71 Years Ago this Week, the King David Hotel was Bombed

July 20, 2017

71 years ago this week in Jerusalem, a dark moment in the history of Judaism and Zionism took place. The Irgun, a Jewish paramilitary group, bombed the King David Hotel, killing 91 people.

The Irgun targeted the central offices of the British authorities in Mandatory Palestine which were located at the hotel. The Irgun justified the attack as a response to a British raid on the Jewish Agency a few weeks earlier.

Damage to the hotel after the bombing (Wikipedia)

With the aim of avoiding any casualties, the Irgun sent warnings to the hotel in advance of the bombing, but due to the number of bomb hoax calls the hotel received on a daily basis, the hotel was not evacuated.

The explosion occurred on the 22nd of July 1946 at 12:37, killing 91 people and injuring over 100 more. The bombing killed a range of people including Jews, Arabs and British citizens.

Following the attack, Jewish political leadership condemned it in the strongest terms. The Jewish Agency expressed their “feelings of horror at the base and unparalleled act perpetrated today by a gang of criminals”. David Ben Gurion, the future first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, called the Irgun “the enemy of the Jewish people”. Following the attack, the Irgun was designated a terror organization by the Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency.

The moment of the bombing (British Forces in Palestine)

The event was a significant moment in the history of Zionism, as it led to the Irgun splitting from the united front of Zionist groups, and led to an increase in British restrictions on Jews in Palestine. The bombing also affected public opinion in Britain, with many wanting to see an end to British control over land that would become the State of Israel.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern. 

Teen Magazine Promotes Conspiracy Theory from Protocols of the Elders of Zion

July 19, 2017

Affinity Magazine is a publication written by and for teenagers. Its Editor-in-Chief, Evelyn Woodsen, is nineteen, and its Senior Editor Alex Brown is in high school.

Its website gets between 200,000 and 600,000 views per month, and it claims that it “serves a purpose of showcasing the voices of aspiring teen journalists.” The publication aims to “mix pop culture with social justice and politics….”

Affinity Magazine (Affinity Magazine)

The young age of its writers and editors, however, does not excuse its promotion of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. In January, the magazine published an article titled, “Money and Israel Control the Media: Who Cares?” (January 8, 2017) Seventeen year-old author Zoya Wazir, relying on the antisemitic Rense website, wrote that:

Israel has political and economic ties to America of such necessity that they control the majority of the media. In fact, the big six corporations mentioned earlier all have Israeli ties and are headed by powerful Jewish families within the United States.

Given the publication’s left-wing bent, Affinity‘s editors might be dismayed to learn that in promoting this myth, they are joining former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who made the same claim last fall. One can also find similar content on the neo-nazi sites Stormfront and Daily Stormer, and in the /pol/, or “politically incorrect,” section of 4chan. (Ironically, a June 15 4chan thread asked, “If the Jews control the media (which they do), then why do they take such an anti-Israeli stance?”)

According to the ADL, the origin of the myth of Jewish control of the media can be traced back to the antisemitic forgery, the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”

The document known as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, said to be the secret plans of Jewish leaders for the attainment of world domination, is, in fact, the most famous and vicious forgery of modern times. Though thoroughly discredited, the Protocols have succeeded time and time again in stirring up hatred and racism in the twentieth century. …

The seventh Protocol tells of Jewish control of the press: ‘It is in the Press that the triumph of freedom of speech finds its incarnation. But the goyim States have not known how to make use of the force; and it has fallen into our hands. Through the Press we have gained the power to influence while remaining ourselves in the shade.’

The ADL’s booklet about the Protocols cites many authorities that have concluded that the document is a forgery, including, in 1964, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is not only a forgery, but a plagiarized forgery, with large portions copied from the 1865 work “Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.” Other claims made in the Protocols are that Jews control the world’s economy, and that Jews are planning to put in place a “world government,” controlled by a despotic Jewish king.

Jewish control of the media, Ms. Wazir continues, “is evidenced in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a conflict that most seem to know of, but know little to no accurate information about. … While there is suffering occurring on both sides of the conflict, the Palestinian side is highly underreported because of the United States’ ties to Israel.” She then – unbelievably to many CAMERA members (and notwithstanding the commentary on 4chan) – cites an article from the New York Times as an example of pro-Israel bias.

Members and regular readers of CAMERA’s website and blogs might be scratching their heads at such a claim. CAMERA has documented countless instances of media bias against Israel, including at the New York Times.

The article was widely condemned in the comments section, though one man seemed to praise it (Screenshot)

Of course, individual Jews have been extremely successful in media as well as other businesses, and there is nothing antisemitic about acknowledging that fact. The implicit or explicit assertion, with no evidence, of collusion among them, or of a shared nefarious purpose, is the touchtone of an antisemitic conspiracy. As (Jewish) lawyer and commentator Alan Dershowitz has written,

Yes, there are many individual Jews in positions of influence in Hollywood, in network television, in sports and entertainment, and in many other areas of American public life. These individuals, who happen to be Jewish, do not act together in any kind of conspiratorial manner. There is no “Jewish control” of any of these areas — or of the many other areas, such as medicine, law, academia, finance — where there are large numbers of individual Jews in high positions. Many of these individuals are Jewish only in the sense that their parents or grandparents happen to be Jews. They do not live Jewish lives or support Jewish causes. They certainly do not conspire to exercise any sort of “Jewish control” over the areas in which they work.

It’s wonderful that Affinity‘s editors want to give young writers experience and exposure. As a magazine that serves to inform the teen community, however, the publication needs to do a better job at setting and enforcing standards that will weed out such falsehoods.

Contributed by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker

This article was originally published at camera.org.

Israel Hosts A Record Breaking 20th Maccabiah Games

July 18, 2017

Israel is playing host to the 20th Maccabiah Games this month. The Maccabiah Games is an international Jewish multi-sport event often dubbed ‘the Jewish Olympics’. The event brings together thousands of athletes representing many different countries. The event, first started in 1932, takes place every four years, one year after the Olympic Games.

The 2017 Maccabiah Games is special, with a record 85 countries competing and 45 sports on offer. Countries competing for the first time include the Bahamas, the Philippines, South Korea, Malta and Morocco. The number of athletes exceed 10,000, making it the third largest sporting competition in the world behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

The Opening Ceremony was hosted at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and it was far from dull. It was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin, who both gave speeches. There were even surprise addresses via the big screen from both British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin at the Opening Ceremony (Flash 90)

The Opening Ceremony also featured an impromptu proposal by Canadian athlete Avi Steinberg to his girlfriend Rachel. After she accepted, hosts of the opening ceremony pulled out a wedding gown and chuppah, and the couple’s rabbi, Avi Poupko, officiated a wedding ceremony in front of the entire stadium!

The first Maccabiah Games took place around the time of Adolf Hitler coming to power in Germany, and was played against the wish of the British rulers in pre-state Israel. In contrast, the 20th Maccabiah is the third largest sporting event in the world, and it is taking place in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state. The Maccabiah Games can be seen as a showcase of the remarkable rise in the fate of the Jewish people.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Arab World Ignores Terror Attack, Chooses to Victim Blame Israel

July 17, 2017

On Friday, two Israeli Border Police were murdered in a terror attack by an entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. After committing their attack, the terrorists then fled to the Temple Mount, and were eventually shot and killed after being chased by Police.

The attack received widespread condemnation from the West and within Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the attack.

But within a large segment of the Arab world, instead of focusing on the attack, politicians focused on Israel’s temporary closure of the Temple Mount for security reasons.

Jordan’s Minister of Waqf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat warned of “continued unprecedented harm to the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” as a result of the closure. The Arab League issued a statement condemning Israel for its closure of the Temple Mount, but did not mention the attack which caused it. And the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, also criticized the closure, calling it “a serious crime and a dangerous precedent.”

Yet it wasn’t just politicians who ignored the attack, deciding to focus on the closure instead. The Arab media excessively focused on the closure, spouting aggressive and hateful language against Israel. A significant number of Arab media outlets even used cartoons to express their hateful message.

Saudi newspaper Al Watan printed a caricature of a Star of David with Satan’s horns, which is eating the Dome of the Rock (Ynet)

Newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi based in London, criticized what they deemed as a weak response by the Muslim world, which is portrayed as an ostrich burying its head in the sand while the Al-Aqsa Mosque bleeds. (Ynet)

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, based in Qatar, showed the mosques on the Temple Mount closed off with yellow crime scene tape marked with the Star of David and a sign that says “No entry.” (Ynet)

The Arab world have stated that Israel’s temporary closure of the Temple Mount would spark violence and terrorism. Yet it isn’t Israel which is causing tensions to rise, it is the Arab politicians and media themselves. The fiery statements and cartoons featured above, only increase the divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, and undoubtedly have an effect in radicalizing Palestinians to commit terror attacks. Imagine how a young Palestinian would feel seeing those cartoons. It would of course spark emotions of anger and hate.

If the Arab world, like the West, acknowledged some of the necessary actions Israel must take in the fight against terrorism, and unwaveringly condemned terror attacks against Israelis, then violence would eventually subside. Maybe if the Arab media stopped with their lies about Israel planning on changing the status-quo at the Temple Mount, tempers would die down.

But the more the Arab world ignores terror, and continues its fiery rhetoric and lies about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount, the more violence will occur.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

Fifty Years Ago, Jews Returned to the Golan Heights

July 14, 2017

Fifty years ago today on July 14, 1967, Jews returned to the Golan Heights, building a town in the region.

Between 1948 and 1967 while the Golan Heights was under Syrian control, the Syrians used the region as a military stronghold, randomly sniping at Israeli citizens. Syria allowed the terrorist organization Fatah to operate in the region, carrying out attacks on Israelis and laying mines throughout the area. Syria was not using this region for the good of its people, but instead to terrorize Israel. In 1966, Israel requested that the United Nations denounce the Fatah attacks. In response, the Syrian ambassador said “It is not our duty to stop them, but to encourage and strengthen them.”

Four days after the Six Day War began on June 5, 1967, Israeli forces moved in on the Syrian military in the Golan. On June 10, 1967, one day after their arrival, Israel assumed complete control of the region. Israeli control of the strategic mountain region helped secure the Jewish state from the Syrian threat. Syria tried to recapture the region six years later in the Yom Kippur War but failed. After the war, Syria signed a disengagement agreement that left the Golan Heights in Israel’s control.

On December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to extend civilian law to the Golan Heights which was previously under military authority since 1967. Syria has abided by the ceasefire agreement with Israel mainly because of the proximity of Israeli artillery to Damascus, but Syria continues to fund and harbor terrorist organizations that carry out attacks on Israel from Lebanon and other areas.

Despite the history, the international community still views this region as an “occupied territory.” For some, this stems from anti-Semitism that disregards the facts and Syria’s use of the region’s high ground to attack Israel.  

Today, there are around 17,000 Druze residents and 14,000 Jewish residents in the Golan heights. Israel invests heavily in upgrading electric and water infrastructure that was left in disrepair by successive Syrian leaders. All residents enjoy freedom of religion, the right to fair trials and to run for office, access to Israeli welfare, healthcare, and social security programs, and every other right available to citizens throughout Israel.

In fact, many of the 17,000 Druze are relieved they now live in Israel rather than Syria, especially because of the Syrian Civil War. Many maintain their Syrian ties, but so far around 30% have become Israeli citizens. The broad support for Israel among Golan Heights residents, especially the Druze majority, further bolsters Israel’s claim to the region.

The journey of the relationship between the Golan Heights and the Jewish people has come full circle. In 1891, Baron Edmonde de Rothschild purchased 20,000 acres of land from the Ottoman Empire. In 1942 the Syrian government illegally confiscated the land. In 1957 the deeds were transferred to the Jewish National Fund by Baron Edmonde’s son, Baron James de Rothschild, and from there they were transferred to the Land office of Israel. Today they are stored in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Archaeology shows clearly that Jewish ownership of land in the region dates back well before the 1890s, all the way to biblical times. It was promised to Abraham and later became part of the tribe of Menashe by Moses’s division of the Land. Many events and battles took place in and around the Golan and there are many famous sites such as the fortress of Gamla and the Jewish town of Qasrin. Ruins of around twenty-five synagogues have been discovered dating from after the destruction of the Temple; mosaic inscriptions depict peaceful and uninterrupted Jewish life in the Golan until the Middle Ages.

Today we celebrate the modern return of Jewish life to the region, but we also must remember that the Jewish history of the Golan Heights dates back millennia.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Jake Greenblatt

11 Years Since the Start of the Second Lebanon War

July 13, 2017

This week marks 11 years since the start of the Second Lebanon War. The war took a large toll on northern Israel and its population, and still lives strong in the memories of many Israelis.

The war was sparked when Hezbollah terrorists fired rockets at an Israeli town near the Lebanese Border. At the same time, Hezbollah attacked an IDF Humvee, killing three soldiers and abducting two. The IDF then launched an operation to recover the abducted soldiers which included airstrikes on key Hezbollah infrastructure and the invasion of southern Lebanon.

The war lasted almost two months, with Hezbollah around 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, at a rate of over 100 per day. Over a million Israelis had to stay near or in bomb shelters throughout the duration of the war, with some 250,000 civilians evacuating northern Israel and relocating to other areas of the country.

In the 11 years since the war, Hezbollah has been significantly increasing its weapons stockpile, with the terror group now possessing 17 times the number of missiles it had at the end of the war.  The specific number of Hezbollah missiles stands at around 120,000, with many being placed in and around villages in southern Lebanon, within the vicinity of schools, mosques and hospitals.

Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, has continued to threaten Israel regarding war, and there have been some worries that a ‘Third Lebanon War’ is on the horizon with the end of the Syrian Civil War seemingly in sight. Hezbollah has recently even erected billboards with the words “we are coming” facing the Israeli border.

Hezbollah Billboards on Israeli Border (Courtesy)

Despite this, Israeli intelligence officials have recently noticed some positive developments in regard to the Hezbollah threat. Iran is trying to establish a weapons factory in Lebanon, which in reality points to a failure for the Iranian regime and their proxy Hezbollah. This is because it indicates that all other ways by which Iran could transfer advanced weapons to the Shiite terrorist group through Syria have been blocked.

Additionally, the IDF believes its deterrence efforts regarding Hezbollah are going well. Israel has incredibly strong intelligence on the terror group, with one IDF official stating “If Nasrallah knew what we knew about him, he would give up any future intentions to start a war.” Israel’s striking power, which dealt large blows to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, combined with a now superior intelligence, would give Israel a significant advantage if war were to break out.

Another deterrence from war, this time not from Israel, is the Syrian Civil War. Though some may argue the ending of the Syrian Civil War would make war between Hezbollah and Israel more likely, Hezbollah has lost over 1,800 operatives since it entered the fighting in Syria, hardly acting as an incentive to start a fresh campaign against Israel.

Therefore, though threats from Hezbollah are very real, so real that they are considered to be Israel’s biggest strategic threat, the circumstances around the Syrian Civil War, and the strong deterrence strategy from the IDF, means war, for now, seems unlikely. The sudden flare-up however of the Second Lebanon War shows the fragility of the situation on Israel’s northern border.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

BDS Supporters Protesting Netanyahu Visit to Holocaust Memorial Event Shows Everything That is Wrong With Them

July 12, 2017

On Sunday, a ceremony will take place in Paris to mark the 75th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv, the mass roundup of 13,000 Parisian Jewry during the Holocaust who were arrested and sent to their deaths. Naturally, new French President Emmanuel Macron invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the event. Yet pro-Palestinian groups in France are planning on protesting his attendance.

Let me repeat, pro-Palestinian groups in France are planning on protesting the attendance of the Prime Minister of the Jewish state at a Holocaust memorial event in France. The justification? This is the statement from the president of the French Palestinian Solidarity Association. “In what way does this event concern Israel? The state didn’t exist at the time [of the Holocaust].” Those two sentences show everything that is wrong with the BDS campaign and its supporters.

Vel’ d’Hiv memorial in France (Wikipedia)

First, it is a continued denial by BDS supporters of the link between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. “In what way does this event concern Israel?” How ignorant can you get? In Israel over 100,000 Holocaust survivors reside, the largest of any number in any nation, and a significant percentage of the Israeli population are descendants of survivors. To say an event marking the Holocaust has nothing to do with Israel is to say an event marking the Armenian Genocide has nothing to do with Armenia.

Secondly, to say Israel not existing at the time of the Holocaust somehow means Israel is not relevant to Holocaust memorial is equally absurd. One of the reasons the Holocaust was able to occur and so many Jews were murdered, was that there was no safe haven for Jews at the time. If Israel were to be around during the Holocaust, a significant amount of Jews who perished may have been saved. This once again shows the blindness of the BDS campaign. Its supporters do not see the need of the Jewish state to exist, despite the horrors of the Holocaust. It is clear BDS supporters have still not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

French Jews being rounded up during the Holocaust (Pinterest)

The BDS campaign claims to be a movement that is fighting for justice, yet protesting the presence of the leader of the Jewish state at a Holocaust memorial event is far from justified. The statement reveals the true colors of the BDS campaign, not to further the rights of Palestinians, but to delegitimize the State of Israel and take away and deny the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

The Anniversary of a Missed Opportunity for Peace

July 11, 2017

On this day 17 years ago, US President Bill Clinton began hosting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a 15-day summit at Camp David, aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The summit was an opportunity to end decades of conflict, but ended without resolution.

Israeli, Palestinian, and American leaders at Camp David (Time Magazine)

Israel had already shown it was willing to give up territory for peace, as it had done with Egypt just 22 years earlier, and was keen to do so again with the Palestinians. During the negotiations, Israel offered the Palestinians the establishment of a state in 100% of the Gaza Strip, and 92% of the West Bank. This meant Israel offered to withdraw from 63 settlements both in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s peace offer would also have given Palestinians sovereignty in parts of Eastern Jerusalem such as Abu Dis, and A-Ram, allowing the Palestinians to make these areas their capital. Israel even offered Palestinians sovereignty over more than half of the Old City of Jerusalem, with the Muslim and Christian Quarters moving over to the new Palestinian state, as well as Palestinian custodianship over the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

However, Israel’s peace offer was rejected by the Palestinians. Regarding Jerusalem, the Palestinians demanded full sovereignty over all of Eastern Jerusalem, including removing Israeli sovereignty from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall. The Palestinians also demanded the removal of all Jews from neighborhoods built beyond the Green Line.

The Palestinians also refused to compromise on the issue of refugees. Arafat demanded the ‘Right of Return’ for all Palestinians who left Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, including their descendants. They demanded that the ‘refugees’, who number over four million, be allowed to move to not just the new Palestinian state, but to Israel. The result of over four million Palestinians moving into Israel would be catastrophic to the demographic makeup of the State of Israel, meaning the only Jewish state in the world would lose its Jewish majority. In practice, this would mean the end of the State of Israel.

Much of the blame for the failure of the summit was put on the Palestinians. US President Clinton blamed the Palestinian leader, saying “Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that [Palestinian] nation into being”. Clinton also wrote that Arafat once complimented him, saying, “You are a great man.” Clinton responded, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one.”

The Camp David Summit in 2000 was yet another example where the Palestinians refused an offer for peace. The Jews accepted the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the Palestinians did not. And Israel offered Palestinian statehood again in 2008 under Ehud Olmert, yet this was also rejected by the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s peace offer in 2008

Palestinians have long demanded an independent state, yet every time they have been offered one, they have turned it down. 17 years after the failed Camp David Summit, another attempt for peace could be on the horizon with the new US Administration. The ball will once again be in the Palestinians’ court. Do you want peace, and do you want a state? Only the Palestinians can answer that question.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

The Story of a Minority: Jonathan Elkhoury Tours US Campuses

July 10, 2017

Being in a situation where you are the minority can be challenging. It is something unique that can be shared with others to allow them to better understand a situation they might never be in. Jonathan Nizar Elkhoury has been a minority his whole life, no matter where he’s been in the world.

Born in Lebanon – a Sunni Muslim majority country – Elkhoury was already a minority being a Lebanese Christian. In 2001, when Elkhoury was six years old, his family left Lebanon for Israel because his father was a South Lebanon Army officer. When Israel left Southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah began its ascendance and this put him and his family at risk. After the proper paperwork was gathered, Jonathan and his family carefully made the trip to Israel where they were peacefully integrated into Israeli society. Elkhoury continues to live his life as a Lebanese Christian in Israel and is a proud Zionist.

Jonathan Elkhoury speaks on campus (JNS)

Today, Elkhoury is a spokesman for the Christian Empowerment Council (CEC) in Israel. On November 7th, Elkhoury was hosted by Elon University’s (NC) CAMERA-supported group IDEA: Israel Dialogue, Education, and Advocacy club, to talk to students about his life in Lebanon and Israel. They considered his visit to be one of the most successful events that they have ever had. They partnered with Spectrum, Elon’s LGBTQ+ club, and they sent about 20 attendees, bringing the total to 56.

The event lasted an hour longer than scheduled because so many students stayed behind to speak with Jonathan, who was more than willing to answer their questions. The audience was extremely engaged, and the LGBTQ+ students appreciated the event immensely. Many asked about Jonathan’s experiences in the gay community and his experiences as an Israeli citizen.

A couple of days later on November 9th, CAMERA-supported group Israel Student Association at Queens College in Flushing, New York hosted Elkhoury. In his audience, some knew a great deal about Israel while others knew nothing at all. This reflects a situation in which information about Israel is not equally distributed; Israel is often in the news, yet there are still people who know little about the country. Elkhoury helped his audience better understand what life is really like in Israel and how the region’s political and social climate can be felt on a daily basis.

On November 15th, Tulane welcomed Jonathan Elkhoury courtesy of CAMERA-supported group Tulane University for Israel (TUFI). He shared his unique personal story of being a gay Christian Lebanese refugee. His inspirational story demonstrated how Israel is a safe haven for refugees and minorities despite ethnic or religious background. 

He shared with the students how smoothly his transition was into school and social atmospheres. In relation to how racism affects minorities in other societies, Elkhoury demonstrated to the Tulane audience how Israel defies those standards and accepts all of its citizens. This lesson was precisely the vision that TUFI aimed to portray about Israeli society.

Furthermore, Elkhoury explained at great lengths how welcoming and supportive Israeli society is, specifically towards the LGBTQ community that Elkhoury proudly is a part of. One specific topic that students inquired about was how Elkhoury viewed the critiques of Israel accusing the Jewish state of pinkwashing, a process in which a country or group promotes its LGBTQ-friendlieness in an effort to downplay negative aspects of itself.

Jonathan Elkhoury spoke on campuses across the United States (Algemeiner)

Elkhoury then traveled up to Atlanta, Georgia where he was hosted by Emory University’s CAMERA-supported Emory Students for Israel Club on November 17th. He shared his story again about what it was like to escape Lebanon and how he and his family started their new lives in Israel. His mother and grandfather had to finesse the government system in order to escape given the various barriers of their situation. His mother, as a woman, had no legal clearance to take her children out of the country. Also, the family faced challenges because they were affiliated with the South Lebanon Army. Elkhoury faced personal challenges when coming out as gay to his family and community.

On November 28th, Elkhoury went to San Diego State University where he was invited by San Diego State Hillel on group to talk to students. Their intended goal was to bridge the Israeli community on campus with the LGBTQ community. In preparing for the event, members reached out to the Pride center on campus, as well as the multifaith community. The head of the Pride center on campus expressed his enthusiasm for the event and promised to come.

However, when Jonathan Elkhoury came to campus to speak, there was a surprising audience that was engaged in Jonathan’s story: the Christian community. SDSU is in the process of establishing a Christians United for Israel chapter, and this year in particular, thanks to a Christian student leader who went to Israel, they’ve seen a rise in interest in Israel from Christians on campus. The event proved to be a surprising bonding experience with Christians on campus. A group of students from CUFI attended, and many confessed that it was their first Israel related event. They asked questions about his identities, and about Israel. Everyone was particularly taken away by Jonathan’s food show depicting shakshuka in the marketplace in Jerusalem.

Contributed by CAMERA intern Jake Greenblatt

Jewish Family Kicked Out of Palestine Expo in London

July 9, 2017

The Palestine Expo was advertised as a cultural event and a family affair. So I went to the QEII Conference Centre to engage with the atmosphere with my wife and youngest son. I knew that the content of the speeches would be full of hate, so rather than listen to hours of anti-Israeli rhetoric, I wanted to enjoy the exhibits and activities. Most of all I looked forward to the food. Myself, my wife, and my eleven-year-old child were evicted half way through our lunch. What we suffered was unacceptable discrimination. Here is the report:

The Palestine Expo event

We had booked a family ticket over both days at the Palestine Expo. I took my youngest on the first day. The intent was to take the eldest on Sunday, because on Saturday she was at the London Pride event. The tickets were being advertised with a huge discount. I have already posted my thoughts on the programme for the event. I hadn’t commented or opposed the idea of a cultural festival. Once the programme was released I criticised the clear political element.

There are many cultural and historical elements that could have been included to engage with the Arab association with the land. A look at life during Ottoman times. The Islamic conquest and empire. The waves of Migrants over the past three hundred years, or the nomadic lifestyle of Bedouin. The Egyptian conquest of 1831-1833 is an interesting one. A battle over ‘Greater Syria’ between the Egyptians and the Ottomans that gave ‘Palestine’ the ‘zero acknowledgement’ that its non-existent 19th century status fully deserved. All these are fascinating historically accurate and culturally significant areas, that would never be represented at an event such as this. The only discussion on show was anti-Israel venom, the actual concept of  ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinians’ didn’t figure at all.  The Palestine at this event, was one created merely to de-legitimise Israel.

The circle of hate

I had my family with me, and to be honest, I had little intention of suffering the talks. I looked at the list of speakers and I have seen all these circus performers before. In fact, so confident am I of this now, I challenge Pappe or Peled or Barkan to allow me to write the speech for their next event. I am sure I will create ‘pitch perfect’ diatribe, fully in tune with the message they wish to deliver. Ben White would be more troublesome. Not that I couldn’t write it, but simply I wouldn’t want to make the effort of finding 200 irrelevant statistics, that he uses to deflect the attention of the audience with.

The groups behind the ‘expo’, those  ‘supporting’ the political side of this event are also all known to me. There is the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). A group that is riddled with those who believe Jews are evil, rule the world and didn’t actually suffer a Holocaust at all.  The Palestine Return Centre, that ran the event that saw Gerald Kaufman suggest ‘Jewish money‘ control’s the UK government.  Or the Queen Mary University, where I saw Jewish students with a question stand accused of being ‘paid’ and controlled by the Israeli embassy.

How about the P21 Gallery, a regular venue for anti-Israel activism, that saw Milo Peled blame Zionist Jews for deliberately creating Islamophobia and is used to having its room full of hard-core antisemites. The UCLU, that saw an intimidating attack on its own Jewish students last year.  How about Friends of Al Aqsa, that believes Jews should be subordinate. Have I mentioned SOAS yet? I have been living inside this venomous pit for a while now. I recognise the poison.

So I chose not to engage with this hatred. I wanted to enjoy the ‘cultural’ aspect. I spent years living and working with real Palestinians. Not the fake wannabee ‘solidarity type’, but those who live in Ramallah, Jericho and Gaza. Those Arabs and the Israelis are neighbours. I lived nineteen years in the Middle East. Why would I not want to go to this event. Why should I not feel at home?

I walked around the upper floors, and because of the time, I went upstairs to eat. This action was to see me thrown out.

Evicted

Anti-Israel activist Jackie Walker (David Collier)

The vast majority of the crowd seemed Muslim. I would guess the split was 80/20. Perhaps even higher. The pool of white British anti-Israel activists is limited, so at an event like this they get swamped. The dining area was full, and there was a logistical issue with the kitchen. It was taking a long time to bring food to some of the stalls.

I was spotted by members of a local anti-Israel group ‘London Palestine Action’. I saw an activist called ‘Andrew Nelis’ before he saw me. I then saw Jackie Walker enter the room and start talking to him. They began looking over in my direction. Then Tony Greenstein showed up. I am never confrontational, never impolite. I walked over to say yes ‘this is me’. If they sought engagement. I am always willing to talk. Greenstein didn’t seem to believe I was there for the food. So I went to sit back down.

Jackie Walker chose to come to the table I was sitting at. Greenstein followed. Walker then began to tell the other two attendees already present at the table (see image) how I call events like this ‘hate fests’.  I was polite, on topic and suggested we meet up for coffee if she wanted a proper discussion. I responded nicely to everything was said. I was there with my family and what I wanted to do was to relax.

