Monthly Archives: November 2017

Still Living: Remembering Morocco’s Jews

November 30, 2017

When I think about Israeli culture, I think of startups, I think of gorgeous museums with modern art exhibits, of Sabich, falafel, and hip new musicians, of the Tel Aviv boardwalk and the new lineup of hit Israeli TV shows on Netflix. Israel has a rich culture, and yet often we see it as separate from all of the Jewish history that occurred outside the Holy Land itself. For thousands of years, the Jewish people have lived in the Diaspora, outside the land of Israel. From the moment the first Jews were exiled from the land of Israel in 600 BC a myriad of new cultures with incredible facets began to form. Judaism today is a combination of a diverse array of experiences, traditions and rich cultural heritage that all come together to create a vibrant culture and many deeply rooted traditions, connected to countries the world over.

Growing up, I learned in Jewish schools and at home about the dispersion of Jews from the land of Israel, most prominently following the Roman conquest of the land. In my classes we spoke in depth about the migration of Jews to countries throughout the world, talking about the adaptation of the Jewish religion to life outside the holy land, about the famous sages, and about the golden eras for Jews throughout Europe and later in the Muslim kingdoms of Iberia and North Africa. However, the past century of Jewish history has played an incredibly influential role in my Jewish education. As I look back I think of the culmination that was going on the March of the Living. In one trip we marched out of Auschwitz in Poland and subsequently flew to Israel to celebrate our survival and return home to the land of Israel. This past summer I went on what I felt to be a parallel journey to my experience of the March of the Living — in Morocco.

I spent two months visiting different parts of Morocco, and in each place, I would wait to hear the awkwardly inserted bit about the Jews. For the most part, these were honorable mentions. Like “the Jews lived here, close to the king’s palace” or “the Muslims, the Berbers, and the Jews were good friends and always got along well”, and importantly, “the Moroccan constitution gives Jews special permission to be tried in Jewish courts according to Jewish law, a right which is not even present in Israel.” It was a thrill, learning a new and enchanting side of the history of my people.

The king of the country has a personal connection with the Jewish community. And yet, most of the references to the Jewish community were solely historical. Seldom did we hear anything spoken about the contemporary community.

 

Photo: Chefchaouen

Sadly, this is because only around one percent of Morocco’s pre-1948 Jews remain. In a country that was once home to more than 250,000 Jewish individuals only a community numbering less than 5,000 remains. I visited the historical towns and remaining communities and the dramatic loss was all too obvious. In the south, I visited a city by the name of Essaouira. On arriving, I looked for a place to spend Shabbat, hoping maybe to connect with a Jewish family or two that remained. I was shocked to discover that less than a century ago this dreamy seaside town had been home to a Jewish population large enough that they were not even considered a minority group. According to some locals, they had even been a majority in the town at some point. In the decades after 1948 Essaouira’s Jews left and the Jewish population dwindled into the single digits. Today many Jewish homes in the city are nothing more than rubble, while some of them are still used today as private homes, and one even as a hotel. Walking through the streets I saw the simple Jewish stars above door frames, among the few indications of the strong community that existed not so long ago in that very place.

Jews arrived in Morocco more than 500 years ago, living and working alongside their mostly Muslim neighbors. Within a few decades of the establishment of the State of Israel, they had all but disappeared. I have heard personal stories from friends of their family members being harassed. Even a story of a Jewish grandfather that was lynched by an angry mob in a small town in the Atlas Mountains. This parallels a larger trend throughout the Muslim world; it makes me think of the stories of friends’ parents who left their homes in the Middle East with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Morocco was not alone in this sad wave of anti-Jewish hatred that swept the Arab world in the twentieth century. This hate led to the disappearance of  99.5% of the Arab world’s Jewish population. Many of these Jews were kicked out of their ancestral lands. They were forced to leave everything, and in many instances died trying to get their families to safety. Many of them, similarly to the world’s current refugees, experienced difficulties when restarting their lives in new countries.

