Speak Up, Speak Out: Responding to Hatred on Campus

Deepen your understanding of Israel advocacy and discover how to stand up for Israel on your college campuses! In this workshop we will dissect pro-divestment video from Northwestern University as a way to hone compelling, authentic pro-Israel messages. Together we will create our own video that brings together and highlights our individual stories and connections with Israel.

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To warm up your group, do three rounds of sharing. Be sure to take notes on a large post-it:

  • Share something you love about Israel
  • Share something meaningful that connects you to Israel
  • Share something you've heard/hear about Israel that makes you proud

Say to participants, we are talking about what we love about Israel -- but obviously there are a lot of people who don't share our views. Is there anyone who has dealt with anti-Israel stuff on campus? Can you share your experiences with us? How did it make you feel?

After participants have shared some experiences, say to them: "Now we are going to watch a video from Northwestern University, whose student senate passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from a list of companies that they suggest 'support the occupation.' This video was part of a campaign to build support for divestment. As you watch the video, pay attention to how the video makes you feel."

[Before playing the video, make sure everyone understands the basic premise of the BDS movement and why it is such a big issue right now on campuses. Be sure, though, to emphasize that much like all things related to Israel and conflict, it is a complicated issue and we are not going to teach you everything you need to know about BDS in this session. What we aim to do is give you a new perspective in to the complexities of such issues related to Israel.]

Play video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjcy5v_WzwA. 

After the video finished, ask participants to share in one word how the video made them feel. Be sure to stop anyone who wants to talk about the specific arguments -- we want to get our feelings on the table in this part of the program, not go into the details of the "facts" and "arguments" being made in the video. Make sure participants feel comfortable and know that this is a safe space where all feelings are welcome and respected.

Now say to participants, "now that our feelings are out on the table, I want to put them aside for a few minutes. We are going to watch the video again, and this time, pay attention to the values that are being expressed through the statements in the video. Don't focus on the content (and whether you feel it is right or wrong) -- just focus on what values you think these students are expressing through their statements."

Play the video again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjcy5v_WzwA. 

Make a list of values that you heard being expressed through this video. Once that list is up, you can take the discussion in a variety of directions. Some questions include:

  • What do you notice about these values?
  • Do they resonate with you?
  • How does looking at the video and arguments through this lens help you make sense of what is going on, on campus?

If you want, you can ask participants to think of these values and come up with their own expressions of these values as they relate to Israel -- essentially, what are the statements they would make if we were creating our own video like this?