Israel Advocacy is an important component of ADL’s agenda. Our volunteers aim to counteract the dissemination of inaccurate and misleading information about the conflict in the Middle East, and to address the global rise in anti-Semitism as it relates to public’s perceptions of Israel and Middle Eastern politics.
Committee members advocate on behalf of Israel to three main audiences: the Jewish community, the non-Jewish community, and college campuses. Our work has taken many forms. More than 15 years ago, we initiated the Blue String Project following a similar program in at the JCRC Washington, DC, and distributed almost 7000 strings around the world. Then, wearing the blue string was an important aspect of identifying as an ally for Israel. Now things are more complicated.
In most recent years, we have been occupied more with “BDS”, a global campaign around boycotts, divestment from and sanctions against Israel that started in 2005. The BDS movement is an international effort to isolate and punish Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians. While supporters of the BDS movement claim to embrace the tactic as a nonviolent way to pressure Israel into negotiations, the campaign is a biased and sometimes anti-Semitic effort to demonize Israel and place the entire burden of the conflict on one side: the Israelis. BDS activists regularly lobby multinational companies, churches, universities, actors, academics and private individuals to cut ties with Israel or refuse to engage in collaboration with Israelis. While they haven’t achieved much success, they have created a unique challenge for education and personal learning both within the Jewish community and beyond.
Our greatest concentration now on this issue is to raise the capacity of Jewish youth to challenge BDS activism on campus which is where we have seen the largest increase in activity. Our interactive, community education option, Words to Action, is designed to engage students and community members to learn tools and resources to effectively speak from personal voice and opinion in the difficult distinctions between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Israel activity.