A social media initiative
by iEngage Project
Fellow Prof. Gil Troy
, which calls for study of Israel in response to the recent boycott approved by the American Studies Association (ASA), quickly resulted in gaining more supporters than the academic association.
,” a Facebook page which calls for public commitments to study and learn about Israel, gathered more than 1,000 supporters in three days, topping the 827 pro-boycott votes recorded at the recent ASA convention.
Prof. Troy said that the Shalom Hartman Institute iEngage Project has been working for four years to shift the negative and doctrinaire conversation about Israel toward one that is constructive, thoughtful, and educational.
“When my colleagues at the American Studies Association chose to demonize Israel by boycotting it, instead of reacting in a defensive way, I chose to apply the iEngage methodology of suggesting that the best response to an anti-educational boycott is to commit to learning about Israel and Zionism,” Prof. Troy said. “I have been gratified by the response. When I invited people not just to ‘like’ the ‘Troycott,’ but to commit to learning about Israel and Zionism, Hartman-style, the response was phenomenal. In less than two days we exceeded the ASA’s 827 pro-boycott votes, and we are now over 1,000 likes and counting.”
“Gil is fighting the boycott through ideas,” Rabbi Hartman said. “It’s positive. A typical iEngage Project response emphasizes study and teaching rather than attacking. A boycott is about stopping the flow of ideas. We have learned to develop an open space for discourse.”
Prof. Troy’s act is in line with the iEngage approach, as articulated recently in Donniel Hartman’s own column, Boycotting the Boycotters?
: "We live in an open marketplace of ideas, and uninhibited access to these ideas. The fantasy of limiting debate and conversation is precisely that, a fantasy and an ineffective and short-sighted policy."
"When offered among Jews in order to correct wrong behavior, criticism is actually considered to be a mitzvah, of "tochecha" (reproof). Its origins are found in the Biblical command, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely reprove your fellow, and not bear sin because of him." (Leviticus 19:17)."
Based on the concept of creating a new narrative regarding Israel’s significance for Jewish life, the iEngage Project has reached tens of thousands since its launch. Most recently, the Shalom Hartman Institute announced a partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism to offer the curriculum in 45 Reform congregations in North America during 2014 which will join 200 synagogues and community centers currently offering the iEngage curriculum.