Tag Archives: Israel

Statement on Resignation of Dean Duthu

Controversy emerged upon the discovery that Professor Bruce Duthu, nominated to be Dartmouth College’s Dean of Faculty, and currently serves as Associate Dean, had publicly supported an academic boycott of Israel. We worked with our students at Dartmouth, who met with Duthu, upon which he clarified his stance on BDS and academic boycotts. Less than two weeks later, yesterday Duthu announced that he is stepping down from his current position as associate dean and from the nomination for Dean of Faculty.

Professor Bruce Duthu

Gilad Skolnick, Director of Campus Programming for CAMERA, made the following statement in response to his resignation:

“Boycotting Israeli academia aims to alienate the world’s only Jewish nation. Professor Duthu’s association with boycotting Israel was deeply painful to Jewish students, who were saddened by his insensitivity and attacks on their heritage as an indigenous people. We’re thankful that Professor Duthu has decided to step down so that a more inclusive dean can be appointed.”

We are pleased with this result and will continue to work hard to ensure that Israel, Israel’s supporters, and Israelis are treated equally on campuses across the US.

Cheap Flights to Israel Added as Tourism grows

This week, WOW Airlines announced that they are offering flights from New York to Israel beginning at $150 for a single flight. There are additional costs for paying for luggage, and there will also be a short stopover in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, but this still is a very major development, in providing cheaper flights from the USA to Israel.

This is not an isolated story, but is part of a general trend in Israel; over the past few years, there has been an incredible growth in the number of airlines flying to Israel, and flight prices keep dropping. Many European low cost airlines now operate multiple routes to Israel. Ryanair, one of the largest low cost airlines, offers flights from 15 cities to Israel. Easyjet, the low cost British airline, now flies nine routes to Tel Aviv, and flies in more people to Israel than any company except for El Al. In fact, Ben Gurion Airport recently re-opened its Terminal 1, which will be uniquely for low cost airlines coming in from Europe, alongside its Terminal 3 for all other flights from the USA and around the world.

More and more companies are opening flight routes to Israel

The growth of flights to Israel is truly international. Two major Asian airlines, Hainan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific, have also opened direct flights routes to Israel since the beginning 2016. In total, over 140 companies now have flights to Israel.

Israel’s tourism sector is growing in leaps and bounds. April 2017 was the most successful month ever for Israeli tourism, with close to 350,000 tourists entering Israel in that month. Israel was always an attractive destination for tourists, with a wealth of important religious and historical sites, as well as an exciting and vibrant culture today. Now that there are even more flights, for ever falling prices, more and more people are able to visit the Holy land and the Start-Up Nation.

The Tel Aviv seafront is packed with hotels, as Israel’s tourism booms

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

Dartmouth Dean – Apologize for Support of Academic Boycott or Resign!

Following our coverage on Tuesday of Professor Bruce Duthu, Dean of the Faculty at Dartmouth College, and his support for the BDS campaign, new details have emerged.

CAMERA’s students on the ground at Dartmouth met with Duthu himself, to confront him about his public support for the BDS campaign and his new position as Dean of Faculty. During the meeting, Duthu responded by claiming that he in fact does not support the BDS campaign, but rather has supported an academic boycott of Israel.

When our students challenged his support for an academic boycott of Israel, he agreed with our students that “academic boycotts are not helpful”.

After our students met with Duthu, he published the following letter in response:

Responding to these developments, Gilad Skolnick, CAMERA’s Director of Campus Programming, made the following statement:

“It is outrageous that the Dean of Faculty at Dartmouth would have supported an academic boycott of Israel. Professor Duthu should either publicly apologize for his past efforts to prevent Israeli academics from cooperating with Dartmouth Faculty, or he should resign immediately. It isn’t enough that he now conveniently acknowledges that boycotts are “not helpful.” Professor Duthu needs to condemn in no uncertain terms the rationale behind discriminating against the Jewish state and its intellectuals.”

Breaking the Silence: Question What They Tell You

CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

On May 3 and 4, J Street U held an exhibition of photos by an Israeli non-governmental organization called Breaking the Silence, whose goal is to “expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.” I applaud its desire to better Israeli society, but I do not feel the same about the accusations that have come out about the organization.

BtS has been accused of libel and manipulation. For example, BtS co-founder Yehuda Shaul was caught on film telling a tour group that settlers in the West Bank poisoned Palestinian wells, a biased claim which was later completely debunked. Many Israeli soldiers have come out claiming that their testimonies were recorded without their permission, falsified, or taken out of context. The organization has also refused to submit any of its information to a military prosecutor in order for its claims to be checked; while much of the material is protected by source confidentiality, some is not — and BtS has not released any of it. This is suspect for an organization that claims to want to reform Israeli society, and particularly to reform the ways of the Israeli army.

I have no interest in censoring Breaking the Silence; it has every right to speak to students about its views. But students must question the validity of what they hear. And if we are to truly better the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, we cannot rely on anything but the facts.

Contributed by Princeton University CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

This article was originally published at the Daily Princetonian, Princeton University’s campus paper.

This extended version of this article was republished in the Huffington Post on May 16th.

Israel Remembers the Fallen and Victims of Terror on Yom HaZikaron

This evening Yom HaZikaron begins, Israel’s national day of remembrance. The country comes to a halt to remember those who have been killed in Israel’s wars, and in terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately over the past year, Israel saw more Israelis killed in terrorist attacks. Last June, Hallel Yaffe Ariel z”l, a thirteen year old girl, was murdered in her sleep by a Palestinian terrorist, killing her in her own bedroom. As soon as her parents had finished the seven day “Shiva” mourning period, they went themselves to visit another group of mourners – ten orphans, whose father Rabbi Miki Mark z”l had been murdered by a Palestinian terrorist, in a drive-by shooting.

Friends of Hallel at her funeral

As well as the victims of terrorist attacks, we remember the soldiers who have died in Israel’s many wars. One of the most famous of Israel’s soldiers is Michael Levin z”l, a lone soldier from Philadelphia, whose story captured the hearts of Jews around the world. He was killed on August 1st 2006. He was 22 when he was killed in combat.

 

There are a number of ceremonies that take place around the country to mark the day. In the evening, the President and Chief of Staff of the IDF attend a central ceremony at the Western Wall. At 8pm, the siren sounds, and the country pauses for a minute’s silence, and then the ceremony begins. Then, in the day, the siren sounds once again at 11am, and the country once again pauses. There is then a ceremony at Har Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery in Jerusalem, at which the Prime Minister speaks.

Over 23,000 Israelis have been killed in wars and terror attacks. As we pay tribute to them each year, the wish we have is the same, and it is simple – that next year, we should not have to add any names to the list, and that the families of those who have died should find some comfort, as the Jewish people unites to remember their loved ones.

May their memories be a blessing.

Q+A with Hen Mazzig

Tomorrow (Tuesday March 14th) Hen Mazzig begins his East Coast campus tour with CAMERA. Just before he took off for New York, we sat down with Hen to learn more about him and his passion for Israel education.

Aron: Hi Hen, its great to speak with you!

Hen: Likewise! 

Aron: Your upcoming tour with CAMERA on Campus will see you heading to sixteen campuses over the next month. What are you most looking forward to about the tour?

Hen: Well, the last tour I did with CAMERA ended in a very hostile way at UCL in London, where the protesters, anti-Israel students, had one goal — to shut down my event and a dialogue about Israel, which is so important. So my goal with this tour is to foster meaningful dialogue, and to bring nuance to difficult issues, which my background allows me to do. I am from an Iraqi and North African family and grew up in Petach Tikvah which was a poor city. I experienced the Second Intifada, then came out while serving as an officer in the IDF, and now deal with the BDS movement on college campuses, so I have a great amount of experience that can really resonate with college students. I hope my story can be used as a launching pad for education and fostering dialogue.

Aron: As you mentioned, recently at UCL you found that students who might describe themselves as “pro-Palestinian” just wanted to shut you down. Do you have any examples of the opposite, where you managed to succeed in creating the dialogue you seek?

Hen: A few years ago, I was invited to speak at Bristol University in the UK, a campus where there had been a lot of emotional anti-Israel activism, with no nuance at all, and a BDS motion had passed at the university. I asked the pro-Israel students to invite the Palestinian Society students to come to my talk so we could engage in dialogue. They came to listen to me, and they also asked challenging questions throughout the two hours. At the end of the event, they came over to me, and said that they had learnt so much, and it had made them rethink their opinions; they now want to build bridges, rather than fight against us. That night, the president of the Palestinian Society tweeted that they will not longer support BDS, and they are one of the few Palestinian Societies today in the UK who do not support BDS. This was an example of people coming to listen to each other, which lead to meaningful dialogue and real, tangible solutions.

Aron: You speak in a lot of different venues; you have appeared on TV, you have spoken to Israeli soldiers, but this tour is specifically for students. What contribution do you think students on campus in North America can make to the State of Israel?

Hen: Students tend to be very socially active, and lead the way on many social and global issues. Students were the ones leading the fight against racism in the US, and leading the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. I hope that students in the US and Canada will hear my story, engage in dialogue with me, and realize that Israel needs their support and needs them to take action against the fanaticism of the BDS movement. They need to fight for the protection of the most prosecuted minority in history, the Jewish people. We need to direct the conversation and give them the tools to fight against the hatred that we see from groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Aron: What role do you think the media has in spreading a narrative that lacks nuance?

Hen: The media plays the most important role in the conversation about Israel. When the media spreads stories that are only critical of Israel, without anything positive about it, it is very hard for me to come to a college campus and bring a different narrative. You can see in the daily research reports on CAMERA’s website that many news outlets demonstrate a clear anti-Israel bias. Students often hear my story, and they say that have never heard the perspective that I am bringing to campus. That is why the work of CAMERA is so important. Applying pressure to journalists and editors of major news outlets to be more balanced in its coverage is critical for improving students’ understanding of Israel.

Aron: Who is your Israeli role model?

Hen: Let me think… I would say my grandmother!

Aron: Good answer! Wasn’t expecting that.

Hen: Yes, well I can tell you about lots of politicians who I look up to, like Shimon Peres, but personally, my grandmother is my greatest role model. She came to Israel with her husband, at 19 with a young baby. Two weeks before, she had watched her father’s murder in Iraq for being Jewish. She came to Israel with the determination to grow her family. She raised 12 children who lived in just two bedrooms. Today, she is in her late eighties, and has around 80 grandchildren! So whenever I find things tough, I think about her story, and her commitment to her people and to Israel, and it gives me strength. She never gives up hope, and that is something that really inspires me.

Hen with his grandmother in 2014.

Aron: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Hen: (Laughing) That’s the hardest question you have asked! I guess I would say hopeful, loving and ambitious.

Aron: You are now going to North America to speak, but when you work with groups in Israel, where is your favorite place in the country to take them?

Hen: My favorite place is Akko (Acre) – the sea there is beautiful, and I also love the history and all the different cultures that are represented there.

Aron: What is the single most important message you want students to take away from your tour?

Hen: That Israel has a unique story that can resonate personally with students. Israel faces challenges and is not perfect. It is a work in progress – just like all of us. My own story, the story of my family and the story of Israel are all about hope, never giving up, and growing and developing every day. I hope that students come out my talk wanting to support Israel in the challenges it faces, as well as being inspired to apply these messages of hope and growth in their own lives.

Aron: Thank you Hen for taking the time to sit down with us before you begin your tour. If someone is interested in learning more about your tour with CAMERA, where should they go?

Hen: That was your best question yet! Visit the CAMERA on Campus Facebook page for the most up-to-date information on my tour. You can also take a look at my Facebook page and Twitter, which I will be updating throughout my tour. I look forward to seeing you at one of my events!

Tour Details:

This interview was contributed by CAMERA intern Aron White.

I am a Zionist.

CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

I’m afraid to say it out loud sometimes because it’s become a bad word of late. I believe in Israel’s right to exist and its necessity. I put great faith in the Jewish right to self-determination and have a deep love for the State of Israel. This makes me a Zionist.

On Thursday, Feb. 16, the well-known political scientist and Israel critic Norman Finkelstein repeatedly equated Zionism with ethnic cleansing. He called Zionism a denial of historical truth and compared Zionist endeavors to Stalin’s.

But the Palestinian population in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories has increased eightfold since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. If the Palestinian population of the region has swelled since Israel’s conception, Zionism cannot possibly espouse ethnic cleansing.

Zionism, instead, is the Jewish movement for self-determination. The founders of the State of Israel were Zionists, but they did not enshrine rights for only one group of people. On the contrary, the Israeli Declaration of Independence states that Israel will “foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants [and] it will be based on freedom, justice and peace.” Israel has sometimes erred on its path, but the Zionism described in the nation’s founding document has nothing to do with the ethnic cleansing that Finkelstein mentioned.

In fact, many famous figures are proud to be Zionists, like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel. He decried genocide — a form of ethnic cleansing itself — but was also unfaltering in his Zionism, finding no conflict between the two. Like Wiesel, I see no contradiction between Zionism and my values of human rights. I believe in Israel’s founding ideology, and like many others, see it as a movement of “freedom, justice and peace.”

In that vein, I realize that many, on campus and elsewhere, may disagree with my views. But instead of charging all Zionists with ethnic cleansing, I invite you to engage a Zionist in conversation. You will find that many of us are liberals, peacemakers, and warriors for human rights. Ask a proponent of the ideology why they continue to adhere to it. It may be that they find Israel’s existence necessary; it also may be, however, that they find Zionism good and just, even though Finkelstein might disagree.

Contributed by Princeton University CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

Originally published at Princeton University campus paper The Daily Princetonian.

The Guardian Whitewashes Charges of Antisemitism Against Malia Bouattia

An article in the Guardian, written by their education correspondent , focused on recent reports of hate crimes targeting Jews at Exeter, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex and University College London.  Among the people interviewed in the article (UK universities urged to a tackle rising tide of antisemitism, Feb. 18th) was NUS President Malia Bouattia.

Here are the paragraphs pertaining to Bouattia:

The National Union of Students has just completed a national survey of Jewish students’ experience of university life, details of which will be released later in the spring. Commenting on the incident at Exeter this week, the union’s president, Malia Bouattia, said it was another example of the spike in hate crime students had witnessed in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election.

“This kind of blatant antisemitism should not be tolerated in our universities and colleges, and institutions need to do more to combat it. Students must be at the forefront of tackling racism and fascism in all its forms which is why NUS’s current programme of work exploring hate crime could not be more timely.”

Remarkably, the Guardian reporter completely ignored the ongoing scandal involving accusations of antisemitism against Bouattia herself – information that had previously been reported by the Guardian and elsewhere in the British media.

National Union of Students (NUS) President Malia Bouattia.

In fact, just a day before the Guardian article which quoted Bouattia, The Telegraph published an article titled ‘NUS in turmoil after internal report rules its President should not be punished despite making anti-Semitic remarks’. The article noted that, despite the NUS’s determination that Bouattia should not be punished, their report found that she did make comments that “could be reasonably capable of being interpreted as anti-Semitic”.

Here are some of the comments in question:

  • Bouattia ‘accused’ the University of Birmingham of being “a Zionist outpost in British higher education”, citing her concerns about their “large Jewish Society”.
  • Bouattia condemned “Zionist-led media outlets”.
  • Bouattia (beginning at 1:10 of this video) seemed to characterize Zionism as a form of “white supremacy”.
  • Bouattia expressed support for Palestinian terrorism and was critical of those who support ‘merely’ non-violent forms of resistance to occupation.
  • Bouattia claimed that the Government’s anti-terror programme was fuelled by “Zionist and neo-con lobbies”.

The journalist’s decision to quote Bouattia expressing her view that “blatant antisemitism should not be tolerated in our universities” without even mentioning the current row over her own use of antisemitic tropes is a classic example of how the Guardian can whitewash antisemitism even when putatively taking such hatred seriously.

Contributed by Managing Editor of CAMERA’s UK Media Watch, Adam Levick.

This article was originally published at UKMediaWatch.org.

The Dangers of Divestment

CAMERA Fellow Rebecca Zagorsky

Less than one year after USG voted down OSU Divest’s attempt to divest from Israel, the group has yet again pushed the issue onto the ballot. They claim the sole purpose of this bill is to fight for social justice, and to create financial neutrality by preventing OSU from using its funds to support companies that cause human-rights violations. While I respect the ballot process and OSU Divest’s democratic right to voice their opinion, the information they are providing is misguided and fails to tell the whole story. This thinly-veiled anti-Semitic campaign will only cause trouble, not bring an end to injustice. Despite OSU Divest’s insistence that they are trying to make OSU neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, voting “Yes” on Issue Two inherently means taking an anti-Israel side. Instead, there are many reasons why I encourage you to vote “No” on this dangerous ballot measure.

OSU Divest’s bill is a product of a larger campaign called the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign (also known as BDS). The BDS campaign specifically targets liberal college campuses, masking anti-Semitism as a fight for human rights. The Ohio Legislature is one of 17 states that voted to prohibit state agencies from doing business with any company that openly supports BDS, and former President Barack Obama spoke out against the BDS campaign, stating that it unfairly “targeting the State of Israel.”

Ballot Issue 2 singles out Israel in its supposed quest to fight human-rights violations, while openly ignoring the hundreds of other countries (Syria, North Korea and Russia to name a few) that are currently inflicting far more serious crimes against their citizens. It is a direct violation of the State Department’s 3D’s test of anti-Semitism: any legislation that seeks to demonize, delegitimize, or subject Israel to a double standard is no longer seen as legitimate criticism of the country.

But not only does this ballot issue promote anti-Semitism internationally, it also signals to students at home that anti-Semitism is acceptable. Campuses across the nation that have passed BDS have seen spikes in anti-Semitic acts.  Last year, here at Ohio State, members of the pro-Israel community (Senators and regular students alike) were harassed and taunted after leaving the BDS vote. I personally asked one of my friends to walk me home — I was scared of the angry protesters waiting outside the Senate chamber.

Ballot Issue 2 additionally mentions divesting from companies who supply to private prisons. It is therefore troubling that the only student group on campus, the Student Alliance for Prison Reform, was never contacted to help. The ballot’s anti-Semitism cannot be clearer, and SAPR is openly against this bill.

Many Palestinians employed at SodaStream lost their jobs due to the BDS campaign

Additionally, a pro-BDS bill has many negative financial ramifications.  Even the Palestinian Authority (the governing body of PA-controlled areas in the West Bank) does not support the BDS campaign, as boycotting these companies hurts Palestinians economically. Seriously, look up “The Palestinian Case Against BDS,” written by Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human-rights activist. A few years ago, SodaStream was boycotted, causing them to close down their factory in the West Bank, putting many Palestinians out of work.

I encourage you to vote “No” on Issue Two in the upcoming election and prevent this bill from harming Palestinians and your fellow Buckeyes. At the very least, though, ensure that you understand the issue before you vote.  Simply checking “Yes” because the ballot says it is preventing human rights violations could be one of the most dangerous things you could do.

Contributed by Ohio State University CAMERA Fellow Rebecca Zagorsky.

This article was originally published in Ohio State University campus paper The Lantern.

Palestinians are Hurt by BDS

CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov.

“All the people who wanted to close SodaStream’s West Bank factory are mistaken… They didn’t take into consideration the families,” Ali Jafar, a Palestinian SodaStream employee stated back in 2015. He had been working at the Israeli company’s West Bank factory which produced home carbonation drink machines for two years before it was shut down due to pressure from the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) campaign.

Palestinian workers react to the SodaStream in the West Bank being shut down.

The BDS campaign aims to prevent people around the world from buying Israeli products, and even has targeted celebrities and educational institutions for their support for or representation of anything related to the Jewish state. The campaign claims that Israel practices apartheid in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – similar to that which was practiced in South Africa. However, SodaStream and its employees contradict such lies about Israel. The factory had been bringing Palestinians and Israelis to work together happily, and today also employs Arabs and Bedouins. Management and staff had shared that benefits and salaries were the same for employees in the same job setting, regardless of whether they were Jewish, Bedouin or Palestinian. In some cases, Palestinian workers were even given higher positions than their Jewish counterparts. In a video made by the SodaStream employees, you can see them introducing each other and working side-by-side in peace.

Following SodaStream’s fall in sales, the factory had to be relocated to Southern Israel and as a result, had to lay off the 500 West Bank Palestinians it had employed. In the end, the global campaign intended to delegitimize Israel had in fact hurt the Palestinians. It had hurt the opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to work together and build relationships.

Regardless of the progress and happiness felt by the workers, the fanatics of the BDS campaign squandered a wonderful opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis alike. This is just one example of the BDS campaign attacking Israel with blind, unjustifiable hatred; and the torment continues. In response to the boycotts and protests, SodaStream will now be placing stickers that read, “Made is in Israel: This product is produced by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony” on all of its products.

New SodaStream labels

The question is, what are the real goals of the BDS campaign? Is it to help the Palestinians, or is it to use the Palestinians as a reason to target Israel? Either way, it has neither been helping Palestinians, nor has it been using factual claims as a basis for its Israel hatred. Innocent people working towards peace should not have to suffer because of the hatred spewed out by the ignorant.

Contributed by Rutgers University CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov.