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Expose of pro-settler student tour prompts fundraising appeal: ‘$25,000 helps student leaders fight BDS’

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The beginning of a fundraising appeal from Blue Star PR, a pro-Israel advocacy organization.

The beginning of a fundraising appeal from BlueStar PR, a pro-Israel advocacy organization.

The pro-Israel group BlueStar PR sees a potential fundraising opportunity in my article from last week, which examined the organization’s hardline pro-settler tours of Israel through the lens of first-hand participant accounts posted to the official trip blog.

On August 28 BlueStar PR founder Jonathan Carey sent out a fundraising email (printed in full below). Titled “Anti-Israel Sites Threatened by BlueStar College Fellows Program,” the missive labeled my analysis of the BlueStar Fellows June 2013 trip “aggressive, abusive and assertion-laden,” and asked for donations of up to $50,000 to support future tours.

Carey’s email claims that I “made up ‘facts’ about funders, program philosophy and trip activities,” though it offers no examples or evidence to support this assertion and states that “official responses to close-minded sites like these are a waste of time.” It also argues that:

 [BlueStar’s] program goal is not to dehumanize Palestinians, but rather to let participants examine the evidence against specious Palestinian claims that “Israel is an apartheid, illegal state built on land stolen from indigenous Palestinians and given to European Jews as a payoff for the Holocaust.”

Perhaps the most revealing element of the email is Carey’s final fundraising call, which provides insight into the role pro-Israel trips play in strategies to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the sheer amount of money BlueStar hopes to spend fighting future divestment votes. The communique ends with an appeal for donations along the following scale:

$50,000 will pay for a year of campus programming and a trip to Israel for 10 Jewish and non-Jewish students.

$25,000 will help support our efforts to help student leaders fight against BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel) actions this academic year.

$10,000 will pay for us to work with students to design and disseminate a year-long pro-Israel campaign.

$5,000 will pay for a year of campus programming and a trip to Israel for a single student leader.

$1,000 will cover the cost of 72 free dinners we offer students during our repeated campus training sessions.

$500 will pay for two pro-Israel advertisements in a campus newspaper.

$100 will cover the cost of supplying a college student with books and educational curriculum during our program.

Here’s the entire text of Carey’s fundraising pitch:

Anti-Israel Sites Threatened byBlueStar College Fellows Program.
Sites lash out to shame and defame pro-Israel student leaders.

The BlueStar College Fellows leadership program has caught the attention of the Israel haters. Their aggressive, abusive and assertion-laden coverage shows the kind of diatribes our students are facing on campuses and beyond. BlueStar created our college program to help train student leaders to counter exactly this kind of bullying and bias from here and here.

The other side is clearly threatened by what we are accomplishing in our program. Now, it is up to you to help us continue our efforts to educate the next generation of Israel leaders and advocates. New student leaders are waiting for us to secure the funding to admit them to our leadership program.

The Mondoweiss author, who recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz where she was a leader in the Students for Justice in Palestine campus movement, was NOT on our trip, did NOT interview anyone on our trip, took participant blog quotes out of context, made broad, unsupported generalizations, and even made up “facts” about funders, program philosophy and trip activities to support her biased allegations against BlueStar’s program.

Students and board agree: Our student participants, who are puzzled by the inaccurate accounts of their trip, agree with BlueStar’s board of directors: official responses to close-minded sites like these are a waste of time. Time and energy are better spent telling the true story of Israel to the far more numerous people who can become our friends. So, while we will use these articles as educational lessons to strengthen our students’ skills and knowledge on how to respond to bullying and media bias both on campus and beyond, BlueStar does NOT encourage you to respond to these sites.

What you should know about BlueStar College Fellows:

During the trip, participants see evidence of Israel’s diversity and values, the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and historical attachment to the land and just dealings with its neighbors despite legitimate security concerns. Our goal is to use the frame of journalism to help students develop the knowledge they need to have a more nuanced understanding of Israel, at a minimum.

Participants examine Israel’s affirmative case in its conflict with its neighbors. We reject black-and-white points of view, especially on difficult issues on land and security about which Israelis continue to debate. Our program goal is not to dehumanize Palestinians, but rather to let participants examine the evidence against specious Palestinian claims that “Israel is an apartheid, illegal state built on land stolen from indigenous Palestinians and given to European Jews as a payoff for the Holocaust.”

Our struggle against anti-Israel forces is not over.

BlueStar is working full force to grow our college program this academic year. We need your help to reach even more Jewish and non-Jewish campus leaders in our struggle against anti-Israel actions on campus and beyond.

The next generation of Israel leaders and advocates need your support:

$50,000 will pay for a year of campus programming and a trip to Israel for 10 Jewish and non-Jewish students.

$25,000 will help support our efforts to help student leaders fight against BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel) actions this academic year.

$10,000 will pay for us to work with students to design and disseminate a year-long pro-Israel campaign.

$5,000 will pay for a year of campus programming and a trip to Israel for a single student leader.

$1,000 will cover the cost of 72 free dinners we offer students during our repeated campus training sessions.

$500 will pay for two pro-Israel advertisements in a campus newspaper.

$100 will cover the cost of supplying a college student with books and educational curriculum during our program.

Please click here to support the 2013-2014 BlueStar College Fellows Program. Students are waiting for your support.

Please click here to apply for the Program.

Rebecca Pierce
About Rebecca Pierce

Rebecca Pierce is a recent graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz where she studied film production and was active in student media and Palestine solidarity organizing.

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One Response

  1. amigo
    amigo
    August 29, 2013, 1:02 pm

    “$100 will cover the cost of supplying a college student with books and educational curriculum during our program.”

    Is Hasbara that expensive.It,s not as if it has to be re-written every month or so.
    It,s the same old tired worn out ziopropaganda.

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