Tag Archives: campus event

Liz Wahl Discusses Media Bias, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Former Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl, who was last seen on air delivering an unexpected resignation in 2014, spoke to UCF students about her reasons for quitting on March 28.

She discussed the importance of media literacy, particularly in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Wahl said Israel is not blameless in the conflict, she believes that the European media has covered it in a way that is overly critical of the country.

Knights for Israel, a pro-Israel student organization, hosted the event where Wahl cited what she considered “blatantly biased content” about the Russia-Crimea conflict reported by Russia Today, also known as RT, as her reason for leaving.

“Personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin,” Wahl said during her final moments on air.  “I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth. And that is why after this newscast, I’m resigning.”

Since leaving RT, Wahl has investigated potential media biases in the news coverage of other topics, particularly in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She partnered with Jerusalem U, a Jewish Educational Organization, to create a documentary called “Media 101: Reading Between the Lines” that explores the issue. It was shown before Wahl’s speech.

Ben Suster, a 21-year-old biotechnology major and the current president of Knights for Israel, said he organized Wahl’s visit as a way to raise awareness of the biased ISIS attacks.

“Has the suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan received as much coverage as the bombing in Brussels? Not at all. Not even close,” Suster said. “There’s a significant human element to the media we follow that we know so little about. They are prone to error, biases and inclinations towards narratives that advance their respective self-interests just like any other human.”

Many of the other attendees at the event shared Suster’s sentiments and were eager to hear the opinions of a professional journalist on the matter.

“It’s no secret that there’s a lot of bias in the media and that things are being altered all the time. It’s interesting to hear a perspective from someone who’s actually behind the scenes working for the media, who gave up her job because of the things that were going on [at RT],” said Rachel Sorsher, a senior psychology student.

Marc Diamant, a current member of Knights for Israel and 19 year-old computer science major, was excited by the event’s potential to generate an open discussion about the conflict and the way that it’s covered.

“Well, knowledge is power. Both sides of [the Israel-Palestinian conflict] demand to be told from their perspective – that’s how you come to your viewpoint,” Diamant said.

During the airing of “Media 101: Reading Between the Lines” and the Q&A session that followed, Wahl discussed her experience at RT, as well as the anti-Semitic attacks that followed her resignation.

“In the wake of resigning from RT, I began to face a lot of backlash coming from some unexpected sources accusing me of being part of a Jewish, Zionist, Neocon plot. Now I’m not Jewish, and I don’t have any connection to Israel. Being a journalist myself, I began to wonder: could the media have something to do with it?”

Wahl offered an acronym for media consumers to distinguish reputable, accurate news sources from those with an agenda: CLUMSY. Each letter stands for Censorship, Local Fixers, Unconscious biases, Media outlets, Social Media and You. Wahl said that examining each of these aspects of media can help consumers find the least biased sources available.

During the Q&A session, Adam Manno, a junior journalism major, asked Wahl if there might be a conflict of interest, because the documentary was produced by a pro-Israel organization. Manno also pointed out that the documentary featured only “two Palestinians…and about six or seven Jewish perspectives.”

“That’s a totally fair question,” Wahl said. “I was hesitant to work with a Jewish nonprofit organization because I thought that it would be perceived as biased, and then I realized that it was ridiculous of me to not want to work with an organization simply because they were Jewish.”

Wahl said that because she had been the target of anti-Semitic sentiments following her resignation from RT, she thought it was particularly important to partner up with Jerusalem U.

“Are there things that I personally would have done differently to make [the documentary] more balanced? Perhaps, but I think that the voices that we spoke to were very non-extremist. I think they were fair. Hate on either end is not appropriate,” Walsh said.

Part 1 and Part 2 of Wahl’s documentary, “Media 101: Reading Between the Lines,” can be watched on Jersualem U’s Vimeo page.

 

Originally published in Central Florida Future.

Apply for the 2016-2017 CAMERA Fellowship by May 1st! 

Druze Delegation at NYU

On November 2nd, 2015,  New York University’s Emet for Israel supported group, Realize Israel,  hosted a delegation of Druze leaders from Israel.

The Israeli Druze Alliance brought a group of IDF soldiers of Druze descent and other leaders in the community to NYU in order to speak with students about what it’s like to be a part of the minority population of Druze in Israel. They spoke about their experiences in the IDF, why they support Israel, and much more. It was a unique opportunity provided to the NYU students to learn about an incredible minority living in Israel and how they contribute to the thriving Jewish state. It was also fascinating for the students to learn about the concept of the Druze religion and its secrecy.
Based on student accounts following the event, it is clear that they grasped the significance of this specific demographic group in Israeli society. Attendees learned that Druze-Arabs have a strong sense of loyalty to the country in which they reside, and they saw how this translates on a practical level in their lives. Some students may have even been pleasantly surprised to hear of the many Druze soldiers who take on high-ranking positions in the IDF. The event proved to be an eyeopening experience for the students, and through it they were able to gain a better understanding of how nuanced and diverse both Israeli society and its army truly are.

11666275_424122081125674_1321479935462223835_n

 

Neil Lazarus Visits Queens College

Neil Lazarus came to speak at Queens College on October 28, 2015 about current events in the Middle East.

979e9f2c-ec72-430b-8e82-e64e9ebe98e5

Lazarus gave a lecture to members of Emet for Israel supported group Queens College’s Israel Student Association for about an hour throughout which he discussed the conflict and issues Israel is facing now. This event was intended to be educational and board members hoped to give students a better and deeper understanding of Middle Eastern affairs.

StandWithUs and the ZOA were sponsors of this event in addition to CAMERA.

Neil Lazarus was definitely a great resource to provide them with such a clear perspective on the matters at hand. Students expressed that they enjoyed Neil’s wit and easy-to-understand breakdown of current events in the region. He also brought great visual aids that really helped unravel the nuanced and complex situation. Toward the end, Lazarus was very open to questions, which created a comfortable atmosphere for the attendees and clarified many of the common misconceptions regarding Israel.

c46c0505-35d1-4b57-aa03-08ec9197fc16

Afterward, pizza was served and this gave students the opportunity to interact with one another and talk about the lecture. Once members and other students really understood the topic and had enough confidence to bring up these issue with their peers, only then would they be able to properly advocate for the club and its goals. Board members are ecstatic that this is the case, and are looking forward to the group’s growth and effectiveness on campus in the near future.

978b6e14-537d-44e4-bfc8-d9390c66371c

Since the lecture, the clubs has received many new “LIKES” on Facebook and messages from members reaching out about ideas for events. QCISA has also been working on more cooperative events with other clubs to help gain more recognition. Everyone is looking forward to other events on campus that will strengthen their ability to advocate for Israel.

Unity Circle with Realize Israel

On October 21, 2015 NYU’s Emet for Israel supported group, Realize Israel, initiated a unity circle in their own Washington Square Park.

12118772_421655531372329_5453835568169584751_n

They joined together as a community of Israel supporters to make one giant circle of individuals, united for ONE cause, as ONE people. The attendees created a human chain by the fountain to show the world that they refuse to remain silent at a time when Israelis are under attack. Everyone was decorated in blue and white clothes as well as hundreds of Israeli and American flags. The passerby’s in the vicinity noticed the chain that was formed and seemed to be supportive.

12107842_421655268039022_4246241900724445787_n

Unfortunately, however, the park police claimed that people were complaining. It was difficult to comprehend why people were upset by our pride and clearly peaceful initiative, and were bothered at the notion that it may have been anti-Semitism. Regardless of this slight setback, the event was a huge success. It was important for the event to be widely publicized so the club heads hired a professional photographer. The photos were then posted on Facebook and it was clear that those who were unable to attend wished they could have.

12118749_421654978039051_715068552334155757_n

After forming a circle and sharing a moment of complete silence for the terror afflicting those in Israel right now, people connected and spoke about their relationship to the Jewish state. Students took the initiative to write on the pavement with chalk phrases such as”My Grandma Lived There” and “Peace in the Middle East.” Members of the club, as well as students who are taking more of an interest in joining, saw what Realize Israel stands for. It is a group that seeks to find innovative and unique ways to get their peers to begin talking about Israel and what its citizens go through on a daily basis. Ultimately, they are trying to personalize Israel, which is something the media so often fails to do.

11148315_421655038039045_4246492873188689547_n

 

 

A Taste of Israel

On December 7th, SUNY Albany’s Emet for Israel group, Great Danes for Israel, hosted “A Taste of Israel” brunch at Terra International Cuisine, a kosher restaurant in Downtown Albany. Many of these students had never tried authentic Israeli foods, so the event gave them the opportunity to take part in a unique cultural and culinary experience.

12341555_659603334182378_9094833400058913254_n

At the event, SUNY Albany students tasted all sorts of Israeli cuisines, including shakshuka, hummus, falafel, Israeli salad, and a variety of other foods. The students had the opportunity to learn many different facts about how Israeli food is prepared, eaten, and distributed throughout the country.

12295460_659603437515701_4675035217129051973_n-2

This event was not only unique, but also delicious. Food can help give insights into diverse cultures. Because Israeli food comes from so many cultures, the flavors are not what one would find at your typical American restaurant. Additionally, food has a way of attracting people meaning that no one is going to say no to delicious and free meal.

12313603_659603287515716_6862074859042737295_n

The students who planned the event were pleased to see the outcome, and how excited their peers were to get a real taste of Israel. Creating events that are based around the notion of food is an effective way to get more students involved. Somehow food always has the power to bring people of many backgrounds together and ultimately, to engage in dialogue. That’s exactly what we accomplished through our brunch event, and we look forward to planning more in the future. Maybe next time we’ll snack on Bamba and Bissli!

Raise Your Voice

On November 20th, 2015, Students United, the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Emet for Israel supported group, hosted an event called “Raise Your Voice,” which turned out to be a huge success.

This CAMERA funded CUFI initiative was geared toward the Christian community on campus, and the goal was to raise awareness about the Christian persecution taking place in the Middle East. Students United also sought to present the positive role Israel has been playing in response to this series of recent attacks. The event showed how it is the only country in the region where Christians are free to practice their religion.

Initially, there were a number of setbacks in terms of planning the event, but there was a major turn around when the group successfully booked a speaker from Voice of the Martyrs, Carolyn Luce, and found a local musician to play as well.

The Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization dedicated to assisting persecuted Christian families around the world. It was eye opening for students to hear Luce speak about the violence taking place against Christians, as well as to hear her perspective on Israel’s assistance. The audience interacted with Luce once she concluded her speech. She was able to address the current threats that Christians are facing throughout the Middle East, and answer all of the questions that were posed.

Prior to the event, students were not necessarily aware of the efforts Israel makes to ensure that tolerance of other faiths is maintained. As democratic nation, it is vital to uphold these freedoms for every individual. Students left the event feeling proud to be supporters of Israel because the facts brought up throughout the speech showed that the Jewish state defends the religious rights of everyone, not only Jews.

The attendees absolutely loved the event. It was a comfortable environment for them to cry over the suffering of these Christians, but to also make new friends and connect with people on a deeper level. Everyone learned something new and gained a greater awareness of current events.

Students United has already followed up with the speaker and the members in the audience through Facebook and email. The group is looking forward to building a stronger connection to these Christian clubs and inviting their members to future events.

Owls For Israel at FAU Host Ted Deutch and Izzy Ezagui!

Owls For Israel, the Emet for Israel pro-Israel student group at Florida Atlantic University, organized a student leadership dinner to kick off the year in a strong way. Student leaders united for the event to hear from Congressman Ted Deutch about the importance of the US-Israel relationship.

CCAP representative, Zachary Pastor, explained that the “event was very effective as it provided a way to reach out to many other student groups on campus to help them realize how Israel pertains to their specific causes.” The successful event attracted members of over 30 different student groups and the speaker provided new insight into the importance of the strong political alliance.Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 3.22.59 PM

Later in the semester, Owls for Israel organized an event entitled “Lunch & Learn” with Izzy Ezagui. During the “L&L,” he shared his positive experience as an IDF soldier with a disability, and how he overcame the often associated adversity. The event attracted and engaged over 25 students from various interests and backgrounds.

Owls For Israel hosted multiple successful events over the past fall semester. We look forward to hearing about their upcoming pro-Israel events this spring!

Shooting Under Fire: Great Danes For Israel Host Gil Cohen-Magen

During the autumn semester, CAMERA’s Emet for Israel group at the University of Albany, Great Danes For Israel (GDFI),  recently hosted an event entitled Shooting Under Fire in an effort to engage and inform a diverse audience about current events in Israel from an unbiased perspective. Gil Cohen-Magen, a photojournalist who has documented key occurrences in Israel, was invited to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict  and the difficulties of living in Israel during a war.

Tal Cohen, a member of Great Danes For Israel, told CAMERA that “Cohen-Magen was very Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 8.10.45 PMhumble when discussing where his photos were published and by the end people were very impressed with Gil.”

The group worked hard to promote their event along with the Communications Department, the Journalism Department, and the Documentary Studies Department, in order to encourage an open dialogue on campus.  As a result of this event, the group has founded and enriched partnerships with other organizations on campus, and in doing so, exposed previously uninvolved students to new ideas and Israel-related concepts.

Screening of The Forgotten Refugees at Ohio State University

CAMERA Fellow Madelyn Grant of Ohio State University recently organized a screening of The Forgotten Refugees with a dinner and discussion. Over 35 students attended from various sectors of campus life, such as LGBTQ, Israel groups, and Greek life. The students enjoyed the film and engaged in a thought-provoking discussion following it.

ohio-state-university

Students were thinking and talking about the event long after it happened, asking Madelyn questions after the event, and wanted more information about it. As a result of the diversity of the students, this event can be used as a springboard for other events that can educate college students at Ohio State University about Israel.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn.

Drexel Brings Jared Ben-Caro

CAMERA Fellow Josh Dienstman and Dragons for Israel (A CCAP/CAMERA supported group) recently organized an event at Drexel University, where Sgt. (Res.) Jared M. Ben-Caro, a former IDF paratrooper, discussed his experience as a combat soldier during Operation Cast Lead. In this operation, the IDF entered the Gaza Strip to dismantle Hamas weapon infrastructure.

IMG950574

Sgt. Ben-Caro focused on debunking the numerous myths regarding the IDF’s alleged cruelty. He spoke about the life a soldier in the IDF with all of its hardships. He showed the audience the humanitarian focus of the IDF, and how the IDF only engages in military action if necessary to defend Israeli citizens from unprovoked enemy attacks. The event was a complete success, with Sgt. Ben-Caro talking about his personal life, making the audience feel at home and comfortable.

IMG959628

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Ariel Warren