Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Breakup Letter to Europe

November 30, 2015


Leora Noor

Dear Europe,

You and I share a special bond. I, Leora, harbor only warm and fuzzy feelings of my studies in France (except, of course, when anti-Semitic protests raged through my sleepy town of Annecy) and pleasant memories of my trips to Italy and Greece (except when I counted five swastikas in two days). We share the stereotypical bond of a young girl to European culture, cuisine and romance. But I am not European. I had lived there, and my parents are from there. I felt assaulted only for short bouts of time. But I am still an outsider. I am a Jew.

I, Petar, as someone who’s been living in Serbia for most of my life, have few cozy memories of how Eastern Europe has treated me as a Jew. It’s ironic, since Eastern Europe was either Allied or occupied by the Nazis. While my relationship with you, Europe, could have been described as half decent, the things happening nowadays are making that change.

I’ve spent summers with you, eaten croissant and gelato with you, walked on the Champs-Elysees and the Piazza Navona with you. But now, I’ll admit, I’m scared. Next time I walk around in Paris or Rome, will I have to take off my Star of David? Because earlier this week, a Jewish man in Italy was stabbed for that very crime.

When I walk outside with a Star of David around my neck, people give me strange looks. Numerous times have I been insulted for my race and religion. I am openly Zionist and never put my beliefs aside because of a culture changed for the worse. Some of your people have turned to new twisted ideologies like Neo-Nazism. Far too many are conspiracy theorists and blame “the Zionists” for all things wrong in the world. From 9/11 and other terrorist attacks to the “New World Order,” it is always the Zionists’ and, consequently, my fault. How can you allow this?

I remember when I was flying to Paris in March. My grandmother begged me to take off my necklaces. I scoffed and thought that was ridiculous– I never take them off. But then I remembered the Hyper Cacher attack. Terrorism, often particularly against Jews, has become a real threat in Europe. My older brother in Paris told me that he never wears his kippah out of the house. He just wears a hat. Because everyone knows that only Star-of-David-wearers wear kippahs.

Maybe you allow this because the number of Jewish people living in Eastern Europe after the Holocaust has dropped drastically. (As of now, there are only a couple thousand Jewish people in my country.) You have forgotten what you stood for in the absence of Jews. You’ve also forgotten the Holocaust that took place in your very own ex-Yugoslavia, after which, out of the 82,500 Jews of Yugoslavia alive in 1941, only 14,000 survived. To put it another way, out of the 16,000 Jews in Serbia, the Nazis murdered approximately 14,500.

But I am not here to tell you about what happened in the past. You need to know about what’s happening right now.

You’ve been treating me differently lately– and I don’t just mean me, but the whole tribe of Star-of-David-wearers. You’ve been treating us differently. Not long ago, in Paris, I found protesters not just claiming Israel as a “terrorist, apartheid, genocidal state,” but proclaiming “Mort aux Juifs !” (Death to the Jews!) And now, I find a Paris reeling from a blow caused by longstanding neglect of this Anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism has long been a harbinger of negative social change. Once rates of anti-Semitism go up, society declines. Remember the Nazis, the Cossacks, and now you, Europe. Each time a country turns a blind eye to its anti-Semitism, it turns a blind eye to a larger problem. These attitudes do not come from nowhere.

People are not protesting against Israel, but against Jews. As much as I disagree with the policies and ideas driving anti-Israel protest, you, my dear Europe, are enlightened, and have bestowed upon us freedom of speech and expression. Thus, you have given us the freedom to be anti-Israel, which has been manifesting itself as the freedom to be anti-Semitic.

These anti-Semitic attitudes do not come alone. They come with racism, murder and terror. They come with Hyper Cacher, Charlie Hebdo, and 14/11. They come with the Jewish Museum Attack and Neo-Nazi groups. They come with stabbings of random men in Italy. They come with a fear of living as a Jew– and, now, as a human being– in Europe. In you.

In my mind, the safest country was Hungary. Perhaps because it has the largest Jewish community in Eastern Europe.

You may have heard on the news that “Hungary was the only country which closed borders with Serbia right away and decided not to let migrants in.” The reality is that Hungary is the only country which immediately closed borders with Serbia and decided not to let in undocumented migrants.

As in this example, just like people here believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories, the media almost always equates Israel with the attackers. After Palestinian attacks on Israel, the media published an article about how an “Israeli tank killed Palestinian baby,” which resulted in massive hate towards Jews and Israel. They also published about how the Israeli military neutralized Palestinians in an attack on the tunnels crossing into Israel.

What they failed to mention was that Hamas used Palestinian children in making these tunnels, out of which 160 died. They also didn’t mention that these tunnels were explicitly made to perform terrorist attacks, making rocket launching, hostage taking and mass attacking possible. One tunnel opening was found near an Israeli kindergarten. But never mind, you said. For every incident caused by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Jews are, in the eyes of your media, just as guilty.

You gave us Western civilization. Architecture and music, the Enlightenment and philosophy. You also gave us European anti-Semitism and promised us “never again.” But perhaps you have forgotten.

If things don’t change, we cannot hope for a better future.

Europe, you have given me so much. But you can give me no more. As long as I am a Zionist Jewish Israeli, I will bear witness to your protests and your labels of “feuj” and “zhid.” But now I will label you “anti-Semitic.” I will label you all the things you labeled others when we voiced our concern– and, now, you will have to pick up the pieces. As long as I am a human being, I will bear witness to your escalation into terrorism and your people’s escalation into fear.

This is a wake up call to all of you, Europe. Instead of brushing off anti-Semitism, you should focus on what really matters, which are human lives. I sincerely hope you realize how serious this all is before more innocent people suffer.


Leora and Petar

This piece was contributed by Leora Noor Eisenberg, a student at Nova Classical Academy and Petar Ilic, a Psychology major at the University of Belgrade.


Important Alliances

November 25, 2015

The state of Israel has been an ally to the United States of America since its’ birth in 1948. This has been a relationship that has been cultivated over decades and has proven mutually beneficial to both countries. Whether financially, militarily, medically, technologically etc., the partnership that has existed between these two countries has proven to be a positive force on the world stage. So much of what we do is impacted by Israel and he contributions they make to our society and the global community as a whole.

Here on our campus, majority of students are business centered in their studies and there is a huge emphasis on keep up to date with the latest business news and breakthroughs. Israel is a huge player in the business world and in fact, they are known as the start-up nation. Start-ups’ are becoming more and more common, prevalent, and numerous among young businessmen and women as the next step to success. For example start-ups such as GetTaxi, an Israeli company akin to Uber, was founded in 2010 in Tel Aviv and is growing exponentially. They have spread to 32 cities across the U.S., U.K, France, and Israel and are a million dollar grossing company.

Not only this, but over 1,000 Israeli companies are present and active in the U.S. and providing over 100,000 jobs in over 40 states. The U.S. is also grossing almost 40 billion dollars a year since signing a Free-Trade agreement with Israel. Israel is one of the smallest countries and yet they are one of the top countries leading direct investments on U.S. soil and are one of the United States top 25 export destinations.

Aside for being deeply involved in the American economy and aiding in stimulating the financial landscape of the U.S., Israel is also leading in technological advancement. In fact, our iPhones contain Israeli technology. The flash storage technology, which optimizes the memory capability in many apple products such as the iPhone, was developed and established by a Herziliya-based company called Anobit. Some of the technology used to develop the high-power camera in iPhones was also developed by and Israeli-based

""Three array camera module design configurations for mobile devices, each having its unique properties and introducing new features." (Photo: Business Wire)" (Photo Source)

“”Three array camera module design configurations for mobile devices, each having its unique properties and introducing new features.” (Photo: Business Wire)” (Photo Source)

Company, LinX, which was acquired by apple for about 20 million dollars. Without Israeli influence and contribution to our society so many of the crucial things that we do would not be possible. From something as large scale as our economy to something as personal as our cell phone, Israel has etched a place in world progress and advancement. For that reason, Israel is a subject we should pay mind to and stay attentive to the innovative society that has aided in creating our modern environment from 6,000 miles away.


This was contributed by CUNY Baruch CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

Benji Lovitt comes to UB

November 24, 2015

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SUNY Buffalo’s Emet for Israel supported group, UB for Israel, was very excited to bring Benji Lovitt, an Israeli comedian, to their university and share his comedy expertise with their peers.

From Taglit Birthright to camels, Lovitt made the audience roar with laughter as her talked about many different aspects of Israeli society.

Lovitt’s performance followed an opening act by UB Improv.




Through comedy, Lovitt’s event attracted student who preferred to learn more about Israeli culture rather than politics.  Lovitt drew a crowd that included new students, community members and even university professors.

The room was filled with laughter and UB for Israel are excited to plan more events that provide an accurate representation of Israel’s diverse society to campus.



An Interview with Bassem Eid

November 23, 2015

Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid is most well known for “raising awareness according to the realities on the ground” on the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 1.05.35 PMBassem, born and raised in Jordanian occupied East Jerusalem, began working for B’Tselem in 1988 to advocate for Palestinian human rights. Since then, he has broken off to work for his own human rights organization: Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. Bassem whistle blows on human rights violations committed by the PA against the Palestinians. He was arrested and jailed by Arafat for this work and today speaks around the world about his experiences .

 In October of 2015, he toured with CAMERA on Campus speaking to over 1000 college students on  15 universities and community events.
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Tatiana-Rose Becker, Campus Coordinator, had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about his experiences.

T: Why did you start the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Groups (PHRMG)?

B: I started my human rights career with an Israeli organization, B’Tselem, I worked for B’Tselem for 7.5 years and when the Oslo Agreement was signed between the PLO and the state of Israel, B’Tselem decided that tsince theyare an Israeli organization, they are not going to interfere in the violations committed by the Palestinian Authority against Palestinians. I was totally against such a decision because I said to B’Tselem at that time that your main mission is protect Palestinians rights from violations, it never said if it was by the Israelis or the Palestinian authority. B’Tselem should have to take a position against all perpetrators of those violations, never mind who committed them. Unfortunately, B’Tselem didn’t accept it, and this is the main reason that after seven and a half , I resigned from B’Tselem and created PHRMG in turn to monitor and control the violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against the Palestinians.

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T: Do you find there is a need for speakers like you on college campuses?

B: I think when it comes to campuses, yes indeed. Unfortunately, I know a lot of Palestinians who are speaking out, but they don’t speak English. Some speak fluent Hebrew and I invite them to speak, but only to the Israelis. I want Palestinians to take a bigger approach to foreign students—Americans, Asians, South Africans, Europeans, I think that there is a huge need in this moment for more and more Palestinian speakers to come and explain the real situation on the conflict. I think the media has misled the majority of students. The media is losing the ethics of journalism. That means that the media became a yellow media and they are biased.

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T: What kind of an impact do you want to have on students? Who is your audience?

B: First of all, my audience are all foreigners, not Palestinians. Second, I am not a person looking after influence. I am much more interested in raising awareness. If I succeed in raising awareness according to the realities on the ground then I believe that these students automatically will be influenced. My main mission is to make a campaign and raise awareness about realities on the ground and an understanding for people who have never been in the region and to tell them exactly what is really going on. I believe there are a lot of students seeking first hand information. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of students who are trying to make propaganda. I think the universities themselves should have to use rules for outside speakers. I think universities lose control over lectures when students disrupt events for the sake of chaos.

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T: People critical of your presentation say that there are not enough Palestinians speaking out about the violence in the PA and Gaza. What are your thoughts on this?

B: Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the reality. I know that the major problem is the media. Why is the media starting the violent storm in East Jerusalem? Since the start of the recent violent, no one has stopped to ask me what I think. It seems to me, the media has no interest in calming the situation. It’s the opposite- the interest of the media is how to add fuel to the flame. There are so many Palestinians against what is going on, but it looks like the media has no interest to interview them. This is a problem with the media. The media wants to manage the conflict, not solve it.


T: What are some tough questions you are asked on campus?

B: I think the toughest question is: Why you are not blaming Israel? Why are you blaming the Palestinians? It’s a tough question but of course I have 1,001 answers for a question like this. My point is, if we want to be a nation, a recognized nation, we the Palestinians have to start believing in self-criticism.


T: Have you experienced counter protests on campus or elsewhere?

B: Not so much, from what I remember. However, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) proponents issued five different press releases against me, most recently at Auckland University in New Zealand and a year ago in South Africa. I keep BDS busy; they don’t keep me busy. When they publish a press release about me, it helps my cause because it points out the biggest flaws in BDS. BDS is a prelude to genocide to the Palestinians. I think these people not only want to destroy Israel, I think they also want to harass and destroy the Palestinian economy. I would never in my life believe the BDS supports human rights; that they are seeking peace between Palestinians and Israelis. I believe they are a new organization that is gaining money and power off the suffering of Palestinians, much like UNRWA.


T: How do you suggest students participate in making life for Israelis and Palestinians better?

B: The students must look at Israelis and Palestinians as human beings. We are all people and we must respect each other. If you deny the rights of the others, the others will deny the rights of you. They must have confidence themselves before they can have confidence about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Students sometime cause damage because they blow stories out of proportion. My suggestion is please, come to the region and meet Israelis and Palestinians who have full cooperation in their professional and personal lives. I believe that such a trip will change the minds of the students.

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Gilad Skolnick Goes to George Mason

November 20, 2015

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Gilad meets with the GMU Shlicha, Tal, and the GMU mascot!

On October 19th Gilad Skolnick, CAMERA’s Director of Campus Programming, visited George Mason University (GMU) where he met with leaders of the Israel Student Association, our EMET for Israel supported group on the campus.

During his visit there was an Israeli triva event organized with Hillel, in a nearby restaurant. About 25 birthright alumni from GMU, many from the birthright CAMERA bus, and students interested in the upcoming summer birthright trip, attended the event.
Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 8.28.09 AMThe trivia game was done with a program called,, a game that allows large numbers of people to answer questions on their phone while both the question and answer choices are displayed using a projector or (in this case) a television. The students who chose the right answers to questions were awarded with Israeli chocolates and with specially assembled gift bags for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.
Each multiple choice question was used as an opportunity to bring up interesting points about Israel. For example a question asking the number of countries – in addition to Israel – there are in Asia that recognize gay marriage (the answer is zero) sparked a discussion on LGBTQ rights in Israel. Additionally, after a question about Israel’s national anthem, some students broke out into song, singing the parts of Hativka that they remembered from the trip.
The students and the Hillel staff had a great time at this event!
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The Man Behind the Incitement

November 19, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.07.31 PMRecently, at his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the PLO, opened his speech ‘raising the alarm’ to the world as to his version of the facts on the ground as they stand in relation to the most disputed piece of real estate in the world.


The Temple Mount. Al Haram Al-Sharif. Har Habayit.

The fact of the matter is that this man, a terrorist and tyrant who has held his democratically elected position long after its expiration, has a point. The greatest perpetration of human rights in all of Israel occurs on the Temple Mount. It forbids Jews from praying at their own holiest site. The rights of speech, expression and religion are all obstructed to preserve the ‘status quo’.


The status quo, as it is called on the Temple Mount, leaves the administration of the site to a Muslim trust left over from the Jordanian days, called the Waqf. Under the current racist agreement, Muslim worshipers have full rights while others receive none. Although the Mount is revered as the holiest site in Judaism as well as a holy site in Christianity and Islam, access to it for non-Muslims is restricted to a few hours a day, excluding Fridays or Muslim holidays in which access is banned completely for them. The site can additionally be closed for security concerns, which tend to be riots designed to prevent Jewish ascension to the holy site on the Mount during Jewish and Israeli holidays. Additionally, non-Muslims may only enter the site through one of the 11 gates and are forbidden any form of religious expression. This, despite the numerous Israeli Supreme Court rulings demanding all must be allowed religious freedoms at the holy site.

Over the past year Abbas has upped his inflammatory rhetoric in relation to the Temple mount, culminating with his statement in September on official PA TV:
“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
He went further to bless all the blood spilled in Jerusalem in the name of Allah. These statements were made in response to Israeli police forces being forced to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque to blockade Muslim rioters inside after they had attempted to start a riot that would force the Jewish visitors from the Mount for the day .

During his UN address, Abbas went on to threaten that if Israel continued this use of brutality, the Palestinians would turn this from a political conflict to a religious one. This man is parading to the world that his peaceful people are being persecuted and their holy places desecrated, and he has been doing this for years. The truth is that Abbas is inciting Palestinians to violence using the places his people claim as holy as their battleground.

This is not the first time that Abbas and his organization have acted duplicitously. In 2000, Abbas’s predecessor and mentor, the terrorist Yassar Arafat, used similar claims of Jews trying to take over the Temple Mount. Those claims led into the second intifada. All this was in the name of ‘changing the rules of the game,’ as his advisor admitted in an Arabic language interview in October of 2000.

Today, as well, Abbas’s goal continues to be to undermine any negotiation with the Jewish State. In one language he speaks of peace, and in another he incites death. He sneaks around trying to create a history that doesn’t exist. Abbas tries to turn the Western Wall into a Muslim site, but the fact is that when it was under Islamic rule, it was a garbage dump. The Waqf has spent years trying to remove all evidence of the existence of two Jewish Temples and now tries to claim more sites for themselves in a further attempt to remove the Jewish history in the indigenous Jewish homeland.
No matter how easy peace is for Abbas, he instead chooses to go asking for more, continuing to destabilize the status quo. The reason for this is simple, yet the world is too blind to see. He is a fraud. He does not want peace. His goal is drive the Jews into the sea. This incitement has led to a movement whose goal is just that.

This #INTIFADA (the name being used by the Palestinian side), much like its historical precedent, is wreaking havoc in the streets. This is to be expected when teenagers are attempting to stab Jews and their children in broad daylight. However, we have a message for you. Abbas, you will fail, and eventually the world will catch on. You claim it’s about control over Judea and Samaria, yet you stab innocents in Ra’anana and Beit Shemesh. Continue to incite your violence if you wish, but we will defend ourselves and we will be victorious. We are here in our indigenous homeland and we are not going anywhere.


This was originally published in the The Commentator and was written by Yeshiva University
CAMERA Fellow Michael Osborne.

Cardinal for Israel hosts vigil for victims of violence in Israel

November 18, 2015

Members of the Stanford community came together to remember the lives of nine Israeli victims of recent terrorist attacks at a Sunday evening vigil hosted by Cardinal for Israel (CFI). The vigil occurred only days after students had gathered in White Plaza in silent protest of what they have called an Israeli occupation of Palestine.



Varied opinions on the conflict

Photo Credit

“Alexander Levlovich’s funeral in Jerusalem, September 16, 2015. Credit: Emil Salman” (Photo Source)

Violence perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis has been growing since Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Attacks have left nine Israelis dead and over 60 seriously injured. The first attack occurred on Sept. 14, when Palestinians threw rocks at a driver’s car in East Jerusalem, causing him to fatally crash. The driver, Alexander Levlovich, was 64 years old.



As the violence has escalated, over 40 Palestinians have been killed and 1,770 injured by live fire or rubber bullets, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, some of whom perpetrated these acts of terror against Israeli citizens. However, many of these Palestinian civilians were not the attackers and were killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank and Gaza. These clashes are the result of tightened security by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in response to the terrorist attacks.

Militant groups, such as Hamas, have praised the attacks against Israelis and called for a third intifada, an organized uprising by Palestinians against Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has not supported further escalation.

The reaction on Stanford’s campus to the increased violence between Israelis and Palestinians has been varied, representing many sides of the complex situation. This past Friday, a group of students gathered in White Plaza with black tape over their mouths, bearing signs condemning what they believe is an Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Fatima Zehra ’17, co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), explained that Friday’s protest was a preemptive response to Sunday’s vigil.

“It was essentially a silent protest,” Zehra said. “We wanted to do something because we felt that Sunday’s protest was going to be really one-sided. So we wanted to shed some light on the fact that this is a part of a broader context… It is important to not frame this as two equal sides. It is occupier and occupied.”

CFI president Miriam Pollock ’16 responded to Zehra’s comment in a message to The Daily.

“Unfortunately, SJP lives in a different reality than the rest of us,” Pollock wrote. “SJP has decided to criticize our vigil, which mourned innocent victims of terror, for being too ‘one-sided.’”

“SJP would apparently prefer everyone took the side of terrorists,” she added. “In SJP’s reality, a vigil for victims of the 9/11 terror attacks must also mourn the ‘15 Saudi Arabians who were killed’ lest it be too ‘one-sided.’”

Sunday’s vigil

Sunday’s vigil focused primarily on the murders of Israelis over the past month and the terrorist attacks committed by Palestinians against Israelis.

“This is an event to remember victims of terrorism,” Pollock said. “So we would hope that a lot of people understand that message and would want to come out and show their support.”

Pollock emphasized that the objective of the vigil was to provide members of the Stanford community affected by the terrorist attacks with a space to mourn those who have died and an opportunity to support Israel during this time of increased violence and terror.

During the vigil, community members gathered around the stage in almost complete silence. An older man stood in the back of the crowd holding the Israeli flag, and another man wore an Israeli flag over his shoulders like a prayer shawl.  On the stage, four student speakers stood in front of candles arranged to form a Star of David.

"A still image taken from cellphone footage of security forces surrounding a knife-wielding Israeli Arab woman after she allegedly tried to stab a security guard at Afula bus station on Friday, October 9, 2015. (screen capture)"

“A still image taken from cellphone footage of security forces surrounding a knife-wielding Israeli Arab woman after she allegedly tried to stab a security guard at Afula bus station on Friday, October 9, 2015. (screen capture)” (Photo Source)

“On Oct. 9, at the central bus station in Afula, an assailant stabs an innocent woman,” said Jacob Kaplan-Lipkin ’19, addressing the crowd. “That bus station is a block and a half from my family’s apartment. I’ve taken the bus there. They take it every day. It could’ve been one of them.”





Kaplan-Lipkin’s words captured why many chose to come to the vigil.

“I am here because my family has experienced these terror attacks in Israel right now,” said Rebecca Avera, the Israel Fellow at the Stanford Hillel. “Two of my cousins were almost there in two different terror attacks in Jerusalem and today in Beersheva. We are lucky that nothing happened to them,”

Avera herself is Israeli and has experienced a terrorist attack in Israel. As the Israel Fellow, she works at Hillel to coordinate events about Israel.

The vigil closed with the singing of a song of peace and the lighting of candles. CFI plans to continue to spread awareness of the violence in Israel through a social media campaign using #ItCouldBeMe, along with student groups at UCLA, UC Berkeley and other California schools.

“The basic idea behind it is that it could have been any one of us that are in charge of hosting this event that had been killed,” Pollock said in reference to #ItCouldBeMe.

However, the entirety of the Jewish community at Stanford does not necessarily agree with the position of Cardinal for Israel. In the coming weeks, Jewish community members will be hosting a memorial for lives lost in both Israel and Palestine.

“Help us honor Palestinian and Israeli lives recently lost in Jerusalem with interfaith prayer and a call for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” read flyers for the event.

Matthew Cohen ’18, a member of the Jewish community, chose not to attend Sunday’s vigil, hosted by CFI, but plans to attend the memorial gathering.

