Monthly Archives: August 2013

CAMERA Fellow Published in Tulane Paper

August 30, 2013

CAMERA 2013-14 Fellow Ben Kravis recently published a letter to the editor in his campus paper, the Tulane Hullabaloo. Read Ben’s letter here or scroll below.

Ben Kravis writes that one can be both Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian. This is a strong argument, as there is no reason one cannot support both people. Unfortunately, many campus groups that have a single agenda of demonizing Israel masquerade as being a pro-Palestinian group. These groups focus all their events on attacking Israel, with very little attention focused on the Palestinian suffering due to other Arab countries (Palestinians Being Slaughtered, Displaced/ Where are the “Pro-Palestinians”?), the Fatah dictatorship in the West Bank, or the Hamas theocracy in the Gaza Strip. For more check out the In Focus blog post Dealing with a Pro-Palestinian activist? Are you sure?

Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian journalist and recipient of the Emet Award by CAMERA, recently wrote about Egypt’s blockade of Gaza, which receives very little coverage: Egypt Blockades Gaza; and about the lack of a free press in the Arab world: Where Muslims Can Speak Freely in the Middle East.

Letter to the Editor by Ben Kravis:

Kevin Young’s article published on Aug 23rd, “Students for Justice in Palestine attempts to bring equal presence to campus,” unfavorably portrays pro-Israel groups on campus and makes SJP seem immaculate, which misrepresents both sides. This article champions Tulane’s SJP as the underdog that hasn’t had a chance to prove itself and pro-Israel groups as overbearing favorites that control the whole system.

We must examine if an active SJP on campus would lead to an equal presence of each side. Nationally, SJP has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, which stated that SJP has “consistently demonized Israel.” On our campus, meanwhile, SJP has defamed Israel by falsely accusing it of being an apartheid state. If Tulane’s SJP supports and continues slander while the pro-Israel groups provide facts, would this lead to an unbiased presence leading to dialogue between the two sides?

Additionally, Young’s argument makes it seem as if being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine are mutually
exclusive. One can be a passionate pro-Israel activist and believe in the Palestinians’ right to peaceful self-determination, just as one can be pro-Palestine and recognize Israel’s sovereignty and right to exist. This assumption deepens the schism between the two sides and is not conducive to SJP lessening its smear campaign. Tulane University for Israel, for example, is pro-Israel and pro-Palestine.

TUFI is an advocate for the Israeli policies that promote peace and equal rights to its citizens, regardless of race or religion—which includes Palestinians and non-Jews. Instead, SJP spreads the lie that the only democracy in the Middle East is “racist.” Lying about a country that dreams of peace only exacerbates the conflict and shoves that goal further away. Lying about a country and ignoring the actual crimes against Palestinians, such as the ruling government of Gaza using children as human shields and locating rocket launchers in schools and hospitals, hurts Palestinians.

hamas-mom

Reflections on Interning with CAMERA

August 29, 2013

This May, I graduated from the College of Charleston. Two weeks later, my apartment was in boxes, I was saying goodbye to all my friends, and to the South. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane with my mom with a boarding pass that said Boston, Massachusetts.

I had never been to Boston before, but had heard many things about the city, such as that the winters are beyond brutal, the men are not southern gentlemen, and a hot summer day is 68 degrees. But besides all that, I couldn’t wait to jump in and test the waters because I had received the internship of a lifetime: CAMERA, The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, had hired me to be their summer intern. CAMERA is a media monitoring, research, and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

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On my first day of the internship I felt like a mom feels on her first day of bringing her child to school. Maybe this was because my mom dropped me off. I was scared, nervous, excited, and overwhelmed. All of those feelings quickly vanished once I met the wonderful staff. They immediately opened their arms to me and made me feel like family and at home as best as they could. The only feeling I had left was excitement. Excited to get to work!

During my internship, I learned how to spot inaccurate information in the media about the Middle East, write articles, and write biographies of controversial figures in order to help students know who is a reliable speaker. I learned how to edit the Camera on Campus website (something I have never done before nor wasn too good at in the beginning). As time moved on and with more practice, I was able to add photos to the website, edit layouts, and add links to various tabs. I learned how to write film reviews for Israeli films, update spreadsheets, and expanded my knowledge in social media.

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I was introduced to Google docs, spreadsheets and more for our student conference, which took place August 18-20th. I had been helping prepare for this conference since day one. My fellow interns and I packed up 53 swag bags to give to the students with various reading and working material for them to bring back to campus, filled 53 poster tubes for them to hang at their Israel events on campus, and last but not least, binders filled with information.

