Posts Tagged Israel Apartheid Week
Everyone seems to be creaming themselves over the new poster campaign from AUJS:
As university campuses around t he nation featured Israeli Apartheid Week, members of The Australasian Union of Jewish Students countered by displaying specially designed posters.
A spokesman for AUJS told J-Wire: “We’ve distributed them to be put up locally in: Victoria, NSW, WA, Queensland, ACT, SA andNew Zealand. They were first put up in Victoria on Sunday night.”
Some of the posters are actually not bad:
But others are pretty awful:
As I have said before, addressing the Apartheid claim is not good advocacy. Meanwhile, demonising Abbas like that is not helping anyone’s image, least of all AUJS’. This is not to say that Abbas’ racist statements and incitement to violence are not a problem, but “smear campaigns” are not the way to go about combating the loony anti-Israel fringe. In fact, by using the “apartheid” epithet falsely, we are not only lowering ourselves to their level but also undermining the struggle of people who genuinely suffered under apartheid — exactly what we (rightly) accuse the “Israeli apartheid” proponents of doing.
Martin Luther King quotes, on the other hand, is a great way to undermine the “celebrities” like Desmond Tutu that they try to use to legitimise themselves.
However, all this is beside the point. The reality is that while poster campaigns may be the most visible form of advocacy, they are also the least effective. For example, Commonwealth Bank spend what probably amounts to millions of dollars promoting itself to students, using not just posters but huge stunts and attractive young men and women handing-out free stuff. That is infinitely more than anyone on campus who is either pro or anti Israel could do and you know what? I have been on campus for six years now and I still bank with Westpac.
The irony is that through its involvement in student politics over the last six or seven years, AUJS has dramatically altered the discourse on campus regarding Israel. When I first went on campus in 2006, to say the atmosphere was hostile would be an understatement. There was a genuinely antisemitic trend within a number of student councils (and I don’t use that word lightly), many of which spent thousands of dollars each year campaigning against Israel. This kind of activity has not gone completely, but it has dwindled substantially.
The community never seemed to care about this, however, probably because you can’t see paradigm shifts while walking to lectures from your car. Posters, on the other hand, stand out to Jews and Israel-haters alike — but to the rest of the student population, it’s just more noise to block out.
It amazes me that in 2012, people can still think that posters like these are going to change anyone’s mind. We are bombarded with so many images each day that any kind of visual advertising like this really has very little effect; our minds are conditioned to just blank it out. If this is what it takes to impress the community so that AUJS’ political activities are funded then so be it, but there are much better things to spend time and money doing.
Here is some information that seems to have been completely lost on the Jewish community in Australia:
Tal Becker, an Israeli/Australian analyst who was chief of staff under Tzipi Livni when she was Israeli Foreign Minister, on Israel Apartheid Week:
It is Israel Apartheid Week this week on campuses, but chances are you would not know it unless you just read this sentence. A study, just prepared by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, reveals that in the last four years Israel Apartheid Week was mentioned fewer than 400 times in non-Israeli, non-Jewish media outlets with an audience of 100,000 or more. Even more remarkable is that in 2011, some 65 percent of the coverage appeared in Israeli or Jewish media outlets. These results are reminiscent of the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” which depicted Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus. It was Jewish outrage at the film which seemed to make a decisive contribution to the fact that the movie grossed over $600 million at the box office, much of which came, no doubt, from people who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
The Debunking Handbook by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky:
To debunk a myth, you often have to mention it – otherwise, how will people know what you’re talking about? However, this makes people more familiar with the myth and hence more likely to accept it as true. Does this mean debunking a myth might actually reinforce it in people’s minds?
To test for this backfire effect, people were shown a flyer that debunked common myths about flu vaccines. Afterwards, they were asked to separate the myths from the facts. When asked immediately after reading the flyer, people successfully identified the myths. However, when queried 30 minutes after reading the flyer, some people actually scored worse after reading the flyer. The debunking reinforced the myths. Hence the backfire effect is real. The driving force is the fact that familiarity increases the chances of accepting information as true.
So a bunch of fringe lunatics are trying to convince Australia that Israel today is like South Africa 30 years ago by screaming at people on campus. They’re at least as likely to turn people off as they are to convince anyone and they have been doing the same thing for years with little to show for it.
What does the Jewish community do? Probably the worst thing it possibly could.
The Australian Jewish News today:
Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, in The Australian today: