Bastardized Justice in the Middle East

April 14, 2014

Contributed by Elliot Hamilton, a Liaison for our CCAP group Claremont Students for Israel. This piece was originally published on April 11th in The Student Life.

Last semester, following the publication of my Nov. 15, 2013 article, “We Must Take Ownership of Our Own Humanity,” addressing dialogue on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, I waited patiently for someone to approach me to discuss the complexities of the conflict in a respectful setting. Five months later, no one from the other side of the aisle has approached me directly, but I have seen an influx of articles about the conflict in campus publications. To my surprise, and great satisfaction, it has resulted in the start of a dialogue between individuals who write from both sides of the issue.

CAMERA staff meets with Elliot Hamilton and Ellie Rudee,(our 2013-2014 Fellow).  Left to right: Gilad, Elliot, Ellie, Samantha.

CAMERA staff meets with Elliot Hamilton and Ellie Rudee,(our 2013-2014 Fellow).
Left to right: Gilad, Elliot, Ellie, Samantha.

In its first issue of this semester, TSL published two articles focusing on the American Studies Association’s (ASA) boycott of Israel and the reasons Pomona College and the rest of the Claremont consortium should embrace the boycott’s rationale. A month later, the Claremont Independent released a critique of a column written by Matt Dahl PO ’17 in support of the boycott. The critique pointed out the double standard therein: The boycott criticizes Israel, but fails to mention atrocious violations of human rights by other states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria.

Most recently, the April 4 issue of TSL included a response to the Independent’s article written by a columnist from my hometown. What is rather ironic about this coincidence is that our hometown of Newton, Mass., was recently in the news because of allegations that public school teachers had purposefully omitted key aspects of the Hamas charter that highlighted its intent to destroy the Jewish state. This was a move that raised eyebrows in a predominantly Jewish city outside of Boston.

Claremont for israel

In a similar way, this columnist had also omitted some key variables in his defense of the ASA boycott, ones that I believe should be mentioned. Having been to Israel and the West Bank, I can make a solid case for why it is problematic to delegitimize Israel while refusing to acknowledge the Palestinian Authority’s laundry list of problems.

First and foremost, Israel is not perfect. No country has a blank track record when it comes to social problems and international conflicts. The Israeli-Arab conflict is more than 60 years old, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on since 1964, and each side has been guilty of crimes against the other.

That being said, it is rather unfortunate that nobody in the consortium likes to talk about the crimes committed against Israelis by the Palestinians. For example, nobody likes to talk about the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s numerous hijackings of planes carrying Israeli citizens, which led to the Entebbe raid that killed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s older brother in 1976.

In addition, the consortium does not discuss the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip following Israel’s disengagement from the region in 2005, and how Israeli kindergartners are being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at a rate of almost 74 percent as a result.

And on top of that, nobody likes to mention the fact that key figures in the Palestinian solidarity movement and the Palestinian faction governments do not wish to have peace with the Jewish state.

Let’s start with Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which the ASA boycott is a part. In an interview with the Electronic Intifada, he was quoted saying, “I am completely and categorically against bi-nationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land and therefore, we have to accommodate both national rights.”

This is not a man with peaceful ambitions to create two states for two peoples; this is a man who would rather eliminate the Israeli narrative entirely. It is illogical to claim that supporting BDS is essential for protecting free speech when its outspoken leader does not support the right for the Israeli narrative to exist. Considering that we once had prominent Israelis like Shimon Peres, Yitzchak Rabin, and Netanyahu who accepted the Palestinian narrative as legitimate, we must ask the question: Which party is more willing to coexist in the region?

Finally, I wish to address the statements of Abbas Zaki, a senior official in Fatah and close friend of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. A month ago, following Netanyahu’s address regarding the Iranian weapons shipment that the Israeli Defense Forces thwarted, Zaki discussed the situation on the PA’s national television. At one point during the broadcast, Zaki stated, “I believe that Allah will gather them so we can kill them.”

While it seems that the media and many politicians place blame on Israel for the fading peace talks, very few noticeable figures have called out Zaki for this disturbing statement about killing Israelis. I am not saying that individual Israelis have not made similar remarks about the Palestinians, but rather that it is worrying that a prominent Palestinian politician can go on record with this kind of commentary and have no one hold him responsible. I have to wonder how committed the Palestinian governments are to the idea of establishing a true, lasting peace with Israel. If conspicuous figures such as Barghouti and Zaki cannot be held responsible for their war cries, then the existence of an anti-Israel double standard cannot be ignored.

