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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

October 17, 2002

On whose side are they, anyway?

Over the last months, I posted several articles about Israel’s advocacy campaign, becuase I am deeply concerned about the state of Israeli PR and about the consequences - loss of public support in the West, and ultimately, loss of the support from foreign governments (see, for example, article 1, article 2, article 3, article 4, and article 5.)

Because of these concers, I consider the following story from the Jerusalem post, October 15, 2002, to be such a serious matter:

A private donor provided unlimited funding for 48 Israeli students to visit college campuses, churches, synagogues, and high schools across the US to defend Israel.

Israeli consulates were asked to set up the speaking engagements, and judging from glowing articles in dozens of student newspapers and local media, feedback on Web sites, and interviews with the participants, the visit was a success.

So why is a group of students accusing the consulate in Los Angeles of turning their visit into a nightmare?

"They treated us with such disrespect," said Joey Low, the businessman who funded the 12-day tour through a non-partisan, non-profit group called Israel at Heart. "As far as the consulate was concerned, it seemed like the whole idea was for me to spend money flying the students somewhere so they could have a sightseeing trip."

But according to students who were sent to cities and towns in the LA consulate's jurisdiction, officials set up few meetings for them, forgot to make sleeping arrangements in some cases, and an official who accompanied one group repeatedly tried to upstage them on the podium.

Low noted that officials at various consulates accused him of being stingy when he asked that the visitors be housed in dorms or students' apartments instead of hotels. The students described their dealings with the consulate as "disappointing" and "horrifying," and accuse it of sabotaging their effort.

From this point on, the article provides specific details about the conduct of the Israeli officials, each detail more disturbing than the previous one. It makes you wonder on whose side these officials really are.

Read and weep; there is probably much rejoicing among Israel’s numerous foes.

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland