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CAMERA Staff Has a Blast With the Network Boston

September 22, 2014

CAMERA Staff had a great time tabling at Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Network Open House Event in Boston on September 10! CAMERA’s delegation included representatives of the Campus Team and of our Boston Young Leadership Team.  Check out the photos below to see CAMERA doing our thang, and having a blast educating Boston’s Jewish community together!

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Editor-in-Chief Samantha Mandeles and Director of Student Programming Gilad Skolnick discussing CAMERA with young professionals at The Open House Party! Photo courtesy of CJP’s The Network Boston and Nir Landau Photography.

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…while Samantha discusses CAMERA on Campus!

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Development Officer Josh Mellits explains CAMERA Boston Young Leadership programming…

For more of CJP’s photos of the event, check out their Facebook page!

And, to learn more about CAMERA’s upcoming Young Leadership event, visit the event page on our national website!

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Photos courtesy of CAMERA staff

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Pro-Israel Students on Social Media

September 19, 2014

This post was contributed by Simmons College CAMERA Fellow, Allison Moldoff.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 5.05.19 PM.

In the wake of Operation Protective Edge, pro-Israel college students have taken an active stance on social media. While members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) plaster hate throughout their social media channels, pro Israel groups have a different approach.

In the new campaign, “Waiting For A Real Peace Partner,” created by Cal Poly Pomona students and Broncos for Israel leaders Dana and Doron Feuer, the message is simple: find Israel a real peace partner. The campaign points out the real aggressor in the Arab-Israel conflict-Hamas. With the trending hashtag, #FreeGazaFromHamas, these students are hoping that their voices will be heard and their message will be clear. Israel is not the enemy. Hamas is.

Dana Feuer, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, states that, “students who support Israel on campus have been fighting an uphill battle against the hate groups and I really hope that this social media campaign gives campuses across the nation a positive boost.”

During and after Operation Protective Edge, there was an evident rise in the expression of anti-Semitism, not only in Europe, but also throughout college campuses in the United States. There have been countless incidents throughout the country where members of SJP and anti-Israel students have harassed and assaulted Jewish students. In fact, just last month, a CAMERA Fellow at Temple University was attacked by a student who did not agree with his beliefs.

These acts of aggression and the violence of Israel’s enemies need to stop. Jewish and pro-Israel students around the country hope that these new social media campaigns promoting peace and the fact that Israel wants peace will stop them from being targeted and harassed for their beliefs.

The “Waiting For A Real Peace Partner” Facebook Page states that, “the Palestinian people have been caught in the terrorist agenda of their own government for over a decade. It is time to stand up for peace and recognize that responsibility for suffering in Gaza belongs to Hamas.”

Other pro-Israel social media campaigns like, “This Is What a Zionist Looks Like” have been gaining major traction online. CAMERA Consultant, Chloe Simone Valdary, created the campaign, which incorporates iconic images of well-known actors, activists, and musicians who identify (or did, during their lives) as proud Zionists.

These social media campaigns are critical messages for pro-Israel students to express. Valdary says that the “’This Is What a Zionist Looks Like’ campaign represents our collective conscious decision to take ownership of who we are: Zionists. Unafraid and proud. In taking back this term, we seek the end of the cultural appropriation of our heritage by racist student organizations that seek to deny our people civil rights.”

Feuer adds that, “the ultimate goal and intent of our campaign is for the pro-Israel community to share a united message. We want to make it very clear that Israel wants peace and always has.”

These messages are quite relevant, given the recent behavior of SJP founder Hatem Bazian, who made a statement calling for a complete academic and cultural boycott of Israel on September 23rd, the Eve before the Jewish New Year. As TruthRevolt.org author and University of Minnesota CCAP student, Ron Feingold, states, “The attempt to isolate Israel extends to a boycott of Jewish and Israeli on-campus organizations as well. Professor Bazian has also commanded his group to demand “No to University Coordination and Strategizing with the ADL, JCRC, AJC, Stand With US, ZOA, Israeli Consulate to Limit Students Pro-Palestine Constitutionally Protected Activities.”

In response to Bazian’s statement, CAMERA along with 14 other organizations dedicated to fighting anti-Israel hatred sent a letter to the administrators of the University of California at Berkeley alerting them of the “call to action” posted by SJP founder and Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian.

It is the hopes of CAMERA, Valdary, Feuer, and many other students that the pro-Israel and Jewish community will stand a united front against aggressive students who want the destruction of the Jewish State.