Therefore, I encourage members of the Claremont consortium to really consider what we’re putting in jeopardy when we consider policies like the ASA boycott. What are the true intentions of such movements? Are there other nations that are undergoing similar scrutiny? Are such movements beneficial to the goals we seek to accomplish?

In my opinion, the BDS movement, including the ASA boycott, is a bastardization of the concept of social justice. Unlike my fellow Newton native, I firmly believe that both Israelis and Palestinians should be held to the same standard. We cannot have a fair peace without treating both sides equally.

Elliott Hamilton PZ ’15 is majoring in economics. He is an executive board member of Claremont Students for Israel, and is the campus activist project liaison for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Double Standard and Hypocrisy in Action at Brandeis University

April 11, 2014

Facing growing pressure from their faculty members, Muslim student groups and outside opposition, Brandeis University is rescinding its decision to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist and critic of Islam because they were “unable to overlook her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

Aayan Hirsi Ali at the annual CAMERA gala in NYC.

Aayan Hirsi Ali at the annual CAMERA gala in NYC.

The Somali-born activist’s work has focused on exposing the barbaric mistreatment of women under Islamic law.  Known for her criticism of the ties between violence and fundamentalist Islam, she has advocated against the practice of female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honor killings, and is outspoken on issues of the refugee status of Muslim women in the West who have fled abusive patriarchal, political and social situations.

Brandeis, historically a Jewish university, has always been predicated upon the idea of free and open discourse. In fact, past commencement speakers and honorees have included playwright Tony Kushner and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, both of whom are known for making anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements.

Recent comments from Daniel Mael, a student at Brandeis and CAMERA contributor, reflect those of many who are dismayed by the University’s double standard and who feel that the University’s actions highlight the narrow view and shallow commitment to ‘justice’ at Brandeis. “I am appalled by the hypocrisy of the University administration and their inability to distinguish between Hirsi Ali’s view on Islam and her efforts in this world,” he says.  “She was not being honored for her views on Islam, but for her commitment to women’s rights and real justice.”

The real issue here is not that Hirsi Ali’s honor was rescinded unfairly, or even why, but more importantly, we should ask why Brandeis officials don’t feel that her work to improve the lives of others doesn’t reflect the core values of the University.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali established the AHA Foundation in 2007, in response to the ongoing abuses of women’s rights. Her organization is dedicated to protecting and defending the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture.

Read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s response or see her interviewed on Fox News.

Contributed by CAMERA intern Nikki Teperman.

Uplifiting Dinner at Laurentian University

April 10, 2014

On February 28, an off-campus event targeted at student leaders at Laurentian University, students prepared for the imminent Israel Apartheid Week. Over twenty students participated to encourage a sense of community and social cohesion. Students enjoyed both the social experience as well as the food, talking about the event afterwards. The event attracted students from many different academic backgrounds, such as sociology, political science, but also from more math and science related fields, such as computer science and the sciences. Because the event attracted student leaders, those student leaders were able to mobilize and counter Israel Apartheid Week activities at the Laurentian campus.

LaurentianShab

 Contributed by CAMERA intern Eli Cohn.

Queer Concordia Bows to Anti-Israel Pressure

April 9, 2014

This piece was originally published in The Concordian on April 8th 2014. Our CAMERA Fellow at Concordia Michelle Soicher organized the event:

It was meant to be non-political snapshot of Israel’s sexual minorities for the purpose of fostering dialogue and widening viewpoints. Yet the documentary ‘Out in Israel’, hosted by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and featuring noted speaker and activist Jayson Littman, instead caused protests and a last-minute pull-out by sponsor Queer Concordia.

People take part at the annual Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv

“As soon as the event went live [on Facebook], people went nuts. There were really inflammatory posts, there were accusations of pinkwashing, and very very quickly the topic shifted from LGBTQ rights to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict,” said CAMERA fellow, Concordia student, and event organizer, Michelle Soicher.

Pinkwashing is a term that refers to when a corporate entity or state brings attention to its LGBTQ-friendly policy for the purpose of drawing attention away from other abuses. In the past, Israel has been accused of pinkwashing to distract from its track record with Palestinian human rights. Littman, an activist in both Jewish and gay communities and a worker with the organization A Wider Bridge, was on hand to speak of pinkwashing and Israeli LGBTQ experiences in general.

The pressure caused Queer Concordia, invited to co-sponsor the event as it touched upon issues of interest to its membership, to pull out.

Concordia's mascot.

Concordia’s mascot.

The event carried on as scheduled only to be intruded on physically by a small group of very vocal protesters, allegedly claiming to be affiliated with Queers against Apartheid, a group in solidarity with Palestine. For some half hour or so, the dozen or so individuals chanted and protested before leaving.

“What I expected was a bunch of people with contrasting views. I expected a great Q&A,” Soicher said in reaction to the disruption, clearly disappointed with the protesters who hadn’t stayed for the event and left as swiftly as they came.

Though Soicher insisted the event wasn’t political, she did have an opinion on pinkwashing.

“The LGBTQ rights in Israel are the results of LGBTQ fighting for them. They weren’t handed to [them] — you can’t create a culture of tolerance to distract from something else. As Jayson [said] it, Israel sells itself as LGBT friendly for tourism [purposes] and nobody is distracted from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

When reached for comment, Queer Concordia reiterated the negative reaction to the event was behind their cancellation.

“After discussing the situation as a board and considering the feedback we received from other on-campus organizations we work closely with, we decided participating in this event would not be a good representation of our organization,” said Queer Concordia Communication Coordinator Emmett Anderson. Other QC members were unable for comment.

Despite the negative attention, Soicher said it is important to have such conversations, regardless of their sensitive nature, in an effort to give depth to what she calls “a very complicated, long-standing conflict.”

“I think Concordia students owe it to themselves and owe it to the student body to have two sides — at least — of what’s going on.”

The Concordian attempted to reach Queers against Apartheid but received no response.

CAMERA’s Annual Gala

April 8, 2014

This past Sunday night was CAMERA’s annual dinner in New York City. Read about our dinner last year and our student award winners! This year CAMERA supporters and students from across the country came to show their support for CAMERA. More to come!

Justin Hayet

Our CAMERA Campus staff with Justin and Melissa from SUNY Binghamton.

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CAMERA staff at the dinner.

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Students Kayla of San Francisco State University, Chloe of the University of New Orleans, and Rivka of Boston University, at our gala.

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On the way to our gala, CAMERA’s Gilad Skolnick stops by CAMERA’s New York Times billboard on 40th and 8th Ave. Read more here: http://www.camera.org/nytimes/

Apply now to be a CAMERA Fellow

April 3, 2014

Apply now to be a CAMERA Fellow for the 2014-2015 academic year! Applications are due soon. CAMERA Fellows are asked to put on 3 educational events about Israel and write 3 op-eds, get a generous stipend, free travel with us to Israel, and get to go to our all expense paid Boston student conference in August! Check out the short video below to learn a bit more about our conference:

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Extremist Ali Abunimah Speaks at Haverford and Bryn Mawr

April 2, 2014

The following is a letter by our CCAP group at Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which was distributed prior to the event in an effort to raise awareness of the extremist and anti-Semitic speaker who was coming to campus. The event with the radical anti-Israel writer Ali Abunimah attracted about 50 people. 

Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada.

Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada.

We, writing on behalf of numerous students at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges condemn the blatant and vitriolic bigotry, intolerance, and anti-Semitism of Ali Abunimah in the highest terms. Mr. Abunimah is not only extremely anti-Israeli, he is clearly anti-Semitic:

Abuminah has compared Israel to Nazi Germany numerous times, something that the United States Department of State, in its “Report on Global Anti-Semitism,” declared anti-Semitic in no uncertain terms. He has stated “Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit,”[1] and has referred to the Israeli press as “Der Sturmer.”[2] He has even gone so far as to compare Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, to “Death Squads.”[3] This false and painful accusation has absolutely no basis in historical reality, and instead only seeks to hurt Jews by comparing them to their most horrific oppressors.

Abunimah has publicly tweeted for a Third Intifada: “Isn’t it the time for a popular Palestinian revolution in the form of a third intifada?”[4], and then linked an essay that called for a third violent intifada. In the Second Intifada, over 800 Israeli civilians were killed, while over 5,000 were seriously injured in terrorist attacks specifically targeting noncombatant and civilian locales, such as cafes, movie theaters, restaurants, and in one of the most deadly attacks, a Passover Seder. As students at Haverford we cannot feel safe when a speaker on campus advocates such senseless violence.

Abuminah has admitted, that in his “One State Solution,” “we couldn’t rule out some disastrous situation [for the Jews].”[5] It is obvious that he cares little for the lives of Jews, or the sanctity of human life in general. The Hamas Charter calls for the mass murder of Jews, yet Abunimah calls the victory of Hamas a “vote for clarity.”[6] In fact, every Palestinian leader from Mahmoud Abbas to Ismael Haniyeh, has repeatedly promised that a future Palestinian state would be completely Jew free. His plan is not only impossible, it is dangerous and potentially disastrous.

Abunimah has declared that Palestinians have the right to self determination, yet in the same article denied that right to Jews who do not submit to Palestinian rule.[7] He denies Jews a fundamental right of all people, one that he himself holds sacrosanct. This double-standard is morally reprehensible and logically unsound.

Abuminah has publicly defended Hamas’ abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and maintained that during his captivity, Shalit should not have had contact with the Red Cross or any other international organization in blatant defiance of international law.

Abuminah has branded Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and President Salam Fayyad, as well as any Palestinian who engages in peace talks “collaborators[8],” knowing full well that the penalty for “collaboration” in both Hamas and Fatah ruled Palestine, is death. He calls for the alienation of those who engage in peace talks, in opposition to everything we stand for as an institution.

What can the Haverford Community possible hope to learn from a man who has condemned those who engage in meaningful dialogue?

We ask you to consider whether or not it is appropriate for Haverford to welcome this man to our campus.

Questions? Email concernedbicostudents@gmail.com

A tweet from Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada, regarding this letter.Above: A tweet from Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, regarding this letter.
To learn more about Ali Abunimah go to cameraoncampus.org/campus-figures/ali-abunimah


[5]    “Q and A with Alu Abuminah: BDS Conference (4:43)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAPQLXInwMs&NR=1

[6]    “Hamas Election Victory: A Vote for Clarity”, January 26, 2006 http://electronicintifada.net/content/hamas-election-victory-vote-clarity/5847

[7]    “Reclaiming Self-Determination,” May 21, 2010 http://al-shabaka.org/policy-brief/politics/reclaiming-self-determination?page=3

[8]    “Why Israel won’t Survive,” January 19, 2009, http://electronicintifada.net/content/why-israel-wont-survive/7999

Declare Your Freedom in Florida!

April 1, 2014

Following the success of the Declare Your Freedom event held last year in New Orleans, organized by our CCAP groups at the University of New Orleans and Tulane University, our CCAP students at UCF started planning their own Declare Your Freedom festival.

This coming Sunday, Knights for Israel will be declaring their freedom, and CAMERA is a proud sponsor! Scroll down below to see their amazing flier below and promotional video of their preparation for the event:

Check out what they have to say: The Declare Your Freedom Israel Festival is the first of its kind to be brought to UCF. DYF is a pro-Israel festival that is looking to represent the solidarity between America and Israel and the connection made between the similar values these two nations share. This year will be the DYF inaugural year, so let’s get the show on the road.

This is the *OFFICIAL* AFTER PARTY of the 2014 FAU Future Leaders for Israel (FLI) Conference, which will include music, fun activities, performers, speakers and lots of food! Event will be held at the UCF MEMORY MALL!! Be there!

Performers include:
*Nosson Zand
*Ari Lesser
*Pep Love
*Shi 360
*Soul J

Speakers include:
*Elad Seker
*Simon Deng
*Jewish Deaf Rabbi Yehoshua Soudakoff

DJ and audio from Xtreme productions

Our friendships of other organizations participating include (but are not limited to)

ASL Club @ UCF : American Sign Language Club
UCF BAGELS+ : Bi Allied Gay Exploring Lesbian Students +
UCF Hillel
Chabad at UCF
CUFI at UCF : Christians United for Israel
Club Kreyol @ UCF
UCF College Republicans
NOW at UCF : National Organization for Women
Hebrew Hikes – UCF

Thank you to Hillel & Chabad UCF for their great generosity!

Please share this event with all friends and family! Let’s make our first DYF Festival a success! Spread the word and check out our diverse friendships above

#DeclareYourFreedom #DYFUCF2014

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Yishai Goldflam Speaks at CUNY Baruch

March 31, 2014

On March 18, Yishai Goldflam, Presspectiva director, visited CUNY Baruch College in New York and spoke to 25 engaged students about CAMERA’s Israel division, Presspectiva, as well as CAMERA and Presspectiva’s mission, how Israel is portrayed negatively in the media. Mr. Goldflam also spoke about the two state solution

Goldflam2

According to Alisa Rudy, the CAMERA Fellow who organized the event, the goals of the event were met, namely that Mr. Goldflam enabled students to think about “the factors preventing peace from being achieved” and the students were “appreciative of everything” that Mr. Goldflam said. Students also thought that Yishai was an “amazing” speaker.

Yishai Goldflam

Yishai Goldflam

During the question and answer period after Mr. Goldflam’s talk, questions included asking for examples of inaccurate portrayal of Israel in the media. Mr. Goldflam responded by talking about a recent article in Ha’aretz which, because of factual inaccuracies, had to be retracted. Especially popular was the question and answer period, where there was much enthusiasm.