The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) has adapted a propaganda campaign created by the Israeli Defence Force to depict Australian universities being bombarded by missiles, in an effort to win public support for Israel’s shelling and invasion of Gaza.
The ‘What Would You Do’ campaign includes a series of images of major universities around the county with green and red missiles cascading down on notable campus landmarks.
In one image, students lounge carefree on sunny lawns in front of the University of Sydney’s iconic quadrangle, apparently unaware that death is about to fain down upon them, courtesy of their cross-town rivals.
A headline asks students what they would do if such an attack took place. “Imagine: UNSW terrorists fired thousand of rockets at USyd,” the caption reads.
The images mimic a series recently distributed by the Israeli Defence Force which showed major foreign cities including London, Paris and Sydney coming under fire.
They also used the “What Would You Do” slogan.
According to AUJS’ website, the graphics are part of a campaign that will include the dissemination of posters and pamphlets on campuses, stalls, talks, and promotion via social media.
Palestinian Australian Fahad Ali, President of the University of Sydney branch of Students for Justice in Palestine, said he was amused when he saw the images.
“It’s just such an unintellectual attempt at manipulating public opinion… it’s kind of an insult to the intelligence of students,” he said.
Ali said the images were insensitive to those who had families living in Gaza, where over 1,400 have been killed and access to water and electricity has been cut off to most of the population.
It is estimated by the UN that around 80 per cent of the deaths have been civilian. Of the 59 Israelis killed so far, 56 of them were soldiers.
“For Palestinian students to come on to campus and see that kind of propaganda, it’s quite hurtful. Many of us have family who may have suffered through this very intense personal tragedy,” he said.
AUJS Political Affairs Director Mathew Lesh told New Matilda the campaign had received “overwhelming support and interest from Jewish students”.
“This campaign seeks to provide balance by placing everyday Australian students in the shoes of Israelis, who are facing a barrage of rocket attacks on a daily basis,” Lesh said.
“Jewish students have felt uncomfortable and alienated on campus this week due to the inflammatory activity of anti-Israel activists.”
Arrests were made last week after protesters burned an Israeli flag in Melbourne.
Lesh told the Australian Jewish News that such acts do nothing to help solve issues in the Middle East.
Dr Jordy Silverstein, a member of progressive Jewish group Australian Jewish Democratic Society, criticised AUJS’ campaign and described the images of besieged universities as an inaccurate parallel to draw.
“I think AUJS at times forget they should be trying to represent all Jewish students, not just quite hard line Zionist students,” Dr Silverstein said.
“The point of universities is to engage students in critical thinking and I would hope that students want to do so. I think these posters really work against that.”
Dr Silverstein said while it was clear the majority of the Jews in Australia supported Israel’s actions, attitudes were changing.
“I think that increasingly we’re seeing among Australian Jews that people are very uncomfortable with what Israel’s doing,” she said.
A 72-hour ceasefire which came into effect in Gaza last night ended three hours later, with at least four Palestinians killed by tank shelling, and an IDF soldier reported missing.