This past weekend, more than 500 activists from across the globe, including 350 high school and college students, gathered in Los Angeles for a conference on anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias, put on by the Israel education group StandWithUs.
The 3-day event provided students with the opportunity to share their love for Israel and freely discuss the anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias they’ve experienced in academia. This year’s conference was more about coming up with solutions than airing grievances.
Committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels valued, the conference included Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and LGBT community members.
Despite all the differences, everybody was respectful and eager to listen, speak, and discuss. Deputy Consul General Eitan Weiss, from the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, spoke about the challenges of defending Israel, while StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein spoke about how BDS has become the new anti-Semitism. Knesset Member Sharren Haskel (Likud) described how her passion for fighting anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism inspired her to become a combat soldier for the IDF.
Anti-Semitism in Europe, especially France, was also discussed, including an ADL report of a 106 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents at non-Jewish elementary, middle, and high schools.
Nicole Feder, a University of Michigan Business major, talked about how anti-Zionism has influenced the Michigan campus over the past 12 years. She has found it difficult to convince the student body that just because she and others are Zionists, it doesn’t mean they are against human rights.
Matt Stein, a sophomore at Swarthmore College, told the audience he doesn’t see BDS movements or violent protests at his school, but finds himself in an environment that is anti-Israel by default. He talked about a notorious pro-BDS professor who is spreading misinformation to hundreds of students each semester. One has to be very careful, he cautioned, when planning or even attending a pro-Israel event at Swarthmore.