Israel Advocacy News March 7, 2013: Jewish Harvard University Students Receive Mock Eviction Notices as Part of Israel Apartheid Week

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Jewish Harvard Students Receive Mock Eviction Notices

Jewish students at Harvard University receive mock eviction notices in light of “Israel Apartheid Week.”

Source: Arutz Sheva, 3-7-13

The campaign, organized by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, distributed notices at the beginning of March which read, “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days”, a reference to the group’s views regarding Israel’s treatment of the Arab population….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News March 7, 2013: Eviction notices in Harvard promote ‘Israel Apartheid Week’

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Eviction notices in Harvard promote ‘Israel Apartheid Week’

‘Your suite is scheduled for demolition,’ says mock notice posted on Harvard student dorms, promoting ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’; ‘Trying to silence Israeli support,’ says enraged Jewish leader

Source: Ynetnews, 3-7-13

The battle for the American student public continues, with pro-Palestinian Harvard students posting mock eviction notices on the doors of student dorms on campus, warning students their homes are scheduled for demolition.

“This may seem harsh, but this is the state of affairs in the West Bank,” say the notices posted on March 2, promoting the “Israeli Apartheid Week” organized by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, head of the “Hillel” Jewish students organization in Harvard, said this is an all too familiar tactic: “Had the group placed its flyers on bulletin boards, there would be no violation of University policy, no warning from administrators in reply, and no big story about ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ in the campus or national news.”…READ MORE

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Israel Advocacy News May 16, 2012: A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

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A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

Source: Israel Campus Beat, The Jewish Press, 5-16-12

israel+in+the+mirror
Photo Credit: Israel Campus Beat

UN vote reactions. BDS efforts. Anti-Israel Conferences. Gilad Shalit’s release. Social media advocacy. Failed and successful collaborations.

It’s been an eventful year on campus, and through it all, Israel Campus Beat has been reporting on the Israel-on-campus reality. Here’s a look at the 2011-2012 academic year through the keen eyes of ICB.

In the Beginning

The year began with the debate over Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly (GA) in September. In preparation for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid for statehood at the GA, Hillel’s Center for Israel Engagement led an initiative, Tents for Israel, to educate students about Israel and enable them to ask questions about Israel in a secure space.

Even prior to Hillel’s initiative, however, the Israel on Campus Coalition and partners launched the Real Partners. Real Peace (RPRP) campaign in July to prepare students on campus to deal with questions about the Palestinian statehood bid. The RPRP campaign promoted the need for direct negotiations between responsible partners to end the conflict by encouraging students to write op-eds on campus, circulate petitions, and undertake other efforts to raise awareness in the campus community. At the launch, students gathered from across the nation, sharing ideas for effective campus advocacy, and used ideas from their discussions not only for the RPRP campaign but also for larger Israel advocacy efforts. To help spread the campaign and keep students connected, RPRP relied heavily on social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Advocacy

Social media was a major tool for Hasbara Fellowships, who created the “Friend Request Pending” campaign (as part of RPRP). Using Facebook as their theme, Hasbara created a YouTube video to spread the message that Israel wants to become “friends” with Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and others, but the friendship requests are rejected.

Activists on other campuses, such as Brandeis University, have also used video to promote pro-Israel messages. Other students attended the David Project’s Video Production Seminar back in November to learn more about promoting Israel through video; one video, created by a David Project video intern, has been viewed more than 20,000 times.

Social media is quickly becoming a top tool for Israel advocacy. When IDF soldier Gilad Shalit’s release (after more than five years in captivity) was announced in October, Israel supporters turned to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the good news and share their support. Campus Israel groups use Facebook and Twitter to keep students informed of upcoming meetings and events on campus. Students are taking advantage of the technology of the 21st century and using it for Israel advocacy.

Reaching Out

As important as social media is, it does not replace the fundamental need for building relationships. In the past year, pro-Israel students have sought to establish relationships with pro-Palestinian student groups, though the efforts are fraught with challenges. Early in the school year, ICB reported on a coalition between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Noles for Israel (NFI) at Florida State University (FSU). Such efforts are so rare that they can seem too good to be true, and in this case, it was. A mere month after the start of this new, hopeful coalition, FSU’s SJP invited Norman Finkelstein, a notoriously anti-Israel speaker, to campus and the partnership ended bitterly.

