GROSSINGER, N.Y (Dec. 15)
Anti-Israel propaganda activities on most large college campuses are mainly “sporadic, unorganized and generally ineffective,” according to a survey by B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations made public today at the national conference of Hillel directors. A study at 50 major American colleges, made by the Hillel directors on the spot, found that the Middle East situation was not “at or near the top of the priority list” of the New Left and “black power” student groups. Rabbi Samuel Fishman, Hillel director of Israel and community affairs, who headed the study, reported that “the predominant view is that the situation today is not out of control and that we must not be misled into a massive response to relatively minor incidents.”
He reported that there were very few campuses at which there was an ongoing program of anti-Israel activity and said the Jewish campus community was “sensitive to the problem” and trying to develop effective Information programs on Israel’s position.
Rabbi Fishman said there were “occasional instances” of Arab exploitation of international student, clubs for propaganda purposes but described the incidents as “sporadic.” The study showed. Rabbi Fishman reported to a workshop session, that there was little connection between the goals of black student groups and an anti-Israeli position. He said that “the blacks are still a relatively powerless group, barely able to organize for the causes near to them. Very few black leaders are inclined to dissipate their limited resources on a struggle thousands of miles away.”
The Hillel executive described much of the anti-Israel activity emerging on the campus as being in the form of counter-demonstrations to observances of Israeli anniversaries or the appearance of an Israeli speaker. Other forms, he said, were distribution of anti-Israel literature, letters to the campus newspapers and the booking of pro-Arab lecturers.
The Hillel directors reported that the issues of top priority to the New Left and “black power” groups were the Vietnam war and the draft, racial crisis in the cities, reform of higher education and reform of the American socioeconomic system. Their reports stressed however, Rabbi Fishman said, that resolution of the Vietnam war might invoke “a situation of rebels without a cause who take up the cause against Israel.”
Some Hillel directors, however, he said, suggested that the radical students would be more likely to turn to “problems of America’s disrupted environment.”
PARLEY FOCUSES ON NEW LEFT, ACTIVISTS. AND OTHER PROBLEMS
One hundred American universities were represented at the conference which got under way here Sunday with a wide-ranging discussion of the role of Hillel in dealing with the New Left. Jewish student activists and the other elements of the Jewish campus population, including the large number of the indifferent. The discussion will continue in a series of a daily workshops through Wednesday.
In other workshop sessions, the Hillel directors began discussing various aspects of the role of Hillel on the campus, the attempt to reach the alienated, counselling on the new sexual morality and the proliferation of organizational efforts to reach the Jewish youth on the campus.
The New Left was strongly attacked and warmly defended in sessions today. Rabbi Aaron Kamerling, Hillel director at the University of Toronto. who led the work shop discussion, declared that “the New Left is forcing a polarization between man and machine and is deliberately evading the issue of the greatest good for the greatest number which technology has made possible.”
A West Coast Hillel director declared that a problem in dealing with the New Left was “the manner and means used by the students in pursuance of their goals.” He said there was “an ethical problem of the means used by the students” and asserted that the “ethical insensitivity” of the New Leftists “must result in a perversion of their goals.”
Several participants in the workshop warned that the Students for a Democratic Society would become so anti-Semitic and so anti-Israel that it would get rid of its Jewish members. Other participants in the workshops stressed the point that numerically the New Left was small and the number of Jewish students in the movement, while disproportionately large, represented only a relatively small number of the Jewish students on the campus.
A Midwest Hillel director argued that the New Leftists, once convinced that revolution was necessary to destroy the evils of the present system, were not obligated to observe its ethical standards. One veteran director charged that not enough attention was given to what troubles the college students, and too much attention to the tactics he uses to make himself heard. He said that if more attention as paid to those problems, perhaps the students would not feel so desperate today.
A theme sounded by some participants at Sunday’s opening session was repeated in workshops today and loomed as an issue that would develop in intensity during the parley. It was that the Jew would remain a “stranger” in America, that the “liberal coalition” of which the Jew was a part for so long was dissolving, and that the Jew would remain isolated. This thesis was expanded in workshops today to stress the point that Jews should give priority to causes involving Jewish survival over non-Jewish causes. Supporters of this viewpoint met with heated opposition.