Monthly Archives: April 2013

Israel: The Perpetual Homeland

April 30, 2013

Contributed by CAMERA Intern, Rebecca Pritzker:

A 21st Century Exodus: Dina’s Journey From Alexandria to Jerusalem” summarizes Dina Ovadia’s heartwarming life story – a story filled with harsh rejection, displacement, and eventually, homecoming.

Dina Ovadia was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. She, like many other Egyptian children, dina ovadiawent to school and even learned some Muslim scriptures. All the while, though, she felt that she was different, and she longed for acceptance.

As prejudice against Jews mounted, however, Dina and her family were eventually banished from the country. It was not until then that she discovered that she was Jewish.

Dina currently lives in Israel and is a member of the IDF. She now has a home alongside fellow Jews.

Israel, the Jewish homeland, serves as a home for many displaced Jewish refugees, including Dina Ovadia. It is in Israel that they find refuge from intolerance and even persecution in certain Diaspora countries that they once called home.

For Jews, Israel has been a sacred homeland ever since G-d commanded Abraham to settle and raise a family in Canaan. Today, any Jewish person has the legal right to become an Israeli citizen. Visit Israel today, and you will encounter Jews of all conceivable backgrounds—Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Russian, American, Ethiopian, and more—living side by side.

But Israel also opens her doors to refugees of all faiths and ethnicities. Israel, despite her size, is remarkably diverse.

Visit Haifa, and you will witness Druze learning and living alongside Jews. Visit Hebrew University in Jerusalem, one of the nation’s most prestigious learning institutions, and you will observe Muslim students learning alongside Jewish students, both eagerly working to earn a higher education.

And yet, Israel faces countless accusations—of apartheid and of racism to name a few. Would these displays of tolerance and diversity occur in a racist, apartheid state?

Israel was deemed the freest country in the Middle East. Indeed, Israel is home to many Arab citizens—some of whom were once considered refugees—even though neighboring Middle Eastern countries often do not reciprocate to Jews.

Israel is and always has been a homeland and a refuge to many.

Sun Devils for Israel Peace Week

April 29, 2013

Campuses across the US recently held Yom Haatzmaut and Israel Peace Week Celebrations to celebrate Israel’s 65th Birthday and Israel’s love for peace. Sun Devils for Israel, a CCAP group at Arizona State University, put on a full week’s worth of events (below), including this incredible giant chalk board. Read this great article about all their events for ideas about what to bring to your campus next year!

Israel’s Prime Minister has stated that he wants peace; he wants two states for two people and to sit down and negotiate with the Palestinians. Unfortunately both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip have refused to recognize the Jewish state of Israel, despite the United Nations Partition Plan, which in 1947 called for a Jewish state. Both Palestinian governments have also refused to give up on their demand for “the right of return” which would mean an end of Israel as a Jewish state. Read more about this in Daniel Pipes’ great piece here.

peace wallsundevils for israel peace week

By Gilad Skolnick

Middle East Analyst Asaf Romirowsy Speaks at Alabama State University

April 26, 2013

Rita photo

Rita Usher, our CAMERA Fellow at Alabama State University, recently invited Dr. Asaf Romirowsky to speak at her school.

Dr. Romirowsky was also invited this semester by Abir Gitlin to speak at the University of Miami, and spoke at the CAMERA sponsored Florida Loves Israel conference. He touches on many issues such as Palestinian refugee myths and double standards in the UN.

This year’s David Bar Ilan Award winners

April 25, 2013

On Sunday, CAMERA held its annual dinner in New York City, in which hundreds of supporters attended from across the country, and honored Khaled Abu Toameh, a distinguished Israeli-Arab journalist, lecturer, and documentary filmmaker. Congratulations to Ellie Rudee on receiving the David Bar Ilan Award for Outstanding Student Leadership and Yoni Kaplan on receiving the David Bar Ilan Award for Campus Activism. Below are their beautiful acceptance speeches at the dinner:
Local CAMERA students at our annual dinner

Local CAMERA students at our annual dinner

Yoni Kaplan:

Dear friends of Israel. I am honored to be here today to accept this award on behalf of TUFI,  Yoni Kaplan is talking NO hi SamTulane University for Israel. I am honored to have had CAMERA’s campus activist project enable TUFI’s growth at Tulane. Most of all, I am honored to have the opportunity to be here and on behalf of my organization, and so many others on college campuses across the continent who are empowered by CAMERA. When I arrived at Tulane, the Israel presence on campus was nearly nonexistent. I started TUFI in an effort to fill that void and establish a vibrant and active pro-Israel community at Tulane. With CAMERA’s help, TUFI has grown from an initial board of 5 to a listserve that reaches over 300 students. With CAMERA’s help, we have brought high profile speakers to share their diverse perspectives about Israel to Tulane.

Speakers such as Ishmail Khaldi, the first Bedouin vice consul of Israel, Gil Hoffman, the Jerusalm post’s chief political correspondent, and many others.  With CAMERA’s help, this past week marked Tulane’s third annual Israel Week. From programming with Tulane Democrats and Republicans to bring political speakers, to building solar oven smores with Tau Beta Pi Engineering honors fraternity to explore science projects in Israel, TUFI’s programming spans a diverse range of content and interests reflective of the Tulane student body’s interests. For the art patrons out there, we partnered with Tulane’s art society to put on Israel Art Solidarity night in support of Israelis affected by last fall’s operation pillar of defense. Each of these events, and many more, were made possible by CAMERA’s support.

TUFI’s future only looks brighter from here. I received a letter from Tulane admissions that 125 incoming freshman had expressed interest in TUFI without having had a single day of class at Tulane. I hope that the small cross section of TUFI’s activities I have presented to you coupled with the promise of young leadership has convinced you, as I have been convinced, that TUFI has succeeded in becoming that vibrant and active pro-Israel community at Tulane. I would like to thank CAMERA for making all of TUFI’s programming possible. I would like to thank Sam and Aviva for their tireless patience and professionalism. Most of all I’d like to thank all of you, honored friends, here tonight. You enable our mission and you have our gratitude. Good night.

Ellie Rudee: 

It is with great gratitude that I thank CAMERA for making it possible for me to travel all the way from my semester in Israel to accept the David Bar Illan award this evening. Tonight, I must makeellie at dinner two confessions. First, being recognized as an individual for my leadership is a simplification of what it takes to be a pro-Israel advocate on campus. Success requires a leader, but even more vital is a network of advocates who together make everything possible. CAMERA has provided me with training, CCAP funding, writing skills, and supportive campus personnel. My fellow leaders at Claremont Students for Israel (CSI) have also been an integral part of our success. The “Less Hamas More Hummus” campaign, which is now CAMERA’s national campaign, was quite the group effort. At the event, we showed and discussed videos of Hamas propaganda and instead of a “boycott” of Israeli goods, we had a “buycott,” which entailed purchasing and eating all the Sabra Hummus we could find. We designed a tee shirt that says “Less Hamas More Hummus” with a picture of the Zohan on the front, free for attendees who wrote two pro-Israel letters to their senators. At our event, we had more than 60 attendees and got over 100 letters. For CSI’s first big event, it was extremely successful and couldn’t have happened without everyone’s dedication.

My other confession to make this evening is that it feels strange to be rewarded for something that seems so natural to me. Although I am not Israeli, I feel from the bottom of my heart that Israel is my home. Like many people, I have a natural drive to defend my home, so I often reflect about my role in defending the State of Israel. I often think about where I can be the most helpful to Israel—in the IDF or on an American campus. As a 21-year-old American woman, I believe that the place where I am most needed is on campus, so campus advocacy feels like my duty in lieu of joining the IDF. At times we have to go into battle too . . .of a different kind.

Tonight I would like to thank my fellow campus leaders who are part of the group effort, CAMERA, and all the donors whose support makes everything possible. And last, I would especially like to thank Sam and Aviva who have supported me throughout my journey to where I am today. Todah rabah.

Florida Loves Israel Conference

April 24, 2013

The annual Florida Loves Israel Conference (FLI) that took place fromFLINewts1 April 12th to 14th, of which CAMERA was a sponsor, was a great success with a turnout of well over 100 students. Starting with the first annual FLI conference last year at Florida State University, pro-Israel students from all over the state met for a weekend of learning about Israel, pro-Israel activism, and had an opportunity to hear from an array of great speakers such as Asaf RomirowskyAmos Guiora, and Ken Stein. CAMERA led a workshop on detecting bias in the media and how to respond to inaccurate op-eds in your campus paper.

Email our campus team to find out how you can bring CAMERA to lead a workshop on your campus!

Our Campus Regional Coordinator at the Florida Loves Israel Conference at Gainesville

Our Campus Regional Coordinator at the Florida Loves Israel Conference at Gainesville

Students hear from Artists4Israel at FLI

Students hear from Artists4Israel at FLI

By Gilad Skolnick

Berkeley student Senate passes divestment resolution

April 23, 2013

UC berk

Last week the U.C. Berkeley student senate passed a resolution calling for Divestment from Israel. Debating lasted for 10 hours, with the resolution narrowly passing at 11-9. Read more about this incident and what you can do to help on unitedwithisrael.org.

Why hasn’t there been a single resolution for divesting from places with known human rights abusers such as China, the Palestinian Authority, and Russia? Are these students arguing that it is okay that women are not allowed to drive or leave their home without a male escort, or is apartheid against women in Saudi Arabia not a problem?

Click here to read an op-ed about the issue.

By Gilad Skolnick

Victories against BDS at Manitoba & UC Riverside

April 18, 2013

bdsCUNY vice chancellor and general counsel issued a report (full report here) on Brooklyn College and its expulsion of students and journalists from the anti-Israel BDS (more about BDS here) event that had been co-sponsored by the Brooklyn College Political Science Department. The report finds that the “administration did not handle this event well.”

This is far different that the original claim by the university that the students expelled were being disruptive. Thankfully, once the students were expelled from the event, they spoke up about it and pushed for an investigation. This along with victories in places such as the University of Manitoba, where an anti-Israel group was stripped of funding, and UC Riverside, where a divestment decision was overturned, illustrate the importance of standing up against the demonization of Israel on campus. Click here to read more about the failures of the BDS movement.

What can you do? Stay informed. Click here to sign a petition in support of voting no in Berkeley to divest from Israel.

By Gilad Skolnick

Scenes from our workshop @ Brooklyn College

April 17, 2013

20130404_131223

Students work together on starting a mock letter to the editor in response to an anti-Israel op-ed20130404_132042

Writing the intro to their letter to the editor

On April 4th CAMERA was invited to Brooklyn College to work with students on how to recognize bias in the media, compose strong letters to the editor, and on how to go about responding to inaccurate op-eds and articles about Israel. About 20 enthusiastic students attended this event. Ask us about how you can bring CAMERA to your campus!

 

ASU Screening of UNMASKED: Judeophobia

April 16, 2013

On March 6th, 2013, Alabama State University CAMERA Fellow, Rita Usher, organized a screening of the documentary film Unmasked: Judeophobia on her campus.  Approximately 40 students attended. According to Rita, many of the student guests made connections between the struggle against antisemitism and the historical struggle against racism in the United States.

okayASU

One ASU student wrote of the event: “I enjoyed the movie very much.  I feel much more informed about antisemitism and racism against Jews.  I learned about the degree to which antisemitism has reached overseas, especially in the Middle East and European countries.”
Click here to learn more about being a CAMERA Fellow and to apply!

 

CCAP Liaison Chloé Valdary on Yom Hatzmaut

April 15, 2013

“Oh brave new world, That has such people in’t.”
-Miranda, From Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Act 1, scene 1  

chloe no againEnter the shackled. Enter the despondent, wretched souls. Enter the man and woman, boy and
girl, deemed “menace to society,” destined to roam endlessly about. Number the stars upon their
lapels and the Chai’s upon the chains that grace their necks. Note the fire in their eyes and the
resilience in their hearts. See the laws they transcribed from the lips of Hashem, the bulwark of
civilization.

Let the backdrop be constructed, the set pieces raised onstage. Livid and malevolent minor characters fill the void, the dark world of apathy and contempt. They seek redemption, to purge themselves from their nightmares and their guilty conscience. They would fly away if they had the means. But instead, they gather scapegoats and project their hate onto the usual suspects.

These be our antagonists.

Act 1, scene 2

Enter the dreamer, the conceiver of a noble and ambitious project. Distraught over the subjugation of his people, he deems it necessary to act and to will the dream into being. There are no doubts in his mind, no second thoughts. He is sure of the task in front of him and the weight he must carry. The weight of millions alive and yet to be born. He is blessed with a burden, an obligation to freedom. He yearns for the soil, the earth that gave birth to his people.

That old new land inspires the once and future kings and queens of Zion. Our protagonists dash. Like lightning, they hurry across the stage. They ascend and journey to that land, that they read of in their Book, that land that they dreamed of in their slumber, that they trembled for, that they dared to desire in Godforsaken places, where evil men attempted to quench their spirit. “Next year,” they whispered. “Next year in Jerusalem.” They come and go in waves. They come by the thousands. But the dream is not yet fully realized.

Act 1, scene 3.

Let the lights be dimmed and the sea of humanity be tossed and turned about. Let the audience wretch at the putrid stench of the bodies stacked miles high. Feel the flames of the ovens as the sparks hit your flesh. Hear these screams, these shrieks that will remain nameless, faceless. A grandmother here or there. A young boy cursed by his age. A Rabbi made to dig his own grave. A ravine from which they must all jump. Breathe in this air, this foul air. Let it consume your lungs. But avert not your eyes, for you must always remember this, this carnage, this culmination of libels and pogroms. Etch these souls onto your bones. See this and engrave these six million in your heart.

Look how our protagonists now command the world’s attention. See how the globe convulses at its crimes. Of apathy. Of evil. Of genocide. Yet, see how the longing for the land increases, how determination abounds. Let the new Exodus begin, the glorious journey to Zion. Let the ground bring forth its food and the towers be constructed. Let the ancient settlements spring forth anew and the first to Zion rejoice. Let humanity sing, and The City of Peace be painted in gold. For our protagonists have done it. They have triumphed.

Epilogue

This is for you. This is for you, oh man and woman, boy and girl. I can trace the laugh lines of your 65 years across your beautiful terrain. I know your worth and your virtue. They speak of you in paradise. Your spirit is infinite.

So take my hand and walk this land with me. For this is a production of epic proportions. This is Judah’s manifest destiny. This is the uncanny persistence of his youth, the anthem of his old.The memory of his fallen, the battle cry of his founders. The depth of his texts, the blast of his trumpet. This is the no more huddled, no more wretched. This is Judah’s voice, no longer whispered but bellowed. No longer stifled but liberated. So sing it, scream it, shout it until your lungs bursts, not of gas but of joy. Not of sorrow but of delight. Let Judah roar and his enemies quiver in fear and let the song of his people resound throughout the earth. Am Yisrael Chai.

Am Yisrael Chai.