Monthly Archives: May 2016

Fact Checking Omar Barghouti

May 31, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

Omar Barghouti did not speak at Stanford University earlier this quarter.

Neither did he deliver his talk in real time over Skype. Instead, the sponsors of the event — Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace — streamed a pre-recorded, and presumably, pre-vetted, video of Barghouti speaking to an audience of about 25.

Prior to streaming Barghouti’s video message, Stanford Professor David Palumbo-Liu, who has previously promoted anti-Semitic material, explained that though “we [the organizers of the event] did…invite people with opposing views to debate Omar Barghouti and they declined.” Barghouti repeated this sentiment over the course of the night, saying that no one (with opposing views) would debate him.

Sitting in the small audience, composed nearly entirely of event organizers and members of the the sponsoring organizations, I stifled my laughter. I knew Barghouti had been invited to debate Professor Alan Dershowitz, one of the leading academics opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, at Oxford University in November. Barghouti, the founder of BDS, declined. (Professor Dershowitz continues to suspect that he was actively boycotted as part of a “common sense” BDS initiative against individuals perceived to be too vocal in their support for Israel). Instead, Professor Dershowitz debated Peter Tatchell on “Is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement Against Israel Wrong?” and won 136 votes to 101.

BDS Leader Omar Barghouti.

BDS Leader Omar Barghouti.

In other words, from the start of the talk, I was wary of the accuracy of the statements presented by Barghouti and the event organizers. Over the course of the night, my suspicions were vindicated as Barghouti’s video message bombarded the room with outright lies, half-truths, and flawed logic.

Barghouti’s argument rested on three central claims:

  1. That Palestinians support the BDS movement
  2. That BDS is the best path towards ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank
  3. That “there are no anti-Semites in the BDS movement”

Let’s unpack these ideas one by one.

  1. Palestinians support the BDS movement

 

Barghouti claimed that the BDS movement has widespread Palestinian support. But in 2013, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke out against the boycotts of Israel that BDS called for, saying “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel.”

Bassem Eid, hailed by the Washington Post as “an internationally recognized rights campaigner,” and the founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), is also an outspoken critic of BDS, writing that “BDS tactics are a prelude to the destruction of the Palestinians”. In referencing the BDS pressure that led SodaStream to move its factory from the West Bank to the south of Israel, Eid wrote, “the result [of the factory move] was that 2500 Palestinians lost their jobs. When I ask those of them whom I meet what they would say if they met a BDS member, they point out that before, they were earning 6000 Israeli shekels a month… now they were receiving less than a quarter of that.”

  1. The BDS movement is the best path towards ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank

 

This claim, a central point in Barghouti’s argument, hinges upon the false assumption that Israel is unwilling to negotiate for peace and a withdrawal from the West Bank.

In agreement with the 2008 Olmert Plan, 2004 Bush-Sharon Letter, 2000 Clinton Parameters, and 1947 Partition Agreement in UN Resolution 181, Israel has, in fact, repeatedly offered major territorial concessions in exchange for peace – including up to 97% of the West Bank. On each occasion, after already demanding numerous pre-conditions, the Palestinian leadership has walked away and denied its people the opportunity for statehood that BDS claims to promote.

BDS targets Israel as though the Jewish State requires coercion to negotiate, when in truth, Israel is the only partner at the table.

  1. “There are no anti-Semites in the BDS movement.”

 

Apart from the blatant falseness of this claim (one needs look no further than a college campus, or the British Labour Party), the claim hinges, ideologically, on the false notion that anti-Zionism is something other than anti-Semitism.

Judea Pearl, in a recent LA Times op-ed, put it best:

“Anti-Semitism targets Jews as individuals; anti-Zionism targets Jews as a people. Anti-Semitism would deny Jews equal standing as human beings; anti-Zionism would ban Israel from equal membership in the family of nations.

If we examine anti-Zionist ideology closely, we see that its aims are: to uproot one people, the Jewish people, from its homeland, to take away its ability to defend itself in sovereignty, and to delegitimize its historical identity. It is racist and fundamentally eliminationist.”

Yet Barghouti went even further in his speech that night, pandering to his audience with words like diversity and justice, while denying the facts framing the conflict, demonizing Israel, and denying the Jewish people their right to define for themselves, what anti-Semitism is.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against the world’s only Jewish state are unjust, intolerant, racist, and unproductive. One is forced to ask – is peace really what Mr. Barghouti wants?

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at Stanford University Michal Leibowitz.

Spreading the Israel Love at UCLA

May 27, 2016

Highlighting one of Israel’s many humanitarian and social justice initiatives, CAMERA-supported group Bruins for Israel hosted its annual Achy Breaky Heart fundraising event on February 15th in conjunction with UCLA GlobeMed. Israel’s huge heart was exposed to a wide variety of students, with over 200 people attended the philanthropic evening.

Bruins for Israel chose to showcase the work of Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), an organization that provides lifesaving heart surgeries in Israel for children from around the world – including the West Bank and Gaza. UCLA GlobeMed chose to fundraise for an organization that increases water accessibility in multiple developing countries. To achieve their goal of raising a significant amount of money for the two charities, in addition to charging for entrance and tickets for food, the event included a “date auction,” where students were bid on. The winner collected a date as their prize!

Bruins for Israel hosted their annual Achy Breaky Heart fundraiser on February 15th, 2016 in partnership with UCLA Globe Med.

Bruins for Israel hosted their annual Achy Breaky Heart fundraiser on February 15th, 2016 in partnership with UCLA Globe Med.

Adding a face to the work of the organization, the younger brother of a UCLA student whose heart was operated on by the SACH medical team attended the event. Bruins for Israel was very fortunate to hear him and his family speak. The words of the boy and his family were the cornerstone of the event.

In addition to co-hosting the event with UCLA GlobeMed, Greek life on campus worked with Bruins for Israel to encourage attendance by giving SOE (Standard of Excellence) points to those who participated in the event. Performances by multiple A Capella groups, in addition to the presence of the student organizations, meant that even more coalitions could be built between the various groups.

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A student poses with UCLA mascots at Bruins for Israel’s Achy Breaky Heart fundraiser on February 15th, 2016.

Not only did hundreds of students gain a higher understanding of Israel’s humanitarian efforts, many of these students have since attended additional Bruins for Israel events, undoubtedly furthering their understanding of what Israel is all about.

Colonel Richard Kemp Testifies for the IDF at NYU

May 26, 2016

Morality in the war on terror is a controversial and constant point of discussion for Israel. The question is: How can an army be optimally moral in preventing casualties, while successfully stopping terrorism?

This is a dilemma the IDF struggles with as it is repeatedly cornered into war in order to protect Israel.  Despite the many tactics developed by the IDF which help to avoid civilian casualties, Israel’s military operations are intensely scrutinized throughout the world. Often, these critics are simply ill-informed and cannot begin to understand the reality of defending a country against terrorism. Such critics falsely accuse the IDF of war crimes, despite Israel’s exceptional efforts to steer clear of killing civilians.

Colonel Richard Kemp speaks at NYU.

Colonel Richard Kemp speaks at NYU.

Considering the often disproportionate level of criticism directed at Israel, Realize Israel was honored to host Colonel Richard Kemp at NYU this past April. Colonel Kemp, a long-standing officer in the British forces, has led troops in Afghanistan and around the world. Having planned and led many counter-terrorism operations, he has an exceptional understanding of morality in times of war.

Today, Kemp makes great efforts to be an informative, dispassionate voice against war crimes. He is not biased towards Israel. Rather, he simply recognizes the IDF’s high moral standards and values that its significant commitment to maintaining a high code of morality during wartime. Colonel Kemp has spoken in the UN numerous times on behalf of Israel.  At the UN, he has defended Israel’s strategies to safeguard civilians, highlighting the IDF’s exceptional efforts to protect innocent lives, more so than any other army in the history of warfare.

At NYU, the room was packed – many were standing. The attentive audience was privileged to listen to Kemp’s speech, which was a testament to the significant role his work plays in promoting the truth about Israel.

Colonel Kemp opened up by describing Israel’s efforts to prevent civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge. He then gave an overview of his own experiences during wartime, and shed light on Hamas’ strategies in contrast to Israel’s. While the IDF strives for morality, Hamas continually forces its own people into terror, using women and children as suicide bombers. The conflict is complicated. As with every army around the world, the IDF occasionally makes mistakes. However Colonel Kemp firmly argues that these mistakes do not amount to war crimes.

June 2015 - Colonel Kemp testifies at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

June 2015 – Colonel Kemp testifies at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Colonel Kemp also touched upon Israel’s need for support in the US media. While the IDF can defend itself in battle, the war against the media, with its medley of false accusations, is a threat. While the reality is very discouraging, the event left the audience inspired to take action. Students took home strong facts about Israel’s moral strategies as well as a greater understanding of how Israel should be defended by people around the world.

Tough Love

May 25, 2016

Lilia Gaufberg's recently received degree. [SOURCE: Facebook]

Lilia Gaufberg recently completed her degree and graduated from Clark University. [SOURCE: Facebook]

Clark, you haven’t always been easy on me.

In fact, as soon as I found my fervor for Israel and began putting that passion to use, there were times when you left me feeling bullied, deeply pained, lonely, and drained. There were times when you left me in an isolated panic, wondering if I was truly strong enough to confront the torrent of animosity against Israel by myself.

But, in retrospect, I like to think of it all as tough love from you.

Because I ended up taking that loneliness, that pain, that challenge with which you provided me, and I ran with it.

Clark: you taught me that I, a once shy, soft-spoken girl, could reach inside of my heart and soul and extract a dormant courage.

You taught me that projecting a dissenting voice with truth and conviction, while terrifying, is also one of the most empowering experiences a person can have.

You taught me that believing in a cause to the point where it runs through your veins and permeates your existence can trump any instinct to curl up and close yourself off to the possibility of resistance.

Clark, you haven’t always been easy on me.

But in many ways, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Thank you for all that you taught me. You’ve made me strong.

Contributed by member of Clarkies for Israel at Clark University, Lilia Gaufberg.

Wall Brings Pro-Israel Pride to Cal State Long Beach

May 24, 2016

Hailed as their most successful event of the year, 49ers for Israel at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) set up a Peace Wall on campus. The wall was one of seven events held for Cal State Long Beach’s Israel Week 2016, which aimed to showcase Israel’s vibrant culture through art, music and food, while advocating for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.

The Peace Wall is an initiative of Artists 4 Israel. The group was founded after a group of artists observed that during Operation Cast Lead, while Israel was being attacked by Hamas rocket fire, those who were attacking Israel were also attacking the arts: arresting, intimidating, and in some cases, killing artists who dared to express themselves freely. Even more disturbingly, the founders saw that these attacking groups were abusing the arts to spread lies and anti-Israel propaganda.

49ers Mascot piece by Artists 4 Israel.

49ers Mascot piece by Artists 4 Israel.

In response to the terrible situation, the founding members state that they “dared to draw the straight and unflinching line between the two points: artists’ rights equals the right of Israel to exist in peace and security”.

While on the Peace Wall, the four artists spray painted a beautiful image of the CSLUB mascot with “peace” written behind it, their focus went beyond creating art. The artists were proactive in encouraging students to come and share their own messages of peace on the wall.  The artists’ engaging manner had many students asking them questions about how it feels to be in Israel. Having students painting and talking at the wall attracted even more students, which meant that hundreds of students of all ages, faiths, origins, beliefs and ethnicities engaged in genuine conversations about Israel, community service and peace.

49ers For Israel pose with Artists for Israel in front of their Peace Wall.

49ers For Israel pose with Artists for Israel in front of their Peace Wall.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), accompanied by their anti-Israel and anti-Zionism signs, made an appearance at the event, and wanted to spray paint messages on the wall. However, once the students of 49ers for Israel explained to SJP what the focus of the event was, they decided not to protest the event.

Students paint the Peace Wall

Students paint the Peace Wall

Attracting an amazing diversity of students unaffiliated with Judaism or Israel and successfully deterring SJP from engaging in hate was a huge success for 49ers for Israel and partnering group Beach Hillel. A strong sense of accomplishment was felt by the students that day, who noted their sense of pride in being pro-Israel. Sadly, this sense isn’t always easy to come by as a student on Cal State Long Beach’s campus.

How Media Inaccuracies Hurt Israel on Campus

May 23, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox.

CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox.

In the winter of 2015-2016, I was given the privilege and opportunity to travel to the State of Israel. A dream that had been mine for many years was finally realized. As the aircraft entered Israeli airspace, my excitement was palpable. As the plane touched down in the Holy Land, I gave thanks. It was truly an intense feeling, to finally be in Israel.

However, I also recalled all of the lies and inaccuracies that had been circulating on my school’s campus. “Israel is an apartheid state.” “Israel’s minorities live as second-class citizens.”  “Israel is racist.” By this time, I was in my third year of defending Israel on my campus. This year, I was a CAMERA Fellow. It was important to me that I see Israel for myself. What I found was a country whose values, people, and true face surprised and amazed me, and imploded the lies about this nation spread by malicious anti-Israel groups on my campus. The experience that resonated most with my campus was a lecture that my group received from the independent journalism group Tazpit News Agency.

Tazpit’s speakers took care to explain in great detail the unfairness and bias with which the great majority of foreign media reports on the State of Israel. They spoke of the flocking of foreign journalists to the American Colony Hotel, to the carelessness with which they cobbled together their reports.

Patrick Fox in Sderot, Israel.

Patrick Fox in Sderot, Israel.

During this particular segment of the presentation, I couldn’t help but think back to the time in a previous semester of college at Clark when I had the opportunity to meet Joseph Federman, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the Associated Press. Federman spoke at length about his news agency’s prolific use of highly-unreliable “stringers”—unprofessional amateur journalists who work on commission to write stories in places where it would be unsafe or illegal for Jewish citizens to travel-such as area A, the region of Judea & Samaria ruled exclusively by the PLO.

With such a malice-driven atmosphere behind the dissemination of information regarding the State of Israel, is it any surprise that the climate and subsequent discourse on most campuses-including my own here at Clark- is so toxic? A man once said “A lie repeated enough times will eventually become a truth.” That man was Joseph Goebbels, a man whose anti-Semitic lies and inaccuracies surrounding the Jewish people were repeated so often and with such force in German media that they helped cause the worst genocide the world has ever seen—the Holocaust.

As an ever-optimistic college student, I wish to believe that a similar situation is not transpiring on college campuses—especially here at Clark. However when I see the unfortunate reality of campus anti-Semitism — today cloaked in the guise of “anti-Zionism”— I somehow end up dismayed. For when one examines the true definition of the term “anti-Zionism”— that the Jewish people have no right[s] to inhabit their ancestral homeland— or possess any form of homeland, for that matter- chills run down my spine.

Clark Students for Justice in Palestine.

Clark Students for Justice in Palestine paint media inaccuracies on a plasterboard “wall”.

If people are to pick a side on the so-called “conflict,” they ought to be fully informed regarding their choice. Media inaccuracies are indeed having a sinister effect at Clark and other college campuses. One need only look at a Clark Students for Justice in Palestine “apartheid wall,” or get a glimpse of the map of “historic Palestine pre-Naqba (hint: it encompasses the entire state of Israel) to understand the grave danger of biased and uninformed reporting regarding the one and only Jewish state. 

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at Clark University, Patrick Fox.

An Open Letter to the Stanford Community

May 20, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

On May 14, 1948, in the small Tel Aviv Art Museum, the Jewish state of Israel declared its independence. The following day, Israel was attacked on all sides as the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The intention of the five invading nations was clear. In the Egyptian newspaper “Akhbar al-YomAbd,” the Secretary-General of the Arab League declared: “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.”

The Israeli Declaration of Independence followed the UN’s November 29, 1947Partition Plan (Resolution 181(II)) which aimed to create independent states for both Israel and Palestine. The Jewish residents of British-controlled Mandatory Palestine accepted the plan, while the Arab side rejected it. After many months of fighting, ultimately resulting in several armistice agreements, the fledgling Jewish state survived.

Today, Cardinal for Israel and the Jewish Student Association invite the greater Stanford community to celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday with a celebration of culture through music, food, and fun.

We ask that you recognize that Israel is more than its conflict — it is a country that many Stanford students call home.

The festival we’re hosting is not a political event — inasmuch as any celebration of any state’s independence can be termed apolitical – and we’d like ask that those who might be thinking of protesting reconsider their choice. It’s legitimate to criticize the policies of any country, and within certain frameworks, it’s legal to protest any event. But is protesting a cultural celebration – one meaningful to many in our student body – the way to create a community that embodies Stanford University’s founding values of “intellectual debate, the open exchange of ideas in the service of learning, and the creation of new knowledge?”

In the spirit of Stanford’s founding values, Cardinal for Israel would like to invite any students interested in political dialogue to visit the Florence Moore Lounge on May 23 at 6 p.m. for a roundtable discussion. And we would like to re-invite all students, teachers, faculty, staff, and community members to experience a piece of our culture today, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in White Plaza, as we celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday.

Best wishes,

Michal Leibowitz

Editor’s Note: After the event occurred, Michal submitted the following update:

“Despite our request to the Stanford student body, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tried and failed to disrupt our celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut. The culmination of 2,000 years of Jewish struggle for autonomy, Israeli independence is an occasion for celebration. SJP can never change that, nor can they stop us from celebrating our culture, heritage, and pride.”

Students celebrate Yom Haatzmaut at Stanford University.

Students celebrate Israel’s 68th Yom Ha’atzmaut at Stanford University.

Originally published in the Stanford Daily.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and member of Cardinal for Israel at Stanford University, Michal Leibowitz.

On Iran’s Nuclear Violations

May 19, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

Last year, a nuclear agreement was established between Iran and the United States. The agreement essentially stated that tough sanctions would be lifted off Iran in exchange for the country’s word to end its nuclear weapon development. Since the deal was passed the seas have been quiet but recently, things changed.

In clear violation of the nuclear deal, Iran held multiple ballistic missile tests. This particular offense violates the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331, which states that Iran is “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Iranian officials have responded by saying that they will not cease these missile tests since it was not actually a violation of the agreement. According to Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who is in charge of the country’s missile program, these missiles were tested for defensive purposes and the country will not stop this activity due to the fact that they are “always ready to defend the country against any aggressor.” Iranian Foreign Ministry officials have also spoken on the matter saying that since these missiles are not capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the tests are not considered a violation worth of sanctions.

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA

Here are the issues: A nuclear capable missile has been defined as any missile with a payload over 500 kilograms and a range of 300 kilometers. The missiles surpass normal range and weight that is considered internationally acceptable to be considered a nuclear capable missile, even though, according to Iranian officials, these missiles may not have been designed to carry a nuclear warhead. Some of the missiles tested by Iran carried 24 warheads and one ton of TNT, which would completely obliterate Israel.

Not only this, but to reiterate the actual threat, on the sides of the missiles, “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth” was written. In fact, The Iranian Revolutionary guard’s senior commander was quoted as saying that these missiles were designed to strike Israel. This new turn of events has prompted Israel to step up and call for consequences against Iran’s violations, and rightfully so. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has released a statement calling for the UN to take “immediate punitive steps following the repeated gross transgressions by Iran in the matter of rockets.” Israel’s’ Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has also come to the UN Security Council encouraging them to condemn Iran’s recent behavior. He also pointed out that the tests are a violation of the UN resolution 2331. This would be an outrageous violation and should not be overlooked, as it is a clear breach of the agreement.

The phrase “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth” is a direct existential threat to Israel and its people. This is not a defensive remark on the part of Iran. On the contrary it shows that they in fact desire an offensive stance against Israel. These type of long range missiles have the capability to cover all of Israel’s territory, proving to be a very real threat to the country’s existence in the Middle East. Israel is an important ally to the United States and this existential threat must be taken seriously.

The UN Security Council will be holding a closed door meeting to discuss this issue. According to Samantha Power, The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, the United States will hold said meeting and is encouraging other countries to cooperate in efforts to undermine Iran’s missile program that could be detrimental. These violations cannot occur. Existential threats to the lives of millions of people, and an entire state that is an ally to the United States, must be addressed immediately to avoid an enormous tragedy from taking place.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at Baruch College, Sivanna Shusterman.

The Antisemitic Tuition Protests That Rocked CUNY

May 18, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

CAMERA Fellow Sivanna Shusterman.

Recently at Baruch College, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) members gathered on the plaza outside to protest against CUNYS’ soon to be implemented tuition hikes. Most students are in an uproar about this recent change in policy but somehow, rather than discussing the issue at hand, it became an issue about Zionism. This was not an issue about Zionism though. The protest was simply used as an opportunity by the protesters to defame Israel and spread lies and propaganda.

The students that had been gathering in protests on CUNY campuses all over the New York City area, stated that these tuition hikes are the handy work of the Zionist CUNY administration who are essentially indoctrinating young professionals. Not only this, but the protesters who gathered at Baruch, screamed continuously that “Zionism is a racist ideology” and, “Racists’ out of CUNY!!”  Such damaging and untrue statements are not only unnecessary and irrelevant to the conversation at hand, but it is simply a tool being used by others to slander Israel, rather than actually discuss what the issues are.

Along with this fact, equating Zionism, the belief that Jews have a right to live in their own country, and racism, the idea of being prejudiced against another person due to their race, is incorrect and absurd. Zionism does not and will never call upon others to act in a prejudiced manner towards others based on their race or ethnicity.

Protestors at a march at Hunter College. [Source: YouTube]

Protestors at the anti-Semitic tuition march at Hunter College. [Source: YouTube]

Before this event had taken place, I had not seen or experienced any type of hostility nor have I ever witnessed blatant, negative, or damaging occurrences between the various groups and organizations that are present on campus. I have only seen positivity and peace on our campus especially when it comes to Israel. Israel is a big topic on all campuses and there are many students all over the country who have to come face-to-face with challenges that counter-organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organizations, both of which have large national presences, present to the student population.   Since at Baruch these kind of demonstrations are rare, and there is no established anti-Israel campus group, the students who protested were all for the most part from other CUNY establishments.

At Baruch, students are able to spread a positive and honest message about Israel and the situation in the Middle East without violent interference.  When it comes to the Israel-Arab conflict, everyone has a right to voice his or her own opinion on campus and there should be nothing but an open forum for students to discuss the issues that are on their minds, but that forum should not be a place to incite hate and to place blame solely on one party. Not only this, but if a discussion is to be had then there is no room for inaccuracies or untruths, otherwise having a conversation is pointless and loses all validity. The environment that is fostered at Baruch has been one that is positive and supportive of Israel and the right for everyone to voice their opinions in a fair and honest manner.

However, this discussion is not what occurred at the protest. It was not about a discussion whatsoever. In fact, there was no dialogue to be exchanged. It was simply a way to further bash Israel and Zionism. These sort of events cannot be tolerated anywhere and at any time. Hopefully in the future there will not be a need, nor an opportunity for such hatred to be propagated on campus and instead, students will be able to come together on an open stage and discuss the issues at hand civilly, amicably, and honestly.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at Baruch College, Sivanna Shusterman.

SAFI’s Immediate Success

May 17, 2016

SAFI, the Student Alliance For Israel-Madison, formerly known as Madison Friends of Israel, is the Emet for Israel group on the University of Wisconsin’s campus. Their kickoff event of the semester took place in early February, and since then they have gathered a good amount of attention from their fellow students. Unfortunately, a pro-Israel voice was becoming increasingly necessary in order to balance out the anti-Israel rhetoric on campus.

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The group has been incredibly successful in catering to their member’s needs and requests in learning more about the Jewish state. In the past few months, the group has created an Israel class, throughout which Israeli history, culture, and its current political climate is taught. The board has also established the SAFI Ambassador Program to give students a way of being more involved without committing to the course.

In addition to the kickoff event, SAFI has raised awareness about Israel through its weekly newsletter, a recent YouTube video it released, and its “Fun Fact Friday” social media campaign. Another effective initiative has been bringing speakers, including Joel Chasnoff, a comedian who presented the many facets of Israeli society.

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This CAMERA – supported group is looking forward to the many events and classes it will bring to the University of Wisconsin. At its inception, its main goal was to get more students to care about Israel, to begin asking questions about it, and to create a more balanced dialogue. Members are pleased that this objective has already been achieved to an impressive degree!