Mega Success at Mega Fair

September 30, 2016

Miami Students for Israel (MSI) proved popular at this year’s Mega Fair. Mega Fair is an annual event held at Miami University where over 400 student organizations showcase themselves and recruit new members.

According to MSI students, the professional look of their table banner, courtesy of CAMERA, drew lots of attention to their group and made them stand out. Students were also enticed by all of MSI’s custom swag, which is also provided to CAMERA-supported groups.  “We had multiple people tell us that we had the best swag! People were excited to get free stuff, and eager to give us their attention after taking it,” according to student Jill Teitelbaum.

MSI at the University of Miami's Mega Fair.

MSI at the University of Miami’s Mega Fair.

Speaking to the activities of the group, Jill said MSI “explained [to students] how we’re a secular pro-Israel organization which promotes and encourages thoughtful and educated dialogue about all things Israel (political, social, and cultural), which is enhanced through regular meetings and programming events, particularly in collaboration with other student organizations.”

Not suprisingly, MSI had had over 60 people sign-up to join the group. “Considering the size of our campus, as well as being a new group, this was very gratifying,” Jill remarked.

Arab-Israeli Diplomat Tours Campuses to Spread Message of Coexistence

September 29, 2016

 

CAMERA Fellow Jason Frances

CAMERA Fellow Jason Frances

Diplomat George Deek spent almost a week in the State of Florida visiting college campuses with CAMERA. Even with his busy schedule he was able to make appearances at the University of Miami, Florida International University and, finally, the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Deek grew up in Jaffa, Israel as a Greek Orthodox Christian, and later became the Israeli diplomat to Nigeria and Norway. He came to speak with simple messages of peace and unity.

Deek opened up his dialogue going over his family’s history, and what is was like growing up as an Orthodox Christian in Israel. He described how diverse Jaffa is, and how that diversity spreads throughout the entire country. He came with a unique perspective because he is not Jewish, yet he spent his entire life in the Jewish State. With this vantage point, he is able to spread a message of diversity with the upmost of credibility.

The former ambassador spoke about the atmosphere of the Middle East and how Israel can be at the forefront to lead nations to peace. With Israel having such internal diversity, he called on Jews and Christians to lead the fight against Islamophobia, while asking Muslims to lead the fight against “Christianophobia” and “Judeophobia.” This is a very important request and something that isn’t always at the forefront of conversations on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

14379734_1511616765531301_853681530466955061_o

It takes a lot of courage as an Arab to represent Israel and one question that was on my mind and I’m sure on many others’, was, “Since becoming a diplomat, have you experienced any push-back from your family or community?” He explained that he’s received four reactions from his community. One of complete support, one of complete apathy, and two of disapproval, but these two are quite different. He explained the first reaction comparing it to his uncle, where they have heated arguments about his career, but who always comes from a good place and “that is why he is [his] favorite uncle.”  The last reaction however, is one where people not only disapprove of his career, but also remain extremely close minded to dialogue and conversation.

Knights for Israel, UCF’s CAMERA-supported group, was honored to host George Deek. He is someone that comes from a different side of the same coin, and truly cares about making Israel and the Middle East a better place. The audience walked away from the night with an even greater perspective of life in Israel for not just Jews, but Arabs as well.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and Vice President of Knights for Israel at the University of Central Florida, Jason Frances.

What you need to know about Israel’s Christian minority

September 28, 2016

In the Gatestone Institute’s August report on Christian persecution, Raymond Ibrahim described the brutal, rampant and global Islamic persecution of Christians and other minorities, including violations of religious freedom, harassment, detention, torture, and executions. The accounts are too abundant and tragic to list in full, as many involve gruesome persecution, murder, and rape happening in Eritrea, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Uganda, Bangladesh, Congo, Philippines, Egypt, Tanzania, Pakistan, Germany, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Nigeria. Ibrahim concluded, “such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place in all languages, ethnicities, and locations.”

Jonathan Elkoury speaks about his life as an Israeli Christian after fleeing Lebanon. Credit: Eliana Rudee.

Jonathan Elkoury speaks about his life as an Israeli Christian after fleeing Lebanon. Credit: Eliana Rudee.

Such was Jonathan Elkhoury’s conclusion when he spoke last week at the Jerusalem Salon, an organization bringing English lectures and discussions to Jerusalem, about his experience fleeing from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah’s rule in Lebanon. Elkhoury fled to Israel with family after his father, a former South Lebanon Army (SLA) officer, had to leave his homeland during Israel’s withdrawal in May 2000. Now that he’s found safe refuge in Israel, Elkhoury writes and talks about the situation of Israeli Christians and minorities to various audiences and advocates for the Christian Empowerment Council (CEC) in Israel. Elkoury concludes that to improve the life of Christians everywhere, Israeli Christians should speak out about their positive experiences as minorities in Israel. “The Christian society is one of the successful minorities in Israel,” he said. “There are people in high positions in education, in hospitals, courts – everywhere you look you will find a Christian in a high position. They are a quiet yet successful community, and they are not speaking out enough.”

In 2000, when some 1,200 South Lebanon Army families escaped to Israel, the Israeli authorities provided for them, including his own. “We got a lot of help from the Israeli society,” Elkoury said. “We were welcomed because of the SLA’s contribution to Israel. Many people gave money to us so we could have trips, study about Israel, and learn more. They tutored us, and did everything to make us feel comfortable and feel at home. Our role as Christians in Israel is to show a different story to the media by telling our personal stories about our lives here in Israel. At my school, more than 50 percent of the students are Arabs and they have an extra half an hour on every test. The education system is doing everything so minorities can succeed and have good grades. We need to show people what is going on in our lives. There are a lot of people trying to use the 130,000 Christians in Israel for a political, anti-Israel agenda, and people are not speaking out.”

The unfortunate reality is many of these people are scared to speak out in support of Israel, as the Arab population of Israel views them as traitors to Lebanon and to Hezbollah. “I was nine years old when we moved here, and I needed to go to school,” he said. “Two days after we landed in Israel, the Arab schools didn’t accept us and said we were traitors that we betrayed our country, and we will not be accepted by their society.” Elkhoury chose to speak to Arabic speakers in Hebrew, out of fear of them recognizing his Lebanese accent, rejecting him, and even threatening him. He still gets some threatening messages and is constantly afraid something will happen to his family in Lebanon.

Nonetheless, he recognizes that the Arab and Muslim rejection that Christians face is much worse in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. “Their churches are destroyed and they are persecuted,” he said. A priest was killed two years ago in the Gaza Strip. A temple was lit on fire. The bishop was attacked on Christmas Eve in the West Bank, and nobody is talking about it. We must show this side of the story that nobody talks about.”

People don’t talk about their experiences until they leave the oppressive countries out of fear of being killed. Indeed, Christians are leaving by the thousands. In Lebanon, Christians once numbered 80 percent of the population but were driven out and now are a mere 20 percent. And the same thing is happening in Bethlehem, where, in 1995, Christians numbered 20 percent of the population, while today they’re just two percent. “You can’t imagine their stories,” Elkoury said.

As for his family, they’re doing well in Israel. His father tells him, “I know that I was successful in my choice [to come to Israel] if you are successful in your life.”  Elkoury, like his father, is optimistic about the future of Christians in Israel and in the Middle East. “More and more Christians are aware of what is happening in the Arab world and in Israel. I think we are heading towards a better future,” he said. Indeed, through telling his story and educating the Christian sector, Elkoury is one of the few people creating that better future for his fellow Israeli Christians and Christian minorities around the world.

Originally published on JNS.org.

Contributed by 2011-2012 CAMERA Fellow at Claremont Colleges, Eliana Rudee.

Israeli Students Fight Anti-Israel Campus Activity From Jerusalem

September 27, 2016

CAMERA Fellow LeEl Hayun

CAMERA Fellow Lee-El Haune

As Israelis, we take our reality for granted. It is full of paradoxes; an unattended bag can stop traffic, yet we are more preoccupied with the thought of being stuck in traffic than the fact that there might be a bomb in their vicinity. Getting a beer with friends among the ancient stones of Jerusalem could be interrupted by a rock throwing incident on the way home; relaxing at the beach in Ashkelon under the hot Mediterranean sun is accompanied by knowing that at any given time, rocket sirens may sound, signalling us to run for shelter.

