Incitement Leads to Violence

February 5, 2016

On September 30th 2015, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the PLO, opened his speech to the United Nations General Assembly by ‘raising the alarm’ to the world and giving his version of the facts on the ground regarding the most disputed piece of real estate on Earth. He opened with his position on what is known as the Temple Mount by Westerners, Al Haram Al-Sharif by Muslims, or Har Habayit by Jews.

Abbas Speaking to the UN General Assembly

Abbas Speaking to the UN General Assembly

The fact of the matter is that this man, a terrorist and a tyrant who has held his democratically elected position long after its expiration date, has a point. On the Temple Mount we do find one of the greatest violations of basic human rights with all of the restrictions that are in place. The rights of free speech, expression and religion are obstructed in order to preserve the ‘status quo.’

The status quo leaves the administration of the site to the Waqf. Revered as the holiest site in Judaism as well as being a holy site in Christianity and Islam, the administration allows non Muslims to enter the Temple Mount only a few hours a day, and never on Fridays or Muslim holidays. Additionally, the site is closed for security concerns, resulting mainly from riots during Jewish and Israeli holidays designed to prevent Jewish ascension. Non Muslims may only enter through one of the eleven gates, and are forbidden from practicing any form of religious expression. Despite the numerous Israeli Supreme Court rulings demanding all must be allowed religious freedoms, the status quo on the Temple Mount has not changed.

Western Wall and Temple Mount

Over the past year, Abbas has upped his inflammatory rhetoric in relation to the Temple mount, culminating with his statement in September on official PA TV:

“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”

He then blessed all the blood spilled in Jerusalem in the name of Allah. This was in response to Israeli police forces being forced to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque to blockade Muslim rioters inside. During the UN address he went on to threaten that if Israel continued this use of brutal force, they would turn the conflict from political to religious. Abbas is parading to the world that his peaceful people are being persecuted and their holy places desecrated, and he has been doing so for years. The truth is that Abbas is inciting violence onto his followers by using the places Palestinians deem holy as their main battleground.

Palestinian Youth

Palestinian Youth

This incitement has led to the violent uprising we are seeing today. However, it is not the first time brainwashing has led to violence among Palestinians. In 2000, the Second Intifada was sparked as a result of similar claims that the Jews were trying to take over the Temple Mount. As a direct result of Abbas’ incitement before and throughout the Second Intifada (from September 2000-2005), 1137 Israelis, 887 of whom were civilians, were killed in attacks. An additional 8,341 Israelis were wounded during this period. Unfortunately, the figures of the past four months are just as upsetting. As of February 2nd, this new wave of terrorism resulted in 30 Israeli civilians being killed and over 300 wounded. There have been 115 stabbings, 40 shootings, and 23 vehicular attacks. Sadly with attacks occurring nearly every day, these stats will have already increased by the time this piece was published.

These tragedies have taken place because the incitement on the side of Palestinian leadership has increased and has not been condemned strongly enough. The world must open its eyes and seek to understand what Israel and her people are dealing with. Abbas is not a partner for a peace, but rather a sneak who deceivingly states his dedication to pursuing diplomacy, while clearly demonstrating the opposite.

Contributed by Yeshiva University CAMERA fellow, Michael Osborne.

Israeli Diversity on El Al

February 4, 2016

For many, the first visit to Israel is a memorable one, filled with all the new sights, sounds, and smells accompanied with an encounter with an exotic Middle Eastern environment. Coming from the United States or elsewhere, the trip to Israel ordinarily comprises a transatlantic flight which many choose to take on Israel’s flag carrying airline, El Al. Since the its founding in 1948, the airline has been the gateway for millions to Israel and all the country has to offer. Understanding the airline’s significance for connecting the world to Israel, Bearcats for Israel was fortunate to host a group of diverse El Al crew members at Binghamton University this past week who shared Israel’s beauty through their work for what is considered by many to be the world’s most secure airline.

The five flight attendants who visited campus came as part of the El Al Ambassadors program, an initiative in which El Al personnel choose to spend their time between flights sharing their stories at venues throughout the world in order to give a personal face to their country. The evening, organized as panel, began with an introduction of each of the visiting crew members including their family background. The diversity of these individuals and the various ways their families came to live in Israel echoed the equally diverse nature of the country’s society and its history of absorbing refugees.

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With families hailing from South America, Europe, and the Arab Middle East as well as those with deep roots in Israel well before the founding of the state, the assorted countries of origin stress the importance of Israel as place of refuge for Jews faced with persecution on a global scale. From members of the Persian community who found safety in Israel following the events of the 1979 Iranian Revolution to Polish refugees fleeing the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, the stories shared of the attendants’ family history stress Israel’s significance as a safe haven, welcoming Jews fleeing danger no matter the circumstances.

Faced with an incessant wave of terror since September targeting Israeli civilians, Israelis have shown resounding strength unwilling to be deterred. Asked by students about life under these current circumstances, the El Al staff gave over a powerful picture of what the terror has meant for the average Israeli. Though the attendants agreed that there is an overall heightened sense of alertness, their routines and those of residents throughout the country have remained consistent throughout the ordeal. The El Al employees emphasized the importance of the Israeli spirit in this matter which refuses to be fearful and empower those who choose violence as their tool for change. Despite all that is going on, the panelists could not imagine living anywhere else, commenting on the greater sense of security felt in Israel than during their time abroad.El-Al-Airline-Flights-to-Israel-are-Direct-Non-stop-and-Serve-48-Destinations-Worldwide

As the party responsible for bringing the vast majority of people to Israel, the experiences shared by the visiting El Al attendants reflect the country’s untold story behind the headlines. Incidents ranging from tearful flights reuniting Jewish immigrants with their new home to the pilot who turned around a taxiing airplane so that a child with cancer who had forgotten her passport could take a much-needed vacation highlight the true face of Israel often ignored by the media, a state of caring and compassionate people who, through the help of El Al, have returned to their ancestral homeland after a two-thousand-year exile.

Contributed by Binghamton University CAMERA fellow, Joshua Seed.

Israel’s Global Affairs Inaccurately Depicted

February 3, 2016

In his article, “Israel’s treatment of African refugees reveals racism,” Jose Sanchez asks if black lives matter in Israel. As someone who has spent over two months in Israel total, I can answer his question in capital letters: YES, black lives do matter in Israel. Israel is a multiethnic, multi-religious democratic state where people of different religions and racial backgrounds hold important positions in the government, court system and military. Israel’s minorities may face disadvantages, but laws are meant to eradicate — not establish — these problems. Israel has a multiparty system, and elections that are open and unimpeded, which was unheard of in the Middle East until Israel’s creation.

Sanchez holds Israel against a double standard when referring to its border control policies. He creates an impression that Israel’s borders should not exist. When someone crosses the border of a country that is recognizably hostile — such as Sudan and Somalia — it is highly irresponsible for authorities to not check who is entering the country. Israel is obligated to protect its civilians from possible terrorists and criminals. Those who do not pose a threat to Israel are given permission to live and work in Israel. It hasn’t been easy for the refugees to integrate or find work, but Israeli charities, churches, synagogues, legal and medical aid organization and the Tel Aviv municipality has provided a lot of support.

Sudanese refugees in the Egyptian border (Photo: Meir Azulay)

Sudanese refugees in the Egyptian border (Photo: Meir Azulay)

Israel has been sharing with African countries their knowledge and technology in utilization of water management, solar power and medicine. Thousands of specialists from African countries have been trained in Israel. Since the conflict in Syria started, Israel treated thousands of Syrian refugees in their hospitals. Through these services, which first began with setting up field hospitals along the border of Syria, Israel was the first country to address the problem of Syrian refugees through humanitarian aid. IsraAID, an organization committed to providing life-saving disaster relief and long-term support, has saved thousands of lives in many countries including Nepal and South Sudan. IsraAID and other Israeli organizations have saved and treated thousands of Syrian refugees as they escape Syria through the Mediterranean, stopping their boats from capsizing, providing food, water, medical care and psychological counseling on site. The Israelis treating them were from both Israeli Jewish and Arab background, working together to save lives.

