As a new school year begins, the familiar chill of malicious, unbridled anti-Semitism is being felt by Jewish university students across the country.
Today, a university student’s intellectualism and tolerance are gauged by the ferocity of his or her Israel hatred. To be a humanitarian, you must deny the humanity of Israelis by portraying them as ruthless racists and baby killers. To be a historian, you must rewrite history so that the Jewish People have no historical, legal, or ancestral ties to the land of Israel. To be a physicist, you must reverse the laws of time and space so that the Jews of Europe are the Palestinians of Gaza and the Jews of Israel are the Nazis of Germany. In the halls of academia, these are the indicators of the most cerebral, enlightened scholar.
In my three years as a student at York University in Toronto, I’ve witnessed the mutation of the Canadian campus into a breeding ground for violence, hate, and discrimination against Israel and its student supporters. During multicultural week in 2013, the Israeli flag was vandalized with red paint. A mural depicting a Palestinian man throwing rocks as an act of “peace and justice” was prominently hung in York’s student centre. The incoming student union president posted an image online of the Jewish star with the instructions to “smash Zionism,” while the campus group Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) overtly promoted terrorism by lauding the “beloved Rasmea Odeh,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member found guilty of murdering two Israeli university students in 1970.
What were the consequences of these actions? The student government president kept his position. The mural remains in the student centre. And in one of the most worrying developments in university anti-Semitism to date, the Centre for Human Rights at York ruled that Odeh’s actions were subject to interpretation. Although the Canadian government describes the PFLP as a terrorist organization, York ruled that SAIA had the right to offer an alternative point of view.
The university further mitigated the severity of online terror incitement by arguing that students would have needed to deliberately access the online post in order to be exposed to this subject matter. It is under this ridiculous logic that the Jewish students who monitor the proliferation of online terror incitement are troublemakers deliberately seeking to be offended, while the radicalized students who intentionally seek this type of content as justification and exoneration for violence are considered insignificant.
The age-old philosophical question “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” becomes “If terror is promoted on the Internet but Jewish students are instructed not to look at it, does the university still get to pretend that it hasn’t turned a blind eye?”
For those still confused as to whether anti-Zionism is unadulterated anti-Semitism or legitimate criticism of Israel, I ask this question: would there be consequences for a student union president who advocated the “smash[ing]” of the black civil rights movement or any other non-Jewish liberation movement? What would happen if a student group continued to receive university funding after celebrating the killer of two students who were of any nationality other than Israeli?
If a double standard exists whereby these acts would be unequivocally condemned if directed at any group other than the Jewish nation, then this is the purest manifestation of anti-Semitism.
So how is it possible that anti-Semitism continues to thrive in academia without consequence or condemnation?
The excuse proffered time and again by university administrators is free speech. But too often they forget free speech is not a one-way street. Just as anti-Israel student groups and union executives may exercise their freedom by posting or promoting anti-Semitic content, university administrators should be obliged to exercise their freedom of speech by condemning actions and speech that lead to the harassment and discrimination of Jewish students. The fundamental essence of free speech is to discuss and debate ideas so that the evil ones might be weeded out, not ignored.
A vicious campaign against Israel and its student supporters is gaining legitimacy on many Canadian campuses. University administrators and professors who speak out against the bigotry of the anti-Israel movement are sending a clear message that propagandistic anti-Semitism has no place in civil society. Those who remain silent are sending an equally clear message: it doesn’t matter if every single tree is being felled in the forest. If you’re blocking your ears, you won’t hear it anyway.
On November 18th at 6:00 PM, Noam Bedein was hosted at the University of Florida. Noam is a photojournalist and the founder and director of the Sderot Media Center. This event served as a debriefing for Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, with the goal of educating students about the realities faced by Israelis living in Southern Israel, Sderot in particular. In addition, this event sought to provide context for why it was imperative that Israel take military action to prevent attacks from Gaza on its civilian population. The event was successful in educating students who were not previously informed about the suffering of Southern Israel’s population due to Hamas’s incessant rocket attacks.
In order to publicize the event, professors in the Middle Eastern Studies department were contacted and asked to spread the word. Many of the attendees expressed shock at discovering what life is like for residents of Southern Israel. Audience members were engaged and asked questions about specific individuals that Noam mentioned during the course of the event, as well as about the overall peace process and how Israel’s retreat from Gaza and the subsequent rocket attacks in Sderot led to a political shift in Israel to the right. All of the students who attended the event were added to the group’s list serve and will be informed of future events.
The most effective aspects of the event were the videos that Noam showed of children of Sderot running to the rocket shelter. The weakest aspect of the event was the fact that there was not enough time reserved for questions at the end.
The University of Florida’s Emet for Israel group, Zionist Gators, will continue to bring speakers similar to Noam Bedein in order to educate the student body about the current situation in Israel.
This piece was contributed by former University of Florida CAMERA Fellow Naor Amir.
This past Sunday Tatiana-Rose Becker, CAMERA’s Southern Region Campus Coordinator, and I, CAMERA’s Midwest and West Coast Campus Coordinator, volunteered at the CJP “Amazing Israel Race” based at Boston University’s Hillel, and drawing students from surrounding schools. The race consisted of 40 teams who were all competing for an amazing prize, money towards a flight to Israel.
The teams ran around the Boston University campus reading clues and completing tasks at eight different stations. I, along with Tatiana and ZOA’s New England Campus Coordinator, Jonathan Ginsburg, ran the mock “IDF Basic Training Station.” In order to receive a stamp on the teams “passport,” all team members had to participate in some physical activities including jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, and much more.
The “Amazing Israel Race” was a large-scale, well-planned event that can be altered into a smaller scale version that you can do on your campus. It was fun and exciting, and a great way to spend all day outside in the beautiful weather.
This was contributed by CAMERA’s Midwest and West Coast Campus Coordinator, Hali Haber.
Tonight the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur starts. For the Jews it is a time for introspection, reflection and repentance. However, during the Yom Kippur of 1973 the soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were not afforded the luxury of observing the holiday. They were fighting to prevent the destruction of Israel as both the Syrian and Egyptian military broke through Israel’s defensive lines in the Golan Heights in the North and the Sinai in the south.
The Egyptians and Syrians strategically planned to attack Israel because of the holiness of Yom Kippur, correctly predicting that it would catch the IDF by surprise. Many bloody battles took place in the Golan Heights, because the northern point was vital to Israel’s security as the elevation would have provided the enemy with a strategic advantage.
In order to fight this war, soldiers put aside their religious obligation and defend their homeland. In this war 2,688 soldiers perished in defense of their people and their land. Their sacrifice and hard work allowed Israel to stay safe.
Many of Israel’s critics today talk about Israel as a combination of its military choices, and often denounce the state for having a strong military and strong borders. They quickly forget how vulnerable Israel was 42 years ago and the necessity of its military in order to defend the country against an onslaught of hostile enemies who wanted to do anything but make peace.
This was contributed by former American University CAMERA Fellow, Rachel Wolf.
As the Canadian federal election approaches, Canadian Jews are faced with a serious dilemma. While Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party have consistently voiced strong support for Israel and have backed up this rhetoric in their voting pattern at the UN, the Liberals and NDP have taken more equivocal stances. Although these two parties officially support Israel’s right to exist and its right to defend itself, their support on other related issues is inconsistent at best, and some of their candidates have even voiced outright anti-Israel positions.
The dilemma is: what’s a Jew to do? With global anti-Semitism on the rise and with many European countries taking increasingly anti-Israel positions, the well-being of the Jewish State is one of the top concerns for many Canadian Jews who have a strong connection to their homeland. A number of Jews take the position that, with the Conservatives as the only party that wholly and consistently takes a moral stance on Israel and the Middle East, how can any principled Canadian Jew justify voting for any other party? This approach has the benefit of validating the Conservatives’ pro-Israel position and ensuring that there is a dominant Jewish voice in one of Canada’s leading parties.
