A student-led campaign to challenge anti-Zionism on campus has gained global backing with thousands of students across the world lending their faces to the cause.
The #rethink2014 movement was set up by Hannah Brady, a third-year student at King’s College London, to counter Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), an annual period of pro-Palestinian rallies and activism at UK universities, which began this week.
Ms Brady said she wanted to “create a space” where students could oppose the suggestion that Israel is an apartheid state.
The 20-year-old encouraged people to explain their response to IAW on specially designed posters, which were then shared online via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
She said: “Israel advocacy on campus isn’t always that successful because students don’t want to have to commit to one ideology.
“This project gives students the opportunity to speak out for themselves as individuals and enter the discussion on a personal level.”
Ms Brady said thousands of students have taken part on campuses in the UK, Australia, Canada, the United States and Spain, with 62,000 people viewing the posters online.
By using the hashtags “Rethink2014” and “ApartheidWeek”, contributors ensured their messages would be seen by anyone making a computer search for IAW.
Ms Brady said: “University politics is being put before student welfare. Pro-Palestinian groups are being given freedom of expression at the expense of the welfare of Jewish students. There isn’t a strong enough understanding of the atmosphere this
She said she hoped the campaign would put pressure on universities to offer Jewish students proper support on campus and to recognise that anti-Israel activism had an “emotional and mental impact” on them.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily positive to ban IAW,” she said. “But what we can do is try to create an environment in which it won’t make people feel intimidated.
“We have reached the stage where we are no longer scared, and we won’t do things in isolation. We are proud of what we think.”