Monthly Archives: February 2016

Media Inaccuracies and their Influence

February 29, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

Recently, Israel has undergone a slew of terrorist attacks that have affected hundreds of people. These attacks have mostly been lone-wolf stabbings carried out by young Palestinian teenagers and have been almost daily occurrences on Israeli streets and at Israeli holy sites. There have been dozens of attacks that have claimed many lives and many more have wounded. An attack in Gush Etzion illustrates the barbarity of these incidents: an Israeli woman was stabbed and required complicated surgery to remove a knife from her spinal column.

These are the kinds of events that must be reported and covered accurately in order to allow people the opportunity to obtain the truth about what is going on around them. The issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict is one that has been a constant issue in world news since Israel’s inception and one that has become extremely controversial. It is a world issue where people are constantly voicing their opinions on the world stage. These opinions though, are formed by the way those events are covered in the news. The media has an incredibly powerful influence upon the minds of people and it can shift the entire direction of a conflict.

Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in an east Jerusalem Jewish settlement adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on October 13, 2015. Two attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in an east Jerusalem Jewish settlement adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on October 13, 2015. Two attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Due to fast-paced schedules, keeping up with current events and world affairs is not an easy task, therefore people look for the quickest way to obtain that information. No one has time to sit and watch the news or research different news sources, so the first report that comes up on one’s news feed is trusted, regardless of its accuracy.

On the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict, people cannot possibly form an educated opinion on the matter if they are not being informed of the truth. For example, while reporting about one of the numerous attacks, CNN captioned the report, “Israeli police: Man with knife shot at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate” rather than saying that a Palestinian was killed in an attempt to stab an Israeli. This type of caption can be misleading and paint peoples opinions about what events are conspiring in Israel and what is truly ensuing on both sides of the conflict.

Stabbing Attack at Damascus Gate (Source: CNN)

Stabbing Attack at Damascus Gate (Source: CNN)

Terminology is everything in the media. It is all about how a situation is put into words that paints a picture for a reader. Reuters, a popular media outlet, has called these violent attacks, “confrontations,” and “street violence.” This type of language denotes these events as being nothing more than spats or meaningless violence, rather than covering the serious and dangerous nature of what is ensuing.

Not only do people not have the time to really keep up with the news, but there are also so many different sources and outlets that are reporting on the same event providing different angles of the story. Most stories have an angle and a bias and are not always presented accurately.

It’s one thing to lessen the gravity of the situation, but it is another to completely lie. CNN published a news article titled “Josephs’ tomb catches fire.” In actuality, Palestinians set fire to the tomb, which is an ancient holy site for Jews all over the world. The truth of the matter is that it did go up in flames, but there was no spontaneity about it. These inaccuracies paint a picture about Israel and the conflict to readers who may not know the whole.


CNN Tweet of Arson Attack at Joseph’s Tomb

At the end of the day, every story has an angle and a bias which may not always present the occurrence accurately. We want to be able to trust our media sources and news outlets. We want to be able to spread the facts about a situation rather than spread misinformation that could incite undeserved criticism towards other people. We need to take action to be more careful about what stories pop up on our news feeds and pay attention to the fact that not everything we read on the internet is true.

Contributed by CUNY Baruch College CAMERA fellow, Sivanna Shusterman.

Demanding Condemnation

February 26, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg.

CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg.


Isaac Newton said that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  But when it comes to terrorism in Israel, that is not the case. When a motorist rams his car into innocent bystanders, there is currently no proportionate outrage. When a teenager stabs the first Jewish person in sight, it is justified on the basis of his difficult life.

Terror attacks in Israel have become daily events. Stabbings, shootings, vehicular ramming, and other brutal acts are perpetrated routinely. Yet, the responses from Israeli, Palestinian and world leadership has been drastically different. When Israelis take to the streets to defend themselves, they are vilified for using force; whereas when Palestinians unify to praise their “martyrs,” the world remains silent.

Terror Attack in Pisgat Ze'ev

Terror Attack in Pisgat Ze’ev

Israel is developing an app that will immediately notify security of an attack. Israeli newspapers report daily where the roads are closed or busy due to violent events. Precautions required to travel throughout the country are heightened. Citizens are told to wear backpacks to prevent stabbings from taking their lives. When an Israeli attacks a Palestinian, Israeli leadership immediately condemns the heinous act.

Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Jerusalem synagogue massacreAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Jerusalem synagogue massacred Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

By contrast, Palestinian leadership has been observed passing out candy in celebration of attacks. Knives are hidden inside of household objects like combs. Videos show Palestinian parents praising children for wishing to stab Jews. The leadership does not condemn; they encourage and admire these vicious acts.

World leaders, like UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, find moral equivalence between these diametrically opposed facts, and urge both Israelis and Palestinians to reduce tensions equally.

We must all call for Palestinian and world leaders to condemn Palestinian incitement. Until there is a fair and equitable response, there will be no end to this wave of terror.

Contributed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign CAMERA fellow, Hayley Nagelberg.

World’s Utter Silence About Terrorist Attacks Against Israel

February 25, 2016

deborah fellow

CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov.

On May 14, 1948, a nation rejoiced. This nation had returned to its rightful home — the land where their ancestors had been expelled from hundreds of years ago. This land was a barren desert turned into a beautiful beacon of hope and freedom. Thousands poured into the land from all over the world, hoping to find a safe haven for themselves, their children and their children’s children.

Jewish residents dancing the hora in celebration of the declaration of the State of Israel. Photograph by Frank Noel.

Jewish residents dancing the hora in celebration of the declaration of the State of Israel. Photograph by Frank Noel.

This nation that I am referring to is Israel. Today, 67 years after its birth, the nation of Israel continues to find itself under assault. Beginning in the Fall of last year, a series of terrorist attacks has swept the country, targeting and murdering innocent men, women and children just because they are Israeli.

Since Oct. 1, 2015  there have been nearly 200 attacks against civilians. If you have not heard about these stories in the news, this can be attributed to the media’s poor coverage. News anchors such as ABC, BBC, CNN and Worldbulletin headline the death of Palestinians without mentioning that those Palestinians are terrorists murdering civilians in cold blood. For example, The New York Times published a report about a Palestinian woman’s death due to an Israeli airstrike, only mentioning later on in the article that Israel had been attacked first not only with an airstrike from Gaza, but also with dozens of stabbing stacks and vehicle rammings. They completely ignore the fact that Israel has been trying to come to a peace agreement since its birth in 1948, even in the face of the Palestinian Authority’s continuous refusal to recognize Israel as a state.

In the meantime, Palestinian President Mahmoud calls for violence against Israel for killing terrorists, refusing to acknowledge or condemn the attacks that these terrorists carried out. Even the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon went so far as to condemn Israel’s self-defense several times, despite his previously admitting that Israel is indeed held to a double standard.

Eitan and Naama Heinkin

Eitan and Naama Heinkin

People seem to have forgotten how this wave of stabbings started in the first place. Thursday Oct. 1, 2015 is a day that four children will never forget because it is the day that their parents, Eitam and Naama Henkin, were mercilessly murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank.

Instead of justifying the murder of innocent Israeli civilians and ignoring the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a state, recognize who the true victims are in this situation and what they have done for peace. If giving up Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005, offering the Palestinians a two-state solution countless times (1937’s Peel Commission, 1939’s White Papers, 1979’s Egypt-Israel peace negotiations, etc) and even removing Israelis from their homes in the West Bank is not enough — then what is?

Contributed by Rutgers University CAMERA fellow, Deborah Shamilov.

Originally published in The Daily Targum.

The Liberal Arts College and its Discontents

February 24, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox.

CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox.

As those who have attended schools with a liberal arts background know all too well, it can be difficult to keep one’s wits about them. The campus climate and its inhabitants are all too eager to applaud what they perceive as fact and laudable, and even more likely to denigrate and attack what does not fit the norm. Israel, both as a concept and a sort of political football, falls outside the realm of acceptability frequently. I have personally witnessed groups on my campus at Clark University utilize misinformation about Israel to achieve their own aims.

Clarkies Helping and Advocating for Israel group members

Clarkies Helping and Advocating for Israel (CHAI) group members

Quite often, true and effective discourse regarding the State of Israel and other important issues on campus is smothered by the desire for “political correctness,” or the sort of ideological stonewalling practiced by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Clark University’s very own SJP branch has reiterated time and again that their time is better spent fighting “Zionist settler colonialism;” that they have “bigger and better things” to do then speak or negotiate with “the Zionist entity.” When I further pressed this particular speaker, who was a member of Clark’s SJP chapter, regarding her sentiments, I was met with a flurry of insults and calls to “shut the f*ck up” from members of the audience. To this day this particular interaction saddens me, as it reminds me of the degree to which SJP members will go in order to drown out the other side of their issue.

Clark University Students for Justice in Palestine

Clark University Students for Justice in Palestine

Are we as college students, doyens of our nation’s future, not deserving of some semblance of free speech? Eschewing of course the notion of ‘safe spaces,’ are we not worthy of the ability to contribute freely our thoughts and ideas without fear of intimidation or retaliation? Freedom of expression in all of its forms was and ought to remain a cornerstone of a university education. Will my generation be the one to tear it down? I certainly hope not.

Contributed by Clark University CAMERA Fellow, Patrick Fox.

Trouble with Chomsky

February 23, 2016

On November 8, 2015 linguist Noam Chomsky and Norwegian physician Mads Gilbert spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The event drew harsh criticism from MIT students because Dr. Gilbert has explicitly supported the 9/11 terror attacks. In an opinion article published in the MIT Tech newspaper, one student asks “Why is a supporter of the 9/11 attacks being hosted at MIT?”

Mads Gilbert carrying a Palestinian flag

Mads Gilbert carrying a Palestinian flag

While many find Dr. Gilbert’s support of violence a dishonor to the victims of terrorism worldwide, particularly so soon after the Boston Marathon bombings and murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier, little has been said at MIT about the event’s other speaker, Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky has equated the actions of the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 with the actions of the United States government. In a talk at Tufts given just one month after the 9/11 attacks, Chomsky said that the “real and ongoing crimes of the state [U.S.] … are far more serious than blowing up the World Trade Center…” I find it disturbing that a long-tenured MIT professor would believe, let alone publicly voice, that the United States’ “crimes” are worse than those of terrorists who purposefully hijacked planes filled with civilians and flew them into buildings with the sole intention of causing mass destruction.

More recently, Chomsky declared that President Obama’s drone program is “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.” Really? We are living in a world where ISIS is routinely beheading people on YouTube, burning them alive, shooting innocents in mass graves, forcing women and children into sexual slavery, creating child soldiers, and leading innumerable other atrocities. In Syria, hundreds of thousands of civilians are subject to attacks, chemical weapons, and the threat of drowning at sea while leaving their homes to try to find safety. And yet, an ocean away from all this carnage, Chomsky can lounge back and claim that Obama’s drone program is the most extreme terrorism today?

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

This is not the only instance when Chomsky has compared a U.S. President to terrorists. In an interview with Wallace Shawn on October 19, 2004, Chomsky stated that “Clinton, Kennedy, they all carried out mass murder, but they didn’t think that that was what they were doing – nor does Bush. You know, they were defending justice and democracy from greater evils. And in fact, I think that you’d find it hard to find a mass murderer in history that didn’t think that.” It sounds as if Chomsky intends to compare them to criminals like Hitler and Stalin.  

As we have seen, Chomsky is not afraid to loosely throw around the word “terrorist” when it suits him to do so, regardless of the lack of justification. After all, he even claims that the policies of President Obama are like those of a terrorist. And yet, ironically, he refuses to acknowledge actual terrorist groups for what they are. The Palestinian Islamic group Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, Egypt, Japan, Canada, Israel, and the European Union. But in a 2006 interview with the BBC, Chomsky stated that “we should recognize that the policies of Hamas are more forthcoming and more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel.”

Which Hamas policies, exactly, are more “conducive to peace?” Is it Hamas’ charter that explicitly defines Hamas’ governing purpose to “fight the Jews and kill them” and to replace Israel with an Islamic state?  Is it Hamas’ firing rockets at Israeli civilian centers that are “conducive to peace”? While working for the summer at the Weizmann Institute in Israel through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative, Hamas fired rockets on Israel and forced me to run for the bomb shelter daily at home, at the lab, in coffee shops, walking in the street and at the beach. “Peaceful” was the farthest word from my mind in those moments. Hamas was not aiming at military targets – the rockets were targeting laboratories, kindergartens, and ordinary civilians.

Hamas fighters

Hamas fighters

I am disappointed that Noam Chomsky holds political views that are so radically anti-American. Even as a linguist, he blatantly misuses language to toss around terms like “terrorist” and “peace,” and his own beliefs are far from peaceful. Chomsky should take his own advice when he said that “[it] is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.” Until then, I urge those who attend Chomsky’s talks, including those given at MIT and Boston College in November, to do so with a critical eye and a questioning ear. You will be listening to a man who dismisses the 9/11 attacks, compares President Obama to a terrorist, and is unable to unequivocally condemn terror committed against the United States. That’s not progressive; it’s plain wrong.

Contributed by MIT CAMERA fellow, Suri Bandler.

The Life of a Teenage Advocate

February 22, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Joelle Reid

CAMERA Fellow Joelle Reid.

I wake up and look at my phone. Two Israeli men were stabbed and killed in Jerusalem. I turn on my computer, trying to make sense of this attack, but the first news article from the BBC that pops up, headlines that a ‘Palestinian [is] shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.’ Yes, technically this is correct, a Palestinian was shot, no one is denying that, but isn’t this Jerusalem attack a little too ambiguous? Wouldn’t it make sense as an accurate journalist to headline the cause of this?

The headline isn’t simply misleading to the general reader, but we can go as far as to say it is a logical fallacy. ‘Stacking the deck fallacy’ is a technique that’s commonly used in propaganda and is defined as a fallacy in which any evidence of a case is simply omitted, very fitting to this and many other BBC headlines, that have been dominating the media over the past few weeks.

BBC Tweet

BBC Tweet

I walk on to campus. The effects of these misleading headlines become clear. A casual lunch in the canteen consists of a niçoise salad, the latest show-business news, oh and a discussion of which recent Israeli prime minister is most similar to Hitler. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, in an illusion where something so straight forward and positive, is so contrary and paradoxical to others. But unlike Alice, this isn’t a dream, it is day to day life. When I hear the word Zionism, sentiments of autonomy, liberty and freedom come to mind, my classmates on the other hand, associate it with the new popular sound-bite ‘Zionism is racism’. But is it really their fault? It would seem fair to trust mainstream international media who have written charters to be committed to accuracy and impartiality, but as they are clearly failing to live up to those standards, how can the public be blamed in any way for being misinformed by these leading broadcasters?

We are facing a world of contradictions. A cause designated to liberating a people, creating peace and freedom uses illiberal, oppressive methods as it’s means to its supposed idyllic and harmonious end. Recently over three hundred UK academics pledging to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This demotes dialogue, restrains co-existence and more than anything delays any type of peace. The aims of the BDS movement as well, blocks trade, artificially closes markets and mutually worsens the economic situation. These boycotts promote intolerance, exclusion and inward thinking, seeking to spark more conflict, not peace.



So what can we do? How many campus fairs do we need to table at to disqualify the myth of Israeli apartheid? What is the unitary effect of handing out an ‘I heart Israel’ pen to the average passerby on resolving the Arab – Israeli conflict? or even posting a picture your recent trip to Israel? Not to be too pessimistic but, is any of It actually beneficial?

In short, it is. If we all were idle activists, because we aren’t convinced that our effort would pay off, there wouldn’t be the other side to the story. I’m not saying that each step for activism is going to catalyse peace talks, but engaging in the conversation in any way is a building block for the future, however small it is. If we aren’t active, we are passively allowing inaccurate news to be spread, false claims to be treated as true and a generation to be misinformed. A simple gesture, a tweet, a picture, broadens the debate, interests an audience you thought would never have thought would be interested, but most importantly helps a cause you believe in.

Don’t believe me? Why don’t you try it out for yourself?

Contributed by King’s College London CAMERA Fellow, Joelle Reid.

Diversity in the Middle East: Featuring Zion Uness

February 19, 2016

zion unessclark

Did you know that there are over 125,000 Ethiopian Jews living, serving, and working in Israel? Do you want to learn more about the diverse population of Israel and how cultures intersect? If so, please join CAMERA’s Emet for Israel supported organization at Clark University, Clarkies for Israel (CFI) in an open dialogue with Zion Uness on Monday, February 22nd.

“Mr. Uness’ courageous story is one of hardship, but also one of triumph over adversity. His experiences as a refugee during the rescue airlift are demonstrative of Israel’s excellent commitment to human rights,” stated CAMERA Fellow and CFI Board Member Patrick Fox.

Mr. Uness arrived in Israel as a result of the mass-airlift event Operation Moses in 1984. He later served in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and got his degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Haifa. He will be speaking about his journey to Israel on foot in Sudan, his service in the military, and the life he lives today.

“I hope the event generates more interest within my campus to learn more about Israel,” added Shannon Herman, CFI’s President.

Please attend the event to learn about the Ethiopian Israeli Jewish community and feel free to ask any questions you may have. All are welcome. There will be FREE FOOD! Click here to sign up for the event via Facebook.

The event will be taking place in the Grace Conference Room in the University Center at Clark.

Hosted by Clarkies for Israel, an Emet for Israel supported group, and the Hillel Israel & Zionism Committee.

Co-Sponsored by CAMERA on Campus and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

Angela Davis and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

February 18, 2016

On Thursday February 11, Angela Davis, considered a preeminent force in the world of political activism, spoke to the Denison student body. I am writing to comment on her lecture because I feel obligated to point out the misleading and false statements she made regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Angela Davis speaks at Denison University on February 11th.

Angela Davis speaks at Denison University on February 11th.

During her talk, Ms. Davis consistently mentioned her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS). She specifically noted how excited she was to “see the cause of justice for Palestine taken up” on college campuses in the US through the expansion of the BDS movement throughout the country.

Our campus has no discussion surrounding this self declared human rights movement, so it is important for the student body at large to understand what exactly BDS stands for. They desire the boycott of, divestment from, and sanction against Israeli companies, academic institutions, and associated entities. Their purported goal is to put pressure on Israel via non-violent action to force the Israeli government to give human rights to the Palestinian people. They do not touch on Jordan or Egypt, both of whom have equal interaction and responsibility towards Palestinian citizens every day. The BDS movement has the singular target of Israel and the Israeli (read: Jewish) people. Last year, almost 600 Palestinians lost their jobs at a SodaStream Factory as a result of BDS efforts, which the BDS Movement considered a “win”, despite wreaking economic havoc on all those Palestinian families as a result. Ms. Davis proudly throws her support behind the BDS Movement. Their supporters bellow chants advocating for the destruction of Israel and spew antiSemitic rhetoric reminiscent of 1930s Germany. This is categorically not something one should hear from such a respected and distinguished activist and academic.

Palestinians work at a SodaStream factory on February 2, 2014 in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, next to the Maale Adumim. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90

Palestinians work at a SodaStream factory on February 2, 2014 next to Maale Adumim, before they lost their jobs. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90

Ms. Davis also spoke of the Israeli “apartheid wall.” She was referring to the security fence erected in the early 2000s to deter Palestinian suicide bombers and terrorists from entering Israel in order to kill civilians. Her use of the word “apartheid” is simply incorrect, as numerous South Africans who lived under actual apartheid have come forward saying that a comparison of Israeli society to apartheid is ludicrous and offensive. In reality, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where Arabs, meaning Christians, Muslims, Jews, and otherwise, can live with the rights and privileges afforded to citizens of a truly democratic country. Arab Muslims serve in the Israeli parliament, and an Arab Muslim was just appointed the head of Police for the entire country.

A man holds on to the victim of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 2006. Photo: Raanan Cohen, AP

A man holds on to the victim of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 2006. Photo: Raanan Cohen, AP

Ms. Davis’ claims of Israeli apartheid and the Israeli occupation of Palestine echo larger, yet equally ignorant, views of hatemongers posing as liberators. Although Israeli leadership has a critical role to play in supporting the Palestinian people, Ms. Davis’ rhetoric and activist zeal would be better directed against Palestinian leaders who incite violence against Israelis and the genocide of Jews. They have consistently sabotaged peace talks and rejected three peace agreements that would have established an independent Palestinian state where there currently sits a non-state entity. Palestinian leadership relies on the subjugation of its own people in order to retain power, as exemplified by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, currently entering year eleven of his four-year term in office.

I write to the Denison student body: it is necessary and just to advocate for the human rights of Palestinians. They must be liberated from their own corrupt leaders in order to attain the basic human rights they deserve. By using the Israelis as yet another Jewish scapegoat, Ms. Davis, you only serve to prolong Palestinian suffering.

This was contributed by Denison University CAMERA Intern Seth Schoenhaus, board member of CAMERA’s Emet for Israel supported organization at Denison University, DU It For Israel.

The article originally appeared in The Denison Bull Sheet.

Jonathan Elkhoury Breaks Down Barriers on Campus Tour

February 17, 2016

CAMERA speaker Jonathan Elkhoury just completed a two week tour spanning 10 campuses. Read his amazing testament posted to Facebook below on the power of sharing the facts and being a proud Zionist.

CAMERA Speaker Jonathan Elkhoury speaks at Hunter University.

CAMERA Speaker Jonathan Elkhoury speaks at Hunter University.

How do I define success?

Success for me is knowing that the audience pro-Palestinian activists, supporters of BDS activists SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine- anti-Israel movement) are enthralled. They were listening rather than interrupting or protesting or exploding. They were not overly excited, but listened to what I had to say. And at the end some of them asked more questions and simply said Walla, this was new to us.

This success tells my true story about my ordinary life – as they are in Israel, with no need to embellish reality, without the need to go deep into politics, and people just listened and were interested to hear more. Then on their own time explore more.


Success for me is over 10 lectures across the United States which taught me something important about myself – always to be who I am, to fight for my rights, for my country and the world – and be proud of my identity.

Yes, I risk losing some ‘Friends’ along the way, people might look at me differently even, my family and in my surroundings – what can be done – less accepting of me but in the end I am who I am and that’s the beauty of my story.

Jonathan’s tour was picked up by Ohio State University campus paper The Lantern and Binghamton University’s Pipe Dream.

Vassar College: New Voices Coming to Campus Beginning with Bassem Eid

February 16, 2016

Editor’s Note: Brave CAMERA Fellow Jason Storch is bringing Palestinian human rights activist and CAMERA speaker Bassem Eid to Vassar College on February 17th, following a slew of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bigotry on its campus. We commend Jason, who, with the help of the college, is bringing the first Palestinian speaker to campus in at least two years. The necessity for having a Palestinian voice brought into the discussion cannot be understated. Below is Vassar alumnus Laurie Josephs’ open letter to the college, in which she expresses her concerns. We commend Vassar’s President for responding and acknowledging the need for multiple voices to be heard on campus on the topic of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, we strongly urge Vassar College to condemn the language used by anti-Israel professors and speakers, which is singlehandedly causing an environment of hostility and violence towards Pro-Israel and Jewish students. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 21.54.11 copy

Flier for Bassem Eid event.

An Open Letter to Vassar on Antisemitic Policies and Double Standards

To the American Studies Steering Committee,

I write to express my deep and continuing frustration, sadness, and disgust over the continued willingness of Vassar faculty to sponsor hate speech when it comes to the Jewish State. Almost two years ago, several Vassar departments and programs co-sponsored two well-known antisemites, Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal — the latter of whom was banned from the German parliament for his antisemitic activities. Now we learn that American Studies is sponsoring Professor Jasbir Puar, a supporter of BDS and one of the luminaries who pushes the “pinkwashing” theory — that Israel cynically pretends to respect gay rights in order to distract from its alleged abuses of Palestinians.

The description of Puar’s upcoming talk indicates that she will be spewing the vitriol that Gaza is an “experimental laboratory for the Israeli military apparatuses, infrastructural chaos and metric manipulation,” and that she will be inviting her audience to imagine what types of Israeli “fantasies” about “power, about bodies, about resistance, about politics” might be driving the Israelis. Just substitute the word “Jew” for “Israeli” and you could certainly be excused for thinking this was lifted straight out of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda paper that regularly portrayed Jews as filthy manipulators driven by a mad lust for power, intent on destroying the German nation.

Yes, even hate speech is protected speech and someone like Professor Puar is free to emit such garbage. And yes, she is even free to gussy it up with pretentious jargon in a pathetic effort to make it seem as if it had some academic or intellectual basis. But Vassar’s promotion and endorsement of such antisemitic speech through sponsorship by the American Studies program is entirely unfathomable and inexcusable.

This Committee would never agree to sponsor a speaker who used scientific or academic jargon to promote homophobic or racist theories. And Vassar faculty has repeatedly shown its sensitivity to any speech that is, or could possibly be construed as, Islamophobic.

But a different standard applies when it comes to Israelis and the Jewish state. Why is that?

Laurie Josephs, ’78

This letter was originally published in The Algemeiner.