Monthly Archives: November 2014

Max Blumenthal Dis-Invited in Germany

November 26, 2014

Max-Blumenthal-Netanyahu

In this widely circulated image, anti-Semitic American writer Max Blumenthal is seen donning a yarmulke and “praying” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Max Blumenthal, one of our favorite anti-Semitic activist authors, was recently dis-invited from speaking at an event in Germany, the Algemeiner reports:

The leader of the main opposition party in Germany, the far-left Die Linke (“The Left,”) has shut down a forthcoming party seminar at the German parliament featuring Max Blumenthal, an American writer of Jewish origin whose visceral attacks on Israel are widely regarded as anti-Semitic.

Since Blumenthal is well known for, among other things, harassing our students/ colleagues, spewing blatantly false rhetoric, and just generally hating on Israel, we can’t say we’re disappointed (or even surprised).

Max Blumenthal’s books and articles frequently compare Israel to Nazi Germany, an analogy which many experts on anti-Semitism view as anti-Semitic, since it deliberately seeks to  wound the Jewish state by portraying it as no different from a regime that systematically murdered six million Jews and millions of others. A State Department briefing paper on anti-Semitism states unequivocally that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is anti-Semitic. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has included Blumenthal in its “top 10″ list of anti-Semitic slurs for 2013, because of chapter headings in “Goliath,” such as “The Concentration Camp” and “How to Kill Goyim and Influence People.”

More recently, Blumenthal is credited with having invented the Twitter hashtag #JSIL, which stands for “Jewish State in the Levant.” Israel is the equivalent, he believes, of the Islamic State terrorist organization currently engaged in a genocidal campaign against the Christian, Yezidi and Kurdish minorities in Syria and Iraq.

Blumenthal is a frequent visitor to college campuses, but this recent dis-invitation shows that, sometimes, reason prevails, and there are people who agree that naked bigotry is not acceptable.

For more on Blumenthal, check out our Combating Blumenthal infographic.

Palestinian Incitement 101

November 25, 2014

This following excerpt is from a piece by Aviva Slomich, CAMERA’s International Campus Director, was originally published in The Times of Israel.

How do you explain to American college students that some of Israel’s neighbors pass out candy on the streets in celebration of murder of innocent people?This is unheard of in America. Yes, there are killings and shootings, riots and unrest. People may feel afraid to go out in certain neighborhoods, even afraid to leave their homes under certain circumstances.

But you don’t see people running to the streets, joyfully celebrating murder. Palestinians passed out candy on the streets after 9/11 in celebration of the murder of 2,996 Americans by Islamist terrorists.

Continue reading at The Times of Israel.
Gazans in Rafah celebrate the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, November 18, 2014.‏. (photo credit:REUTERS) Read more here: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Palestinians-in-Gaza-celebrate-deadly-Jerusalem-synagogue-attack-382125

Gazans in Rafah celebrate the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, November 18, 2014.‏. (photo credit:REUTERS) Read more about this in jpost.com.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Right to a Safe Campus and a Secure Israel

November 24, 2014

This piece was originally published on November 24th in the Cornell Daily Sun.  It was written by CAMERA Fellow Reut Baer.

To the Editor:

Re: “Students for Justice in Palestine Rally Draws Counterprotest,” News, Nov. 20

Over the past month, Jerusalem has not been safe. On Oct. 22, Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, rammed into a crowd of Israelis with his car, killing a three month old baby and injuring seven civilians. Fourteen days later, on Nov. 5, a commercial van manned by Ibrahim al-Akri killed yet another Israeli and injured 13. Just last Tuesday, Nov. 18, two Palestinian terrorists from East Jerusalem invaded a synagogue in West Jerusalem. Using guns, a cleaver and an axe, two Palestinian terrorists murdered four praying Jewish men and shot to death Zidan Saif, a Druse police officer responding to the scene.

Finally, in the wake of the numerous terrorist attacks, the Israeli government decided to boost security efforts by setting up temporary checkpoints in East Jerusalem. While we sympathize with those who are inconvenienced by these checkpoints, there is no doubt that they are crucial to the security of those living in Israel. “We have nothing against the residents of East Jerusalem,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “but we will not tolerate attacks on our citizens and we will work against the people who carry out these things and against the inciters.” All Israeli civilians live under the perpetual fear of the next terrorist attack. Establishing temporary checkpoints is Israel’s best and only way to ensure the protection and security of all of its citizens. To rally against checkpoints is to rally against civilian safety. To rally against checkpoints without recognizing their need to combat terrorism is to advocate for terrorism.

Cornell University

Cornell University

The day immediately following the synagogue massacre, Students for Justice in Palestine held a sympathy demonstration for Palestinians who have to be checked at these security checkpoints. Instead of condemning the killings of innocent civilians, they brought in an activist from outside the Cornell community to increase tensions and called for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel, specifically the severance of Cornell’s ties with the Technion, an Israeli university. SJP’s signs, banners, chants and curses mislead and inflame the opinion of the Cornell community with false and out-of-context information.

Video from the event (warning: cursing). Notice at the beginning of the video, the “F-you, Zionist scums” comment. This video was first found on thecollegefix.com.
 

In response to this twisted, one-sided presentation of Israel and Israeli policy, a small group of pro-Israel students responded peacefully bearing signs that stated, “Israel is invested in peace.” SJP members and non-Cornell affiliated adult protesters then subjected some of these students to excessive harassment. The peaceful signs pro-Israel students held up were ripped out of their hands, torn and smeared with ketchup by protesters. Protesters affiliated with SJP stood within inches of students’ faces, yelling curses and obscenities, such as “Zionist scum.”

But one of the most threatening and terrifying quotes chanted repeatedly by the SJP protesters was, “We will respond to aggression with aggression.” Wednesday’s rally was not an isolated incident. Three weeks ago, SJP members followed students around Central Campus until the police thankfully stepped in to ensure these students’ safety. At the protest on Wednesday, police were on Ho Plaza to prevent the threats of violence and the harassment from escalating into physical attacks. SJP brings the Palestinian aggression against Israel to campus repeatedly and we, as Cornellians, won’t stand for it.

Every nation and people has a right to safety and security. We too have a right to feel safe and secure from harassment and intimidation. SJP’s actions have continuously threatened this right with their protests against pro-Israel students on campus and Israeli security.

Reut Baer ’17
Sarene Shaked ’18

BDS and the CSU: A Story of Selective Outrage

November 21, 2014

This piece was written by our Fellow at Concordia University, Bradley Martin, and originally published at The Concordian. The full piece is reproduced below. 

Vote ‘No’ to the BDS movement on Nov. 25

On its website, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) describes itself as an organization that “offers a number of important services to help make sure that students [sic] lives are as fun and problem free as possible.” The CSU also claims to defend the rights of students and represent their interests. Indeed, these are honourable principles that any student union must uphold if it is to ensure that their university is a safe haven for their students to engage in the free marketplace of ideas. It is therefore baffling as to why the CSU would go against their own principles.

In the 2014 CSU By-Elections Referendum, scheduled to take place from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27, the issue of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement sticks out like a sore thumb. While all the other questions deal with important issues that affect the lives of students, such as the establishment of a daycare centre and the improvement of student housing conditions, it is the former issue which seems awkwardly placed.

Support for BDS against the State of Israel runs counter to the principles of what the CSU claims to uphold, as well as most standards of decency.

It is discriminatory to single Israel out for isolation, when such standards are not applied equally across all governments. The CSU has not seen fit to condemn the systemic discriminations of women and minorities by Saudi Arabia, the torture of hundreds of thousands of political dissidents in North Korea, and many other gruesome and serious human rights abuses that take place throughout the world. Neighboring Israel is Syria, where a bloody civil war has led to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people. If focus is to be put solely on Palestinian suffering, more than 2,000 dead in Syria are Palestinian refugees and more than 55,000 Palestinians were forced to flee the country, according to Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) estimates that 235,000 Palestinians have been displaced inside Syria since the beginning of the conflict two years ago. These figures dwarf the Palestinian casualties that have happened in conflicts with Israel.

If consistency was pursued, then there would be a call for BDS against Syria and those of Syrian descent. However, such actions would be equally as ridiculous as what is being leveled at Israel. It goes against the CSU principles that were highlighted earlier, in that it sets a double-standard. Israeli students and those who identify with the State of Israel will be demonized for their affiliation. What was once a safe-space for students of all different backgrounds to exchange ideas will be replaced with narrow-minded and intolerant policies fueled by an anti-Israel obsession.

Apart from the inherently discriminatory nature of this BDS motion, it is also downright idiotic. Intel’s new multi-core processor was completely developed at its facilities in Israel. Will BDS supporters seek to remove such products from Concordia University, since they are developed and manufactured in Israel? It would certainly make for a technologically-bare campus, seeing as Israel also hosts Motorola and IBM’s largest R&D facilities outside the United States. Microsoft and Cisco also built their only foreign R&D facilities in that country.

Selective outrage seems to be a theme among proponents of BDS. It is therefore crucial that students vote ‘no’ against BDS when it comes to a referendum and that the CSU fulfill its mandate for all students of Concordia University. Instead of seeking to stigmatize a group of people, we should all focus on ways to improve the quality of student life across the board.

Bradley Martin is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Fellow at Concordia University.

A Futile Letter From a Student to Academia

November 20, 2014

By Ron Feingold

As the number of students walking through the halls of Universities increases, so does the role of academia in policy making. Essentially, what is easily the most energetic and effortlessly mobilized demographic in the world; young, educated, passionate, compassionate, ambitious, and idealistic- is constantly under the watchful eye of professors that have an ability to dictate what students hear, and why they care. There is no other conceivable demographic that can organize so well as to create movements remotely comparable in size and meaning to the anti-war protests of the seventies and the anti-apartheid movement of the sixties. I am a student, part of this demographic, and this is my futile letter to academia- recognizing defeat.

Ron at the CAMERA Leadership and Advocacy Student Conference August 2014.

Ron at the CAMERA Leadership and Advocacy Student Conference August 2014.

It is futile because this will likely not be read by most of my fellow students. At best I will simply be viewed as a rebellious twenty year old who thinks he knows the world. But academia, you should know that you have failed us. You have failed now for the same reasons you succeeded in the past, you have let down entire generations, and even though this letter may be futile- I am angry.

When in your name, a panel of professors in my university actively promotes the de-legitimization and annihilation of the country in which I was born – I am angry.

When they call her a Pariah and demonize her citizens in the same panel, in your name, and hide behind the freedom that you provide them I am angry.

When Professor Keya Ganguly who teaches “cultural studies” hosts a “teach-in” in which she explicitly pushes to boycott the culture of my people – you have failed.

When in your name, academia, cultural studies Professor Vinay Gidwani promotes the same cultural boycott by reading nothing more than an arbitrary, unverifiable, “letter” from a Palestinian child to an American Jew named Yakov – my blood is boiling.  Since when have you been reduced to nothing more than an emotional appeal to demonize? I beg for an answer.

When professors without major publications from the last decade on Israel or its political situation such as Geography professor Bruce Braun are the ones that are condemning, criminalizing, and explicitly silencing those that do- something is wrong.

On the night before the anniversary of the massacre of Babi-Yar, where nearly 34,000 Jewish souls were taken in one operation– English “Professor” Timothy Brennan had my people condemned as European Colonialists, as imperialists, as seekers of genocide, and as repeat offenders of Holocaust – all in your name.

He and the others are silencing your fellow members, academia, while being protected by the freedom that you offer. They have used your name to speak hate, yet have called my fellow students a “disgrace” for speaking up.

The despicable Jew hating nature of your claims, academia, are summed up by the words of African American civil rights activist Chloé Valdary: “There is a type of Palestinian-Arab privilege which exists today that makes anti-Semitism ‘okay,’ acceptable in academic discourse, and even politically correct. It enables college students of the anti-Israel persuasion to question a Jew’s very identity, to reduce him or her to a monolithic creature which exists solely for the purpose of living in a dejected, victimized, dehumanized state. It divorces them from their past in their native land, and thus strips them of their history, and therefore allows them no future.”

See, academia, not only have you let me down in my school, but you have let down a generation of students who suffer at the hands of what you have created. Not just Israelis, not just Jews, not Just Christians, Muslims, White, Black, or Hispanic –but entire communities of students that want better– you have failed.

At Columbia University, professor of Journalism Todd Gitlin said that the attacks of September 11th were a Jewish conspiracy- I can assure you that they were not.

At California State University in Long Beach, Professor Kevin McDonald said that Jew hatred and Nazism are a rational response to Jews because we are a “hostile elite”- I can assure you, they are not.

At Lincoln University, Professor Kaukab Siddique organized a campus wide rally urging Muslims to rise up against “the genocidal, terrorist, hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism.” – In what world do you help disguise such Jew Hatred under your freedom?

When I read that Jewish scholars should be stopped due to their excessive amount of influence in the decision making process of academia, I thought I was reading an excerpt from when humanity was at its lowest point. I was wrong. It was from Professor Alessio Lero of Temple University. You are now at your lowest academia, and I want you back to brilliance.

I and the world deeply cherished the freedom that you provide, but the moment that hiding behind your freedom gives  people a shield to support your disgraces, you have failed- we all have failed.

In reality, I hope this letter is not futile. Academia has provided the world with too many successes, too many brilliant minds, too many challengers of Marxism, capitalism, social structures, colonialism, democracy, theocracy, racism, and welfare. What we forgot is that we do have the power to challenge the bigotry of those that e  hate, and force them out of their shelter of “academic freedom”. Until we do this, will see more swastikas drawn on Jewish Fraternities (Emory University), more Jews being told to “burn in an oven” (University of North Carolina), and more Jews being violently attacked when they challenge bigotry (Temple University). These are not isolated incidences and this behavior will surely one day leave the confines of campus.

Now is the time to fight because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Rise up!

Ron Feingold is the Director of Public Relations and Journalism for Students Supporting Israel- an international organization founded in Minnesota. While presiding over the University of Minnesota Chapter of Students Supporting Israel he also serves as an Emerson fellow for StandWithUs, a Hasbara Fellow, and Liason to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Having been trained by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, his work has been published in the Times of Israel, Truth Revolt, Campus Reform, the Minnesota Daily, the MN Republic and more. His political work includes being an intern for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and an intern for Senate candidate Mike McFadden.

Ron presenting at the CAMERA Student Leadership and Advocacy Conference.

Ron presenting at the CAMERA Student Leadership and Advocacy Conference.

Understanding a Terrorist

November 19, 2014

On October 22nd, Israel was rocked with yet another attack on its citizens. A Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded light rail stop, killing two people: a 3-month old American girl and a Ecuadorian woman who had recently moved to Israel to finish her conversion to Judaism. I cannot fathom attacks against innocent civilians happening as often as they do in Israel, where it seems each week brings news of yet another tragic death. But as a UCSB student I do know what baseless terror feels like, and how it can affect an entire population. Last year on May 23rd, a disturbed student drove through my home of Isla Vista killing six people, and eventually committing suicide. Although the Isla Vista Massacre and the Jerusalem Light Rail Attack have no direct connection, I find myself asking the same questions now, after this terror attack in Israel, as I did last May. What leads someone to commit such an atrocity? Is there anything we can do to prevent acts of terror? What was going on in their head? Luckily, I got the answers to some of these questions from an expert who knows best.

Anat Berko at UCSB

Anat Berko at UCSB

On October 23,  Gauchos United for Israel (UCSB’s Pro-Israel Group, of which I am the President,) had the pleasure of hosting Anat Berko, a Lt. Col in the IDF while she was on tour with CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America). Lt. Col. Berko has spent the past 25 years researching women and children suicide bombers and their handlers. She has conducted counter-terrorism lectures for NATO, Congress, the FBI, and US Congress. Having interviewed some of Israel’s most high profile prisoners, ranging from Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, a founder of Hamas, to women who decided not to go through with their attacks. Lt. Col Berko provided insight based on research thatmanaged to answer my questions about such irrational acts of hate with rational facts.

Lt. Col. Berko explained that most women suicide bombers in the Middle East had done something to dishonor their family before taking on the role of martyrdom. In many cases “dishonor” can include being victims of rape or having extramarital sex. She explained that these women are more or less roped into committing these terrible acts as a way of regaining their family’s honor. Sometimes these women are tricked into being suicide bombers. Anat told us of one woman she interviewed who was told that the belt around her waist would destroy everything around her, but keep her perfectly safe. In many cases the women and children that are used don’t even know what is going on until the day of the attack, many times it is the father who make the decisions.

As the audience was listening, I could see the surprised looks on their faces at certain aspects of Lt. Col. Berko’s talk. One such instance was when Lt. Col. Berko explained that those who volunteer to be suicide bombers believe that their act brings themselves and 50 members of their family into heaven, and the men receive 72 virgins. These terrorists hate everything about western culture because of how it makes our women “unclean” to the point that they want to destroy it. They spend their entire lives trying to destroy western culture? so that they will eventually earn heaven. She described it as a sort of mania that consumes their lives. Perhaps it is a similar such mania that led the Isla Vista shooter to take the lives of six innocent students in my university town.

Anat Berko with CAMERA Fellow Jeremy Ginsberg

Anat Berko with CAMERA Fellow Jeremy Ginsberg

Fortunately for Israel there are many researchers like Lt. Col Berko who dedicate their lives to learning about terror rationale. Through understanding the root cause of suicide attacks, the number of successful suicide bombers has drastically dropped in the state of Israel. Other measures, like the security barrier and similar security techniques have been influenced by research and the commitment to civilian safety. New methods have proven very effective, and it is the hope that similar study will minimize other forms of terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Hearing from Lt. Col. Berko made me more aware of the psyche of terrorists. The mental unrest and twisted conviction that is often present when rationalizing the killing of innocents. Both of these concepts must have been at play in the minds of the murderers who attacked in Jerusalem and Isla Vista. Understanding this has strengthened my resolve to keep fighting for Israel’s right to protect it’s citizens. The right to security in one’s home is the same for the citizens of Israel as it is for my peers here in Isla Vista.

Jeremy Ginsberg is a CAMERA Fellow for UC Santa Barbara and President of  CCAP- supported organization Gauchos United for Israel.

Today I Was Called A Nazi

November 18, 2014

By Tatiana Rose-Becker

This article has been republished in The Algemeiner.

Conference 2013 456

Tatiana (right) practices Krav Maga with fellow CAMERA students at our 2013 annual conference

Today,  among other things, I was told by a Palestinian student visiting at FSU, that the 67 innocent Jews murdered in Hebron in 1929 were actually not Jews, they were Arabs. I was also told I am less of a person than Hitler because at least Hitler had the chutzpah to declare his genocide on the Jewish people and that I am masquerading as though I want peace. I was told I am a racist and a Nazi and an imperialist who needs to check my white privilege. I was told that Israel is not a state but an occupying force directly responsible for the plight of the Palestinian people. I was told by the students that the Palestinians are not interested in peace and coexistence but that they will take back the land that is rightfully theirs. I was told that Hamas and Fatah are in no way responsible for what is happening to the people in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. I read a sign “Israel = terrorist.”

And I think for the first time in my adult life, I truly understand what it means to stare racism straight in the face. Today, I had a show down with our campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Students for a Democratic Society both of whom fervently protest Israel on a regular basis. The conversation circled around misinformation displayed by the Palestinian supporters on our campus green in front of the library. I asked them for their material and asked them what their views were.

“We support the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the occupying force of Israel.”

I asked them if they had any interest in coexistence with the Jewish state.

“We have no desire for peace. Leave our lands. You never belonged here in the first place.”

I questioned, “Jews have no claim of control over Jerusalem?”

“Absolutely zero. None.”

“You are aware that the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock were built physically on top of the Jews holiest site on Earth, correct?” I asked.

“You have no way of proving that. Give me proof. You can’t. You have none.”

“What about the archaeological evidence that shows that Jews have lived in Jerusalem since Jerusalem came into being?” I questioned.

“That is falsified evidence and is planted by the Israeli government to make it appear legitimate. Israel is not legitimate. You have no historical claim to these lands.”

“Jews in Israel do not have a right to defend themselves?” I inquired.

“No, Israel is an occupying force and we are going to remove them.

Viva Viva Palestina. End the Occupation. We have the Right of Return. Tear Down The Wall.”

We have no claim to Israel. We have no historical ties to Jerusalem. People existed peacefully together before Israel happened out of the sky in 1948. The UN supports Israel because it is economically convenient for them. No Jew was ever persecuted or forced out of an Arab state.

These statements and countless others are made on my campus and other campuses every single day. I have attempted to see their rational logic, have them explain to me their views, and asked those who in groups like SJP whether or not they would ever want a state alongside a Jewish one. The answer is always no.

The answer is such because I have surmised that Jews are, according to those currently speaking out for Palestinian liberation, not entitled to self-determination and we are the only people on Earth not entitled to do so. We are a people who are meant to stay in a diaspora and keep our noses in the ground. Why? Because we are Jews. To deny Jewish history in the state of Israel is simply denying fact. But today someone looked me in the eye and told me my people have absolutely no claim to the city of Jerusalem.

My thought, my hope and my prayer is always “next year in Jerusalem”. The claim for sovereignty over the state of Israel is threatened by those who deny our history. And my reaction comes in the form of a question: with the blind hatred that I faced today, where my friends were called terrorists and I am called a Nazi, can there ever be peace? In conflict where the leadership of Palestinians murder those who protest against them and they fail to provide functional security for their people and the Jews are reprimanded and punished by the world over for defending themselves against terrorism, what kind of an outcome is this going to produce? The Jews are Goliath. The Palestinians are David. This is their story- but what about our story? The story of rich cultural history of the Jewish people that has survived over 3000 years of persecution and near annihilation who has finally come home?

If the supporters of the Palestinian movement for statehood believe these intrinsic lies that have far less to do with Israel and far more to do with the illegitimacy of the Jewish people, how can we move forward? Their school books rewrite history, their religious leaders call for the extermination of the Jewish people. Anti-Semitism is on the rise like never before all over the Western world. So what’s next? We are called the Goliath. Perhaps no one has considered that we are David. A David that has grown strong enough to defend itself against its countless enemies and survive in impossible conditions.

The only thing to do is keep informing people of how grossly wrong these lies are, because the idea and the hope and the plan is that fact and history will win out over violence, racism, and divine hatred. Because as these voices grow louder, people begin the question the legitimacy of the Jewish people. And if we do not respond back with the voices of our history, what reason do we give the world not to?

Tatiana Becker is President  of CCAP-supported organization at Florida State University, Noles for Israel. The article was originally written on November 13, 2014.

Kurds, Baloch, Israelis

November 17, 2014

By Elisa Greenbergmapp Major_ethnic_groups_of_Pakistan_in_1980

Just as the Jewish people were left without a Jewish state for thousands of years and occupied by others, from the Romans to the Byzantines to the Ottomans, the Kurdish and Balochi people are nations without a country. The land of Kurds is divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and parts of Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan, while the Balochis reside in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.   Just as the Jewish people never gave up on the Jewish state of Israel, the Kurds and Balochis have never been willing to give up their dream of creating greater Kurdistan, which comprises parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The Ottomans captured Vedr-Khan-Bek, the Kurdish area of the Middle East, in 1843 which which led to a Kurdish uprising four years later, resulting in oppression of the Kurds and the formation of the national Kurdish movement in 1908. After World War II, American and Soviet influences became the cause of division in the middle east, as there were countries under American military control and many under Soviet military control causing both internal and external strife for many newly formed nations. The Iranian portion of Kurdistan (as portrayed in the image above) fell under Soviet occupation. The Soviets withdrew their forces from the area in 1947, and the Iranian government, backed by the US and Great Britain, destroyed the Kurdish republic and executed the leaders in an effort to ensure the Kurds would not revolt and take control of the oil rich land. In 1975 Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq, started bombing Kurdish villages, destroying an estimated 5,000 villages by 1980. Ultimately, the Kurdish nations remains resilient in their continued effort to fight for their independence. (Click here for more information about the occupation of Kurdistan).

During this time, the British occupied western Balochistan and were urging Pakistan to invade and conquer the remaining independent Balochi land in order to crush the nationalists and pro-Soviet forces. In 1948, Pakistan attacked Balochistan, occupied the land, looted its natural resources , and suppressed the Balochi language and culture in classic colonialist style. Under the Pakistani occupation, Thousands of Baloch people have been massacred, hundreds of thousands made refugees, and thousands more have disappeared or been tortured and jailed, often without trial.   Details of Pakistan’s human rights abuses in Balochistan are well documented by Pakistani and international human rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (see two HRCP reports here and here).

The Kurdish and Balochi dedication to reclaim their land where they could live in peace is similar to that of the Jewish peoples’ determination to fight and defend Israel with all their might. The Jews, Baloch, and Kurds both have a long history of fighting much stronger opponents. Over the years, the two nations have been courageously fighting against powerful countries and mutual enemies of Israel, including Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. These countries have resorted to brutal use of force to suppress the Kurdish and Balochi national movements, but they have failed to do so.

Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special Lebanese analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, former Foreign Policy Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence, explained in a 2013 interview with Mohammed Hussein, journalist for the Awene newspaper, that a moral relationship between Israel and the Kurds could only benefit the Jewish state. He pointed out that “Israel has never missed an opportunity to encourage the establishment of a Kurdish homeland. Our prime ministers were all loyal to that pledge, because it is morally just and politically a must…Kurdistan is very important strategically since it is at the heart of the Middle East and a bridge between the Middle East and the Asian states. Moreover there is a common destiny between Jews and Kurds that has always existed and creates special bonds with Israel.”

Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Pakistan are all concerned that if there were an independent Kurdish state, then the Kurdish and Balochi rebels in their own countries– who are mistreated and upset with their respective governments–, will be motivated to attack Iran, Syria, and Turkey once they become independent. Moreover, the Kurd uprising has already proved to be very costly for Turkey. The rising tension between the Kurds and Syrians on the Turkish side of the Syrian border is a huge threat to Turkey’s tourism industry. Additionally, human right abuses, including the use terrorism laws to prosecute and prolong incarceration of thousands of Kurdish political activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, and trade unionists, have affected Turkey’s reputation in the international community; this has resulted in the country’s lack of permanent membership in the European Union.

The Kurds now battle and resist the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni terrorist organization fighting with the ambition to capture whole Iraq. The victory of ISIS, which believes in a global Islamic caliphate, a belief that the world should be led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph, or successor, to Muhammad, would create another sovereign state with genocidal aims for Israel and a belief in a global Caliphate could be a danger to the rest of the world. The Kurds, Baloch and Israel, therefore, share a security and existential interest in establishing an alliance to defeat their mutual enemy.   Since Israel has been at war with Iraq since 1948, they have not been able to help the Kurds from a diplomatic perspective, however, the Israeli aid agency, IsraAID, has been providing emergency relief for Iraqi Kurds by providing mattresses, powdered milk, and food for thousands of refugees.

Contrary to ISIS, The Kurdish and Balochi people distance themselves from Islamist extremism, and insist that they are partners with the Jewish state. Mehrab Sarjov, an assistant to the Khan of Kalat, the former ruler of Balochistan, hopes to eventually establish a state as a model for moderate secular Islam that will cultivate strong ties with neighbors in the Middle East, including Israel, in an effort to jointly oppose Iran’s nuclear program. At the Oslo Freedom Forum human rights conference , Sarjov stated , “We believe no state is granted by God – it’s people who make states…We believe Israel has a right to exist and to full security. We don’t live in the age of empire or religious supremacism but that of the nation-state. If the Greeks can form a country from their part of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, then what’s wrong with the Jews doing the same? The whole world order is based on nation-states, and history shows the Jews need protection.” He elaborated by stating, “If Azeris, Kurds and Baloch revolt against Iran, the country is finished,” Sarjov says. “We believe Baloch, Kurds, Azeris and Jews are natural allies.”

After thousands of years of struggle and aggression from their neighbors, Israel, the Kurds, and Balochi have formed a political and moral alliance. Recently, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed his support for the creation of a fully independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq when he said, “We need to support the Kurdish aspiration for independence. They deserve it,” His Royal Baloch Highness Khan Suleman Daud expressed a similar sentiment of strong ties with Israel when he explained “We are not racial or religious enemies,…Whomever is the enemy of our enemy is our friend and we’ll take help wherever we can get it. I’d love to come to Tel Aviv someday – hopefully soon.”

Second Thoughts on the Second Intifada

November 14, 2014

This piece was contributed by a CAMERA Israel Trip alumnus.  It was also published in The Jewish Press. Originally from Portugal, the author, Romeu Monteiro, is now a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, and is a dedicated pro-Israel activist and writer. 

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Jerusalem is known as the City of Gold because of the way the sunlight reflects on the white stone facades, especially at sunset. It is a beautiful, bustling city. Just by watching it breathe and live one can hardly imagine the dark memories it stores.

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Our author, Romeu Monteiro

“Kids today, they can do everything they want,” Neta told me as we were having dinner in a Jerusalem veranda at sunset. “They can take a bus, go to the cinema, to the concerts. In my days we could not do any of that. In Israel, 10 years ago, a teenage rebel was the boy or girl who boarded the public buses. Or went and sat in coffee shops. Our lives were like Russian roulette. You never knew which bus was going to explode.”

I remember watching the news in Portugal 10 years ago. The TV would show news on suicide bombings happening again and again in Israel. It was dramatic and yet just another episode of Middle Eastern violence. Listening to Neta’s first-hand experiences in Jerusalem was the exact opposite.

“It was 2003. I was 17 and was on line number 14 here in Jerusalem, my hometown. I had just broken up with my high school boyfriend and was mostly thinking about that when my cell phone rang. I picked it up and saw he was calling me. Things had not ended well between us and I thought perhaps he was calling to apologize. After a few short words he asked where I was. When I answered that I was on the bus he immediately demanded I get off. It was the time of the Second Intifada and every couple of days there was a terror attack in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. I started arguing with him but he kept insisting until finally I got off. It was not long until the bus exploded. A suicide bomber exploded himself killing and wounding dozens of innocent people. I found out when my phone rang once again. This time it was my family asking where I was. Today I am 28 and every time a bus drives near me my heart shrinks and in my mind I see the bus exploding.”

In my mind I feel privileged. I do not know what it is to have to choose between not living life and risking not having a life to live. Actually, I do know that every day I choose to live I risk my life. Death happens around us constantly. The real problem is that there are certain ways of dying we cannot accept. Accidents and diseases are horrible, but they are an unavoidable part of life. They are inherently fair. But it is never fair when someone decides to take the destiny of random people into his or her own hands and play god with life and death.

***

Mila told me one day when we were both studying in Pittsburgh, “When I was in the 11th grade my classmate was murdered by a suicide bomber on a bus.”  She did not elaborate and I did not have the chutzpah to ask for details. Israelis have this ability to talk about horrifying events in brief and dispassionate ways, as if years of terror and war made it all too banal. Later I did ask her to share that story.

“It was Wednesday, March the 5th, 2003. Suicide bombing attacks were almost part of the routine back then. They were happening almost every other day, and if a few days went by without one it seemed weird. People were afraid to go to crowded places: buses, shopping malls, restaurants. I was at a driving lesson with the radio on when the music was interrupted by breaking news reporting that a suicide bomber had just blown up on a bus line 37, in Merkaz HaCarmel in Haifa, a spot we had passed by moments before. The terrorist got on the bus in the early afternoon, knowing it would be packed with school students. My instructor and the other students in the car did not freak out. After all, this was not an unusual event at that time. I called my parents to let them know I was fine and the lesson continued. That night, when I was almost asleep, I received a phone call from a classmate with whom I was good friends. She said she heard that Daniel was one of those who were killed on the bus; he was on his way to pick up some paperwork for his driver’s test when the terrorist blew up his belt packed with 10 kilograms of explosives. But hearing it from her it was hard to believe, as she sometimes made up stories. And how could Daniel be dead? We were sitting next to each other in class; how could he not be sitting there anymore? The conversation ended and I knew she was not lying. After all, every person in Israel has their turn in knowing someone who died in a terrorist attack. That was my turn. The next day Daniel’s chair remained empty. The teachers were trying to play psychologists. I was probably not even listening to them. What would be the point? Nothing could bring him back. All I could think of was how unfair it had been.”

It was unfair and now it is even more unfair. The terrorists responsible for Daniel’s murder have been released: Israel agreed to release them and other Palestinian terrorists in exchange for one Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas and held hostage for over 5 years. Mila’s wish for justice keeps echoing in my head: “Why do the terrorists deserve to carry on with their lives while Daniel did nothing wrong? And what about Daniel’s parents who miss him every single day?”

My friend Ronit is also from Haifa. She is proud of her hometown’s ethnic and religious plurality. “Haifa is a beautifully mixed city. I grew up with coexistence on a daily basis. Religious Arabs, Christians and Muslims, riding the bus with me, waiting with me in line for the supermarket, studying with me at the University and enjoying the Mediterranean shores, just like me and my family.”

I love diversity and plurality, but I cannot imagine what it is to make a daily life knowing there is so much hate in the people you are trying to coexist with, in the minorities you are trying to treat equally. A degree of hate so deep that they might be plotting to kill you based on the circumstances of your birth.

“Our tolerant way of life was severely harmed during the Second Intifada, from 2000 to 2004. I was a teenager at the time. One day, I heard the terrifying sound of an explosion. One of Haifa’s leading restaurants, managed by a Jew and a Muslim, was bombed by a female terrorist who hid a massive bomb inside a baby cart. I cannot describe how terrorist attacks, many times aided by Arab citizens of Israel, destroyed our trust in our Arab neighbors and made it difficult to keep our belief in peace. I remember numerous times when I got off the bus 3 to 5 stops before the one I wanted because I saw a suspicious person coming up and feared he was a suicide bomber. Haifa had about 3 major and deadly bus suicide bombings that killed tens of citizens, many of them kids on their way to school. Honestly, until this day, 10 years later, I still look for the scary guy on the bus, as a precaution.”

The Second Intifada ended around 2004, as Israel built the security barrier between itself and Judea & Samaria, also known as the West Bank of the Jordan River. In its wake, the Intifada left more than 1000 Israeli civilians dead, many more maimed and wounded. Terror did not stop there, but a particularly horrifying chapter came to an end.

Walking the streets of Jerusalem recently I saw many buses. Buses filled with people. Each full bus a demonstration of the people’s renewed sense of security and hope. The passengers, Jews and Arabs alike, with their tired and bored faces after a long day of work, did not seem to share my enthusiasm with the overcrowding. And yet I could not avoid but smiling each time a crowded bus went by.

With each bus that passed me, I would make a private wish: May the people of Israel enjoy many more boring and overcrowded bus trips.

Daniel Mael speaks at CJUI Luncheon, Published in JPost

November 13, 2014

Daniel-Mael-300x300Daniel Mael, founder of CCAP- supported pro-Israel organization at Brandeis University, SAIPA, was invited to speak at the annual Genesis Award Ceremony of the Christians and Jews United for Israel (CJUI).

Check out a video of Daniel’s full speech, below, and be sure to read the article adaptation of Daniel’s speech, in the Jerusalem Post.