Chloe Simone Valdary: Pride and Privilege

October 31, 2014

Pride and Privilege
Chloe Simone Valdary is a consultant with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and the founder of the CAMERA Campus Activist Project- supported organization, Allies of Israel, at the University of New Orleans.
By Chloe Simone Valdary
Chloé speaking at a pro-Israel rally. A video clip of her speech is below.

We sat in the snack room, my pro-Israel friends and I, on Tuesday afternoon around 3 pm watching a history lesson on the connections between Haj Amin El- Husseini, the Palestinian Arab political leader and Hitler, the arbiter of the genocide of 6 million Jews during WWII. As it turns out, according to testimony given by Nazi soldiers during the Nuremburg trials, El-Husseini was very influential in convincing Adolf Eichmann of the “goodness” of the Final Solution. This suggests, as the film showed, that the oft-stated Nazi-like aspirations of Fatah and Hamas — the successors of the Haj — did not come out of a vacuum. Rather, their celebration and praise of those who murder Jews in Israel is a natural progression of their predecessor’s ideology.

This turned out to be especially illuminating because, as we watched this film, (minding our own business and bothering no one) a Palestinian-Arab student who happened to enter the room during our meeting sidled over and asked to join the conversation. To her credit, she was quite polite throughout the remainder of the film; she did not interrupt, but instead waited till the end to express her discontent.

Her monologue began with the usual disclaimer: “I think the Holocaust was horrible.” As if she  felt she deserved some accolades upon such a noble proclamation, she let pass a small pause in between this statement and her next. Then, the reason for her ostensibly Jew-friendly opener became clear.  She quickly moved on to spewing the well-known Shlomo Sand-ism: that European Jews are supposedly not real Jews, but merely Zionists who ruined everything. In one fell swoop, our Palestinian-Arab guest had eschewed the Holocaust while peddling a libel that was used as a defense of the Holocaust by its proponents.

This was followed by quasi-apologies for modern Jewish victims genocidal hatred, such as, “I’m sorry those three boys were murdered, but– come on– of course my society made fun of it.” To this, I promptly responded that she was sick and should be ashamed of herself.

All of this made for an interesting lesson that day. I was particularly disturbed– no, furious– at having been told that my best friends aren’t really who they said they are, that their identity could instead be dictated to them by someone who would deny them their God-given right to self-determination. At that moment, I understood what was really meant in academic circles by the concept of “privilege.”

There is a type of Palestinian-Arab privilege which exists today that makes anti-Semitism “okay,” acceptable in academic discourse, and even politically correct. It enables college students of the anti-Israel persuasion to question a Jew’s very identity, to reduce him or her to a monolithic creature which exists solely for the purpose of living in a dejected, victimized, dehumanized state. It divorces them from their past in their native land, and thus strips them of their history, and therefore allows them no future.

This type of prejudice must be fought against. It is not enough to fight lies and slanders in the media if we do not understand that these are variations of the old European libels that manifested themselves in racist anti-Jewish laws for centuries in Western Europe, and which culminated in the Holocaust. They undermine a people’s dignity and sense of belonging. Our endeavor to educate others must be coupled with one crucial element, one which speaks to not only the logic and rational basis of a movement, but the heart and soul of a people: Pride.

Chloe Simone Valdary is a consultant with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and the founder of the CAMERA Campus Activist Project- supported organization, Allies of Israel, at the University of New Orleans.

SodaStream and CAMERA in Tacoma!

October 30, 2014

Last year, CAMERA hosted a national SodaStream raffle! The winner was Miss Hosanna Thalhofer, a student at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington!  Since winning the SodaStream raffle, Hosanna has introduced her campus group, Students Allied for Israel (SAFI) to CAMERA, and helped to develop them into a CCAP group!  Hosanna used the SodaStream we sent to host an event on campus with music, SodaStream drinks, and Israeli food!image (2)

We recently caught up with Hosanna, who made sure to emphasize how much fun her SodaStream event was.  She plans on repeating the event this year, as well. Hosanna reported, “It was a blast. People were coming to us faster than we could make the soda! We had a slideshow and Israeli pop music going on the whole time. We also had food and people were taking a lot of our materials to read!”

Mazal tov, Hosanna and SAFI!

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CCAP Group in Minnesota Leads Campus in 9/11 Memorial

October 29, 2014

10610509_752603224799163_4208381523146895644_nOn September 11, 2014, members of our CCAP group Students Supporting Israel at the University of Minnesota (SSIM) orchestrated their second annual memorial service and event to remember and honor America’s fallen from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The event was decorated with American flags spread out across Northrop Plaza in the shape of 9/11. The service was designed to put politics aside in order to bring people of all different faiths, political orientations, and beliefs together to stand up against religious extremism and highlight the terrorism perpetuated by radical Islamists in the Middle East.10458725_752603171465835_1135873286070086120_n

SSIM requested that their peers “pay tribute to those that lost their lives on that tragic day as well as to write thank you cards to U.S Army soldiers currently risking their lives for our freedom.”

The event proved to be a success with over 300 attendees that joined together for a common cause that reflects the commonalities between American and Israeli values.10547285_752636394795846_5834932224742267399_o

To see their entire photo album, visit their facebook page, here.

Declare Your Freedom 3.0 Promo Vid is HERE!!!

October 28, 2014

DYF Mock Up #1Declare Your Freedom is back and bigger than ever!  DYF is a national movement and music festival founded by Allies of Israel president Chloe Valdary and supported and co-hosted by CAMERA.  This year, it will be hosted on four campuses nation-wide, and includes food, fun, and famous musicians and speakers!  Check out the promo video below, featuring both Chloe and our Editor-in-Chief, Samantha, and read about last year’s festivals in Orlando and New Orleans!

Get excited, y’all! DYF^3.0 is COMING SOON!!!

 

CAMERA Fellow Takes on Greta Berlin

October 27, 2014

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Greta Berlin, a notorious anti-Israel activist who helps direct the Free Gaza Movement organization, has predictably spent the last few months spreading hateful vitriol online.  Berlin is no stranger to internet controversy; she was exposed (again) as an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier on Twitter, when she claimed, astonishingly, that “Zionists ran Auschwitz.” berlin2

This month, Berlin’s commentary stood out to one of our students as being particularly absurd.  Seth Greenwald, CAMERA Fellow at Clark University, followed Berlin’s rants and expressed dismay with her twisted comparisons of Israel to the worst evils of the world. He decided to write directly to her and ask her to think more carefully about spreading such hatred, if she is truly committed to changing the world, and the situation of Palestinians for the better.

Ms. Berlin,

I have consistently followed both the pages of Israel Unlimited and A Free Sovereign Palestine and Safe Israel, and I am sorry to say that I have been nothing short of disgusted by your writing. Your comparisons of Israel to ISIS are clearly anti-Semitic and horrendous. Your failure to see the truth of any situation is disturbing at best and I am truly concerned with your tendency to engage in confirmation bias. Not only do you deny everything you see as untrue, but you fail to have concrete positive discussions with those opposed to you.

Nothing will change without constructive dialogue, and you have only succeeded at stifling that dialogue. I hope that you can consider this in the future.

I too, like you, believe in justice for the Palestinians– (though your sense of justice seems to be sickening and perverse.) I implore you to consider your thoughts before you post them to Facebook. It reflects negatively on you and leads to the disintegrating of meaningful dialogue.

I hope you can heed my advice and look forward to moving forward positively, for your sake, and for the sake of the Palestinians.

Sincerely,

Seth Greenwald, Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestinian activist

We’re proud of Seth for speaking his mind, and for being truly committed to a peaceful, mutually beneficial solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.  For the rest of Seth’s exchange with Berlin, click here!

ASA Boycott Is Not Really A Boycott?

October 24, 2014

asa_logoThe American Studies Association’s supposed boycott of Israeli academics and institutions of education has landed it in hot water yet again.

According to Eugene Kontorovich‘s summary of the controversy, which surrounds the upcoming ASA annual meeting in Los Angeles,

So according to the ASA, scholars who are “representatives or ambassadors” (whatever that means) are barred; but according to their executive director, a “representative” would not be “turned away.” Of course, this could just mean that the ASA has decided to selectively enforce its discriminatory rules – even the notorious Arab League Boycott of Israel is porous.

JNS.org reported:

About a year after the American Studies Association’s (ASA) widely condemned vote to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the organization’s policy on Israel is receiving renewed scrutiny over a practical application of that vote.

Editor-in-Chief of CAMERA on Campus, Samantha Rose Mandeles, said:

The recent backtracking and dishonesty by the ASA is not surprising and represents another example of the disingenuousness that characterizes BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts as a whole. As is common for BDS supporters, the ASA did not honor their own boycott policy—they invited several Israelis to participate in the conference, showing that, yet again, Israel BDSers will only abide by their own injunctions when it suits their needs,” she said. “BDS proponents will claim to boycott Israel, but actually only do so halfheartedly, when it is convenient and part of symbolic, theatrical gestures that have no effect on the conflict.

In summation, Professor Konotorovich wrote,

So here is the short history of how the boycott has played out for the ASA. First, it leads them have a policy that discriminates against scholars based on their national origin. Second, it got them to engage in an embarrassing and artless spinning of their actual policy. And finally, it leads them to abandon the policy. They got the worst of both worlds: exposure to liability and embarrassment for past discrimination, without the pleasure of continued discrimination.

