From February 28th to March 5th, I flew to the United Kingdom as a delegate of “Isreality,” a student group supported by CAMERA on Campus and Nefesh Yehudi. The purpose of the delegation was to bring Israeli and UK students together and present them with tools to combat anti-Zionist propaganda, which has become a common occurrence on campuses in the UK and Israel.
During our visit, we met with various organizations, including The Jewish Agency, UJS (Union of Jewish Students in the UK), Members of Parliament from the Conservative and Labour Party in Britain, NJA (National Jewish Assembly), and the Israeli Embassy in London.
We also tabled at universities across the UK to combat the misinformation spread during “Israeli apartheid week” (IAW), a propaganda campaign run by SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) on campuses in Europe and North America.
During IAW, SJP set up displays such as mock “apartheid walls,” hosted anti-Israel speakers, and shared antisemitic propaganda about Israel.
To counter this propaganda, our delegation participated in CAMERA on Campus’ Apartheid Week Exposed campaign to arm students with the truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Our delegation toured City University, UCL (University College London), and KCL (King’s College London), where we tabled with students from the Jewish and Israel societies at KCL and UCL, respectively.
We met students with Iraqi, Iranian, and Saudi heritage and some exchange students, most of whom had never met Israelis. It was incredible to speak with them and hear their perspective on life in the UK and the Middle East’s politics, culture, and history.
We shared our experiences as Israelis. No one from the delegation gave precisely the same answers, as even Israelis have diverse perspectives.
What we did have in common is that we all refuted propaganda like the libel that Israel is an “apartheid” state and highlighted Israel’s efforts to make peace and protect its citizens.
Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel are equal in the eyes of the law, and there is even an Arab political party, a part of a government coalition. Under what circumstances does an “apartheid state” give equal rights and political representation to those who it is supposed to be oppressing?
Israel has also long sought peace with the Palestinians, yet anti-Zionists depict Israel as opposed to peace.
When I walked the halls of City University, I saw many posters promoting antisemitic propaganda.
One particular example of hatred toward Israel epitomized the senseless hatred that some students have for Israel.
It was especially notable for us to be present at UCL, where just a few weeks prior, an event with pro-Israel activist Yoseph Haddad was rudely interrupted by anti-Israel protestors who called for an intifada – the murder of Jews.
Haddad had to be accompanied by five security guards due to threats from anti-Israel students.
During the Operation Guardian of the Walls, the student union at UCL accused Israel of instigating violence against the Palestinian people and blamed the rise in violence on “Israel’s apartheid policy,” effectively whitewashing Palestinian terrorism, which is the cause of the war.
Today the prevailing definition of antisemitism is defined by IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) and is adopted by many campuses throughout the UK.
However, in 2021 the UCL board tried to withdraw the university’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Eventually, this vote did not take place, but the student union at UCL claimed that if it were to come up, it would vote to cancel this definition.
Abigail Darwish, a UK CAMERA on Campus fellow at UCL, raised concerns about the hostile climate created at UCL. Indeed, UK students face many challenges, and after experiencing this firsthand, I agree with Abigail.
Our visit to the UK was empowering, educational, and a delightful experience. We saw the life of the Jewish community in London, met pro-Israel groups and organizations, confronted anti-Israel propaganda firsthand, and held substantial discussions on campuses.
I feel lucky and happy to have had the opportunity to travel with my fellow expedition members and impact student perceptions of Israel and her people.
Follow this link to read the article in Hebrew.