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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘AMCHA’

After Decades of Silence, Holocaust Survivors Open Up

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – When Pnina Katsir turned 80, she finally told her daughter a secret she had kept for decades: she was a survivor of the Holocaust.

“I didn’t tell anyone. My kids didn’t know,” Katsir told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) at a ceremony for Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Wednesday evening. “I decreed silence on myself in order to raise a normal, happy family – not living in the shadow of that awful time.”

Yet Katsir, now 86, boldly recounted her experiences before a crowd of dozens at the Jerusalem ceremony, including many fellow survivors, their children and grandchildren, as well as a group of female soldiers. They had gathered to share stories and commemorate the dead as part of the AMCHA organization, an Israeli psychological and social support group for Holocaust survivors, which Katsir credits with giving her the tools to finally express herself.

“There was a conspiracy of silence among survivors and Israeli society,” explained Elisheva Flamm-Oren, AMCHA’s director of planning and development. “They were afraid to tell their children and burden them with what they went through, and Israeli society also didn’t want to hear it – they preferred to project strength.”

AMCHA was started 30 years ago by Holocaust survivors and health care professionals to address this “conspiracy of silence” and provide survivors with the support they need. They now cater to 20,000 Holocaust survivors in fifteen centers across the country, boasting 480 mental health professionals and a thousand volunteers. In the past year alone they logged 186,000 hours of therapy, 30% of which took place in house calls to survivors too frail to leave their homes.

“There’s a lot of power in meeting other survivors,” Flamm-Oren told TPS. “AMCHA created a place where you can come and talk about the past without fear. We want them to know that they are normal people who went through unimaginably abnormal circumstances.”

And the survivors do more than talk. They participate in AMCHA’s creative writing seminars and theatre troupes—who recently staged a play starring a 97-year-old actress—all designed to give survivors creative outlets to process their past traumas and communicate with younger generations.

“They know how to get you to open up,” said Katsir, who read a moving composition describing her childhood in a Ukrainian ghetto, including the “nightly task” she shared with her sister to clutch their grandmother’s legs as she slept in the hopes of keeping her warm.

For many survivors, the creative process has been enormously satisfying.

“I have a kind of Holocaust disease – it actually makes me feel good to talk about the Holocaust,” Elias Feinzelberg told TPS after reciting the Kaddish, the solemn prayer for the dead, at the ceremony. Feinzelberg, a very active 98-year-old who was born in Lodz, Poland, endured nine different concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“I spoke at two schools today,” Feinzelberg said, proudly pointing to the pins on his blazer bearing the names of educational institutions around the world in which he has shared his story.

“Once I opened up,” Katsir told TPS, “I realized how much energy I had wasted all these years on not talking.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Proponent Rejoices: U Cal Recognizes Link Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The full Board of Regents of the University of California (UC) today approved a policy that condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and says there is no place for those and other forms of discrimination at UC. The policy was approved unanimously by the Regents education committee yesterday.

The approval of this policy was welcomed by the force behind the creation and adoption of this policy, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative.

Rossman-Benjamin explained why the new policy was so important. She said that Jewish students on campuses are frequently the victims of the pernicious anti-Zionist movement spreading across campuses. This is so regardless of a Jewish student’s views or even knowledge about Israeli policies. It is a victimization based solely on the student’s religion, not their political views, and that is why it rightly falls under the category of anti-Semitism.

After a lengthy battle to get the Board of Regents to recognize this fact, Rossman-Benjamin is elated.

“For the first time a university has acknowledged the blatant anti-Semitism within anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism has now been linked to anti-Semitism and condemned by the most prestigious and largest public university in the United States. This is an unprecedented and remarkable step forward, which will benefit Jewish students across the country.

“We applaud all of the Regents for addressing the record-high and growing anti-Jewish hate. We would like to particularly acknowledge Regent Norm Pattiz, who personally championed this landmark policy on behalf of Jewish students,” Rossman-Benjamin said.

For over a year AMCHA has been bringing this issue to the attention of Regents through letters and meetings and by regularly testifying before the Regents. This started after AMCHA members began hearing from concerned parents and students about the rapid rise of anti-Semitism at UC.

AMCHA led a coalition of more than 40 Jewish and education advocacy groups that regularly communicated with the Regents on this matter.

The AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization focused on combating, monitoring and documenting anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America. In 2012 Rossman-Benjamin co-founded the organization with her colleague, Dr. Leila Beckwith.

Rossman-Benjamin pointed out that the latest public figures to recognize that anti-Semitism is a factor in the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement are U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. These two join the Republican candidates for president, as well as Pope Francis, President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron, French Prime Minister Valls and Pope Francis, all of whom have stated that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism.

The AMCHA Initiative conducted a study of anti-Semitism at more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities in 2015. Five University of California schools ranked in the top 10% of schools with the most anti-Semitic activity, and four of those campuses were in the top five worst schools.

The AMCHA study also found the presence of anti-Zionist activities, anti-Zionist student groups and faculty who endorse an academic boycott of Israel were strong predictors of anti-Semitism.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The Year in US On-Campus Anti-Semitism: 302 Acts at 109 Schools in 28 States

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

(JNi.media) The AMCHA Initiative on Tuesday unveiled a database that chronicles anti-Semitic incidents that occurred over the past academic year by state and university, to be used as a resource by current and prospective students, parents, university administrators, elected officials, researchers, and donors.

The incidents are organized into three categories: Targeting Jewish Students and Staff; Anti-Semitic Expression; and Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Activity. Each act is further classified under the 10 recognized forms of anti-Semitic behavior. In addition, AMCHA announced a dynamic, 2016 incident tracker that will be updated in real-time.

“Sadly, anti-Semitism continues to plague our nation’s schools,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA cofounder and director. “We hope … cataloging such anti-Semitic incidents should serve as an important wake up call to university leaders and elected officials.”

“Anti-Semitism, what many of us thought only a decade or so ago was a sad part of our history, continues to rear its ugly head on campuses from coast to coast,” said Leila Beckwith, AMCHA cofounder and UCLA emeritus professor. “What those of us that monitor cases on a regular basis know is today’s anti-Semitism not only includes swastikas and historical anti-Jewish slang. Today’s anti-Semitism is often cloaked in anti-Israel behaviors and demonstrations that in truth seek to deny Jews, alone of all ethnic groups, the right to self-determination, and blame the only Jewish state for all evil in the world and spew lies and hatred about the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Universities must adopt accurate definitions of anti-Semitism so that students understand when political debate crosses the line into blatant anti-Semitism.”

Here are a few examples of the 302 incidents from 2015 that took place at 109 schools in 28 states:
Brooklyn College: “Jews – the root of all evil” was scrawled on a wall in the library.
Clark University, Cleveland State University, Framingham State University, George Washington University, John Jay College, Montclair State University, Rowan University, SUNY Purchase, Tufts, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of Missouri, Valdosta State University, Vanderbilt, Western New Mexico State University: Swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs were scrawled on school buildings and property.
Columbia University: Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was one of 10 local SJP chapters endorsing an advertisement for a rally that contained several classic and contemporary anti-Semitic tropes including that the administration’s ties to Israel were responsible for tuition hikes.
Delaware Valley College: Female student athlete tweeted, “Can I kill all the [expletive deleted] Jews in Lakewood pleeeasse?!?!!”
Drexel University: A swastika and “Jew” was found written near an Israeli flag.
Farleigh Dickinson University: A swastika was drawn outside Hillel Director Rabbi Ely Allen’s office.
Hunter College: “Zionists out of CUNY” and “Long live the Intifada” was chanted during a rally protesting tuition hikes.
Indiana University: Thirty members of the Traditionalist Youth Network marched on campus holding anti-Semitic signs and wearing Nazi memorabilia.
Medgar Evers College: An Orthodox Jewish student was punched in the face and told “Leave the school, you Jew.”
Miami University Ohio: Two students wrote anti-Semitic graffiti on a dormitory hallway.
Northeastern University: Following a divisive divestment vote, a mezuzah was vandalized and multiple swastikas were drawn on school property.
Northwestern University: Following an active and vocal divestment effort, multiple swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were found in four different locations on campus over a three-month-period.  During that same time a Jewish student reported being targeted and harassed at an SJP “Israel Apartheid Week” event and filed a bias incident report.
Pace University: A student’s Snapchat account featured the University’s football captain giving the Nazi salute.
San Diego State University: Convicted terrorist Rasmeah Odeh was the keynote speaker at a national SJP conference at SDSU promoting the anti-Semitic BDS movement.
Towson University: A Jewish star with a cross through it, “Hitler was right,” and “With Jews you lose” were scrawled on campus.
UC Berkeley: “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” found etched on school property.
UC Davis: A Jewish fraternity was defaced with swastikas the day after a contentious divestment vote; “grout out the Jews” was etched into the Hillel house; and vandals carved swastikas and “F**k the Jews” into cars and slashed tires on campus.
UC Irvine: An Anteaters for Israel I-Fest event was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters who chanted loudly to drown out the event and physically blocked a walkway.  The civil rights of Jewish students who wanted to gather peacefully were violated.
UCLA: A UCLA student and employee posted anti-Semitic comments on social media including, “F**king Jews. GTFOH with all your Zionist bullshit. Crazy ass f**king troglodyte albino monsters of cultural destruction. F**king Jews. GTFOH with your whiny bullshit. Give the Palestinians back their land, go back to Poland or whatever freezer-state you’re from, and realize that faith does not constitute race.”
UC Santa Cruz: SJP set up mock checkpoints on campus insisting that students show ID cards before entering the library.  The event demonized Israel and Jewish students reported feeling targeted and harassed.
University of Central Florida: A rash of anti-Semitic posters swept through campus over a period of a week. One had a Star of David and the words “1%” and “Bankers” underneath, a second had a swastika on a flag with a message calling for an Israel boycott and others contained the phrases “Muh Holocaust” and “Truth is Treason In the empire of lies.”
University of Chicago: Threatening anti-Semitic comments were posted on Yik Yak including, “Gas them, burn them and dismantle their power structure.  Humanity cannot progress with the parasitic Jew.”
University of Illinois Champaign Urbana: A large menorah outside the Chabad House was knocked over twice.
University of Oregon: A male yelled anti-Semitic slurs at a Jewish student and threatened to assault him with a firearm.

JNi.Media

AntiSemitic Experiences of American Jewish College Students Chronicled Online

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

An organization has set up a webpage which catalogues, by university, testimony by Jewish students who have experienced antisemitism on their campuses.

The AMCHA Initiative, which monitors, investigates and fights against antisemitism at institutions of higher learning in America, set up the webpage a year and a half ago.

Called “Student Voices,” the webpage reveals experiences of Jewish students on America’s campuses who have been targeted, intimidated and/or frightened because they are Jewish.

AMCHA reports that it has collected testimonials from more than 100 students, located at 47 different schools, in 20 states.

“Campus antisemitism is widespread and it’s escalating at an alarming rate,” said AMCHA director and cofounder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin.  “Students should know they are not alone.  We hope the compilation of concerns shared by brave Jewish students over the past year-and-a-half will help university leaders and elected officials understand the breadth of the problem and take action.”

TESTIMONIALS

All of the personal declarations on the AMCHA webpage, “Student Voices” were stated publicly at student government meetings or quoted in news stories, and the testimonials include links to those sources.

Here are just some examples:

♦ The Jewish flag was ripped off the dorm door and the mezuzah was torn off the doorway of a Jewish student at Claremont-McKenna College in California.

♦ Swastikas were spray painted on the walls of the Jewish fraternity at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

♦ At Loyola University in Chicago, Jewish students reported being “peppered with hostile questions such as “How does it feel to be an occupier?” and “How does it feel to be guilty of ethnic cleansing?” One member is worried about attending future Hillel events for fear of being attacked.”

♦ Mock eviction notices were shoved under the dorm room doors of a predominantly Jewish dorm while students slept at New York University.

♦ A Northeastern University (Boston) professor, “demonizes Israel, delegitimizes Jewish history and infringes on his student’s free speech by shutting down any differing views.”

♦ A Jewish student at Northwestern University in Chicago described being “terrified knowing I may not be able to discuss my Judaism without taunts, or worse, violence,” and that she is “told when I try to talk about anti-Semitism in the West to “check my privilege,” or that we are part of the machine fueling inequality.”

♦ A student at San Diego State University said that as a “Jewish student on this campus, and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I was disgusted and horrified by the anti-Semitic comments.”

♦ There are students who tuck their Star of David necklaces inside their shirts to hide that they are Jewish, according to a Jewish student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

♦ Stanford University’s Hillel staff reported hearing from Jewish students that they no longer feel safe at Stanford, that they feel ostracized and targeted, and are unable to express their identities and opinions in the dorms and around campus.

♦ Students with a clear Zionist perspective are labeled and excluded from the discussion at Swarthmore University in Pennsylvania, a Jewish student explained. “We have been told we do not belong at this school, that our voices do not belong in the dialogue. We have been accused of supporting apartheid and of being racist.”

♦ A student at UCLA said, “Jewish students are being attacked — not because they are Jewish but because the Jewish state is Jewish, and they as Jews, have somehow become extensions of the Jewish state and its policies.”

♦ About the University of California, Davis, one student said, ““It’s an absurd reality that many Jewish college students have to question: is my college safe for me?”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Pro-Israel Groups Blast SJP for Racism and UCLA for Fecklessness

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Seven staunchly pro-Israel organizations told the California Board of Regents at a hearing on Thursday, May 15, that its failure to stand up to the thuggery and blatant racism of the UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine against pro-Israel students was a failure of leadership and of morality.

What was so egregious that these pro-Israel organizations were protesting?

JUDICIAL BOARD INVESTIGATE STUDENT COUNCIL MEMBERS WHO WENT ON ISRAEL TRIPS

The UCLA-SJP introduced an initiative which calls for a Judicial Board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups which the SJP deems to have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.” The groups on SJP’s hit list are the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and Hasbara Fellowships.

As Dumisani Washington, the Pastor-leader of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, said in his remarks at the hearing Thursday morning, the SJP’s denunciation of pro-Israel groups for having a political agenda is not just hateful, it is hypocritical.

“One wonders exactly what SJP assumes itself to be, if not an organization with a ‘political agenda,'” Washington told the Regents.

STUDENTS MUST TAKE A PLEDGE NOT TO GO ON PRO-ISRAEL SPONSORED TRIPS TO ISRAEL

The second initiative promoted by the SJP to deprive pro-Israel students of a voice in campus discussions was its demand that candidates for student government positions sign a statement pledging that they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by the three Jewish organizations.

Washington boldly labeled SJP’s efforts reminiscent of the worst racism in American public life.

SJP’s wanton arrogance and blatant antisemitism in this manner is telling.  I am beyond appalled.  As an African-American, I could only imagine an anti-Black student group attempting to restrict my travel to Ghana or Senegal.  Such gall is reminiscent of the grotesque persecution my people suffered earlier in America’s history, when the US government restricted everything from which schools we could attend to which public restrooms we could use.

The SJP, as everyone knows who closely follows the way the Middle East is discussed on U.S. Campuses, is the most aggressively anti-Israel of any of the many anti-Israel organizations on campuses. The SJP’s antics include the mock eviction notices, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.  In addition, the SJP, aided by lawyers happy to write intimidating letters to academic institutions, consistently claims that the behavior of its members is protected by free speech, whereas any criticism or objection to their activities is a violation of academic freedom and are constitutional violations.

Sadly, most school administrators and even some Jewish campus professionals are cowed by the lofty-sounding legalese. As a result, the views and sensibilities – and sometimes even the Constitutional rights – of pro-Israel students have been a casualty as administration after administration has caved to the outrageous positions and behaviors engaged in by SJP members.

BROOKLYN COLLEGE SJP THUGGERY

Perhaps the best example of SJP’s stranglehold over the better judgment people expect from university officials was a forum held at Brooklyn College last year. At that event, two promoters of the legal and economic warfare against Israel, the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel movement, were given free rein at an unbalanced forum which was co-sponsored and co-endorsed by the College’s Political Science Department.

Four pro-Israel Brooklyn College students who came to ask questions were ejected from the event on the say-so of the SJP event organizer, someone who was not even a student and had no affiliation at all with Brooklyn College. The leader claimed the four students were disruptive and disrespectful, and college administration and security personnel did his bidding despite being in the room and knowing full-well, as later proven in audio recordings, that the pro-Israel students were sitting quietly when they were ejected.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

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.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

SFSU Student Continued Posting Violent Threats Against IDF, Jews

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Back in December, The Jewish Press ran a story about Mohammad Hammad, the San Francisco State University student and president of SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students.

Hammad had posted a picture and a message on the social media site Tumblr, which shows Hammad with a knife, beneath which is the caption, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”

The California-based AMCHA Initiative, which brought Hammad’s original threats to the public’s attention, released another statement today. This statement links to many more violent and threatening statements by Hammad which he made after the one that was the original focus of the group’s concern. The AMCHA Initiative is dedicated to documenting, exposing and eradicating anti-Semitism on American campuses.

In its Feb. 18 statement, AMCHA said that although its documentation of Hammad’s violent postings had been submitted to SFSU president Leslie Wong in mid-January, there had been no response.

Because Wong had not responded to AMCHA’s documentations, and due to serious concern about the health and safety of SFSU students, earlier on the day it released its statement, AMCHA alerted San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, and the San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascòn, about Hammad’s violent predilection. They also provided copies of the many threatening and hostile public statements issued by Hammad.

The lurid messages continued right through November 22, when the student posted a public message in which he wrote:

You know what?
Israelis ARE colonizers, there is literally no way around it
And you know what else?
My heroes have always killed colonizers
I literally see nothing wrong with this
and my only regret is that not all colonizers were killed
HMM

In Hammad’s other violence-glorifying posts, he targeted not only members of the IDF and all Israelis, but anyone who is pro-Israel, as well as American soldiers. He also posted several more general paeans to murder, decapitation and depraved violence.

Something that AMCHA found particularly troubling was that Hammad revealed his excitement about being made the president of SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), because then, he wrote, he hopes “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

GOOD NEWS FOR SFSU, BAD NEWS FOR SAN FRANCISCANS?

Although Robert Nava, SFSU’s vice president for university development, initially told The Jewish Press by telephone that SFSU was engaged in the process of discipline with respect to Hammad, he later called back to provide a far more definitive statement.

Nava said that the student we had been discussing – Mohammad Hammad –  “is no longer a student on campus.” Hammad no longer is in student housing and he is no longer enrolled at SFSU.

When Tammi Benjamin-Rossman, co-founder of AMCHA, was told that SFSU officially stated that Hammad was gone from the SFSU campus, she expressed both relief and continued concern.

“The GUPS students knew who Hammad was, what kinds of things he said and has done, and yet they selected him as their representative,” said Rossman-Benjamin. “SFSU cannot just breathe a sigh of relief and end its diligence with the dismissal of Hammad.”

“What steps is SFSU taking to protect students who remain in harms way?” Rosmman-Benjamin wanted to know. “Their continued silence suggests they have done nothing more than get rid of one problem, without ensuring that it won’t be repeated.”

Officer Albie Esparza, the spokesperson for the San Francisco Chief of Police acknowledged that the office had received a packet of material earlier in the day and told The Jewish Press that the office was “looking into the matter.”  He said that an investigator had already contacted the person who provided the department with the information.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/sfsu-student-continued-posting-violent-threats-against-idf-jews/2014/02/19/

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