Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Dream of Shimon Peres

November 30, 2016

 

Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow

Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow

  “For me, dreaming is simply being pragmatic”

  “Optimists and pessimists die the same way. They just live differently. I prefer to live as an optimist.”

On September 28, the international community came together in suffering the tremendous loss of Shimon Peres, the former President and two-time Prime Minister of Israel, who died from a massive stroke he experienced two weeks earlier. At 93, Peres was the last of Israel’s founding fathers, a larger-than-life leader and human activist, and a Nobel Peace laureate who exemplified what it meant to be an unremitting warrior for peace.

But what was perhaps the most noteworthy and defining feature of Peres was the fact that he was both an eternal optimist and a dreamer.

Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

Despite decades of unsuccessful attempts at permanent peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, and the ups and downs that accompanied his more than 70-year political career serving the public, Shimon Peres remained a tenaciously optimistic believer in the possibility of coexistence between Israel and its neighbors. Refusing to submit to a dark and inexorable state of cynicism and fatalism, he instead chose to walk in the pathway of light and boundless potential.

In 1993, Peres along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, worked with Yassar Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to jump-start the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, ultimately achieving the three the Nobel Peace Prize. As the Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister in 1994, Peres was involved in secret peace agreements between Israel and Jordon, which ultimately led to a peace treaty signing, which represented an end to the official state of enmity between the two countries in order to “end the bloodshed and sorrow” and achieve lasting peace.

And if his resume didn’t already speak for itself, Shimon Peres’s universal influence was signified by the world leaders and delegation that flew in from 75 different countries to pay respects at his funeral. “Shimon Peres was never cynical,” President Barack Obama eulogized, “it is that faith, that optimism, that belief even when all evidence is to the contrary that tomorrow can be better that makes us not just honor Shimon Peres but love him.”

We as Binghamton students, as the upcoming generation of aspiring world leaders, and as trailblazers in our own right, can learn a tremendous amount from the legacy of Shimon Peres.

Peres introduced a level of perseverance laced with the positive prospect that we need today to make progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He then applied that prospect through outlets of education, which he believed to be the greatest influence in creating a more peace-conscious people. Likewise, in university, we open our eyes to those dissimilar to us while we simultaneously develop ourselves through the education we seek to receive.

In the current state of affairs, there’s a stalemate in which people are no longer willing to take the risks needed for peace. The unrest in this region needs strong visionaries such as Peres, who through dreaming and progressiveness, can create a “new Middle East.” In this capacity, although anticipation for peace in this conflict at times seems to have reached a point of stagnation, we must refuse to submit defeat to the failures and inadequacies of our surroundings—no matter how overly ideological and optimistic we may seem.

A light has gone out in the world, however we can set our own torches on fire through the everlasting flame Peres left us.

Contributed by Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow at Binghamton University

Neo Nazi Publication “Your Ward News” appears at York University; Administration Promises Action

November 29, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shachar.

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shachar.

Students from the Israeli Students Association (ISA), a CAMERA-supported group, recently discovered copies of the virulently anti-Semitic Your Ward News being distributed on official newsstands throughout York University. The publication was found in highly-frequented areas on campus such as Central Square.

Your Ward News is a neo-Nazi publication that has been accused of spreading “racism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism”. This past June, after years of campaigning by an anti-racist coalition called “Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice” (STAMP), the Canadian Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote prohibited Canada Post from delivering Your Ward News.

One example of the sickening anti-Semitism of The Ward

One example of the sickening anti-Semitism of Your Ward News

Examples of anti-Semitic content present in the publications found on campus include a vile caricature of human rights lawyer Richard Warman confined in a gas chamber. In the accompanying caption, the editor-in-chief of Your Ward News James Sears says that he “admires Adolf Hitler” and “refuses to accept…a false Hollywood narrative of six million Jews dying in homicidal gas chambers”. In the letters-to-the-editor section, Sears further describes the Holocaust as a “blood libel hoax perpetrated against the German people”.

The Ward engaging in Holocaust Denial

Your Ward News engaging in Holocaust Denial

Another cartoon in the publication depicts Bernie Farber, the former chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, with a red Star of David on his forehead and horns. Farber is a member of the STAMP coalition and has lambasted Your Ward News for its Holocaust denial, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and homophobia.

More horrific anti-Semitism from The Ward

More horrific anti-Semitism from Your Ward News

ISA members promptly alerted B’nai Brith Canada after the discovery. B’nai Brith notified the York University administration, which promised to “take appropriate steps to ensure that this publication is not being distributed or delivered to locations on campus.”

ISA President Eli Razimor said that it was “disturbing to see such hateful anti-Semitic content being distributed on campus”. Razimor also commended the university administration for their vow to ban the publication.

Contributed by Ben Shachar, CAMERA Fellow at York University.

Why Did Oberlin Professors Go to Bat for an Anti-Semitic Colleague?

November 28, 2016

After a long investigation held largely behind locked doors, Oberlin College has finally fired Joy Karega, an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition who moonlighted on social media as a hardcore anti-Semite. The Board of Trustees accused Karega inter aliaof “failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty.”

This is the belated but satisfying conclusion of a nine-month drama. The Tower first reported in February that Karega had made a breviary of anti-Semitic posts to Facebook. No mere bigotry, these were wild conspiracy theories in which she suggested that the Jews orchestrated 9/11, control ISIS, and enslave humanity through the vanguard of the all-powerful Rothschild banking dynasty. First responding to the news with uncertainty and ambivalence, Oberlin later suspended and has now terminated Karega.

Despite arguably being the most straightforward and egregious example of rising campus anti-Semitism, stakeholders in the Karega affair drew it out longer and treated it with more nuance than outsiders expected. Pragmatism underlies ideology: College administrations elevate risk-aversion to an art and Karega has met expectations by threatening throughout to sue. Yet identity politics has complicated what in any other configuration would be a textbook case for the campus inquisition.

Joy Karega is an African-American woman whose teaching focus at the time of the scandal was “social justice writing.” And ostensibly, though with the thinnest pretense, the targets of her protest were Zionism and the Israeli government. This combination broke the morality-mold of the “privilege”-obsessed Left that conflates Jews with whites, who are saturated by original sin, and couples anti-Zionism with the cardinal virtue, since 1968, of U.S.-targeted “anti-imperialism”.

Most of us aren’t malicious racists and we know the Arab-Israeli conflict can drive otherwise cool people crazy, so let’s review where Karega is coming from. In January 2015, there was a series of Islamist terror attacks in France. The two main events were mass-murders—one at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and another at a kosher superette in Paris. The killers were al-Qaeda- and ISIS-inspired French Muslims who fought police to the death in two separate sieges.

Karega posted on Facebook that all this was actually Jewish revenge for France’s desire to “free Palestine”; she blamed Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, for the violence. But not all of the violence: she talked only about Charlie Hebdo, failing to mention at all the murders at the Jewish market. The Jews can do without Karega’s sympathy, but her omission is important in light of her interpretation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hurried visit to France to honor those victims: “Netanyahu wanted to bend [President Francois] Hollande and French governmental officials over one more time in public just in case the message wasn’t received…”

netanyahu-isis

Screenshot of one of Joy Karega’s antisemitic Facebook posts.

So we’re dealing with a person who mixes viciousness and vulgarity in a particularly stiff cocktail of anti-Jewish racism. For Karega, the Jews exist only as a demonic force assaulting and sodomizing the world, even when their supposed machinations result in mass violence to Jews. And there is little relationship between her ruminations and what might be considered criticism of Israel.

Nevertheless Karega found support. While the bulk of the Oberlin faculty released a statement demarcating her “bigotry” from Oberlin’s “institutional DNA,” a groupuscule of professors dissented, refusing to co-sign because they felt Karega was being made a scapegoat for privileged concern about campus anti-Semitism. “I am outraged,” groused English and Africana Studies professor Gillian Johns, “at the irresponsible hostility drummed up against [Karega] as a scapegoated target for what we have been led to believe is a more general concern about anti-Semitism.” Professor of Studio Art and Africana Studies Johnny Coleman complained that “black students’ demands for systemic institutional change are effectively dismissed — while a call to denounce anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms has been composed and circulated in a manner that specifically targets an early-career black female colleague.” And campus anti-Zionist Jews concurred: “We see the level and form of condemnation as…reinforcing oppressive anti-Black…narratives.”

These startling apologetics are limned by the forensic scrupulosity with which Oberlin disposed of such a plain case. In light of social trends that lead us only to presume that the frequency and acceptance of anti-Semitism will increase, we can draw an important lesson from the Karega affair.

The American analysis of racism is broken: It will not do to resolve that racism equals privilege plus power. The biggest failure of Holocaust education in the U.S. has been to emphasize the aspects of Nazism that resemble our own historical experience of racism. We focus on eugenics and the kooky “racialist” pseudo-science whose antecedents in the European Enlightenment also shaped racism in the United States.

Another post spreading hatred and anti-Semitism

Another one of Karega’s posts spreading hatred and anti-Semitism

We therefore try to understand anti-Semitism through the lens of the African-American experience, but that leads us to focus narrowly on bias that “punches down” at weak minorities. In fact, the event from American history that is most illustrative of the story of Jewish persecution is never raised in that context: the Salem witch trials. Anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory, and at root each conspiracy theory is a narrative in which an evil and powerful secret society—earthly agents of the Devil—enslaves and exploits the people. Karega’s ravings make this clear: Hers is a salvationist paranoia in which the Jews are identified as a people of darkness at which the oppressed must “punch up” to liberate themselves. She preaches a racist “anti-racism” and the hatred this sort of thing stirs is ultimately exterminatory.

Yet in the moral cosmos on campus, Karega as an African-American woman is doubly entitled to identify among the oppressed children of light. And Jews, who are conflated with the oppressor-whites, are pickled in post-colonial sin. So it is no wonder that she would not only find defenders among her colleagues on the identitarian Left, but enjoy the latitude of students failing to recognize anti-Semitism when they see it—even when it is expressed in the neo-Tsarist register that Karega favors.

Considering more than immediate dynamics of power when fighting racism will not lead us to forsake the wretched of the earth. If historical and contemporary Europe makes anything clear, it is that racism punches down and up. Recognizing the full sphere of oppression, rather than focusing on the yin of color-bias and excluding the yang of anti-Semitism, fosters a moral intelligence more able to meet the challenges of society and history. This holistic approach seems especially urgent after the recent election, as the forces of a right-wing populism that trains its gunsights on “elites” and “the establishment” gather in the hinterlands off campus.

Originally published at The Tower.

Written by Jean Paul Pagano, a freelance writer.

LGBT Rights in Israel and Jonathan Elkhoury

November 25, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox.

CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox.

On November 2, 2016, Jonathan Elkhoury, a Gay, Christian, Lebanese man with a powerful story, came to Clark University. Jonathan’s visit was sponsored by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and it was co-sponsored by Clark University Hillel’s Israel and Zionism Committee and Clark University’s campus pro-Israel group, Clarkies for Israel (CFI). Thanks to excellent advertising by CAMERA staff and CFI members, Jonathan’s speech was one of the most-well attended and audience-diverse CFI events in the history of the group.

Jonathan grew up in Lebanon, where he lived until his family and village were threatened by the Shia Islamic group Hezbollah, because his village leaders had sided with Israel during Lebanon’s civil war. As a result of his family and way of life being threatened, Jonathan and his family moved to the State of Israel, where they enjoy full rights and freedoms. As a gay man living in Arab communities for a large part of his life, Jonathan told of how his identity had  constantly been under attack, whereas once he moved to Israel this was no longer the case. Today, he stands as living proof of Israel’s commitment to the rights of LGBT people across the region (as well as serving on the Christian Empowerment Council, a testament to Israel`s commitment to the rights of non-Jewish religious minorities)

Jonathan Elkhoury with students at the event

Jonathan Elkhoury with students at the event

Across the Middle East, Israel stands alone as a force for the rights and freedoms granted and given to the LGBT community. Tel Aviv’s gay pride parade is one of the largest (and one of the only) such events in the region. Whereas within other locales in the Middle East, LGBT persons are murdered, denied their rights, and humiliated in acts of public shaming and execution, in Israel, they are citizens in full, both in life and under the rule of law. Those who allege that Israeli granting of rights to such communities is “pinkwashing” are normally BDS activists who wish to delegitimize the state of Israel by any means possible, and their claims are mere fantasy.

If a truly effective conversation about Gay rights in the Middle East is to be had, then the extreme and violent homophobia of the Arab countries and Iran relative to the egalitarian state of affairs within the State of Israel must be acknowledged. Where are the cries and outrage when LGBT people in Iran are hung from construction cranes, or hurled blindfolded from rooftops by Daesh? The only way to improve the plight of this minority in the Middle East is to adopt the Israeli model: full rights in society and enshrined under the law. Such measures would in turn lead to more positive societies in general and more people like Jonathan Elkhoury: LGBT persons confident and comfortable to be who they are.

Contributed by Patrick Fox, CAMERA Fellow at Clark University, and a member of Clarkies for Israel, a CAMERA supported group.

40 years ago this week, the UN perpetuated Palestinian suffering

November 24, 2016

Over the past few years, the resettlement of refugees has been one of the key issues in international politics. The horrendous conflict in Syria has forced more than half the country to flee from their homes, with 4.8 million refugees rushing to neighbouring countries, and one million having applied for asylum in Europe. The United Nations has taken the resettlement of refugees very seriously, trying to persuade countries around the world to make commitments to take in and resettle these people.

At the end of an international conference on the refugee crisis in March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grani, said:

Today has been an important event… we have heard pledges that increase the number of resettlement and humanitarian places to 185,000……but this is only the start. We heard offers to significantly increase global resettlement programs in the coming few years. And we hope that there will be several opportunities to do so in the coming months.

With this in mind, the following fact may come as a surprise: Forty years ago, on November 23, 1976,  the United Nations condemned a country for resettling refugees. The next fact may be less surprising: the country was Israel.

When Israel came to govern the West Bank and Gaza after the Six Day War in 1967, it found Palestinian refugees still in the camps that they had been in since 1948. Israel developed a plan to begin moving the Palestinians out of the squalid and cramped refugee camps, and into permanent residences. The Israeli government gave participants in the program a plot of land to build on, and services such as water, electricity and sanitation. Approximately 10,000 families left the refugee camps to move to these better, newer accommodations.

Israel building houses in Gaza in 1977

Israel building houses in Gaza in 1977

But on November 23 1976, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Israel to return the refugees to the refugee camps from which they had come from.  In fact, on the same day three years later, November 23, 1979, the General Assembly passed another similar resolution, in which they “call[ed] upon Israel to desist from the removal and resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.”

What could possibly explain this position? How could the United Nations possibly condemn a country for the crime of resettling refugees who had been abandoned in squalid camps for two decades?

The answer is in the 1979 Resolution itself. The Resolution states that “measures to resettle Palestinian refugees away from their homes and property from which they were displaced constitute a violation of their inalienable right of return.”

The “right of return” is the Palestinians’ claim that they have the right to return to their pre-1948 abodes. It is a highly debatable “right” — not least because it is based on a UN resolution that the Arabs rejected. And why did everyone criticize Israel 40 years ago? Because if the Palestinian refugees would settle in comfortable living quarters then they may not want to return to their original villages. In the eyes of the “supporters” of the Palestinians at the UN, the Palestinians have the right of return to their original homes, but are forbidden to move anywhere else.

Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

This absurd resolution cuts to the heart of how Palestinian refugees are different than all other refugees in the world. With all other refugees, the focus of international organisations is humanitarian and social; the statute of the UNHCR, the UN body that deals with all refugees, explicitly states that its goals are not political. But with the Palestinians, the social and humanitarian needs of refugees and their children are of secondary importance, with the political goals being more important. If helping improve Palestinians lives harms the claim of a “right of return” and weakens the Palestinians claims against Israel — then the political goals win, and Palestinians must stay in camps for decades.

It is their goal for there to be more and more Palestinian refugees each year. For other refugees, wealthy Arab countries can offer generous amounts of money to alleviate the situation. With the Palestinians, because their refugee status has become politicized, there is no incentive for countries to do the very simple task of building permanent homes for them.

To this day, Western media will report on the squalid conditions of the Palestinian refugee camps — and indeed the conditions that many Palestinians experience in these camps are terrible. But November 23 is the time to remember why their situation has not improved. Arab leaders have always treated Palestinian refugees as a political, rather than as a humanitarian issues, and have placed political attacks against Israel above the welfare of the Palestinian people.

Originally published at The Algemeiner and JNS.org.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern.

CAMERA Fellows In Focus: Eliav Terk

November 23, 2016

The CAMERA Fellowship program supports student leaders in developing and strengthening their pro-Israel activism on campus. With the school year underway, InFocus is giving you an inside look into the lives of the 2016-17 CAMERA Fellows who are working hard to promote the facts about Israel on campus.

Meet Eliav Terk.

Eliav TerkCurrently a freshman at the University of Texas, Eliav is studying Economics.

During high school, he became interested in Israel advocacy and interned for StandWithUs. Before beginning his first semester at the University of Texas, he spent the summer studying at the University of Haifa in Israel, preparing academically for college as well as immersing himself in Israeli culture. By living in Israel for the summer, he became more fluent in Hebrew and more capable of speaking accurately about life in Israel with fellow students at his campus in Texas.

Eliav is new to college life but has wasted no time to become involved with the pro-Israel activism on campus. In addition to being a board member of the Texans for Israel, a pro-Israel, Jewish-culture campus organization, Eliav is very excited to represent Israel this year as a CAMERA Fellow! He hopes to promote truthful and balanced discourse about Israel and the Middle East conflict among his peers. CAMERA on Campus is very excited to welcome Eliav to the CAMERA community and looks forward to seeing him develop as an Israel advocate.

#UnityTour

November 22, 2016

 

CAMERA Fellow Emily Firestone.

CAMERA Fellow Emily Firestone.

On Monday night in the Jacob Sleeper Auditorium, there was a launch party for the film Mekonen: Journey of an African Jew and a concert from the famous Ethiopian-Israeli hip-hop band, Cafe Shachor Chazak. The turn out was amazing: music was blasting and the crowd was going wild. Hundreds came out to this event; the first stop on the tour that will be taking place on other college campuses across the country over the next few weeks. But all fun and games aside, the significance of what the event stands must be addressed.

The film, which was produced by an organization called Jerusalem U, focuses on the story of Mekonen, an Ethiopian-Israeli who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, overcame obstacles, and eventually became a commander in the Israeli Defense Forces. Mekonen’s father was the leader of the community and was active in getting the members of the community to Israel. Twelve hours before Mekonen and his family were to leave Ethiopia for Israel, Mekonen’s father died. Mekonen’s family completed the immigration and adjusted to a drastically different life in Israel without their father. Mekonen goes on a journey back to Ethiopia to explore his roots before he returns to Israel to begin his new position as commander in the army. The film gives insight to minorities in Israel; a topic that is often misunderstood. The event clarified that there are many minorities in Israel and Israeli citizens have equal rights and equal responsibilities. Most Israeli citizens serve the country with some form of national service.

Cafe Shachor Chazak performing

Cafe Shachor Chazak performing

Just to be clear, Ethiopian-Israelis are one minority in Israel. Some other large minorities of Israeli citizens include Arabs, Druze, and Ba’hai. All of these minorities and more are represented in Israel’s government, the Knesset. As in most societies, there is a reality of  elements of discrimination in society against minority groups, which is reflected in the film through rallies against police brutality in Israel. This reality is not being hidden away, but rather embraced. Perfection and complete justice and harmony among all citizens should not be expected of any country. The film shows how Mekonen takes pride in serving his country and the loyalty he feels toward it.

The history of the Ethiopian-Israelis is fascinating. The film touched upon how Israel carried out operations to airlift Jewish Ethiopians to Israel in mass waves. This is an extremely unique circumstance. What other country goes above and beyond to bring refugees into their country? I can’t think of one. The film doesn’t show how once the Ethiopians were brought into the country, on Israel’s expense, they are brought to absorption centers with resources to help them adapt to the new culture and language. Israel’s interaction with minorities should serve as an example to other countries.

The event continued with this sense of understanding and accrediting reality to Israeli culture, which can often be misunderstood. Before the concert, a young African American woman, Chloe Valdary, spoke to the audience about the similarities that Israel shares with the civil rights movement. Chloe expressed why she feels it is crucial to support Israel and the self determination of the Jewish people to their own state. Next came the concert. Cafe Shachor Chazak (which means “strong black coffee” in Hebrew) is a popular Ethiopian-Israeli band. Their performance brought some of Israel here, to campus, allowing us to get a taste of the culture through music. Israel is a country that is so far away and our exposure to it is limited to biased and often incorrect news outlets. Israel has so much more to offer and the Mekonen launch party and concert from Cafe Shachor Chazak made this foreign country a little more familiar.

Don’t worry, if you didn’t make it out to the event. There are always opportunities to learn about Israel and all the incredible things the country and its people have to offer.

Contributed by Emily Firestone, CAMERA Fellow at Boston University. The Film Launch Tour for Mekonen: The Journey of an African Jew is co-sponsored by CAMERA.

CAMERA Fellows in Focus: Jonathan Manevitch

November 21, 2016

The CAMERA Fellowship program supports student leaders in developing and strengthening their pro-Israel activism on campus. With the school year underway, InFocus is giving you an inside look into the lives of the 2016-17 CAMERA Fellows who are working hard to promote the facts about Israel on campus.

Meet Jonathan Manevitch.

jonathan-manevitch

Many of the CAMERA Fellows advocate for Israel on American campuses and some speak up for Israel at their Israeli university campuses. Many work together with other Israel advocates or students who are very educated about Israel to counter anti-Zionism on their campuses. Over in Scotland, Jonathan stands very independently as a CAMERA Fellow and as a representative of Israel in the face of anti-Israel rhetoric at the University of Glasgow. His task is not easy in the slightest and his dedication to be the pro-Israel voice of his region is not to be overlooked.

Currently a fourth year student at the University of Glasgow, Jonathan studies Political Sciences.

Jonathan is a graduate of the EUJS seminar at the United Nations where he first developed a passion for international humanitarian law under the auspices of Ido Rosenzweig of Haifa’s Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions.

Jonathan has always been interested in politics. As his knowledge and perspective on political issues have developed, his interest in Israeli and Middle Eastern politics grew. However, Jonathan did not remain solely intellectually curious about Israel-related issues. Soon enough, he took action and gradually rose as a student leader in his Jewish student community.

As he came to understand that Israel is often held to a much higher standard than comparable nations involved in similar situations, Jonathan felt increasingly compelled and passionate about defending Israel and sharing the truth on his campus and in his community. In addition, Jonathan eventually came to the realization that the United Nations have abandoned principles formulated in the UN Charter, making it unfit for function, especially with regards to Israel.

Jonathan has studied Israel and Israeli politics very thoroughly on his own. He is very excited to now be involved with CAMERA on Campus. As a CAMERA Fellow, he knows he will be an even more successful Israel advocate on his campus this year. Oftentimes Israel advocates feel overwhelmed and intimidated by opposing views from their fellow students. Between his advanced and vast knowledge about Israel and now the support of the international CAMERA community, CAMERA on Campus knows Jonathan will make a great impact at the University of Glasgow and respond knowledgeably and appropriately to conflicting views–CAMERA on Campus is very excited to see his progress!

Twitter anti-semitism, and how Princeton beat it

November 17, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

Miko Peled, a critic of Israeli policies, was scheduled to come to campus on September 20. He and I agree on little — we disagree on almost everything, actually — but I try to open myself to dialogue. Peled was advertised as a human rights activist, and I looked forward to attending his lecture until members of the Princeton community began to point out his anti-Semitic tweets. Facebook blew up, and Peled was disinvited.

The tweet that caused the cancellation was “then theyr surprised Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves. #apartheidisrael doesn’t need or deserve these $$.” It is not wholly uncharacteristic of Peled’s Twitter feed. Because such bigotry is unacceptable for a speaker who claims to defend human rights, students made the right choice in rejecting his voice — and Twitter could learn from their example.

A sample of Peled's antisemitic Twitter activity.

A sample of Peled’s antisemitic Twitter activity.

About 20,000 anti-Semitic tweets are directed at Jewish journalists every year — including me. Every time I open Twitter, I find tweets telling me to “go die, kike.” It’s depressing to find all the anti-Semites, bigots, and neo-Nazis gather in one place.

Many of these anti-Semitic Tweets come from the alt right; many come from those who allow their views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to degenerate into anti-Semitism. The Internet does fall under laws of free speech, but Twitter’s terms of use ban “hateful conduct.” Nevertheless, the site has neglected to address the problem, responding that users themselves are responsible for their Tweets. Twitter users are indeed responsible for their statements — but Twitter is setting a noxious precedent in giving a voice to such anti-Semitic bigots.

Twitter has a department for monitoring posts flagged as containing “hateful language,” but it rarely deletes anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter should establish a clear definition of what constitutes “hateful language” and what constitutes free speech. Staff can then root out anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry and racism, just like we did at Princeton.

Twitter is not too different from Drew University, which tolerated Peled and his anti-Semitism in the form of “criticism of Israel.” Drew encourages inclusivity and stands opposed to discriminatory language, but in letting Peled speak, it acted very much like Twitter. No university with a true commitment to inclusivity brings a bigot to campus in the context of his human rights expertise.

Unlike the students at Drew University, students at Princeton canceled Peled’s talk. I was proud of them for standing up to anti-Semitism masked as criticism. They instead seek to foster genuine dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that doesn’t stoop to the blatant anti-Semitism that rears its ugly head all too often in that conversation. I was proud of Princeton for allowing both sides to debate, without fueling racial or religion-based discrimination.

Discussions about Israel should be encouraged, both on the Internet and in person. A healthy dialogue is necessary for a strong Princeton intellectual community. But this community should not — and, as we have seen, will not — tolerate any discussion of Israel that becomes anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, on an increasing number of campuses across America, the dialogue that I mentioned previously does not exist, and anti-Semitism caused by degeneration of such “dialogue” is a real fear for many students.

Universities across America stress their commitment to diversity and respect — but invitations of anti-Semitic speakers like Peled prevents institutions and students from taking them seriously. While discussion is necessary, anti-Semitism is not, and I am glad to see that the students of this intellectual community recognize that. The canceling of Miko Peled’s talk was a testament to the values we are proud to uphold — and the values Twitter could learn from.

Originally published at The Daily Princetonian

Contributed by Leora Eisenberg, CAMERA Fellow at Princeton University

Statement on Firing of Antisemitic Oberlin Professor

November 16, 2016

joy-karega

Oberlin College has finally fired Joy Karega following the exposure last January of her incredibly antisemitic Facebook posts.

In response to the news that Oberlin College has terminated Karega, Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director for CAMERA stated, “Joy Karega is a disgrace to academia. It’s appalling that a professor would use her platform to disseminate such extreme and vulgar sentiments against a minority group. Although the decision to terminate Karega’s position took close to a year, CAMERA applauds the Oberlin College administration for putting their students first by taking a strong stand against anti-Semitism on campus.”

The Oberlin College Board of Trustees released the following statement regarding the incident:

The Oberlin College Board of Trustees, after extensive consideration and a comprehensive review of recommendations from multiple faculty committees and Oberlin President Marvin Krislov, has voted to dismiss Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Joy D. Karega for failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty and failing to demonstrate intellectual honesty.

The dismissal is effective Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

As a Board, we agree with President Krislov and every faculty committee reviewing this matter that the central issues are Dr. Karega’s professional integrity and fitness.  We affirm Oberlin’s historic and ongoing commitment to academic freedom.

During this process, which began with Dr. Karega’s posting of anti-Semitic writings on social media, Dr. Karega received numerous procedural protections: she was represented by counsel; she presented witness testimony, documents, and statements to support her position; and she had the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses testifying against her.

The faculty review process examined whether Dr. Karega had violated the fundamental responsibilities of Oberlin faculty members – namely, adherence to the “Statement of Professional Ethics” of the American Association of University Professors, which requires faculty members to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty.”

Contrary to this obligation, Dr. Karega attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship.  She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct.  And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process.

For these reasons, the faculty review committees and President Krislov agreed on the seriousness of Dr. Karega’s misconduct.  Indeed, the majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin’s faculty, concluded that Dr. Karega’s postings could not be justified as part of her scholarship and had “irreparably impaired (her) ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community.”

In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community. Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.