“I just hope that when people see what members of the Jewish community are doing here on campus, they don’t believe that the entire Jewish community feels that way,” Cohen said in reference to Sunday’s vigil. “We are a very diverse group of people.”

The current escalation of violence in Israel has deeply affected many in the Stanford community. Some identify with the Israeli side, themselves having experienced terror attacks in Israel. Others identify with the Palestinian struggle of life under Israeli occupation.

In his final words to the crowd at Sunday’s vigil, Kaplan-Lipkin captured this complexity and perhaps the only common ground at the moment in this conflict.

“I don’t care whether the victim was Israeli or Palestinian,” Kaplan-Lipkin said. “A life is a life. And what I care about are innocent civilians losing their lives every day.”


This was originally published in The Stanford Daily and was written by Blanca Andrei.

It’s time to stop ignoring racism in Israel

November 17, 2015

As defenders of Israel, we are constantly emphasizing that Israel promotes unconditional co-existence and would never stand for such an awful establishment like institutional discrimination.

However, what if I said we were wrong and that Israel does, in fact, actively permit prejudice to flourish?

We as educators commit a severe injustice by failing to recognize this. We are so preoccupied with convincing an obstinate side that apartheid against non-Jews doesn’t exist in Israel that we commit the deprecating mistake of overlooking the institutional discrimination carried out by the Arab population toward the Jewish population.

It is imperative to understand that the situation in Jerusalem is preposterously fluid and more fragile than Derrick Rose’s knees. It would be irresponsible to expect the Israeli government to allow Jewish access to the Temple Mount to submit to the expectations that Jews cease from desecrating Islam’s third-holiest site.

As a Jew, this is an excruciating pill to swallow but one we must swallow for the time being. Altering the conditions on the ground so unilaterally would place countless Jewish lives in danger, which is a direct transgression of the Torah’s most important decree of preserving Jewish life at all costs. Therefore, I will abstain from discussing what The Knesset, Israel’s legislature, must do to abolish this tangible discrimination in the eternal capital of Israel, but comment on what we must do as courageous educators to change this disgraceful status quo.

Judaism stresses the philosophy that our bodies are temples and we should refrain from tarnishing it at all costs. It is why we are forbidden from receiving tattoos and even writing phone numbers on our arms. Yet, we live in a time when it is a daily routine for extremist Arabs to fill their holy mosque with explosives and incitements and our temples with cold blades and piercing bullets.

Is this not a direct desecration of our holy beliefs? Are the Islamist tenants of those who wish us dead more treasured than the Jewish tenants of those who cherish life? We’re not talking about practice, Mecca or Riyadh, but Jerusalem.

We are in the midst of a heartbreaking wave of terror that is plaguing all citizens of Israel. This current wave of terror shall subside, but nevertheless we cannot return to the norm perpetrated by Arab leaders.

Why have the overwhelming majority of those with a shred of interest in the Palestinian narrative never seen one of the countless videos of Jewish security details carrying Jews off the Temple Mount for daring to pray?

Being forbidden from drinking from a water fountain because I am a Jew is the precise definition of racism. This cancerous atmosphere has become accepted by nations and individuals who claim to be champions of democracy and equality. We can no longer yield to this current state of affairs where this racism is accepted, because we don’t want to offend the Muslims of the Levant.

Are we not offended? How is the Palestinian movement so potent when such blatant racism is displayed daily? By all means, let’s work something out and share the Temple Mount instead of accepting such vile racism.

We are subconsciously and unintentionally yielding to this unbelievable view that there is nothing we can do but accept this racist reality. We can no longer overlook the bigotry that is thriving in the very same nation we defend.


This piece was originally published in Central Florida Future and was written by University of Central Florida CAMERA Fellow and President of UCF’s Emet for Israel supported group, Knights for Israel, Ben Suster.

