Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities: Jennifer Medina & Tamar Lewin, New York Times, May 9, 2015 — The debates can stretch from dusk to dawn, punctuated by tearful speeches and forceful shouting matches, with accusations of racism, colonialism and anti-Semitism.
This Pro-Israel Student Leader Lets Alan Dershowitz ‘Sleep at Night’: Maayan Jaffe, Algemeiner, Apr. 26, 2015— Jewish organizations and leaders have been racking their brains trying to address the issue of skyrocketing antisemitism on college campuses.
The Modern University Risks Becoming a Cocoon of Self-Indulgence and Anti-Intellectualism: Rex Murphy, National Post, Mar. 27, 2015 — Lighthouses of reason, or beacons of folly?
Jerusalem Day: City of Peace: Shlomo Riskin, Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2015— What is so special about Jerusalem?
Jerusalem Then and Now: A Journey in Photos: Noam Chen, Times of Israel, May 14, 2015
Re-Liberating Jerusalem: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, May 15, 2015
Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, May 6, 2015
Anti-Semitism Goes to School: Ruth Wisse, Mosaic, May 4, 2015
Jennifer Medina & Tamar Lewin
New York Times, May 9, 2015
The debates can stretch from dusk to dawn, punctuated by tearful speeches and forceful shouting matches, with accusations of racism, colonialism and anti-Semitism. At dozens of college campuses across the country, student government councils are embracing resolutions calling on their administrations to divest from companies that enable what they see as Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.
And while no university boards or administrators are heeding the students’ demands, the effort to pressure Israel appears to be gaining traction at campuses across the country and driving a wedge between many Jewish and minority students. The movement is part of the broader Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or B.D.S., which has spread in recent years both in Europe and the United States. The issue has received intense attention on campus particularly since the conflict in Gaza last summer, which killed hundreds of Palestinians. The movement’s goal is to isolate and punish Israel for its policies toward Palestinians and its occupation of the West Bank.
There are now Israel-related divestment groups at hundreds of major colleges, including the University of Michigan, Princeton, Cornell and most of the University of California campuses. Their proposals are having mixed success: So far this year, students have passed them on seven campuses and rejected them on eight.
College activists favoring divestment have cast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a powerful force’s oppression of a displaced group, and have formed alliances with black, Latino, Asian, Native American, feminist and gay rights organizations on campus. The coalitions — which explicitly link the Palestinian cause to issues like police brutality, immigration and gay rights — have caught many longtime Jewish leaders off guard, particularly because they belonged to such progressive coalitions less than a generation ago.
At Northwestern University this year, for example, the student government debated a divestment resolution for more than five hours, as students with clashing views sat on opposite sides of the room. Some of the talk was openly hostile, with charges of racism and colonialism. “Discomfort is felt by every person of color on this campus,” said an Egyptian-American senior, Hagar Gomaa. “To those who say this divestment bill makes you uncomfortable, I say: Check your privilege.”
A speaker who identified herself only as a Chicana student said she was there to support Palestinians on campus. “We have seen the racism of people who get mad that so many empowered minorities are recognizing how their struggles are tied to the Palestinian struggle,” she said. “Students have accused us of conflating many cases of oppression. To these students, I have a couple of words for you: What you call conflation, we call solidarity.” A student who said she had family in Israel was among those who shot back for the other side. Voting for divestiture, she said, is “pointing fingers, it’s aggressive, it’s misinformed, it’s unjust, and — most important for this campus — it’s totally one-sided.”
When the vote was finally taken by secret ballot, the tally was close, with 24 in favor of asking Northwestern’s administration to divest — which it did not do — and 22 against. As the debates spill from undergraduate council to dorm room, students and college officials are grappling with where to draw the line between opposition to Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza — a position shared by many Jews — and hostility toward Jews. Opponents of divestment sometimes allude to the Holocaust. “What bothers me is the shocking amnesia of people who look at the situation of American Jews right now and say, ‘You’re privileged, you don’t have a right to complain about discrimination,’ ” said Rachel Roberts, a freshman at Stanford who is on the board of the Jewish Student Association there. “To turn a blind eye to the sensitivities of someone’s cultural identity is to pretend that history didn’t happen.”
Everywhere, the discussions are long and tense: At Michigan, where the student government narrowly defeated a divestment resolution this year for the second time, university staff members were on hand to talk to students and help if they needed a break from the debate. At several schools where divestment proposals have been considered, swastikas have been painted on the doors of Jewish fraternities. “There’s more poison in the rhetoric than we’ve ever felt before,” said Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, the executive director of Hillel at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has worked on college campuses for more than four decades. “There are so many students who now see Israel as part of the establishment they’re against. What’s alarming is this gets deeply embedded and there’s no longer room for real discussion.”
But where many Jews say they worry about anti-Semitism, divestment activists say they are concerned about retaliation and the stifling of their views. Sometimes, the specific aims of campus divestment campaigns can get lost in broader debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At Barnard College, which is one-third Jewish, a group called Students for Justice in Palestine put up a banner last year saying, “Stand for Justice, Stand for Palestine,” showing a map of the area with no internal border demarcating Israel. The banner was taken down the next morning after Jewish students complained that it made them feel threatened. Jannine Salman, the member of Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine who made the banner, said that anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism, was the motive — and that the recent formation of a campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, which favors divestment, should drive home the point.
“There is a bifurcation: Zionism is a political identity, Judaism is a religious identity, and it does a disservice to both to blur the line,” Ms. Salman said. “When there was the anti-apartheid boycott in South Africa, was that anti-white? Absolutely not. This is like that.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Algemeiner, Apr. 26, 2015
Jewish organizations and leaders have been racking their brains trying to address the issue of skyrocketing antisemitism on college campuses. But at least one prominent pro-Israel activist is reassured by the presence of a student more than five decades his junior. “Justin Hayet lets me sleep at night,” says Alan Dershowitz, the 76-year-old former Harvard Law School professor.
The laundry list of recent antisemitic incidents on college campuses isn’t pretty. Swastikas were painted on the building of a Jewish fraternity house at University of California, Davis. Jewish candidates for student government at University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford University have been grilled about their religion. A Jewish professor at Connecticut College has been persecuted over false accusations that he called for the annihilation of the Palestinians. “Right now is a time of fear,” says Gilad Skolnick, director of campus programming for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). “We continue to see an uptick in antisemitism on campus and it scares students from doing what they are supposed to do at university—engage in educational and open discourse.”
Enter Justin Hayet, a 21-year-old student at Binghamton University – State University of New York, who says that while many of his peers “run away and try to ignore” anti-Semitism, he is “running toward it.” “I want to fix it,” Hayet tells JNS.org. On May 3, Hayet will receive CAMERA’s David Bar-Illan Award for Outstanding Campus Activism award at the media watchdog organization’s annual gala dinner. Chloe Valdary, a pro-Israel student at the University of New Orleans, will receive a similar award. The David Bar-Illan Award is given in memory of the renowned Israeli editor, musician, and policy leader to students who are making Israel’s case on campuses that are often ideological battlegrounds.
“Who is going to replace us?” Dershowitz tells JNS.org, speculating on a day when well-known Jewish leaders like himself, Irwin Cotler, and Elie Wiesel are no longer part of the picture. “Justin Hayet—this is a guy who can really become a major leader in the pro-Israel community.”
Hayet has deep black hair, an inquisitive brow, and a personality that CAMERA’s Skolnick describes as “passionate” and “optimistic.” Originally from Pikesville, Md., Hayet served as a CAMERA Fellow for the 2013-14 academic year. He hosted a pro-Israel event that drew more than 135 students from diverse backgrounds to hear Israel Defense Forces Lt. Colonel Anat Berko discuss the motivations of suicide bombers who are women and children. He penned multiple pro-Israel letters to the editor in his college newspaper, was published in The Jerusalem Post, and was interviewed by Israel’s Channel 1 network about the pro-Israel movement on college campuses. He is featured in the Jerusalem U film Crossing the Line 2, which provides an in-depth look at the rise of antisemitism on college campuses, the vitriol of organizations such as SJP, and the steadfast determination of Jewish students in the face of such attacks.
All this, and Hayet was not even raised in a particularly Zionist family, says his mother, Cheryl Hayet. But Cheryl says she “always encouraged my son to follow his dreams.” In 2008, Hayet decided he wanted to visit Israel. He enrolled in a leadership development opportunity through the local Jewish Community Center. In 2009, he traveled to Israel with that group. “When he got back, the next words were, ‘How do I get back?’” Cheryl Hayet recalls…
Hayet looked for an organization that would give him a vehicle for his passion for Israel advocacy. CAMERA was that match, offering him the creative platform to be as expressive as possible on his campus. He later signed on as a recruiter for The Jewish Agency for Israel’s MASA (Israel Journey) program. Amid the abundance of negative messaging about Israel on campuses, getting students interested in studying abroad in the Jewish state is no easy task, says Samantha Robins, recruitment manager for MASA. But Hayet has been among the program’s most successful recruiters. When the students don’t come to him, “he goes and finds them,” Robins tells JNS.org.
To be an Israel advocate, Dershowitz says, “You have to know everything.” He explains that pro-Israel activists are constantly bombarded with false information. A true voice for Israel needs to be on top of every news story, have the resources to respond to false allegations, and be a flexible thinker, according to Dershowitz. Moreover, there is an imperative to present the facts in a compelling way and with unbounded energy. “For pro-Israel advocates, there is no vacation,” says Dershowitz, who met Hayet through Israel advocacy work. Israel advocates also need a thick skin, he says. “There will be people who attack you, hate you, demean you, try to destroy you at every point,” Dershowitz says…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
National Post, Mar. 27, 2015
Lighthouses of reason, or beacons of folly? Which more readily applies to some modern universities? If you have been happy enough to read a New Statesman piece recently, there would be little hesitation in opting for the latter. The column discussed that only-in-a-university puffball of a controversy over The Vagina Monologues. The VM, for those fortunate enough not to have heard of it, is an Eve Ensler opus/art project that offers soliloquizing genitals as an avenue to feminist empowerment, a concept kitten-cute in all its daring and originality. Not surprisingly, it’s been a huge hit on all sorts of enlightened campuses, its combination of vulgarity and Spice Girls feminism being a sure winner with those wishing to storm the barricades of privilege from a front-row seat.
The New Statesman piece contained this jewel of progressive reporting: “A U.S. women’s college recently announced it would be discontinuing its annual performance of The Vagina Monologues: it’s exclusionary to talk about vaginas when some women do not have one.” The “women” in question were, by all the ancient indications we have so sturdily relied upon until the blaze of reason started to flicker and dim, men. But the men — on whose behalf students at the all-women university in question, Mount Holyoke, were protesting — were identifying (this is the term of art) as women, but had not yet “transitioned.” They were still, as it were, biologically on the other side of the fence. As was explained by the theatre board that cancelled Ms. Ensler’s vaginal ventriloquism:
“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman … Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”
And there you have it. Biological and anatomical distinctions are described by the highly progressive as offering “extremely” narrow perspectives on what it means to be a man or a woman. And they make some people “uncomfortable.” If you were fortunate enough right now to be standing over George Orwell’s grave in the sweet garden of the churchyard at Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, you would hear, piercing the roar of his revolving corpse, a plaintive, despairing voice crying out: “Bury me deeper. Now. Please.”
Literally, you could multiply the instances of silly thinking and foolish actions by the hundredfold that now burden universities across the West, as the institutions that have carried the light of intellect from the earliest days of Athens, through the Renaissance, right to our present day, have surrendered to every passing fad and fancy of ever-more trivial and mentally bankrupt causes. Such as the Occupy the Syllabus farce at the University of California at Berkeley, which lamented the presence of such feeble intellects as Socrates, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke and Hegel in a course, they being that terrible triune of white, dead and male.
What is more dismal than the modern campus, with its litany of “safe spaces,” its protection from offence, its bleats about micro-aggressions, the chatter of white privilege and the spate of hysteria over the “rape culture?” The new model of the university risks becoming a cocoon of self-indulgence and actual anti-intellectualism. Administrators, in particular, take a craven posture before any challenge that might land them in the minefields of identity or gender politics.
The universities, under the banner of hollow diversity and the even more hollow and self-contradictory banner of tolerance, are mutating into thought-suppressing machines. Any flag raised in the name of identity or marginalization has them prostrate in anxiety and fear. The idea of undergraduate life as a rooting out of intellectual predispositions, of history as anything but a huge case file of oppression, of testing minds as opposed to flattering feelings, is lost.
The universities are running a risky race. The more they quiver before the onslaught of the cause-mongers, refuse to take clear and bold stands against protest intimidation tactics, the more they lose their centuries-old prestige. It is a situation that should concern everybody. The ability to think clearly, and the absorption of the best that has been thought and said, have given the world all the moral and scientific progress — real progress — it has ever known. As universities become more and more the willing hostages of the anti-thought brigades, the more they will diminish in both esteem and worth.
Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2015
What is so special about Jerusalem? The fact is that Jerusalem – unique among the cities of Israel – is completely identified with our Jewish national mission, expressing by its very name “City of Peace” our prophetic vision for the world. When the Almighty initially elected Abraham, he gave him a mandate: “Through you shall be blessed all of the nations of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). It was for this universal purpose that Abram’s name was changed from Av Ram (exalted father of one nation, Israel) to Avraham; father and teacher of a multitude of nations.
Abraham’s descendants will eventually erect a Temple to which all the nations will flock in order to learn and accept the Torah of peace: “To beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, so that nation will not lift up sword against nation and humanity will not learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Jeru means “city” in ancient Semitic languages and Shalem means “peace” (wholeness). Abraham was chosen because he was uniquely committed to ethical conduct, the only true path to peace: “For I have elected, loved and appointed him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do compassionate righteousness and moral justice” (Gen. 19:19).
Hence, the very first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible is in the context of a meeting between Abraham – immediately after he had defeated the four terrorist kings who captured the innocent Lot – and Melchizedek (literally, the King of Righteousness), the ruler of Shalem. Our Sages identify Shalem with Jerusalem and Melchizedek with Shem, son of Noah – a righteous gentile who served as priest to the Universal Lord of peace, morality and righteousness. Melchizedek brought out bread and wine – reminiscent of the showbread and wine libations of the laterto- be-built desert sanctuary and Jerusalem Temples as well as of our present-day hallot and kiddush wine. He then blessed Abraham to the Lord Most High, Maker of Heaven and Earth, who had delivered Abraham’s foes unto his hands.
Abraham reciprocated by giving this gentile priest tithes of everything he owned (Gen. 14:18–20). Nahmanides derives from this episode that Jerusalem is the one place in the world which had always maintained faith in ethical monotheism – in the God who created Adam and Eve in His image. So it is no accident that Abraham met his gentile counterpart in Jerusalem, to declare their joint acceptance of the God of righteousness and peace. Our Holy Temples were (and will be) built on Mount Moriah, Jerusalem, and from there a message of peace will be communicated throughout the world. This is the very place to which God sends Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Abraham acquiesces, but God stays his hand – and this entire incident may well have come to teach that although it will sometimes be necessary to make the ultimate sacrifice for our faith, God does not want innocent human beings to be killed in His Name. The God of ethical monotheism is not Moloch.
Abraham calls the place of the binding “God shall be seen,” that is to say that from Mount Moriah the God of ethical monotheism shall be seen and accepted by all the nations of the world. Jeru, or Yeru, is a cognate of the verb to see, Yera’eh, will be seen; the Bible will later teach that on the three pilgrim festivals, every Jew must go up to the Temple Mount “to be seen” by God (Deuteronomy 16:16). And the story of the binding of Isaac concludes with a repetition of the Divine mandate to Abraham, “And through your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Let us fast-forward 4,000 years. In 1978, at the end of the Camp David peace talks between US president Jimmy Carter, Egyptian head of state Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin, Carter pressed Begin to sign a letter in which he would “merely” agree to place the final status of Jerusalem on the negotiating table. Begin refused. With great emotion he explained that in the Middle Ages there lived a beloved, wise rabbi: Rav Amnon of Mayence, who was pressed by the bishop at least to consider converting to Christianity.
After a lengthy argument, the rabbi agreed to ponder the issue for three days. As soon as he returned home, the rabbi was smitten by deep despair; at the end of the three days, he returned to the bishop. “Punish me, O bishop,” he cried. “I should never have agreed to think about such an egregious act against my faith. The tongue which said I would ponder, the hand that shook yours in acquiescence, the leg that came to do your bidding – remove them from my body.” The bishop gladly did as the rabbi requested. The next day was Rosh Hashana, and racked with pain, Rav Amnon was brought to the synagogue, where he cried out before the congregation the U’Netaneh Tokef prayer he had composed the day before.
Begin told the American president, “I understand that we may sacrifice a limb to save an entire body. But Jerusalem is Israel’s heart, the focus of our mission. Our Psalmist declared, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be removed from my body, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not’ (Psalms 137:5-6). Please don’t ask me to sign your letter; I would rather forfeit my right hand and my tongue. I cannot repeat Rav Amnon’s transgression….”
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
No Daily Briefing Will Be Published Monday
Jerusalem Then and Now: A Journey in Photos: Noam Chen, Times of Israel, May 14, 2015—Israel is about to mark what I believe is one of the country’s most important national days: Jerusalem Day.
Re-Liberating Jerusalem: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, May 15, 2015—It's been almost 50 years since Israel unified Jerusalem and turned it from a dusty and depressed backwater into a truly radiant international capital city sparkling with energy and creativity.
Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, May 6, 2015—Clearly, and sadly, the issue of anti-Semitism has always been and remains a major recurring aspect in the international arena and narrative.
Anti-Semitism Goes to School: Ruth Wisse, Mosaic, May 4, 2015 —I never dreamed that it could come to this!”