Tali Shaltiel, an Israeli physician, taking a Syrian child from a dinghy that arrived at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. (Boaz Arad/IsraAID)

Tali Shaltiel, an Israeli physician, taking a Syrian child from a dinghy that arrived at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. (Boaz Arad/IsraAID)

Sanchez’s total analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict is riddled with inaccurate information. After Israel came out victorious against a deadly war aimed at ending the fragile country, Israel agreed to withdraw from most of the territory captured from Jordan in 1967 and Egypt, for peace. However, Palestinian terrorist attacks yet again broke a peace treaty, forcing Israeli forces to set up checkpoints so as to protect Israelis. Unlike with Sinai, which was demilitarized and guaranteed Israel security by Egyptian leaders, the leaders of the Palestinians in Ramallah and Gaza are responsible for continuing the conflict by sending rockets from Gaza onto Israeli homes since 2001 and inciting and endorsing their people to murder Israelis by all means possible, including using their cars, guns, knives and boulders, instilling terror in all of Israel.

Sanchez is trying his best to explain away the Palestinian’s terrorism. Any rational person sincerely concerned about human rights, peace and safety for all should find this deeply concerning.

Contributed by Rutgers University CAMERA fellow, Deborah Shamilov.

Originally published in The Daily Targum.

Indiana Representatives Say No to Discrimination

February 2, 2016

On January 26th, Indiana’s House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill banning state transactions with entities that boycott Israel. The bill asserts that the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel is “antithetical and deeply damaging to the cause of peace, justice, equality, democracy and human rights for all people in the Middle East.”

The Indiana House of Representatives. (CC BY SA 3.0 Charles Edward/Wikipedia)

The Indiana House of Representatives. (CC BY SA 3.0 Charles Edward/Wikipedia)

Indiana is not the first state to pass a law of this nature, and it is a great step in the right direction. Within the bill, the businesses that it refers to include commercial enterprises and non-profit organizations. Ultimately what this means is that once the law is officially passed, it would apply to all universities throughout the state of Indiana. As is common knowledge, the BDS movement focuses most of its efforts on campuses, targeting university students and other impressionable young adults.

Many CAMERA on Campus fellows and interns have felt the direct effects of the BDS movement and the violence that ensues. The efforts of Indiana government officials to pass this bill are greatly appreciated by students who feel threatened by BDS supporters.

BDS

If the state Senate approves the bill, Governor Mike Pence (R), who is known for his pro-Israel stance while in Congress, is expected to sign it as well. The ongoing fight against boycotters of Israel is often gruelling. As students on campus, witnessing the passing of major pieces of legislation in support of Israel (e.g., here and here), against division and hatred, makes our resolve and commitment to countering BDS stronger.

Thank you to each Indiana representatives! Your support is tremendously appreciated.

Contributed by Bar Ilan University CAMERA Intern Jasmine Esulin.

Liberal Universities: The Heart of Intolerance

February 1, 2016

 

joelle Reid cameraoncampus blogI go to a liberal university. A university where in the post modern world, no statement is left unquestioned. Where nothing is fact, but merely a social construction. Reality is disputed to the extent that there is no actualization of concepts, they are simply all conceptions, built up by society

Simply asking to be directed to the ladies’ toilets seemingly is becoming the latest social crime, as at King’s, we pride ourselves on gender neutral bathrooms around all campuses; the term gender is seen as a fallacy in itself. I’m not condemning our uber-liberal outlook, on the contrary, having endless theories of the outlook of life with commitment to toleration and free speech, only enriches and broadens our previously theory-laden and apparently narrow minded education. This is the only time in our life we are encouraged to doubt all our pre-conceived thoughts and criticise anything we come across. But how liberal should a liberal university be? As one of the most famous liberals J.S. Mill said, a liberal society should be tolerant of all those who are tolerant, and therefore be intolerant towards the intolerant.

Last week, on January 20, 2016, King’s university students faced not only the intolerant but also the savage. The Israel society together with interested students, were bombarded by violent protesters bashing and breaking windows, setting off the fire alarm, chanting aggressively and physically abusing those present. All this for the simple reason of listening to a talk promoting peace by Ami Ayalon, the former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service. Again, I am a firm believer of freedom of speech and debate, but in this case where multiple police cars had to be called in, and students had to be evacuated through a back door, we need to pull up our liberal barriers. When freedom of speech disturbs and attempts to censor other’s rights to a voice, this is where we need to put a stop to it. Ironically, these protesters were demanding that the members of the Israel society were fascist, when their sole aim was to repress speech and plurality at the university through coercion and intimidation.

