CAMERA Fellow at the University of Michigan Hosts Izzy Ezagui

January 26, 2015

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 5.31.56 PMIn mid-November, CAMERA Fellow at the University of Michigan, Lindsay Hurwitz, hosted Izzy Ezagui, who shared his positive experience as an IDF soldier with a disability, and how he overcame the adversity associated with it.

Hurwitz’s goal was to help inspire students to keep their passion for Israel strong even in the face of adversity. She states, “I hoped to keep the love of Israel alive and strong on this campus despite recent SAFE events and demonstrations. I wanted the students to hear from someone with such an incredible story so that they would recognize that nothing can stop you from fighting for Israel if you put your whole heart into it.”

photo 4Throughout Izzy’s presentation, he told the story of his passion for Israel and his desire to return to the army even with such a severe injury– Izzy’s left arm was blown off my a Hamas rocket during Operation Cast Lead in 2008.

Additionally, Izzy, also spoke about his struggle to return to an active combat unit, even with only one arm.

Hurwitz recounted that hosting an inspiring figure like Izzy on campus would give the attending students the confidence to continue to fight for Israel at all costs on a campus that can, at times, be hostile.

Well done, Lindsay! We commend you on your first successful pro-Israel event this fall semester!

Bulls for Israel Bring New Students In

January 23, 2015

Bulls for Israel, our Emet for Israel (formerly CCAP) group at the U10807042_741820409227311_1626151971_nniversity of South Florida, hosted a successful event entitled Understanding Israel this past fall semester, with the hopes of educating students about Israel’s culture and the impact it has on the world. The event consisted of three “stations” between which students rotated. The stations each had different themes, which included Jerusalem, Israeli culture (Bedouin, Tzfat), and Israel’s advancement in medicine, agriculture, and technology.

Emet (CCAP) Representative Julianna Konsulian said that multiple professors invited their students, so the majority of people who attended were new to the pro-Israel groups’ events. Konsulian also stated that, “the day after the event, a professor forwarded us an email from a Muslim student saying how much they enjoyed our event and that they learned a lot about Israel’s culture.”

10807006_741820345893984_91342130_nOver 60 students attended this event, and the majority of them were not very familiar with Bulls for Israel. Understanding Israel was so successful that multiple students in attendance expressed interest in joining Bulls for Israel.

Konsulian couldn’t be happier with the event. “We had a fantastic reaction from the audience, as students sent their professors positive emails after the event. There was a general agreement that the event was educational and enjoyable too.”

Great job to Bulls for Israel for hosting this incredible program!

My Brother’s Keeper: The Human Responsibility

January 22, 2015

This piece was contributed by Clark University CAMERA Fellow, Seth Greenwald.

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Cain slaying Abel by Peter Paul Rubens

We often hear the religious statement “Am I to be my brother’s keeper?”, a biblical reference to the story of Cain and Abel where Cain murdered his brother in cold blood and failed to take responsibility for his actions. In modern times however, one is not only responsible for actions taken by him or herself, but one is often further responsible, justly or unjustly, to condemn acts taken by his or her community. In a sense, failure to do so amounts to silent acceptance, thereby following in the footsteps of the biblical villain of Cain, the first murderer.

It was said after the Shoah, the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews and a total of 11 million people were murdered based on their faith or identity, that those individuals who stood against the horrors of the Nazi regime must be honored. In fact, in the Jewish State of Israel, at Yad Vashem, a world famous Holocaust memorial, the Garden of the Righteous memorializes over 2,000 individuals who stood against the genocidal Nazis. These righteous individuals took responsibility to protect their fellow man, not only by speaking out, but by physically risking their own lives to do so.

In recent times, there has been great controversy as to whose responsibility it is to condemn acts of terror or hatred, and who can be held culpable for these actions. I can settle this controversy in a single statement: leaders, insiders, within a community who stand with those who commit atrocities by failing to speak up, condone such actions by their silence. This does not mean that an individual who does not speak up is to blame for their community, but the silence of leadership in and of itself can often be deafening. Furthermore, an individual loses nothing by speaking up against atrocities within their own community and can only create a greater opportunity for mutual dialogue by doing so.

It has been the responsibility of Pope Francis to actively speak about the ‘leprosy’ of pedophilia that has infected the Catholic Church. According to the highest voice of authority in the Catholic community, 1/50 Priests has committed child abuse of some kind; it is an epidemic. However, the Pope has been acting with full authority to take actions against these disgusting individuals. As a light skinned, Jewish, American citizen, an outsider, I could speak against the injustices perpetrated within the Church, but would my voice really make an impact? Rather, the highest voice of the community speaking out, an insider within the community itself, is creating change.

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Eyal, Gilad, Naftali

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Muhammad Abu Kheidr

When Jewish racists  and extremists in Judea and Samaria commit atrocities against Arabs, attacking for no reason other than identity, it is the responsibility of Jewish leaders, and the government of Israel to condemn such attacks. This past summer, following the brutal kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “I do not distinguish between terrorism and terrorism.” Just as the kidnappings of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel were immediately investigated and responded to by the Israeli government, so too the perpetrator of this “reprehensible murder”, to quote the Prime Minister, was brought to justice by the Israeli government. While the revenge killing was a response to the deaths of the Fogel family and the kidnapping of the boys, the murder was no less reprehensible. In fact, the broader Jewish community as a whole spoke against the murder, among those, the Chief Rabbinate who came out with swift and broad condemnations.

As a member and insider of said community, I have the unique ability to speak out as strongly as I can against such injustices; recognizing that bigotry and hatred exists in my community like any other, allows me to take a proper stand in defending other aspects of Jewish or Israeli history. Failure to do so not only undermines my own arguments, but by my own logic, would place full responsibility on my leadership for condemnations of violence rather than allowing me to address such atrocities myself.

So too do Muslims, and in specific, the highest authorities of Islam, have the responsibly to condemn the string of terror attacks that have been perpetrated by the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror radical Islamist organizations. Just as a few radical extremists do not define my community, and just as pedophilia does not define the entire Catholic community, neither does terrorism define the Islamic faith. However, a concerted effort by a small percentage of individuals claiming to represent the entire faith, has hijacked Islam and attempted to make it into a religion of hatred. Condemning such individuals not only serves the greater global community in regards to reaching towards a greater sense of acceptance and a reduction of Islamophobia, but considering the fact these Islamist groups target Muslims eight times more often than non-Islamic targets, doing so is in the self-interest of Islamic leaders.

To be sure, following the recent string of terror attacks; a few Muslim leaders in local communities have come out against the terror, explaining that this is not the nature of Islam. Unfortunately, such condemnations have been insufficient in changing the representation of Muslims worldwide, and such attacks have only led to an increase in Islamophobic sentiments, thereby endangering the entire community of 1.8 billion Muslims. In order to create true change, the highest Muslim authorities, just as the Pope has made sure to do, must condemn these acts of terror. This includes but is not limited to leaders like Abdul Aziz Al ash-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the Ayatollah’s, and the Waqf on the Temple Mount, to name a few.

For our own part, we can all be insiders, condemning violence, hatred, prejudiced and lack of acceptance within our own communities; outside voices only have the ability to guide as a third party, not to create initial change. Change must come internally. We must all be the keepers of our own communities, and we must seek to be accepting of others attempting to create change within their communities. We must be our brother’s keepers if we truly want to create change.

Terror Attack in Tel Aviv

January 21, 2015

This post was contributed by CAMERA Boston Intern, Chaiel Schaffel.

The CAMERA on Campus team was deeply saddened to learn of yet another terror attack tel-aviv-bus-attack.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoperpetrated against innocent civilians in Israel today. The attack occurred in Tel-Aviv this morning, when a 23-year-old Palestinian Arab named Hamza Matrouk began stabbing commuters on bus #40 travelling through Tel-Aviv. The terrorist first targeted the bus driver, and then began an assault on the commuters. After the bus stopped, Matrouk started to attack passersby on the street, pursuing and stabbing at least three more.

Accounts of the total number wounded varies between 12 and 17.  Matrouk’s actions are the first major terror event in Israel since a spate of terrorism rocked the country this past fall. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the stabbing on media incitement by the Palestinian Authority, reporting that “The terrorist attack in Tel Aviv is the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state,” according to the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser.

ShowImageThe PA remains notably silent on the assault, (though Palestinian cartoons praising the attack were published a mere two hours after it took place) but has a history of perpetrating hate speech against Israel and the West. For example, after the November 18th synagogue attacks in Har Nof, which killed four, the Fatah main Facebook page issued the following statement: “I’m coming towards you, my enemy, We’re going down from every house with cleavers and knives, With grenades we announced a popular war. I swear, you won’t escape, my enemy.”

A rash of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel terrorism has exploded onto the world stage in recent months, including an early January attack on a Kosher upermarket in France that dominated world headlines and sent the French government scurrying to reassure its Jewish citizens.  In any case, these most recent attacks add weight to the growing concern over anti-Israel sentiment, and global terrorist activity as a whole.

CCAP’s Anteaters For Israel Spreading the Word at UC Irvine

January 20, 2015

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 7.22.58 PMAnteaters For Israel (AFI), our CCAP  group at UC Irvine, has been conducting successful events throughout the Fall 2014 semester. The group started the year off by tabling on campus to attract potential new AFI members while promoting a positive image of Israel after an extremely tumultuous summer.

The group took a creative approach to promoting a positive image of Israel by running a photo campaign where students passing by could fill out a poster with the words “I love Israel because…”

The tabling was a hit with approximately 65 new students who chose to sign up to learn more about AFI! The group proceeded to organize an interactive trivia event at a pub to welcome their new members.

Later in the semester, AFI attracted new and old members to a tabling event, which was held to build awareness and raise money for the Israeli charity, Save a Child’s Heart. That same night, AFI also held a vigil for the victims of the terrorist attack in the Israeli town of Har Nof and their families. CCAP representative and AFI president, Sharon Shaoulian, explained that, “AFI is doing our best to attract new members using a healthy balance of politics and culture to make supporting Israel feel like a privilege rather than a burden.”

On Martin Luther King Day, We Remember His Legacy and Love

January 19, 2015

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Martin Luther King Street in Israel

In the United States, we set aside a day in January, on or near his birthday, to commemorate the life and work of one of the greatest leaders in American history.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a dedicated Zionist.  He remains an inspiration to the Jewish people and to all those who continue fighting for Jewish civil rights and self-determination.

Read more about Dr. King’s legacy and love for the State of Israel herehere, and here.

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Dr. King with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and other civil rights leaders from the Jewish and Black communities

 

 

 

CCAP Dragons For Israel Hosts International Photojournalist: Gil Cohen-Magen

January 16, 2015

In the beginning of November 2014, our CCAP group at Drexel University, Dragons for Israel, hosted the well-known Israeli Photojournalist Gil Cohen-Magen. The group hoped that Cohen-Magen would stir interest in the State of Israel as well as bring out a crowd of Drexel students.

The event was quite a success! Over 20 students came, including students from the Arts Institute of Philadelphia as well as unaffiliated students interested in photography and photojournalism.

IMG_1661Our CCAP Representative, Mia Smith, was very excited about this event, saying, “It was awesome to see those new faces and receive their contact information in order to get them to come to more DFI events in the future. Gil Cohen-Magen’s ability to connect and get his message across to the audience was incredible. He’s a truly remarkable human being and an incredible speaker.”

Smith had the opportunity to talk with Cohen-Magen before he spoke and took care to note his genuine, hardworking spirit to us at the CAMERA offices.

CAMERA is so excited that DFI had a successful event with Gil Cohen-Smith, and are prouder and prouder of DFI every day. After four years as a successful CAMERA Campus Activist Project group, they show no signs of slowing down!

 

 

Madison Israel Club Looks to Provide New Voice on Campus

January 15, 2015

This piece was originally published by Josh Mendelowitz, an active member in the Madison Israel Club, in The Badger Herald. The Madison Israel Club is a CAMERA Campus Activist Project group. 

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Just before Thanksgiving break, four Rabbis, three of whom were American citizens, went to their Jerusalem synagogue for routine prayer services. During the service, two Palestinian terrorists armed with meat cleavers, an ax, and a gun entered the synagogue to brutally murder the Jews inside. Later, the terrorists died in the crossfire after also tragically murdering a Druze police officer who responded to the scene.

The gruesome images of Jews murdered with bloody prayer shawls wrapped around their bodies elicited painful memories of 1930s Europe. Unsurprisingly, Western media paid little respect to these terror victims. On our very own campus, the silence was deafening. As university students, we need to be aware of the issues that plague the Middle East today, and we need to voice our outrage when innocent people are murdered. Misrepresentation of facts, distorted information, and outright biases exist not only in our media, but on our campus too. One new group, the Madison Israel Club, is fighting back against this alarming trend.