In defense of self-determination: The Parallels between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Israel

November 16, 2015

FoxPatrickIn mid-September, I received the news. I would finally be going to Israel. A longstanding dream of mine was being realized. I will soon be in the holy land. I am a native of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (having lived here since I was about four years of age). As a student of history, growing up in one of the oldest and most storied states in the United States; I understand the common struggles that led to the founding of the one and only Jewish state, as well as those which led to the founding of the commonwealth. The CAMERA conference, which took place in the historical city of Boston, Massachusetts, helped me to understand even further the myriad connections between Massachusetts and the State of Israel.

If a person was asked to draw similarities between The United States, more specifically the state of Massachusetts, and the Jewish state of Israel, they may find themselves hard pressed. What similarities could a 200-plus year old commonwealth have with a relatively young nation in the Middle East? The answer lies in two stories of escape from persecution against nearly insurmountable odds.

In 1620, the small ship Mayflower departed England for a long voyage to the new world. The vessel was crammed with members of a religious group the Church of England had deemed heretical. The members of the English Separatist Church were leaving, leaving because they feared for their religious freedom and their lives. They were willing to risk everything–their lives, their possessions in the homeland, so that they could start anew in a new locale.

In this “new world”, the immigrants would be free to worship how, what, and when they wanted. They would be free from oppression and persecution. Once they reached the site of what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, they founded a small town. It was a new era for this small and persecuted minority. The group’s settlement would eventually be incorporated into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the earliest states in the nation founded in the ensuing years, the United States. The United States would eventually be known to embody the values of democracy Americans hold so dear today, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and many other rights considered fundamental to a thriving, functioning society. Another, albeit much younger nation also embodies these democratic values, and the story of its founding is quite similar to that of Massachusetts.

The Jewish people have always in some form or another inhabited what is today known as the state of Israel. The site of the first and second temples within the holy city of Jerusalem are mentioned in many holy texts and writings. When the Jewish people became strangers and the diaspora began to form, the connection with Jerusalem was never lost. All throughout centuries of persecution and heinous violence directed against them, the Jewish communities of Europe, the Arab world, and elsewhere prayed “next year in Jerusalem.” In 1948, the state of Israel came into being, and a dream centuries in the making was realized. The Jewish people were finally free to worship and practice their Judaism as they pleased, without fearing being singled out as they had in Europe and elsewhere.

The stories of Massachusetts and the State of Israel are complicated to say the least. But the citizens of both areas know in their hearts that they inhabit some of the most storied lands in the democratic world. Landmark advances in science, medicine, and technology have always been characteristic of both Massachusetts and Israel. In addition, both were founded by those who risked everything to pick up and start anew. Like in the first Massachusetts winter or the Israeli war of independence, the going was tough at first. But eventually, something beautiful began to take shape, in the forests of Plymouth and in the desert around Jerusalem. Self-determination, both of the pilgrims and the Jewish people, were and are cornerstones to flourishing societies they have brought about.


This was written by Clark University CAMERA Fellow, Patrick Fox.

What Exactly is a Hamsa?

November 12, 2015

12109291_840538182732806_5308028704984202208_nThe Hamsa is a very common symbol throughout the Middle East, that has even made its way into American fashion, but few people know about neither its origins nor its cultural significance. This sign is often used in Judaism as a sign of protection. In Islam, the sign is referred to as “Fatima’s Hand.” Fatima was Mohammad’s daughter and her sign, the hamsa, is a “symbol of patience, loyalty, faith and resistance against difficulties.” Both cultures use the symbol to bring luck and protection.

On October 27 SUNY Rockland’s Emet for Israel supported group, Rockland Friends of Israel hosted a multicultural event entitled “What Exactly is a Hamsa” to explore the origins and meaning of the hamsa. During the event students were able to make Hamsa dream catchers, necklaces and were given the opportunity to learn about other cultures. At the end of the event each student was given a card with the history of the Hamsa.

SUNY Rockland CAMERA Intern Hadassa Raice said, “They enjoyed great middle eastern music and free lunch. It was informative, fun and we got great feedback!”

The event was well attended by a variety of students. Since it wasn’t a sit-down event, many students were able to stop by, drawing a larger and more diverse crowd.