By RACHEL SILBERSTEIN
“Our kids need to be seeing this film,” called out a dolled-up woman who looked to be in her eighties, with florescent-orange hair flipped to one side, Jackie-O style.
Some 50 congregants of the Upper West Side branch of Rodeph Shalom gathered at the synagogue Tuesday to watch “Crossing the Line”, a film about inflammatory anti-Israel protests on college campuses across America.
Brooklyn College alumus Albert Lasher, Class of ‘51, invited this Brooklyn News Service reporter to view the film in the aftermath of a controversial campus event which advocated for the boycott of Israel and gained national attention from politicians and press.
The film provides a collage of shocking images and video footage of protests at colleges like UC Davis and Amherst where students demonize Israel by comparing her to Nazi Germany, desecrate the Israeli flag, and stage reenactments of violence by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians.
The footage contrasted with interviews with academics and Jewish students who described what they called intimidation and silencing on campus.
“Someone confronted me saying that they thought Israel is the most brutal army in the world,” said Bryn Mawr student Hillary Polak on camera.
Another interviewee echoed the idea.
“They stage die-ins and act as if they are Gazans being attacked by Israel,” said Sepi Termechi, a UC Irvine student. “An average person walking by obviously sees Israel as the oppressor.”
Experts weighed in on how to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from overt hatred of the country and its people.“You can be pro-Palestinian without being a hater of Israel and a hater of Jews,” pointed out Michael Holien, a Jewish activist.
“Not all criticism is anti-Semitic,” agreed David Luchins, free run 3.0 v5 femmes chairman of the political science department at Touro College. “Some of it is legitimate, and is deserving of serious discussion, but when Israel is presented as the world’s greatest violator of human rights… then you got a problem.”
Andrea Gottlieb, executive director of Jerusalemonlineu.com, produced the film as part of a campaign to educate college and high school students about the Mideast conflict so that they have a more nuanced and balanced view by the time they get to college.
“We didn’t create this to scare you,” Gottlieb said she tells high school students. “You are going to see a lot of disturbing images. It doesn’t happen on every campus, but it is something that is growing and you need to be aware of.”