Tag Archives: anti-israel

Keeping An Open Mind Matters

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.

Letter: 2016 Anti-Israel Protest at UCL Was Not A “Clash” Between Two Groups

A screenshot of the article shows the problematic line characterizing the attack on pro-Israel students by anti-Israel students as “clashes” between the two groups.

After an article covering pro-Israel student activity appeared in Friday’s The Times of London paper, CAMERA on Campus UK Associates Khulan Davaajav and Tamara Berens submitted the following letter to set the record straight regarding their experience of the events that took place at UCL last October:

Dear Editor:

We commend the Times for addressing the harassment of pro-Israel students in the 10th November article ‘UCL students in protest over pro-Palestinian speakers Azzam Tammy and Miko Peled’. However, we were at Israeli Hen Mazzig’s 2016 CAMERA event at UCL; it is inaccurate to describe the protest against him as ‘clashes’.

Protesters surrounded the room, trapping us in. We endured screams of ‘From the river to the sea Palestine will be free’ and banging on the walls. Two shouting protesters wedged the window open and jumped into the room, nearly injuring two students. Police had to escort us to safety.

There was no ‘clash’ on our side; we wanted to have a dialogue with Mazzig. Protesters wanted to stop him, and intimidate and discourage us.

Khulan Davaajav and Tamara Berens, CAMERA on Campus UK Associates, London

A Palestinian Flag Gave This Zionist Hope

Photo: Oshra Bitton.

That’s not a headline I had ever anticipated writing. And at a time when progressives seem increasingly dominated by an anti-Israel air, I expect every run-in with that crowd to produce the same pattern of animosity and mistrust. Initially, during my coverage of the recent Sister March for Racial Justice in Brooklyn, I felt my prediction confirmed.

Addressing the crowd from a podium at the Jay Street Plaza, Muslim-American activist, Linda Sarsour, spoke of “right-wing Zionists” in the same breath as white supremacists, creating a vile conflation between Jewish liberation and well, bigotry. One had an aery sense that the targeting was intentional –– an effort to ostracize Pro-Israel Jews and push them out of progressive spaces. And as marchers made their way towards the Brooklyn Bridge, I caught sight of what felt like another irrelevant political injection into the discussion of racial justice in America: a Palestinian flag. It waved to me from the top of a baseball cap of a petite elderly woman and seemed firmly placed above her head.

“From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” the 77-year-old woman chanted. That’s a Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) line I easily recognized. But aside from the gross fusion of two separate regional and political issues, the word ‘peace’ in JVPs acronym is actually misleading. While their mission statement claims to support “security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians,” JVP operates as an anti-Israel organization, supporting movements like BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), which aims to destroy the Jewish state economically.

The woman explained that she’d recently become a member of theirs. I quieted my inner reservations and aimed to understand why. Maybe it was the soft lines in her face or her warm outstretched arms –– pulling me closer from time to time so that I could hear her better –– that made me want to stay and talk to Jane Orendain.

After revealing her native Filipino roots and Catalonian lineage, Orendain drew what felt like an associative approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her ethnic background –– a mixture of peoples seeking autonomy and independence –– must have guided her in the direction of sticking-up-for-the-little-guy just as my own identity helped inform my own views. Even though her chant sounded like veiled slander against my people, I suddenly understood why her free-Palestine stance seemed like a natural spot for her to reside in.

But then, when asked to get more specific about Israeli policy, Orendain revealed that she envisions “a Two-State Solution”––for Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace. Surprised and impressed by her position, I informed Orendain that the Israeli government actually supports an independent Palestinian state based on secure borders for both peoples. I told her that most Zionists I’ve met uphold that as well. “What? They do? Really?” Orendain responded, positively stunned.

As she ingested my words, it occurred to me that I might have been the first person to ever reveal that bit of news to her. And I thought: perhaps our ideological opponents aren’t as unreachable as we think. It’s much easier, though, to scan a banner and feel like an enemy has been successfully identified. It’s a lot harder to remember that a human stands behind the picket –– their sensitivities real, their ideas changeable.

After parting from Orendain, I carried on with a brightened sense of hope that I’d again find conversation and commonality in an unexpected place. It was as if the anti-Zionist rhetoric heard earlier in the march suddenly evaporated. I saw a much larger goal ahead. I recognized the value of engaging with those whom I might have initially written-off.

Now, this doesn’t mean that JVP members and other anti-Israeli folks will suddenly drop their ideological armor and embrace a Zionist’s perspective. But it does mean that somewhere in a seemingly hostile crowd, one might find a marcher with a pair of wide ears and open eyes that’ll walk beside them and in good faith, engage.

Contributed by City College of New York CAMERA Fellow Oshra Bitton.

This article was originally published in Harlem Focus.

No ‘safe spaces’ for Jews? First hand account of hatred at Hen Mazzig event in London

A guest post by Harvey Garfield 

Last Thursday in London, I attended a (CAMERA sponsored) UCL Jewish Society talk given by Hen Mazzig, an Israeli activist. I was well aware that with the Palestinian Facebook reminders of his status as an ex-officer of the IDF he stood no chance of speaking anywhere on the UCL campus, and when I arrived it soon became apparent that the original venue had been changed. It was no longer Archaeology G3, but an entirely different building and it took several calls to be updated of the new venue.

I arrived at the hastily arranged venue, only to be greeted by approx 60-80 pro-Palestinian supporters, mainly young Muslim women who had somehow got wind of the venue change. I was somewhat taken aback that there were so many women and I speculated whether this was an official strategy in order to present a softer side to Palestinian activism. If it was, the strategy failed since these women were more fanatical than many of the males I have encountered as part of my grass-roots pro-Israel activism . From the start they jostled for position directly in front of the doors in order to gain access and monopolise the room. They began a loud and passionate chorus of chants: ‘ River to the Sea Palestine will be Free’, etc which, as we all understand, puts paid to the very idea of a two state solution . In fact it puts paid to Israel as an independent Jewish homeland full stop. Several of the males were wearing keffiyehs covering their faces in order to avoid identification.

There were two university security guards present who were quite clearly overwhelmed by what was happening and who subsequently called the police. At this point the room was commandeered by the Palestinian side who had entered by a side door swiftly taking over the platform. Palestinian flags were unfurled and many of the women had whipped themselves up into a frenzy of anti-Israel hate.

By this time, there were a number of ‘ mature’ pro Israel supporters alongside the Jewish student society member, myself included. We left the building together and headed off to another venue where Hen was waiting.  I’m not sure whether this was a contingency plan, but unfortunately we were tailed and once we reached the venue it was not long before the Palestinian supporters had been messaged and once again arrived in number.  Hen and some of the students were already in the lecture room while others including myself were left outside, prevented from entering by clearly confused security guards unable to distinguish friend from foe.

However, several of us joined the security team in order to identify and provide safe passage inside for those wishing to hear Hen talk. The atmosphere outside was becoming increasingly hostile with no so-called safe spaces as ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ were thrust together. One Palestinian supporter noting my particular ‘demographic ‘ said that I should not be on campus. I asked what he meant, knowing full well, but he refused to elaborate.

(Video by Craig Dillon & Jacob Diamond).

Unbeknown to those of us still outside, several maniacs had launched themselves through a window with one knocking himself out cold and lying flat-out on the floor. I dread to think what would have happened to an Israel supporter in reverse circumstances. Anyone who has seen one of the apocalyptic Zombie movies will have some idea of the scene of a suicide entity blasting its way through to reach normal beings.

Finally, once all pro-Israel supporters were ushered in, the talk began. However, the chanting and banging on windows and doors grew louder making it difficult to concentrate. Loud Arabic music was played to add a little authenticity to the fascistic behaviour of the protestors, a sort of home from home experience.

At the end of the talk there was a spontaneous rendition of Hatikva. Students and elders alike danced the Hora and it was an incredibly special and emotional moment. Here were Jews under siege answering with song and a dance. No food but you cannot have everything.

The police had already spirited Hen away via a rear entrance but wanted us to leave in threes in order to monitor and make sure no one was assaulted. I was deeply offended by this, while understanding its necessity. How could it be that I as a British Jew accept the need for extraordinary protection in order to safely depart an event held on a UK campus in 2016?

Once out, we ran a gauntlet of haters screaming ’shame shame’ with the police keeping a watchful eye . What do I have to be ashamed of? My support for a Jewish homeland existing alongside a Palestinian state in peace and prosperity?

As a veteran of many such encounters, some far worse than this, I cannot in all honesty say I felt particularly threatened or anxious. It was pretty much water off the proverbial duck’s back. However here is the rub. It was very real and intimidating for inexperienced Jewish students, especially the freshers, who had never experienced such visceral hate and nor of course should have to. The very idea that a son or daughter of mine could be labelled as supporters of colonialism and apartheid and worse leaves me incandescent. One girl was left inconsolable having had such epithets screamed in her face and unable to move away.

The attendance by some twenty or so veterans, including a contingent from Sussex Friends of Israel who made the journey from Brighton, meant the Jewish students were not alone and I believe may have even slightly tempered the behaviour of the Palestinian activists .

It is utterly outrageous that Jewish students should find themselves intimidated in this manner with an Israeli guest prevented from speaking. Jews trapped in a room awaiting police escort on a London campus in 2016 is a serious matter and totally unacceptable. Pressure must be put on the university to deal with these wretched individuals, many of whom can be easily identified from video and still.

Where were our community organisations? Why was it left to grassroots activists to pull together and stand together with our Jewish student body? Questions which need answering but I am not holding my breath.

Finally, there was no negotiation with these people. Hen had become the public face of some demonic entity – Israel – which had to be excluded and quarantined from campus life at all cost.

I tried dialogue pointing out the carnage taking place across the Islamic world and asked why they were indifferent to the slaughter of their co-religionists in industrial numbers but they were not interested. Nothing could placate them. Israel was the focus of their universe and the fount of all evil with Hen as the object of their mania.

Screenshot of above video.

Screenshot of above video.

There is plenty of  additional video footage to corroborate what took place on the Sussex Friends of Israel Facebook page. Please take a look at what is happening in our halls of higher education.

(A version of this post was originally published at Harry’s Place)

From SJP to Pro-Israel: Anthony’s Story

Anthony Berteaux, a CAMERA Fellow and rising senior at San Diego State University majoring in journalism, was once a staunch activist for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)’s campaign against Israel. Today, he is a pro-Israel activist. This past week, he attended CAMERA’s annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference, sharing his story with 80 other Israel activists.

Growing up in Tokyo, Anthony had never met a Jew and had not heard very much about Israel before he stepped onto his San Diego college campus. As a writer for his college paper, Anthony was interested in covering progressive issues and soon learned about many student activist organizations, one of which was SJP. Anthony listened to SJP’s perspective on Israel and would discuss “the Palestinian oppression” in Israel with his campus’s SJP president. As Anthony explains, he became very involved with SJP and “when [BDS] came to campus, [he] did what the progressive thing was to do, which obviously was to support divestments” against Israel.

CAMERA Fellow Anthony Berteaux at CAMERA's Annual Student Leadership Training and Advocacy Conference this year.

CAMERA Fellow Anthony Berteaux at CAMERA’s Annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference last week.

A man genuinely searching to serve social justice and equality, Anthony followed the Palestinian narrative closely through Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Middle East and would take any opportunity to write or speak on behalf of such an oppressed (seemingly by Israel) people.

After moving across the world from Tokyo to San Diego for college, Anthony never expected to become so involved in Middle-East social justice issues and SJP activism during his first year in college. And to top that off, much to his surprise, Anthony’s perspective on Israel was once again suddenly redefined during the summer of 2014. As Anthony admits, “If you had told me by the end of the summer I was going to be a sympathizer of Israel, I would have probably laughed in your face.”

By chance, Anthony was placed in a campus dorm with a Jewish student during that summer. For the first time, he heard another side of the Israel story. Through many conversations with his new Jewish friend, Anthony learned what Israel does for Palestinians and what Israel means for the Jewish people. The facade of SJP’s ideas began to crumble before Anthony’s eyes. “Israel is a colonialist regime” and “Israel the Apartheid state” were soundbites that Anthony now saw through as ignorant and blatant lies. 

Over the summer, Anthony and his Jewish roommate would discuss Operation Protective Edge, the war in Gaza which was going on at the time. They would watch videos of Israelis running to bomb shelters, an unfortunate part of the reality in Israel.

Anthony learned about Israel’s reasons for entering Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. The Israel Defense Forces had no choice but to send forces into Gaza in order to protect Israel. As morally and succinctly as possible, Israeli soldiers worked night and day to stop the terrorist groups that were bombarding Israel with rockets and digging terror tunnels into Israeli territory from Gaza.

While he sticks close to his values of social justice and truth, Anthony had an open mind and by the end of this summer, his perspective was forever changed. Acting upon his newfound beliefs, Anthony soon became an ardent pro-Israel activist on his campus, particularly through his writing

Hoping to further develop his understanding of Israel and its role in the Middle East, Anthony went to Israel through an ADL student mission. “The experiences during my trip to Israel were really powerful for me as a social justice activist and as a progressive, to understand why Israel is so important for the Jewish people, why it’s a symbol of anti-oppression and why it’s the ultimate testament to social justice” Anthony said, as he reflected on his trip.

While some students at his college challenged Anthony for his change of perspective, Anthony soon realized that his pro-Israel ideas were received well by many of his progressive-thinking friends. While they normally heard about Israel through AJ+ and other sources with an anti-Israel bias, his friends began to open their minds to his pro-Israel views.

Tikkun Olam, the Jewish idea of fixing a broken world, is an ideal that Anthony constantly strives for and hopes to share. He is very happy when he can broaden the understandings of his fellow students. It saddens him that the lack of knowledge about Israel’s story on campuses often translates into a missed opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of social change. As Anthony explains, “A lot of particularly progressive students and social justice activists on campus seem to not understand Israel’s importance in the conversation of self determination, empowering oppressed peoples, and responding to oppression.”

Anthony admits that becoming pro-Israel was not easy for him at first either. But, as Anthony attests, “The more I got engaged with pro-Israel activism, the more I saw my own progressive values reflected in the promise and reality of the Jewish state and that’s something I wish more people on my campus understood.”

Today, Anthony writes for Israel as he would any other cause he believes in. On a personal level, he also loves learning about Jewish identity and culture. He even joins his Jewish friends at their lively Shabbat dinners. He is fascinated by Jewish history and admires the history of the Jewish people. “Such a powerful story, a story of resilience, celebrating life in the face of oppression,” he remarks.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.

Journalism: The Bias is Breeding from Within Israel

The wonderful and terrible thing about journalism is that it frequently presents truth with a subtle hint of opinion.

Regardless of how a journalist writes—through his choice of subject matter, his focus on details or lack thereof, and his ability or inability to truly and intrinsically understand the circumstances of the people and ideas behind his news story—his voice will most likely reflect ever so slightly in his writing. Likewise, a newspaper’s objectives will often shine through the articles they publish and the journalists they promote.

Antisemitism in Europe. (Photo: AP)

Antisemitism in Europe. (Photo: AP)

Providing an inside scoop into the world of journalism, former AP correspondent Matti Friedman testifies to the continuous bias against Israel, which presents the Jewish state as the alleged bad guy in the media’s Middle East narrative. Throughout his article in The Atlantic, Friedman expresses what he witnessed among the tendencies of journalists who come to discover and reveal the truth about the Middle East while reporting in Israel. “The media bias against Israel has become part of a progressive Western zeitgeist,” he argues. And journalists fall for it constantly.

For the lack of understanding Israel sufficiently or the need to fulfill writing quotas or perhaps the desire to make the right connections in the journalism community of Israel, Friedman writes that “Many journalists choose to strengthen the ongoing narrative of Israel as a colonialist regime against Arabs rather than dig for gritty, nuanced stories.”

Another former AP correspondent, Mark Lavie, confirms Friedman’s claim that the media, in this case the Associated Press, has an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias. Editors of AP chose to exclude an article about how Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered a peace treaty, which was then rejected by Palestinian leadership. After calling out the AP on this suspicious act, Friedman and Lavie ceased to work for the Associated Press.

Although this trend of journalists reporting on Israel through such a slight perspective is very worrisome, it is also very concerning that Haaretz, Israel’s very own leading newspaper, is whitewashed by its own translators.

In an ongoing project, Haaretz, Lost in Translation, Director of CAMERA’s Israel office, Tamar Sternthal, has been thoroughly reviewing and comparing the Hebrew and English versions of the internationally known newspaper since 2012. She continues to expose the the subtle bias of Haaretz articles as they are translated from Hebrew to English.

Translating is a tricky job. A translator must relay ideas and details, while also writing fluidly. Changing a few words here and there can be a just decision or perhaps a translator’s honest mistake. However, as Tamar Sternthal reveals, Haaretz has an unfortunate record of not relaying the truth and excluding critical details in subsequent translations from Hebrew to English.

Haaretz has corrected mistakes prompted by Rosenthal in the past.  However the newspaper has yet to fully address their translating staff’s tendency to follow after the anti-Israel bias of international media.

Anti-Semitism on campus.

Anti-Semitism on campus.

As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword, and the media’s anti-Israel slant does not help Israel’s efforts for peace, nor does it levy important criticism against Israel’s enemies who promote terror. Unfortunately, just as anti-Semitism is growing on campus, anti-Zionist tendencies are continuing in the media and to Israel’s dismay, the problem is encouraged by Israel’s own media outlet Haaretz. As CAMERA works hard to confront journalists and editors’  inaccurate contributions, news outlets need to reflect on their priorities. Further, journalists need to asks themselves: are they really providing readers with the honest truth?

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.

Unfair Criticism Confronted: Israel at the UN

UN Watch, an organization that monitors the United Nations and promotes human rights for all reports on instances where Israel is unfairly criticized at the UN.

Following Operation Protective Edge, Israel was accused of war crimes at the United Nations. In response, Richard Kemp, a highly-respected colonel in the British Forces and CAMERA speaker, testified on Israel’s behalf. Colonel Kemp addressed the UN’s false and misleading accusation:

“While the IDF made efforts, unprecedented in any other army, and exceeding the requirements of the laws of war, to save Palestinian civilian lives, including warning them to leave target zones, Hamas forced them to remain in those areas.”

Hamas’s cornerstone strategy was, as he explained, to “cause large numbers of casualties among their own people in order to bring international condemnation against Israel, especially from the United Nations.” According to Kemp, the UN not only unjustly condemns Israel but also faithfully reiterates Hamas’s own false narrative in doing so.

Col. Richard Kemp Speaks at the UN. Source: UN Watch

Col. Richard Kemp Speaks at the UN. Source: UN Watch

More recently, this past May, UN Watch reported that, “the UK, France, Germany and other EU states voted…for a UN resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab group of states and the Palestinian delegation, that singled out Israel at the annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the only violator of ‘mental, physical and environmental health.’”

Swedish delegate joins UK, France, Germany and other EU states today in singling out Israel at the 2016 WHO world assembly. Source: UN Watch

Swedish delegate joins UK, France, Germany and other EU states today in singling out Israel at the 2016 WHO world assembly. Source: UN Watch

Ironically, however, the UN Assembly did not address Syria and Russia for bombing Syrian hospitals, or criticize Saudi-led groups for bombing millions of Yemenis and blockading their access to food and water. In fact, the UN did not even pass any other resolution on any other country in the world.

This resolution against Israel, Item No. 19, serves as an example of what Hillel Neurer, Executive Director of UN Watch deems absurd.  As he explains, this “resolution…accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks.”

This past April, the NY Daily News reported that the “United Nations [singled] out Israel for anti-women bias in the middle east.” In reality, women in Israel have full rights as citizens. The integration of women in the IDF serves as a great example for foreign militaries.

Source: United with Jerusalem Facebook page.

Source: United with Jerusalem Facebook page.

However, twenty countries in the UN voted to condemn Israel as women’s victimizer, and somehow decided to specifically only condemn Israel.

The criticism of Israel aside, more troubling is how the UN chose not to confront other countries regarding women’s rights.

Other countries cry for reform yet were not criticized at all by the UN.

In Saudi Arabia, women are denied the right to drive, walk around without a chaperone, or do other basic day-to-day activities. And even more tragically, in Sudan especially, women are subjected to genital mutilation. The UN fails to fully advocate for women when they choose to not condemn such horrific standards.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, activist against female genital mutilation. Source: quotesgram.com

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, activist against female genital mutilation. Source: quotesgram.com

While Israel was exclusively blamed for victimizing women, a recent UN report exposing the genocide of Yazidis in Syria and Iraq did, however, finally include criticism of ISIS for ongoing mass rapes.

One must wonder—in disgust and astonishment—how this could possibly be.

Even more recently, UN Watch exposed the unfair reporting of the Tel Aviv terror attack by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan. UN watch reported that he “noticeably refused to call Wednesday’s Palestinian shooting of Israelis in Tel Aviv a terrorist attack…and he refused to mention that the attackers were Palestininan. Moreover, [he] declined to call out Hamas leaders for celebrating the murder.”

In a recent report republished by the Washington Post, the Associated Press finally exposed the mistreatment of Israel at the United Nations. While Israel has been an active part of the UN since 1949, as the AP article explains, Israel is unfairly criticized in many UN committees, while fellow member states get away with horrific atrocities.

Until now, unfair criticism of Israel at the UN has not been confronted by the media. The succinct AP report has allowed mainstream media to cover the issue, and will hopefully raise awareness and outrage.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz

A Day with AIPAC Protesters: A Memoir

CAMERA Fellow Ben Suster.

CAMERA Fellow Ben Suster.

From presidential candidates to a spectacular rotating stage that left me with more questions than answers, AIPAC put their entire heart into throwing the Super Bowl of Israel conferences. Organizers go above and beyond to ensure we leave the conference with a better understanding of Israel’s past, present, and future. However this isn’t a Policy Conference promotion and I must admit that the majority of my learning came from a more outside source; and by that I mean from physically outside the doors of the conference.

With unending apologies to AIPAC and my mother, my biggest takeaways from the conference arose from spending time with the scores of anti-Israel protesters set-up in front of the convention center.

I estimate that there were close to 400 protesters whose only goal that day was to make our walk to the main entrance a dash more annoying than it would have been otherwise. Conversation with individuals who held signs equating Israel with the KKK typically go against my number one rule of valuing my time. But seeing my friends outnumbered and surrounded by these bigots inevitably had me concerned for their safety.

I ultimately joined them outside and initially stayed true to my values by keeping to myself and documenting the brawls and arrests on my phone. However, once outside, it was virtually impossible to remain unalarmed.

Ben Suster with protestors before things got really ugly.

Ben Suster with the protestors outside the AIPAC conference before things got really ugly.

The nature of the protesters’ shared hatred revealed itself through bouts of physical and verbal assault with conference goers and the police.

I witnessed a conference participant tripping on a row of police motorcycles as he was backing away from a fight, who then lay defenseless as he took blows to the face by protesters. He was pulled out of the pile by officers and escaped into the side entrance along with a freshly bruised face.


A photo taken by Ben Shuster of protestors.

Officers were scolded by the more passive protesters and were told that they should be ashamed of themselves for protecting the 18,000 conference attendees. Such a heinous absence of civility is only fostered through hatred and the world must stop fooling itself into believing that such mob mentalities are only found at Trump rallies.

An obsessive loathing for the Jewish state, instead of an unconditional love for the Palestinian people, is what drives a group of people to demand that the police to call it a day, subsequently enabling protestors to overthrow a conference.

Only the most passionate anti-Semites would gravitate to a conference for what they believe is the functioning head of the world’s banks, media, and ISIS. There were the inevitable casual calls for the expulsion of Jews into the sea as well as frustration expressed over their beliefs that Jews control the world.

I’ve been referred to as a Zionist pig and colonizer in the past, yet this was a new experience for me. To be informed that they “aren’t falling for our tricks anymore,” that the “anti-Semitism card is played out” and that “[us] Jews can’t deceive for much longer” was both startling and confusing. I was asked why I hate our country so much that I would attend a conference whose only end game is to destroy Congress. While it’s disturbing that we still live in a society where these primitive superstitions persist, it’s vital to understand that this was an overwhelming sentiment shared by the crowd.

The temptation to engage with the protestors eventually overcame me. Watching this living and breathing form of hatred left me with a sense of angst that could only be absolved through confrontation. I understood I was subhuman to them but rather than provoke the perpetually provoked I attempted practical dialogue.

Each attempt I made to engage with the protestors was discouraged because they believed that I was only present so I could learn how to more efficiently trick them in the future. In hindsight this is partially true considering how I grasped that their narrative is overwhelmingly based on lies and myths. It was common belief that children are being dragged from their beds and executed on the streets. When hate is left to fester, evidence isn’t needed to believe that the IDF plants knives next to Palestinians after they’re neutralized.

Violently referring to families as “fucking cockroaches” as they were escorted by security into the convention center was as eye-opening as it was frightening. I was called a “ZioNazi,” “fascist” and was informed that I am worthy of being stabbed along with everyone else who supports Israel. While flattering, I can’t help but wonder if my grandparents believed escaping Nazi occupied Poland would be the end of such a reality.

Although I am still trying to wrap my head around this extreme afternoon, I recognize that the protest itself was a manifestation of the underlying cause of this conflict. Only the ideology that Jews don’t belong in Israel can lead to such detestation; not land disputes.

Nevertheless, my head is held higher than it has ever been. Meditating on these moments was difficult, but I was desperate for a silver lining. Celebrating Purim the day after the conference, I came to understand that we have seen this hatred before. Ironically it’s because of this reason alone that we must keep pushing forward and nurturing hope; because like the Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, and Nazis before these protesters, this will pass.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at UCF Ben Suster.

Apply for the 2016-2017 CAMERA Fellowship here!

On anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and one girl’s experience at Stanford


CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

Do you think that Israel has a right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people, and are you aware of the particular circumstances of Jewish history that might prompt that need and desire? And if your answer is no, if your notion is somehow that that history doesn’t matter, then that’s a problem, in my mind.

—  President Barack Obama, on drawing the line between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism

Molly Horwitz’s proposed student Senate bill calls for support from the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) to condemn anti-Semitism on campus. A portion of the bill also clarifies the line between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and anti-Zionism. But what is that difference? What does ‘anti-Zionism’ even mean?

Zionism is defined as the national liberation movement affirming the right of Jews to live free in their native land. The Jewish struggle for self-determination. The civil rights movement of the Jewish people.

(Note that the Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group – meaning the collective Jewish identity is comprised of both religious and ethnic components. There are some Jews – many Jews – who identify with only one component of this definition, and many, like myself, who find them virtually inseparable.)

Anti-Zionism: The antithesis of the above. The belief that Jews do not have the right to self-determination in even part of their ancestral homeland.

Israel is a Jewish and Democratic state, but Israelis are not defined by their religion or ethnic origin. In fact, Israel’s population is roughly 74.9% Jewish, 20.7% Muslim, and 4.4% other. Criticizing Israeli policy is not inherently anti-Semitic – after all, the policies are instituted by Israel’s Knesset, which is comprised of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze, and more. But delegitimizing Israel’s fundamental right to exist as Jewish national homeland – in one form or another – targets the Jewish character of the state. It targets Israel alone, and Israel’s fundamental right to exist among all countries in the world.

Can you be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic? Frankly, I don’t think so – and neither does the U.S. State Department or President Barack Obama.

But even if, in theory, a delineation between the ideologies could be made, let’s look at the reality. At Stanford’s student Senate meeting, some of the most vocal opponents of the bill were members of Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Stanford SJP is explicitly associated with the international SJP, including member groups at schools like Vassar and City University of New York, where anti-Zionism has long since explicitly given way to virulent anti-Semitism.

At Vassar College, the SJP chapter promoted the sale of T-shirts depicting Leila Khaled, an infamous Palestinian airline hijacker, holding a machine gun in the air. On their Facebook page, Vassar SJP advertised the shirts as “sweet fucking anti-Zionist gear.” The same SJP chapter tweeted Nazi and white supremacist cartoons vilifying Jews and mocking the holocaust.

At City University of New York (CUNY) schools, a student protest against tuition increases at Hunter College was cosponsored by SJP, and included the chant “Zionists out of CUNY!” Student reports of the event also include the phrase “Jews out of CUNY!”

In these cases and so many more, any pretense of delineation between “anti-Zionism” and “anti-Semitism” has been dropped. If someone demonizes Israel, applies double standards to Israel, and delegitimizes Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination in at least part of their ancestral homeland – then what are they doing but singling out the Jewish state and the Jewish people in a blatant act of discrimination?

Personally, I love Stanford. I love the sunshine, the teachers, and the woman who yells at me when I bike through the main quad. I love my classes, my friends, and Stanford traditions. I have never in my life been happier than I am at Stanford.

But of the three times I have seriously considered leaving Stanford, each one was related to the state of anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism on campus.

The first time, was prior to arriving on campus, when I learned of the Swastikas defacing the SAE building and began to question whether I might be safer at a different school. The second time occurred in my third week of classes, when a student used biblical tales of conquest to claim that, reading the Hebrew Bible “it becomes evident that the proverbial “Other” doesn’t matter [to the Hebrews]. And… the reverberations are still being felt today, namely in Palestine.” The third was amisunderstanding with a professional in relation to the above topics.

My experiences alone should not dictate ASSU Senate policy, but I hope they’ll be taken into consideration when the student Senate and student body consider the impacts of this bill on Jewish students at Stanford. But more importantly, I hope the Senate will take into account the state of Vassar, of CUNY, of Oxford and King’s College London. I hope the Senate will take into account President Obama, the State Department, and the kind of campus community we seek to create.

Originally published in The Stanford Daily.

Contributed by Stanford University CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

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Standing Up for TICP

Earlier this week, The Israeli Cartoon Project (TICP) posted a Buzzfeed listicle of “Ten Extremely Accurate Cartoons that Depict the Hypocrisy of BDS.” The article was posted to give readers an accurate perspective of Israel’s situation, as well as publicizing TICP’s display at YNet’s Anti-BDS Conference in Jerusalem that took place on Monday.

However, the post was immediately taken down because it did not comply with Buzzfeed’s community guidelines. A similar situation occurred a few months back. Buzzfeed claimed that a post, which praised Israelis for defending themselves against terror attacks in a variety of clever ways, supported a “political agenda,” and it was also taken down.

Untitled design (1)

Many of the cartoons that were displayed sought to show the inherent hypocrisy within the BDS movement and how it not only harms Israelis, but Palestinians as well. The primary goal was to prove that incitement by Palestinian leadership has led to the recent wave of violence. Certain cartoons showed how there are numerous countries throughout the Middle East that are suffering from corrupt regimes, which commit horrific crimes, yet Israel is the only nation condemned.

Source: Guy Morad

Source: Guy Morad

Some of these cartoons display how people are following anti-Israel bias blindly and without realizing the many contributions Israelis have brought to the world. Further, so much of what BDS seeks to accomplish will eventually harm Palestinians. One major example of this is SodaStream, where the company had no choice but to let 600 of its Palestinian employees go because they were forced to move locations.


Source: Moshik Gults

There are endless tragedies taking place throughout the globe, yet BDS focuses solely on Israel and disguises itself as a human rights organization. In reality, it is a violent, hypocritical, and destructive movement. This is what TICP hopes to defeat through wit and illustration. This project works toward presenting Israel’s case creatively through imagery rather than words. It serves as a platform to combat anti-Israel bias with the help of talented artists and cartoonists in hopes of establishing a global campaign via social media. They have been wildly successful because as we all know, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Contributed by Bar-Ilan University CAMERA intern, Jasmine Esulin.