Jewish students have run a grassroots campaign to counter polarisation and confrontation on campus during Israel Apartheid week.
The campaign sought to shift atmosphere on campus around Israel over the last week of February, in which many activists participate in anti-Israel events for Israel Apartheid Week. The Union of Jewish Students campaign was to promote constructive dialogue and discussion, through stalls, events and discussion.
Jewish societies (J-SOCs) in Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds and London set up ‘Piece 2 Peace’ stalls, engaging in discussions, and inviting students to sign petitions in favour of the two-state solution and against the BDS movement.
Events included a panel discussion at LSE entitled: ‘How do we move forward with the Israel-Palestine conflict and peace process?’ Speakers including journalist Peter Beinart, Chairman Zionist Federation for UK and Ireland Paul Charney and Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini.
A key part of the campaign has been a large puzzle that illustrates the message of ‘Shalom, Salaam, Peace’. Josh Seitler, of LSE Israel Society, said: “The puzzle illustrates the complexity of creating peace – something that is the ultimate goal and not easy to achieve. It requires compromise on both sides.”
Communities Minister Lord Ahmad, also met representatives from Nottingham J-Soc. He said “Religious bigotry, including Anti-Semitism, has no place in our society and must be eradicated.”
Freedom of speech is vital and whilst people invited to talk in a public place are welcome to discuss controversial topics, they must respect the laws of the land. Anyone inciting hate will be dealt with the full force of the law.”
Maggie Suissa, UJS Campaigns Director praised the campaign saying: “I am proud of our members and impressed with the levels of debate and discussion that have been led by Jewish students on campus”.
Other speakers included Professor Gabriel Noah Brahm, an American professor, who spoke on the case against BDS at Cambridge and Glasgow J-Soc. Lt. Hen Mazzig, an Israeli reservist, spoke at Bristol and Oxford, Dr Ruvi Ziegler at UCL spoke about the security barrier in Israel, and at SOAS, speakers discussed their institution’s proposed boycott of Israel.