Wednesday, October 17, 2018

On those who are against Christian Zionism (Stephen Sizer, cont'd)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Anti-Zionist, Antisemitic Vicar Stephen Sizer in the US

I just learned via Twitter that Stephen Sizer, the antisemitic Anglican vicar, is now in the US to attend the "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference in Oklahoma. The conference,  which is usually held in Bethlehem, Palestine, fights against Christian Zionism. Sizer's first book was a denunciation of Christian Zionism. Here's a link to the article in Fathom about Sizer and the conference: Anti-semitic conspiracy theorist featured at Christian anti-Israel conference.
Luke Moon, the Deputy Director of the Philos Project in New York, told The Tower that “The goal of Christ at the Checkpoint is to undermine Christian support for Israel. Having attended the last four CATC conferences in Bethlehem this one is proving to be the worst.” 
He added that “The organizers have gone too far in hosting Stephen Sizer…The positive relationship between Christians and Jews is at an all-time high and it’s conferences like this one that seek to drive us back to the days of antagonism and distrust—and I will fight hard against that.” 
The CATC manifesto states that the “suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored” and that “Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.” Their employees have accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” erecting an “apartheid wall,” and enacting a “crucifixion system” against the Palestinians. 
“Christ at the Checkpoint has long been a forum for bigots and anti-Semites,” said Yona Schiffmiller, director of the North America desk at NGO Monitor. “Predictably, this gathering seems poised to follow in that dubious tradition. The decision to give a platform to a 9/11 conspiracy theorist—a participant in Iranian Holocaust-denial conferences—and to those who try to engage avowed terrorist organizations in ‘non-violence training’ exemplifies the radical agenda of this gathering’s organizers.”

Professors who refuse to write recommendations for students to study in Israel

A new article on John Cheney-Lippold's refusal to write a letter of recommendation for a student to study in Israel, from Steven Lubet, who is is the Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Memorial Professor of Law at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law: What to Do About Professors Who Refuse to Offer Recommendations to Students Who Want to Study in Israel.
Cheney-Lippold is well within his own rights to boycott Israel, but he is quite wrong to insist that solidarity with the BDS movement privileges him to withhold a reference from a qualified student. The Tel Aviv program is officially approved by the University of Michigan, and Cheney-Lippold is not entitled to impede a student’s access to it, just as he could not bar nonboycotting students from his courses, decline to grade their papers, or refuse to call on them in class. Every instructor has a professional responsibility to treat their students impartially, without regard to personal politics. In a letter to the campus community, President Mark Schlissel and provost Martin Filbert stated unambiguously that “faculty members’ personal political beliefs cannot interfere with their obligations to our students with regard to letter-writing and all other modes of academic support.” Withholding students’ recommendations would “violate their academic freedom and betray our university’s educational mission.”....
Even so, Cheney-Lippold’s discipline went too far for a first offense. A reprimand and warning would have been sufficient, and would have avoided raising difficult issues of academic freedom, First Amendment rights, and faculty governance. There is certain to be litigation, in which Cheney-Lippold will argue—as explained by one BDS advocate—that “participating in boycotts to advance progressive causes has a long and time-honored history in the United States.”

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Statement from the Alliance for Academic Freedom calling for permission for Lara Alqasem to enter Israel and study at Hebrew University. I signed this statement. 

We the undersigned members of the Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF) stand in solidarity with the presidents of all Israeli universities in urging the Israeli authorities to permit the American student Lara Alqasem to enter the country to pursue her studies at Hebrew University. We join with the many faculty members and organizations throughout the US that have endorsed her right to study at any university to which she gains admission. As a last resort, we urge the Israeli Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the government’s decision.

We recognize that Israel has the independent right and responsibility to apply its security concerns in evaluating any individual’s entry into the country. We do not, however, believe that support of the BDS movement in itself poses a security threat. Though we condemn many of the statements and actions of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), we do not believe student activism in SJP rises to that level of threat either.

Undergraduate student political opinion is often very much in flux and typically lacks the documentary evidence available in evaluating the views of older persons. We are also very much concerned with the government’s reported reliance on the Canary Mission website to inform itself about this case. Canary Mission routinely condemns students without a sound basis for judging where students stand.

We also understand that, unlike colleges and universities, governments are not obligated to honor academic freedom. While not, therefore, technically a violation of Alqasem’s academic freedom, the decision to deport her and prevent her from studying in the program to which Hebrew University has admitted her clearly abridges her academic freedom. It also undermines the right a university has to admit students of its choice.

The AAF has consistently opposed academic boycotts of Israeli universities. We are also dedicated to supporting Israeli democracy. Democracies benefit from supporting freedom of speech and the right to dissent. Universities cannot thrive without those freedoms. We believe those rights mandate permitting Lara Alqasem to enter Israel and attend Hebrew University.

Yael Aronoff, David Abraham, Deborah Achtenberg, Ernst Benjamin, Zachary J. Braiterman, Susana Cavallo, Alan Dowty, Peter Dreier, Steve Eichel, Peter Eisenstadt, Joan S. Friedman, Gary Gilbert, Todd Gitlin, Karla Goldman, Henry Greenspan, Atina Grossmann, Susannah Heschel, Ulle V. Holt, Robert D. Johnston, David Kader, Marion Kaplan, Wayne Karlin, Samuel D. Kassow, Alice Kessler-Harris, Rebecca A. Kobrin, Jack Kugelmass, Rebecca Lesses, Joe Lockard, Steven Lubet, Shulamit Magnus, Frances Malino, Jonathan Malino, Jeffry Mallow, Daniel Mandell, Tony Michels, Deborah Dash Moore, Sharon Ann Musher, Cary Nelson, Nigel Paneth, Sharrona H. Peal, Jeff Rice, Chaim Seidler-Feller, Irwin Sandler, David Schraub, Robert W. Snyder, Kenneth Stern, Paula A. Treichler, Irene Tucker, Judith Vichniac, Michael Walzer, and Alan J. Weisbard.
Alliance for Academic Freedom

The AAF currently consists of over 120 liberal and progressive scholars, affiliated with The Third Narrative, who are dedicated to combating academic boycotts and blacklists, defending freedom of expression and promoting empathy and civility in the debate over Israelis and Palestinians. More information on the AAF can be found at:

Signatures updated on October 15, 2018.

Incendiary kites flown from Gaza into Kerem Shalom,Israel

Entrance to Kibbutz Kerem Shalom
I just read an article on Haaretz that made me realize how much I don't understand about the kites that Palestinians from Gaza are using to start fires in Israel. This happened on Friday, near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, which is right on the Gaza-Israel border:
At 3:05 P.M. there was a first hint of what was about to happen. A gigantic kite, to which a burning tire was attached, hovered over the border, slowly approaching the kibbutz. Within minutes there was a second, third and fourth one, and an hour later there was an acrid smell in the air. At 4:30 P.M. there was smoke over the kibbutz.

Kibbutz Kerem Shalom
The Gaza Fence from Kerem Shalom

Wall protecting Kerem Shalom on the Gaza side

From a longer article this summer about the incendiary kites:
In recent months Gazans have sent hundreds of burning kites into Israel. Acres of yellowing fields have gone up in smoke. The people living on the Gaza border don’t hear “red alerts” any more, they see them and they’re angry and scared. So far no fence or obstacle presented by the army has stopped the flimsy airborne armada. Missile interception systems aren’t geared for such primitive “weaponry.”

Absent solutions, more and more kites have taken to the air; if at first just a few fell into Israel, the sorties multiplied – and became more sophisticated. The first kites were a take on Molotov cocktails but later ones were equipped to explode, and kites were also joined by helium balloons. ...
Whatever, it doesn’t matter to the next number, which is 25,000. That’s the number of dunams burned so far (in acres, 6,250), and it’s equivalent to the extent of the Carmel forest fire in 2010. But that’s where the similarity ends. There the fire burned forest while by Gaza, the main casualties are crops. 
Pictures of flaming forests may be more dramatic, but real damage has been caused by the kites, says Avner Yona, director of field crop operations at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. About 1,300 dunams of wheat and irrigation systems have gone up in flames. The big losses are mainly in the irrigation systems, he adds: Replacing irrigation systems takes time and turning the water back on takes two more days. Ultimately, instead of producing, say, seven tons of crop, they produce four.... 
The list of sites where fires broke out is long and varied. Beyond orchards and various crops, fire also consumed large swathes of the Kissufim Forest, the Be’eri Crater nature reserve, areas near the water reservoir of Kibbutz Nir Am and areas around the Besor Stream. These places were burned more than once, sometimes dozens of times. 
The damage isn’t just to the landscape. The residents in the area are breathing the smoke and suffering from it. This is particularly palpable among high-risk groups like children and asthmatics....
Whole nature reserves burned: The Parks and Nature Reserves Authority says 10,000 dunams of conservation ground has gone up, including 5,500 at Besor Stream (according to the latest estimate). Thousands of animals have died, notably small species, rodents, reptiles and insects. But not just them: Foxes, jackals, tortoises and lizards have died too and that’s just the start of the list.

