Israel Advocacy 101: Salomon Benzimra The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel — Online book prepares students to defend Israel at university

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Online book prepares students to defend Israel at university

Source: Jewish Tribune, 11-29-11

The advocacy group Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR) has published The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel by Salomon Benzimra, in Kindle format. Although it is suitable for any mature reader, the book was written specifically to prepare Jewish high school students to defend themselves against “the defamation, lies and distortions” about Israel they will face in university, Goldi Steiner, CILR chair, told the Jewish Tribune in a telephone interview. The book is fact-based and educational, not political, and it debunks the current “global definition of [Jewish Israelis as] occupiers and settlers.”

Benzimra, an engineer, spent almost two years writing the book, which is based in large part on Howard Grief’s book, The Legal Foundations and Borders of Israel Under International Law. Grief’s juridical assessment, in which he attested to the veracity of Benzimra’s work, is included in the book.

Benzimra’s book, wrote Grief, “performs a very important mission in bringing to light the relevant historical and legal facts any beginner or true scholar of the Middle East needs to know regarding the exclusive national and political rights of the Jewish people and the state of Israel to the land of Israel, formerly Mandated Palestine, under international law.

“Mr. Benzimra’s work is well structured and organized, easily understood and incisive. Most important of all, it presents an accurate and comprehensive picture of all the significant events that took place, decisions taken and agreements concluded leading up to the establishment of the independent Jewish State of Israel in May 1948.”

The book was also endorsed by Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s vice premier and minister of strategic affairs; Andrew Roberts, historian and founding member, Friends of Israel Initiative; and Tomas Sandell, founding director, European Coalition for Israel. Within five days of its debut on Amazon, the book was rated No. 1 in the Top 100 Hot New Releases on International Law and it has remained either at the top spot, or high on the list, since then.

Steiner said CILR members  “have been dealing with top-level Israeli officials.… Our aim is to have [the book] incorporated into the Israeli school system at the high school level.”

To that end, the book has been translated into Hebrew, for future publication.

This “educational guidebook” also features numerous references for further study as well as more than 100 hyperlinks. It is available in English at www.amazon.com, for use on the Kindle, Macintosh, PC, and some other devices.

For more information, visit www.cilr.org.

Israel Advocacy News December 1, 2011: Bar-Ilan University rep promotes Israel program at Canadian High Schools

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Bar-Ilan rep promotes Israel program

Source: CJNews, 12-1-11

Meir Balofsky was in Toronto last month to promote Bar-Ilan University’s Israel Experience program

Meir Balofsky, the director of informal education at Bar-Ilan University, was in Toronto last week to convince graduating high school students of the value of learning and living abroad.

Balofsky, who visited students at the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto and Ulpanat Orot Day School, was promoting Bar-Ilan’s Israel Experience program.

“I think what people should do is recognize the value of taking a gap year after high school for themselves,” Balofsky said.

Although a gap year is traditionally thought of as a year away from traditional schooling – a chance for young people to work, travel and gain real-life experience – this program combines the benefits of an exchange program with an opportunity to live and work in a society so different from their own.

He said students who were raised in Jewish schools, were members of synagogues and youth groups and have “learned about Israel either from the Tanach or the news, should take a year and be in Israel, hands on, and experience it, and solidify everything you’ve learned.

“This program was born out of this idea that even kids who understood the value of going to Israel for a year weren’t going because they had no interest in spending the whole year in a yeshiva seminary,” Balofsky said….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News November 24, 2011: York University ‘may tie with Hebrew University’

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

York ‘may tie with Hebrew University’

Source: The Jewish Chronicle, 11-24-11

Students at York University will vote next week on whether to link up with Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

A referendum was initiated by politics student Jacob Campbell, who said he wanted to stand up for Israel and curb anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on British campuses.

If students vote in favour, York University Students’ Union (YUSU) will “work to build links with students at the Hebrew University” and will encourage York University itself to twin with the Israeli institution.

Mr Campbell said he decided to launch the twinning initiative earlier this year when the National Union of Students adopted a number of anti-Israel policies, since dropped. Last year a window in his student house was smashed after he displayed an Israeli flag.

Mr Campbell, who is not Jewish, also cited fellow students’ negative responses to the resignation of Lawrence Binitie, YUSU racial equality officer, who quit following an argument with a local councillor.

Mr Binitie was discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Jewish York City Council member David Levene when he told Mr Levene: “I would be ashamed if I were from Israel, or even Jewish”. He later added that he believed Israel’s “atrocities… are as severe as apartheid South Africa”.

The possible twinning will be debated at YUSU on Tuesday, with voting running from the following day until December 5.

Israel Advocacy News November 23, 2011: Cal State University’s Israel program under attack — again

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Cal State University’s Israel program under attack — again

Source: JWeekly, 11-23-11

Jewish groups are weighing their response to a recent attack on Cal State University’s decision to reinstate its study abroad program in Israel — an attack some Jewish leaders consider “outrageous” and politically motivated.

CSU cancelled its Israel study option in 2002, mainly due to security concerns and a State Department warning on travel to Israel. This past May, after a year of concerted effort by the Jewish Community Relations Council and other Jewish groups, CSU decided to reinstate the program beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.

Two weeks ago, an open letter was sent to CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed asking him to reverse the decision. The letter, signed by 70 CSU faculty members and many current and former students, states that American students face grave bodily harm in Israel, including the possibility that they will be shot and killed by Israeli military forces.

The letter calls Israel an “apartheid” regime, and says Palestinian students from CSU wishing to take part in the program would face discrimination or worse.

Finally, the letter suggests that CSU’s Israel study program, run in cooperation with universities in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, is “one-sided” unless similar programs are created with Palestinian universities.

“The letter made outrageous charges that could not go unaddressed,” said Rabbi Doug Kahn, executive director of the S.F.-based JCRC, which is coming up with a response strategy together with the Anti-Defamation League, the Israel on Campus Coalition, the S.F.-based Israeli consulate, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California and the state’s Hillel chapters….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News November 21, 2011: University of Toronto Student group celebrates first Israel Week

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

University of Toronto Student group celebrates first Israel Week

Chief organizer criticizes Israeli Apartheid Week

Source: The Varsity, 11-21-11

This article was published on Nov 21, 2011 in the News section

November 14–18 marked the first annual Israel Week at the University of Toronto.

Israel On Campus, a ULife-recognized student club, hosted a variety of events designed to “offer a different way to look at Israel,” according to organizer and fourth-year history student Esther Mendelsohn.

The week was meant to offer a broad, academically-oriented perspective on Israel because, according to Mendelsohn, “It’s easy to get caught up and only see [Israel] through the very narrow lens of politics.”

“Politics is relevant and important… No one’s shying away from politics, but there’s so much more, and we’d be remiss not to talk about it,” she said.

Humanitarianism was the focus of the group’s first Israel Week, and guests discussed a variety of the humanitarian causes that the country supports. Some of the guests included Dr. Gil Gross, a participant in the Save A Child’s Heart mission to Tanzania, and Zaki Djemal, the North American Representative for IsraAID.

Mendelsohn sat down with The Varsity to discuss the group’s goals and motivations for the week.

Mendelsohn repeatedly emphasized the need for “open, honest, and nuanced discourse, as long as it’s respectful.” She dismissed the notion that the week was merely “Zionist propaganda” or pro-Israel PR; rather, she said it was about getting the facts and engaging others in discussion.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), whose organizers were unavailable for comment, remains a contentious issue for Israel On Campus.

While stressing that she doesn’t see Israel Week as IAW’s polar opposite, Mendelsohn did criticize the group for being, “not pro-Palestinian [but] just anti-Israel.”

“I criticize Israel and I don’t consider myself anti-Semitic, but there is a line. And when you use certain words, certain rhetoric, and especially images that are in no way based in fact then, yes, it crosses a certain line and becomes anti-Semitic,” she argued.

Mendelsohn dismissed IAW and organizations like the “socialist newspaper at Sid Smith,” saying they’re “fringe” and “radical” groups that aren’t reflective of the majority of her peers. She also had harsh words for UTSU, which has reportedly supported IAW in the past, either directly or through its OPRIG affiliate.

“My issue is that my student fees pay for this, and [it’s] a body that purports to represent all students picking a side on such a divisive issue,” she said.“The UTSU has said this year that what’s happened in the past doesn’t necessarily need to happen again, so I’d call on them to reconsider their funding and their support [to IAW].

“I think the solution is not to lend their name or support, financial or otherwise, and to just say ‘You can have your week, and you can have your week’ … but not to make certain students feel like they don’t belong, because that’s exactly what it feels like.”

Israel on Campus plans for next year’s events to be better publicized through displays around the university, but they hope to continue the discussion in a “more moderate place.”

“When you have a lot of rhetoric, emotional grabs using certain words, it can polarize the discourse, and we don’t want that,” Mendelsohn said. “We want to bring it back to a place where we can disagree with each other but also find points where we agree, and that’s the only way to move forward on campus and in the Middle East as well.”

Student members currently fund Israel on Campus, though it will be looking for other funding sources in the future. It is independent of other Jewish or Israeli campus groups.

Efraim Inbar: Top professor Bar-Ilan University ‘only Zionist’ institution in Israel

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Efraim Inbar: Top professor Bar-Ilan University ‘only Zionist’ institution in Israel

Efraim Inbar says Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University house many ‘Bolshevik post-Zionists,’ adding: An evil wind is emanating from these places.

Source: Haaretz, 11-21-11

“Bar-Ilan University is the only Zionist university left in Israel,” – this was the bald assertion made by Professor Efraim Inbar, Director of Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, at a gala dinner of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) held Tuesday night in New York.

Contacted by Ha’aretz, Inbar stood by his claim, saying that Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, for example, were “not Zionist” in his opinion. “There are many Bolshevik post-Zionists at these universities, who pack their faculties with similar-minded lecturers. The Israeli universities are overflowing with post-Modernists who undermine not only Zionism but academic truth itself.”

Benjamin Netanyahu - Avi Ohayoun - 2009 Benjamin Netanyahu during his speech at Bar-Ilan University, June 2009.
Photo by: Avi Ohayoun

Inbar said that although he knows that there are also Zionist lecturers at the various Social Studies faculties, they are outnumbered. “An evil wind is emanating from these places,” he said.

Inbar’s comments, made during a short introduction of one of ZOA’s principal donors, were received warmly by the 800-strong audience that came to the Grand Hyatt Hotel in midtown Manhattan to honor controversial conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck, who received the “Dr. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award” as well as US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who received the ZOA’s “Dr. Irving & Cherna Moskowitz Award for Promoting Strong US-Israel Relations.” Adelson and Moskowitz are both renowned donors to right-wing and other causes….READ MORE

Efraim Inbar Professor Efraim Inbar.

Touro Under Scrutiny Over Israel Class from Jerusalem Online U

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Touro Under Scrutiny Over Israel Class

College Faces Questions About Credits for Advocacy Session

Source: Forward, 11-17-11, issue of November 25, 2011

Touro College, a New York-based Jewish university, came under pointed questioning by curriculum experts after the Forward revealed that it granted academic credits for an online course put together by a pro-Israel advocacy group.

College or Chutzpah? Jerusalem Online U. portrays itself as a legitimate academic program.

jerusalem online u.
College or Chutzpah? Jerusalem Online U. portrays itself as a legitimate academic program.

Touro offered students credit for taking Israel Inside/Out, an online class cobbled together with materials like interviews with pro-Israel activists and professors provided by Jerusalem Online U, a pro-Israel education and advocacy web site.

“I am not coming up with anything quite like this, where one side has a point of view and an institution has decided to partner with them,” said Russ Poulin of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Cooperative for Educational Technologies, or WCET, which promotes effective standards and practices for on-line learning in higher education. “It doesn’t mean that it isn’t out there. It just means I’m not aware of it.”

“If Touro College has pretentions to be a serious academic institution, this is not a course that students should get credit for,” added Zachary Lockman, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, about Touro’s Israel Inside/Out course. Lockman reviewed the course syllabus on the Forward’s behalf.

The Touro professor who approved Israel Inside/Out rejected the criticism of the course. “I see no reason to be ashamed of it,” said David Luchins, chairman of the political science department, while adding it was not his decision to partner with Jerusalem Online U.

Touro College, a Jewish-oriented institution that reaches out especially to Orthodox students, offered students nationwide a chance to earn academic credit by completing the course.

Jerusalem Online U is an advocacy group originally affiliated with Aish HaTorah, an ultra-Orthodox religious outreach program. Aish HaTorah’s founder, Rabbi Noach Weinberg, convinced Touro’s founder, Bernard Lander, to adopt the program in 2008.

While officials at Touro insist the material meets academic standards, a Forward investigation found, among other things, that the program’s syllabus, posted at Jerusalem Online U’s website, told students, “This course will train you to be an Israel advocate and arm you with the knowledge necessary to combat anti-Israel rhetoric.” Jerusalem Online U removed this advisory soon after the Forward inquired about it. In several instances, materials used by Jerusalem Online U in its Israel boosterism reappeared in Touro’s academic offerings.

Despite the debate, students are getting credit for the course. According to Jerusalem Online U founder Rabbi Raphael Shore, 150 students have received college credit for courses taken through the program. (Touro officials estimate a lower number: between one and two dozen students per year for the past three years).

What’s more, 38 universities in the United States and Canada have accepted transfer credits for the class from Touro, meaning students may be effectively substituting advocacy for rigorous learning at colleges from coast to coast….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Hebrew Language Instructor Waving the Zionist flag at Santa Cruz

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Waving the Zionist flag at Santa Cruz

Source: Jewish Journal, 11-16-11

Tammi Rossman-BenjaminTammi Rossman-Benjamin

On the third floor of the Baskin Engineering building at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is going over points of Hebrew grammar.

Her 25 students in first-level Hebrew — a panoply of African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and whites — call out the gender associations of Hebrew words as Rossman-Benjamin reads aloud. Some words, like “father” and “brother,” are easier to remember; they are grammatically masculine. Others, like “door” and “window,” just have to be memorized.

“It’s pretty random,” Rossman-Benjamin told her charges. “The way to know is its form, how it looks.”

For the past 10 years, Rossman-Benjamin, a Hebrew-language lecturer at the school, has been following that same directive with single-minded determination, spending much of her time outside the classroom on a very different task: tracking incidents of anti-Israel activity at this coastal campus.

Perhaps, seen in isolation, the incidents she has tracked might be considered legitimate, albeit harsh, criticisms of the Jewish state. But Rossman-Benjamin says that when looked at together, statements by faculty and others in an array of campus events often display anti-Zionism, demonization of Israel and Israeli leaders, comparisons to Nazi Germany and questioning of the Jewish state’s very legitimacy. Rossman-Benjamin says they take the form of something more insidious: a sustained, inaccurate and hateful assault on a core aspect of Jewish identity.

Such rhetoric has been prevalent on California campuses for years, raising concerns from Irvine to Berkeley, ranging from the well-being of Jewish students to the integrity of academic discourse on the Middle East. At Santa Cruz, as on these other campuses, a combination of activist student groups and left-leaning academic departments has subjected Israel to withering censure — harsher treatment, critics say, than is meted out to any other nation.

While so far no claims of anti-Jewish violence or harassment have arisen at Santa Cruz, as have been alleged at other schools, Rossman-Benjamin contends that the consequence of this rhetoric has seeped beyond the confines of debate, submerging Jewish students in an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation no other campus group is forced to endure.

“Here, the problem has to do with faculty and administration who misuse their classrooms and university-sponsored events in order to promote their personal political agendas,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “My complaint isn’t about anti-Semitism. My complaint is about a hostile environment for Jewish students.”

Since 2001, Rossman-Benjamin’s repeated appeals to the university have been met with silence or dismissal. So in 2009, she lodged a landmark complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that the atmosphere on campus is so hostile that Jewish students suffer discrimination as a result.

In 2010, the San Francisco office of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights informed her that it had opened an investigation of UC Santa Cruz.

And the result of all this is that Rossman-Benjamin, 55, has become a pariah on campus.

Not a single member of the UC Santa Cruz faculty has endorsed her read on the situation — save for her husband, Ilan Benjamin, who chairs the chemistry department. Several have accused her of intimidation and of infringing on their academic freedom.

Even in the Jewish world, she has proven divisive. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a national organization, is expected to vote at its upcoming meeting on a draft resolution that cautions against using legal means to censor anti-Israel events under the guise of protecting Jewish students. But Rossman-Benjamin is not only unbowed, she is as committed as ever….READ MORE

University of Miami: Students support Israel through art, advocacy for Buy Israel Week

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Students support Israel through art, advocacy

Source: Florida Jewish Journal, 11-16-11
UM’s Hillel has hosted Israel advocacy events in the past. During Buy Israel Week, a group within Hillel, the I-Team, will host an advocacy event.

Israeli artists and art work will be featured at the University of Miami during Buy Israel Week.

The I-Team Fellowship, a selective Israel advocacy group within UM’s Hillel composed of students dedicated to generating and sustaining a positive Israeli sentiment on campus, will host an advocacy event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Whitten University Center’s “The Rock,” 1306 Stanford Drive in Coral Gables. The event will include art, music, food and a discussion on Israel’s culture through the perspective of artists.

Jordan Magid, the I-Team’s chair and a student intern at UM Hillel, was both surprised and excited to hear that the event fell on the same week as Buy Israel Week when contacted by the Jewish Journal.

“It added a whole new dynamic to the event and will give us more opportunities to provide an interactive and engaging environment on campus with more of a purpose to motivate people to buy Israeli products,” he said.

Magid added that the event will now have potential to be a platform for Israeli goods to be promoted….READ MORE

‘Think Israel’ Summit on Jewish Peoplehood

‘Think Israel’ Summit on Jewish Peoplehood

(Jerusalem, 7 November 2011) A special summit called ‘Think Israel’ geared for Jewish students and young professionals will take place at the UJA-Federation of New York in Manhattan on Sunday, November 20th.

Addressing future trends of Israel and Aliyah. Nefesh B’Nefesh, which works in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, has teamed up with a wide range of Jewish organizations to produce this event, as part of its ongoing Aliyah programming in North America. The summit follows a recent week-long “Innovation Israel: Shaping Israel’s Future Today” road trip that Nefesh B’Nefesh organized together with PresenTense in order to engage Israel-conscious members of the Diaspora community in discussion about social change in Israel through innovative entrepreneurship.

The ‘Think Israel’ summit (www.nbn.org.il/thinkisrael), which is expected to draw hundreds of attendees, will open with a special panel entitled ‘Our Visions for Israel’ with Vice-Chairman of the World Zionist Organization David Breakstone, and Vice President for Public Policy Jewish Federations of North America, William Daroff. It will also feature interactive workshops, panels and presentations designed to engage participants in discussion about Israeli identity, Aliyah and trends in Jewish Peoplehood. Topics to be addressed in the various breakout sessions will include social justice, Israel advocacy, careers in Israel and Aliyah.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to create dialogue among young North American Jewish professionals by fostering and cultivating Israel-related social ideas and initiatives,” said Marc Rosenberg, Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s One Aliyah Department. “We believe that this will help maintain awareness of Israel identity and Jewish Peoplehood among the Diaspora communities.”

A wide array of organizations are working together with Nefesh B’Nefesh to create and promote the initiative, including: the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the American Zionist Movement, the World Zionist Organization, MASA, The Israel Project, Stand with Us, Yeshiva University, the Torah Activities Council, Bnei Akiva, ROI, JLIC and Habonim Dror of North America.

The event can be followed on Twitter at #thinkIsrael and will be streamed live for viewing at www.nbn.org.il/thinkisrael.

Program Schedule:

*Tentative schedule, actual sessions subject to change.

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM – Registration and Refreshments

1:30 PM – 2:15 PM – Opening Panel – Our Visions for Israel
David Breakstone, Vice-Chairman, World Zionist Organization
William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy at Jewish Federations of North America

2:30 PM – 3:15 PM – Breakout Sessions #1
•    Israel Advocacy on Campus & in the Community;  Avi Posnick, StandWithUs
•    Israel Social Action, Activism and Jewish Service Learning;  Shuki Taylor, Center for the Jewish Future, Yeshiva University
•    Aliyah 101; Sharon Millendorf, Nefesh B’Nefesh

3:15 PM – 3:45 PM – Break:
Networking, Refreshments and Israel Speed Meetings

3:45 PM – 4:30 PM – Breakout Sessions #2
•    Israel Engagement Opportunities; Avi Rubel, Masa; Raina Goldberg, Hillel              International
•    Messaging Media and Public Opinion; Nathan Klein, The Israel Project
•    Career Opportunities in Israel; Rachel Berger, Nefesh B’Nefesh

4:45 PM – 5:30 PM – Breakout Sessions #3
•    Social Media and Israel; William Daroff, Jewish Federations of North America
3:15 PM – 3:45 PM – Break:
Networking, Refreshments and Israel Speed Meetings

3:45 PM – 4:30 PM – Breakout Sessions #2
•    Israel Engagement Opportunities; Avi Rubel, Masa; Raina Goldberg, Hillel              International
•    Messaging Media and Public Opinion; Nathan Klein, The Israel Project
•    Career Opportunities in Israel; Rachel Berger, Nefesh B’Nefesh
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 29,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel. http://www.nbn.org.il