by Tamara Zieve
Students from around the world head to Boston conference, in face of increasing anti-Jewish incidents on campus.
A self described Muslim Zionist will address some 80 students from almost 70 campuses around the world in the US next week, at a conference on anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity on campuses. The conference, set to begin Sunday, is to be hosted in Boston by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
CAMERA said a record number of students were participating in the conference, in the face of an uptick of anti-Semitism on campuses. Last week, the Anti-Defamation League released data recording a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic incidents on US college and university campuses, almost double the amount reported last year.
CAMERA will bring the students together to attend four full days of lectures, discussions and workshops.
"Students are coming from as far away as England, Scotland, and Canada to attend our training program," said Aviva Slomich, CAMERA's international campus director. "This in itself shows that campus anti-Zionism is a global problem, affecting many students." Among a host of pro-Israeli representatives speaking at the event is Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani origin who will share the story of his transition from Islamic radicalism to pro-Israel activism.
"Unfortunately, last year we faced an upsurge in extreme anti-Israel activity," said Itay Hashmonay, a student at the University of South Florida. "We're at CAMERA's conference to learn skills, arguments and strategies to address this effectively."
Slomich added, "We have students from almost every Ivy League school, so even our elite institutions seem to be infected with anti-Jewish discrimination."
A recent report from non-profit organization the Amcha Initiative supports the ADL data, finding that anti-Semitic activity “was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS [the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign] was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine], and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters.”
"The record attendance for CAMERA's conference demonstrates that all too many students are on the receiving end of bigoted anti-Zionist campaigns - simply for supporting Israel's existence or for just being Jewish," said Gilad Skolnick, CAMERA's director of campus programming.
"These students have a genuine need for emotional support and expert, intellectual instruction on how to deal with the bigotry that they're facing. That's what we offer them - practical techniques, lots of resources and strategies for handling discrimination, and also the moral case for standing up for the Jewish state."
The conference will comprise lectures, breakout sessions, interactive workshops and presentations throughout the four days.
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