On college campuses, in state legislatures and in many other venues nationwide, the polarized debate about Israel is a familiar conflict and likely to intensify.
By David Crary | Associated Press via The Seattle Times | Mar 9, 2019
‘These laws are meant to silence and repress. But they can’t change people’s hearts and minds.’
— Rabbi Alissa Wise, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace
For Congress, the allegations of anti-Semitism directed toward Rep. Ilhan Omar have no precedent. Yet on college campuses, in state legislatures and in many other venues nationwide, the polarized debate about Israel is a familiar conflict and likely to intensify in the months and years ahead.
Fueled by a wave of youthful activists, including many Jews aligning with Muslims, criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians has grown in volume and scope, with persistent calls for boycotts and disinvestment. Pro-Israel organizations and politicians have countered with tough responses, and efforts to reconcile the differences have gained little traction.
Among those fearing escalation is Deborah Lipstadt, a history professor at Emory University and author of a new book, “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” about the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States and Europe. She calls herself an optimist, but she says it’s hard to be hopeful in the current political climate.
“Leaders on the left and the right are using this phenomenon as a way of drumming up support, claiming they’re victims,” she said. “I fear it will get far worse before it gets better.”