March 22, 2019

Brown University President Rejects Anti-Israel Student Vote

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Brown University President Christina Paxson told Brown community members in a March 22 letter that the university would not be following through on a student-approved referendum calling for the university to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel.

The referendum states that the university should “divest all stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine and establish a means of implementing financial transparency and student oversight of the university’s investments.”

Out of the 3,076 students who voted in the campus elections from March 19-21, 69 percent voted in favor of the aforementioned referendum, the Brown Daily Herald reports.

Paxon said in her letter to Brown community members, Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues, especially those over which thoughtful and intelligent people vehemently disagree. As a university, Brown’s mission is to advance knowledge and understanding through research, analysis and debate. Its role is not to take sides on contested geopolitical issues.”

She added that has continuously opposed efforts for the university to engage in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In 2013, when a number of academic associations called for academic boycotts of Israel, I made it clear that Brown would not support academic boycotts of Israel or any other country, since doing so would inhibit the open scholarly exchange that is critical for the advancement of knowledge,” Paxson wrote. “The previous year, I had rejected a recommendation from Brown’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies to initiate dialogue about possible divestment from companies that do business in the occupied territories, expressing the same view that the endowment is not to be used to assert views on contested social and political issues.”

Paxson also pointed to a recent Brown Daily Herald op-ed from the university’s Investment Office leadership explaining that the university’s investment portfolio can’t be made public because it’s run by external investment managers and it is their “intellectual property.”

Before Paxon issued her statement, Brown Students for Israel (BSI) expressed their “disappointment” in the referendum vote in a March 21 Facebook post.

This referendum is a defeat for all students who believe there is a better way to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians, who seek intellectually honest discourse about Israel and the conflict, and who prioritize a safe and inclusive community at Brown,” the group wrote.

BSI added, “Divestment is an empty promise and does nothing to improve the situation in Israel and Palestine. Now, we now must work together to ensure that our campus remains a safe place for all students and come together to achieve peace.”

Jesse Raviv, a member of BSI and a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, said in a statement, “As predicted, the Brown Divest vote polarized the student body, induced incidents of hate through online forums, and created a hostile environment for pro-Israel students. The passing of this vote further legitimized BDS, a movement that twists the truth and only shares one side of an incredibly nuanced conflict.”

“Although I am disappointed with the passing of such a misleading, divisive, and hate-fueled referendum, I feel more motivated than ever to stand with Israel,” Raviv said. “As a proud member of Brown Students for Israel, I can assure you that we will continue our efforts to create a campus climate where peace is possible.”

Lauren Feibelman, StandWithUs’ interim executive director of campus affairs, also said in a statement, “This was not a legitimate measure of opinion at Brown, as the referendum language clearly pushed students to vote yes. Unfortunately, their voices will now be used to promote a campaign of hate against Israel.”

The Brown Divest campus group had praised the vote as “historic” in a March 21 statement posted to Facebook, stating that the vote took “an emboldened and clear stand against the university’s complicity in human rights abuses in Palestine.”

Prior to the vote, a group of Jewish students wrote a letter to the Herald that was published on March 21 expressing their opposition to the referendum.

The divestment movement divides the Brown community and widens the chasm between Israelis and Palestinians,” they wrote. “A solution that is truly based in Tikkun Olam would promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians through constructive measures, such as group meetings in which Israelis and Palestinians can share their historical and lived experiences in order to increase mutual understanding and promote open dialogue.”

Kyle Price, a junior at Brown, called the BDS movement “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” in a March 15 Herald op-ed.

“It masquerades as a noble display of support for oppressed people while concealing its intentions to demonize the Jewish state,” Price wrote. “Like every other country in recorded history, Israel has imperfect policies. But unlike its neighbors, Israel has the democratic framework to continuously improve these policies.”

Price also wrote, “Anti-Zionism, opposing the political movement of Jews to self-determination, may not always manifest in antisemitism, but it often can in the case of the BDS movement. The Jewish people have long- sought to achieve freedom and peace in their ancestral home, Israel. Yet the BDS movement rejects the existence of a majority Jewish state and applies egregious double standards to Israel’s actions, all while remaining silent on far more atrocious human rights violations.”

Jew-Hatred Also Hurts the Haters

Demonstrators protesting outside the Spanish Government Delegation in Barcelona, Oct. 20, 2015. Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

It’s common knowledge by now that Jew-hatred, also known as anti-Semitism, will find its way into most societies one way or another, no matter what Jews do or don’t do.

The latest incarnation of this age-old phenomenon has been to hide behind Israel-hatred, as if to suggest that being against the Jewish state is not the same as being against Jews. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has been at the forefront of this modern-day sneak attack on Jews.

But here’s what you rarely hear: Hating Jews hurts the haters at least as much as it hurts Jews. It saps their spirit. It sucks their energy. It provides a sugar high, but what lasts are the self-destructive poisons of bitterness and resentment. 

Look at the greater Middle East today, a 22-country cesspool of Jew-hatred for the better part of the last century. Decade after decade, despite the many sectarian and ethnic conflicts among these countries, one thing has united them: Hatred of the Jewish state, fueled by hatred of Jews and Judaism.

This Jew-hatred was promoted by dictators desperate to stay in power by blaming every failure on the Jews and the Jewish state. As Iranian activist Ahmad Hashemi wrote in 2013, “Instead of dealing with root causes of the problems, they [Middle Eastern leaders] preferred to choose a simplistic answer and solution for all unresolved issues… just point a finger at Israel and the Jews.”

This, more than anything, is the dirty secret of the Middle East: Hating the Jews has backfired on the Arab world.

When the Arab Spring protests broke out in 2011, it looked as if protestors had figured out the scam and were telling their corrupt leaders: “Our miserable living conditions have nothing to do with Israel or the conflict with the Palestinians. We’ve had enough. We’re holding you accountable.” 

As we know, the Arab Spring fizzled. The dictators shut it down. The misery continued. But, failure or not, the Arab Spring served to highlight one of the great ironies of our time: Having been taught to hate the Jewish state for so long, Arab protestors ended up demanding precisely what the Jewish state already offered its citizens—basic freedoms, basic rights, economic opportunities.

How crazy is that?

Imagine the panic of an Arab dictator living in fear that his people will figure out what he himself has long known: The Arabs with the most amount of freedom, human rights and opportunities in the Middle East live in that dreaded Jewish state.

This, more than anything, is the dirty secret of the Middle East: Hating the Jews has backfired on the Arab world. It has mired their nations in resentment and bitterness. Of course, it’s not the only factor in their failure to advance, but it’s a crucial psychological one.

It’s only recently that venerable Arab nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia have woken up to the realization that the Jewish state can help them grow and prosper and even defend against enemy forces. We can only hope that this becomes a trend; that other Arab nations will see the futility of hating the Jewish state and look to emulate its more productive ways.

Hating consumes a lot of energy. Even on U.S. college campuses, the BDS movement is one of animosity and resentment. At no point will you see this supposedly pro-Palestinian movement sponsor a program to help Palestinians. That would be too positive. Instead of building, BDS tears down. Instead of loving Palestinians, BDS hates Israel. 

In the long run, it is the builders, the dreamers, the creators, who win.

Look at the Palestinian leadership. They could have had a Palestinian state a long time ago, had they cared about building rather than undermining. Instead of promoting mutual co-existence and prosperity, they promoted hatred of the Jewish state. Instead of saying yes to peace, they said no to Jews. They have wasted generation after generation teaching Jew-hatred.

These haters, however, are not stupid. They see how Israel is winning the battle on the ground. They see how the Jewish state, for all its flaws, blunders and stumbles, continues to grow, to thrive, to attract the best companies in the world, to send spaceships to the moon and humanitarian assistance to disaster areas, and to be tough when it has to defend itself. This must drive them nuts. While Palestinian leaders promote animosity, Israel promotes growth.

The Jew-haters of BDS, like Jew-haters throughout the Arab world and beyond, eventually learn the life lesson we all learn: Hatred and resentment sap your energy; growing and creating renew it.

In the long run, it is the builders, the dreamers, the creators, who win.

The Zionist Lebanese-Christian Refugee

Jonathan Elkhoury

Twenty-six-year-old Jonathan Elkhoury is a Lebanese Christian who became an Israeli citizen and now fights anti-Zionist activists on U.S. college campuses. 

During the course of his work, he’s been accused of being a Mossad agent, a child-killer and an apartheid enabler. Some insults, he said, are so absurd they are frankly amusing. Such as the time he was accused by an American activist for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) of “stealing” the Arabic language. 

Others, however, cause Elkhoury profound consternation. When liberal elites label him a “token Arab” or a “pet” of Israel’s public relations machine, Elkhoury’s rarely ruffled feathers are positively rankled. “They tell me, ‘You’re only doing this because you want to justify yourself to the Jews,’ ” he said. “I’m always surprised that these kinds of comments come from people who advocate free thinking and freedom. What do they think? That I’m brainwashed? That I don’t have my own mind to decide what to think for myself?”

Elkhoury arrived in Israel from Lebanon when he was 9. His father had been an officer in the South Lebanon Army, Israel’s primary ally in the struggle against Hezbollah in the 1980s. When Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 and the Lebanese militia disbanded, Elkhoury’s father was forced to flee to Israel. A year and a half later, Elkhoury, his mother and older brother joined him, escaping Lebanon via passage through Cyprus. Elkhoury was told only that the family was taking a vacation to the United States, but he knew something was afoot when his grandparents and uncles came to see them off at the airport. “It wasn’t a regular goodbye. Everyone was crying,” he said. 

Under Lebanese law, it is illegal to have any interaction with Israelis. Fearing imprisonment or worse, the Elkhourys severed all ties with the rest of their family.

After graduating from high school, Elkhoury did two years of national service at Rambam Medical Center in his hometown of Haifa, where he was awarded the prestigious Health Minister’s shield. Today, Elkhoury advocates for Arab Christians and other minorities to join the army or national service programs. 

“During the course of his work, he’s been accused of being a Mossad agent, a child-killer and an apartheid enabler.

He is also a project coordinator for Reservists on Duty, a nongovernmental organization that was established to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Together with other minority representatives, he travels to the U.S. to counter some of the vitriol on campuses, especially during Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual series of university lectures and rallies, which has been held on campuses in February or March annually since 2005. 

Pressed on hot-button issues like whether he believes Israel can be both a Jewish and democratic state, Elkhoury is unflinching. “Is it a problem? Not at all. It is a Jewish state but I, as a minority, enjoy full rights to express myself and to criticize the government when needed.

“One thing I won’t accept is the discussion about Israel’s right to exist,” he said. “Of course the Jewish people have the right to their own state.” 

During a UC Irvine event in May 2017 hosted by Students Supporting Israel (SSI), Elkhoury and his fellow panelists were escorted out by police after dozens of SJP activists violently stormed the event.

But Elkhoury shrugs it off. “We will never be afraid to speak out,” he said. “What’s shameful is the unwillingness to engage in discussion. When else would they have the opportunity to listen to a Muslim, a Druze, a Bedouin and a Christian [citizen] of Israel and ask them the hard questions?”

Still, it’s not all bleak. He’s been approached many times by SJP members who heard him speak. “I call it planting the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “It’s not an overnight change. But it’s enough for them to go out and question and try to discover the truth.”

Claremont Student Paper Banned from Attending Pitzer Israel Vote

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

An independent Claremont Colleges Consortium student newspaper has been banned from attending the March 14 Pitzer College Council Israel vote.

The Claremont Independent reported that Pitzer’s Media Office initially told the paper on March 13 that they could cover the March 14 Pitzer College Council vote on Pitzer’s study abroad program at the University Haifa in person; however, later in the day, the office told them that the paper was actually not allowed to attend the vote.

“[T]he Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) of [Pitzer] College has announced that it will restrict attendance at the March 14 College Council session to students, faculty, staff and student members of The Student Life (TSL) staff,” Pitzer spokesman Mark Bailey told the Independent in an email, adding that “no external media” was allowed to attend the vote.

The Independent notes that TSL “is funded by the student governments of the Claremont Colleges,” whereas the Independent is not. The Independent is registered as a student club.

Alec Sweet, editor-in-chief of the Independent, told the Journal in a statement via email, “I am appalled that Pitzer College is not allowing us to attend this event and is actively attempting to discourage us from reporting on it. I can wholeheartedly say that they won’t stop us. Not only is Pitzer voting on a measure that by any measure will restrict academic freedom, but they are also now trying to restrict the freedom of student press which has been critical toward the measure. I find it notable that the student run publication allowed to attend and report is funded from the Claremont Colleges student governments, one of which is the very same Pitzer student government which voted against a measure to condemn the initial faculty vote and whose members will be voting on the measure at the College Council.”

Sweet continued, “The issue at play here is extremely contentious; allowing only one viewpoint to cover the story is a significant blow to student press freedom on campus. This is a very important vote, both on campus and for the broader state of academic freedom especially as it relates toward the academic boycott against Israel. Attempting to suppress any student publication is wrong, but specifically targeting the campus publication which has been vocal in defending the Haifa study abroad program is reprehensible.”

Bailey forwarded the Journal a statement from FEC chair Claudia Strauss saying that the FEC wanted only “Pitzer faculty, staff, and current students, and that reporters be limited to the official 5C paper, TSL” due to “limited seating.”

The Independent criticized the efforts by Pitzer faculty to eliminate the college’s Israel study abroad program in a March 12 editorial as “a grave disservice to Pitzer students who will have to learn how to interact closely with those with opposing views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, especially those who wish to engage with political or diplomatic careers.”

“A boycott reduces a complex scenario to what would be remembered by students as a simple dichotomy of good and bad by denying students the ability to see the conflict first-hand and make judgements on their own,” the editorial argued. “In such a complex situation, it is childish to assume demonizing Israel and shifting total support to Palestine would do anything to resolve the situation; to expect the Jewish people—after thousands of years of persecution—to abandon their homeland is ludicrous.”

The Pitzer College Council also restricted the number of student senators allowed to vote on March 14.

This article has been updated.

Petition Calls for Pitzer to Keep Israel Study Abroad Program

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A petition was started on March 6 calling for Pitzer College to maintain its study abroad program at the University of Haifa when the Pitzer College Council convenes on March 14.

The petition, which was initiated by Students for Academic Freedom, states that they are “deeply troubled by the recent vote by members of the Pitzer faculty calling for an end to the College’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa.”

“That the faculty motioned to end a major academic partnership without considering any student input is not only a breach of academic freedom, but a blatant disregard for the shared governance system that Pitzer students and faculty have enjoyed for decades,” the petition states.

The petition adds that the study abroad program “encourages collaboration and broadening horizons for participants rather than advancing a political agenda.”

“Ending this academic opportunity for students violates the College’s own stance that ‘Pitzer College celebrates cultural diversity and intercultural understanding,” the petition states. “Limiting student participation in any study abroad program makes it more challenging for students to deepen their ‘appreciation of global diversity’ and severely restricts academic freedom for the Pitzer College community.”

At least 420 people have signed the petition as of publication time.

Zev Hurwitz, the director of campus affairs for the American Jewish Committee, wrote in the Journal that if the Pitzer College Council votes on March 14 to end the program, it would be “a dangerous precedent.”

“At issue in the Pitzer vote is not only the study abroad program in Haifa, but the idea that a student should not have his or her academic pursuits hindered by outside political influences,” Hurwitz wrote. “Proponents of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) have attempted to define academic freedom as a principle that forces students to adhere to a boycott, potentially against their will. True academic freedom allows the free exchange of ideas regardless on circumstances in the host country.”

Two Nice Jewish Boys: Episode 129 – The Right Wing Israeli Arab that Fights for Gay Rights

Being an Arab living in Israel brings about many dilemmas, internal conflicts and possibly a very serious identity crisis. While some Israeli Arabs prosper, man other Arabs are living in Gaza in debilitating poverty, and suffering under the brutal, murderous dictatorship of Hamas.
Most Israeli Arabs support the Joint List of Arab parties, a minority actually support right-wing, Zionist parties like the Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu’s party.

Some Israeli Arabs work in industrial areas in the occupied territories, whereas others support the BDS movement that does everything within its power to shut down the very same industrial areas, rendering thousands of Palestinians jobless.

Anyway, you get the point. Being an Arab Israeli is complicated. And now imagine what it means to be an Arab Israeli fighting BDS around the world, a supporter of Zionism, and a son of an ex-South Lebanon Army general who fled to Israel in the year 2000.

Jonathan Elkoury was one of our first guests, in episode 21 titled 2001: A Lebanese Odyssey with Jonathan Elkhoury. If you wanna hear Jonathan’s story, you gotta check it out. Now, two years later he’s back to talk about his courageous journeys defending Israel’s right to exist, his political and personal struggles here in Israel, and yes, also the nation-state bill.
We’re very honored to be joined today by Jonathan Elkoury.

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Rep. Zeldin: ‘We Need to Crush the BDS Movement’

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) expressed how the Jewish and pro-Israel community needs to destroy the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement during StandWithUs’ “Israel in Focus” International Conference at the Hyatt Regency at Los Angeles International Airport on March 3.

Zeldin was on a panel with Florida city Bal Habour Mayor Gabriel Groisman, Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D-Calif.) district director Scott Abrams and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who tuned into the panel via Skype.

Zeldin told the 500 attendees that Senate Bill S.1 “combats the BDS movement” and “supports our alliance with Jordan, and increases sanctions on those propping up the Assad regime.”

“We need to crush the BDS movement, we need to confront it head on on college campuses,” Zeldin said, adding that it’s necessary to protect “innocent Jewish students being targeted with anti-Semitism” on college campuses.

He argued that despite what the bill’s critics say, S. 1 “does not impede free speech.”
“It gives state and local contracts the ability to end contracts with businesses opposing Israel,” Zeldin said, adding that anti-Israel individuals would still be free to promulgate their views on Israel if the bill passes.

Zeldin also mentioned the bill “hasn’t even been sent to committee” in the House of Representatives after it passed the Senate on Feb. 5.

Abrams said that there needs to be “bipartisan” opposition to BDS and stressed the need for an official anti-Semitism bill to be passed by Congress. Zeldin agreed, stating it was necessary to educate people throughout the country on anti-Semitism.

Groisman touted the Bal Harbour Village Council’s unanimous passage of a 2017 ordinance defining anti-Semitism, in part, as “delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.” He added that Florida’s state legislature is taking up a bill that would make the ordinance a statewide law.

“Police officers need to know the language of anti-Semitism that’s being used today” when investigating hate crimes, Groisman said.

Groisman stressed to attendees that the Jewish and pro-Israel community needs “leadership from everybody when it comes to the state of Israel, the Jewish people and fighting anti-Semitism.”

Schneider said in his video that conference attendees need to have “the confidence in your day-to-day conversations” that “we support Israel because Israel is our best ally in the world,” not because of “dual loyalty.”

“We share values, we share interests, we share threats,” Schneider said, adding that it only makes sense to have a “common bond” with Israel.

Zeldin concluded the panel by telling attendees that anti-Semites should be held accountable. He also challenged attendees to get involved with local campaigns or newspapers.

“Don’t let anyone speak for you whose hate is filling their heart,” Zeldin said.

BDS Resolution Fails at Swarthmore

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution went down at Swarthmore College’s student government by a margin of 20-7 on Feb. 10.

Swarthmore’s Student Government Organization (SGO) had reportedly been in contact with their Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter two weeks earlier about the resolution and pledged to have a final vote done on Feb. 10. They also told SJP they were not allowed into the meeting to prevent outside influence from affecting the vote.

During the SGO meeting, Swarthmore Students for Israel (SSFI) member Matthew Stein spoke out against the resolution, arguing that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is highly complex and all parties to the conflict have played, and currently play, the roles of both oppressor and victim.”

“Passing a BDS resolution in SGO would be extremely harmful for students who hold Israel as part of their identities, most of whom are Jews, but certainly not all,” Stein added.

Stein told the Journal in an email that he had found out at the “last minute” about the BDS vote so he decided to go and speak out against it.

“I made it a point to stress that the anti-Israel, often antisemitic, environment at Swarthmore already makes it a difficult place to be proudly Jewish and that I personally know several admitted students who declined to attend Swarthmore due to that environment,” Stein said. “I challenged the SGO members to avoid reinforcing an atmosphere that chills the free exchange of ideas that is meant to occur on a campus and discourages students who care about Israel from attending the college by supporting a hateful and intellectually destitute resolution such as BDS.”

SGO let him speak because they realized they hadn’t been having the same extensive dialogue with pro-Israel students as they had with SJP, SGO vice president Kat Capossela told Swarthmore’s student-run Voices publication.

“We went in telling SJP that we were going to come out with a vote and we were thrown an obstacle of a student saying, ‘hey, you’re not listening to us’ and we’re going to take that very seriously,” Capossela said.

Caposella also told The Phoenix, an independent student-run Swarthmore publication, that the SGO probably should have delayed the vote in hindsight given how close to the vote Stein’s remarks were.

But we also promised SJP that we would come to a conclusion at that meeting so we were kind of at a tough spot,” Caposella said.

SGO members were divided on whether or not the body should remain apolitical on the matter; ultimately a majority voted down the resolution.

The SGO plans to address the BDS issue in an apolitical manner.

We recognize that saying nothing/having voted against endorsing SJP’s statement is itself a political issue; remaining silent is an inherently political statement,” SGO senator Margaret Cohen told Voices. “Therefore, by crafting our own document, we hope to neither stay silent nor directly endorse SJP’s BDS campaign.”

Swarthmore’s SJP started their BDS campaign in October; at the time, the university administration said they would not heed any calls to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The investment guidelines of the Board of Managers clearly state that endowment investment decisions are made without regard to social issues,” Swarthmore Vice President of Finance and Administration Greg Brown told The Phoenix.

The Right to Punish Free Speech

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, accompanied by his wife Pamela Northam announces he will not resign during a news conference Richmond, Virginia, U.S. February 2, 2019. REUTERS/ Jay Paul

Should a company owned by someone who performs in blackface receive a government contract? How about a corporation whose CEO defends white supremacy?

Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of Virginia as of this writing, and Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa, have behaved in reprehensible and racially offensive ways that violated important standards of human decency: Northam, through his youthful but indefensible decision to pose for a photograph in a racist costume many years ago; and King, with his more recent use of vile, racist language.

Both have offered defenses for their behavior that have been uncompelling and unconvincing at best, and offensive and appalling at worst. Both face withering political pressure to leave their respective offices. But it does not appear that either has violated the law. Much like the infamous neo-Nazi march in Skokie, Ill., in 1978, both men have obnoxiously exercised their First Amendment rights to free speech. They can be prosecuted for their transgressions in the public square, but not in a court of law.

After Northam and King have left their elected offices, any companies they run will technically be eligible to be awarded contracts for work with their local or state governments. But no governing body will be obligated to provide them a contract. In fact, it’s worth assuming that good women and men elected to office would refuse without hesitation to enter into any type of professional relationship with businesses whose leaders are either unconscionably insensitive or outright bigots.

Which is as it should be. Both men have abused the cultural and social norms of our society, which prohibit the intentional defiling of another person or persons for their racial, ethnic or religious heritage.

“Northam and King possess the constitutional privilege to use vile language or imagery to defile others … but their right to free speech would not be violated by withholding government contracts from them or their allies.” 

Similarly, there is no obligation for any government to offer contracts to businesses that employ similarly discriminatory language against the Jewish people or the Jewish state. That’s why bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (D-Fla.)is not only constitutional but necessary.

The Rubio-Manchin bill that allows local and state governments to choose not to give money to those who advocate for the destruction of Israel is simply protecting those government entities from the angry retribution of would-be boycotters. Yet, the advocates of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is now gaining a foothold in Congress to match the one it has established on many college campuses, argue that prohibiting those who discriminate against the state of Israel from being rewarded for their anti-Zionist and/or anti-Semitic activity somehow violates their First Amendment rights. 

Northam and King possess the constitutional privilege to use vile language or imagery to vilify others — as do Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Tamika Mallory and David Duke — but their right to free speech would not be violated by withholding government contracts from them or their allies. 

It was encouraging that more than three-quarters of the Senate voted to give local governments that protection. But every Democratic presidential candidate, with the laudable exception of Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, voted against Rubio and Manchin’s legislation. It is even more troubling that similarly intentional misapplication of the First Amendment dooms the bill in the House.

Those who advocate for economic boycotts of Israel are wrong, but they are entitled to be wrong and to voice their wrong opinions as frequently and as virulently as they like. But elected officials who disagree with their animosity for Israel are just as entitled to express their disagreement — in writing, in speeches, and in votes for anti-BDS legislation. Which is what courageous pro-Israel leaders will continue to do.


Dan Schnur teaches political communications and leadership at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine University. He is the founder of the USC-L.A. Times statewide political survey and a board member of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

Poll: 20% of Americans Support BDS

A recent poll from Rasmussen found that 20 percent of likely American voters support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The poll, published on Feb. 6, asked respondents if they support “the effort calling for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians.” Twenty percent said they supported it, 41 percent said they were against it and 39 percent said they didn’t have an opinion on the matter.

Support for BDS is even lower in Britain, as a poll conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Community Security Trust found that only 10 percent of people Britain support BDS, while 46 percent are against it and 42 percent have no opinion of it.

This would seem to be a decline in support for BDS in these two countries, as a 2016 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 33 percent of Americans and 40 percent of Brits supported BDS at the time.

Rasmussen’s write-up of their latest poll states that their findings show that “support by several prominent new Democratic members of the House has raised the profile of the effort to punish Israel economically for its treatment of the Palestinians, but few voters are ready to join in.”

The poll was conducted from Feb. 3-4 among 1,000 respondents with a margin of error of three percentage points.

H/T: Algemeiner

Netta Barzilai Calls Out BDS: ‘When You Boycott Light, You Spread Darkness’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Reigning Eurovision champion Netta Barzilai called out the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for “preventing light from being spread” in a Feb. 7 interview on the BBC.

Barzilai said that people who want to boycott the upcoming Eurovision competition in Tel Aviv aren’t helping facilitate peaceful dialogue.

“I believe in a dialogue, I believe in a process,” Barzilai said. “Boycotting is preventing light from being spread, and when you boycott light, you spread darkness.”

She reiterated that she is all for having dialogue but “boycotting isn’t the answer.”

Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision competition with her hit song “Toy,” resulting in the 2019 Eurovision being held in Israel.

There have been calls from the BDS crowd to boycott the competition; for instance, former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters is among those calling for the BBC, which is broadcasting the competition, to hold the competition elsewhere.

The BBC has rebuffed such requests, stating that the competition is apolitical and it would be inappropriate to ask for it to be moved for political reasons.

New Report Details Pro-BDS NGOs’ Ties to Terrorism

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new report from the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs details how several NGOs that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have ties to Palestinian terrorist organizations.

According to the report, both Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) highlight the Palestinian terror groups that “have infiltrated and adopted seemingly benign NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, Europe, North America and South Africa, for the purpose of advancing their ideological goal: the elimination of the State of Israel.”

“Convicted terrorist operatives who have served prison sentences currently hold senior positions in NGOs which delegitimize and promote the BDS campaign against Israel,” the report states. “In these positions, they recruit fellow terrorist operatives to their NGOs. Israeli courts have determined that some of the terrorist operatives listed in this report pose a concrete security threat.”

The report adds that these terror groups are using NGOs as a way to provide “legitimacy” to their cause.

“To our understanding, terrorist organizations hope that in this way, they will co-opt civil society to push their governments to place pressure on Israel, with the aim of curtailing its military and economic freedom of action,” the report states. “Moreover, from the perspective of the terrorist organizations, building ties with civil society in the West creates an opportunity for receiving financial aid, which they could not otherwise receive due to sanctions imposed on them by Western countries.”

One such organization is the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which is “the umbrella organization” of “the worldwide BDS campaign,” that includes 28 Palestinian NGOs. BNC’s top coalition is the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF), an organization that has senior officials from Hamas and the PFLP in its membership.

For instance, Ismail Radwan is the PNIF’s Hamas representative; he once referred to Jews as “apes and pigs,” according to the report.

The report’s findings on the BNC and its coalitions seemingly buttresses a Tablet report from June highlighting the BNC’s ties to terror.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry report also discusses the “significant ties with the PFLP” in the Addameer NGO that provides advocacy to Palestinian prisoners, seemingly confirming NGO Monitor’s similar reporting on the matter. Addameer took part in an August event on Barnard College’s campus.

Other NGOs highlighted in the report include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, top NGO in Europe, that “has ties to Hamas operatives such as Muhammad Sawalha and Zaher Birawi” and the Palestinian Return Centre, whose conferences have featured speeches by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh by phone and video.

Sawalha was part of Hamas’ Political Bureau from 2013-17; Birawi has been involved in Hamas’ flotillas against Israel, according to the report.

“Terrorist groups and the anti-Israel boycott campaign have united in their goal of wiping Israel off the map,” Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said. “Terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks. Following the exposure of over 100 links between terrorist groups and leading BDS organizations, I urge all governments and financial institutions to investigate the activities of these BDS organizations, and immediately end all funding and support which they provide to them.”

Rep. Omar Ignores CNN Question About BDS Support

Photo from Flickr.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) didn’t answer a question from CNN reporter Manu Raju on why she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In the Feb. 5 segment, Omar told Raju that United States allies like Israel “are living out the same values that we push for.”

Raju follows up by asking her, “Why do you support BDS?” twice. Omar walks away.

Earlier in the day, Omar was asked at a Center for American Progress event about what she’s learned about anti-Semitism. Omar paused for a few seconds before saying, “A lot of the conversation often times is one that refuses really to separate, I think, discussions around the country and its policies and one that is hatred for the people and their faith.

Omar added that she’s “at a breaking point” on having a dialogue about “fighting against discrimination collectively while still having the freedom to debate foreign policy” and holding the United States’ allies “accountable.”

Omar came out in support of the BDS movement in November, after she had said during the campaign that BDS wasn’t “helpful” in achieving peace.

CAIR-CA Calls On UC Chancellors to Retract Opposition to BDS

Photo from Wikipedia.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) California chapter called on the University of California Chancellors to retract their stated opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In December, the ten UC chancellors issued a statement calling BDS “a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty”:

In a letter to the chancellors and the UC Board of Regents, CAIR-CA said that the UC Chancellors’ statement “ignores the continued reality, that faculty and other professionals who voice their support of BDS, are often targeted and denied tenure, speaking engagements, and other terms of employment because of their support of BDS.”

“In attempting to portray BDS as a silencing tactic, you are disingenuously mischaracterizing a critical First Amendment issue playing itself out on university campuses throughout the United States, including each of the University of California campuses,” the letter states. “Namely, there has been a concerted effort by public universities throughout the country to attempt to force speakers and others to pledge that they do not currently and will not in the future endorse BDS before allowing these individuals onto campuses.”

The letter also argued that myriad student governments on UC campuses have passed BDS resolutions and accused the chancellors’ statement of being “divisive and accusatory.”

“Although we are still in the initial phase of gathering information, our data already reveals that Muslim students report facing a significantly high amount of harassment and discrimination on their school campuses,” the letter states. “The UC schools are responsible for affirmatively protecting the academic freedom of speech of all its faculty, staff, and students. Through voicing opposition to BDS, you are attempting to silence the students, staff, and faculty on your campuses who have overwhelmingly voted to support BDS. “

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, told the Journal in a statement via email, “It is entirely unsurprising that an organization which engages in vicious bigotry against Israelis and others is upset about the UC [Chancellors] standing on the right side of history.”

“We have news for anti-Israel groups: those who criticize your extremism are engaging in free speech, not violating it,” Rothstein continued. “If CAIR-CA cared about free speech they would oppose, not defend, those who shout down pro-Israel speakers on campus.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, CAIR has “an anti-Israel agenda” and has “refused to unequivocally condemn Palestinian terror organizations.”

New Study Shows Link Between BDS and Anti-Semitism

A new report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) has found an established link between the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and anti-Semitism in Great Britain.

The report found that 9 percent of respondents strongly or tend to agree that people should boycott Israeli goods and products, while 46 percent strongly or tend to disagree, 23 percent neither agree or disagree and 19 percent don’t know.

On the question on if Israel is an apartheid state, 21 percent strongly agree or tend to agree, 19 percent strongly disagree or tend to disagree, 22 percent neither agree or disagree and 37 percent don’t know.

Respondents were also asked if they agreed with certain anti-Semitic sentiments; 13 percent believed that Jews think they’re superior to other people, 12 percent Jews in Britain have different interests from others, 12 percent think that Jews obtained their wealth by exploiting other people, 10 percent think that Jews use the Holocaust to further their own agenda and 8 percent think the Jews have an outsized influence on Britain. An additional 3 percent think that the horrors of the Holocaust are overstated and 2 percent think the Holocaust is a hoax altogether.

JPR found a correlation between those that stated that Israel is an apartheid state and that people should boycott Israel and those who agreed with the aforementioned anti-Semitic statements, although it was stronger among the latter than the former:

“Whilst it would be wrong to regard agreement with either the apartheid or boycott statements as being anti-Jewish under all circumstances, the fact remains that agreement with either statement positively correlates with anti-Jewish sentiment,” the report states. “And although certain other Israel statements correlate more strongly, the association with the boycott statement can still be considered strong, and the association with the apartheid statement whilst weaker, is nevertheless, clearly evident.”

“It is, therefore, scientifically reasonable to conclude that when such claims are made about Israel by non-Jews, there is a relatively high likelihood that they are being made by someone who is also predisposed towards anti-Jewish feeling, thereby indicating anti-Semitic feeling, motive or intent,” the report continues.

Jonathan Boyd, executive director of JPR, told the Jewish Chronicle that the report shows that while one can hold such anti-Israel sentiments without being anti-Semitic, “Jewish people, the majority of whom are broadly supportive of Israel, are right to be cautious here.”

The Jewish Chronicle wrote in an editorial that “the report provides clear and objective evidence of the link between antisemitism and hostility towards Israel.”

“Take support for the inherently anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; BDS singles out the Jewish homeland for boycott,” the editorial states. “And, quelle surprise, the report finds that most BDS supporters also hold a series of anti-Semitic views.”

The report comes as UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn faces criticism for harboring anti-Semitic views and letting it grow within his own party.

Two Nice Jewish Boys: Episode 124 – IDF Humanitarian Attache Fighting BDS

Photo by IDF spokesman

A few weeks ago we received this email:

“Would you be interested to hear about how to survive aliyah, make it through the IDF as a Lt. Col., have the door slammed in your face, have people stand on your shoulders when you remove money from the cash machine, and peak over your shoulder at the pharmacists to see what types of medication you use, and much more… then we should talk. I do have a crazy life story and look forward to sharing it with you and your podcast audience.”

We took the bait.

Daniel Beaudoin (PhD, Lt. Col. Ret) is a speaker, educator and writer from Israel. He offers incisive and behind the scenes analysis on the assault on Israel by the UN and the international aid organizations who operate in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. He teaches on human rights, humanitarian operations and conflict resolution at Tel Aviv University. He is also a successful survivor of Aliyah and lives to tell the story.

Daniel’s website.

Georgia State Student Government Denies Request to Pass Pro-BDS Ruling

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Georgia State University (GSU)’s Student Government Association (SGA) denied requests to take up pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation on January 16, citing state law on the matter.

According to a letter from the school’s SGA to the students, some student groups on campus – including Faces of Feminism – were upset by SGA leaders attending the Maccabee Task Force’s trip to Israel in December. The groups demanded at a January 11 SGA meeting that the student government apologize for attending the event, pass the pro-BDS legislation and then have SGA University-Wide President Franklin Patterson, executive vice-president Ayesha Iqbal and communications director Kalisha-Lourdy Lazare resign over the matter.

The letter stated that none of these demands would be fulfilled.

“As a state-funded school, the decision in regard to actionable BDS legislation either supporting or disagreeing will be determined by the Board of Regents and our state legislators,” the letter read, referring to a 2016 state law that requires state contractors to certify that they are not boycotting Israel.

The letter added Patterson and Iqbal attended the trip “as individual students in order to gain more knowledge and an educational perspective” on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“During this trip, both of us remained nonpartisan… nor did we promote any political agenda to members of our Senate or any students prior to or following the trip,” the letter stated. “Rather, this trip provided us with personal insight into how truly diverse our University and the world is and provided new insight into how other groups live.”

The letter concluded by stating that students and student leaders “should be allowed to discover different things.”

“Instead of seeing this trip as a means to offend, it was used to gain insight into different mindsets, which would have been normally over looked,” the letter stated. “We encourage other students to take trips that broaden their understanding and point of view of the world.”

According to the Georgia State Signal, the campus newspaper, after the January 11 meeting, the angered groups confronted Patterson, Iqbal and Hamza Rahman, an SGA senator who had been involved with the campus Muslim Students Association on the matter. One of the protesters said “May s*** be upon you” to Rahman in Arabic, prompting Rahman to respond with, “May s***  be upon you too, you child of a donkey” in Arabic. Rahman later apologized for his language.

H/T: JNS

Irish Parliament Advances Bill Criminalizing the Purchasing of Products From Judea, Samaria

Photo from Wikipedia.

The Irish parliament advanced a bill that would criminalize the purchasing of goods from Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

On Thursday, the lower house of parliament voted to advance the bill, which would impose a five-year prison sentence or a fine that could be more than $280,000 for those who purchase products from “Israeli settlements” outside of the pre-1967 borders. According to the Jerusalem Post, this would include East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The Israeli government will be reportedly reprimanding Ireland’s Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, over the bill’s advancement.

“Israel is outraged over the legislation which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

“It is disturbing and disappointing that the initiators of the law are focusing on a hypocritical attack on Israel, rather than on dictatorships that slaughter their citizens,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust.”

The Irish Foreign and State Ministries have also signaled their opposition to the bill, noting that while they oppose Israeli settlements, the law would be in violation of the European Union’s (EU) trade policies.

The Lawfare Project indicated in July that they would file a lawsuit against the Irish government if the bill becomes law, arguing that it is illegal under EU laws.

“Commercial discrimination on the basis of nationality is shameful in any form, but it is particularly frightening when it emanates from the halls of government—from the same lawmakers who were elected to protect the legal rights of their constituents,” Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein said at the time. “We will do everything in our power to prevent this unprecedented state-sanctioned discrimination from becoming law in Ireland.”

Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake has pointed out that the bill “would force Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook to choose between their Irish tax haven and their business in the Jewish state.”

However, supporters of the bill, such as parliamentarian Fiona O’Loughlin, have stated that they will continue to support the bill because it expresses “our solidarity with the Palestinian people who are living in dreadful conditions in the occupied territories.”

The American Jewish Committee tweeted that they were “deeply disappointed” in the Irish parliament:

StandWithUs executive director Michael Dickson tweeted that the bill is “disgusting” and “discriminatory”:

Civil Rights Museum Reverses Decision, Offers Human Rights Award to Angela Davis

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) announced on Friday that have reversed their decision and will offer their human rights award to Angela Davis after all.

In a statement posted to their website, BCRI said their board voted to undo their revocation of the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award from Davis and noted they had issued a January 14 public apology over how they handled the matter.

“At the end of the day, we stand for open and honest dialogue on issues,” BCRI Interim Board Chair Rev. Thomas Wilder said in a statement. “It is only through our ability to talk openly and honestly with one another that we can achieve true understanding and appreciation for one another’s perspectives. We look forward to continuing the Institute’s legacy as we foster dialogue and open communications, improve our Board governance and policies, and stay focused on our Vision 2020 strategic plan.”

BCRI had voted to rescind the award from Davis on January 4, which Davis had said was the result of her supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Davis has not publicly stated if she will re-accept the award.

Davis did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Rep. Omar Placed on House Foreign Affairs Committee

Screenshot from Twitter.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement who once accused Israel of hypnotizing the world, has been placed on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Omar’s placement on the committee on Wednesday evening:

The House GOP leadership criticized Pelosi for the move.

“Nancy Pelosi said in 2017 that Congress ‘must’ oppose the BDS movement against Israel. Chuck Schumer went even further, calling BDS ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘profoundly biased,’” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “I would love to know what changed, because Democrats just promoted a pro-BDS Democrat to a key committee that deals with the State of Israel.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called Omar’s placement on the committee “disgraceful” in a statement.

“Rather than standing up against the disturbing rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric on the left, House Democrats have now just endorsed that ideology,” Scalise said. “House Democrats need to address why they are endorsing these views by rewarding Rep. Omar with an important committee seat.”

Omar continued to double down on her 2012 tweet accusing Israel of hypnotizing the world, as she told CNN on Thursday morning, “I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war and I am clearly speaking about the way that the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”

Pelosi’s office did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Rep. Omar on Anti-Israel Tweet: ‘Only Words I Could Think About Expressing’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said that her 2012 tweet accusing Israel of hypnotizing the world “were the only words I could think about expressing” at the time.

Omar tweeted in November 2012, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

When asked by journalist Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday about that tweet, Omar explained that during the 2012 Israel-Hamas conflict she felt that the media coverage made it seem like “no other life was being impacted” by the conflict.

“Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,” Omar said, “and what is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to a particular people of faith.”

When Omar was confronted on Twitter about the tweet in May, she responded, “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.”

Shortly after Omar was elected, she came out in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement after saying during the campaign that she was against it. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Omar’s BDS support “alarming.”

“BDS doesn’t just criticize Israel’s gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State,” the ADL tweeted. “@IlhanMN also said she supports a two-state solution. Rep-Elect Omar, you owe it to your new constituents to clarify your views.”

We Must Go After Bigots on Both Sides

Photo from Flickr/Gage Skidmore.

Last week, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was interviewed by The New York Times. King has a long history of racially tinged comments — comments that could plausibly be interpreted as either racist or as awkwardly phrased but not racist. But his interview with the Times destroyed any vestige of such vagary, as he explained, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Obviously, this is out-and-out bigotry. White supremacism is a grave evil — the declaration that whites are innately superior to others is by definition discriminatory. So is white nationalism, which is based on the assumptions of white supremacism. Ironically, King embraces the arguments of the political left when he suggests that Western civilization is coincident with and springs from racial discrimination.

That’s why I called on Congress to censure King; I maxed out by donating to his political opponent and called on others to do so, too. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) denounced King’s comments and said there would be consequences from the Republican caucus. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) tore into King and silent Republicans in the pages of The Washington Post. The National Republican Congressional Committee already had announced it would cut ties with King last October.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) is openly anti-Semitic. Last week, she accused members of Congress of dual loyalty to Israel thanks to their support for anti-BDS legislation. Tlaib is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and a defender of CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill, who called for the destruction of the State of Israel. This week, it emerged that Tlaib hosted Abbas Hamideh, a pro-terrorist artist, at her swearing-in in Detroit; she also invited him to a private dinner. Hamideh has openly called for the destruction of the State of Israel and embraced the leadership of Hezbollah. Thus far, no comment from Tlaib.

“The immune systems of both the Republican and Democratic parties have been compromised.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted in 2012, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Democratic leadership has been silent.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) met and danced with anti-Semite Al Sharpton, a man who once helped incite riots in Crown Heights and racial arson at Freddy’s Fashion Mart. Sharpton once called Jews “diamond merchants” and “white interlopers” and ranted, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” Sharpton is still a treasured member of the leftist coterie.

Democratic leaders including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have embraced anti-Semites like Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour. The Women’s March leadership as a whole has been embraced by members of both the leftist media and the Democratic Party. That leadership includes Tamika Mallory, who appeared on “The View” this week to defend her view that insane anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan is the “greatest of all time.” When pressed to condemn Farrakhan, she demurred.

Here’s the sad reality: In American politics, there are bigots on both sides. There are alt-right bigots who masquerade as defenders of Western civilization while promoting pagan racism; there are leftist bigots who masquerade as crusaders for diversity while promoting intersectional racism. The difference is that the right occasionally cleans house. It is nearly impossible to think of a Democratic figure too radical or bigoted for Democrats. 

The immune systems of both the Republican and Democratic parties have been compromised. But only one party seems to have even a baseline readiness to excise cancers from its midst — and it’s not the party the mainstream media would have you believe.


Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire.

Gov. DeSantis Threatens Airbnb With Sanctions Over Judea and Samaria Policy

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) threatened Airbnb with sanctions on Tuesday if the company doesn’t end its policy to de-list from Israeli homes in Judea and Samaria.

DeSantis said at a press conference that Florida has a “moral obligation” to oppose Airbnb’s policy, which he decried as anti-Semitic.

“Airbnb claims it’s a company of inclusion and yet this policy only affects Jews who have homes on the West Bank,” DeSantis said. “It doesn’t appear to apply to anyone else on the face of the earth.”

DeSantis added that his administration would investigate Airbnb to see if it violates state law, which would result in the company being blacklisted by the state. If this were the case, then “the state would not invest its pension fund in the company if it goes public” and “municipalities might also not be able to enter into contracts with Airbnb,” according to WCJT.

“That would not be good, if you’re already on Florida’s hit list before you even got off the ground,” DeSantis said.

In the meantime, DeSantis has already barred state workers from using Airbnb for work purposes.

“BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] is nothing more than a cloak for anti-Semitism,” DeSantis said, “and as long as I’m governor, BDS will be DOA (dead on arrival).”

DeSantis also announced that that he would ensure that Jewish day schools would receive at least $2 million in state funding in order to have proper security in light of the October shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and said that his first trip to a foreign country as governor would be to Israel.

Airbnb spokesperson Dan Breit responded to DeSantis by saying, “Airbnb has unequivocally rejected the BDS movement and we remain deeply committed to our more than 20,000 hosts in Israel.”

“We have worked with the Florida State Board of Administration on this matter, we remain committed to the more than 45,000 Airbnb hosts in Florida who share their homes with over 4.5 million visitors, and we’ll continue to do all we can to support our community,” Breit said.

Israeli-American Coalition (IAC) for Action chairman Shawn Evenhaim praised DeSantis’ “strong leadership” on the matter.

“He has positioned Florida as a leader, at a time when many states around the country have begun the process of evaluating Airbnb’s discriminatory new policy,” Evenhaim said. “As the anti-Semitic BDS Movement continues to pressure companies into adopting discriminatory practices, states have a responsibility to protect their interests by enforcing their anti-BDS laws.”

Zioness Teach-In Discusses Difficulty of Being a Progressive Zionist

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Zioness Movement held a teach-in at University Synagogue on the evening Jan. 13, where a panel discussed the difficulty of being progressive Zionists.

The event started with a speech from Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Van Nuys), expressing optimism about the Jewish caucus in the California state legislature.

“For as much as conversation as there is about Jews not being welcome in progressive spaces and as much as we’ve all recoiled from what we’ve read about the Women’s March, there’s so much good stuff happening in Sacramento,” Gabriel said, pointing to the Jewish caucus’ work on various progressive causes like immigrant rights and criminal justice reform.

“We are doing this in a way where we are being present and proud of our Jewish values, proud of our support for Israel, proud of who we are and our history as a people, and I think that at this moment in time when folks are trying to push Jews out of progressive spaces, and that is an intentional thing, that our response is not to leave those spaces, but really to double down,” Gabriel said, “and to double down on the work that we’re trying to do, which we know is so consistent with our Jewish values and to be really proud of who we are.”

Arya Marvazy, managing director of JQ (Jewish Queers) International then discussed how he, as a gay Persian Zionist, has dealt with the “anti-Zionist and anti-Israel space” in the LGBTQ community.

“One of the things that they purport is that Israel, as a nation, is using this concept called ‘pinkwashing’ to make the masses feel like Israel is this beacon of light and hope for LGBTQ people… and ignore any hardship the Palestinians might face or ignore the Israel-Palestinian conflict in its entirety,” Marvazy said. “I could talk for a long time how false I believe that narrative to be, and I am surprised that even still today, how present that belief exists in queer communities that I’m a part of.”

Marvazy then recalled when he was at a gay Latino punk club in Downtown Los Angeles and a guy he was talking to outside told him, “Everyone is welcome here, everyone but Trump supporters and Zionists.”

“I just was taken aback,” Marvazy said, adding that he works “on that conversation daily.”

Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami, a Zioness board member, later said that “at the Women’s Marches there’s been an increasing anti-Semitic rhetoric that we’ve seen that often comes in the guise of anti-Zionism.”

“If you want to protest the policies of the state of Israel, that’s one thing,” Eger said. “But Zionism, when you say that you’re an anti-Zionist, you are bordering on anti-Semitism because Zionism is the national political expression of the ancient longing of the Jewish soul to return to the land of our people, a longing that we have had for thousands of years.”

Eger called on progressive Zionists to “claim our space” at the Women’s March.

“But we also have to stand there proudly as Jews,” Eger said.

Emiliana Guereca, the founder of Women’s March Los Angeles, distanced the local march from the national Women’s March leaders.

“As a Jewish woman, I have seen the rhetoric of Women’s March D.C… and I apologize to everyone and my children,” Guereca said.

She added that her children ask her why she continues to organize despite the rhetoric of the national Women’s March leaders, and what she tells them is she chooses to “confront” it because the “tough conversations need to continue.”

Joanna Mendelson, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior investigative researcher at the Center for Extremism, told the audience that 2016-17 saw “the largest single year increase” in anti-Semitism since the ADL started collecting such data and pointed to the Charlottesville riots as a big reason for that.

“The obsession with Jews is part and parcel of white supremacist ideology,” Mendelson said, adding that white supremacists fear “being consumed by a rising tide of color… manipulated by the Jews.”

Mendelson pointed to the social media posts from Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers that frequently used the words “Jews,” “k—“ and “immigrants” as an example of this.

She then highlighted Louis Farrakhan’s “most vitriolic and hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric” and lamented his “sizable influence.”

“It is so important that we partner, that we reach out, and that we collaborate on these various issues,” Mendelson said.

Later in the program, Zioness founder Amanda Berman, who moderated the panel, explained that the point of the Zioness Movement is to provide a political home for progressive Zionists who have had their “seats at the table” in the progressive movement “taken away from us.” If progressive Zionists can’t reclaim their seats, then “we will build a new table,” Berman said.

“Even when it’s hard, we have to show up,” Berman said.

Other panelists included Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Noah Farkas, Jewish Center for Justice founder Rabbi Joel Simonds and McCarty Memorial Church Rev. Eddie Anderson.

The full event can be seen below:

Zioness Los Angeles Teach-In

Join our slate of progressive and diverse Los Angeles leaders for a conversation on showing up and speaking out ahead of the Women’s March next weekend.

Posted by Zioness Movement on Sunday, January 13, 2019

Roseanne Barr Thinks Her Firing Was Largely Due to Anti-Semitism

Roseanne Barr

Actress Roseanne Barr told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that she thinks that anti-Semitism played a key role in her firing from ABC.

In May, Barr was fired from the second season of the reboot of her show, “Roseanne” after she tweeted that former Obama administration advisor Valerie Jarrett is the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.” Barr told the Post that ABC “mischaracterized” her tweet.

“What I meant was a commentary on Iran, so they [ABC] purposely mischaracterized what I said and wouldn’t let me explain,” Barr said, “and in haste they did something unprecedented that they’ve never done to any other artist. And at the base of that I think it’s because I am the most vocal person about Israel and BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement].”

Barr added that “I have never in my life done anything racist, and I think my career proves that.”

In September, Barr told a Beverly Hills audience, “I apologized for the hurt it caused people, but also I tried to clarify it and this has been quite a battle in which the right to clarify what I meant has been denied to me.”

Barr will be speaking before the Israeli Knesset on Jan. 31.

When asked for comment, Richard Hormann, ABC Entertainment’s vice president of communications, referred the Journal to ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey’s May statement that read, “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”

Angela Davis Says Human Rights Award Was Revoked Because of ‘Support of Justice for Palestine’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Progressive activist Angela Davis is claiming that a civil rights award was rescinded from her because of her “support of justice for Palestine.”

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) announced on their website that they had chosen Davis in September to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at their February 2019 gala; however myriad “concerned individuals and organizations” prompted them to re-evaluate their choice.

“Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based,” the statement read. “Therefore, on January 4, BCRI’s Board voted to rescind its invitation to Ms. Davis to honor her with the Shuttlesworth Award.”

They added, “We regret that this change is necessary, and apologize to our supporters, the community and Ms. Davis for the confusion we have caused. We will move forward with a keen focus on our mission: to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.”

In a Facebook post, Davis claimed that it was her support for the Palestinians that caused her to lose the award.

“Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue,” Davis wrote. “This seemed particularly unfortunate, given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement.”

Davis added that she supports “Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world.”

“I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies,” Davis wrote. “Through my experiences at Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to anti-Semitism as to racism.”

Davis highlighted her work “with Jewish organizations and individuals” on numerous issues, which she said was key in “my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

The New York Times pointed to a December piece from Southern Jewish Life editor Larry Brook that was published around the same time as BCRI says they started hearing concerns from several people. Brook’s piece notes that Davis is a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and that she has referred to Israel as an “apartheid” state. Brook also points out that Davis has lavished praise on Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two college students, and has called for the release of Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Alqsa Martyrs terrorist who has called for “a Third Intifada.”

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote in his 1991 book Chutzpah that when he urged Davis to denounce the Soviet Union’s imprisonment of Jews, Davis’ secretary told him that she wouldn’t do so because “they are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism.”

In 1970, a then-17-year-old named Jonathan Jackson conducted a courtroom shooting in an attempt to create a hostage situation that would result in his older brother, George, being freed. The shooting resulted in four dead, including a judge. At least two of the firearms that Jackson had brought with him were purchased by Davis, which resulted in her being indicted for being complicit in Jackson’s crime. Davis was eventually acquitted.

Pitzer College Should Reject BDS 

Punitive measures directed at Israel don’t advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Yet the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement continues its attempts to mobilize academic associations and campuses to embrace their cause, with little success.

Three years ago, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) considered a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Although it was adopted at the group’s annual meeting in December 2015, the measure still required approval by a majority of the 9,000 members before it could take effect. The president of the University of California and 10 UC chancellors urged its defeat, writing: “An academic boycott is an inappropriate response to a foreign policy issue and one that threatens academic freedom and sets a damaging precedent for academia.” The boycott resolution was indeed defeated by the membership.

Nonetheless, Daniel Segal, a Pitzer College anthropology and history professor, was not dissuaded by the final AAA vote. An advisory group member of Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, Segal initiated a resolution, adopted two months ago by his colleagues at Pitzer, to suspend the school’s study-abroad program at the University of Haifa.

The action was strongly condemned by college President Melvin L. Oliver, who called it a “repudiation of Pitzer’s values.”

A 1,000-student liberal arts college in Claremont, Calif., Pitzer offers study-abroad programs in several countries, including ones with authoritarian regimes. None of the other countries — which include China and Vietnam — has ever been targeted by the faculty.

The focus on the Haifa program again highlights the hypocrisy of BDS. The University of Haifa is the most diverse campus in Israel. Its student body is 35 percent Arab in a country that is 21 percent Arab. The university’s Jewish-Arab Center promotes positive relations between Jews and Arabs within Israel through such programs as workshops to develop trust between Arab and Jewish student leaders, scholarships for Arab women, and research toward empowering Israeli civil society. The city of Haifa is a mosaic of Muslim, Christian, Druze, Baha’i and Jewish communities that have historically lived in peaceful coexistence with each other.

“The focus on the Haifa program again highlights the hypocrisy of BDS.”

University faculty have a responsibility to provide educational opportunities abroad for their students. A faculty member’s opposition to a foreign nation’s policies does not entitle him or her to stop students from studying there.

Students should be able to explore Israeli society without political interference. 

Other California universities recognized the potential harm caused by the Pitzer faculty action and, in response, the chancellors of all 10 UC campuses signed a statement condemning academic boycotts of Israeli scholars and institutions of higher education.

The partnership between California and Israeli universities has grown in recent years. In 2017, for example, UC signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority to collaborate on technological innovation and boost joint research and development.

Israel is a cutting-edge world leader in water management. Farms across California’s Central Valley have benefited enormously from Israeli drip irrigation technology as our state continues to experience a historic drought. The potential for further Israel-California academic cooperation on water, energy, medicine, high-tech and many other fields is vast.

When a governing council comprised of Pitzer College faculty and students meets during the spring semester, its members should firmly reject the recent faculty decision to suspend the study-abroad program in Israel. Pitzer College, which prides itself on teaching and practicing environmental sustainability, should expand its engagement with Israeli universities.


Siamak Kordestani is assistant director of the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles region.

Senate Dems Block Pro-Israel Bill From Getting a Vote

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the media ahead of a possible partial government shut down in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Senate Democrats blocked a pro-Israel bill from reaching the 60-vote threshold necessary for it to reach the floor of the Senate for a vote.

By a margin of 56 votes in favor and 44 against, the bill fell short by four votes to end the filibuster. According to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), 43 of the votes against were from Senate Democrats:

There were four Senate Democrats that voted for the bill: Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ari.)

Myriad Senate Democrats, such as Ben Cardin (D-Md.), have argued that the Senate should not be conducting any business until President Trump ends the partial government shutdown over funding for a border wall. Other Senate Democrats, such as Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have argued that the anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) provision violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who sponsored the bill, argued that the bill was compatible with the First Amendment:

Rubio had earlier tweeted that the Democrats don’t want to reveal their growing support for the BDS movement:

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) accused senators who supported the bill of dual loyalty in a Monday tweet, which the Anti-Defamation League said was “deeply troubling.”

The bill itself would have provided at least $38 billion in aid to Israel – which would have been a record amount of military aid from the United States to another country – as well as provide aid to Jordan, an ally of both the United States and Israel.

ADL: Rep. Tlaib’s Tweet Accusing Anti-BDS Bill Supporters of Dual Loyalty Is ‘Deeply Problematic’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement on Monday saying that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)’s tweet accusing supporters of an anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill of dual loyalty is “deeply problematic.”

Tlaib’s Sunday tweet was in response to a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which said that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.”

“They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib tweeted. “This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.”

Greenblatt said in his statement that Tlaib’s tweet “has been interpreted by some as suggesting that Jews or Members of Congress, such as the sponsors of the bill, are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.”

“Whether or not this was her intent, this type of language is deeply problematic,” Greenblatt said. “Historically, the allegation of mixed loyalty or dual loyalty has been leveled as a smear against many kinds of Americans – including against Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.”

Greenblatt added that the dual loyalty accusation regarding putting Israel above the United States “is long-standing anti-Semitic trope.”

“We reached out to Representative Tlaib’s office to clarify her motive in using this language, and to discuss concerns about the history and context of the allegations of dual loyalty that have been leveled at Jewish Americans at various times in our history,” Greenblatt said. “We have encouraged her to publicly clarify her intent.”

Similarly, the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) tweeted that Tlaib’s tweet is “wrong, dangerous, and hurts the cause of peace.”

“Whether one supports a particular bill or not, it’s offensive to insinuate that senators would be driven by anything other than the best interests of the U.S.,” JDCA wrote.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a statement via email, “American Jews don’t need lectures from person publicly calling POTUS motherf**cker.”

“Tlaib should read [the] proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would broaden existing bans on complying with various foreign boycotts,” Cooper said. “This has never been a First Amendment issue before. Only when it impacts her anti-Zionist worldview.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said in a statement that Tlaib’s tweet “evokes classical anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalty—in this case applied to some lawmakers who are not even Jewish—that have no place in our political discourse.”

“Ironically, it was Representative Tlaib who took the unusual step of wrapping herself in a foreign flag upon winning election to Congress, and who said she would serve as “a voice for” another nation in the House of Representatives,” the AJC said. “Her ad hominem attack on congressional colleagues joins a growing list of troubling statements by the newly elected member, including her rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ”

In subsequent tweets, Tlaib said she was simply criticizing senators who are attempting “to strip Americans of their Constitutional right to free speech.”

Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein and George Mason University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich are among the legal experts who have argued that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

The bill is reportedly being held up in Congress by Democratic leaders.

Rep. Tlaib’s D.C. Office Map Has ‘Palestine’ Sticky Note Over Israel

Screenshot from Facebook.

A map in newly sworn-in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) office has a “Palestine” sticky note where Israel should be.

 

 

 

 

Here is the photo of the map:

The note was roundly mocked and condemned on Twitter:

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “There is no country called Palestine.”

“The territory upon which the word ‘Palestine’ is affixed on this map is called the Palestinian territories,” Cooper added. “Palestinian statehood will be achieved, if and when, the Palestinian leaders are prepared to recognize the validity of the Jewish State as their neighbor.”

Tlaib was sworn into Congress on Thursday, with Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour attending. Tlaib supports a one-state solution and is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.