Defending Israel and Zionism - WorId Union of Jewish Students
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Union of Jewish Students ( http://www.wujs.org.il ) has published an excellent
handbook for student advocacy of Israel, written by J. Blume & A. Benjamin The entire handbook in PDF format is
available from them. What is particularly excellent about this book is that it tries to be inclusive, and to find room
for all shades of legitimate Zionist opinion.
These pages reproduce excerpts and highlights from that Hasbara Handbook, adapted for US standard spelling and usage and with emphasis added in a few places.
Some text has been changed or added - indicated in this italic navy font.
Contents - WUJS HANDBOOK ONLINE
Accusations and Rebuttals:
Introduction - HASBARA HANDBOOK (Advocacy for Zionism and Israel)
Writing this handbook has been a difficult task. Trying to strike a balance between support for Israel, and a realisation that some things just aren’t black and white has been our goal. We hope that what has resulted is useful to Jewish students everywhere, and that ultimately Israel is strengthened through our efforts.
Jewish students in the Diaspora are not unconditional supporters of Israel, just as Israelis have different political preferences. Unfortunately, many Jewish students express their dissatisfaction with some government action or other by ignoring Israel, giving up on her just when she needs the most help and support. In our Hasbara Handbook we have rejected the old-fashioned position which states that every Jewish student must support everything that Israel does. Rather, we believe, Israel is an imperfect country, invariably run by imperfect governments. Mistakes are made, approaches are taken that are hard to understand, but one thing remains constant – the Jewish state has a right to exist, and her citizens have a right to safety.
That the Palestinian leadership has made some serious strategic mistakes is not in doubt. No doubt, they will do again. But Israel is not perfect, and only a fool would pretend that she is. When confronted with atrocities such as terror attacks on teenagers, we can campaign hard on campus for the sake of Jews in Israel without believing that Israel is perfect. Israel shouldn’t have to present herself as without problems – just as no other country does. All around the world governments are attempting to tackle racism, poverty, prejudice – and Israel is no different. But if a young soldier at a road-block panics when attacked by rocks and petrol bombs, if somebody is injured as a result of human error, Jewish students often despair and lose their faith in Israel just when she most needs support.
The reluctance of Jewish students to get behind Israel unconditionally is probably connected to the gradual shift in our generation towards attempting to find personal meaning in Judaism. Very few young Jews will do things merely because a Jewish organization or authority mandates them. We are individuals looking to enrich our lives through Jewish engagement. We are proudly ethical, and proudly independent. This Hasbara Handbook attempts to acknowledge all of this, whilst providing Jewish students with the tools to defend Israel as a country in an intelligent and thinking way. Different responses to issues are legitimate and some Jewish students will be reluctant to defend some Israeli government action: the most important thing, we believe, is that Jewish students do what they can to explain the huge complexity of the problems and dangers facing Israel, to lobby for support for Israel, and pressure for an end to Palestinian violence.
Practically speaking, this Hasbara Handbook has attempted to show that different positions exist on issues, and that the pro-Israel banner is very wide indeed. In general we have presented a fairly centrist line, in an attempt not to offend anybody, but we have included other opinions too, and attempted to remain aware of the subtleties of the debates. We have also explicitly tackled some of the dilemmas facing Jewish activists, and talked about when it’s legitimate to criticize Israel, what to do about policies one doesn’t agree with... and so on. We hope that the product is something that Jewish students feel comfortable with.
This document is evolving all the time on the WUJS website at www.wujs.org.il – we will incorporate suggestions, add articles that students suggest are necessary, and keep up to date with the latest news developments. Please join the growing community of Jewish activists who are keen to share their ideas and expertise. Together we can help Israel and help each other.
Jewish students need the tools to defend themselves against anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks, to help Israel in her fight against violence and drive for peace, and to enrich their connection to the people of Israel.
Please dig deep to find the strength to be pro-active, to help Israel, and spread a message of peace and non-violence.
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