Israel Advocacy Op-ed February 29, 2012: Barbara Kay: Israel’s worst enemies

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Barbara Kay: Israel’s worst enemies

Source: National Post, 2-29-12

George Orwell once said, “England is the only great nation whose intellectuals are ashamed of their country.” Orwell never met Israeli intellectuals.

As the Post noted in its Saturday editorial, Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is declining in vigour on North American campuses. But at Israel’s four secular universities – Hebrew University, University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Ben Gurion University (BGU) – robust anti-Zionism continues to flourish, as it has for decades.

Since the 1967 Six-Day War, and with mounting stridency, the majority of Israel’s already leftist intelligentsia have identified themselves with enemies sworn to their nation’s annihilation.

Every day, anti-Zionist literature pours forth from Israel’s tenured radicals. Every week, an article condemning Israel as an apartheid nation appears. Every month, Israeli academics attend conferences expanding on the evils of the occupation and the moral bankruptcy of the Jewish state. Every year, Israeli historians make their annual pilgrimage to IAWs all over the world, including an one at TAU.

The tone of their attacks can’t be rivalled outside Israel for viciousness. Under the auspices of the University of Haifa, for example, anti-Semitic discourse is distributed by ALEF, an anti-Israel chat forum. It includes endorsements of terrorism, calls for the extermination of Israel and even support for Holocaust deniers….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News February 13, 2012: US & Canada University Campuses to Launch Pro-Israel ‘Peace Week’

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

US Campuses to Launch Pro-Israel ‘Peace Week’

Pro-Israel students at 75 universities across the US and Canada will launch “Israel peace Week” from next Sunday until March 9.
“Israel Peace Week” (Feb. 20-March 9) : (www.israelpeaceweek.org)

Pro-Israel students at 75 universities across the US and Canada will launch “Israel peace Week” from next Sunday until March 9 in an effort to counter widespread campus anti-Zionism and “Israel Apartheid Week,” which pictures Israel as an enemy to peace.

The grassroots initiative has “a simple, positive message: Israel wants peace and has demonstrated its willingness to make painful sacrifices for peace,” according to organizers.

The number of universities participating in this year’s advocacy effort is 50 percent higher than last year, when the student-run Israel Peace Week was organized at 50 universities.

Events will include screening the “Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference” film about the country’s achievements, and a “Faces of Israel” panel of Israelis will discuss their stories about life in Israel.

The documentary avoids politics and focuses on stories of how Israelis resilience has propelled Israel to the forefront of world innovation and progress in the fields of science, environment, medicine and technology.

Other activities on campuses will include Israel’s options for peace in view of existential threats to the Jewish state, and participants will explore the values and accomplishments of a thriving Israeli democracy in the volatile Middle East that is dominated by autocrats.

Participating campuses include the University of California at Berkeley, a hotbed of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, the universities of Chicago, Texas, and Virginia, UCLA, DePaul University, Brooklyn College, Florida International University, Carleton University in Ottawa and Rutgers University.

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: 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

Israel Advocacy 101: Strategies to Help Identify anti-Israel ‘Jewish’ Groups

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL & ZIONIST EDUCATION

Strategies to Help Identify anti-Israel ‘Jewish’ Groups

Source: Allon Friedman and Elliot Bartky, American Thinker, 5-22-11

  1. Actions Have Consequences.  Many organizations claim that, among other things, they exist to help preserve or strengthen Israel’s virtuousness andmorality.  Along related lines, they also often argue that Israel must choose between being a democracy and a Jewish state.  We say it is no accident that the only democracy in the Middle East is a Jewish state.  Is it a perfect democracy or wholly just?  Of course not.  Yet we need not apologize for Israel’s imperfections.  No nation is perfect, so why must the Jewish state be the only one called to perfection?  Such demands serve only to turn it into a pariah state.  While it may indeed be difficult to gauge the true intentions of any particular group, it is in fact a superfluous exercise, since what is ultimately important is the outcome of its policies.  When the New Israel Fund or J Street or a host of similar groups publicly endorse the Goldstone Report, condemn Israel’s so-called “blockade” of Gaza or promote anti-Israel divestment campaigns, they contribute to an atmosphere that fulfills Natan Sharansky’s 3D test of anti-Semitism — delegitimization, demonization, and double standards.  That’s all that really matters.  Claiming they are out to strengthen the Jewish State when their actions have the demonstrably opposite effect is perfidy, plain and simple.  Groups that act in this manner have effectively ceded their place at the table, despite morally obtuse entreaties to the contrary.
  • 2. “If I Am Not For Myself, Who Will Be For Me?”  Israel advocacy requires an appreciation of how the Jewish people, against all conceivable odds, miraculously overcame unique and monumental challenges to reestablish a nation in their historical homeland.  It also requires one to confront the fact that Israel faces singular existential threats that, if anything, have grown over recent years.  These particularist concepts are recognized and internalized by authentic lovers of Zion.  In contrast, the core mission and policies of groups whose goals are universalist in nature are all too often opposed to the interests of the Jewish nation.  We are not interested in questioning the intentions of those who say they support Israel while simultaneously supporting policies opposed to Israel’s interests.  In fact, it is all too easy to understand how those caught up in utopian ideals of peace and universal brotherhood find it difficult to support a Jewish state established for the security and welfare of one particular people.  That universalism often engenders emotional indifference (or worse) towards Israel is painfully obvious to any of its genuine supporters, especially in times of crisis, regardless of their political or religious persuasion.  Take Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the recently retired head of the US Reform movement, as an example.  Though a self-described “dove” whose views on many topics differ sharply from his more religiously or politically conservative counterparts, he nonetheless severely condemned J Street’s stance on Israel’s 2008 defensive incursion into Gaza as morally deficient and utterly lacking in empathy for Israel’s terrible predicament.  Unfortunately, the universalist point of view increasingly holds sway in Jewish communal organizations, resulting in an impaired ability to generate the type of empathy for Israel’s struggles and challenges that is needed during this difficult period.
  • 3. “Peace” Out.  Some groups are wily enough to understand how strongly language influences thought, so they frequently take Orwellian liberties with the English language to mask their true intentions.  A tipoff to such groups is when they condemn Israel by appropriating for themselves concepts that are universally revered, such as freedom, justice, dignity, equality, and human rights.  Especially common is the use of “peace,” which after being stripped of its meaning, has been adopted by the Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace movement, Americans for Peace Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace, Orthodox Jews for Peace, ad infinitum.
  • 4. Follow the Money!  If actions speak louder than words, then among the loudest of actions is how a man spends his money.  Similarly, an important step to understanding a group’s ideology is to follow its money trail.  Though J Street, for example, attempts to portray itself as a stalwart ally of Israel, it is funded in large part through such overtly anti-Israel sources as American and Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia, George Soros, pro-Iranian lobbyists, a leader of the Arab-American community, and a bevy of U.S. government Arabists.  Is it conceivable that J Street duped these donors into believing it was something it really wasn’t?  We wouldn’t bet a dollar on that one.