The errors in media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are astounding. CNN, describing the recent Jerusalem attack said, “four Israelis and two Palestinians were killed,” failing to mention that those two Palestinians were armed terrorists. In a later gaffe, CNN made a Freudian slip when it ran the chyron, “deadly attack on a Jerusalem mosque.” Media bias is certainly not a new phenomenon, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just this summer, headlines were filled with moral equivalencies between Israel and Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist organization that, according to Israel Defense Forces, regularly uses its own civilians as human shields. But the misrepresentation of the Middle East goes far beyond the media.

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Avi Jorisch speaking to 45 students at UW, Madison

In the fight for public opinion on the Middle East, college campuses are another central battlefield. University of Wisconsin is no exception to this rule. Over the weekend of Nov. 7, the Friends of Sabeel North America and Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a conference at the Pyle Center in solidarity with Palestine. While claiming to support human rights, the conference featured notoriously anti-Semitic speakers who advocate for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, an anti-peace campaign that demonizes Israel and defames it with the label, or rather libel, of an apartheid state.

One of the these speakers, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the extremist blog Electronic Intifada and a leader of the BDS movement, openly admits that he does not believe Israel should exist. He has even labeled those in support of a Jewish state as being racist and calls Zionism, “the worst form of anti-Semitism in existence today.”

Really? The belief that the Jewish people deserve a state of their own is the worst form of anti-Semitism today? These are the ideas Abunimah and his colleagues are propagating on our campus — not messages of peace, not messages of coexistence, but messages imbued with bigotry.

As the voices that demonize the Jewish State of Israel grow louder on campus and in the media, a new student organization known as the Madison Israel Club is bringing a fresh take on the Middle East to UW. MIC is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America campus activist group that is dedicated to exposing anti-Israel bias and disseminating accurate information about Middle East affairs to students. MIC works to counter misinformation by hosting prominent speakers and analysts, providing opportunities for dialogue about current events and training students to advocate for the Jewish state.

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MIC held its first public event a few weeks ago on the evening of Nov. 12. The event was a lecture by the accomplished policy analysis Avi Jorisch, titled “Terror Financing and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Jorisch spoke about the changing nature of the Middle East, discussed his firsthand experiences with terrorist propaganda and explained how he successfully uncovered Iran’s dirty banking and money laundering schemes. The event was co-sponsored by CAMERA, WUD Society and Politics, the UW Chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, Chabad Jewish Student Association and the Jewish Experience of Madison.MIC event

As events continue to unfold throughout the Middle East, we must think critically about responses on campus and in the media. With the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has also come an evolution of the rhetoric surrounding it. As college students, we must recognize the importance of educating ourselves on foreign affairs and speaking out against biases and injustices. We need to ask tough questions and insist on knowing the truth. We can’t just be concerned with advocacy; we also need to fight for accuracy.

Josh Mendelowitz is a sophomore majoring in history.

CAMERA Alum Continues to Monitor Anti-Israel Propaganda on Campus

January 14, 2015

UPennlogo2Over the last 10 years, CAMERA has educated and trained dozens of exceptional students to speak up for Israel on campus. Not only do our CAMERA Fellows (now completing the 10th year of the program) advocate for truthful coverage of the Middle East during their time on campus, they continue to monitor anti-Israel activity on their campus after graduation.

Recently, our 2008-2009 University of Pennsylvania CAMERA Fellows alumnus, Joshua Belfer, sent us his latest letter-to-the-editor.  Josh’s piece was published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, in response to another article describing a BDS event at the university.

Josh’s letter is reproduced in full below.  Nicely done, Josh!

As the past President of Penn Hillel and a proud Penn alum, I was embarrassed by the Daily Pennsylvanian’s coverage of the Students for Justice in Palestine meeting (“Palestinian University Students tell Penn peers, ‘We are Violated’, 11/19). While it is shameful enough that at such a distinguished university, students would be subjected to one-sided, hateful speech at an event like this, I would have expected the DP to make the effort to properly educate its readership on the controversial remarks spoken.

Just as all reporters are taught to verify their sources, so too should the newspaper be expected to verify the accuracy of the “historical context” presented by speakers who have an obvious bias against Israel. The two speakers discussed that “in 1948 Palestinians were driven from their homes.” Additionally, they are quoted discussing the checkpoint restrictions imposed on Palestinians. It is appropriate for their personal experiences to be communicated to Penn students, but for a subject as complex as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a situation on which thousands of books have been written, to be presented through the speakers’ quotes, without any historical context, is unacceptable. The speakers were not brought in to teach a history lesson, and for the DP to print these students’ selective “facts” about the conflict is a severe lapse in the DP’s journalistic integrity.

Similarly, I am disturbed that the DP did not feel the need to print any context regarding the quotes about Palestinian textbooks, especially as it was reported that students attending the event met these remarks with “sneers.” It has long been documented that certain textbooks used in Palestinian schools include blatant anti-Israel hate, and it has continued to be documented as recently as November 2014 in The New York Times. While the students attending the meeting should be ashamed of themselves for mocking what is actually a well-documented truth, the DP should similarly be embarrassed for printing the students’ untrue statements as historical fact.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very complicated one. During my tenure as President of Penn Hillel, we faced several controversies on campus regarding untrue statements preached by extremists from both sides of the conflict. The DP has an extremely important role in educating college students on Penn’s campus about this conflict. Through publishing these one-sided inaccuracies by obviously biased speakers as truth, without any attempt at recognizing the controversial nature of the statements, it is clear that the DP must reexamine its own journalistic integrity and the way that it reports on such controversial events.

Joshua Belfer C’12

President of Penn Hillel, 2011-2012

Penn Hillel Israel Chair, 2010-2011

Witnesses of History: Naor

January 13, 2015

This piece was contributed as part of our Witnesses of History campaign by Naor Amir, a 2014 CAMERA Israel Trip participant, and a 2014-2015 CAMERA Fellow at the University of Florida.
For young Israelis growing up in Southern Israel, the sound of sirens have long been inscribed into the psyche. The female voice of the Code Red recording serves as a grim reminder that while young Israelis have become increasingly similar to their Western counterparts, they share starkly different realities. Unfortunately, I distinctly remember that voice from the many occasions it sent me sprinting to shelter with friends and family. Born to an Israeli family who immigrated from Southern Israel, where nearly all our family remains, the Israeli experience is all too familiar to me.
A most surreal upbringing has been accepted by many young Israelis in Southern Israel as a simple cold fact, another inconvenient part of life one must grow accustom to like death or natural disasters. This is perhaps the scariest notion of all when discussing the nearly one decade long barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip. On the one hand, it stands as a testimony to the strength and resilience of Israelis. On the other, it represents a dangerous adoption of an unacceptable situation. When the vast majority of children in battered towns such as Sderot show symptoms of PTSD, you must not take such a situation lightly.
The author at CAMERA's 2014 student conference

The author at CAMERA’s 2014 student conference

In stark contrast to the United States, where children are free to run the streets and play in parks, landing in Israel as a child quickly immersed me into daily Israeli life. Coming from a place where missile attacks on civilian populations would never be tolerated, I had a unique outlook compared to my Israeli friends. When one grows up with daily attacks, it doesn’t seem all too strange to see a bomb shelter at every bus stop or in every park. However, for me, there was nothing natural about the first tour of a neighbors home including a stop to the shelter room. And thus, in this fashion, daily missile attacks became tolerated. People continued on with their daily lives. The unfortunate family who’s home was hit by the last barrage became a part of the daily gossip. The sirens became to the South, what the calls of prayers are to Jerusalem.
What I knew as an American was simple. No one would allow their families to live under rocket threat for years and years. What I knew as an Israeli said otherwise. It said,”En ma la’asot!” (“there’s nothing we can do!). Well I always have, and will continue to reject this notion. The Israeli government has an obligation the residents of Southern Israel to change their realities. To my dismay, this summer as I traveled to Israel with CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) I relived the same old experiences as I watched a rocket hit a Sderot factory; and the inferno that ensued. These attacks have continued for too long, the status-quo is no longer acceptable.
It is time Israelis demand what Americans, Europeans, or anyone else would demand if their homes were being bombed day after day. It is time Southern Israel stop being treated as a landing pad for rockets and mortars. My friends and family in the South are not second class citizens of Israel, and we demand they have their peace returned to them. Too many bomb-shelter-centric Israeli children have been denied the right to a normal childhood. The new generation must be one that remembers the voices of their favorite TV characters, and not one that remembers the cold alarming voice of the Color Red alert system. They deserve as much.
Please check our page for more posts from our Witnesses of History. If you have an experience you want to share, please contact CAMERA on Campus and submit your story!