The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, those Israel-hating, apartheid-mongers are cooked. Obsessively accusing Israel of everything from stealing water to targeting Palestinian children, these anti-everything Israel junkies have gone too far. Their compulsive Israel-hatred has stirred a massive grassroots counter-attack. Synagogues, churches, students, businesses and everyday folk have heard enough. They will be silent no more.
And it's not only Jews, or even Christians rising to the battle. Young Israeli Arabs, Druze and even Bedouins are up and out telling the world what Israel means to them.
Heeb, a 27-year-old Bedouin Muslim who participated in a "StandWithUs" pro-Israel advocacy program, said he was happy to have the opportunity to dispel the damaging myths perpetuated by Israeli Apartheid Week organizers. "I wanted to meet students and tell them the truth. This is one of my goals – to bring our image of Israel… Some did not know there are Arabs in Israel. A lot of people were surprised," said Heeb, a University of Haifa student working on an MA in public policy.
Another new innovative program is sending Israeli college students to speak at at university campuses, schools, synagogues, and churches across North America as part of their IDF reserve duty. These young people are passionately sharing about the real Israel with tens of thousands of students and community members each year. In 2013, groups sent by "StandWithUS" visited 150 different events and reached countless numbers of people through press coverage and social media.
"I see how Israel is misrepresented in the media," says Tepper, co-founder of Word Swap, another pro-Israel upstart. "They're accusing Israel of apartheid… and you know it's not true, but if you don't stand up and say it's not true, a lot of people are going to believe these lies."
Bader, a 23-year-old Tel Aviv University student studying for his BA in computer science and economics, said he meets university students who are shocked to learn that Arabs live in Israel. He tells them, "I am living proof," in Arabic of course, his mother tongue.
"Most of the people we talk to are from the Middle East, from Yemen, from Saudi Arabia, from Syria, from Lebanon. To them, Israel is just an entity – they call it Little Satan," says Bader. "I'm an Israeli Arab, my grandparents have lived there, I've lived there, I have full rights, I've served in the IDF, I work in Tel Aviv, I don't face discrimination. How can you say that if you haven't even been there?" he challenges them.
When students at a well known university in the US wanted to boycott Israel's Ben Gurion University, Heeb, the Israeli Bedouin, told them, "Listen guys, Ben Gurion University has the most Arab girls, Bedouin girls, studying there, more than [schools in] Arab countries." Heeb explained that he is a Bedouin student from the University of Haifa, and that the faculty would not be able to exchange their knowledge if there is a boycott. "They didn't answer," he said.
Never has there been a time when so many different people from so many places around the globe are working together for Israel. Synagogues and churches are running "Buy Israeli Goods" campaigns. Students of all ages and backgrounds are organizing lectures and debates on college campuses. But most impressive of all are the millions of everyday, work-a-day folks speaking up now because they are no longer willing to stomach the vicious lies about Israel. Join the gang! God IS on our side!
PHOTO: Ishmael Khaldi, a Bedouin Arab spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a regular visitor to university campuses around the world
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