Monthly Archives: January 2017

Former NBA Star Finds New Home in Jerusalem

January 31, 2017

After a successful 14-year career in the NBA, Amar’e Stoudemire has found a new home in Jerusalem with basketball club Hapoel Jerusalem. Unlike many stars who ride out their playing days in the NBA limelight, Stoudemire chose to play in Jerusalem due to the city’s spirituality. Stoudemire, who self-identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, (a Jewish tribe that was exiled from the ancient kingdom of Judah,) embraces parts of Judaism like abstention from pork and shellfish, and celebration of Shabbat dinners. Stoudemire first encountered Israel and its culture on a trip in 2010, and it clearly made an impact on him. Amar’e and his wife Alexis are making the most of their Israel experience, taking bi-weekly Hebrew lessons and visiting Israel’s historic sites. At seven feet tall with dark skin, Stoudemire makes for an uncommon Jew. Stoudemire feared that this unlikely mix of ethnicity and religion would make him an outcast, so he kept his Judaism to himself for the last 10 years. Now in Israel, Amar’e feels that he can finally express himself spiritually and religiously.

 

Stoudemire at his introductory press conference in Jerusalem

The six-time NBA All-Star has fully immersed himself in Israeli society, and has been seen posing with celebrity Jeremy Piven and getting involved in the Israeli art scene. Also, Amar’e and Alexis, along with their four children, recently purchased a four-story house in an upscale part of Jerusalem, signaling that they will be Jerusalem for the foreseeable future.

His two-year contract with Hapoel, starting with the 2016-2017 season, began with Hapoel winning the Winner Cup Preseason Tournament, as well as the State Cup. Stoudemire grew up in Florida, and had a successful high school career before declaring for the NBA draft. After 14 years in the NBA, predominantly with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, the former rookie of the year is only averaging 9.3 points per game this season. However, the experience and knowledge of the game that he can pass on to the younger players is an intangible that will continue to improve coach Simone Pianigiani’s young Hapoel team. As Stoudemire’s basketball career comes to an end, his spiritual journey is just beginning. “I want to be in Jerusalem because it is a holy place,” said Amar’e to the New York Post. He also says that he wants to change misconceptions about Israel. “People have this misconception of Israel as dangerous, and I hope I can help change it.”

Stoudemire has been enjoying success with his new team.

Contributed by Charlie Kramer, CAMERA intern

The New Anti-Semitism

January 30, 2017

The Electoral College affirmed Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on Dec. 19, 2016. Critics of the president argued that his election would empower anti-Semitism and, unfortunately, those predictions may be correct. The Southern Poverty Law Center studied 867 hate incidents that occurred in the 10 days following Election Day and classified 100 of those as anti-Semitic. Many incidents took place on college campuses. In New York, swastikas were drawn on several suite doors in a residence hall at the New School. A swastika was also drawn in a residence hall at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Anti-Semitic graffiti, including the words “Heil Trump” appeared at a bus stop at the University of California at San Diego. Jewish faculty members have also been targeted. At Oberlin College, a professor found a note outside his home that said “Gas Jews Die” and a professor at Harvard Law School received a postcard that said, “We’re gonna drain the swamp at Harvard Law” and closed with a Nazi-era phrase, “Juden Raus,” meaning “Jews out.”

This overt type of anti-Semitism, however, is not the only threat. Just over six weeks after the presidential election, on Dec. 23, 2016, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that condemned the building of Israeli settlements in any area outside of Israel’s borders prior to the 1967 Six-Day War and defined the Old City of Jerusalem as occupied territory. The United States abstained from the Security Council vote, which prompted many Jewish organizations to emphasize that the U.N. has historically been anti-Israel and to criticize the Obama administration for failing to veto the resolution. Indeed, in her abstention statement, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said, “One need only look at the 18 resolutions against Israel adopted during the U.N. General Assembly in September, or the 12 Israel-specific resolutions adopted this year in the [U.N.] human rights council — more than those focused on Syria, North Korea, Iran and South Sudan put together — to see that in 2016 Israel continues to be treated differently from other Member States.” And yet Power abstained.

Samantha Power abstains from voting on the motion declaring that East Jerusalem is “occupied Palestinian territory.”

The reality is that, in the 21st century, Jews around the world, including in the United States, are still targets of anti-Semitism. Some of that anti-Semitism, particularly in the aftermath of the presidential election, is overt. But much of it is more subtle, like the actions of the United Nations, which attacks the policies of the state of Israel in an effort to delegitimize the broader idea of a Jewish nation-state. This is the “new anti-Semitism” that has erupted on many campuses in the United States and Europe. What is most surprising about this form of anti-Semitism is that it thrives in part because of the widespread desire on campuses to promote political correctness.

At Dartmouth, the new anti-Semitism often manifests in regular discourse that seeks to highlight “oppression” or “inequality.” Often, it is the same students who fight for progressive causes, such as LGBTIQ and women’s rights, who choose to single out and condemn the only country in the Middle East that provides equal rights under the law to both LGBTIQ citizens and women.

On April 30, 2016, the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth invited professor Jasbir Puar, someone who I believe is anti-Semitic, to campus for its “Archipelagic Entanglements” panel. Although the stated topic for the panel was “Gender Matters: Feminist Ecologies and Materialisms,” Puar used her time to make gruesome and unsubstantiated claims against Israel. Notwithstanding the lack of evidence supporting her claims, which included the baseless accusation that the Israeli Defense Forces have a policy of shooting to cripple or maim Palestinians, Dartmouth allowed Puar a platform to disseminate her anti-Semitic vitriol as the uncontested truth. A Jewish student who sought to film Puar’s remarks was allegedly confronted by the director of GRID, threatened with arrest and required to leave the event. Neel Ahuja, an English professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was also speaking at the panel, said after Puar’s presentation that in attempting to film her, the student had “disrupted … [Puar’s] space” and “that controversy about filming and recording [Puar’s] talk fulfills a certain algorithmic militarism.” This sort of rhetoric is exactly the reason why political correctness is toxic to academia; Puar and many of her peers claim to be committed to social equality when in fact they are committed to ideological repression.

Jasbir Puar has accused the IDF of harvesting the organs of Palestinians.

By employing political correctness to silence the critics of self-proclaimed “scholars” like Puar, many universities fall prey to the rising tide of anti-Semitism hidden under the veil of anti-Zionism. Being anti-Israel is in vogue on many campuses. Because anti-Israel sentiments are popular, they are deemed politically correct. Being pro-Israel, on the other hand, is often described as racist. Political correctness serves as a veil behind which anti-Semitism can hide. When political correctness is promoted by academics and university administrators, it fuels a widespread disdain for Israel and promotes anti-Semitism.

Last October, a University College London pro-Israel organization invited Hen Mazzig to campus to discuss his humanitarian work in the West Bank. When Mazzig began to address the audience, protesters stormed into the auditorium and put an end to the lecture and barricaded Jewish students in a room. In its response to the events, a UCL spokesman said, “We regret protestors took measures to try to prevent the event from happening but stress that the protest was non-violent.” Video accounts appear to belie this statement. It was only after pressure from pro-Israel groups that the UCL administration admitted that they received “allegations of violence and intimidation” and began an investigation.

At UCL, protests against Hen Mazzig became violent.

In initially denying the potentially violent nature of the protests, the UCL administration followed in the footsteps of many American universities, adopting a public relations strategy that appeases anti-Israel protesters and does nothing to make pro-Israel students comfortable with sharing their views. These universities have capitulated to a bizarre political correctness by seldom condemning protesters who align with any supposed progressive agenda. Instead of searching for truth, these universities seek to undermine it. Academics cannot purport to be taking the moral high ground in a fight to end discrimination when they are discriminating against those who disagree with them. College campuses ought to serve their purpose as forums of intellectual diversity, rather than as spaces of free thought for only those who conform to the views of the most outspoken or to the views of the majority.

Originally published in The Dartmouth, the campus newspaper of Dartmouth College

Contributed by Josh Kauderer, CAMERA Fellow at Dartmouth College

Campus Staff Attend Field Professionals Retreat

January 27, 2017

Two weeks ago, the CAMERA on Campus staff had the opportunity to attend the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Field Professionals Retreat in Washington, DC. For three days, Israel professionals from across the US, Canada, and Israel convened to see how they could work better together to serve pro-Israel students. The retreat focused on professional development, inter-organizational cooperation, and Israel education.

The whole CAMERA on Campus team at the ICC Field Professionals Retreat. From left to right: Lia Lands (Communications), Tatiana-Rose Becker (Southern Region Campus Coordinator), Aviva Slomich (International Campus Director), Gilad Skolnick (Director of Campus Programming), Ben Suster (Canada and New York Campus Coordinator), Hali Haber (West Coast Campus Coordinator), and Katrin Gendova (Midwest Campus Coordinator).

For CAMERA on Campus, the retreat provided our two newest staff members, Ben Suster and Katrin Gendova, with an introduction to the wonderful community of Israel professionals they will be working with.

Ben Suster, CAMERA’s Canada and New York Campus Coordinator, found that the ICC retreat provided exactly the immersion he needed. “As a brand new member of the professional Israel education family, this conference was exactly what I needed. I was warmly welcomed by so many and I met countless professionals. The networking opportunities were great and I can already say I have the foundation I need to move forward as a professional.”

Katrin Gendova, Midwest Campus Coordinator, found the retreat to be incredibly empowering. “It was an extremely valuable experience to meet with other organizations. The retreat emphasized the importance of the continuing partnership and support for Zionism across American campuses,” she says.

For Hali Haber, CAMERA’s West Coast Campus Coordinator, the retreat was an opportunity to build stronger relationships with her counterparts from other organizations. “Attending the ICC Field Professionals Retreat was an amazing opportunity where we were able to build stronger relationships and partnerships with other campus staff from over 20 organizations. We heard from incredible speakers, socialized with over 80 professionals, and connected to specific campus staff in our respective regions,” she says.

And as expressed by Tatiana-Rose Becker, Campus Coordinator for the Southern Region, the retreat provides a space for strong, long-lasting professional relationships. “The face to face interactions are really invaluable when it comes to creating relationships we can rely on throughout the year.”

This month’s ICC retreat proved to be engaging and rewarding. Entering the spring semester, students will benefit from the increased cooperation fostered between pro-Israel partner organizations in attendance at the retreat, without a doubt.

How Israel is Helping Syrian Refugees

January 26, 2017

The long running war in Syria is the greatest humanitarian crisis in our time. More than 11 million people are either internally displaced or refugees, and around half a million people have been killed.

Israel and Syria are enemies, and do not have diplomatic relations. Yet Israel has been helping those Syrians in need in various ways in the past few months. During the heavy fighting in Aleppo at the end of 2016, Mr Netanyahu told the IDF that they should try and provide medical assistance to those in need to the extent that they could. Yesterday, the Interior Minister took a decision to allow 100 orphaned children to move Israel, to be brought up by Israeli-Arab families. They will become full Israeli citizens after four years.

Beginning in 2013, many Syrians have entered Israel to receive medical treatment in Ziv hospital in Safed. Recently, a pregnant Syrian woman who came to Israel for medical treatment gave birth in the hospital. She named the baby “Sarah” as an act of appreciation to the Jewish state.

A few weeks ago, the Israeli public also got involved in the humanitarian effort. A project called “Just Beyond the Border” raised tens of thousands of dollars within a few days, and in the end raised three hundred and fifty thousand dollars for Syrian refugees.

Israelis still see Syria as the country that fought wars of destruction against the country in 1948, 1967 and 1973. But even though the countries are enemies, Israel is not turning away from the people of Syria at their time of greatest need, and it is helping out; if only a little, but nevertheless doing its part to ease some of the tremendous human suffering happening just a few minutes away from Israel.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

Israel’s Growing Impact on Africa

January 25, 2017

Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made headlines when he visited four African countries in July. “Israel is returning to Africa, just as Africa is returning to Israel,” said Mr. Netanyahu about his trip. Whilst that trip made headlines, there have been many events since then which also demonstrate the growing relationship between Africa and Israel.

One of the most important supranational bodies in Africa is the Economic Community of West-African States, or ECOWAS. This group of fifteen countries, whose populations total around 320 million people, and aim to promote trade and commerce within and between their states. This December, ECOWAS held a seminar outside of Africa for the first time, and that seminar took place in Israel. The seminar was run by MASHAV, Israel’s agency dedicated to International Development, and it focused on agricultural methods of maximizing produce in areas of the world which do not have a high rainfall. The commissioner of ECOWAS also visited Israel this past July, signing a joint memorandum with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu meeting with African heads of state in Uganda

Then, in September, at the U.N. General Assembly, there was an exhibition entitled “Israeli Innovation and Technology in Africa,” which was visited by Prime Minister Netanyahu and many African heads of state.

Mr. Netanyahu with Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey

Additionally, in the past few days, a dramatic new announcement was made by the Togolese Foreign Minister on a visit to Israel. This October, there will be an Israel-Africa Conference, to which all African nations will be invited, and between twenty-five and thirty are expected to attend. “There is a China-Africa conference, there is a France-Africa conference, and Togo thinks there should be an Israel-Africa meeting between the heads of state,” said Togo’s foreign minister Robert Dussey.

The fact that Israel is considered in the same league as powers like China and France speaks volumes about how much Israel has to offer the continent. This relationship will hopefully grow and grow, allowing Israel to help better the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

Enough is Enough

January 24, 2017

How Inclusive are Our Universities?

What do you consider to be hateful behavior?

Using ethnic and/or religious slurs?

Intimidating students who do not agree with you to such a degree that they are afraid to attend classes or feel the need to transfer to a different university?

Creating videos that distort a particular ethnic group so much that they look like monsters?

Supporting a violent campaign that has murdered hundreds of innocent men, women, elderly, and children from various ethnic groups?

Sharing Nazi propaganda on your student organization’s website?

Selling shirts on campus with a terrorist emblazoned on them?

Hijacking every liberal cause on campus to target one ethnic group?

If you’ve answered yes to any or all of the above questions, then you shouldn’t be surprised with what you will read next. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a hate group. All of the above has been orchestrated on US campuses by SJP or by their affiliated organizations.

What does this mean? Does it mean that every member of SJP is a hateful extremist? No. Does it mean that every organization that sponsors an event with SJP or co-signs a petition with SJP is also a hate group? No.

What it does mean is that every university that permits an SJP chapter to register as a recognized student organization on campus is abetting hate speech. It means that every organization that sponsors an event with SJP or co-signs a petition with them is legitimizing their hateful messages. Every professor who serves as their faculty advisor, officially permitting SJP to conduct and spread their hateful rhetoric on campus, is completely responsible for the manipulation of these naïve students who join SJP thinking they are fighting for a just cause and against hate.

SJP at Vassar College sold this T Shirt justifying the actions of a terrorist, Leila Khalid

At the university level, we might assume that students are receiving information from various sources. That their professors are guiding them to ask the right questions, to blindly follow no one, and to try their best to get an even-handed account on all issues that matter to them by looking to different perspectives.

That is not happening.

Instead, professors on campus are taking advantage of their doe-eyed, impressionable students, who look to them as their omnipotent mentors. With social media and Google filtering content only to items that interest people, and with most millennials following only those who share the some opinion on Facebook or Twitter, it is almost absurd to think that university students are getting the type of college education where all voices are heard and considered.

One result of this is a spike in campus anti-Semitism.

At Brown University, Janet Mock, a trans-gender, black, native Haiwaan activist was pressured to cancel her event because the Hillel, a Jewish institute, was sponsoring her talk.

Stanford alumna Molly Horwitz did not receive a bid for Student Senate from the Students of Color Association because she was Jewish and those interviewing her suspected that she may have dual loyalty.

At UC Santa Cruz, Daniel Bernstein was accused of a having a partisan position because he was elected by the “Jewish agenda” to the Student Government and thus could not vote fairly on a BDS petition.

Daniel Bernstein, who was recently accused of being part of a “Jewish agenda”

Recently, after a class at UC Berkeley was suspended for a short period of time due to its extreme bias on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the campus saw an outbreak of anti-Jewish literature.

These cases spark many questions.

Will you, social warriors, who scream against cultural appropriation on campus, come to the defense of your Jewish classmates? Will those who chant for lower tuition fees stamp out anti-Semitic claims that Jews or Zionists are the reason for the high costs? For the feminists, will you jump to the side of the future Rachel Beydases and Molly Horowitzes whom you have left behind? Those who fight Islamophobia, will you also protest until the anti-Semites are kicked off campus? Those who fight night and day for LGBQT rights, will you support the only country in the Middle East where gays feel safe?

Lastly, those of you, who honestly want to help find a peaceful end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, will you denounce those who support the murder of innocents or will you continue to trample on those who speak for the peace of all people: Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs and Jews?

Originally published in Israel Hayom

Contributed by Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director at CAMERA

BDS and the New Anti – Normalization

January 23, 2017

In early December, Professors Cary Nelson and David Greenberg wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about the “anti-normalization” tactic that has been widely adopted by proponents of the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (“BDS”). As they explained, the tactic consists of preventing pro-Israel or anti-boycott arguments from even being heard, and includes shouting down speakers, or preventing speakers from even appearing on campus.

That is what we saw when a CAMERA event at University College London last fall was disrupted, with one BDS leader present admitting that his true goal was to prevent future pro-Israel speakers from coming to that campus.

A BDS protestor

While the rationale provided for utilizing these measures is to reject any forms of contact between Israelis and Palestinians that “treat both parties as having legitimate grievances and aspirations,” this argument is specious. It is illogical to ask people to take it on faith that Israelis have no legitimate grievances or aspirations. Equally striking is the fervor with which Nelson and Greenberg reported that the new BDS strategy is being pursued.

As I have written on CAMERA’s In Focus blog, only one conclusion can be drawn from these actions: that those setting the BDS agenda understand that the only case in which they win the argument is when the pro-Israel side does not have an opportunity to present its case.

Earlier this month, as the Modern Language Association’s vote on BDS measures approached, Professor Nelson wrote:

The MLA distributed a detailed assault on Israel’s legitimacy, policies, and right to exist, without accepting any responsibility to distribute contrary views or evidence. Its elected representatives were to be given an opportunity for brief oral comments pro and con before voting on a resolution endorsing academic boycotts of Israel. They were to have only prosecutorial document in hand….

When we worked hard to share counter-evidence with the whole organisation in 2014, MLA’s executive director used every means to prevent us from doing so, up to and including threats of legal action….

[Currently,] MLA’s leadership felt no responsibility to supplement these extraordinarily deceptive pieces of [pro-boycott] propaganda, or to invite anyone else to do so.

Indeed, Nelson’s point is illustrated by the fact that his rebuttal to the boycotters’ claims had to be published outside of the MLA, in the Fathom Journal.

The MLA vote, moreover, took place on Shabbat — another method of suppressing debate that CAMERA has found in various campus BDS efforts. Scheduling votes on or right before Shabbat or Jewish holidays has the effect of preventing many people with pro-Israel views from participating.

Despite the fact that the deck was heavily stacked against them, Nelson and his colleagues pulled off a huge victory for truth at the MLA. Not only did the BDS resolution fail, but the Delegate Assembly voted in favor of a resolution against boycotts. (The anti-boycott resolution must now be forwarded to other MLA bodies.) This is further evidence—along with the growing number of states passing anti-BDS legislation, and the backlash against the American Studies Association’s endorsement of the boycott in 2013—that, in this debate, the facts are on Israel’s side.

Going forward, however, it will be important for pro-Israel activists to call out not only BDS’ anti-normalization tactic itself, but the true motive for employing it. Boycott opponents must demand to know why the boycotters fear a debate—unless it is because they already know that they cannot win it. They will need to ask why the boycotters rely so heavily on preventing their opponents from being heard.

BDS activists know that when pro-Israel, anti-boycott activists have equal time, when we make our case and make it well—to audiences without preconceived biases—we win. That is why they work so hard to prevent us from being heard at all. Israel’s supporters will need to show that boycott proponents are simply afraid to have the truth about Israel come out.

Originally published in The Algemeiner

Contributed by Karen Bekker, Assistant Director of CAMERA`s International Letter Writing Group

The Ugly Face of Anti-Israel Activity in the UK

January 20, 2017

Over the past few days, there have been a number of new reports about the levels of radical anti-Israel activity on British university campuses.

This week, the Evening Standard reported on the fears of Jewish students at SOAS, the School of African and Oriental Studies. The student body is committed to fighting “racism and discrimination” of all types, yet do not have anything in their manifesto about fighting anti-Semitism. It is almost comical that students can be dedicated to fighting hatred, yet ignore the world’s oldest hatred. Conspiracy theorists go unchallenged at lectures, and there are also often attempts to tell Jews what things they can and can’t be offended by. This toxic climate has lead many Jews to fear wearing Jewish symbols openly, such as the Star of David, and to fear speaking in Hebrew.

To get a feeling for what goes on at some campuses, it is worth reading this first hand account of an anti-Israel event at Queen Mary’s, another London university. The event opened with a video, claiming to describe the events of 1948; it showed Jewish tanks invading Palestine, which has no relationship with what actually happened. Jewish students who asked questions were accused of being part of a Zionist conspiracy, and their questions went unanswered. As the author, David Collier, writes: “Anti-Israel feeling was never tempered, only fueled.”

CAMERA is active in the UK, with CAMERA-supported groups and CAMERA Fellows at University College LondonCambridge, Kings College and Glasgow University fighting back against the lies and intimidation that face those who stand up for Israel on campus.

George Deek Visits the University of Miami

January 19, 2017

Israel has numerous spokespeople for it, but George Deek, an Israeli-Arab Christian who works in the Foreign Office managed to achieve something unique; in 2014, he gave a speech about his story that was considered so good, that it informally became known as “the best speech ever” given by an Israeli diplomat. A few months ago, Emet for Israel, a CAMERA-supported group at the University of Miami, hosted Mr. Deek to talk about his story.

George Deek, Israeli Arab Diplomat

George Deek is an Israeli-Arab who currently serves as an Israeli diplomat in Norway. Whilst he is a not Jewish and Arab, he believes that this should not preclude him from identifying as Israeli. He says that rather than seeing themselves as having nothing to do with Israeli, Israeli Arabs should be proud of their own distinctive heritage and culture, while also contributing to wider society – in fact, he thinks that the Jews of Europe were a great example of striking this balance. He has numerous funny anecdotes to share, but they often have powerful messages. He often defends the actions of Israel, and then when he is accused of supporting Israel just because he is Jewish, he shocks his interlocutor by informing him that he is a Palestinian-Arab!

The event exposed students to a narrative that demonstrates Israel’s diversity and tolerance. Emet for Israel was very active in promoting the event, tabling for the event twice in advance of the event, helping to spread awareness of Emet among the student population.

George Deek speaking with students at the University of Miami

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

The “Shuk” Factor

January 18, 2017

An essential part of any experience in Israel is to head to the “Shuk”, the vibrant outdoor marketplace typical of the Middle East. But if you can’t go to the Shuk, at last the Shuk can come to you! Friends of Israel, a CAMERA-supported organisation at Rockland County College held a Shuk Party at their campus, and it was a great success.

Tasting the Israeli food

The Shuk Party featured Israeli food, such as humus and falafel, along with Israeli music. They also had a Sodastream there, which provided an opportunity to describe how Israelis and Palestinians can and do work together, and how BDS is harmful to both Israelis and Palestinians, rather than help bring peace. The event created a great vibe for the Friends of Israel group, and it was attended by around one hundred students.

The first Friends of Israel event of the year was well attended.