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.

Trinity College Dublin Sponsors Anti-Israel Hate Fest

November 9, 2017

President of Maynooth University Israel Society, Alan Lyne.

Trinity is one of Ireland’s most famous and well-established universities. I have come to expect excellence, well-mannered discussion and debate from such a prestigious establishment.

Sadly the recent conference on the 11-12 September 2017 held at and funded by Trinity College, “Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: The Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel” and run by Academics for Palestine, did not live up to the standards I have come to know.

Having arrived on a cold afternoon, I registered and received my name tag. I proceeded to get something to eat where I met a woman also attending the conference. I would later find out her name was Nadia Silhi Chahin, she would be speaking at the event the following day. We had a brief conversation about the Palestinian territories in which she said her family had come from “Palestine”.  

During our conversation, Nadia referred to Zionists instead of Israelis on a few of occasions and so I asked, “What is a Zionist”? To my surprise, given that the usual definitions given to Zionists can be aggressive, she gave me the accepted definition of a Zionist; one who believes that Jews have the right to self-determination and a homeland in Israel.  I asked, “are you a Zionist then?” She replied, “No.” She then went on to say that she does not believe that the Jews should have a homeland in Palestine.

Walking into the conference hall, I had a sour taste in my mouth. With students wearing “Free Palestine” and “Israel Apartheid” shirts, I could tell this was not going to be simply a discussion about freedom of speech. There was a brief introduction to the conference’s proceedings, nothing too interesting until the funders were thanked for their support. The list included Trinity College Dublin and IFUT (Irish Federation of University Teachers). I was shocked, to say the least, that I had already met one speaker who believed Israel should not exist and that Trinity University and IFUT funded this Israel hate fest.

The main keynote speaker was Steven Salaita. I was well aware of Steven and his previous controversies prior to coming to the conference and had done some research on him. As Steven took to the stand, there was an air of silence as if a god had entered the room. Many seemed to be in awe around this figure, many of who called him a hero for freedom of speech. I would give him a different name.

Steven opened his talk by welcoming all of the members of the Israeli Embassy and made several jokes to the tune of the embassy sending “spies” to catch him say something controversial. From the onset, I knew this would become a bloodbath of simply trying to invoke a response from someone. Eventually, that would be me. During the speech, Steven makes several references to “Zionists” being supporters of Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and so on. The undertone of hatred towards those of the pro-Israel variety was quite clear. From calling Jews colonizers to stating “Zionists” make up b******t lies and accusing Israel of going on “killing sprees”, to say Steven was here to speak about freedom of speech is nonsense in itself. Steven received a standing ovation following his speech.

Towards the end of his speech, Salaita made reference to a tweet that had him fired from the University of Illinois. Salaita then sued the university, something he was “glad” to do. He claims he was fired due to his pro-Palestinian views and that there was a campaign organised to have him fired by pro-Israel activists. He did not provide any further information on the groups. The tweet was infamous, yet it was not directly quoted during his speech, and the audience was not told what the tweet contained.

 

A selection from the 2014 Twitter thread which resulted in Salaita’s dismissal from the University of Illinois.

Come question time, I took it upon myself to reference it. So I asked him, “Do you still stand by what you said?” I then read out the tweet, “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: “I wish all the f*****g West Bank settlers would go missing.” ” I gave context to the crowd, the tweet was posted at a time in which three Israeli settlers went missing in the West Bank and were found murdered by Hamas days later. What came next was not only shocking but also terrifying on many levels.

 

The crowd seemed stunned that I had even dared ask such a question, the eyes of the room were locked onto me. A moment passed of silence as my heart pounded in terror. It seemed I was not the only one in shock, Steven seemed dismayed that anyone should question his story. He tried to answer the question but seemed lost in the array of “emm” and ughh”. To try and break the awkwardness he spoke of the recent news of Hezbollah and Hamas being backed by Iran as a ploy by Israel, suggesting a new reason for Israel to go to war. He was clearly trying to think of an answer to my question.