Israel’s nature reserves are relatively small, and the destroyed areas are a big part of them, Gilad Gabbay, manager of the southern district for the Parks and Nature Reserves Authority, told Haaretz. There has been a huge loss of habitats for animals in the region, he says; recovery will take years. “In the short term, it is almost impossible to compensate for the damage. In the long term, we will have to see what we can do to rehabilitate the reserves,” Gabay says. At the Besor, everywhere you look you see burned turtles, he says.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Today's Antisemitism Report: George Soros as the "anti-Christ"

First, a case of vandalism.

The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia was marked with large swastikas this morning. Senator Tim Kaine reports on Twitter:

Removal of the hateful graffiti:

Second, Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer, reposted an antisemitic remark that blamed George Soros for the demonstrations this week in Washington, DC, against the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court. Soros, of course, is the whipping boy of both the left and the right, despite his work for democracy in Eastern Europe, his founding (and funding) of Central European University in Budapest, the work of the Open Society Foundations for democracy around the world, etc.

Soros is Jewish, originally from Hungary, where he narrowly escaped being murdered by the Nazis when he was a teenage boy. Calling him the "anti-Christ" is blatantly antisemitic - akin to blaming Jews for the death of Jesus.

Giuliani was just following his master, Trump. Yesterday, Trump blamed Soros for funding the anti-Kavanaugh protestors:

George Soros did not pay for people to protest Kavanaugh. And by the way, at almost every demonstration organized by an existing group there are identical signs. There are identical signs at campaign events for Republican and Democratic candidates. The NRA buys identical signs, as does NARAL. It's not something sinister to have printed signs.

From Buzzfeed:
Soros, a hedge fund manager and longtime donor to the Democrats and other liberal causes, is often the target of a right-wing conspiracy theory that claims he controls global politics.

The use of the term “anti-Christ” is specifically loaded as Soros, who is Jewish, is often the target of anti-Semitic attacks. In some Christian teachings, the Antichrist is the enemy of Christ and the church, who appears before the end of the world.

Soros has been a frequent target of Republicans during the Kavanaugh debate. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley, asked by Fox Business on Friday if Soros was funding the protests, said, “I tend to believe it.”

The person who wrote the “anti-Christ” tweet had not been replying to Giuliani, but instead to Tom Fitton, the head of a conservative organization called Judicial Watch, who posted a video titled “Leftist Efforts to Destroy Kavanaugh.”

On Saturday Trump continued claiming that people protesting Kavanaugh are “paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs.”
And guess who else blames Soros for funding the anti-Kavanaugh protests? RT, the Russian propaganda network - see a report of theirs on Youtube: Anti-Kavanaugh protesters linked to billionaire George Soros.

NB: Soros was not a collaborator with the Nazis in Budapest when they occupied the city in 1944. He was a victim, who narrowly escaped with his life.

From the Snopes article on the libel that he was a collaborator:
As a prominent political activist and supporter of left-wing causes, Hungarian-born billionaire financier George Soros has frequently been the target of smear campaigns, and none more odious than the persistent — and false — claim that Soros, a Jew, was a Nazi sympathizer, collaborator, and/or paramilitary officer during World War II.

That Soros was only nine years old (born in 1930) when the war broke out and all of 14 when Nazi Germany surrendered in May 1945 hasn’t dampened his detractors’ enthusiasm for spreading these rumors, including the absurd claim, which first surfaced in November 2016, that Soros literally served as an officer of the paramilitary Schutzstaffel (SS) in Germany.

