Film, talk arms kids for campus Israel debate

Film, talk arms kids for campus Israel debate

Helping students advocate for Israel on college campuses was the aim of an Oct. 11 program at Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor.

More than 100 people, including teens in the synagogue’s Hebrew high school, attended the film screening and discussion.

“I think we all have to look ourselves in the face that this generation of young students is unprepared,” said Rabbi Raphael Shore, founder of JerusalemOnlineU, which offers courses and seminars on combating anti-Israel activity. “They are unprepared to have pride in their Jewish heritage,” he said. “They are unprepared to take pride in Israel as a country and that is a failure of Jewish education in America.”

He spoke following a showing of Crossing the Line — The Intifada Comes to Campus, a 39-minute film Shore produced that explores the proliferation of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents on North America’s campuses.

The screening was jointly presented by the synagogue,, and the Jewish National Fund.

The film chronicles a series of pro-Palestinian rallies at campuses, particularly at York University in Canada and at University of California at Berkeley and UC Irvine.

Jewish leaders presented a bleak picture of such activities, at which participants called for the eradication of Israel. Professors are seen using their classrooms as a platform for anti-Israel rhetoric.

Also attending the showing were community members taking a JerusalemOnLine offering, Israel Inside/Out. Psychiatry professor Dr. Naomi Vilko, who is Jewish, and sociologist Dr. Bonnie Galloway, a Presbyterian, are coteaching the eight-week course at the Princeton Theological Seminary and Beth El.

Andrea Gottlieb, executive director of JerusalemOnlineU, said students who enroll in its courses on-line can receive college credit or $100 upon completion of courses and participation in two live events determined by the campus rabbi, including a class or lecture or Shabbat dinner. There are now 300 colleges and universities that will grant credit for the courses, including Rutgers University. More than 3,000 students have taken the courses.

Dina Kupfer, president of the college leadership board for JerusalemOnlineU, said she was horrified and surprised to find anti-Israel sentiment in publications and among students at her Brooklyn College campus. She recalled an incident in which a student kept referring to “Palestine.”

“You mean Israel. There is no country of Palestine,” she said she responded, until the student gave up.

“Brooklyn is America’s melting pot,” she said. “We have to raise awareness among Jewish and non-Jewish students by arming ourselves with the facts. We need to make campuses safe havens for intellectual pursuits.”

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