in defence of Israel is made the equivalent of defending apartheid, then the hope is that Israel will eventually collapse in isolation or be coerced into negotiations that make it vulnerable to dismantlement or destruction. This is the larger context in which IAW must be understood if we are to see it clearly for the political program that it is.”

This time media distortion makes Brits look bad

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 12-15-10

Last Thursday, we saw once again how the media distorts views of the conflict. Rather than concentrating on the peaceful, constructive majority, reporters spotlighted the most violent, destructive, extremist minority’s activities.  In economics, Gresham’s Law suggests that bad money always drives good money out of circulation; in media, politics, and diplomacy, bad or violent news always drives out good or peaceful news to boost circulation.

No, this is not another woe-is-me column about how the anti-Israel press always highlights extremist elements within Israeli society, caricaturing all Israelis as violent, racist, proto-fascist fundamentalist settlers – although that problem persists. In last Thursday’s conflict, British students protesting tuition hikes clashed with police on Parliament Hill. Photos the next day, zeroing in on lit fires against a backdrop of Britain’s iconic Big Ben Clock Tower, suggested that student protesters had violently torched the heart of British democracy.  In fact, the protesters were calmer, less chaotic, and more constructive than most media reports suggested.

I had a unique vantage point on the riots, having innocently emerged from the Churchill War Rooms on Parliament Hill with my four young children shortly before the protests began. We were still steeped in British gallantry during World War II, evoked so vividly in the underground bomb shelters where Winston Churchill and the British High Command strategized while under Nazi attack. Nevertheless, as we walked down Whitehall toward Trafalgar Square, I felt eerily like Gary Cooper walking down the deserted main street in High Noon. Few people were around. No cars drove on this main drag. Restaurant owners looked anxiously at their empty dining rooms and their vulnerable plate glass windows. Police were everywhere.

“What’s going on, some kind of ceremony?” I asked one Bobby.  “No, sir,” he replied, “student protests.”

We ended up mingling a bit with the protesters on the other end, closer to the Houses of Parliament. The crowd was jovial – not menacing.  There was minimal tension in the air, more like the air of anticipation as the audience trickles in before a play, with everyone knowing their assigned roles yet still excited by the unknown element live theatre injects into the mix. Students lit some fires to keep warm.

The crowd displayed three types of signs. Most, crudely addressing the threefold increase in tuition prompting the protests, proclaimed “F… THE FEES.”  Scattered signs were more clever, as befits British students, crying out: “SOME CUTS DON’T HEAL” and even, “CUTS ARE FOR MOHELS NOT MINISTERS.” The third type randomly attacked America, defended Iran and the Palestinians, and advocated either socialism or anarchism.  Once again, I was struck by the unholy alliance forged between the New Left’s Faux Cosmopolitans and some of the most illiberal, violent, fundamentalist currents emanating from the Arab world today.

The crowd was so orderly and good humored, I tried cutting across with my children. The police stopped us, in the first indications of the “kettle” strategy used to contain the protesters, before forcing out a few at a time to relieve the pressure.

Disappointed, we doubled back to a Tube station, leaving the scene by riding underneath the barricaded crowds. An hour later, we were in a downtown hotel four blocks from Whitehall enjoying high tea. A large screen TV had my kids mesmerized by the battle of Parliament Hill which erupted. As the TV cameras zeroed in on one clash or another, even my children noticed that most of the violence was at the crowd’s margins. In fact, many of the same anarchists trying to hijack the tuition protests to advance their broader anti-government and anti-Western agenda were the ones turning an overwhelmingly peaceful protest into the violent clash that made front pages around the world.

The dramatic footage caricatured “the students” as violent and London as “aflame.” The attack on Prince Charles’ Rolls Royce reinforced the impression of British chaos. But of a crowd estimated between 25,000 and 50,000, only fifty were arrested and only a handful of hooligans attacked the royal Rolls. All the while, we sipped tea then ice skated, as the rest of London continued with its pre-holiday hustle bustle.

All this reminds us that reporters remain addicted to the dictum that “if it bleeds, it leads.” The mainstream media and now the blogosphere shine a spotlight on a story’s most violent, dysfunctional, and thus dramatic aspects. As a result, we absorb a distorted view of the world, especially in the age of 24/7 news.

We also see that Israelis do not have a monopoly on Split Screen Living. Just as Israel’s malls were packed in the center of the country when Hezbollah rockets menaced the country in 2006, just as this month Israelis still celebrated Hanukkah while the Carmel Mountain burned, the student riots did not interrupt London’s pre-Christmas carnival.  There is an art to Split Screen Living in a healthy democracy. Sometimes sticking to routine requires tremendous courage amid formidable odds. Just as individuals emerging from dysfunctional families learn that living well is the best revenge, citizens seeking to defy attacks from the outside or within know that living life despite imposed crisis is the best defense, keeping to the ordinary amid extraordinary pressures has its own power and poetry.

I confess to schadenfreude, delighting in another’s misery, watching the Brits struggle against media exaggerations after so many of them have swallowed media lies about Israel.  We must stop defining reality and judging society through the media’s distorted lens. We must learn how to address sometimes extraordinary challenges while living our ordinary lives. And we must seek just the right balance, in every healthy democracy, knowing how to push for progress without destroying what we have built.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem. The author of
Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today, he is also the author of The Reagan Revolution:  A Very Short Introduction.  giltroy@gmail.com

Let’s mobilize against anti-Israel week

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 2-7-10

We historians don’t predict the future – the past is foggy enough. But allow me one prediction. Within weeks, the Jewish world is going to be in high dudgeon, outraged at the Anti-Israel Week activities on campuses across North America. And, judging by the past, and the current situation as far as I know, we will shift into temporary crisis

mode, reacting and overreacting, flailing about with little discipline, little coordination, little strategy, little tactical gain, but much frustration.

Our enemies – and yes, they are our enemies – have been planning this Israel hate-fest for a year, if not longer. One Israel-bashing Web site declares: “Mark your calendars – the 6th International Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will take place across the globe from the 1st to the 14th of March 2010!” True, a “week” usually lasts only seven days; our adversaries count days as sloppily as they recount the past. These Israel-libelers claim 40 cities will participate – 12 in Canada alone – mostly on campuses. Rather than dithering then scrambling, we must plan – in fact, planning should have started months ago.

David Olesker, the director of JCCAT, the Jerusalem Center for Communication and Advocacy Training, warns that before planning tactical responses, we must clarify our strategy. “Where do we want to be in five years, where are we going with our arguments and advocacy?” he asks, noting how rarely pro-Israel advocates think about the big picture, although our adversaries do.

Thinking strategically, the pro-Israel community should remember “Three P’s.” First, Push back, but push back intelligently, remembering our target audiences. We will rarely sway with mere facts someone who has swallowed the apartheid libel and drunk the anti-Israel Kool-Aid. Our target is wavering Jewish students and the vast uninformed and uninterested middle. We should play off the radical demonizers, making them look extreme and foolish as we demonstrate our informed commitment, our enlightened passion, the rightness and righteousness of our cause.

Second, Position Israel better as a modern democracy fighting terror, sometimes forced to make unhappy decisions like other countries. The truth is our friend. Israel has compromised – and seen withdrawals from territory and other concessions “rewarded” with violence. Until critics deal with that, they are simply Israel-bashing with no real commitment to peace. And speaking of peace, let’s call the libelers’ bluff. Those who falsely accuse Israel of practicing racist, South African-style apartheid, are essentially saying Israel is so odious that, like that regime, it should not exist. How can such a libelous, historically misinformed attack advance the peace process?

Third, be Proud of Israel as an extraordinary old-new land, one of the great successes of the twentieth century, now leading the way technologically in the twenty-first century. Just as the US is not only defined by its racial troubles, and Canada not only defined by its linguistic tensions, Israel is not just about the Palestinians. It was the central conceit of Yasser Arafat and his terrorist henchmen to make every conversation about Israel revolve around them – and it worked. In taking back the narrative, we should jump to a different track, not always talking about Israel in the context of defending Israel or justifying its existence but celebrating Israel, delighting in Israel’s achievements, pluralism, values, democracy and historically redemptive role.

Tactically, as we wait for the latest initiatives rumored to be in the works in North America and Israel to help galvanize and centralize pro-Israel sentiment, we should mobilize the Jewish Netroots. Let us put out a call to the pro-Israel blogosphere for an approach defined by the “Three H’s.”

For starters, we must be Horizontal, understanding that today’s informational, ideological and political playing field is vast, chaotic and democratic. Students, bloggers and activists should speak their minds, display their passions, forge their own relationships with Israel and express their pride as effectively, as creatively, as widely, as they can.

This more horizontal approach must be Hip, singing, rapping or tweeting a new song of Zion, one that is relevant, resonant, inspirational, conversational, internalized among millions of pro-Israel and pro-democracy activists, rather than dictated from above or simply inherited from our ancestors.

And finally, we should not be afraid to be Hysterical¸ to laugh among ourselves while mocking the heavy-handed propagandists who build their entire ideology on negation – investing time, money, energy in denigrating Israel rather than building anything constructive for Palestinians, or anyone else, for that matter. Israeli culture is improvisational – demonstrated particularly by the ingenuity of the IDF and the creativity of high tech entrepreneurs. Those same skills should be deployed in the fight for Israel’s legitimacy, but with humor, not a heavy hand. We should mock our enemies – because their positions are laughable and because ridicule is such an effective tool on the net.

We must go global and virtual in Israel advocacy, not because of anti-Israel week but because we have a great story to tell. And in the virtual world millions can take the lead in celebrating Israel. For too long, Israelis have sat on the sidelines, watching their brothers and sisters flounder in the Diaspora, or, even worse, allowing a small minority of Israelis to fuel the fires of anti-Zionism abroad, giving Israel and particularly Israeli universities a bad name. But today, Israelis and non-Israelis can work together – or at least in parallel – broadcasting a pro-Zionist message while ridiculing and undermining our enemies.

In a country that must engage its youth in more nationalistic, values-oriented projects, and at a time when parents lament how much time their kids spend on the computer, here is a great challenge for the country’s high schools and universities. The anti-Israel forces wish to wipe Israel off the map and demonize Zionists as the “New Nazis.” If we fail to fight back, they will continue poisoning the discourse around Israel, especially on campuses and in Europe. Let young Israelis learn enough history to defend themselves and their country effectively on the Internet. Let this be a great virtual contact point, building relations between Israeli and Diaspora youth.

Wouldn’t it be great if next year, the anti-Israel forces canceled their annual festival of nihilism because the push-back they triggered simply wasn’t worth it? Now that’s a strategic goal worth pursuing.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University on leave in Jerusalem. He is the author of Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today. His latest book The Reagan Revolution:  A Very Short Introduction, was recently published by Oxford University Press.

Gil Troy: Professors can stop campus hooligans

By Gil Troy, Toronto Star, 3-5-09

AARON HARRIS/TORONTO STAR A protester stands in the Wallberg Building at U of T on March 3, 2009, during lectures for Israeli Apartheid Week.

Day after day we read about aggressive student protesters and dithering administrators at universities across Canada, but particularly at York University.

Radical student hooligans there intimidated and even temporarily incarcerated Jewish students last month as cries of “Die, Jew, get the hell off campus,” were heard.

This week, tensions are bound to escalate at York and other campuses as Palestinians try equating Israel with the now-defunct racist South African apartheid regime. Even the posters advertising the week have sparked tensions. Recoiling at the violence at York and elsewhere, we need to ask: Where are the professors?

During times of political trouble we tend to forget that campuses are primarily educational institutions. They are also the professional homes of professors who need to take a stand when violence and hooliganism invade their academic sanctuary.

With all due respect to campus security and police officers, when the call goes out to them for help, we as professors have failed.

A campus that needs the “thin blue line” of law enforcement is a campus that has violated its fundamental obligation to keep students safe and to host the free exchange of ideas so essential to good learning.

Yet even when disaster strikes and the 911 call goes out, professors can still step in.

Professors underestimate their own moral authority. Our power goes far beyond the ability to give out As or Fs. We are the university’s public face, the basic service providers, the campus role models.

The human dimension in education remains central in our hypertechnological age. Our students are always watching us. They learn from our actions – and our inactions. At York University and any other university where even one student feels physically threatened, professors must mobilize and – as the feminists say – take back the night.

For starters, a broad range of York professors, from different fields and from across the political spectrum, should denounce the violence. Professors highly critical of Israel should take the lead, teaching that the issue is not about Israel, pro or con, but about student security and campus civility.

Professors should volunteer to escort any students or student groups who feel unsafe. And yes, if necessary, professors should stand between rival groups on campus, literally standing for civility not just endorsing it.

Rather than relying on the monochromatic uniforms of campus security, the professors should don their multicoloured academic gowns. If professors feel comfortable parading around in these robes at commencement to celebrate student achievement, shouldn’t we don them when the core values of our university are threatened?

Finally, professors should turn these traumatic events in the university’s life into what we in the education biz call “teachable moments.” Both regular class time and special teach-ins should be devoted to learning about free speech; about the mutuality of rights so we don’t have “free speech for me and not for thee”; about the centrality of civility to campus life; and about the historic roles of campuses as centres of civility.

Professors at places like Carleton, where the apartheid posters have sparked controversy, should also step in and work to keep the debate civil and avoid the violence that erupted at York.

I do not mean to single out my colleagues at York University. We at McGill or anywhere else in North America would do no better – and have done no better.

Since the 1960s, we as professors have abdicated responsibility for campus life outside the classroom, ceding it to students and administrators.

Most professors have preferred to dodge the politically charged issues that have periodically roiled campuses since those days, and there is often little political consensus among colleagues. Avoidance has been safer than engagement.

Moreover, we live in the age of the academic careerist, where most of us are too overextended as well as too cautious to take bold stands.

Unfortunately, the ugly violence that now threatens York’s reputation and its future demands professorial action and leadership. Students and administrators have failed. Donors are understandably getting restive. Parents and potential students are worried.

York professors have a responsibility to defend their academic home and a great opportunity to heal it.

No one goes into academics these days because it is the easy path. And most of us who research and teach believe in the redemptive power of learning.

York professors have a responsibility and a privilege to help solve the problem plaguing their university. Teaching is not just a job, it is a calling. It is time for York’s professors to answer the call and redeem their university.

Gil Troy is a professor of history at McGill University.

Gil Troy: Student unions should stick to student issues

By Gil Troy, Canadian Jewish News, 2-26-09

Earlier this month, McGill University students voted 436 to 263 to postpone indefinitely a Students’ Society resolution condemning the “bombings” of “educational institutions in Gaza.”

The initiative paralleled similar resolutions that passed at other Canadian universities, including the University of Toronto and York. But a clear majority of McGill students proclaimed that they didn’t want their student union developing a foreign policy. As pro-Palestinian forces try to import yet another round of the Middle East conflict to campus, the McGill majority endorsed the vision of a student society devoted to students’ needs and enhancing campus society, not pontificating about political conflicts far away.

True, it’s the academic’s conceit to comment about everything. We enjoy passing judgment from our cushy ivory towers, inviting our students to join our know-it-all chorus. Few students need such encouragement, compelled as they are by their own youthful vanity to judge the world that their elders have bequeathed them.

Student political organizations convey that spirit, legitimately. Campuses should be filled with many social, political and religious organizations, reflecting diverse attitudes, ideologies and political persuasions. I’m proud of my students who campaigned for now-U.S. President Barack Obama, and my student – note the singular – who supported Senator John McCain. I love seeing young Liberals and Conservatives electioneering, and I applaud the passion of those from beyond the conventional political spectrum, too.

Nevertheless, students’ partisan identities shouldn’t intrude on student union politics. The inspiration that so many students drew from Obama was commendable, but it would have been appalling if a student union had circulated a motion praising Obama and condemning McCain. This breach of political etiquette would have turned the student union into partisan Democratic headquarters, making it the student disunion.

Following a similar rationale, the anti-Israel resolutions are divisive and distracting, as well as disproportionate and discriminatory. They sabotage the modern university’s commitment to diversity. All great universities today welcome students of different religions, nationalities, races and creeds. Pronouncing on such a hot-button issue, implying that students share some consensus position, imposes thought control and presumptions of uniformity where none exist. This posture of unity will foster disunity, importing passionate divisions into an arena where they don’t belong.

Such incendiary, irrelevant resolutions distract from what should be a student society’s mission: improving students’ experiences.

Five years ago, engineering and commerce students at Concordia University rebelled against their student union’s political obsessions. Students were embarrassed that all too often, job recruiters related to Concordia as a place characterized by radical, sometimes violent, pro-Palestinian stands rather than as a centre of academic excellence. The students elected new leaders committed to helping students, not developing a foreign policy.

Finally, the resolutions themselves give a slanted view of a complex conflict. They ignore the role of Hamas, a terrorist group with an anti-Semitic, genocidal charter that advocates Israel’s destruction, in triggering the recent violence, cowering behind educational institutions, mosques and hospitals, and targeting Israeli schools.

Where were these concerned students when 10,000 Palestinian rockets bombarded Israel? Where were student unions when these rockets fell on Sapir College in the Negev or on nurseries, kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools in Sderot and its environs? Where is the outrage that smuggled Grad missiles menaced Ben-Gurion University, or that Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva – which serves Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Bedouin equally – is targeted? Does anybody care that Soroka had to place sandbags on its sleep lab and evacuate its maternity ward under fire?

More profoundly, has anyone condemned Hamas for threatening chances of a two-state solution by using the Gaza pullout to launch rockets and dig tunnels rather than building a functioning civil society? The umbrage at Israel’s actions seems false and disproportionate, thus discriminatory, singling out the Jewish state for special scrutiny and particular enmity.

Campuses are fragile ecosystems, special places where many different people congregate to live together and learn together. Campus leaders have a special responsibility to avoid polluting the atmosphere with poisonous rhetoric, biased behaviour and irrelevant assaults on fellow students’ sensibilities. Indulging in foreign policy postures regarding explosive issues, particularly the Middle East, fails that test – raising tensions rather than alleviating them, doing nothing to solve the conflict and importing tensions from 10,000 kilometres away too close to home.

Fight anti-Israel week by rejecting the apartheid smear

By GIL TROY , THE JERUSALEM POST, Dec. 28, 2008

How could it be that in 2008, whenever a certain professor mentions the market meltdown, he blames specific economists and businesspeople whom he identifies as Jewish – but never mentions other people’s religion? (And this before Bernard Madoff became anti-Semites’ newest poster child even though he most hurt Jews.) How could administrators dither as Jewish students feel bullied during the week perpetuating the libel that Israel is recreating South African racist apartheid? How could a campus “free speech forum” feature one speaker after another bashing Israel, with hecklers shouting down anyone who defends Israel? These are some of the challenges Jewish students on one Canadian campus are facing.

AS SOMEONE who has spent his life in the university, it pains me to identify campuses as centers of the new anti-Semitism. The new anti-Semitism is subtler than the traditional, more recognizable, type. But recent conversations with Jewish students reminded me how vulnerable many feel, how unsettling this new epidemic is for many.

Analyses of campus anti-Semitism must acknowledge that Jews are enjoying a golden age on campus. There never have been so many Jewish students, professors and university presidents. Most North American campuses are neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israel battle zones. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore many students’ distress – or fail to help them.

The new anti-Semitism is not wholly dependent on the controversies surrounding Israel. The Israel-Palestinian conflict has legitimized the hatred and confused the issue. The growth in blatantly anti-Jewish remarks, the insensitivity to Jewish concerns despite hyper-sensitivity to racist, sexist or homophobic epithets, and the singling out of Israel and Zionism for particular hatred, not just condemnation, transcend Israel’s policies. It often feels that too many university communities accept Count de Clermont-Tonnerre’s proposal to the French National Assembly of 1789: “The Jews must be granted everything as individuals – but nothing as a nation.”

THIS CAMPUS hostility toward Israel and Jews collectively is rooted in the 1960s. Students’ noble fight against Southern segregation curdled into attitudes romanticizing Third Worlders while demonizing whites and Westerners. The great modern sins became colonialism, imperialism and racism – along with sexism, heterosexism and now, the latest, Islamophobia.

Palestinian propagandists cleverly tagged Israel with the first three sins – caricatured as a colonialist, imperialist project of racist Zionists. This labeling is absurd. Jews returned to their historic homeland; they did not join a colonial expedition. Moreover, Palestinian Jews fought against the British Empire in the 1940s. And calling Zionism racist is itself racist, singling out Jewish nationalism for special disapproval in a world organized by nation-states.

Casting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a racial rather than national struggle demonized Israelis as Western whites stealing noble, colored Palestinians’ land – despite the many non-Western, non-white Israelis, the many white-looking Palestinians and the fact that some Arab Palestinians who left in 1948 were as new to Palestine as some European Jews, because Mandatory Palestine attracted many Jews and Arabs.

These distortions underline the latest anti-Israel smear, the odious attempt to link Israel with South African racism. When we simply repeat the name of the week that is often observed in early February, without putting many words between the Jewish state and the word apartheid, we fail. Repetition creates a link just as Jewish nationalism was linked with that awful word racism. We should rename the week “Anti-Israel Week.”

AS THE first semester winds down, now is the time to plan for the inevitable attack. Zionist activists should fashion a strategy based on these principles:

  • This is politics, not physics; not every action demands a reaction. The goal is not to try dissuading Israel’s enemies. If Israel’s attackers are being ignored or – as frequently happens – alienating bystanders by being aggressive, leave them alone. Only engage in battles which can build Jewish pride or present Israel to those who are open-minded.
  • Learn from feminists. In opposing sexual harassment, feminists have sensitized us to “hostile environments,” the subtle ways intentional or unintentional aggression can make people feel demeaned. Students, their parents, alumni and professors must demand that administrators foster safe learning environments. The feminist idea of “taking back the night,” is to celebrate where others may simply defend. So use the Z-word “Zionism” even if it is maligned, and turn “anti-Israel week” into a week-long celebration of Israel’s accomplishments and Zionism’s righteousness.
  • Students should be good consumers. If professors commit educational malpractice by not listening, or being so biased they squelch debate, students should file detailed complaints not against bad politics but demanding good education.
  • Find allies. The established Jewish community should find former black South Africans who endured apartheid and African scholars to explain apartheid’s pernicious racism. We should seek South Africans offended by propagandists hijacking apartheid just as Jews resent hijacking the Holocaust to score cheap political points. Every comparison of the Israeli-Palestinian national conflict to apartheid dilutes the evil, racist injustice South African blacks and “mixed colors” endured under the color-conscious, depraved system which is not similar to the security measures Israel adopts in response to Palestinian terrorism.
  • Fight the upcoming Durban conference. Rather than simply reacting defensively, let this year’s anti-Israel week become a consciousness raising moment for the university and broader Jewish community about the attempt to recreate the Durban conference this April in Geneva – again targeting Israel. Rather than stewing, and accepting the anti-Zionist agenda, use the attacks to fight the epidemic of Jewish apathy and mobilize a powerful pro-Israel response.SADLY, PREPARATION for the next semester must be political not just educational. But we must master political jujitsu – a negative force, if properly met, can be transformed into a positive one. This February let us transform anti-Israel week’s negative force into a positive force celebrating Israel, redeeming Zionism and moving forward with an effective, upbeat response to Durban.The writer is professor of history at McGill University and the author of Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.