"Parents can no longer ignore the anti-Israel propaganda at American universities."
When Khaled Abu Toameh told his friends in Gaza that he was set to go on a major speaking tour of American universities they thought he was crazy. "Don't you know what goes on over there?" they warned the senior Palestinian affairs correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. "You could get killed!" The tragic irony is hard to miss: Our hallowed institutes of higher learning have become as hostile to Israel as the disputed Holy Land itself.
Abu Toameh's tour was sponsored by StandWithUs, a non-profit Israel advocacy and educational organization. "Tolerating Intolerance: Hate Speech on Campuses" is the documentary film that was premiered by StandWithUs last September in Beverly Hills. The film exposes the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speakers at American universities and their dangerous impact on students. Speakers like Khaled Abu Toameh are invited to these campuses to challenge such biases.
Last Sunday evening I heard Abu Toameh speak at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, just hours before he would speak to students at UCLA. The proud Muslim was grateful for the opportunity to speak at a synagogue and he wasted no time in comparing the warm welcome he received to the positive reaction of Arab and Muslim college students who are currently hearing him speak on his tour. Abu Toameh was initially shocked when Palestinian activists in kafias came up to him after his speeches and thanked him for opening their eyes to such things as the corruption of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) or the fact that so many Arabs ask Abu Toameh how they can obtain an Israeli visa so they might one day be able to enjoy all the freedoms he has as an Israeli citizen. Two Lebanese women in New York grabbed him by the arm to say how wonderful it was that he had the courage to express exactly how they felt. These anecdotes lend support to Abu Toameh's believe that truth is the only way to counter propaganda.
Unfortunately, it is too often the professors at these universities who are spreading vile untruths. Abu Toameh spoke of a professor who was doubtful of his claims of PLO corruption. After all, she had been to Ramallah and seen with her very own eyes many impressive buildings. Abu Toameh told her that these belong to the corrupt PLO officials and then asked if she had visited the three refugee camps in the Palestinian city. The professor explained that her PLO handlers hadn't taken her there. This story reminded me of the UCLA Professor of Judaism who once called Dennis Prager's radio program and stated that the Palestinians and Israelis were morally equivalent in the conflict because they both want peace. Surely he had never before visited a Palestinian school or watched Palestinian television where Jews are regularly portrayed as pigs and monkeys.
It is tragic that so many Jewish parents would take out a second mortgage on the house to send their children to universities hostile to Israel (I haven't even mentioned the divestment campaigns) but never even think about allowing them to go on a trip to Israel. After all, it is just too dangerous. I can't count the number of times I've heard parents say "if only all that stuff wasn't happening over there. I don't want you to get killed." If only they knew that Khaled Abu Toameh's friends are saying the same thing about what is going on right over here.
The crowd gave Abu Toameh a standing ovation at the end of the night. Let's hope they also took home some literature from StandWithUs, because there is no better time than now to stand up to the hate being spouted at our universities.
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