Sporadically, throughout the days and weeks leading up to the conference, I was handed all types of information about these students, including but not limited to their arrival and departure times, what school they go to, any specific allergies they had, etc. Every day I learned more and grew more of a small bond to these students who I had never met. The conference was an incredible experience, and I look forward to staying in touch with the many students that I met there.

There were many challenges in moving to a new city. Knowing I was helping media accuracy and promoting Israel’s achievements, as well as the importance of defending Israel, helped me strive on. CAMERA became my safety place, my new friends and my new family. Thank you, CAMERA, for the most amazing summer and internship. From learning from Twitter software engineer, Danny Hertz about how to accurately and effectively talk about Israel and the news via social media to discussing how important it is to continue to promote Israel accurately, I have so many things to take away from this internship that will help me in my future!

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Leeron Ofer

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages

August 28, 2013

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Not Boycotting. Terrified.
Ynet was quick to report on another cultural boycott. However, the artist himself declared that he’s not boycotting—he’s terrified of BDS bullying. (Presspectiva)

The Line That Turned Into A Border
Another instance of Ha’aretz “lost in translation” (Presspectiva)

BBC backgrounder on peace process erases twenty years of terror
A BBC Q&A article charts the Middle East peace process – without any mention of Palestinian terrorism. (BBC Watch)

BBC’s Knell amplifies Hamas propaganda, downplays its terror designation
The BBC reverts to form by presenting Hamas as a terrorist organization designated only by Israel. (BBC Watch)

Indy legitimizes ludicrous charge that Israel is ‘ethnically cleansing’ Jerusalem
Population statistics in Jerusalem alone easily disprove the hyperbolic charge by pro-Palestinian propagandists that Israel is ‘ethnically cleansing’ Arabs from Jerusalem. (CiF Watch)

The “bureaucracy” of media activism
The Spanish news agency Europa Press has found a formula to comply with its obligation to present a balanced and impartial information. At least, it believes so. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press
Israel’s display of the Iron Dome and the threat of a Western attack in Syria centered the headlines. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?
Spanish-speaking media reported on the death of three Palestinians during a raid by Israeli border police in Qalandia checkpoint, but didn’t on the death of another man killed by Palestinian security forces. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Looking Forward to Advocate for Israel; 2013-2014 Academic Year

Attending CAMERA’s annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training in August was one of the most enriching and beneficial experiences of my college career. As a rising junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL, I was honored to be to chosen to attend this past conference. As soon as I entered the doors of Hillel at Boston University, I was surrounded by an amazing group of young student leaders, who all have one set goal in mind: To defend and advocate for the state of Israel. When the CAMERA staff introduced themselves to the students, I felt that I was part of a strong big family. The warmth, smiles, and support were immediately conveyed from the energetic and positive attitudes of Aviva, Samantha, and Gilad.

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Out of all the student leadership conferences that I had attended, I had gained the most skills out of this conference. I am now proud to say that I feel comfortable to go back to campus and apply all of the excellent advertising, communication, and networking techniques that I learned in the sessions of the conference.

The agenda was successfully planned with many inspiring activities. CAMERA staff made sure to bring motivational and professional guest speakers with answers to all possible questions. Let us not forget that staff’s own unique and fun presentations about all possible issues that we may encounter on campus. Breaks and special attractions were also well distributed within the daily schedule, and all students were very appreciative of that.

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I would like to thank CAMERA for their above and beyond kind, successful, and well-thought out hospitality. Providing all activists with snacks and CAMERA goods, useful and much informative binders, kosher meals, and free transportation, CAMERA made this trip an unforgettable experience. On behalf of Owls for Israel, a pro- Israel organization at Florida Atlantic University, I would like to express my appreciation and thanks to the staff of CAMERA, to its founders, and to all of its supporters. I am very excited to start this upcoming 2013-2014 academic year, knowing I have beyond all of the required materials, ideas, information, and advice to help in the battle towards a more optimistic future for the perception of Israel on American campuses.

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Thank you, CAMERA, for motivating me to always stay proud of who I am, where I’m from, and what I stand for. A special thank you to Hillel at Boston University and its staff and CAMERA interns Leeron, Eli, and everyone else, who helped make this event successful. You are all amazing and inspiring individuals, and I am so glad I know I have you as eternal supporters. Much appreciation to all of your hard work.

Contributed by Leehe Negri, CCAP Liaison at Florida Atlantic University

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages

August 27, 2013

Tripod Logo.smBBC Arabic reports on Syrian patients in Israeli hospitals – but not in Arabic
After months of ignoring the subject of Syrian patients being treated in Israeli hospitals, the BBC finally got around to reporting the story – but not to its Arabic Service audiences. (BBC Watch)

BBC describes known terror finance man as ‘activist’
A senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official with a record of terror financing is described by the BBC as an ‘activist’. (BBC Watch)

Israel’s most deadly war?
There are historical facts, and there are Gidon Levy’s facts. (Presspectiva)

3rd time’s a charm: CiF Watch prompts correction to Telegraph “correction” on refugees
After two unsuccessful attempts, the Telegraph finally published accurate information on the number of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. (CiF Watch)

The Little Activist that Could
A Canadian student’s reflections on the CAMERA Training Conference: “The day before my flight to Boston for training, I almost backed out. . .” (In Focus)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press
Headlines focus on Palestinians walking out of the negotiation process and Israel’s opinion on the Syrian conflict. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Jeff Jacoby Speaks at CAMERA Conference

During CAMERA’s Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference last week, students had the opportunity to hear Jeff Jacoby, an op-ed columnist at the Boston Globe since 1994, speak. In addition, in 1999, Mr. Jacoby was the first recipient of the Breindel Prize, awarded for excellence in opinion journalism.

Jacoby engaged CAMERA students by discussing such topics as growing anti-Zionist sentiment and what Zionism meant to them, saying that we should “reclaim the word Zionism.” Instead of Zionism being known as an “epithet,” Mr. Jacoby said that it “should … [give] us an enormous sense of pride.” When discussing the importance of Zionism, such words as “freedom,” “peace,” and “hope” came up.

The speech also touched on the origins of Zionism. Even before Theodore Herzl, the creator of modern Zionism, established the World Zionist Congress in 1897, there was support for a Jewish state in the US. Six years earlier, the publishers of many major newspapers in the United States, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe, signed a petition known as the Blackstone Memorial. It stated that the Jews should be supported in their return to the land of Israel, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire, so they could have a state for themselves.

Jacoby also informed the students that the first president of the Zionist Organization of America was the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis. Students learned about a time when Israel was not treated negatively by the UN and the mainstream media. In 1973, Life published a special report celebrating the 25th anniversary of Israel. Jacoby discussed how, slowly, Israel grew to be seen as the aggressor in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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Zionism and Israel, according to Mr. Jacoby, are demonized by the mainstream media and on college campuses because of the “big lie technique.” Championed by the Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, leading people to believe a “big lie” only requires you to repeat it enough times that they believe that it is, in fact, true.

While yes, Israel, like any other army, has to defend itself, “at the fundamental level [Zionism] meant an end to 2000 years of defenselessness” and persecution. The students learned how to engage in the defense of Israel effectively, and Jeff Jacoby’s speech encouraged students to embrace Zionism.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages—August 22nd-23rd

August 26, 2013

BBC documentary on Tel Aviv gay pride fails to keep up with the news
A BBC World Service radio documentary on Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride parade paints a picture two months out of date. (BBC Watch)

Inaccuracy corrected in one BBC Rouhani article, left standing in another
Two BBC articles made the same erroneous claim but, following complaints, the BBC corrected only one of them. (BBC Watch)

Telegraph revision to false claim on Palestinian refugees is still misleading
Despite a revision made by editors at the Telegraph to a story which grossly inflated the number of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war, the passage in question still fails to accurately convey the accurate number of refugees. (CiF Watch)

The Little Activist that Could

I’ve always wanted to advocate for Israel. In the spring of 2011, after my experience on The March of the Living, I knew I needed to stand up for Israel, but it wasn’t until this week when I knew I could do it.

All throughout my first year at Concordia, I wanted to join a pro-Israel group. I wanted desperately for someone to give me the facts and tell me what events to organize to promote my beloved Jewish state. I never found my shepherd. I wandered around campus feeling unfulfilled and guilty that my friends all over the country were standing up for the Jewish state during Operation Pillar of Defense, and throughout the year.

The only association I had with Israel was being a dormant member of a quiet Facebook group, Concordia Students for Israel. Towards the end of my second semester, someone posted the application for CAMERA. I clicked, almost out of obligation—I had to do something.

The more I read about the CAMERA Fellowship, the more I understood it to be a lot of work, with a lot of reward. I was lucky enough to be selected but the idea of carrying out the fellowship still seemed daunting.

The day before my flight to Boston for training, I almost backed out. I was certain everyone would be smarter than me, call me out on my ignorance, and that they would question my abilities as much as I questioned them myself. I wouldn’t understand anything and I would be exposed as a fraud. It would be too intimidating; I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I worried that despite their promise for truth, this conference would promote Israel propaganda.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

The people I met were incredibly friendly, open and positive. Their knowledge was inspiring, not intimidating. I immediately connected with many individuals who had strong intellect and passion for Israel. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. These people had their feet planted firmly on the ground, knew their facts and had realistic goals and were passionate about attaining them. These people weren’t afraid of opposition or failure and I was in awe. Even more surprising, these leaders treated me as an equal and welcomed me to the community of activism even though it was my very first conference. I felt respected and my fear of inadequacy was quickly diminishing.

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Samantha, Gilad, and Aviva organized a line-up of engaging, practical, and, of course, accurate speakers who reaffirmed my love of Israel and lit my passion to fight for her all while keeping my attention throughout a lengthy day. Of course, they were brilliant speakers themselves and I thank each of them for their passion and dedication to Israel and to each of us. Though the entire conference was fervently pro-Israel, it wasn’t propaganda in the slightest. Everything had a source, a purpose and a context. Thank you, CAMERA, for helping find the facts that will be our weapons in battle.

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CAMERA should be a model for all student leadership. They trust and empower their students, they support and guide them but allow them to create and develop their own ideas. It’s unlike any experience I’ve ever had. I’m confused and overwhelmed, which is the flip-side of inspiration. I have so much to absorb and so much to do, but instead of drowning in it all, I know I will be swimming my heart out all year because CAMERA didn’t just tell me I have to, but assured me that I can.

Conference 2013 153The Maccabees did not come to a compromise, they fought. Jews have historically stood their ground and have also historically survived. This battle of knowledge on college campuses will be no different, but we must be strong and bold and accurate. There is no “pretty” or “safe” activism, you have to put yourself out there (something I don’t do too often)!

Luckily, the facts are on our side. I now have an amazing team of supporters, partners, researchers and friends fighting alongside with me. I have them to thank for melting my fears, insecurities and doubts and for finding my passion, determination and confidence.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga

I know everything seems possible surrounded by allies and that what I do on campus will be difficult and different, but I think I’m ready now.

I’m so glad I had this opportunity. I have not only grown as an activist, but as a person.

Thank you, CAMERA – you do more good than you know.

Contributed by 2013-14 CAMERA Fellow Michelle Soicher

Setting the Pace to Finish a Marathon

August 23, 2013

If there was anything that I learned from attending the CAMERA conference a few days back, then it was that sprinting towards an unmarked finish line is impossible. Seven years have passed since I started running toward a goal that is simultaneously rewarding and destructive. Rewarding, because every stretch of ground gained makes me feel victorious. Destructive, because when I am unable to properly stand up for what I believe in, I want to crawl in a corner and hide. For every victory, I am elated. For every defeat, I temporarily lose hope in my what I am fighting for. But without fail, I always find myself ready to fight another day each time I wake up to the sight of the Israeli flag upon the walls of my college dorm.

Letter to the Editor Writing Workshop

Letter to the Editor Writing Workshop

By defending Israel, I am fulfilling the dreams that my ancestors of the last three thousand years yearned for. My great-grandparents came to the United States seeking asylum from the pogroms in the Russian Empire. I can only imagine what joy they experienced when the State of Israel was formed sixty-five years ago.

Krav Maga Class

Krav Maga Class

When I recognize that my mother was the first generation of her extended family to be born with the Jewish state in existence, it fills me with a sense of awe that the majority of the world can never truly understand nor appreciate. It is for those reasons that I am lucky to be Jewish and why I feel obligated to defend Israel’s existence. Never again will I allow myself to remain silent and let my fellow Jews and my homeland be criticized unjustly. Never again shall we forget the sacrifices of those who came before us; those who passed away without setting their eyes on the Kotel.

Everyone who dedicates their life or part of their lives to CAMERA recognizes the reality on the ground. By attending this conference, the next generation of Jewish leaders and Israel advocates have become increasingly prepared for the battles that lie ahead. When CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin concluded the conference with a presentation on the Ten Principles, every student in the room had something to say about them. Everything that was said was dead-on and indisputably correct. With this sense of motivation, it is impossible to doubt that we, as CCAP Liaisons and Fellows, have a huge job to do and that we are prepared for the challenges that face us.

Seven years ago, I started defending the State of Israel from a strong anti-Israel student body at my high school. I stood my ground as the lone soldier on the information front while the foot soldiers defending Israel were scrutinized for Cast Lead and for the Flotilla raid. I learned the hard way that if I go all out, attempting to sway the opinions of the apathetic, then I become tired, exhausted, and angry.

As individuals, we have to work to set certain goals that we can see on the horizon. Can we influence the opinions of the apathetic? Can we bring together populations of Jews and Zionists away from the misleading idealism of J Street and command a larger force of pro-Israel advocates? Can we convince that the apartheid comparison is wrong and that Students for Justice in Palestine is perpetuating an idea that is far fetched in reality?

Those are the goals that I have set forth for myself and the goals I wish to convey when I return to my campus in a little more than a week. We, as student advocates for Israel, have to set our own individual pace to finish this laborious marathon. Perhaps one day, we can all come together and celebrate both our smaller and our larger victories. In moments like these, I like to quote my late Senator Ted Kennedy: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Good luck to everyone! I’ll see you on the information front!

Contributed by Pitzer College CCAP Liaison ’13-’14 Elliott Hamilton

My Life Has Taken an Interesting Turn

August 22, 2013

Hello, my name is Tatiana Rose Becker and I am a Zionist. That is not one of the first things people learn about me, but it is definitely the most important. It was not always this way. I grew up in a household that valued the Jewish culture over the religion, so I was left without a huge part of my heritage.  I only began my spiritual journey into Judaism when I came to college and sought out my campus Hillel on a whim to see what they were like. I didn’t have a lot of Jewish friends growing up, and I never had the opportunities to celebrate our holidays like some of my new friends had their entire lives. I was what some people call a “bad Jew.” Recently, though, my life has taken an interesting turn.

This past summer, I had the absolute privilege to be a part of the FSU Hillel Taglit Birthright trip to Israel. I must preface that I have always been very politically active and an activist for community rights and the rights of students, but I had never considered the possibility of being an advocate for the Jewish state. Needless to say, given my position now, my life was changed in those ten days. I left the US not really knowing what it meant to be a Zionist and a supporter of the state of Israel and of her people- my people- and I came back with something I can only describe as fire in my soul. This fire has empowered me to become an activist for Israel in every way possible: at my school, with the government, with my friends, and even in my family where Israel was never really a topic of conversation before.

Spending just the last day and a half at the CAMERA Student Leadership Conference, it reminds me so fervently what it means to be a part of the pro-Israel movement. It symbolizes something so divinely greater than me, greater than my friends, greater than CAMERA, greater than most people understand.  It symbolizes the sovereignty, protection, and rebirth of the Jewish people. CAMERA’s conference has given me the tools and the strength and the reassurance to face SJP, BDS, IAW, PAW and any other extremist groups head on, along with groups organizations who don’t give an accurate portrayal of the conflict, like J-Street. I have been reminded that these movements against the state of Israel are both slanderous to her name and non-peaceful causes.

Letter to the editor writing workshop.

Letter to the editor writing workshop.

The workshops being held by CAMERA are the best I have experienced in any pro-Israel collegiate student seminar to date; I have attended a few of them, for the record. CAMERA has the ability to be succinct and effective at conveying their message and giving us the facts. I feel as though this is the most productive conference I have been to dealing with real issues I am facing on my campus every day. They are effective means of fighting the slanderers, the liars, the de-legitimizers, the racists, the counter culture, and those in our midst who are so poorly misinformed that they equate Zionism with racism.

Students taking part in a role playing exercise.

Students taking part in a role playing exercise.

I am relatively new to the advocacy for Israel scene. My friends outside of Hillel and Noles for Israel see this as a weird immediate shift in my life- all of a sudden I went to Israel and came back, and now I am this “Super Jew” who has to fight for my cause. What they do not know is that the ten days I spent in my homeland with my people and being able to stand at the Kotel- these things changed who I fundamentally am at the core of my soul. They don’t understand that my activism isn’t just to protect the state of Israel but to protect the sanctity of my homeland and deter those who would see her destroyed.  They don’t understand that my family isn’t just my mom and dad and two brothers. I have fourteen million brothers and sisters who all need my help. I have seven million brothers and sisters in Israel who, with my help, can have children and grandchildren grow up safely in their home.

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I have to thank CAMERA for giving me the opportunity to come to this conference because the critical nature of the knowledge and tools I am gaining here is so inexplicably important. Myself and the other attendees of this conference are the literal future of the pro-Zionist movement. We are the future, and the future is now.

The solution, however, and something I am personally very proud of, is that we are prepared and we are ready to deal with those who would see Israel destroyed. Organizations like CAMERA which engage college students like myself who have the same like-minded goals to keep Israel safe and ultimately obtain peace in the Middle East (a far fetched goal, I admit) are the most important thing I can do with my time and I am grateful for their existence. And though the conference was fantastic and informative, I know it is just the beginning of an uphill battle that, with the help of my CAMERA peers and friends, we will win, with valor and dignity- just as the Jewish people have always done.

Contributed by CCAP Liaison Tatiana Rose Becker