About three years ago, a student walked onto her San Diego college campus and called her mom in tears upon seeing anti-semitic propaganda placed on the school's walls.
"This girl was met with this unbelievable scene of posters depicting Jewish Israeli soldiers beating Palestinians and blood and lots of information that was actually misinformation," said Wendy Avraham, board member of the San Diego chapter of Stand With Us, which aims to empower Israel supporters globally and educate people against misinformation about the Jewish people.
"[The girl] was in tears, and she was confronted with people saying, 'If you're Jewish, you do this and you do that.' Her mother didn't know where to turn, and turned to us."
The display was part of Israel Apartheid Week, which is scheduled to take place worldwide on various weeks from March 18 to April 8 this year and hosts a series of lectures and rallies to "raise awareness about Israel's apartheid regime for the Palestinian people and build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement," according to the movement’ s official website.
Avraham said it's more of an "Anti-Jewish week," so Stand With Us — which has 18 offices around the world — put in a call to action.
Since the girl's encounter, Stand With Us' San Diego chapter has held its Stand With Us Campus Crash Course — or SWUC3 — to teach high school and college students, as well as parents and professors, how to better understand the scene of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic attacks.
Avraham, who lives in Carmel Valley and chairs the annual event, considers the issue "huge" in San Diego.
"The UC [colleges], in general, have a lot of problems with specific organizations being very powerful, like Students for Justice in Palestine," she said. "They're one of the ones that have the Apartheid Week. They have enactments of shootings, kids being killed and all the things that are inaccurate that we see or that exist out there in social media or on TV or written."
But the rhetoric isn't isolated to San Diego.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, which tracks anti-semitic events and statistics, anti-Jewish activities were nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than in 2016. In California alone, in 2017, there were 268 reported anti-semitic events.
"We decided that, in our community, we needed to do whatever we could do to educate our students, kids, parents and anybody who needed to know and needed to know how to respond, to not be naive and ignorant, and to be able to stand up and speak the truth," Avraham said. "It's more of a defensive move, but on the offensive side is the education that we do behind the scenes before the kids get to college and before the parents get calls like that. Our goal is to make that not happen."
For this year's SWUC3 — which takes place March 10 from noon to 4 p.m. at Congregation Beth Am, 5050 Del Mar Heights Road, in Carmel Valley — activities include expert discussions, break-out sessions for kids and adults, Krav Maga lessons, role-playing, lunch and a raffle for two high schoolers to visit Israel on a $500 scholarship.
"It's a fun afternoon, and it's really essential for everyone — Jew or non-Jew — who cares about truth, the right of everybody to feel proud of who they are and to fight against misinformation and lies," Avraham said. "I think people come away feeling that they have a core of knowledge that's going to prop them up and help them in those difficult situations."
For more information and to register for the event, visit www.standwithus.com/swuc3.