TEL AVIV – A pro-Israel student group at Columbia University is launching “Hebrew Liberation Week” to counter the upcoming annual “Israeli Apartheid Week” by celebrating the connection between the Jews and Israel, the Algemeiner reported.
Rudy Rochman, president of the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and organizer of the program, said it aims to “empower Jewish and pro-Israel students to feel proud of their history, culture, identity and values.”
Hebrew Liberation Week also seeks to offset the negative attention surrounding Israel on campus, especially at this time of year. During March, college campuses all over the U.S. mark Israel Apartheid Week with various events that run the gamut from staging mock checkpoints to campaigns calling for the boycott of the Jewish state.
As part of the pro-Israel grassroots movement, large canvases were erected on a campus square juxtaposed with an “apartheid wall.” The canvases featured different aspects of Israel’s history and culture, and included artwork by IDF solders and a written account of the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Rochman said that, by and large, people have reacted positively to the initiative.
“Jewish students on both the Right and Left are absolutely shocked and amazed that something like this is possible at our school,” he said. “Causing many to come to our display instead of the ‘apartheid wall’ one.”
He said the endeavor has also created dialogue with anti-Israel students.
“One of the best talks I’ve had so far is with a student who is Palestinian but grew up in Syria,” he told the Algemeiner. “We shared our stories of struggle and suffering and learned about one another’s narrative. At the end of the day, while we both might have different viewpoints, we agreed that … dialogue at Columbia might one day inspire peace in Jerusalem and Ramallah.”
Columbia’s history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents on campus secured its place at the top of the Algemeiner’s 2016 list of the “40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students” in North America, the report said.