Passover in Israel Seder at Denison University

July 1, 2015

Contributed to by CAMERA intern Shoshana Kranish 

Passover-how-toIn their introductory event on campus, the Denison University DU it for Israel group hosted a ‘Passover in Israel’ seder on April 3rd. Hosted by Seth Schoenahus, the event was meant to introduce the campus community to the group and to ease them into a dialogue about Israel.

The seder, as Schoenhaus described it, created a “parallel between the traditional and the modern” in its incorporation of the dialogue about theland of Israel. The 28 attendees were “attentive and engaged” and “active learners in the service.” Schoenhaus says the group is looking forward to increasing their advocacy efforts in the future, creating an even greater campus discussion about Israel.

Israel Beyond the Conflict

June 30, 2015

By CAMERA fellow Avital Zenilman

Pick a random student crossing North Charles Street or roaming around campus, and ask them a question about Israel. The common answer will most likely be related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and probably verbatim from the media. But no one seems to know about Israel beyond the conflict and many people are perfectly content with remaining apathetic. But being indifferent towards a country that is so important, despite its small size, should not be an option.

Israel has brought life to the desert and the country continues to thrive. An Israeli invented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter, which allows for plants to grow in the dry heat of the desert and across the country. Though only the Sea of Galilee is the only natural source of fresh water, Israel developed a desalination process to provide more water, as well as a reclaimed water process, which treats wastewater to then be reused in agriculture.

Inventions created in Israel have enhanced peoples’ lives as well in the world of science and technology. It is there that a bionic walking assistance system was created, which enables paraplegics to stand, walk, and climb stairs. They were of the first to develop and manufacture USB flash drives. Israel invented Waze, a navigational system based on GPS that provides turn-by-turn information as well as the option for users to submit data, thus providing real-time reports about certain routes and travel times.

Image source: http://www.gpsbusinessnews.com

The focus that was placed on Israeli elections, or the lack there of, was truly something amazing. While people seemingly focused only on the outcomes, which party will win the most seats or who will be the next prime minister, most people overlooked the most obvious fact about Israel; there were actual free elections. No one person intimidated voters and there were multiple parties on the ballet, each with its own views that may differ from others. It was a genuine free election in the only democratic state in the Middle East. And yet, people do not realize how incredible it is that these elections were open and fair, and actually occurred.

It is a democratic state. People have the ability to vote for whomever they wish to see in government. They have the rights of freedom of press, assembly, speech, as well as women and gay rights. It is a safe haven for people who have been deprived of basic and civil rights or who are fleeing persecution in neighboring countries; for instance Christians are free and protected in Israel while they are persecuted in other countries, and under ISIS. The government protects its people against terrorist attacks by implementing security checkpoints as a means of preventing possible suicide bombers. Israel has shown willingness to ease the restrictions, but only after terrorism and violence decrease to ensure the safety of its citizens.

Israel accepts all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality, etc., and extends rights to them. And that fact cannot be ignored.

French Jews Are No Longer Safe

June 29, 2015

By CAMERA fellow David Enav

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, and the French Republic has felt it the most. France is a country well known for its royalty, art, and pursuit of democracy. This winter, France has been synonymous with terrorism as a result of the rise of European radical Islam. This winter, radical Islamist terror in Europe culminated with the murders on the headquarters of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish supermarket in Paris. These events have caused many across the world to unite against terror. However, radical Islam is a cancer that has already spread across the world, and it will take much more to counteract it. Oftentimes, Jews are targeted by a small percentage of Muslims who claim to be fighting against Israeli policies, when they are just plainly anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, many Jews in France are sadly realizing they are no longer safe in their home country.

France is host to 500,000 Jews: the third-largest Jewish population in the world. For the last few years, France has started to look like Germany in the 1930s. Large protests in the streets chanting “Jews-France is not for you” and “Death to the Jews” have increased in popularity, and these riots often become violent. Viral videos of Jewish shops being burned and vandalized are eerily similar to the events of Kristallnacht in 1939. Anti-Semitic incidents like the riots outside the Synagogue de la Roquette in central Paris, where hundreds of anti-Israel protesters attempted to enter a synagogue, happen routinely. In 2012, a Rabbi and three children were killed at a Jewish day school in Toulouse. As a result of anti-Jewish hostility, nearly three-quarters of French Jews surveyed in 2013 said they were considering leaving the country. With the immense amount of threats and hatred, the hope for Jews in France is dwindling.

There are positive signs, such as leaders like French Prime Minister Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel taking firm stances against anti-Semitism. However, with radical Islam on the rise, and with many Jews being targeted as a result, many are skeptical on how the governments can counteract it. According to the Washington Post, around 4,700 French soldiers have been stationed to protect Jewish schools. The level of concern of the French government is admirable, but the fact this level of security is needed shows that Jews in Europe face a very large problem. With radical Islam quickly spreading from the Middle East to Europe, drastic measures will have to be taken to solve this problem.

French soldiers stationed outside a Jewish school in Paris. Source theblaze.com

French soldiers stationed outside a Jewish school in Paris. Source theblaze.com

However, there is one country that is openly accepts any Jew who no longer feels safe in France. That country is no other than the homeland of the Jewish People, Israel. In Paris, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked alongside politicians from all over the world and millions of people in solidarity against terrorism. Israel is a nation that has triumphed over terrorism time and time again, as they are at the forefront of countering radical Islamists in the Middle East. Israel has constantly fought off terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and more recently ISIS, who seek its destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris. Source telegraph.co.uk

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris. Source telegraph.co.uk

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has established itself as a refuge for the Jewish people. Israel has absorbed millions of Jewish migrants escaping anti-Semitism. The largest groups being Jews fleeing Europe after the Holocaust and Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in Arab countries. Israel is not a country run by Jewish Law, but rather on democratic legislation that reflects Jewish and Western values and morals. There is a phrase in Judaism that translates to “All of Israel are responsible for each other.” The state of Israel is committed to taking care of Jews, no matter where they choose to live. In 2014 alone, 7,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel. This year, there are estimates at a record-10,000 new arrivals to the Holy Land.

Israeli Ambassador the United States Ron Dermer stated in an MSNBC interview, “Any Jew in the world who feels threatened will always have a home in Israel.”

The latest from our 2015 Student Mission to Israel

June 26, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow Allison Moldoff.

The CAMERA Israel Advocacy and Leadership Mission to Israel is three days underway, and I must admit that it has been absolutely incredible so far! As a student and a Zionist, I have had opportunities to meet more influential speakers than I could have ever imagined. The trip started off strong with a full day meeting speakers including Tamar Sternthal, the CAMERA Israel Director, Bassem Eid, a human rights activist, Ze’ev Brn Shachar, Senior Israel educator at Jerusalem U, and even Dr. Anat Berko, a Member of the Knesset from the Likud party.

Each speaker presented our group of twenty student activists with new ideas and projects that will help us respond to anti-Israel sentiment on our college campuses. We learned about the meaning of Zionism and how we, as students, need to change our narrative on campus to express what Zionism really means. The lectures are enhanced by strong Q&A segments as well as debate and testimony. As a participant and an observer, I can definitely testify that we are all learning a tremendous amount of information that really will help us when we return to the States.

Yesterday was especially unique. We had the opportunity to enter area B, which is land that is under the security of Israel, but under the municipality of the Palestinian Authority. From area B, we traveled to area C, which is an area where Jewish villages are under the security and municipality of Israel. We visited the legal village of Neve Daniel, where 400 families reside. From our spot at Neve Daniel, we were able to overlook all of Israel, seeing the full width of Israel. Our tour guide explained the strategic importance of this location for Israel.

In addition to this tour, we got to have an intimate conversation with Mark Regev, the adviser to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Regev spoke about Israel’s biggest threat, Iran. Iran is considered a strategic threat to Israel in light of its quest for nuclear weapons, it’s support for terror organizing on all of Israel’s borders, and it’s destabilization of the entire region. Regev also spoke about the importance of Israel’s power and stability in the Middle East, stating that “no one will ever make peace with a weak Israel.”

