Tag Archives: peace

The Anniversary of a Missed Opportunity for Peace

On this day 17 years ago, US President Bill Clinton began hosting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a 15-day summit at Camp David, aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The summit was an opportunity to end decades of conflict, but ended without resolution.

Israeli, Palestinian, and American leaders at Camp David (Time Magazine)

Israel had already shown it was willing to give up territory for peace, as it had done with Egypt just 22 years earlier, and was keen to do so again with the Palestinians. During the negotiations, Israel offered the Palestinians the establishment of a state in 100% of the Gaza Strip, and 92% of the West Bank. This meant Israel offered to withdraw from 63 settlements both in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s peace offer would also have given Palestinians sovereignty in parts of Eastern Jerusalem such as Abu Dis, and A-Ram, allowing the Palestinians to make these areas their capital. Israel even offered Palestinians sovereignty over more than half of the Old City of Jerusalem, with the Muslim and Christian Quarters moving over to the new Palestinian state, as well as Palestinian custodianship over the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

However, Israel’s peace offer was rejected by the Palestinians. Regarding Jerusalem, the Palestinians demanded full sovereignty over all of Eastern Jerusalem, including removing Israeli sovereignty from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall. The Palestinians also demanded the removal of all Jews from neighborhoods built beyond the Green Line.

The Palestinians also refused to compromise on the issue of refugees. Arafat demanded the ‘Right of Return’ for all Palestinians who left Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, including their descendants. They demanded that the ‘refugees’, who number over four million, be allowed to move to not just the new Palestinian state, but to Israel. The result of over four million Palestinians moving into Israel would be catastrophic to the demographic makeup of the State of Israel, meaning the only Jewish state in the world would lose its Jewish majority. In practice, this would mean the end of the State of Israel.

Much of the blame for the failure of the summit was put on the Palestinians. US President Clinton blamed the Palestinian leader, saying “Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that [Palestinian] nation into being”. Clinton also wrote that Arafat once complimented him, saying, “You are a great man.” Clinton responded, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one.”

The Camp David Summit in 2000 was yet another example where the Palestinians refused an offer for peace. The Jews accepted the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the Palestinians did not. And Israel offered Palestinian statehood again in 2008 under Ehud Olmert, yet this was also rejected by the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s peace offer in 2008

Palestinians have long demanded an independent state, yet every time they have been offered one, they have turned it down. 17 years after the failed Camp David Summit, another attempt for peace could be on the horizon with the new US Administration. The ball will once again be in the Palestinians’ court. Do you want peace, and do you want a state? Only the Palestinians can answer that question.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

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.

Misinformation Leads to Harmful Boycotting

Walk around the NAC Rotunda between club hours, or even 12pm to 2pm on a Monday or Wednesday. There is no shortage of student clubs trying to sell you baked goods or fresh waffles. The pro-Israel student advocates at City College have introduced a Soda Stream. Soda streaming may be the new waffle ironing with free cups of soda being carbonated on site for passing students. However, the home water carbonator producer has a deeper relationship with Israel than meets the eye.

Daniel Birnbaum found Soda Stream in London and it calls Lod, Israel its home. This corporation manufactures and produces water carbonators for individual use. Due to its factory in the West Bank, movements such as Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) have targeted Soda Stream. Proponents of the BDS movement believe that by boycotting Israeli goods, Israel will become pressured to leave the West Bank. This would further Palestinian independence. But the businesses they are divesting in are providing jobs to the people they are trying to empower. An article published by Karys Rhea at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America states, “BDS does nothing to improve ‘human rights conditions’ for Palestinians. In fact, the campaign only worsens [their] economic status.” The extent of the BDS movement managed to force Soda Stream to close its factory in Mishor Adumim. The factory employed over 400 Palestinians at the time. They worked in harmony with Israeli citizens.

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream

Yossi Hertz is the co-founder of Students Supporting Israel at CCNY. He cited Soda Stream as a perfect example to show Israel’s attempt to achieve dialogue. “It’s of upmost importance that students be aware of the many groups who claim to work for Palestinian human rights, but in reality…[caused] hundreds of Palestinians to lose their livelihood as long as it meant ‘normalization’ with Israel,” says Hertz. Southern Israel became the new home to the West Bank Soda Stream factory. All workers were welcome to return for employment, but the commute is long for many. Additionally, work permits were difficult to obtain.

Many Palestinians lost their jobs due to the BDS movement

Coexistence is also seen beyond the private sector in Israel with an integrated military. Elliot David, a sophomore at Hunter College, was an ex-IDF soldier. He describes his experience with “several hundred soldiers that spoke over 30 languages.” He also comments on Arab-Israeli coexistence. “One of my best friends from the army was an Israeli-Arab, [and] in fact, when I was offered a promotion to stay in the army we gave the position to him instead,” David recalls. Anecdotal, but enlightening is this experience even in a state-sponsored institution. Speaking even louder is the amount of capital Israel is investing in Arab communities over the next five years—$4 billion. According to The Times of Israel, the Israeli government approved a development plan to raise the quality of life in Israeli minority communities. These include Israeli Arabs, with a particular focus on improving education and infrastructure.

Coexistence and integration are not as foreign to the Middle East as many perceive, and the state of Israel is leading those initiatives. That free cup of bubbly cola is the tail-end of how Israel and Israelis are promoting “peace in the Middle East.” Despite the ignorance of boycotters, Soda Stream continues to set the example for unity in current conflicts.

Sodastream – the product of coexistence

Originally published at “The Campus”, the student newspaper at The City College of New York.

Contributed by Ariel Avgi, CAMERA Fellow at City College of New York.

Painting4Peace at UWindsor

University of Windsor’s Emet for Israel group, Jewish Students Association (JSA) organized Paint4Peace, a highly successful event involving a number of campus groups. All proceeds went to Save a Child’s Heart (SACH). Over thirty law students from varying affiliations, including the Muslim Students Association, the LGBTQ club, the South Asian Law Society, and the Catholic Students Association came together to paint a beautiful themed picture.

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In order for the event to be a success, each participant donated $10 for Save a Child’s Heart, a charity based in Israel that specializes in providing urgently needed pediatric heart surgery for underprivileged children, usually from third world countries.

In the middle of the evening, Zina, who works at StandWithUs Canada, gave a speech about Israel’s deep commitment to humanitarian aid. This was new information to some students in attendance, but they were intrigued by what they learned.

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The students were taught about foundations such as IsraAid, and the abundance of non-profit organizations that make up the Israeli job market; living proof of the country’s impressive humanitarian efforts.

The event aimed to bring a diverse student body together for a common cause, and to promote a positive perspective of Israel. This message was received well by all who attended, and each student learned something new about how Israel is making the world a better place.12472764_774408589327717_3923901551353165995_nThis event was co-sponsored by StandWithUs.

CAMERA hosts Israeli musician and his ‘message of peace’ on campus tour

Gilad Segev performing at Brandeis University on March 29th.

Gilad Segev performs at Brandeis University on March 29th.

CAMERA on Campus —an Israel education organization working on 60 college campuses worldwide, and a division of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) media watchdog group—is in the midst of hosting a nationwide campus tour with Israeli musician Gilad Segev.

Grammy award-winning songwriter Jack Knight was featured in Segev’s latest hit song, “A Time to Change.” Some of Segev’s other hits include “The Love That Stays,” “Achshav Tov,” and “Let’s Leave.” The Israeli performer’s nine-campus tour of free concerts—which kicked off on March 29 at Brandeis University—has remaining stops at the University of California, Los Angeles/University of Southern California/California State University, Northridge (joint event on April 7); Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (April 8 and 9); and Cornell University (April 14). Past stops on the tour (besides Brandeis) included shows at the University of Central Florida; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Long Beach; and Oral Roberts University.

Ben Suster of Knights for Israel, a student group at the University of Central Florida, said, “Anti-Israel forces on campuses across the U.S. are attempting to villainize Israel and divide students. Gilad Segev’s music brings a message of peace that is held dear to Israelis. He is one example of the quality programming CAMERA on Campus provides college campuses.”

For more information, visit www.cameraoncampus.org.

Originally published on jns.org.

Apply for our 2016-2017 CAMERA Fellowship here!

Unity Circle with Realize Israel

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

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

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

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

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Building a Better Fence: A Firsthand Look at Israel’s Security Barrier

LillyMaria-1-1As I laid my hand on the wall portion of Israel’s security barrier I heard Colonel (Reserve) Danny Tirza say, “I want to be the first one to take down this wall.” Moved and a little startled, I turned to look at him. The man who engineered Israel’s famous security barrier looked mournful, as he said the barrier was a tragic necessity. But a glimmer of hope appeared in his eye and a soft smile on his lips as he shared his hope for a future without a barrier, a future of peace between Israel and her neighbors.

On a mission to learn the truth about Israel and the security barrier I had the privilege of meeting with Colonel Tirza in Jerusalem on August 2, 2015. I heard the sorrow in his voice as he spoke about the death and destruction that necessitated the Israeli security barrier. As he described the horrors of the Second Intifada, the seemingly endless stream of terror attacks like the attack of July 31, 2002 where over 90 people, the majority of whom were adults under 30, including some Americans, were either killed or injured because a bomb was detonated at lunchtime in the cafeteria of the Hebrew University, I quickly became aware that the reality I know is not the reality Israel knows.

Unlike Israel I have lived in peace with my neighbors, whether they be the person I share a backyard with or Canada. The fence in my backyard is designed to keep my dog in and my neighbors’ out. Israel’s “fence,” the security barrier, is designed to keep terrorists from killing civilians in Israel.

My fence is uniform; it all looks the same. Israel’s security barrier is comprised of 97% fence and 2-3% concrete wall and has built-in sensors that alert the Israeli Defense Forces if there is movement along the barrier, because that movement could be a terrorist trying to get into Israel. The security barrier is at no point attractive and the wall portion is especially unattractive. But the wall is a necessity; the wall protects Jerusalem’s highly populated and previously highly terrorized areas from attack, from Bethlehem on the other side of the wall. My neighbors do not seek to kill me and because of that I have the privilege of a simple wooden fence.

42securityfenceAnd while my Homeowners Association would be appalled if I made political, social or any other types of statements by use of graffiti on my fence, Israel allows graffiti on the wall as an expression of free speech. Colonel Tirza said paint that prevents graffiti from sticking was purchased but that it was decided the paint should not be used to prevent graffiti because free speech has more value than ascetics.

While my fence marks property lines, the Israeli security barrier rather than marking a property in is built mostly along the 1967 armistice line and wherever it needed to be built to ensure maximum security. While my fence pays no attention to whether or not the tree in my neighbors yard would be better off in my yard and accommodate it accordingly, the Israeli security barrier was built taking into account what communities wanted to be inside the West Bank and what communities wanted to be inside Israel and in the building of the barrier not a single Palestinian family was relocated.

My neighbor may not win a case presented to our Homeowners Association appealing our shared fence. Palestinians have on multiple occasions won appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court over the placement of the security barrier; the barrier is then made to accommodate the Court’s ruling like in the case of Beit Sourik Village Council v. The Government of Israel (HCJ 2056/04). Note that Palestinians challenging the security barrier’s placement are not Israeli citizens and are still permitted to challenge the Israeli government in the state’s highest court.

I do not mind my fence; to me it is simply a part of life. But the majority of Israelis are opposed to their security barrier, and who wouldn’t be? The security barrier is a reminder that Israel’s neighbors are trying to decimate and destroy her. The security barrier is inconvenient; it looks bad both literally and to the international community, but the barrier saves lives. From 2002 when the barrier was built to 2003 the number of terror attacks in Israel dropped 30% and the number of people killed by terrorist attacks during that time decreased by 50%. Saving lives is paramount, above ascetics and above international approval.

Israel seeks peace, its people are tired of conflict. Throughout Israel I saw multiple signs conveying a desire for the end of conflict with Israel’s neighbors. But the problem arises in this, Israel’s neighbors will agree to peace only at the price of the destruction of Israel and the death of the Jewish population therein. It sounds extreme, because it is. And the security barrier may seem extreme as well. But consider this, if my neighbor sought to kill me, I would build a stronger and bigger fence, one that would protect me. My purpose in this would be not only to protect my family and myself but also to give myself a semblance and a chance at peace. I may not be able to control my neighbor, but I can control my response, and I would want to respond in a way that protects myself while minimizing hurt to my neighbor.

This is what Israel has done. Israel has built a security barrier that protects all of its citizens, including Arabs, Christians, Druze, Jews and Muslims.

*Col. Tirza has independently confirmed the statements of this article through personal correspondence.

This was written by University of Alaska CAMERA Fellow and active member of Emet for Israel supported group, Students UnitedMaria Lilly and was originally published in the Times of Israel.

Rabin’s Assassination: 20 Years On

On October 31st, 100,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv in Rabin square to memorialize Prime Minister’s Yitzkah Rabin on 20 the year anniversary of his assassination.

 

 

 

Yitzhak Rabin was born in 1922 in Jerusalem and grew up in a Zionist home. He had a long military career, including serving some time in the Palmach, the predecessor to the Israel Defense Forces. Rabin was a man who loved and fought for his country and had a vision to improve it and bring it peace. Rabin bean to serve his country in a new way  in 1974, when he first became Prime Minister of Israel, making him the first ever native Israeli Prime Minister.

 

On November 4, 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated while promoting the Oslo Accords at a peace rally.

The Oslo Accords was a major peace deal between Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Yassir Arafat which outlined a five-year path to peace. The Oslo Accords are now generally accepted as unsuccessful. In fact less than a decade after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Second Intifada broke out. However, luckily, Rabin’s dream of peace did not die with him.  Throughout Israeli society there are calls and hopes for peace within the region.

 

A young man who epitomizes this hope for peace is a young Israeli-Arab Zionist Mohammad Zoabi who regularly makes videos in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English, in which he professes his love for Israel and represents the peace that can exist among Israeli-Jews, Israeli-Arabs and non Israeli-Arabs.

 

In Hadassah University Hospital in Mount Scopus in Jerusalem doctors Ahmed Eid and Elchanan Fried are often called “Bert and Ernie” and “Fried and Eid,” they regularly work closely to save lives. “Eid is the head of surgery at Hadassah University Hospital in Mount Scopus. Fried is the head of the intensive-care unit.” During the recent wave of violence these doctors have been working together to save the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians; victims and perpetrators, never asking the person they are treating whether he was wronged or the one in the wrong. Israelis and Arabs can work and save lives together.

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“Children at Beersheba’s Hagar bilingual school read together. (photo credit:HAGAR: JEWISH-ARAB EDUCATION FOR EQUALITY)” – Photo Source

Recently Israel passed a bill mandating that all children in Israel learn Arabic from the first grade onward. The intention of this bill is to help Israeli and Arab students (who have always had to learn Hebrew) to understand each other through language. The Likud Member of Knesset who sponsored the bill, Oren Hazan, said, “I have no doubt that when the Jewish population will understand Arabic, the way the Arab public understands Hebrew, we will see better days.” This bill provides yet another opportunity for Israelis and Arabs to understand each other and create peace.

The hope for peace did not die on the day of  Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. In fact, the hope for peace lived on in spite of his assassination and even grew stronger after his assassination. Now in the state of Israel, Israelis and Arabs have plenty of opportunities to make peace with each other. Whether at work, in school, in the IDF or even in the Knesset.

This was written by former American University CAMERA Fellow and current CAMERA Social Media Intern Rachel Wolf.

Clark University hosts ‘Human Rights and Justice for Terror Victims’

10169222_10203990995388098_8629783330635967984_nOn October 29th, CHAI—Clarkies Helping and Advocating for Israel—hosted British-Israeli tour guide Kay Wilson, on tour with StandWithUs, for a talk on her experiences after surviving a terror attack in December 2010. The lecture, “Human Rights and Justice for Terror Victims,” culminated Wilson’s life both before and after the attack, but spoke specifically on the care she received from Israeli Arabs directly following the attack. Hosted by CAMERA Fellow Seth Greenwald, the lecture proved to be a learning experience for all who attended.

Attendees of the lecture were moved from tears to laughter as Wilson chronicled her experience. After the attack, Wilson was left with substantial injuries, and was treated by both Israeli Arabs as well as Israeli Jews. Because of this experience, Wilson has created and spread a discourse on the coexistence that currently exists between these two groups and the future that can be formed because of it. Through her personal experience, Wilson is able to move people to understand something that is so frequently ignored.

Everyone at the event was able to take something away from the lecture. Audience members asked Wilson questions about her opinion on world-wide terror attacks, as well as her experiences with anti-Semitism. In her candid responses, Wilson was impactful and engaging. Students easily made an emotional connection with Wilson and her story, and by the end of the evening had a better understanding of the implications of attacks such as the one Wilson survived.

Wilson frequently tells her story to university students, always trying to promote a message of peaceful coexistence between the Jews and the Arabs of Israel. She encouraged students to be advocates for the Jewish people and the state of Israel, stressing the importance of unity with Jews around the world. Greenwald said the lecture was one of best he has ever heard, and would recommend her to every university.

UConn hosts ‘Less Hamas, More Hummus: Playing for Peace’

Contributed by CAMERA intern Lilia Gaufberg

On April 14th, CAMERA fellow Ali Jabick hosted Less Hamas, More Hummus: Playing for Peace on the University of Connecticut’s campus. The purpose of this event was to expose students to various programs that promote peace and co-existence in the Middle East, especially within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Professor Leitner came to speak in conjunction with this event about his work with integrated sports programs that are meant to promote peaceful co-existence. The primary goal of this event was to bring in a different group of students that may not know as much about what happens in the Middle East, with the hope that these students will realize that there is more to the conflict than what the media reports. This goal was definitely met, and the students who attended seemed to be very engaged by the speaker and were interested to learn more about the programs that Professor Leitner was involved in. This event was publicized through the use of social media outlets such as Facebook, as well as by reaching out to students and professors directly. The event was also published in UConn’s Daily Digest.

Many of the attendees expressed interest in the topics that Professor Leitner discussed, and were happy to learn about an aspect of the conflict of which they were not aware. The audience asked questions to find out more information about the programs Professor Leitner is involved in, and the presenter responded very well to the questions and displayed his knowledge about the topics he discussed. The most effective aspect of the event was the speaker’s personal stories from participating in the integrated sports programs, and it made his work seem much more relatable and real. Ali plans to continue reaching out to students who may not otherwise attend Israel-related events, and will keep in touch with the students who came!

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