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BDS encounters a fight in Europe, by Ariel Bolstein (Israel Hayom via EoZ)

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Aug. 22, 2016

The student council at Germany’s Leipzig University has decided to fight the movement to boycott and isolate Israel, an unprecedented move by any standard. Over the last few decades, the university scene in Western Europe hasn’t been particularly encouraging for Israel. Countless student groups have condemned the Jewish state and adopted the mendacious narrative propagated by our enemies. Campuses have frequently turned into hotbeds of hatred toward Israel; the term “Zionist” has become an insult; and pro-Palestinian activists enjoy near-automatic support. Things have reached the point of actual danger. Anti-Israeli brainwashing has made an entire generation of European university graduates the victims of a wild campaign to delegitimize Israel.
And all of a sudden we have this decision by the Leipzig students, who, for the first time, are calling a spade a spade. The wording of the student council’s decision calls the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement an anti-Semitic movement and determines that it is designed to bring about the destruction of Israel. Very surprisingly, the socialist-democratic student group at the same university supported that wording, which means that the battle for Israel’s image and our interests isn’t lost yet, even among the European Left.
Indeed, there is no such thing as a doomed battle. True, many baseless accusations — such as accusing Israel of “occupation” — have taken root in Western consciousness. But concentrated, determined efforts can break down even the most deeply-rooted accusations. That’s what happened in the U.S. Republican Party, which changed its official platform adding pro-Israel language and removing the demand to establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. Sooner or later, the same thing will happen in Europe, if Israel continues to insist that it is just. After all, I have yet to encounter a fair European who, after I laid out the facts for him, continued to argue that the blame for the Middle East conflict fell squarely on Israel.

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