Monthly Archives: June 2013

We Heart Our Students!

June 28, 2013

As the end of June approaches, CAMERA wraps up another successful Student Leadership and Advocacy Training trip to Israel! This year marks the 7th year that CAMERA has taken approximately 25 college students on a 10-day, completely subsidized geopolitical tour of Israel. The experience focuses on exploring media portrayal of Israel, historical truths, and student leadership development.  Read more about CAMERA’s Israel trip on the CAMERA on Campus main site!

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Photo Credit: Aviva Slomich, Graffiti in Israel

CAMERA’s students have consistently praised the Israel trip as one of the most influential and successful Israel-related experiences they have had, and this year has been no different.  As the 2013 CAMERA Israel journey winds down, one participant- Rena Nasar, CUNY Baruch CCAP student and YOFI founder- had this to say:

“Going to Israel with CAMERA has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, with brilliant speakers, insightful activities, and great friends. This trip revitalized me to continue my work in Israel advocacy because it reminded me why we do what we do on our campuses. It reminded me of the amazing land and people that we advocate for every day.”

Rena is just one of the many exceptional students we at CAMERA are privileged enough to work with every year.  We thank Rena for her kind words, and reply that we will always LOVE our students!

Contributed by Samantha Rose Mandeles

 

American Friends for Peace?

June 27, 2013

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which represents the political arm of Quaker sect, has subsidized a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)- themed summer camp in upstate New York, promoting dis-investment from the Israel Training Institute. This camp is a haven for anti-Israel college students who wish to learn how to weaken the state of Israel by boycotting Israeli businesses and any entities that contribute to the growth of the Israeli economy.

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Photo Credit: Candler Emory

It is ironic that the AFSC, whose website proclaims a strong opposition to violence and war, based on Quaker ideals,  would align themselves with those who have no true desire for a just peace at all. In the CAMERA article Friends of Gilad Atzmon, Robert “Bo” Lauder is quoted as saying, “…the Quaker belief in the Inner Light – that of God in every person. “Guided by the ideals of integrity, peace, equality and simplicity, and by our commitment to diversity, we do more than prepare students for the world that is: we help them bring about the world that ought to be.” Yet, the AFSC has fully endorsed the “Palestinian Right of Return”, code for ending the Jewish State by making Jews the demographic minority. In addition, the AFSC has never condemned the Palestinian media or Palestinian government for educating their children to hate Jews and to deny the Jewish people’s ancestral right to a homeland.  This is not a recipe for true, lasting, and just peace.

The AFSC has betrayed its own ideals by aligning itself with those who are fervently fighting against the rights of the only Jewish state in the world. 

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Josh Arons

Learn More: Read Asaf Romirowsky’s and Alexander H. Joffe’s article, “When Did the Quakers Stop Being Friends?”

Learn More about Asaf Ramirowsky

 

CAMERA Graduates Updates

June 26, 2013

One of the most amazing things about CAMERA students is their boundless drive and passion for promoting accuracy coverage of Israel and the Middle East.  Even after graduating college, many of our students exercise that passion by working toward employment in the same field.

Three recently graduated CAMERA students have done just that!  CAMERA congratulates:

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(Pictured above) David Axelrod, Ellie Rudee, and Yoni Kaplan with other CAMERA students and CAMERA’s Campus Director, Aviva Slomich at CAMERA’s 2012 Annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference in Boston.

-2011-2012 Tulane University CAMERA Fellow and David-Bar Ilan Award recipient Yoni Kaplan, who has just been hired as the New York Campus Coordinator at StandWithUs!

-2012-2013 University of Minnesota CAMERA Fellow David Axelrod, who has just been hired as the Mid-Atlantic Campus Coordinator and Shillman Fellow at the Zionist Organization of America!

-2012-2013 Kent State University CCAP Liaison Bobby Weitzner, who has just been hired as Executive Assistant at the Phyllis Chesler Organization!                                 

CAMERA also congratulates 2011-2012 CAMERA Fellow and founder of CCAP-supported Claremont Students for Israel, Eliana Rudee, who was selected to speak at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem!

For CAMERA students, exceptional college activism is just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to truth in coverage of the Middle East.

Contributed by Samantha Rose Mandeles

Painting the People Pink

June 25, 2013

Unfortunately, anti-Israel propaganda is ever evolving within the campus environment. The newest charge against Israel is made of pure ridiculousness. This charge is called pinkwashing. “In April, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York hosted a conference on “Homonationalism and Pinkwashing.” This is yet another example of academia’s attempt to gather bits of what they believe to be fact and string them together to formally defame Israel and promote BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movements.

Picture courtesy of NYTimes.com

Picture courtesy of NYTimes.com

According to Tablet Magazine, “Homonationalism,” according to a description on the conference website, is the apparently noxious new phenomenon that “occurs when sub-sectors of specific gay communities achieve legal parity with heterosexuals and then embrace racial and religious supremacy ideologies”—including being proud of Israel’s record of respecting and upholding the rights of gay citizens and visitors. “Pinkwashing,” meanwhile, describes a “deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.” The term pinkwashing was first used by Jasbir Puar, a women’s studies professor at Rutgers University; however, Sarah Schulman made the term a recognizable term.

Pinkwashing is ridiculous and, quite frankly, a falsehood. The fact is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with an annual gay pride parade. It’s also the only viable democracy in the Middle East, which means that homosexuals are not persecuted in any way based on their sexual orientation. The pinkwashing accusers believe that these arguments are used to cover up alleged human rights abuses in Palestinian territories. However, if pro-gay falsies were enough to cover up acts of violence, the Arabic countries would have picked up this tactic.

Additionally, gay rights in Israel are not meant to be simply rights for homosexuals. These rights not only represent equality amongst all Israelis, but also their ability to change laws. Gay rights represent equality and freedom of expression combined. Gays and lesbians in Israel fought and struggled for their rights. If people in any of the countries around Israel were to even say that they were gay, they would open themselves to violent attacks. Those who accuse Israel of pinkwashing blatantly ignore the homophobia in Palestinian territories. The truth is that pinkwashing is not only not backed up by fact, but is not a viable strategy for Israel. One can still make a case for Israel without talking about gay rights.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Rachel Wolf

Rachel Wolf has had two posts in our blog, Spoon Feeding and Misguided Anti SodaStream Protestors at American University, picked up by the AlgemeinerShe is a rising sophomore at American University and currently starting a CAMERA Campus Activist Project group on her own campus.

When Hummus Enters the Conversation

June 24, 2013

In a recent article published in The Huffington Post, entitled “Sabra’s Quest To Push Hummus Mainstream Is About Much More Than Chickpeas” by Saki Knafo, Knafo addresses a multitude of issues concerning tensions between Palestinians and Israelis using the common medium of hummus. In particular, Knafo targets Israeli founded brands such as Sabra. He makes inaccurate comparisons between the ongoing unrest in Israel and the spreading popularity of hummus in the United States and beyond.

Hummus

Knafo alludes to the fact that consumers should boycott Sabra and other hummus companies as part of the BDS campaign, which is an extremely underhanded, hateful, and hypocritical movement. For example, many worldwide organizations have offices throughout Israel and employ Israelis, but consumers never consider boycotting companies such as Google. The entire prospect is enraging and unheard of to me, and I am baffled as to why the mere recipe of hummus must be brought into a political conflict.

Knafo’s words came across as anti-Semitic as he portrayed Sabra’s founders in a strictly negative light, failing to provide readers with a broader perspective- as most journalists are obligated to do. Knafo states that the point of the BDS campaign is to create “economic pressure on the Israeli government to end its 46-year occupation of Palestinian territories.” However, economic pressure will not bring an independent state. Many can agree that one of the only things that will is a Palestinian partner interested in peace negotiation. Moreover, unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has stated that they have no interest in negotiating with Israel, and this continues to perpetuate unrest in the region.

The article nearly accuses Jews living in the Middle East of robbing Arabs of the recipe for hummus.  But, in fact, there are distinct differences between hummus created in Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Azerbaijan, and Greece, to name just a few; these have nothing to do with religious or hereditary qualities. Instead, the differences that arise between hummus recipes exist solely because of the traits of the soil and land. For example, olives and olive oil are incorporated in many hummus recipes in Greece simply because one of the main economy-stimulating exports in Greece is olives. Beyond that, chickpeas and hummus have been around long before the creation of Islam, and more than half of Jews living in Israel trace their ancestors to hummus eating countries.

Overall, I cannot understand why such disrespectful tactics were expressed in an article found in a notably liberal and trustworthy publication. The hatred of Jews and Zionism can only be thwarted by people ready put aside their own bias and open their minds to the factual evidence that exists separate and apart from chickpeas, Islam, and Israel.

Contributed by Sara Lustberg

Sara Lustberg is a board member of YOFI, the CCAP-supported group at CUNY Baruch.

Progress and Change in the Iranian Regime?

June 21, 2013

The Islamic Republic of Iran had its 11th presidential election on January 14, 2013.  Cleric Hassan Rouhani, considered to be a moderate and a vocal critic of Ahmadinejad, won the election with a majority vote of 51%. But will Rouhani’s victory mark the beginning of progress and change in the Iranian regime, or will it preserve the dangerous status-quo?  Before attempting to answer this question, one must become more familiar with Rouhani.

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Hassan Rouhani was born in 1948 in Sorkheh, Iran.  He grew up in a religious Shiite family and began religious studies early in his youth, studying under leading scholars of Islamic thought. In 1969, he began to study more modern subjects at the University of Tehran. In the 1990’s, he pursued his PhD in psychology at the University of Glasgow.  Besides from being Western-educated, Rouhani is a polyglot, fluent in about six languages.  His family fought against the Shah, and in 1962 Rouhani joined the revolutionary forces. He was first arrested shortly after.

A year after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Rouhani served as a deputy commander of the Iran-Iraq war, a member of several councils and eventually became the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.  In 1989, he declined an offer to become the Iranian Minister of Intelligence.  Rouhani later represented Khamenei at the Supreme National Security Council and then served as secretary of the council for 16 years.

Rouhani is a smooth talker and uses much more cautious rhetoric than Ahmadinejad, hence he served as a high-ranking diplomat.  For two years he served as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and later published National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy, a 2011 memoir on Iran’s nuclear program.

Dr. Rouhani’s campaign slogan was “Government of Prudence and Hope.”  The issues he targeted were the instability of the economy, the continuation of the nuclear program, more attention to women’s rights and increased diplomacy with the West. He is well-liked by the Supreme Leader and had the support of several reformists.

Will Rouhani’s victory mark the beginning of progress and change in the Iranian regime or will it preserve the dangerous status-quo?  Unfortunately, it will most likely preserve the dangerous status-quo and perhaps even give the Islamic republic greater power in the international arena.

Based on the Iranian system of government, the president functions as a puppet controlled by its master, Ayatollah Khamenei.  The 2009 elections were clearly rigged and Khamenei suffered grave consequences for it—his regime was nearly toppled.  Thus, this year he let the people choose a moderate, yet a moderate that he knew he could trust.  Khamenei knew his audience well and realized that he must show the puppet that the people want, yet one that he can still control.  It was a strategic move for him to avoid uprising and preserve his regime.  Rouhani is not even a true moderate.  During the Iranian student demonstrations in 1999, he called for the students guilty of sabotage to suffer the death sentence.

Rouhani’s victory also has the ability to make the West more comfortable with Iran.  Under Ahmadinejad, Iran was isolated in the international community.  His outrageous statements, denial of the Holocaust and tyrannical rule made it difficult for many Western governments to work with him. Rouhani, though, is a Western-educated diplomat and can manipulate the West into thinking that the regime is more moderate and should no longer suffer from harsh economic sanctions.  However, it is important to note that the major points of conflict with the United States and Iran cease to change.  The main issues are Iran’s proxy war on Israel and its nuclear program.  Both of these issues are certainly not going to change under Rouhani.

Rouhani refers to Israel as “the great Zionist Satan” and claims that sanctions only benefit Israel.  As for the nuclear program, he explicitly states that he will not terminate the program.  Rouhani stated, “First, America must not interfere in Iran domestic affairs based on the Algiers Accord.  They have to recognize our nuclear rights, put away bullying policies against Iran.”  Rouhani’s position as the chief negotiator of the nuclear program demonstrates the importance of the program to him.  He has always been a strong supporter of it and his support for it is unlikely to change.

Hassan Rouhani’s victory in the Iranian presidential elections will not mark a change in the regime.  Khameini merely installed a Western-appearing puppet, who will continue the same policies of the regime under the guise of reform.  There is only one way for change—through revolution.  Unfortunately, it will take time for this to come.

Contributed by Blake Fleisher

Blake Fleisher is president of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) CCAP supported group, University of Chicago Friends of Israel. He is a rising third-year linguistics major. His piece BDS a Hypocritical Movement was recently published in the Algemeiner. This piece has been republished in the Algemeiner as well.

UNRWA and the Textbook Problem

June 20, 2013

As our current generation of possible peacemakers continues to fail to make breakthroughs in the peace process, many hope that the next generation will grow up and take over, accomplishing more than their predecessors. Recently, a group of young Palestinians and Israelis got together in an event titled “Dialogue for Peace Project.” This event was created to see how the next generation would deal with the peace process. Contrary to expectations of the Israelis, however, nothing was accomplished. According to Lital Shemesh, an Israeli journalist, “None of [the Palestinians] spoke of a . . . two state solution. They all referred to one state, their state.”

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The question that this dialogue brings up is why? Why have Palestinian children’s education not consisted of information about the peace process or a two-state solution? One source of Jew hatred comes from a UN organization that runs schools for Palestinian children, called the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This organization spends about $500 million per year provided by American and European taxpayers. Some of the money is spent on textbooks produced by the Palestinian Authority, of which a central theme is the right of return, and some money is spent on teachers who teach their students that “Israel must be wiped out.” One example of a radical teacher is Alwad al-Keek, a headmaster in one of the UN schools who built bombs and Qassam rockets for Islamic Jihad. Essentially, the proponents of the peace process are creating barriers to stop it indefinitely.

The only way to create a population willing to negotiate for peace is through education. The current system is limiting opportunities for peace and creating a population of radicals who are taught that Israelis are “occupiers.”

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn

The Land of Israel in 1940

June 19, 2013

Over the years, various Palestinian leaders and movements have claimed that the Jews do not have a right to the land of Israel because they lack connection to the land. This argument is often made with inaccurate maps and statements. However, as most Zionists (and historians) would argue, this connection to the land, officially called Palestine while under British rule, is very real. Not only have people always lived in this area, but Jews have always had a presence.

1940-1941 Keren Hayesod Calender

1940-1941 Keren Hayesod Calendar

A Yemenite immigrant in Emek Hefer

A Yemenite immigrant in Emek Hefer

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, “A common misperception is that the Jews were forced into the [Diaspora] by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned to Palestine, demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years. A national language and a distinct civilization have been maintained . . .By the early 19th century—years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement—more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.”

Tending the cattle at the Wizo Girls' Agricultural School, Nahalal

Tending the cattle at the Wizo Girls’ Agricultural School, Nahalal

In 1940, Keren Hayesod, or the United Israel Appeal (at that time the United Palestine Appeal), published their 1940-1941 (5701-5702) calendar. The calendar not only included information on Keren Hayesod, but also pictures of pre-statehood Israel, also known as Palestine. On the first page a reminder said, “Through the year, may this calendar be a reminder to you of those men and women in Palestine who are the vanguard of the Jewish Renaissance and who, with your cooperation, are laying the groundwork for a great structure, which will not only be the storehouse for Jewish life, but the basis for the re-creation of the Jewish values, from [which] the Jewish people and mankind as a whole may benefit.”

Keren Hayesod was started in 1920 and has been a part of the growth of Israel ever since. Subsequently, the Arab boycott of Jewish interests started in 1921, and the organization was challenged immediately.

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This calendar serves as a significant reminder of the Jewish presence in the Middle East before 1948. The images depict places that many who have been to Israel would recognize. Additionally, the calendar contains Torah prose, image descriptions and both English and Hebrew dates.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Rachel Wolf

BDS Momentum quashed at UC Santa Barbara

June 18, 2013

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Josh Arons:

The anti-Israel, boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement has infiltrated numerous state universities in California and has spread untruthful propaganda about the State of Israel. Unfortunately, the anti-Israel movement’s scare tactics worked by persuading student government associations at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine to boycott Israeli products and to divest from Israeli companies.  Many thought that other California state schools such as UC Santa Barbara would adopt nearly identical BDS policies, however they haven’t fallen into the trap, yet.

However, the BDS movement cause was struck a large blow when a BDS resolution was defeated at a very important UC Santa Barbara Student Government Senate hearing. The defeat of the BDS resolution at UC Santa Barbara was certainly an unexpected victory and showed the resilience of pro-Israel groups on UCSB’s campus. 

The BDS movement, which also partnered with the fringe Occupy Movement, devoted a great deal of resources to ensuring that UCSB would be an “Israel-free” campus. However, the hypocritical and intolerant BDS movement at UC Santa Barbara saw that fair-minded students rejected its message. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of students at California state universities recognize that the State of Israel shares values with the United States and does not deserve to be demonized by the BDS movement. Most California students recognize that the BDS movement’s efforts to impose all blame on one side of the Israeli-Arab conflict are an extreme position that is well outside of mainstream opinion. 

Students at Santa Cruz who oppose BDS

Students at Santa Barbara who oppose BDS

The BDS movement represents a radical minority of students. Furthermore, it is disheartening to see a noticeable number of self-identifying Jews being affiliated with this group that clearly has an anti-Jewish agenda and which is guilty of a glaring double standard.  Indeed, the BDS movement advocates boycotting Jewish owned businesses in Israel, while approving of doing business with Arabs residing in Israel and with Palestinians that reside in the West Bank and Gaza.  Likewise, the BDS movement remains silent about the absence of civil liberties, democracy, religious freedom, and women’s rights throughout the Arab world.

The BDS movement seeks to malign the State of Israel, the only country in the Mideast that celebrates and protects the rights of all ethnic, national, political, and religious groups, including minorities.  While the BDS movement claims to favor peace, it denies the Jewish people’s right to live in peace in its ancestral homeland. The BDS movement does not advance the prospects for peace as it supports extremist Palestinian groups that seek to eliminate any Jewish presence in the Mideast.

At UC Santa Barbara, the BDS movement has made it clear that it rejects true ethnic, national, and religious diversity in the Mideast.  A crystal clear example of this is that the BDS movement Facebook page at UC Santa Barbara explicitly disregards the Jewish people’s presence in Israel.    Indeed, the Facebook page features a Palestinian flag entitled from the “River to the Sea.”

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Banner image on the facebook page.

This slogan is referring to the original Palestine mandate, which stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The use of the slogan from the “River to the Sea” reveals that the BDS movement group is demanding all of the territory for the Palestinians and the expulsion or liquidation of the millions of Jewish Israeli citizens.

Further, the Facebook includes only Palestinian imagery, and with an absence of the blue and white colors shown on the Israeli flag. The BDS movement at University of California Santa Barbara has made it clear that it does not recognize the Jewish people’s right to live in their national homeland. Indeed, this organization gives economic, moral, and political support to the extremists who seek undermine and destroy the State of Israel, sixty-five years after its founding in 1948.

Check Out Our Student Writers!

June 17, 2013

While interning for CAMERA, high-school senior Rebecca Pritzker wrote the powerful blog piece Israel: The Modern Canary, which was republished recently in the Jewish Ledger.

Former CAMERA Israel trip participant Romeu Monteiro recently wrote a piece for his school’s paper, which was also picked up by The AlgemeinerIsraeli Inspiration, Portuguese Citizenship.  RMonteiro

Rachel Wolf, another intern, has had two posts in our blog, Spoon Feeding and Misguided Anti SodaStream Protestors at American University, picked up by The Algemeiner.

IMG_1387 - Version 2Our CCAP liaison for the Chicago Friends of Israel, Blake Fleisher, recently published his piece, BDS: A Hypocritical Movement, in The Algemeiner as well!

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