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Posts Tagged ‘CAMERA’

J Street Seeking a Seat at the Conference

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

In a move that will surprise nobody, for its effort to become a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, J Street has the backing of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The JCPA has long been clamoring to include J Street as part of its “big tent” approach to Jewish communal life. And no wonder, the two organizations are closely aligned on most issues, domestic and foreign.

What should also come as no surprise to anyone, those American pro-Israel organizations which see their major focus as global security, including Jewish communities worldwide generally and the Jewish state in particular, such as the Zionist Organization of America, are opposed to ushering in yet another organization into the 50 strong member group which they see as engaging in moral equivalency between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

The issue comes to a vote April 30. And members on both sides of the vote are busily lobbying people to make their voices heard by those who will be voting.

The Conference of Presidents includes most of the major Jewish organizations with which most people are familiar, but there are others who are members that would probably surprise most people.

For example, everyone expects such groups as the ZOA and the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League to be members, the same goes for the offices of the major branches of Judaism. But what Workman’s Circle (a blend of “workers’ rights” mit a bissel Yiddish?) Not to mention the Jewish Labor Committee(“The Jewish voice in the labor movement, and the voice of the labor movement in the Jewish community.”)  Then there’s the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society which is still very much involved in the needs of immigrants, but not too many of whom are Hebrews.

Other organizations such as CAMERA (which deals with media bias against Israel) and Hadassah and Americans for Peace Now and the Jewish Federations and the National Council of Young Israel all also have seats at the Conference of Presidents.

Early word was that the J Street leadership came in for heavy grilling by members, especially with respect to their support for and frequent partnering with organizations which advocate for various forms of economic and legal warfare against Israel, known as the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) movement.

An article in the Forward earlier this month revealed that J Street failed to garner the approval of a critical committee which would have smoothed the way to membership. That article explained that in order for J Street to gain admission there would have to be a 75 percent quorum present, and a two thirds vote.

According to the mission statement of the Conference of Presidents, at least one of the two primary issues on which the Conference focuses should signal a serious battle regarding the admission of J Street, the other one, only slightly less so: “The Conference is at the forefront mobilizing support to halt Iran’s nuclear program and to counter the global campaign to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people.”

J Street was an early and consistent opponent of sanctions against Iran and when it ultimately was flanked to the right by the U.S. administration, it only slowly and very begrudgingly accepted the need for sanctions. J Street was once again a major cheerleader against enacting legislation that would provide for the immediate resumption of sanctions should Iran fail to comply with the obligations the U.S. understood it to have undertaken in the agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1.

There also continues to be a matter of say one thing, do another, with respect to the BDS movement. Although J Street consistently publicly claims to oppose the use of BDS, the J Street U members have been amongst the biggest cheerleaders of divestment resolutions on U.S. campuses (with Cornell University being a notable exception.)

Pro-Israel Event on New Orleans Campus

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

With the help of many friends, on Sunday, March 30, that African American Christian Zionist college student the pro-Israel world has been marveling over for more than a year, Chloé Simone Valdary, pulled off another huge student-led pro-Israel event in New Orleans.

Chloé Simone Valdary, pres. and founder of Allies of Israel and creator of Declare Your Freedom

Chloé Simone Valdary, pres. and founder of Allies of Israel and creator of Declare Your Freedom

Declare Your Freedom 2.0 was held at Tulane University, with over 400 in attendance. Last year, Valdary organized the first DYF, and held it at her school, the University of New Orleans.

The purpose of DYF, Valdary told The Jewish Press, was “to continue to say without compunction or regret that we are Zionists, and also to celebrate Zionism – the civil rights movement of the Jewish people.”

Valdary is a dynamo, but she also had lots of help from fellow Zionists Maor Shapira, Becca Leifer and Nicki Etseckson, all three of whom are students at Tulane.

Simon Deng, human rights activist, former child slave in the Sudan, at DYF 2.0

Simon Deng, human rights activist, former child slave in the Sudan, at DYF 2.0

The four Zionist college students put together a program which included speakers such as Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project; Sudanese human rights activist Simon Deng; Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Syrian American, founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy  and CAMERA on campus’s Samantha Rose Mandeles and Alan Mendoza, the executive director of the Henry Jackson Society.

The day-long event interspersed music and serious speakers. The music included a beautiful jazz rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah performed by Assaf Kehati. Other performers were Los Rakas, Pep Love, Zion I, Shi 360 and the Ori Naftaly Band.

As a victim of the true horrors of genocide in his native Sudan where he was a child slave, Deng spoke powerfully about the grotesque irony of people who claim to be human rights activists and focus their ire on Israel, yet completely ignore real genocide in places like the Sudan.

Jasser spoke about the need for reform in the Muslim world, while Mendoza also addressed the hypocrisy of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine who pay not attention to the complete deprivation of civil and human rights for so many in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Zach Stern of ZOA and Samantha Rose Mandeles of CAMERA at DYF 2.0

Zach Stern of ZOA and Samantha Rose Mandeles of CAMERA at DYF 2.0

 

CAMERA on Campus coordinator Samantha Rose Mandeles talked about the great work CAMERA does with pro-Israel students on campuses all across the country. In particular, Mandeles was full of praise for the DYF festival in carrying on the torch for freedom.

DYF 2.0 March 30, 2014

DYF 2.0 March 30, 2014

The student organizations which helped make DYF 2.0 happen were Allies of Israel (Valdary’s group), Tulane United for Israel and McNeese State’s Israel Alliance.

Declare Your Freedom 2.0, Tulane University, March 30, 2014

Declare Your Freedom 2.0, Tulane University, March 30, 2014

Sponsors of Declare Your Freedom 2.0 included CAMERA, the Zionist Organization of America, Standwithus, The Israel-American Council and the Leadership Institute.

The murals were created by Artists 4 Israel.

 

‘Future Leaders for Israel’ Hold Conferences on Campuses

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Sometimes you just have to let the students do it.

There have been increasing reports of the poisonous anti-Israel atmosphere on U.S. campuses over the past half dozen or more years. And with those reports there has been a growing number of pro-Israel organizations which have, some more successfully than others, pivoted to address that battlefield.

There have also been a few organizations which students themselves have begun, some with faculty or organizational support, in order to address the difficulties many pro-Israel students have encountered on their increasingly hostile campuses.

One of the student-initiated groups started out with the name Florida Loves Israel. It held its first conference three years ago and the response was so tremendous, not only within Florida, but beyond, that the organization had to change its name to Future Leaders for Israel. They kept the initials and the acronym, FLI, but the horizon expanded exponentially.

This spring the new FLI is hosting not one but two conferences just one week and 1100 miles apart.

FLI self-describes as a “student-founded, student-led and student-focused organization.” It acts as a bridge, bringing together pro-Israel students and the different organizations on different campuses, through conferences that appeals to different interests and attention spans.

FLI’s goal is to provide educational and engaging information, but also a social and positive experience. It creates conferences which include programming from lots of different pro-Israel organizations. In this way, organizations that may not otherwise work together do so, and the individual interested students get what amounts to a smorgasboard of pro-Israel programming. Not only that, but students from different campuses who share an interest in supporting Israel have a unique opportunity to join forces.

The funding comes from the different organizations which seek to participate in the FLI Conferences.

A rough sketch of how this works is the FLI leaders get together and figure out the general topics which should be included, then pro-Israel organizations are contacted and invited to lead some of those programs. The organizations which choose to participate become sponsors of the whole conference, and then the entire range of events and activities is opened up to interested students from different campuses who participate in the three day conference. The conference includes lots of exciting social and educational pro-Israel activities, along with peers from many different schools.

The Jewish Press spoke with Daniel Ackerman, one of the founders of FLI. He described how the concept began, how it developed, and what its leaders see as its future.

FLI’s first conference this year takes place at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. This conference begins Friday, March 28, and continues through Sunday, March 30.  The second conference is being held in Pittsburgh, and is a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. That one takes place from Friday, April 4 through Sunday, April 6.

Both conferences begin on Friday night. There will be Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Kabbalat Shabbat services. Kosher food will be an option at every meal, and during Shabbat there will be programming that does not violate Shabbat, for Shomer observant students.

