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Recent Events

The CAMERA fellow at Cambridge University hosted their event, “5 Broken Camera Critical Watching”.  The attendees were able to watch the documentary, “5 Broken Cameras” and have a discussion about the way in which the film emits certain types of information but nevertheless depicts itself as a documentary.  Attendees were very interested in the film, as well as were highly engaged in the discussion that followed. Overall, the event was very successful and well attended!

Alliance for Israel at Northeastern University School of Law hosted the event, “Israel and the Law”.  At the event, Melissa Weiss from Israel on Campus, Alex Safian from CAMERA, and Jeff Robbins from Mintz Levin Law.  The panel focused on dissecting Israel in the 21st age through a legal lens. The purpose of this panel was to answer any questions students may have about Israel, or Israeli politics, identity, history, and law, as well as provide a balanced perspective on these issues.  The goal was to facilitate an open and respectful conversation based on facts and to have the students direct the discourse. The event was very successful and informative!

Students at Northeastern University Law School.

Academic Boycotts are Bad for the Academy

A Supreme Court justice once said, in the context of the death penalty, that when a judge feels unable to apply a law because of his or her personal views, it’s time to resign and either launch a political campaign or lead a revolution. We might venture similar career advice for academics, many of whom, like federal judges, enjoy the remarkable luxury of life tenure, and are constrained in what they do and say largely by their own sense of propriety. In much the same way that judges must be careful to distinguish between what the law is and what they think it ought to be, academics have to keep on the right side of the often blurry line between teaching and political advocacy.

Sometimes the line isn’t all that blurry though.

Last Thursday, Brown’s Middle East Studies program held a “critical conversation” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This one was called “Permission to Speak: Boycott and the Politics of Solidarity,” and promoted a newly-published collection of essays supporting the boycott of Israeli universities — among other institutions — to protest injustices against Palestinians. (The book in question was actually being sold outside the event.) Perhaps I’m jaded, but it seems pointless to waste perfectly good column space debating whether Israel is diabolical enough to be boycotted. Rather than further swell that already abundant genre, instead I want to simply point out why — no matter one’s views on Israel — academic boycotts are, by their nature, a form of political activism that invariably corrupts education.

What makes academic boycotts so pernicious is that they establish one standard of pedagogy for teaching Israel, and another standard of pedagogy for teaching all other countries. Israel is, along with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey, one of the Middle East’s four most politically influential countries. It is the region’s only non-Muslim state. It wields emotional and symbolic influence wildly disproportionate to its actual power — or perhaps it actually wields such disproportionate power because of its emotional and symbolic influence. It is simply impossible to properly instruct students on the history and politics of the Middle East while out-of-hand ignoring a major actor’s academic institutions. Universities are crucial to the development of a nation’s moral ethos and political strategy, often incubating ideas before they take root in media, government, and laws. If these institutions are made into lepers, how are students supposed to learn about Israel in the same way they learn about Egypt or Iran or Saudi Arabia?

Those who would join the boycott indulge in a rather dangerous solipsism, where the task of education is sacrificed for the moral gratification of this or that educator. This is not to say professors cannot have opinions, even ones that color their teaching. There’s a difference between presenting a perhaps slanted take on a particular topic and treating that topic as if it is not even worth the courtesy of equal analysis. No matter how valid institutionalized support for academic boycotts of Israel might be politically, it is a priori wrong educationally. This is not just some epistemological abstraction. Three years ago, Brown hosted an event with Adi Ophir, current director of the Minerva Center at Tel Aviv University and then-visiting professor at Brown. After his planned participation was criticized by a pro-Palestinian organization, the Middle East Studies program director at Brown, Beshara Doumani, withdrew from the event. It stands to reason that there have been similar incidents that have gone unreported. A link to an Israeli institution should not preclude entirely the possibility of discussion and debate when links to those of other countries do not. Of course, there are those who would say that the circumstances justify the selective treatment, but that’s an argument about politics — not pedagogy. In sum, academic boycotts philosophically undermine a liberal education and deprive students of the opportunity to consider all views equally and decide which they prefer.

