ICan Ad Targets Student Boycotts of Israel
In the wake of Israel’s war in Gaza, anti-Israel rhetoric and anti-Semitism have once again flared up at some American universities. Now, as “Israel Apartheid Week” is being held on college campuses, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is fighting back with an ad campaign focusing on all the Israeli innovations that college students love: cell phones, instant messaging, Intel processors.
The ICan campaign was announced last Friday at a press conference featuring Judea Pearl, the UCLA professor and father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Judea Pearl, a columnist for The Jewish Journal, recently drew attention to a symposium of anti-Israel scholars at UCLA that included audience chants of “Zionism is Nazism,” “Free, Free Palestine” and “F…, f… Israel.”
“The verbal abuse is there, the intimidation is there, the feeling of helplessness is there, not only among students but among faculty,” Pearl said at the press conference at the Wiesenthal Center’s West L.A. office.
The Wiesenthal Center, Anti-Defamation League and other agencies have reported an explosion in anti-Semitism during and following Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza that began in late December. A protest outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles featured a now-infamous sign that depicted the Israeli flag with a Magen David twisted into a swastika and the words, “Upgrade to Holocaust Version 2.0.” On college campuses, some student bodies passed resolutions condemning Israel’s military actions; what for many crossed the line into anti-Semitism, though, were anti-Israel symposiums and lectures.
The ICan ad, which can be viewed at jewishjournal.com, is scheduled to run in student newspapers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States including at Columbia, University of Chicago, San Francisco State, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UCLA.
“You have these student boycotters who are claiming Israel is an apartheid state. The worst kinds of lies are being spouted on campus. We want to give them some way of combating this, and the best way to reach college students is through slick posters and flyers,” said Rabbi Aron Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s director of campus outreach. “This ad speaks to the hypocrisy of student boycotters. They don’t realize that to ask people to boycott Israel is to ask them to go back to the dark ages. Israel has developed so many things important for our time. We believe they are hypocrites because they use cell phones and IM and so many of these things that Israel has developed.”
— Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer