Some of my best friends

At the Times of Israel there is a blog post by Eylon Aslan-Levy entitled: “S#!t debaters say about Israel and the Jews” which probably deserves greater prominence than it will receive.

The Israeli Debating League is heading home from this year’s European Universities Debating Championship in Manchester. The annual “Euros” tournament brings together hundreds of students from across Europe to argue about thorny issues for which they have only fifteen minutes to prepare. This year, over two hundred teams battled over the motion: “This House Believes that Israel Should Allow Members of the Jewish Diaspora to Vote in its Elections“.

It has become a tradition to hold a debate about Israel at Euros: this is the third in as many years. As such, the championship has become a fascinating place to see what the students of today – and the leaders of tomorrow – think and know about the Jewish state.

Tradition? Maybe I am ultra sensitive, but this alone set me on edge. It’s sort of like the Jewish Quota that used to exist at certain schools and clubs, but in reverse. Or, let’s have a “Kick a Jew Day”. Or it’s a nasty mimic of the UN. Tradition? This is bad.

Enough of me. More context from our observer:

Before you read on, you should know that the majority of debaters at Euros were conscientious, friendly and highly intelligent young people, who tackled the debate with knowledge and sensitivity. Others, however, were not, and did no such thing.

Consider me warned. There were lots of nice, decent people there. But?

Many of the debaters’ mistakes were, relatively speaking, benign.

Did you know that all Diaspora Jews are Orthodox, and that American Jews live in closed communities and feel no connection to Israel? Or that Iran is home to the world’s largest Jewish community outside of Israel? If you didn’t, you’d be surprised to know that there are three types of Jew in the world: those who live in Israel; those who want to live in Israel, but can’t; and those who want their children to live in Israel.

Other misconceptions were bizarre.

Israel is, as one team noted, the most tribal society in the world. It has seven tribes, another team added helpfully.

Yet others were far more sinister.

It was asserted that ”the Israeli people are irrational” and want to kill people. Israelis cannot be trusted with their own democracy: their extremist government won’t apologise for the Mavi Marmara. Israel has no right to sovereignty, since it can’t survive without foreign aid – that’s why the Jewish Diaspora should be able to vote in Israel, to keep the place in check. This should work because – as we heard in another room – Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own countries anyway.

Misconceptions? Flipping heck! Can it get worse? Yes, unfortunately it can:

When members of the Israeli delegation told their Kosovar counterparts that they had stayed in Manchester for a few days before the tournament, their competitors responded with a comment about “rich Jews”. When the Israelis clarified that they had in fact stayed in a hostel, the response became: “stingy Jews”.

If you want to know the full extent of the bigotry, read the whole thing, here. And remember, the participants are today’s European students, and presumably tomorrow’s movers and shakers. It looks like anti-semitism has a bright future ahead of it.