Monthly Archives: March 2017

I Love Israel, and I am Not Ashamed

March 31, 2017

I love Israel, and I am not ashamed. I love Israel because I believe that the Jewish people, like all peoples, have the right to self-determination. I love Israel because after millennia of persecution, it provides Jews a much needed place of refuge. I love Israel because I am an atheist Jew who feels a profound connection to the Jewish people’s historic homeland, from which my people were expelled by the Romans.

My love of Israel does not prevent me from admitting that it has faults. Just as I consider it a false notion that American patriotism means enthusiastic flag waving and blind acceptance of every action our country takes, I believe the narrative that a pro-Israel stance must mean supporting all Israeli policy is every bit as unreasonable. Just as I firmly disagree with many policies of the current American government, I am not a proponent of the Netanyahu administration, and I am strongly against settlement expansion in the West Bank. Despite the fact that the 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are among the freest Arabs in the Middle East, many suffer discrimination by their fellow Israeli citizens, and work must be done to rectify these injustices. Despite the fact that the majority of the non-Israeli Palestinians in the West Bank live under their own Palestinian administrative control, they do live difficult lives, in part because of Israeli security measures, and there ought to be a collective effort to improve their conditions.

In Gaza, however, Palestinians live under the brutal government of Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by both the US and EU. Unfortunately, after Israel uprooted eight thousand settlers in its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas, which actually calls for the genocide of Jews in its charter, rose to power. Hamas has repeatedly orchestrated suicide bombings against Israeli citizens, and since its takeover of Gaza, has periodically launched rockets from the Gaza Strip toward civilians. Many Israelis desperately want peace, but they are mortally afraid that a withdrawal from the West Bank would soon lead to Hamas control of the area, leaving Israel – 9 miles wide at its narrowest point and with its largest city, Jerusalem, directly adjacent to the West Bank – extremely vulnerable to further attacks.

Supporters of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to economically isolate Israel, frequently frame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a straightforward case of power dynamics. In focusing primarily on Israel’s current strength while largely overlooking the historic vulnerability of the Jewish people and the dangerous threats Israel continues to face, they turn an exceedingly complex situation into a unilateral condemnation of one side. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no easy answers, and oversimplifications only serve to discourage nuanced dialogue and decrease sympathy on both sides.

One of the most troubling examples of this concerning rhetorical trend is “Israeli Apartheid Week,” which was held at Haverford this past week and occurs annually on campuses across the world. During these events, organizations that support BDS attempt to sell students a narrative replete with distortions. The very title of this week slanders Israel while ignoring the thoroughly invalidating fact that Palestinian citizens of Israel have equal voting rights in the State of Israel and hold one seventh of the seats in the Israeli Parliament. The title additionally conflates occupation with apartheid in the West Bank. Even Richard Goldstone, a South African former chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals who has written highly critically of Israel, explained that the situation in the West Bank lacks the characteristics that defined South African Apartheid, as “there is no intent to maintain ‘an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.’” Goldstone’s assertion is bolstered by the fact that Israel has offered peace treaty propositions to withdraw from virtually all of the West Bank in both 2000 and 2008. To be clear, I disagree with much of Israeli policy in the West Bank, but the situation just does not amount to apartheid. BDS proponents also generally ignore that the occupation arose in direct response to Jordan’s war against Israel in 1967.

Israel’s Knesset has more democratically elected Arabs than Saudi Arabia

The platform for the international parent organization of Israeli Apartheid Week claims that “Palestinian citizens of Israel are barred from controlling and developing over 90% of the land,” a malicious distortion that omits the essential fact that most land in Israel is owned by the government. The Israel Land Administration leases rather than sells land in the state of Israel, and does so to both Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Apparently holding a lease for land does not constitute “control.” If we follow this logic, Israeli Jewish citizens are also “barred from controlling and developing” the same 90% of land. The platform also laments that Jews can automatically become citizens of Israel, entirely ignoring the murderous treatment Jews have endured periodically throughout the centuries that makes this Law of Return so necessary. Further, this law is not without precedent, as similar rules allowing ethnic groups to become citizens of their respective people’s countries have been adopted by at least 22 other countries. Additionally, BDS supporters often frame the conflict as between white European Israelis and Palestinians of color, overlooking that more than half of Israeli Jews are direct descendants from the Middle East and North Africa (15).