I vehemently disagree with this approach.
Read the full article here
This was originally published in the Times of Israel and was written by Trevor Sher, President of University of Windsor’s Emet for Israel group.
Students for Accuracy about Israeli and Palestinian Affairs (SAIPA), the Brandeis University Emet for Israel group hosted, Wheel of Misconceptions: A Game Show Style Discussion about Israeli and Palestinian Affairs. The event was very successful and was attended by nearly 50 students! The idea of the game was to bring together people who are already interested in the topic and new students who wanted to learn more.
During the game the students split off into teams to play the game. CAMERA student, Misha Vilenchuk, said, “By chance, the wheel was spun on topics such as ‘The United Nations‘ and ‘History of Israel.’” Challenging questions were asked, such as “do you believe the UN treats Israel fairly…” After the questions were finished the students had a discussion in their small groups in which they reflected on the questions from the game and began asking each other more questions.
When reflecting on the successful event, Vilenchuck said, “I believe SAIPA met one of our main stated goals. We brought out a significant amount of underclassmen that wished to get involved—the majority of our audience.”
SAIPA’s event was successful because it was widely attended, made the attendees excited about SAIPA’s future events and ensured that the attendees learned something about the conflict.
Tonight the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana begins and Jews all over the world will be celebrating the new year and wishing each other a “shana tova u’mituka” (a sweet and good year).
There are many customs associated with Rosh Hashana such as prayer, greeting cards, and even dipping apples into honey to symbolize the healthy and sweet new year to come.
We at CAMERA on Campus would like to wish all those celebrating a shana tova with lots of happiness and accuracy in 5776!
Today, after 14 years, people across America take time to mourn the thousands of people who lost their lives in the September 11th terror attacks on the Pentagon, Twin Towers and Flight 93.
While most would see the killing of innocent civilians as something to mourn, some on the day of the attacks did quite the opposite. Many Palestinians in East Jerusalem celebrated, shot up their “victory V” hand symbols and rejoiced in the fact that America had been brought down.
In 2001, Israel was experiencing its own problems with terror during the Second Intifada, which had started a year before and wouldn’t end until 2005. During this time several attacks were carried out against Israeli civilians.
In the years that followed the attacks, Israel, having its own unique history with terror and a bond with the United States and compassion for its people in their time of need, started to create 9/11 memorials in Israel. The two main memorials are in Jerusalem and Ashdod.
The Ashdod memorial is a gray plaque mounted on a stone with a replica of the Twin Towers below it and both the American and Israeli flag above it. The stone is in the middle of a large park with several side-ways slanting trees. The memorial was created, “by Dov Shefi, whose son Hagay Shefi died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.”
In Jerusalem the memorial also in a park , but rather than it being on a stone it is a 30-foot high bronze-sculpted American flag. This memorial was dedicated in 2009 and was built after the “Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael hired Israeli sculptor Eliezer Weishoff to design and create the memorial.”
These two memorials in Israel and the memorial in New York City, whose architect is Israeli, not only represent the bond between Israel and America as victims of terror, but as people of shared experiences and values of democracy, freedom, equality and life above all.
Opening events are key to any successful Israel group. Before bringing speakers, hosting film screenings and creating other events, it is important to find students who can help organize and plan these things. General interest meetings, sometimes called GIMs, are a great way to get to know the pro-Israel students on a given campus.
CAMERA’s Emet for Israel group at SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton University Zionist Organization (BUZO) just had its first general interest meeting (GIM)! The board sported their CAMERA funded “I Stand with Israel” t-shirts, which were a huge hit. These shirts are made in Israel through nucampaign.org.
Binghamton University CAMERA Intern and President of BUZO, Arianne Storch said, “Our GIM tonight was very successful! 23 people came and 13 of those people are interested in joining our general board.”
Looks like it will be an exciting year for BUZO!