Image of Kings Collge London Palestinian Flag

As an outsider at the event (as the room was already full to capacity by the time my friends and I arrived to attend the event) watching the monstrous scene take place on the opposite side of the street , reminding myself that I am a student at this university, I was disgusted. How could society listen to the views of a group that intimidates other students regardless of their views? How could a group use such violent methods and still gain credibility and legitimacy in an establishment like a university?

But most importantly, what should the Israel community do? Is it even safe to bring another speaker to campus? If this is what happens when a pro-peace, pro-discussion speaker is invited, I just wonder what would happen to someone slightly more controversial. Next thing we know, extremist groups with a certain amount of credibility will be able to ban other societies from functioning. They’ll protest that we express views which threaten the liberal outlook of the university, exposing students to vile fascist propaganda. This would be a real threat to the culture of free speech. So far they have not threatened us with this, but the institutions need to bear in mind the real watchword of liberalism. Intolerance is something that should not be tolerated. we’ll be banned from having any student society.

Contributed by Kings College London CAMERA Fellow, Joelle Reid.

USF: The Story that Should Have Been Told

January 28, 2016

For those of you who have been following the recent vote on boycotting Israel at the University of South Florida, you will be happy to know that though the decision to boycott originally passed, it has now been vetoed by Student Body President Andy Rodriguez and Vice President Michael Malanga. We aren’t out of the woods just yet as there could be plans by SJP (Students for Justice Palestine) to present the resolution to Senate again.

Below is an article by CAMERA Fellow Jesse Davidson that should have been shared in October when the ugly harassment of SJP members occurred. This example will shed light on the supposed human rights activists who use intimidation and censorship to further their cause.

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The Hallmark of Jewish identity, both physical and spiritual, is the land of Israel. The world over, generations of Jews feel religiously, ethnically, and culturally compelled to pay homage to the land that has hosted their Hebrew ancestors for thousands of years. Taglit-Birthright, a free 10-day trip to Israel for Jewish men and women aged 18-25 is the medium to make their pilgrimage to the holy land possible. To the Jewish community, no program is so important, as one that escorts blossoming minds to their ancestral homeland, so that they may fully realize the significance of their Jewish Identity.

It is well documented that on college campuses, that this subject of Israel is met with hostility.  The subject elicits more rage and indignation than any other nation. Even more sadistic than the intent of those that envision an Israel that ceases to exist, are those that wish to designate all Jewish life  as open to demonization in the same manner that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is slandered.

During my collegiate experience, I have come to see the anti-Israel movement on campus become increasingly aggressive and obsessed with targeting the Jewish community on campus alongside the nation of Israel. This ugly head of anti-Semitism reared itself on my campus just two short weeks ago (October 13th). While stationed at the Birthright table to register students for a winter trip to Israel, the USF Hillel staff member was aggressively confronted by a student. The student demanded that it be answered why she could not travel to Israel. After realizing the staff could not be solicited into a heated argument, the student retreated towards the rest of the Students for Justice in Palestine cadre holding signs that read, “I’m from Tampa, Florida. Israel would pay me to move to their land… if I was Jewish,” and, “I’m from Palestine and I can’t return to my land because I’m not Jewish.

After witnessing several students departing, leaving only one member to staff the table, the protesters proceeded to advance on the table and form a barrier with their bodies to prevent students from approaching the table. When the staff asked the group to leave, they began to berate and goat her into arguing with them. Screaming their accusations, the protesters demanded to know why the trip only catered to Jewish students.

Later posted on their Facebook page, the protesters attempted to exonerate their actions with an equation to confronting the Israeli occupation and supposed human rights abuses on Palestinians. Their actions prove that there is no perceived difference between a deeply complicated conflict and Jewish existence.