On many campuses, BDS supporters put up a “wall” to symbolize the security barrier Israel built to prevent terrorist attacks, without mentioning that it was erected in direct response to the murder of more than 700 Israeli civilians. They disregard the 800,000 Jews who became refugees from Arab countries after the 1948 War, and instead demand the return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel, omitting facts about these refugees that are crucial to understanding the situation. The majority of the Palestinian refugee population of 750,000 was created in 1948 after the Arabs rejected the existence of a Jewish state alongside a state of Palestine, and instead waged a war against the Jews. Palestinian refugees are the only group in the world who have their UN refugee status passed down through generations by blood. As a result of this unique designation, the original 750,000 Palestinian refugees have grown into a current population of more than five million, roughly 60 percent as large as Israel’s 8.6 million population.

Almost a million Jews became refugees from Arab lands

The narrative that these groups espouse is but one perspective. We should certainly look critically at all sides of a story, and many of the arguments that BDS proponents present are fueled by a myriad of factual distortions. Although they pin the blame for the Palestinians’ situation almost entirely on Israel, much of it unfortunately lies at the feet of Palestinian leaders whose rejectionism, incompetence, and corruption has irrefutably increased their people’s misery. Indeed, Palestinians living in the West Bank should have the right to vote for their own government in the Palestinian Authority, and are only prevented from doing so because their President, Mahmoud Abbas, is inexplicably in the 13th year of his 4-year term. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority government provides the school textbooks in the West Bank, and many of these books erase Israel from the map, replacing it with Palestine. By indoctrinating the next generation of Palestinians, the government ensures that future Palestinian leaders will feel entitled to nothing less than all of Israel and continue to systematically reject every Israeli peace offer.

I am not ashamed of my love for Israel, although BDS supporters frequently paint a misleading picture that makes this view seem impossible to reconcile with morality. Israel may fall short of the unachievable standards these groups hold it to, but it has long been an oasis of freedom in a very troubled part of the world. I am not ashamed to love a country that has endured and persevered in spite of being repeatedly attacked since its establishment. Despite its current status as a powerful nation, had Israel not emerged victorious from wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973, it would have been destroyed. I am not ashamed to love a country that protects the Jewish people in a world where history has shown time and time again that other countries are utterly incapable of doing so. I love Israel, and I am not ashamed.

Contributed by Eitan Geller-Montague, President of CAMERA-supported group Bi-Co Friends of Israel, at Haverford College.

Fortifying Religious Unity at Binghamton

March 30, 2017

Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow

On March 1st, BUZO—Binghamton University’s Zionist Organization—held their 4th annual ZED Talk event, an imitation of TED Talks geared towards Zionist education and discussion. Among the four speakers present,was Binghamton University graduate student Nadiya Al-Noor. A Muslim Zionist activist, Al-Noor told her personal journey of going from loathing Israel and believing Hamas to be an “interest group” to now being one of the largest pro-Israel voices on campus. Perhaps what was most striking and thought-inspiring however, was her exploration of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses.

As both a religious Jew and a strong pro-Israel advocate at Binghamton University, I often find it mystifying when I read about incidents of anti-Semitism on other campuses. Jewish students who attempt to express their support for Israel are viciously taunted, booed, and denigrated at schools such as Vassar College, Ohio University, and Columbia University. At the University of California, you can find graffiti reading “Zionists should be sent to the gas chambers,” Nazi flags hanging in dorm rooms at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and disruptions of Hillel events with verbal harassment such as “Get the hell off our campus!” and “Long live the Intifada” at San Francisco State University. It’s important to note that these incidents aren’t only enthused by anti-Israel groups such as Students for Justice for Palestine, Palestinian Solidarity Movement, and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions supporters, but the general student body as well. 

And if you think a significant Jewish presence on campus would deter anti-Semitic sentiment, you would unfortunately be wrong. Roughly 29% of students at Brooklyn College are Jewish, yet students have reported being messaged “I hope you don’t walk alone on campus” on social media, and verbally assaulted because they wore a kippah (customary Jewish hat). At Brandeis University, a whopping 49% of students are Jewish, however a study conducted by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) of 3,000 students found that 75% of these students had been exposed to anti-semitic rhetoric and 33% harassed because they were Jewish.

Across schools like Northwestern University, Stanford, and UC Berkley, Jewish students are ostracized and shunned from participating in student governments, rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, and racial justice conferences because of their “Jewish agenda” and support for Israel.

I find myself appalled at what my fellow Jewish students are enduring across the nation because I personally do not endure the same on my own campus. Binghamton University’s student body is unique in that we choose to celebrate our differences instead of exploiting them. Our African, Asian, Black, Latino, Muslim, and Jewish organizations are all intertwined and allied to create a beautiful and holistically accepting student body.

While Jewish students and student activists alike on Binghamton University’s campus are blessed to have such an unobstructed space for free expression, we must not become too comfortable and take this for granted; yes, we fortunately do not have to deal with the issues other campuses do, we also cannot become too complacent or stagnant in apathy.

As Nadiya said, “The Jewish and Muslim communities here are on good terms because we see each other as people. We don’t allow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to define our lives.” Just a couple weeks ago, an interfaith dinner was held and our Muslim Student Association is partnering with our Hillel for a mosque-synagogue interfaith trip.

It is possible for Jews and Muslims around the world to work and live together. Indeed, in many cities in Israel, this is already the reality.

Get involved; not just in your own cultural or religious group, but reach out and build bridges and connections with the multitudes of student groups on campus. At what appears to be the zenith of a political movement, with a surge of youth involvement in a variety of arenas and opinions it is imperative to bridge the gap between our voices, because really in the end it is our humanity that unites us.

BUZO students tabling in advance of the ZED talks event

Originally published at Pipe Dream, Binghamton’s student newspaper.

Contributed by Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA fellow at Binghamton University

The (Sometimes) Uncomfortable Truth

March 29, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Emily Firestone

Students at Yeshiva University are not generally attacked for their pro-Israel views and often feel comfortable discussing them publicly. But how about when out and about in the city? When visiting a friend on a secular college campus? In the office of an internship or a job? The discomfort tends to increase as one gets farther and farther away from a comfort zone.

What if you find yourself in a discussion out of your comfort zone and someone asks you if you support the building of settlements in the West Bank (or Judea and Samaria)? Would you yield to what you think the person wants to hear? Would you even have an answer?

Yeshiva University students at the Israel Day Parade in New York

It has come to my attention that there is a sense of uncertainty, hesitation, and tension around the topic of showcasing one’s pro-Israel stances in the urban setting of New York City. Some express concerns for their safety. Strong and sometimes scary political opinions have endured from the recent Presidential election. Especially in New York City, with a diverse population of approximately eight and a half million people, one can never feel too confident and safe expressing a pro-Israel viewpoint. I say this because it is not uncommon to hear of acts of intolerance against pro-Israel advocates. But there is a deeper root. As Jewish college students, we hear about attacks against fellow students across the world on various campuses. But psychologically, people don’t really think they will be victimized. So what is it that’s holding these Israel supporters back from expressing themselves?

I think that students feel uneasy to showcase or even openly discuss their pro-Israel views because of a lack of confidence in the information–the cold facts. In a world full of attacks against Israel and loads of controversy all over the news, students can be easily intimidated by all the details. The truth is, however, that this is exactly the reason why it is crucial to stand up and speak out in support of Israel. By attributing these feelings of uncertainty, hesitation, and tension to the topic of Israel, it further strengthens the belief that Israel should not be supported.

Of course, it is crucial to get educated and read up about the very complex issues surrounding Israel and the Middle East, but this information is not required in order to outwardly support Israel. Everyone has the right to express their views. Most students are not majoring in political science or Middle Eastern studies. There should not be an expectation of sophisticated understanding of all the history and laws when it comes to supporting Israel. It is perfectly valid to say “I don’t know”, if someone responds to your pro-Israel stance with something you are unfamiliar with.

If you are seeking information to bolster your pro-Israel knowledge, there are many opportunities both on and off campus. In addition to the many easily accessible websites and YouTube videos, the CAMERA-supported YU Israel Club constantly hosts speakers and events to help broaden our awareness of the topic.

Just this month, YU Israel Club hosted Bassem Eid, a journalist who exposes Palestinian government corruption

There is a well known saying that “people respect people who respect themselves”. This is very fitting in this context. We must not bend and just say what others want to hear. If we truly support Israel, we must stand up and not hide our views. We must not allow the conversation of Israel to continue with negative connotations. It is up to us to set the tone.

I am not advising stirring up controversy. There truly are situations that are uncomfortable that don’t require confrontation. There are times when a liberal is found in a room full of conservatives and times when a conservative is found in a room full of liberals. In that case, which I have personally experienced, it is of no use to begin to forcefully insert your opinion. There is much tension between the left and right wings when it comes to political associations, but it is absolutely crucial to remember that Israel is a bipartisan issue. Israel is an ally of the United States of America, and there is no use to arguing on this point. The successful way of advocacy is to become associated with spreading truth, not furthering your agenda or feeling the need to get your own personal thoughts out there. This does not have to be a formal debate, we are talking about slowly shifting public opinion. And students play a big role in this.

Average Americans hear about Israel primarily when it is at the forefront of the news. There are terrible inaccuracies about Israel in the media and they determine how Israel is portrayed in the public sphere. Unfortunately, sometimes people that are pro-Israel and know that lies are being spread about Israel are unable to shake the feelings, mentioned above, that are connected with these lies. The way to move past this is by clarifying the point of misunderstanding. Then, there can be an “agree to disagree” conclusion to a discussion. One thing you can do to take action against false reporting is by working with CAMERA which is the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. This organization works to correct mistakes in media. If you find an inaccuracy you can and should report it. This is taking action.

It is hard for pro-Israel activists to change the perceptions of Israel, created by warped media coverage. This CNN report fails to mention that the two Palestinians were terrorists, who had just murdered the four Jews.

Only a small percentage of people (about 10%) will be strongly pro-Israel and another small percentage of people (about 10%) will be strongly anti-Israel. The truth is that the majority of people do not have a strong opinion! There is not so much use in trying to influence the opinions of people who are already starkly opposed to supporting Israel, but it is valuable to influence people who hold no opinion.

Many students at Yeshiva University feel pro-Israel and overlook the responsibilities of speaking out their support. It is so crucial to be confident and unapologetic through the city we find ourselves in and the various people around us. Students can make a real difference and change the perception of Israel but to do this, the uncertainty, hesitation, and tension has got to go.

Originally published in the YU Commentator, the student newspaper at Yeshiva University.

Contributed by Emily Firestone, CAMERA Fellow at Yeshiva University

Video: London Students Express Support for Terrorists and Compare Israel to Nazis

March 28, 2017

Interviews filmed by the Jewish YouTube channel J-TV during Israeli Apartheid Week at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) reveals shocking examples of pro-terror and antisemitic views held by some students.

The video (highlighted by the The Algemeiner yesterday) comes weeks after multiple UK media reports detailing the hostile atmosphere for Jewish students at some British universities. As Baroness Ruth Deech told The Telegraph: “Amongst Jewish students there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid — definitely SOAS”.  A report in the Evening Standard included allegations that some Jewish students at SOAS are so scared that they avoid wearing the star of David, speaking Hebrew or even attending Jewish events.

While SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos continues to firmly reject accusations that SOAS tolerates antisemitism, the Charity Commission is currently investigating an incident where a SOAS Palestine Society hosted a speaker last month who linked the “cult” of Zionism to Nazism. Earlier in the year, Richard Millett reported on a SOAS event in which one speaker legitimized the charge that Israel harvests the organs of dead Palestinians.

In December, the British government adopted the Working Definition of Antisemitism, which includes as antisemitic denying Israel the right to exist as a Jewish state, drawing parallels between Israel and Nazi Germany and justifying terror attacks against Jews in the name of a radical ideology.

Originally published at UK Media Watch.

Israel’s New Relationship With China

March 27, 2017

This past week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited China with a large delegation, aiming to boost trade between China and Israel. During the visit, Netanyahu met with Chinese President Xi Jingpin, Prime Minister Li Keqiang, and Vice Prime Minister Liu Yandong, as well as Chinese business leaders.

Netanyahu set out his vision for the relationship in a number of very significant speeches. Maybe the most significant paragraph from the Prime Minister’s remarks was in a speech given on 21st March in the presence of President Xi, where Mr Netanyahu said:

“We admire China’s capibilities, its position on the world stage and its history. We have always believed, as I discussed on my past visit, that Israel can be a partner, a junior partner, but a perfect partner, for China, in the development of new technologies that change the way we live.”

In another speech, Netanyahu explained that the basis of the partnership would be “marrying our technologies with China’s capacities.” Israel is a small country, overflowing with technological innovations, looking for countries and markets to apply the technologies in – and China is a perfect example of a country with a massive market, looking to develop and grow.

Jack Ma, chairman of the massive Chinese company Alibaba, takes a selfie with Mr Netanyahu after their meeting

The China-Israel relationship is not just something that is discussed at the theoretical level, but it is already taking shape through serious developments on the ground. Last year, Israeli start-up Playtika was bought by a Chinese consortium for $4.4 billion. Numerous Chinese companies, including Baidu, “China’s Google” have already made investments in Israel. During this visit, the two heads of state discussed the creation of a special economic waiver for Israel from certain Chinese restrictions, allowing trade and investments to flow even more freely.

The China-Israel relationship is getting stronger by the day, and hopefully both countries can be bettered by this new partnership. Israel has a new goal in its international relations – becoming the junior, but perfect, partner for China.

Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Li Keqiang are looking to help both countries by deepening the relationship between the two

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern.

My Aliya Journey – a Personal Story from our International Campus Director

March 24, 2017

Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director at CAMERA

The FedEx package that arrived from the Israeli Consulate in NYC, returning my American passport with a six-month visa for my planned Aliyah, lay at the foot of my bed for seven months before I broke its seal.

The original plan was to move to Israel in 2012, live in Tel Aviv, and work excruciatingly late American hours, which would naturally prevent any social activity from occurring. I was willing to do anything to move to Israel.

But inside I knew I was not ready. I felt I made the decision too hastily and it wasn’t the right time. I decided not to go and the package was left lying next to the bed, waiting for the day I would decide.

An entire year went by before I made the decision to pack up as much as I could fit into two large suitcases and begin a new life on my own, but this time I would be heading to Jerusalem.

I get asked often, as many Olim do, why I made Aliyah, especially without my family. My upbringing had a lot to do with my decision. During the Six Day War, both of my parents, before they met each other, while one was attending UCLA and the other was attending Washington University, volunteered to help, not knowing how quickly the war would end. The years passed and the dream to immigrate to Israel never faded. After they graduated and eventually met, my parents moved to Israel in 1970 and married there. Although the harsh conditions, money restraints and loneliness forced them to return to the States, their love for Israel never dwindled and it was consistent in their parental messaging over the years to me and all of my siblings.

The dangers, and subsequent miraculous victory of the Six Day War, inspired a generation of Americans, including the authors parents

I didn’t have what one would consider a typical Jewish – American upbringing. I grew up in a working-class city outside Boston comprised of mostly Italian and Irish-Americans. I was the first Jew who many of my classmates and neighbors met. Though I didn’t grow up amongst people who were familiar with my culture, the pride that my friends and classmates had in their own heritage, coupled with the pride my parents instilled in me, greatly strengthened my confidence and self-respect as a Jew and a Zionist.

When I arrived at UMass Amherst, I instantly signed up for Hebrew classes and took every Jewish or Israel – oriented class that was offered. Unlike other Jewish-Americans, I attended public school, not Jewish-Day school, thus my Israeli historical knowledge came directly from my parents. Although, they taught me a lot, probably more than most Jewish Day Schools, I was desperate to engage in academic courses on the subject of Israel. I was also enthused with the idea of traveling to Israel through Birthright, something I had heard about in my early high-school days, but the idea of spending any significant  length of time in Israel didn’t cross my mind until well after I graduated from university.

Junior year, I came across my first encounter with extreme anti-Israel bias that stemmed from a professor, claiming among other things that the Jews were the first suicide bombers. I was utterly astonished that a professor would behave so unethically when she chose to screen a very biased film against Israel to the class and refused my request to screen an additional film that would provide another angle to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  At the end of the day, I decided to publish an article on the class in the campus newspaper. The silver lining of this challenging experience was that that it led me to CAMERA, where I have built a career out of mentoring and educating students across North American, the UK and now Israel on how to stand up for the truth even when you might be alone in doing so.

When I moved to Israel, I wanted to become integrated into Israeli society and to work directly with Israeli university students.

One evening, I asked Eden Adler, who had recently started his studies at Hebrew University, if CAMERA, an a-political organization with an aim to educate and counter falsehoods could spark interest with Israelis. Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew department, has been very successful with monitoring the Israeli media, but nothing yet had been introduced to the campus scene. Eden immediately said, “Yes,” and within a few days an event was planned. I was expecting maybe 10 students, but 60 students were present to learn how to create an a-political cell, something that is rarely seen on Israeli campuses. This was when FOCUS at Hebrew University was created.

FOCUS at HUJI are the first group of its kind in Israel

It has been just over a year since that first meeting and as all of the students I work with astonish me every day, the Hebrew University students were no different. They are serious in our shared goals to bring a bridge between Israelis and the diaspora. Between their internal education on current events within Israel as well as how Israel is perceived internationally and their strong willingness to connect and reach as many Jewish and non-Jewish students as possible, I feel very confident that FOCUS at HUJI is setting a precedent that other Israeli universities will be sure to want to follow.

Aviva (third from the left) now heads the Campus Department at CAMERA

Originally published in Mako (in Hebrew)

Contributed by Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director for CAMERA.

Teen Vogue Promotes Palestinian Narrative to Adolescent Readers

March 23, 2017

Teen Vogue, a Conde Nast publication aimed at teenage girls with a circulation of over a million, has shifted away from a focus solely on fashion and shopping to include political issues. Its February 27 piece entitled “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What You Need to Know” suggests that shift also entails publishing factually shoddy commentary.

Despite the ambitious title and long length, the one-sided account omits many things that teens trying to learn about current events ought to know and instead reads like a fact sheet from the Palestinian side of the issue.

Author Emma Sarran Webster has no apparent knowledge or background on the complex issues involved, billing herself as an expert on health and beauty with a “deep love for social media and cat videos.” She relies heavily in the article on a single “expert,” University of Wisconsin professor Nadav Shelef. Shelef’s writing, which has been praised by far-left professors, focuses heavily on settlements, and as a result, Webster’s article also focuses overwhelmingly on “controversial” settlements as the central issue. This, while completely ignoring Palestinian incitement and incentivizing of violence, as well as Palestinian intransigence. In fact, Webster includes an entire four-paragraph section subtitled, “What are settlements, and why are they so controversial?”

Teen Vogue writers tend to deal with less sensitive topics than the Israeli Palestinian conflict, so should be careful before reporting on this topic inaccurately.

Yet, there is no section on Palestinian cash payments to convicted terrorists or to the families of terrorists who were killed, and there is no section that discusses the glorification of violence in the Palestinian government and society.

The article also omits discussion of historical Jewish ties to Israel and, unconscionably, the repeated Palestinian rejection of extensive Israeli peace offers. Where was the section on Arafat and Abbas walking away from the creation of a Palestinian state?

In addition, the article contains several misrepresentations: it references “Palestinians” who lived a century ago, and says that in 1948 Arab nations “began fighting on behalf of Palestine.” It misrepresents UN Resolution 242 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and fails to put UN statements in the context of that body’s well-documented bias.

Teen Vogue editors may, in good faith, be trying to inform their young readers about serious issues, but they must do so responsibly by presenting a complete and accurate explanation. Instead, this article, relying almost exclusively on the commentary of one partisan academic, is an unserious look at a complicated issue.

Author Emma Sarran Webster begins her article:

Earlier this month, Donald Trump welcomed Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the White House. During the leaders’ joint press conference, the topic of controversial Israeli settlements and the country’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians was broached, with Trump turning to Netanyahu and saying, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements.”

As noted above, this introduction sets the tone of the entire article, which devotes a full four-paragraph section to the issue of the settlements and why they are “so controversial.” In contrast, the author devotes exactly zero paragraphs to the Palestinian “pay-to-slay” scheme, to glorification of violence in music videos, cartoons, schoolbooks and children’s shows and even in statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and to the Palestinian rejection of multiple recent two-state offers.

Glorification of murderers on Fatah`s Facebook page.Somehow, the usually tech savvy Teen Vogue managed to miss this particular social media outlet in its reporting.

Distorting History

First, though, Webster (whose bio includes the fact that the beauty product she’s loving right now is YSL’s Glossy Lip Stain and whose other articles for Teen Vogue include, “Spring Break Decor Collection Includes a MERMAID Blanket”) attempts to provide some background. She tells us:

Israel and the Palestinians have technically been fighting for control of the same territories for nearly a century, according to NPR, but the heart of the conflict dates back to the 1940s. Jews, fleeing persecution in Europe, had long been fighting to establish an official Jewish state in the biblical land of Israel, which was a majority-Arab territory referred to as Palestine.

Webster omits that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3000 years, and that as far back as 1820, Jews were the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem. In contrast, the concept of a distinct Palestinian Arab identity originated only in the mid-twentieth century. Until 1948, in fact, it was Jews living under the British Mandate that were referred to as “Palestinians.” Arabs in the region considered themselves “south-Syrians,” or part of the larger Arab nation.

Webster does correctly note that it was Arabs that rejected the 1948 partition plan. She claims, however, that in 1948 Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq (she omits Lebanon) “invaded Israel and began fighting on behalf of Palestine.” Aside from the fact that there was no Palestine, if those other Arab countries had truly been fighting on behalf of the local Arab population, it is unclear why Egypt and Jordan would seize territories for themselves. And, while she correctly notes that Jordan took control of eastern Jerusalem as a result of the 1948 War, she fails to note that when it did so, it expelled all of the Jews then living there. She also incorrectly claims that there was a peace agreement in 1949 – in fact, an armistice agreement was signed, but not a peace agreement. The Arab states expressly rejected peace with Israel multiple times.

The article goes on, “it was officially referred to as ‘mandatory Palestine’ because of the British Mandate for Palestine.” It does not seem to occur to the writer to ask, where does the term “Palestine” come from? After defeating a Jewish rebellion, it was the ancient Romans that gave Judea the name Palestine, “in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel.”

Exclusive Focus on Settlements

Next, Webster returns to the “controversial settlements.” She mischaracterizes UN Resolution 242, claiming that it “emphasized the ‘inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,’” and implying that the Resolution contemplates that Israel will eventually give up all of the West Bank. In fact, the drafters of the Resolution have explicitly stated that it presumed that Israel will give up only part of the West Bank, because it acquired the territory in a defensive war and not through an act of aggression. Moreover, the armistice lines did not represent final borders. Indeed, the drafters of 242 saw those lines as indefensible and likely to invite further aggression.

The author similarly mischaracterizes the Fourth Geneva Convention when she writes that, “per international law as outlined by the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying power to move its civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Because the West Bank was not the legally held territory of any party to the Convention at the time that Israel captured it, however, this provision is not applicable to the West Bank. Moreover, even if it were, many legal scholars note that it prevents only forcible transfers, and not the voluntary movement of Jewish settlers into Judea and Samaria.

Next, Webster tells readers that “the other issue is that the Israeli settlements and construction make it difficult for Palestinians to move freely within the West Bank and essentially dilute what could potentially be a sovereign Palestinian state.”

Jews in Hebron in the 1920s. Jews lived in Hebron for thousands of years until they were massacred and driven out in 1929 – yet Teen Vogue says that Jews in the West Bank will “dilute” a Palestinian state.

By claiming that Jewish homes in the West Bank “dilute” a Palestinian state, Webster is credulously accepting the premise that Jews should not be allowed to live in that state. This is despite the fact that two million Arab citizens live in Israel with full equality under the law.

In discussing the passage of UN Resolution 2334 in December, she fails to note the significant opposition to it, including a bipartisan and overwhelming condemnation of the measure from the US Congress.

Ignoring Palestinian Intransigence

Next, Webster asks “What are the “one state” and “two state” solutions we keep hearing about?” Regarding the two-state solution, Webster again cites the same “expert,” who says, “the two-state solution has been on the table for 80 years ‘in one form or another,’ and conversation today largely revolves around how the territories should be divided.”

What Webster doesn’t tell her readers is that it was Palestinian leaders who rejected the two-state solution in 2000, in 2001, and in 2008. Instead, Webster states, without qualification, that “Palestinian leaders have publicly advocated for a two-state solution.”

These things, too, are some of “what readers need to know” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Originally published at CAMERA.org.

Statement on OSU Hillel Cutting Ties with B’nai Keshet

March 22, 2017

Hillel at Ohio State University has cut ties with Bnai Keshet, a Jewish LGBTQ group, because they co-sponsored an event with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). On March 3rd, JVP and Bnai Keshet jointly sponsored a Purim drag show raising money for LGBTQ refugees.
Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director for CAMERA, made the following statement in response to Hillel’s actions:
“Hillel has a policy of not working with any organization who support BDS, or seek to demonize Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace does much worse than this – it says it is honored to host Rasmea Odeh at their National Membership Meeting in Chicago next week. Odeh is a convicted terrorist who murdered two college students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, after planting a bomb in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. This is the organization with which Hillel International refuses to comply. Hillel at Ohio State University should be commended for their staunch position in not working with extremist organizations that support attacks against innocent people, no matter their religion, race or ethnicity.” 

Jews Anti-Semitically Abused at London School of Economics Richard Falk Event

March 21, 2017

This is a first-person account from the launch of Richard Falk’s new book, this week at LSE in London.

The LSE event last night (Monday) with antisemitic speaker Richard Falk (nominally launching his new book) was truly horrible. Several hardcore alleged anti-Semites were there.


Falk predictably championed the paper that was removed from the UN website –its removal was a sign that Israel and her supporters “no longer want to argue on substance”. He talked about the “changing dynamics of Zionist ambition” – it used to be “limited” but now all Israelis refer to “Judea and Samaria not the West Bank, to underline the Biblical claim.” They have a “sacred relationship to the land” which “doesn’t rely on international law or colonialism – unlike any other claim in the world”. “Israel’s push back has increasingly relied on playing the antisemitic card.” “A smear tactic designed to avoid proper discussion.” “It is a test of academic freedom”.

Chris Doyle of CAABU also spoke. He played ‘good cop’ to Falk’s ‘bad cop’, saying he would not have endorsed Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who”, like Falk did.

In the Q+A 4 or 5 of us managed to speak. I asked Falk about his publication of an antisemitic cartoon in 2011,  showing a dog wearing a kipa (a Jewish head-covering) urinating on a depiction of justice and devouring a bloody skeleton.

UK British Prime Minister David Cameron “strongly condemned” it as did UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. He said he had withdrawn it quickly when he realised the true nature of it. He was asked about 9/11 conspiracy theories and a South African lady told him that nothing in Israel resembled ‘apartheid’

As Falk started his summing-up two of us held up signs in a silent protest. One sign said “Richard Falk: Shame on CAABU”, the other “Richard Falk: Condemned for Antisemitism”. There were several security guards in the room and one came and ripped up my sign even though it was a silent protest – I will be complaining. I then held up a sign saying “Richard Falk: Shame on LSE”. The meeting became rowdier and Mary Kaldor the Chair asked for the two of us to leave (apparently we were holding the signs too high…)

The Q+A was vile. One student got up and walked out upset. A man near the back of the room kept interrupting speakers, saying how awful Zionists were. Students at the back challenged him and then the man physically threatened them. Security surrounded him but didn’t remove him.

As I left the room, I held up my Israel flag. Our departure caused chaos with people complaining that silent protesters were being removed. Gilad Atzmon said “’Raus” as I left the room (it is on film though I didn’t hear it).  He was admonished by the pro-Palestinians.  Atzmon then turned around to the Jewish students at the back and said being chucked out for causing trouble, just like you lot were in Germany”.  The pro-Israel people then went ballistic at him and asked him to repeat it – which he happily did. Security was called to remove him – even the pro-Palestinians told him he had crossed a red line. Then (I was told – I was outside) the event descended into chaos as Security refused to remove Atzmon. It ended earlier than the 90 minutes planned.

Appalling. This was an official LSE event – not a student society one. Silent protesters are expelled but a vile anti-Semite is allowed to stay. Shame on LSE – and I speak as an Alumnus.

Written by Jonathan Hoffman, originally published at United for Israel, and reposted at UK Media Watch. Another first hand account from an audience member at the event can be found here.

In the aftermath of this event, another planned event with Richard Falk was cancelled at the University of East London.

Bassem Eid Brings a Fresh Perspective to KCL

March 20, 2017

With Israel Apartheid Week looming at KCL, Bassem Eid, one of the BDS’ most famous and renowned opponents flew into London with CAMERA on Campus. The event was held as a pre- Apartheid Week, or a pre-Israel hate week, block at King’s College’s Waterloo Campus on the 6th February 2017.

Bassem with students from Kings

What is interesting about Bassem, and what makes him such a significant speaker, is that he highlights what should be a common goal with the pro Palestinian groups on campus, but shows how most of their efforts are destructive and harmful. Bassem Eid is a journalist that publishes about human rights cases in the Palestinian territories, to emphasise the changes that need to be made to help the community, and the corruption of the controlling powers.

Promoting human rights for Palestinians is a humanitarian goal that should not only concern individuals interested in politics or a particular cause, but a united global matter for all to have a core standard of human rights.

The BDS campaign, a coercive organisation aiming to demonise Israel and put pressure on its economic and political sustainability also have the same claim, to help the Palestinian community, however the strategies which were seen in apartheid week demonstrate that it’s not to promote the quality of their lives, but simply to attack Israel. This campaign aims to create tension between the two societies, aims to cut off economic synergies and trade, to worsen the quality of life of both parties, promoting war, hatred and unease.

At this event, Bassem emphasised that the outer international community is spending too much money and time focusing on the political side to the conflict. However, as a Palestinian, he believes that none of the Palestinians have benefited from these initiatives. He claims that since the Oslo agreements, the situation for the Palestinian society has only gotten worse. Organisations should focus more on promoting economic activity and trade and improving the quality of life of the Palestinian community, rather than implementing and arguing over artificial solutions and regulations which seem diplomatic, but are no help to the daily life of Palestinians on the ground. In order to improve living standards, employment, education and healthcare has to be encouraged, together with building bridges with the Israeli community and their economy.

Good schools lead to better societies, but the international community focuses too much on diplomacy rather than bettering the lives of Palestinians.

Unlike any usual speaker promoting Israel on campus, Bassem is focused on helping the Palestinian people, and highlighting the corruption and violence of the current Palestinian leadership, together with criticising international institutions for not seeing the short term picture of the crisis and supplying solutions for the community. Rather than being simply an advocate or having a political view, he takes a researching stance, analysing human rights and reporting on them as a journalist to the outer world.

This activism however, comes at a cost. Many journalists fail to report any stories that are negative about the Palestinian Authority for fear of being threatened by these groups, and Bassem has faced these threats himself. Arrested and denounced as an Israeli spy in 1996, Bassem still constantly receives violent threats because of his accurate reporting about human rights violations in the Palestinian territories.

Recently, it is clear that this is not the only media censorship that is happening within this community, controlled by the Palestinian Authorities. In early February a 29-year-old author from Ramallah was stranded and received a warrant of arrest due to his latest novel being deemed as too provocative and sexual. All copies of the novel have since been confiscated and have left the author in Qatar, in fear of coming home to his family who are living in the West Bank.

This example, together with many more, demonstrates how important Bassem’s work is. The fact is that yes, there are many problems in these territories, the daily life for citizens is not easy and its governing body is not too concerned about it. And unlike the BDS campaign, Bassem doesn’t want to blame the troubles in those territories on Israel.

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