It appears that four of nine “critical conversations” hosted by the Middle East Studies have been about Israel. But these conversations all featured panels that were about as sympathetic to Israel as the Texas parole board is to death-row inmates. Not one has included an individual who defends Israel with half the intensity of the median panelist who criticizes it. Not surprisingly, this isn’t an oversight. At one of the conversations, a student expressed concern that the panel was so lopsided. The director of the Middle East studies program replied that because his approach to the conflict is perhaps the academic consensus, he did not feel obliged to include views that diverged from it in his panel.

I don’t mean to suggest professors can’t personally endorse boycotts of Israel. They can. Just as democracies have no choice but to extend their liberties to people who would deny them to others, to avoid censorship universities must brook professors who, to end where we began, allow their teaching to be choked by political passion. But talking about what should happen to Israel without talking with Israeli schools is like deciding policy on abortion without consulting any women. When an entire program routinely puts on activities with people who advocate boycotts of Israel — and almost never sees fit to present a contrary view — the pro-boycott position effectively ossifies into an unofficial policy. And that’s when “critical conversations” become critical only in the sense that they criticize Israel.

Jared Samilow is a CAMERA Fellow at Brown University.

This article was originally published in the Brown Daily Herald.

Israeli Food is From All Over. That Doesn’t Make it Any Less Israeli.

In his article entitled “Jewish food tells the story of immigrants, not of Israeli nationalism,” visual artist and food researcher, Rafram Chaddad offers his take on Tablet Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Jewish Foods. Included in the list were staples like Challah and brisket as well as a few cheeky nods to dishes like Chinese food and bacon, which have long occupied a distinct corner in the Jewish culinary psyche. In general, the paragraphs which accompanied each food were witty, well-written summaries of the unique Jewish relationship to the particular dish.

Unfortunately, Chaddad chose to look past the humor of the list, and instead focus his energy on explaining the “enduring issues of erasure and cultural appropriation” which have prevented the Jewish world from exploring “the complexities around the term “Jewish food,”” and more specifically Jewish food from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In particular, Chaddad seemed fixed on a senior writer at Tablet, (and also the person to whom I owe my name, although I’ve yet to have the opportunity to share that story with him) Liel Leibovitz. Of all the authors and all of the MENA dishes which the list included, Chaddad chose two of Leibovitz’s paragraphs; Hummus and Shakshuka.

I would like to state clearly that I have no intention of denying the existence of cultural appropriation. I just don’t believe the term applies to Israeli cuisine, as I hope to explain below.

Strong and weak culinary contexts

If sushi and pasta are from strong culinary contexts, then hummus and shakshuka are from weak ones, at least according to Chaddad’s conception of “the perspective of the American Jewish liberal imagination.” What the author neglects in his haste to connect Tablet Magazine to the Israeli government; however, is that Jews have been making and eating hummus for as long as hummus has been popular in the region. Chaddad’s entire argument ironically rests on the notion that Middle Eastern Jews were passive recipients of a superior Arab culinary tradition rather than active participants with unique contributions to make.

The fact that today, Israelis claim hummus as a staple of Israeli cuisine does not negate its origins in Arab countries. Rather, it suggests that in 70 years, Israelis have made a few unique contributions to the dish, be it preparation, the foods it is served with, or even the centrality it plays in Israeli diets. Chaddad’s attempt to politicize a recipe that has been shared and altered for more than a millennium is pedantic.

If there is one thing a region as tumultuous as the Middle East can agree on, its that Hummus is really good.

Hummus. Photographed by Marco Verch.

Shakshuka is Israeli now. There is no irony.

Chaddad manages to find humor in what he misunderstands as an attempt to make an already Jewish food Jewish by “its connection to Israel.” It seems Chaddad’s assumptions serve as the foundation of his arguments. Once more, I do not believe the Leibovitz is making the case that shakshuka has been Israeli since 1948.

Rather, shakshuka is another example of things taking on new identities when they come to new places. Shakshuka, much like Chaddad, may not have been born in Israel, but Israel is where it came of age. Food reflects history, and shakshuka’s prominence in Israel today is emblematic of the decimation of ancient Jewish communities throughout the Arab world. Today, nearly all of Tunisia’s Jews live in Israel as a result of both Jewish choices to return to their ancient homeland and Arab persecution. If, as Chaddad makes clear, shakshuka is a Jewish-Tunisian dish and the overwhelming majority of Tunisian-Jews and their descendants live in Israel, then, by my estimation, shakshuka is an Israeli dish, or at the very least, it has dual citizenship.


The Ultimate Jewish Spice

In one final jab at Leibovitz, Chaddad takes up the cause of Jews overusing our long history of persecution. Leibovitz says, “As Jews huddled for safety in their biblical homeland, fleeing violence in Rabat or Tunis or Algiers, they could take comfort in one thing: simmering onions, peppers, and tomatoes, topped with a couple of eggs, cooked on a skillet and consumed with a fresh loaf of white bread.” Is Leibovitz’s language a little flowery? Maybe. No, definitely, but that shouldn’t obscure the truth in his statement.

The reality of Jewish persecution has been seasoned throughout human history and sadly, in some places, it is still palatable. Chaddad’s criticism of this historical conclusion, as well as his later attempt to deny that many Arab countries are still dangerous places to be Jewish or Israeli, is a stunning oversight considering the author himself spent five months in a Libyan jail for the crime of being Israeli. I am elated that Chaddad and his aunt, along with less than 2,000 other Jews, can live today in Tunisia in relative peace and preserve a beautiful community. However, Chaddad should be mindful not to deny the reality of persecution of other Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, like my own great-grandfather who was lynched in a small Moroccan town in the Atlas mountains years before the state of Israel existed.

The Family Reunion

To think of food as a static recipe is to do it a great disservice. Indeed, preference is the stuff of variety, and, as Cowper wrote, variety is the spice of life. Chaddad concludes his article by testifying correctly to food’s role as one way to measure the “powerful” effects of immigration. He says of human movement, “that’s how most Jewish food was created,” and surely that is how most Jewish foods will continue to be created. It’s the reason my Moroccan Abba knows how to make schnitzel and my Ashkenazi mom knows her way around couscous.

When Jews from around the world immigrated to Israel, they brought with them the unique culinary catalogs of the lands they had called home for thousands of years. As with any family reunion, things were a little awkward at first, and maybe even a little tense, but eventually, the family got hungry, so Safta and Bubbe started to cook together. They exchanged recipes, introduced each other to new spices and they made something that was simultaneously old and new. That belonged to the lands from which they came, but also to this old and new land they had always called home. They created, and continue to create Israeli cuisine by the same process that all the world’s cuisines were and continue to be created. It takes a whole lot of chutzpah to claim otherwise.

Liel Asulin is a Campus Coordinator at CAMERA and, in his free time, an avid amateur cook.

CAMERA on Campus Staff Visit Students, Attend AIPAC Policy Conference

Over the last month, CAMERA’s Campus Coordinators have been busy traveling across the country to visit students, network, and attend conferences.

Last week, Campus Coordinator Alex Rittenberg visited Indiana University, University of Miami (Ohio), Ohio University, the Ohio State University, and the University of Cincinnati. On her travels, Alex said, “Each campus has so many exciting events coming up this semester. At every campus, I was able to see how the different groups interacted with each other and see the passion for Israel behind each of groups.  It was fantastic to be able to “officially” meet in-person with many different members of our CAMERA-supported groups after having only previously spoken to them over the phone!” She is looking forward to seeing the progress and the successes that happen in the remainder of the semester.

At the end of February, Campus Coordinator Liel Asulin made his first trip to North Carolina to visit UNC-Chapel Hill, Elon University, and East Carolina University. On his travels, Liel said, “It was such a pleasure to finally meet all of the wonderful students we work with in North Carolina. I also didn’t mind the break from Boston’s snowy winter! Hearing first hand from students about their goals for the remainder of the school year reinvigorated me and sent me back to Boston with the motivation to do my best on behalf of our wonderful student leaders!”

Earlier this week, members of the campus team including Aviva Slomich, Hali Haber, Tatiana Becker, and Ben Suster attended the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C. On Sunday, the staff hosted a reception which was attended by over 200 people. Author and IDF sharpshooter Izzy Ezagui spoke at the reception and promoted his new book Disarmed.

Campus Coordinator Ben Suster delivers a rousing speech at the CAMERA reception.

Senior Campus Coordinator Tatiana Becker said of her experience at the conference, “I had the opportunity to personally and professionally connect with students from all over the country, some of whom I only get to see twice a year otherwise! It was very helpful to be there dealing with BDS campaigns popping up on certain campuses as well because I was able to meet and strategize with fellow professionals and students.”

Students at the CAMERA reception in Washington D.C.

Director of Campus Programming and Strategic Relationships Hali Haber attended AIPAC for the fourth time. She said, “This year, I attended sessions that expanded my knowledge on specific topics and provided important updates on various matters pertaining to Israel. I attended a session on progressive women and Zionism, Israel in the Media, and how to win on campus. I also attended AEPi’s reception on Monday evening. I was able to network with many of our students and also with other professionals from other Israel organizations.”

Students from the University of Central Florida at the CAMERA reception.

International Campus Director Aviva Slomich was honored to speak on a panel at the Policy Conference on the topic of Millenial Mobilization. The panelists discussed the growing divide amongst Millenials concerning their opinions on Israel and how to best educate new generations of pro-Israel students.

Contributed by CAMERA on Campus staff.

February and March Events Update

February and March have been busy for many CAMERA-supported groups.  Events sponsored by CAMERA on Campus had a variety of speakers and topics and were well attended!

Glasgow University Israel & Middle East Forum hosted their event, “Israel & Geopolitics with Eylon Levy”. Eylon Levy is an i24NEWS anchor and spoke to the group about Israel’s geopolitical situation. He was able to give insight and a discussion about the security and defense challenges that Israel faces, the Arab Spring, historical perspective on Israel’s shifting role in the Levant, the domestic problem posed by the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel’s economic and military strengths, the Shia-Sunni rivalry, and the influence of the United States. The event was very well attended and informative!

CAMERA-supported group YOFI, at Baruch College held their event, “I’m not Russian, I’m Ukrainian” with Actor Dean Miroshnikov. Dean is a famous Israeli-Ukrainian actor, known for The Eight (2005), Fullmoon (2017) and Combat Medics (2016). At a young age, Dean made aliyah from Ukraine. Adel Alaiev, sophomore, described the event as follows: “It was a pleasure hearing Dean speak. It’s always inspiring when people are expressive about their passion, and Dean really conveyed that throughout his entire presentation. His story was captivating – from aliyah to the flotilla and the IDF to being a Russian-Israeli-Jew – I learned so much and was mesmerized by his story.” The event had a great turnout and the group is looking forward to bringing similar events to campus!

CAMERA-supported group Bears for Israel at the University of California, Berkeley held the event, “Hummus not Hamas”. At the event, students were able to make (and eat!) their own hummus while learning about the known terrorist organization, Hamas. The group was able to analyze the Hamas charter and to learn further about the history and origins of the terrorist organization. The audience was very engaged and interested in the topic at hand.

CAMERA- supported group SKFI, at Rutgers University hosted Neil Lazarus for the event “Israel and the Middle East in the Age of Hashtag Diplomacy”. Neil Lazarus spoke to the group about Israel in the context of world affairs in an engaging and entertaining manner. Later in the event, students were able to ask questions and engage in a discussion. Many topics were covered, such as the current political situation in Israel as well as the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The event went very well and the group received positive feedback!

CLIO at Columbia Law held the event “Israel 101 Info Session”. The group was able to discuss the basics of Israel. The attendees were very interested and seemed to learn a lot from their discussion!  

Energy Studies Programme, School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University hosted the event, “Israeli minorities: an insight of Israeli Bedouin diplomat”. (also included: government efforts of integrating minorities into the Israeli economy.) The talk by Ishmael Khaldi, facilitated by CAMERA, was the first of its kind held in India. Khaldi spoke to the attendees about his experience, thoughts, and insights as a member of the minority community in Israel. He was also able to talk to the group about the Israeli government’s efforts to integrate the Arab minority into Israel’s economy. The event was very successful and there are hopes to continue to host similar events in the future!

UC Davis, Queens College, and Tulane University all hosted Hen Mazzig! Each group was able to hear Hen Mazzig’s story, his experience as an openly gay commander in the IDF and in the COGAT Unit, and his experiences as an Israel activist. “Hen’s story really reasonated with the LGBTQ students as well as the Israel proponents at SF State. He left us feeling really inspired and active in showing the community our narrative and our story, and to be proud of who we are and not afraid to tell it…” – Ben Gaster (iTeam) President. Each group was very engaged and eager to hear more about his story!

CAMERA- supported group Mustangs United for Israel, at Cal Poly SLO hosted Daniel Rubenstein this month. Rubenstein spoke about his experiences during his time as the point of contact for media relations in the IDF Spokesperson unit and his time working at AIPAC in their headquarters. The group was able to be engaged in a number of ways throughout his presentation, and seemed to really enjoy the event! “In my opinion I think Daniel was one of the best speakers if not the best CAMERA speaker we’ve had so far. He was such a great speaker, had so many interesting things to say, and people were interested from the moment he started until the moment he finished. Seriously loved having him at Cal Poly and I think he’s a really really great speaker to bring to other campuses at well. And thank you again CAMERA for sponsoring and providing the food for the event!…” – Aliza Herzberg (Vice President of Mustangs United for Israel)

Contributed by CAMERA on Campus staff.

India-Israel Bilateral Agreements to Boost Indian Higher Education Sector

India and Israel’s bilateral cooperation is likely to boost collaboration between in the field of higher education and research observes Hriday Ch Sarma for Elets News Network (ENN).

At present, India and Israel are enhancing their political and economic allies. The cooperation between them is steadfastly increasing not only in the area of defence cooperation, but in an array of sectors, such as agriculture, water, cyber security, oil & gas and so on. This is really commendable considering the fact that the friendship between the two historic nations is just two and half decades old.

For this new found friendship to unceasingly continue in the future, a solid foundation needs to be created that intricately binds people from both sides. There is, of course, no magic band for this to happen; however, dedicated collaboration in the field of higher education can act as a tool for the pursuit of common goals among the younger generations from both countries. This in turn will shape a common destiny for the two countries in the emerging world order.

Israel presents ample scope for learning of new and advanced subjects, including but not limited to microbiology, nanotechnology, business management and information security, to Indian students.  The country has state-of-art education institutes and research centres that are ranked among the best in the world. The most famous among them are: Weizmann Institute of Science, established in 1934, a multidisciplinary public research university offering high academic degrees in the fields of natural and exact sciences; Hebrew University of Jerusalem (also known as HUJI) that serves around 23,000 students from around the world in its 7 faculties and 14 schools; and Tel Aviv University, the largest public university in the country, offers 125 schools and departments across the spectrum of sciences, humanities and arts- qualifying as the most comprehensive institution of higher learning and research in Israel.

In addition to the aforesaid ones, the country has also numerous education and research institutes that are excelling in their respective areas of studies, some even at the international level. Sheba Medical Centre (Tel Ha’shomer), the biggest medical centre in the country, has three hospitals that offer more than 60 programs for medical professionals: doctors, nurses and administrators. The students pursing courses here gain practical experience and “on the job training”. Aharon Ofri Centre (Kibbutz Ramat Rachel), a collaboration of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ministry of Education, offers diverse educational courses for teachers from all around the world. Here course participants can get trained in: curriculum development, establishing educational systems in rural areas, technology embedding in schools and classes, social rehabilitation of neighbourhoods and drug abuse prevention. The list of such institutes is a long one, which also includes Israeli College for Security and Investigations (Jerusalem), Centre of International Agriculture Development Cooperation (Rehovot), Arava International Trainee Centre (Sapir) and Golda Meir Training Centre (Haifa) as ranked among the Avant grade.

Israel offers range of scholarships exclusively for Indian students to not just come and study there; but also enable them to gain understanding of the local culture as it really is.The Government of Israel offers 7 scholarships (2 scholarship for study of Hebrew language and 5 for academic research) annually as a part of the Cultural Agreements between Israel and India. This scholarship is categorized under two categories: 1/ For Masters and PhD Programmes, 2/ For Post Doctorate and Research Programmes. Moreover, the Israeli Council of Higher Education has been offering annual post-doctoral fellowships to about 100 students from India and China since 2012.

Israel is keen to develop joint research projects and academic studies with India for it sees the immense manpower potential in the latter. India, on its part, is trying to equally gesticulate by encouraging Israeli academics as well as businessmen to set up lasting ventures that could be mutually benefiting. Already the Indian government has set up a $40 million joint fund with Israel for research and development in innovation. Moreover, private education institutes in India, such as O.P. Jindal University and Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, have joined the bandwagonof strategic bilateral partnership by initiating their own Israel studies centres.

So, it is now up to the young minds in India to grab a pie for themselves from among the endless possibilities of excellence that Israel is offering at the moment!

This article originally appeared on digitalLEARNING Magazine.

Contributed by Jawaharlal Nehru University CAMERA Fellow Hriday Sarma.

King’s College London Students Threaten Legal Action After Union Promotes ‘Discriminatory’ BDS Events

avatarby Shiri Moshe

Screenshot of a KCLSU newsletter sent to students on Feb. 23, 2018. Photo: KCLSU.

Students at King’s College London (KCL) are considering taking legal action after their elected representatives promoted “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW) events in a mass email to peers.

In an “Officers Update” sent to students on February 23, the KCL Students’ Union (KCLSU) described IAW as an effort to raise “awareness of Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people and [build] support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

The week-long campaign — organized by the KCL Action Palestine Society — began on Monday and includes events on “Football and Whitewashing Apartheid,” as well as “the Politics of Racist Detention: From Palestine to the UK.”

KCL’s Israel Society denounced the newsletter’s inclusion of IAW as an expression of bias and a violation of KCLSU’s mandate.


“This is the only student society event of the entire year that KCLSU has advertised and endorsed, with absolutely no right to do so,” Tamara Berens — president of KCL Israel Society — said in a statement shared by the advocacy group CAMERA on Campus UK, with which she is affiliated.

Berens indicated that promoting IAW “is not within KCLSU’s usual charitable objects, and is therefore unlawful.”

“It also contravenes the commitment of KCLSU as a charity not to run a political campaign,” she added, urging the student body to apologize for advertising a “discriminatory” series of events in a way that left Jewish and Israeli students “shocked and confused.”

On social media, Berens pointed out that KCLSU President Momin Saqib participated in the “aggressive” protest held at KCL earlier this month against former Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor, which was condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the community’s representative body.

“After ignoring our attempts to arrange a meeting with him, we feel he has acted to purposefully marginalise Israeli students on campus,” she wrote.

A fellow member of KCL Israel Society, Hadar Langerman, also criticized KCLSU’s endorsement of IAW, whose slogan “itself is antisemitic and contrary to the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of antisemitism,” which was adopted by the British government in 2016 and by the National Union of Students in 2017. Aside from addressing classic antisemitism, the definition also touches on antisemitic expressions couched as anti-Zionism, including the use of double standards against Israel and the denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

“There are procedures in place where students can ask for their events to be advertised, but this is unprecedented,” argued Langerman, who is also a fellow with CAMERA. “To see our union, which is supposed to be representing all students, take a deliberate jab at Jewish students and those supportive of Israel is appalling and frightening.”

KCL Israel Society said it raised its concerns with both KCLSU and KCL administrators, neither of which replied to requests for comment by press time.

Last week, an official with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) — which represents some 8,500 students in the UK and Ireland — wrote that IAW “is weakening,” with events planned in “fewer than 10 universities across the country” in 2018.

 The current “handful” of IAW events, which still serve to “intimidate Jewish students and others,” are “being dragged by tired, worn-out campaigners who can’t admit defeat,” argued UJS campaigns manager Liron Velleman.

Yet this characterization was challenged by Berens, who wrote in response that while the number of IAW events “has somewhat waned” due to “the efforts of Zionist activists on campus,” Jewish students and their representatives should remain vigilant.

“As long as events that demonise and defame Israel continue to occur with the participation of student union presidents and sabbatical officers,” she observed, “we must treat the issue as a pressing one.”

This article was originally published in the Algemeiner.

King’s College London Students Threaten Legal Action After Union Promotes ‘Discriminatory’ BDS Events

It’s Not About the Embassy

CAMERA Fellow Sam Goodman

On Feb. 23, the Trump administration announced the U.S. embassy in Israel will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14. Some people are celebrating while others are livid. Angry Palestinian leaders including Mahmoud Abbas claim America has jeopardized its role as mediator in the Middle East peace process. The question that begs to be asked is: what peace process?

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has long been considered one of the world’s most intricate conflicts. There have been a number of opportunities for peace talks yet all have been unsuccessful and had nothing to do with the U.S. embassy location.

A number of explanations for these failures have been given, among which the most convincing is the role the perpetuation of the conflict has played in strengthening the Palestinian victimhood. Benefitting from the long-term conflict, Palestinian leaders have exploited their own people for personal gain.

It is said that conflict provides even the most marginalized organizations with the potential to invoke fear. This is illustrated by the “days of rage” and other violent responses Palestinian leaders have orchestrated as a result of moving the embassy. They take advantage of the ongoing conflict to persuade and manipulate their people into behaving violently against perceived change to the status quo such as metal detectors leading up to Temple Mount, put in place to protect all civilians against recent upheaval.

The world is sadly missing the counterproductive way in which the Palestinian leaders are employing violence as a bargaining tool whose ultimate goal is to inhibit peace.

In the words of Nikki Haley, the U.S ambassador to the United Nations, “The Palestinian leadership has a choice to make between two different paths. There is the choice between absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence. That path has led and will continue to lead, to nothing but hardship for the Palestinian people. Or there is the path of negotiation and compromise. History has shown that path to be successful for Egypt and Jordan including the transfer of territory. That path remains open to the Palestinian leadership if only it is courageous enough to take it.”

Furthermore, the U.S.’s sovereign decision to move the embassy will take place despite the refusal of Palestinian leaders to accept it. Whether or not you agree with the embassy move, it’s a legitimate decision a sovereign nation can make. The embassy move is entirely legal and will be relocated to an undisputed part of West Jerusalem.

For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is not just a physical place with an abundance of Jewish history; it is a religious concept that surpasses time. At the annual Passover Seder, Jews reaffirm this connection through their proclamation of, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Thus, it is only natural for a sovereign state like Israel to have the right to independently define where its capital should be located.

Unfortunately, this is not applied when it comes to Israel, as it relentlessly faces more criticism and condemnation than any other country from the UN and countless other political organizations. This includes countries who systematically kill, torture and deny its citizens of basic human rights on a daily basis. For example, in a 2017 U.N. General Assembly, there were nine resolutions on Israel and only six on the rest of the world including one for Syria.

It is time to put an end to the obsessive focus on the American decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to instead, begin figuring out a way to help release the Palestinian people from the clutches of their oppressive leaders. This can only be accomplished when the world begins to recognize where the root of the conflict actually lies.

Contributed by Sam Goodman, CAMERA Fellow at Carleton University.

KCL Students Threaten Legal Action Against Student Union

London, England (Sunday, February 26th) — The King’s College London (KCL) Israel Society is considering legal action after the KCL Student Union (KCLSU) promoted ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ (IAW) in a newsletter emailed to all KCL students on February 23rd.

There is no precedent for the KCLSU to promote student society events in their newsletter.

“This is the only student society event of the entire year that KCLSU has advertised and endorsed, with absolutely no right to do so,” said Tamara Berens, President of KCL Israel Society and Campus Associate for educational organisation CAMERA on Campus UK.

According to KCL CAMERA Fellow and member of KCL Israel Society Hadar Langerman, it is unheard of to have ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ publicised in an email signed by student officers. “There are procedures in place where students can ask for their events to be advertised, but this is unprecedented,” she said.

Screenshot from KCLSU’s newsletter. Credit: Tamara Berens

Screenshot from KCLSU’s newsletter. Credit: Tamara Berens.

KCL Israel Society has responded by alerting KCLSU’s president and the president of KCL that the contents of the newsletter are unlawful and antisemitic.

“Promoting ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ is not within KCLSU’s usual charitable objects, and is therefore unlawful. It also contravenes the commitment of KCLSU as a charity not to run a political campaign,” Berens said.

“The slogan ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ itself is antisemitic and contrary to the IHRA definition of antisemitism adopted by the British government and the National Union of Students. To see our union, which is supposed to be representing all students, take a deliberate jab at Jewish students and those supportive of Israel is appalling and frightening,” said Langerman.

“KCLSU should represent students of all nationalities on campus. Instead, it has publicised a series of events which specifically defame and demonise Israeli students,” said Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director for CAMERA.

Berens criticized the union for not fulfilling its mandate. “KCLSU is showing they have no respect for the rights and welfare of the students they claim to represent. I demand that KCLSU apologise for contravening their own procedures to advertise such a discriminatory event. Jewish and Israeli students are shocked and confused.”

This is not the only instance of KCLSU or its student officers expressing political bias on campus.

The president of KCLSU Momin Saqib was also filmed on video actively participating in an aggressive protest against an event hosted by KCL Israel Society featuring former Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor earlier this month.

Contributed by CAMERA on Campus UK staff.

Visiting Ramallah

Lilia Gaufberg

This past July, at the peak of another sweltering Israeli summer, I hopped onto bus 218 from Jerusalem to Ramallah, the primary Palestinian-Arab city in area A of Judea and Samaria, more commonly known as the West Bank. 45 minutes and one security checkpoint later, the rolling hills of Jerusalem, dotted with the blue and white of the Israeli flag, blended into bustling landscapes sprinkled with red, black, and green.

Ramallah is a city like any other: alive with sounds and smells, ripe with an energy unique to largely populated areas. In Ramallah, I saw gorgeous apartment buildings, schools, and towering mosques contrasted with littered streets. In Ramallah, I witnessed girls in tank tops and shorts drinking iced coffees in front of mosques during the call to prayer. In this landscape of life, one overwhelming element felt out of place: in Ramallah, everywhere you turn, a vehement hatred of Israel and a denial of Jewish history in the land of Israel pulses throughout the city, an overwhelming undercurrent of identity oppression. In Ramallah, streets and squares are named after internationally recognized terrorists. In Ramallah, the main museum in the center of the city, entitled “Yasser Arafat Museum”, complete with marble floors, decorated guards, and an extravagant wading pool, contains exhibits which praise the “intifadas”, the terror wars, inflicted upon Jews and largely orchestrated by Palestinian leaders themselves.

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Contributed by former CAMERA intern Lilia Gaufberg.