Israel Advocacy News April 20, 2012: Zionist Organization of America urges Rutgers University president to combat campus anti-Semitism

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ZOA urges Rutgers president to combat campus anti-Semitism

Source: JTA, 4-20-12

The Zionist Organization of America sent a letter to the president of Rutgers University urging him to do more to combat anti-Semitism on the campus.

The ZOA was responding to an incident in which a Jewish student was skewered by a university-funded, student-run satirical newspaper.

The ZOA leadership in an April 17 letter praised Rutgers President Richard McCormick for his actions to condemn the attacks on Jewish student, Aaron Marcus, but told McCormick that “additional steps are necessary.”

“As we wrote to you on April 4th, we believe that Rutgers must take responsibility for having allowed an environment to take seed and grow at Rutgers, where Jewish students — particularly when they speak up against anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing — are perceived as permissible targets, because the university will not take the necessary steps to protect them,” the ZOA wrote.

The ZOA began its correspondence with McCormick after The Daily Medium released a parody column “What About the Good Things Hitler Did?” in its April 4 edition and attributed it to Marcus, a Jewish student who writes a regular column for the mainstream student publication, The Daily Targum.

ZOA originally criticized Rutgers University for the attack on Marcus, who is the grandson of Holocaust survivors.

“We hold Rutgers responsible for what Mr. Marcus suffered today and demand that you finally take action. It is your moral duty as the leader of the university to stand up for the safety and well-being of Mr. Marcus and other Jewish students who have been unacceptably victimized on the campus,” the ZOA April 4 letter said.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez spoke out about the dangers of anti-Semitism in a speech before the Hillel Student Leadership Gala 2012 at Rutgers University on April 15.

“The fact is that history teaches us that words matter. Words matter. They can be hurtful, thoughtless, but even beyond that, even when intended satirically, they can step over the line to anti-Semitism. When taken too far or too seriously, they can be dangerous and lead to anti-Semitic hate crimes and real violence,” Menendez said in his speech.

Menendez also called on the Rutgers campus to avoid its “demonization” of Israel and the Jewish people.

Israel Advocacy News April 19, 2012: Israeli Harvard University students take to ‘Hasbara’ Israel Conference

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Israeli Harvard students take to ‘Hasbara’

After Harvard hosts controversial “One-State Solution” conference, Israelis try to change students’ perceptions on home country.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-19-12

Harvard University Photo: Thinkstock

Israeli students at Harvard University have long felt that many aspects of their country get overlooked in the campus dialogue. This week, they hope that will change.

Last month, Harvard students hosted the controversial ‘One-State Solution’ conference. But long before that meeting took place, a group of Israeli Harvard students has been hard at work planning a two-day inaugural Israel Conference at Harvard to shine a light on the reality of Israel.

On April 19 and 20, a group of non-partisan Israeli Harvard students will gather to feature a confab of top leaders in Israeli discourse and innovation to promote another face of Israel.

The conference will feature panels that focus on innovations in technology, medicine, humanitarian aid, culture and peace. Featured speakers in the conference include Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Dennis Ross, who worked under multiple US presidents to advance the peace process.

Israeli and Palestinian pundits will examine the status of economic development initiatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In addition to these experts, Harvard professors and Israeli academics will give their input on the topic.

Aside from the entrepreneurial focus, the conference will feature the results of the Avi Schaefer Peace Innovation Challenge, in which Harvard students developed ideas aimed at bridging the gap between Israeli and Palestinian societies. The author of the winning idea will be awarded a prize of $1,000. The idea of the initiative is to propel the conversation further instead of remaining in the deadlock in which most campuses find themselves.

The winner will be announced on Friday….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News April 19, 2012: With new class, University of California Berkley grad furthers her pro-Israel battle

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With new class, Cal grad furthers her pro-Israel battle

Source: JWeekly, 4-19-12

At her upcoming workshops, co-leader Jessica Felber will stand before Jewish high school students, work herself up into a minor rage and harp about the Zionist entity being an apartheid state.

Not that she believes it.

The longtime pro-Israel advocate simply will be offering the students a taste of what may be in store for them once they get to college and face anti-Israel campus activism.

A 2010 graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Felber remembers what it was like for her and other Jewish students to endure the annual Israel Apartheid Week, when protestors carrying toy assault weapons set up mock checkpoints on campus.

That’s one reason she has helped organize “Step Up for Israel,” a series of three one-day pro-Israel education and advocacy training programs set to take place over the next month. The first is scheduled for Sunday, April 22 at Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland.

Jessica Felber

Jessica Felber

The workshops are co-sponsored by the pro-Israel advocacy organizations StandWithUs and JerusalemOnlineU.com.

After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, Felber moved to Los Angeles last year to become the West Coast director of Jerusalem Online U. This past February, she attended the Young Zionist Leadership Conference, a large gathering held in Florida and sponsored by the World Zionist Congress.

It was through her work with Jerusalem OnlineU, a Jewish education Web portal, that Felber dreamed up the workshop to teach high school students, especially seniors bound for college, how to respond to anti-Israel hate speech.

Each four-hour workshop will split into two tracks, one for the teens and another for their parents (or any other interested adult).

Sessions in each track will include lectures, educational film screenings and hands-on advocacy training taught by StandWithUs Bay Area campus staffers Guy Herschmann and Matthew White, along with prominent local pro-Israel activists Mike Harris and Ealon Joelson. Felber will run the teen portion.

As one teaching technique, workshop leaders will mimic the anti-Israel invective college students hear routinely on campus.

“We’ll show them Occupation 101,” said Felber. “This is so they can hear the arguments from anti-Israel people. The real purpose is to motivate and inspire them to learn more and give them practice before college.”

If Felber’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she was in the news before. In the wake of a 2010 incident during Israel Apartheid Week, Felber filed suit last year against U.C. Berkeley, its president and chancellor, as well as the Associated Students of the University of California.

At the time, she was co-president of the pro-Israel campus group Tikvah, which she co-founded.

Felber alleges that a pro-Palestinian protestor intentionally rammed her with a shopping cart, causing her injury.

The lawsuit has languished in the courts, with the judge dismissing some aspects and asking Felber’s attorneys to amend the complaint. But she says the suit is still in progress, and that she’s already seen results because of her legal action.

“This year at U.C. Berkeley’s Israel Apartheid Week, there were no realistic assault weapons,” she said, “which was not the case for a decade. That had been a huge cause of fear.”

Felber said that although she is suing for monetary damages, her true motivation for the suit is “to get the universities to be aware of what’s going on on campus and try to get them to change it.”

A native of San Diego, Felber grew up attending Jewish day schools, and pro-Israel advocacy was always important to her. Even before attending her first class at Cal, she says she was prepared for pro-Palestinian demonstrations on Sproul Plaza, the heckling of Israeli guest speakers and advocacy for Israel boycotts.

It was that tense and hostile atmosphere on campus that made her want to take up the pro-Israel cause all the more.

“That’s in part what drew me [to U.C. Berkeley],” she said. “I came in fairly confident, and was willing to stand up and defend Israel from the start. But I also know how difficult it is for other people to do that.”

Israel Advocacy News April 11, 2012: Controversy Continues in College Israel Speech Protest at the University of New Mexico

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Controversy Continues in College Israel Speech Protest

Source: Israel National News, Arutz Sheva News, 4-11-12

Both sides of the controversy surrounding a speech given by activist Nonie Darwish have sent strong letters regarding freedom of speech. The speech took place in February on the university campus. Anti-Israel protesters entered the room and interrupted the speech. Members of the audience pushed the protesters out of the room.

The University of New Mexico has sent letters to speech organizers reminding them that pushing out the hecklers could constitute a violation of school policy. The Global Frontier Justice Center sent a letter to the University of New Mexico president arguing that the hecklers denied Darwish’s right to freedom of speech. They also complained that the hecklers attempted to accost elderly attendees of the speech.

Darwish is an Egyptian-American and founder of Arabs For Israel. Her speech was entitled “Why the Arab Spring is failing; How Israel is involved.” It was attended by students and members of the University of New Mexico Israel Alliance. It was disrupted by a group called Students for Justice in Palestine.

For a video of the disruption click here.

Israel Advocacy News April 11, 2012: Global Frontier Justice Center Calls to Prosecute University of California Davis anti-Israel campus protesters

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Rights group: Prosecute anti-Israel campus protesters

A US civil rights legal group called on Tuesday for pro-Palestinian student protesters who interrupted a pro-Israel event at University of California Davis last month to be prosecuted.The Global Frontier Justice Center in Brooklyn, New York, have sent a letter to Jeff Reisig, the district attorney for Yolo County, California, asking him to open criminal proceedings against the protesters, whom the rights group say violated California law.

In their letter to Reisig, the GFJC cite article 403 of the California Penal Code, which prohibits protesters from  deliberately disturbing a lawful assembly or meeting.

Two Israelis – an IDF reservist and a Druze woman whose father and brother served in the IDF – were due to speak at the UC Davis event, organized by StandWithUs, Chabad of Davis and the Chai-Life Club….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News April 9, 2012: Pro-Palestinian student group sends students fake eviction notices at Florida Atlantic University

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ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Pro-Palestinian student group sends students fake eviction notices

Source: JTA, 4-9-12

More than 200 students at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus received fake eviction notices from a pro-Palestinian group.

 

The notices were posted March 30 by the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, the Florida Jewish Journal reported April 5. The notices were posted to draw attention to the alleged number of Palestinian home demolitions by Israeli troops over the past three decades.

Some of the students who did not read the notice carefully thought that they were actually being evicted, a Jewish student told the newspaper.

“We’re considering it a hate crime,” Rayna Exelbierd, 20, a Jewish student who received a fake eviction notice, told the newspaper. “The flier promotes hate; it doesn’t promote peace. People were scared by it. People felt threatened by it.”

The fliers contained the university housing department’s official stamp.

“The recent mock eviction postings did not comply with the policies of University Housing and Residential Life or the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership concerning the distribution of printed material, and therefore the postings were removed,” Charles Brown, FAU’s senior vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.

Andrew Rosenkranz, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Florida region, said the university is going to open an investigation into the incident.

Israel Advocacy News April 4, 2012: Anti-Semitic grafitti mars Jewish studies poster at Indiana University

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Anti-Semitic grafitti mars Jewish studies poster at Indiana U.

Source: JTA, 4-4-12

A Jewish studies poster in a lecture hall at Indiana University was defaced.

The word “Hitler” and a swastika were drawn on the poster in black marker, the Indiana Daily Student reported.

The vandalism was discovered earlier this week. Campus police believe the incident occurred last weekend, according to the student publication.

Campus police said in a statement Tuesday that the incident is still under investigation, but that several juveniles not associated with the university may have vandalized the sign.

In November 2010, a university employee used a rock to break the staff directory glass display case for the Robert A. and Sandra B. Borns Jewish Studies Program. Mark Zacharias, the scholarship coordinator of IU’s Hutton Honors College Scholarship, was dismissed after working at the university for seven years. On March 27, he pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service.

The following month, rocks were thrown through the windows of two campus Jewish student centers and a rock was thrown through the window of an apartment above the Chabad Jewish student center just off the university campus. In the latter incident, the rock nearly hit a student and put a hole in the opposite wall. Also, eight religious volumes in Hebrew removed from shelves at a university library were urinated on in eight bathrooms in the library area.

Approximately 4,000 Jewish students attend Indiana University.

The state of Indiana does not have a hate crimes statute.