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31 Battling Anti-Zionism at the University of Missouri Daniel Swindell Daniel Swindell documents his ongoing battles with the pervasive anti-Israel forces on his campus, including entire departments. There’s a biology professor who devotes his time to Israel-bashing and who attempts to teach a course called “Perspectives on Zionism” that offers only negative perspectives. Department after department makes up reasons not to sponsor Zionist speakers whom Swindell wants to bring in, instead bringing in speakers with minimal credentials to promulgate fabrications and deceptions and call for the destruction of Israel. The Peace Studies Department hosts such events every semester, somehow not understanding that destroying Israel would not be a peaceful endeavor. In doing this, they repeatedly use false maps alleging Jewish theft of Palestinian lands, propaganda presented as academic material, and lies presented as facts, a clear sign that the university, as a place of learning and scholarship, has gone astray. How can students emerge from this environment with anything other than anti-Israelism, when this is what masquerades as education? To make a long story short, I did not grow up thinking of myself as Jewish, although my mother is Jewish. However, in 2012, I met some orthodox Jews, one of whom said, “I don’t care if you are a Muslim eating a cheeseburger, if your mother is Jewish, then you are Jewish.” They invited me to study in Israel. A twoweek visit turned into a year. During my stay, I wanted to see the Gaza Strip. The closest option was an Israeli border town I had never heard of, Sderot. I learned about a man named Noam Bedein, the founder of the Sderot Media Center, which offers scheduled tours. Although I arrived off-hours, Bedein was kind enough to offer me a private tour. While I was in Sderot, the town was pleasant and quiet. I saw the skyline of Gaza from a distance of a few miles, but I learned that a few miles is in the range of rocket fire. Sderot has been hit by thousands of rockets from Gaza. I saw a school with huge black marks above the main doors, from a rocket explosion. Bedein explained that if the school had not been designed as a bomb shelter, then Battling Anti-Zionism at the University of Missouri | 391 the rocket would have gone through the wall and killed the children. In Sderot, bomb shelters are as common as mailboxes. At the end of the tour, Bedein asked only one thing of me: “Be our voice when you get home.” His voice was not desperate, but his statement stayed with me. In 2013, I returned to Columbia, Missouri, where the University of Missouri (MU) is located. I had graduated from MU in 2010, and while there, I did not think much about Israel-related issues. However, after my year abroad, I wanted to learn how Israel was being presented on campuses. A few months later, a biology professor named George Smith hosted the anti­ Israel film 5 Broken Cameras. I did not know it at the time, but Smith and I were going to become rivals for the next three years. At the film, Smith explained that the attacks from Gaza were trivial, and therefore, the Israeli blockade on Gaza was not justified. I raised my hand and asked him how he could refer to twelve thousand rockets as trivial. Smith responded, “The rockets are only symbolic.” I could not believe a professor, or really anyone, could say such a thing. I remembered Bedein asking me to be his voice. I felt convinced that I needed to bring him to MU. I tried to find a group to sponsor him—I even asked the Israeli embassy—but no one was willing. Finally, the local rabbi introduced me to the president of the MU Christians United for Israel (CUFI) club, Destiny. I hadn’t heard of the group before, and they were only three members. Destiny’s faith moved her to stand up for Israel, and she had already taken a few punches. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008, someone took her picture and wrote, “This Christian supports the slaughter of Palestinian children ,” and shared it on Twitter. Bravely, Destiny agreed to sponsor the event. To host the event, we needed a $1,000 honorarium. Surprisingly, the university agreed to give us the money. The geography department even cosponsored. Sadly, Smith showed up and distributed a flier that said that the rocket...


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