This allegation continues to make the social media rounds in the form of a black-and-white photograph of a young man — supposedly Soros — wearing an SS uniform (...), accompanied by some version of this caption:
... I give you George Soros. A SS in the National Socialist German workers party. Nazi party. He served under Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. He said it was the best time of his life. The destruction and agony around him was euphoric to him. This man was making policy with Hillary Clinton. And some of you think Trump is dangerous. Wow!
Wow, indeed. But given his age, Soros couldn’t have joined the SS (whose minimum age requirement was 17) even if he had wanted to. Moreover, as a Hungarian Jew he couldn’t have met the SS requirement for pure “Aryan” heritage. Quite to the contrary, Soros and his entire family were obliged to hide their identities and pose as Christians to avoid being forcibly housed in ghettos, interned in concentration camps, deported, or killed during the 10-month Nazi occupation of Hungary beginning in 1944.
Was Soros a Nazi Collaborator?
It is also claimed that Soros survived the German occupation of Budapest by becoming a Nazi “collaborator.” Fox News pundit Glenn Beck alleged in November 2010, for example, that the 14-year-old Soros “help[ed] the government confiscate the lands of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors,” and, worse (in Beck’s view), was unrepentant about it:
So when George Soros was 14, his father basically bribed a government official to take his son in and let him pretend to be a Christian. His father was just trying to keep him alive. He even had to go around confiscating property of Jewish people. Now, imagine you are Jewish and you have to go and confiscate the property of your fellow Jews. And you are pretending to not be a Jew and if anybody finds out, you’re dead. He actually had to endure watching people sent off to their eventual murders, watching people gathering their stuff, sending them off knowing that they were going to go to their death.
“I don’t want to question the 14-year-old,” Beck disingenuously stated during a series of broadcasts devoted to painting Soros as an evil “puppet-master” of the left. “I would have, however, liked to question the 80-year-old man who has never once said he regretted it,” he added.
Central to Beck’s case were quotes and clips from a 1998 60 Minutes interview (which can be viewed in its entirety here), an excerpt from which was also used as the centerpiece in a commentary on the conspiracist web site in which host Alex Jones claimed that the teenaged Soros “helped round up thousands of people” and “stole hundreds of millions of dollars” from Hungarian Jews on behalf of the Nazi occupiers.
Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza (who has gone so far as to compare the 14-year-old George Soros to Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele) revived the “Nazi collaborator” claim in his 2017 book The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, doubling down on it in a social media campaign to promote book sales:
.@georgesoros, now a principle financial backer of violent thugs, admits his collaboration with Hitler and says he has no regrets:
Other conservative and alt-right media figures followed suit:

Yet the simple truth is that George Soros neither said nor did anything resembling what he has been accused of. In no sense was Soros, who turned 14 years old not long after the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, a “Nazi collaborator.” At no time did he confiscate (or help confiscate) the property of Jews, “identify Jews to the Nazis,” or help “round up” people targeted for deportation or extermination by the Germans (to answer just a few of the accusations leveled against him). And although Soros did attest during the infamous 60 Minutes interview that he regrets nothing about the time of German occupation, he also said it is precisely because he didn’t do any of the things attributed to him that his conscience is clear....
Did Soros Serve Jews with Death or Deportation Notices?

Another “Nazi collaborator” trope holds that young George Soros helped send fellow Jews to their deaths by delivering deportation notices on behalf of Budapest’s Jewish Council (Judenrat in German), an organization tasked by the Nazis with helping enforce Nazi policies on the Hungarian Jewish population:

However, as in the case of the “confiscation” rumors already discussed, here we find innocuous facts about George Soros’s adolescence twisted and exaggerated into a grotesque lie. According to Soros’s father, school-age Jewish children were required to run errands for the council. Among those errands (he came to find out) was delivering deportation notices to prominent Jews. But although George did, in fact, spend all of two days as a Jewish Council errand boy, he didn’t perform his assigned tasks exactly as ordered, taking it upon himself to warn the recipients of the notices that they ought not to comply [From George’s father, Tivadar Soros, in his 1965 autobiography, Masquerade: Dancing Around Death in Nazi Occupied Hungary].
As Jews couldn’t go to school any more and their teachers couldn’t teach, they were ordered to report to council headquarters. The children were enlisted as couriers under the command of their teachers. My younger son, George, also became a courier. On the second day he returned home at seven in the evening. 
‘What did you do all day?’ 
‘Mostly nothing. But this afternoon I was given some notices to deliver to various addresses.’ 
‘Did you read what they said?’
‘I even brought one home.’ 
He handed me a small slip of paper, with a typewritten message: 
You are requested to report tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock at the Rabbinical Seminary in Rokk Szildrd Street. Please bring with you a blanket, and food for two days. 
‘Do you know what this means?’ I asked him. 
‘I can guess,’ he replied with great seriousness. ‘They’ll be interned.’ 
Children are often good guessers. I wondered whether he knew what being interned meant. Did this child of mine realize that these people would be deported to Germany and very possibly murdered? I felt too ashamed of the world I had brought him into to enlighten him. 
‘The Jewish Council has no right to give people orders like that,’ I told him. ‘You are not to work there any more.’
‘I tried to tell the people I called on not to obey,’ he said, clearly disappointed that I wouldn’t let him work any more. He was beginning to enjoy his career as a courier: it was all a big adventure.

Friday, October 05, 2018

How the Boycott of Israel Can Harm Students

By Susana Cavallo, David Greenberg, Rebecca Lesses, Jeffry Mallow, Sharon Musher, Cary Nelson
(Chair), and Kenneth Stern, the executive committee of the Alliance for Academic Freedom.

[This statement expands upon and updates an op-ed first published in the Chronicle of Higher
Education, “How the Israel Boycott Can Compromise Faculty and Harm Students.“]

In July 2014, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel published guidelines, including one instructing professors to refuse to write recommendations for students applying to study in Israel. The guidelines were immediately adopted by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Ever since, BDS members have said that this would affect institutions, not individuals. However, the case this month of a professor refusing to write a letter of recommendation for a student wishing to study in Israel exemplifies the personal consequences of such actions.

John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor in the department of American culture at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, emailed an undergraduate student to say he had just realized she was applying to study abroad at Tel Aviv University, and therefore, in compliance with the boycott movement, he was withdrawing his offer to write a recommendation on her behalf to that university. He added that he was happy to write other recommendations for her, thus confirming that he had no doubts about her academic record, which would be a valid justification for refusing to write a recommendation.

Faculty members are free to decline requests to write recommendation letters for many reasons. They may feel they don’t know the student well enough, or they may not consider a student strong enough to earn a letter that is both honest and favorable. A faculty member is also entitled to share with a student ethical or political objections to study in a given country. Although institutions have a responsibility to warn students traveling to foreign countries about risks and to determine which institutions they will and will not establish formal relations with, individual faculty members don’t bear such responsibility. In any case, it is students who must ultimately decide what’s in their best interest.

For a faculty member to impose a political litmus test on recommendations and refuse to write to a program because it is based in a particular country violates a student’s right to apply for admission to his or her program of choice. That is what happened here.

Eleven faculty members who are leaders in or supporters of the BDS movement have posted a statement endorsing Cheney-Lippold’s decision, and BDS-affiliated faculty have also organized an online petition supporting him and a pledge for faculty, administrators, students, and staff to refuse to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Although the pledge does not say explicitly that they should refuse to write letters of recommendation, by urging signers to endorse the boycott and discouraging participation in study-abroad programs, it implicitly does so. For boycott endorsers, opposition to Israel has a moral status that outweighs academic freedom and even a student’s right to learn.

The statement by 11 faculty members elevates political conviction to the level of religious belief: “Professors, like any other individual, are entitled to hold political positions and act in a manner that conforms to their stated positions. … Cheney-Lippold endorses the academic boycott of Israel and, in declining to write a letter of recommendation for a study abroad program in Israel, he is aligning his actions with his stated views.”

This alarming claim would create a new faculty “right” in which individual political belief can override university policies and professional standards. If this principle were actually applied, great harm would result. Imagine Democratic law professors refusing to write recommendations for a worthy student eager for an internship with a conservative Republican judge.

Further, the online statement gives another reason to support Cheney-Lippold: “Some students, specifically students of Palestinian, Middle Eastern, and Muslim background, who attempt to travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories may be denied visas to Israel or would be denied entry into the country.” No evidence of such travel restrictions is presented, but the politicization of professional responsibilities raises real concerns in any case. Would professors then be within their rights to refuse a Muslim student wanting to study in Qatar or Saudi Arabia because it would be difficult for Jewish students to travel there? Could they refuse a recommendation for any student wanting to study in the United States, because of President Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban?

BDS-affiliated faculty have also organized an online petition supporting Cheney-Lippold, offering pledge for faculty, administrators, students, and staff to refuse to participate in study abroad programs in Israel. Although this pledge does not state explicitly that faculty should refuse to write letters of recommendation, by urging signers to endorse USACBI’s boycott call and discouraging any form of participation in a study abroad program, it implicitly does so. For boycott endorsers, opposition to Israel has a moral status that outweighs academic freedom and even a student’s right to learn.
Cheney-Lippold’s action acquired an additional complication after he told the Detroit News he had in fact previously written letters for two students applying to study in Israel. “I wrote for them because I did not have tenure,” said Cheney-Lippold. “I know how people are treated without tenure.” Although this may put the unqualified character of his political commitment in question, its more serious implication is that tenure in effect may protect a faculty member’s ability to substitute political for professional criteria in fulfilling academic responsibilities.

Professional ethics and AAUP policy specifically oppose politically based actions. The AAUP’s “Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students” states: “The professor in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.” While not specifically referring to letter-of-recommendation policies, the AAUP clearly objects to the curtailment of student free expression, political opinion, and academic choice, which would include efforts to block study in Israel.

In addition, most students who apply to study in Israel are Jewish, and Israel is a Jewish state. Thus, there is arguably an element of discrimination based on religion and national status in this refusing to support specifically those students who seek to study in Israel.

We condemn those who have responded to Cheney-Lippold’s words with harassment (including, reportedly, death threats), responses that are increasingly a part of American political life and dangerously enhanced by social media. Such vitriol can have a chilling effect on the free speech that is crucial to academic freedom. We also vehemently disagree with a petition calling for his firing. Refusing a professional obligation is not grounds for dismissal and, needless to say, nothing justifies threats against a person’s life.

But some official response to Cheney-Lippold’s breach of professional ethics is necessary; we urge the University of Michigan administration to respond more forcefully than it has. It should indicate that faculty who discriminate against students based on their political positions, religious backgrounds, or ethnic identification will face consequences.

It is important that the University of Michigan faculty senate has unanimously stated that student qualifications, not faculty political views, should determine whether one agrees to write a letter of recommendation. That effectively isolates those who politicize their professional responsibilities in this way. It will discourage some faculty from following Cheney-Lippold’s lead who might otherwise be inclined to do so. But it is unlikely to have much impact on the most strongly committed boycott activists. So we regret that the Michigan Senate did not support some form of sanction. Not writing a letter of recommendation for political reasons is not a firing offense, but it might, for example, delay or eliminate a scheduled salary increase.

Because professors at other institutions might similarly discriminate against students, particularly in light of the recent pledge, it is vital that colleges and professional associations reiterate their commitment to study-abroad programs in Israel, and clarify and then publicize policies articulating faculty members’ professional responsibilities and the consequences of their failure to perform those duties.

Faculty should understand what will happen if they deprive deserving students of recommendations based on politics. Cheney-Lippold’s action may be the first explicit case of its kind, but it almost certainly won’t be the last.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Anti-Arab Violence in Jerusalem

I've been so obsessed with US news that I haven't noticed some things happening in Jerusalem. I received this email from the New Israel Fund tonight about Jews attacking Arabs in Jerusalem, and the response of some Israelis to this violence.
The past week has seen a series of attacks targeting Arabs in the Jerusalem area.

On Sunday - on the eve of the holiday of Simchat Torah - several dozen Jewish rioters, coming out of prayers at the Kotel, threw chairs, tables, and rocks at Palestinian stores and restaurants near the Old City's Damascus Gate. Five Palestinians were injured. A few days before, four Palestinian students were accosted at a park right next to Jerusalem’s popular German Colony neighborhood. One of them was allegedly tased and beaten until he lost consciousness. That same day, a Palestinian bus driver was assaulted in his bus in the settlement of Beitar Illit.

These new attacks are part of a disturbing pattern. And they cannot be divorced from the choices that Israel's leaders have made to pursue policies that stoke divisions, that empower racists, and that suggest that Arabs have no place in Israel. I’m appalled that no minister in Israel's cabinet condemned these acts of violence to date.

While those in power choose to remain silent, NIF organizations are taking action. On Tuesday, a delegation of Jewish Israelis, organized by the Tag Meir coalition, came to the home of the Zarib family in the Galilee. Two members of the family had been attacked by right-wing demonstrators last month.

The visitors brought with them an olive tree and living proof that a better future -- where every person in Israel can live and care for their family in safety and peace -- is possible. Outreach to the victims of the more recent attacks, and to leaders in their community, is underway. One visit is already confirmed for next week.

The person-to-person outreach that Tag Meir is doing here is just one part of the work we support that can create a better future for Israel -- one where everybody has equal rights and where every person has the opportunity to thrive.
Article in Ha'aretz with more details about the attacks:
Several Palestinians were lightly injured Sunday when they were attacked by a large group of Orthodox Jews near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, Palestinians said – one of a spate of such assaults on Arabs by Jews in the city in recent days.

Some of the events were captured by closed-circuit cameras; the police said one man was injured. 
Last Wednesday, four Palestinian students were assaulted in Gonenim Park in the Katamon neighborhood by Jewish youths, who allegedly used a Taser on some of their victims. Also last week, a Palestinian bus driver was assaulted in the Orthodox settlement of Betar Ilit on the outskirts of Jerusalem
“They think they’re strong because there are a lot of them, so they started throwing chairs and tables, and anybody who tried to protect their property got hit,” said Iyyad Kastro, a business owner at the scene. In the Damascus Gate incident, according to eyewitnesses and footage from closed-circuit cameras, several dozen Orthodox men were coming out of the Old City after prayers at the Western Wall. They then threw chairs and tables from nearby restaurants and stones at Arab passersby and business owners, before they were dispersed by the police. No arrests were made. 
“Every year on this night there are problems. We’re the victims of your holiday,” he added, referring to Simhat Torah. “On our Feast of the Sacrifice there are goats, and on your holiday the victims are the Palestinians.” 
A wounded Palestinian man near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, September 30, 2018.
A wounded Palestinian man near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, September 30, 2018.
Palestinian sources said five young men were injured in the assault, while cars and other property were damaged. The police said the attack took place outside the Damascus Gate by “extremist ultra-Orthodox men ... coming from prayers at the Western Wall when a clash erupted with a number of locals. A police detachment on the scene stopped the clash."
The police said one man was injured and a number of vehicles were damaged, as well as tables and chairs belonging to businesses in the area. The police said they were investigating.
Last Wednesday the incident was more serious. Four Palestinian students, from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem and from Beit Safafa in West Jerusalem were sitting in Gonenim Park near the Railway Park, when they were set upon by several Jewish youths, most of them Orthodox, and severely beaten, the police said.
Stones were also thrown at them and one of them was attacked with a Taser, the police said, adding that at least one suspect had been arrested.
“We were sitting there for maybe five minutes when we saw a group of about 30 men, age 20 to 35 – one looked like their rabbi, around 55,” said Islam Agwa, a law student. “They were looking for Arabs and the second they saw we were Arabs their rabbi said a word and they jumped us.”
As Agwa put it, “I tried to run but they caught me and beat me, kicked me, slapped me and hit me with a Taser in the shoulder and the leg. They kept on hitting me for about 10 minutes until I lost consciousness.”
Agwa said that when the police came, the assailants ran off, stealing four of the Arabs’ motorbike helmets. As the assailants fled, one of them dropped his cellphone, which the police are using in their investigation.
The police took the victims for medical treatment. Agwa suffered a broken nose and deep cuts and bruises to his face, head and neck. One of his friends was injured in the shoulders by a block thrown at him.
“This wasn’t an assault, it was attempted murder,” Agwa said, adding that the police invited him and his friends to a lineup of suspects.
A few hours after the assault, the police arrested Avihu Haim David Cohen, 21, from Jerusalem. At a hearing Sunday, his detention was extended until Wednesday. Judge Sharon Lari-Bavli, after viewing a video of the incident, said the suspicions against Cohen were strong.
She also said that Cohen tried to interfere in the investigation and that he was a danger to the public. 
In another case, a bus driver, Armenius Rafat, was assaulted by passengers in the settlement of Betar Ilit. 
“Dozens of Arab drivers are attacked each year in violent racist assaults. Only a tiny number of these assaults are investigated by the police, and in most cases the assailants run free,” said Gadi Gvaryahu, the chairman of the anti-racism group Tag Meir.
“Unfortunately the bus companies also prefer to keep this quiet, even though the number of Arab drivers attacked is much greater than their percentage in the company. They should be recognized as terror victims, and the police must get to every assailant and prosecute them.” 
Regarding the assault outside Damascus Gate, the left-wing group Ir Amim said: “This is an area in the heart of East Jerusalem life; the Israeli authorities must ensure the well-being and property of the Palestinian residents year-round, with special attention to sensitive days such as the holidays.”