Monthly Archives: May 2014

Hasbara through Laurentian University Gaming Society (LUGS)

May 30, 2014

On March 13th, the Laurentian University Jewish Student Association (LUJSA) hosted “Let’s Scrabbalatte Game Night!” jointly with the  Laurentian University Gaming Society (LUGS).  This off-campus event drew more than 35 students, many of whom do not usually attend LUJSA events. In addition to enjoying pizza, provided by the Students General Association, and games, the students discussed LUJSA and were exposed to positive Hasbara. The event was a good opportunity to reach out to other clubs and students and perpetuate a positive image of Israel.

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Contributed by CAMERA intern Aaron Marks

SJP v. Mercado, a ‘Fair’ Fight?

May 29, 2014

This piece was written by Seth Greenwald and published in the Times of Israel. Seth Greenwald is a sophomore at Clark University and a strong pro-Israel advocate.

The Students for Justice in Palestine, an anti-Israel, allegedly pro-Palestinian student organization, have picked the wrong fight against Florida Atlantic University student Abraham Mercado. Mercado, a strong pro-Israel activist and outspoken critic of the organization, penned a letter on October 4th, 2013 condemning the actions of SJP for their alleged “Apartheid Wall” and mock barrier placed in the middle of campus, which prevented students from passing. SJP claimed that this was a representation of what the typical Palestinian faces when attempting to go about their day. What they failed to mention was the fact that the security barrier, their so called “Apartheid Wall” was solely built to prevent terrorist activities in those areas most well known by the Shin Bet (Israel’s equivalent to the FBI) to be easily accessed by known terrorists and suicide bombers. Shortly thereafter, after writing his first letter to the editor regarding the aforementioned event, on October 8th, 2013, Mercado penned his second piece, “Letter to the Editor: Response to the Headline “Free Pizza, Free Palestine”Fromtheriverimmediately following this, Mercado came under attack by SJP. In his completely reasonable letter, Mercado described the headline, “Free Pizza, Free Palestine” as both appalling and insensitive. Mercado also made the argument that the yelling of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” echoes the call of the Arab annihilation of Israel in 1948. Mr. Mercado then continued with a personal story, and went on to discuss what the headline means to pro-Israel students. By giving a voice to hate, the University Press created an environment in which anti-Israel rhetoric could thrive. By allowing for a catchy but unethical false headline, the University Press has given credibility to an organization that attacks, verbally and sometimes physically, pro-Israel or even Jewish students on many campuses, without taking into account how it affects those not in support of SJP.

Read more: SJP v. Mercado a “Fair” fight? | Seth Greenwald | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/sjp-v-mercado-a-fair-fight/#ixzz33mnXl8nd
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Contributed by CAMERA intern Seth Greenwald, Sophomore at Clark University 

Etymology of “Zionism”

May 28, 2014

This piece was written by CAMERA Fellow Daniel Narvy and first published in the New University on May 13th. Daniel Narvy is a junior majoring in Political Science and a frequent writer for NewUniversity.org. For more of his writings, click here.

Campus coordinators Samantha Mandeles and Gilad Skolnick meet with Daniel Narvy and other members of Anteaters for Israel.

Campus coordinators Samantha Mandeles and Gilad Skolnick meet with Daniel Narvy and other members of Anteaters for Israel.

Israel has been a focal point on campus for the past two weeks. The past two weeks have painted two visions of Israel, two different perspectives on the Middle East, and two very different interpretations on the Israeli-Arab conflict. I think this issue on campus boils down to a very simple question: do the Jewish people have a right to a state in their ancestral homeland? One very bigoted side says no, and the other side says the Jewish people have the right to self-determination, the same way any other people have the right to self-determination.

Last week on campus, the MSU sponsored an event which they call “Anti-Zionism Week.” What is anti-Zionism? At its very simplest definition, Zionism is the national liberation movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, the land of Israel. Basically, it is the belief that the Jewish people have a right to their own nation-state like every other peoplehood. It is the movement for the Jews to regain sovereignty over their indigenous homeland, the homeland they have maintained a continuous presence in for 3300 years.

Anti-Zionism is going against this movement, using a double standard to deprive the Jews of a homeland. As Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” Why do many want to deprive the Jewish nation of a homeland?

I think this question can be traced back to the origins of the words “Jew” and “Palestinian.” Where does the word Jew come from? It is fundamental to note that the Jewish people are a nation who happen to have the common religion of Judaism. A Jew is not a Jew because he practices Judaism, rather, he is a Jew because his ancestors are Jewish. The origin of the word Jew (ye-hu-dee in Hebrew) comes from the Judea (Ye-hu-dah). Where exactly is Judea/Yehuda? The hills south of Jerusalem, part of the West Bank of the Jordan River, one of the areas anti-Israel activists are trying to claim never had a Jewish presence. Only one period in the past 3000 years have the Jews not lived in Judea; the period from 1949-1967 when the land was illegally occupied by the Jordanians and Jews were removed from the area.

Where does the word Palestinian come from? The Jews had sovereignty over the borders of modern day Israel from 1000-586 B.C.E with the first Jewish kingdom. The second Jewish Kingdom was 538-63 B.C.E. Upon the destruction of the Jewish Kingdom by the Romans in the year 70 A.D, the Romans named Judea “Palaestina” to erase the Jewish connection to the land. Palaestina was named after the ancient Philistines, the enemy of the Jewish nation thousands of years ago. The Philistines are an extinct nation and have zero connection to the modern Palestinian people.

Now, this is not the rhetoric told at UC Irvine, so let me use a modern linguistic example to illustrate my point. There is a city in Hebrew called Shchem, and in Arabic it is called Nabulus. Israelis refer to it as Shchem because that was the original name used in the Jewish Bible, and has been used for over 3500 years. Palestinians call the city Nabulus. The Jewish origin traces back to the Bible, whereas the Arabic origin traces back to the Roman conquest of Israel. The Romans renamed the city after the famous city of Naples. In Arabic, the “p” sound is a “b”, thus Naples evolved into Nabulus.

Another great example in the question of who is indigenous is the evidence left around the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount, a fundamental place in the 3 Abrahamic religions, was built by the Jews. Two Temples, Jewish holy sites, were build there by the Jews. Only after the second Jewish exile by the Romans did Christian holy sites start appearing, and well after that did Islamic holy sites exist. This is not a religious proof for the Jews, rather, it is a historic fact at the most basic level that the Jews were in Israel long before other nations.

Getting back to the original question, do the Jewish people have a right to their homeland? I would argue the following points: the Jewish people have maintained a continuous presence in their indigenous homeland of Israel for over 3300 years. The Jews revived a dead language, wear some of the same cultural clothing, and celebrate the same holidays. Walking down the streets of Israel, I could see Jewish history from every period for well over the past 3000 years. The Jews are indigenous, are an organic and authentic part of the Middle East, and the re-creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 was not an act of colonization or imperialism, but rather the rightful owners of the area returning home.

CAMERA Israel Trip Participant is No Stranger to Media Bias

May 27, 2014

As CAMERA prepares to take students on the annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Mission to Israel, these future trip participants share their knowledge and experiences regarding Israel and bias in the media. Stay tuned for more pieces and scroll below to learn about the author!

On Thursday, April 10, the sanctuary of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland, was packed with people attending “An Evening with Ambassador Gideon Meir.” The much anticipated community event was hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Israel Action Center.

The wonderful evening began with Gideon Meir’s daughter informing the audience of her father’s truly outstanding career. His lifetime achievements include, first and foremost, serving in the Israel Defense Forces from 1965-1967. Working for the Israeli Foreign Service, Meir had the pleasure of working extensively within the Israeli Embassy in Washington, as well as the Israeli Embassy in London, England.

In addition to his honorable positions at the Israeli Embassy in the nation’s capital as Consul and Administrative Officer, Meir became the Deputy Director General for Media and Public Affairs in the Israeli Foreign Ministry. As a culmination of his career, from 2006 to 2011 Meir was honored to become the Israeli ambassador to Italy. After this post, Meir was appointed the head of the Foreign Ministry’s public affairs directorate and the Ministry’s Deputy Director General. His remarkable diplomatic work totaled 45 years. Meir’s dedication and passion for the State of Israel resonated throughout the room, as embodied in his daughter’s words.

Meir was a pivotal figure, representing Israel on the world’s stage during his time working for the Israeli government, including the Second Intifada and the Second Lebanon War. Most notably, Meir was a member of the negotiating team that drafted Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt.

The evening focused on Israel’s public diplomacy through the lens of media and public relations. At this event, Meir shared in depth insights on Israel’s successes and challenges.

As the event took off, the room was buzzing with questions from the audience. To start off the discussion, one audience member asked whether Israel gets a fair hearing in the U.S. media. Meir instantly responded “no”. He followed up on this question by saying, “It is legitimate to criticize [the Israeli government], yes. Is it okay to delegitimize the Jewish state, no.”

Meir and his presentation reminded the audience of the many factors that culminate unfair representation of Israel in the media, especially European coverage.

Anti-Semitism was first on the list of inaccurate representation of Israel in the media. Meir said that much of the world believes that a “victim of yesterday is the victimizer of today.” Europe has guilt from the past, mainly World War II, and attempts to push this guilt onto Israel with negative and deceitful media coverage.

The other factors include the issue of occupation and human rights. The issue of “occupation” and allegations of human rights violations is a distortion of the truth in the global media. Meir cites this inaccurate reporting as it connects to the growing number of Muslims in the world. “They are bringing values they ran away from and changing Europe,” Meir said. He specifically referred to France and Great Britain, saying they need to wake up regarding the issue of Muslim control over the media image of Israel that they want to portray. Meir notes that Italy is excluded in the grouping and generalization of Europe because their government’s surveillance on Muslims is strict and careful.

“In the European press- Israel has no chance to win the hearts of Europeans,” says Meir. They humanize the victimizer and do stories on the suicide bomber, not the victims. This is not only a problem in Europe, but an international issue which Israel faces every single day.

One example of this, published falsely by the highly credible New York Times and the Associated Press, was a picture of a “Palestinian on the Temple Mount beaten by an Israeli policeman.” This picture was seen by millions on September 30, 2000.

MIDEAST AMERICANS BEATEN

Pro-Israel sites, such as Fraudfactor.com, are “demand[ing] competent, accurate, objective, balanced and fair reporting from the Middle East.” They will not stand by idly as inaccurate reporting of Israel continues to perpetuate on the global media market.

Fraudfactor dove into the facts of the September 2000 Temple Mount picture. The site begins by stating, “The false and deceptive caption manipulated readers into believing that an angry Israeli policeman severely beat a helpless Palestinian boy until he was drenched in his own blood. It appears that the New York Times wants its readers to believe that Israel engages in severe police brutality against helpless Palestinians.”

Meir shared this picture with his audience and explained it piece by piece. “Every Israeli knew it was not the Temple Mount because there is no gas station on it.”  Secondly, it was not a Palestinian pictured but really an Israeli Jew; his mother noticed her son in the picture. They reveal the truth behind this picture and what really happened: a group of Arabs were trying to lynch this boy, and an IDF solider was helping him.

This is just one example of what Israel is up against in the international media. During the course of the event, Meir showed half a dozen examples of incorrect, biased lies published against Israel, from “credible” news outlets such as the New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, and BBC, to name a few.

“Media organizations want to create Israel as the new Nazis,” says Meir. Journalists are twisting the story and not giving the correct and needed background information to their audience. The pictures and stories are falsely framed and taken out of context.

The focus of the event was to raise debate over Israel in the media now, what the country has done to help its image, and what the State of Israel needs to focus on. Throughout Meir’s presentation and audience discussion, it became clear that Israel needs to focus on its public relations campaigns to combat this inaccurate reporting.  Stronger and more aggressive public relations will shed a positive light on the State of Israel, as well as expose the inaccuracy of so many media reports.

“Who is winning the public relations war?” Meir asked the audience. He responded to his own question by saying that the Palestinian narrative has won, and points to the strength of their  “public relations machinery.”

Meir says that if you ask most Europeans about Israel, they know only conflict: Israel-Iranian tension and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the other hand, Meir notes that when one asks Americans what they know about Israel, a much broader spectrum is described. Most Americans, Meir said, would paint a more wholesome picture of Israel then just conflict, such as Israel being the “start up nation,” its products, culture, etc.

Meir posed another question to the audience: how can we, as supporters of Israel, get people to change their views and bypass the traditional media? Meir explains that this is done through social media and “branding Israel.” Many audience members noted that Israel’s image can improve internationally by having more non-Jews visit the State of Israel.

Meir responded to this by stating: “’I/we didn’t know’… that is the response.” Meir said that he very often hears this response to combating inaccurate reporting. People travel to Israel and become addicted to its modern and vivacious culture, beauty, and uniqueness. After visiting the country, they can now form their own opinions and share them in their home countries. After visiting Israel, those who only believed what was reported in the media about Israel suddenly “came to a reality that they didn’t know existed.” Meir connects this feeling back to biased media coverage, which previously blinded them.

If Israel could be characterized in three major categories, they would be the following: education, research, and defense.  Israel is known as the “start up nation” for a reason. According to Mashabale, the “leading source for news, information & resources for the Connected Generation,” “companies such as Get Taxi, Brow.si, Tracx, Fiverr, Viber, ClearSky Apps, TireCheck, Swayy, EatWith, PrimeSense, Tomodo, LATTO, BillGuard, Say Media and MyHeritage are all a part of the growing list of ‘hot’ start-ups from Israel.”  Israel’s outstanding accomplishments in education, new companies, and the strength of the military are the topics that need to be broadcasted to the world. A country should highlight its success in an attempt to drown out and debunk faulty international news coverage.

Meir concluded this fantastic and thought provoking event by making an interesting connection: linking public relations with national security.

Promoting a positive, truthful image of Israel is a “a joint venture of world Jewry.”

This piece was contributed by Alexa Lazerow. Alexa is a May 2014 Journalism and Electronic Media graduate from Towson University, located right outside of Baltimore.

BDS Failures Continuously Amassing

May 23, 2014

While we never hear it honestly from our daily news sources, and we hear about the Academic boycotts and the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel, the divestment strategy in particular has been failing in this past decade.

Across college campuses, SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) attempts to divest from the Israeli economy, and only the Israeli economy, in order to ‘bring it to its knees’, but intelligent college students see right through it. Unfortunately, the divestment campaign has succeeded at UC Riverside and Wesleyan University, but many more campuses have seen the light and have condemned or fought back against these insidious attempts to destroy the Jewish State.

The student government does not have the power to control university investments. What they are actually doing is voting on whether or not to draft a referendum recommending to the administration that they divest from companies ‘profiting from the Israeli Occupation’. This is entirely symbolic and has no economic success across the board; no university, even where this has passed, has taken it up. In fact, Israel’s GDP, since the creation of the BDS campaign, has doubled.

BDS has been active on college campuses since 2005, with the divestment campaign being central for the past five years; in the last 10 years or so, there has been zero financial success on the university level in the divestment campaign.

Soda Stream My hero

Depicted above is Sodastream, one of the key items typically targeted by the malevolent BDS campaign (and an amazing product).

Furthermore, this year alone, both the student governments of the University of New Mexico and the Loyola University of Chicago passed divestment referendums, which resulted in a reversal for the former and a veto for the latter. Understanding that the pro-Israel community had no ability to defend its position, and realizing the flawed argument, the Graduate and Professional Student Association (UNM) reversed its divestment resolution. Furthermore, last month, the Associated Students for the University of Mexico voted down a similar resolution.

Fortunately, these are not isolated cases: 

  1. At the University of California Davis Campus, divestment failed, narrowly, but was defeated nonetheless.
  2. At Cornell University, the Divestment Resolution was firmly tabled indefinitely by a vote of 15 in favour of its permanent removal from the agenda of the student government.
  3. The University of California at Los Angeles has come to be one of the most contentious universities for the Israel debate. On May 14th, 2014, UCLA released a statement condemning SJP’s attempts to silence pro-Israel leadership. Furthermore, at UCLA, the divestment campaign was defeated in February of 2014 by a vote of 7:5 after alumnus Ben Shapiro related BDS to anti-Semitism.
  4. At UC Santa Barbara on April 11, 2013, after a marathon hearing lasting 14 hours, the BDS resolution was again defeated. At UCSB, the referendum was defeated by a margin of 11:10:1.
  5. At the University of Michigan, students braved intimidation and anti-Semitism in order to defeat a BDS resolution. At UM, it was considered taboo to be pro-Israel, an absurdity that died with the defeat of a vicious BDS referendum on March 27th, 2014, by a vote of 29-9.
  6. On March 22, 2014, Arizona State University was added to the list of schools where the resolution had been tabled indefinitely. Though the resolution had amassed nearly 500 signatures, the student government saw through the blatant attempt to destroy the Jewish State and condemned SJP.
  7. At San Diego State, with little press coverage, a divestment resolution was defeated in April of 2014. There has been very little coverage thus far regarding this defeat of divestment.
  8. At Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the resolutions were defeated before they were even brought up. Brought to the attention of university officials by pro-Israel students, any talk of immoral divestment was quickly shut down by university officials.
  9. At the University of Washington, on May 21, 2014, a divestment resolution was destroyed in a vote of 59:8:11. This was even with a call to begin the discussion on Passover, thereby preventing a Jewish student presence in the debate. Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon said, “This wasn’t just a defeat – this was a rout. This year was supposed to be the year of divestment. The BDSers planned to pass many resolutions at universities across the country, and they targeted the most liberal and sympathetic campuses they could. In nearly every case, they lost. The fact that it happened in one of the most leftist areas of the country, near where Rachel Corrie lived, speaks volumes on how BDS has lost steam in places it formerly appeared to be dominating.”

Continue reading here:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/bds-failures-continuously-amassing/

 

FUCK BDS

Depicted above is a clear representation of the motives of the BDS campaign. They seek only to attack the Jewish State of Israel rather than countless other countries committing true atrocities.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Seth Greenwald, Sophomore at Clark University

Huge Israel Independence Day Celebration Hosted by Great Danes for Israel

May 22, 2014

Great Danes for Israel at SUNY Albany recently held its annual Yom Ha’atzmaut festival, Israel fest, a celebration recognizing the creation of Israel.

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tgrdrfeThe student organization “Great Danes for Israel,” a CAMERA supported (CCAP) group, organized an event for students to see and celebrate Israel’s existence.

A diverse range of students were drawn from all across campus, each one of them learning something new about Israel. Over 150 students from campus attended the event, and each sought out the main “attraction”, the photo booth. Students took photos highlighting the Israel fest logo before leaving.

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Israel Independence Day at Drexel University

May 21, 2014

Last week, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, was celebrated at Drexel University! Yom Ha’atzmaut is a day of celebration, music, and especially Israeli food. Dragons for Israel at Drexel organized their annual event for students to come enjoy and celebrate Israel’s 66th birthday. Everyone enjoyed themselves as they listened to middle eastern music and ate falafel.

10250103_10152149572054053_4095381320453452053_nrandom student

Dragons for Israel also offered tie-dying, and many students celebrated Independence Day by tie- dying their shirts blue and white.

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There were plenty of new faces at the event, and many students were interested in learning more about what Dragons for Israel had to offer. While the weather at Drexel may not have been as hot as it was in Israel that day, everyone at the event had a great time celebrating another year of Israel’s independence. Check out their event last May!

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Fun swag and CAMERA reading material!

Fun swag and CAMERA reading material!

back of shirts

Back of the new Dragons for Israel shirts.

 Contributed by CAMERA intern Nikki Teperman 

A Call for Academic Freedom

May 20, 2014

This piece was contributed by Meytal Chernoff, a CAMERA Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. It was republished on May 25th in The Algemeiner.

During the Modern Language Association’s meeting of the Delegate Assembly this past April, the MLA voted to approve Resolution 2014-1. This new resolution passed in a vote of 60 to 53 and urges the State Department to “contest Israel’s denial of entry to the West Bank by US academics” and to support the boycott of Israel, which would mean that the United States stops buying Israeli goods and that the American Academic community would cut off all communication with Israeli academic institutions. The MLA’s decision, based on documented falsehoods, serves along with the recent actions of the American Studies Association in setting a dangerous precedent within the realm of academic freedom.

Meytal Chernoff

Meytal Chernoff

Over winter break, the students of Washington University received an email from Chancellor Wrighton stating the refusal of this university to participate in the academic boycott of Israel. He wrote that “a boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom.” The term “academic freedom” is defined as the right of teachers and students to teach, express their ideas, and discuss knowledge without religious, political, or institutional restriction. When faced with this definition it is clear that the boycott of Israeli academic institutions violates this right to teaching and discussing knowledge by placing a political and institutional restriction on academia from a particular region. The right to this freedom is currently under attack from the ASA and as resolution 2014-1 moves on to the MLA Executive Council, its position grows even more precarious.

What makes this situation sadder is the false foundations upon which the resolution and boycott are built, as well as the thought of all we stand to lose, should these movements gain power. Israel does not place any restrictions on the entrance of academics or on partnerships between foreign academics and Palestinian institutions. Occasionally, there are issues of security that make travel problematic for all people, including academics. For example, the security fence and checkpoints lengthen the daily commute for many individuals. However, since the erecting of the fence, terrorist attacks in Israel have seen over an 80% reduction. The right to life, and life free from the threat of violence makes those security measures necessary.

Additionally, Israeli universities remain on the forefront of research in medicine, technology, nano-science, and agriculture, to name just a few. To cut students off from this knowledge would be a grave loss, as well as a violation of academic freedom for students across the country. Also, by restriction access to Israeli universities, the MLA and ASA hurt the many Palestinian students who attend these universities. The boycott claims to fight for the rights of the Palestinian people, and yet their actions accomplish the opposite. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken out against the boycott of Israel saying that “we have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”

An amazing factor of participation in academia on the university level is the ability to share ideas, debate different opinions, and hear sides of an argument that you may never have considered. As paragons of academia, one would hope that the MLA and ASA would see the beauty of this free discussion and encourage it rather than seeking to silence the voices from one particular country. At the MLA conference, the resolution and discussion of Israel included only speakers in favor of the boycott. The other side was given no voice.

Former Slave and Human Rights Activist Simon Deng at Washington University

May 19, 2014

Human rights activist Simon Deng recently visited Washington University in St. Louis, where he spoke to a full auditorium of students about his life story, racial genocide, and his views of the important role Israel has as supporting the human rights of Sudanese refugees. The event was organized by CAMERA Fellow Meytal Chernoff.

Deng, a native of the Shiluk Kingdom in southern Sudan, was abducted at the age of nine by his Arab neighbor, who “gifted” him to his family as a domestic slave. For the next several years, Deng was made to work as a servant, and was a victim of brutal beatings and unbearable work and living conditions.

Deng eventually managed to escape and later emigrated to the United States.  He now travels around the country addressing audiences about his experience with the slavery, racism and genocide that still is still prevalent today.

Meytal with her pro-Israel group and speaker Simon Deng

Meytal with her pro-Israel group and speaker Simon Deng

Deng spoke about the relationship between Israel and Southern Sudan, and the fact that those who are oppressed in Southern Sudan view Israel as a friend. He explained why calling Israel racist and a violator human rights was absurd.  “To my people, the people who know racism – the answer is that Israel is absolutely not racist,” he said. “It is a state of people of the colors of the rainbow. Jews themselves come in all colors, even black. I met with Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Beautiful black Jews. And Israel is a state that has taken my own black people in, rescued them, and helped them.”

Students at the event asked questions about the current protests for additional refugee rights and Israel’s refusal to absorb some refugee populations. Deng responded that even when refugees have entered Israel illegally, they’re still allowed to protest against the government, whereas in Arab nations, the protesters would’ve been killed. He also added that even the illegal immigrants are granted human rights in Israel. Simon informed the audience that the Sudanese government actually prohibits its citizens from traveling or having a relationship with Israel. The refugees who have illegally entered Israel might have bought into this anti-Israel rhetoric, in which case Israel has the right to defend itself by treating the refugees with some degree of suspicion.

It was notable that this event attracted a much broader range of people than a typical Israel event. Members from the African Students Association, The Political Review, College Democrats, J-Street, and students not at all interested in politics showed up. The event dismantled claims that Israel is a violator of human rights, and the audience was truly were engaged by Simon’s story and his defense of Israel.

Contributed by CAMERA intern Nikki Teperman.

The Lesser of Two Terrorists

May 16, 2014

This article was written by Baruch College CAMERA Fellow Alisa Rudy. It was first published in “The Ticker” on November 12, 2013.

CAMERA Fellow Alisa Rudy

CAMERA Fellow Alisa Rudy

Nov. 11 marks a significant loss in Palestinian history: the anniversary of the death of the late Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. Not coincidentally, it also marks the beginning of a series of Gazan protests against Hamas, organized by the grassroots Tamarod resistance movement.

The movement, whose name is borrowed from the Egyptian youth protest group that initiated the recent coup, is seeking to protest against the violence and injustice Hamas has perpetrated against Gazans since its bloody takeover seven years ago. Tamarod spokespeople claim that they can achieve their goals by “spreading the spirit of cooperation and struggle in the hearts of people in Gaza”. They maintain that Hamas is “the one primarily responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” that the Gazans “only get the crumbs of the supplies of food, diesel and gasoline that reach Gaza via the legal routes or through the [illegal] tunnels.” The movement reports that the situation has become so dire that a father resorted to killing his children due to his inability to support them.

The group, which collects signatures through its website, has repeatedly been forced to protect its site from sabotage and hacking by Hamas. Collecting signatures in person is, of course, out of the question—identifying as part of the Tamarod movement will get one summarily arrested. The leaders of the movement are in Gaza and on the run in Egypt, their identities undisclosed.

Through its website, the movement is advising all Gazans to stock up on at least a week’s supply of food and to stay at home in anticipation of the backlash that Hamas officials will inevitably unleash.

Hind al-Arabi, media spokeswoman for Tamarod Gaza, has noted that the movement departs from its Egyptian version. While the Egyptian resistance had the support of the army, Gazans are without an army and are threatened by Hamas with a “massacre and a new war in the Strip.”

Hamas’ threats appear all the more ominous when taking a look at what happened to protestors in Egypt.

Recently, a new report found that at least four Hamas members were arrested for shooting and killing eight Egyptians during anti-Morsi protests.

Of course, to most observers, this kind of response is unsurprising. Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has repeatedly run to the aid of its Egyptian brothers, most notably during Morsi’s jailbreak in 2011.

For a further reminder of Hamas’ propensity to mete out summary and violent “justice,” one needs to look no further than last November’s Operation Pillar of Defense, during which Hamas militants publicly executed numerous Gazans for alleged “collaboration with Israel.” Some were forced to lie on the street and were then shot dead. One was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets of Gaza City as spectators shouted obscenities.

Despite all these terrifying consequences, the Tamarod movement is pressing forward.

My concern, however, goes beyond Hamas’ historical cruelty and any threat it brings to the movement. What will happen if Tamarod succeeds? If the movement manages to create a regime change like the one in Egypt, what legal framework will replace the current one? Have the current movement’s leaders thought through and prepared an infrastructure that will improve what they are so fed up with? Or are they just throwing together a haphazard protest in hopes of getting the ball rolling?

When looking back at other anti-government protests in the Middle East, the vision of a post-Hamas Gaza seems dismal. Protests in Tunisia and Egypt were successful in their short-term goals, but was what followed really a realistic step towards a serious and responsible democracy?

Neither option for Gaza leadership seems very appealing. There is Hamas, whose obscene human rights violations, terrifying leadership, and terroristic designation cast a dark, murderous cloud on its citizens and Israeli villages near the Strip. On the other hand, a nascent movement whose goals are to remove the current regime but with no real developed alternative, like many reformist regimes before them, does not necessarily pose a better alternative.

In the words of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef who broke ranks with Hamas in 1997, “Hamas was born to destroy. Hamas does not know how to build. I doubt they will be able to build a modern Palestinian state and hope their lies will be exposed to the Palestinian public.” It seems that has finally begun to happen, but will the alternative be much better?