During CAMERA’s Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference last week, students had the opportunity to hear Jeff Jacoby, an op-ed columnist at the Boston Globe since 1994, speak. In addition, in 1999, Mr. Jacoby was the first recipient of the Breindel Prize, awarded for excellence in opinion journalism.
Jacoby engaged CAMERA students by discussing such topics as growing anti-Zionist sentiment and what Zionism meant to them, saying that we should “reclaim the word Zionism.” Instead of Zionism being known as an “epithet,” Mr. Jacoby said that it “should … [give] us an enormous sense of pride.” When discussing the importance of Zionism, such words as “freedom,” “peace,” and “hope” came up.
The speech also touched on the origins of Zionism. Even before Theodore Herzl, the creator of modern Zionism, established the World Zionist Congress in 1897, there was support for a Jewish state in the US. Six years earlier, the publishers of many major newspapers in the United States, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe, signed a petition known as the Blackstone Memorial. It stated that the Jews should be supported in their return to the land of Israel, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire, so they could have a state for themselves.
Jacoby also informed the students that the first president of the Zionist Organization of America was the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis. Students learned about a time when Israel was not treated negatively by the UN and the mainstream media. In 1973, Life published a special report celebrating the 25th anniversary of Israel. Jacoby discussed how, slowly, Israel grew to be seen as the aggressor in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Zionism and Israel, according to Mr. Jacoby, are demonized by the mainstream media and on college campuses because of the “big lie technique.” Championed by the Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, leading people to believe a “big lie” only requires you to repeat it enough times that they believe that it is, in fact, true.
While yes, Israel, like any other army, has to defend itself, “at the fundamental level [Zionism] meant an end to 2000 years of defenselessness” and persecution. The students learned how to engage in the defense of Israel effectively, and Jeff Jacoby’s speech encouraged students to embrace Zionism.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn