Tag Archives: EMet for Israel

Eight New Schools Join EMET for Israel

Israel groups from eight campuses have recently become CAMERA-supported groups through the EMET for Israel program. CAMERA now works with over 80 campuses through the EMET for Israel and CAMERA Fellowship programs.

1. Dartmouth Students for Israel (Dartmouth College)

While Dartmouth Students for Israel (DSI) became a CAMERA-supported group this fall, we’ve been working with and providing support to students there since last year. During the 2016-17 school year, Dartmouth CAMERA Fellow Josh Kauderer worked hard on a variety of issues, including exposing a BDS-supporting member of faculty, Bruce Duthu, in May. After Kauderer and DSI wrote an open letter, Duthu resigned.

Shortly after Duthu’s resignation, Linda Sarsour was scheduled to speak at Dartmouth. CAMERA quickly helped prepare Kauderer and DSI with talking points and questions for Sarsour, who is a highly controversial activist. During a Q&A period at Sarsour’s event, DSI filmed member Zack Port as he took her to task over her a hypocritical statement she had made about activist Ayan Hirsi Ali. Sarsour was unable to answer the question, and lied, attempting to deny she had ever made such a statement. We are very happy that this year Zack is the CAMERA Fellow at Dartmouth.

It isn’t easy for students at Dartmouth to put on Israel events on campus. “The students get a lot of push back from academic departments on campus when they want to hold events,” tells Campus Coordinator Ben Suster. “As the only organization working with Zionist students at Dartmouth this year, we’re working to bring more speakers to the campus,” he says. On November 6th, DSI is bringing Israeli photojournalist Gil Cohen Magen to Dartmouth in an event sponsored by CAMERA.

2. Clarkies for Israel (Clark University)

Ziva Wernick, President of Clarkies for Israel tabling at the beginning of the semester.

Clark University is known for being an unpleasant campus for Zionist students. There are issues with SJP and JStreet. In 2016, Clark CAMERA Fellow Patrick Fox appealed to his students in an Op-Ed titled “Where is the Outcry?” where he called out his peers for acknowledging terror victims in Paris with a candlelight vigil, while ignoring terror victims in Israel. Former member of Clarkies for Israel and Clark alumna Lilia Gaufberg also made reference to the difficult times she experienced as a Zionist student at Clark in a blog entry called “Tough Love“.

CAMERA is the only Zionist organization at Clark University helping students who want to celebrate and educate about Israel. Starting off with an all new board, Clarkies for Israel is looking forward to bringing more to the conversation about Israel to campus, and we can’t wait to see what they will accomplish.

3. Tufts Friends of Israel (Tufts University)

CAMERA Fellow and Tufts FOI Co-Director of Advocacy Ben Shapiro and Co-Director of Advocacy Spencer Zeff meet with the Consul General of Israel to New England.

Last month, students at Tufts University distributed a “Disorientation Guide” for incoming freshmen which accused Israel of “white supremacy” and promoted “Israeli Apartheid Week”, and accosted Jewish groups at Tufts who had sponsored a talk by the parents of Trayvon Martin (an African-American teenager shot and killed in Floriday in 2012) for “exploiting black voices for their own pro-Israel agenda.” Last year, BDS passed in vote that was announced 48 hours in advance on Passover eve.

This is just a taste of the atmosphere on the Tufts campus for Jewish and Zionist students.

Tufts Friends of Israel  plans to hold events that take a proactive and unapologetic stance on supporting and celebrating Israel. Meanwhile Ben Shapiro, Co-Director of Advocacy of Tufts FOI, will respond to inaccuracies about Israel on campus and proactively spread the truth about Israel through the Op-Ed writing he does as the Tufts CAMERA Fellow.

On October 22nd, Tufts FOI will be hosting Noam Bedein, renowned Israeli photojournalist and environmental activist who will present to students at Tufts about his Dead Sea story using photography art.

4. Harvard Israel Initiative (Harvard College)

As the only Israel group on Harvard’s campus, CAMERA-supported group Harvard Israel Initiative has lots of room to grow. The Initiative is a recently formed group, and will play a critical role in shaping dialogue around Israel at other universities in the area.

“Harvard educates many students who will have the privilege of being leaders in our common future. If we want those future leaders to understand and be able to support a pro-Israel future, then a positive Israel presence is essential at Harvard,” says Harvard CAMERA Fellow and member of the Initiative, Ilan Goldberg.

Anti-Israel groups, including the Harvard College Palestinian Solidarity Committee, are present on campus, and Harvard Israel Initiative’s role in countering this year’s “Israeli Apartheid Week” will be critical.

5. Smith Israel Alliance (Smith College)

President of Smith Israel Alliance Kalila Courban.

After all of the Smith Israel Alliance‘s executive board graduated, there was no one left to continue the group’s presence as a source of Israel education on the campus. But luckily, a group of students has come together, including Kalila Courban, who has assumed the role of President of the group.

The campus is known for being difficult for Zionist students, and Smith Israel Alliance has plans to hold events and provide Israel education on campus in a way that will reach the students there the most effectively.

On November 13th, Israeli photojournalist Gil Cohen-Magen, brought to Smith’s campus by CAMERA, will speak to students about Israeli society and coexistence.

6. Bobcats for Israel (Ohio University)

Bobcats for Israel members during a Birthright trip to Israel last summer.

At Ohio University, there isn’t an anti-Israel student following to speak of. The biggest challenge for Bobcats for Israel will be fighting apathy, and this CAMERA-supported group plans to address it through a series of proactive initiatives, including tabling and educational events designed to pique students’ interest in Israel.

On November 8th, the group will be hosting Gil Cohen Magen, and has many other exciting events planned for the future. We’re looking forward to working the students at Ohio U to ensure the campus becomes more actively engaged.

7. Matadors for Israel (California State University, Northridge)

A recent event held by Matadors for Israel.

Similarly to Ohio University, the biggest challenge at Cal State Northridge will be fighting student apathy towards Israel.

On October 16th, Matadors for Israel held a free lunch event for the group to talk to students about their programming and recruit more board members. The group plans to use a proactive approach and to educate their peers in order to promote a more thorough understanding of the Jewish state.

8. Scarlet Knights for Israel (Rutgers University New Brunswick)

CAMERA Fellow and President of Scarlet Knights for Israel Miriam Waghalter.

Rutgers has a significant Jewish population, but little Israel-related events or activities. But now CAMERA Fellow Miriam Waghalter has stepped in, and things are about to change. Waghalter reinvigorated Scarlet Knights for Israel, which had become unknown on campus, and is now making the group known to students.

The group is in a great position to do amazing things on campus, and the absence of anti-Israel activity gives Scarlet Knights for Israel lots of room to focus on fostering a strong Zionist and Jewish student community. “They simply have to meet the demand,” says Campus Coordinator Ben Suster. “There is an amazing Hillel on campus with a big following, and Scarlet Knights for Israel can promote their own events to this group of students.”

 

SAFI’s Immediate Success

SAFI, the Student Alliance For Israel-Madison, formerly known as Madison Friends of Israel, is the Emet for Israel group on the University of Wisconsin’s campus. Their kickoff event of the semester took place in early February, and since then they have gathered a good amount of attention from their fellow students. Unfortunately, a pro-Israel voice was becoming increasingly necessary in order to balance out the anti-Israel rhetoric on campus.

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The group has been incredibly successful in catering to their member’s needs and requests in learning more about the Jewish state. In the past few months, the group has created an Israel class, throughout which Israeli history, culture, and its current political climate is taught. The board has also established the SAFI Ambassador Program to give students a way of being more involved without committing to the course.

In addition to the kickoff event, SAFI has raised awareness about Israel through its weekly newsletter, a recent YouTube video it released, and its “Fun Fact Friday” social media campaign. Another effective initiative has been bringing speakers, including Joel Chasnoff, a comedian who presented the many facets of Israeli society.

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This CAMERA – supported group is looking forward to the many events and classes it will bring to the University of Wisconsin. At its inception, its main goal was to get more students to care about Israel, to begin asking questions about it, and to create a more balanced dialogue. Members are pleased that this objective has already been achieved to an impressive degree!

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.

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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.

Shooting Under Fire: Gil Cohen-Magen at Cal State Long Beach

Gil Cohen-Magen speaking at Cal State University Long Beach

Gil Cohen-Magen speaking at Cal State University Long Beach

On November 12th, the Emet for Israel group at Cal State University Long Beach, 49ers for Israel, hosted Gil Cohen-Magen, a prominent Israeli photojournalist. His works have appeared in The New York Times, as well as other leading newspapers and magazines. The event drew a large crowd to his Thursday night lecture and was well received by a variety of CSULB students.

49ers for Israel aimed to raise awareness of the Arab-Israeli conflict in general, engage the student body, supply unbiased information, and leave a lasting impression in everyone’s mind with the hope that they would share with others.

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Gil primarily focused on his photographs taken during Operation Protective Edge, but also showed the students his impressive portfolio, which ranged from horrific war scenes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the secretive world of ultra-orthodox Haradeim. Gil enlightened the students with details of the Israeli side, their struggle, and the impact of war on all groups involved. The humanity demonstrated by IDF soldiers who picked up tiny remains of suicide bomber’s bodies to give back to their family members especially stood out to the audience. Many students openly wept and turned away in horror at the sight of both Israeli soldier and civilian funerals, as well as gruesome murder scenes he captured. At the end of the evening, students were eager to approach and thank Gil for all the work he has done to inform outsiders and humanize this ongoing and tragic conflict.

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Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories on Campus

The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the past – Jews are plotting to rule the world, Jews control the banks, Jews are agents of calamity and catastrophe –have found new life in the North American university campus.

At the City University of New York, the “Students for Justice in Palestine” club blamed the “Zionist administration” for the high cost of tuition and claimed that the university “aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists”. If student debt is rising, it logically follows that Israel must be at fault.

A similarly absurd accusation was just made at York University – the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) club is insisting that a cabal of “pro-Israel racists” are behind a new electronic voting campaign and are plotting to take over student government.

On Monday November 30th, the York Federation of Students (YFS) held its annual general meeting at York University. Students had the opportunity to vote on a motion to implement online voting in future student government elections.

For some background information, the YFS represents 55,000 students and controls a budget of approximately 3.1 million dollars. Many students support online voting as an alternative to the paper ballot system because past YFS elections have had problems with double voting, missing ballots, and undemocratic practices such as poll clerks being hired by the YFS board of director. In other Ontario-area universities, online voting has helped the non-incumbent slate win election.

Needless to say, the merits of online voting vs. paper ballots is an issue that is wholly separate from race, nationality, or religion. To insist otherwise would be ludicrous and irrational. One would scarce expect this ‘disclaimer’ to even have to be mentioned, much less elaborated upon.

Except for the fact that the motion for online voting was submitted by a Jewish student. And wherever there are Jews, the irrationality of anti-Semitism is sure to follow.

Bereft of any facts and armed with a paranoid tendency to see the malign influence of Jews in every event, the online voting motion was promptly characterized as “racist” and “extremist” by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). SAIA is a York University group which is notorious for its radicalism, its vandalism of school property with anti-Israel signage, and its promotion of terrorist propaganda on social media. The group has previously praised Rasmea Odeh, murderer of two Israeli students.

Multiple “Vote no for electronic voting” events sprang up on Facebook. In each “vote no” event, one prominent SAIA executive used the student’s identity as a Jew to criticize the online voting campaign. The Jewish student was slandered as a racist and as an apartheid supporter. The definitive “proof” for these libellous accusations was that the student is a member of Hillel.

This incident is part of a disturbing pattern of Jewish students having their religion being used as innate evidence of ill intent or impartiality. Last February, a Jewish student at UC Los Angeles found that her religion was being discussed as a reason to reject her from a position on student government. This November, a Jewish student at UC Santa Cruz was warned to abstain from voting on a pro-BDS motion because he is the president of the school’s Jewish student union.

At York University, non-Jewish students who supported the e-vote motion were also defamed as “racists” by association and were accused of “collaborating” with the Jewish student in other pro-Israel activities.

For example:

“You won’t be happy until your racist friends take over the YFS. It’s that simple. It’s not like I’m the only one here who sees the trends.”

“Everybody knows this is a pro-Israel push to take over the union. The Israel lobby isn’t even quiet about it. You can’t even address the murderous extremism in your circles”.

“Racist pro-Israel students throw their backing behind every opposition in their desperate attempt to smash the social justice activists in the YFS”

“I’ve pointed out your ties with pro-Israel racists and extremists, which you do possess. That, in itself, says a lot about your utterly despicable values and what you stand for”

“Your collaboration with extremists and right-wing conservatives are more than enough for all of us to see what kind of union (or should I say government) would emerge from the work that you do and the way you go about doing it”

These accusations make it harder and harder to insist that there is a impermeable line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Whether it’s accusing Jews of plotting to take over the world or just plotting “to take over the York Federation of Students”,  whether it’s accusing Jews of murdering children for religious rites or just being  “murderous extremists”, whether it’s characterizing Jewish values as satanic or just “utterly despicable” , it’s clear that the intent is the same.

This was contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow Danielle Shachar. Danielle is Vice President of York University’s Emet for Israel group, York Students for Israel.

Letter to the Editor: On justice – Freedom for all

FrumRobyn-1From Hollywood to the cornfields of Ohio, from the small liberal arts colleges in New England to the large universities throughout the country, I see one prevailing commonality: the struggle to understand the other and the fight for what freedom means to them. Former President Ronald Reagan believed that, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.” Rightfully so, every individual must stand by his or her principles, protect their rights and ensure that freedom sounds within their community.

61women-1For me, Zionism represents that struggle for freedom and equity. Following thousands of years in exile and centuries of racism throughout the world, Zionism sought a solution that would protect the Jewish people from discrimination and would grant them the same political, national rights embraced in Western thought. The reconstitution of a modern Jewish state in Judea united Jews around the world and ensured their safety and continuity in a dangerous world.


Zionism has never denied those same freedoms and rights to people based on their sexual identity, ethnicity, religion or race. It is woven in the legal fabric that Israel was founded upon. No country in the Middle East can compare for its commitment to empowering women, accepting the LGBTQ community, promoting religious tolerance and fighting racial divides from communal and governmental circles. To be a Zionist is, to me, fighting not only for my own freedoms and liberties but also for those who wish to be free in an increasingly problematic world. Zionism inspires me to stand up for all people and for all struggles, especially for those who may not know how.

41IMG_8712That desire for freedom has always existed, from the pinnacle of the women’s suffrage movement to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. It is extended to this summer’s ruling that love is love and that same-sex marriage ought to be the law of the land.

Yet, with every new era comes a new battle, and today’s continues to be that of freedom. Just because we broke boundaries to get to this point doesn’t mean we can stop here. The Civil Rights movement was a huge milestone in our history from slavery to full citizen, yet racism still exists. Women’s suffrage brought women from the kitchen to the polls, yet women are still faced with stereotypes to break. Same-sex marriage brought love to a whole new level, yet homophobia still exists.

As students in a university that prides itself in true liberal values and free-flowing ideas, we must understand that fighting for freedom is very real. One should never appropriate someone’s struggles for his or her personal gain; that’s inconsistent and disrespectful to the very cause and the people that are fighting. We must learn that we cannot be selective in whose self-determination we stand for. If you truly stand on the side of sovereignty, you will proudly support freedom for all. You cannot fight for one group’s freedom by taking away that of another’s. At the very core of Zionism lies a uniting force that together, we can change the world for the better. It is a movement and love story between a people to make the world a brighter place. It all starts here.

Standing up for what is moral and just: that is Zionism, that is feminism, that is civil rights and that is liberty and justice for all.

This was contributed by Ohio State University CAMERA Fellow and Vice President of OSU’s Emet for Israel supported group, Buckeyes for IsraelRobyn Frum and was originally published in The Lantern.

Benji Lovitt comes to UB


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SUNY Buffalo’s Emet for Israel supported group, UB for Israel, was very excited to bring Benji Lovitt, an Israeli comedian, to their university and share his comedy expertise with their peers.

From Taglit Birthright to camels, Lovitt made the audience roar with laughter as her talked about many different aspects of Israeli society.

Lovitt’s performance followed an opening act by UB Improv.

 

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Through comedy, Lovitt’s event attracted student who preferred to learn more about Israeli culture rather than politics.  Lovitt drew a crowd that included new students, community members and even university professors.

The room was filled with laughter and UB for Israel are excited to plan more events that provide an accurate representation of Israel’s diverse society to campus.

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What Exactly is a Hamsa?

12109291_840538182732806_5308028704984202208_nThe Hamsa is a very common symbol throughout the Middle East, that has even made its way into American fashion, but few people know about neither its origins nor its cultural significance. This sign is often used in Judaism as a sign of protection. In Islam, the sign is referred to as “Fatima’s Hand.” Fatima was Mohammad’s daughter and her sign, the hamsa, is a “symbol of patience, loyalty, faith and resistance against difficulties.” Both cultures use the symbol to bring luck and protection.

On October 27 SUNY Rockland’s Emet for Israel supported group, Rockland Friends of Israel hosted a multicultural event entitled “What Exactly is a Hamsa” to explore the origins and meaning of the hamsa. During the event students were able to make Hamsa dream catchers, necklaces and were given the opportunity to learn about other cultures. At the end of the event each student was given a card with the history of the Hamsa.

SUNY Rockland CAMERA Intern Hadassa Raice said, “They enjoyed great middle eastern music and free lunch. It was informative, fun and we got great feedback!”

The event was well attended by a variety of students. Since it wasn’t a sit-down event, many students were able to stop by, drawing a larger and more diverse crowd.

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Bedouin Israeli diplomat’s speech at U. Windsor disrupted, but he’s not upset

Recently Ishmael Khaldi spoke at the University of Windsor and despite the fact that he was “shouted down” by anti-Israel protestors, other students at the university listened to his message and understood its importance.

Ishmael Khaldi is an Israeli diplomat, currently assigned to the Israeli Embassy in London, and formerly at the Consulate in San Francisco.

Khaldi is the first Israeli diplomat who is Bedouin.  I have never met Khaldi, but I visited his home village of Khawaled in northern Israel last May, Khawaled Village – Bedouin Pride in Israel. Khaldi was was kind enough to retweet my post:

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So when I saw a report that Khaldi’s appearance as the University of Windsor in Canada was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters, I took note not just because of our tenuous connection, but also because it was reported around the time that Protesters shouted down an Israeli Professor at U. Minnesota law school.

Shout-downs and disruptions of Israeli and pro-Israeli speakers are commonplace on campuses.

The Canadian Jewish News reported on the incident at Windsor:

A group of anti-Israel students hijacked a lecture by Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat who had travelled to the University of Windsor to talk about his experience as a minority living in Israel because they “refused to allow a Zionist to lead the discussion on such a topic.” …

[Jewish Student Association president Trevor] Sher said he was tipped off that there was going to be a walkout protest of Khaldi’s talk, organized by a campus club called the Palestinian Solidarity Group….

Sher said Khaldi was about 10 minutes into his presentation when the protest began.

“He didn’t get into anything political. He started off by saying that protesting an event like his is a waste of time, saying, ‘I’m not a politician, I’m just here to share my experience and my story.’ He gave a few examples of the things he’s trying to do to foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Sher said.

In a video uploaded to the Palestinian Solidarity Group’s Facebook page, the protesters can be seen interrupting Khaldi by standing in their seats and taking turns shouting slogans at Khaldi before walking out as a group. One student can be heard saying, “Shame on you for supporting terrorism.” …

A CJN request for comment from the Palestinian Solidarity Group was declined, but a post on the group’s Facebook page said, “we as pro-Palestinians refused to allow a Zionist to lead the discussion on such a topic… The pro-Palestinian voice is in charge of leading the discussions on Palestinian human rights on our campus, not Zionists.

“A constructive dialogue about Palestine cannot exist with anyone who denies the fundamental facts about the Palestinian occupation – that there is an illegal occupation… and that Israel by all measures is responsible for the vast majority of violence in Israel and Palestine.”

Sher said the protesters followed up their demonstration with an appearance on a campus radio station show, The Shake Up, during which the protesters compared Zionists to neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan.

“They said, the same way you wouldn’t let a neo-Nazi or a member of the KKK talk about black rights, you shouldn’t let a Zionist talk about Palestinian human rights,” Sher said…

To read the full article please go to Legal Insurrection and to learn more about the University of Windsor’s Emet for Israel supported group click here. Read more about Ishmael Khaldi’s event at University of Windsor here.