LONDON, March 8th, 2023 – On Sunday, March 6th, CAMERA on Campus held an exclusive summit with top student leaders from the University College London, King’s College London, Durham University, University of Hertfordshire, University of East Anglia, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The one-day conference covered a plethora of important discussion topics, carefully fielded by the CAMERA on Campus team.
“The challenges students face evolve at a rapid pace. The decision to host a conference tailored to equip students with effective strategies to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel bias was easy for us to make,” said Aviva Rosenschein, CAMERA’s UK and Israel campus director.
The conference programme emphasised numerous topics including media bias, Jewish indigeneity, and addressing the falsehoods spread during “Israeli Apartheid Week”, a campaign run by Students for Justice in Palestine chapters where they flood campuses with anti-Israel propaganda.
The opening conference session was a highly lauded lecture from Lyn Julius, a UK-based journalist, and the co-founder of Harif, an advocacy group for the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa.
“The history of Jews in the Middle East is vastly under-discussed so it was great that Lyn was there to give an overview of that subject. It’s always inspirational to remember how Jews managed to maintain our identity, practice, and links to our ancient homeland for thousands of years in the diaspora. While only half of Jews are Israeli, all Jews have a link to the land of our origin, and I believe we all have a responsibility to defend the truth of our collective history,” said Gavriel Solomons, a third-year undergraduate at the University of Hertfordshire.
In the final session, Hen Mazzig, social media activist and senior fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute admonished students in his parting remarks. “Despite those who continue to spread lies. Let me be clear. There is no other place in the world where one can confidently say that the Jewish history, culture, faith, and language originate than the land of Israel. You must stand for the truth on your campuses.”
Both lectures from Julius and Mazzig provided student leaders with crucial facts to disarm efforts by Students for Justice in Palestine to promote the obscene lies that Jews are “colonisers” and that Zionism: the liberation movement of the Jewish people, is a form of racism.
In her session, Barrister Natasha Hausdorff of UK Lawyers for Israel provided students with legal frameworks for approaching the many lies spread by anti-Zionists under the guise of “advocacy for human rights” and claims that Israel is in violation of international law. Along with responses to common claims by detractors, Hausdorff also stressed the importance of knowing how to use the facts to effectively combat antisemitism.
A session titled “Are Zionist voices censored in campus media” featured CAMERA fellowship alumni: Saul Levene, who is serving a consecutive year as a CAMERA fellow at the King’s College London and Abigail Darwish, a second-year student at the University College London. The panel also featured Douglas Sandoval, managing editor for CAMERA on Campus, and Georgia Leatherdale-Gilholy, a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to the Jewish Chronicle (UK).
Levene and Darwish both shared their experiences publishing op-eds in campus outlets.
“I don’t believe Zionist voices are being silenced at KCL, but month-long delays and excessive editing required to publish a pro-Israel article compared to any other topic reveals an obvious double standard,” said Levene.
Darwish on other hand is convinced that editors at Pi Media, the campus paper at UCL attempted to hinder her right to free expression. “They didn’t just delay my articles. They wanted me to publish an opinion that wasn’t my own. It is unprofessional for anyone to be held to a double standard by editors.”
Freelance journalist and contributor to the Jewish Chronicle (UK), Georgia Leatherdale-Gilholy offered practical advice to attendees on how to formulate and publish compelling opinion editorials. “The key is to develop a clear, well-evidenced argument so that when editors ask questions, you can provide answers. Most editors are there to help you, never assume they are operating in bad faith,” said Leatherdale-Gilholy.
The conference also featured sessions on advocacy educational campaigns and community engagement from famed researcher David Collier and representatives from the Union of Jewish Students and the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA).
The recent launch of CAMERA on Campus’s third iteration of Apartheid Week Exposed (AWE), a campaign that addresses the disinformation spread during “Israeli Apartheid Week” in early March meant the conference emphasised student participation in the effort.
In addition to promoting upcoming AWE campaign events and tabling toolkits for CAMERA fellows and coalition groups, the conference included a special session detailing the digital resources made available at apartheidweekexposed.org.
Jasmine San, UK campus associate for CAMERA on Campus walked students through the updated campaign website. “When clicking on a wall section, a page appears with articles and infographics explaining why the claim is false or misleading. It’s the perfect tool for equipping yourself and your peers with the truth.”
Also present at the conference were members of a delegation of Israeli students who arrived a week earlier to run stalls alongside British students at universities across London. Delegates shared their personal experiences and provided students with a QR code directing them to the official campaign site and invited them to follow CAMERA on Campus social media pages, which for the next three weeks will be sharing videos, carousels and campaign partner content.
Additionally, delegates also shared printed material with British students.
“Tabling alongside British students has made a considerable impact on Israeli delegates,” said Tom Yohay, Israel campus advisor for CAMERA on Campus “There is no substitute for seeing the challenges that British students face in person. I know this will make us better allies in the fight against antisemitism in Israel, or anywhere we find ourselves.”
CAMERA on Campus UK’s Student Activist Conference has been a resounding success. We hope the invaluable resources provided by our staff, partners, and program alumni will strengthen efforts to fight antisemitism and anti-Israel bias on UK campuses.
Managing Editor, CAMERA on Campus