JStreet - Do You Even Support Israel? By: Ilan Sinelnikov December 15, 2016
Yesterday Jeremy Ben-Ami published an article titled "MOVING THE US EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM IS STILL A BAD IDEA". In his article, Ben-Ami mentioned three points that should hold back the move of the U.S. Embassy: The Situation on the Ground, Danger to US Interests, Misunderstanding the American Jewish Community.
After I read the article, I would like to let Jeremy Ben-Ami know what my view on the issue is.
Let's start with the following: Until the embassy won't be moved I won't be excited about it. Many Presidents had the chance to move it and until today no one has done so. That day, and if it will move at all, I will make sure to get excited about the issue.
Now let's get to the point.
J Street is not a pro-Israel organization. An organization that backs up its decisions and articles in paragraphs like "Danger to US Interests, Misunderstanding the American Jewish Community," cannot say they are pro-Israel. Maybe J Street isn't anti-Israel like others but they are not pro-Israel. An organization that is pro-Israel will first worry about Israeli interests before they will worry about how the American Jewish community will be seen and judged here; they should worry about how their cousins in Israel won't be killed by their other cousins in the Middle East. J Street = not a pro-Israel organization.
Ben-Ami in his article IGNORES the Jewish connection and the Israeli connection to Jerusalem. Mr. Ben Ami, I understand that your capital is Washington D.C. and that maybe one day you will try to get into politics here in the US. However, Jerusalem is the one and only united Israeli capital. This was our capital for thousands of years and this will be forever our capital, so... you are afraid to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem? The place we pray towards three times a day? The place we swear in our wedding, we will never forget? Are you out of your mind?
Let's talk about the article itself: Ben-Ami writes, while Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital,” the city is, in fact, neither. Jerusalem is a clearly divided city between easily defined Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. I say: Yes Jerusalem has Jewish and Arab neighborhoods but so does Chicago- they have South Chicago that is mostly black and they have the suburbs that are fully white. So does LA, which has Compton that is mostly black and other areas that are mostly white. So does Dearborn, MI that is almost fully Muslim and Detroit. Does it make these cities, not part of the US based on your logic?
Ben-Ami writes, When the city’s status is resolved, undoubtedly many nations, including the US, will move their embassies there – both to Israel and to Palestine. At the moment, not one nation has its embassy there. I say: When the city status is resolved? The city status is resolved! In 1967 we freed the city. For years Jerusalem was occupied by many forces and finally 50 years ago we freed the city; the city is now united once again under Israel's control. Were you there lately? Did you see how much the city developed? How Jerusalem became even more beautiful that what it was before? Currently, no countries have their embassy in Jerusalem not because of the Israeli-Arab conflict but due to this reason: many countries are afraid of the reaction of the Muslim world if they would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Other countries are just not willing to recognize the simple fact that this city is controlled by the Jewish people again. It seems like you aren't brave enough either.
Ben-Ami writes Jerusalem is a powder keg. Upending the status quo with an announcement like this is a surefire way to make it explode. I say: aren't you the one that fights against the status quo in order to solve the conflict? So when it comes to Jerusalem, you want to keep the status quo? The double standard that you and your organization show is unreal, there is no backbone. The city to explode? You weren't there in the past months when terror was in the city on daily basis, were you? You weren't there in 2003 when I was, and buses were blown up left and right? What are you talking about? The city right now wasn't exploding because our cousins can't handle the fact it is under Israeli control? Ben-Ami writes, 'Ill-advised, short-sighted steps in Jerusalem – like moving the US Embassy – move us further away from the two-state solution' – which is actually supported by the majority of American Jews.
I say, moving the embassy will make the two-state solution closer, and actually the two-state solution is supported by the Israeli PM whom you are so much against. Only when the Palestinians will have something to lose, will they come to the table; with President Obama they had NOTHING to lose and we had 8 years of nothing. In negotiations there are two sides: the stronger one and weaker one and right now we are the stronger side which I hope will be the case forever. When the Palestinians will realize they have something to lose they will come to make peace. About the majority American Jewish community - at the end, they don't live in Israel and what makes one happy in D.C. doesn't make one happy in Jerusalem.
I'll end by saying that until today I had a narrow problem with J Street and what it stands for. Today, I believe J Street is an organization that hurts me as an Israeli. It doesn't speak for me, it doesn't support me and it does anything it can to make sure more pressure will be applied to me. One day J Street will realize that for their values they sold out the Israeli people. For their values without terror and war, they sold out my family and myself. And as for their JEWISH values that they follow - they don't even live in the Jewish land. Shame on you Ben-Ami and shame on your organization. I'll end up by saying that when you spoke at the University of Minnesota a few years ago we asked you a question: "Aren't you afraid that for your vision and your beliefs more Israelis will be killed?" And I'll never forget your answer: "Yes there will be casualties but this is the right thing to do." Well, when you will live in Israel you can say that, but when you live in the US don't gamble on my family who live in Israel.
24/7 of No Sleep - School Year Begins By: SSI Nationals September 13, 2016
The last week was almost 24/7 of no sleep for the SSI national team. The school year is starting, and it is going to be another academic year full of Israel activism on campuses across North America. In the past week also over two million students returned to school in Israel. This is important to remember, because in SSI when we represent Israel on campus, we always think about the people themselves behind the word “Israel,” and the many diverse and wonderful individuals who together make up the Israeli society.
At the beginning of the year it is important to reflect on why do we need SSI on campuses, because true activism is when the vision and the purpose of what we do is always in front of us, guiding our actions. Here are some of the reasons why SSI is so important.
We need SSI because the pro-Israel community needs a united grassroots student movement ON-CAMPUS that empowers students and helps them own and be proud of their success. Because students on college campuses across North America are the future leaders of the free world, and they need to know Israel's story. Because American and Canadian campuses became so poisoned with anti-Israel rhetoric that what you hear in classes and out on the lawn starts to sound like the lies dictators say in the UN's General Assembly.
Because SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) is turning campuses into a hostile place for Jewish & pro-Israel students, and guess what? SJP is also hostile to anyone who doesn't agree with their one-state "solution".
Because Israelis can't, but SSI'ers can. Millions of Israelis see the US and Canada as their great allies, but they cannot do anything when someone slanders Israel, the IDF, or Israeli citizens thousands of miles away. SSI gives Israelis a voice on the ground.
Because we want a TRUE LASTING PEACE, and nothing can make things worse than having Israelis hear that people wish to boycott our country because we are Jewish and/or Israelis. These actions just fit perfectly to the false narrative that everyone hates Israel and that nothing we do can changes that, so why should Israel offer any more concessions?
Because if we don't act, SJP will. SSI leaders use the power of an international movement to highlight hateful incidents that otherwise would never be exposed. Together we can expose SJP's real goal - destroying the only Jewish State, not helping the Palestinians. FACT: SJP never drafted a Pro-Palestinian resolution, only Anti-Israel ones, to be proposed in front of student governments.
Together with our partners, SSI leaders are changing the reality on college campuses. We also fight terror on campus, because supporters of the BDS movement on campus, and members of SJP simply use terror against other students, and terror is not only when things explode. Terrorizing students is when one group does not let others host events on campus, like at the University of California, Irvine. Terror is when a group shuts down an Israeli speaker at the University of Minnesota. Terror is when a group harasses the student body President that is not even Jewish until he leaves his position and is afraid to do anything with Israel, like in UCLA. And the universities and the administration? They are often weak and afraid to act, so it is in our hands – the students’ hands - to change that, because no one will change the situation for us.
We want to wish the best of luck to all the students, both in North America and in Israel in their new school year. The next generation of Israelis should know that the next generation of leaders here in North America is looking after you and cares about you. From coast to coast with our SSI'ers in New York and L.A., and from north to south with our SSI'ers in Texas, Georgia and Minnesota, from our Canadian chapter, high school chapter, and our community college one, we will represent Israel on campuses this year with much pride. With clear eyes and full hearts, we will win our fight for Israel on American campuses. One student movement, one common goal, one team.
Second Annual Students Supporting Israel National Conference By: SSI Nationals August 6, 2016
The second Annual Students Supporting Israel National Conference will take place in Minneapolis from August 13th to the 15th, with over 50 students from all over the United States in attendance. SSI is looking forward to this exciting event as this conference is the product of the hard of work and determination to bring the vision of a united, pro-Israel student movement to life.
Despite the increased awareness of the pro-Israel community in the last couple of years of the antisemitism and anti-Israel feelings on college campuses, the problem has only gotten worse. According to the AMCHA Initiative report on Antisemitic Activity in 2015 at U.S. Colleges and Universities with the Largest Jewish Undergraduate Populations, there is a strong correlation between anti-Zionist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and antisemitism. In addition, the report found that BDS is strongly correlated with antisemitic activity, the presence of SJP, faculty boycotters and BDS are strong predictors of antisemitism, and anti-Zionism permeates and is inseparable from contemporary campus antisemitism.
Facing false and misleading messages by SJP members and BDS efforts on our campus, Students Supporting Israel decided that the pro-Israel community can no longer watch from the side or take a defensive approach, but the time has come to be on the offense. This means taking back our campuses on the grassroots level, because this is where the opinions of the future generations are being shaped and where SJP and BDS spreads their message.
SSI’s solution to the problem was to unite pro-Israel activists from all over the country to reassure students who opposed the demonization of the state of Israel on campus that they are not alone. In our work we want to change the negative climate many pro-Israel students encounter on campus, and by being part of a united, strong and thriving international movement, students are empowered by each other to express their views in support of Israel, take initiative, and be vocal and confident in their actions.
The second Students Supporting Israel conference will be dealing with all those issues that are of interest to students who are ready to go out and work on the grassroots level, to put boots on the ground and confidently stand for what they believe in. The conference will be attended by students as well as inspiring speakers from diverse backgrounds. It will include hands on activities and simulations, preparing students with the skills and motivation to go back to campus, and leading by example, inspire their peers and the pro-Israel community in addition to growing the pro-Israel tent on their campus.
Love Thy Neighbor: Uniting the Region By: SSI Nationals July 14, 2016
The saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer,” is often referenced in times when one is looking to understand another’s agenda against them. Historically, Israel and the Jews have always had people against them. Some publicly, many privately, but for the most part, Israel developed enemies not because of something that it had done, but simply because of existing.
In recent times, we see that many countries once considered Israel’s enemies are slowly turning into friends. New friendships are forming between Israel and the countries in the Middle East and some countries in Africa.
Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu recently traveled to Africa. This is the first time in several decades that an Israeli PM has done so. Netanyahu will be visiting Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. The hope is that these relations can be strengthened and to create a new bond between all of the countries. Interesting to know is that before his trip to Africa, he was said to have met with the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheik Mohamud. This is believed to have been the first high profile contact between both countries in many years. Although neither party confirmed what was spoken about, they still were able to confirm that they did in fact meet.This news may be shocking to people, but it is also a breath of fresh air because this can potentially mean that steps are being taken in the right direction by both countries. New alliances may be forming that can have a positive impact for the region in the near future.
Many may not know, but a little over two percent of the Israeli population are Ethiopian Jews (150,000+ people). The Ethiopian Jews are a core part of Israeli society. Some of the best musicians are Ethiopian Jews including the successful hip hop couple “Strong Hard Coffee” (Kafa Sachor Hazak). Miss Israel of 2014, Yityish Aynaw, is also an Ethiopian Jew. And Avraham Neguise, a member of the Knesset Likud party, has played a dominant force in helping bring the last 23,000 Ethiopian Jews over to Israel. These are facts that can help harbor relations between Israel and Ethiopia and many other countries of Africa.
These historical meetings can relate back to the work Students Supporting Israel is doing on college campuses. Many students cross paths with one another every day and never realize that their ties to one another were closer than they might have imagined. Israel is a country that touches everyone’s life every single day. Whether you are using your computer, your phone, or eating cherry tomatoes for lunch, Israel has a place in each and every student’s life on campus. Israel is a leader in Technology, Environment, and Humanitarian Aid. They have been able to find solutions to adverse problems that they have due to living in the desert, but this allows for countries around them to implement these developments. Israel is always willing to share their new advances with their neighbors.
The meetings between PM Netanyahu and the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the African countries, are proof that in life we progress to new relations whether we expected them or not. We should always keep an open mind to new acquaintances. These developments happen to better our lives and better the world we live in.
When we look at our campuses we should understand that if relations between previously hostile countries can be created, relations between people and students should also be possible to achieve. Developing personal connections on the grassroots level today will make sure that our leaders of tomorrow will develop their pro Israel relations on and off campus. If the Israeli Prime Minister was able to leave his comfort zone and go to Africa, the students who represent Israel on campus should also have the strength and will to reach out to other students who may be unaware of Israel, or may hold different views from their own. No matter how different people may be, humanity of our world can only better through the strength of unity.
When Tragedy Strikes, We Must All Unite By: SSI Nationals June 27, 2016
On June 3rd, people all over Tel Aviv celebrated love, equality, and peace at the annual Israel Gay Pride events. This was the biggest Pride celebration to date in Israel. News outlets in Brazil, the Associated Press in the U.S. and many other outlets positively covered the events in Israel, which was a refreshing change from the often negative or bias coverage of Israel in the news. Over 200,000 participants from all over the world came together and celebrated a cause that allows people to be who they are.
However, in a horrific turn of events just five days after the celebrations, four people were murdered by two Palestinian terrorists near the same spot where so many united for love. Innocent lives were taken just like that, on the spot. Children lost parents, parents lost children, and the community lost more Israeli civilians to another terror attack that tried to inject fear and darkness into a happy and positive Israeli society.
Another four days go by, and tragedy hits the world once again. Forty nine people were massacred, and fifty were injured by a terrorist who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and went to shoot at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The turnout was devastating - the worst shooting in U.S. history. The LGBT community in America was struck to its core. It was yet another terror attack that we had to deal with in our century by those intolerant to anything ‘different’. On one side again are people who try to celebrate and live, on the other side- radical terrorist who try to take as many lives away, murder and kill. The people of Israel, especially the LGBT community, came together to send their love and support to the friends and families of the victims in Orlando. The city of Tel Aviv that hosted Israel’s Pride, lit the colors of the LGBT community and the American flag on its city council building
While Israel, the only country in the Middle East that celebrates equality of love and life and accepts everyone, other countries in the same region publically kill and shame humans for being different, especially minorities and the LGBT community. No person should EVER have their lives taken for being different, no person should be killed while sitting at a restaurant eating dinner with their friends and families, or while celebrating at a night club.
For us here in the States, we can gain power by learning and following the way Israel is loving lives life everyday. Israeli people come together when a community is in need, and they spread joy and happiness during good and bad times alike. The American people and the Israeli people have more in common than any other nations in the world, by being flourishing democracies, open minded countries and societies that try to make our world a better place.
We at Students Supporting Israel stand with the LGBT community in Israel, in the U.S. and everywhere else around the world. We at SSI stand united and firm against terror because no terror attack will ever defeat us, or stop us from being who we are. We believe that our differences only bring us together and help us learn. We condemn all terror throughout the world and know that our strength is in our unity, whether on our campuses, in our communities or elsewhere. Terror and fear will be crushed.
Although I was born in France and grew up most of my life in the United States, I never felt I belonged or connected to either country. When I first moved to the United States I was automatically labeled as the “French kid,” but when visiting family in France I was often considered the American cousin.
From a young age I was faced with an identity crisis and needed to figure out who I really was. The answer finally presented itself when I first traveled to England with my family. Only 7 years old and excited to ride the famous red London tour bus, I watched as my mother gathered the prepaid tickets and proceeded to hand them to the bus employee. He immediately noticed that my mother’s shirt was written in Hebrew and asked her if we were Jewish. My mother had always taught us to be proud of who we are, so she acknowledged and said, “Yes, we are Jewish.” Upon hearing this, his face turned red, he began yelling and calling us “dirty Jews,” then kicked us off by force.
I may have been young, but at that moment I realized that it doesn’t matter where I was born, grew up, or live—I would always be a Jew. A piece of processed tree or birthplace does not define my identity. A Jew is not an individual within a religion but a member of an ethnic people and part of a 4,000-year-old nation. Today, the Jewish nation in diaspora has mostly forgotten who they are. We need to be loud, proud, and unapologetic about being alive and strong. With no identity, there is no legitimacy. If our sole goal is to combat movements that are anti-Semitic or anti-Israel, then we have already lost. We must not battle to survive but fight to thrive, as any resolution should never compromise the right for Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Public anti-Israel expressions are not uncommon on Columbia University’s campus and others. As student groups conduct social media campaigns and host events on campus promoted as fighting against inequalities and for human rights, many actually serve to antagonize and ostracize pro-Israel students in the way conflicts and opposing viewpoints are portrayed. For example, earlier this year a socialism group at Columbia University promoted an event against Israel and made their Facebook caption “long live the intifada,” a common slogan among the Palestinian uprising against Israel that means “death to Jews.” “Intifada” derives from the Arabic term nafada meaning to “shake off” or “get rid of.”
The climate on these campuses must change. Movements that isolate and antagonize the Jewish people and their homeland are symptoms of a deeper problem. It is our job on campuses and throughout society to stand up and let our message be heard. As one of the founders and president of the Students Supporting Israel group at Columbia University, we have three simple goals:
To support Israel’s legitimacy and indigenous right to exist as a Jewish Democratic State
To showcase the whole truth and story of Israel to inspire the world
To support a movement of coexistence on the ground in order for resolution to be found, peace to be achieved, and justice to be obtained
Jews not to Blame for Palestinian Displacement By: Inbar Goren and Tali Moore June 7, 2016
It is said that most lies are “lies of omission.” This is when someone simply fails to mention critical facts about a particular situation, purposely misleading the reader to the wrong conclusion. The opinion submission “Palestinian ethnic cleansing from Israel is ongoing, must be stopped” that appeared in the Daily Bruin on May 16 certainly has more than its fair share of omissions. However, the piece is unique in the audacity with which it misrepresents the truth, venturing into the more blatant form of lying in which boldfaced fabrications about complex historical events are presented as undisputed fact.
The authors of the article tell us that the Palestinians were forcibly “driven from their homes during Israel’s 1947-1949 campaign of ethnic cleansing.” The serious charge of ethnic cleansing against Israel – a term used to characterize genocides in Rwanda and Armenia, mass atrocities in Congo and the Holocaust – is not just baseless. It is hateful and discriminatory, leveled in our university’s primary public forum, the Daily Bruin, to demonize Israel – and create a hostile environment for pro-Israel and Jewish students. It takes all meaning out of the term “ethnic cleansing,” disrespecting those communities who bear this awful legacy.
Shame on the authors for introducing this divisiveness, ignorance and hate to our campus. The editors of the Daily Bruin should have known better than to print offensive and ultimately false accusations without doing their due diligence beforehand.
The whole truth is that an estimated 726,000 Arabs fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence. That war was instigated not by the Jews but by the Arabs, who rejected the United Nations’ plan partitioning the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Israel accepted that plan, but the Arabs chose war.
The vast majority of Arabs left their villages out of their own free will to avoid being caught in the crossfire of war. They were encouraged to do so by their leaders, who told the Arab public that they would soon remove the Jewish population by force and after which they could return to their homes.
“This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades,” declared Arab League Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha. “It does not matter how many (Jews) there are. We will sweep them into the sea.”
In the years that followed Israel’s establishment, more than an equal number of Jews were expelled from Arab countries. More than 850,000 Jews lived in Arab countries at the time of Israel’s establishment. These were ancient Jewish communities that had lived on their land for thousands of years. Less than 4,500 Jews live in the Arab world today.
Thriving Jewish communities that had existed since antiquity were destroyed overnight. Arab leaders murdered Jewish leaders, expelled Jewish communities, and stole Jewish property. About 100,000 square kilometers of land owned by Jews in Arab countries were confiscated by Arab leaders. This amounts to five times the size of the state of Israel.
Yet, there was a critical difference in how these two groups of refugees were treated. Israel integrated the Jews kicked out of Arab countries, making them an integral part of the country’s social fabric and future success.
No Arab country, with the exception of Jordan, has provided the opportunity for Palestinian refugees to earn citizenship. Throughout the Arab world, severe restrictions continue to be imposed on Palestinians. For instance, in Lebanon, Palestinians are not allowed to own land or enter certain professions, like medicine and law.
We have great compassion for the challenging situation facing the Palestinian people. We acknowledge their ongoing suffering. Yet, the route to peaceful coexistence on campus – and in the Middle East – lies not in leveling slanderous charges that seek to demonize other communities and misrepresent a very complex history.
Anti-Semitism on Campus: A Student's Perspective By: Aedan O'Connor June 7, 2016
I'm a proud Jew and an unapologetic Zionist. This is the mantra that I repeat in my head when I question why I have to avoid classes based on the political views of my professors; when I lose respect from relatives and friends for politely expressing my political views; when I feel unsafe on campus due to anti-semitic propaganda. Despite being disheartened, I have grown accustomed to the repercussions of being openly Zionist however I thought that I was safe being openly Jewish. I believe that there is very little distinction between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism. Nathan Sharansky applies the “3 Ds” to test whether something is legitimate criticism of the singular Jewish state or Anti-Semitism. If something delegitimizes the sole middle eastern democracy, applies a double standard in comparison to other liberal democracies or demonizes Israel; it crosses the line into Anti-Semitism.
In University campuses across North America there have been countless Anti-Semitic acts. From hateful graffiti, to swastika flags, to violence-inciting murals and more we have seen a spike in Anti-Semitism in the past year. The Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement is coming to the forefront on University campuses. BDS targets Israeli products and citizens. When applying the “3 Ds” test
I decided that we needed to call a spade a spade and called them out on their vile Anti-Semetic views. I co-hosted a rally with Hasbara Fellowships Canada against Anti-Semitism as a response to what has happened on campuses this past year. Many groups came to support me including Holy Blossom Temple, Students Supporing Israel, Friends of Simon Weisenthal Centre and StandWithUs.
Two days before the rally the publicly funded University of Toronto decided to host virulent anti-semite Kenneth O’Keefe. Out of intellectual curiosity and bravery bordering on recklessness, I decided to attend his event. It was worse than I ever could have imagined. Before arriving on campus I removed my Magen David necklace, that I wear with pride, for my own safety.
I walked into the lecture theatre feeling apprehensive. I had expected the majority of the attendees to look young and radicalized but was shocked to see an audience composed mostly of business people and families. I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. She appeared to be a sensible university student, similar to myself. I asked her why she was at the talk and she proceeded to spew hateful rhetoric about Israel and “Jewish supremacy”. It quickly became clear to me that I could not engage her in a meaningful dialogue. I realized for the first time I was afraid to publicly admit that I am Jewish let alone that I am pro-Israel.
The elocution was the most terrifying hour of my life. I was told that the Holocaust was a myth perpetuated by Jewish to justify the “occupation of Palestine”; that rabbis tell Israeli soldiers to annihilate Muslims; that we control the media and the banks; that we as Jewish people are supremacists who view the rest of the world as cattle; that the Talmud is full of hateful doctrine and that we deserve the hate an prejudice against us. He said he would support “legitimate resistance” but left that vague which caused me to wonder whether that meant attacks against the Jewish people. I watched as the room with 500 or so people applauded this insane bigotry.
I wanted to cry or panic but I knew that if I did in that space I would have been outed as a Jewish Zionist and I worried that I would have been assaulted for it. I have never felt as scared to be who I am as I was in that room. I felt sick to my stomach listening to this slanderous diatribe, especially in what is meant to be a educational space.
The fact that our tax dollars fund this University means we have a say and an obligation to stop it. I was proud when Avi Benlolo, CEO of the Friends of Simon Weisenthal Centre and speaker at the rally introduced legislation to curb the BDS movement in Ontario, especially on campus, along with MPPs Mike Colle and Tim Hudak. The bill stated that public entities could not enter contracts with businesses that implemented BDS and that educational institutions could not implement BDS. This would have created a financial disincentive for companies to practice BDS.
I was dismayed when it failed as the failure illustrates complacency at best and deep seated prejudice at worst when it comes to tackling anti-semitism. I urge all of you to write to your MPP about this to show your disapproval if they voted this legislation down or to voice your support if they voted in favour of it. I also urge you to take a stand; write articles, come to rallies and fund initiatives that curb BDS and anti-semitism. We can make an impact if we come together.
Bullying May 25, 2016
How many times has someone we know been bullied at school? How many times have we been victims of bullying ourselves? How many times have we heard about people who hurt themselves because they were bullied in class, on campus, or at their work place?
How many times have we seen bullying take place but we have done nothing about it? How many times have we let the bullies get away with their actions, or just gave them a warning because we wanted to keep everything quiet and not cause drama?
In the past years not even one community on campuses across the country was bullied more than Jewish / Pro Israel community. The scary part is that it wasn't just bullying, it was organized bullying. It was bullying with a lot of money behind it, it was a network of bullying that worked together across the nation. The bullies were a different kind of bully, they had the courage to pretend that they are the victims, at the same time they went out on our campuses and "educated" for hate, discrimination, and radicalism.
This year there were many instances all over the country where Pro-Israel students were bullied by members of Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP).
At the University of Minnesota members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UMN) shouted down an Israeli professor, the University has done nothing about it. SJP sponsored it, was proud of it, and planned for it to happen. That same month they started a hatred campaign against Israel in student government claiming it had nothing to do with Israel. They attack white students, claim Jewish students aren't a minority, and are overtly BEING RACIST and nothing was done about it.
At The University of Chicago members of SJP passed an anti-Israeli resolution targeting the only country in the Middle East that does more than any other country support human rights. They passed it, and people believed to what they had to say.
SJP tries to separate the Jewish identity from Israel and scare Jewish students on campuses letting them know that supporting Israel isn't the right thing to do.
The administrations are ignoring the hate, racism and discrimination of anti-Israel “activists”, in the name of freedom of speech, they ignore the calls of the Pro-Israel students to take action, and they let the bullies on campus keep bully, take control of the conversations, and intimidate.
I have never in my life seen a hate group like Students for Justice in Palestine that in many cases defends terrorists, calls for the end of the Jewish State, calls for the murder of Israeli soldiers, shouts down events on campus and still gets away with that...
In Hebrew there is a saying" Im Ain Ani Lee, Mi Lee?" If I won't defend myself, who will defend me, and I can see this happening on our college campuses. If the Pro Israel students won't stand together as a united voice, will keep being divided, and will let SJP control the conversation we won't get anywhere, we should be each other’s support system, we will solve our problems and the attacks on us, no one else will.
We have red lines too, I have never in my life been more proud to be Israeli and to support Israel than my time on campus where I faced that hate, antisemitism, and ignorance that was supported by students, professors, and followers of SJP. At the same time, we were willing to step up and defend Israel against hate and racism, we have red lines too, we won't sit around and do nothing about it.
Together, we will put an end to SJP intimidation, hate and racism. Together, we will change the conversation on campus, because not even one person will come to our events and shout them down, without consequences to their actions. Not even one campus will host an Anti Zionism week, a week of overt racism and anti-Semitism against the national movement of the Jewish people, and get away with it.
Stop the hate. Stop the racism led by SJP. Stop the calls for terror on our campuses. #BeThere_SSI.
SSI's Second National Conference By: SSI Nationals May 17, 2016
The Students Supporting Israel National team is excited to announce the making of the second SSI National Conference this August 13-15! We are back this summer, bigger, better, and stronger as our movement has grown to 48 chapters around the world.
Last year, over 45 members attended the conference. Students were engaged in activities about how to answer and raise tough questions about Israel and BDS, how to execute an effective tabling event, heard from Israel’s Midwest Consulate General office, networked with each other, among many other activities. In addition, 13 awards were given out to students to recognize the hard work that they have done to make the SSI movement strong and united.
Since the last conference, the SSI movement has made great accomplishments over the academic year. Among them are many new and creative events such as six graffiti events with Artists 4 Israel, a speaking tour with the Portuguese human rights activist Romeu Monteiro and NYU Professor Abe Haak and many more. SSIers in the different chapters led and passed three pro-Israel resolutions, led coalitions that successfully combated BDS resolutions, engaged over 5,000 new students on campus with grassroots events, and established themselves across the campus communities as the one united pro-Israel student movement with boots on the ground.
In SSI, the students are leading the movement, and the national team is guiding and assisting every chapter with small and large issues alike in order to make sure the pro-Israel is voice strong and confident on campus. We are excited for the second National Conference, as unlike any other pro-Israel conference ever attended before this will be hosted on the actual place where campus activities take action: On Campus! Even more exciting, is that the location is the birth place of Students Supporting Israel - the University of Minnesota.
SSI is looking forward to this interactive and engaging conference, to which students from all the 48 chapters were invited. The goal is to address a wide range of issues such as new ways to advocate and how to create campus campaigns, in addition to networking and sharing unique ideas about strengthening the pro-Israel voices and executing them on college campuses. As the movement is growing, the second national conference is an exciting event that will be valuable to leaders within the pro-Israel community.
Revealing the Beauty of Israel Through Art By: SSI Nationals April 28, 2016
This academic year the perfect example of grassroots work was exposed to all. The organization Artists 4 Israel and Students Supporting Israel partnered together and held nine events on different SSI campuses. SSl chapters at UCSB, UCLA, SDSU, Texas A&M, University of Houston, University of Minnesota, Pace University, Indiana University , and ColumbiaUniversity used graffiti to promote the State of Israel, and the result was very positive and colorful.
Artists 4 Israelstarted in 2009 by two very talented pro-Israel artists. They developed the positive mission of uniting people through the world of art, and the partnership with SSI allowed for students on campus to put all of their differences aside and come together and paint for Israel, showcasing true grassroots activism.
On some campuses where the events took place eight foot tall walls were built,which the artists painted away. At the University of Houston, the painting event took place while the SSIers held an Israel Block Party. During this event, over 300 students engaged with the artists and got custom T-Shirts painted on so they could remember the event long after it was over. At Columbia University, the students were combating the annual Apartheid week that the Students for Justice in Palestine were holding. The SSI students there blew up an eight foot tall Pinocchio that was designed by Artists 4 Israel in order to expose the lies of the SJP Apartheid initiative.At the University of Minnesota, the SSI group held their event just a week after BDS was defeated in their student government. During the event, the President of the SJP chapter on campus stopped by the art display for over 15 minutes, and while the artists spray painted she stated that such art wall catches the attention of many. SJP’s president, together with many other students who passed byalso visited Israel for the first time through the Virtual Reality Goggles that the SSIers supplied at their event.
The partnership of A4I and SSI is exemplary for all pro-Israel organizations. While the events on each campus were somewhat different in nature, they all had the same goal of uniting the campus community around Israel in a creative, attention drawing way. Putting together a large scale, colorful display at a central campus location proved as a very successful true grassroots technique that often created a line of students waiting to see what all the gathering is about. The uniqueness of the events was that they were not only focused on the content of the message, but on the way of presenting it in the way most appealing to an average, typicallyapolitical student.
In SSI, we continue to represent the Jewish State through working with boots on the ground, and there are many creative ways of doing it. Together with Artist 4 Israel, the lies that are being spread on college campuses were exposed through art, unity, and positive atmosphere.
The True Face of Students for Justice in Palestine By: SSI Nationals April 21, 2016
What happened on April 12 at the University of Minnesota was a classic example of the true face of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) supporters and the main group that promotes this campaign, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP tried to pass the a student government resolution calling for the university to divest from specific companies that do business with Israel, basing their claim on Israel’s violation of human rights. However, in a turn of the events that disrupted their plan, UMN United, a Pro-Israel coalition led by Students Supporting Israel, together with the Minnesota Hillel and other campus organizations, proposed an amendment to this resolution.
The proposed amendment suggested that if in fact SJP were so concerned with human rights violations and promoting responsible investment, the resolution should not focus on Israel alone but any country found to be violating human rights. By not naming any country specifically, the resolution will not appear as singling out Israel and holding the country to a double standard. At this point, one would think that all the student groups would want to sign on such resolution that calls for the university to invest responsibly, and indeed the students voted to amend the resolution to address human rights in all countries.
However, while Students Supporting Israel added its name to the sponsors of the new bill, members of SJP decided to remove their names from this new resolution that would consider human rights violations in all countries. Why? Because the resolution was no longer specifically targeting Israel. Despite SJP’s insistence that this was not the case and their resolution was not meant to promote BDS, their comments on social media that followed the vote revealed that there was never a true concern for justice, rather the plan all along was to single out Israel.
The vote on April 12 and the social media comments, all expose one clear thing- there is no concern for “justice” by Students for Justice in Palestine. Instead, SJP is acting like a hate group whose sole purpose is demonizing and marginalizing Israel. The fight of the Pro Israel community against hate groups like SJP and campaigns like BDS should thus be seen not only as the fight for the State of Israel, but the fight to put an end to hate and bigotry on American campuses. Just like Israel is on the front lines of fighting terror, the Pro-Israel community is on the front lines of fighting academic terror led by extremists and radical students on our campuses. What happened at the University of Minnesota is a great example of how this fight can be won. By creating a broad and engaged Pro-Israel student and community coalition, students not only prevented a BDS resolution from passing, but turned a biased and hateful resolution into one that truly supports the idea of responsible investment, and in the process exposed the clear anti-Israel agenda of SJP.
Bully Deceive Smear: 10 Reasons Why BDS is Bad for Everyone By: Alexandra Markus & SSI Nationals February 10, 2016
Being a Pro Israel leader on campus isn't easy, fact to the matter is that today, many students do not see the large picture and speak out against Israel in the name of "justice". Since 2001 a national student movement called of Students for Justice in Palestine has been trying to bring BDS to campuses and universities across North America, facing no opposition in a shape of a Pro Israel student movement. Today, Students Supporting Israel has over 45 campuses across North America, and five Pro Israel resolutions were passed in student governments led by SSI members on their campuses. SJP and BDS activists need to know that they will be hold accountable for their actions. Here are ten reasons to why BDS is bad for everyone, and we will fight it on every SSI campuses.
1. BDS burns bridges instead of building them. Instead of promoting coexistence, it creates rift by silencing Israelis across the political spectrum, even Israelis who oppose Israel's policies. By isolating Israel from the international arena, BDS prevents any efforts or momentum for coexistence by effectively demonizing one side, making negotiation and finding common ground impossible. Shutting down dialogue moves us further away from peace.
2. BDS incites and propagates a never-ending cycle of violence
In the most recent intifada in Israel almost every day Palestinian terrorists hunt for random Jews to stab, any Jew will do, killing more than 30 and injuring hundreds in just the past four months. This intifada of random murder in the streets is excused andsupported by JVP andSJP who call it "resistance," and "justified." The murderers are often teenagers influenced by incitement propaganda taught in schools and in media directed at Palestinian youth. We believe BDS bolsters this intifada movement, teaching Palestinians that violence is an effective means to get the world on your side.
3. BDS exacerbates corruption, to the detriment of Palestinians
The leaders of the Palestinian Authority are not interested in peace. They have frequently declined negotiations with Israel and even turned down several generous two-state offers, including one that offered them Jerusalem. Hamas, Fatah, and other Palestinian leadership groupsprofit from the conflict,collecting billions in foreign aidenriching themselves in the process while keeping the Palestinian people in poverty, using them as pawns to perpetuate this profitable cycle. Palestinians are the only multigenerational refugees in the world, considered refugees even if they get citizenship elsewhere, and it seems that their leaders are interested in keeping them that way. It’s yet another weapon to use against Israel.
4. BDS is a violation of indigenous rights.
The Martinez-Cobo definition of indigenous supported by the U.N., defines indigenous status as referring to the land where the genesis of a culture, which includes a common language, history, religion, tradition, and legal system, occurred. According to this definition, Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel, and Arabs ("Palestinians") are indigenous to the Hejaz Peninsula, which includes Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
5. BDS is bad for the Palestinian economy
The factories located in the disputed territories that are boycotted by BDS employ Palestinian workers who are paid several times more than local Palestinian wages.BDS hurts Palestinians the most, exacerbating the economic situation in these territories.
6. BDS is based on an inaccurate historical narrative.
The three points highlighted by ApartheidDivest are not only based on false premises, they are historically inaccurate. First of all, Ehud Olmert already made the same two-state solution ApartheidDivest are alluding to in 2008, but the Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected it. The Arabs fought the Jews before the Jews had Jerusalem (1967), before the “Occupation” (1967), before the “Settlements” (1968), and before the Wall (built in 2007), making these three grievances red herrings. Second, Israeli Jews and Arabs are already legally equal, with one exception: Arabs do not have to serve in the military giving them a two to three-year head start at life. Although in practice, systematic inequality does exist, Israel does its best to address these inequalities, while the Palestinian Authority has insisted on ethnically cleansing its land of Jews, making renting and selling land to Jews punishable by death. Third, extending the right of return to Arabs would result in Arabs outnumbering Jews. As such, Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish State and safe haven for the Jewish People, a status it has been granted by law.
7. BDS violates New York Law.
The State of New York recognizes the serious problems inherent in BDS, and as a result, has made it illegal. As a result, any efforts to divest from Israel in the State of New York are classified under discrimination on the basis of national origin, and therefore have no leg to stand on, making ApartheidDivest's campaign an exercise in futility.
8. BDS distorts international law
Israel strictly adheres to international law. Click here for more detailed information.
9. BDS is racist.
We strongly believe that BDS is anti-semitic, as per the State Department’s definition, for holding the world's only Jewish nation to a double standard and constantly singling it out. Their professed love for Palestinians is selective, emerging only when it can be used to bash Israel. They go silent when Palestinians are murdered en masse in Syria.
10. BDS creates an unsafe space.
University campuses pride themselves on its diverse student body. Jewish and Israeli students have historically formed an important part of this diversity. Supporters of the BDS movement have interrupted the free flow of ideas by shouting down Israeli and Jewish speakers, occasionally even harming them physically. The rise of this anti-Semitic movement makes Jewish students feel threatened on campus, and erodes any semblance of a safe space.
As seen above, BDS, a movement founded by Omar Barghouti who is, hypocritically,doing his PhD at an Israeli University, only does harm to both Israelis and Palestinians, and has no tangible benefits. BDS hurts the Palestinian economy, promotes violence rather than empowerment, and upholds a corrupt regime that only perpetuates the suffering of the Palestinian people for political gain. BDS clearly opposes negotiation, the most reasonable road to peace and shuts down discourse that contributes to scientific and artistic progress. This is an affront to academic freedom, which prevents the Israeli ideas from reaching overseas, and makes Israeli students and professors feel unsafe on campuses.
We Student Supporting Israel are an international movement comprised of many nationalities, religious backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. We have one thing in common: we support the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish State, in peace and security.
The BDS movement runs counter to our SSI values of plurality, safety, and academic freedom. SSI National wishes to preserve these values, and therefore will not back down in our opposition to this highly problematic movement.
Minnesota State Legislator Delegation Travels to Israel By: Julian Kritz February 8, 2016
In many ways Israel is the center of the world—both spiritually and politically. The borders of the tiny nation contain the birthplace of monotheism, holy sites for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and unfortunately one of the most intractable conflicts of the past two centuries. As global citizens it is impossible not to be drawn by the centrality of Israel. Our delegation was no exception; the common thread interweaving our diverse delegation of Christians and Jews, Democrats and Republicans, Minnesotans in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s was a profound sense that the Holy Land needed to be experienced firsthand. We had decided that reading about ancient Israel in the Bible or modern Israel online was insufficient. Israel needed to be explored, it needed to be understood—and the only way to do so was to travel there.
Over the past six months, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas organized a week long trip for 28 Minnesotans to Israel and the West Bank. At the core of our delegation were Minnesota State Legislators, including five state Representatives from the Minnesota House, led by Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, as well as one state Senator. While all elected officials paid for the trip themselves, they left all aspects of the planning of the trip to the JCRC. This is why as the Founder of Student Supporting Israel at Augsburg College and a JCRC Intern, I was sponsored by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation to join the delegation.
Beginning our journey in Jerusalem, we explored the Old City, moved by the spiritual significance of holy sites such as the tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall of the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE and is the holiest site in Judaism, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. At Yad Vashem, Israel’s National Memorial and Museum of the Holocaust, our professional tour guide explained how it is a misconception that Israel was created because of global post-Holocaust guilt. Israel was not established because of the Holocaust, it was created despite of it. This is true both because the Holocaust would never occurred if there was a Jewish State for imperiled European Jewry to find refuge, but also because a considerable number of European Zionists were murdered by Hitler before they had the opportunity to immigrate to Israel. Finally, while in Jerusalem, we visited the Knesset where we met with a young parliamentarian and learned more about Israel’s vibrant democracy as we toured the seat of its government.
Our delegation also engaged deeply with the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. We traversed the West Bank learning about powerful initiatives to improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people. One noble endeavor is Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city which aims to bolster the Palestinian middle class through establishing a modernized and diverse living community. Later we visited Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority, to hear about the difficulties of living amidst a seemingly never-ending conflict. Two members of the JCRC staff and I also visited Bethlehem to spend an evening with our friend Walid Issa, a Palestinian who grew up in the city before moving to Minnesota for secondary and higher education. He showed us notable sites around the city, including the Church of Nativity where Jesus was born. We also enjoyed dinner with his family and friends at their home. We also met on the first night of our trip with the United States Consul General for Jerusalem whose responsibilities largely consist of being the primary liaison between the State Department and the Palestinian Authority.
Leaving Jerusalem, our group headed north along the Jordan River where according to Christian tradition, Jesus was baptized by John. In a moving ceremony, three members of our delegation were baptized in these same waters by another member of our group. Later we visited Capernaum, Jesus’ hometown along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As a Jew, seeing Israel through the eyes of the Christian members of our delegation was a moving experience which greatly added to my understanding of why so many people care about this small piece of land.
We then traveled further north to examine the instability along Israel’s border with Lebanon and Syria and learned how despite long-standing hostility between the nations, Israeli soldiers have been rescuing thousands of injured Syrian and bringing them to Israeli hospitals for free life-saving treatment. Next we headed southeast and toured the mystical city of Tzfat, discovering how in the fifteenth century exiled Spanish Jews returned to their ancestral homeland and established a vibrant spiritual community. We also visited an Arab-Israeli town that houses an educational center bringing Jewish and Arab high school students together to work on robotics and high-tech equipment.
Inspired, we arrived in Tel Aviv and met with the mayor’s office for a presentation regarding Israel’s flourishing high-tech startup sector. Exploring the industry firsthand we then toured two Twin Cities companies that have campuses in Israel, Medtronic and Stratasys 3D Printing Solutions, which are located in Tel Aviv and Rehovot respectively. MK Lapid, who many have predicted will be the future prime minister of Israel, explained the imperative of continuing to work towards a two state solution by mutual compromise. Our trip concluded with a strategic briefing from an Israeli brigadier general and a tour of two academic institutions in Minneapolis’ sister city of Rehovot, the Weisman Institute and Hebrew University’s Agricultural campus.
From the technological to the political to the spiritual, our delegation experienced all aspects of Israeli society. We left only reluctantly, the transformative power of the holy land deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. Israel may be the center of the world, but it is also a bastion of hope and humanity. We learned that if we as Minnesotans wish to contribute to a peaceful holy land we must realistically invest in hope and humanity, equally so amongst Israelis and Palestinians. As David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, once said “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” After spending a week amongst Israelis and Palestinians who are realistically working for a better future, I concur—the miracle of peace is possible.
Is it Fathomable That Our Own Classmates Condone Terror? Sadly, the Answer is Yes By: Liat Menna & Roxana Shana February 1, 2016
On October 14th, 2015, campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) held a “die-in” on University grounds. At the “die-in” they memorialized Palestinians who died during recent clashes.
SJP claimed the deaths occurred because of Israel’s “oppression of the Palestinian people”. However, these claims run completely contrary to reality. Many of the individuals that they honored were killed while attempting to kill, assisting in, or after murdering Israeli civilians or police according to Israeli, Palestinian and other reputable publications. Reiterating these harmful sentiments, SJP shared an article with an extensive list of those they were “honoring”. Here is a sampling of their heroes:
Ahmad Abu Sh’aban, 23, was shot after stabbing a 70-year-old Israeli civilian at a bus station (Maan News).
Amjad Hatem al-Jundi,, 17, was killed after grabbing a gun from a soldier and killing two Israelis in Kiryat Gat (TIMESOFISRAEL)*
Mohamed Nathmie Shamassnah, 22, was killed after he grabbed the gun of an Israeli soldier on a bus and killed two Israeli civilians (IMEMC)
Fadi Alloun, 19, was killed after he stabbed and wounded an Israeli teenager. Fadi had written on his Facebook page: "Either martyrdom or victory." (BIGSTORY)*
Mostafa Al Khateeb, 18, was killed while stabbing a member of the border police in his flak jacket (CNN)*
Thaer Abu Ghazala, 19, was killed after stabbing 4 civilians and one soldier with a screwdriver (TIMESOFISRAEL)
Mohannad Halabi, 19, was shot after killing two men and stabbing a woman and her toddler in Jerusalem (BIGSTORY)*
Ishaq Badran, 19, was killed after stabbing an Israeli at Damascus gate (ALGEMEINER)*.
SJP not only took the opportunity to celebrate murderers, it used the names of individuals who died of natural causes and blamed these deaths on Israel. For example, Ibraheem Dar-Yousif, 46, died of a heart attack (Maan News). SJP and some of its followers are exploiting death to garner hatred towards the Jewish State and the Jewish community.
The names and events listed above are not isolated but are part of a harmful ideology, which has penetrated UCLA’s campus. Unfortunately SJP is merely echoing its role models whom routinely incite Palestinians to attack and kill Jewish civilians and celebrate “every drop of blood spilled”.This behavior is not acceptable nor does it have any place on campus.
UCLA has a thriving Jewish community and many students’ love for Israel is an inherent part of their Jewish identity. Many Jewish students, administrators, and professors have family and friends living in Israel that are the victims of these celebrated terror attacks.
How can Jewish students on campus feel safe when their peers are condoning the terrorism that has stolen the lives of their relatives and friends? How can the student body feel safe as condoning terrorism becomes acceptable? This behavior is shameful and unacceptable.
The University of California has the responsibility and obligation to create a safe campus. SJP “die-ins” are an instrument of evoking fear in Jewish students and inciting violence against the Jewish State and people. The University must address the compromising position of SJP at UCLA, in order to prioritize the safety and integrity of its institution.
*********************  Names marked by asterisk were recited at the die-in event on October 14th, as shown on video. All other names listed are mentioned in an article featured in the Daily Bruin, and shared by SJP.
 Abbas, president of Palestinian Authority, commenting on recent terror attack on September 16, 2015