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May 4, 2015 / 15 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Mael’

A War of Words (Some More Accurate Than Others) at Brandeis

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

There’s an ugly tempest brewing at Brandeis University and it’s based, at least in part, on free speech, tolerance and student safety. The storm grew out of a more generalized anger with the state of public discourse and of the safety of individuals in our society at large.

But at this point, one black self-described revolutionary and one Jewish conservative journalist, both Brandeis students, are the figureheads in a battle for the soul of an institution.

That institution, Brandeis University, was founded so that Jews, barred from most colleges by anti-Semitism, could find an open door to attain the education they desired. The school was named after the Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis, whose distillation of the essence of freedom of speech has stood for decades as the lynchpin for America, and, in turn, much of the western world.

It was also Louis Brandeis, in an earlier incarnation as a lawyer, who brought humanity into the justice system. His famous “Brandeis Brief” for the first time opened the way for courts to consider human facts, not just legal doctrine, when making decisions about the lives of those people.

DEATHS BY POLICE OFFICERS FOLLOWED BY DEATH OF POLICE OFFICERS

The deaths of black unarmed men at the hands of police officers, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City this summer led to days of protests which increased in fury and exploded in violence after grand juries in both cases declined to indict the police officers involved.

Those deaths were followed by the execution-style murder of two random New York City police officers by a man pledging vengeance for the murders of Brown and Garner.

In response to the death of  the two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on Dec. 20, a Brandeis junior, Khadijah Lynch, tweeted the following: “i have no sympathy for the police officers who were murdered today.” She followed that bleet with another, the next day: “lmao, all[,] i just really don’t have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f[expletive deleted]ing country.”

Justice Brandeis might have been first in line to offer to defend Lynch if she were threatened with expulsion for expressing her views publicly. But no one made any such threats. Instead, another Brandeis student took what Lynch placed in the public arena, and wrote and published an article about it for his site that same day. Daniel Mael, a Brandies senior and journalist for the site TruthRevolt.com, merely sent out further what Lynch had already launched.

What Mael wrote was little more than a description of Lynch and what she tweeted. All facts. All taken from public information. All fair game. And then some commenters to Mael’s article posted some seriously ugly talkbacks. Also free speech. Also fairly common in the world of Internet websites with any political orientation.

PUBLIC REACTION BY BRANDEIS COMMUNITY

It was at this point that certain members of the Brandeis community decided to rally ’round Lynch, raising the issue of “community” and “safety.” But it was too late for such hamishe invocations. Once Lynch chose to make her views public by using social media (one that could have been set on private, but was not), she left the cocoon of the university; her righteous defenders were unlanced. But that did not stop them.

No Brandeis Lynch defenders publicly praised her lack of sympathy for the murdered police officers, but one student, Michael Piccione, sent an email on Dec. 22 to more than 200 members of the Brandeis community. Piccione’s statement condemned Mael for “compromising” Lynch’s security and for continuing to endanger her. What Piccione demanded, in his own and in the name of others, was that “action [be] taken to hold this student accountable for his actions.”

Huge Increase Reported in Anti-Israel Activity on US Campuses

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League issued an important report on Monday, Oct. 27, finding a dramatic increase in anti-Israel activity, compared to last year. The ADL attributes the increase to the aftermath of the 50-day Gaza war this past summer.

According to the ADL, this fall semester there have already been 75 anti-Israel events reported on U.S. college campuses. In the same period last year, there were only 35 such events.

The problem is even more alarming than the ADL’s report suggests.

It is certain there are more incidents that are either never reported or at least not reported to whatever source the ADL used for its calculations. The “full report” on the ADL website does not explain how the information was gathered or what definitions were used to determine whether certain activity would be included.

When contacted for her reaction to the ADL report, Susan Tuchman, the head of the Zionist Organization of America’s Center for Law and Justice explained that while the numbers mentioned in the ADL press release may not sound enormous, just yesterday she received “phone calls from three different students on three different campuses” with problems serious enough for them to raise with a lawyer.

Tuchman made an even more important point, as well.

 Most Jewish college students are fortunately having a positive experience on their campuses. But the ZOA is contacted so frequently by students feeling threatened and harassed on their campuses, that it’s a mistake for any of us to minimize the problem of campus anti-Semitism. What’s particularly troubling is that Jewish students are facing problems on campuses with large Jewish populations, where one would think these problems wouldn’t exist.

And the real takeaway from the ADL report, and from the ever-growing cache of reported incidents is that the wider Jewish community needs to pay attention to the problem.

Tuchman puts her finger on the problem:

If there’s a single Jewish student on any college campus in this country who feels afraid to be openly Jewish and to say that he or she loves and supports Israel, then that’s something all of us need to speak out against and demand that college administrators address. Some administrators are responding appropriately, but many aren’t.

And while this past summer’s conflict undoubtedly provided new content for the anti-Israel activities, it is not as if the anti-Israel organizations and individuals needed an excuse.

William Jacobson, clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School and founder and publisher of the excellent blog covering legal matters, especially anti-Israel activity on campuses, Legal Insurrection, made the point:

“It is no real surprise that anti-Israel groups are trying to leverage the summer’s fighting in Gaza to their advantage on campus.

“But that is just the latest excuse for what has been a long-running campus propaganda war against Israel. If it was not Gaza it would have been something else. There are groups always looking for an excuse to attack Israel on campus,” Jacobson explained.

The ADL report catalogues the myriad forms of anti-Israel activities on campuses, and those are alarming.

No longer content to simply protest or leaflet pro-Israel events, there is now a panoply of methods used to intimidate pro-Israel students on campuses.

METHODS OF CAMPUS ANTI-ISRAEL ACTIVITIES

Those campus anti-Israel activities include mock “Apartheid Walls” intended to represent Israel’s passive security barrier as a weapon of racism; mock checkpoints in which anti-Israel thugs act out the role of Israeli security forces intimidating, harassing and aggressively demanding identification from hapless and often helpless students who are forced into playing the role of meek and innocent Palestinian Arabs, and fake “die-ins.”

Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipients Disappearing Fast

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Less than two months ago, Brandeis University publicly released the names of the people who would be given honorary degrees at its 2014 graduation, scheduled for Sunday, May 18.

Who could have predicted that within the short time-span between the announcement and the awarding of the honorary degrees, the two women slated to be honored by Brandeis would both be scrubbed from the event?

One woman – Ayaan Hirsi Ali – was scrubbed by Brandeis. The other – Jill Abramson –  just pulled out because, as explained at the faculty meeting by Brandeis President Fred Lawrence, she “was not looking to take part in the celebratory nature of the weekend” due to her having been fired as executive editor of the New York Times this week.

However, Abramson is apparently a rapid healer as Wake Forest University confirmed that Abramson will be the commencement speaker at that school’s graduation on Monday, just one day after Brandeis’s ceremony.

Geoffrey Canada, the current (he’s leaving sometime this summer)  president and CEO of  Harlem Children’s Zone is still slated to be this year’s graduation speaker. Canada will also be receiving an honorary degree, along with Eric Lander, one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, and longtime Brandeis University Trustee Malcolm L. Sherman.

But the two women on the original list of 2014 Honorary Degree Recipients, international women’s rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Jill Abramson, first female executive editor of the New York Times, will not be joining the Brandeis graduating class of 2014 in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Brandeis unceremoniously dumped Hirsi Ali in April. That happened after members and fellow travelers of the school’s Muslim Students Association, in cahoots with a myriad of leftist professors – including a huge chunk of the women’s studies department – brought tremendous pressure on Brandeis University President Fred Lawrence to punish Hirsi Ali for “insulting Islam.”

And now Abramson, in the wake of having been fired, has decided the Brandeis gig doesn’t fit in with her weekend plans.

One Brandeis student is especially disappointed with what has transpired.

“I’m graduating from Brandeis this year and had the university not exercised bad judgment by disinviting Hirsi Ali, we would not be in the position we are in now,” Josh Nass told The Jewish Press by telephone. “How can it be that in 2014 there will not be a single woman honorary degree recipient from Brandeis?”

Rumor has it that the NYT fired Abramson in the wake of her having recently hired a lawyer to represent her in discussions with the paper after discovering she was paid less in two positions at the paper than had the people whom she replaced.

Brandeis junior Daniel Mael commented to The Jewish Press that “beyond the issue of Abramson not showing up at Brandeis’s graduation, it is ironic that the New York Times has become the new icon for the leftist war on women.”

Dear J Street: Time to End the Hypocrisy

Friday, May 9th, 2014

On Friday, April 25, on the way back to his dorm room, Brandeis student Daniel Mael passed a  group of his peers with whom he had previously engaged in civil discourse about the state of Israel and the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although they had often disagreed on many aspects of this issue, according to Mael, he felt that it was necessary to extend a hand of graciousness and respect to them in the name of civil and polite discourse. After all it was the Sabbath, and politics should never interfere with showing kindness to your fellow man.

And so, that Friday night, Mael wished these students a “Shabbat Shalom.”  Yet Instead of responding with the same respect and cordiality Mael afforded her, according to witnesses present,  Talia Lepson, a J Street U Brandeis board member, shrieked at Mael, “Jews hate you!” and “You’re a [expletive deleted]bag!” It was also reported that another unidentified male in the group echoed Lepson’s words, again hurling the vulgar epithet at Mael.

Understandably taken aback by this verbal lashing and feeling unsafe in such a hostile environment,  Mael filed an incident report with the university police. He also wrote at length about it on his Facebook page, wondering why this simple act of saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ elicited such a hateful response. Yet by the time the Sabbath was over, he put the incident out of his mind.  Thinking it had passed, he began to focus on more important things like taking finals and finishing the semester.

But he was wrong.

That following Sunday afternoon, J Street National posted a blog on its website denying the incident had occurred. Moreover, they accused Mael of making up the story and claimed that he was the one harassing them. They wrote that he had engaged in a “campaign of personal intimidation and harassment” and implored others to distance themselves from “this blogger and others with a history of conduct driven by malice and deceit.”

But suggesting that Mael would make up a story which witnesses corroborated and then proceed to report that same story to the police is risible. He would not only be incriminating himself but the people with him who witnessed the incident.

According to Mael, he was deeply upset by this slander. It was bad enough to have been verbally attacked on campus. It was worse to have the perpetrators blatantly lie about it on a national forum and suggest that he should be shunned by the entire Jewish community. This bullying and  intimidation caused him great physical and emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately J Street’s behavior  is typical. Founded in 2008, J Street is an extreme left-wing national advocacy group that claims to be a pro-Israel organization. According to its website, J Street is committed to “fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.”

But J Street has lobbied for anti-Israel legislation: it endorsed a North Carolina resolution proposed in 2012 by the North Carolina Democratic Party which called for negotiations with Hamas and it has supported efforts to divide Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.

J Street also has university chapters known as “J Street U” whose students have promoted anti-Israel activity. For example, at UC Berkley, J Street U students have supported the BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of the only Jewish state in the Middle East. Also, just last week at Swarthmore University, J Street U students co-hosted an event with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a rabidly anti-Semitic organization that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and which also promotes BDS on campuses.

Moreover, J Street has had a history of attacking and maligning its opponents and then, when called out for such behavior, it accuses others of harassment and claims to be the victim. For example, J Street has hosted rabidly anti-Semitic speakers such as Sam Bahour on its national stage. Bahour peddles slanders against the Jewish people, accusing them of engaging in ethnic cleansing and genocide against Arabs. Yet when activists in the Zionist community reject allowing such an immoral group into the pro-Israel “tent,” J Street claims it is being bullied.

Jewish Donors Funded Harvard Students’ Trip to Arafat’s Grave

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

A college trip to the Middle East, advertised as one which “aims to engage a diverse cohort of undergraduate student leaders of all faiths and backgrounds with Israeli history, culture, and politics,” sounds like it will be a positive experience.

Now add to that, the fact that the trip is co-sponsored by Boston’s equivalent of the Jewish Federation – the Combined Jewish Philanthropies – and supported by Harvard’s Hillel, and it sounds like an amazing trip.

But on this particular Harvard college trip to the Middle East, the students who were supposed to be learning about “Israeli history, culture and politics,” made a side trip to pay homage to one of the worst terrorist leaders of modern times, someone who was single-handedly responsible for the murder of thousands of Israelis – men, women and children, Jews, Christians and Muslims: Yassir Arafat.

The students are on this “Harvard College Israel Trek 2014” right now. They arrived in Israel on March 14, and thanks to the miracles of social media, we know that while visiting Israel, they took a detour. According to one of the participants, Awais Hussain, Harvard ’15, they spent Sunday, March 17, in “Palestine.”

tweet from Hillel and Boston CJP-sponsored Harvard College Israel Trek 2014 participant.

Tweet from Hillel supported and Boston CJP co-sponsored Harvard College Israel Trek 2014 participant.

But a tweet from a tour guide provided even more detailed information about what these Hillel and CJP-funded Harvard trekkies did while they were in “Palestine.”

They visited the burial site of arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat, which is at the muqata, located in Ramallah.

 

Harvard Students on Harvard Hillel and Boston CJP sponsored trip to Israel, visiting Arafat's grave. March 17, 2014.

Harvard Students on Harvard Hillel and Boston CJP sponsored trip to Israel, visiting Arafat’s grave. March 17, 2014.

According to the Trek’s website, “[the] Israel Trek is made possible by the generous contributions of a number of family foundations and Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The Trek is supported by Harvard Hillel​.”

The fact of this trip and the fascinating detour it took was discovered by a college student, Daniel Mael. The Jewish Press spoke with Mael on Tuesday evening, March 18.

“I was checking through Twitter for news stories, and I happened to check #Israel, when the tweet of the Harvard Trek students at Arafat’s grave showed up,” Mael said, explaining how he came upon the pictures of the Harvard Students.

“So I Googled ‘Harvard College Israel Trek,’ and looked through the posted information,” continued Mael. “I was horrified to see that Harvard Hillel is a supporter, and Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies is a sponsor of a trip that includes a visit to the grave of one of the world’s most notorious Jew-murdering terrorists.”

Hillel International had not responded to a request for comment before this story was published.

(Even More of) 2013’s Bright Pro-Israel Lights on US Campuses

Monday, January 6th, 2014

There were so many new and/or successful pro-Israel initiatives on U.S. campuses in 2013, that, in order to explain how creative and successful each one was, we had to divide the article into a two-part series.

This is the second part, the first ran on December 31, “Guess What: 2013 was a Great Pro-Israel Year on US Campuses!

Most of the stars reported here were born out of some stalwart’s refusal to allow the anti-Israel forces to get away with the kind of mischief they have enjoyed for far too long on far too many campuses.

Hat’s off to the initial seven and to the following five:

8.  A brand new, student conceived of and run organization was created in late 2013 in response to a specific event, but so generalizable, it’s a surprise it took this long for pro-Israel students on U.S. campuses to create.

The name of this new initiative is Students for Accuracy about Israeli and Palestinian Affairs. According to Daniel Mael, co-founder and Brandeis University junior from Newton, Massachusetts, SAIPA was not created as a “hasbara” organization. Instead, it is intended to ensure that public conversations or events about the Arab-Israeli conflict take place before an audience that has been provided with accurate facts and appropriate context.

Think of SAIPA as a CAMERA-like organization that deals with campus events about the Middle East, rather than with media coverage of the Middle East.

Mael, whose op-ed in The Jewish Press described a pro-Israel event at Brandeis last spring that went wrong and which was one of the main inspirations for SAIPA, and co-founder and fellow Brandesian Guy Morag launched SAIPA in October. It became an approved student organization at Brandeis in December.

9. Tammy Rossman-Benjamin teaches Hebrew Language at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  A few years ago she and a colleague, Leila Beckwith, started the AMCHA Initiative, the mission of which is to  investigate, document, educate about, and combat antisemitism on U.S. college campuses.  If this list were not year-specific, the AMCHA Initiative would be on the list. But what Rossman-Benjamin did in her personal capacity in 2013 has earned her a spot.

The Hebrew professor originally filed a Complaint alleging anti-Jewish discrimination by California colleges in 2009.  But the Office of Civil Rights, the entity which has jurisdiction over such claims, rejected Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint and two others alleging anti-Semitism at California campuses this summer.  Rossman-Benjamin refused to accept the dismissal.

The mistakes made by the OCR which Rossman-Benjamin pointed out in the appeal she filed in October – ones that are made constantly and nearly universally by academic institutions – is the confusion between “free speech” and “academic freedom” to make horrible, false statements about Jews and/or the Jewish state, and support of such events by the academic institutions themselves.  The latter constitutes an element of discriminatory harassment, one that is not blanketed with immunity with constitutional protections, even when those may at times may be applicable for individual speakers.

So whether the Office of Civil Rights is willing to recognize Rossman-Benjamin’s painstakingly thorough appeal as valid, her efforts to require academic institutions as well as the U.S. Office of Civil Rights to apply appropriate legal standards and offer legal protection to victims of anti-Semitic activities on U.S. campuses is heroic and a model to be emulated.

10. An example of pro-Israel (or simply anti-anti-Semitic) activity similar to Rossman-Benjamin’s was undertaken by several pro-Israel Brooklyn College students who refused to accept their ouster from an anti-Israel event on campus.

On February 7, Brooklyn College hosted an event co-sponsored by its own political science department promoting the economic and legal warfare movement against Israel known as BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel).  Efforts to remove the school’s official promotion of the event went unheeded.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/even-more-of-2013s-bright-pro-israel-lights-on-us-campuses/2014/01/06/

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