For centuries, Jews had prospered in Arab societies with nothing more than occasional reminders that they were different. This all changed in 1948: the only difference being that they now had a new state they could call home. Many of these Jews did end up in the state of Israel but in 1948 Zion still remained an intangible dream. Yet they were suddenly the victims of hate because of a conflict far away. Standing in a large blue room, in the restored Chaim Pinto synagogue in Essaouira I felt one step closer to my roots. I conducted a prayer service, serving both as the cantor and as the crowd. I felt spiritually connected to the generations of Jews who had for centuries called Morocco home, and I felt closer to my own roots, as if I had just filled in another missing piece of the puzzle of Jewish history. I had the opportunity to experience a piece of the Jewish past that I believe every Jew should learn about. Just as I marched through Poland, learning about the Jewish communities that once were, so too opportunities should be expanded to expose more of our community to the incredible heritage and culture of Moroccan Jews, among all the other Jewish experiences that compose the Jewish community today.  

Moroccan Jews

 

 

Contributed by Harvard CAMERA Fellow Ilan Goldberg.

Ambassador Dennis Ross on the 2000 Clinton Parameters

No one’s been closer than Ambassador Dennis Ross to pulling off what President Trump described as the “ultimate deal” — a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. During the fateful days of the Camp David Summit in July 2000, it was Ross — then U.S. envoy to the Middle East — who nearly brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat all the way to ending one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. Ross wheedled the opposing leaders and hammered out contentious particulars, learning more about the contours of the conflict and its players than perhaps anyone else on earth. His work to bring about Israeli–Palestinian peace spanned the tenures of former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and his fingerprints are on every diplomatic development that has transpired in Israel in the past 25 years.

Photo: TIFFANY DING / HERALD

So it was with considerable excitement that 150 students and community members filed into Salomon 001 last Thursday for the event with Ross, titled “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Then and Now,” hosted by Brown Students for Israel in partnership with the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Ross began by casting the Israeli–Palestinian situation as a fundamentally territorial struggle between two national movements, both of which were legitimate and worthy of fulfillment. “There are two rights, not a right and wrong,” he emphasized as the guiding principal of his peacemaking efforts. In recognizing this, Ross exposed the illogic of trying to boycott or “punish” Israel out of frustration that the conflict hasn’t yet ended. Lasting peace in the region won’t come from punitive measures against Israel, but from diplomatic compromises that the Palestinian Authority has thus far not been amenable to.

As an audience member at the event, I asked Ross if peace talks in 2000 met the Palestinians’ needs, and he replied unequivocally that they did. He explained that the Clinton Parameters — guidelines he authored that specified the concessions the two parties would make — provided for the Palestinians to receive 95 percent of the West Bank, the entire Gaza Strip and control over the Arab parts of Jerusalem over the course of six years, as well as financial help establishing state institutions.

But the Palestinian leadership summarily rejected the proposal. I pressed him further about the nature of the rejection, noting that many Palestinians claim that Israel’s offer was not really generous at all and would have left them with a disjointed state that lacked physical autonomy and economic independence. Ross, who was intimately involved in drafting what would become the Israeli offer, answered that these allegations were “nonsense” — myths created after the fact to justify the Palestinian position. As the Clinton Parameters outlined, the West Bank would have been connected to Gaza via an elevated highway and railroad, and a $30 billion fund would have been created to support Palestinian refugees.

I continued: If Israel’s spurned offer was generous, is there any reason — other than wishful thinking — to believe that an agreement can be reached in the future? Indeed, Ross conceded, Israel would likely be less able and willing to offer the Palestinians as much as it did in the Clinton Parameters due to the threats to Israeli security posed by the growing instability of Israel’s neighbors.

Photo Source: Israel Matzav Blogger

In my view, there are only three logical explanations as to why the Palestinians rejected the Clinton Parameters in 2000. First, maybe the deal met the needs of the Palestinian people, but the leadership was short-sighted or mistaken and turned it down anyway. Second, the deal may have been flat-out unfair or inadequate, making the Palestinians right to reject it. Or third, perhaps the Palestinians had not yet come to terms with Israel’s permanence, and therefore they believed that they could simply outlast Israel and get all the land.

Ross emphatically refuted the second option, explaining that Israel made wide-ranging concessions on a number of critical issues. Seeing as he was there in 2000, I’m inclined to defer to his assessment. Ross also dismissed the third option, citing polls that show popular support on both sides for the two-state solution. Indeed, he believes that both Israelis and Palestinians truly desire a two-state solution, but are skeptical that it can actually happen, decreasing the likelihood that politicians make risky compromises.

So that leaves the first option as the correct explanation. Of course, if it is Palestinian diplomacy that is responsible for the peace logjam, then coercion aimed at Israel makes no sense. This is so, no matter how much one detests Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza or sympathizes with the Palestinians. Israel acquired the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 during a war, and can cede them only through a diplomatic settlement. Whenever a country exercises military control over a civilian population, it is sometimes compelled to engage in practices that are repressive and damaging to civilians. Israel is no exception, though its respect for civilian life compares quite favorably when stacked against other countries. The obvious solution is Palestinian self-government, but that cannot happen without a diplomatic agreement. And in 2000, the Palestinian Authority was unwilling to even negotiate over Israel’s offer more than 95 percent of the West Bank within six years (everything minus the most built-up settlements and non-negotiable security zones), Gaza and compensatory land-swaps from its sovereign territory. It is difficult to imagine what more Israel could have conceded.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with boycotting a country whose behavior you find objectionable. But if a boycott or punishment is to be productive, the boycotters have to state clearly how they’d like the country to reform itself, and such expectations have to be reasonable and practicable. Otherwise, the punishment has no just goal and serves only to impoverish a civilian population. “End the occupation” is a stirring and emotionally-appealing talking point, and may sound eminently reasonable. But without a negotiated plan for what is to succeed Israeli rule in the West Bank — something that can happen only with the participation of a recalcitrant Palestinian leadership — it’s just that: a talking point. It is inconceivable for a country to yield territory without assurances that it won’t regret doing so. Punishing Israel for the torpor of the Palestinian Authority would be like rewarding intentional handballs with penalty kicks.

This article was originally published in Brown’s campus paper The Brown Daily Herald.

Contributed by Brown CAMERA Fellow Jared Samilow.

Indian CAMERA Fellow Educates His Peers on Israel

November 29, 2017

When you think of anti-Israel bias, India probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind. It might surprise you, but with one of the oldest continuous Jewish communities in the world, and an expanding diplomatic relationship with the Israeli government, college campuses in India are wrought with inaccuracies when it comes to Israel.

Thankfully, the first-ever Indian CAMERA Fellow, Hriday Ch. Sarma, is confronting falsehoods about Israel wherever they are found. A PhD candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Sarma recently attended a meeting entitled “The role of Indian media in defining Israel.” While the attendees were both pro and anti-Israel voices, many of the points discussed were based off of propaganda and blatant lies.

CAMERA Fellow Hriday at the meeting with colleagues.

Several articles were discussed at the meeting including, “Israel’s continuing land grab” and “Human Shields in Israel,” which, as the title suggests, implied that Israel “uses captured Palestinians as human shields while launching attacks inside Palestinian territories.” Fortunately, there were voices like Sarma’s to speak out against such vicious inaccuracies and maintain the meeting’s basis in reality. Equipped with the facts, our CAMERA Fellows give Israel a fighting chance across the globe.

Contributed by Campus Coordinator Liel Asulin.

 

Intersectional Zionism: Why “Progressive Zionist” is not a Contradiction

November 27, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Nadiya Al-Noor.

For many of today’s mainstream progressives, opposing the Jewish State is part of a complete breakfast. In order to be progressive, we must stand against the racist Zionist agenda. At least, that’s what we have been taught. But if you take the time to look deeper, you might be surprised to find that progressivism and Zionism are closely intertwined. I know I was.

What is Zionism? At its core, Zionism is the Jewish liberation movement. It is the movement for self-determination of the Hebrews in their indigenous homeland. Modern Zionism was developed in the 19th century, though Jewishness has always been intricately linked to Jerusalem and the surrounding land, and a Jewish community, though small, remained in the land without end. The Jewish State is an example for all indigenous peoples, like the Kurds; a hope of what could be.

Zionism is not a monolith. It doesn’t mean you have to support a particular political party. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything the Israeli government does. It doesn’t mean you have to hate Muslims or convert to Judaism. It doesn’t mean you cannot support a two-state solution, or the Palestinian right to self-determination. It just means that you support an indigenous people’s right to self-determination in their historical homeland. And that is an inherently progressive belief.

