Monthly Archives: August 2017

Israel – A Flower in the Desert

August 31, 2017

Today, the idea of sustainability, renewable energy, and environmental awareness is impeccable in terms of how humans will the shape the future of the earth in their lifetime and their children’s. Israel, the birthplace of drip irrigation, is leading the way in its fight against water loss and human contributions to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The country has faced problems from the start, mainly a lack of fresh water and arable land for agriculture. These problems, which are interconnected, drove Israel to research and invent technologies that put it at the forefront of environmental innovation.

Despite being a nation in an arid region of the globe, Israel has found a way to manage its water so well on both the national and local level that it has a surplus of water. In fact, Israel recycles 80% of its water and generates 75% of its water through desalination. To put this in perspective, Spain is in second place, but only recycles 12% of its water

One may wonder how their agriculture can be so productive in an area that lacks arable land and how they can have a surplus of water in an area that innately lacked it, and the answer to this is drip-irrigation and desalination. Drip-irrigation provides plants with a constant intake of water without putting the plant through stresses it experiences when it’s flooded with water or deprived of water. Desalination turns undrinkable saltwater into water that is safe to drink.

Desalination plantIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Through technology, the excess food and water – two vital things for a person’s survival and stability of a nation – can then be exported from Israel to nations that do not have the infrastructure to cope with their environmental conditions. This helps in improving regional and global relationships, human welfare, and local/national economies.

Agriculture can be great for a country because it provides food and jobs, but one consequence of agriculture can be an increase in deforestation to make space for farms and fields. Trees not only provide oxygen, but they serve as homes for wildlife and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Israel recognizes this, and is a leader in reforestation of its landscape, helping fulfill David Ben-Gurion’s dream of “making the desert bloom.”

These gains are vital to Israel becoming a greener nation, but there is more progress to be made. Israel recognizes this and has ambitions to further reduce its carbon output.

Historically, Israel has been a nation that has relied heavily on fossil fuels as its main power source. Today, solar only provides a small percentage of power, despite what one might assume because of the abundance of sun Israel’s exposed to. Overall, 2.5% of Israel’s energy comes from renewables, but the nation has ambitions to increase this number to 10% by 2020. This is the weakest of all of Israel’s environmental efforts, as countries like Sweden (100%), Costa Rica (99%), Germany (78%) and many others are almost exclusively powered by renewables if not completely.

In this 22 December 2016 photo, 50,000 mirrors – known as heliostats – encircle the solar tower in the Negev desert, near in Ashelim, southern Israel AP

Israel is carrying out multiple projects to increase its solar energy production by building solar towers in the Negev Desert. These towers are projected to generate enough electricity for 130,000 households, or, 5% of the country’s population. Instead of being a conventional solar farm, these towers can generate more electricity and take up less space compared to a solar farm generating the same amount of electricity. Thousands of mirrors reflect the sunlight (i.e. heat) onto the tower which, through its rise in temperature, creates steam in a boiler that results in the turning of a generator producing electricity.

Israel is home to some of the most innovative solar companies in the world. However, it has yet to take advantage of them due to bureaucratic policies. These companies instead take their inventions abroad and spread their environmental innovation around the world. Despite this, Israel is beginning to invest more in renewables due to the drop-in cost, enact legislation that promotes the growth of the renewable energy sector, and increase subsidies for citizens who want to put solar panels on their roof.

There is more to go for Israel to be a true powerhouse in terms of renewable energy sourcing, production, and exportation. The potential is there, and we know that by looking at its history, Israel is always happy to take a challenge and create something great to share with the world.

Contributed by CAMERA intern Jake Greenblatt.

Ryerson Contract Lecturer Promotes Anti-Semitism Through Social Media

August 30, 2017

In December 2016, the Israeli Students Association at York University received numerous complaints from Israeli students at Ryerson concerning the social media use of a Contract Lecturer within Ryerson’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies.

After a thorough investigation, it was concluded that the lecturer is in fact using her publicly-accessible Twitter page to spread anti-Semitism. She repeatedly uses the anti-Semitic slur “Zio”. “Zio” is an ethnic slur that has been popularized by David Duke and the American Klu Klux Klan. She calls members of the public “zio-trolls” and uses the pejoratives “zio-murderer” and “zio-fanatic”. Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, a human rights advocate and member of the House of Lords, says that “Zio” is a “modern-day racist epithet” and “a term of abuse, pure and simple”. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says “the use of the word ‘Zio’ has become a racist term against Jewish people in the way ‘homo’ was used in the 60’s and 70’s”.

Furthermore, the lecturer makes xenophobic generalizations about Israelis and shares links to infamous neo-Nazi websites. For example, one article that she shared features classic anti-Semitic imagery and asserts that the “Rothschilds and their minions” are engaged in a “planetary hostile takeover operation”.

The lecturer’s apparent anti-Semitism and xenophobia appear to be in violation of Ryerson’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. Given her public promotion of anti-Semitism, Jewish and Israeli students at Ryerson may quite reasonably feel unsafe, unwelcome, or intimidated in her classes.

The Israeli Students Association, in conjunction with Ryerson students, submitted a complaint on December 12th, 2016. Despite acknowledging the complaint and forwarding it to the Office of Vice Provost Faculty Affairs and Human Resources, Ryerson University has made no further efforts to engage with students on this issue. Ryerson University must act immediately to correct this egregious oversight.

In fact, soon after the complaint was filed, the lecturer made her Twitter page and the offending posts inaccessible to the public. This suggests that the Ryerson administration notified her of the complaint and counselled her to make her social media accounts private. In lieu of any communication from the Ryerson administration, we can assume that their solution to this complaint was to simply sweep it under the rug.

B’nai Brith Canada has since contacted Ryerson University and is pursuing the complaint.

Contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow and member of CAMERA-supported group Israeli Students Association at York University Ben Shachar.

This article has since been re-published at The Algemeiner.

120th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress

August 29, 2017

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress. The First Zionist Congress was the first congress of the Zionist Organization, which became known as the World Zionist Organization. The conference was held in Basel, Switzerland, and was chaired by non-other than Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.

First Zionist Congress (Wikipedia)

The Congress was attended by around 200 people from 17 countries. Of those in attendance, 69 were delegates from Zionist societies, and the remainder were invited guests.

The Congress has been most known for the publication of a document called the Basel Program, which laid out the goals of Zionism. The document consisted of the following statement.

“Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose, the Congress considers the following means serviceable:

  1. The promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine.
  2. The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, according to the laws of the various countries.
  3. The strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness.
  4. Preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants which are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.”

The original document of the Basel Program (Wikipedia)

Following the First Zionist Congress, the Zionist Congress met every year between 1897 and 1901, then every two years until 1939, apart from during World War 1. The Zionist Congress was an intrinsic part of Zionism and played a crucial role in the movement and eventual establishment of the State of Israel.

Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary a few days after the First Zionist Congress in 1897 that:

“Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.”

Indeed, 51 years on from the First Zionist Congress, the State of Israel was born.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

Resurfaced Tweets Reveal Bigotry and Disturbing Levels of Anti-Semitism Too Close to Home

August 28, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Talia Raoufpur.

The United States is unrecognizable. America’s reality is now that of a nation afflicted with violent protests and rabid discrimination. Charlottesville, Virginia exposed itself as a cesspool for neo-Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan. Graphic images of white men and women carrying lit tiki torches and  swastika flags flooded across the internet along with videos in which these villains verbally express their hate. One of them is a new mother, claiming that the Jews “are a poison and need to be eradicated.”

The fight to combat hatred and bigotry towards the Jewish people is re-emerging across the country and across college campuses.

In 2017, Jewish people find themselves residing in a nation that once fought to eliminate the world of such poison just seven decades ago — yet the poison  lingers. The less than 100,000 remaining Holocaust survivors in America assumed the evil would not be offered the opportunity to re-emerge.

The Jewish community continues to be targeted — even at San Diego State.

All of the following tweets have since been deleted.

Halima Eid, a recent psychology graduate from SDSU, and former Associated Students representativeand Events Coordinator for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), was responsible for writing a series of now deleted anti-Semitic tweets — which have resurfaced.

In these tweets, Eid encouraged people to kill themselves, made homophobic remarks, denied the existence of the Holocaust, and supported Adolf Hitler — all while emphasizing her desire to murder those in support of the self-determination of the Jewish people.

Eid’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

The significance that lies within these statements is the platform they stood on — a public social media account. Social media has become the knife held in the hands of anti-Semites

 who use it to penetrate wounds into innocent Jews and Zionists.

Eid purposely took to Twitter to advocate for violence towards a marginalized group of people. Her statements, which now appear to be deleted, were kept online for years.

She even goes far enough to announce her support for Hamas, a widely recognized terror organization.

Eid’s written declarations were retweeted and favorited by users who condone her attitudes towards supporters of the Jewish state. Her tweets could be viewed as a call to action — a call to eradicate the world of those who support Israel.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of these posts is one in which she suggests Zionists to commit suicide.  Eid now has a degree in psychology.

On February 11, 2017, SJP posted on Facebook notifying its followers of a series of tweets posted by a member of their organization years prior to the start of their membership. The post claimed that “the tweets were made against the Jewish and LGBTQ community and were extremely bigoted, racist, and offensive in nature. Our organization stands unequivocally against anti-Semitism, homophobia, and all forms of bigotry and racism.” The member was said to have resigned from their position.

While it is not known that these tweets belonged to Eid’s account, the organization didn’t mention the violence promoted in the tweets towards Zionists.

As the organization’s events coordinator, Eid had influence in the organization.

That the organization ignored Eid’s tweets for so long comes as no surprise considering the organization’s history with anti-Semitic criticism of the Zionist cause.

Eid is no longer enrolled at the university having graduated in the spring. However, she is an alumna and part of an anti-Semitic history.

Although a resolution to combat anti-Semitism was passed by Associated Students in the spring, it does not excuse the university’s history of hatred and abuse towards Jewish students and is not to be forgotten. Anti-Semitism in any from is reprehensible. Anti-Semitism has neither evolved nor decreased and continues to play a role in the SDSU community.

While the United States must condemn all forms of bigotry,  the work must begin at the local level.

Halima Eid voted against the resolution to condemn anti-Semitism at San Diego State.

Halima Eid and Students for Justice in Palestine did not return Talia Raoufpur’s request for a comment.

 

 

This article was originally published in The Daily Aztec, San Diego State University’s campus paper.

Contributed by SDSU CAMERA Fellow Talia Raoufpur.

The Hebron Massacre: 88 Years On

August 24, 2017

Eighty-eight years ago, one of the darkest events in the history of the Jewish community in pre-state Israel occurred. In Hebron, the second holiest city in Judaism, local Arabs massacred the Jewish community, murdering 67 and injuring over 50.

Arabs, hearing false rumors that Jews were planning on seizing control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and that Jews had massacred Arabs in Jerusalem, started attacking Jews. At around 8:30am on a Shabbat morning, the first attack was staged, as a mob of Arabs armed with long iron bars, long knives, and axes entered a Jewish house in Hebron and stabbed the occupants to death.

Student of Hebron Yeshiva lost his hand in the attack (Wikipedia)

Soon after, the mob entered the house of Eliezer Dan Slonim, the son of the Rabbi of Hebron, and asked if he would hand over Ashkenazi students from the Hebron Yeshiva. He declined, and in turn was shot dead along with his 4 year old son. The Arabs kept screaming that they were “going to Jerusalem to slaughter all the Jews” according to one witness. The attackers were going from door to door, slaughtering everyone who was inside. The screams and the moans were terrible. People were crying “Help! Help!”

The attack on the Jewish community did not just involve murdering Jews in their homes, the mob of Arabs looted and destroyed a Jewish hospital, which often treated Arabs. Synagogues along with Torah scrolls were also destroyed, and a Jewish library was burned down.

