Aussie Jewish Students Successfully Defend Israel Against The “Apartheid” Slur
It’s pleasing, though, to hear that the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) has successfully defended Israel against the “apartheid” slur, encountering reassuring levels of goodwill towards Israel as well.
Reports student Simon Sawday via the antipodean J-Wire service:
‘AUJS has participated in a debate held by the Macquarie University Student Representative Association (MUSRA), questioning the characterisation of Israel as an apartheid state. I, as a representative of AUJS, spoke in support of Israel’s position and a representative of Students for Palestine argued the opposing point of view.
The debate was a great success for us. People were curious about Israel and were eager to gain a better understanding of the situation. The apartheid analogy was able to be addressed and I had the chance to directly tell the audience how absurd the comparison is and question why countries that clearly and routinely practise apartheid are ignored, such as Iran, where Bahai people are prohibited from attending universities.When AUJS was invited to take part in the debate it posed a tough question to our leadership of whether we should accept the invitation. The debate topic was biased, the organisers (despite holding the event in their capacity as MUSRA [Student representative Council] officers), were pro-Palestinian activists and the promotion of the event online was being used as means of influencing the debate before it started.
However, although it was not the type of event that AUJS would typically take part in, it was felt that it would be a rare opportunity for us to speak to a group of students that would not normally have exposure to a balanced perspective with respect to Israel and her practices. As it turned out, there were many people in attendance who didn’t already have a concrete viewpoint, many of whom were politics students and some of whom were of the Islamic faith. Many of these students eventually started to question the accuracy of the Israel/apartheid analogy. It was clear that our message resonated more strongly with the audience. This was all regardless of the fact that the room had been plastered with posters promoting a boycott of Israel, something which we considered to be very unprofessional and disrespectful from the organisers.
The debate illustrated an important point to us. It shows that most university students do not hold negative attitudes towards Israel, in spite of relentless anti-Israel campaigning by some groups. The majority of university students are intelligent, reasonable people who can recognise a weak argument and who are put off by mindless yelling and confrontational propaganda that is frequently a trademark of anti-Israel groups. The idea that people will listen to Israel’s message if we’re as loud and aggressive as those who seek to demonize Israel is contrary to the way in which most students receive and evaluate information.’