This is discrimination. Specifically, the focus on the Jewish Student Center and the way these students blocked the freedom to speak, express their views, and educate students about Jewish culture is clear-cut anti-Semitism. Instead of highlighting the vast bevy of human rights abuses in the Middle East, or even last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel, they confronted the table to address their paranoid notions of supposed Jewish privileges that they were deprived of.

The anti-Israel movements perception of no distinguishable difference between demonization of Israel  and demonization of pillars of Jewish existence is what makes the Birthright program fair game in the eyes of this group. When faced with this accusation of racism, their immediate defense is the facade of fighting against Israel’s policies or against Zionism. If all this constitutes is a righteous fight against Israeli oppression; why are Jews always in the cross hairs?

Contributed by University of South Florida CAMERA Fellow, Jesse Davidson.

Druze Delegation at NYU

January 27, 2016

On November 2nd, 2015,  New York University’s Emet for Israel supported group, Realize Israel,  hosted a delegation of Druze leaders from Israel.

The Israeli Druze Alliance brought a group of IDF soldiers of Druze descent and other leaders in the community to NYU in order to speak with students about what it’s like to be a part of the minority population of Druze in Israel. They spoke about their experiences in the IDF, why they support Israel, and much more. It was a unique opportunity provided to the NYU students to learn about an incredible minority living in Israel and how they contribute to the thriving Jewish state. It was also fascinating for the students to learn about the concept of the Druze religion and its secrecy.
Based on student accounts following the event, it is clear that they grasped the significance of this specific demographic group in Israeli society. Attendees learned that Druze-Arabs have a strong sense of loyalty to the country in which they reside, and they saw how this translates on a practical level in their lives. Some students may have even been pleasantly surprised to hear of the many Druze soldiers who take on high-ranking positions in the IDF. The event proved to be an eyeopening experience for the students, and through it they were able to gain a better understanding of how nuanced and diverse both Israeli society and its army truly are.

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Letter to the Editor: ‘This resolution does not contribute to the peace process at all…’

January 26, 2016

I am a senator, one of 60 voted into the positions by the student body. It is in honor of this faith that I stood in opposition to the divestment resolution this past week. To be clear, I am all for a socially just investment policy. Our great school and Student Government have the resources, and reach to give opportunity and inspiration to so many just causes, and they effect positive change in choosing where our money is invested.

The resolution (presented at Tuesday’s Senate meeting) holds Israel totally responsible for the every day (trajedies) suffered by the Palestinians. It does not mention Hamas or the Palestinian Authority even once, the governments in control of the disputed territories that oppresses its people and uses the $400 billion it has received in aid to wage war and line the pockets of its administration and advocates.

Senate is supposed to be a place of deliberation. What took place was the entertainment of misinformation and an angry diatribe, rather than balanced dialogue. The presentation made many people in the room uncomfortable because the choice of rhetoric was inciting and offensive, and none of the more than 50 students who came in opposition to the resolution could answer such charges.

Israel is not an Apartheid state, as her Arab and Jewish citizens alike enjoy full freedoms and rights. This slur dishonors those who lived and fought against the real apartheid South African regime. Israel is not an Imperialist colonizer, as the disputed territory was won in the (Six Day War) war (of 1967) and much has been given up in the hopes of a lasting peace treaty. No side is innocent in this. But if we are going to make a statement against a side in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it needs to be one that emphasizes the need for peace, shared bonds and opportunity, and dialogue.

The Florida Senate recently passed (Senate Bill) 86, an anti-discrimination bill that serves to strengthen the American-Israeli Relationship and weaken the tide of discrimination and double standards that are hurled at Israel.

My constituents include Bulls of every race, religion and personality. We are sworn by oath as members of Student Government that we must maintain viewpoint neutrality, not to let our obligations to one particular group or our personal affairs interfere with serving the entire communities interests. Regardless of your stance, we can all agree that peace and a stop to the hate and violence would be the preferred ending to all the conflict.

This resolution does not contribute to the peace process at all. It decreases the quality of life for the very people it claims to advocate for, and does not reflect the views of many students and the policies of our state and federal government. It works against globalization and shared opportunity, strong pillars of our University.

The administration has once more declared it will not entertain such a notion again, and for good reason. They will not go against state policy, and they will not approve a policy change that makes USF an environment where it is unsafe to foster ideas and discussion. So why would I?

Contributed by University of South Florida CAMERA Fellow, Jesse Davidson, and was originally published in The Oracle.

When Terror Strikes and the Response is Silence

January 25, 2016

After the horrific murder of Dafna Meir on Sunday, January 17, 2016, there was widespread condemnation by most pro-Israel groups. When one claims to be “pro-Israel,” it is expected that when an Israeli mother is stabbed to death in front of her six children, a critique of such an attack would ensue.

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Dafna Meir, who was killed in an attack in her Otniel home on January 17, 2016 (screen shot)

On the exact day of Dafna’s death, however, J Street U’s newly appointed President, Amna Farooqi, published an article on Haaretz about intersectionality within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She went on to discuss human rights issues currently affecting the American political atmosphere, and how movements for social justice must begin to work together. She claims, “only a genuine commitment to supporting social justice can win the respect of progressive groups the pro-Israel community wants to partner with. Demonstrating that commitment doesn’t just mean joining in battles against injustice here in the United States. Many progressive movements see Israel’s occupation as related to the same injustices they are fighting in their own communities. We must take their concerns seriously. ”

Although it is admirable to help human rights organizations in their pursuits toward equality, focusing solely on occupation when terrorism is afflicting Israeli civilians daily is another major injustice. If the president of J Street, who is very active on social media and constantly calls her group “pro-Israel,” fails to condemn Palestinian terrorism, it is safe to say that this group cannot call itself pro-Israel.

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J Street U logo

What’s most interesting is that Dafna’s family, who is currently mourning, made a statement that they refuse to give in to hatred. Natan Meir, Dafna’s husband, even said that his long-time Palestinian friend, who’s actually a relative of the killer, paid a shiva call. This approach proves that the Meir family is truly committed to maintaining the Jewish and democratic nature of the state, which is what it means to be pro-Israel.

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Renana and Natan Meir (Channel 2 screenshot)

It’s true that to be pro-Israel one must be able to criticize it truthfully, but it is vital to also provide comfort when Israeli citizens are unjustly killed in their homes. Rather than publishing an article about BDS and fighting social injustice on the exact day Dafna was stabbed, Farooqi should have proven her support for Israel with a genuine condemnation of the attack. This would have been a way to actively fight injustice. Through J Street U’s President’s chilling silent response, it is clear that the group’s main goals are to highlight Palestinian struggles, rather than focusing on both sides and showing that Israelis along with Palestinians are suffering as a result of Palestinian extremism and incitement.

This was written by Bar Ilan University CAMERA Intern Jasmine Esulin.

Neil Lazarus Visits Queens College

January 22, 2016

Neil Lazarus came to speak at Queens College on October 28, 2015 about current events in the Middle East.

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Lazarus gave a lecture to members of Emet for Israel supported group Queens College’s Israel Student Association for about an hour throughout which he discussed the conflict and issues Israel is facing now. This event was intended to be educational and board members hoped to give students a better and deeper understanding of Middle Eastern affairs.

StandWithUs and the ZOA were sponsors of this event in addition to CAMERA.

Neil Lazarus was definitely a great resource to provide them with such a clear perspective on the matters at hand. Students expressed that they enjoyed Neil’s wit and easy-to-understand breakdown of current events in the region. He also brought great visual aids that really helped unravel the nuanced and complex situation. Toward the end, Lazarus was very open to questions, which created a comfortable atmosphere for the attendees and clarified many of the common misconceptions regarding Israel.

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Afterward, pizza was served and this gave students the opportunity to interact with one another and talk about the lecture. Once members and other students really understood the topic and had enough confidence to bring up these issue with their peers, only then would they be able to properly advocate for the club and its goals. Board members are ecstatic that this is the case, and are looking forward to the group’s growth and effectiveness on campus in the near future.

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Since the lecture, the clubs has received many new “LIKES” on Facebook and messages from members reaching out about ideas for events. QCISA has also been working on more cooperative events with other clubs to help gain more recognition. Everyone is looking forward to other events on campus that will strengthen their ability to advocate for Israel.