FLI FLORIDA

The keynote speaker at FAU will be Yishai Fleisher, “Israel’s only English language broadcast-radio talk show host.” Fleisher was a guest at FLI’s first conference, and he was such a hit FLI brought him back for this year’s Florida conference.

During the Boca Raton conference there will be sessions on “Unpacking the Jewish Narrative: Who are the Jewish People,” and “How to Talk about Israel in a Way that Brings People Together,”  and “The Challenges and Rewards of Starting a Campus Organization.” There will also be sessions on “Campus AntiSemitism, Know Your Legal Rights,” and “What to Expect When You are Expecting (BDS).”

Abe Foxman to Retire Next Year as ADL’s National Director

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

On Monday, Feb. 10, the Anti-Defatmation League announced that its long-time national director Abraham H. Foxman will step down from his position on July 20, 2015.

“For almost five decades, ADL offered me the perfect vehicle to live a life of purpose both in standing up on behalf of the Jewish people to ensure that what happened during World War II would never happen again and in fighting bigotry and all forms of oppression,” Foxman said.

“My years at ADL, particularly the 27 spent as National Director, could not have been more rewarding. ADL continued its growth as a highly respected and influential organization both here in the United States and across the globe.  We have never lost sight of the fact that we are an organization whose first priority is to fight anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people. I’m proud of all that we have accomplished.”

Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden as a child during the war, and who later immigrated to America with his parents, began his career with the ADL in 1965 after graduating from the City College of the City University of New York and New York University School of Law.

In 1987, Foxman was tapped as the ADL’s National Director. During his tenure, the ADL grew to include 30 regional offices in the U.S. as well as an office in Israel. The League celebrated its centennial year in 2013.

Foxman announced his retirement to members of the League’s National Executive Committee during its annual meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, and shortly thereafter in a letter to members of ADL’s National Commission.

The ADL has instituted a Succession Committee which will be conducting an extensive nationwide executive search for Foxman’s successor.

The ADL is one of the biggest and most powerful American Jewish organizations.  Its early mandate was fighting discrimination against Jews, but in later years it weighed in on matters pertaining to Israel, and also to other forms of perceived discrimination, including what it calls “Islamophobia.”

Charles Jacobs, another long-time leader of the American Jewish community, expressed his disappointment at the direction in which the ADL, under Foxman, traveled in recent years.

“When Abe Foxman began his career at the ADL, the greatest threats to the Jewish people were neo-Nazis and the unreconstructed Christian anti-Semites. But in more recent years, as Foxman himself would sometimes tell reporters, the greatest threat to the Jewish people is now Islamic anti-Semitism.  This, along with leftist anti-Zionism constitute ‘the new anti-Semitism.’  Tragically, Foxman failed to pivot to meet those threats both in terms of his personal energy as well as the vast resources of his organization,” Jacobs told The Jewish Press by telephone on Monday evening.

“When we started the Boston branch of CAMERA [the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America], we wanted the ADL to take the lead against anti-Israel bias in the media. He declined. Instead, Foxman led the ADL towards a politically correct universalism, using Jewish resources to address general liberal concerns, and waging campaigns against general human nastiness, like bullying, and misleading Jews about the situation we actually are in.

“Rather than leading the largest Jewish defense agency against the most daunting of our adversaries, Foxman frittered on the sidelines despite knowing exactly who and where the dangers lie,” Jacobs added.  “I hope the next national director does a better job,” he concluded.

Effective July 20, 2015, Foxman will become ADL Director Emeritus. He will serve on both the ADL National Commission and the ADL National Executive Committee in addition to serving in a part-time consultancy.

Hecklers Flee Israeli Speaker at U of Florida

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Anat Berko is a small-framed woman known for her ubiquitous yards long braid.  She is also one of the world’s leading counter terrorism experts who has sat in prison cells next to some of the most dangerous serial killers and attempted homicide bombers who ever lived.

A handful of anti-Israel University of Florida students chose the wrong speaker to interrupt.

Berko was at the Gainesville campus on Thursday, Oct. 10, as the guest of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

According to CAMERA fellow Avia Gridi, with approximately 7,000 Jewish students, the University of Florida has the single largest number of Jewish students at any university in the United States.

This is Gridi’s first year as a CAMERA fellow and the “More Hummus, Less Hamas” evening with Berko was her first event.

The Smarter Bomb is Berko’s second book about homicide bombers.  In it she tells the story of the women and children who are induced to attempt to become homicide bombers.  Berko knows the experience of those women well.  She spent decades inside Israeli prisons interviewing the women who failed to martyr themselves either because of a technical malfunction or because the authorities were able to disrupt the plans.

Berko gained the trust of dozens of such women in Israeli cells. Her particular interest in writing The Smarter Bomb was to uncover the motivation of the women and children to attempt to commmit such acts, especially the difference in motivations between women and men.

Having as your laboratory the prison cells of people who attempted to kill – they say “martyr” – themselves in order to murder Israeli men, women and children is not the choice of someone who is easily frightened.  But in addition to being a social scientist, Berko is also a Lieutenant Colonel (Res) in the Israel Defense Forces. That is also not a career choice for people who are easily intimidated. And Berko isn’t.

So eight minutes after Berko began speaking at Pugh Hall last Thursday night, when four students, who had arrived late, suddenly stood up, removed their outer shirts and began chanting accusations, Berko was having none of it.

“Hamas is not the Problem, the Israeli Occupation Is!” and “The IDF kills women and children!” were the slogans drawn on the students shirts, and chanted by the students.

“What is wrong with you?” Berko sharply addressed the four. “Sit down and listen to what I have to say and wait for the question and answer portion of this event to raise your issues!”

But the four students who later identified themselves as members of the seemingly ubiquitous, but certainly infamous, Students for Justice in Palestine were not interested in listening to Berko.  They came to make their own voices heard.

“She seemed disgusted by the display,” Gridi told The Jewish Press.

And then Berko really let them have it.

“You think the IDF kills children? You should go to Syria, where everyone knows they are murdering thousands of children with gas and other cruel weapons!  Go to Syria where there are actually thousands of real refugees. They need you to demonstrate in Syria, go!” Berko lectured the SJP hecklers.

And with that, the hecklers left the room and Berko continued her lecture. The people who came to hear about what could possibly motivate women and children (that’s the “smart bomb” Berko means) to want to kill themselves were able to hear from her first hand observations and watch video clips of many who attempted to be smart bombs.

And the four hecklers? They left the room with their tails between their legs, unable to grab the spotlight for their inane chants, unable to disrupt a carefully prepared evening of education which Gridi and CAMERA’s co-sponsors for the event, the ICC, MEMRI and the Gainesville Hillel put on.

“I’m used to sitting in jail cells with serial killers, did they think I would be intimidated by some American college students?” Berko said in a phone interview on Wednesday evening with The Jewish Press.

When asked about the Berko event, Gridi was both pleased and a bit nonplussed.

“The event went really well, although none of it went as expected.”

NYT Gets US Position on Israel Wrong, Reveals Additional Animus

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The New York Times recognized that its correspondent in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, had gone too far this time in blithely vilifying Jews who live and breathe beyond the so-called Green Line.

Rudoren ascribed a position to the United States government about Israeli policy which was flat out wrong. That was the only part of the otherwise slanted and deceptive article which merited a slap on the wrist.  Rudoren wrote that the position of the U.S. is that Israeli towns and cities beyond the Green Line are illegal, when in fact this government has taken no position on the legality of Israeli Jewish towns in that region.  The actual correction appears at the end of this article.

Before we get to the begrudging but still humiliating factual correction, take a stroll through the rest of her article.

In this article headlined, “Israeli Decree on West Bank Settlements Will Harm Peace Talks, Palestinians Say,” Rudoren not only originally falsely stated that the United States believes the “settlements” are illegal.  Her language throughout the piece makes clear her hostility to Jews daring to live beyond what the esteemed Israeli statesman Abba Eban had termed the “Auschwitz borders,” the lines drawn in 1949 at the end of the war against the newly-reborn Israel, when surrounding Arab states attacked it rather than permit a Jewish State in their midst.

For one thing, she described the early stage approval of subsidies to homeowners in various places including in “Jewish settlements in the West Bank territory that Israel seized in the 1967 war.”  You’d never know that in 1967 Israel (again) fought a defensive war and gained the land in a battle for its existence.  The verb Rudoren chose, “seized,” suggests an aggressive action by the belligerent in military hostilities.

Given that the New York Times is treated like Torah from Sinai by most American Jews, no wonder they and the organizations those Jews tend to support believe that Israel should give away that territory to people who never possessed it,  and never – until Israel legally acquired the land – expressed any interest in owning or governing it themselves.

And it was not until the sixth paragraph of a 10 paragraph story that Israel is even permitted a voice to counter what Rudoren already set up as a move by the Israeli government to expand “settlements” which upset the Arab Palestinians and may now torpedo the “fragile peace talks.”

In the sixth paragraph the reader – if he is still reading – learns that all that happened is the Israeli government has made a completely routine and preliminary decision to provide assistance to homeowners in authorized towns and villages for things like “education, housing, infrastructure projects, cultural programs and sports, along with better mortgage rates and loans for new homeowners.”  Isn’t that what governments are supposed to do?  Take care of their citizens?

Rudoren distances her readers from identifying with Israelis who might otherwise be considered normal homeowners. She points out that, “Among the newcomers to the list are three formerly illegal outposts — Bruchin, Rachelim and Sansana — that obtained government recognition last year.”  Rudoren chose not to more concisely and correctly refer to those three towns as “legal and legitimate villages.”

But before Israel was permitted to offer a different point of view, Rudoren first ran condemnations of the move by the infamous Hanan Ashrawi, whose latest evidence of Jew and Israel hatred was the promotion on the website of an NGO she founded which claimed that Jews drink Christian blood on Passover.

In the space of three sentences, Rudoren paints a clear picture with Ashrawi’s words.  Ashrawi describes Israel’s move as a “confidence-destruction measure,” “attempts to grab more Palestinian land,” “provide settlers with preferential treatment” and the announcement that “the decision would have ‘a destructive impact’” on the current Israeli-Arab Palestinian talks.

Of course, Mark Regev was given a cameo appearance in the sixth paragraph.  But not to worry, because in the concluding three paragraphs of the article there is plenty to ensure that the lasting impression is one of an intransigent Israeli government filled with “many right-wing settlement supporters” which “refused to formally freeze settlement construction” in order to induce the oh-so-compliant, peace-supporting Arab Palestinians to even sit at the table with the Israelis.

When Cameras See Everything

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Innocuous, hidden cameras are all around us.  I tell customers who are dressing/trying on clothes or undressing/dressing their kids in a corner of the store where I work that there are people watching and filming them.  It’s actually no secret that there are cameras all around.  There’s a screen alternating the various camera feeds for all to see at the קופה ראשית Cupah Roshit, “mini-office,” customer relations corner in between the entrance and exit of the Sha’ar Binyamin Rami Levy supermarket.  They’ve recently upgraded to color from blurry black and white, so I asked jokingly to the manager of the shift if I should now start worrying about wearing makeup to work.

Act of TreasonJust a couple of days ago when the American security authorities began asking the public who had been taking pictures of the Boston Marathon at the time of the bombing for all pictures, still and moving, so they could try to get a filmed record of what happened and who could have left the bombs, I thought of a book I had recently read, Act of Treason by .

In Flynn’s book, the fact that someone had placed himself behind a pole (or was it a tree?) at the time of the fatal explosion made one of investigators suspicious and ended up being the key to the successful investigation.  That summary of the book doesn’t do it justice.  I did enjoy reading it but had to throw it out, since my copy was old and falling apart.  Who would have thought that just a couple of months after I had read the book, it would be so timely?

Most of us are totally oblivious to the fact that in today’s world there are security cameras all over.  And even if there aren’t security cameras, there are other cameras filming us.  I remember reading that a philanderer was caught cheating when his wife saw him with another woman when they were watching the then popular Woody Allen movie Annie Hall.  Allen had filmed some real life street scenes, without asking each and every person’s permission and inadvertently included that man driving around with his lover.

Some more food for thought: Someone is watching us all of the time.  Why are we more afraid of being filmed and spied on by humans than the fact that God sees, hears and knows everything we do, all places and all times?  We can’t hide from God, even though men can’t always catch and punish the guilty…

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