by Sarit Catz
I met Jonas when he asked me to speak at a screening of the film, Israel Inside, that he organized for the MHS Jewish Cultural Club. (By the way, if you want to show the film at your synagogue or cultural group, the CRC has obtained access to it and other films as part of our second Step Up for Israel film series.)
Write On For Israel (WOFI) is a wonderful program for high school students that aims to prepare them for the challenges they face when they go to college. Many college campuses have extremely active anti-Israel groups, conferences, and events that create a hostile environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students. In fact, the annual hate-fest known as Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is upon us again.
IAW uses falsehoods, half-truths, disinformation, and distortions to present Israel as a racist, illegitimate interloper in the Middle East. By contrast, the goal of WOFI is to give students the confidence to advocate for Israel based on knowledge, not rhetoric.
For example, one of the falsehoods that has been so widely disseminated that it is believed by many — even by many in our own community — to be true is the notion that Jewish neighborhoods in disputed territories, including parts of Jerusalem, are illegal. Now, you or I may or may not support “the settlements,” but that has no bearing on international law.
As Eric Rozenman of CAMERA wrote in a Washington Times op-ed, “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon erroneously has asserted, for the fourth time in two years, that ‘all [Israeli] settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, is illegal under international law.’…The BBC relayed this sweeping declaration by the secretary-general in a dispatch that, like most news media coverage of such claims, lacked context. Yet context would show that Mr. Ban — ineffectual in bigger Middle East problems including the Syrian civil war and Iran’s race to nuclear weapons — is quite mistaken on the legality of Jewish settlements.”
Rozenman outlines the international law regarding this issue beginning with the San Remo Treaty of 1920, and continuing through the League of Nations’ 1922 Palestine Mandate, the Anglo-American Convention of 1924, the U.N. Charter of 1945, and U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
He concludes, “Perhaps the secretary-general feels like a prisoner of the institution he heads. Many U.N. members have targeted Israel for delegitimization with countless unsubstantiated — and unauthoritative — measures. Regardless, the press has an obligation to expose rather than parrot Mr. Ban’s errors. Settlements are not illegal under international law.”
It is no accident that Rozenman exhorts the press to give a complete picture of the facts. Frequently newspapers and other news outlets fail to do so. WOFI uses journalism to educate the fellows, training them to be educated media consumers. As we all must learn to be.
The WOFI students are screening the film Crossing the Line on March 17 at 10:30 a.m. as part of Good Deeds Day. The movie is a very sobering look at anti-Israel, and sometimes anti-Semitic, activities on college campuses. The students will also lead an Israel advocacy workshop including, a webinar training by Alan Dershowitz, dthe istinguished Harvard Law professor and Israel advocate. For more information, contact GoodDeedsDay@jfedgmw.org.