I wasn’t going to be allowed to though. A few months ago Walker shared an image of me online, telling people to report me when spotted. Such is the life of being an independent member of the press that these people do not like. A few minutes passed and Andrew Nelis returned. Security was with him. I am asked to leave.  I ask on what grounds – none given. “I want to know” I respond. “write a letter” is what I am told.

This was clearly wrong. I am sitting eating lunch at a cultural event in a public building, I have several activists who claim to be upholders of ‘free speech’ come to the table and I am evicted. I looked straight at Jackie Walker who said clearly “I don’t agree with this”. I think for a split second she understood it looked bad. Then, as I turned away to leave I suddenly I heard her shout ‘How dare you’ at me ‘and ‘Liar’. I am not sure whether she spied a camera, but the comment was entirely out of context with what had occurred. Did she really want to create an image of me being evicted after having said something unacceptable? A viral video for her to use? Jackie, I know you will read this – so let us be clear – you did yourself no favours, but the offer for coffee is always open. I am always willing to point out where you have gone so badly wrong.

I left in accordance with the requests of the security team. I told them I was a member of the press, who was being evicted on discriminatory grounds. They apologised, but insisted on politely doing the job they had been instructed to do. I behaved as I always do. I have no idea why I was evicted and I have no intention of accepting this type of discriminatory behaviour.

The aftermath and celebration

What then, do self declared humanitarians do when someone is evicted on discriminatory grounds? They celebrate of course. This in a blog from Greenstein:

During lunch I and others spotted one David Collier, a Zionist snoop who makes a profession out of defaming activists and groups as ‘anti-Semitic’.  He came up when he spotted me all friendly.  I asked him how he was enjoying the ‘Jewish hate fest’ that he and his compatriots had called Palestine Expo 2017.  He denied this and resumed his lunch, however we called for the security to evict him when he did.  His wife was most put out at this attack on freedom of speech, which is rich coming from those whose whole life is spent trying to suppress Palestinian freedom of speech.  Given the anti-Zionists are never allowed in Zionist functions and when they are spotted are usually assaulted Mr Collier should be grateful  that we didn’t behave like his friends.

An admission I did nothing wrong. Apparently I should be thankful I was not assaulted.

This ‘real time’ post from activist Barry Ackerman:

This a thread after a comment from activist Elleane Green:

Elleanne admits to helping ‘report and identify me’. Nelis is clearly proud. Sandra Watfa is the face of InMinds and has previously used the hashtag ‘jewnitedstatesofamerica’. But on that thread is also a comment from a sitting member of the House of Lords, Jenny Tonge.  I witnessed and reported on the event that was to lead to Tonge’s resignation from the Lib-Dems, so it is possible Tonge does not think highly of me, but she is still a sitting member of the House of Lords.  She is congratulating a fascist style eviction of a person who has done no wrong. Truly disgraceful, from someone who should inherently seek to protect our freedoms, not cheer on those that seek to destroy them.

Not the only one

I later found out I was not the only Zionist Jew evicted. Someone named Jason was inside the event, had attended speeches and  had wandered around unhindered *until* he wore a Jewish head covering. Ten minutes later, he was evicted:

No excuse

There is absolutely no excuse for allowing this type of hatred to go ahead in Central London. A celebration of the marriage between Islamists who refuse to accept a self-defining Jewish presence, Marxists who are inevitably at war with the self-determination of Jews,  and hard-core antisemites, who just do not like Jews however they are defined.

Nor is there any way people should be evicted from these events on discriminatory grounds.

The videos of the event speeches are flowing freely on social media, thousands attended the event, and the hatred of Israel and Jews has just received a government assisted boost in the arm. We all know the hate is there. We all know there is a network of groups who have issues with Jews. What on earth was the reasoning behind allowing them to takeover a public building such as the QEII in London?

Our Jewish children are no longer welcome at the heart of the Democratic Estate in a building owned by Her Majesty’s Government. Why? Because the people inside do not want them there. No further excuse necessary. Just a month after Hezbollah flags were being waved in Oxford Street, Jew hate was allowed a weekend of celebration at the QEII. There is perhaps something symbolic in this, From Oxford Street to Parliament Square. The Jew hating flags have moved ever closer to the UK Parliament.

This article was contributed by David Collier and was originally published at david-collier.com.