As the 2022/23 academic year approaches, the Maccabee Task Force team can’t wait to get back on campus. For the past three years COVID has forced us to cancel hundreds of Israel trips and other events. Now, finally, we’re looking forward to implementing our full strategy — including Israel trips — on all our 100 campuses.
These COVID disruptions highlighted the necessity of our work like never before. The pro-Israel networks we build through our Israel trips are extremely effective in defending Israel — and they remained effective even after the first year without a trip. But by the second year without a trip, these networks began to unravel. As trip participants and their circles graduated, we saw anti-Israel efforts gain momentum.
This dynamic highlights a critical shift. In prior decades, most college students tended to be sympathetic towards Israel or at least neutral. Anti-Israel students had to fight an uphill battle to overcome this default and persuade students to oppose the Jewish State.
Today, the opposite is true. Among the students who dominate campus politics — those on the progressive left — skepticism towards Israel is increasingly the default. Left to their own devices, most of these students will sympathize with BDS and other anti-Israel measures. We in the pro-Israel community are now the ones who need to do the heavy lifting to overcome an unfriendly status quo.
In other words, we’re no longer fighting against Students for Justice in Palestine or Jewish Voices for Peace. We are instead laboring against the rising ideological tide on campus.
Even if it’s narrowed, however, we still do have a path to victory. The anti-Israel narrative that dominates the left is so starkly at odds with the reality on the ground that students exposed to this reality will almost always change their minds. And we have an effective way to share the truth: our Israel trips. When we take campus leaders to Israel (we take only leaders) we make new friends and allies. Upon their return to campus, these allies help us build coalitions with their extended communities. These coalitions effectively defend Israel despite the larger trends.
But for us to prevail, we must do what we do on an ongoing basis. We now know better than ever that if we’re inactive the anti-Israel tide will eventually sweep away all we’ve built. We can’t wait to get back onto campus this fall.