Tag Archives: hamas

Students for Justice in Palestine Linked to Terrorist Affiliate

Anti-Semitism is on the rise at college campuses. From January to June 2016, 287 anti-Semitic incidents occurred on 64 campuses, an increase of 45% since the year before. Unfortunately, Stanford is no exception to this ugly trend. In Spring 2016, during an ASSU meeting, Senator Gabriel Knight spoke of “Jews controlling the media, economy, government and other societal institutions.” Disgusting centuries-old stereotypes have entered discourse at the Farm [Stanford].

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, and will always be, divisive. Stanford students should have the right to express their opinions on either side of the issue. But one thing is clear: no student group should receive support from, or be linked to terrorism or violent actors. Support for physical aggression is unacceptable.

So Stanford should be horrified by recent revelations that chapters of the national organization Students for Justice in Palestine are coordinating with an affiliate of Hamas.

Last year, congressional testimony revealed SJP’s strong ties to American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). Several members of AMP were formerly members of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which was dissolved after it was discovered in 2005 that the organization sent $12.4 million to Hamas. Following the dissolution of the HLF, several of the HLF’s Hamas financiers moved to AMP, which was founded in 2005.

As they have taken new positions with AMP, the Hamas-linked former members of the HLF have maintained their terrorist ties: a number of terrorist-affiliated individuals and entities appear on the AMP’s donor list. AMP is thus essentially operating as a Hamas front group here in the United States.

Alarmingly, AMP is also active on campuses throughout our country. AMP is a major source of funding and support for SJP: in 2014, it put $100,000 into campus efforts, and it routinely provides SJP with speakers, training, funds, and printed materials. Moreover, the testimony revealed that AMP “even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job it is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS groups across the country.” SJP’s close association with AMP, whose members are tied to terrorists, is sickening.

By collaborating with such an organization, SJP has essentially become another front group for Hamas, aiding its legitimacy by receiving funds and support from its affiliate, AMP. The BDS movement that SJP represents is, in the words of Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, “part and parcel of the jihadist war against Israel whose goal is its annihilation.”

SJP at Vassar College sold this T Shirt justifying the actions of a terrorist, Leila Khalid

Hamas is evil, pure and simple. They are a genocidal terrorist organization that launches rockets into Israel, targets Israeli civilians through bombings, uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and inspires Palestinians to kidnap and stab Israelis. They threaten the basic peace, safety, and well-being of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

It is incontrovertible that Stanford students should not fund the acts of terrorists and war criminals. Stanford’s SJP receives ASSU standard grants, meaning that students’ tuition dollars may be funding a group with terrorist ties. That possibility is intolerable.

Congressional testimony has shown that SJP groups on campuses across our country have demonstrable ties to AMP, and therefore, to Hamas. The ASSU must take serious steps to investigate the full extent of SJP’s sources of external support. Until that day, Stanford should not let Students for Justice in Palestine operate on our campus, use our buildings, or spend our students’ money.

Contributed by John Rice-Cameron, originally published at the Stanford Review

The Choices Palestinians Make

After returning from an awful weekend trip with a Christian youth group, I told my mother I wanted to stop going to church in the next town over and worship where we lived. “Nobody likes me over there,” I said. Her response was direct and brutal: “Maybe they are not the problem. Maybe it is you.”

It was a shock. Mothers are not supposed to talk that way to their 11-year-old sons (so I thought). In the years since, I have tried, with varying degrees of success, when in a difficult position, to look at the role I played in creating the circumstances I find myself in.

Maybe I have behaved in unlikable ways and need to stop. Life together with other people — with any measure of peace — requires a willingness to dispense with a false belief in one’s innocence. We all tend to believe that nothing is ever our fault; more likely, we realize that many things are.

There are times when I wish my mother could remonstrate with the Palestinians intellectuals, many of them Christians, whom I meet in the course of my work. Listening to them talk, it often seems as if the difficulties they describe are solely the result of other people’s acts. Most unsettling of all, however, is the willingness of Western peace and human rights activists to affirm this crippling narrative of innocence.

Instead of patting Palestinians on the head and telling them that everything is Israel’s fault, perhaps it is time to bring them up short and tell them, “Maybe it is you!” — and insist that Palestinians look closely at the injustices and mistakes perpetrated by Arabs over the past few decades. Perhaps it is time to confront Palestinians with the choice they face: They can keep trying to deny the Jewish people their right to a sovereign state, or they can make peace and get a state of their own; they cannot do both. If Palestinians are interested in making peace, perhaps they need to start earning the trust of the Israelis, bring an end to incitement, educate their children for peace instead of murder, and begin building a future for themselves and their children without blaming Israel for every setback they endure.

Palestinian glorification of terrorists: Mahmoud Abbas stands with a boy, who holds a photo of Dalal Mughrabi. Mughrabi killed 37 Israelis in a terrorist attack in 1978, yet is revered as a hero by the PA.

Here, the ability of the Palestinians to romance and recruit sympathetic, empathetic and condescending peace activists actually works against them. It hinders their development as a people because it prevents them from developing the human capacity for agency, or ability to, in the words of psychologist Albert Bandura, “influence intentionally one’s functioning and life circumstances… [People] are not simply onlookers of their behavior. They are contributors to their life circumstances, not just products of them.”

All too often, outsiders to the Israel-Palestinian conflict encourage the Palestinians to view themselves as onlookers to their own suffering, without encouraging them to think what their leaders did to cause this suffering. Over the long haul, such condescension does not help, and can be lethal.

You can see this condescension in the blurbs promoting The Drone Eats With Me: A Gaza Diary, (Beacon, 2016) by Palestinian writer Atef Abu Saif.

“This is what war is like in the twenty-first century—the voice of a civilian in the onslaught of drone warfare, a voice we have never heard before,” writes Michael Ondaatje, author of the acclaimed text, The English Patient. Molly Crabbapple, the radical author of Drawing Blood, declares that Saif’s book “deserves to become a modern classic of war literature.” It would seem that Saif has written a text of towering importance.

Alas, he has not. Saif does provide a powerful first-person narrative of the suffering endured by the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. The stories Saif tells in his diary, portions of which were previously published in Western newspapers, are harrowing, tragic and well written, particularly when he recounts the suffering endured by parents whose children were killed by Israeli missiles and gunfire. The entry for July 15, 2014, is emblematic:

On the TV, the father of one of the children killed in an attack on the Shuja’iyya quarter on July 9 wails at the corpse of his son: “Forgive me, son, I could not protect you!” It is very hard to watch, knowing deep down that this might be me in a week’s time. Being a father brings with it a deep-seated instinct to protect, but also an assumption that you can protect. You are your children’s hero, their superman. You tell yourself you can outwit the planes, the tanks and the warships, to protect them. You can do anything for their sake. But this father on the TV could not have done anything differently to protect his son. Only the pilot had any choice in the matter.

The problem in Saif’s thinking becomes evident in the last sentence: “only the pilot had any choice in the matter.”

The notion that the Israeli pilot is the only one who has any responsibility for the child’s death is simply false. A lot of bad choices were made — by Palestinians — prior to the death of the young child and Saif knows it; he just can’t — or will not — address these choices, at least not in this text.

By placing all the blame on the Israelis for the death of the child, he is encouraging his readers to believe that the Palestinians are powerless to change the circumstances under which they live. According to him, only the international community, which Saif laments as ineffectual and indifferent, can do that.

The reality that Saif will not confront in his book is that Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, bears a huge measure of responsibility for the suffering he documents. Hamas has repeatedly started wars that it cannot win against a country that cannot afford to lose. During these conflicts, it has launched rockets from schoolyards and has used hospitals as command centers for its leaders, putting civilians on both sides of the conflict at risk. When children are killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza, Hamas puts their bodies on display to demonize Israel, and writers such as Saif assist in this tactic.

Saif ignores the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas in 2014, which caused the Israeli response. An IDF graphic shows how rockets were fired from all over Gaza, including from within residential areas.

Hamas has summoned civilians to the rooftops of buildings to serve as human shields after Israel warned that these buildings would soon be under attack. During the war in 2008–2009, Hamas diverted food and fuel from their intended recipients as part of its policy of increasing the suffering in the Gaza Strip in order to make Israel look bad. It has used cement and other building materials allowed into the Gaza Strip — ostensibly for the benefit of Palestinian civilians — in order to construct tunnels that can penetrate Israel and serve as a means to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.

A Hamas official recounts on Palestinian TV how Israeli forces gave advance warning to him, to evacuate his home before bombing it. He goes on to describe how after the warning, he rushed to gather friends, family and neighbors on the roof of the building to use as human shields, which caused Israeli forces to abort the strike.

The attempted attack on Israel’s nuclear installation in Dimona during the 2014 war is in line with countless declarations from Hamas that it seeks the destruction of the Jewish people. Apart from both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas Charters, a few months before the summer war, for instance, a show broadcast on a Hamas-run television station encouraged Palestinian children to kill all the Jews.In the months prior to the 2014 war, Hamas leaders openly declared that they were going to invade Israel and cross all sorts of red lines in the upcoming conflict. Hamas made good on this promise by attempting to hit nuclear facilities in Dimona with long-range missiles. The missiles hit the city, but missed the city’s nuclear facilities.

During its 2012 fight with Israel, Hamas leaders declared that killing Jews is a religious obligation. Hamas promotes a genocidal organization that seeks Israel’s destruction and yet Saif does not speak a word about this lethal ideology or actions before or during the 2014 war.

Insisting that Saif confront Hamas’s misdeeds in a book that recounts — page after page — the tragic deaths of Palestinian children as a result of Israeli airstrikes might, to some readers, seem like a merciless and heartless thing to do. But if the goal is to bring these deaths to an end, that is exactly what Saif and other Palestinian intellectuals need to do.

All too often, the Palestinian deaths are used to shut down the conversation about what Palestinian leaders have done wrong and about the underlying causes of the conflict. Honesty requires that the deaths of these Palestinian children serve to drive — not obstruct — the conversation toward Palestinian agency and responsibility. As long as average Palestinians view themselves as ineffectual and helpless, their leaders will continue to rob them blind and put their children in harm’s way.

To be sure, Saif has, condemned Hamas for its totalitarian behavior after the organization prevented him from leaving the Gaza Strip to attend a literary awards ceremony in 2015 where he was to receive acclaim for his book, The Suspended Life. This text, which was short listed for the International Prize for Arabic Literature in 2015, does reportedly hint at Hamas’s oppressive agenda and style of governance. Saif is quite articulate and forceful declaring that “Freedoms retreated gradually under Hamas rule in Gaza.”

Another Palestinian writer from Gaza, Asmaa al-Ghoul, has also been critical of Hamas on this score. Speaking in Oslo in May, 2013, she declared, “Journalists in Gaza also have to face a lot because of the Islamist government of Hamas. It is a dictatorship pure and simple.” This may help to explain criticism of Hamas, however, is nowhere to be found in Saif’s book.

Predictably, Saif is quite forceful in his condemnations of Israel. In his entry for July 20, 2014, written in response to an Israeli drone strike that tragically killed Palestinian children, He writes:

Who will convince this generation of Israelis that what they’ve done this summer is a crime? Who will convince the pilot that this is not a mission for his people, but a mission against it? Who will teach him that life cannot be built on the ruins of other lives? Who will convince the drone operator that the people of Gaza are not characters in a video game? Who will convince him that the buildings he sees on his screen are not graphics, but homes containing living rooms, and kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, that there are kids inside, fast asleep; that mobiles hang over their beds; that teddy bears and toy dinosaurs lie on the floor; that posters line the walls? Who will convince him that the orchards his craft flies over in the dark aren’t just clusters of pixels? Someone planted those trees, watered them, watched them as they grew. Some of those trees are ancient, in fact, maybe older than the Torah itself, older than the legends and fantasies he read about as a boy.

On and on he goes in an emotionally powerful but intellectually dishonest lament. Saif simply cannot come to grips with the responsibility Palestinian leaders have for the suffering in the areas they govern. Nor can he come to grips with the humanity or the hopes and dreams of the people on the other side of the conflict. The reference to the Torah is a gratuitous slap — as is his use of the words “legends and fantasies” to describe what goes on in the drone operator’s head.

Sadly, the book is not a “classic of war literature,” but instead, just another text in the overpopulated genre of anti-Zionist polemics, otherwise known as “resistance literature.” In the world Saif describes, the Palestinians are innocent victims without any capabilities or responsibility for the circumstances they are in; the Israelis, to him, are the all-powerful monsters who have nothing but contempt for the international community that fails to hold them accountable.

Israeli children shelter from rocket fire. For Saif, the Israelis are monsters, distorting the real picture, whereby the IDF acts in self defence.

This is exactly what Saif’s condescending patrons and boosters in the West are looking for — narratives that allow them to embrace and broadcast baseless hatred for the Jewish state in the name of human rights.

Westerners who feast on this narrative do not help the Palestinians, but hurt them, by responding to the misdeeds of Palestinian elites with condescending pats on the head instead of the rebukes they warrant.

This article was originally published on the Gatestone Institute website.

Contributed by Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA.

EU-Supported Palestinian University Calls to “Blow Up” Jews

A Palestinian university with strong U.S. and E.U. ties held a militant parade graphically calling for the murder of Jews.

Birzeit University, just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), held festivities to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the Fatah movement on December 31, 2016. Fatah is the dominant movement in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and is led by the authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization that translates Arab, Iranian, and Russian media, recently issued a report on the event.

MEMRI footage showed armed masked men in military fatigues conducting drills and chanting at Birzeit University’s campus. The men belong to Fatah’s Shabiba student movement. According to MEMRI, during the drill, the student movement members praised deceased Palestinian leader and Fatah head Yasser Arafat and shouted:

“Blow up the head of the settler!”

“We are the guardians of the borders!”

“Oh Shabiba, this is a call to arms!”

As CAMERA has noted, Palestinian officials often refer to all Israelis as “settlers,” regardless of where they live.

Birzeit University has frequently held events celebrating terrorism. In December 2015, students decorated a Christmas tree on the college’s campus with ornaments of prominent Palestinian terrorists and murderers. Fathi Shaqai, the founder of U.S.-designated terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a Birzeit alum himself, was one of those whose image was placed on the tree by university students. Abu Ali Mustafa, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another U.S.-designated terrorist group, was similarly celebrated.

Remembering terrorists on Christmas at Birzeit

Perhaps referring to the Shabiba group, the website of the university’s advancement office proudly claims that Birzeit “has a long history of activism, with a dedicated student movement aimed at securing national liberation and promoting human rights in Palestine.” Yet, one of the terrorists that Birzeit has glorified is Muhannad Halabi. As CAMERA has highlighted, Halabi murdered 2 Israeli civilians, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennet, before stabbing and wounding Bennet’s wife and their 2-year-old child in an October 3, 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem (“Palestinian Student Movement Uses Pictures of Murderers as Christmas Ornaments,” December 28, 2015).

Birzeit University has active student groups representing both Fatah and its rival Hamas, also a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The university has hosted anti-Israel guest speakers, including American linguist Noam Chomsky. The college also has notable U.S. and European links.

A Hamas rally at Birzeit

Birzeit University Fund, a self-described charitable organization based in Royal Oak, Michigan, raises money for the school. According to the school’s website, Birzeit has “joint ventures” with a number of European and Middle Eastern universities. Both faculty and students receive financial support from the European Union and the British Council. On January 18, 2017—less then a month after the Shabiba parade calling for people to “blow up” Israelis—the French consulate in Jerusalem announced additional financial support for Palestinian students, prompting Birzeit to highlight “France’s longstanding support” for the university.

Birzeit is far from the only Palestinian university to celebrate terrorism. As CAMERA has noted (“Palestinian University Honors Terrorist with ‘Cultural Event,’” February 16, 2016), Al-Quds University in Jerusalem has an Abu Jihad Museum that honors Khalil al-Wazir (also known as Abu Jihad). Al-Wazir was responsible for murdering 124 Israelis, including 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. A leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), he also took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 38 civilians, including 11 schoolchildren. Like Birzeit, Al-Quds receives grants from European governments. It currently has a partnership with Bard College, a New York-based liberal arts school.

Contributed by CAMERA

Op-Ed: We all want justice

CAMERA Fellow Emily Firestone.

CAMERA Fellow Emily Firestone.

Unfortunately, the feel of worldwide oppression is often very present. A Wednesday night event held in the Boston University Law  Auditorium, titled “Imprisonment of a People: From the U.S. to Palestine,” hosted by the Students for Justice in Palestine and UMOJA: BU’s Black Student Union, addressed this very fact. The audience heard from a panel of speakers, which included Shaun King, Oren Nimni, Carl Williams and Yamila Hussein. The auditorium was packed to maximum capacity, and people spilled out into the next room. The feeling of deep unity, however, turned to targeting the Jewish minority in the Middle East by the end of the evening.

Shaun King addressed how these issues are very complicated and challenging to address. While I completely understand the focus of the event on the oppression of these two groups, I think the way the context was presented did not achieve a sufficient or appropriate degree of accuracy.

These conversations are highly complex. The “gray area” is vast, and one must be cautious when blurring crossing an invisible line of sensitivity. The conversation took a turn a little too deep into one viewpoint, with the repeated tone that Israel is the oppressor and root of Palestinian suffering, and I would argue that this is not the case.

This event did not hold the Palestinian leadership responsible at all and placed all blame on Israel. Palestinian leaders treat their own people terribly. Under Palestinian Authority, selling land to Israelis is a punishable offense and in Gaza, Hamas routinely steals building infrastructure provided to the people to build homes to use to build a system of underground tunnels to carry out terrorism in Israel. I think the Palestinian self-determination needs to be more pro-active to make change for the better within the culture, instead of blaming Israel for all their suffering.

While this event portrayed Israel in an oppressive light, there is another side. When I think of Israel, I actually think of the very same liberating values that were noted at the event as the goals of the two groups. I think of the diversity of the population and especially of the many minorities in the country, and the parts they play in the democracy. I think of the black and Israeli-Palestinian members of Israel’s parliament. I think of the coexistence that people want. Most people would prefer living in peace to an atmosphere of tension and even war.

On Wednesday night, Shaun King noted that it should never become politically incorrect to care about a certain issue or cause, and I couldn’t agree more. There shouldn’t be a double standard for support for Israel. There are multiple sides to every story and I acknowledge the right to just talk about one side of it. But it’s such a shame to find differences and strife when the groups have so many shared values in reality. Our enemies are common, we have the same problems with media control and bias, we are passionate about justice. Israel is a minority in the Middle East and it seems hypocritical of minority groups fighting for freedom to target another minority group that desires freedom.

It was great to hear Yamila Hussein say, “I do not trust a pro-Palestinian that hates Jews.” I just wonder why no one spoke up and acknowledged and supported the right of a Jewish national homeland for the Jewish people. It wasn’t said at the event on Wednesday night, but I’ll say it now. Being Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian do not contradict one another. This very important distinction was missed at the event.

The concept of nonviolent protest in the form of economic boycott was weaved into the evening’s conversation until it culminated, towards the end, into blatant support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. This is really problematic. The underlying goal of the BDS movement is to isolate and immobilize Israel economically. This delegitimization of Israel is appalling, especially by a group of people so passionately dedicated to self-determination. The Pro-Israel community feels that same drive for self-determination, especially finding themselves in the middle of the tough region of the Middle East. Oren Nimni actually addressed this particular issue, saying that one thing that unites the Black Lives Matter and Students for Justice in Palestine movements is being told they don’t belong. The surrounding countries do not hide their desire for the complete and utter destruction of Israel. Israel wants justice too.

This article was originally published on The Daily Free Press.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and member of Boston University Students for Israel (BUSI) Emily Firestone at Boston University.

Alleged “humanitarian” workers in Gaza support Hamas terror

This month, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security and intelligence agency, busted an alleged humanitarian aid UN employee, Wahid Abdullah Burash, for his support of terrorism. As an engineer of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Burash used UNDP funding which was designated for developing Gaza infrastructure, his knowledge from this project, and his access as an UN employee in order to assist Hamas in terrorism.

United Nations aid worker Wahid Abdullah Burash was arrested by the Shin Bet. Photo: Shin Bet security force, via the Algemeiner

United Nations aid worker Wahid Abdullah Burash was arrested by the Shin Bet. Photo: Shin Bet security force, via the Algemeiner

In another recent scandal discovered this August, the Shin Bet arrested Mohammed El Halabi, the chief executive of Christian aid group World Vision, for assisting Hamas with millions of dollars worth of “aid” money designated for Gazans. El Halabi has reportedly confessed that World Vision has been funding Hamas terror tunnels and Islamist militants. This supposed “aid” worker has now been exposed as a life-long member of Hamas. Sadly, El Halabi is only one example of Hamas’s tactics to exploit well-meaning NGO aid efforts in order to advance their terrorist work in Gaza.

Supposed aid workers who in reality support terrorism prevent much-needed development in Gaza and discourage future aid work in Gaza–how can anyone support a “humanitarian” program that may be directly supporting terrorism? As human rights activist Bassem Eid sadly acknowledges, this scandal “will prevent other [NGOs] from working in the West Bank as well as in Gaza.”

As Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of the Israeli Law Center, explains, the arrest of El Halibi is “a turning point in the struggle to deprive terrorists from the oxygen they receive in the form of aid.”

The graph depicts the number of truckloads that entered Gaza via all Israeli-controlled crossings from October 2009 onwards. Source: PalTrade, OCHA-OPT and UNSCO. These figures include truckloads of goods entering the Gaza Strip other than fuel and gas. Source: Gisha, Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

The graph depicts the number of truckloads that entered Gaza via all Israeli-controlled crossings from October 2009 onwards. Source: PalTrade, OCHA-OPT and UNSCO. These figures include truckloads of goods entering the Gaza Strip other than fuel and gas. Source: Gisha, Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

Despite Hamas’ terror tunnels infiltrating into Israel, rockets launched into Israel, and abuse of aid work, Israel constantly assists the inhabitants of Gaza. Even during times of war, Israeli soldiers risk their lives in order to deliver goods and supplies to Gazans.

Sadly, as journalist Ariel Bolstein explains, many organizations including the UN, World Vision, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, have been tricked into funding terrorism or have been betrayed by employees who use their positions to support terror activities. We can only hope that the Shin Bet’s recent discoveries will prompt justice to be served, resulting in the restoration of proper aid to Gaza.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz

10 Years Ago, Hamas Kidnapped Gilad Shalit

On June 25, 2006, I was enjoying my summer vacation having recently completed my sophomore year at UMass Amherst. That past January, just a few days after my 19th birthday, I traveled to Israel for the first time with Birthright. A place I had dreamed of visiting from a very young age.

On June 25, 2006, IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit was taken hostage by the internationally recognized terrorist organization, Hamas, during an unprovoked cross border raid via underground tunnels near the Israel-Gaza border. He was just a few months shy of his 19th birthday.

The news of Gilad’s kidnapping was shocking, but there was hope he would be found quickly and unharmed.

Gilad Shalit during a forced interview. A Hamas terrorist has his hand on Shalit's shoulder.

Gilad Shalit during a forced interview. A Hamas terrorist has his hand on Shalit’s shoulder.

