On college campuses today, hearing falsehoods like “Zionism is racism” and “Israel is an apartheid state” is a reprehensible but inevitable reality for most Jewish and pro-Israel students. What is to be done about it? CAMERA on Campus believes to have an answer.
In light of the increasing challenges posed against students, CAMERA on Campus hosted its 13th annual International Student Leadership Conference in Boston from July 28-30.
Forty top student leaders from across the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel gathered for a weekend of intensive training with the goal of fostering a tight-knit community of battle-ready Zionists.
Diverse perspectives were represented at the conference, with attendees from the political and religious spectrum.
Speakers included members of the CAMERA on Campus team and a selection of CAMERA’s research analysts. Experts in journalism, media monitoring, law, history and political science lectured at the conference and held essential discussions with students.
The topics discussed included the legal rights of students on campus; addressing calls for divestment in student government; responding to the apartheid libel; and how to navigate difficult conversations about complex geopolitical issues, domestic policy in Israel and international law.
Among those who attended were the incoming cohort of 2023-24 CAMERA fellows and CAMERA on Campus coalition members—a cadre of students committed to the fight against the deluge of anti-Israel propaganda on college campuses.
Fellows publish articles in their campus papers, host events and speakers, and provide the study body access to reliable information about Israel and Zionism.
CAMERA fellows, CAMERA researchers and staff constituted 53 out of the 73 publications featured on the CAMERA on Campus blog during the 2022-23 academic year. Many were featured in The Jerusalem Post, The Algemeiner, Times of Israel and other major outlets, including JNS.
CAMERA on Campus coalition members routinely hold events on campus and receive funding for programming. They also participate in three annual campaigns: Mizrahi Stories, Apartheid Week Exposed and This Is Zionism.
Sessions at the conference emphasized ways to address misinformation and antisemitism on the digital frontlines—namely, social-media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. A recent study conducted by researchers at Brandeis University found “a 41% increase in antisemitic posts, a 912% increase in antisemitic comments and a 1,375% increase in antisemitic usernames” on TikTok between February and May of 2020 and 2021.
Attendees learned effective strategies to use social-media platforms for the greater good, to raise awareness about the problem of antisemitism, and to share accurate information about Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The challenges students face were also discussed at the conference, as pro-Israel and Zionist students are often silenced, harassed and singled out by anti-Zionist groups on campus.
For instance, at the University of Vermont, a federal investigation revealed lapses in how university administrators handled allegations of antisemitism, including one example where a teaching assistant claimed to withhold course credits from Jewish students, subtracted points from Jewish students, praised the theft of an Israeli flag from a Jewish student’s residence and even wrote the word “Kristallnacht” above a photo of a damaged storefront with Hebrew writing on it.
To help students get an understanding of what their rights are on campus, CAMERA senior research analyst David Litman, an alumnus of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, gave students comprehensive insight into invoking their First Amendment rights and understanding anti-discrimination laws in the United States, both of which have become increasingly important in protecting Zionist student voices on campus.
These sessions are a window into the tremendous effort that CAMERA on Campus places in developing comprehensive resources for student leaders.
While attendees come in as Zionists, they leave with confidence, knowing that the facts are on our side and a reliable network of peers, researchers and professionals are behind them.