BLT Film - Crossing the Line

12-Nov-2014 - 6:00pm

A student evening at Bushey: Is it all academic?

A student evening at Bushey: Is it all academic?

On the 12th November, the Bushey community welcomed students from London based universities to discuss the film, ‘Crossing the Line‘.

The evening was organized in conjunction with “Stand by Us”, a worldwide organization, which has its main offices in Israel and the United States. The film was released around 2009 and discussed anti-Semitism on university campuses. The film itself was a hybrid of anti-Semitism on campus designed to raise awareness. Following the screening of the film, a panel discussion took place.

The panel was chaired by a “Stand by Us “member of staff and comprised of the students together with the Shul’s very own Ella Rose, Union of Jewish students (U.J.S.) president. The panel offered a variety of opinions as to whether the film, which depicted the anti-Semitism faced by the students, was a true reflection of contemporary student experience. Some of the panelists felt the film presented an outdated view. Other contributors from the floor and “Stand by Us”, maintained that the film shed important light on the challenges faced by Jewish students and those of other faiths who support Israel.

The evening continued with a discussion centering on how circumstances have shifted since the 1980’s through to the present day. This aspect of the discussion also raised the role played by social media and the role it has to play both positively and negatively. One member of the audience said “we just did not face this issue during the [1980s]”. In addition the discussion looked at whether particular campuses might suffer more from anti-Semitism than others.

A member of the audience raised the issue of the atmosphere awaiting Jewish students at specific campuses where the students are due to attend or have recently enrolled. The audience was also given a flavour of the kind of resistance and demonstrations faced by those who seek to put on Israel education events. There were additional contributions from an academic from a local university.

The students detailed the lengths to which anti-Israel campaigners will go to disrupt meetings including using tactics that might be considered threatening or offensive. The discussion then moved on to examine the difference between the atmospheres on campuses with larger or smaller Jewish populations.

Ella Rose explained the diverse approaches of the U.J.S. on smaller campuses and also described the differentt expectations and challenges that the students grapple with on smaller campuses. Many may have been surprised to learn that the majority of campuses that the U.J.S. works with, they consider as the smaller campuses.

‘Stand by Us’ acknowledged that the film was designed to highlight the extent of the situation but expressed the necessity of this approach and by and large they were commended for the film by the audience.

The evening may have raised more questions than it answered, but no one present could deny it supplied food for thought.

Whatever the majority view of the film, it is clear that it is a tremendously worthwhile watch to be recommended and the evening was extremely interesting.

James Haftel