Tag Archives: Israel

Defining the Campus Debate on Israel

At CAMERA’s 2017 Student Leadership Conference, young activists from around the world came together to learn about making a positive difference for Israel on campus. With 13 countries represented, we had a variety of perspectives contributing to constructive discussions.

Speaking to students from countless different campuses at the conference was also a chance to reflect on the collective successes in London from my own perspective. To many internationally, our year in London may have seemed as if it was filled with attacks and intimidation. However, despite the violent protest facing Hen Mazzig when he came to speak at University College London (UCL) in October 2016, we continued on with our programming for the year as normal. We did not let the actions of extreme, divisive anti-Zionist activists overshadow our efforts to make constructive changes to the situation on campus. We continued to hold events and start initiatives, including reaching out to new students. During Israel Apartheid week, we actively went about starting conversations with hundreds of students in London, beginning with falafel and cake but ending in positive dialogue and even new friendships.

British and Irish students in Boston at the Student Leadership Conference in August.

At hostile events, like when UCL Friends of Palestine hosted renowned anti-Zionist academic Ilan Pappe, we proactively started conversations to represent our own opinions. Pappe and other speakers used snide remarks, conspiracy theories and intimidation to convince the audience that Zionism was a racist endeavour. After the event, students stayed behind for hours to talk to us, as they were curious to hear a perspective which even they realised hadn’t been equally represented at the event. However, if we had not attended the event to show our outrage at the way we were mis-represented, the students could have left with a very different impression. Our greatest successes this past academic year have been when we take initiative and go out to speak to others and represent ourselves.

The CAMERA conference was also an opportunity to hear from other inspiring students who had great success on their campuses over the past academic year. The theme of the conference above all was that Israel activism is not just about taking a defensive position- but rather, about actively educating others. Even on campuses in the US where BDS campaigns have yet to spring up, students are taking proactive action by creating new Israel groups with the support of CAMERA.  When you initiate the conversation about Israel on campus, you can create a positive representation of Israeli society, as well as opening up opportunities for dialogue on neutral terms. In the UK, we are often too worried about bringing up the topic of Israel on campuses where the Palestinian society is dormant, for fear of the backlash it could have for Jewish students. However, now more than ever, the atmosphere is right for spearheading proactive discussion about Israel.

On British campuses, students of today are tiring of a focus on radical activities which discredit university politics as a minefield of extreme activists focusing on irrelevant issues. Tom Harwood’s strong contention for the NUS presidency and growing political movements for freedom of speech show that things are changing on UK campuses. Students want to be able to discuss issues in a civilised manner without descending into either radical boycott campaigns or excessive political correctness. We should use this opportunity to show that engaging with Israel in student politics is not about polarised debates and violent protests. It is about creating dialogue and a positive atmosphere for debate and engagement with the Middle East on campus.

We now have a unique opportunity to change the way student debates are framed by making civil conversations a highlight of our activity. Last academic year, we got past the fear of making people feel uncomfortable with our Zionist identities. We approached Zionism as it is, a legitimate movement for the national self-determination of the Jewish people.

This year, we must continue to define the debate on our own terms.

Contributed by UK Campus Associate Tamara Berens.

This article was originally published in Jewish News.

Meet Ben Suster: Current Campus Coordinator, Former CAMERA Fellow

Prior to the summer of 2014, CAMERA campus coordinator Ben Suster was politically indifferent towards Israel. Although he had been there multiple times before to visit family and participate in programs, this trip was different. He landed a few days before the bodies of the three murdered yeshiva boys were found and was in Israel for the duration of Operation Protective Edge. The rocket attacks from Gaza resulted in hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in bomb shelters and makeshift bunkers. In Sderot, a missile landed 2 kilometers away from where he was. He attended soldier’s funerals and spent much time underground. This was an eye opening experience for Ben.Initially, the basis of his support for Israel came from his American Israeli background, but after living in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Sderot during the operation he became invested in fighting for what he now considered his home.

When he returned to the United States, he learned that Israel was not only being attacked militarily, but also assaulted verbally on his college campus and in the media. He started teaching himself about the history of Israel and the conflict, and felt invested in combatting media bias and anti-Israel sentiment at his university.

Ben started working with the pro-Israel group on campus and eventually became the president of the CAMERA-supported  group Knights for Israel at the University of Central Florida. As a group, they worked a lot with CAMERA to plan successful events. The club put together campaigns in response to Israel apartheid week and, most importantly, the members grew into leaders.

Now, as a campus coordinator for the tri state area and Canada, Ben travels to schools throughout the year and helps students by providing them with the resources they need to improve their group, execute successful events, and gives advice based on his personal experiences.

He has spoken at countless events, such as fundraisers, Chabad Shabbatons, and educational events for college and high school students, as well as invested parents. His speeches are based on how CAMERA helped him grow into an Israel educator, and how students can become a strong influence on their campus.

Ben shares what he and Knights for Israel accomplished, creating leaders who prepared and hosted events that attracted a wide range of students, half of whom were not Jewish.

Most importantly, he focuses on how the media poorly represents Israel, creates myths and misinformation and how this parallels the atmosphere on college campuses across the world today. He believes anyone can provide input on why BDS is bad, but he focuses on why empowering the students to educate about and defend Israel is the most important thing.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Ilana Sperling.

Leadership Training and Teambuilding at ORU

Last semester in February, CAMERA-supported group ORU United for Israel hosted its first day-long intensive Team-Building and Leadership Training day. The event was held on campus in one of the group’s favorite meeting places. Catered food was provided by CAMERA for lunch.

The purpose of the training session was to educate and equip ORU United for Israel to be the best Israel advocates as possible. Some of the topics explored by the group included what it means to advocate for Israel, biblical Israel advocacy, college study tips and habits of success, getting to know your Israel club team mates, and learning about the group’s partner organizations, including CAMERA on Campus.

Following the event, Connie Hammond, outgoing president of ORU United for Israel said, “Every moment was filled with fellowship, laughter, and building each other up, UFI style! We are one fun club with focus, drive, and ambition to see Israel supported and Jesus glorified. Dream team right here! We inspire each other!”

Israel – A Flower in the Desert

Today, the idea of sustainability, renewable energy, and environmental awareness is impeccable in terms of how humans will the shape the future of the earth in their lifetime and their children’s. Israel, the birthplace of drip irrigation, is leading the way in its fight against water loss and human contributions to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The country has faced problems from the start, mainly a lack of fresh water and arable land for agriculture. These problems, which are interconnected, drove Israel to research and invent technologies that put it at the forefront of environmental innovation.

Despite being a nation in an arid region of the globe, Israel has found a way to manage its water so well on both the national and local level that it has a surplus of water. In fact, Israel recycles 80% of its water and generates 75% of its water through desalination. To put this in perspective, Spain is in second place, but only recycles 12% of its water

One may wonder how their agriculture can be so productive in an area that lacks arable land and how they can have a surplus of water in an area that innately lacked it, and the answer to this is drip-irrigation and desalination. Drip-irrigation provides plants with a constant intake of water without putting the plant through stresses it experiences when it’s flooded with water or deprived of water. Desalination turns undrinkable saltwater into water that is safe to drink.

Desalination plantIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Through technology, the excess food and water – two vital things for a person’s survival and stability of a nation – can then be exported from Israel to nations that do not have the infrastructure to cope with their environmental conditions. This helps in improving regional and global relationships, human welfare, and local/national economies.

Agriculture can be great for a country because it provides food and jobs, but one consequence of agriculture can be an increase in deforestation to make space for farms and fields. Trees not only provide oxygen, but they serve as homes for wildlife and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Israel recognizes this, and is a leader in reforestation of its landscape, helping fulfill David Ben-Gurion’s dream of “making the desert bloom.”

These gains are vital to Israel becoming a greener nation, but there is more progress to be made. Israel recognizes this and has ambitions to further reduce its carbon output.

Historically, Israel has been a nation that has relied heavily on fossil fuels as its main power source. Today, solar only provides a small percentage of power, despite what one might assume because of the abundance of sun Israel’s exposed to. Overall, 2.5% of Israel’s energy comes from renewables, but the nation has ambitions to increase this number to 10% by 2020. This is the weakest of all of Israel’s environmental efforts, as countries like Sweden (100%), Costa Rica (99%), Germany (78%) and many others are almost exclusively powered by renewables if not completely.

In this 22 December 2016 photo, 50,000 mirrors – known as heliostats – encircle the solar tower in the Negev desert, near in Ashelim, southern Israel AP

Israel is carrying out multiple projects to increase its solar energy production by building solar towers in the Negev Desert. These towers are projected to generate enough electricity for 130,000 households, or, 5% of the country’s population. Instead of being a conventional solar farm, these towers can generate more electricity and take up less space compared to a solar farm generating the same amount of electricity. Thousands of mirrors reflect the sunlight (i.e. heat) onto the tower which, through its rise in temperature, creates steam in a boiler that results in the turning of a generator producing electricity.

Israel is home to some of the most innovative solar companies in the world. However, it has yet to take advantage of them due to bureaucratic policies. These companies instead take their inventions abroad and spread their environmental innovation around the world. Despite this, Israel is beginning to invest more in renewables due to the drop-in cost, enact legislation that promotes the growth of the renewable energy sector, and increase subsidies for citizens who want to put solar panels on their roof.

There is more to go for Israel to be a true powerhouse in terms of renewable energy sourcing, production, and exportation. The potential is there, and we know that by looking at its history, Israel is always happy to take a challenge and create something great to share with the world.

Contributed by CAMERA intern Jake Greenblatt.

PBS Stands by “Dying to Be a Martyr” Curriculum (Part 1)

Early in April, the conservative news website the Blaze reported on a lesson plan about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict geared towards high school students on PBS’ website. The lesson plan, titled, “Dying to be a Martyr,” includes video clips of interviews with three young Arab men who either committed terror bombings against Israelis or planned to commit them.

As the Blaze pointed out, “no instructions are provided telling teachers to denounce the radical claims made by Majdi [who participated in a terror attack that killed 17 people] and there are no other lesson plans describing the conflict from the point of view of the Israelis.”

The written materials that accompany the videos are also extremely one-sided, and prompt students to sympathize with the Palestinian side.

Shortly after the Blaze and a few others reported on the lesson plan, the (now-former) PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler wrote about the lesson plan and the coverage of it on his blog. Of the lesson plan itself, Getler wrote that, “my own reading of the lesson plan was that the overall tone it projected was more tilted toward understanding the plight of the Palestinians—which is very real—than to the impact, and especially the immorality, of suicide bombings as a recourse; that the most powerful elements were those bomber videos and that it was more focused on the drama of capturing the voices and desperation of the bombers than on the immorality of the act itself.”

Despite these comments from its own Ombudsman, PBS has neither removed the lesson plan nor altered the content.

A Hamas terrorist.

The Lesson Plan’s Objectives

One of the stated objectives of the lesson plan is to “explain why individuals and groups sometimes turn to tactics of terrorism, and evaluate how terrorism affects the world we live in.” Indeed, one of the student organizer worksheets asks students about the impact of the bombing on Israelis. Yet, there is no video or written material that discusses how individuals and societies are affected by terror.

Moreover, the only information about why people engage in terrorism is the statements of the two bombers and the would-be bomber themselves. There is no mention of the fact that the Palestinian Authority pays salaries to terrorists, or of the undeniable causal connection between those salaries and terror. This omission is despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority law has been in effect unofficially “since the PA came into existence in 1993 … and [it was] made official in 2004.”

Nor is there any mention of incitement in statements by Palestinian leaders, in books and lessons in PA schools, and media. For example, a recent study by the Center for Near East Policy Research found that “over 200 US-government- approved textbooks used in hundreds of Palestinian UNRWA-sponsored schools are reportedly teaching Arab children between the first and ninth grades to kill Israelis, and sacrifice themselves as martyrs to drive Jews out of the country.”

Therefore, the lesson plan does not provide the necessary material for students to accomplish its stated goal.

The Lesson Plan’s Video Materials

The lesson plan’s Overview states:

This lesson will use video segments from Wide Angle‘s “Suicide Bombers” (2004), Internet sites, and primary sources to examine the roots of the Middle East conflict. The video contains interviews with young Muslim Palestinians who participated—or intended to participate—in suicide bombings. These young Palestinians share the personal, religious, political and emotional reasons behind their participation in these terrorist operations.

As is made clear, the three video interviews with terrorists are central to the lesson. There are no videos with interviews of terror attack survivors or family members of those killed to provide balance.

Two of the three clips are from an interview with 18-year-old Mohanned Abu Tayyoun, who planned a terror attack but then changed his mind and did not go through with it. The third video features two subjects, 25-year-old Majdi Amer, who built the bomb that killed 17 people and wounded 50, and another terrorist whose name is not given.

While playing the videos of Mohanned, teachers are instructed to ask students “to identify how Mohanned views his life and how he feels it differs from the lives of Israelis (Jews),” and “why Mohanned may feel that way.” PBS tells us, “answers may include: Palestinians have less land, fewer privileges, cannot come and go as they please.” They are not instructed to ask students to identify how a survivor of a terror attack feels nor the feelings of family members whose loved one was killed in a terror attack. The worksheet students are to be given after viewing the videos asks, “how does history relate to the anger of Palestinian suicide bombers towards the state of Israel and Jews, as seen in the video clips?” There are no questions asking how Jews or Israelis might feel about being attacked in 1948, 1967, 1973, or in hundreds of terror attacks. The materials are set up to prompt students to sympathize with the Palestinian side.

In the third video, titled “Israel and Palestine,” terrorist Majdi tells viewers, “if the Israelis kill a child in Gaza, I’m ready to kill one in Tel Aviv.” The students are not given any information, however, about why a child may have been killed in Gaza. Thus, the material leads them to a false understanding of the two killings as morally equivalent.

Majdi continues, “I’m a person who looks for peace, who calls for peace, but with one basic condition, the freedom of my country and people, and to put an end to this Nazi state, this racist Jewish state.” The students are never told that peace and freedom were offered to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, and again in 2001 – years before Majdi’s 2003 attack – and rejected by the Palestinian Authority’s then-President, Yasser Arafat, in favor of violence.

The second terrorist interviewed in the same video tells his audience, “it’s the duty of every Muslim to liberate this land, every inch of it, so, we acted accordingly, struggled to free all of Palestine, the whole of it, the areas occupied in 1948, as well as the West Bank and Gaza strip, all of it.” There is no instruction, however, to compare this statement with other statements in the lesson plan that this is a struggle over getting a fair share and an even division of the land.

 

To continue reading this article, part two can be found here.

This article was originally published by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker at camera.org.

PBS Stands by “Dying to Be a Martyr” Curriculum (Part 2)

The Lesson Plan’s Written Materials

The written materials present an extremely one-sided view of the conflict. The discussion of the UN’s proposed partition plan, for example, highlights the mass of land allocated to Jews and Arabs, but omits the fact that approximately 60 percentof the land allotted to the Jews was desert. The answer key also inaccurately states that the area for the proposed Arab state was “isolated from other Arab nations,” when in fact the proposed state would have shared borders with Lebanon, Egypt, and Transjordan. Thus, the lesson prompts students to incorrectly conclude that the UN’s proposed partition was unfair to Arabs.

Moreover, the student materials ask students to imagine the reactions to the partition plan by a “Palestinian Muslim,” and an “Israeli Jew … for example, a student may draw a happy face for an Israeli Jew and an angry face for a Palestinian Muslim.” Of course, prior to 1948, the populations were referred to as “Palestinian Arabs,” and “Palestinian Jews.” The material informs students that Palestinians Arabs were justifiably unhappy with the proposed partition plan, and revisionist language is used to connect only the Palestinian Arabs with the land, when in fact it is Jews, and not Palestinian Arabs, that are indigenous to the region. This further encourages the students to sympathize with the Arab side.

In combination with the videos, the effect is that terrorism is portrayed as an understandable, if not justified, response to a legitimate land grievance.

In addition, the lesson plan is out of date. Michael Getler reports that it is ten years old. It includes two links, purportedly to find further material, that are no longer functioning. It was written prior to the 2008 negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, during which Olmert offered to evacuate almost all of the West Bank – an offer that Abbas rejected. The lesson plan also does not include the pivotal 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, though it appears to have been prepared after that withdrawal took place. Nor does it include the fact that Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and has used it as a terror base ever since, launching attacks, rockets and missiles against Israeli civilians.

PBS Ombudsman Weighs In

PBS’s now-former Ombudsman, Michael Getler (who retired in the spring) addressed this lesson plan on his blog. Although he speculated as to some critics’ possible ulterior motives, he still found that they “raise what I consider to be some legitimate questions about the content, or more precisely as I read it, a lack of more contextual content, within this lesson plan.”

He raised the following criticisms with PBS’ corporate communications:

1) that the project ‘seems to encourage students to learn to sympathize with radical Islamic terrorists,’2) that there is no instructions or denunciation of the immorality of suicide bombing, and also radical Islam, and 3) that there is no lesson plan describing the conflict and the tactics from an Israeli point of view.

The corporate communications office responded that, “in no way does [PBS] condone the heinous actions of individuals who would target innocent civilians. PBS would strongly condemn any assertion that terrorism is ever appropriate.” Yet, this condemnation is not present in the lesson plan itself. PBS instead relies on teachers to spontaneously provide this interpretation of the materials – something they may or may not do. The lesson may not explicitly condone suicide bombers, but without an explicit condemnation, it could certainly be interpreted that way by impressionable teens.

PBS corporate communications further asserted that the material “helps high school students grapple with the complexity of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This is plainly not the case, because the material is simplified to highlight the point of view of only one side. To the extent that the Israeli side is presented at all, in the written materials, such written materials are clearly not as powerful a medium as the videos in which students learn the terrorists’ point of view.

PBS corporate continues, “the instructional activities that are part of the lesson plan(e.g., the culminating activity for students to ‘create an objective newspaper article from the perspective of a reporter who has just witnessed a suicide bombing. The article will include background on the conflict, motivations of the bombers, impact of the bombing on Israelis, and a conclusion’)and the accompanying resources all provide a multi-faceted view of the issue.” It’s not clear, however, how students can include information on the “impact of the bombing on Israelis” when they have not been provided with any material on that subject, or how they can discuss motivations of the bombers when they have not been provided with all of the information about factors that may influence them.

Getler wrote that, “it is, in my view, important to hear such views [i.e., those presented in the lesson plans] and understand what motivates them.” Perhaps. But such views should be balanced with views of those who have survived terror attacks, or family members of those who did not survive. A discussion of the PA’s role in funding terror attacks, and the incitement in school textbooks would also have provided much-needed context.

The PBS lesson plan is a textbook case of bias, presenting predominantly one side, doing so in a more compelling way than the other, and failing to include important facts and context. What makes it particularly insidious is the fact that this is not a simple PBS news segment or documentary, it is a lesson plan meant to influence young minds.

This is part two of “PBS Stands by “Dying to Be a Martyr” Curriculum”. To read part one, click here.

This article was originally published by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker at camera.org.

Israel Festivals Hit Campuses Across the Country

At the end of the spring semester, universities across the country celebrated Israeli Independence Day by hosting events that showcased Israel’s diverse culture.

CAMERA-supported group Friends of Israel at Rockland Community College held a barbecue in the middle of their campus grounds. There was a professional henna artist and ongoing games. Students were engaged in discussions to learn more about the meaning of the day and the importance of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Attendees at Friends of Israel RCC’s event.

CAMERA-supported group Israel Student Association at Queens College created a similar event, but they set up tables around the quad featuring different cities in Israel. There was falafel and schwarma, a technology showcase, and even a camel to take selfies with.

Students at Queens College take a selfie with the guest camel behind them.

There was also a camel at MIT, where CAMERA-supported group MIT Friends of Israel had a carnival. With food trucks, cotton candy, photo booths and airbrush tattoos, the event was a huge success. Students made hummus from scratch, and several Israel related organizations had informational tables for students interested in learning more about internships and Birthright.

At Brooklyn College, where one of the most hotly debated subjects is Israel, CAMERA-supported group Bulldogs for Israel at Brooklyn College closed down the street of a busy intersection and the Israel Independence Day Committee planned an event to attract large crowds. Music, food, and booths with activities lured in students.

Students at Brookyln College celebrate Israel

At the bioengineering booth, students potted and decorated cherry tomato plants and learned about Israel’s innovations. Tamid, an Israel business club, had guests make their own beverages with soda stream, and AEPI ran a pitching booth to teach participants about Israel’s victories in the world baseball classic. In order to increase traffic to their Facebook page, a green screen was set up where students could be photo shopped into pictures with Israeli celebrities, and they then had to like the page and wait until the pictures were posted.

CAMERA-supported groups Huskies for Israel at UConn and Emory Students for Israel had similar approaches, with stations set up at both campuses to celebrate the many cities of Israel. At Emory, students could decorate hamsas in Haifa with Hebrew students, and eat classic snacks at the shuk with the Meor group. In Jerusalem, the Arab Culture Association talked to students about Arab history in the area, while students could stick notes in the Western Wall. In the Negev, students tried Bedouin tea and relaxed in a tent. And of course, in Tel Aviv, people partied with a DJ on a fake beach. Participants were given a Rav-Kav (Israeli bus pass) that was stamped at each station they visited, and when they traveled to enough places they were rewarded with free falafel or a t-shirt.

All of these events proved to be hugely successful, attracting many new club members and spreading awareness about the vast technology, diverse people, and incredible cities Israel has to offer. Educational and fun, the activities allowed students to enjoy food, music, and Israel education in a relaxed setting.

Healing Ink Screened at California Polytechnic State University SLO

CAMERA-supported group Mustangs United for Israel hosted a film screening of ‘Healing Ink’ at California Polytechnic State University.

‘Healing Ink’ is a film about wounded Israeli soldiers, or victims of terror, healing through getting tattoo art. Artists 4 Israel completed this project in Summer of 2016, where a group of international artists traveled to Jerusalem to give free tattoos to veterans or survivors of terror attacks.

Artists 4 Israel brings art, healing and protection to communities and people ravished by war. They cover scars on bodies, uplifting all people to overcome the struggles of living in crises with permanent and direct quality of life changes through arts and culture based humanitarian aid and social service projects.

Photo from the Healing Ink screening by Mustangs United for Israel

Along with the screening of the film, CAMERA-supported Mustangs United for Israel also invited Craig Dershowitz, the Executive Director of A4I, and Sgula Dershowitz, his wife, to the event. After the 40 minute screen filming, the two engaged the audience in a very interactive question and answer session about the film itself, the events that happened there, and any general questions about Israel.

Craig and Sgula were able to share very intimate moments from the trip and amazing stories which they couldn’t share in the film. Overall, it was a very successful event and many people felt a very strong connection to the film and the idea behind it.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

 

 

Mekonen Screened on Campuses Across the US

Mekonen, a film about an African Jew, has been screened on campuses around the United States. The film follows the backstory and personal journey of Mekonen Abebe, who was a 12-year-old shepherd when his father died suddenly, less than a day before his family was to move to Israel.

The film accompanies Mekonen back to Africa on an emotional journey. He explores his roots, makes peace with his past and embraces his future in Israel. After a difficult adjustment period in Israel, Mekonen was fortunate to attend the Hodayot High School, which educates children from troubled backgrounds and helps integrate them into Israeli society. Mekonen became a decorated officer in the IDF, while staying true to his Ethiopian roots and culture.

Mekonen is an uplifting and inspiring film that will move audiences and show viewers that anything is possible with the right attitude, tools and support.

CAMERA-supported group Tritons for Israel held a screening of the film on campus during lunchtime at UCSD. The screening occurred in the presence of guest speaker Chloe Valdary. Valdary is a African-American pro-Israel activist. Following the film, Chloe led a question and answer session, which students found very interesting. Many of the questions were not on the topic of the film, but rather had to do with campus issues relating to Israel such as accusations of “pink-washing”. Chloe was able to provide students with the tools to address such accusations. The conversation then turned to the human side of Israel, which this film definitely captures.

CAMERA-supported group Mustangs United for Israel also hosted a screening of the film at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. Mustangs United for Israel invited the Black Student Union and its members so they could watch the movie together and have a discussion afterwards about the content of the film. The joint screening helped to further develop a positive relationship between Mustangs United for Israel and the BSU.

The film was also screened at University at Buffalo by CAMERA-supported group UB For Israel. Chloe Valdary was also present at the screening, and like ast UCSD, held a question and answer session after the film. The film engaged the students and students described the event as very enjoyable.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

 

Israel’s First Olympic Gold Medal

This month marks the 12th anniversary of Gal Fridman becoming the first Israeli ever to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.

Gal Fridman, an Israeli Olympic sailor, competed in the Mistral sailing event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The event includes 11 races. Gal won the gold medal over Nikolaos Kaklamanakis of Greece.

Israel won its first medal in 1992, and had won one silver and three bronzes before coming to Athens in 2004. Thus, Fridman’s success meant he became the first Israeli ever to win a gold medal in Olympic competition.

Surrounded by Israeli supporters Gal Fridman wins accepts his Gold medal (Inside the Games)

After winning the medal, Fridman said, “It’s a dream come true, it’s unbelievable that I’ve become the first Israeli to win a gold medal. I felt like the whole country was watching me and pushing me from behind.”

Indeed the whole country celebrated Fridman’s success, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katsav calling Fridman to congratulate him.

Fridman dedicated the win to the victims of the darkest moment in Israeli Olympic history, when at the 1972 Munich games, 11 athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

Fridman still holds the record for being the only Israeli to win an Olympic Gold medal, but since the Athens Games in 2004, Israel has won four bronze medals.

It is hoped that Israel’s success of winning two Bronze medals at the last Olympic Games in Rio will inspire the next generation of Israeli athletes and hopefully lead to more success in 2020.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern