Groups lobbying on behalf of the Israeli government locate and recruit students who they believe may be future student government leaders to go on pro-Israel trips. They provide propaganda dressed up as educational trips as part of an effort to counter rising public support for Palestinian freedom and the divestment movement. These trips are widely offered to student government leaders across California. It must also be noted at the outset that these organizations do not reflect the diversity of the Jewish experience on campus or in the United States. Their anti-Palestinian rights agenda is increasingly unpopular, and the lengths to which these groups are going to counter a grassroots student movement is prime evidence of that fact. If the debate could be won by the anti-divestment side without such lavish trips and efforts, surely there would be no need for such efforts.
The trips to Israel offered by these lobbying groups are unique, in that one is hard-pressed to find any other non-student groups that offer effectively free trips to student groups, at least none by groups with as explicit a political position as the ADL and AJC on the very issue they claim to be educating participants on. The trips are lavish, estimated to cost $7,000 - roughly half a year's tuition at the University of California. They include experiences that the average student cannot afford - fancy hotel stays, car services, full meals, all rolled in with seminars filled with state propaganda (as you can see in the itineraries provided below). What results is a set of students who are well versed in the pro-Israel case, who may feel obligated to their benefactors, and who are exposed to a rich set of contacts and networks that they can turn to after graduation. These trips fit into the strategy described in the following video, shot in 2010, in which AIPAC Leadership Development Director Jonathan Kessler describes how to turn back the wave of student divestment activism. He refers to the 2010 divestment vote at UC Berkeley:
1. The ADL is opposed to divestment on college campuses, including at the UC:
In addition to its positions in support of the Israeli government's denial of Palestinian rights, the ADL has a long and clear record of campaigning against student divestment efforts at the University of California. They have pushed the UC Regents to oppose divestment, participated in campaigns to stop student votes on divestment, and have worked to silence SJPs through the infamous Campus Climate Reports (chaired in part by ADL Education Head Rick Barton).
1. The AJC, like the ADL, has continuously taken a position against divestment at the UC, supporting petition drives, letter campaigns, and so on. These positions effectively endorse the Israeli government's ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law.