Once back on topic, he stood by his statement and said he does wish all settlers would go missing but does not wish harm to them. He concluded his response by claiming that the settlements are the main cause of the conflict in the West Bank. Despite his vague clarification for his tweet,  it is clear he wishes harm upon Zionists and/or settlers from his response and tweets. In the past Salaita has  ridiculously alleged that Zionists have a sexual urge for bloodshed.

Academics for Palestine claimed this conference was about freedom of speech, given its title. This conference was anything but. Besides the marauding talks by academics saying the same convoluted messages one after the other, it was, to be put simply, an anti-Israel hate fest. I learned nothing of the core message of the conference and simply saw that people were willing to pay the entrance fee to listen to speakers repeat the lies that they wanted to hear. The off-hand conversations I heard referencing “Israeli genocide” and hatred told me enough about the true goal of people who attend these conferences.

One may make up their own mind as to how this conference was run but I have made up my own and encourage others to avoid any such conferences in the future if they wish for a well-balanced discussion. I strongly believe that Trinity and IFUT should apologise for hosting and funding such a horrendously one-sided, hate-filled event.

Contributed by Alan Lyne, president of CAMERA-supported society Maynooth University Israel Society.

The Room Where it Happened

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shapiro.

I was lucky enough to see “Hamilton: An American Musical” in Los Angeles this summer. The now cult-classic story of the inner workings of our fledgling country is an inspiring tale of ambition and revolution. Its “shout-outs” to women and immigrants, moments that saw the most applause during the show, are especially relevant with the Trump administration’s recent policies and actions.

I couldn’t help but be inspired to fight for the democratic ideals that hold our country together and should apply to all peoples equally. It is for exactly this reason that one particular scene stood out to me as especially relevant to my experience here at Tufts: Aaron Burr’s dramatic number, “The Room Where It Happens,” recounts a meeting completed in secrecy, resulting in a legislative agreement between Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Photo: Hamilton: An American Musical

I couldn’t help but draw parallels between this off-the-record assembly and the recent BDS resolution heard by the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate. I won’t comment on the BDS campaign as a whole right now, but on the abhorrent tactics used to disenfranchise Jewish, pro-Israel students.

Almost 48 hours after the proposed resolution’s text was publicly released, our class senators voted on the eve of Passover — one of the holiest Jewish holidays — on an issue very deeply relevant to the Jewish community. To debate an issue with many implications requires more than casual thought, and the Jews of the pro-Israel community were denied their due equality in this meeting.

With no time to prepare, we were thrown into an awful situation that had seemingly little regard for our religious practices or emotional well-being. This vote taking place at a time when many Jewish students had left campus to prepare for the Passover holiday demonstrates an intentional lack of representation in our representative body.

I saw how this meeting transpired over the hours which, despite its length, felt rushed. Senators on more than one occasion motioned to vote on the resolution at hand, a ridiculous proposition to cut off speaking time, since everyone knew that matters had not been discussed to completion.

A fair and free debate could not be had even with unlimited time to speak, as my community was prevented from adequate time to prepare an argument. A weighty topic should not feel rushed, and involved communities should definitely not be disenfranchised.

The resolution’s writers did not consult any of the Israel-related groups on campus (J Street U, Tufts Friends of Israel, Tufts American Israel Alliance, Visions of Peace) in their preparations, meaning any possibility for collaboration and compromise was intentionally avoided.

We do not want to hide this debate from the campus but instead, engage over an issue we are all passionate about. At the meeting, not only was the live-stream devoid of video imagery, but the audio intentionally omitted any mention of senators’ names.

Furthermore, the results of the vote were published only in number and senators were not tied to their vote. With this meeting taking place behind closed doors, the TCU Senate represented authoritarian levels of lacking transparency.

“No one else was in the room where it happened.”

The closed nature of the TCU Senate proceeding flies in the face of democracy and is the antithesis of true representation. In the United States today we are privileged to have all congressional meetings televised on the ever-so-exciting C-SPAN, footage available at our disposal to hold our elected representatives accountable.

The “compromise” by the BDS resolution’s writers to accommodate students who were away for the holiday, which was agreed upon with the TCU Senate, is comical at best: a Google Form for students to submit written statements that may or not even be read during the meeting, and with no way to validate the authors’ connection to Tufts.

If it was so widely known that students with relevant opinions necessary for fair debate could not be present to voice those thoughts, why hear the meeting at this time? The date being the last senate meeting of the year is not a valid excuse — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, unfortunately, and the university’s investments (if they even were to change) would not occur at a different date if the resolution was proposed at the beginning of the next school year.

I understand the safety concerns of the meeting, valid reasons why involved students would not want their faces or names broadcast to a world of right-wing intimidators.

But to those involved I pose this question — is it the place of the student senate to debate geopolitical matters that could threaten their safety and the safety of their peers on campus? I feel that the senate should vote on matters relevant to changing the student experience on campus, passing resolutions that are direct pleas to the administration to change how student life operates.

Aerial photos of the Tufts University Medford/Somerville campus. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

It seems highly unorthodox to change the senate proceedings involving transparency for specific meetings — the usual practices should have been followed if it was to be heard, or it should not have been heard at all.

Surely the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts are a discussion to be had on campus, but it is a debate that needs time, preparation, nuance and the right setting. The university and student body could and should work to create intentional spaces for discourse, whether that shapes up to be a club, online forum or committee task force. Already groups like CIVIC and other political groups, especially Tufts Democrats and Republicans, are open forums to discuss exactly these matters. The TCU Senate is not this place.

While there is merit to debating whether or not the senate should even delve into national or international politics in their resolution-passing powers, our advocacy and activist energy should not be put into symbolic action but into actual change-making efforts. I learn from my Jewish tradition the value of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world — the university can and should be an active player in repairing the world.

That being said, this has to start with student voices and lead to real action. If we really care about these issues, let’s work together so the university can elevate our voices to a productive platform that will contribute to peacemaking efforts on the ground. We need dialogue between both sides, and if the TCU Senate thinks it’s the right forum to facilitate that, by all means, help bring us together. For that to happen though, it can’t come in the form of one-sided resolutions that alienate relevant voices, endanger participants’ safety and don’t result in any productive or actual action.

To the new TCU Senate for this school year, I know you have ambitious goals and hopes to refine the duties of your work. I ask that you hold the democratic ideals of transparency and accountability close to your heart in all of your work — students have a right and a need to know how you are representing them. Of course, your safety is of paramount importance, and so it seems like a logical benchmark to not deliberate over issues that would threaten your well-being on campus. Leave these matters to actual political debate groups, where an open dialogue really can and should be had. Work to give students a wider platform for debate on heated issues.

But most importantly, go above and beyond in promoting and broadcasting your work, because we want to see what’s going on and take an active stake in student life matters.

I demand more of our elected student representatives. I demand a fair and free campus environment that holds true to the ideals of democracy. That did not happen here.

I say this because I was in the room where it happened.

Contributed by Tufts University CAMERA Fellow and CAMERA-supported group Tufts Friends of Israel Co-Director of Advocacy Ben Shapiro.

UC Davis Remains Silent in Wake of Anti-Semitic Sermon

November 8, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Charline Delkhah.

On July 14th and 21st, Imam Ammar Shahin from the Islamic Center of Davis gave anti-Semitic sermons praying for the annihilation of the Jews. The anti-Semitic rhetoric began on the 14th, talking about the events that occurred at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and how the “wicked Jews” are prohibiting prayer at the Mosque. He went on to say, “Oh Allah, count them one by one and destroy them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them. Oh Allah, destroy them and do not spare their young or their elderly. Oh Allah, turn Jerusalem and Palestine into a graveyard for the Jews.”

 

The hatred and anger toward the Jews didn’t stop there. In his next sermon on July 21st, he continued: “Judgement day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews.” Throughout his speech, he prayed for Allah to “count them [the Jews] one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one, do not spare any of them … Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us show in words and in deeds.” There are no clearer words to imply the death of Jews than the words Imam Shahin proclaimed on this day.

As a Jewish student, I have seen my fair share of anti-Semitic actions on campus. I’ve had foul and intolerable words yelled at me while I’m studying because I had a sticker of Israel on my laptop. When Arab-Israeli Diplomat George Deek came to speak on campus, anti-Semitic students shouted, “Death to Jews” at my friends and me. I’ve known Jewish students who are afraid to speak up in class against anti-Semitic professors because they’re afraid of what might happen to their academic reputations. I’ve seen the clear and blatant anti-Zionist newspaper clippings that were in Hart Hall for at least two years, even after multiple complaints by Davis Faculty for Israel and Aggies for Israel.

What I haven’t seen is an open statement from the school about any of these events, let alone the events that happened on July 14th and July 21st. I’ve yet to receive an email from the Chancellor showing his deepest sorrows regarding the Imam’s sermon. This lack of concern and condemnation against hate speech from the university makes us students feel as if the community and school do not recognize our issues and the struggles that we as Jewish students face on campus. But what’s more frustrating is that, due to the lack of exposure and punishment for these acts, other students don’t know what happened. They’re blind, not only to the harassment of Jews and Israelis during my tenure at Davis, but also to the Imam’s sermon.

When the Islamic Center was vandalized, Jewish organizations wrote letters to the Center expressing their deepest sorrows and condemning any acts of violence. In another effort to show their condolences and solidarity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish interest sorority, delivered cookies and pastries to Epsilon Alpha Sigma, the Arab sorority on campus. Interim Chancellor Hexter sent an eloquent message to the community stating, “We want to express the disgust, outrage, and sadness we feel over this incident. We know that it has caused, and continues to cause, great distress and fear among members of the Muslim communities at UC Davis and in the City of Davis. We extend to both our deep sympathy and unwavering support.” This was just a brief portion of the email that was sent to all Davis students. None of these actions were reciprocated to our community when words of hatred were thrown at us.

Despite the silence by the administration, those of us who deem it necessary to expose the hate that has been expressed against Jews on our campus have shared these traumatic experiences with others. Many students have wondered, upon hearing Imam Shahin’s statements, why they are only just now hearing about them, and were angered by the school administration’s silence. Hate should not be accepted by any person or any community. Now, more than ever, we have to stand with one another, regardless if they’re Jewish, Muslim, pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, gay, transgender, black, Hispanic or white. A person is a human, and that should mean something.

 

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and Vice President of CAMERA-supported group Aggies for Israel at UC Davis Charline Delkhah.

This article was originally published in UC Davis campus paper The California Aggie.

Israel’s Defense Network

November 6, 2017

The following interview with International Campus Director Aviva Slomich was originally published in Hebrew in Israeli media outlets Israel Hayom, NRG, and Makor Rishon. CAMERA is featured in the story “Israel’s Defense Network” which showcases nine organizations working hard to counter the BDS campaign.

Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director for CAMERA

International Campus Director for CAMERA Aviva Slomich. Photo: Arik Sultan

The organization, whose name stands for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle-East Reporting in America, is active at over 80 universities, with Jewish and non-Jewish students who wish to support Israel, and are ready to deal with the forces that spread lies against Israel on campuses. In addition, the organization exposes lies and distortions about Israel in the framework of ‘media criticism’.

Seniority in the struggle: 35 years.

Countries and regions of operation: USA, Canada, Britain, Ireland and Israel.

An Israeli personality that every BDS activist has to meet?

“Salim Joubran- the Supreme court judge, who was amongst the three judges in the court that rejected Moshe Katsav’s appeal and sent an Israeli president to jail. He completely rejects the claims of the boycott movement, such as the one that Israel is an apartheid state. If Israel truly was an apartheid state, an Arab judge couldn’t have sent a Jewish president to prison”.

What is the most effective way to fight BDS?

“To assure that Israel’s voice will be heard on campus by educated Zionists, who educate others about Israel and expose the anti-Israel bias of professors and groups that defame Israelis.”

What Does the Balfour Declaration Mean for Students Today?

November 2, 2017

CAMERA on Campus UK Associate Tamara Berens.

This November 2nd marks 100 years since the issuing of the Balfour Declaration. However, 100 years on, what relevance does this Declaration have for students on campus?

The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent to Lord Walter Rothschild by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declaring support for the establishment of a ‘national home for the Jewish people’ in what was to become the British Mandate of Palestine.

It was the first official declaration of political support for Jewish independence and it paved the way for the legal foundations of the modern State of Israel. In the context of WWI which was still raging at the time, it offered Britain the opportunity for a stake in the Middle East in the expected wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. It also marked one of the first major successes of the political Zionist movement which had officially been established with the First Zionist Congress in 1897.

The Declaration today should serve as a reminder of the legal founding of the State of Israel, evident in the level of international diplomacy that went into securing the letter. The Balfour Declaration was not a unilateral document on behalf of the British, but rather something which had been agreed upon privately by allied diplomats before it was issued. It marked the beginning of a legal process, which involved the San Remo conference of 1920 where the Declaration was officially adopted by the allied powers, and the creation of the British Mandate for Palestine in 1922. The Declaration should also serve as a celebration of the Christian Zionism which influenced Lord Balfour’s support for Jewish independence then and which is very much alive in Britain today. On November 7th the Royal Albert Hall will host a celebration of the Declaration which marks the commitment of Christians to support for Jewish national self-determination in their historic homeland of Israel. There is no doubt that today in the UK, many groups will mark the Balfour Declaration by celebrating the national movement for the self determination of the Jewish people that is Zionism.

Lord Arthur James Balfour and his Declaration

However, on campus and in the media, the meaning of the Balfour Declaration is being widely distorted.

Palestinian Societies across campuses in London are misrepresenting the letter by hosting events designed to put forward the Balfour Declaration as evidence of the ‘settler-colonial’ nature of Israel’s founding.

Recently, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson authored an article in the Telegraph expressing his concern with a clause in the Balfour Declaration not being fulfilled. He writes: ‘I see no contradiction in being a friend of Israel – and a believer in that country’s destiny – while also being deeply moved by the suffering of those affected and dislodged by its birth. The vital caveat in the Balfour Declaration – intended to safeguard other communities – has not been fully realised.’ The exact wording of the document in its reference to Arab communities is as follows: ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’.

Both of these actions misrepresent the Balfour Declaration. Palestinian Societies on campus, in seeking to correlate the Balfour Declaration with colonialism ignore the importance of the document as a multilateral agreement between the allies of WWI.

Boris Johnson in his statement ignores the complexity of the conflict and the fact that Hamas in charge of the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is the agent stripping Palestinians of their religious and civil rights by preventing democratic elections and suppressing the religious and civil freedoms of Christians, atheists, and the LGBT+ community in those areas.

Under the Palestinian Authority Palestinians are killed for things which should be within their basic rights, such as selling land they own to Jews. Arabs and other minorities within Israel have full democratic, religious and civil rights. Representatives of Arab and other minorities play a full and active role in the state, including as ministers in the government, justices of the Supreme Court, members of parliament, senior academics, ambassadors, members of the civil service, and in the military. Christians, Druze, the Baha’i community and more have important centres of their faith in the country and participate in civic institutions.

Furthermore, Johnson misses the fact that there are many other aspects of the Declaration which certainly remained unfulfilled or even that were reneged.

The first aspect is the commitment in the Declaration to the fact that ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice… the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country’. In the years to follow, Arab leadership in the region, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini whose appointment was overseen by British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel, used the anniversary of the Declaration to legitimise violence against Jews. This included Arab riots in the 1920s in Jaffa, Hebron and elsewhere, as well as the Farhud in 1941 in Iraq and those that followed in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Aden and Morocco.

Not to mention the way in which the British reneged on the Declaration in 1939 as they decided in the run up to WWII that they wanted to placate the Arab leadership in the Mandate. They issued a White Paper limiting Jewish immigration to the Mandate to fifteen thousand every year for five years, ultimately refusing thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe, many of whom would tragically die in the Holocaust.

In terms of the impact that the British had in helping to implement the Declaration over the coming years afterwards, there is not much to celebrate.

I believe that instead, the celebration of the Balfour Declaration should focus on the importance of the letter in establishing a legal framework for the State of Israel to be created in the accordance of the international community. The Balfour Declaration is also a significant emblem of the Christian Zionism which remains today a crucial aspect of the friendship between Israel and the UK. CAMERA on Campus UK is proud to be marking the anniversary of the Declaration and to celebrate Israel’s achievements in honoring its clauses.

Contributed by CAMERA on Campus UK Associate Tamara Berens.

This article was originally published at Jewish News.

 

Nobody Can Take My Progressive Zionism Away From Me

October 29, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Fay Yanofsky.

When I studied the history of Jews and African-Americans in America, I saw many photos of our ancestors marching together for civil rights. It was evident that they were on the right side of history. Martin Luther King, courageous civil rights leader, spoke at synagogues, believed in the self-determination of the Jewish people, and marched alongside Jews at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement.

After recent events in Charlottesville, I felt a personal obligation as a member of the Jewish minority, which makes up .02% of the population worldwide, to march for racial justice and to stand against the white supremacy and discrimination that is engrained in society. My grandfather was one of the Nazis’s victims when white supremacists committed a gruesome genocide against the Jews. My grandmother was born and raised in a black and Jewish neighborhood in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

A Zioness Movement graphic.

When Nazis and Confederates recently chanted “Jews will not replace us”, this symbolized the evils of white supremacy trying to eradicate my grandfather’s personal identity, heritage, and values during the Holocaust, along with 12 million other victims. It was also a direct dismissal and attack on my grandmother’s neighborhood, kin, and childhood experiences. For these reasons, I attended the Post-Yom Kippur March for Racial Justice on October 1st, as well as Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson’s campaign “Stand Against Hate” which addressed the interconnectedness between racism against African Americans and anti-Semitism against Jews on October 19th.

Justice means standing with minorities struggling for equal opportunities to pursue happiness and to no longer be systematically and institutionally targeted for demise. Additionally, standing up for Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement for self-determination in Israel and preventing another anti-Semitic genocide. TaNahesi Coates’s Between the World and Me opened my eyes to the institutionalized racism against African-Americans in the United States and to the difficulty of growing up in a black body living in a white world.

In another of Coates’s books, The Case for Reparations, he referred to Israel as the model for reparations. As a Jew, I resonated even more with national black liberation movements because of the institutionalized and systemic anti-Semitism against Jews perpetrated throughout history.

My friend Natalie, who is a CAMERA Fellow herself at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and I marched with Zioness: a movement that stands for justice and fights against all forms of oppression. We stood against the marginalization, disempowerment, and demonization of Jews, people of color and other minorities. However, being both a progressive and an advocate of Zionism, the self-determination of the Jewish people, I felt my intersectional identities collide.

A male marshal wearing orange traffic control stripes came out from the tent to demand that my sign be removed. Shortly after that, a woman approached me with the marshal to demand that I put down my Zioness sign. My sign represented the movement against oppression as it had an intersection of an African-American woman wearing a Jewish Star. As a result, my hands clamped, chills rolled down my spine and my heart raced.

Other marchers try to cover up Zioness signs. [Photo: Zioness Movement Facebook page]

According to the marshals, there were too many Zioness signs in the same area and they did not want them appearing in photographs. However, as we collectively marched together against hate, there were many groups holding up other signs with messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Intersectional Feminism.” The act of holding Jews to a different standard than other minority groups is anti-Semitic. For me, the experience of being singled out reaffirmed the need for a strong Zionist movement. Jews should never be targeted again and subjected to anti-Semitic double standards.

However, I stood resisting racism with my fist in the air, my jacket representing the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, along with my Zioness sign protesting racial injustice
alongside my African American brothers and sisters. I did this because who were the March for
Racial Justice Organizers to question my identity? Who is anyone to question my identity? I
identify as progressive Zionist and nobody can take that away from me!

On October 19th, Reform Rabbi Michael Lerner spoke at Brooklyn College to Stand Against Hate with President Michelle Anderson. During the talk, Rabbi Lerner said that a flaw in liberalism is viewing people who hold different opinions from one’s own through an “Us vs. Them” lens. I still have hope that Zionism, kindness, and the truth will prevail.

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, Brooklyn College’s student paper.

UK Students Vow to Fight Campus Anti-Semitism

October 26, 2017

Students Spoke at Official CAMERA on Campus UK Launch Reception

More than 50 students and professionals from around the United Kingdom gathered at the Centre for Jewish Life in London on Tuesday, meeting for the official launch of CAMERA on Campus UK, an international student organisation that counters misinformation about Israel on college campuses.

 The room was packed with students and CAMERA staff sharing their campus experiences, with topics ranging from Judeophobia to Israel’s peace offers to the Arab world.

International Campus Director Aviva Slomich.

CAMERA inspires students to speak up, and that’s exactly what is needed in the UK right now,” said Daniel Kosky, a student at Nottingham University. “Too often students are intimidated, because anti-Israel activists are so loud and hostile.”

Last year, a CAMERA event made international headlines when riot police were called to University College London to protect Jewish attendees surrounded by a violent anti-Israel mob.

Nottingham CAMERA Fellow Daniel Kosky (right).

 “For British students facing a constant stream of misinformation about the Middle East and Israel, it’s invaluable to have an organisation like CAMERA to provide the necessary educational tools,” said Shlomo Roiter, a student at Cambridge University. “CAMERA provides students with a sense of solidarity.”

Khulan Davaajav, a CAMERA on Campus UK Associate and SOAS student, agrees. She says the organisation, which connects thousands of pro-Israel students and activists around the globe, is vital for both student confidence and the spread of truthful information about Israel.  

CAMERA on Campus UK brings educational opportunities to British campuses that just haven’t been here before,” Davaajav said. “CAMERA will play a crucial role assisting students in the years to come, providing workshops, conferences, lectures, films, and educational material.”

From left to right: CAMERA Fellow Daniel Kosky (Nottingham), International Campus Director Aviva Slomich, Joelle Reid (former Fellow at KCL), UK Associate Tamara Berens, Hadar Langerman (KCL), Shlomo Roiter (Cambridge) and UK Associate Khulan Davaajav.

 Aviva Slomich, international director for CAMERA on Campus, says that British students will now have access to resources and factual information in variety of languages: Hebrew, Arabic, English, Spanish and French. Students will also have access to the latest research from CAMERA’s two popular British media departments: UK Media Watch and BBC Watch.  

 “Because CAMERA is an international organization, we have staff from all over the world with a wide range of experience and scholarly expertise,” Slomich said. “Our global network, which CAMERA on Campus UK students will now enjoy, is a tremendous resource.”  

 “Campus culture in the UK is about to radically change,” CAMERA on Campus UK Associate and Kings College London student Tamara Berens said. “Jewish students in general, and pro-Israel students in particular, aren’t going to be bullied any longer. We intend to stand up and tell the truth about Israel.”

 “There is a genuine appetite for CAMERA,” Slomich added. She pointed out that CAMERA on Campus UK is already on eight campuses: Kings College London, SOAS, University College London, University of Strathclyde, Maynooth University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and University of Nottingham.

 “The number of schools will only grow from here,” Slomich said. “We’re very glad to be able to assist so many wonderful, courageous students.”