Friday, June 24, 2005

What's really going on on campus?

This report goes against everything we've been hearing in the media about the state of affairs on University campuses.
"After many years of seeing the campus as a burden or liability, the pro-Israel community is coming to see the campus as a potential asset to the American pro-Israel movement," said Jonathan Kessler, director of leadership development at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. "What an incredible turnaround."
After months of hearing widespread and frequent reports of pro-Israel students being too scared to speak up / being harrassed for their views if they do express them, academics making anti-Israel remarks in class, academic unions voting to boycott Israel, and the general Left-wing PC-ness overtaking academia across the Western world, this evaluation comes as a surprise, to say the least. Certainly, nobody thinks that the campuses are uniformally awful, and I would assume that most are simply neutral, especially now that the second Intifada seems to have died down. From there to a potential 'asset' and a 'more supportive, pro-Israel environment than ever before' (!!!!) is a very big jump and I'd like to hear more proof than the one given in the article, of AIPAC hosting 80 non-Jewish student-government presidents at a policy conference. This is an example of an attempt to sway people, not proof they've been swayed, or of wider sentiment on campus. Some more on this -- particularly research/surveys and stats -- would be useful, because otherwise it sounds a little like AIPAC just blowing its own horn.
Ido Aharoni, who is in charge of public affairs at Israel's New York consulate, says that the Aipac experience is representative of the general state of affairs on campus. He said that a few organizations have overplayed fears about the atmosphere on campus for "organizational needs."
"The situation as we see it is not nearly as acute as presented by some Jewish organizations," Aharoni said. "They're creating unnecessary hysteria in the community."
The problem is, the impression isn't as much through the Jewish organizations, though they may have exploited it, as through the media reporting on real incidents and through the students themselves who are lining up to talk about their experiences and worries. The comments in this article, by the way, were in response to another report which argued the exact opposite case, namely that the situation on university campuses is not good. Any Bloghead student readers out there care to comment?

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