Monthly Archives: June 2014

Borders, Danger, and Human Rights: Israel’s Dynamic Role in Tumultuous Times

June 30, 2014

This piece was written originally by Meytal Chernoff, a sophomore studying at the College of Arts and Sciences and published in the Washington University Political Review. Meytal is a proud CAMERA Fellow and an Israel activist on her campus, Washington University at St. Louis. 

The past few years have seen large-scale changes in the Middle East. In particular, escalated violence in Syria has forced the world’s eyes toward the region and raised the issues of alliances, human rights, and the potential for the conflict to spread beyond Syrian borders. The state of Israel sits in the physical center of this conflict and serves as an example for social justice work, even as diplomatic relationships shift and border tensions escalate. As the situation progresses, Israel works to provide aid to its neighbors while protecting itself, demonstrating a unique balance between defense and a concern for human rights.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, the Syrian government has been using deadly and wide-ranging weapons against its own citizens, a trend that can be best exemplified by the use of chemical weapons against the Damascus countryside this past August. The conflict has also seen indiscriminate attacks on civilians and incidents of kidnap, torture, and execution. This has caused millions of people, many of whom are in need of medical attention, to flee Syria for its neighbors, which include Israel.

Israel sits at a unique position within this conflict. Technically, Israel and Syria have been at war for four decades, and the violence in Syria threatens to spill over the border and into Israel. However, as a nation concerned with human rights, Israel cannot sit quietly as 2.5 million new Syrian refu-gees suffer. The country must find a balance between humanitarian work and defense, and the results offer a unique glimpse into a country that is both focused on humanity and aware of the harsh realities of war.

One example of this balance can be seen in the case of IsraAid, an Israeli non­profit organization that provided medical, psychological, and food services following the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti. Since the beginning of this year, the organization has provided over $100,000 worth of supplies to the Syrian refugees in Jordan. They have also brought in Israeli medical professionals and social workers to help the displaced to cope with the physical and mental scars of the war. Additionally, Israeli field hospitals have been treating refugees who come across the border in need of care. These efforts show an incredible dedication to human rights, made all the more impressive given the current political tensions between Israel and Syria.

IsraAID helping the victims of disasters worldwide

IsraAID helping the victims of disasters worldwide

As the war in Syria has progressed, Israel’s Syrian border has seen an increase in violence, and there is no end in sight. Cross-border attacks included a bombing on March 18 that wounded four Israeli soldiers. This latest incident prompted an Israeli airstrike against military targets in Syria. Complicating matters is the fact that the Syrian border is under fractioned control, with 60 percent controlled by the opposition and the remaining parts being controlled by the Syrian governmental regime. This confusion has Israel on high alert and has forced a state of constant preparedness to defend against possible invasion or attacks. “Our policy is very clear,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “we attack those who attack us.”

Incredibly, this policy and the threat to the safety of Israeli citizens have not prevented Israel from working to help and protect the lives of Syrian refugees and citizens hurt during the violence. It is incredible to see a country that manages to prioritize human rights for people outside its borders, even while at war. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This statement holds true, but unfortunately few countries take it to heart. As most countries turn a blind eye to the suffering of Syrian refugees and citizens, Israel works to help them, even while at war with their government.

Background Information Necessary in Articles about Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 27, 2014

This piece was written by Brett Hausler and originally published in Massachusetts Daily Collegian, UMASS Amherst’s daily newspaper, on March 26th, 2014. Brett is a senior studying social thought and political economy, in addition to public policy and administration. Brett is a proud CAMERA Fellow, and a strong Israel advocate in the UMASS community.

A little while ago, I picked up a copy of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. It was a typical day, where I would make my way through the Campus Center and into the Student Union to stay warm on my walk toward class in Bartlett. On the second page of the Collegian, the editor had chosen to provide several stories with issues “Around the World.” In this particular issue of the Collegian, I noticed that there were two articles about Israel. One of them caught my eye, because I recognized that it was written in a way that mislead and distorted the actions of Israel.

The article began with, “An Israeli airstrike killed two people in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, including a man identified by Israeli security forces as a militant who fired rockets across the border last week during former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral.” In order for proper recognition of why there was and continues to be rocket fire between Israel and Hamas, there must be some background information provided, which the original piece of writing did not include.

Israel has strived to create peace with the Palestinian government since 1948 – other instances include 1973, 2000 and 2008. Initially, in 1947, the Arab countries rejected the UN Resolution 181 (two-state solution) because they refused to recognize Israel as a legitimate country. In 1993, Israel transferred ownership of much of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. The exchange was intended for peace, but none materialized. After the evacuation of all Israelis from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinian government still refused to have peace talks with Israel. In fact, since the withdrawal – one that has caused much dispute within the Israeli and Jewish communities – Hamas, an Islamist group, has increased rocket fire into Israel from Gaza.

The article lacked context about the air strike. By naming the casualties as just people, the severity of the militant’s actions is decreased. Initial descriptions of one of the casualties as a militant is necessary in order to better illustrate a very serious situation that happened and continues to happen in Israel. In addition to this destruction, context of Hamas’ operations within Gaza borders show the struggle that Israel faces when countering continuous rocket attacks which originate from Hamas militants.

Hamas uses civilian buildings in Gaza for military purposes, which is why many rockets sent into the Gaza Strip by Israel result in civilian casualties. According to the Israel Defense Forces blog, “Hamas uses homes, schools, mosques and hospitals as weapons caches and hiding spots for its fighters.” Israel has the right to attack these private properties, and they must do so with the knowledge that killing militants may come with the unpleasant loss of civilian life.

Hamas Human Sheilds

Hamas’ strategy of using human shields to create more ‘collateral damage’ and negative press towards Israel

According to the Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), Article 52, “military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose, or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture, or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.” This specific rocket attack was Israel’s legal obligation with regards to Article 52.

Israel struggles to generate peace with Hamas because Hamas completely rejects a Jewish State. It has the ultimate mission to “fight the Jews and kill them” and to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate, among many other destructive actions even against its own Palestinian population. The article I am responding to did not provide context to Israel’s actions which killed a Palestinian militant. These aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict need to be offered in all articles explaining the conflict, and when they are not, the words serve no purpose.

Accuracy Needed Regarding Settlements

June 26, 2014

This piece was written by Lauren Barney and originally published in the school newsletter, Pitt News, on February 12, 2014. Lauren is a CAMERA Fellow and a proud Israel activist dedicated to speaking the truth. 

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To the Editor,

This past Friday the Global Studies Center hosted a lecture titled, ”The Settler Movement: History, Impacts, and Perceptions” by Luke Peterson. According to the announcement dis- tributed from the Global Studies Center, “The lecture [examined]e the politics, history and impact of this movement (settlements) from its inception in the early 1970s through to the present day:’ However, Peterson’s speech did not address these issues factually. Instead, his lecture demonized Israeli settlements as a tool of the Netanyahu administration to remove the possibility ofa future two-state solution and the key issue in resolving the conflict.

Peterson claimed that the settled land comes from Palestine’s possession. However, in 1967, the West Bank was captured from the Jordanians during the Six-Day War. This war was a strike on Israel by multiple Arab countries. Miraculously, Israel was able to defensively push back the Jordanians out of the Jordanian-annexed West Bank. In July of1967, Israeli Cabinet Minister Yigal Allon drafted a plan to maintain military control over a strip comprising less than half of the West Bank from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem and west of Ramallah. Over the years, many historical pre-modern State of Israel Jewish land was settled once again in the West Bank. The settlements in the West Bank account for 5 percent of total land. All other security measures, such as checkpoints, are for the sole purpose of protection and do not inhibit the existence of Arab neighborhoods.

There are far greater dangers in the region than settlements. According to Palestinian Media Watch, Al-Khansa, a mother of four terrorists, is the namesake of eight schools under the Palestinian Authority. As I saw on my trip to Bethlehem, maps cease to recognize the existence ofthe State of Israel.

In order to truly bring peace, universities around the world should educate students, faculty, staff and the greater community through unbiased, accurately informed and open dialogue events.

Lauren Barney

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America campus representative-fellow 

Hunter Students for Israel Finish Strong

June 25, 2014

On April 25th, 2014, Hunter Students for Israel, a CCAP group at Hunter College, hosted an event titled Peace, Politics and Plutonium with Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Post. Mr. Hoffman spoke to an intimate audience regarding the dangers of Iran, Israel’s tough day-to-day choices, and the reality on the ground. Following the event, Hoffman hosted a question and answer session in a circle leading to incredible audience participation.

Gil Hoffman: Israel's leading optimist and Chief Political Analyst for the Jerusalem Post

Gil Hoffman: Israel’s leading optimist and Chief Political Analyst for the Jerusalem Post

On May 6th, 2013, Hunter Students for Israel, a CCAP group at Hunter College, hosted human rights activist Simon Deng, to discuss international human rights, particularly in the Middle East. Mr. Deng, a native of the Shiluk Kingdom in northern Sudan, is an escaped slave and human rights activist. Deng is an incredible and passionate speaker, telling his personal life story and the safety that Israel was able to provide for him.

Simon Deng gives a passionate speech about human rights in the Greater Middle East

Simon Deng gives a passionate speech about human rights in the Greater Middle East

Contributed by CAMERA intern Seth Greenwald, Sophomore at Clark University

AU Hosts Pro-Israel Speakers Only to be Boycotted and Protested by SJP

June 24, 2014

On April 17th, 2014, Iran researcher from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Benham Ben Tableu, spoke to an intimate audience regarding the Iran-Iraq war and its effects on Iranian policy. Tableu discussed the terror activity that the Iranian regime uses as a foreign policy tool as well as the regime’s tendency to use nuclear methods as a bargaining chip for world power.

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On April 29th, 2014, Ishmael Khaldi, Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat, spoke to an audience at American University in the hopes of educating students about the living conditions and lives of Arab Israelis. Unfortunately, as per the nature of SJP, after less than 15 minutes of the event, SJP members began screaming in Arabic, unveiled a giant Palestinian flag, and stormed out. This is nothing new for the anti-Israel group, particularly at American University. Khaldi did his best to try to convince the SJP members to stay, hear his story and to ask questions, but SJP members had no interest in learning about the perspective of an Israeli Muslim who supports Israel.

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During the event, SJP staged a walkout.

 

SJP members call for the continued murder of Israeli civilians through the "intifada"

SJP members call for the continued murder of Israeli civilians through the “intifada”

Contributed by Camera Intern Seth Greenwald, Sophomore at Clark University 

Tikkun Olam, Hummus, and Ahava

June 23, 2014

Contributed by Tatiana Becker, the president of Noles for Israel, a CCAP group at FSU:

Something strikes me as rather interesting concerning the topic of Israel. Living here for a couple of weeks now, taking all types of public transportation, walking, buying groceries at the shuk, and asking directions so I don’t get lost in a part of town I don’t know. I realized the exceptional diversity of Jerusalem earlier today on my morning run. I ran the light rail track, which is an above ground city transport rail line that runs for the most part the entire expanse of Jerusalem.

Tatiana (center) in Jerusalem.

Tatiana (center) in Jerusalem.

What is interesting to me is that as I was running, I ran past bakers, clothing sellers, and synagogues. I also ran by churches, mosques, a Christian information center, the Armenian quarter of the Old City, orthodox Jewish men who averted their eyes from my scantily clad running outfit, a Muslim woman walking unaccompanied down Yaffo in full burka attire, and a few Japanese tourists that stopped and asked me for directions. To my left was a coffee shop, next to that a Nike store selling exceptionally overpriced sneakers, next to that a photography store that specialized in wedding photos. To my right was the light rail that held every type of person one could expect to see on a Manhattan subway- Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and people of all religions and backgrounds.

Then this question that tends to bubble up in my head pretty much every day hit me: where is the segregation? As someone who engages in a pro-Israel dialogue I think it is very important to consider at all times the pejorative and inflammatory words used to describe Israel: racist, Nazi, apartheid. Did anyone ever stop to consider that those are just plain incorrect? They are incorrect because I see what this city is with my own eyes.

Why isn’t anyone publicizing the fact that the Ethiopian fruit salesman next to me in the early morning was selling avocados to an Israeli Jew, a German tourist, and a Muslim mother watching her three kids? Or that every day when I walk to work I see everything from hijabs to tattoos of the Star of David to tie dyed hair? Or that the restaurant I stopped at for coffee had a conservative Muslim family, a couple of 18-year-old Jewish girls in army uniforms, and some Christian revivalists who were talking about redemption over a couple of bagels?

It’s striking how inaccurately the international community portrays Israel as if they spend time here. It’s striking because of how excruciatingly detrimental it is to both the Israeli and Palestinian residents in the region. Why? It’s because when people neglect the facts of living here, as I am, and as I see things like BDS spring up. BDS has been proven time and time again to be harmful to the welfare of the Palestinian people. Apartheid? Really? A vast majority of Israeli Arabs said that if a Palestinian state were created they would voluntarily leave their homes to move to places within the legal borders of Israel.

These are all such integral things to consider when looking at Israel from the outside. The city of Jerusalem is as diverse as the open sea and as precious as the most invaluable gem. I have hope that the more people come to visit here, the more they will see that and the more everyone can work towards an agreeable solution for peace.

This piece was originally published in the blog Tikun Olam, Hummus and Ahava by Tatiana Becker. Read her piece My Life Has Taken an Interesting Turn about her experiences at the CAMERA Student Leadership and Advocacy Conference

Anti-Israel Group Found Targeting Jewish Students

June 20, 2014

Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP for short, are famous for using false information to empathetically pull students in to fight for the Palestinian cause. With a narrative such as theirs, who wouldn’t want justice for all? Who wouldn’t want everyone to be treated equally and humanely? Unfortunately, the truth is, they simply lack the facts.

The most recent campaign of many SJP clubs on campus has been to place mock eviction notices on students doors, an atrocity that not only occurred on my campus at Clark University, but across the nation. However, at Clark, SJP members had the decency to pass out the fliers rather than put them unwittingly under the doors of students, as was the case at NYU and Northeastern.

In the case of the former, SJP members anonymously placed 2000 eviction notices under the doors of the single dorm with a Shabbat elevator (Palladium Hall), an elevator that stops on every floor for use by Jewish students, leading many to believe this was a deliberate attempt to intimidate Jewish students. NYU has committed themselves to determining whether or not these fliers were direct anti-Semitic attacks by SJP on Jewish students or if they were simply a “coincidence”.

John Beckman, a spokesperson for NYU addressed the community stating: “NYU encourages free speech and the free exchange of ideas, but our hope is that the discourse — including debate on controversial issues — will be conducted maturely and in a way meant to elicit thoughtful discussion rather than simply provoke,” Beckman said. “A flyer titled ‘eviction notice’ anonymously slipped under doors at night is not an invitation to thoughtful, open discussion; it is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community.”

SJP Targets Jewish Students at NYU

SJP Targets Jewish Students at NYU

Northeastern erupted in an even greater uproar, a result that was not unexpected by SJP considering their anti-Semitic practices on campus. SJP at Northeastern is well known for “harbouring anti-Semitic attitudes” over the past several years, and has been intimidating Jewish students through rallies, protests, and demonstrations dedicated to attacking the Jewish State and its pro-Israel supporters. For the Northeastern campus, the final straw, after a long period of inappropriate actions by SJP members, was the distribution of the mock eviction notices formerly tried and reprimanded at the Claremont Consortium, University of Michiagan, Yale, Ohio State, and Florida Atlantic Universities.

The eviction notices distributed stated: “Dorm-rooms will be demolished in three days…to ethnically cleanse…the population and create space for settlements”. This ignores the reality of the need for evictions: security purposes. However,  SJP is focused solely on emotional appeal, not fact.

Continue reading here

Contributed by CAMERA intern Seth Greenwald, Sophomore at Clark University 

#ChildrenAreNOTWeapons

June 19, 2014

This piece has been republished in The Algemeiner.

Just two months ago, Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Muslim extremists in Nigeria.

Just last week, three Israeli boys were kidnapped by Muslim extremists in Israel.

The world responded with tremendous support for the girls in Nigeria, especially on social media, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The world did not respond with as much support for the Israeli boys, but still, on social media, there was tremendous support with the take on the girls’ hashtag, and #BringBackOurBoys was created.

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CAMERA, The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, and CAMERAonCampus launched a new pro-Palestinian and humanitarian campaign called #ChildrenAreNOTWeapons. This campaign aims to highlight the fact that Palestinian leaders teach their children to hate. Whether in TV shows for young children, UN supported textbooks, or elsewhere, Palestinian children are bombarded with anti-Israel propaganda. The campaign’s symbol, a child in a Chamsa (a religious symbol, guarding against the evil eye), is meant to unify both Muslims and Jews in this. The Chamsa is universal to both Judaism and Islam, and the child shows that we must protect children against the “evil eye” of incitement.

The child used in the campaign image above is signaling a three-fingered “victory” sign. Many children have been used by Palestinian groups to display pride in the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys in Israel last week. A recent piece in the Algemeiner, Why Child Support for Kidnapping Israelis Must be Widely Publicized, by Brian Thomas, highlights this issue.

Help us to end the use of Palestinian children as weapons. Share the photo.

#ChildrenAreNOTWeapons

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn.

Benjamin Anthony Visits UC Berkeley

June 18, 2014

On May 8, 2014, Sgt. Benjamin Anthony was brought to speak at the UC Berkeley by Tikvah and our CAMERA Fellow. Many of the participants were part of Tikvah, but other students from Christians United for Israel also attended. There were many who, at first, thought they did not have enough time to stay for the whole event, but due to Sgt. Anthony’s inspiring message, everyone stayed until the end. In addition, many attendees said that hearing Sgt. Anthony speak was their favorite and what they thought was the best event of the year that Tikvah had put on.

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CAMERA Fellow Alana Corre, who organized the event, remarked, “What made this event so special was how humble and passionate [Sgt.] Benjamin Anthony was.” He was open to answering personal questions, and was very honest with his answers on such broad questions as what he thought the biggest problem facing Israel is. He also explained, regarding issues he wasn’t familiar with, that he was interested in learning more about those issues.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn

Drexel Brings Jared Ben-Caro

June 17, 2014

CAMERA Fellow Josh Dienstman and Dragons for Israel (A CCAP/CAMERA supported group) recently organized an event at Drexel University, where Sgt. (Res.) Jared M. Ben-Caro, a former IDF paratrooper, discussed his experience as a combat soldier during Operation Cast Lead. In this operation, the IDF entered the Gaza Strip to dismantle Hamas weapon infrastructure.

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Sgt. Ben-Caro focused on debunking the numerous myths regarding the IDF’s alleged cruelty. He spoke about the life a soldier in the IDF with all of its hardships. He showed the audience the humanitarian focus of the IDF, and how the IDF only engages in military action if necessary to defend Israeli citizens from unprovoked enemy attacks. The event was a complete success, with Sgt. Ben-Caro talking about his personal life, making the audience feel at home and comfortable.

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Contributed by CAMERA Intern Ariel Warren