A successful partnership, however, blossomed this year at a different Florida university. At the University of Miami, an MZ-Grinspoon Intern started a new pro-Israel organization on campus, the I-Team, that includes Jewish, Palestinian and Christian members who work together harmoniously.

Countering anti-Israel Sentiment

In response to a conference at the University of Pennsylvania that sought to advance the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort, Israel supporters galvanized to offer a broad range of activities designed to counter the anti-Israel activity. Student activists from all over traveled to Penn to engage students in discussions about Israel. With Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the keynote speaker and over 800 students attending Friday night dinners devoted to discussing the conflict, the effort succeeded in creating a positive view of Israel on campus and yielded an Ivy League joint leadership statement condemning the BDS movement.

Later in the year, Dershowitz shared his views with ICB about the Harvard University student conference in March, entitled “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution.” Student activists and the professionals who support them have learned a lot from the encounters with anti-Israel activity on and off the campus over the past year. But the most prominent lessons to be learned may be the importance of building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships with diverse groups.

The Collaboration Key

Israel groups are learning that their events are most successful and best received when they utilize cross-cultural programming that engages a wide cross-section of the campus community. Long gone are the days when Jewish students are seen as the only Israel advocates; nowadays, Israel advocates span a broad spectrum of diverse backgrounds, whether they are Christians who are trained on a summer tour or students who attend advocacy leadership training in Texas, Jewish and Latino students in a coalition at the University of Texas, or non-Jewish fraternity brothers keen on helping their Jewish fraternity brothers advocate for Israel on campus.

The 2011-2012 academic year has been filled with ideas, challenges, and successes for the campus Israel community. Israel advocates have strengthened their resolve to build partnerships and share information, and they have become increasingly aware of the many organizations and networks that are available to assist them.

Israel advocates can reflect on a successful year of activity, but are not wasting time to plan for the future. Summer offers many opportunities to gain insights and build skills that will serve Israel on the nation’s campuses next fall, when the cycle begins again.

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 March 6, 2012: One-state conference at Harvard signifies possible new front in campus Israel wars

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One-state conference at Harvard signifies possible new front in campus Israel wars

Source: JTA, 3-6-12

To critics, the one-state conference held at Harvard University was a thinly veiled assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

To organizers, the condemnations and calls on Harvard to cancel the conference amounted to thinly veiled attempts to silence any criticism of Israel.

In the end, “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution” — arranged by a group of graduate students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and held at the university — held few surprises.

Activists and academics came together over the weekend to talk about how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a colonizer-settler relationship. A handful of pro-Israel activists stood outside the Kennedy School bearing signs that read “Shame on Harvard, Haven for Jewish Hatred.” Organizers declared the conference a success, while critics denounced it as a sham.

“The reality is, no matter what the conversation, if it’s critical of Israel, the response is the same,” Israel-born Elisha Baskin, one of the conference organizers, said of criticism of the event. Baskin is a research fellow at the Kennedy School and a graduate student at Brandeis University.

The fact that the conference took place at all — and at Harvard, of all places — may have signified a possible new front developing in the campus wars over Israel.

Until now, most of the campus agitation over Israel has centered on the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel known as BDS. But the Harvard conference, and the intensity with which opponents fought to derail it, suggests a great anxiety among pro-Israel groups about the one-state solution turning into a new anti-Israel rallying cry on U.S. campuses.

“To the extent that the idea of a one-state solution is gaining currency, it is important to fight this line of thinking,” said Rob Leikind, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Boston office.

In the weeks leading up the event, pro-Israel groups sought to discredit the conference as an exercise in delegitimizing Israel, and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called on Harvard to cancel the forum….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News March 2, 2012: Harvard Kennedy School of Government “One-State Conference” on Israeli-Palestinian conflict draws fire

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Harvard conference draws fire

Source: Boston Globe, 3-2-12

An upcoming conference at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on the “one-state solution’’ to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is drawing ire from organizations who believe it promotes the elimination of Israel.

The “One-State Conference,’’ which will take place this weekend at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, is meant to investigate the feasibility of a creating a unified Israeli-Palestinian political state as a potential solution to war in the region.

But the event has caused some to criticize the Kennedy School for failing to adequately distance itself from the conference’s controversial subject matter….

Officials from the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization, have lambasted the event, saying that it has dangerous implications for the Middle East’s lone Jewish state.

Kenneth Jacobson, deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he fears that attaching Harvard’s name to the conference will legitimize the one-state solution movement, which he called “a euphemism for eliminating the state of Israel.’’

“When something so egregious takes place at Harvard, it really merits our attention,’’ Jacobson said….

Last week, Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote a letter to Harvard president Drew Faust, asking the university to denounce the conference’s subject matter.

“There can never be any legitimate discussion of a concept which, by its very nature, will result in the end of the Jewish character of Israel,’’ Foxman wrote.

Jacobson said the organization does not want Harvard administrators to censor the event, but instead wants the school to renounce its theme….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy Op-ed February 29, 2012: Dan Diker: Laundering anti-Semitism at Harvard — The “One-State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One- State Solution”

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Dan Diker: Laundering anti-Semitism at Harvard

The implications of the “One-State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One- State Solution” at Harvard are far reaching.

Source: JPost, 2-29-12

US Treasury secretary Larry Summers
By REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang
Perhaps the single most important lesson I took from a Harvard education in the early 1980s came at the end of a course entitled, “A Literature of Social Observation and Moral Reflection” taught by renowned child psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr Robert Coles, beloved by students and admired by faculty for almost half a century. Recalling the Harvard graduation speech by the great American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1838, Coles urged us always to understand the difference between our character and our intellect, particularly in the “everydayness” of our personal and academic conduct.

It seems that these moral lessons that Coles, Emerson and other people of letters urged us to recall may have been lost at Harvard recently, hopefully only temporarily.

The upcoming symposium, “The One- State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution,” due to convene at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on March 3 and 4 2012, transforms Harvard’s longstanding tradition of free and fair academic debate into anti- Semitic theater. Under the guise of free academic expression, the One-State Conference advances the notion that Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people should be dismantled and replaced by a state that would be flooded with and governed by Palestinian Arabs and in which Jews would once again live as an insecure minority in their own land.

The conference’s cast of nearly 20 prominent speakers underscores the point. It brings together a “dream team” of well-initialed academics who share an antipathy to the existence of the Jewish state.

Keynote presenters include Ali Abunimah, author of the Israel-bashing online “Electronic Intifada” and an enthusiastic Hamas supporter who, as some may remember, publicly branded former prime minister Ehud Olmert as a murderer guilty of war crimes and prevented him from speaking at a 2009 University of Chicago forum.

Other speakers include the virulently anti-Israel academic Ilan Pappé, an Israeli and a long-time public apologist for Palestinian terror, who somehow was underwritten as a guest professor of Middle East history at Harvard.

The conference also features Dianna Buttu, former legal advisor for the PLO and another Hamas supporter who, as Middle East scholar Richard Cravatts noted recently, “denied that thousands of Hamas rockets fired from Gaza into Israel actually had warheads on them, unlike Israeli weaponry.”

The “good” news is that there may be at least one advocate of a two-state solution. Keynote speaker Steven Walt, Harvard professor and co-author of the now infamous tome The Israel Lobby, which accused American Jews of dual loyalty and branded them with the sinister “Israel firsters” label, is slated to be the conference’s primary advocate of the two-state solution….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy Op-ed February 28, 2012: Ruth Wisse: Harvard’s Latest Assault on Israel

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Harvard’s Latest Assault on Israel

Promoting the Jewish State’s destruction at a school dedicated to ‘democratic governance.’

Source: WSJ, 2-28-12

In 1948, when the Arab League declared war on Israel, no one imagined that six decades later American universities would become its overseas agency. Yet campus incitement against Israel has been growing from California to the New York Island. A conference at Harvard next week called “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution” is but the latest aggression in an escalating campaign against the Jewish state.

The sequence is by now familiar: Arab student groups and self-styled progressives organize a conference or event like “Israeli Apartheid Week,” targeting Israel as the main problem of the Middle East. They frame the goals of these events in buzzwords of “expanding the range of academic debate.” But since the roster of speakers and subjects makes their hostile agenda indisputable, university spokespersons scramble to dissociate their institutions from the events they are sponsoring. Jewish students and alums debate whether to ignore or protest the aggression, and newspapers fueling the story give equal credence to Israel’s attackers and defenders.

A featured speaker at Harvard’s conference is Ali Abunimah, creator of the website Electronic Intifada, who opposes the existence of a “Jewish State” as racist by virtue of being Jewish. A regular on this circuit, he also keynoted a recent University of Pennsylvania conference urging “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) of, from and against Israel. Ostensibly dedicated to protecting Palestinian Arabs from Israeli oppression, BDS has by now achieved the status of an international “movement,” some of whose branches exclude Israeli academics from their journals and conferences….READ MORE

 

Israel Advocacy News February 21, 2012: Boycott of Israel Hits Campuses and Churches

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Boycott of Israel Hits Campuses and Churches

Source: Algemeiner, 2-21-12

University of Pennsylvania campus. Photo: wiki commons.

First came an entire conference dedicated to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) at the University of Pennsylvania. More recently, the Presbyterian Church approved a report calling for divestment from three companies because of their sales to Israel. All in all, February has seen the anti-Israel BDS movement gain significant steam.

On Feb. 17, the General Assembly Mission Council of Presbyterian Church USA decided to receive a report from the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), including a resolution recommending that Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Motorola Solutions “be placed on the General Assembly Divestment List until such time as they have ceased profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine.” The recommendations will now go before the church’s 220th General Assembly, set for June 30-July 7.

From Feb. 3-5, a national BDS conference at Penn armed was an anti-Israel training ground for college students, including sessions such as “The Economics of Israeli Occupation” and “Connecting with Grassroots Palestine,” with the stated goal of “touching on every aspect of the multifarious global effort to heed the BDS Call and bring an end to Israel’s system of oppression, segregation and dispossession.”

Don’t think BDS activity within the church and on campus takes place in respective vacuums, said Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the organization’s expert on divestment.

“When we take a look at the pro-BDS groups in the churches, they all were reporting on the Penn BDS conference, and the campus BDS movements are looking closely at what’s happening in the churches, each eager to trumpet a success of the other,” Felson said during a Feb. 14 conference call with reporters.

The recent growth of BDS hasn’t been limited to Penn and the Presbyterian Church within academic and religious spheres. At its quadrennial General Conference in April, the United Methodist Church will also consider a resolution to divest from Caterpillar, HP, and Motorola. At Harvard University, it won’t be surprising if BDS is a hot topic at a March 3-4 conference on the “One State Solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Paul Beran, a noted BDS activist, chairs the outreach center of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy Op-ed February 20, 2012: The demonization of Israel

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The demonization of Israel

Op-ed: For anti-Israel Palestine fans, Jewish state has become shorthand for all manner of evils

Source: YNet News, 2-2o-12

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement more commonly known as BDS is the new abbreviation stalking American campuses. But at least for the University of Pennsylvania, the immediate crisis has presumably passed. The BDS Conference arrived and left the campus without untoward incidents.

Passions were inflamed and rhetoric heated up, but University President Amy Gutmann and Chair of the Board of Trustees, David L. Cohen, announced they would not be moved by the call to boycott Israeli educational institutions or divest the university of its securities in companies that do business with the Jewish State even as they wrapped the decision to host the conference as a commitment to academic freedom.

Does this mean the Conference failed in its proclaimed strategy of mobilizing the campus around a set of actions to end what they call Israel‘s occupation of Arab lands? With its stated objectives rejected even before the conference began, one might be tempted to dismiss this movement as marginal despite the relatively large numbers of students and faculty attending its workshops and lectures. And its calls for one state of Palestine presumably in accordance with what was proclaimed as a clear and universal consensus on international law might be described as either utopian or wildly out of touch with reality and most especially, with the terms of the rulings so glibly but selectively cited.

While the notion of a single Palestine is not new and has been rejected not simply by most Israelis but also by almost all officials trying to broker an agreement, it has been resurrected to provide a common stock of references and allusions primarily to delegitimize the idea of the Jewish state as illustrated now by the forthcoming conference at Harvard University entitled “One State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One State Solution.”

Radically recasting the language conventionally deployed to talk about Israel and the conflict, BDS leaders remove words that might engender a favorable view of Israel or promote the kinds of compromises that take Israel’s interests as seriously as those proclaimed by the Palestinians. How can one be reconciled to a Jewish state that is described – wrongly – as practicing apartheidREAD MORE