Tag Archives: Students for Justice in Palestine

After UCI Sanctions for SJP, LA Times Gives Voice Only to Those Who Drowned Out Other Voices

On May 10, Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted a pro-Israel event at UC Irvine with hateful shouting and vitriolic chants, preventing IDF reservists from continuing with the panel until the group left. As a result, the campus administration slapped SJP with a two-year probation and affirmed the university’s commitment to “protect everyone’s right to express themselves without disruption.”

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Times article about the university’s decision to sanction the group for its attempts to drown out others’ voices in violation of university policy gave voice to only one side: Students for Justice in Palestine.

 

The one-sided Sept. 4 article (online only) entitled “Pro-Palestinian UCI students appeal sanctions after Israeli event protest” dedicated three out of seven paragraphs to statements provided by SJP. It reported:

In a statement, representatives for the group said that their clapping and chanting at the event — sponsored by Students Supporting Israel — was in response to aggressive behavior by a member of the soldiers’ group.

“It’s outrageous that the university is punishing us, students, instead of protecting us from aggressive foreign military agents on campus,” Daniel Carnie, a Jewish UCI students, said in a statement. “We’re a diverse group of Palestinian, black, Latino and Jewish students who attended the soldiers’ speaking event and asked critical questions.” . . .

Students for Justice in Palestine said its members have been harassed and cyber-bullied since the event; the group said it has filed a discrimination complaint.

In contrast, Los Angeles Times reporter Hillary Davis devoted not one sentence to panelists representing Reservists on Duty, or to representatives from Students Supporting Israel, which hosted the event. Nor did she convey the views of pro-Israel students who attended. Had she done so, she might have spoken with panelist Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli Arab from Reservists on Duty, who reported to CAMERA:

We were yelled and cursed at, and one of our female delegation participants was spat on by an SJP member. They came to our event to shut it down, an SJP representative said it herself while yelling into a microphone the next day. We had to have them escort us off campus because the SJP students made it impossible for us to leave the class safely.

[Full disclosure: CAMERA has brought Elkhoury on campus tours in the past. Also, CAMERA joined up with other several other organizations to urge the university to take action against SJP.]

 

Moreover, Davis failed to give readers any information about the nature of the vitriolic chanting by SJP members. Plenty of video documentation of the disruption is available exposing the ugliness of the SJP’s chants (“These colonizers and occupiers! You should not be on our f****** campus”; . . . “F*** you!” . . . “Israel, Israel you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” . . . “Long live the intifada!” . . . “Israel, Israel what you say? How many people did you kill today?”)

CAMERA has contacted The Times, urging editors to add comment from representatives from Reservists on Duty, from Students Supporting Israel and/or pro-Israel students who were subjected to the hateful SJP demonstration. CAMERA also called on The Los Angeles Times to add video of the demonstration, enabling readers to decide for themselves who exactly engaged in “aggressive behavior.”

Contributed by Director of CAMERA’s Israel office, Tamar Sternthal.
This article was originally published at CAMERA.org.

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.

Fact Checking Omar Barghouti

CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

Omar Barghouti did not speak at Stanford University earlier this quarter.

Neither did he deliver his talk in real time over Skype. Instead, the sponsors of the event — Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace — streamed a pre-recorded, and presumably, pre-vetted, video of Barghouti speaking to an audience of about 25.

Prior to streaming Barghouti’s video message, Stanford Professor David Palumbo-Liu, who has previously promoted anti-Semitic material, explained that though “we [the organizers of the event] did…invite people with opposing views to debate Omar Barghouti and they declined.” Barghouti repeated this sentiment over the course of the night, saying that no one (with opposing views) would debate him.

Sitting in the small audience, composed nearly entirely of event organizers and members of the the sponsoring organizations, I stifled my laughter. I knew Barghouti had been invited to debate Professor Alan Dershowitz, one of the leading academics opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, at Oxford University in November. Barghouti, the founder of BDS, declined. (Professor Dershowitz continues to suspect that he was actively boycotted as part of a “common sense” BDS initiative against individuals perceived to be too vocal in their support for Israel). Instead, Professor Dershowitz debated Peter Tatchell on “Is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement Against Israel Wrong?” and won 136 votes to 101.

BDS Leader Omar Barghouti.

BDS Leader Omar Barghouti.

In other words, from the start of the talk, I was wary of the accuracy of the statements presented by Barghouti and the event organizers. Over the course of the night, my suspicions were vindicated as Barghouti’s video message bombarded the room with outright lies, half-truths, and flawed logic.

Barghouti’s argument rested on three central claims:

  1. That Palestinians support the BDS movement
  2. That BDS is the best path towards ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank
  3. That “there are no anti-Semites in the BDS movement”

Let’s unpack these ideas one by one.

  1. Palestinians support the BDS movement

 

Barghouti claimed that the BDS movement has widespread Palestinian support. But in 2013, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke out against the boycotts of Israel that BDS called for, saying “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel.”

Bassem Eid, hailed by the Washington Post as “an internationally recognized rights campaigner,” and the founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), is also an outspoken critic of BDS, writing that “BDS tactics are a prelude to the destruction of the Palestinians”. In referencing the BDS pressure that led SodaStream to move its factory from the West Bank to the south of Israel, Eid wrote, “the result [of the factory move] was that 2500 Palestinians lost their jobs. When I ask those of them whom I meet what they would say if they met a BDS member, they point out that before, they were earning 6000 Israeli shekels a month… now they were receiving less than a quarter of that.”

  1. The BDS movement is the best path towards ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank

 

This claim, a central point in Barghouti’s argument, hinges upon the false assumption that Israel is unwilling to negotiate for peace and a withdrawal from the West Bank.

In agreement with the 2008 Olmert Plan, 2004 Bush-Sharon Letter, 2000 Clinton Parameters, and 1947 Partition Agreement in UN Resolution 181, Israel has, in fact, repeatedly offered major territorial concessions in exchange for peace – including up to 97% of the West Bank. On each occasion, after already demanding numerous pre-conditions, the Palestinian leadership has walked away and denied its people the opportunity for statehood that BDS claims to promote.

BDS targets Israel as though the Jewish State requires coercion to negotiate, when in truth, Israel is the only partner at the table.

  1. “There are no anti-Semites in the BDS movement.”

 

Apart from the blatant falseness of this claim (one needs look no further than a college campus, or the British Labour Party), the claim hinges, ideologically, on the false notion that anti-Zionism is something other than anti-Semitism.

Judea Pearl, in a recent LA Times op-ed, put it best:

“Anti-Semitism targets Jews as individuals; anti-Zionism targets Jews as a people. Anti-Semitism would deny Jews equal standing as human beings; anti-Zionism would ban Israel from equal membership in the family of nations.

If we examine anti-Zionist ideology closely, we see that its aims are: to uproot one people, the Jewish people, from its homeland, to take away its ability to defend itself in sovereignty, and to delegitimize its historical identity. It is racist and fundamentally eliminationist.”

Yet Barghouti went even further in his speech that night, pandering to his audience with words like diversity and justice, while denying the facts framing the conflict, demonizing Israel, and denying the Jewish people their right to define for themselves, what anti-Semitism is.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against the world’s only Jewish state are unjust, intolerant, racist, and unproductive. One is forced to ask – is peace really what Mr. Barghouti wants?

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at Stanford University Michal Leibowitz.

A Response to “Peace, Not Apartheid Week”

This week, Boston College Students for Justice in Palestine will host its annual “Israel Apartheid Week,” a four-day event that will highlight what it views as injustices committed by the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, injustices they consider akin to the systematic oppression of non-white South Africans from 1948 to 1994. Panels will be formed, lectures will be held. The most visible aspect of “Israel Apartheid Week,” however, will be the makeshift wall constructed in front of Stokes Hall with murals proclaiming slogans such as ‘Free Palestine.’ While I’m sure SJP is well-intentioned in its aims, there’s a simple problem:

Israel is not an Apartheid state.

boston college wall

To compare Israel to Apartheid South Africa is only valid if one assumes three things: 1) That Israel systematically discriminates against its Arab and other non-Jewish citizens, 2) That Israel unlawfully denies residents of the Palestinian Territories rights to mobility, and, inherently most important to this comparison, 3) That Israel is a colonial state denying control from the land’s native inhabitants.

On the first two points, I can dwell on and on. I can tell you how, for starters, Israelis of Palestinian-Arab descent (as well as all other non-Jews) are guaranteed equality before the law with their Jewish counterparts. I can tell you that, in fact, 13 out of 120 seats in the Israeli legislative body, the Knesset, are held by an Arab coalition, and that there is even a Palestinian-Arab on Israel’s Supreme Court: Salim Joubran. I would point out that the checkpoints and barriers separating the West Bank/Gaza from Israel, the ones that SJP would compare to the infamous Pass Laws of the Apartheid Regime in South Africa, are not meant for racist purposes but are simply security provisions. And effective ones at that: From 2000-2005 Palestinian terrorist killed around 700 Israeli citizens using both gunmen and suicide bombers that snuck into Israel from the West Bank. What SJP and its allies do not admit is that since the Wall’s construction, terrorist attacks in Israel have decreased to very few each year from several dozen in the 2000s. In short: The barrier works really, really well.

But I don’t want to focus on those aspects. I want to focus on the third point, the one that makes this claim of Apartheid personal for me: That Israel is a settler state imposed on the Middle East by the West. You see, I am a Jew whose parents fled the U.S.S.R. in the 1970s, but I do not consider either Russia or Ukraine my native homeland. For me, my roots are in Israel.

My maternal great-grandmother’s earliest memories were hiding under her bed as a 5-year-old in her small Ukrainian-Jewish village because of the rumors of an impending Pogrom. Some 20 years later, her whole family was killed in the Holocaust. On the other side of my family, I was never able to meet my paternal grandfather, who died at the age of 40 from an epilepsy that he received as a child from severe beatings on the head by his schoolmates because he was Jewish. They were not welcome in Slavic society because, in the intensely nationalist Russia and Ukraine, they were considered Semitic foreigners.

One needs to remember that being Jewish is not just a religious preference: It’s an ethnicity. And mine and most every other ethnic Jew’s ethnic roots lie in Israel. DNA evidence proves this time and time again. To say that Jews are foreign to the land is counterfactual and, quite frankly, anti-Semitic. We are not colonists, we are natives to the land. Anything said on the contrary truly dehumanizes us. Yes, Palestinians deserve their own state as well, and they will, I hope, one day get it. But it cannot be the Jewish State. History has proven that Jews need a state of their own as both a unifier of identity and as a safe-haven against anti-Semitism. We are not Afrikaners. Our roots in the land of Israel go back thousands of years. What Zionism has done has been nothing short of a miracle: Reigniting a Jewish identity with its own unifying language and a land of its own. Just as the Italian diaspora looks to Rome and Florence as its cultural centers, we look to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Thus, go ahead, call Israel an Apartheid State. Say that Zionism equates to racism, that the Jewish State should be erased off the face of this Earth as an ugly stain of late white-European colonialism. But you cannot take away the feelings I had when I stood at the Western Wall last June in Jerusalem at Friday sundown. There, I was standing at the holiest site in Judaism, one that goes back thousands of years, before the terms Palestine or Zionism or Apartheid were even created. I touched the Wall and felt the presence of my ancestors who longed for millennia to have the opportunity to stand where I was, but could not.

I could not have felt more at home anywhere else.

Originally published in The Heights.

Contributed by  and Emet for Israel supported group at Boston College, Eagles for Israel.

Learn more and apply for the 2016-2017 CAMERA Fellowship!

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.

Our 2015 David Bar Illan Award winners

On Sunday a record 600-plus guests attended the annual Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) awards gala in New York City. CAMERA honored activists including student leaders, a retired professor, and an internationally known journalist for their work in supporting Israel and upholding news media integrity and standards of fair reporting.

Prolific British journalist Melanie Phillips, this year’s CAMERA Emet Award winner, was recognized for her astute analysis of the growing danger of radical Islam in Europe and the weakness of European political and cultural leaders in the face of unjustified anti-Israel propaganda and policies. Phillips warned that attacks against Israel are motivated not only by its status as the world’s sole Jewish state, but also for its being an outpost and exemplar of Western values.

A columnist for the Times of London, panelist on BBC-Radio’s “The Moral Maze,” and author of the 2006 bestseller Londonistan, Phillips delivered the dinner’s keynote address.

Andrea Levin, CAMERA’s president and executive director, applauded the hard work of the honorees in particular and CAMERA supporters in general. Levin noted the successful, ongoing campaign to highlight anti-Israel bias in the New York Times through CAMERA’s analysis of the paper’s reporting and commentary, and the use of billboards throughout New York City that expose the paper’s double standards. She also noted progress this year in CAMERA’s projects to monitor Spanish and Hebrew language media.

CAMERA’s Outstanding Campus Activism and Outstanding Student Leadership awards honor the late David Bar-Illan, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post and long-time friend of the organization. CAMERA supports CAMERA Fellows and autonomous pro-Israel groups in the Emet for Israel program on more than 55 college and university campuses.

This year’s Campus Activism Award went to SUNY-Binghamton University student Justin Hayet for his work in organizing pro-Israel events on campus and writing opinion pieces for the campus newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, and on the CAMERAonCampus blog. In addition, Hayet appears in the documentary “Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus.”

Chloé Simone Valdary of the University of New Orleans received this year’s Outstanding Student Leadership Award. An electrifying speaker and innovative programmer, Valdary’s “To the Students for Justice In Palestine: A Letter from an Angry Black Woman” was the online Tablet Magazine’s most widely-read article, with more than half a-million readers. Valdary has also initiated CAMERA campus campaigns “This is What a Zionist Looks Like” and “Zionism First” to strengthen pro-Israel support on campuses.

Alan Stein was presented with the Letter Writer of the Year Award for his work in correcting media anti-Israel bias. Stein, a retired mathematics professor from the University of Connecticut, has been a member of CAMERA’s National Letter-Writing Group since shortly after its inception. Stein is one of CAMERA’s 17,000 letter writers in 47 countries who work to correct media coverage that misrepresents the facts about Israel.

The gala was chaired by George Violin, a CAMERA national board member and lay leader, distinguished for his long career as a pro-Israel advocate.

Congratulations, Chloé, on receiving the David Bar Ilan Award for Outstanding Student Leadership, and Justin, on receiving the David Bar Ilan Award for Campus Activism. These students were presented the award for their amazing work during the 2013-2014 academic year.

See our posts and videos from the 2014 CAMERA Dinner and the 2013 CAMERA Dinner

Below are their beautiful acceptance speeches at this year’s dinner.

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Left to right: CAMERA’s Director of Campus Programming, Gilad Skolnick, Chloé Simone Valdary, Justin Hayet, CAMERA’s International Campus Director, Aviva Slomich, and CAMERA’s Campus Coordinator Tatiana-Rose Becker

Justin Hayet

Israel’s National poet and my distant relative Chaim Nachman Bialik wrote:

“Warriors are we!

Last in the era of bondage,

The first to be free!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, when I think of warriors, I think of the thousands of students risking their grades, reputations, and even safety in defense of Israel; many of these warriors are CAMERA students.

I would like to thank CAMERA, Andrea Levin, and the CAMERA on Campus team, led by Aviva and Gilad, two incredible professionals at the helm of the Pro-Israel movement. Congratulations to my friend Chloe; you’re simply invincible.

Since Freshman year of college, I’ve longed for an organization that would allow me the ability to DO something with my Zionism; luckily, CAMERA came along. It was not until now-Member of the Knesset Dr. Anat Berko spoke at Binghamton that I realized the power of bringing in Israel-related speakers. With over 135 students on a Tuesday night listening to the research of one of Israel’s finest scholars on terrorism and the psychology that drives it. Students from dozens of student groups packed the room.

I’d never seen most of the dozens of students excitedly raising their hands during the event’s Q and A session. This is what success looks like for an Israel event on campus. Today as MK Anat Berko works in the halls of the Knesset, she is my mentor, role model, and friend. Though she is not here tonight, I dedicate this award to her.

With CAMERA’s guidance, I wrote articles for my campus newspaper and the Jerusalem Post calling out the tragic hypocritical actions of Students for Justice in Palestine; my character was attacked, my name defamed by members of Students for Justice in Palestine who sought to destroy me and everything I stand for. I didn’t sleep for weeks. The Jewish State was under attack on my campus, and I realized my ability to defend the Jewish State was infinite—I wrote articles and still get emails to this day from people who’ve read my articles. But because of these articles, I became a target via email and on Facebook and walking to class; the looks and words pointed my way from professors and graduate students I’ll forget forever, but I want to thank them for their contempt.

These professors and graduate Students added oil to the flame and geared my purpose. Truthfully, I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know who I wanted to be, until I stood on the other side of until my character was defamed publicly and on online forums simply for defending Israel. It was not easy; it was a dark time for me personally as I didn’t sleep for weeks. Despite this darkness, oddly enough, surrounded by bigotry I eventually found myself propelled by the hope, our hope. It is our hope for a safer, better, more accepted, more understood and more prosperous Israel which drives me as I recall countless times I stood with friends, wrapped in Israeli flags defending our nation across from students, graduate students, and professors who seek to destroy Israel. Friends, hope can be found in the strangest of places.

As I walk across the stage to graduate college in a few weeks, with a magen david painted on top of my cap, I know what matters in life. As the next generation of Zionist leaders begin to emerge, we clutch onto the stories—of Yoni Netanyahu, of Max Steinberg, of Ayal, Naftali, and Gilad—we compel ourselves to these stories of sadness and of triumph, of tears and of pride; knowing that Israel’s continually written mosaic of stories is begging to be written and begging for additional heroic players to color its already bright pages.

As this new era emerges, I can only say world: henine—here I am—and for Israel, in defense of Israel, and always with Israel. Am Yisrael Chai—the people of Israel live—and we will continue to live with warriors like yourself compelled to tell the story, the story of Jewish People, the story CAMERA’s student warriors and the story of the one and only Jewish State, because epic stories beg to be told. Toda Raba.


Chloé Simone Valdary

Thank you to CAMERA for this great honor, and thank you all for being here tonight. My journey and the work that I do on college campuses really began when I was a sophomore and was becoming interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict. And I had heard that there was an event at Tulane University about this topic, so I went to go explore.

The event was headlined by David Nesenoff, and he spoke about how he had exposed Helen Thomas, a member of the White House press corps who made disparaging remarks about Jews. Because of his efforts, Thomas was eventually forced to resign. Needless to say, the event at Tulane was a great success and I was intrigued by how students were able to bring it about. After I inquired further, I was told about this great organization that helped students host events with guest speakers and educate their student body on issues affecting Israel today. That organization, of course, was CAMERA. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Through my work with CAMERA, I have had the privilege of designing campaigns tailored for college students including such campaigns as “This is What A Zionist Looks Like” and “Zionism First”. I have also been able to create a college festival called “Declare Your Freedom,” which celebrates the Jewish struggle for liberty and which celebrates the totality of the great saga that is Zionism. At the heart of each of these projects is one simple yet groundbreaking theme: Empowerment. I believe first and foremost that the secret to teaching others about Israel is knowing who you are and loving who you are; CAMERA has given me the ability to express that sentiment through both the campaigns I have created and the programs I have initiated. For that, I say thank you.

Thank you for giving me a platform to use to speak truth to power. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to work towards a greater good.

In truth, however, I believe I should not be given an award for this. I am compelled to do this. Elie Wiesel, in his book The Town Beyond the Wall, says that a human being must, by definition, engage in action. A human being must, by definition, eschew indifference and apathy. A human being must do something, must take a side, must engage in the act of choosing, else he is not truly human.

Zionism, and advocating for it, for me fulfills that duty. But perhaps even more importantly, Zionism speaks to me because it speaks to the soul of humanity and illustrates what we as human beings are truly capable of.

Which begs the question: Have you ever sat back and thought, I mean really deeply contemplated, the fullness of what your people have achieved? It is something which can only truly be described in song and music and art and dance and love and poetry.

When I think about your people, I think of poetry. I think of Shakespeare: “This above all, to thine own self be true”.

I think of Longfellow: “In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!”

I think of Angelou: “Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise…Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave: I rise.”

And of course, being as I am 21 years old, I think of Nicki Minaj: “Put your drinks up. It’s a celebration every time we link up. We done did every thing they could think of. Greatness is what we are on the brink of.”

Greatness is what you are on the brink of. I thank you, CAMERA, for this honor, and I leave you with one small thing to contemplate, and I hope it will bring you great comfort for the rest of your lives:

You, your people, are the phoenix personified.

You are the definition of Rise.

As enduring as rain,

like the light that everyone knows will greet them at day break

You exist in the constant.

And the constellations greet you, as though you were their cousins following the same course

throughout the galaxy which knows you and recognizes your brotherhood.

Though falling stars and meteors will sometimes make themselves your acquaintances by way of hardship and persecution, rest in the comfort of knowing that like the never-ending circular spending axis of the earth, you, your people, are forever.

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Local CAMERA Fellows and EMET for Israel group CAMERA liaisons attend the dinner.

 

Divestment at UCSB: Round Three

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow Jeremy Ginsberg

For the third year in a row, BDS came during spring quarter at UC Santa Barbara, and I am glad to say that it was defeated in only one meeting instead of in the multiple senate meetings my fellow students have seen for the past two years.

This defeat came after nine hours of public comment and senate deliberations, which were filled with misinformation and straight-up lies about Israel. While this can be thought of as a victory, it feels hollow after the AS Senate vote ended in a 12-12 tie, broken only by Internal Vice President Angela Lau. It disgusts me that students think it is okay to spew anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments while claiming to champion human rights.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) even had the audacity to claim their bill wasn’t anti-Semitic. What is bothersome is that the week before, UCSB passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, yet a disturbing amount of the pro-divestment comments which fit that definition in the resolution were included in the bill. A student senator even claimed that other senators were afraid of voting for divestment so they wouldn’t lose the “Jewish vote.”

Divestment vote at UC Santa Barbara.

Divestment vote at UC Santa Barbara.

The pro-Israel community was prepared to defeat this bill; ready for whatever could happen. Once we got word of divestment coming, we convened a meeting of the Jewish student leaders right after Spring Break. Due to the uncertainty of when the bill would actually come to a vote, we prepared for multiple scenarios. We set up multiple meetings with community members and students to keep them aware of the situation, and when we found out that the divestment meeting was to be held, we made sure that we disseminated and mobilize our supporters to attend the meeting. After months of lobbying senators, and weeks of prepping for the actual meeting, the anti-divestment students seemed very confident in the bills defeat.

Many that had never attended a divestment meeting were horrified at the slanderous remarks of the pro-divestment students. For a side that claims to want peace and rights for all, it seems that they do not care for the security of any Israeli. SJP only claims human rights for all when they want to be endorsed by any organization that champions human rights. They only want the headlines, as every student knows that the UC system will not divest any funds from Israel or companies in Israel but they continue this assault every year in hopes one day it passes. They do this so that they can claim a victory for the BDS movement, and in the meantime poisoning the minds of any student that shallowly believes what they are being told.

BDS must be stopped and can only be stopped when SJP is exposed for being the poisonous anti-Semitic organization that it is and not allowed on campus. The Jewish and Israel community on our campus has always been open to dialogue with the other side of this conflict but all SJP has done is bring bill after useless divestment bill.

They continue to harass our students and increase the rift between us, behavior that only breeds anti-Semitic sentiment and may lead to actions such as the swastikas that were painted on Jewish buildings at Stanford and UC Davis. Fortunately I will not be here next year to see a fourth attempt at divestment at UCSB, but I am confident the anti-divestment students here are strong, confident, and ready to defend Israel on campus for yet another year.

To learn more about BDS, visit the Divest This blog.

SUNY Buffalo CAMERA Fellow Hosts Izzy Ezagui

Izzy Ezagui

Izzy Ezagui

CAMERA’s Fellow at SUNY Buffalo worked with the pro-Israel group to host a successful event with Izzy Ezagui. Izzy spoke about his experiences in the IDF and his journey to recovery after losing his arm in combat. The group hosted the event with a goal to provide students with real stories from IDF soldiers. CAMERA Fellow, Logan Woodard stated that, “We heard amazing feedback from those that attended including some newly engaged UBI members. For some, this was their first event, and they could not stop thanking us and Izzy for providing them with such useful information and such a moving personal story.”

The students worked hard to advertise for the event in order to gain a strong audience. Woodard said the group “hung up flyers and distributed quarter sheets and advertised on Facebook, email, and our new texting system.” These methods were extremely effective for the group! Woodard said he saw many new faces.

In addition to new pro-Israel students, members of Students for Justice in Palestine were also present at the event. They asked a number of questions and made multiple false claims and accusations about the IDF while Ezagui was speaking. Woodard thought Ezagui handled the situation very well. “Izzy was extremely calm and engaged in productive discourse, drawing from his personal experiences. A member of SJP even thanked Izzy for coming,” Woodard recalled.

We commend the pro-Israel advocates at the University at Buffalo for hosting Izzy Ezagui!

 

Spirit of Hanukkah

channukah

Neither Greek nor Roman nor Spanish nor Persian
Not Assyrian, nor German, or fierce Babylonian
Not Egypt with Pharaohs and laws so draconian
could stop our forward march.

Not ‘Students for Justice in Palestine,’
Not here, not now, not at any time,
Not Judith Butler, or Hatem Bazian
could stop our forward march.

Not petitions or protests or false propaganda
not intifadas nor fake double standards
Not berating Israel incessantly at random
could stop our forward march.

Not biased professors or BDS resolutions
Not persistent years of ceaseless persecution
Not even the worst of your ‘Final solution’
could stop our forward march.

Our forward march: its the song of our people
it is art by liberators, dance moves by freedom
fighters forsaken, yet never defeated
lighting their candles for all to see them

Great Maccabean, spirit of Warsaw
echo of Esther and fire of Judah
struggle till struggling we discover Mount Zion
Cower no more, no cowards but lions

Roar with the thunder of heaven and earth
cry and sing out of our rebirth
rediscover our strength once unknown, now unearth
and onward, till victory, March.

This piece was contributed by CAMERA consultant, Chloé Simone Valdary. Chloe is the founder of Allies of Israel, CAMERA’s CCAP group at the University of New Orleans.

Commemorating the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, this was constructed in 82 AD in Rome. The south panel depicts the spoils taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The Golden Candelabra or Menorah is the main focus and is carved in deep relief. Other sacred objects being carried in the triumphal procession are the Gold Trumpets and the Table of Shew bread

Commemorating the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, this was constructed in 82 AD in Rome. The south panel depicts the spoils taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The Golden Candelabra or Menorah is the main focus and is carved in deep relief. Other sacred objects being carried in the triumphal procession are the Gold Trumpets and the Table of Shew bread

David Sheen, Lying Machine

This piece was contributed by 2014-2015 Florida State University CAMERA Fellow, Stephanie Jablon

sheen

David Sheen, Lying Machine

Shouldn’t student organizations bring in guest speakers who promote a positive, educational experience? Shouldn’t these speakers spread knowledge that is both truthful and helpful? As college students, we have the opportunity not only to pick from a long list of classes that interest us, but e are also able to pick and choose who we invite and host as guest speakers to educate us. However, it’s up to us to not take advantage of this freedom. As college students seeking knowledge and truth, it is in our best interest to see that these speakers do not have an agenda to lie or skew the truth, so that we and our peers may be more well informed. Maybe this is something Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) do not understand. A few weeks ago, SJP hosted David Sheen as their featured guest speaker; someone who goes out of his way to spew hateful propaganda and skew the truth.

Formerly from Toronto and now a resident of Dimona, Israel, Sheen devotes his life to spreading false ideas on and what it is like to be an immigrant in that nation who is not white or Jewish. Although he himself is both of those things, he claims to be a sympathizer with those who are not at a face valuable. It seems like a noble action.

However, the picture Sheen paints is not an accurate one. This event was advertised as a presentation on African, non-Jewish refugees. Instead, for the first half of this two-hour diatribe, he rails against Israeli treatment of Arabs. The lecture then turns into complaints about women’s rights in the religious community. Rather than presenting concrete, credible cases of racism and discrimination, Sheen preaches hate and exaggerates events that have taken place in the Jewish state.

According to Sheen, the Arabs in Israel have very few rights and lead harsh lives. He says they are discriminated against and neglected, and Israel does not give them much aid or resources.

If Israel neglects the Arab Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, how is it that in 2012 Israel was listed as the number one humanitarian aid supplier to these regions and still remains one of their main sources of aid and resources? If they have so little, how have Gaza and the West Bank managed to maintain the 8th highest obesity rate in the world? If this discrimination is so rampant, then why are there Israeli Supreme Court Judges and members of Israel’s Knesset who are Arabs?

After an hour of venom and patronizer of Israel, SJP’s guest speaker reached the “main point” of his presentation: that African non-Jewish immigrants and refugees are either discriminated against or deported.

In Israel, as in most countries with an immigration policy, those who are caught living in the territory illegally, especially if they are caught in criminal acts, are deported. Sheen, however, stated that Israeli officials roam the streets looking for African refugees to beat, arrest, or transport to refugee camps; there, he says, they will either “gain citizenship status after years of being detained,” or be deported. According to him, Israel is anything but a refuge for these immigrants.

However, this is completely contradictory to someone who has truly experienced this lifestyle. According to Simon Deng, a refugee from Sudan who was sold into slavery as a boy and has experienced refugee life first-hand, Sheen’s statements are simply untrue.   At the New York Durban Watch Conference in 2011, Simon protested and spoke up against hatred, lies, and bigotry regarding Israel’s immigration policies.

“…friends, I come here today with a radical idea. I come to tell you that there are peoples who suffer from the UN’s anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people.” He states that Sudanese refugees seek safety in Egypt, but even there they are still subjected to racism and abuse. Some are even slaughtered in their attempts to find freedom there. According to him, refugees run from Egypt to Israel.

It is there, in Israel, Deng says, where the Sudanese were finally treated and respected as human beings.   Deng says that protesting Israeli policy on immigrants will not help racism. “It will only help isolate and target the Jewish state.”

Simon Deng, Sudanese refugee and former slave

Simon Deng, Sudanese refugee and former slave

That is exactly what David Sheen intends to do every time he publishes an article, posts on social media, or makes a speech about Israel.

For the last few minutes, to get in a few more jabs, Sheen suggests that Israeli women are so deprived of rights that they are not even allowed to sing out loud or dance at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest sight of the Jewish people to pray, while men are. Funny, because I have been to the Western Wall and sang aloud and danced with these allegedly “rights deprived” women, and there was no penalty for it.

If a woman in the religious community does not hold the same status as a man, it is by choice. It is because that is religious custom, to hold men to higher standards in the ultra orthodox community. It is not because Israel prohibits them from having a prestigious career or denies a decent salary. Otherwise, Golda Meir could never have been Prime Minister of the state.

In just two hours, David Sheen proved himself to be a crowd pleasing bigot, and is incredibly talented at distorting the larger picture. Unfortunately, he is not the first speaker to fit those criteria that SJP has hosted on campus.

As do most Americans, I support free speech. But I do not support those at Florida State who incite hate and potential violence against Jews and Israel supporters. Inviting speakers to this campus whose main goals are to spread hate and lies, and promote ill feelings towards the only democratic ally we have in the Middle East, should be challenged and exposed.