January 15, 2019

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 in 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.

Sanders, Feinstein Urge Opposition to Anti-BDS Bill

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) walks before a series of votes on legislation ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to not include the Israel Anti-Boycott Act into an upcoming spending bill.

Sanders and Feinstein argued in a letter that they are against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is at odds with the First Amendment.

“Federal district courts in Kansas and Arizona have similarly considered state laws that target political boycotts of Israel and found them to violate the First Amendment,” Sanders and Feinstein wrote. “For example, in Jordahl vs. Brnovich, the court held in granting a preliminary injunction, ‘The type of collective action targeted by the [law] specifically implicates the rights of assembly that Americans and Arizonans use ‘to bring about political, social, and economic charge.’”

The senators also criticized the bill for cracking down on “certain constitutionally-protected political activity aimed solely at Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”

“At a time when the [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government is pursuing policies clearly aimed at foreclosing the two-state solution, it is deeply disappointing that Congress would consider penalizing criticism of those policies,” Sanders and Feinstein wrote.

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, told the Journal in an emailed statement that Sanders and Feinstein are “mistaken” about the bill violating the First Amendment.

“Unlike criticism of Israeli policy, which is political speech that is protected under the First Amendment, this anti-BDS legislation applies to commercial speech, which is not afforded the same degree of constitutional protection,” Goldstein said. “Additionally, the Kansas and Arizona laws referenced by Sanders and Feinstein in their opposition are utterly dissimilar in form and function to the IABA, other than that they relate to BDS. That those states’ anti-BDS laws may raise First Amendment issues has no bearing whatsoever on the federal anti-BDS measure in question.”

Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at George Mason University, told the Journal in an email that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “is completely consistent with decades of bipartisan law and policy.”

“Existing law prohibits companies from participating in boycotts of Israel (and the territories) promoted by foreign countries,” Kontorovich said. “The new bill merely extends this to boycotts fostered by international organizations like the U.N. The existing anti-boycott provisions have never been controversial, and have been upheld by the courts.”

Kontorovich added that the bill does not penalize protests of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, it simply “restricts participating in U.N. boycotts” and does not touch “individuals or consumer boycotts.”

“The senators’ letter claims to oppose BDS, but in fact it sides with the famously anti-Semitic U.N. Human Rights Council in its effort to bar economic activity with Jews, and not with any other people,” Kontorovich said.

In his 2017 op-ed in The Washington Post, Kontorovich noted that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act updates a 1977 law that prevents American entities from participating in the Arab League’s boycott of Israel to including boycotts of Israel launched by United Nations agency.

The bill is supported by the Jewish Democratic Council of America and the Anti-Defamation League and opposed by J Street and the New Israel Fund.

A Missed Virtue Signal

The week after Michelle Goldberg decided to use her perch at The New York Times to write an inaccurate, morally incomprehensible screed headlined “Anti-Zionism Isn’t the Same as Anti-Semitism,” three Israelis — including a 3-day-old infant — were murdered, more than a dozen were wounded, and tunnels were found in northern Israel showing that Hezbollah was close to launching another psychotic war.

On Facebook, which I use as a mosh pit of current political insanity, I wrote what I always write when the NYT becomes more pro-jihadi than Electronic Intifada: “I don’t know how Bret Stephens stays.” 

One week later Stephens offered a devastatingly good answer: “When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House.” He didn’t call Goldberg out by name or even wonder how she had come to such a psychologically twisted place. Rather, he simply made mincemeat out of her argument: “Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state. … Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse.”

As for apologists like Goldberg, whose own deep hatred of Israel runs through her piece, Stephens doesn’t mince words: “When you find yourself on the same side as Hassan Nasrallah, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke on the question of a country’s right to exist, it’s time to re-examine every opinion you hold.”

The problem is, Goldberg and readers like her will ignore him. Why? For one, she has chosen to remain ignorant of Israel’s history. She appears to believe the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s myth that there once was a country called Palestine and then those nasty Jews “occupied” it. 

It was the Romans, of course, who slapped the word “Palestine” on the area to erase any Jewish connection to it. As Stephen M. Flatow — whose daughter, Alisa Flatow, was killed in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 — wrote in The Algemeiner, Arabs living in the area never considered themselves Palestinian: “They had the same history, culture, religion, and language of the Arabs in neighboring Syria. They considered themselves ‘Southern Syrians.’ ”

Precisely because of this, they didn’t mind when the British sliced off 78 percent of the land and called it Jordan in 1922. Why don’t Goldberg and her BDS friends ever focus on Jordan, which routinely mistreats the “Palestinians”? Hmm, this is a tough one. Could it be because Jordan is Muslim?

Goldberg also believes that Israel is not central to Jewish identity. The fact that we’ve prayed for our return to Jerusalem for nearly 2,000 years, that most Jews feel such a profound connection to the land that even daily NYT gaslighting can never change it — none of this seems to have ever entered Goldberg’s Brooklyn bubble.

One could say that Goldberg doesn’t actually believe any of these things, that she’s just trying to stay politically on trend — virtue signaling, as we now say.

But the larger point is that these nonsensical screeds no longer matter. The Jew-hatred of anti-Zionism is now at our doorsteps. Just within the past few weeks: Mohamed Mohamed Abdi was arrested for attempting to run over two Jewish men in Los Angeles, allegedly shouting “F***ing Jews!”; Arab Muslims in Germany saluted Hitler; and perhaps most fitting of all, a “free-speech wall” at Pomona College in Claremont — on which the Pittsburgh tragedy was commemorated with the words “Anti-Semitism Exists. Acknowledge It.” — was vandalized with the words “Palestine exists. Acknowledge it.”

Not only is today’s anti-Zionism merely fashionable anti-Semitism, but since the 1960s the word “Palestine” has been used as a pseudonym for removing Jews from our ancestral homeland. Like Hitler, Yasser Arafat was evil but far from stupid. He knew the full-fledged myth that he had to fabricate, and he knew that if he did it well, the Michelle Goldbergs of the world would help him fulfill his goal. 

I’m sure he wasn’t counting on it being so easy.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

Pink Floyd Tribute Band to Perform in Israel Despite Waters’ Protests

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Pink Floyd tribute band UK Pink Floyd Experience will be performing in Israel after initially canceling their concerts after protests from Roger Waters.

Waters, the former bassist and frontman of Pink Floyd, wrote in a Dec. 7 Facebook post that he was “aghast” that the band was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba on Jan. 4, 5, and 6, respectively.

“To sing my songs in front of segregated audiences in Israel, and contribute to the cultural whitewashing of the racist and apartheid government of that country, would be an act of unconscionable malice and disrespect,” Waters wrote.

The UK Pink Floyd Experience had canceled the shows as a result of the post, but Israeli musician and producer Ziv Rubinstein persuaded them to nix the cancellations.

“They wanted to come,” Rubinstein told the Times of Israel. “They’ve been here before, but they were scared. They were threatened by Mr. Waters.”

The band will be performing with Echoes, an Israeli Pink Floyd tribute band.

Airbnb Disputes Reports They Are Suspending Judea and Samaria Ban

Photo from Flickr.

Airbnb is disputing reports that they are suspending their policy of de-listing Israeli homes in Judea and Samaria.

Various Israeli media outlets had reported that, according to the Israeli tourism ministry, Airbnb was suspending their ban after meeting with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin on Monday. The company sent a statement to the Journal that read, “The reports issued earlier today are inaccurate.”

“Airbnb expressed its unequivocal rejection of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement and communicated its commitment to develop its business in Israel, enabling more tourists from around the world to enjoy the wonders of the country and its people,” the statement read. “We are here to meet with a variety of stakeholders and as a result of our meetings have an even deeper understanding that this is an incredibly complex and emotional issue.  Airbnb communicated that we are developing the tools needed to implement our policy and that process includes continuing our dialogue with the Government of Israel and other stakeholders.”

Haaretz reporter Noa Landau tweeted that she had received a statement from Airbnb in Hebrew saying that they would not be implementing their policy:

An Airbnb spokesperson told the Journal that the Hebrew statement “was released in error” and that the English one was the “correct statement.”

Roz Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of StandWithUs, said in a statement, “If Airbnb has reversed their position totally, it will be a recognition that boycotts are discriminatory and anti-peace. It will serve as a red line for companies and they will learn not to believe the vitriolic and misleading rhetoric from BDS lobby groups.”

“Boycotts against Jewish communities are an age-old Antisemitic tool and there was growing criticism by state legislatures, elected officials and by Airbnb customers around the world,” Rothstein added. “Once Airbnb made their egregious announcement singling out Israel for boycott, StandWithUs set up a system that enabled nearly 10,000 people to write letters to the company expressing their outrage.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told the Journal in a phone interview that he was confident that Airbnb will eventually “reverse its discriminatory decision.”

“We will not let up on pressure until they do so,” Boteach said. “They cannot both condemn BDS and engage in it at the same time. The time for discrimination against Jews and Israel is at an end.”

Boteach had put an ad into The Washington Post a week earlier calling Airbnb’s policy anti-Semitic:

Ten UC Chancellors Denounce Academic Boycotts of Israel

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Ten UC chancellors signed a statement denouncing academic boycotts of Israel at the urging of the AMCHA Initiative.

The chancellors, including UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, were signatories to a statement that read, “We write to affirm our longstanding opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and/or individual scholar.”

“Our commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges and universities is unwavering,” the statement read. “We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse on the Middle East.”

The statement was issued in response to a letter from the AMCHA Initiative, which had 101 signatories, calling for university presidents to sign a pledge against academic boycotts. The signatories wrote a thank-you note to the UC chancellors.

“Our 101 organizations applaud you for issuing a strong and unwavering statement condemning the implementation of an academic boycott of Israel on UC campuses, in response to our request,” the letter stated. “We especially appreciate your unequivocal declaration that an academic boycott of Israel ‘poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East.’”

The letter continued, “Thank you again for your moral leadership, and for speaking up in defense of the academic rights of all students and faculty at the University of California.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Los Angeles bureau tweeted, “We commend Chancellors from all 10 campuses for their strong, proactive statement opposing academic boycotts of Israeli institutions & individual scholars. Thank you for prioritizing needs of students & pursuit of academic opportunity over politics.”

Max Samarov, executive director of research and campus strategy of StandWithUs, said in a statement sent to the Journal, “We applaud UC Chancellors for reaffirming their opposition to academic boycotts and their support for the free exchange of ideas.”

“Those who seek to cut Israeli academics off from the rest of the world or prevent students from studying in Israel are on the wrong side of history and engaging in bigotry,” Samarov said. “We urge all universities to increase academic exchanges and study abroad programs in Israel, in the face of this hateful campaign.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that it was “an important statement.”

“In a sense, it’s a shame that it even has to be made, but the idea that places that are supposed to be caretakers for freedom of speech would be in the front lines of shutting down and shutting out academic airplay with the Israeli institutions of higher learning, it’s a shameful reality,” Cooper said.

Cooper added that the condemnation needs to become a UC policy that applies “to deans, to academic advisors, to professors.”

Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, said in a statement sent to the Journal that while the statement is a good “first step,” the chancellors should also “address the hostile climate that BDS activities are creating in the university, which adversely affect all pro-coexistence students and faculty.”

“At the very least, the chancellors should make it public and explicit that Israeli and Zionist students are welcome at the University of California,” Pearl said.

So What If They Are Not Anti-Semitic?

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib canvasses a neighborhood before Election Day in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

Is anti-Zionism akin to anti-Semitism? The debate is tired, but continues full force nonetheless. “Certainly, some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but it’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot,” wrote Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. She then mastered all available arguments in support of her position, but neglected to mention the most powerful argument against it: Even if such a possibility exists — even if, theoretically speaking, there is indeed a way to “oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot” — in reality, such a posture is very rare. In reality, opposition to “Jewish ethno-nationalism” is just another manifestation of irrational bigotry against Jews.

The discussion about the proper boundaries of criticizing Israel has become a periodic practice for American Jews. It recently re-emerged because of the election of several pro-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) politicians to Congress, and because of an anti-BDS bill initiative, and because of the comments made by Marc Lamont Hill on CNN in support of “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

What Hill said is more idiotic than enraging. He should have been fired for being uneducated about an issue on which he opined as if he is an expert (and also for calling for our collective elimination). CNN later said it severed ties with the commentator. 

“If someone is after my country, he or she will not get a pass just because they can prove that they are not also anti-Semitic. “

What does Hill’s plan for a “free Palestine” even mean? Does he mean as free as the Palestinians in Gaza, where Hamas keeps them as hostages? Or maybe his model is the Palestinian Authority, where the last free election took place a very long time ago (in 2005, if you insist to have a date)? Or maybe free from Jews? No — not “Jews” Jews, just Israeli Jews. The Jews against whom it is permissible to rant.

Goldberg, in her defense of Rashida Tlaib, a congresswoman-elect from Michigan who is supportive of  BDS, is using her considerable wit in defense of her supposedly not anti-Semitic, anti-Israel-activism. Like her, many pundits, activists and politicians are putting a lot of effort into proving that one can dislike Israel without disliking Jews. Or that one can be in favor of dismantling Israel without this being an instance of anti-Jewish sentiment. Of course, the case of these people is dubious to begin with — as Natan Sharansky’s 3-D test of anti-Semitism established a long time ago (Google it). But even those willing to accept it must ask: What are these people up to? What is the ultimate aim of their intellectual investment?

The answer is simple: helping people be against Israel without feeling bad about it (or pay a political price for it). 

The premise underlying this trend of argumentation is not hard to follow: Disliking Jews is bad. If disliking Israel is parallel to disliking Jews, then disliking Israel is also bad. However, if disliking Israel isn’t parallel to disliking Jews, then disliking Israel isn’t necessarily bad. We can dislike Israel without feeling guilty. 

Let’s call this bluff. Let’s forget about anti-Semitism. 

Disliking Israel is bigotry in and of itself. 

Forget the Jews and their sensitivities. Israelis — yes, most of whom are Jews — have their own sensitivities. They want respect, consideration and understanding. They deserve fair treatment. They deserve not to be singled out for criticism that other, much worse communities in much worse countries don’t have to deal with. They deserve to get a hearing when they insist that what distant pundits and congresswomen propose as a policy for their country is unworkable and dangerous. Israelis have a right to be safe, and have a right to protect their culture. They have all the reasons in the world to say without apology: If someone is after my country, he or she will not get a pass just because they can prove that they are not also anti-Semitic.

Maccabee Task Force: The Pro-Israel Group That Is Quietly Defeating BDS on Campus

Screenshot from Facebook.

Pro-Israel groups throughout the United States have worked to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses. But there’s one organization that has become a major player in the fight against BDS that you might not have heard of: the Maccabee Task Force (MTF).

Founded in 2015, as a venture of billionaire businessman and Zionist activist Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson, MTF identifies college campuses with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic cultures and works directly with student organizations on campus to identify the best solutions for that particular campus rather than a one-size-fits all approach.

“We decided eventually to cut out the middleman and go directly to campus, to sit with the stakeholders, the people who I think know this challenge best, the pro-Israel student activists on those campuses, and then [a] professional on the campus who’s focused down on the campus, rather than having some loyalty to an outside group that might shift their focus,” David Brog, executive director of MTF, told the Journal in a phone interview. “So we just went to each of these campuses and sat with the stakeholders and started asking them, ‘Hey, it’s your campus. You understand it better than we do. You’re more closely connected to it than we are. What do you think would work here? What do you think would help us promote Israel on campus?’”

MTF began on six campuses in the 2015-16 school year; each of the six campuses they visited were able to come up with ideas that were unique to their own particular campus. MTF then expanded to 20 campuses the following academic year and then to 40 in the 2017-18 academic year. MTF is now on 80 campuses, including five Canadian campuses.

The ideas that comes out of MTF’s work with students and activists varies from campus to campus, but any action plan that arises must meet the following goals: a trip to Israel for student leaders, expanding the size of pro-Israel base on campus, taking back the quad – meaning that pro-Israel students take back the campus quad from the anti-Israel groups – and coalition building with other organizations.

Accomplishing these goals typically results in at least 20 large and small events on each campus.

“It enables us to really shift the climate and the culture on campus,” Brog said. “I think a lot of the efforts to date have been very limited. Local groups will bring a speaker to campus to give a speech, maybe they’ll bring a film to campus… speakers here and there, a film here and there, it doesn’t transform a campus. It’s too little. It’s too limited.”

What differentiates MTF’s Fact Finders trips to Israel from trips like Birthright’s, which focus on connecting young Jews with their identity and culture in Israel, is that MTF’s Israel trip delves deep into the Israel-Palestinian conflict, including visits to Judea and Samaria and the Palestinian Authority. The attendees are mostly non-Jewish leaders on campus as well as 3-5 pro-Israel students who recruited them to come to the trip.

The entire itinerary of the trip is meeting with different thought leaders, government leaders, security leaders, [and] religious leaders to hear about what’s going on in the conflict and how it affects people on the ground and you know what the political situations are,” Amir Kashfi, former president of Bruins for Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Journal in a phone interview.

Kashfi also said that most students who attend the trip arrive as staunch BDS supporters; when the trip is over, they become “very conflicted, very torn between different viewpoints.”

That’s the point: it’s to do an honest and fair job of showing all the different facets of this problem and empowering people to ask their own questions and come to their own conclusions,” Kashfi said.

Elan Karoll, a University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana student who served as the co-president of the pro-Israel group Illini Public Affairs Committee and was the 2018 StandWithUs campus activist of the year, had a similar experience on the Fact Finders trip. He was among the handful of Jewish leaders on the trip to help facilitate dialogue with the 30 non-Jewish student attendees, several of whom were members of their campus’ student government.

“A majority of them came away significantly more pro-Israel and came back to campus and they were able to help us defeat [a] BDS [resolution], which was so valuable,” Karoll told the Journal in a phone interview.

Kashfi called the Fact Finders trip is “one of the greatest success stories of Israel activism on campus and not just to UCLA but in the United States.” Karoll said that watching the attendees be exposed to Israel and the full nuance of the Israel-Palestinian conflict was “almost like rediscovering Israel.”

Brog said that the trip is effective in changing minds because “there’s a big, big difference between the Israel that is described on these hostile campuses and the reality of Israel.”

“If you take someone to Israel, they will immediately understand the difference, and they will immediately understand how wrong it is to blame only Israel for this conflict,” Brog said.

MTF has conducted 50 Fact Finders trips thus far, that number is expected to increase to 75 when the academic year is over.

MTF also works with students to offer follow-up events after the Israel trips to help build the coalition, such as bringing speakers to campus.

Kashfi said that MTF’s ability to “empower us to learn from our own successes and failures and to grow through trial and error and to see what works for our students on campus” to pro-Israel students launching the “Choose Love” campaign on Valentine’s Day to respond to Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) Israel Apartheid Week.

Every year the anti Israel folks bring out a big wall and they protest Israel and they paint Israel in a very bad light and create a really hostile campus climate,” Kashfi said, “and the way we respond is we have a ‘Choose Love’ booth where we set up a table a little farther up campus and we blast some Israeli music and we hand out T-shirts that people can paint and we have a little plastic piece that people use to paint the word love in three languages.”

“We try to really juxtapose the negativity and the hatred coming from the anti-Israel folks on campus with a really positive message of love and acceptance and coexistence,” Kashfi added, “and that’s something that other campuses have picked up since we started it, and that’s something that has spread through the Maccabee conference and through interaction with students and that’s something that wouldn’t be possible without Maccabee’s support and funding.”

At New York University (NYU), MTF has helped pro-Israel students put on an annual Yom Ha’atzmaut rave at Washington Square Park for the past three years to counteract BDS.

Adela Cojab, president of NYU’s Realize Israel, told the Journal in a phone interview that the rave gets “bigger and better” each year.

“If you can imagine 2,000 students in the middle of the park with Israeli flags singing, Jewish, non-Jewish, passerbys, people who plan to come,” Cojab said. “People will literally block out their day to come to the rave, and that’s only possible because of the Maccabee Task Force.”

The pro-BDS climate on NYU’s campus has become “exponentially aggressive,” according to Cojab, pointing out that two Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine students were arrested for disrupting their rave in April. Cojab added that MTF helped NYU students prepare for the rising tide of BDS by aiding them in quickly putting together pro-Israel demonstrations and flying out an anti-BDS professor from Emory University.

“That’s what makes me even more grateful to know that we have resources like Maccabee that are with us throughout it all,” Cojab said. “We’re not their first campus… it’s almost like a sense of comfort that you’re not alone through this, and if you can think of a wild idea to fight BDS, that wild idea can be implemented.”

Such ideas are also spread at MTF’s annual conference, Maccabee Academy, where students learn from each other the best ways to fight against BDS on campus. Cojab said that the conference connects students based on the similarities of the challenges they face on campus rather than geographical location.

“NYU might be in the same geographic area as, let’s say, Hunter College, but we’re more similar to UCLA in the type of student[s] and the type of activism that we seek,” Cojab said, “so they’ll connect us with those groups, they’ll connect us with the presidents of those clubs… that are in similar situations so we can brainstorm ideas off each other.”

Students who attend are also able to obtain some “advocacy skills” as well, according to Karoll.

Brog said that MTF doesn’t necessarily put their name on the ideas that come out of these campuses and says the credit belongs to the students. MTF is there to provide resources, such as funding.

“The students are the ones who are really doing this,” Brog said. “They’re giving us the ideas that we are taking national, and they’re the ones doing the work and they’re the ones that live on the campus. It’s important that they get the credit for the work.”

Brog told the Journal that MTF has been able to expand to the point where they’re not only on campuses that have the worst BDS presence, but to campuses that “produce an outsized percentage of tomorrow’s leaders and influencers.”

“Even if they don’t have an active SJP there, there’s still campuses where liberal media is largely dominant, where liberal academia is largely dominant, where students are getting an anti-Israel message in the absence of anti-Israel groups,” Brog said. “So we need to be there putting forth the truth about Israel and it’s critical, because so many leaders are coming from those campuses.”

Brog hopes to eventually expand MTF’s reach into European countries like Great Britain.

“I think we need to take the fight to hostile territory,” Brog said.

MTF is seeing the results of their growing influence on college campuses: MTF held 891 pro-Israel events on college campuses in the 2017-18 academic year, and brought 746 campus leaders on their trips to Israel. Out of the 16 MTF campuses that were expected to hold a vote on a BDS resolution, 10 of them actually held a vote and only three of those campuses saw the BDS resolutions pass.

Additionally, during the 2017-18 school year, Israel Apartheid Weeks were expected to be held on 33 of the 41 campuses that MTF was involved in; only 20 campuses held the event.

“SJP is discouraged,” Brog said. “They used to rule the roost. They used to be able to stride to campus like bullies and lie about Israel without being challenged. Now it’s less fun. Now they’re being challenged. Now the pro-Israel team is really speaking up more proudly and more boldly.”

University of Haifa President: Our School ‘Contradicts the BDS Narrative’

Ron Robin, the president of the University of Haifa, told the Journal in a phone interview that the university was likely targeted by the Pitzer College faculty because the school “contradicts the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] narrative.”

On Nov. 26, Pitzer faculty voted on a motion to suspend the college’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa, stating that the program should be suspended until Israel rescinds its policy of barring BDS supporters into the country.

Robin told the Journal that the vote “took us totally by surprise” since the University of Haifa provides study abroad programs to universities around the world and this was the first time to his knowledge that they were singled out by a college.

He pointed out that “Jews and Arabs co-exist as students and faculty members” at the university, as they’re bound by “their love of knowledge and mutual respect for each other.”

“This contradicts the BDS narrative, and they’re uncomfortable with it,” Robin said. “So rather than confront us, come to terms with it, they just banish us and send us to some distant academic Siberia by just cutting off student ties with us.”

Robin told the Journal that he engaged with the faculty member who led the effort to get the motion passed; he said the faculty member told him that Israeli is “a particularly nefarious state.” Robin then asked why him he was being so “selective” with his targeting of Israel and going after other countries in the same manner.

“He had no answer for that,” Robin said.

Robin praised Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver’s statement denouncing the motion as “heroic” and got the impression that most students on campus are against the motion.

Students who participate in the University of Haifa’s study abroad program will get “a sense of the complexity of the Israeli society,” Robin said. He added that the university is “broadening the middle class, broadening access to the startup nation” with a diverse community.

“We are producing a society that has all the merits that one would expect to find in a Western democracy, and I feel that is something that BDS just cannot stomach,” Robin said.

Marc Lamont Hill Appears to Accuse Israel of ‘Poisoning’ Palestinian Water

Screenshot from YouTube.

Marc Lamont Hill, who was recently fired from CNN for calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” appears to be accusing Israel of poisoning the water of Palestinians in a video.

In a video from the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) conference on Sept. 28, Hill says that Palestinians were “collectively punished” in 1948 and 1967.

“I can’t just think about political prisoners here in the states, I have to think about political prisoners in Palestine,” Hill said, “and I have to ask questions about what the face of those prisoners look like, and what legitimate resistance looks like.”

Hill adds that people who struggle tend to favor a “civil rights tradition” that “romanticizes nonviolence.”

“How can you romanticize nonviolence when you have a state that is at all moments waging war against you, against your bodies, poisoning your water, limiting your access to water, locking up your children, killing them,” Hill said. “We can’t romanticize resistance.”

In June 2016, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused “certain rabbis in Israel” of telling “their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.” He later walked it back after facing criticism of using an anti-Semitic blood libel.

Hill continues, “So for me, part of the challenge is when we start saying we should overcome and holding hands and sit-ins, which is an important and indispensable strategy, I would never disrespect that strategy. We just can’t fetishize that strategy. We can’t fetishize that here in the states.”

Hill proceeds to call the “hands up, don’t shoot” protest against the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown as “problematic”

“This ain’t the posture I want to have against a violent state,” Hill said, adding that he would prefer to go “Leila Khaled-style,” an apparent reference to the convicted terrorist who was involved in both an airplane hijacking and an attempted airplane hijacking.

Hill then says, “Yeah I’m probably fired right now.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement sent to the Journal, “Marc Lamont Hill apologized for his Jordan to the Sea/ Palestine Will be Free statement capping his outrageous UN speech. While he is at it, he can apologize for repeating the canard that Israel poisoned Palestinian drinking water, his justification for Palestinian violence and terrorism, his relationship with [Louis] Farrakhan, and perhaps rethinking his vision of one ‘secular’ Arab-majority state in the Holy Land. “

“Can this Temple University educator point to an Israeli neighbor’s treatment of minorities—Syria perhaps, Egypt, Jordan, worth emulating?” Cooper added. “Don’t think so. And by the way, Palestinian Authority is committed to a Judenrein Holy Land.”

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement to the Journal, “Hill has made his views very clear at the UN and at anti-Israel conferences. His apology failed to address the fact that he tried to shield Palestinian groups from accountability for terrorism against Israelis.”

“We are grateful that CNN parted ways with him due to his extremist and dangerous views and that Temple University leaders have condemned his rhetoric,” Rothstein added.

When asked for comment by the Journal, a spokesperson for Temple University pointed to the university president’s Friday statement distancing themselves from Hill’s “free Palestine” comments but recognizing his right to free speech.

Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of the university’s board, told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday that Hill would have been fired “immediately” if Temple were a private university; however, Hill is a tenured professor. O’Connor told the Inquirer that the university’s legal staff will “look at what remedies we have.”

Hill has apologized for his “free Palestine” comments.

Hill and the USCPR did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment as of publication time.

H/T: SJP Leaks

Birthright Students and Israel: The Story the L.A. Times Missed

Screenshot from Facebook.

In the last year, 40,000 students from around the world, 80 percent from North America, participated in Birthright Israel trips. Last summer, 12 of them, members of the group If Not Now, staged a walkout on two Birthright trips. It was planned in advance. They signed up with the agenda of walking out, sharing the story on social media and creating controversy. Now, some five months later, the Los Angeles Times took the bait. In a front-page story, “Young American Jews spark Birthright Debate” (Dec. 5), they played up what they called a small movement among American Jews to protest Israeli policies by leaving Birthright. The Times did not tell the reader that this was far from a small movement. Rather it’s a sliver; some 12 students out of 40,000, just .0003 percent.

Yes, this group does have a few supporters, but this is not news. Ever since Israel was established 70 years ago, there has been an element of the Jewish community on the far-left opposed to its policies. In the 1970s, Breira and the New Jewish Agenda emerged, criticizing Israel’s policies when PLO terror was at its height. They were followed by Peace Now and others. If Not Now is just the latest incarnation of this political philosophy. It is carrying on the same ideas that have been championed by its ideological predecessors for decades. It’s old news.

Instead of turning to campus rabbis, leaders and professionals on the ground to give the Times more perspective, the writer seeks the viewpoints of community rabbis with little campus involvement. The Times highlights the views of Rabbi Sharon Brous, known for her criticism of Israel. The reporter also doesn’t explore the other criticisms of Birthright that I and others have, namely its refusal to give balance to the program by visiting Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line. Clearly, this seems more like agenda journalism than real reporting.

With a little gumshoe, the reporter could have discovered the biggest challenge facing Jewish students today. One of the leading campus professionals in the United States, Rebbetzin Rivkah Slonim, of Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life in Binghamton, N.Y.,  recently described the real threat of BDS: Jewish students who are “Bored, Disinterested and Satisfied.” Growing up with little Jewish education and weakening ties to Jewish community, feeling little motivation from outside threats of anti-Semitism or causes like the plight of Soviet Jewry to rally around, today’s students are increasingly disengaging from Jewish life. According to Slonim, the actual challenge is reconnecting these students to Judaism.

Campus rabbis and Birthright organizers say that there is a marked change among students today from those of 10 years ago. Then, they had a modicum of Jewish knowledge and were active in the community. Today’s students, says Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi at Harvard Chabad, come knowing almost nothing. Some feel sympathy for what they perceive are the victims, in this case, the “weak” Palestinians versus the “powerful” Israelis, but that percentage is not large. The real issue is that Israel and Judaism is not important to many Jewish students. One of the great successes of Birthright is that it has, in many cases, ignited that bond.

Assigning a reporter known for her excellent coverage of local news on such a complicated and nuanced story, the connection of American Jews to Israel, is clearly a major mistake. Inexperienced and lacking a depth on the real issue, the reporter and the Times has done all of us a major disservice. It’s absurd to claim that 12 students out of 40,000 walking out over a trip to Israel is sparking a major debate or signals a shift in the attitudes of American Jews toward Israel. There have always been students critical of Israel—that is not news. The real news is the disengagement of Jews from Judaism and Israel because of the lack of Jewish education and the strategies like Birthright that are changing that trend. Which the Times never even tried to discover.

Rabbi David Eliezrie, a former campus rabbi, is the president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County. His email is rabbi@ocjewish.com.


Mayor of Frankfurt Leads German Pro-Israel Activism

Uwe Becker

Uwe Becker’s Facebook page might confuse followers into thinking he’s the mayor of an Israeli city. Almost every other post includes references to Israel. One features a screenshot of “red alerts” signaling attacks on southern Israel. One profile picture reads, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” After the attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue, it was changed to: “#TogetherAgainstAntisemitism.” 

Of course, he’s not the mayor of an Israeli city but of Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital. He’s also one of Germany’s most pro-Israel politicians, having taken up Israel’s cause with steadfastness, out of personal conviction and an understanding of Frankfurt’s Jewish roots. 

At his office at the Town Hall in the historic city center, he pointed through the window to the Paulskirche (House Church), where German Jews led the first National Assembly in 1848 to establish constitutional democracy in Germany, a movement that was eventually quelled by the ruling, aristocratic elite. The Rothschild banking family hails from Frankfurt. Evidence of Jewish life in Frankfurt dates to the 12th century, but it is believed to have begun under the Roman legions. They lived largely as merchants, traders and moneylenders in this imperial free city.

“It’s the most Israel-friendly and the most Jewish city in Germany,” Becker said proudly, surrounded by Israeli and Jewish memorabilia.

Leaving his office without a security detail, he took a reporter on a brief city tour, starting with the restored Old Town. The first Jewish ghetto in Europe was set up in the Judengasse (Jewish Alley) in 1462. In the seminal book on the history of German Jewry, “The Pity of It All,” 19th-century German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is cited as describing the overcrowded, heavily regulated ghetto as follows: “The confinement, the dirt, the swarm of people … made a disagreeable impression, even from only outside the gate. … And yet they were also human beings, energetic, agreeable. Their obstinacy in sticking to their own customs, one could not deny to respect it. Moreover, the girls were pretty.”

While Becker trumpets Frankfurt as a “Jewish city,” Jews were not spared persecution throughout the ages, including the Holocaust, to Becker’s deep pain. Today, the Jewish cemetery constitutes the city’s Holocaust Memorial, and the Jewish Museum is situated in the former Judengasse.

Fast forward to the early 1980s, and Tel Aviv and Frankfurt are declared sister cities, a natural match considering both are the only cities in their respective countries with a true metropolitan skyline. A tram goes through the city parading pictures of Tel Aviv and the Hebrew word for “friendship.”

“I would call it one of our most vivid partnerships,” Becker said. “With Tel Aviv, there is a very deep connection between bilateral visits and youth exchange.”

Thanks to Becker’s lobbying, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has been declared anti-Semitic by his party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Frankfurt bans BDS activities from its municipal spaces and doesn’t do business with banks that engage BDS and BDS-affiliated groups.

“I saw [BDS] was gaining support, and I was afraid that when they brand Israel like the worse ‘apartheid’ state, it would be really difficult to change. I said to myself, ‘We can’t wait to let them march on the ground.’ ”

Becker’s public pro-Israel line isn’t always in sync with the reigning policies of his own political party, which as of late is has been accused of having grown tepid in its support for Israel. Lame-duck Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government criticized President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Becker publicly praised the president’s decision. 

Similarly, in reaction to Trump’s defunding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the German government pledged to fill in the gaps — to Becker’s dismay. He also opposes dealings with an Iran that pledges Israel’s destruction while the German government (part of the P5+1 coalition that signed the agreement) seeks to salvage the Iran deal. 

He thinks the German position to cater to Palestinians and Iran comes from a desire to be evenhanded and humanitarian. 

“Historically, Germany has always tried to moderate conflict, to be in the role where two possible partners accept Germany as a moderating partner,” he said.

He shares his government’s support of a two-state solution, but as the best option in the face of no other viable alternatives. However, support for the Palestinian Authority must cease until it ends terror attacks and its pay-for-slay schemes, he said. 

