by: Rev. Cheryl Hauer, International Development Director
As bastions of freedom of speech, campuses have traditionally provided the ideal environment for debate among those with differing view points, encouraging the burgeoning leaders of the world to understand all sides of an issue.
However, a growing worldwide movement over the past decade has encouraged change in college and university courses to focus on teaching “democratic citizenship” rather than the standard academic fare of a generation ago. According to the Council of Europe’s Education Web site, citizenship and human rights education are linked into one curriculum which provides “education, training, dissemination, information, practices and activities which aim, by equipping learners with knowledge, skills and understanding and molding their attitudes and behavior, to empower them to contribute to the building and defense of a universal culture of human rights…” (emphasis added).
This redesign of education calls for professors to teach their own conceptions of “democratic citizenship” and amounts to little more than an open door for the propagation of personal political beliefs. University of Illinois-Chicago Dean Stanley Fish, a liberal in his own right, has warned academics against crossing the boundary between academic work and pure partisan advocacy. He fears that professors who base their classes on moral and civic education must first decide which of the competing views of morality and citizenship they think is the right one and then devote academic resources to teaching their own opinion as though it were fact.
Since recent surveys suggest that college faculties worldwide are made up of a disproportionate percentage of liberals, and even self-described “radicals,” the scenario is disturbing. Among American professors, liberals outnumber conservatives by 72% to 15% with Ivy League universities boasting an even higher 87% liberal faculty members. Worldwide, 84% of college professors support abortion rights, while 67% support a homosexual lifestyle. An alarmingly vast majority are critics of US foreign policy and particularly virulent in their opposition to Western support for Israel. So much for understanding all sides of an issue—especially if the issue is Israel.
Militant anti-Israel activity has become commonplace on campuses all over the globe, and it is increasingly difficult for pro-Israel student groups to have their voices heard. This phenomenon is not entirely the result of liberal faculty poisoning young minds with a biased perspective, however. Much of the blame rests with the Saudi royal family.
In the past three decades, Saudi Arabia has spent over US $70 billion on “international aid,” two-thirds of which has financed the infiltration of Western institutions with a message that is inherently anti-Western and anti-Israeli. In addition to building religious schools and funding other Islamic social and cultural infrastructure in non-Muslin countries, a large portion ended up in the coffers of educational institutions to fund Middle Eastern Studies departments and endow chairs across America and around the world. Author Wahlid Phares suggests that these Saudi dollars have made it possible for Middle East studies to be dominated by anti-Western ideology and endowed chairs to be filled by academics known for pro-Palestinian activism rather than scholarship.
In his book, The War of Ideas, Phares says, “A wave of oil funding hit university after university, college after college, and research center after research center, as well as public libraries, museums, and other places of learning…The objectives were fully ideological: further the cause of Islam…support the Palestinian cause…and plant the seeds of the concept of an illegitimate West.”
Comprehensive investigations by the United States CIA and others support Phares’ allegation. Individual Saudi gifts to American educational institutions, for example, are mind-boggling: $20 million to the University of Arkansas, $5 million to UC Berkley, $2.5 million to Harvard, $8.1 million to Georgetown, $11 million to Cornell, and $5 million to MIT to name just a few, with some institutions receiving annual gifts in excess of $5 million since the late 1980s. And America isn’t the only recipient of Saudi generosity. It is estimated that recent investments in college campuses across Australia have exceeded US $120 million with a promise of millions more to come. The UK is no exception either, with millions being poured into its academia, influencing the teaching and research in political science, international relations, history, and economics as well as Middle Eastern Studies.
—Redefining Freedom of Speech
A second contributor to this alarming imbalance is the restriction that campuses are placing on freedom of speech. A full 90% of American campuses have adopted codes intended to banish and punish the use of “politically incorrect speech” in an effort to create an atmosphere of human rights. Instead, they have limited the ability of many to speak with honesty regarding issues that are pro-Western and pro-Israeli. What constitutes politically incorrect speech is often determined using the definition adopted by educational institutions in the UK which requires addressing “Muslim sensitivities with appropriate non-inflammatory terminology in dealing with any issues considered relevant by the Muslim community, including a ban on the phrase, ’Islamic fundamentalism.’”
Professors at those same universities, however, can equate the current Israeli government with the Nazi regime that murdered millions of innocents and refer to Christian supporters of Israel as a Zionist threat to world peace and democracy. The chair of Middle Eastern Studies at Connecticut State University can claim Judaism is a religion of racism whose adherents believe the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value and the killing of non-Jews does not constitute murder according to the Jewish religion.
—The Muslim Student Association
Finally, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) contributes significantly to the anti-Israel atmosphere on campuses worldwide. Established in the United States in 1963, this organization was formed with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood and funded by Saudi Arabia. It is a faith-based campus group, and its Web site states its major purpose as “serving the best interest of Islam and Muslims in the United States and Canada (and worldwide) so as to enable them to practice Islam as a complete way of life.”
However, its participation in an ever increasing number of anti-Israel activities, including the sponsoring of virulently anti-Semitic speakers, reveals a much less benign reason for being. Since its inception, its leadership has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Zionist entity in the Middle East, encouraged jihad and martyrdom, and called for the establishing of shariah(Islamic law) as the rule of law worldwide. The MSA has a strong presence on over 150 campuses across North America, and its influence is growing in colleges around the world.
As a propaganda machine, the MSA has been extremely effective. Terminology that is today a part of the vernacular originated with them, and through their persistence has made it into the broader culture. The claim that Zionism is racism has long been a cry of the MSA and its partner organizations, as has the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state. MSA campus rallies are marked by inflammatory rhetoric, calling for the total elimination of the “Zionist entity in the middle of the Muslim world” and accusing the Jews of racism, discrimination, and institutionalized oppression. These are phrases that are routinely used against Israel today by politicians and media the world over with no realization that they are actually the direct outcome of a concerted propaganda effort.
Israeli Apartheid Week
With this vitriolic atmosphere permeating campuses the world over, it should surprise no one to see the emergence of one of the most dangerously anti-Semitic events to appear on the college scene: Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). First launched in 2005 on the campus of York University in Canada, the IAW Web site claims that it has grown to become “one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar.” With one participant the first year, IAW boasted 24 campuses in 2008, 40 in 2009, and this year’s lineup included 59 campuses spread across the globe. The week’s events include a marathon of lectures, multimedia events, cultural performances, film screenings, and demonstrations.
One of the stated goals of IAW is to challenge “Israeli apartheid” by disseminating reports issued by major international bodies and human rights organizations as well as findings published by political leaders, thinkers, academics, and activists. IAW encourages people and governments across the world to “provide solidarity with the Palestinian struggle by exerting urgent pressure on Israel to alter its current structure and practices as an apartheid state.” In actuality, IAW events encourage support for radicalism, civil disobedience, and even violence.
IAW rhetoric calls for full equality for Arab–Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the “occupation of all Arab lands,” the dismantling of the wall (security fence), and the Palestinian right of return. Central to the accomplishment of IAW’s goals are divestment and economic boycotts of Israel. This was endorsed by South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, who stated in 2002 that “such a campaign against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and its continued settlement expansion should be modeled on the successful historical but controversial disinvestment campaign against South Africa’s apartheid system.”
The unfortunate result of this campus initiative is the spreading of propaganda and the propagation of actions with critical economic and political implications based on disinformation and fed by anti-Semitism.
Violence Limits Pro-Israel Voice
Pro-Israel students have expressed their disgust at demonstrations representing Israeli check points where students dressed as Israeli soldiers held guns and repeatedly acted out the shooting and beating of pregnant women and children. Coupled with biased resources and inflammatory rhetoric, the demonization of Israel was more than complete. However, Jewish students on most of these campuses have not been allowed the opportunity to counter IAW with pro-Israel activity. Campus officials have stated that the very real danger of violence on the part of anti-Israel student groups prohibits pro-Israel students from expressing themselves.
Police were on high alert before and during 2010’s IAW with tensions running very high between Jewish and Muslim students, particularly at universities in Canada. Angry mobs of anti-Israel protestors attacked the Jewish center at York University and other incidents of intimidation and harassment of Jewish students, even cases of assault, were reported worldwide. Jewish leaders have expressed grave concern as events become increasingly vocal and provocative, moving beyond the rhetoric of violence to openly aggressive actions against Jewish students.
Christian Students Stepping In
Through it all, one bright spot is emerging. Across the world, Christian students are mobilizing to stand with their Jewish classmates, creating non-Jewish support groups that will in essence act as ambassadors for Israel on their campuses. So far, 150 such students have been identified by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and trained worldwide. Undergoing public relations courses, visiting Israel, meeting with politicians and diplomats, these students are committed to speaking out and telling the simple truth about Israel, countering the lies that are being spread without engaging in political debate. They are chosen because of their recognized ability to speak and write with eloquence and their proficiency in front of an audience.
Beyond these 150, however, are hundreds of other Christian young people worldwide who are coming to recognize their biblical responsibility to stand for Israel on their campuses. Zealous8:2, the young adult arm of Bridges for Peace, is training such students and other young adults twice yearly, and the impact they are having as they stand with their Jewish counterparts is profound. And, the movement is growing. From London to Amsterdam, Berkley to Cape Town, these students have the potential to turn the tide in favor of Israel on campuses throughout the United States and the rest of the world.
It is critical that Christians everywhere pray for the impact these growing young voices can have on a situation so critical for Israel and the Jewish people. Let’s pray that God will raise up many committed Christian students, that He will empower them to speak effectively, and that He will cover both Jewish and Christian students with the armor of His protection.
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