In a sign that perceived anti-Israel bias on U.S. college campuses has reached a fevered pitch, the Israel on Campus Coalition has launched a toll-free number where students and faculty members can air their concerns about anti-Israel sentiments on campus and in the classroom.
While already up and running, the hot line will be officially unveiled in Washington this weekend at the Spitzer B’nai Brith Hillel Forum on Public Policy, a conference for Jewish student activists. The hot line, though launched as Columbia University faces highly publicized allegations of anti-Israel bias, is “not about Columbia,” ICC executive director Wayne Firestone said. “There’s a growing body of anecdotal evidence of inappropriate behavior,” he said. “The only way to fairly diagnose the situation is on a campus-by-campus and incident-by-incident basis.”Recent complaints have ranged from students whose textbook maps do not include Israel to those intimidated by virulently anti-Israel professors, he said.
The ICC will investigate messages left on the hot line voicemail and, if appropriate, form “virtual response teams” to determine possible redress. Teams will be composed of a local campus professional, a university faculty member, a faculty member outside the university, a Jewish student leader, a Jewish defense organization member and an official from an ICC member organization, or some combination.A partnership of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and the Schusterman Family Foundation, the ICC is made up of 26 pro-Israel organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish National Fund and the Orthodox Union.
“We want students to know that, whether they’re in the middle of Arkansas or the middle of Manhattan, our entire community supports them,” Firestone said.
David Sidorsky, a 21-year-old Jewish student leader at University of Maryland, said that on many campuses, pro-Israel students face an “atmosphere where they feel uncomfortable expressing their pro-Israel views.”“The hot line is another way to make sure students’ voices are heard,” he said. “It will enable them to get some support and guidance, whether the problem is fellow students, anti-Israel faculty members or a university policy.”The hot line is (866) 241-8303 or e-mail the ICC at firstname.lastname@example.org.