CAMERA and Partners Send Letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor

September 18, 2014

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On September 2, CAMERA and 14 other organizations dedicated to fighting anti-Israel hatred sent a letter to the administrators of the University of California at Berkeley alerting them of the “call to action” posted by SJP founder and Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian.

The text of the letter is reproduced in full below. It was originally posted at the Amcha Initiative.

To: Chancellor Dirks


September 2, 2014

Dear Chancellor Dirks,

We represent 15 organizations with hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide, who are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on campuses across the country, particularly in light of the current unrest in the Middle East.

We would like to bring to your attention a matter that directly affects Jewish students at UC Berkeley.

Dr. Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley lecturer in Near Eastern Studies, has posted to his Facebook page an announcement of an “International Day of Action on College Campuses: Free Palestine and End the Siege on Gaza,” which is to take place on September 23. The posting includes the following message:

A call for activists and organizations on campuses across the world to organize massive protests on every college and university campus. Make Free Palestine and Ending the Siege on Gaza part of campus education by holding teach-ins, rallies, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and push for BDS activities.

No to Academic Complicity with Israeli Occupation
No to Study Abroad Programs in Israel
No Investments in Apartheid and Occupation Supporting Companies
No to University Presidents’ Visits to Israel
No Campus Police Training or Cooperation with Israeli Security
No Joint Research or Conferences with Israeli Institutions
No Cooperation with Hasbara Networks on College Campuses
No to Targeting Faculty for Speaking Against Israeli Crimes
No to Administrative Limits on Free Speech Rights of Palestine Activists
No to University Coordination and Strategizing with the ADL, JCRC, AJC, Stand With US, ZOA, Israeli Consulate to Limit Students Pro-Palestine Constitutionally Protected Activities.

Free Palestine, End the Siege on Gaza and Build the Movement on Your Campus!

We are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students around these events. In the wake of the Israel-Gaza conflict, global antisemitism has reached levels not seen since the Holocaust. Jews throughout the world are being targeted for threats, physical assaults and murder, and Jewish property for desecration and destruction. While we fully support academic freedom and students’ freedom of expression, these types of demonstrations can result in antisemitic rhetoric and violent behavior, creating a hostile and unsafe environment for Jewish students. Just days ago, a Jewish student at Temple University was punched in the face and called “baby-killer, racist, Zionist pig” and “kike” as he stood next to a table run by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

As you may be aware, the UC Berkeley SJP group, which was in fact founded by Dr. Bazian himself when he was a graduate student in 2001, has a long history of engaging in antisemitic behaviors targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students for harassment, intimidation, bullying and even assault. Dr. Bazian’s call for students to engage in aggressive and potentially illegal actions against Israel and its campus supporters — actions that include “civil disobedience” — can only exacerbate the already hostile environment for pro-Israel Jewish students and create the conditions that could well lead to violence on your campus.

Moreover, Professor Bazian is promoting an academic boycott of Israel which calls for shutting down opportunities for students to study in Israel and severing all ties with Israeli universities and scholars — a boycott which more than 250 university presidents, including yourself, have called a subversion of academic freedom, and which has been decried as antisemitic by government officials and Jewish leaders. Furthermore, we believe that it is highly inappropriate for Dr. Bazian, a faculty member at UC Berkeley, to incite students to engage in “civil disobedience”, behavior which is potentially illegal and may lead to adverse consequences for the students and others.

We wanted to bring this to your attention immediately so you could monitor the behavior of SJP and other student organizations involved in the September 23 Day of Action, and ensure, through the use of campus police and administrative oversight, that behavior which violates university policy or the law will be swiftly and appropriately addressed, and that Jewish and pro-Israel students will not be harassed, intimidated, bullied or assaulted.

Sincerely,

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
AMCHA Initiative
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Hasbara Fellowships
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
StandWithUs
The Lawfare Project
Zionist Organization of America

Cc: UC President Janet Napolitano
UC Regents
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education
California Assembly Member Das Williams, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education
California Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate
California State Senator Marty Block, Chair of Legislative Jewish Caucus

The IDF’s Unsung Heroes

September 17, 2014

Izzy Ezagui

Oftentimes, CAMERA speakers are those who have personal connections to the Arab-Israeli conflict and can share their unique perspectives with students. One such speaker, Izzy Ezagui, has spoken for CAMERA about his personal sacrifices, but also recently reflected on the sacrifices made by a group whose stories are much less publicized– the American mothers of Lone IDF Soldiers.

Check out an excerpt from Izzy’s beautiful, heart-wrenching article below, and read the full article here. To learn more about Izzy, visit his page. And, finally, remember to be grateful for the sacrifices of a soldier’s mother.

I pen these words in honor of an alpha pack of American women who incomprehensibly find the strength to allow their offspring to travel across the globe, so that they may partake in a battle they could easily justify ignoring. How they find this strength will forever remain a mystery…
Friends try to comfort you. Family tries to remain nearby. Their efforts are futile. They do not and cannot understand that peace, for you, is a foreign concept, that you won’t find any solace until he is back in your arms, until he is close enough that you can again see your smile on his face.Few know and even less stop to think about the difficulties of being a mother warrior. With the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge, I find it fitting to stop and give thanks.To the brave sons who protect us: your battle is hard, and we are all indebted to you.To the brave mothers who sit at home not knowing: your battle is harder; not knowing the fate of a loved one can be scarier than battle itself. For that fortitude, we are all grateful.

For Max.

For Sean.

For David.

For their mothers.

CAMERA at Boston’s Amazing Israel Race

September 16, 2014

Sunday, September 14, CAMERA staff and students cut loose at the annual Amazing Israel Race!

The Amazing Israel Race includes a fun-filled day of racing around our beautiful city of Boston in teams, led by clues and overcoming obstacles in search of sites related to Israeli history and culture.

200 people participated in racing and over 30 different organizations co-sponsored or volunteered, including CAMERA.

For CAMERA staff, the best part was the opportunity to see our Boston-based students!

 

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CAMERA Staff and Fellows from Clark University and Simmons College at the Amazing Israel Race Get Back to Israel Programs Fair!

Check out the Facebook page for the event here, and if you’re in Boston, don’t forget to sign up next year! For more Boston-based Israel events, visit the Israel Campus Roundtable site, here.

Rice University Professor’s Fallacies

September 15, 2014

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Ever wanted to write a piece about an anti-Israel professor? Can’t figure out where to start? Need a sample piece to inspire you? Check out this great article by two CAMERA analysts, originally published in The Hill on Friday, September 12, in which they debunk the lies of an anti-Israel professor from Rice University!

Rice University Professor Ussama Makdisi ’s “Gun Zionism” (The Hill, September 4) is blatant anti-Israel propaganda, line after clichéd line.

Makdisi declares that the recent Israel/Hamas war is about “fundamental injustice that is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” In fact, Operation Protective Edge was Israel’s response to hundreds of indiscriminate mortar and missile attacks by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups on Israel, each launch a war crime. It intensified with Israel’s identification of the Hamas tunnel network, intended to facilitate kidnappings and massacres.

The conflict itself goes back at least to Arab rejection of the 1947 U.N. partition plan for British Mandatory Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, and the Arabs’ subsequent 1948-1949 war to destroy Israel.

Makdisi asserts that  “Zionist Israel was a settler-colonial enterprise.” The United States and most other modern countries are settler-colonialist enterprises, some older than others. Makdisi teaches at Rice University in Texas, formerly part of Mexico, and before that of Spain’s New World empire, and prior to that under Aztec domination, and earlier fragmented among numerous tribes. Settler-colonist Makdisi might want to reexamine his terms.

Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, among other Arab countries, are colonial creations. What makes Israel different, not that Makdisi’s readers would know, is that it embodies an old, indigenous people’s return to a part of its ancient homeland. This return was blessed and strengthened by international law, including the 1920 San Remo Treaty, 1922 League of Nation’s Palestine Mandate, 1924 Anglo-American Convention and the 1945 U.N. Charter.

Makdisi mentions the “real suffering of European Jews that culminated in a German [emphases in the original] genocide against them” as if this had nothing to do with Mandatory Palestine or its Arab residents. In fact, Palestinian Arabs under their pro-Nazi leader Haj al-Husseini were complicit in the Holocaust. By repeated massacres of Palestinian Jews in the 1920s and ‘30s, Palestinian Arabs induced Great Britain to close Mandatory Palestine—created to be a Jewish refuge and renewed homeland—to continued Jewish immigration. This trapped European Jews just as the Nazis consolidated power.

Makdisi claims “Israel was born of terrible violence against an Arab population that had historically no hand in anti-Semitism” and charges Israel with ethnic cleansing, “as numerous Israeli historians have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt.” Falsehood upon falsehood.

The Arab majority in what became Israel was partly the result of large-scale migration into areas developed economically under Zionist resettlement from the late 1800s on. Among others, Prof. Fred M. Gottheils, University of Illinois, highlighted the movement in “Arab Immigration into Pre-State Palestine, 1922 – 1931,” in The Palestinians—People, History, Politics.

Makdisi’s “terrible violence against an Arab population that had historically no hand in anti-Semitism” is half figment, half fabrication. Suppression and extortion of Palestine’s Jews and Christians by Muslim rulers, including official second-class dhimmi status and the jizya tax was an old story before twentieth century Arab massacres of Jews.

As for the estimated 420,000 to 650,000 Arabs who left what became Israel in 1947 – 1949 (the former an estimate by a U.N. official on the scene at the time, the later the difference in the area’s Arab population between the last British and first Israeli census) only a minority were expelled, generally as a result of being inside Israeli lines during the fighting. A majority fled either at the urging of Arab leaders hoping for a clear field against the Jews or simply to avoid the war.

Ethnic cleansing did occur when more than 800,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries in the late 1940s and early 1950s, nearly three-fourths of whom immigrated to Israel. As for “numerous Israeli historians” supporting Makdisi’s charges, a handful of Israeli “new historians” in the 1980s and 1990s did claim that Arabs were often expelled. Their misreading or distortion of archival material was exposed by Prof. Efraim Karsh of Kings College, London, in his 1997 workFabricating Israeli History; The New Historians.

Makdisi’s claim that Israel and its supporters are trying to “build an exclusionary Jewish state in a multi-religious land” is laughable. All citizens of Israel, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Asians and others exercise equal rights. They vote, serve in the Israeli parliament and as judges, including on the Supreme Court. Such treatment contrasts with many Arab/Islamic Middle Eastern states and movements’ treatment of minorities, including Muslim minorities, under their control, as the headlines attest daily.

 Makdisi’s compulsion to portray the Palestinian Arabs as blameless victims omits much, rejection of Israeli-U.S. offers of a West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem state in exchange for peace with Israel in 2000 and 2001—with the violence of the second intifada—and again with the refusal of an Israeli-only two-state proposal in 2008.

Makdisi is identified as a professor of history. His polemic, however, calls to mind critic Mary McCarthy’s famous charge against writer Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes, including andand the, is a lie.” Rice University would be well advised to scrutinize Makdisi’s scholarship.

Rozenman is Washington director and Kaufman media assistant for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. 

 

My Journey to Zionism

September 12, 2014

1533956_10151944887573935_1284124910_n - Version 2This piece was contributed by CAMERA intern Elisa Greenberg.  Elisa is a senior at Boston University, majoring in marketing. 

I was raised in a Zionistic home by parents who understood the importance of Israel as a Jewish state. Each morning, I would go downstairs for breakfast to find my parents sitting at the table discussing the life of Theador Herzl, Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, among other great leaders. Current affairs in Israel were always a hot topic at home and a newspaper was always within an arm’s reach. At Fuchs Mizrachi School, I was taught Hebrew from an early age and, by the time I reached high school, half of my nine courses were taught in Hebrew. My favorite holiday was always Passover because my family’s tradition has always been to spend it in Israel.

Directly after high school, I spent a year at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. It was a truly amazing experience to understand what it is to live in Israel, rather than simply vacation there. I learned about Israel’s the security concerns firsthand when a bomb was safely detonated by police before my eyes, when I nearly missed being a victim of a bus bombing, when I mourned with the rest of Israel after the Fogel family was brutally slaughtered in their homes after Sabbath sinner on a Friday night. But, through these dangers and tragedies, I witnessed the strength and unity of an entire nation; it was like nothing I had seen before.

After my year spent in Israel, I began my college career at Boston University. I was not prepared for the anti-Israel sentiment I witnessed during my freshman year. One student expressed his hopes for Netanyahu’s assassination to me. I soon recognized that I was no longer in my Zionist bubble and it was crucial that I learn the facts to stand up for Israel.  I decided to participate in Aish HaTorah’s Hasbara Fellowships program. This was an eye-opening experience; I realized there were many other college students experiencing the same anti-Israel sentiments as I was on their college campuses. I was taken to the boarder Israel shares with her neighboring countries (Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan). I heard from speakers, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian, from both sides of the political spectrum. I was introduced to members of the Knesset and to members of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. I was taught how to stand up for Israel on my college campus.

Upon my return from Israel, I was asked to take part in the Investigative Taskforce Against Campus Anti-Semitism. As a research analyst, I researched the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments that occur on college campuses throughout the country. My focus was Boston-area schools. I wrote reports about the personal experiences students are faced with, the student tuition that goes towards inviting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speakers, the violence of anti-Israel student groups on campus, professors who mistreat students based on their relationship with Israel, professors who express biased anti-Israel sentiments in class as fact.

My findings were shocking. I realized that it was up to me to change whatever I could and put the truth out there. I began hosting Sabbath dinners sponsored by Heart 2 Heart for whomever wanted to come. These dinners attracted about 50 people each time- most of whom had never experienced a Sabbath dinner before. I used the opportunity to  discuss current events in Israel and the importance of Israel as a Jewish state. My passion for Israel only grew as I continued to read the biased media coverage that pertains to Israel.

I spent this past summer abroad in London where the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment exploded during Operation Protective Edge. I used my Facebook to fight for Israel in what became a media war. The untruths about Israel that were constantly splattered all over my newsfeed were appalling. I felt as though it was my responsibility to get the truth out there.

I could not stand watching on the sidelines as my friends in the Israeli army were fighting a war against viscous Hamas terrorists so I decided to go to Israel to help however I could.  My goal was simply to buy food and drinks for soldiers and visit the wounded in hospitals. When I went to a lookout with two friends on the boarder with Gaza, Hamas noticed a civilian car pull up and a sniper shot at us three times. After a few minutes, a rocket was launched in our direction and, on our way out of the lookout, another rocket was launched at us. I was a civilian targeted by Hamas. I believe it is important to spread the truth about Israel and her enemies in order to combat much of the mainstream media and make it clear that Israel’s enemies are enemies of all civilized man.

CAMERA Remembers 9/11

September 11, 2014

CAMERA extends our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On the 13th anniversary of these despicable attacks, we remember and mourn for the great losses we all experienced on that day.

May the memories of all those who perished be for an eternal blessing, and may all those in pain find peace and solace.

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EMET Israel at UM a Hit on Campus

September 10, 2014

On September 3, CCAP-supported pro-Israel group, EMET Israel at the University of Miami, hosted a wildly successful Welcome BBQ on campus.  The goal of the event was to increase EMET’s reach on campus, and to spread the word about Israel and EMET’s work.

Samantha Sussmane, a CCAP student with EMET Israel, reported, “The BBQ was an amazing success, and we were able to reach 100 students!”

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The publicity flier for EMET Israel’s Israel-style BBQ

EMET Israel group members publicized for the event by tabling for five hours a day for an entire week before the event, as well as the night of the party.

Their hard work paid off; they were able to increase their registered membership from 45 students to 186! Samantha made sure to tell us, “This would not have been possible without you guys, and a huge thank you is in order. So THANK YOU!!”

The event was such a hit on campus that the campus paper wrote up a blurb about it, which even publicized EMET Israel’s upcoming events.

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The campus paper write-up on EMET Israel’s BBQ

EMET Israel has updated their Facebook page with an album of photos taken at the event.  Check them out below, see the rest at their page, and be sure to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ EMET’s great work!

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This Is What a Zionist Looks Like!

September 9, 2014

CAMERA on Campus’ campaign This Is What a Zionist Looks Like has been gaining major traction on social media.  The campaign, created over the summer by Allies of Israel founder and CAMERA consultant Chloe Simone Valdary, began by using beautiful, iconic images of well-known actors, activists, and musicians who identify (or did, during their lives) as proud Zionists.

In the past few weeks, Chloe has been using photos of regular people as well, combining lovely images of proud Zionists from all over the world with the hashtags #Zionism or #ThisIsWhataZionistLooksLike.

Check out the past two days of the campaign’s images, which feature two CAMERA on Campus alumni, one of whom has been working as a CAMERA on Campus staffer for almost four years!

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CAMERA on Campus’ Editor-in-Chief, Samantha, glows with Zionist pride! Thank you to Joey Phoenix Photography for the photo!

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CAMERA CAP alum and new Oleh, Ari Hoffman, looks great in his new IDF uniform!

CAMERA is so proud to have worked with Chloe to launch this beautiful campaign.  CAMERA students will always be proud of their Zionism, their own unique backgrounds, and their courageous fight on behalf of Jewish self-determination and civil rights.