By Paul Miller/JNS.org
More than 250 supporters of Israel, including dozens of high school and college students, packed into a Chicago-area AMC movie theatre on Sunday for a screening of the documentary “Crossing The Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism On Campus,” a half-hour film that takes a look at when criticism of Israel “crosses the line” into anti-Semitism on North American college campuses.
Directed by Shoshana Palatnik and written by Yitz Brilliant, “Crossing the Line 2” was produced by Raphael Shore and Amy Holtz for Jerusalem U, an Israel advocacy group describing itself as “committed to strengthening the emotional and intellectual connection of young Jews to Judaism and Israel.”
Jerusalem U sponsored Sunday’s event together with StandWithUs and Step Up For Israel, with additional participation from more than 20 area organizations and synagogues.
From the opening moments of the film, the audience experiences campus rallies that portray Israel and Jews as Nazis and equate Palestinians with Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
“I would never have said a year ago that this would happen on my campus,” laments Binghamton University alum Justin Hayet. “Thirty-something percent Jews, proud Jews, Zionists, such a strong Jewish and pro-Israel community—this would never happen, [but] it happened. People were being verbally and maliciously attacked for saying they believe in the right of a State of Israel.”
Campus activities organized by Students for Justice in Palestine to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and “Israeli Apartheid Week,” as well as the anti-Israel camp’s infiltration of student governments, are clearly exposed in the documentary. Incidents of Nazi imagery spray-painted on Jewish fraternities, buildings, and dorm room doors exemplify the blatant anti-Semitism showed in the film.
Most appalling may be the acts of intimidation and threats of violence against Jewish students on numerous college campuses.
Early on, the documentary shows video footage of a Cornell University student cursing toward the camera “f**k you Zionist scum” and then spitting at the camera. The film then cuts to an anti-Israel rally in Oakland, Calif., and an angry woman assaulting and screaming at a pro-Israel activist, “Go you stupid whore, get the f**k out of here.”
“There are some campuses where students actually feel intimidated simply for wearing a Magen David (Star of David) or a kippah on campus,” says Aviva Slomich, international campus director for Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
StandWithUs Midwest Community Coordinator Peggy Shapiro moderated a panel discussion following the screening. Panelists included rising young pro-Israel activist Chloe Valdary, a Wall Street Journal Bartley Fellow; jihadist-turned-Zionist Kasim Hafeez, outreach coordinator at Christians United for Israel; Zeev Ben-Shachar, director of Israel education for Jerusalem U; and Assaf Grumberg, StandWithUs Central Region Campus Director and a former IDF officer.
Shapiro asked Valdary, a Christian, “How do we get more non-Jewish students to become Zionists and speak up?”
“The way you get more people like me to become Zionists is to have more Jews that are vocally actively Zionist, non-Jews would see that,” Valdary responded. “A great example is this year we had a pro-Zionist festival at Tulane [University] that was all about celebrating Zionism. We gave away tank tops with the definition of Zionism on them and people were walking around campus celebrating Zionism, and the majority of people at the festival were not Jewish.”
The audience questions had a common theme of, “What can students do?” The panel—which also included Zeev Ben-Shachar of Jerusalem U and Assaf Grumberg, StandWithUs Central Region Campus Director and a former IDF officer—spoke heavily in favor of going on the offensive.
Ben-Shachar argued for challenging BDS organizers and asking them if they stand for human rights.
“Ask them what they stand for, because I suspect some students don’t know what they stand for,” said Ben-Shachar. “Because if you are against my right to exist, my people’s right to exist as a state, then this conversation is over.”
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