Max Blumenthal Caught Spreading Lies (Again)

October 23, 2014

This entry is cross-posted from our Snapshots blog.

sharon hoax quote smThis week, CAMERA analysts once again caught notorious anti-Israel blogger, Max Blumenthal, casually spreading lies on Twitter.

As we posted in our CAMERA Snapshots blog,

Blumenthal’s tweet in question was made in support of, and in elaboration of, another Twitter user’s claim that Ariel Sharon had said:

It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time.

The first is that there is no Zionism, colonialism, or Jewish state without the eviction of the Arabs or the expropriation of their land.

Ariel Sharon, Israel’s late Prime Minister, who orchestrated the disengagement of all Jews from Gaza in 2005, never wrote or spoke these words.

Read our whole post on the issue here, and for more information about Max Blumenthal, click here.

Presspectiva Analyst Speaks at Cornell

October 22, 2014

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On September 30, CAMERA’s own Yishai Goldflam spoke about media bias against Israel at Cornell University!  The content of this event included discussing specific instances of bias and inaccuracy in mainstream media that occurred over the course of this past summer, especially during Operation Protective Edge.

According to our Cornell CAMERA Fellow, Reut Baer, feedback from the audience was extremely positive. Audience members commented that the lecture was extremely informative and delivered in a factual, unbiased manner; a student even commented that this lecture had convinced them to attend future CIPAC events.

Yishai’s lecture was covered by the Cornell Daily Sun. The piece is reproduced in full below:

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Speaker Talks Anti-Israel Bias in Reporting on Middle East

OCTOBER 2, 2014 12:36 AM

By JOSHUA POLLOCK

Yishai Goldflam — a member of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America — discussed media bias, specifically regarding events in the Middle East at a lecture in Anabel Taylor Hall Tuesday.

The public’s perception of political events in the Middle East and Israel is often distorted by media bias, according to Goldflam, who spoke during a lecture hosted by the Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee. Goldflam said he believes that Israel received a large share of negative bias during last summer’s conflict.

“Israel [and the Middle East] is one of the most reported on topics, and I think it’s important to get the right picture or else it distorts the public’s opinion,” he said. “We don’t want to turn people into Israel-supporters, we’re just trying to correct the wrong facts in the news.”

Throughout his presentation, Goldflam showed the audience various news headlines about events in the Middle East. Sources for the headlines included The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, American Broadcasting Company and the British Broadcasting Company.

Goldflam said he believes that only the headline from the Los Angeles Times — which read “Hamas keeps up rocket attacks after Israel agrees to cease-fire” — did not show an “inherent anti-Israel bias.” He compared this to ABC’s “Israel resumes Gaza bombing campaign,” which he said is slanted against Israel in a way that creates “a [negative] chain reaction” on public opinion of Israel.

“Most people don’t read the entire article and get their information from the headlines,” he said.

Goldflam also said he believes that Western journalists were intimidated by the Palestinian militant group Hamas over the summer, reducing the quality of reporting on Gaza and accounting for some misinformation presented by news outlets.
“The world did not get all of the information until the [conflict] was over,” Goldflam said.

To support his claim, Goldflam showed the audience a video of a reporter working for the New Delhi Television Limited outlet reporting on Hamas firing missiles out of a densely populated civilian zone in the Gaza Strip.

“This report is being aired on [New Delhi Television Limited] and [is] published on ndtv.com after our team left the Gaza Strip,” the article states. “Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired.”

Goldflam added that Israel-related bias also comes from areas outside of Palestinian territories.

“A lot of the misinformation is com[ing] from Israel itself,” he said. “Some of it is due to translation issues, some of it is due to sloppy reporting and some of it [due to reporters] with agendas.”

Goldflam also gave the example from Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.

The original title of an article in Haaretz — “Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel” — was later changed it to “Survey: Most Israeli Jews wouldn’t give Palestinians vote if West Bank was annexed,” after complaints that the title did not reflect the actual findings of the poll, he said.

Reut Baer ’17, the CAMERA fellow for Cornell, organized Goldflam’s lecture at the University.

Baer said she hoped Goldflam’s lecture would help reveal biases news organizations can have, in light of recent conflict in Israel and the Middle East.

“Especially after the events of this summer, students and faculty on campus need to be informed of the facts,” she said. “Just because it was in the news, doesn’t mean that is actually fact.”

Baer added she that had previously heard Goldflam give a talk in Boston.

“[I thought] he’d be a great addition to Cornell and [CIPAC],” she said.

Brandon Gold ’18 said he attended the event to learn about potential inaccuracies in the media.

“[I want] to see an organization that deals with bias in the media and to hear from someone who dedicated [his] time to locate inaccurate sources and to present and fix these inaccuracies,” he said. “One must be careful when reading the news.”

According to Goldflam, CAMERA promotes “accuracy and accountability” in the news about Israel and the Middle East by contacting news outlets that publish inaccurate information. CAMERA claims it does not have an official stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East, according to the organization.

 

Eretz Yisrael: Hineni!

October 21, 2014

This piece was contributed by our 2013-2014 CAMERA Fellow at SUNY Binghamton, Justin Hayet.  Justin continues to be active in our SUNY Binghamton CCAP group, BUZO. Justin’s piece was republished in the Algemeiner.

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Standing to the sound of the final blow of the shofar; I hold my prayer book wide open and shut my eyes. Feeling the vibrations of a sacred Jewish tradition as it shook my siddur, I relish the sound that sends me back through thousands of years of Jewish history, and forward into our new year; a year hopefully more peaceful, hopefully more sane and hopefully more understanding of the threats faced by our beloved Israel. But then, I open my eyes to the reality.

I am unnerved. I am baffled by the utter senselessness of a world where the defensive actions of a tiny state in an inflamed region could overshadow the murder of 300 passengers aboard a commercial airline, the continual massacre of Syrians, grisly beheadings in the name of jihad, and the countless other atrocities outdoing one another everyday in the Arab and Muslim world.

Most Americans will not give much though to the atrocities of this region, and if they do, it will usually only take the form of a televised, sound-bite, PG version, followed by YouTube’s latest kitten/ baby cuddle-fest. And yet we wonder why many of today’s college students appear so naive in their perceptions of international affairs and conflict.

***

Last month, I welcomed the Jewish New Year– even knowing that this would not be the year where Jewish college students could finally safely and comfortably walk around their their campus community wearing an IDF shirt or a star of David. “What if my Sociology graduate TA who grades my papers sees me?” I overhear as a Freshman friend of mine wearing an IDF shirt shuffles by an anti-Israel protest, avoiding potential harassment by this authority figure.

I welcomed the Jewish New Year– even knowing that thousands of students, Jewish and non-Jewish, would read about that latest Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) opinion piece, espousing a mendacious narrative which yet slowly being accepted and welcomed into academic circles. “They have some valid points,” I hear, watching usually apathetic college students walk by fake-blood-splattered TAs welcoming students back on their first day of class while holding pictures of Hamas’ human shields (though, of course portrayed as Israel’s purposeful civilian targets).

I welcomed the Jewish New Year– even knowing that this year, one of my best friends– and one of the most dedicated Zionists I know– will be publicly shamed (again) by SJP members, not only because he is a Zionist, because he is a religious Jew. Being a mensch and trying to build bridges in a swamp, Joshua Seed attends Binghamton SJP meetings weekly. Not because he agrees with anything that is said within the doors of the Graduate Student Association, not because he agrees with a tenured Binghamton Professor who regularly cites the Electronic Intifada, but because he truly believes in what SJP deceptively claims to fight for– the open and free flowing exchange of ideas. Josh Seed will not let hatred stop him from seeking knowledge, from challenging himself, from strengthening his Zionism.

***

Abraham and Sarah. Moses and Miriam. Esther and Mordechai. Joshua, Hannah, Ruth. Maimonides, Rashi, Isaac Luria. Herzl, Henrietta Szold, and Channa Senesch, Ben Gurion, Chaim Herzog, and Golda Meir. Eli Wiesel, Anne Frank, Primo Levi.  Today, we Zionists are lucky enough to be able to stand on the shoulders of great men and women, all of whom faced– and, in their own ways, overcame– great challenges of their time.

With these fighters, scholars, and liberators as my examples, I can offer the following:

Wherever and whenever the existence of the Jewish State is attacked, no matter in what context or environment, so too is the existence and integrity of the Jewish People. So, in this New Year, full of challenges and bigotry, in any and every such occasion, I will yet rise to the challenge. I will say “Hineni. Here I am.”

Will you?

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CAMERA on New Campuses

October 20, 2014

This year, for the first time ever, CAMERA has a campus Fellow at Clark University in Worcester, MA.  Clark student Seth Greenwald has taken on the responsibility and is starting off by reaching out to friends and other Israel activists on campus.

At the first meeting of the Clark pro-Israel group, CHAI, Seth gave a presentation about CAMERA to the executive board of the group as well as new students who were interested in learning more about media bias.  Seth reported that the intimate group had a chance to discuss this past summer’s situation in the Middle East in a meaningful, fact-based way, and were able to sign up to receive more information about CAMERA’s work.

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Clark University CAMERA Fellow Seth Greenwald with CHAI students

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Seth’s CAMERA presentation

“Students who attended will now continuously receive updates about my work with CAMERA as well as events both on Clark and in the community that they can attend in order to continue their Israel advocacy,” said Seth.

We can’t wait to put down CAMERA roots on a new campus, and we’re proud and happy to have such an enthusiastic campus rep. Yay, Seth!