Members of the Zioness Movement, a progressive Zionist organization at the March for Racial Justice sister rally in New York this fall.

To read the rest of this article, please visit https://www.bupipedream.com/prism/89253/auto-draft-251/

Contributed by Binghamton University CAMERA Fellow Nadiya Al-Noor.

This article has since been published in Binghamton University campus paper BU Pipe Dream.

Call for the Immediate Resignation of Rutgers President Barchi

November 23, 2017

In an article co-authored by CAMERA Fellow Miriam Waghalter and Austin Altman, president and board member of CAMERA-supported group Scarlet Knights for Israel, the two outlined the immorality of Rutgers continuing to employ Rutgers professors Michael Chikindas and Mazen Adi.

Jasbir Puar, who has a history of anti-Semitism, including using blood libel to demonize Israel, recently made headlines again this fall. Her book, “The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability” which was released this month, alleges that the IDF intentionally shoots Palestinians to harm them and not kill them, so that they will suffer as much as possible.

But Chikindas and Adi were only recently exposed as anti-Semites. Professor Chikindas shared anti-Semitic images on his Facebook profile, which as International Campus Director Aviva Slomich described, depicted scheming, controlling and evil Jews, evoking Der Stürmer-style imagery which is shared widely by hate and extremist groups on social media. 

Chikindas’s posts reminded many of Oberlin College’s Joy Karega, who shared content which invoked similar anti-Semitic tropes, just last year.

Just days after Campus Coordinator Ben Suster visited Rutgers to provide students with moral and practical support, students were faced with another bomb of troubling news: it was discovered that an additional professor on their campus held anti-Semitic views.

One of the Facebook posts from Professor Chikindas’s profile.

Since 2015, former Assad spokesman Mazen Adi has been lecturing in the political science department at Rutgers University. Working for the Assad regime, Adi repeatedly expressed support for the Syrian dictator’s war crimes during the Syrian civil war. Beyond defending a genocidal regime, Adi has also spewed antisemitic libel at the UN. In 2012, he alleged to the Security Council that “international gangs led by some Israeli religious figures are now trafficking children’s organs.”

From these scary details, it’s obvious that continuing to employ Adi and Chikindas is fundamentally wrong and harmful to students.

124th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly 66th session: Prevention of armed conflict: draft resolution (A/66/L.57)
SYRIA

Yet, despite the tireless work of the Jewish community and its allies, including that of CAMERA students Miriam and Austin, President Robert Barchi has turned a blind eye to the Jewish community, defending the employment of all three professors. Barchi has shockingly gone so far as to question The Algemeiner, the Jewish newspaper that has provided significant coverage on the disturbing sentiments of both faculty members.

At a town hall meeting sponsored by the Rutgers student government last Thursday, President Barchi addressed the ongoing controversies surrounding Chikindas, Puar, and Adi, noting that “the one thing that is common to all of these is that they were all brought forward by The Algemeiner.”

Responding to President Barchi, Slomich made the following statement:

“After Oberlin College President Krislov wrongfully defended Professor Joy Karega after she shared anti-Semitic posts on social media last year, he appropriately stepped down.

Rutgers University President Barchi has repeatedly defended anti-semitism similar to those of Karega’s by three of his own faculty members. Not only has Professor Barchi defended these shocking actions, which targets a significant portion of Rutgers students, he also has expressed anti-Semitic rhetoric of his own, making disparaging remarks about The Algemeiner, the Jewish newspaper which has provided extensive coverage of these anti-Semitic incidents.

President Barchi’s continual defense of these anti-Semitic faculty members, in addition to his own apparent prejudice, leave no other option other than Barchi stepping down immediately to allow Rutgers students the justice and safety they deserve.”

To sign the petition created by Rutgers students for action against Professor Chikindas, click here.

To sign the petition created by UN Watch for action against Professor Adi, click here.

Contributed by Lia Lands, Campus Communications for CAMERA.

Rutgers Cannot Defend Hiring Assad Spokesman, Anti-Semite

CAMERA Fellow and President of Scarlet Knights for Israel Miriam Waghalter.

Rutgers University is supposed to be a safe and encouraging environment for students to learn about their passions. A large component to this goal is the faculty employed at the University. Over the past several weeks, it has been revealed that several members of the Rutgers faculty have backgrounds and hold beliefs that are antithetical to the ideals that we have as a University. Professor Michael Chikindas posted blatantly anti-Semitic and homophobic posts online and now we know that Professor Mazen Adi worked for the Assad regime in Syria. While working there, he engaged in horrific activity that should not be present at our school. We question the University’s decision to hire Adi in the first place, why both professors are still employed here and the lack of response that the University has given regarding their conducts.

Adi was brought on in 2015 after working for the Assad regime in Syria for over 16 years. He had a hand in defending Syria to international bodies, such as the UN and has “justified the war crimes of the genocidal Assad regime,” according to UN Watch. Ironically, he is scheduled to teach a class on“International Criminal Law and Anti-Corruption” next semester. Rutgers has responded to demands to fire Adi by saying that “Rutgers will not defend the content of every opinion expressed by every member of our academic community, but the University will defend their rights to academic freedom and to speak freely.”

But we have to ask ourselves, should an “apologist for … mass murder” be given the platform to speak freely in the context of a political science class about anti-corruption while being so blatantly a part of it? Adi has a clearly biased and unethical platform and it has no reason to be shared at our University. Furthermore, in an article from Algemeiner, a former student has claimed that Adi defended Palestinian terrorism in class as a legitimate form of “resistance” to Israeli “occupation.” Clearly, Adi’s positions cannot be part of the fabric and culture of inclusion and peace that Rutgers University promotes. The University defends its decision to hire him based off of “his expertise in international law and diplomacy, and other fields.” But is genocidal diplomacy the type of politics that we want taught in our University? Where is the line drawn?

 

Former Syrian diplomat and current Rutgers professor Mazen Adi, center, at a General Assembly meeting beside Bashar Ja’afari, permanent representative of Syria to the UN. Photo: UN / JC McIlwaine.

This revelation of Adi’s associations comes soon after Chikindas’s Facebook page was revealed to contain many problematic posts. After creating a petition to suspend Chikindas with over 5,000 signatures as of Nov. 9, we have yet to hear a response from the chancellor or president of the University, both of whom received an email with the petition and signatories attached over a week ago. While we appreciate the University’s statement condemning Chikindas’s posts, further action must be taken and a new statement must be made.

Freedom of speech is a right that all citizens and students have, including these professors. But while what they say and believe may not break U.S. law, they do not adhere to the culture that we here at Rutgers have worked so hard to cultivate. As students and humanitarians, we do not support mass murder and terrorism nor those who try to excuse it and justify it.

The University must recognize how immoral employing these professors as University faculty is and must to take action against them. As students, we do not deserve to be subject to people who are capable of spewing such hatred.

Contributed by Rutgers CAMERA Fellow Miriam Waghalter and Austin Altman. Austin is a board member and Miriam is president of CAMERA-supported group Scarlet Knights for Israel.

This article was originally published in Rutgers campus paper, The Daily Targum and was also published in The Algemeiner.

 

Jewish Voice for Peace Deters Positive Discourse

November 20, 2017

On Nov. 8, NYU Jewish Voice for Peace, along with 26 other clubs, issued an open letter to the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life denouncing the NYU Israel Experience trip. The trip takes two dozen NYU student leaders to Israel in January in an attempt to foster inclusivity and introduce students to the reality of life in Israel.

A coalition of student groups on campus, however, has pledged not to participate in or apply to the NYU Israel Experience in solidarity with the Palestinian human rights movement. A large coalition, which includes the NYU College Democrats, Queer Union and countless other student groups, speaks to the widespread approval of the letter among NYU constituents.

Ultimately, JVP dishonestly adheres to the principles of intersectionality when it attempts to construct artificial coalitions between groups such as the Queer Union , Muslim Christian Dialogue at NYU and NYU Freedom for North Korea that share no common ground in regard to Israel.

Promotional material for the NYU Israel Experience trip.

Perhaps what is most striking is the NYU College Democrats’ agreement with the letter. The Democrats’ action is a testament to JVP’S efficiency and underscores the danger NYU Israel Experience alliance poses to open discourse. This sort of branding threatens to stifle political debate and forces those who are both Zionist and progressive to choose between these two fundamental and mutually exclusive values.

Additionally, by tokenizing its Jewishness, JVP undermines and even shames fellow Jews who do not share its opinions. This incident is a part of JVP’s strategic efforts to stymie meaningful dialogue and target those who do not share its view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In another instance, TorchPAC, NYU’s Israeli Political Advocacy Club, announced that it was bringing Tzipi Hotovely, an Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset, the unicameral national legislature of Israel, to speak on campus. The deputy minister was on a speaking tour of American university campuses to hear about the challenges faced by activists and Jewish students and to push back against the falsehoods being disseminated about the Jewish state.

Amid pushback from JVP, TorchPAC asserted its stance as an open forum for political discourse and denounced the notion that Hotovely’s presence on campus was an endorsement of her policies. TorchPAC hosted a debrief the following week where meeting attendees discussed their thoughts about the speech and expressed their own opinions in conjunction. This form of censorship indicates JVP’s commitment to silencing those whose political beliefs differ from their own.

JVP views itself as an organization of “activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice and human rights,” according to its mission statement. It is increasingly important that NYU’s JVP internalizes these core values instead of suppressing open discourse.

This article was contributed by NYU CAMERA Fellow Bobby Miller. 

The article was originally published at Washington Square News, NYU’s campus paper and was also published in The Algemeiner.

Nottingham Must Do More To Make Their Jewish Students Feel Welcome

November 16, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Daniel Kosky.

The Freshers Fair, one of the key events in one’s first week at university. Putting aside all the clubbing and induction lectures, the Freshers Fair gives new university students the chance to see the sports clubs, societies, and events available at the university. For many, it is their first real impression of university life and is set up to be a welcoming environment for new students, yet for Jewish and Israeli students, this can often not be the case.

At my university, the University of Nottingham, new Jewish students were horrified to see “Boycott Israeli Apartheid” stickers placed all around the ‘Welcome Fair’. Handed out by the Palestinian Society, these stickers found their way onto a large number of the students walking around the fair.

That wasn’t all, students also found it appropriate to put boycott Israel stickers on the Jewish Society stall, a stall which was placed to welcome Jewish and Israeli students to the university.

The sticker found on the Jewish Society stall.

Imagine how this would make you feel, an Israeli in the UK for the first time, or a Jewish student fresh out of high school, to see fellow peers wearing boycott Israel stickers, and the Arab Society with a map of the Middle East, having Israel coloured in its entirety with a Palestinian flag. What a first impression…

Several Jewish students came up to the Jewish Society stall expressing their fear, intimidation, and anger as a result of the stickers, with many rightly, bravely complaining to the University.

Whilst students should be free to engage in discourse about the political situation in the Middle East, stickers singling out one country for boycott, the Jewish state, should have no place at a fair which is meant to welcome all students to university life. Jewish and Israeli students during their first few days at university should not be having to complain to the university, or be made to feel uncomfortable.

Yet this wasn’t the end to an unwelcoming start to the academic year for Jewish university students. During the Welcome Fair, flyers were distributed, including at the Jewish Society’s stall, by the University Chaplaincy, advertising their upcoming event about Fundamentalism. The speaker at the event was Palestinian Christian Revd Dr. Fadi Diab from Ramallah.

The lecture room turned into a theatre for Israel bashing, with Diab claiming amongst other things, that Palestinian terrorism against Israelis is caused by Israel. Diab also ignored how Israel tried to save civilian life in Gaza in the fight against Hamas. Despite Hamas placing rockets in Palestinian homes and using them as human shields, Diab still blamed Israel for Palestinian casualties, not the terrorist organisation that put them in harm’s way. But whether you agree or disagree with this opinion, however, he had a right to say it. It was when it came to the Q+A section of the event where the problems started.

In response to a question asked by myself, clearly a Jewish student, on the situation in Gaza, Diab proclaimed “you bomb their homes and houses and streets”, looking in the direction of me and fellow Jewish students in the room. This is anti-Semitism, plain and simple. To accuse me, a Jewish student in Britain, of being responsible for the supposed actions of the Israeli government, is quite literally anti-Semitism according to the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism recently adopted by the UK government.

That wasn’t all, in response to my question Diab once again crossed the line, claiming “There is no other people that suffered in the last century like the people in Gaza”. Really? I am in no way denying poor humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, but is Diab really suggesting that the people of Gaza suffered more than the Jews of Europe in the 1930s and 40s, of which 6 million were systematically murdered by the Nazis? If this isn’t Holocaust denial, or downplaying the scope of the genocide of the Jewish people, it comes pretty close to it.

Simply put, the university should not be hosting and endorsing an event with a speaker, who when questioned on his argument, delves into anti-Semitism. The University of Nottingham prides itself on being a welcoming environment for all students, it even calls itself “Britain’s global university”. If that’s truly the case, then it must make sure the university is a welcome environment for all students, including Jewish and Israeli ones.

Contributed by University of Nottingham CAMERA Fellow Daniel Kosky.

What is Ayah Aly Doing to Promote Inclusivity?

CAMERA Fellow Fay Yanofsky.

On October 17th, I attended an interfaith event titled “Two Visions One Culture” hosted by Professor Robert Cherry. I experienced first-hand the way Professor Cherry uses his influence as a donor at Merchavim, a Non-Governmental Organization working to eliminate cultural barriers in Israel.

Its Executive Director highlighted their five-year plan to integrate 500 Arab teachers in English, science, and math into Jewish schools there. The audience watched clips from the award-winning documentary “A Dove’s Cry” highlighting the impact of an Israeli-Arab teacher on the attitudes of Jewish students whom she taught.

We saw a teacher play “Allah Akbar” on her radio to crush stereotypes by teaching Jewish students about her peaceful religion. I asked Professor Fishman, a history professor who has written extensively on the plight of the Palestinians, about what he perceives as the anti-Arab behavior of the Israeli government and what he thought about Merchavim. He said, “Building cross-cultural connections is a step in the right direction.”

Professor Cherry noted how affirmative action is necessary to overcome the often inadvertent discriminatory hiring process when perceived group characteristics are used to screen applicants.

Professor Cherry has spent his life working to end discrimination in the United States and abroad. He has written a book about social policy, Moving Working Families Forward Third Way Policies That Work (NYU Press). Additionally, Professor Cherry has been publishing extensively on the plight of black men and policies that can move them forward. He just released a study on government efforts to aid prison reentry, identifying the most effective programs available. In class, I can attest that Robert Cherry always stands up against discrimination and discusses inclusive laws to end discrimination in the United States and abroad.

For example, Professor Cherry noted how affirmative action is necessary to overcome the often inadvertent discriminatory hiring process when perceived group characteristics are used to screen applicants. He pointed to how wage incentives targeted to disadvantaged groups can be effective. One example given was how the Israeli Government incentivizes businesses to hire Ethiopian immigrants by paying 30% of their salaries for up to two years, just as they are doing to incentivize Jewish schools to hire Israeli-Arab teachers.

Recently, the David Horowitz Centers posters around campus incorrectly claimed that the identified professors supported terrorism. While Professor Cherry condemned the poster, Professor Cherry took one of the identified faculty to task for supporting a radical hate group, SJP, by pointing out specific instances of anti-Semitic behavior by the organization on campus and the statement of the Chancellor of the University of Illinois that called out the anti-Semitism of SJP. A quintessential example of the perpetuated anti-Semitism of SJP is that of Ayah Aly’s, Brooklyn College President of SJP. She was quoted as posting on twitter the top ten things she hates. In that list, Jews.

 

The anti-Semitism is a disgrace to Brooklyn College and the inclusivity that CUNY represents. The SJP also crudely drew an anti-Semitic cause and effect relationship between tuition hikes and Zionists. Previously, when Professor Langsam was called a “Zionist Pig” at a faculty council meeting by SJP, he said, “We give lip service to freedom of speech, but we don’t talk about hate speech.” Karen Gould, former President of Brooklyn College, responded to “Zionists off Campus” chants by stating, “We find this disruptive behavior unacceptable and the hateful comments especially abhorrent.” Gould called for an investigation into the students’ conduct and for appropriate actions to be taken. Students were brought up before a disciplinary hearing at which some faculty like Chopra pleaded their case. No one could identify the student who made the anti-Semitic comment and it was disputed what the full phrase was. Essentially, SJP escaped disciplinary action.

The President of SJP recently responded to Professor Cherry in the Brooklyn College Kingsman news. On two articles I have read that defend Jewish students, the Kingsman made sure to specifically note that the article does not reflect the views of the paper. However, when Ayah Ali, President of SJP, attempted to defame Professor Robert Cherry, there were no disclaimers stating anything of the sort.

“To Professor Cherry I say; you are not the first. You are not the first to have countered our organization with chants of islamophobia and discrimination. You are not the first to have sympathized with an oppressor and victim-blamed. …You are not the first to have derailed our motives, silenced our voices, and pledged your support to a white supremacist group.” (Ayah Aly, Kingsman)

Six million Jews have been targeted as victims from Nazis and White Supremacists; the associations and accusations are false and insulting. We demand that you stop these hateful assaults on both students and faculty alike. Professor Cherry has actively been working to end discrimination in the United States and in Israel. President Michelle Anderson has launched a successful “Stand Against Hate” campaign to foster inclusion and bring an end to discrimination at Brooklyn College. My question is, before calling out a generous donor working to build an inclusive utopia in Israel and a President spending her term working against hate to foster inclusion, what steps are you taking to achieve these goals?

Contributed by Brooklyn College CAMERA Fellow and Treasurer of CAMERA-supported group Bulldogs for Israel, Fay Yanofsky.

This article was originally published in Night Call News.

Keeping An Open Mind Matters

November 15, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Jenn Tischler.

The Arab-Israeli conflict remains a highly divisive issue on campuses across the United States—and GW is no exception. Students can often expect to see speaker events calling for the end of the alleged “occupation” of Palestinian lands, weeks dedicated to commenting on the supposed apartheid in Israel, and groups on campus demonizing Israel and calling for its destruction, whether overtly or not.

But we often face personal attacks as well, from Palestinian supporters that see no better way to convey their message than through derogatory and degrading confrontations. Rather than state their case or argue the possible merits of their point of view, they choose to attack Israel and its supporters and “win” the argument by beating the other side into silence.

A protest led by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009.(Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, I attended an event hosted by the local GW chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The night in question was advertised as a Palestinian Culture Night, but no mention of culture ever came up. Instead, the audience was bombarded with accusations against Israel, American Jews, and American Jewish organizations through catchy sound bites. I sat through this blatant propaganda quietly, intending to be respectful and hear what they had to say in person. As I was leaving, I was cornered by a few board members of SJP who recognized me. They claimed that I had come here to sabotage them and use the information they’d presented to us against the club. I was shocked but responded simply, that I had come to listen and that was all.

Their reply was simple as well. “We don’t believe you.”

Later, after they finally let me reach the door, I went to their Facebook page to read their mission and stated values. One line, in particular, stuck out to me: “We will not normalize the status quo by engaging in dialogues, discussions, panels, or other public forums where the participants do not recognize [our] fundamental tenets…” This statement, although dressed up in ambiguous terms, is quite simple in its essence. SJP is not interested in starting dialogue until the dialogue is already over.

By their own admission, SJP does not see the value in the exchange of opposing ideas. They are only interested in having a conversation on their terms, and will not open themselves to opinions that might be different from their own. When they do encounter an opposite viewpoint, they aggressively attack and accuse until the other side is silenced and the only voice heard is their own. This is not the way to peace; this is only a means of continuing to spread hate and intolerance among anti-Semitic voices.

With a topic as emotionally charged as the Arab-Israeli conflict, level-headedness and a desire for open conversation are vital. Regardless of our own thoughts, hearing other people’s opinions and acknowledging that everyone has their own point of view is a necessity in any conflict of ideas. Only through opening ourselves to those opposing viewpoints can we be truly educated on the multi-faceted nature of the conflict and move towards peace and recognition for both sides. If we shut ourselves off, as SJP has, then we only entrench ourselves further in our current positions and block any future movement towards coexistence.

I believe that peace and understanding can win against hatred and intolerance and so I will continue to fight for dialogue and mutual recognition. I call on every student in GW to do the same for the sake of progress and a hope for eventual peace—and to not take SJP’s behavior as anything more than a clear example of what not to do.

 

Contributed by George Washington University CAMERA Fellow Jenn Tischler.