“As long as Gaza uses money for terror tunnels, we must freeze our aid,” he said.

On the controversial refugee policy, Becker recognized a need to assist asylum seekers but he favors rapid integration and the combatting of anti-Semitism in their midst, which includes not only visits to concentration camps but education on Israel. He thinks as an international city, which accepted some 7,000 refugees, Frankfurt is poised to lead the change. Today, about 7,000 Jews live in Frankfurt.

As the Catholic grandnephew of a local mayor who belonged to the Nazi-resistant SPD party, Becker’s support for Israel doesn’t necessarily come from the “historic responsibility” many Germans feel because of the Shoah, but from the personal connection he developed upon his first visit to Israel in 2004. 

“To make it short, I fell in love with the country. … When you get back to Germany and Europe and you see how the media is reporting on Israel in a way that’s different from the situation, it really got my internal motivation to say that someone has to tell the real story about the country.”

Orit Arfa is a journalist and author based in Berlin. 

101 Pro-Israel Organizations Call on 250 Universities to Condemn Academic BDS

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A group of 101 pro-Israel organizations sent a letter on Tuesday to 250 university leaders to condemn academic boycotts of Israel.

The letter, as part of an AMCHA Initiative campaign, called for the university leaders to sign the University Leaders Statement Against the Implementation of an Academic Boycott of Israel, arguing that it was necessary after two University of Michigan instructors refused to write letters of recommendation for students to study abroad in Israel and Pitzer College faculty voted on a motion to suspend the college’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa.

“We are concerned at the prospect of some individuals on our campuses actually proceeding to implement an academic boycott by complying with the 2014 guidelines of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI),” the University Leaders Statement reads. “Implementing these guidelines will not only inflict serious harm on Israeli academic institutions, but on faculty and students at our own schools as well.”

The statement quotes the PACBI guidelines that members of academia should aim toward “the cancellation or annulment of events, activities, agreements, or projects involving Israeli academic institutes or that otherwise promote the normalization of Israel in the global academy…or violate the BDS guidelines.”

“All of these actions to implement academic boycotts of Israel subvert the scholarly and educational opportunities or curtail the academic freedom of colleagues and students who are members of our own campus communities,” the statement reads. “Some of the actions above, along with other forms of personal assault, are carried out by students as well.”

“Treating one’s own students or faculty colleagues as collateral damage to a political agenda is wrong and violates the principles of collegiality and academic integrity central to our institutions,” the statement continues. “We condemn such behavior in the strongest terms.”

The universities that the letter was sent to includes UCLA, UC Berkeley and Columbia University; the organizations that signed the letter include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs and Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

“University presidents must sign this condemnation pledge and make it clear that this reprehensible behavior which, in the name of politics, directly violates the rights of students and curtails students’ educational opportunities, will not be tolerated,” AMCHA Initiative director Tammi Ross-Benjamin said in a statement sent to the Journal.

Brave Students Oppose Anti-Semitism

Photo from Flickr.

Most of us never have to deal with anti-Zionist activists protesting outside our homes or harassing us at our jobs. We can make a conscious decision to face our opponents at rallies or protests or in other public settings, but we almost never enter into in-person encounters unless we deliberately choose to do so. 

But brave pro-Israel students at UCLA and other universities face that challenge every day. Last week, I wrote about the threat of anti-Semitism on our college campuses and praised those students for the work they do and the risks they take to confront that threat. But even while we support and applaud those courageous young people, many in the Jewish community have come to view the campus battle lines as something far removed from our own lives. 

What happens on college campuses, though, rarely stays on college campuses. And the thing to remember about college students is that they often graduate. After they receive their diplomas, they take with them into the real world the lessons they learned both inside and outside the classroom. A cultural attitude or policy preference that a young person develops as an undergraduate doesn’t disappear when they finish college; it accompanies them for many years afterward.

Once they complete their education, these young people grow up to stay at Airbnbs when they travel. They buy music from Lana del Rey and Lorde. They join the National Women’s March, even if the March’s leaders are consorting with Louis Farrakhan. 

None of these ideological or consumer choices make someone anti-Semitic, of course. But our biggest danger as a community doesn’t come from a small number of haters as much as from a much larger group that ignores or tolerates or minimizes hate. The more difficult challenge is not from those few individuals who learned during their college years that they should despise us, but rather the much larger group that learned they just shouldn’t care very much one way or the other.

This ambivalence manifests itself in every corner of society. The owners of Airbnb aren’t anti-Semites. It just never occurred to them that discriminating against Jewish settlers on the West Bank was anything more than a politically correct concession. Most of the singers who refuse to perform in Israel aren’t intentionally malicious, but rather simply oblivious to the security necessities of a nation that must protect its people against terrorism. And those Women’s Marchers who choose to excuse the behavior of their leaders aren’t haters themselves, they’ve just decided that the March’s other goals are higher priorities than standing up against hate directed toward the Jewish community and homeland.

Until now.

With the notable exception of courageous leaders like Amanda Berman and her colleagues at the Zioness Movement, too many Women’s March participants and supporters have been willing to overlook the close relationship that March leaders Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory maintain with a notorious anti-Semite like Farrakhan. It was only after Farrakhan’s most recent invectives against the Jewish people that broader pressure began to build on Sarsour and Mallory to distance themselves from him. (Women’s March Founder Teresa Shook, actor Alyssa Milano and several regional March leaders deserve special credit for their efforts to bring necessary attention to the controversy.) 

Sarsour and Mallory have issued defiant and unsatisfactory responses to this pressure, creating a dilemma for all the women and men who support the March’s goals. Is it better to pretend that Farrakhan’s allies in the March leadership have satisfied our concerns about their relationship with him and their support of his agenda? Or does it make more sense to continue to push for their ouster, even at the risk of potentially weakening the broader impact of the March scheduled for Jan. 19?

The answer can be determined by how troubled each of us is when anti-Zionism oozes into anti-Semitism, and where this particularly noxious brand of hatred ranks on the list of outrages to decide how much that disagreement matters to each of us.

Dan Schnur is a professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, and at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. He is the founder of the USC-L.A. Times statewide political survey and the former director of the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles region.

Progressive Zionists of the CA Democrat Party ‘Deeply Disappointed’ in Rashida Tlaib’s Support for BDS

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib canvasses a neighborhood before Election Day in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party told the Journal that they were “deeply disappointed” in Congresswoman-Elect Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on Monday.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian woman to be elected to Congress, came out in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and told The Intercept, “I personally support the BDS movement” because of “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party told the Journal that they’re “deeply disappointed and troubled by Rashida Tlaib’s support of BDS and of one-state solution.”

“They are inconsistent with the platform of the Democratic Party, which clearly opposes BDS and supports a just peace, a two-state solution, and the safety, dignity, and sovereignty of Israelis and Palestinians,” they said. “We hope that Congresswoman Tlaib is willing to engage with people within and outside of her district as well as other representatives in the House who are troubled by her extreme views.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an emailed statement that Tlaib should realize that “Germany has deemed BDS anti-Semitic.”

“If Congresswoman-elect Tlaib wants to help bring peace and reconciliation to the region she should stop embracing extremist campaigns that never help a single Palestinians, whose only goals are the demonization and de-legitimization of the Israel, America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East,” Cooper told the Journal. “If she chooses to promote such campaigns, she puts herself in the camp of those that seek the Jewish state’s demise.”

The Intercept’s report was focused on how Tlaib is substituting AIPAC’s annual trip to Israel for newly elected members of Congress with her own trip to the Palestinian territories to “highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories, which Tlaib likens to what African-Americans in the United States endured in the Jim Crow era.”

StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein told the Journal while it’s “problematic” for Tlaib to support “a discriminatory, anti-Semitic campaign,” it is “even more troubling that she refuses to learn from facts-on-the-ground in Israel.”

“Perhaps she fears that those facts will get in the way of her strongly-held anti-Israel beliefs,” Rothstein added.

Maccabee Task Force executive director David Brog told the Journal in a statement that if Tlaib were to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority and take off her “ideological blinders,” she would learn “how wrong she is when she blames Israel – and only Israel – for this conflict, which is exactly what she’s doing by supporting BDS.”

“The Maccabee Task Force knows from the experience of bringing thousands of students to both Israel and the Palestinian territories that an unbiased visit to the region is the greatest antidote that there is to BDS,” Brog said.

On the other hand, groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) expressed support for Tlaib’s actions.

“Palestinian rights are being integrated into the broader progressive agenda,” JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson told The Intercept. “It’s becoming almost standard that if you support single-payer health care and climate justice, you’ll support Palestinian rights.”

Tlaib has previously come out against the idea of a two-state solution and supports cutting aid to Israel. When Tlaib won the race, she had the Palestinian flag draped around her shoulders before giving her victory speech.

Tlaib joins Congresswoman-Elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in announcing their support of the BDS movement after they won their respective elections.

AIPAC declined to comment on this story.

DeSantis: ‘BDS Is Nothing More Than a Cloak for Anti-Semitism’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis (R) said during his speech at the 2018 Israeli-American Council (IAC) conference that he intends to crack down on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement when he becomes governor.

DeSantis told the audience he has “already warned companies like Airbnb that if you single out Jews in Judea and Samaria for disparate treatment, we are going to review our BDS laws… and we are going to act.”

“We need to fight anti-Semitism on all fronts and BDS is nothing more than a cloak for anti-Semitism,” DeSantis said.

He later added that companies boycotting Israel “is a red line for us” and called Israel “what is right with the Middle East.”

DeSantis also pledged to continue funding for security at Jewish day schools and called on the Trump administration to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, arguing that such land is too strategically important to fall into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah.

Additionally, DeSantis called on the Department of Justice to begin prosecuting Palestinian terrorists who murder American citizens abroad.

“I want justice,” DeSantis said, pointing out that the United States extradites terrorists from other parts of the world who murder American citizens.

DeSantis concluded his speech with a message to companies that engage in boycotts of Israel: “Go ahead and make my day, because I will act and act quickly.”

Pitzer College President Condemns Motion to Suspend Israel Study Abroad Program

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

During a Thursday speech before the Pitzer College Council, Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver condemned a motion, approved by the school’s faculty on Monday, to suspend the college’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa.

In a transcript of the speech obtained by the Journal, Oliver said that the arguments favoring the motion “show little or no consideration for our educational objectives and mission.”

“To deny Pitzer students who want to study at Haifa University the opportunity to study abroad and to enter into dialogue and promote intercultural understanding at the altar of political considerations is anathema to Pitzer’s core values,” Oliver said. “If the suspension of the Haifa University program becomes a reality, this will be paltry support for the cause of Palestinian rights and a major blow to the reputation and reality of Pitzer College as a scholarly institution committed to its stated values of intercultural understanding and the ability of students to pursue their vision of educational engagement.”

Part of the faculty’s stated reason for supporting the motion was Israel’s ban on supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) from entering the country; Oliver pointed out that Israel’s Supreme Court overruled the government’s attempt to prevent United States student Lara Alqasem from studying at Hebrew University under the ban.

This, Oliver argued, differentiates the Israeli court from the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld President Trump’s travel ban.

“Are we ready to have other colleges and universities ban their students from attending Pitzer College because of our national immigration laws?” Oliver asked.

Additionally, Oliver highlighted the fact that Pitzer still has study abroad programs in countries like China that engage in “significant human right’s abuses.”

“China currently has 1 million Muslims imprisoned in re-education camps. Why would we not suspend our program with China?” Oliver asked. “Or take our longest standing program in Nepal where the Pitzer in Nepal program has been run for over 40 years. During that time they have had a bloody civil war that killed 19,000 people. Why Israel?”

Oliver concluded his speech by arguing that the motion would “foolishly alienate a large percentage of our Jewish and non-Jewish constituents.”

“This decision has consequences; consequences that will over time limit our reach, adversely affect our ability to implement our academic goals such as research funding and innovative academic programming; and create a misleading impression of our campus community and alumni,” Oliver said.

ADL Responds to CNN Commentator Calling for a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called CNN political commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s call for a “free Palestine from the river to sea” on Wednesday “divisive” and “destructive” in an email to the Journal.

According to Arutz Sheva, Hill accused Israel in a Wednesday speech at the United Nations of infringing upon “citizenship rights to Palestinians just because they are not Jewish” and denying “due process” to Palestinians.

Hill went on to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and said that while peace is the highest priority, “we must not romanticize or fetishize it.”

“We must promote non violence at every opportunity, but cannot endorse narrow politics that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in ethnic cleansing,” Hill said.

He added that he thinks that there needs to be “a Free Palestine from the River to the Sea.”

Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior vice president for international affairs, told the Journal in an email, “Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.”

“It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel,” Nazarian said.

Similarly, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “Justice requires a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’? Marc Lamont Hill is a confirmed anti-Zionist ideologue. His extremist, anti-peace views merit coverage on CNN, not as a paid pundit but as a supreme propagandist unfettered by facts.”

Cooper added, “By the way Marc, where will you put the nearly 9 million Israeli citizens, nearly 20% of whom are Arabs? Any Palestinian entity we’ve been told will be Judenrein—only place left is… Mediterranean Sea.”

Hill responded to some of the criticism he received from his remarks on Twitter:

Hill has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Pitzer College Faculty Votes to Suspend Study Abroad Program in Israel

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The faculty of Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges, voted on a motion to end its study abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel on Monday.

According to the Claremont Independent, Pitzer’s faculty voted to suspend the program until Israel ends its policy of preventing supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering the country and begins to grant “visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.”

The faculty also passed a motion expressing their dissatisfaction with Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver and the Board of Trustees’ decision to render invalid a student government resolution passed in 2017 calling the college to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

“We the Faculty object to the president and trustees singling out this one issue as a basis for not accepting the Senate’s longstanding autonomy in controlling its funds, in the context of Pitzer’s governance system,” the dissension read.

Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa, said in a statement that the university is “highly disappointed” in the vote to suspend the study abroad program.

As Pitzer’s Student Senate articulated in a powerful resolution, the faculty’s decision is ‘a flagrant advancement of a political agenda at the expense of students who seek opportunities in Middle East/North African Studies, Arabic, Hebrew, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the intercultural relations of Israeli and Palestinian ethnicities,’” Robin said. “Indeed, Israel’s commitment to an open and inclusive society in which multiculturalism and interfaith tolerance thrive is no more evident than on the University of Haifa campus, where an approximately 25-percent-Arab student body exceeds the 20-percent-Arab population of the country as a whole.”

The resolution Robin referenced states, “The Pitzer College Student Senate denounces the Faculty’s desire to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa and the Faculty’s decision to act unilaterally without regard to Student Voice, which constitutes an abuse of power and rebuke of Pitzer’s tradition of shared governance.”

There will be a campus-wide discussion held on Thursday to discuss the faculty’s motion to suspend the study abroad program.

Ron Krudo, executive director of campus affairs for StandWithUs, told the Journal in an email, “Faculty shouldn’t be trying to limit educational opportunities and undermine academic freedom on campus.”

“We are encouraged by the student government’s resolution criticizing the anti-study abroad vote and hope other Pitzer governing bodies will join them in standing up for the free exchange of ideas,” Krudo added.  

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative Director, condemned the faculty’s votes as “absolutely reprehensible.”

“These Pitzer faculty members have abrogated their most basic professional responsibility – to promote the academic welfare of their students,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “President Oliver must immediately condemn this action and publicly commit to ensuring that no Pitzer student will be impeded from studying about or in Israel and that faculty will not be permitted to implement an academic boycott of Israel at Pitzer.”

A university spokesperson told the Journal that the university will refrain from commenting on the matter until the governing process on it is complete.

Beverly Hills City Council Advocates for Boycott of Airbnb

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Beverly Hills City Council called for a boycott of Airbnb after the organization announced that they would no longer be providing listings to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

In a unanimously passed resolution on Nov. 21, the city council denounced Airbnb’s decision as an example of “hatred, prejudice, ignorance and hypocrisy” and “antithetical to the values that we hold dear in Beverly Hills.”

“The City of Beverly Hills hereby calls upon Airbnb to correct this act of disrespect to the land of Israel and restore its original services immediately,” the resolution states. “In the event that Airbnb does not stop, we call upon all civilized people across the globe to boycott Airbnb until such time as they desist from these despicable anti-Semitic actions.”

Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch said in a statement, “Airbnb is not welcome in Beverly Hills as long as its policies are based on anti-Jewish double standards.”

“Jew hatred is a disease,” Mirisch said. “We can try to inoculate others against this malady but we also must protect ourselves against its effects.”

In a statement, Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold called Airbnb’s decision “deplorable.”

“On behalf of our residents, this unanimous resolution reflects the City Council’s ongoing commitment to Israel and to exposing hatred anywhere it exists,” Gold said.

Airbnb announced on Nov. 19 that they would be removing their listings from Judea and Samaria after consulting with myriad legal experts.

“There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank,” Airbnb said in a statement. “Airbnb has deep respect for those views. Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a Nov. 21 letter to the Airbnb that the ADL was “dismayed” at their decision.

“With this decision, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and its supporters will be further emboldened and view it as a victory for their hateful campaign against Israel,” Greenblatt wrote.

Some pro-Israel activists, such as Adam Milstein, have suggested that Airbnb users switch to other sites like Booking.com instead, which has said that they will not implement Airbnb’s policy.

Two Nice Jewish Boys: Episode 115 – The Liberal That Battles BDS on Campuses

The battle against BDS is a sort of David vs Goliath style fight. On one side you have the BDS supporters, heavily funded by foreign governments and NGOs, reinforced by celebrities, activists and an army of social media justice warriors. And on the other side you’ve got a handful of eloquent volunteers who stand as a human shield, trying to protect what’s left of Israel’s dignity in the world.

The battle is not an easy one at all. Ask Hen Mazzig. Hen is an Israeli Jew from Mizrahi descent (we’ll get to why that’s important later). After a meaningful service in the IDF, Hen decided he can’t stand on the sidelines any longer and watch as his country’s PR crumbles. While he’s a proud member of the LGBT community here in Israel and even critical of the right-wing government and its policies, Hen has been touring the world for years, giving lectures at extremely hostile campuses, and generally getting the word out there – BDS is bad, for everyone, especially the Palestinians.

Hen joins us today to discuss his life and the path that led him to fight BDS.

Hen Mazzig’s official website, his Facebook and Twitter.

For more Two Nice Jewish Boys, click here.

Two Nice Jewish Boys, Jewish news, Jewish journal, BDS, Campuses, Liberals, David vs Goliath, Hen Mazzig, LGBTQ

RSS Subscribe

Direct Download

Airbnb to Stop Providing Services to Judea, Samaria

Airbnb announced on Nov. 19 that they will no longer put up listings from Judea and Samaria on their website.

In a statement, the organization wrote that they had previously been operating in the area “as allowed by law.”

After talking to various legal experts, Airbnb decided to “remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“This is a controversial issue,” the statement read. “There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Airbnb has deep respect for those views. Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow.”

Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat, told Reuters, “When they [Airbnb] make such a decision, they get involved with politics, which … is going to defeat the actual purpose of the enterprise itself,” pointing out that the company lauds itself for bringing people together.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder Rabbi Marvin Hier and Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper called Airbnb’s decision an act of “double standard anti-Semitism.”

“We take note that Airbnb has no problem doing business in the territory of the Palestinian Authority, which names schools and shopping centers in honor of mass murderers who have killed innocent civilians and have a ‘pay to slay’ policy when it comes to killing Jews,” Hier and Cooper said in a statement. “We don’t expect Airbnb to be geo-political experts, but today’s draconian and unjust move, which only empowers extremists and terrorists, merits only one response—taking our community’s business elsewhere.”

Sarsour Accuses Anti-BDS Progressives of Having ‘Allegiance to Israel’

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour accused progressives who were critical of newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of having “allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

As the Journal has previously reported, Omar’s campaign announced her support for the BDS movement on Monday after stating earlier in the campaign that she was opposed to it. Sarsour expressed her support for Omar in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“She’s being attacked for saying that she supports BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) and the right for people to engage in constitutionally protected freedoms,” Sarsour wrote. “This is not only coming from the right-wing but folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

Sarsour added, “You don’t have to support BDS and have every right not to but we cannot stand by idly while a brave Black Muslim American woman is targeted for saying she will uphold the constitution of the United States of America as a member of the US Congress.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted that Sarsour used “one of the oldest and most pernicious anti-Semitic tropes” in her Facebook post:

Similarly, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg tweeted:

Sarsour also reportedly said in September that Israelis shouldn’t be humanized.

Actresses Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano are among the notable names who have said that they will not participate in the Women’s March due to Sarsour and other Women’s March leaders’ ties to noted anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.