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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans University’

Guess What: 2013 Was a Great Pro-Israel Year on US Campuses!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

For years those engaged on the pro-Israel side of the battle for hearts and minds of American college students have watched in horror as anti-Israel forces – whether they call themselves “pro-Israel” or not – metastasized on campuses.

The Israel-demonization events, the infiltration by Israel vilifiers into what were formerly at least moderately pro-Israel institutions, and the disruptions of Israeli or pro-Israel events, were met almost always with either complicity or a hands-off response from the academic administrations, faculty, and often eventhe organized Jewish leadership on campuses.

Things were so bad that Arab Israeli journalist Khaled abu Toameh famously wrote that on his speaking tours of U.S. campuses, he found more sympathy for Hamas than he does in Ramallah.

This is how abu Toameh analyzed the ugliness spread across American academia:

What is happening on these campuses is not in the frame of freedom of speech. Instead, it is the freedom to disseminate hatred and violence. As such, we should not be surprised if the next generation of jihadists comes not from the Gaza Strip or the mountains and mosques of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from university campuses across the U.S.

But things were beginning to look quite different in 2013.

There has been a sea change on U.S. campuses this year, carried out by those who refused to back down when false claims of Palestinian Arab victimhood or Israeli brutality were raised.

Hallelujah. So we are fortunate to be able to write a list of Top Twelve Pro-Israel Bright Lights on U.S. campuses. What follows is the first installment. Part II will run later this week.

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1. Far and away the most significant example of this refusal to accept the tired meme of Israel As The-Worst-Human-Rights-Abuser -And-Biggest-Enemy-of-Peace is The Backlash to the American Studies Association’s vote to boycott Israeli Academic Institutions.  We now know that 95 universities across the United States have rejected and publicly condemned the ASA boycott of Israel.

That includes the most prestigious private schools, state schools, schools at which anti-Israel activity had been flourishing, and almost every other kind of American academic institutions. Condemnations poured in from the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, University of Chicago, Penn State, Northwestern, Goucher, as well as industry-wide associations of professors and of universities. Several schools, such as Brandeis, Penn State, Kenyon and Indiana University summarily withdrew their membership in the ASA because the boycott so clearly reflected a loss of the association’s mission, an affront to academic freedom and a discriminatory singling out of a single nation for condemnation.

2. and 3. A tie for second place goes to two relatively new leaders of at least nominally Jewish institutions, each of whom staked new ground, rejecting their predecessors’ policies for tolerating abusive positions towards Israel.

Eric Fingerhut became president and CEO of Hillel International this past summer.  For years, many Hillels across the United States have chosen an aggressively passive response to anti-Israel events on campuses, choosing to have their own quiet events instead of confronting viciously anti-Israel events filled with misinformation and lies about the Jewish State. Hillels have even welcomed some of the worst offenders into their buildings or even their own events, in the hopes of showing the enemy that they are really good people. It’s been a disaster.

This past fall the Hillel group at suburban Philadelphia’s Swarthmore College decided it would publicly challenge the pro-Israel guidelines set by Hillel International.  Students bridled against being forbidden the “right” to invite speakers who engage in “demonization, delegitimization or applying double standards to Israel,” or support the economic and legal warfare movement known as the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel.  Swarthmore Hillel students voted unanimously to reject the guidelines and declare theirs an “Open Hillel.” And then they received a surprise.

African-American Student Starts Pro-Israel Group in New Orleans

Monday, January 14th, 2013

There hasn’t been a lot of good news recently for pro-Israel watchers of campus culture, but in the unlikeliest of places, by the unlikeliest of Zionists, there is finally good news to share.

The University of New Orleans has nearly 13,000 undergraduate students, fewer than 100 of whom are Jewish.  There are no Jewish studies courses, there are no Jewish services available and there is no kosher food available on campus.  But what UNO does have is Chloe’ Simone Valdary.

Valdary, a sophomore, majors in international relations.  Her particular interests are history, religion, philosophy, politics and current events.  Although she is Christian, Valdary decided to write a major paper her freshman year on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The research she did for her paper alarmed her, and Valdary resolved to do what she could to fight Jew-hatred.  She created an organization on Campus, “Allies of Israel.”  There are currently only nine members of the group, but the membership is likely to soar soon.  Their first major event will be held on January 28.

For their kickoff event Valdary chose to aim high.  She contacted Dr. Daniel Pipes, the executive director of the Middle East Forum, and one of the best known and respected authorities on the Middle East and radical Islam.  To the delight of the Allies, Pipes agreed to be the keynote speaker at their upcoming Declare Your Freedom event, which she describes as a “pro-Israel, pro-America event.”

The goal of this project, Valdary told The Jewish Press, is to publicly express a pro-Israel position, but also to talk about how to combat anti-Semitism in innovative ways.  She has a number of ideas she is already working on which she believes will have a real impact on the widespread hatred of which she only recently became aware.

In an announcement for the January 28 event, Chloe wrote:

In ‘The Town Beyond the Wall,’ author Elie Wiesel writes, “…to be indifferent, for whatever reason, is to deny not only the validity of existence, but also its beauty. Betray, and you are a man; torture your neighbor, you’re still a man. Evil is human, weakness is human; indifference is not.” I was moved by these words when I first read them during my freshman year in college. It was this writing along with the Scriptures and other sources that inspire me to try to inhibit this great injustice, Jew hatred, if you haven’t guessed it, that is permeating the globe.

Pipes will talk about the threats Israel faces which non-Israelis and non-public officials can act against.  Such as, Valdary said, “the delegitimization of the state as made evident through such campaigns as BDS.”

There is no formal Jewish organization such as Hillel at the University of New Orleans, but the Allies of Israel has a faculty advisor and several area rabbis and Chabad leaders have become involved with the group, which was formed with aid provided by CAMERA’s Campus Activist Project (CCAP).  CAMERA is the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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Not only is Valdary an unlikely Zionist activist because she is not Jewish, she is also African American.

So how did a nice non-Jewish New Orleans girl like her become focused on the Jewish world?  Valdary said it happened because she read – and loved – the Leon Uris book “Exodus,” the summer before she started college.  That book inspired her to write the in-depth research paper on the Arab-Israeli conflict in her spring semester.  As she tells it, the research opened her eyes and she became increasingly intrigued “by the level of anti-Semitism that facilitates the conflict.” She then decided

to explore the conflict in the context of the constructivist paradigm of international relations which looks at norms and ideas and value systems.  It was through this research that I really began to discover how much anti-Semitism permeates the Middle East, and it really began to terrify me because many people are unaware of this phenomenon.  It is a distant one that doesn’t much affect us here in the USA and that distance often dissuades people from getting involved.

Okay, but how is it that this non-Jewish, non-white young woman found the question of hatred against Jews so compelling?

Her answer sounds like something that should come from a much, much older person.  But older doesn’t always mean wiser, and this 19-year-old has much to teach her elders.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/african-american-pro-israel-group-on-new-orleans-campus-fighting-antisemitism/2013/01/14/

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