At times, the Israeli reality is so consuming, that the world’s perception of Israel seems unimportant. This becomes evident when one takes a look at the word for “abroad” in Hebrew, which literally translates to “outside of Israel,” as if the whole world revolves around us. As if we weren’t barely the size of New Jersey; but we are. The way that Israel is constantly slandered in the media, by word of mouth, by leaders worldwide, and by students on campus who don’t bother checking the facts, is an issue that must be addressed. The global Jewish community has answered this call to action within their neighborhoods, on their campuses, and in their states.

All the while only a very few Israelis themselves have woken up to this reality, largely ignoring this international trend. While our everyday realities might be consuming, it is not an excuse to remain dormant in the face of campaigns to delegitimize our home.

This is why we, the students of CAMERA at Hebrew University, feel that as Israelis on our East Jerusalem campus, we must help tackle the problem, by facing the facts and in turn, ensure action on behalf of tomorrow’s leaders.

CAMERA at Hebrew University hosts students from San Diego State University.

CAMERA at Hebrew University hosts students from San Diego State University.

Our understanding of anti-Israel activity on campuses “outside of Israel” is limited. Israeli college students are usually a number of years older than American students, having started freshman year after our army service of two plus years. The American college scene feels like a completely different world from ours, and it can be difficult for Israeli students to relate to.

From so far away, it is difficult to take seriously a number of students “dying in” or raising an apartheid wall. Additionally, it’s hard to understand the impact these students have on the Jewish minorities attending these schools. The very existence of Israel means that often, we do not know what it feels like to be a minority on campus.

Making the situation even more complicated, here in Israel, the widespread feeling on the street is that anti-Israel activity abroad is something the Israeli government should be dealing with. Among Israelis, the topic is rarely discussed. This is something that is slowly but surely changing – not acting is no longer an option. We at CAMERA at Hebrew University felt compelled to bring students together on this issue.

CAMERA's International Campus Director Aviva Slomich with CAMERA Fellows Bar Fabian, Matan Lifshitz, Eden Adler and Lee-El Haune of CAMERA at Hebrew University.

CAMERA’s International Campus Director Aviva Slomich with CAMERA Fellows Bar Fabian, Matan Lifshitz, Eden Adler and Lee-El Haune of CAMERA at Hebrew University.

We began with a vision to act on two fronts. First to educate ourselves, by bringing Israelis to an understanding of the way the world views Israel. Second, we are bridging the gap between Israelis and students worldwide. The great thing about being on an Israeli campus is that we manage to reach all audiences, and students from all areas of the political spectrum. This includes a few Israeli Arabs who attend our events. After a full semester of educational events and evenings out sharing our experiences with students from all around the world, the board of our team attended CAMERA’s sixth annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference in Boston.

CAMERA’s conference was not only educational and eye-opening, it exposed us to the amazing level of commitment the eighty-five students in attendance have to Israel. We met students who have knowledge of Israel rivaling our own, whose dealings with anti-Israel activists left us in shock. We understood quickly that these students are fighting for us abroad, and that we are their boots on the ground.

Over the four-day conference, we gained a real grasp of the reality on North American and UK campuses. We had an inside look into the difficulties our new friends face on campus on a daily basis, be it apathy or true hatred toward Israel. This understanding, along with the ties and relationships we built with the students, inspired unlimited ideas in us.

We were truly shocked to learn of the rallying around the BDS movement and Students for Justice in Palestine by Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ groups, and other humanitarian “liberal” groups. Coming from the most liberal, diverse and political campus in Israel, it seemed to us that the natural allies of these groups would be the pro-Israel community.

Armed with this knowledge, we can adequately assist the students we’ve met as they combat anti-Israel activity on campus head on. Ethiopian Jews, Druze Arabs, Muslim Arabs and Christians are friends of ours who go to the very same university as we do, and their voices need to be amplified, especially when the accusation hurled at Pro-Israel students is that Israel is a “white European colonial entity.”

We took away practical tools from CAMERA’s conference for better event planning, recruitment, op-ed writing and social media that will allow us to reach a new level of professionalism in our activities with students on campus.

Going forward, CAMERA at Hebrew University will keep in touch with students abroad, exchanging ideas and experiences.  Israel does not stand alone. Undoubtedly, this year on campus will be our best yet!

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Lee-El Haune.

Campus activists silent in face of anti-Semitic author

September 26, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Anthony Berteaux

CAMERA Fellow Anthony Berteaux

An author accused of making anti-Semitic statements has been invited to speak at San Diego State.

On Sept. 29, SDSU’s Students for Justice in Palestine will host a discussion, “Palestine 101,” with Israeli author Miko Peled. Peled, the son of an Israeli general, has made a speaking career promoting non-violent resistance to the military occupation of the disputed territories in the West Bank.

Peled purports himself to be a “peace activist,” but he is not. Through Twitter and other social media, Peled regularly invokes ancient anti-Semitic tropes in his criticisms of Israel.

On Sept. 14, in response to the recently signed U.S.-Israeli aid package, Peled tweeted that Jews had a reputation for being “sleazy thieves.”

Peled’s tweet led to the cancellation of his speech at Princeton University. In a statement on Facebook, the Princeton Committee on Palestine wrote that Peled’s tweets were “anti-Semitic and hateful, (and) counterproductive to an educational event on the conflict.”

Leora Eisenberg, a Jewish freshman at Princeton University said that after his speech was cancelled, she was relieved.

“He is a bigot and an anti-Semite,” she said. “I was thrilled to see groups that claim to fight for human rights actually take their charge seriously by canceling his lecture.”

 miko-peled-antisemitic-tweets

In the past year, Peled has tweeted that Israelis missed the “taste of Palestinian blood,” andcomparedIsrael — the Jewish state — to Nazi Germany. He hasadvocatedfor continued missile attacks on Israel and Israelis andbrandedIsraelis who serve in the IDF as “terrorists.”

His statement calling Israelis bloodthirsty regurgitates a centuries old anti-Semitic myththat accuses Jews of killing Christian babies for religious rituals. Worse, he justified his “sleazy thieves” accusation by saying that “for centuries Jews were portrayed as sleazy money lenders.”

Peled’s remarks and his upcoming visit have not gone unnoticed by Jewish students on campus.

“There is a line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism,” ISCOR junior Hilary Cohen said. “Peled has crossed that line. One can criticize Israel without using anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

Psychology junior Talia Raoufpur, who is Iranian and Jewish, said she was upset by the lack of attention his visit has garnered.

“Where are the activists who rose up against prejudice last semester?” she said.

SDSU has been the scene of several protests spurred on by activists that define the way our campus views oppression and identity.

In 2014, Take Back the Night drew attention to the violence college women uniquely facefrom rape culture.

In 2015, activists rallied to address several issues, such as faculty pay raises, racial injustice, economic inequality and Islamophobia, an intersection of issues that affect our students.

This year, when conservative writer David Horowitz posted fliers on campus branding members of Students for Justice in Palestine as “terrorists,” the hashtag #NoHateAtState became a rallying cry for students who wanted to fight back against racial profiling and Islamophobia. SDSU students were unified under a single message: Neither hatred nor bigotry would go unaccounted for and they were going to stand up against hatred and discrimination.

David Horowitz’ fliers accused SJP members of being terrorists and the campus rallied in solidarity. It is baffling and hypocritical for activists in SJP -— who know too well what it is like to be profiled -— to invite a speaker who similarly profiles Jews and Israelis.

SJP’s invitation to Peled suggests they accept and condone his anti-Semitism and that his rhetoric is something to be accepted, celebrated and pondered. Unacceptable.

This is an opportunity for a conversation and a reckoning with anti-Semitic speech and its ramifications. We are capable of having difficult, nuanced conversations about the conflict between Israel and Palestine without having to resort to anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Activists who are silent: speak up. Heed the words of the late Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

This article was originally published by The Daily Aztec and was written by CAMERA Fellow Anthony Berteaux at San Diego State University.

One Voice Conference Omits Key Facts

September 23, 2016

I had never heard of the organization One Voice prior to being approached to sign up for their annual conference, “Solutions Not Sides (SNS),” which was scheduled to take place at the University College London (UCL) in early September. The title resonated with me as I Googled to understand their mission:  ‘One Voice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward the two-state solution.’

One Voice held the conference, called "Solutions Not Sides"

One Voice held the conference called “Solutions Not Sides”

As twenty odd delegate students — we began with at least one thing in common, despite hailing from a range of religions and backgrounds.   Most of us came with an open mind and most of us came feeling that in our small way we had an opportunity to play our part in bringing about peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  I felt optimistic, hopeful.  As an Orthodox Jew who supports the state of Israel, a Zionist, it was interesting and uplifting to be able to engage with people my age from who were Muslim, Christian, Palestinian, Atheist and Jews from other backgrounds.  To me this was what was it was about – interactive and organic ‘interfaith’ that fosters understanding through speaking about tough issues face to face.  Grassroots interfaith that facilitates sharing on a human level who I am, who he is, who she is and that all of us love, laugh and yearn for good between all humankind.

The delegates were the highlight.  Sadly, I can’t say the same for the speaker line-up which surprisingly, proved to endorse one, pessimistic narrative.  The majority of the speakers were highly educated, respected academics from England, Israel and Argentina. Most were experts in anti-Zionist rhetoric and with the pedigree of intellectual superiority, some delegates were left either confused or swayed to inaccurate conclusions.

Saif Aqel, a Palestinian peace activist studying mechanical engineering at a university in Nablus, made some unforgivable claims during a Skype call between the delegates from his home in Nablus. He described Israel as making it appear as though Hamas want to kill Israelis, that Hamas are willing to accept a two state solution if Israel wants it and that among Hamas members are moderate voices. Aqel is clearly ignorant to Hamas’ charter, or consciously presented a false narrative to the conference attendees. At a rally in 2014, Hamas political bureau member Mahmour Al-Zahar said, “Anyone who thinks that we will recognize the existence of the [Zionist] entity or the 1967 borders is deluded…Palestine stretches from the Egyptian border in the south to the Lebanon in the north and from Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean sea in the west and we will never recognize anything less than this.”

 

A clip from a Hamas video.

A clip from a Hamas video.

Sebastian Welisiejko, an economist discussing economic implications of the conflict, responded to a question about the transparency of donations to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by decrying that the same way there are no statistics on drug dealing, there are no statistics on the PA stealing from donations as it is illegal. He also claimed that corruption is less of an issue now and that he didn’t want to entertain this idea with conspiracy on Mahmoud Abbas, President of the PA. If Welisiejko is correct, can he explain the spring of 2016 strike led by Palestinian teachers who accuse the PA of falsifying information to their international donors? According to Palestinian teachers, “the information provided by the PA to donors claimed that the PA pays higher salaries to the teachers than the teachers actually receive.” This is of course not the first time Abbas and the PA have been accused of corruption and bribery. Why would Welisiejo make excuses for or belittle serious concerns of the Palestinian people?

Palestinian teachers protest in Hebron February 2016. [Photo: NewsReportOnline]

Palestinian teachers protest in Hebron February 2016. [Photo: NewsReportOnline]

Daniel Levy, political analysis, and co-founder of J Street, spoke on the history of past negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. He shockingly claimed that the only reason why Israel hasn’t destroyed Gaza is because other countries wouldn’t let Israel get away with it. He advocated for Israel to be sanctioned due to inexcusable human rights violations and he expressed sympathy for the PA as according to Levy, they can’t say anything negative against Israel or else Israel will claim they are anti-Semitic. Can Levy tell us how he would describe the address by Abbas, President of the PA on  Palestininan TV in 2015? Abbas stated, “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God…The Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours as well. They (Jews) have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that.”

“Israel had been an occupier for 80 years;” “Bibi and his government need terrorism;” “Settlers are the root cause of no peace” — these are just some of the messages repeated in numerous ways throughout the one-sided One Voice conference. The conference did not have any expert speakers present to counter some of these disturbing claims, or offer other important facts.

When some of us suggested that the disproportionately high number of resolutions against Israel from the UN compared to other far worse human rights abusing countries should be addressed, we were cast aside.  Ultimately, the speakers’ overriding message concluded that until Israel stops oppressing the Palestinian people violence against Israeli citizens is understandable.

In the end, it was the individual thinking and humanity of my fellow delegates that didn’t destroy all the hope I had arrived with.  It was the seedling conversations with other students that made me realize that this was the true purpose of this conference. A Moroccan Muslim whose best friend was Jewish and who showed great knowledge in Jewish culture, a Muslim from Pakistan who admitted to being fed anti-Semitism at home, and a Christian who showed unwavering support for Israel, to name a few.  These beginnings left me optimistic that it is only through a whole lot more dialogue that young Palestinians and young Israelis will ultimately be able to live side by side in peace.

Liora Cadranel is the Co-President of CAMERA-supported group University College London (UCL) Friends of Israel Society.

From 9/11 to Today: Countering Terror Online

September 22, 2016

Extremism is reaching people across the world through social media. Terrorists can sift through a population using social media and reach people susceptible to ideas of extremism. Luring people to their cause, extremists spread their ideas from the ease of their desktop and as quickly as their internet bandwidth will allow. To say the least, radicalism is spreading rapidly through the internet.

Mainstram media could once marginalize radical, dangerous groups from dispersing their ideas to the general public. Journalists could decide, and still do, what is appropriate to publish in a newspaper or on a news site. Now, however, extremists are not concerned with using established media sites for spreading their ideas. They can extend their thoughts to the public by creating sources and sites of their own. Through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram etc., mainstream media is not necessarily the default source for information.

Source: itv article: Britain is facing 'relentless battle for hearts and minds' to stop youngsters joining Islamic State, MPs warn (March, 2015).

Source: itv article, Britain is facing ‘relentless battle for hearts and minds’ to stop youngsters joining Islamic State, MPs warn (March, 2015).

Extremists on the internet include jihadists, neo-Nazis, and Islamic State (IS) members. Among extremist groups, White supremacists and IS in particular have proliferated in social media.

It is difficult to believe that individuals from the average American town, who would never otherwise be exposed to jihadists or IS members, are becoming extremists themselves. As the film, Losing Our Sons presents, targeted Americans are falling to Muslim extremism. With each terror attack, there are casualties. But leading up to any terror attack are the individuals who are seduced into a seemingly noble cause of extremism, are brainwashed by terrorists, and eventually become radical terrorists themselves.

Left and right, fathers of two US veterans (center) who fell to Jihadist terrorist ideas. Source: Americans for Peace and Tolerance trailer. Source: Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Left and right, fathers of two US veterans (center) who fell to Jihadist terrorist ideas. Source: Americans for Peace and Tolerance film, Losing our Sons

Following 9/11, counter-terrorism was developed and the laws regarding information-sharing and accesses for the FBI, CIA, and other counter-terror groups were broadened. With easier access to critical information, counter terrorists could work more efficiently and prevent 9/11-like terror attacks.

However, the internet still puts counter-terrorists in a difficult situation. In a democracy, the internet cannot be fully monitored. While stopping terrorism is nothing short of essential for upholding security, many argue that this amounts to prying too, undermining the rights of a democratic state.

Ironically, while government and counter-terror units do not want to invade the public’s privacy, and rightly so, extremists can already do exactly that. Through cyber attacks, intellectual-property theft, and invasions of nuclear-plants or military systems to name a few, terrorists can turn society over by hacking away at their computers. The threats of the virtual age are extremely high. Since 2001, after 9/11, counter-terrorists have been working within the limits of the law persistently to stop terrorism on the ground and online.

Just as America has been developing its counter-terror capabilities since 9/11, Israel has been advancing its military technology in order to uphold state security.

IDF Brigadier General Danny Bren, former head of IDF technology unit. Source: israeldefense.co.il

IDF Brigadier General Danny Bren, former head of IDF technology unit. Source: israeldefense.co.il

Extremism is intertwined with the rapidly advancing virtual world. No simple feat, stopping terrorism in this day and age leaves counter-terrorist experts with multiplying questions and immense challenges.

As PJ Crowley, academic, former US spokesman and US Air Force veteran explained in 2011, persistence is key. Reflecting upon the decade following 9/11, Crowley argued that stopping terrorism is an overwhelming task that will “take a generation.” For each terrorist or terror attack stopped, counter-terror experts deserve utmost respect and appreciation but by no means does that suggest their work is close to done.

In 2016, counter-terror experts still know that persistence is the name of the game. Extremism is spreading across the internet like a toxic virus and counter-terror experts are working hard to fight it.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.

CAMERA Fellows in Focus: Noa Levin

September 21, 2016

The CAMERA Fellowship program supports student leaders in developing and strengthening their pro-Israel activism on campus. With the school year underway, InFocus is giving you an inside look into the lives of the 2016-17 CAMERA Fellows who are working hard to promote the facts about Israel on campus.

Meet Noa Levin.

Noa Levin, 2016-17 CAMERA Fellow

Noa Levin, 2016-17 CAMERA Fellow

A sophomore student at George Washington University, Noa Levin is studying Psychology and Speech & Hearing Sciences. Noa was able to learn about Israel and develop her advocacy skills in high school through the BlueStar Write On For Israel program. This past year she became very involved with the GW Hillel and is now very excited to be a CAMERA Fellow in order to strengthen her Israel advocacy capabilities and positively influence GW’s student body regarding Israel.

Noa is very grateful to be part of the CAMERA Fellowship and receive all of its support. “The CAMERA Fellowship has given me a network of people to turn to who are well-connected, knowledgeable, and passionate about Israel,” she says.

Noa grew up in America but her family is Israeli. As a proud American and Israeli, she feels her identity allows her an unique understanding of both cultures and their different mentalities. With her American-Israeli perspective and the support of CAMERA on Campus, Noa says she is “much more ready now to take on the challenge of being a pro-Israel voice on campus.” Welcome to the Fellowship, Noa!

My Time at the CAMERA Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference

September 20, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Lindsey Cohen.

CAMERA Fellow Lindsey Cohen.

This summer, students from all over the world convened in Boston for CAMERA’s Sixth Annual Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference. They came from all over – from New York, Toronto, and California, to the United Kingdom, and Israel.  They came to learn how to defend Israel on campus and how to correct bias in the media, and to meet other CAMERA  Fellows and members of CAMERA-supported Israel groups.

I expected to leave with an understanding of the situation on campus and how students are fighting bias and lies about Israel. I got all of this and more: I left with the power of a network committed to truth and to  defending Israel.  Yes, the information was valuable, but more valuable still were the new connections I made with other students, all with their own perspectives and stories on Israel.

To read the full article, visit The Times of Israel.

Contributed by 2015-2016 CAMERA Fellow at Boston University, Lindsey Cohen.

Encouraging Signs as York University Dismisses Anti-Semitic Faculty Member

September 19, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shachar.

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shachar.

On Wednesday, September 14th, York University dismissed faculty member Nikolaos Balaskas after he was found to propagate anti-Semitism on his public Facebook page.

Students from the Israeli Student Association (ISA), a CAMERA-supported group, tipped off B’nai Brith about the nature of Balaskas’ social-media use in June. ISA and B’nai Brith worked together to document Balaskas’ many instances of anti-Semitism and the applicable university policies which they breached. An investigation was launched by the university in mid-August after B’nai Brith Canada filed a formal complaint.

york-prof-screenshot

Screenshot from Nikolaos Balaskas’ Facebook profile.

Balaskas repeatedly invoked anti-Semitic tropes such as Jewish control of the media, Jewish culpability for the September 11 attacks, and Holocaust denial. Examples of anti-Semitic Facebook posts made by Balaskas included accusing “Jews” of murdering “89 year old SS hero” Johann Breyer; criticizing Pope Francis for “meeting with imposter Jews, who are really followers of the Evil One;” and asserting that “many of the concentration camps were run by Jews,” and that “most of the Jews running the camps were Zionist Jews who had cut a deal with Hitler.”

In an extremely concerning Facebook post, which many students felt constituted incitement to violence, Balaskas announced several conditions that Zionists must fulfill in order for them to be permitted “to live in peace with the rest of mankind.” These conditions included “ask[ing] for forgiveness” for the purported killing of “100 million Christians from 1917 to 1945.”

york-prof-screenshot-2

Screenshot from Nikolaos Balaskas’ Facebook profile.

In a letter notifying Balaskas of the termination of his employment, the university stated that his posts “target identifiable groups based on such factors as race, religion, and ethnic origin” and “denigrate particular religious faiths include those of the Jewish faith.” The termination letter also referenced comments made by Balaskas on September 8th in a meeting with university officials. Balaskas said that it was his “duty and obligation to post this material” and described himself as the “messenger.”

york-prof-screenshot-3

Screenshot from Nikolaos Balaskas’ Facebook profile.

Eli Razimor, the President of ISA, said that the dismissal felt like “A rare sense of justice being served on our side. York is often a hotbed for public anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist activities, many of which do not get dealt with appropriately by the university administration,” he said. Razimor cited the “anti-Israel and violence-promoting mural in the Student Center” as an example of the administration ignoring Jewish students’ concerns.

It is encouraging that York University swiftly took action after B’nai Brith submitted a complaint. The university should be commended for their conduct throughout the investigation. The university’s decision to terminate Balaskas’ employment should serve as a precedent – there must be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and xenophobia on campus.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and member of Israeli Students Association (ISA) at York University Ben Shachar.