Monthly Archives: December 2015

Shooting Under Fire: Gil Cohen-Magen at Cal State Long Beach

December 30, 2015

Gil Cohen-Magen speaking at Cal State University Long Beach

Gil Cohen-Magen speaking at Cal State University Long Beach

On November 12th, the Emet for Israel group at Cal State University Long Beach, 49ers for Israel, hosted Gil Cohen-Magen, a prominent Israeli photojournalist. His works have appeared in The New York Times, as well as other leading newspapers and magazines. The event drew a large crowd to his Thursday night lecture and was well received by a variety of CSULB students.

49ers for Israel aimed to raise awareness of the Arab-Israeli conflict in general, engage the student body, supply unbiased information, and leave a lasting impression in everyone’s mind with the hope that they would share with others.

12249750_772118529560527_699965340018128572_n

Gil primarily focused on his photographs taken during Operation Protective Edge, but also showed the students his impressive portfolio, which ranged from horrific war scenes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the secretive world of ultra-orthodox Haradeim. Gil enlightened the students with details of the Israeli side, their struggle, and the impact of war on all groups involved. The humanity demonstrated by IDF soldiers who picked up tiny remains of suicide bomber’s bodies to give back to their family members especially stood out to the audience. Many students openly wept and turned away in horror at the sight of both Israeli soldier and civilian funerals, as well as gruesome murder scenes he captured. At the end of the evening, students were eager to approach and thank Gil for all the work he has done to inform outsiders and humanize this ongoing and tragic conflict.

12227116_772118492893864_6127125171045132479_n

What Exactly is Zionism?

CAMERAonCampus Promo Poster BetterFasterStrongerWhat exactly is Zionism? Zionism is an ideology that originated in the late 1800’s that brought nationalism to the Jewish people. It argued for a Jewish state, united world Jewry, hoping to bring to an end anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jewish people. Zionism is how I connect to my Judaism and it is being slandered as a racist ideology that supports apartheid and oppression across college campuses by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  It is a new way to insult Jewish people without directly coming off as anti-Semitic.

Growing up, I’ve never been really religious. The way I connect to my Judaism was through the Jewish people, holidays and culture, and Israel. When I talk about my Judaism, I always give the same spiel about my entire mother’s side of the family active involvement with the Jewish American world and Israel. Israel is a focal point for my Judaism. I currently have family in Haifa and I’ve had family in Israel since the mid-1800s. I value Zionism and it has been a part of my identity since I’ve been aware about being Jewish and my Israeli roots. I advocate for nationalism of the Jewish people, a group that has been victims of persecution and racism for thousands of years, and for a Jewish democratic state. I value human rights and freedoms for all and that’s why I support Israel.

This past November, the CUNY SJP blamed “the Zionists” for the high college tuition hikes. Clearly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with the price of CUNY Schools’ tuition. SJP is using a common anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews are cheap and to blame for the high costs and are using the word “Zionists” instead of “Jews” to hide their true feelings and intentions.

CAMERAonCampus Posters Find Your CourageIn March of 2015, a Jewish pro-Israel student, Rachel Beyda, faced anti-Semitism by her student government. She was initially rejected from the Student Council’s Judicial Board for being Jewish and a member of Hillel. They questioned how her being Jewish would let her maintain an unbiased view. Only she was a target. No other student of faith or color has been asked this question, despite that other members of student government were members of the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. The student government board members who questioned Beyda were assuming that if elected she would be a strong opponent of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) to boycott Israel.  Why would this matter to them? These same students who didn’t want to share a board with a potential supporter of Israel were supporters of the BDS movement.

Another similar, but more recent incident occurred this past November, at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). A Jewish member of the UCSC student government was warned to abstain from the voting on a BDS resolution because of his pre-assumed bias based on his election by the “Jewish Agenda.” Again, this student was the only one singled out based on his nationality/religion. Both of these students faced discrimination from their student governments for simply being Jewish.

These above examples clearly demonstrate that SJP is not an organization that is critical of Israel or even opposes the political movement of Zionism. It is a hate group that specifically targets Jews. Now that is clear, our universities must ensure that members of these hate groups are not taking over the governments that are supposed to be represent the values of our student body.

Being a Zionist, I support the Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights, the LGBTQ movement plus many more.  What I don’t support is racism, discrimination, or anti-Semitism; these bigoted ideals that are perpetrated by Students for Justice in Palestine.

CAMERAonCampus Promo Poster Jabotinsky

This was contributed by Andrew Meyer, CAMERA Fellow and secretary for UB for Israel, Emet for Israel supported organization at SUNY Buffalo.

How Anti-Israel Professors Indoctrinate Their Students

December 29, 2015

In the realm of academia, there’s almost always room for interpretation. History is written with some form of bias, and students and educators alike are expected to recognize this and respond accurately. But when one person’s opinion becomes fact and there is no one to challenge it, everyone suffers — without even knowing it. Such is the situation on many a college campus, including my own.

My college, Syracuse University, is almost notoriously apathetic. The college Republicans and Democrats each have their respective groups on campus, but neither makes much noise. For those interested in the Middle East, there are a number of ways to be involved. However, the three groups that exist on campus are small, their events not well publicized, and their appeal highly limited.

In the classroom, professors are often able to preach their opinions, and since so many students are uninterested — and evidently, uneducated —  in the political aspects of subjects like Middle East Studies and history, seldom do students speak up to challenge the opinions being thrown their way. While some do not speak up because they do not know they are being indoctrinated, many simply do not care. Such is the situation I found myself in this semester.

The setting was a history course centered around modern pop culture in the Middle East. The professor stood at the front of the class, reciting the same idea over and over again: Israeli society is unequal, with the Ashkenazi majority pitting their white supremacy over the Mizrahi minority. The class sat, taking notes, but never questioning the ideas being put forth. She talked about the ‘occupation’ and the ‘oppression’ that the Israeli government exerts upon the Palestinians, never once mentioning the atrocities of the Palestinian Authority — Palestinians’ own government. She referred to all Zionists as settlers. The list goes on an on. I would sit in my seat, trying to contain my simultaneous laughter and rage.

doll

Palestinian incitement dolls on route to Palestinian Authority

The arguments are easy to make, but hard to sustain. To the average student, immigrants might be viewed as settlers, but they do not know that the Jews are native to Israel. ‘Occupation’ and ‘oppression’ are terms thrown around with little substantial explanation.  In Israel, there are undoubtedly clashes between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, but there’s another layer to it.

No matter what origin, no matter what color, Israeli Jews are nationalists. It is no secret that Jews have been persecuted in nearly every other nation on earth at some point in time. That the state of Israel exists today is an amazing product that came after centuries of repression, racism, and genocide. While there may be internal political and social divides, many Israelis agree that there is no place they would rather be.

Flags-fly-Jerusalem-Day

In Israel, they are free to be Jewish and to practice their cultural traditions. In the Arab states surrounding Israel, the idea that Jews could live and practice their religion freely is almost laughable — more than 850,000 Jews were expelled from these Arab lands after Israel was created simply because they were Jewish. In many of these countries, selling your land to a Jew is punishable by death. In Israel, the reality is that the nature of the democracy allows different groups to form within society, but even further, it allows them to coexist. And they do.

Earlier in the semester, when the professor began her tirade of anti-Israel rhetoric, she allowed a student to falsely claim that the Palestinians are victims of asymmetric aggression because they don’t have rockets and the Israelis do. Had the student never heard of Iron Dome? Perhaps she had not, but the professor certainly had. Regardless, the professor allowed the student to blatantly lie to the class, and chastised me when I spoke up saying that the information was incorrect.

When asked about presenting an Israeli perspective of history, she quipped that the man who wrote our textbook was Israeli. In fact, he is. Ilan Pappe was a professor at Haifa University until he called for a boycott of his own university and other Israeli academics and academic institutions. When I mentioned this, the professor told me to “look deeper” into the readings.

Professor-Ilan-Pappe

Ilan Pappe speaking at Palestinian Solidarity Forum at University of Johannesburgh

The problem here is cyclical: because the students do not seem to care about accuracy, they do not try to understand that the professor is spewing inaccurate information at them, or only presenting one side of the story. Professors are then able to capitalize on this apathy and say whatever they deem appropriate. One is dependent on the other, and until students are willing to care more, and to doubt their professors, the problem will persist.

I can hope that the other students in the class found validity in my arguments against the professor’s highly biased teaching. Maybe some day, apathy will be a thing of the past, and educated opinions will be the new norm. Until that day comes, I’ll use my voice, my knowledge, and the courage of my convictions to bring truth to a classroom that seems to lack it, and I will hope that others will follow my example.

Shoshana Kranish is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Fellow. She is a student at Syracuse University and interned at CAMERA’s Boston offices this past summer through the Jewish Vocational Services Emerging Jewish Leaders Summer Internship. This article was originally published in “The Algemeiner.

Why is anti-Semitism being excluded from anti-Oppression events at York University?

December 28, 2015

When the York University student union organized its anti-oppression programming this past October, one group was noticeably omitted from the list of oppressed groups.

Events were held to raise awareness about Islamophobia, anti-black racism, consent, queerness, and disability, but not even one workshop or panel was organized to educate students about anti-Semitism.

This omission is deliberate and very telling.

Anti-Semitism is increasing on university campuses all over the country.  In 2011, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism concluded that “Jewish students are ridiculed and intimidated for any deemed support for the ‘Nazi’ and ‘apartheid’ State of Israel, which is claimed to have no right to exist.” More recently, a 2015 Brandeis University Report found that Canadian campuses are especially hostile to Jewish students.

Posters from a recent protest held by Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University

Posters from a recent protest held by Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University

York University in particular is a hotbed of anti-Semitic activity. Just in the past three years, the following events happened:

  • A mural depicting a Palestinian man who is poised to throw rocks and is wearing a scarf with a map that erases Israel was prominently hung in the student center. Palestinian rock throwing is a deadly form of terrorism frequently resulting in injury or death. Despite complaints from numerous frightened Jewish students, the administration has not taken action to condemn or remove the mural.
  • Students Against Israeli Apartheid made online posts on social media praising terrorist Rasmea Odeh, murderer of two Israeli university students as “beloved”. Although the Canadian government classifies Odeh’s group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as a terrorist entity, the Center for Human Rights at York University ruled that SAIA was merely offering an alternate opinion.
  • The Israeli flag was vandalized with red paint during multicultural week.
  • The Vice-President of Operations posted that “Resistance is justified when people are occupied. #FreePalestine”.  The term ‘resistance’ is often used as a euphemism for terrorist acts.
  • The President of the York Federation of Students posted imagery on social media that incorporates the Jewish star of David and the instructions to “smash Zionism”.

If there is any school that would benefit from educational seminars about anti-Semitism, it would be York University.

However, omitting anti-Semitism from the agenda spares the union from the awkwardness of educating about a form of oppression that it is complicit in.

 

This was contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow Danielle Shachar. Danielle is Vice President of York University’s Emet for Israel group, York Students for Israel.

LUJSA’s 2015 Hanukkah Donut Give-Away

December 24, 2015

Laurentain University’s Emet for Israel supported group, LUJSA: Laurentain University Jewish Student Association held their Annual Hanukkah Donut Give-Away on Monday, December 7th, giving out over 1000 donuts and over 250 cups of coffee to the Laurentian University student body.

fd884e55-1008-4c11-8135-4ef23edb1480This event always serves as a great way for new students to get acquainted with LUJSA and to raise awareness of Judaism, Israel and LUJSA’s events. University professors and executives are also fond of the donut give-away. Additionally, every year students and faculty alike have a unanimously positive response to the event. Students, some of whom have never heard of Hanukkah, ask interesting questions about the holiday, about the history of Judaism and Israel.

The most receptive students this year seemed to be Evangelical Christian students, given the revisionist history now proposed by anti-Israel groups. LUJSA was able to have important conversations with these students about Jewish history and Israel and the relationship with pro-Israel Christians.

Laurentain University CAMERA Intern, Kirk Unger

Laurentain University CAMERA Intern, Kirk Unger

LUJSA supports the mandate of CAMERA for accuracy and fairness in news and media, and through events like this, they’ve had great success in meeting with students who might not have learned about Judaism or facts about the Middle East and Israel. The LU student body tends to be hard to reach, and club and campus involvement at LU seem to be deficient when compared to other campuses. However with an event like the Hanukkah Donut Give-Away, LUJSA is able to reach more students than usual.

116993de-cf61-4f9f-86ce-681f68e879a1The attendance of this year’s donut give-away surpassed that of previous years, and was a tremendous success. The Hanukkah Donut Give-Away has given  LUJSA a good reputation on campus, fostering good will among the student body. They found that the give-away was one of the best ways of making students aware of the LUJSA, Judaism and Israel. At Laurentian University, LUJSA acts as the lone voice for positive (and accurate) support of Israel. LUJSA says that this amazing reputation would be next to impossible without CAMERA support.

This was contributed by Laurentian University CAMERA Intern and VP of Student Engagement for Laurentian University’s Emet for Israel supported group, LUJSA, Kirk Unger.

Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories on Campus

December 23, 2015

The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the past – Jews are plotting to rule the world, Jews control the banks, Jews are agents of calamity and catastrophe –have found new life in the North American university campus.

At the City University of New York, the “Students for Justice in Palestine” club blamed the “Zionist administration” for the high cost of tuition and claimed that the university “aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists”. If student debt is rising, it logically follows that Israel must be at fault.

A similarly absurd accusation was just made at York University – the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) club is insisting that a cabal of “pro-Israel racists” are behind a new electronic voting campaign and are plotting to take over student government.

On Monday November 30th, the York Federation of Students (YFS) held its annual general meeting at York University. Students had the opportunity to vote on a motion to implement online voting in future student government elections.

For some background information, the YFS represents 55,000 students and controls a budget of approximately 3.1 million dollars. Many students support online voting as an alternative to the paper ballot system because past YFS elections have had problems with double voting, missing ballots, and undemocratic practices such as poll clerks being hired by the YFS board of director. In other Ontario-area universities, online voting has helped the non-incumbent slate win election.

Needless to say, the merits of online voting vs. paper ballots is an issue that is wholly separate from race, nationality, or religion. To insist otherwise would be ludicrous and irrational. One would scarce expect this ‘disclaimer’ to even have to be mentioned, much less elaborated upon.

Except for the fact that the motion for online voting was submitted by a Jewish student. And wherever there are Jews, the irrationality of anti-Semitism is sure to follow.

Bereft of any facts and armed with a paranoid tendency to see the malign influence of Jews in every event, the online voting motion was promptly characterized as “racist” and “extremist” by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). SAIA is a York University group which is notorious for its radicalism, its vandalism of school property with anti-Israel signage, and its promotion of terrorist propaganda on social media. The group has previously praised Rasmea Odeh, murderer of two Israeli students.

Multiple “Vote no for electronic voting” events sprang up on Facebook. In each “vote no” event, one prominent SAIA executive used the student’s identity as a Jew to criticize the online voting campaign. The Jewish student was slandered as a racist and as an apartheid supporter. The definitive “proof” for these libellous accusations was that the student is a member of Hillel.

This incident is part of a disturbing pattern of Jewish students having their religion being used as innate evidence of ill intent or impartiality. Last February, a Jewish student at UC Los Angeles found that her religion was being discussed as a reason to reject her from a position on student government. This November, a Jewish student at UC Santa Cruz was warned to abstain from voting on a pro-BDS motion because he is the president of the school’s Jewish student union.

At York University, non-Jewish students who supported the e-vote motion were also defamed as “racists” by association and were accused of “collaborating” with the Jewish student in other pro-Israel activities.

For example:

“You won’t be happy until your racist friends take over the YFS. It’s that simple. It’s not like I’m the only one here who sees the trends.”

“Everybody knows this is a pro-Israel push to take over the union. The Israel lobby isn’t even quiet about it. You can’t even address the murderous extremism in your circles”.

“Racist pro-Israel students throw their backing behind every opposition in their desperate attempt to smash the social justice activists in the YFS”

“I’ve pointed out your ties with pro-Israel racists and extremists, which you do possess. That, in itself, says a lot about your utterly despicable values and what you stand for”

“Your collaboration with extremists and right-wing conservatives are more than enough for all of us to see what kind of union (or should I say government) would emerge from the work that you do and the way you go about doing it”

These accusations make it harder and harder to insist that there is a impermeable line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Whether it’s accusing Jews of plotting to take over the world or just plotting “to take over the York Federation of Students”,  whether it’s accusing Jews of murdering children for religious rites or just being  “murderous extremists”, whether it’s characterizing Jewish values as satanic or just “utterly despicable” , it’s clear that the intent is the same.

This was contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow Danielle Shachar. Danielle is Vice President of York University’s Emet for Israel group, York Students for Israel.

SUNY Rockland’s Less Hamas More Hummus Event

December 22, 2015

12341149_1737739909788940_8467763689980525234_nSUNY Rockland’s Emet for Israel supported group, RCC Friends of Israel, recently held a “Less Hamas More Hummus” event like no other featuring their CAMERA on Campus funded (and Israeli made thanks to the NU Campaign) t-shirts. They successfully made an educational event fun and interesting for other students.

Less Hamas More Hummus is a student-inspired campaign that is funded and supported by CAMERA.

The first fifteen minutes of the program was spent speaking about the Less Hamas More Hummus campaign, and explaining what Hamas does to Israelis and its own people.

RCC Friends of Israel played videos of Hamas incitement, led a discussion with the viewers.

 

 

The event consisted of a photo booth, henna tattoo artist, giveaways and a falafel lunch- plus lots of different flavored hummus!

Contact CAMERA on Campus staff to bring Less Hamas, More Hummus to your campus!

Visiting the Sunshine State

December 21, 2015

Campus Coordinator Tatiana-Rose Becker recently returned from a campus tour of Florida, visiting all six of the CAMERA supported groups in the state: ShalomFIU at Florida International University, EMET Israel at University of Miami, Owls for Israel at Florida Atlantic University, Bulls for Israel at University of South Florida, Knights for Israel at University of Central Florida, and Noles for Israel at Florida State University.

While meeting with the students, Tatiana attended a game night at Florida Atlantic University, hosted by Owls for Israel. Coined “Are You Smarter Than An Israeli” was a game show style trivia night about Israel, it’s culture, history, and it’s fun facts! Prizes were given out in the form of gift cards, Bluetooth headphones, and FAU sweatshirts. Over 30 students attended on December 1st to take a break from studying for finals.

Winners of "Are You Smarter Than An Israeli? at FAU"

Winners of “Are You Smarter Than An Israeli? at FAU”

Tatiana continued her journey in Miami, meeting with the president of ShalomFIU, Dalia Perez, to discuss activity plans for next semester and how to engage with other interest groups on campus.

EMET Israel at the University of Miami met with her to discuss the plans for spring semester, their unique campus engagement programs, and the successes they’ve had so far this academic year. Both Miami area schools hosted Bassem Eid this past October.

Tatiana, though a graduate of Florida State University, a state rival of UM, is happy to do UM's signature "U" with the students of EMET Israel!

Tatiana, though a graduate of Florida State University, a state rival of UM, is happy to do UM’s signature “U” with the students of EMET Israel!

Traversing the rest of the state, Tatiana met with the students of Bulls for Israel at USF as well as Hillel staff and then made her way to the middle of the state where she met with Knights for Israel board members and CAMERA Fellow Ben Suster.

Nizan Goodman and Ben Suster of Knights for Israel with Tatiana

Nizan Goodman and Ben Suster of Knights for Israel with Tatiana

Rounding off the trip to state capital, Tallahassee, Tatiana visited her alma mater, FSU, and met with the students for a pancakes and planning session at IHOP before returning to the South Florida area for a luncheon where she and Ben Suster, pictured above, spoke on a panel discussing anti-semitism on the college campus.

Pancakes and Planning breakfast with the President and board of Noles for Israel

Pancakes and Planning breakfast with the President and board of Noles for Israel

Learn more about getting involved with CAMERA’s work in Florida by contacting Tatiana at tatiana@camera.org.

Leaders of Jewish and Palestinian students show their vote in polemic assembly

December 18, 2015

Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, Saturday November 7th, 2015 (page C 27)

Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, Saturday November 7th, 2015 (page C 27)

“… On Wednesday, October 28,… the Ambassador of Israel [in Chile], Rafael Edad, arrived at the [Faculty of law of the University of Chile] to give/deliver a talk. While on the first floor a group of students were manifesting their repudiation, the diplomat talkded on the fifth floor.

The next day,… students linked to the Palestinian community convened an assembly [of the law students]. That’s how… it was voted, raising hands… against the presence of Israeli authorities in that faculty, as a preliminary and non-binding posture.

Vanessa Hites, CAMERA Fellow, president of the Chilean Federation of Jewish Students, and Law student an the Universidad de Chile

“I can disagree with many different positions taken at the University, but not so am I going to ban their right to be voiced. Nor am I going to censor the opinion that I don’t like. Nor will I prevent that the dissenting opinion can be expressed”.

“Yo puedo estar en desacuerdo con mil y una posturas que se tomen en la universidad, pero no por eso voy a prohibir su derecho a manifestarse. No por eso voy a censurar la opinión que no me gusta. No por eso voy a impedir que la opinión disidente pueda expresarse”.

Hites refers that two months ago the Secretary general of the PLO, Saeb Erekat had spoken in the same Faculty, “and my way of expressing disagreement was raising my hand and reproaching him respectfully.”

Its hypocritical that in the House of studies which symbolizes the republicanism in our nation – the reason I chose this University: for diversity, tolerance, intellectual pluralism-, vote to prevent the expression of a position. I find this aberrant, and is unprecedented in this University. Only in times of the dictatorship did they censor in this way”.

This article was originally published in El Mercurio and uses quotes from University of Chile CAMERA Fellow Vanessa Hites.

Local Jewish college student refuses to be intimidated

December 17, 2015

Lilia Gaufberg at the March for Truth

Lilia Gaufberg at the March for Truth

As a Jewish student, I feel unsafe on my campus. I feel unsafe on my campus when there is an open forum about race, with a huge portion of the student body and faculty in attendance, and the sole comment made by a Jewish girl, submitted anonymously, is booed by nearly everyone present. Her comment merely expressed that Students for Justice in Palestine’s methods make her feel targeted on campus.

 

 

I feel unsafe on my campus when one of the audience’s members gets up after said comment, interrupts the forum, and starts screaming for several minutes about how Israel is a terrorist country that murders people indiscriminately.

I feel unsafe when this girl is cheered, loudly, for her hatred by the same student body and faculty that jeered at the comment made by a Jewish individual who feels threatened for simply existing on campus.

I feel unsafe that, in a supposedly safe space focused on oppression due to identity, I feel oppressed because of my identity.

To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies a space that is safe.

To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies that everyone should be able to sit in a room without feeling explicitly targeted for their ethnic, religious, or racial identification.

To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies listening from the heart and speaking from the heart. To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies empathy. To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies that everyone has an opportunity to voice experiences with oppression, including African-Americans, including Jews, including Arabs, including Asians.

Everyone.

But that is not what this ‘safe space’ turned out to be.

As a Jewish student, I feel unsafe on my campus. But my fear will not overshadow my voice.

I will not let a safe space for one group of people turn into a dangerous space for another.

I will not act with trepidation when confronting discomfort.

I will not accept my narrative being chewed up, spit up, and bottled up.

I will not stand by as I see fellow Jewish students hide their identity.

I will not watch idly as Israel is defined by those who have never stepped foot on her soil.

I will not let my peers demonize the only place in the world where I, as a Jew, truly and unquestionably feel secure.

I will not allow myself to be boxed in and denied my own voice.

A lack of safe space does not mean a lack of agency.

This was written by former CAMERA Summer Intern Lilia Gaufberg and was originally published in the Jewish Advocate.