Overall, we are all having a great time, meeting speakers and experiencing things that most college students would not have the opportunity to do. This trip has reaffirmed how proud I am to be a part of CAMERA and an avid support of Israel!

Below are a few pictures from our trip thus far! Meet our participants here.

Israel Trip 1

Our students with Knesset Member Dr. Anat Berko.

Israel trip 2

Our students with human rights activist Bassem Eid.

Israel trip 3

Our students on the bus.

Israel trip 4

CAMERA students in the Knesset with MK Dr. Anat Berko.

Israel trip 5

Three CAMERA students pose in Jerusalem.

 

Izzy Ezagui, Israel’s One-Armed Warrior, hosted at the University of Florida

June 25, 2015

Izzy2Contributed by CAMERA intern Lilia Gaufberg

On January 22nd at 7:00 PM, CAMERA Fellow Naor Amir brought Izzy Ezagui to the Chabad at the University of Florida to speak about his experience serving in the Israel Defense Forces. The goal of this event was to increase student involvement with Israel on campus by providing an inspiring story of self-dedication to Israel. This goal was met; overall, the attendees were quite moved by Izzy’s service and sacrifice, and many audience members asked how they could get further involved with the Israel group on campus! This event was publicized through tabling, announcements, and social media outlets such as Facebook.

Izzy was asked a variety of questions, varying from ones about his experiences living with injuries to his opinion of women in combat. The most effective aspect of the event was Izzy’s ability to connect with the students on a personal level. The contact information of the event participants was taken down, and they were added to the Israel group’s Facebook page, where they can keep up-to-date with Israel-related activities on campus!

Krav Maga Crash Course at Rockland Community College

June 24, 2015

Contributed by CAMERA intern Lilia Gaufberg

KeepCalm

On February 24th, 2015, Friends of Israel hosted a Krav Maga event at Rockland Community College. The goal of this event was to teach Krav Maga to students in an effort to spark interest in learning more about the Israeli army and culture. 50 people came, and the hands-on atmosphere of the event made it exciting for everyone who participated!

SJP Speaker Josh Reubner

June 23, 2015

By CAMERA Fellow David Enav.

226caffOn October 16th, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Houston brought in speaker, Josh Ruebner, who spoke about why he thinks Israel and the United States have failed to establish peace and a Palestinian state. Although Ruebner spoke of his hopes of two states for two peoples, his rhetoric was filled with false accusations and fictitious claims about Israel and last summer’s escalation in Gaza. Ruebner spoke about peace, but his blaming of Israel for the violence that occurred ignores what truly occurred. His unwillingness to condemn the terrorist group, Hamas, makes his rhetoric counterproductive to peace. Ruebner failed to explain that the reason violence erupted this summer, and the reason peace between Israel and the Palestinians looks so bleak, is because of Hamas.

Hamas is the political faction that rose to power in Gaza in 2006. Hamas is a fanatical Islamist organization that is designated by the European Union and USA, and among other countries such as Canada and Australia, as a terrorist organization. Hamas’s charter openly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people. One article explicitly states that “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

Let that one sink in.

Over the summer, Hamas operatives kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens. After Israeli troops went into the West Bank to find the boys, Hamas launched massive amounts of rocket fire onto Israeli cities. For 50 days, Hamas launched more than sixty rockets a day onto Israel’s cities, leaving many Israelis as few as fifteen seconds to run for shelter. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in response. Israel retaliated at first with airstrikes, but then entered Gaza in order to destroy the terror tunnels being dug under the Gaza-Israel border. The purpose of these tunnels was not to sneak in supplies and aid, but to kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers and hold them for ransom. Israeli Intelligence even discovered a Hamas plot to invade Israel through the terror tunnels dressed as Israeli soldiers. They planned on doing this on one of the holiest Jewish days, Rosh Hashanah.

Ruebner’s biggest mistake was not acknowledging Hamas’s use of Palestinians civilians as human shields. Hamas inhumanely utilized this strategy when they repeatedly fired rockets toward Israel from highly-populated civilian areas. Hamas stored and fired rockets near schools, mosques, hospitals, and civilian homes. Rockets were found twice in United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) schools. Hamas deliberately launched attacks onto Israel from civilian centers because they knew that Israel would be condemned if they reacted. This put Israel in a difficult position, because they were fighting an enemy who did not care if their civilians were in harm’s way. By using human shields, Hamas displayed to the world its utter disregard for human life. Hamas Spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on Gaza’s Al-Aqsa TV that that the Palestinians “defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” Many are misled to believe that Hamas fights for the rights of Palestinians. But in reality, they are a fanatical organization that has turned Gaza into a base of terrorism.

Ruebner’s claims that this was not a war against Hamas are absolutely ludicrous. Israel took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties; however, Hamas did everything to maximize Israeli and Palestinian casualties. Israel set up field hospitals in Gaza during the conflict. While Israeli civilians were bombarded with rockets, their medical staff was treating the wounded on the other side. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets, made TV broadcasts, made phone calls, and sent text messages (all in Arabic) to enable Palestinian citizens to evacuate targeted areas. No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemy. Unfortunately, Hamas officials urged their citizens to ignore these warnings, and sometimes encouraged citizens to purposely congregate at the tops of these buildings. No sane government would purposely put their citizens in danger like Hamas has done.

If Hamas truly cared about the Palestinians and their desire for statehood, they would seek out peaceful relations with their neighbor, Israel. When Israel’s security is threatened, when hundreds of rockets are fired daily onto Israeli cities, a resolution will never be attained. Hamas started this violence, and they passed up many opportunities to cease their fire. Egypt brokered a cease-fire that has been in effect since late August. Ruebner’s ideal two-state solution cannot happen when the people who run the other state seek Israel’s destruction. It will not happen as long as a terrorist group like Hamas is in power.

Why ISIS Lacks Nuclear Weapons

June 22, 2015

By CAMERA intern Shoshana Kranish:

There are two huge names in the Middle East that stand at the end of any and all scales and spectrums: ISIS and Israel.  if you’ve rarely seen these two in the same sentence, you’re not alone. ISIS has yet to attempt to invade Israel, nor does it seem like they will anytime soon. Israel isn’t exactly sending troops into Syria and Iraq to help fight against ISIS. So what’s the link between these two, other than the obvious geography?

The title of a recent article on The Hill says it all: ‘ISIS Won’t Find Nuclear Weapons in Iraq or Syria, Thanks to Israel.’ Back in 1981, Israel carried out Operation Opera, destroying Osiraq, a nuclear reactor in Iraq just outside Baghdad. The Iranians had previously tried to do the same a year prior, but had caused only minor damage that had since been repaired. While Israel said the attack had been in self-defense, and that further development with the reactor could have been critical in Iraqi capabilities within the next month – they came under heavy criticism from the West, specifically the UN.

Osirak reactor ruins as photographed in 2002 (Photo: AFP)

Osirak reactor ruins as photographed in 2002 (Photo: AFP)

The Begin Doctrine – named for then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin – was formulated for Operation Opera, stating that the attack was a “precedent for every future government in Israel.” Whether this means that Israel will preemptively attack any nuclear reactors or labs that might threaten them is indeterminate. In 2007, though, the doctrine was used to justify Operation Orchard, the attack on the Syrian nuclear site of Deir ez-Zour. Much like Operation Opera, the attack was swift and successful, with minimal casualties on the enemy side.

Whether or not ISIS hopes to develop and use nuclear weapons in the future is unclear. The research and time that goes into developing nuclear weapons is extensive, and the group is unlikely to want to commit to such a project. Further, who would develop these weapons? The work on the nuclear reactor in Syria was previously done by North Koreans. Yet, cooperation between the two seems unlikely. ISIS views every non-Sunni Muslim to be a heretic within their view of the Muslim world, and those beyond the Muslim world – Jews, Christians, et cetera, are in the same boat as the Shi’is. While there is not much of a relationship between ISIS and North Korea, the likelihood of one developing is low. In North Korea, religion is discouraged. Under the Islamic State, strict adherence to their idea of Sharia law is a necessity in preventing an untimely death.

Without North Korea, who could help ISIS acquire nuclear weapons? Iran is highly unlikely for obvious reasons – the Shi’i country is actively opposed to ISIS, supporting militias who are fighting against the Sunni terror organization. Recent reports state that ISIS could purchase nuclear weapons from Pakistan within the next year, but with this information public, the world will keep a watchful eye on India’s unstable neighbor. Furthermore, if Pakistan did go ahead with the sale, their economy would come to a screeching halt, as most countries would likely agree to trade sanctions on the country.

Regardless of their success so far in capturing territory from unstable countries, ISIS is unlikely to wage a nuclear war. Their options for trade partners in such a deal are limited, as any country that would sell them nuclear weapons would come under fire themselves by the rest of the world. It is highly unlikely that ISIS is going to develop a nuclear program of their own. Thanks to Israeli actions in 1981 and 2007, ISIS’s access to nuclear weapons is now non-existent.

While the Israeli attacks were heavily condemned then by the United Nations and much of the world, where is the celebration now? If Israel hadn’t destroyed Osiraq after Iran’s failure to do so, what would the Middle East look like today? If the Israeli Air Force had not eliminated Syria’s nuclear reactor, would there be anything recognizable left of Syria today, or would ISIS have seized the weapons and used them already? Thanks to the Israelis, the world doesn’t need to think like this – but they certainly could start thanking Israel.
Information from ISIS won’t find nuclear weapons in Iraq or Syria, thanks to Israel, published in The Hill on June 5th 2015, was used in this piece.

Kay Wilson on Coexistence at Claremont Colleges

June 19, 2015

Contributed to by CAMERA intern Shoshana Kranish 

Claremont Students for Israel, an EMET for Israel group, with support from CAMERA on Campus and StandWithUs, presented on November sixth a powerful speech by Kay Wilson. Wilson, a British-Israeli survivor of a December 2010 terror attack, spoke about her life before and after the attack, as well as the impacts of it, and the idea of coexistence.

Kay Wilson

The EMET for Israel group liaison Rachael Hamilton hoped to show people “what Israeli citizens have gone through for decades, but also to give hope that there is plenty to live for.” Kay Wilson’s talk did just this. On the day of the terror attack in 2010, Wilson had been working, guiding a tour group through a hike. Left with serious injuries after the attack, Wilson was treated by both Israeli Arabs and Jews. This experience inspired her to speak to people, illustrating the coexistence that is already present, as well as the larger scale that it could exist on in the future.

While the lecture was on the shorter side, the audience felt the impact of Wilson’s story. Hamilton described Wilson as an “unbelievable speaker” and “very influential.”

CSI 2

 

Zion Stand Up: A New Perspective at Northwestern University

June 18, 2015

Contributed to by CAMERA intern Shoshana Kranish 

On November 6th, the Wildcats for Israel EMET for Israel group at Northwestern University hosted two notable African American pastors for a talk on relations between Jews and the African American community. Pastors Dumisani Washington and Chris Harris were able to shed light on this lesser-known cooperation.

wildcats for israel

In an effort to introduce the pro-Israel discourse to non-traditional supporters like the African American community, Wildcats for Israel found success in the impact of the event. For many students that attended, it was their first time being exposed to the cooperation between Jews and African Americans, and found the information intriguing. Pastor Washington, one of the speakers, is the founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, an organization created to foster the relationship between the two communities. Pastor Chris Harris, Sr. is a pastor at a church in Chicago and has previously been recognized for his work promoting the relationship between African and Americans and the State of Israel.

Pastors Washington and Harris with a Northwestern University student

Pastors Washington and Harris with a Northwestern University student

In its success, the event ran over the time limit originally allotted for it, thanks to an extensive question-and-answer session. The students were very much engaged with the speakers, and left the lecture with a new perspective. One student even requested contact information for the speakers so they could pass it on to friends at different universities, hoping to pass on the same transformative experience. CAMERA liaison Alyssa Kincaid reported a successful event that left students feeling ‘intrigued’ with new knowledge.

Click to learn more on notable Zionists and discovering your own Zionism.