Gilad Shalit was held hostage by Hamas for five years. No one knew where he was kept, and no one knew if he was healthy, as Hamas refused to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit him.  The only sign of his life was one audiotape and one videotape that Hamas terrorists released in 2007 and 2009 to be used as bargaining chips for negotiations with the Israeli government. For the release of Gilad Shalit, Hamas demanded over a 1000 Palestinian and Israeli-Arabs to be released from Israeli jails, included those with “blood on their hands.”

I prayed for him to be released. How could someone my age be held by terrorists? Terrorists with the same mentality, the same aggression as those who lynched Vadim Nurhitz and Yossi Avrahami in 2000. Why was I at age 19, 20, 21 able to live a carefree life, attending classes, seeing friends and family while someone else across the world, the exact same age as me was alone, hidden away from his friends and family, tortured for defending his country, innocent men, women, and children, from these murderers? Why wasn’t the world condemning Hamas and demanding his release?

Gilad Shalit was on the minds of most Israelis. His family and friends held weekly protests outside the Prime Minister’s house. They weren’t going to let Israel forget about their son. They weren’t going to lose him.

I remember seeing the clock on many Israeli media sites, counting down the days, the hours that Gilad Shalit was still in captivity.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, I traveled to Israel while leading CAMERA’s Annual Leadership and Advocacy Training Mission and saw the many signs and graffiti calling for Gilad to be released. His picture was everywhere.

One of the signs displayed during Shalit's captivity, reading "Gilad is still alive."

One of the signs displayed during Shalit’s captivity, reading “Gilad is still alive.”

It was a strange feeling to be touring around Israel, capturing pictures of Jerusalem’s unique stone walls, while Gilad’s picture peaked out from the corner of your lens.

On October 18, 2011, Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli- Arab prisoners. Gilad’s safe return to home was a heavy price to pay for many Israelis. Some of the prisoners released were expected to serve life sentences for murdering innocent Israelis. This included the infamous Aziz Salha who participated in the lynching of Vadim Nurhitz and Yossi Avrahami, famously pictured waving his bloody hands outside of the window to the cheering crowds gathered on the street in Ramallah.

A Palestinian terrorist raises his bloody hands to show that he just took part in the lynching of two Israeli reservists, who were then dragged through the streets of Ramallah.

A Palestinian terrorist raises his bloody hands to show that he just took part in the lynching of two Israeli reservists, who were then dragged through the streets of Ramallah.

There have been too many young soldiers and Israeli civilians before and since Gilad’s kidnapping and release who weren’t able to make it home.

Israel and her people mourn the death of every life taken before their time and refuses to succumb to the terrorists’ will.

The price that was paid for Gilad Shalit’s release wasn’t easy, but I, among many Israelis, released a sigh of relief to have one more son return home.

Contributed by CAMERA’s International Campus Director, Aviva Slomich.

Colonel Richard Kemp Testifies for the IDF at NYU

Morality in the war on terror is a controversial and constant point of discussion for Israel. The question is: How can an army be optimally moral in preventing casualties, while successfully stopping terrorism?

This is a dilemma the IDF struggles with as it is repeatedly cornered into war in order to protect Israel.  Despite the many tactics developed by the IDF which help to avoid civilian casualties, Israel’s military operations are intensely scrutinized throughout the world. Often, these critics are simply ill-informed and cannot begin to understand the reality of defending a country against terrorism. Such critics falsely accuse the IDF of war crimes, despite Israel’s exceptional efforts to steer clear of killing civilians.

Colonel Richard Kemp speaks at NYU.

Colonel Richard Kemp speaks at NYU.

Considering the often disproportionate level of criticism directed at Israel, Realize Israel was honored to host Colonel Richard Kemp at NYU this past April. Colonel Kemp, a long-standing officer in the British forces, has led troops in Afghanistan and around the world. Having planned and led many counter-terrorism operations, he has an exceptional understanding of morality in times of war.

Today, Kemp makes great efforts to be an informative, dispassionate voice against war crimes. He is not biased towards Israel. Rather, he simply recognizes the IDF’s high moral standards and values that its significant commitment to maintaining a high code of morality during wartime. Colonel Kemp has spoken in the UN numerous times on behalf of Israel.  At the UN, he has defended Israel’s strategies to safeguard civilians, highlighting the IDF’s exceptional efforts to protect innocent lives, more so than any other army in the history of warfare.

At NYU, the room was packed – many were standing. The attentive audience was privileged to listen to Kemp’s speech, which was a testament to the significant role his work plays in promoting the truth about Israel.

Colonel Kemp opened up by describing Israel’s efforts to prevent civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge. He then gave an overview of his own experiences during wartime, and shed light on Hamas’ strategies in contrast to Israel’s. While the IDF strives for morality, Hamas continually forces its own people into terror, using women and children as suicide bombers. The conflict is complicated. As with every army around the world, the IDF occasionally makes mistakes. However Colonel Kemp firmly argues that these mistakes do not amount to war crimes.

June 2015 - Colonel Kemp testifies at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

June 2015 – Colonel Kemp testifies at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Colonel Kemp also touched upon Israel’s need for support in the US media. While the IDF can defend itself in battle, the war against the media, with its medley of false accusations, is a threat. While the reality is very discouraging, the event left the audience inspired to take action. Students took home strong facts about Israel’s moral strategies as well as a greater understanding of how Israel should be defended by people around the world.

Letter: Objectivity is Necessary for Journalistic Integrity

When students plan a walk-out on a guest lecturer, The Beacon reports on it (“Students walk out of ambassador’s lecture”). A natural response to a hot topic. But rather than reporting in an objective, informative manner, The Beacon chose to publish a piece that is one-sided and inaccurate.

The author of the article chose to interview students who participated in the walk-out and quote those who painted a negative picture. If only the students of Students for Justice in Palestine would have stayed in the lecture and listened to what the ambassador had to say instead of yelling slanderous comments, then maybe the article would have at least come off as less biased.

Unlike what the article states, the lecture was about Ambassador Danny Danon’s experience in the UN and as an FIU alumni. When speaking of the UN, Ambassador Danon pushed for open dialogue and spoke of the consequences of what happens when dialogue is non-existent. As the article states, the walk-out was planned before the event, only proving the frustrations expressed by Ambassador Danon.

FIU

The unwillingness to listen to competing viewpoints and narratives makes dialogue all that harder to achieve.

If the students who participated in the walk-out wanted to question the ambassador’s position, then they should have stayed until the Q&A session where the ambassador would have addressed their concerns.

Moreover, a little research would have demonstrated that statements taken as fact by those interviewed are inaccurate and false.

A basic understanding of the conflict shows that in fact Hamas, a labeled terrorist organization by the US State Department, has had control of the Gaza Strip since 2007 and since launched thousands of rockets at Israel. Further research would show that cement used by Hamas to build underground terror tunnels into Israel was designated by Israel and various NGOs to rebuild the Gaza Strip, improve infrastructure, build schools, hospitals and homes.

The article, however, suggests no further research is necessary.

The disappointment I feel as a student who relies on The Beacon for accurate information about school events is beyond words. I hope that future reporting is done with a little more journalistic integrity. For students who participated in the walk-out, an open mind and dialogue goes further than a simple refusal to hear opposing viewpoints.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern and President of Emet for Israel supported group Shalom FIU, Dalia Perez.

Originally published in FIUSM.

Trouble with Chomsky

On November 8, 2015 linguist Noam Chomsky and Norwegian physician Mads Gilbert spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The event drew harsh criticism from MIT students because Dr. Gilbert has explicitly supported the 9/11 terror attacks. In an opinion article published in the MIT Tech newspaper, one student asks “Why is a supporter of the 9/11 attacks being hosted at MIT?”

Mads Gilbert carrying a Palestinian flag

Mads Gilbert carrying a Palestinian flag

While many find Dr. Gilbert’s support of violence a dishonor to the victims of terrorism worldwide, particularly so soon after the Boston Marathon bombings and murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier, little has been said at MIT about the event’s other speaker, Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky has equated the actions of the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 with the actions of the United States government. In a talk at Tufts given just one month after the 9/11 attacks, Chomsky said that the “real and ongoing crimes of the state [U.S.] … are far more serious than blowing up the World Trade Center…” I find it disturbing that a long-tenured MIT professor would believe, let alone publicly voice, that the United States’ “crimes” are worse than those of terrorists who purposefully hijacked planes filled with civilians and flew them into buildings with the sole intention of causing mass destruction.

More recently, Chomsky declared that President Obama’s drone program is “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.” Really? We are living in a world where ISIS is routinely beheading people on YouTube, burning them alive, shooting innocents in mass graves, forcing women and children into sexual slavery, creating child soldiers, and leading innumerable other atrocities. In Syria, hundreds of thousands of civilians are subject to attacks, chemical weapons, and the threat of drowning at sea while leaving their homes to try to find safety. And yet, an ocean away from all this carnage, Chomsky can lounge back and claim that Obama’s drone program is the most extreme terrorism today?

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

This is not the only instance when Chomsky has compared a U.S. President to terrorists. In an interview with Wallace Shawn on October 19, 2004, Chomsky stated that “Clinton, Kennedy, they all carried out mass murder, but they didn’t think that that was what they were doing – nor does Bush. You know, they were defending justice and democracy from greater evils. And in fact, I think that you’d find it hard to find a mass murderer in history that didn’t think that.” It sounds as if Chomsky intends to compare them to criminals like Hitler and Stalin.  

As we have seen, Chomsky is not afraid to loosely throw around the word “terrorist” when it suits him to do so, regardless of the lack of justification. After all, he even claims that the policies of President Obama are like those of a terrorist. And yet, ironically, he refuses to acknowledge actual terrorist groups for what they are. The Palestinian Islamic group Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, Egypt, Japan, Canada, Israel, and the European Union. But in a 2006 interview with the BBC, Chomsky stated that “we should recognize that the policies of Hamas are more forthcoming and more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel.”

Which Hamas policies, exactly, are more “conducive to peace?” Is it Hamas’ charter that explicitly defines Hamas’ governing purpose to “fight the Jews and kill them” and to replace Israel with an Islamic state?  Is it Hamas’ firing rockets at Israeli civilian centers that are “conducive to peace”? While working for the summer at the Weizmann Institute in Israel through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative, Hamas fired rockets on Israel and forced me to run for the bomb shelter daily at home, at the lab, in coffee shops, walking in the street and at the beach. “Peaceful” was the farthest word from my mind in those moments. Hamas was not aiming at military targets – the rockets were targeting laboratories, kindergartens, and ordinary civilians.

Hamas fighters

Hamas fighters

I am disappointed that Noam Chomsky holds political views that are so radically anti-American. Even as a linguist, he blatantly misuses language to toss around terms like “terrorist” and “peace,” and his own beliefs are far from peaceful. Chomsky should take his own advice when he said that “[it] is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.” Until then, I urge those who attend Chomsky’s talks, including those given at MIT and Boston College in November, to do so with a critical eye and a questioning ear. You will be listening to a man who dismisses the 9/11 attacks, compares President Obama to a terrorist, and is unable to unequivocally condemn terror committed against the United States. That’s not progressive; it’s plain wrong.

Contributed by MIT CAMERA fellow, Suri Bandler.

Letter to the Editor: Facts Matter

In light of a recent letter-to-the-editor published in the Oracle, I feel it is necessary to set the half-truths straight and the lies presented realized for what they are. I felt compelled to respond to Mr. Saleh’s article regarding actress Mayim Bialik and her experiences of anti-semitism in America.

 

Hamas, the ruthless terrorist organization that serves as the government in Gaza, uses the Palestinian civilians as tools in their war against Israel. They indiscriminately fire rockets into Israeli villages and cities from populated centers, to discourage retaliation by Israeli forces. Operation Protective Edge was the long overdue effect from having more than 11,000 rockets being fired at the civilian population. What nation in the world would not respond to such an onslaught that is in blatant violation of international laws? Does Israel not have the same right as every other nation to protect her citizens?

 

 

Israel spends 20,000 dollars per missile for the Iron Dome, a missile defense system that keeps Israelis safe by intercepting terrorist rockets before they can strike civilian targets. On the flip side, Hamas has used their annual humanitarian aid budget of over 2 billion dollars to finance their campaign of terror on the people of Israel and the oppression of their own people. The money has gone to building networks of terror tunnels, thousands of Qassam rockets, supporting radical extremist objectives, and strengthening their stranglehold on the people of Gaza.

The death of any civilian is a tragedy, but the author conveniently leaves out the fact that more than 50% of the Palestinian casualties were active combatants. Israel has done more to safeguard the safety of a civilian population while engaging in armed conflict than any other nation in the history of warfare. While Hamas was stockpiling weapons caches in schools, hospitals, and homes, leaflets were being dropped and calls were being made by the IDF to those civilians in hostile areas in order to give the Palestinians a chance to evacuate out of the blast radius.

In regards to the attack on the Al Aqsa mosque in September, the IDF and Israeli Police entered the Temple Mount Plaza after receiving reports that protesters were stockpiling rocks and firebombs, and had barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa Mosque to use to continue to destabilize delicate interfaith relations in the holiest place on Earth and the safety of all who go to pray. It is customary that Israeli forces patrol the Temple Mount due to the frequent protests and clashes between extremist factions. The police used non-lethal methods to incapacitate and arrest several extremists, and thankfully no one was killed.

In Israel, all of her citizens have the right to voice their opinions and have their sentiments shared. A country with Arab Israelis in high ranking seats in their Supreme Court, a country that offers its 2 million Arab citizens complete political and religious rights and protection, when no other country in the region even comes close, is not apartheid. It is a beacon of hope and light that needs to spread through the world. Equating the Jewish homeland with such a hateful idea, after being informed of all the ways it is inaccurate, is quite simply-anti-Semitic.

The ADL states that anti-Semitism is a pillar of Islamic extremist ideology, not of all Islamic ideology as the author originally wrote. Demonizing the Jewish state by presenting misinformation perpetuates Anti-Semitism, a serious problem on other campuses that we do not want here at USF. Intolerance and discrimination is a symptom of any radical extremist ideology, and needs to be identified, acknowledged, and fought at every turn.

 

 

 

This was contributed by University of South Florida CAMERA Fellow Jesse Davidson.