Synagogue in Hebron destroyed (Jewish Virtual Library)

One third of the Jewish community of Hebron were murdered, including 24 yeshiva students and numerous Americans. Some Jews were saved by local Arabs who hid them in their houses. Nineteen Arab families saved dozens if not hundreds of Hebron’s Jews, the one shining light from a terrible day.

The event marked the end of a centuries old presence of the Jewish community in Hebron. After the attack, the British authorities evacuated the 484 survivors, including 153 children, to Jerusalem. Jews were unable to then return to Hebron, barred by the British authorities. Once Israel was established, the area was under Jordanian rule, keeping the city uninhabitable for Jews.

In 1967, Israel captured Hebron along with the rest of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) from Jordan. With the city under Israeli control, Jews started moving back, 38 years after the massacre. Today there are over 500 Jews living in Hebron.

Jewish community returned to Hebron after the 1967 Six Day War (Jewish Community of Hebron)

The Hebron Massacre was a significant moment in the history of Zionism. The Massacre signified the need of Jews in Palestine to have a force to protect them, and therefore the event led to the re-organization of the Haganah, which later became the Israel Defense Forces.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern. 

PBS Stands by “Dying to Be a Martyr” Curriculum (Part 1)

August 23, 2017

Early in April, the conservative news website the Blaze reported on a lesson plan about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict geared towards high school students on PBS’ website. The lesson plan, titled, “Dying to be a Martyr,” includes video clips of interviews with three young Arab men who either committed terror bombings against Israelis or planned to commit them.

As the Blaze pointed out, “no instructions are provided telling teachers to denounce the radical claims made by Majdi [who participated in a terror attack that killed 17 people] and there are no other lesson plans describing the conflict from the point of view of the Israelis.”

The written materials that accompany the videos are also extremely one-sided, and prompt students to sympathize with the Palestinian side.

Shortly after the Blaze and a few others reported on the lesson plan, the (now-former) PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler wrote about the lesson plan and the coverage of it on his blog. Of the lesson plan itself, Getler wrote that, “my own reading of the lesson plan was that the overall tone it projected was more tilted toward understanding the plight of the Palestinians—which is very real—than to the impact, and especially the immorality, of suicide bombings as a recourse; that the most powerful elements were those bomber videos and that it was more focused on the drama of capturing the voices and desperation of the bombers than on the immorality of the act itself.”

Despite these comments from its own Ombudsman, PBS has neither removed the lesson plan nor altered the content.

A Hamas terrorist.

The Lesson Plan’s Objectives

One of the stated objectives of the lesson plan is to “explain why individuals and groups sometimes turn to tactics of terrorism, and evaluate how terrorism affects the world we live in.” Indeed, one of the student organizer worksheets asks students about the impact of the bombing on Israelis. Yet, there is no video or written material that discusses how individuals and societies are affected by terror.

Moreover, the only information about why people engage in terrorism is the statements of the two bombers and the would-be bomber themselves. There is no mention of the fact that the Palestinian Authority pays salaries to terrorists, or of the undeniable causal connection between those salaries and terror. This omission is despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority law has been in effect unofficially “since the PA came into existence in 1993 … and [it was] made official in 2004.”

Nor is there any mention of incitement in statements by Palestinian leaders, in books and lessons in PA schools, and media. For example, a recent study by the Center for Near East Policy Research found that “over 200 US-government- approved textbooks used in hundreds of Palestinian UNRWA-sponsored schools are reportedly teaching Arab children between the first and ninth grades to kill Israelis, and sacrifice themselves as martyrs to drive Jews out of the country.”

Therefore, the lesson plan does not provide the necessary material for students to accomplish its stated goal.

The Lesson Plan’s Video Materials

The lesson plan’s Overview states:

This lesson will use video segments from Wide Angle‘s “Suicide Bombers” (2004), Internet sites, and primary sources to examine the roots of the Middle East conflict. The video contains interviews with young Muslim Palestinians who participated—or intended to participate—in suicide bombings. These young Palestinians share the personal, religious, political and emotional reasons behind their participation in these terrorist operations.

As is made clear, the three video interviews with terrorists are central to the lesson. There are no videos with interviews of terror attack survivors or family members of those killed to provide balance.

Two of the three clips are from an interview with 18-year-old Mohanned Abu Tayyoun, who planned a terror attack but then changed his mind and did not go through with it. The third video features two subjects, 25-year-old Majdi Amer, who built the bomb that killed 17 people and wounded 50, and another terrorist whose name is not given.

While playing the videos of Mohanned, teachers are instructed to ask students “to identify how Mohanned views his life and how he feels it differs from the lives of Israelis (Jews),” and “why Mohanned may feel that way.” PBS tells us, “answers may include: Palestinians have less land, fewer privileges, cannot come and go as they please.” They are not instructed to ask students to identify how a survivor of a terror attack feels nor the feelings of family members whose loved one was killed in a terror attack. The worksheet students are to be given after viewing the videos asks, “how does history relate to the anger of Palestinian suicide bombers towards the state of Israel and Jews, as seen in the video clips?” There are no questions asking how Jews or Israelis might feel about being attacked in 1948, 1967, 1973, or in hundreds of terror attacks. The materials are set up to prompt students to sympathize with the Palestinian side.

In the third video, titled “Israel and Palestine,” terrorist Majdi tells viewers, “if the Israelis kill a child in Gaza, I’m ready to kill one in Tel Aviv.” The students are not given any information, however, about why a child may have been killed in Gaza. Thus, the material leads them to a false understanding of the two killings as morally equivalent.

Majdi continues, “I’m a person who looks for peace, who calls for peace, but with one basic condition, the freedom of my country and people, and to put an end to this Nazi state, this racist Jewish state.” The students are never told that peace and freedom were offered to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, and again in 2001 – years before Majdi’s 2003 attack – and rejected by the Palestinian Authority’s then-President, Yasser Arafat, in favor of violence.

The second terrorist interviewed in the same video tells his audience, “it’s the duty of every Muslim to liberate this land, every inch of it, so, we acted accordingly, struggled to free all of Palestine, the whole of it, the areas occupied in 1948, as well as the West Bank and Gaza strip, all of it.” There is no instruction, however, to compare this statement with other statements in the lesson plan that this is a struggle over getting a fair share and an even division of the land.

 

To continue reading this article, part two can be found here.

This article was originally published by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker at camera.org.

PBS Stands by “Dying to Be a Martyr” Curriculum (Part 2)

August 22, 2017

The Lesson Plan’s Written Materials

The written materials present an extremely one-sided view of the conflict. The discussion of the UN’s proposed partition plan, for example, highlights the mass of land allocated to Jews and Arabs, but omits the fact that approximately 60 percentof the land allotted to the Jews was desert. The answer key also inaccurately states that the area for the proposed Arab state was “isolated from other Arab nations,” when in fact the proposed state would have shared borders with Lebanon, Egypt, and Transjordan. Thus, the lesson prompts students to incorrectly conclude that the UN’s proposed partition was unfair to Arabs.

Moreover, the student materials ask students to imagine the reactions to the partition plan by a “Palestinian Muslim,” and an “Israeli Jew … for example, a student may draw a happy face for an Israeli Jew and an angry face for a Palestinian Muslim.” Of course, prior to 1948, the populations were referred to as “Palestinian Arabs,” and “Palestinian Jews.” The material informs students that Palestinians Arabs were justifiably unhappy with the proposed partition plan, and revisionist language is used to connect only the Palestinian Arabs with the land, when in fact it is Jews, and not Palestinian Arabs, that are indigenous to the region. This further encourages the students to sympathize with the Arab side.

In combination with the videos, the effect is that terrorism is portrayed as an understandable, if not justified, response to a legitimate land grievance.

In addition, the lesson plan is out of date. Michael Getler reports that it is ten years old. It includes two links, purportedly to find further material, that are no longer functioning. It was written prior to the 2008 negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, during which Olmert offered to evacuate almost all of the West Bank – an offer that Abbas rejected. The lesson plan also does not include the pivotal 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, though it appears to have been prepared after that withdrawal took place. Nor does it include the fact that Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and has used it as a terror base ever since, launching attacks, rockets and missiles against Israeli civilians.

PBS Ombudsman Weighs In

PBS’s now-former Ombudsman, Michael Getler (who retired in the spring) addressed this lesson plan on his blog. Although he speculated as to some critics’ possible ulterior motives, he still found that they “raise what I consider to be some legitimate questions about the content, or more precisely as I read it, a lack of more contextual content, within this lesson plan.”

He raised the following criticisms with PBS’ corporate communications:

1) that the project ‘seems to encourage students to learn to sympathize with radical Islamic terrorists,’2) that there is no instructions or denunciation of the immorality of suicide bombing, and also radical Islam, and 3) that there is no lesson plan describing the conflict and the tactics from an Israeli point of view.

The corporate communications office responded that, “in no way does [PBS] condone the heinous actions of individuals who would target innocent civilians. PBS would strongly condemn any assertion that terrorism is ever appropriate.” Yet, this condemnation is not present in the lesson plan itself. PBS instead relies on teachers to spontaneously provide this interpretation of the materials – something they may or may not do. The lesson may not explicitly condone suicide bombers, but without an explicit condemnation, it could certainly be interpreted that way by impressionable teens.

PBS corporate communications further asserted that the material “helps high school students grapple with the complexity of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This is plainly not the case, because the material is simplified to highlight the point of view of only one side. To the extent that the Israeli side is presented at all, in the written materials, such written materials are clearly not as powerful a medium as the videos in which students learn the terrorists’ point of view.

PBS corporate continues, “the instructional activities that are part of the lesson plan(e.g., the culminating activity for students to ‘create an objective newspaper article from the perspective of a reporter who has just witnessed a suicide bombing. The article will include background on the conflict, motivations of the bombers, impact of the bombing on Israelis, and a conclusion’)and the accompanying resources all provide a multi-faceted view of the issue.” It’s not clear, however, how students can include information on the “impact of the bombing on Israelis” when they have not been provided with any material on that subject, or how they can discuss motivations of the bombers when they have not been provided with all of the information about factors that may influence them.

Getler wrote that, “it is, in my view, important to hear such views [i.e., those presented in the lesson plans] and understand what motivates them.” Perhaps. But such views should be balanced with views of those who have survived terror attacks, or family members of those who did not survive. A discussion of the PA’s role in funding terror attacks, and the incitement in school textbooks would also have provided much-needed context.

The PBS lesson plan is a textbook case of bias, presenting predominantly one side, doing so in a more compelling way than the other, and failing to include important facts and context. What makes it particularly insidious is the fact that this is not a simple PBS news segment or documentary, it is a lesson plan meant to influence young minds.

This is part two of “PBS Stands by “Dying to Be a Martyr” Curriculum”. To read part one, click here.

This article was originally published by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker at camera.org.

Melt Your Heart Out at RCC

August 21, 2017

Students at Rockland Community College came together last semester for an important cause: fundraising for Save a Child’s Heart, the Israeli charity that provides life-saving heart surgeries for children across the globe, regardless of country of origin or religion.

CAMERA-supported group Friends of Israel at RCC hosted the event, dubbed “Melt Your Heart Out” on campus, where they incorporated food, fun and music while spreading awareness and support for one of Israel’s notable humanitarian contributions. During the heart-themed event, participants enjoyed chocolate fondue and cardio exercise as they learned about the life-saving work of SACH.

RCC Friends of Israel with guests.

The event was part of Save A Child’s Heart’s February fundraising campaign called “Give Your Heart Out”. The goal was to introduce participants to Israel’s dedicated involvement in humanitarian aid and social causes, specifically the free cardiac care that this organization provides for children living in underprivileged countries. Friends of Israel educated the audience about SACH’s doctors and coordinators, whose selfless mission is to improve the life of children around the world.

For Friends of Israel, the event was successful in raising funds for SACH, but also in terms of getting their name out on campus. Many participating students had no prior involvement with their group, let alone knowledge about Israeli history, its people, or current atmosphere today. This made the event  a special opportunity to educate students about the efforts Israel makes to share its resources with the rest of the world.

Israel Festivals Hit Campuses Across the Country

August 18, 2017

At the end of the spring semester, universities across the country celebrated Israeli Independence Day by hosting events that showcased Israel’s diverse culture.

CAMERA-supported group Friends of Israel at Rockland Community College held a barbecue in the middle of their campus grounds. There was a professional henna artist and ongoing games. Students were engaged in discussions to learn more about the meaning of the day and the importance of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Attendees at Friends of Israel RCC’s event.

CAMERA-supported group Israel Student Association at Queens College created a similar event, but they set up tables around the quad featuring different cities in Israel. There was falafel and schwarma, a technology showcase, and even a camel to take selfies with.

Students at Queens College take a selfie with the guest camel behind them.

There was also a camel at MIT, where CAMERA-supported group MIT Friends of Israel had a carnival. With food trucks, cotton candy, photo booths and airbrush tattoos, the event was a huge success. Students made hummus from scratch, and several Israel related organizations had informational tables for students interested in learning more about internships and Birthright.

At Brooklyn College, where one of the most hotly debated subjects is Israel, CAMERA-supported group Bulldogs for Israel at Brooklyn College closed down the street of a busy intersection and the Israel Independence Day Committee planned an event to attract large crowds. Music, food, and booths with activities lured in students.

Students at Brookyln College celebrate Israel

At the bioengineering booth, students potted and decorated cherry tomato plants and learned about Israel’s innovations. Tamid, an Israel business club, had guests make their own beverages with soda stream, and AEPI ran a pitching booth to teach participants about Israel’s victories in the world baseball classic. In order to increase traffic to their Facebook page, a green screen was set up where students could be photo shopped into pictures with Israeli celebrities, and they then had to like the page and wait until the pictures were posted.

CAMERA-supported groups Huskies for Israel at UConn and Emory Students for Israel had similar approaches, with stations set up at both campuses to celebrate the many cities of Israel. At Emory, students could decorate hamsas in Haifa with Hebrew students, and eat classic snacks at the shuk with the Meor group. In Jerusalem, the Arab Culture Association talked to students about Arab history in the area, while students could stick notes in the Western Wall. In the Negev, students tried Bedouin tea and relaxed in a tent. And of course, in Tel Aviv, people partied with a DJ on a fake beach. Participants were given a Rav-Kav (Israeli bus pass) that was stamped at each station they visited, and when they traveled to enough places they were rewarded with free falafel or a t-shirt.

All of these events proved to be hugely successful, attracting many new club members and spreading awareness about the vast technology, diverse people, and incredible cities Israel has to offer. Educational and fun, the activities allowed students to enjoy food, music, and Israel education in a relaxed setting.

Healing Ink Screened at California Polytechnic State University SLO

August 17, 2017

CAMERA-supported group Mustangs United for Israel hosted a film screening of ‘Healing Ink’ at California Polytechnic State University.

‘Healing Ink’ is a film about wounded Israeli soldiers, or victims of terror, healing through getting tattoo art. Artists 4 Israel completed this project in Summer of 2016, where a group of international artists traveled to Jerusalem to give free tattoos to veterans or survivors of terror attacks.

Artists 4 Israel brings art, healing and protection to communities and people ravished by war. They cover scars on bodies, uplifting all people to overcome the struggles of living in crises with permanent and direct quality of life changes through arts and culture based humanitarian aid and social service projects.

Photo from the Healing Ink screening by Mustangs United for Israel

Along with the screening of the film, CAMERA-supported Mustangs United for Israel also invited Craig Dershowitz, the Executive Director of A4I, and Sgula Dershowitz, his wife, to the event. After the 40 minute screen filming, the two engaged the audience in a very interactive question and answer session about the film itself, the events that happened there, and any general questions about Israel.

Craig and Sgula were able to share very intimate moments from the trip and amazing stories which they couldn’t share in the film. Overall, it was a very successful event and many people felt a very strong connection to the film and the idea behind it.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern