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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘AMCHA Initiative’

Anti- Anti-Israel Group Lists Anti-Israel Professors on N.American Campuses

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

The AMCHA Initiative, an organization created to help protect students on North American campuses from the ever-increasing numbers and severity of attacks – physical and verbal – of anti-Semitism, has just provided a useful self-defense tool for students returning to campus for the 2014-15 academic year.

That tool is a comprehensive listing of the more than 200 self-identified Middle East scholars, who signed a petition dated August 6, 2014, calling on their colleagues “to boycott Israeli academic institutions,” and who pledged “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.”

“How can professors who are so biased against the Jewish state accurately or fairly teach students about Israel or the Arab-Israel conflict?” asked Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and faculty at the University of California Santa Cruz.

“Students who wish to become better educated without subjecting themselves to anti-Israel bias, or possibly even anti-Semitic rhetoric, may want to check which faculty members from their university to see whether they are signatories, before registering,” Rossman-Benjamin explained.

“It’s bad enough that these professors have revealed themselves to be wildly biased against one, and only one, Middle Eastern country. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that many of these patently biased boycotters of Israel are affiliated with government-designated, taxpayer-funded National Resource Centers (NRC) on their campuses,” stated Leila Beckwith, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and UCLA emeritus professor.

“Clearly NRC-affiliated faculty who have publicly vilified Israel and committed themselves to refusing ‘to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli institutions’ have violated both the letter and spirit of the federal law which funds their teaching and research,” Beckwith said.

Established by Congress under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, university-hosted NRCs nationwide receive more than 30 million dollars annually for the purpose of equipping students with a full and unbiased understanding of the regions and countries of the world that are vital to U.S. security interests. These Centers are also required by law to maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education that “contribute to the teaching and research of the Center.”

Of the 20 universities which received federal funding to support Middle East Studies NRCs in the 2010 – 2014 grant cycle, faculty affiliated with 16 of them have shown their unambiguous anti-Israel bias by signing the petition to boycott Israeli universities and scholars: Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington Seattle, and Yale University.

The single school with the largest number of boycott petition signers is Georgetown University. Thirteen members of the Georgetown faculty signed the Aug. 6 Israel boycott petition. In a close second place is Columbia University, which has 11 faculty signers.

Tiny Brown University in Rhode Island has three faculty members who signed the Israel boycott petition. Harvard University has two faculty members who signed the Israel Boycott petition, Princeton has three (all of whom appear to be Jewish), two signers are from Yale, one faculty member from Stanford University signed the Boycott Israel petition, and nine faculty members from the University of California at Berkeley signed the petition.

A full list of professors who have signed the petition at each U.S. college and university can be found HERE.

Echoes Of McCarthyism In UCLA Anti-Israel Campaign

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UCLA has some proud moments in the history of civil liberties.

After World War II, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were hotbeds of opposition to an anti-communist loyalty oath that California tried to impose on academics. Ultimately the professors won in court in 1954.

Sixty years later, a different pressure group purportedly speaking for the “progressive” grassroots wants to impose on UCLA students a loyalty oath of sorts – a pledge foreswearing going on trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish organizations.

Issued by five pro-Palestinian groups, the call demanded that candidates for student government take the pledge.

Who would have thought that McCarthyite tactics would be used to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel students, Jewish and non-Jewish, at UCLA? There are ominous echoes here of both the medieval witch hunts against Jews and Stalin’s show trials.

Leading the charge is Students for Justice in Palestine, which is funded in part by two organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda.

SJP is using cyberbullying to punish Jewish students in the UCLA student government majority who voted against a recent resolution to divest from and boycott Israel. Jewish students who opposed the resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received.

Adding insult to injury, SJP has introduced an initiative calling for a judicial board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbara Fellowships; the SJP deems the groups have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.”

On other campuses across the country, SJP tactics include mock eviction notices against Jewish students, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.

The SJP initiative demanding that candidates for student government positions sign a pledge not to take certain trips to Israel violates both the UCLA Principles of Community Conduct and the Student Conduct Code against harassment of all kinds.

Unfortunately, what’s happening at UCLA is not an aberration but part of a national trend. Here are examples from a coast-to-coast report compiled by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a founder of the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit group that combats campus anti-Semitism:

  • At UC Davis, a student who expressed concern about anti-Semitic banners displayed at an anti-Israel “occupation” rally was physically assaulted by a protester who screamed in his face, “You are racist and you should die in hell.”
  • At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel wants peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of the local SJP chapter.
  • At San Francisco State University last fall, the General Union of Palestine Students hosted an all-day event where participants could make posters and T-shirts that said, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” – meaning Jews.
  • At Harvard, the Palestine Security Committee frightened Jewish students by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.
  • At Northeastern University in Boston, SJP vandalized a menorah and disrupted Jewish events.
  • At the University of Michigan, anti-Israel student activists hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.”

Why is it that so many university administrators and academics seem paralyzed to act if the victims of campus bullying are Zionist Jews?

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s reactions to the developments on his campus have been unsatisfactory. First, according to the Daily Bruin, he wanted to “leave the matter to be resolved by students.” Later, he said, “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion,” but he nevertheless stood up for the pledge as free speech protected by the First Amendment.

California Taxpayer Money Hijacked for Faculty Terrorist Meetings?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Once again painstaking work done by supporters of Israel reveal that public universities are paying to support, encourage and promote terrorists by faculty or students of American universities. This time what it means is that American taxpayers are paying for radical professors to travel to the Middle East in order to show solidarity with and support people who promote the murder of Americans and Israelis.

The scam this time went like this: a professor of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi submitted a series of documents for SFSU administrators to sign so that she could get funding to attend an academic conference in Lebanon, to “conduct research,” and to meet with “potential collaborators towards [establishing a] memorandum of understanding with San Francisco State University” in Jordan and the West Bank.

After her trip and the funding was approved, Abdulhadi sent a memo stating that “her name was dropped from the academic conference.”

But Abdulhadi went on the pre-approved and publicly funded trip anyway, with the $7000 she was given by SFSU for her “academic” trip.

And then, not only did Abdulhadi not obtain academic enrichment from attendance at an academic conference, she instead used the money to meet with and show solidarity with various known terrorists in order to support those terrorists by establishing “working relationships” with Palestinian Arab activists “engaged in BDS and other efforts against the occupation.” This astounding information was not obtained through clandestine espionage. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and her colleagues at the AMCHA Initiative, along with several other pro-Israel groups, simply read public documentation of  the funding provided to those who went on the trip with Abdulhadi. Those faculty members proudly bragged on public websites about their activities in furthering the delegitimization of Israel – paid for with taxpayer money. The fact that the trip was paid and signed for by SFSU officials was easily revealed through a California Public Information Act Request.

For example, in an event on March 6, 2014 that was advertised on the SFSU Ethnic Studies website, Prof. Abdulhadi and two other members of the “Academic and Labor Delegation to Palestine 2014″ — SFSU Ethnic Studies Professor Joanne Barker and Abdulhadi’s husband Jaime Veve — discussed their trip to “the West Bank and the 1948 areas of Palestine [sic, i.e. Israel].”

In her presentation at the March 6 event, Abdulhadi called the trip to Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel, which she had led, a “political solidarity tour,” and she went on to say: “This was not ‘solidarity light,’ this was not ‘pre-Solidarity 101′.”

Prof. Barker, in her blog documenting the trip, corroborated Abdulhadi’s statement, writing that the delegation “established working relationships and furthered their solidarities with Palestinian scholars, artists, and activists engaged in BDS and other efforts against the occupation.”  The event announcement also confirmed that the purpose of Abdulhadi’s University-funded trip was not to engage in University-related business but rather to pursue her own personal political goals: to promote “resolute actions in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.”

Why Abdulhadi was not required to provide documentation that the funds disbursed by the university – public funds consisting of taxpayer money – were used in accordance with the funding request is unknown. Or if, perhaps, there was documentation after the trip that was provided by Abdulhadi to SFSU, and if it did not accurately reflect the manner in which the money was used, Abdulhadi must reimburse the community funds.

For example, did the documentation reveal that the SFSU employees met with people who are known terrorists, including ones who are members of organizations on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations?

UCLA SJP ‘Violated Principles of Civility, Respect and Inclusion’

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Last week The Jewish Press reported that seven pro-Israel groups wrote to the heads of the California Board of Regents. The pro-Israel groups wanted the officials to reverse the hands-off approach college officials had taken against two shocking anti-Israel initiatives undertaken at the University of California at Los Angeles. The goal of those initiatives is to deprive pro-Israel students of having a voice in their student government. Students for Justice in Palestine, an aggressively anti-Israel group, is behind these initiatives.

The UCLA SJP urged the student judicial board to investigate two members of the student government who had traveled to Israel on trips paid for by pro-Israel groups, in an effort to “prove” that the two were biased and should not have been able to vote on a resolution calling for divestment from investments in Israeli companies. The other initiative called on all students who wished to become a part of the student government to first take a pledge that they wouldn’t travel to Israel with the pro-Israel groups.

The UCLA administration’s initial response to the SJP initiatives was to punt.

UCLA encourages a climate of respectful engagement among students, faculty and staff, even in situations that are very difficult, painful and complex,” the statement said. “Student government functions independently, its proceedings proscribed by a constitution that makes available to students and student groups a process to review issues of alleged conflicts of interest. UCLA encourages all involved in this particular process to deliberate in an honest, respectful and inclusive manner.

That’s nice. But given the students were already past being anything close to respectful and inclusive, the pro-Israel groups were hoping the UCLA administration would take another look at the situation and respond with a little more oomph.

The groups did not have long to wait.

On Friday, May 16, the Chancellor of UCLA, Gene D. Block, issued a letter to the UCLA community. In his letter, Block paid homage to the freedom of speech, and explained that because the pledge was not something called for by the university and that no one was required to sign it, the SJP’s drafting and circulating the pledge was an issue of free speech.

But.

Block also clearly explained that just because someone can say something does not mean they should say it. In other words,

just because speech is constitutionally protected doesn’t mean that it is wise, fair or productive. I am troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others. I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion. I condemn any remarks on social media or elsewhere that are disrespectful or hurtful.

Political speech that stigmatizes or casts aspersions on individuals or particular groups does not promote healthy debate but debases it by trying to intimidate individuals and groups. It does not strengthen the bonds of mutual respect and engagement that sustain a diverse community able to manage differences; it weakens them. If we shut out perspectives, if we silence voices, if we allow innuendo to substitute for reasoned exchange of ideas, if we listen only to those who already share our assumptions, truth gets lost, our intellectual climate is impoverished and our community is diminished.

Passionate debate is to be expected in a civil society, especially in a heated election season, but I am personally concerned any time people feel disrespected, intimidated or unfairly singled out because of their beliefs. Important issues will generate passions, even discomfort — that cannot be avoided. But if the political debate on campus gets more shrill and less nuanced, if hostility replaces empathy, if we see each other as enemies rather than as colleagues trying to figure out how to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, we will all be the lesser for it. It is possible to express strong opinions without belittling others.

For her part, Janet Napolitano, UC president, issued a statement also on the 16th, essentially joining in with Block’s position. She wrote that while freedom of speech is a highly valued principle, “other principles are also highly valued, including the principles of civility, respect, and inclusion.” Napolitano stated quite directly that the actions of the SJP students and their supporters (Jewish Voice for Peace, amongst others) “violate those principles.”

California’s Ugly Anti-Semitism Spreads East to Vassar

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

California is the lifestyle incubator of the nation. And now the trendy anti-Semitic thuggery that debuted at California’s public universities has metastasized across America, all the way to the elite halls of Vassar.

Before we discuss the fashionable pogrom that just took place on the Vassar campus where Jackie Kennedy once strolled in pearls, let’s look back at May 7, 2002. On that day, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University, attended a “Peace in the Middle East” campus rally, organized by Hillel students, where they sang songs and prayed for peace in Israel. Wrote Professor Zoloth:

“As soon as the community supporters left, the 50 students who remained praying in a minyan for the traditional afternoon prayers, or chatting, or cleaning up after the rally, talking — were surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters. But they were not calling for peace. They screamed at us to ‘go back to Russia’ and they screamed that they would kill us all, and other terrible things.

“As the counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to ‘Get out or we will kill you’ and ‘Hitler did not finish the job,’ I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, “it would start a riot.” I told them that it already was a riot.”

Eventually, the terrified Jewish students gathered under the flag of Israel and were led by armed police guard back to the Hillel House. “This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault,” wrote Professor Zoloth, who noted with sadness, “Not one administrator came to stand with us.”

May 7, 2002 turned out to be a grand day for Jew-haters, because things only got better from there. Threatening, harassing, intimidating and assaulting Jews is now a venerable tradition on California’s public campuses, protected by taxpayer-funded administrators and enshrined by public indifference.

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

Let’s flash forward to San Francisco State University today. Mohammad Hammad, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), has recently enjoyed organizing campus art projects that read “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” posing on social media sites with a knife that he claims “makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier,” and vowing to use his GUPS presidency “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

Upon being informed of these threats by a Jewish group called AMCHA Initiative, SFSU President Leslie Wong took decisive action by yawning, shrugging and sticking his fingers in his ears. Mohammad Hammad is no longer at SFSU, but presumably he still has his weapons collection intact. But the radical student group that elected him president still has free reign.

AMCHA Initiative, led by the politely relentless Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, documents the anti-Semitic tsunami on University of California’s campuses. At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel Wants Peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of Students for Justice in Palestine. At UC Irvine, eleven Muslim students disrupted the speech of the Israeli Ambassador with such ferocity they were convicted of disturbing the peace. And on and on and on.

The regal disinterest of UC’s Board of Regents has allowed the cancer to spread. If these characters can get away with it in California, they can pull it off in Michigan, Boston, and Brooklyn, too. As Caroline Glick explains, anti-Israel student activists at the University of Michigan recently hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.” Michigan university administrators aggressively intervened — on behalf of the anti-Semites.

California Students Testify About Anti-Semitism on Campus

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Last week the new California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate held its first hearing.

AMCHA Initiative urged members of the committee to examine campus antisemitism and take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities. AMCHA provided a full packet of information to the committee members about incidents of campus antisemitisim throughout California, including incidents from UC Davis, SFSU, UC Riverside and more.

You can see AMCHA’s unabridged remarks to the committee HERE.

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced the creation of the Select Committee in January. March 21 was the first of four public hearings the Committee will hold over the next few months. The Committee was tasked with investigating issues pertaining to student welfare on college campuses. Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who worked as a San Diego State University professor, chairs the Committee.

With antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, growing at an alarming rate, campus antisemitism is a concern AMCHA Initiative hears about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.

Students have reported to AMCHA that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish.

Similar student concerns were expressed at the Campus Climate meeting when two students provided personal examples of the antisemitism they are subject to on their campuses – furthering AMCHA’s resolve to continue fighting campus antisemitism.

The first student, Avi Levine from UC Berkeley, was a presenter on the panel regarding student experiences on campus. He made resounding statements such as:

“I would argue campus climate is a reflection on whether or not students feel comfortable on campuses being themselves and expressing their true identity as Jews…”

“Just because someone is allowed to say something doesn’t mean that we need to tacitly endorse it. And that’s what we need from our leadership. We need to be able to, when there is a hateful divestment resolution that’s labeling me as a Zionist Nazi when my grandfather has a number tattooed to his arm. to say that this is not OK… it’s not acceptable and we don’t stand by it. That’s what we need from our leadership.”

You may see Avi Levine’s exceptional message to committee members from the video below.

The other student who testified was Omer Hit, a second year Neuroscience major at UCLA. Hit spoke during the public comments section. He provided compelling remarks to the committee members which included strong statements such as:

“…the discourse about Israel on my campus degenerates into hate speech on a far-too-regular basis.”

“We were condescendingly told that divestment does not threaten us, as if others have the right to define how student government actions do or do not affect us.”

“We were told that by opposing divestment, we are tying Jewish identity to oppression, racism, and human rights violations – an extremely dehumanizing accusation which silences and caricatures our actual concerns about the issue.”

“We constantly hear the term “Zionist” used as a dirty word, as if supporting the liberation and self-determination of a historically oppressed minority in its homeland is something to be ashamed of.”

“And worst of all, we heard speakers attempt to put down our objections by falsely redefining the term “anti-Semitism,” extending it beyond hatred of Jews. Attempting to change the meaning of this term is more than just a blatant misuse of language. It effectively minimizes the 1,900 year history of racism and oppression targeted specifically against Jews in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.”

Jewish Advocacy Group: California Must Address Campus Anti-Semitism

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The leadership of the Jewish advocacy group the AMCHA Initiative, will testify on Friday, March 21, before a California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate.

AMCHA Initiative will be urging members of the state committee to examine campus antisemitism and to take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities.

“Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.

“It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.”

“Students have reported to us that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish,” explained Leila Beckwith, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.

“In addition, we believe that a number of professors and departments are inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to promote their personal anti-Israel and antisemitic agendas, contributing to, and sometimes, inciting a hostile and potentially dangerous environment for Jewish students.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced the creation of the Select Committee in January. March 21 is the first of four public hearings the Committee will hold over the next few months. The Committee was tasked with investigating issues pertaining to student welfare on college campuses. Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who worked as a San Diego State University professor, chairs the Committee.

Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith will provide information to the committee members about the following recent incidents:

• UC Davis, February 2012: Students for Justice in Palestine interrupted, heckled and physically threatened speakers at a pro-Israel event, causing it to be shutdown. The attendees reported fearing for their safety at the event and for weeks after.

• UC Davis, November 2012: Forty protestors blocked Jewish students from entering a university administrative building and bullied and harassed Jewish students who slipped through the blockade.

• San Francisco State University, November 2013: General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), hosted an event where participants could make posters that said, “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers,” referring to Jews, as well as posters of the convicted hijacker Leila Khaled holding a gun. Leila Khaled is a member of the State-Department designated terrorist group, the PFLP, which is responsible for 159 violent terrorist acts.

• San Francisco State University, 2013-2014: The President of GUPS repeatedly threatened SFSU Jewish students, Israelis, and anyone who supports Israel. He also glorified the PFLP. For example, this student was shown wielding a knife on social media with the caption, “I love this blade…it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier” and “the only peace I’m interested in is the head of this [expletive] scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF.” He also stated that he hopes members of the SFSU student group Hillel “trip down the stairs and break their necks.”

• UC Davis, UCLA and UC Riverside, January 2014: Three University of California campuses hosted known anti-Semitic speaker Omar Barghouti. At the events, Barghouti spewed classic anti-Semitic rhetoric and lies.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-advocacy-group-california-must-address-campus-anti-semitism/2014/03/21/

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