Why is Arab Violence Taken as a Given?

January 11, 2018

Conversation needs to shift from “don’t provoke” to “no excuse for terrorism”

Former MIT CAMERA Fellow Suri Bandler

On Dec. 6, 2017, President Trump announced that America officially acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and would eventually move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Referring to this as “acknowledging the obvious,” Trump explained that Israel is a sovereign state, recognized internationally and by the U.S., with the right to determine its own capital. In his declaration, Trump reiterated that such a move has no bearing on the city’s status under any peace agreement.

This declaration is entirely a symbolic gesture. The Israeli people already view Jerusalem as their capital in theory and in practice and as such all government business is conducted in the city: Jerusalem is the location of residence for Israel’s prime minister and president, hosts the Israeli Supreme Court and Parliament, and is the location in which visiting leaders are greeted.

Similarly, the American government already accepted Jerusalem as Israel’s capital long before this declaration. The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed overwhelmingly in the House (374–37) and Senate (93–5), declared an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called for the US embassy to be moved there from Tel Aviv. A provision, enacted every six months by previous presidents and by Trump along with this declaration, postpones the implementation of the act’s contents in the case that “such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.”

Such a provision acknowledged threats of violence and maintained a status quo of appeasement. Unfortunately, violence is both the expectation and the reality. In response to Trump’s declaration, the Palestinian “national and Islamic forces” announced three “days of rage,” or violent protests, which included rioters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Additionally, over 30 rockets were fired indiscriminately into Israeli communities from Gaza, and Hamas, the internationally recognized terrorist organization that controls Gaza, promised an intifada, or a violent uprising. The last official intifada, the Second Intifada, began in 2001 and resulted in terrorists killing over 1000 Israelis. This new declaration by Hamas follows a wave of stabbings, shootings, and car-rammings that began in 2015 and was deemed by some the “Stabbing Intifada.” To this date, it has included hundreds of such terrorist attacks.

Considering internationally recognized peace plans call for Jerusalem to be the capital of both entities, presumably it would be expected that the U.S. embassy would be built there. But unfortunately, we are left with violence and rocket fire in response to this symbolic gesture. This is not the first time that Jerusalem was used as an excuse and justification for violence. Such a trend is consistent throughout history. For example:

Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, on Sept. 28, 2001 was described as the “match” that instigated the Second Intifada. This intifada, mentioned earlier, began on Sept. 29, 2001 and resulted in Palestinian terrorists killing over 1000 Israelis through suicide bombings and other attacks. But there is evidence of direct orchestration, including the providing of arms for attacks, and testimony by his widow about his premeditated intentions to instigate violence, by then-leader Yasser Arafat. Arafat received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

Non-Muslim prayer is prohibited at the Temple Mount site due to threats of retribution, thereby casting prayer as an act of “provocation.” Even repairing a walkway in 2007 that served as the only entrance for non-Muslims to the site led to rioting across Jordan and Jerusalem and calls for a third intifada. Similarly, in July 2017, violence broke out in reaction to metal detectors that were installed by the Temple Mount. These metal detectors were installed in response to the smuggling of weapons that were used to kill two Israeli Druze police officers at the site. In response to the “desecration” caused by the installment, a Palestinian terrorist murdered three members of a civilian family at a Shabbat meal. The White House applauded Israel for easing tensions by removing the detectors.

Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s supposed peace partner, also uses Jerusalem as a means of instigating violence, honoring terrorists with monuments and monetary rewards, as witnessed with the Stabbing Intifada. Abbas has claimed that Jews’ “filthy feet” disgrace the site and praised “every drop of blood that was spilled for Jerusalem.” No UN resolution was passed in condemnation to these statements and calls for violence, yet we are left with overwhelming condemnation at the movement of an embassy. If the motivation behind these US embassy condemnations is a desire for peace, then how can organizations like the UN not condemn active calls for violence?

This announcement can now be added to the list.

Indeed, the PLO went as far as to threaten to revoke recognition of Israel’s existence in response to a purely symbolic gesture by the American government. Using such an arbitrary act as an excuse for such a drastic and nonsensical response indicates that the PLO does not want peace. Unfortunately, these duplicitous actions are not limited to the PLO and are ubiquitous across international forums. Although Jerusalem is the holiest city for Jews, and the Temple Mount is the holiest site, the United Nations UNESCO motion failed torecognize the site’s significance to Israel.

At the same time, in response to this U.S. declaration, the UN passed a resolution condemning the announcement and not the violence. Countries that voted in favor include China, Russia, Venezuela, and Qatar, each with a long list of human rights abuses. This is unfortunately no surprise, as between 2012–2015 86 percent of UN resolutions that condemned a single country condemned Israel. In 2016, 20 out of 26 condemnations focused on Israel, while only three related to Syria, and one each was related to North Korea, Iran, and Crimea. Just as the PLO’s disproportional threat to revoke recognition of Israel’s existence sheds light on its motivations, so too does the UN’s disproportional focus on Israel call into question these forums’ true intentions. Why is there this incredible imbalance in condemnations towards Israel?

Why is the immediate international reaction to maintain the status quo and repeal the declaration, in light of the “eventual” violence and instability that this purely symbolic move will cause and not an immediate condemnation of the incitement and calls to violence witnessed across the Arab world? Why is Arab violence taken as a given and why does the international community impose few expectations regarding violent uprisings that target civilians: men, women and children, infants, and the elderly?

If we establish a status quo where violence against civilians is overlooked or justified, then there will never be peace. We need to shift the paradigm from “don’t provoke” to “these excuses and the resulting violence will not be accepted” and hold any entity accountable for terrorism.

Put simply: if our standards are such that praying at a holy site is considered a justifiable excuse for violence, then the barrier to peace is not a symbolic gesture by the US. This mindset of simply assuming violence and terror has become so common that even many Israeli leaders and civilians are against this embassy move too, simply because a symbolic gesture supporting a situation already accepted by the Israeli people isn’t worth a threat to Israeli lives. Arab leaders, therefore, threaten violence with no standards or repercussions imposed by the international community. If this move brings anything to light, it should not be the importance of an embassy location, but rather the disproportionate and misguided reactions of the international community and the disparity that exists between standards for Israel and the Arab world.

Contributed by former CAMERA Fellow, MIT graduate student Suri Bandler.

UK CAMERA-Supported Societies Need You — Sign the Petition Today!

January 9, 2018

Scene of the protest at Hen Mazzig’s 2016 CAMERA event at UCL.

Click here to sign the petition.

While commendably inviting Israeli lecturer Hen Mazzig back to speak on January 25th after his CAMERA event was violently disrupted in 2016, UCL is not permitting the majority of London area students who attended the original event to attend this one because they are not UCL students.

UCL does not have a policy of restricting events only to UCL students.

Instead of ensuring that proper security measures are in place and that disruption will not be tolerated, UCL is choosing to exclude students from other local schools.

This means that many Jewish students cannot attend what would be a significant event for them.

Why is UCL, in effect, capitulating to intimidation tactics by the anti-Israel mob that tried to silence Hen in 2016?

Please sign our students’ petition and tell UCL #NotOnOurCampus.  Let Hen Mazzig speak to students from across London without disruption!

Click here to sign the petition.

Related coverage:

UK Students Petition Against Restrictions on Israeli Activist’s Talk (Jerusalem Post)

Jewish Students Angry Over Being Denied Access to Hen Mazzig Talk at UCL (Jewish Chronicle)

Israeli Speaker Invited Back to UCL After Violent 2016 Protest (Jewish News)

November/December Events Report

January 5, 2018

November and December have been very active in programming on CAMERA- supported campuses.  The large variety of events have allowed students to learn about different aspects of history, politics, and culture!

Friends of Israel at Rockland Community College held the event, “Israel and The Middle East In The Age of Hashtag Diplomacy” with speaker Neil Lazarus.  The idea of the event was to provide an unbiased view of the Middle East and for individuals attending the event to be able to learn about the history of the Middle East, current events, and stories from both sides of the conflict.  The event was overall successful and very informative.

Friends Of Israel at Rockland Community College also held their own shuk this month!  They were able to set up many tables that had different information, foods, henna, and Middle Eastern music playing.  They were able to successfully bring the diverse culture of Israel and the shuk to their campus!  The responses that Friends Of Israel received were positive!

This is Israel at the University of Florida held an event this month about the Balfour Declaration.  They were able to pair with the Department of Jewish Studies for the event.  The program consisted of a panel discussion about the Balfour Declaration and the impact that it had on Israel, the United States, and Britain.  The panel discussion was followed by questions and dialogue from the audience.  Many of the attendees did not have much knowledge on the subject before and felt as though the event was very informative. 

Indiana Israel Public Affairs Committee (IIPAC) at Indiana University held their Leadership Reception this month.  Many different organizations from across campus were invited to attend.  There was a discussion about what Indiana Israel Public Affairs Committee (IIPAC) does, bipartisanship, and a U.S- Israel relationship.  The reception also served as a way for all attendees to network and build further relationships with other groups arounds campus.  The event seemed to be very beneficial and successful.  There were a large number of attendees and a further hope for relationships between organizations.

CAMERA co-sponsored and event with Nottingham Jewish and Israel Society and Culture, and the Film and Media Society entitled, “Politics and Pizza – Lahav Harkov”.  The event was divided into a number of different sections discussing her journey into political journalism, tips for students entering the field, the “ins and outs” of Israeli politics, and ultimately time for questions.  The event was well attended, and many participants had questions at the end.  Overall, the event was successful and enlightening about Israeli politics and the work that Lahav Harov does.

SKFI at Rutgers University held a Minute to Win It: Sderot Edition!  The event had different games with different facts about Sderot formatted similar to that of the popular game, Minute to Win It.  The event was very successful and was ultimately able to get people excited about different events to come!

SKFI at Rutgers University also held the event “Party for a Purpose: RockIt for Peace”.  The event was a concert featuring Sammy K the rapper.  The proceeds from the event went to the JNF Sderot Project.  The concert was enjoyed by many, and many participants are excited for similar events in the future!

The University of Oregon participated in the StandWithUs Israeli Soldiers Tour this month!  The IDF soldiers that participated in the event spoke about a number of different things, such as their service in the IDF, lives outside of the IDF, and future plans.  They were able to answer questions from the participants as well.  The event was an overall success and answered many of the questions that the community held. 

Glasgow Students’ Israel Forum at Glasgow University/Strathclyde University held the event “Diversity in Israel Through the Lens of a Knesset Journalist”.  Lahav Harkov spoke to the group about Israel’s political parties, their voter bases, their general attitudes towards key issues, their histories, and their leaders.  After Lahav Harkov spoke, the audience was able to ask questions to continue the discussion further.  The event was very successful in the efforts to deliver a friendly event on the subject.

Aggies for Israel at UC Davis held their second general meeting of the year this month.  They were able to discuss board applications, how to become more involved with the organization, future events, and anti- semitism on campus.  The meeting was well attended and had productive outcomes!

Israel Society at Maynooth University held the event entitled, “Diversity in Israel, through the lens of a Knesset Journalist”.  Lahav Harkov spoke to the group about a number of topics covering how the Knesset works, the history of the different political parties, to her what her role is.  Many attendees had many questions, and the Q + A time went beyond the set end time of the event.  The program was very successful and was able to continue the discussion about Israel. 

Israel Student Association at Queens College CUNY held their own Aroma Cafe!  The ultimate goal of the event was to have casual conversations about Israel without becoming too political.  The group was able to achieve this goal by having Israeli music playing, different trivia games about Israel, and general discussions about the history of Israel, all while enjoying a cup of Aroma ice coffee!

 

Emet Israel at the University of Miami held their Cultural Fellowship!  They focused on Israeli culture, as well as the similarities and differences between Israeli culture and American culture.  The members of the fellowship were able to engage in different trivia games, discussions, and try different Israeli foods! 

Emet Israel also held a Finals Study Break on their campus this month.  This event allowed students to take a break from studying to talk about Emet Israel, hear about future events, and have a snack!

SOAS Jewish Society at SOAS University of London held the event, “The Forgotten Refugees of the Middle East”.  The event’s goal was to provide awareness and education about the 1947 Partition Plan and the expulsion of Jewish refugees from different Arab lands.  The attendees were able to ask questions and participate in the dialogue on the subject.  The event was successful and had a positive response from the many different participants. 

Matadors for Israel at CSUN held the event “Meet Our Israeli” this month!  The new Israel fellow on campus was able to share her story, speak with a number of different students, as well as enjoy shakshuka!

Laurentian Jewish Student Association at Laurentian University held a Chanukah event called,  “Festival of Lights”.  Attendees were able to make their own Chanukah candle, learn about the history of Chanukah (both in Israel and across the world), and participate in different dreidel games!  Many people seemed to enjoy the event and gain a new understanding of the holiday.

Contributed by Campus Coordinator Alex Rittenberg

October Events Report

While August and September were busy kick-starting events and actions on campus, October proved to be very beneficial by way of programming.  CAMERA- supported campuses all over held different events and discussions about different aspects of Israel and Israeli culture. 

This month, Great Danes for Israel at the University of Albany, SUNY held a Bingo in the Sukkah event.  They had a large turnout for the event, and everyone was engaged and actively participating! 

Mustangs United For Israel (MUFI) at California Polytechnic State University – SLO held the event, “Israel: The Global Water Leader”.  Dr. Clive Lipchin, the director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies was the keynote speaker for the event.  Dr. Lipchin, and the students of Mustangs United For Israel, were able to discuss and teach the greater community about Israel’s work in the global water sector.  The group was then able to discuss the political, social, and environmental impacts of Dr. Lipchin’s work on both the Israeli and global communities.  The event was co-sponsored with a number of groups from across campus, such as the Association of Environmental Professionals and the Society of Environmental Engineers.  The groups were able to hold very productive and meaningful discussions, and hope to have had a lasting impression on other students from across the California Polytechnic State University – SLO campus. 

MUFI also participated in the StandWithUs IDF Soldier Tour this month.  They were able to hold the event on campus and invited ROTC Army department and the Military Sciences Club to participate.  The speakers were able to discuss the truths behind the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the morals of the IDF.  After the talk, event attendees were able to ask questions and participate in a dialogue with the soldiers.  The event was an overall success and Mustangs United For Israel received a great deal of positive feedback!

Emet Israel at the University of Miami held their annual BBQ on campus to officially kick off the year.  They were able to set up their table near the freshman dormitories in order to speak with a large number of individuals.  They were able to encourage people to come to future events, as well as educate the greater University of Miami community about Israel, who Emet Israel is, the fellowship program, and the events that they have throughout the semester.

Glasgow University Israel & Middle East Forum at Glasgow University/Strathclyde University paired with the Jewish Society held an event entitled, “Falafel Night/‘Israel in Jewish Thought’”.  Both groups were able to give presentations and lead discussions about the classical and modern Jewish thoughts, and the history and modern day Israel.

SKFI at Rutgers University held an event called, “The Israel Kurdistan Relationship”.  The CAMERA- supported group was able to have a Jewish Kurdish speak about the relationship between Israel and Kurdistan and why it is an important affiliation.  Attendees were encouraged and able to ask questions and participate in the discussion.  The event was successful and brought about a new light to the topic.

Wildcats for Israel at the University of Arizona held their event Israel Palooza this month!  The CAMERA- supported group was able to bring Artists 4 Israel to campus in order to create an art piece that depicted their idea of peace.  The goal was to begin, sustain, and encourage a dialogue about peace and diversity.  The group was able to interact with upwards of one hundred members of the University of Arizona community!  Community members were able to participate in creating art with Artists 4 Israel, and in the discussion and answer the prompt “what peace means to you”.  Members of Wildcats for Israel spoke about their excitement for the overall success of the event, as well as their hopes for future events.

Owls for Israel at Florida Atlantic University held their event, OFI BBQ.  They were able to reconnect with students from years before, as well as welcome new students to campus.  The BBQ had a variety of Israeli foods, games, and activities that all showcased the different aspects of Israeli culture.  The group received a plethora of positive feedback regarding the event!

Alpha Epsilon Pi at Ohio University held their 40th Anniversary Banquet Dinner.  This was an opportunity for alumni and current brothers to come together.  They were able to give an update on their chapter, future plans for the chapter and on campus, and major accomplishments throughout the history of the chapter on campus.  Overall, the event was a success and the group has hopes to strengthen their overall alumni relations in the future!

VIEW (Visions for Israel in an Evolving World) at Hunter College held the event, “Ask A Soldier”.  Attendees were able to partake in a lunch, lecture, and discussion with the IDF soldiers in attendance.  Many different questions were asked, and the conversation seemed to flow effectively.  The event was able to show Israel and the IDF in a more positive image, and answer many questions that the community of Hunter College had.

Israeli Students Association at York University held the event “Illusory Beauty” this month.  The event discussed the different aspects and discoveries about the Dead Sea.  The ultimate goal was to showcase the facts and ideas of the Dead Sea that many people might not have known previously.  The group was able to participate in a virtual reality presentation both through their cellphones and through VR (virtual reality) equipment.  Overall, the event proved to be a success and provided an abundance of new information.

Matadors for Israel at CSUN held the event “Fauda and Froyo”.  The event combined two campus favorites: frozen yogurt and Netflix.  Attendees were able to enjoy frozen yogurt and watch the first episode of the Israeli action thriller television show, Fauda.  Following the episode, viewers were able to participate in a discussion about Israel and current Israeli events.  Overall, the event was successful and the CAMERA- supported group has plans to continue to hold events to continue watching the show.

Contributed by Campus Coordinator Alex Rittenberg

August/September Events Report

On CAMERA- supported campuses, August and September have been months to “jump back in”. Different events across different campuses have allowed many students, faculty, and staff to connect and reconnect with other students within their community.  Events such as tabling, general body meetings, and speaker held events allowed the different campus communities continue to set agendas for the semester and learn about different aspects of Israeli and Middle Eastern history.  

Kolienu-Columbia Law Israel Organization held the event “Palestinian Politics & Israeli-Palestinian Peace After Abbas”. The event was well attended and was beneficial to those involved!  

The Israel Student Association at Queens College CUNY held an event entitled, “Virtual Israel-ity”. This allowed for students to use Virtual Reality (VR) goggles to explore Israel from their own campus.  The students of the Israel Student Association were able to attract students, both new and returning, to begin thinking about Israel.

ORU United for Israel at Oral Roberts University was able to table during the Club Rush event on campus.  They were able to deliver the organizational message and speak with new students to campus!

Students at Oral Roberts University stand proudly with the Israeli Flag.

Great Danes for Israel at the University at Albany, SUNY held an event about the Six Day War. Different speakers (some who served in the war, and one who was able to speak from a different perspective) gave an educational discussion about the war, and was able to answer questions that the group had about the event.  

Tulane University For Israel had a general body meeting to discuss an overview of the organization, the agenda for the year, and discussed the different questions from the attendees.  The meeting had a positive turnout and excitement for future events!

Contributed by Campus Coordinator Alex Rittenberg

The Hero Behind the Scenes

December 28, 2017

CAMERA Fellow Hadar Langerman

On November 2nd we commemorated 100 years since the Balfour declaration.

The Balfour Declaration was published by the British government during World War I declared support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which was then an Ottoman region with a minority Jewish population. The statement voiced support for Jewish self-determination:

‘His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’

While prominent British Prime Minister Arthur James Balfour wrote the declaration, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann is credited for bringing about the Balfour declaration. Weizmann was born in Belarus and from his early years was known to be an active Israel advocate. He was an influential academic in Chemistry and taught at a number of universities. In 1904, feeling as though his efforts towards Zionism and for the right of Israel’s existence were not ‘going anywhere,’ Weizmann moved to England. The first time Weizmann had the opportunity of speaking to Balfour about Zionism, he only spoke for five minutes, and Balfour reassured him that they would be able to speak at greater length next time. It wasn’t until a year later, in 1906, they got to speak about the issue at great length and over time they developed a sturdy relationship. This ultimately led to Weizmann’s earning a leading role in negotiations, where he advocated for British commitment to facilitating a Jewish homeland should they take possession of Palestine following World War I. After behind-the-scenes lobbying for and against the declaration, on November 2, 1917 Lloyd George’s war cabinet agreed on a policy which was relayed by Foreign Minister Balfour to Lord Rothschild for support for the goals of the Zionist movement.

Dr. Chaim Weizmann Credit: The International Churchill Society

Through his relentless political lobbying, statesmanship and personal magnetism, Chaim Weizman was able to bring about the Balfour declaration and act as the hero behind the scene. Weizmann would later become Israel’s first President.

Today, 100 years later, students still struggle with many of the same challenges as Weizman. In the face of hate and the risk of being ostracized on campus, standing up for Israel’s existence can feel like a truly daunting task. We might ask ourselves, “What can I do to change Israel’s image on campus?” We must believe in ourselves and learn that even small steps forward can and do make a difference. A 5-minute meeting led to the Balfour declaration, which helped establish led the State of Israel.

Chaim Weizmann believed passionately in the right of the Jewish people for self-determination in their ancient homeland. Through his actions, Weizmann set an example for every young leader who believes in Israel’s right to exist. Even a seemingly small step forward can lead to dramatic changes in how our communities perceive Israel.

Contributed by Kings College London CAMERA Fellow Hadar Langerman

Could Trump Be Right on Jerusalem?

CAMERA Fellow Marcell Horvath.

Contrary to dubious online suggestions, Einstein did not say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Nonetheless, there is some truth to this idea in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A certain orthodoxy in thought has brought about precious little except for the perpetuation of violence and a persistent deadlock.

Orthodoxies are by no means necessarily pernicious. I do not object to standing on the shoulders of giants, but I would want to verify that the giants are sufficiently tall to qualify as such. In this case, my fear that the orthodoxy is less-than-wise was confirmed when I picked up a recent issue of the Economist, a temperate magazine if there ever was one. “Donald Trump’s recognition of the holy city acknowledged reality. Nevertheless, it was unwise,” read the description of one of three Israel-themed pieces on the print edition’s contents page.

I stared at the words dumbfounded. What bad situation benefits from disregarding reality? Cancer? Domestic abuse? Bankruptcy? Climate change? Surely, there must be an extraordinary line of argument to support a digression from facts.

The apologia for this curious statement first traced the generic position on Jerusalem back to the 1993 Oslo Accords, according to which the city ought to be one of the final issues resolved. Notwithstanding the hurdle that Abu Mazen is not unequivocally committed to Oslo, this could be a rightful concern in the canon of the aforementioned orthodoxy. However, only two outcomes are possible for Jerusalem: either Israel keeps the city’s western part or all of it. Trump’s announcement does not endorse the latter scenario, as Shimon Peres’ former foreign policy advisor, Einat Wilf, explains. Trump was careful to point out that no borders are being drawn. The issue of Jerusalem, despite some initial fears to the contrary, remains unresolved.

The Economist then moves on to its tripartite main argument. First, it criticises the deal-making abilities of the American president, claiming that he gave a concession to Israel without anything in return. This argument is echoed by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, too. A qualification for this position is that an American commitment, while certainly useful, is not in itself international law. More significantly, it is not a peace deal. The precise advantage of such a “concession” to Israel is therefore unclear at this moment, especially when spokespeople from the State Department decline to confirm whether Jerusalem is inside Israel at all. Have we truly witnessed a significant policy shift from Obama’s Cairo Address, in which he called for Jerusalem to be a “secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims”?

At this moment, when the head of the Israeli Labour party prioritises a united Jerusalem over a peace deal, the notion that any part of the holy city will be surrendered appears particularly distant. But that the city’s western part will cease to be Israel is a particularly damaging fiction, which only strengthens the worst (and most unrealistic) inclinations of the Palestinian movement. These sentiments should not be accommodated on principle alone, but they are also counterproductive in practice as they steer the various Palestinian factions away from sensible terms. That pre-1967 Jewish holdings in Jerusalem are up for negotiations is simply a non-starter. The American reinforcement of this very basic idea is Trump’s great chiddush, and if some acceptance of this reality can be generated, his announcement will secure a single – though crucial – item on a lengthy checklist.

The second point focuses on the notion that Trump “has further discredited the already feeble Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and all those who argue that Palestinian aspirations can be met by negotiation rather than violence”.

Verily, Abbas is on thin ice with or without Trump. In 2014, a year when Gazans suffered massive casualties in Operation Protective Edge, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was more popular than Abu Mazen. In 2015, two-thirds of Palestinians wished for the president’s resignation, though this failed to stop him from continuing an already grossly exceeded term with near identical ratings.

It should be noted that these two factions, Hamas and Fatah, are the Palestinian leadership. Both major political forces have strong authoritarian tendencies. So when John Kerry called Abbas “the best peace partner Israel could hope for”, it was difficult to decipher if the then-secretary of state was praising the president (who in 2008 rejected the potentially best deal possible) or insulting his people.

In terms of violence, while there are periods of relative quiet, they tend to be short. Though the PA’s security cooperation with Israel is important, Abbas has not been an unconditional pacifist. With Gaza troubles tragically becoming an almost unremarkable fact of life and the “Knife Intifada” or habba just settling, the reaffirmation of peaceful Palestinian voices is somewhat of a moot point. There has yet to be a decade in the history of modern Israel without a major military confrontation, to say nothing of asymmetrical warfare.

Third, the Economist claims that Trump embarrassed Israel’s newfound Arab allies, who have finally begun warming to the Jewish state due to a mutual hostility towards Iran. Interestingly, the Economist in November was much more amenable towards Team Trump’s Middle East efforts, though it could not forego mentioning the three “orthodox Jews” in the task force, whose bias in favour of Israel it cited as a negative. Mild antisemitism aside, the magazine asserted the following:

“Whatever the [Trump] administration produces, Saudi Arabia is likely to support it. Mr Kushner has struck up a friendship with Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. Though the prince’s foreign-policy record is not widely admired, he seems to have convinced Mr Kushner that he can help reshape the Middle East in ways that suit America. At Mr Trump’s behest he summoned the octogenarian Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to Riyadh earlier this month and urged him to embrace the American plan.”

Clearly, there is a degree of editorial flexibility – or lack of consistency – here. Nonetheless, that Arab and/or Muslim states will now be tempted to line up behind the Palestinians is a real possibility, and it is raised by former PA official Ghaith al-Omari. There are some signs of this taking place at the UN General Assembly or the OIC, but these are mostly symbolic and impotent measures. On the other hand, Washington Institute executive director Robert Satloff noted that Saudi concerns appeared muted after Trump’s announcement.

That the initial outrage from the Arab world might be sabre-rattling without much substance is a distinct possibility. Neighbouring Arab countries are not necessarily famous for their excessive concern for Palestinians, on its own Trump’s declaration will have little practical effect that might force their hands, and the spectre of Iran will continue to hover over them.

The Economist’s final kick to recognition is the suggestion that Trump’s true goal here is pandering to the pro-Israel elements in his voter base, i.e. the Evangelicals – a point which, once again, corresponds with Zakaria’s take. This argument is also not without its qualifications, however. Consider a survey overseen by Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Shibley Telhami. Telhami writes:

“[The poll] found that 59 percent of Americans said they preferred that Trump lean toward neither side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contrast, 57 percent of Americans, including most Republicans, said he is in fact leaning toward Israel. Our poll also shows that 63 percent of all Americans oppose moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, including 44 percent of Republicans.

How about the Evangelical Christians whose support has been critical for Trump, and who are known to support declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy there? Two-thirds of Evangelicals say Trump’s policy is already leaning toward Israel—a proportion that’s even higher than that of the rest of the population. Even on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the support is hardly overwhelming: While 53 percent of Evangelicals support the move, 40 percent oppose it.”

If Trump is a rational actor here, the domestic political gains are not earth-shaking.

American acknowledgment of the power dynamics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could ultimately push the Palestinians towards a more amenable position, and that may prove beneficial. Despite initially gloomy reactions, perhaps it is right for Trump to promote the relatively uncontroversial Israeli retainment of West Jerusalem. It is quite possible that the previously reigning view on the conflict overestimated the Palestinian leadership’s clout abroad and their statesmanship at home. Perhaps it erroneously viewed the former as static and the latter as set on an evolutionary trajectory. Whatever the case, the peace process unquestionably screeched to a halt. At this point, there is no need to close our minds to something new, even if the strength of the jolt lies more in provocation than substance. For a change, Trump might have made a fact-based decision.

Marcell Horvath is a graduate law student at the University of Strathclyde and a CAMERA fellow. He co-founded the Glasgow University Israel & Middle East Forum. Previously, he studied history at the University of Maryland and law at the University of Glasgow.

DACA and the Middle East Conflict: An Impossible Comparison

CAMERA Fellow Rebecca Fliegelman

Before June 2015, when President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative to help undocumented young people obtain temporary citizenship, immigrants lived in perpetual fear of deportation. Today, with new representation in the Oval Office, fear is once again brimming. President Trump’s decision to cut the DACA program has inspired college students to stand up in solidarity with undocumented immigrants whose freedom and legal status in America is being threatened.

A proposed DACA rally was to be held at the Hunter College subway station where students were supposedly going to raise awareness about the recent DACA developments in a public, vocal forum with both students and passerby invited to participate. When I arrived at the rally, I was dismayed to discover that the protestor’s message had little to do with the repeal of DACA and instead, had morphed into an anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rally. Rather than educate observers on the imminent deadline for the DACA extension application, the anti-Israel students took the struggle of undocumented immigrants as an opportunity to raise awareness about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. Although I appreciate everyone’s right to protest, it is intolerable that students hijacked a domestic conversation on immigration in order to slander and delegitimize the state of Israel.

These students spread their own message by desperately trying to compare the tribulations of DACA recipients to the plight of the Palestinians. They held signs that read “No Human Is Illegal” and “From Palestine to Mexico, Border Walls Have Got to Go”. Their opening remark was that just as Palestinians have been removed from their homes, individuals are fearful of deportation due to the revocation of DACA. While this manifestation of intersection is brutally dishonest, this comparison is also completely distorted given the myriad of differences between the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and young DACA recipients losing their legal status.

The first and most important difference is that the DACA recipients do not pose even a remote existential threat to America. It is unreasonable and unjust to compare the contentious situation in the Middle East, where Palestinian leaders are using significant sums of their limited budget to pay terrorist salaries and are explicitly inciting citizens to commit acts of terror against Israeli civilians in order to become “martyrs” in the name of Jihad. There is absolutely no comparison among DACA recipients in America.

The rally’s digression from the topic of DACA to the topic of Middle-East conflict was even more disturbing as students completely deviated from the truth by spreading partial truths and drawing irrelevant comparisons that painted Israel in a demonic light.

In one instance, the anti-Israel students stated that the barrier that separates Israel from violent areas of the West Bank is “more than twice the size of the Berlin Wall”. The entire premise of this claim is flawed, irrelevant and misleading.

While the Berlin wall was constructed by a communist regime in order to prevent its citizens from escaping to West Berlin, Israel’s security barrier was built along the border of threatening areas in order to curb crippling suicide bombings on buses and in cafes during the Second Intifada. The Israeli civilian death toll at this time was upwards of 1,000; with thousands more injured. The implication of a barrier as a defense against terrorism has been overwhelmingly successful, with no suicide bombings having taken place within Israel’s borders since its construction. Comparing Israel’s security barrier to the Berlin Wall is a complete fabrication and only intends to deny Israel the right of self-defense from life-threatening violence. Additionally, Israel is neither the first nor the last country to build a barrier to protect its citizens, with a third of the world’s countries having completed similar barriers. This fact was conveniently omitted at this rally.

Another deception, which echoed from the steps of the subway station and into the minds of students and NYC commuters, was that the Jewish people have “no connection” and “no ties” to the land of Israel. The anti-Israel students stated falsely that Palestinians are the only indigenous people from this area when Jewish history, archeological findings, and traditions of Jewish prayer all validate and reinforce the Jewish connection to the state of Israel as well.

A woman showing an example of two restored floor tiles from the courtyard of the Second Temple. Temple Mount Sifting Project/Haaretz.

To conclude the offensive misrepresentations of Israel spewed at this rally, organizers made the outrageous claim that Israel is a white supremacist state. This claim is even more heinous considering the fact that Jewish people were persecuted by white or Aryan supremacists during the Second World War and are today still harassed by neo-Nazi sympathizers such as those involved in the Charlottesville protests from earlier this year. Labeling Israel as such is a blatant inaccuracy and a disservice to the countless religions, races, and ethnicities that enjoy equal rights and have a voice in Israel’s democratic society. Israel is a melting pot of people, a feat that in and of itself completely counters the core ideals of white supremacy. With Israel’s progressive affirmative action laws, annual parade for gay pride and inclusion of all types of people in its government, equating Israel with white supremacy is an absurd and baseless claim.

With each passing moment of the rally came more lies and deceptions about Israel. Not only were my people’s ties to the land of Israel questioned and criticized, they also were flat out rejected and denied. My hopes to attend this rally and potentially participate in this important domestic dialogue about DACA were dead on arrival. Hijacking a narrative in order to advance a hateful political agenda is a regrettable injustice that accomplishes nothing but invalidating a cause that deserves an honest conversation and solution.

Contributed by Hunter College CAMERA Fellow Rebecca Fliegelman.

 

Palestinian Textbooks Are ‘Significantly More Radical’ Than Before

December 22, 2017

The hatred taught in Palestinian schools is only increasing, according to an Algemeiner article by correspondent Shiri Moshe (“Report: New Palestinian Curriculum Praises ‘Martyrdom,’ Significantly ‘More Radical’ Than Before,” Dec. 3, 2017). Moshe highlighted a recent study by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which found that Palestinian textbooks “groom young Palestinians to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom,” promote the idea of a mass “return” to Israel and “feature a radical Islamist, and occasionally, a Salafi worldview.”

The report noted that—as with previous Palestinian textbooks—the newer ones include maps that erase Israel, depicting all of the land as “Palestinian.”

Anti-Jewish violence is also encouraged in the curriculum. A fifth grade language textbook defined “martyrdom” and “jihad” as “the most important meanings of life.” The book even extolled the benefits of becoming a “martyr,” claiming that those who commit terror attacks teach “people that drinking the cup of bitterness with glory is much sweeter than a pleasant long life accompanied by humiliation.” It also proudly admitted that in Palestinian society, such attackers are honored:

“We give their names to our children; we put their names on our streets and squares and the cultural places.”

This hateful indoctrination starts early. Moshe noted that a third grade textbook included a poem calling to “sacrifice my blood” in order to “eliminate the usurper from my country.” In keeping with this theme—that Jewish people, indeed that non-Muslim people have no right to the land—some textbooks even categorize Palestinian figures like Dalal Mughrabi and Yasser Arafat, as “heroes,” along with figures like Tariq ibn Ziyad, an 8th century Berber general who helped conquer Spain.

History is not the only field to be contaminated with Palestinian Authority (PA)-sanctioned perversion.

Moshe detailed that IMPACT-se found a seventh grade science textbook that “teaches Newton’s Second Law through a cartoon depicting a Palestinian youth with a slingshot facing off against armed Israeli soldiers.” Similarly, fourth graders learning math are instructed to perform calculations using “martyrs.”

IMPACT-se presented their report in meetings with representatives from the European Union (EU) and major European donors to the PA, such as Belgium, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom. The Joint Financial Agreement, a pooled funding system that supplies half of the budget for the PA’s Ministry of Education, funds the curriculum. That agreement is currently co-chaired by Belgium which, the Algemeiner noted, halted future construction on two Palestinian schools in November 2017 after it was revealed that a PA school would be named after Mughrabi, a terrorist who murdered 38 Israelis—13 of them children—during the 1978 Coastal Road massacre.

In other words, Palestinian schoolchildren would be taught in a school named after a child-murdering terrorist. As CAMERA has highlighted, numerous sports teams, streets, and even stores—or what the textbook refers to as Palestinian “cultural places”—are named after Mughrabi and/or are adorned with her likeness (see, for example “Missing the Palestinian after-terror after party,” The Washington Examiner, July 6, 2016).

The PA Ministry of Education has, for many years, provided a curriculum that encourages anti-Jewish violence and is frequently antisemitic. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), has also documented, both on its website and in reports, the PA’s use of education to promote terrorism.

A 2015 PMW report noted “the PA teaches its children to reject Israel’s right to exist, encourages them to view Jews as evil and directs them to embrace terrorist murderers as role.”

Indeed, as CAMERA’s Executive Director Andrea Levin noted in a June 1, 1999 article, this hateful education violates the 1993 Oslo agreements that created the authority. Levin cited the following passage:

“Israel and [the Palestinians] will ensure that their respective educational systems contribute to the peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and to peace in the entire region, and will refrain from the introduction of any motifs that could adversely affect the process of reconciliation.” -Interim Agreement, Chapter 4, Article XXII, Par. 2 (1995)

For years, the PA has been doing precisely the opposite—often without consequence. A brief and belated attempt in the fall of 2017 by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) to change the PA’s curriculum was met with an outcry from official PA media, who claimed that it would “harm the Palestinian identity and history.”

By its own admission, the PA considers “Palestinian identity” and “history” to be inseparable from anti-Jewish violence. The decision to double down on hateful indoctrination suggests that the future will be equally grim.

The famed French novelist Victor Hugo once observed: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” Mr. Hugo, however, never set foot in a Palestinian school.

Originally published at camera.org.

Contributed by CAMERA’s Sean Durns.

Teen Vogue Promotes Terror Organization, Cites DJs on International Law

December 21, 2017

As CAMERA has noted before, Teen Vogue, a Conde Nast publication aimed at teenage girls with a circulation of over a million, has shifted away from a focus solely on fashion and shopping to include political issues. Last week, in an article ostensibly about model Bella Hadid, the magazine promoted Hamas, and relied on two DJs who together go by the name “Simihaze” for a quote on international law.

The December 7 piece, innocently titled “Bella Hadid Showed Solidarity With Palestinians on Instagram,” begins with a focus on Hadid and her post detailing her thoughts on President Trump’s announcement about Jerusalem earlier that week. Of course, Hadid is perfectly entitled to voice her opinions and feelings to her fans and followers, and in the context of fashion and celebrity gossip, that could be considered newsworthy. After quoting Hadid at length, however, the article by Araceli Cruz takes a dark turn:

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas– a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group –called on people to resist.

“We have given instruction to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and threatens Palestine,” Haniyeh said, according to The Independent. “United Jerusalem is Arab and Muslim, and it is the capital of the state of Palestine, all of Palestine.”

Cruz does not take the trouble to inform her young readers that in 1997, the US State Department listed Hamas as a terrorist organization. She doesn’t tell them that in 2014 Hamas financed the kidnapping and murder of three boys the same age as many of Teen Vogue‘s readers. Nor will her readers learn that when Haniyeh says “resist,” he doesn’t mean resist by wearing cute pink knitted hats. He means resist by firing rockets aimed at civilians, from civilian areas, including schoolslike the ones Teen Vogue readers attend. Or by tunneling into Israel to kidnap Israeli soldiers, usually teens themselves, or by perpetrating other acts of terrorism.

Model Bella Hadid. Source: Getty Images.

When Haniyeh says that “United Jerusalem is Arab and Muslim, and it is the capital of the state of Palestine, all of Palestine,” he is asserting a claim to the western section of Jerusalem as well as the eastern section. That territory is within pre-67 Israel – in other words, Haniyeh is denying Israel’s legitimacy in any set of borders.

Instead of explaining these facts, Cruz allows her readers to think Haniyeh’s call for “resistance” is no different than, say, that of a Democratic Congressperson resisting the current President.

Next, the article turns from dark to simply bizarre, as it includes a quote from two young DJs, Simi and Haze Khadra, on what constitutes a violation of international law.

It is absurd that Palestine, a country where Muslims Christians and Jews lived side by side for centuries, has been fighting to be recognized since the inception of Israel in 1948, and to add insult to injury yesterday Trump ‘decided’ to recognize Palestines capital of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – as if it’s his to give away. This is a violation of international law and a huge setback to any hope for peace. In his speech yesterday, he never once mentioned Palestine but referred to Israel and ‘the Palestinian people’ as if Palestine never existed. Jerusalem is and always has been the capital of occupied Palestine. Declaring Jerusalem as Israels capital is a calculated move to make Palestinians lose hope of ever gaining statehood in their own country. [Punctuation errors in original Instagram post.]

Of course, after 1948, the year Jordan illegally occupied the West Bank, no one at all was fighting to recognize a Palestinian state. Jerusalem, moreover, has never been the capital of a country called Palestine – nor has a country called “Palestine” in fact ever existed. “Palestine” was a designation for a geographic region, and then a British mandate, but it was never a sovereign entity.

As to Simihaze’s claim that “Muslims[,] Christians and Jews lived side by side for centuries,” technically that’s true. The statement ignores, however, that under Islamic rule, Jews and Christians lived as second-class citizens in a type of Middle Eastern Jim Crow.

President Trump did not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because he thought it was “his to give away” – quite the opposite, in fact. Trump’s announcement recognized that the city is under Israeli sovereignty, and that international actors have no right to use it as a bargaining chip. Nor did Trump make a “declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” as Cruz wrote in her first paragraph. Only Israel can declare its own capital. Trump simply recognized it.

Like Hadid, Simihaze are perfectly entitled to voice their disagreement with Trump’s decision. No one, however, should hold them out as arbiters of international law – especially to a young and impressionable audience.

While Teen Vogue will no longer run print editions, teens will still be able to access this and its other poorly sourced work online. Teen Vogue should explain why it included such an ignorant quote, with no indication to its readers that most of the quote, and some of the “reporting,” is factually incorrect.

This article was originally published at camera.org.

Contributed by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker.