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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center’

Campus Warrior Tells High School Seniors About College Anti-Semitism

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Last Wednesday, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative which combats campus anti-Semitism in America, spoke with 25 Brighton High School students in Rochester, NY. Later, in the evening, she spoke to an audience of 150 concerned parents, educators and community members. Both events were organized by Roc4Israel.

In early November, the Rochester Campus Times reported confrontations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students at an event organized by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) after the screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.”

Noah Spivak, president of the Jewish Student Union at the high school, told JNi.media via an email from an AMCHA activist: “Soon we will each be applying for colleges and we are very concerned by the recent rise in anti-Semitic behavior on campuses across the country. Thanks to today’s meeting with Tammi, many of us feel better prepared for what we might encounter.”

Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Sholom in Rochester, also told JNi.media via the same email: “Recently our campuses have become the battleground for anti-Semitic and anti Israel activities, mostly  by pro-Palestinian protests orchestrated by experienced hate groups — under the blind eye of University administrators. This has left our Jewish students vulnerable and exposed to  hatred and under attack.”

“Last evening, Tammi Rossman Benjamin of AMCHA provided us with leadership and offered us a selection of opportunities to engage in, so that we can be able to approach this challenge successfully. We encourage all who are concerned for our Jewish children to become involved.”

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin summarized her message, saying: There’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that as a result of BDS and other anti-Zionist activity, Jewish students are experiencing alarming and unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism on campuses across the country.  The good news is that the Jewish community and its allies are uniting at last to do something about it, and you can help.”

Following is a portion of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s talk, generously transcribed for JNi.media.

●  ●  ●

As you might imagine, anti-Zionist sentiment and activity have had extremely negative consequences for many Jewish college and university students. The injection of the anti-Zionist movement, and particularly BDS, onto campus in the past decade has fueled a significant resurgence and increase in anti-Semitism.  The lines between appropriate political discourse on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students have become blurred. Jewish students report that anti-Zionist activists single out, harass, intimidate, and even assault them, regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. And far too often, anti-Zionist expression is laced with centuries-old classic anti-Semitic stereotypes. The anti-Zionist activists target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well- being. In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.In addition to ostracizing and alienating Jewish students from certain areas of campus life, anti- Zionist students repeatedly attempt to shutdown events organized by Jewish students and suppress their free speech about Israel and other topics. Sadly, Jewish students are being targeted, discriminated against and ostracized, and their civil rights are being egregiously violated.
That’s the view from 30,000 feet.  Now let’s get down to what I hope will be helpful specifics.

Anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, whose very mission includes the promotion of BDS, are found on hundreds of U.S. campuses. (I know that at University of Rochester, the group Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, has spearheaded considerable anti-Zionist activity on campus, most recently the screening of an the film “Occupation of the American Mind,” a film which not only demonizes and delegitimizes the Jewish state, its whole premise is based on the classic anti-Semitic tropes popularized in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” of Jewish wealth, power and mendacity being used to control the government and media). SJP and similar groups, besides promoting BDS on their Facebook pages and other social media, on the large “apartheid walls” they build, in op-eds they publish in student newspapers and at events they host quite regularly, groups like SJP are responsible for organizing campaigns to get their own schools to boycott Israeli products like Sabra humus, to terminate their school’s academic exchange programs with Israel, and, most frequently, to have their student governments vote on resolutions demanding that the university divest from any of its financial holdings in businesses which do business with Israel. More than 90 anti-Israel divestment resolutions have found their way to about 50 U.S. campuses across the country.  About half of all resolutions have passed, but this number is, frankly, irrelevant, because any school whose student government or student body even considers such a resolution is racked with divisiveness, hostility, and animosity for weeks on end. And whether a resolution ultimately passes or not, the anti-Israel forces have used these campaigns as opportunities to inject enormous amounts of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment onto campus.

And it’s not just student groups like SJP, whose members are devoted to anti-Israel activity, that are involved in these efforts.  In this age of “intersectionality,” where the grievance of one group is opportunistically linked to the grievance of other groups, SJP has deliberately forged alliances with many other minority student groups on campus, who frequently add their groups’ names to the sponsorship of BDS-promoting events and the endorsement of anti-Israel divestment resolutions. For example, SJP has made common cause with Black Lives Matter, and students from both groups frequently co-host rallies and events linking Blacks and Palestinians and promoting BDS. Last year at the University of Rochester a talk by Reverend Graylan Hagler entitled “Connecting the dots: From Ferguson to Palestine,” which demonized and delegitimized Israel and promoted BDS, was sponsored by several student groups, including an Arab group, an Indian group, a Muslim group, the Black Students’ Union, and a multi-ethnic fraternity.

In addition to that, thousands of faculty on hundreds of campuses have also publicly endorsed BDS efforts, especially the boycott of Israeli universities and scholars, as well as the divestment resolutions of students on their own campus. Some faculty boycotters bring their anti-Israel animus and activism into their classrooms, and it is not unusual for academic departments to sponsor virulently anti-Israel talks and symposia, some of them even including calls for the boycott of Israel.  For example, earlier this year at Vassar College, a talk by women and gender studies professor Jasbir Puar, in which she falsely accused Israel of maiming and murdering Palestinians and harvesting their organs, and she actively encouraged her audience to endorse the BDS movement, was sponsored and funded by 6 academic departments, including Women’s Studies, English, International Studies, Political Science, Africana Studies, and Jewish Studies.  Indeed, since 2015 we have documented more than 60 departmentally sponsored events like this, on campuses across the country.

Given the sheer number of students and faculty who have positioned themselves squarely against Israel, even to the point of opposing its very right to exist, it’s no wonder that many Jewish students who identify with the Jewish state feel like the whole campus community is united not only against Israel, but against them.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. In a recent study that our organization carried out, looking at the prevalence of anti-Semitic activity and the factors that affect it on more than 100 US campuses with the largest Jewish students populations, we found that on close to half the campuses we investigated, students are threatened because of their Jewish identity, sometimes regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. They are assaulted, harassed and intimidated, their places of residence defaced with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti, their participation in campus activities shunned, the events they organize disrupted and shut down, and more.

If you are a member of a Jewish or pro-Israel organization — perhaps Roc4Israel or a synagogue-affiliated group — or if you would consider forming an organization, perhaps an alumni group concerned about anti-Jewish hostility at your alma mater, please consider spearheading or participating in a campaign, say, to get the president of the University of Rochester or of your alma mater, to follow in the footsteps of the UC Regents.  We can help!   AMCHA will work with your group to develop a plan, provide you with our research on anti-Semitic activity at your school, advise you as you carry out your plan, and help you network with other groups across the country.

Together, we can make a real difference.

JNi.Media

Remembering Rabbi Eliezer Silver

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

My Zaidi, Rabbi Eliezer Silver, was born in Lithuania in 1882 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1907. He was elected the first president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada, in 1929, and is known for having helped save many thousands of Jews in the Second World War. In November 1939, Rabbi Silver convened an emergency meeting in New York City to discuss the recent developments in Nazi occupied Europe. It was at this meeting that the Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee) was formed, with Rabbi Silver as president.

He also is credited with launching a fund-raising campaign, collecting more than $5 million, which helped to provide thousands of visas to Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe. Today that $5 million is worth $83.86 million.

I was born at the Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City. Mother and I lived with my gentle, caring grandmother Rose Slutsky. For the first three years of my life I was surrounded by loving aunts, uncles and cousins. After my first birthday, and until I was 19, we spent joyous summers in Belmar, N.J.

During that time, WWII, Daddy, Dr. Nathan Silver z”l, was a Captain in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, fighting against the Nazi’s extermination of Jews in Europe.

Zaidi had announced that he was only coming east if I was a boy! Rather, Zaidi came to meet me at the hospital as soon as I was born.

That is how early this wondrous man became an integral part of my life.

I had a special relationship with my Zaidi. For ten years I sat opposite him at Friday night Shabbos dinners. I remember his pride when I recounted my learning Baba Metziaperek Hamfkid aytzel chavero.

I listened to grandfather carefully and intently, and after a time I understood and was able to speak his native Litvak Yiddish, his Mama Loshen (the only grandchild to do so).

Early on I knew the gravity of his mission: Not just by the way he spoke: It was in his essence. To this day I proudly remember and continue to say the Four Questions in Yiddish.

I recall often, with a deep sense of humility, how special I felt when Zaidi would bless me and place his hands over my head.

My mother, of blessed memory, Lillian Silver, z”l, spoke a perfect Litvak Yiddish. Most thought she was his daughter. The enormity of her respect and admiration for him was palpable.

Even though Daddy and Zaidi were less verbal, they could speak volumes to each other with a mere few words. It was a special father-son bond, and Daddy cared for him until his passing in 1968.

Daddy, Dr Nathan Silver, was a cardiologist and Army captain. Zaidi wore his uniform throughout postwar Europe in his search of any and all surviving Jews. This was the same uniform Dad wore when, tasked directly by General George Patton, to examine the heinous infamous Hermann Goering who had an alleged chronic cardiac condition. Dad pronounced him fit to stand trial. The night before his trial, the Nazi coward committed suicide.

Zaidi went to Catholic orphanages all over Post War Europe to rescue living Jewish children, and in the morning when the priests or nuns told him that there were no Jewish children, he decided to return at night when they were about to go to sleep. As he entered the large room of (non-existent) Jewish refugee children, he resolutely recited the Shema, and they all joined in the prayer. He told the priests at each orphanage that “these are my children.”

He left every single orphanage with Jewish children.

Zaidi was a true patriot. He spoke with every American president since Taft in behalf of Jews and regarding Jewish matters. Taft’s own descendants forged ties with the Silver family. His son Sen. Robert Taft was Zaidi’s attorney in a mikva case he won (pro bono). Taft’s grandson Sen. Robert Taft personally assisted me in behalf of the plight of Soviet Jewry. He also helped my mother in her many worthwhile endeavors.

Judy Silver-Shapiro

Protests Lead to Removal of Hamas Incitement from Social Media

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Protests from various American Jewish organizations have led to the removal of Hamas incitement from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper urged the public to report hate sites on social media platforms which are fueling the current spate of attacks in Israel.

The rabbis also denounced:

Unfair and one-sided portrayal of Israeli terror victims in the media; the U.S. State Department’s outrageous depiction of the current situation as a ‘cycle of violence;’

The use of social media platforms to celebrate murderous attacks against innocent people and instructional terrorism tutorial videos; and

The BDS’ movement’s endorsement of the barbaric acts of terrorism and renewed calls to boycott Israel.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Iranian FP adviser: ‘We Reject the Existence of any Israeli on this Earth’

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

For those not yet convinced that Iran harbors genocidal intentions towards Israel, Iranian foreign policy adviser Hussein Sheikholeslam (actual name) said that Israel “should be annihilated” and that Tehran “reject[s] the existence of any Israeli on this earth.”

Extreme rhetoric, to be sure, but there are a few facts about those statements that should give even the most ardent supporters of the Nuclear Iran Deal pause. That is, unless they agree with, or can at least live with, those statements.

First, they were made by a high-ranking Iranian, a former Iranian ambassador to Syria and an adviser to Iran’s Parliament Speaker and former top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. And second, the remarks were made after the conclusion of the Nuclear Iran Deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

After the conclusion of the deal and before its implementation is a time when officials could be expected to be on their very best behavior. If the deal goes through, their behavior is even more likely to follow their rhetoric.

Sheikholeslam forcefully corrected the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond at the ceremonial reopening of the British Embassy in Tehran. Hammond said that Iranian President Rouhani had indicated “a more nuanced approach” to Israel’s existence.

Not so! corrected Sheikholeslam. “Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan,” he told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday, according to the Iranian news outlet, Fars.

Hammond also, in typical British style, magnanimously stated that past hostilities should be forgotten. Sheikholeslam’s response to that was “Tehran will never forget the past and Britain’s colonialist moves.”

Sheikholeslam said the views he expressed, including that Iran cannot tolerate the existence of a single Israeli on this Earth and that it “will do everything to renew” its support for Hamas were ones his regime made clear to the US and other P5+1 partners during the nuclear negotiations which concluded in February with the JCPOA.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged U.S. President Barack Obama to condemn the “unending public genocidal threats from Iranian leaders against Israel at face value. The Iranian regime’s double speak must be immediately denounced by President Obama and the other leaders of the P5+1. Failure to do so will only increase Iranian threats and actions against Israel.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Increased Security for US Ambassador to Israel after Death Threats

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro is currently under increased security protection at his home and at the U.S. Embassy which is located in Tel Aviv. The security has been increased because Shapiro apparently received death threats related to the Nuclear Iran deal.

Several threatening letters arrived at the Embassy over the past week, numerous Israeli media outlets reported. In addition, someone posted on the Ambassador’s Facebook page that he is a “kapo.” That term was used to refer to Jews who did the work of the Nazis during the Holocaust. The anonymous Facebook post also claimed the Ambassador had “abandoned Israel.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a press release in response to the incident, in which the Center’s leadership denounced the threats.

“Words have consequences and we denounce death threats made against a great American and a proud and knowledgable Jew,” said rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, founder and dean and associate dean of the leading Jewish Human Rights organization.

“The Wiesenthal Center is opposed to the controversial Iran Nuclear deal and hope that the US Congress will reject it.

“We are also deeply troubled by the the campaigns that have labeled opponents in the United States Congress, ‘warmongers’ akin to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and who put Israel’s concerns before those of America.

“We have urged our political leaders to denounce such language. We also denounce those who would vilify and question the motives of those who back the deal,” they added. “Death threats and demonizing the ambassador of Israel’s closest ally is an outrage that must not go unchallenged,” Hier and Cooper concluded.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Wiesenthal Center: ‘P5+1 Must Denounce Iran’s Latest Threat to Destroy Israel’

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

A senior official of the Simon Wiesenthal Center attending an international conference in Israel, demanded that the world powers negotiating a deal that will remove sanctions against Iran, denounce the Iranian regime’s continuous threats to destroy Israel.

“Over 1,000 people have converged on Jerusalem for the Global Forum For Combating Anti-Semitism, but our efforts to turn back the escalating threats to world Jewry won’t mean much if the leaders of the civilized world maintain their silence as Tehran’s threats to destroy the Jewish state continue unabated and unchallenged,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the leading Jewish human rights NGO.

“Now is the time for the United States, Germany, France, and England to finally demand that Iran drop its genocidal threats against Israel.”

Rabbi Cooper was talking about the latest threat from Mojtaba Zolnour, the advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

The “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel,” Zolnour was quoted by the semi-official state news agency Fars, adding that, “the Noble Koran permits the Islamic Republic of Iran to destroy Israel.” On the eve of a deal with world powers that will lift all economic sanctions in return for a delay Iran becoming an immediate nuclear power, Zolnour insisted that “Even if Iran gives up its nuclear program, it will not weaken this country’s determination to destroy Israel.”

Zolnour is fond of making such hyperbolic threats. He’s been doing it for nearly a decade, using nearly identical language. And yet the negotiations and appeasements continue.

As recently as February, Zolnour threatened “Our missiles can arrive into the heart of Tel Aviv and destroy it in 6 or 7 minutes before the dust and smoke of the Zionists missiles arrive to us,” noting that, “Israelis are cowards; they cannot fight Hamas, while the strength of Hamas and Hezbollah is equal to a small part of Iran’s military power,” according to Iraqi News.

And if you go back as far as 2008, Zolnour was spouting the same doomsday threats. Back then, before President Obama started sending love notes and New Year’s messages as part of his campaign to woo the Persians back into the civilized community of nations, the violent threats included the U.S.

“In case the United States and Israel dare to shoot a bullet, Iran will target the heart of Israel and 32 U.S. bases in the region imminently,” Fars reported back before Obama took office.

But dares against the United States continued into this administration’s tenure as well, with Zolnour making stating in 2009, “Even if one American or Zionist missile hits our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel,” Mojtaba Zolnour said, according to IRNA news agency.

This tone is de rigeur for Zolnour, whose 2009 threats were made as talks were taking place between the P5+1 and Iran about its nuclear program. Just before those meetings commenced, Iran test-fired missiles with ranges that could put Israel and regional U.S. bases within reach.

While present at the Israeli MFA’s Combating Anti-Semitism conference, Rabbi Marvin Hier, SWC founder and Dean called on world powers, led by the United States, to denounce threats to “annihilate” Israel by the Ayatollah and other senior figures of Iranian regime during a recent meeting with President Obama and Jewish leaders at the White House.

A look at the program for the MFA’s “combating anti-Semitism” event reveals the presence of representatives from most of the parties the SWC was taking to task.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

PI-INOs (Pro-Israel In Name Only) Continue to Give Cover to Obama

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama held two meetings with American Jews last week. They were the best of meetings, they were the worst of meetings. In reverse order.

The worst part of the worst meeting – from the perspective of Americans who care about regional stability in the Middle East and the continued existence of the Jewish State – was an offer made by J Street-esque Jews who promised to “do the leg work” for Obama if he decides to remove the “veto protection of Israel” at the United Nations, as reported in the Algemeiner.

At the first meeting, the Jewish organization heads represented the concerns of pro-Israel Americans regarding this administration’s recent actions, particularly regarding steps to allow Iran to come out from under the yoke of international sanctions regarding its nuclear program.

Participants in this meeting included representatives from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the World Jewish Congress, The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, AIPAC, B’nai Brith, the ADL, the Jewish Federations, representatives of the three major streams of Judaism, and partisan and leftist groups such as the National Jewish Democratic Council, the Israel Policy Forum, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, J Street and the National Council of Jewish Women, according to the JTA.

At the second meeting, the one with those who claim to be pro-Israel when it suits them, but who are first, last and always pro-Democratic party policies (we’ll call them PI-INOs: Pro-Israel In Name Only), encouraged Obama in his belief that he “is a member of the tribe” because they, like he, understand his far-leftist orientation to be really a form of Social Justice Judaism.

Those present at this meeting included major Jewish Democratic party donors and fundraisers, including ones associated with AIPAC and J Street. They included the Israeli-American Haim Saban, who is believed to be, unlike others present, at least somewhat critical of Obama’s Middle East policies.

But a theme, originally laid out in a lengthy, glowing New York Times magazine about J Street when it was first launched, was played out again at this second meeting. This theme is, at least for those most closely associated with J Street, they serve as Obama’s “blocking back” for American Jews, presenting his adverse position on matters typically of great concern to American Jews, softening up the crowd, and taking the initial body slams.

Obama was encouraged, according to sources present at the meeting who shared what transpired with the Algemeiner, to “take steps against Israel and remain steadfast in his approach to Iran negotiations.” A “J Streeter” went so far as to have “pushed Obama to remove the veto protection of Israel at the UN in the event that a Security Council resolution called for the creation of a Palestinian State.”

This “J Streeter” reportedly said “if you decide to go against Israel at the UN, ‘let us know first, and we’ll do the legwork for you in the community.” The conversation described at least that participant as actively pushing the president to work against Israel’s concerns on the world stage.

Another participant at this second meeting reportedly encouraged Obama to continue with his negotiations with Iran and remain firm against Congress’s efforts to intervene.

The president later changed course on the Congressional initiative known as the Corker bill, fueling speculation that it actually ended up being a net positive for the administration’s efforts. There are conflicting views that the administration caved because it recognized a tidal wave was going to wash over them anyway, but careful analysts such as former U.S. Naval intelligence officer J.E. Dyer suggest that is too optimistic a view.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pi-inos-pro-israel-in-name-only-continue-to-give-cover-to-obama/2015/04/16/

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