This summer student leaders have participated in tours of Israel funded by the Anti-Defamation League and Blue Star PR, as well as several other pro-Israel groups. With divestment resolutions sweeping the California university system, these trips are providing student leaders with a misrepresentation of the Palestinian struggle. Reports from the trips portray their celebration of violence and militarism, tokenization of minority and oppressed communities, and failure to engage seriously with questions of Palestinian rights. In her article for Mondoweiss.net Rebecca Pierce points out some of the effects of the Blue Star trip:
“After being exposed to such a hostile and cartoonish view of Palestinians, it is hard to imagine these students seeing their Arab, Muslim, and pro-Palestinian peers as anything other than enemies of Israel and supporters of terrorism. One also has to question the efficacy of a program that leaves participants with such a limited view of the conflict, even in terms of achieving BlueStar’s own stated goals.”
These trips and their effects on the college students that participate are also being documented by these agencies, as Pierce explains:
“In over fifty entries on the BlueStar Fellows program blog (penned with the assistance of a writing coach) participants from UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State, San Jose State, and Pitzer College reflect on a trip itinerary that often glorifies Israeli state violence while promoting a dehumanized image of Palestinians. The accounts provide insight into the sensational approach to the conflict pushed by some hardline Israel advocacy groups, and raise questions about the impact of their tactics in the battle for the hearts and minds of US college students.”
It is imperative that we hold these student leaders accountable, especially given that these tours are giving student government representatives a skewed if not incomplete view of the conflict. These reports also raise ethical questions about student senators who benefit from funded trips and then may be asked to vote on questions about university funds tied to Israel’s occupation policies. Click here to read more of Rebecca’s powerful piece at Mondoweiss.net, and for more info on the ADL trip as well, click here.