Sergeant Benjamin Anthony Comes to UConn

May 29, 2015

Contributed our CAMERA Fellow Ali Jabick

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CAMERA Fellow Ali Jabick

Last month, on April 1st, Sergeant Benjamin Anthony, founder of non-for-profit non-governmental organization, Our Soldier Speaks, came to speak at the University of Connecticut.  He began his presentation by sharing a traumatic experience from his childhood. One day, while walking to his Jewish school, Sergeant Anthony and his siblings were approached by a gang of adult men. These men brutally assaulted his brother until near death. In shock, Sergeant Anthony sprung his body over his brother’s to offer protection and he was severely beaten as well. This story helped the audience understand his decision to later move to Israel and join the Israel Defense Forces.

Due to Operation Protective Edge this past summer, Israel and the IDF were frequently the center of attention in media outlets all over the world. Some of the headlines regarding the IDF were very controversial and often misleading.

The IDF was accused of numerous war crimes, such as murdering young civilians and even of committing genocide. Through his personal experiences, Sergeant Benjamin Anthony was able to provide insight on the truths of the IDF and its soldiers. One of the stories that I found most powerful was when he shared about what the men in his unit would do after a battle. He explained that they would not cheer or celebrate, but instead they all took out anything they could find to write on and began to write their wills. As a twenty-year old college student, it was hard to fathom that men and women younger than I am are faced with such difficult decisions and situations that they are already writing their wills.

Later on, Sergeant Anthony began talking about the land of Israel and why he feels so passionately about fighting for the Jewish state. He explained that many say the Jewish people deserve Israel because of the Holocaust, which he believes to be morally unjust. At first, I did not recognize anything wrong with that statement. However, after further explanation, I too agree that the Jewish people do not deserve the land of Israel because of the Holocaust. The Jewish people have had a connection and right to the land of Israel dating back to the Bible. During the Holocaust one in three Jews were killed. Is that what it should take for people to deserve their own land?

Throughout history, Jews have been exiled, dispersed, and persecuted against. Now, with the land of Israel, Jews no longer have to run or escape. It is a place where Jewish people from all over the world are always welcomed. Sergeant Anthony explained that this is why it is so important to defend Israel. The thing that stuck with me the most during the presentation was when Sergeant Anthony said, “a time of no war in Israel should not be confused with a time of peace.”  Israel is constantly on the defensive. For instance, this past summer Israel initiated Operation Protective Edge in response to the persistent rockets being fired upon civilian populations in Israel. From the beginning of the operation in July through August, over 4,382 rockets were fired at Israel by Hamas (terrorist organization) and other terrorist groups in Gaza. This is just one of the many operations and wars Israel has fought in order to protect its existence.

The United States is one of Israel’s greatest allies, however, as Sergeant Anthony said, “that alliance is fading…on U.S. college campuses.” It is our job as college students to educate ourselves and not just accept what people tell us. When we hear something in the news or from a peer about Israel or the conflict in the Middle East, it is important to take a few minutes and research. We must distinguish between media over exaggerations, biases, and reality. In an interview with CNN reporter, Matt Friedman, he stated that there was a “disproportionate focus” on Israel in the media. He further stated that the “treatment of this conflict is an obsession that skews the way we see the world.”

There are often misleading headlines and captions that tell a different story. Fact-checking articles and news sources helps ensure that you are getting accurate information and are not being misinformed. Men and women our age are risking their lives defending Israel’s borders everyday. By staying informed and getting the facts straight, we too can play an integral part in defending Israel.

Read more about the Benjamin Anthony event at the University of Connecticut.

Words I Never Said: Thoughts from a Recent Graduate

May 28, 2015

Contributed by Chloé Valdary, a consultant at CAMERA.

11287562_1037780896247012_2072315971_oTo the keffiyeh-wearing, American-born university student who insists on lamenting a piece of property lost over sixty years ago:

While you are excellent at competing in the apparently never-ending Oppression Olympics,(and while yours truly can also play this game) it will serve you poorly once you enter the real world. You are no more a refugee of the Levant than I am a refugee of Africa. Stop complaining about the past and instead move forward.

Indeed, you must accept that life is unfair. You will do better if you devote your self to being the best that you can be, instead of harping on the fact that a group of countries failed miserably at stopping the reestablishment of an indigenous state. You lost the war; get over it.You are not a victim. Make something of yourself.

To the E.U., a personal favorite of mine when it comes to contradictory and largely useless entities:

Given your, shall we say ‘murky’ record of honoring Jewish rights, I have no idea what on earth possessed you to think you would have any right to give commentary on anything regarding the Jewish state — let alone critique it — but you have been woefully misinformed. Your careless financing of the Palestinian Authority with no accountability whatsoever has contributed directly to the misery of the Palestinian people. It has created an environment wherein a kleptocratic enterprise steals millions from Palestinians — your money — and engages in human rights abuses with no oversight and no consequences for mismanagement.

Just to be crystal clear, let me reiterate:

Your policies have contributed directly to the disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people.

Moreover, you have promoted wholesale discrimination against Jews and you are directly responsible for the growing anti-Jewish animus within your own borders. To admonish your citizens not to attack Jews in your streets while simultaneously stating unequivocally that Jews should be legally banned from walking in the streets of Judea is to commit and promote intellectual perjury and social injustice. You raise monuments to honor the memory of the Holocaust while simultaneously justifying prejudice against Jews in Israel; this is an exercise in historical redundancy and societal regression.

To the solipsistic Jew who thinks that he is so “privileged” that he must call for the “liberation” of Palestinian Arabs, only to come at the expense of denying a life of dignity to his own people, unfortunately some axiomatic truths need to be repeated:

Your people deserve the right to live in their country in peace. They will resist anyone who undermines that right.

Your people deserve the right to live anywhere in their land. And they will resist anyone who undermines that right.

Your people deserve the right to be free of psychopathic homicidal supremacists who want to murder them. And they will resist anyone who undermines that right.

You may think that your genuflecting before the altar of self-aggrandizement will somehow bring you peace; you are delusional. They will murder your own, which you betrayed; and then they will murder you.

To the State of Israel:

It goes without saying that I respect the challenges you face, the complexities of your society, your place in the history of your people, and your existence as the fulfillment of dreams for generations of Jews for thousands of years. Understand that international opinion matters and that you must invest in ensuring your story is told. Narrative is the key to changing the way the game is played. Adopt one.

Do not take it for granted that because your positions on a myriad of issues are morally sound, the world will come to understand and empathize with your perspective. It will not. You must invest more in holding fast to your identity and and proclaiming your truth.Tell your story.

You are free. The constant refrain of your people since 1945 has been, ‘Never Again.’

Discover what it is you are never again willing to put up with as a people; then make sure such occurrences never again happen.

Lastly, remember to keep your head up; your people are strong. Your cause is noble. It is the most important of all causes that has ever concerned mankind: Freedom.

Chloé Valdary is a recent graduate of the University of New Orleans and a consultant for CAMERA.

Great Success: Dumisani Washington Event at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

May 27, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Emma Fruchtman.

More than just being the Jewish State, Israel is a vibrant country that is a center for scientific advancement, history, culture, and diversity. As such, she holds great significance for Jews and non-Jews alike. Especially now, Israel relies on a widespread support network, in which both the Black community and Christian Zionists have been instrumental leaders.

In order to show students that issues regarding the State of Israel are “not only of Jewish concern, but are also humanitarian problems,” Elana Zelden, the CAMERA Fellow of the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, brought Dumisani Washington to speak to campus and an event organized by her together with Illini Students Supporting Israel.

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Dumisani Washington at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Dumisani is a pastor from Northern California, the Diversity Outreach Coordinator for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI), and an advocate for Israel. He hopes to strengthen solidarity between Israel and Black Americans and other communities of color. At this event, Dumisani inspired students with his personal narrative. “He described the importance of Christian Zionism and the connection between the Zionist and Civil Rights movements. Since Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, [many people can discover what Israel means to them without a seemingly direct link].”

11156152_933367643381728_6878693858454728054_nFollowing the CAMERA sponsored event, Elana heard outstanding feedback. Dumisani’s presentation was “very interactive and kept the entire audience engaged for the whole time” according to a student who attended. Using Facebook and other methods of social media, the event attracted 50 students, which was more than expected. It was a great success! Pro-Israel students are hoping that this will help cement a relationship between different groups on campus and engage more students in the future.

Israel’s Quest for Peace: a presentation by Asaf Romirowsky to UW-Madison students

May 26, 2015

In America and around the world, there are many rumors and questions about what the Palestinian refugee situation really is in the Middle East. On college campuses, many students, Jewish and non Jewish, are fixated on these questions because of their obvious ties to human rights concerns. Students at the CAMERA supported EMET for Israel group at the University of Wisconsin- Madison wanted to clear up much of the confusion about Palestinian Refugees that circulates around campus by inviting Dr. Asaf Romirowsky to give a presentation on the subject. Romirowsky is a Middle East analyst and the co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief.

About 30 students and faculty attended the CAMERA sponsored Romirowsky’s presentation to hear his lecture on both Palestinian Refugees and US-Israeli relations. Romirowky spoke clearly and was not afraid to use the terminology used among experts of the subject when giving his lecture. After his presentation, Romirowsky left time for Q&A with his attendees in which the students asked him the difficult but meaningful questions about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Overall, Romirowsky’s presentation was insightful and fascinating, and the audience and engaged and attentive.

Madison Israel Club Asaf

Kasim Hafeez at Cornell

May 22, 2015

In April, Cornellians for Israel, an EMET for Israel group at Cornell University invited Kasim Hafeez to give a presentation about the flaws of anti-Israel radical movements, and his own personal accomplishment and views, as well.

Hafeez, a Muslim-Zionist who founded “The Israel Campaign,” spoke to about 25 engaged students at Cornell who wanted to learn more about his work and about anti-Israel radicalism in general. Although Hafeez’s lecture was interrupted by a SJP appearance at the Hafeez event, attendees were still able to learn a great deal from the self-proclaimed Muslim-Zionist.

In addition to speaking to students at Cornell, in the past year CAMERA has also helped bring Hafeez to Boston College, the University of Vermont, SUNY Albany, SUNY Rockland, the University of Houston, and San Francisco State University.

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Behind the Scenes of Declare Your Freedom

May 21, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA Intern by Aaron Hunt.

Three years ago, two college freshmen, Maor Shapira, an Israeli Jew and former lone soldier in the IDF, and Chloé Simone Valdary, a Christian African-American who grew up in New Orleans, met at a pro-Israel lecture at Tulane University. They talked after the lecture and soon bonded over their shared Zionism and strong interest in Israel advocacy.  Thus began their adventure in Israel advocacy, culminating this year in the hugely successful Declare Your Freedom 3.0, a Zionist concert and extravaganza held at Tulane University together with The University of New Orleans. CAMERA was a major sponsor of the event, organized by EMET for Israel groups at both campuses. Hundreds of students attended, many of which were not Jewish.

IMG_20150412_143849270_HDRAs sophomores, Valdary, a student at The University of New Orleans, and Shapira, who attended Tulane, organized a pro-Israel rally at The University of New Orleans.  Though the event, the inaugural Declare Your Freedom (DYF), met with limited success, Valdary and Shapira were undeterred.  For the second iteration of DYF, the unlikely pair decided that in order to reach college students, they had to create an event that not just defended Israel but also promoted it – the state and the Zionist ideal – in a fun, emotionally engaging way.  DYF thus became a unique celebration of Zionism and the Jewish State featuring music, poetry, and more.

By visibly displaying pride in Zionism and the State of Israel, Valdary and Shapira hope to show college students Israel in a positive light.  Shapira says that DYF engages in the “promotion of Zionism… [rather than] the promotion of a “pro-Israel” sentiment.”  He explains, “The concept of being “pro-Israel” allows people to be passive supporters and at the same time also legitimizes an “anti-Israel” sentiment.  Through DYF we “legitimize the de-legitimized” by displaying public pride in Zionism, and inviting others to share and celebrate that cause with us.” Shapira hopes that the effect of DYF will be that “the slander of Zionism, and in essence Israel, will not be accepted as easily by people who would be otherwise be uneducated on the topic.”

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Rather than lecturing their fellow students on Israel and making detailed evidence-based arguments as to why Israel deserves to be celebrated rather than denigrated, Valdary and Shapira seek to tell an emotional, compelling story of Israel.  Says Valdary, “Instead of the typical advocating that often takes the form of lecturing and pamphlet-giving, we believe that Israel is fundamentally a story which must be told to all ages and which should be celebrated.”

In recent years, pro-Israel groups have been losing in the fight against SJP and other extreme anti-Israel (and often anti-Semitic) groups on college campuses across America.  However misguided and biased they are, anti-Israel ideologues have managed to spread their message with “Israel Apartheid Week” and other events that demonize Israel. Groups opposed to Israel’s existence have convinced a large portion of the student body in many colleges of the morality of their cause by telling a simple and compelling (but wholly inaccurate) story of Israeli oppression, brutality, and aggression.

DYF, says Shapira, “does something that the Jewish pro-Israel community has failed to do for the past couple of decades – set a narrative.”  DYF advocates for Israel by simply ignoring Israel’s opponents and instead legitimizing the Jewish State by humanizing Israelis – a seemingly straightforward task that has proven shockingly difficult.  He adds, “We are not reactionary, we are not apologetic, and we are not defending ourselves.  We set the tone.  And by doing so, inspire others to do the same.”

Hopefully, DYF will continue to spread to more American college campuses in the coming years and extend the reach of its powerful message of love of Israel.  Though Valdary and Shapira are now both seniors at their respective colleges, they hope to continue their work on Declare Your Freedom and set it up for success for years to come.  In this time of crisis for Israel advocates on campuses across the country, an era of BDS and SJP, of Israel Apartheid Week and harassment of Jewish students, reasoned arguments and impassioned pleas are no longer enough to make college safe for Zionism.  DYF stands out as a potentially transformative movement that could change the way Israel advocacy is conducted at colleges – and as a result improve Israel’s reputation among college students.

What started as the brainchild of an unlikely pairing of Zionists is fast becoming the new face of college Israel advocacy.

Princeton Votes on Divestment from Israel

May 20, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Sarah Salinger

Many students at universities around the country have begun to take initiatives to divest from Israel. Most of these institutions are located on the west coast, including eight universities in California alone, but the trend is making its way across the country.

The latest divestment initiative is currently taking place on the campus of Princeton University in New Jersey, where the vote to divest took place from Monday April 20th through Wednesday April 22nd. All undergraduates at the university were eligible to vote, and the official ballot question was as follows: Shall the undergraduates call on the Trustees of Princeton University and the Princeton University Investment Company (“PRINCO”) to divest from multinational corporations that maintain the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, facilitate Israel’s and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and facilitate state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian Authority security forces, until these corporations cease such activities?

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Above: Students against divestment table in the Princeton student center.

Prior to the vote and with the knowledge of the student at the forefront of the initiative, the University stated that its students are allowed to vote on the issue, however the university will not divest regardless of the results. In addition to the undergraduate voters, seventy-three tenured professors have signed and presented a letter explaining the case for divestment to President of the University Christopher Eisgruber. On the homepage of the Princeton Divests site, the student at the head of the initiative states: This referendum calls on the University to divest from companies that:

  1. Maintain the infrastructure of the illegal Israeli military occupation of the West Bank;
  2. Facilitate Israel’s and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; or
  3. Facilitate state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian Authority security forces.

On the other side of the issue, some of Princeton’s anti-divestment supporters came together and created their own website to counter princetondivests.org, titled http://nodivest.org/ . The site offers explanations of why the pro-divestment referendum is misleading and how Princeton students can exchange in meaningful dialogue that will make an impact, as opposed to divesting.

An anti-divestment sign on the Princeton campus.

An anti-divestment sign on the Princeton campus.

On its site, No Divest advertises an existing student organization at the university that brings together both Israel and Palestine supporters, Tigers Together, explaining that “Initiatives like Tigers Together build trust and partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians, pave the path to a sustainable, equitable two-state solution, and immediately and tangibly benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The site’s main point is that there is a better way to promote peace than for the university to divest, and it is important that undergraduates understand that voting no on divestment at Princeton doesn’t mean voting no on a peaceful two-state solution in Israel. In fact, voting yes on divestment is rejecting the opportunity for peaceful and effective dialogue.

In the end, approximately 52% voted no on divestment out of the 43% of undergraduates who voted. In addition to the undergraduate vote, the graduate students at Princeton also held a vote on a referendum to divest.

Graduate student Kelly Roache proposed to the Graduate Student Government that there be a GS vote on divestment similar to that of the undergraduate vote in order to show the GS’s commitment to being involved in their university community. Zoe Toledo of The Daily Princetonian captured Roache’s main focus of the GS vote to divest, writing, “The referendum is nonbinding… Instead, the referendum will help collect information by documenting student opinions on divestment.”

Divestment won in the GS vote with 56.3% voting to divest, 39.3% voting against divesting, and 4.5% voting to abstain.

Not only are most people against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, but many Palestinians themselves are against the movement, as well. One example of this is Bassem Eid, the founder and director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring group based in Jerusalem. He proudly stands against the BDS movement, preaching that it harms Palestinians as opposed to helps them. As Eid explains in his blog for the Times of Israel, “In the West Bank… the only good jobs are with Israeli companies, and the BDS (Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment) movement is doing its best to take those jobs away from us.”

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Many college campus initiatives to divest from Israel are doing so with the intention of helping the Palestinian people living in the West Bank, however, as suggested by Eid, a proud Palestinian himself, divestment is not only detrimental for Israeli companies but it is destructive for those Palestinians who are trying to make a living.

As shown through the student initiative to divest, it is very important to the student body of Princeton University to take action on world events in any way they can. Overall, however, as No Divest explains, the only way to truly open the dialogue on how to take real and effective action is to keep an open mind and to actively converse with one another. Divesting leaves no room for an open mind or honest, effective dialogue.

 

 

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Israel Public Affairs Committee at Harvard Hosts Ishmael Khaldi and Assi Azar

May 19, 2015

This past semester, the newly formed Israel Public Affairs Committee at Harvard (IPACH), a CAMERA-supported EMET for Israel group, hosted its first two events. In February, it invited Ishmael Khaldi, a Muslim Bedouin citizen of Israel and official in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to speak on campus. Khaldi discussed his experiences in the Israeli government, drawing from his personal life to reach broader insights into politics, society, and minority rights in Israel. Around 25 students attended the event.

Following the event with Khaldi, IPACH hosted Israeli television star Assi Azar, for a screening of his documentary about coming out in Israel, “Mom and Dad: I Have Something to Tell You.” The event was cosponsored by the Harvard Office of BGLTQ Student Life and Harvard Bagels: A Queer/Jewish Group. Following the screening, Azar and attendants discussed LGBTQ rights in Israel. Azar elaborated on the difficulties of reconciling traditional Judaism with gay rights, but pointed out that Israel is nevertheless a remarkably supportive country in that regard.

Reflecting on the two events, IPACH President Edyt Dickstein commented, “This semester paved the way for us to become an active part of campus dialogue on Israel. We were able to hold two fascinating events that touched on aspects of Israel that are not traditionally covered, and I think that people really enjoyed discussing the issues with people who had experienced them firsthand.”

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Assi Azar with members of IPACH and Ben, a CAMERA Campus Coordinator.

 

Let My People Go

May 18, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Chaiel Schaffel.

“This year we are slaves, next year may we be free men.”  The ending line of the Passover Haggadah is a powerful director. Like a sea creature to water, we tend not to think about our freedom, but rather, simply exist in it. The line turns us toward the future, and takes us by the hand, shaking us from this complacency.

Simon Deng needs no such introduction to freedom. He was a slave. Mirroring the Passover story, Simon, too, was enslaved in Africa. Recently a guest-speaker at the University of Miami’s Emet Israel group, Deng was met with a sea of faces from  an unlikely duo: the usual Pro-Israel CAMERA affiliate Emet Israel and the seemingly Israel-shy African Students Union. Deng expanded on his personal history to the assembled crowd of U-M students.

A recent EMET Israel event with Simon Deng.

A recent EMET Israel event with Simon Deng.

His particular story begins in South Sudan, Deng’s homeland. He began his life as a child in a village in southern (now South) Sudan. There, he and his family were subjected to systematic oppression from northern Sudanese Arabs. For example, Simon and his family would regularly need to vacate their village because Arab raiding parties came to town frequently and burned the makeshift houses to the ground. The families would come back when the area was safe again, and find that “…The elders that could not walk or see were burned alive.” “These are the kind of things that a child cannot forget.” Deng said. After each raid, Simon and his family would begin to gather up sticks, again and again, and rebuild anew.

At the age of nine, he was deceived by an Arab neighbor, who abducted Deng and gave him as a “gift” to his relatives. From there, he was kept as a domestic slave to the family, and was subjugated as such. Simon was beaten regularly, worked endlessly, fed table scraps, forced to sleep on hay with animals, and subjected to psychological abuse. In a speech to the Durban Watch Conference, he remarked that “…I was unable to say the word, “No.” All I could say was “Yes, Yes, Yes.”’

In an interview with CAMERA on Campus, Deng remarked that “…For three and a half years, the only two things I had left were hope, and patience. I never let it go.”

“They told me I had a way out,” he continued. “I could convert to Islam, and become their son. I came so close to converting, to end it. But I was one hundred miles from giving up my identity!” Whenever the family would ask him to convert, as he could not say no, he replied “I will think about it,” in a perennial attempt to stall the family from washing away his last vestiges of self.

In his desperation, Simon decided that although they had taken his freedom, the Sudanese family would never strip him of himself, his mind, and his thoughts. The fight, for Deng, was not simply self preservation, but self preservation; the clinging, often by the very fingertips of his willpower, to any shred of identity a nine-year-old boy possesses.  Upon his eventual escape and return to his loved ones in the south, one of Deng’s first actions was to have himself  marked with the scars of the Shilluk tribe that prominently line his lower forehead, despite his family’s objections. “In the back of my mind, I was in psychological terror.  I needed to mend myself, to make myself officially Shilluk, and to let it be known that if anything were to happen to me again, I know that I am not just a nameless child, but that I am Shilluk.”

After three years, Deng escaped with the help of fellow tribesmen, back to his family.

Try as he might, Simon Deng could not forget the years of harsh trauma visited on him under the rule of the Arab family from the north. He attended university in Khartoum, and later came to the United States, where his fated encounter with Israel was yet to take place.

There, he became a noted human-rights activist, working to further the anti-slavery movement from the United States. Through Jewish contacts made in the United States, Simon  had the opportunity to be among the first on the scene with the Sudanese refugees in Israel and speak to the Israeli government on their behalf. To Deng, it was not a case of “Let my People Go,” but rather, “Let My People Stay,” as the Sudanese were the subject of an intense deportation debate in Israel.

“I had to mediate the negotiations,” he began. “ I went there [Israel] three times in one year. I was really the only Sudanese to have made Jewish friends [in the United States.]” He continued, “ We managed to convince the Israeli government that ‘These people are not your enemy…’”

Before coming to Israel, 26 Sudanese migrants had been murdered in Cairo during a protest against racism. “The first word from their mouth when they arrived here was ‘Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” Said Deng. He continued to pledge his support for Israeli action, saying that there was “Not another country in the world…”that would absorb refugees, and allow them to “…Settle in the middle of their cities.” He is grateful to Israel, saying that “They [The Refugees] were received, given shelter. They accepted them. So I  became an advocate.”

At the same speech to the Durban Watch Conference, Deng asserted that the primary reason for the U.N’s continual lack of action in Sudan is its preoccupation with Israel-A preoccupation that Deng deems “Absurd.”

Deng has continually stressed the hypocrisy of the United Nations in public forums. In his address to the Durban Watch Conference, he noted, “Black Muslims from Darfur chose Israel above all the other Arab-Muslim states of the area. Do you know what this means!? And the Arabs say Israel is racist!?” … In Israel , black Sudanese, Christian and Muslim were welcomed and treated like human beings. Just go and ask them, like I have done. They told me that compared to the situation in Egypt, Israel is “heaven.” Is Israel a racist state? To my people, the people who know racism – the answer is absolutely not.”

He continues, “The United Nations knew about the enslavement of South Sudanese by the Arabs. Their own staff reported it. It took UNICEF – under pressure from the Jewish – led American Anti-Slavery Group- sixteen years to acknowledge what was happening.”

…Look at the situation of the Copts in Egypt, the Christians in Iraq, and Nigeria, and Iran, the Hindus and Bahais who suffer from Islamic oppression. The Sikhs. We – a rainbow coalition of victims and targets of Jihadists – all suffer. We are ignored, we are abandoned. So that the big lie against the Jews can go forward.”

A popular maxim holds that freedom comes at a price, and Simon Aban Deng has the exact rate of exchange etched into his forehead. The Haggadah’s end line holds all too true for the thousands of modern-day slaves in Sudan, who are  left but with a shred of hope, chanting, “This year we are slaves. Next Year may we be Free Men.”

“Next Year-In Jerusalem.”
Editors’ Note: Information for this article was taken from www.timesofisrael.com, www.jewishpost.com, and video footage of the Durban Watch Conference.

CAMERA Brings Kasim Hafeez to Clark University

May 15, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Emma Fruchtman.

Clark students pose with Kasim Hafeez.

Clark students pose with Kasim Hafeez.

This semester 23 Clark University students gathered to hear Kasim Hafeez describe how he became a proud Zionist.

Having grown up surrounded by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments in his small Pakistani Muslim community; having been raised by his staunchly pro-Hitler father; and having participated in several Naqba Day rallies, Hafeez seemed to be on the path towards radical Islam. With the intent to debunk Alan Dershowitz’s pro-Israel arguments, Hafeez purchased The Case For Israel. Befuddled by the hollowness of the rhetoric he learned as a child, Hafeez decided to go to Israel. When he returned home, he was left with such a profoundly positive impression, which he hoped to share with the larger community. Now he speaks to college students across the United States.

Kasim was hosted as the keynote speaker of CHAI’s (Clarkies Helping and Advocating for Israel) Israel week. In an effort to attract as many attendees as possible, Seth Greenwald, Clark University’s CAMERA Fellow and a member of CHAI, organized and publicized the event through flyers and by word of mouth. Students were very engaged and impressed by Kasim’s story. “His story was so impactful because it’s personal and he can explain a way of life that no one else can,” says Seth. “Personal narratives are crucial to understanding the meaning behind the conflict.” During the Q&A, Kasim was careful to only answer questions about his own experiences, steering clear from political topics that could possibly dissuade people. Overall, the event, sponsored by CAMERA and co-sponsored by the ZOA, was a success!