Stand With Us is an extraordinarily important organization. I cannot emphasize that enough. Its goal is to counter the calumnies that an unholy union of Leftists and Islamists spread against Israel, especially on college campuses.
The Stand With Us founders realized something that American Jews and other friends of Israel had missed completely: while most kids, Jewish and non-Jewish, go to college to get educated and have fun (not necessarily in that order), a certain sector of Muslim students goes to college, not for education and fun, but to delegitimize the State of Israel.
Delegitimization is not a sideline or a hobby. This is the main goal. On college campuses, the vehicle for this goal, usually, is the Muslim Student Union (“MSU”). Outside of college, CAIR dedicates itself to the same full-time principle.
Here’s a useful analogy, especially if you’ve lived through teenagers. You are a busy person. You have a job, a household to run, obligations to your community, and children to raise. Your teenager is not a busy person. Oh, sure, he or she attends school and has some extracurricular activities, but they’re just side issues to the teenager’s main goal: getting what he or she wants.
So if your teenager wants a new pair of ridiculously expensive shoes, that is what will occupy your teenager’s every waking thought. And your teenager will let you know that. You will never hear the end of the shoes. While you’re trying to finish a major project, run errands, cook dinner, clean house and manage the carpools, all that your teenager is saying is “I want those shoes. I want those shoes. I want those shoes.”
Those Muslims dedicated to Israel’s destruction are precisely the same — they eat, sleep, live and breath destroying Israel. They are completely dedicated and well-funded. (We’ll just guess where that money comes from, right?) And for about 30 years, they’ve been the only voice heard, especially in the higher education world. When they set up their tables on campus malls, Jewish kids and other friends of Israel walked by them in disgust, but pretty much ignored them. They were pernicious, but who really cared, right? After all, there are final exams next week and parties this week.
But just as a drop of water can wear away a rock, the relentless anti-Israel messaging has had an effect on those who know nothing about Israel. The know-nothings are the vacuums that the MSU and CAIR has been filling.
Filling this vacuum has been especially easy on campus because college professors are so often Marxists, and the Marxists have made common cause with the Islamists. Each for their own reasons wants Israel and traditional Western values gone. When they’ve achieved that goal, then they’ll fight over the spoils. This means that college students — young, uninformed, malleable, and encouraged to be open to new ideas — are being filled with anti-Israel bile, within the classroom, on the campus plazas, and inside of the meeting rooms and dormitories.
As for whether the anti-Israel bile shades into old-fashioned antisemitism, look at what the MSU, CAIR, and their allies, both Muslim and Leftist say, and you will see, over and over and over, the signs of antisemitism that Natan Sharansky has helpfully spelled out: demonization, delegitimization, and double-standards. Those factors appear on every campus, in every Leftist march, and at every U.N. gathering.
Which brings me back to Stand With Us: This organization aims to fill that 30 year old vacuum. By providing students from all over the world with pro-Israel facts, by training them to stand up to a fact-devoid but hate-filled argument, and by giving them mountains of attractive, easy-to-read, and fact-filled written materials, Stand With Us is fighting back.
If you believe in Israel’s legitimacy, and her right to survive as a nation among nations, then you should donate to Stand With Us. (You’ll find contact information here.) If you believe that Israel’s and America’s fates are tied together, not because of some nefarious Jewish lobby, but because both are truly the last bulwarks in the world of true democracy and individual liberty against onslaughts by Leftism and Islamism, then you should donate to Stand With Us. If you believe that freedom of speech means that the truth should be heard, then you should donate to Stand With Us.
But I have another challenge for you, one that isn’t just about giving money to what has become the premier organization in the world for countering anti-Israel slanders. I want you to help me change the American zeitgeist, which has become very hostile to Jews. This means, of course, changing America’s popular culture. I’ve written before about the fact that I came of age in the post-WWII era when Jews were admired. Israelis were seen as plucky Davids, and Jews at home were seen as wise, funny and principled.
That’s changed so much. Israel is now seen as a rapacious, repressive, apartheid-style, genocidal nation. And Jews — well, Jews support that regime, so how good can they be?
Worse than that, the Jews we see in popular culture, the Jews that Hollywood promotes, are not nice people. Larry David is truly a brilliant comic mind, but his show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, presents an extraordinarily loathsome individual: self-centered, insensitive, demanding, cheap, malicious, etc.
David is not an anomaly. The most popular Jewish comedienne, and another one with her own show, is Sarah Silverman: vindictive, vicious, anti-Christian, and neurotic. Oh, and how about Jon Stewart? He’s neurotic, anti-Christian, hostile to traditional American values, exceptionally foul-mouthed, etc.
These are the Jews that the mid-West sees. No more long-suffering, wise and kind George Burns; no more silly Milton Berle; no more wildly talented Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, or Jerome Kern; no more hapless Jack Benny.
I’m not asking you all to become movie stars. I am thinking, however, about the fact that the next generation, my kids’ generation, gets the world through entertainment media. To change the paradigm for that generation, how about a rockin’ song that manages to interweave Israel’s 3,000 year old connection to Jerusalem? How about an awesome video game, a la Call of Duty, that has IDF soldiers hunting down Ahmadinejad? How about a warm-fuzzy comedy, which has an old-fashioned Hollywood Jew, wise and funny, rather than neurotic and mean-spirited?
Adam Sandler was on the right track when he did You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, a movie about a wildly talented Israeli Special Forces fighter who really wanted to be a hairdresser, but it was too gross to gain enough traction. So far the only other thing Hollywood has managed to do recently about Israeli goals and fighters was Munich, in which Spielberg managed to make Israel look evil for bringing mass murderers to justice. Spielberg gets great kudos for his Holocaust work, but it’s pretty clear that his interest in Jewish well-being ends with 1945.
So, if you have any type of talent, or if you know someone who does (I don’t, and I don’t), Israel needs your help. It’s not enough to educate the people in the vacuum aware of the facts. We need to make them care about the facts — and that’s done by changing the pop culture paradigm. So, to borrow a perfect pop culture phrase: JUST DO IT.