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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’

Pro-Israel Activists Must Go on the Offensive and Reach Out

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

If there is one thing that pro-Israel activists can learn from their adversaries, it is how to effectively convey their message and engage in outreach to other groups within American society. Unfortunately, as we speak, too often pro-Israel activists are too much on the defensive, not enough on the offensive, and fail to reach out to potential allies. They prefer to respond to the accusations made by the other side, rather than make claims of their own.

For example, when I worked as content manager for United With Israel, a hasbara organization with over two million followers on facebook, the organization decided to take a stance against the nomination of Chuck Hagel to the position of US Secretary of Defense. At that time, I proposed that the organization should try to reach out to feminists due to his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape, Democrats that opposed his nomination because he is a Republican, and gay rights activists who were disturbed that he opposed the appointment of an ambassador to Luxemberg merely because of his sexual orientation.

Naturally, pro-Israel activists had their own reasons for being opposed to his nomination. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defemation League stated, “Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice for the American Jewish community’s friends of Israel.  His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling.   The sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former President Jimmy Carter.”

However, United With Israel decided not to reach out to disenchanted Democrats, gay rights activists, and enraged feminists, preferring instead to stick only to their own pro-Israel interests. Their behavior was systematic of failed Israeli hasbara tactics, which in the end resulted in Hagel’s nomination to be US Secretary of Defense. The pro-Israel interests were not sufficient to defeat Hagel’s nomination. For such a campaign to be successful, pro-Israel activists needed to reach out to the gay rights community, feminists, and the outraged Democrats.

Pro-Israel activists need to understand that they don’t have to have their interests always coincide with other interest groups in order to collaborate with them to achieve a common purpose. One can be a religious observant Orthodox Jew and have ones own opinion related to homosexuality, the Democratic Party, and abortion (even though most religious Jews would accept abortion in cases of rape or when the life of the mother is at stake).

Yet, one can still collaborate with people who value those interests in order to achieve a common goal. For sure, many of the Muslim anti-Israel groups that are reaching out to the homosexual and feminist community don’t agree with these interest groups on many fundamental issues. They understand that in the long run, overlooking those differences in order to obtain an ally is more important than any other consideration.

Another instance of our failed Hasbara approach is that all too often, our articles respond to allegations from the other side, rather than make accusations of our own. For example, when an Egyptian columnist recently stated that Israel should compensate the Egyptians for the jewels they stole from them during their exodus out of Egypt and for the Ten Plagues, I wrote an article attacking this Egyptian columnist’s statements in JerusalemOnline. I agree that it was important as a journalist to respond to his ridiculous assertions and expose them. Yet in retrospect, some Israeli columnist who speaks Arabic should have evaluated all of the articles written by Ahmad Al Gamal and written an article going on the offensive, with a headline to the effect stating, “Egyptian Columnist is an Anti-Semite.”

California’s Ugly Anti-Semitism Spreads East to Vassar

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

California is the lifestyle incubator of the nation. And now the trendy anti-Semitic thuggery that debuted at California’s public universities has metastasized across America, all the way to the elite halls of Vassar.

Before we discuss the fashionable pogrom that just took place on the Vassar campus where Jackie Kennedy once strolled in pearls, let’s look back at May 7, 2002. On that day, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University, attended a “Peace in the Middle East” campus rally, organized by Hillel students, where they sang songs and prayed for peace in Israel. Wrote Professor Zoloth:

“As soon as the community supporters left, the 50 students who remained praying in a minyan for the traditional afternoon prayers, or chatting, or cleaning up after the rally, talking — were surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters. But they were not calling for peace. They screamed at us to ‘go back to Russia’ and they screamed that they would kill us all, and other terrible things.

“As the counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to ‘Get out or we will kill you’ and ‘Hitler did not finish the job,’ I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, “it would start a riot.” I told them that it already was a riot.”

Eventually, the terrified Jewish students gathered under the flag of Israel and were led by armed police guard back to the Hillel House. “This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault,” wrote Professor Zoloth, who noted with sadness, “Not one administrator came to stand with us.”

May 7, 2002 turned out to be a grand day for Jew-haters, because things only got better from there. Threatening, harassing, intimidating and assaulting Jews is now a venerable tradition on California’s public campuses, protected by taxpayer-funded administrators and enshrined by public indifference.

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

Let’s flash forward to San Francisco State University today. Mohammad Hammad, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), has recently enjoyed organizing campus art projects that read “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” posing on social media sites with a knife that he claims “makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier,” and vowing to use his GUPS presidency “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

Upon being informed of these threats by a Jewish group called AMCHA Initiative, SFSU President Leslie Wong took decisive action by yawning, shrugging and sticking his fingers in his ears. Mohammad Hammad is no longer at SFSU, but presumably he still has his weapons collection intact. But the radical student group that elected him president still has free reign.

AMCHA Initiative, led by the politely relentless Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, documents the anti-Semitic tsunami on University of California’s campuses. At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel Wants Peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of Students for Justice in Palestine. At UC Irvine, eleven Muslim students disrupted the speech of the Israeli Ambassador with such ferocity they were convicted of disturbing the peace. And on and on and on.

The regal disinterest of UC’s Board of Regents has allowed the cancer to spread. If these characters can get away with it in California, they can pull it off in Michigan, Boston, and Brooklyn, too. As Caroline Glick explains, anti-Israel student activists at the University of Michigan recently hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.” Michigan university administrators aggressively intervened — on behalf of the anti-Semites.

Northeastern U Suspends Aggressive Anti-Israel Group

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Northeastern University has been criticized for several years for harboring deeply anti-Semitic professors and enabling anti-Israel student groups on campus.

Last week the school administration finally had enough and suspended the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. This group, one of the most aggressive in its hostility towards and intimidation of pro-Israel students and events on campuses, has met with some setbacks over the past year.

The final straw at Northeastern – after a long list of previous out of bounds acts – was the distribution to students of mock eviction notices, pretending to mimic what Arabs receive from Israelis. The same tactic has been tried and received reprimand on many campuses, including at Pitzer College in California, Yale University, Ohio State University and Florida Atlantic University.

The eviction notices distributed at North­east­ern on February 24 stated that the recipients’ dorm rooms would be demol­ished in three days and that “evic­tion notices are rou­tinely given to Pales­tin­ian fam­i­lies liv­ing under oppres­sive Israeli occu­pa­tion for no rea­son other than their eth­nic background…to cleanse the region of its Arab pop­u­la­tion, and cre­ate space for set­tle­ments.”

In reality, both Arabs and Israelis receive Israeli eviction notices if their homes were built without the requisite permits or if an imminent security threat exists, such as when terrorism smuggling tunnels are positioned below the homes. Security, not ethnicity, is the driving force behind Israeli eviction notices.

Northeastern’s SJP organization received a letter from the school’s Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Jason Campbell-Foster.  The letter referred to prior inappropriate acts by the groups, including vandalization of university property and a repeated “disregard for university policies over an extended period of time.”

“You have not shown a concerted effort to improve your practices and educate your members on how to properly operate your organization within the boundaries of university policy,” Northeastern’s Campbell-Foster wrote.

According to Campbell-Foster’s letter, all current members of Northeastern SJP’s current executive board are permanently banned from serving on any future board in the organization and the organization itself is disbanded until December, 2014. Further, SJP members must undergo a strict regimen of trainings led by university administrators as a condition for reinstatement.

Dima Khalidi, director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and legal advisor to to SJP since last spring, when the administration put SJP on probation, said that two female members are being investigated by the Northeastern University Public Safety Division (NUPD) in addition to the suspension. They were summoned to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), according to a school newspaper.

The president of the SJP is a third year law student at Northeastern, Max Geller. He claimed that the SJP eviction notices were singled out because of their content, and not because the SJP failed to observe some minor rules regarding appropriate leafletting procedures. In this way he is attempting to make out a claim for a violation of the SJP’s Free Speech rights, where the content of a protest may not be restricted, but only the time, the place or the manner of protest.

“The issue here is not one of free speech or the exchange of disparate ideas,” the university asserted. “Instead, it is about holding every member of our community to the same standards, and addressing SJP’s non-compliance with longstanding policies to which all student organizations at Northeastern are required to adhere.”

Geller claimed that he and the members of SJP are hurt by the response from Northeastern.

“Being a part of the Northeastern community is really important to us and being told as an organization that we’re no longer welcome hurts our feelings and is disappointing,” Geller told a student newspaper. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

B’klyn College Pro-Israel Students Deserve More than Late Apology

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

It’s been more than a year since four Jewish pro-Israel students (the JPI Students) were forcibly ejected from an anti-Israel talk given by two proponents of BDS, co-sponsored by and held at Brooklyn College. Finally, this past Friday, March 7, Brooklyn College president Karen Gould issued a public apology to the JPI Students. But that very-late apology should be only the very first step taken, according to the public interest law center representing those students.

First, a very quick recap of the events that led to this belated apology.

LEAD UP TO AND FEB. 7 BROOKLYN COLLEGE BDS EVENT

In January of 2013, it was announced that the Brooklyn College Political Science Department endorsed and co-sponsored with various Students for Justice in Palestine organizations a forum about the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement. The title of the forum was: “A lecture by Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti on the importance of BDS in helping END Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine.” The sub-title, just in case you hadn’t yet understood the point, was “BDS, a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.”

There was a great deal of concern and displeasure specifically that a school department would sponsor such a blatantly anti-Israel event, but the administration rejected the complaints. Of special note was Brooklyn College president Karen Gould’s statement that she approved the event solely on the basis of academic freedom, and she encouraged those who disagreed with the premise of BDS to attend the forum and engage in dialogue and debate.

The event went forward. Four pro-Israel Jewish students attended. They brought with them paper containing background information about BDS, which they intended to use during the Question and Answer session at the end of the talk.

Shortly after Judith Butler began speaking, an SJP official observed the papers and went over to the JPI Students, insisting they hand over the papers. The JPI Students refused. Then the SJP official brought over Brooklyn College security guards and the JPI Students were removed from the event. The Brooklyn College communications director later told the press that the JPI Students were ejected because “they created a disturbance” and “were disrespectful.”

THE AUDIOTAPE REVEALING NO WRONGDOING BY THE PRO-ISRAEL STUDENTS

That probably would have been the last anyone heard about the Feb. 7 event, except that later that week an audio recording of the entire event, made by someone in the audience the night of the BDS event, was discovered. The person who made the recording was seated one row in front of the students who were ejected.

Although the clicking of pens and even noise from outside the building could be heard on the audiotape, as well as the speaker’s voice, the tape revealed to a certainty that the JPI Students had not made any noise and certainly had not created a disturbance.

In fact, the first time a voice other than that of Judith Butler can be heard on the tape is when the SJP person told the JPI Students to hand over their papers. The only other discernible words from the audience occurs when the JPI Students were ejected, and one said out loud: “my free speech rights are being violated.”

Because there was irrefutable evidence that the JPI Students did nothing to warrant their expulsion, Brooklyn College was forced into, ultimately – painfully slowly and oh so reluctantly – apologizing to the those students whose rights had been violated.

While the wording issued by Gould on March 7, 2014, is clearly, finally, an apology, Brooklyn College has far to go before it has sufficiently rectified the wrong it did to those students.

Will J Street U Take the J Street Challenge?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

J Street U is the campus branch of J Street, the organization which claims to be pro-Israel and pro-peace. J Street U states it is committed to improving the campus dialogue around the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Claiming they were adhering to the values of debate and inquiry, J Street U affiliates across the country have co-sponsored events with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which the Anti-Defamation League lists as one of the top ten anti-Israel groups in America. It has also hosted speakers who support the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.

Listed among J Street U’s Educational Resources are a number of films critical of Israel, including “5 Broken Cameras” and “Encounter Point.” The first two of the suggested articles on the group’s website are, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” and “The Rise of Settler Terrorism.” Clearly, J Street U has no problem initiating or participating in discussions which harshly condemn Israel or that are sponsored by those critical of Israel’s existence.

The organization claims that its concern for Jewish values plays a key role in its desire to further the public conversation about Israel. According to its website, “Many of us are Jews that expect our community to live out the values of debate, inquiry and a pursuit of justice that we have been taught are central to our tradition.”

If J Street U wants to continue claiming it encourages open dialogue and conversation, the members need to screen “The J Street Challenge” on campuses around the country.

Produced by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, “The J Street Challenge” highlights many elements of J Street’s organizational failures and features contributors from across the political spectrum. While Caroline Glick and Alan Dershowitz may not agree on Israeli settlement policy, they do agree – in the film — that J Street’s strategy includes circumventing Israeli democracy and being dishonest about its positions.

J Street U should have no problem screening the movie and refuting the claims immediately afterwards. A failure to screen the film would confirm a central theme of The J Street Challenge – that J Street silences dissent and does not actually participate in real, open dialogue.

At the Miami premiere of the film on Monday night, Professor Dershowitz stated that he has previously offered to attend J Street events and conferences at his own expense but was denied that opportunity by J Street. Professor Dershowitz made it clear that he would be willing to engage in a discussion before or after the movie, wherever it is shown. If J Street U members were honest about the organization’s stated desire for dialogue and open inquiry, they should have no problem meeting his challenge.

It is nonsensical that as they censor Dershowitz — who thinks J Street’s many idealistic young followers simply don’t know the organization’s actual positions, on Iran, for example –, they invite the likes of Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine, and BDS supporter Sam Bahour.

When J Street U Brandeis, a Hillel at Brandeis-endorsed group, brought Bahour to campus, its members cited “Jewish tradition,” and penned that “Bahour was able to present the Palestinian narrative that so many Zionists need to hear before they formulate an opinion.” All the more so, many young Zionists needs to hear an alternative perspective on J Street before they commit to the organization – J Street U must screen “The J Street Challenge.”

J Street founder and President Jeremy Ben-Ami has acknowledged that one of J Street’s missions is to change the quality of discourse regarding Israel. The best expression of the Jewish value of free and open inquiry would be for J Street U to screen “The J Street Challenge” and openly discuss the organization across college campuses.

Letter from the Students for Justice in Palestine (among others)

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports. Several students from Students for Justice in Palestine have just written a letter to the university newspaper. They asked why Jewish students on campus weren’t open to a more moderate pro-two-state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I will tell you the secret of why that is.

First of all, Israel has a great deal of experience, in fact, repeat experience for 50 years. Israel had many experiences that prove that the Palestinian leadership and the great majority of Palestinians are not interested in a long-term two-state solution. This is both in terms of Hamas and in terms of the Palestinian Authority. There have been tens of thousands of cases that show that both organizations want to destroy Israel.

True, Israel often wanted to give them a chance–indeed, from 1983 to 1993, it certainly tried. I remember clearly on the day the Oslo agreement was signed, I reached out to shake the hand of a Fatah official, who (even then) reluctantly accepted. Three years later, I stood on the street corner watching ambulances race to the scene of a bus terrorist attack, which was not condemned by the PA. In fact, out of many thousands of articles, I can only remember one when a PA official, a military commander, explained why terrorism was really bad for the PA.

Once at a private dinner with a PA official (who later became a PA foreign minister), he said Arafat was stupid for not agreeing to a compromise two-state solution.

Again, even many liberal and left-of -center Israelis know that peace and a two-state solution are not going to happen, at least not without a major ongoing strategic threat to Israel and also terrorism.

Certainly there are those individuals and groups open to peace with Israel, but these are mostly Turks, Kurds, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians, Iranians, North African Arabs, Berbers, some Christian Arabs, and Druze.

In addition, Israel has not been given real security by the UN and Europe and most recently the United States. It has no reason to feel secure even in the furthest extent of concessions that Israel can afford to make.

Even if one is sincere, it appears there is no comprehension of what conditions Israel is facing nor of the hostility to ever accept Israel. This shows a lack of understanding of the structural situation. There is no concept or understanding of the situation, nor is any informed advice offered, yet such people want to risk the lives of Israelis.

This is ludicrous. Maybe one will come to understand in the future how ridiculous this is or perhaps this is known already.

If you would like to see into the future, here is what I predict:

  1. Hamas will continue the violent conflict and stage as many episodes of violence as possible, even if a future state of Palestine doesn’t want to. Hamas will commit terrorist acts, and the government of Palestine will not do much to stop this or punish them.
  2. Whenever a future Palestinian state indulges in violence, it will do so with state support. If Fatah or other government coalition groups engage in terrorism, it the state will usually do nothing to stop it and will deny it.
  3. The West and Europe will usually ignore violence because they want to pretend and suggest the peace process really worked.

It is unfortunately that this is true since the overwhelming majority of Israelis would prefer to have peace.

Jewish Voice for Peace on ADL’s Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

The pro-Palestinian campus group Students for Justice in Palestine and the far-left Jewish group Jewish Voice for Peace are included in the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) report on the top 10 anti-Israel organizations of 2013.

Joining those groups on the list are ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, Friends of Sabeel-North America, If Americans Knew/Council for the National Interest, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Neturei Karta, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

“The Top 10 anti-Israel groups are the most significant players in the domestic anti-Israel movement today,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, said in a statement. “The groups are fixated on delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated.”

ADL said it considered the endorsement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel, as well as tactics such as using anti-Semitic motifs in programming, while compiling its list.

Ohio Bought High Yielding Israel Bonds, Arab Advocates Shout Foul

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Josh Mandell is the treasurer for the State of Ohio.  He is also Jewish, a former Marine, and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors.

In March, Mandel purchased $42 million in Israel bonds.  It was the single largest Israel bond investment by a state, and increased Ohio Treasury’s Israel bonds portfolio to over $80 million.

“During our administration, we’ve managed to earn a ‘AAA’ credit rating on our multibillion-dollar STAR investment fund, as well as earning the first upgrade in a decade on the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund,” Mandel told the Cleveland Jewish News on the day of the bonds purchase.

“This investment fits into the strategy that has produced positive results for us over the past couple years.”

Mandel’s press secretary told the Columbus Dispatch that, since 1993, all of Ohio’s treasurers, Democrats and Republicans, have invested state money in Israel Bonds.  Ohio law was amended in 1993 to allow the state to invest in foreign bonds.

“Israel Bonds are an attractive investment option for state and municipal public funds because they maintain a high credit rating, are dependable and yield a competitive interest rate,” Berry said.

The fixed-rate bonds purchased in the March purchase have yields that are three to four times the rates of comparable U.S. Treasury bonds.

So, a great deal for Ohio – everyone’s happy, right?  Wrong.

For those Ohioans who prefer that their state get a lower return on investment than tarnish their government dollars by investing in the Jewish State, news of the Israel Bonds purchase was more than they could bear.

Members of seventeen Ohio-based pro-Arab Palestinian organizations signed an open letter demanding that the state of Ohio pull its $80 million investment in Israel bonds.

The letter states that the investment, “undertaken without consent” of Ohio citizens, “in a state that regularly violates international law and human rights.”  It continues by describing Israel as an Apartheid State which regularly “humiliates Palestinian men, women and children,” and declares that the investment in the state of Israel “shames the state of Ohio and poorly reflects upon the character” of the state’s citizens.

“In the Ohio Treasurer’s office, we make decisions on what’s best for our taxpayers, not based on what radical Islamic groups want us to do,” was Mandel’s response.

Mandel ran for congress last fall but was soundly defeated by incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.

The anti-Israel groups continued to demand that Israel Bonds investment be removed from Ohio’s portfolio and that the state henceforth  “refuse to invest in the state of Israel while it continues to violate international law and human rights in Palestine.” Mostly far leftist student groups, local branches of the International Socialists, and various Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim and Arab Student Unions signed the letter.

The most tasteless response to the Israel Bonds purchase was from a white supremacist site by the name, “Unity of Nobility.”  In what has thankfully become a rarity, this site revived the practice of using the word “Jew” as a verb, describing the purchase of the Israeli Bonds this way: “Ohio Just Got Jewed.”  The story was accompanied by a picture of Mandel with a yellow arm band with the word “Jude” photoshopped in.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/ohio-bought-high-yielding-israel-bonds-arab-advocates-shout-foul/2013/07/15/

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