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|Xavier William||March 28th 2016|
As the masses gathered with their loved ones to celebrate the festivity of Easter and others to celebrate a holiday at the Gulshan Iqbal Park Lahore, where a large number of Christian community members were celebrating Easter Sunday a suicide bomber ripped through the laughter of the innocent children killing over 72 and injuring over 350. "There was blood and bodies everywhere, it was devastating, I almost fainted" said John Masih a young man who was at the park with his family. Army was deployed at the crime scene, according to the reports the situation in the all the hospitals in Lahore is tragic due to the shortage of the beds in the hospitals, the injured were treated on the floors. Mary John a mother of 3 in tears was searching for her children after the blast, " my whole world has ended, the children insisted to come to the park to enjoy themselves, now I cannot find them, I have lost everything." A family of 7 members were in Lahore from Sanghar, lost their lives in the incident. 8 teenagers from Youhanabad are also among the deceased, the religious leaders have condemned the brutality and visited the injured at the Services hospital and Jinnah hospital.
"A large number of people, majority of them women and children, were present in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore when the suicide bomber blew himself up. Mostly women and children are killed and injured in the blast, Experts say nearly 20kg of explosives were used in the blast. There were 4 attackers, 3 ran away and 1 exploded himself. " Said Lahore Police Chief Dr. Haider Ashraf. The police chief said there was an unusual rush of the people in the park due to the weekend and Easter. He said a large number of Christian community celebrating the holy day were present in the park. "Most of the dead and injured are women and children," said Mustansar Feroz, the police superintendent for the area in which the park is located. Police officials said they had recovered the body of the suicide bomber. He seems to be between 25 and 30 years old, he said. The civil society responded and rushed to the hospitals to donate blood for the injured, they vowed to stand united against extremism.
Life For All Pakistan has condemned the brutality and issued a statement, “Religious intolerance, sectarian violence and blatant terrorism is destroying the very core of our social fabric. In a plural Islamic Society, which is what we must aspire and strive to become, there is no place for intolerance, violence and appeasement of extremist groups who are trying to make our nation hostage to their obscurantist ideology. Make no mistake, the Pakistan Military is fighting a decisive battle to crush them. We know their days are numbered and Pakistan's better days are ahead of us. We have to show resolve in fighting and crushing these extremists and bringing back peace and stability to our beloved country.
|Kevin Mitchell||January 4th 2016|
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) strongly cautions Maryland lawmakers not to play politics with the state’s travel economy by overriding Governor Hogan’s veto of SB190, a new sales tax on the service fees charged by local travel agents, tour operators, and event planners. This new tax would be passed on to corporate, university and government travel departments along with significant new costs for legal obligations and accounting complexities, compliance requirements and audits. SB190 is a new tax on the services provided by local small businesses. Travel and meeting managers, including state government travel offices and state universities, are under great pressure to watch every penny of travel spend. All of these administrative costs would be on top of the new tax and would be translated into higher transaction fees from the travel agency to the travel department. As such, a double incentive would have been created to choose a less expensive destination than Maryland, if possible. If not possible, there would be less money to spend in Baltimore or Annapolis on restaurants, entertainment and other destination services adversely impacting jobs and economic activity. Not only would this bill result in downward pressure on demand for lodging properties of all sizes, it would do harm to Maryland’s 1,100 travel agencies most of which are small businesses whose owners are endeavoring to scratch out a living for themselves and their employees. BTC expects legislators will understand very well the incentive new taxes and administrative costs would provide organizations to reconsider the great state of Maryland as a business travel destination. Therefore, BTC strongly encourages lawmakers to vote against any veto override.
|Richard Allen||December 21st 2015|
The following open letter, written by 20 combat officers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was delivered to over 100 major donors to The New Israel Fund, including Alisa Doctoroff, The Jewish Communal Fund, Rabbi Gordon Tucker & Temple Israel of White Plains, The Jim Joseph Foundation & others. It is an appeal for American Jews to stop funding organizations that harm the Israel Defense Forces. The letter follows:
Dear Rabbi Gordon Tucker & The Leadership of Temple Israel of White Plains,
In recent years, you have donated significantly to numerous Israeli organizations and associations. The goal that you sought to achieve with your donation was to support Zionism and support organizations working for human rights and against anti-democratic activities. You support organizations that you believe work towards creating a better, saner, more democratic, and more moral Israel. The reason why you donate funds is not in doubt, nor has it ever been. However, the funds you donate are not being used to serve the purpose for which you donated them. We also know that you donate to the New Israel Fund and we wholeheartedly believe that you love the New Israel Fund, support its activities, and want to strengthen it. We won’t argue the point. However, there is one thing we ask, and, as active-duty and reserve soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, we feel it is our right to ask.
Please demand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations that defame us IDF soldiers, in Israel and around the world. These include organizations such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Machsom Watch.
Please demand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations which protect terrorists who have attacked and stabbed Israelis, even in the current wave of terror which has been plaguing Israel for over a year. These organizations, which are supported by the New Israel Fund, include: B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Ta’ayush, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-IL), and Rabbis for Human Rights. Just this week, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya'alon, forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all IDF bases. This is an extraordinary move expressing how deeply Israeli society perceives that is has been hurt by this organization. Israel’s Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, announced that he forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all Israeli schools. Those same organizations are delegitimization organizations. Their purpose is solely to defame the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and the State of Israel around the world. The activities of Breaking the Silence are extremely anti-Israeli and are perceived as such by the majority of Israeli society.
The organization works in various ways against Israel: They lie both within Israel and around the world, claiming that many IDF soldiers are “war criminals.” Several of these organizations deal with promoting lawsuits against IDF soldiers and officers in Israel and around the world. They hold events at the United Nations and participate in conventions held by the European Union, where they falsely present the State of Israel as an apartheid state, a state that practices ethnic cleansing, and other horrifying lies. In interviews to the international media they claim that the soldiers of the IDF are war criminals, that the State of Israel is a war criminal. They defend terrorists in court, even those who were caught in the act, and file petitions for their release and against revoking their Israeli citizenship. These organizations take legal action to prevent the destruction of terrorists’ houses by the state, and defame the state of Israel in every arena possible.
Their actions, the things they say and write against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in the foreign press feeds anti-Israel and anti-Zionist campaigns, and even terror organizations such as Hamas quote from things Breaking the Silence say during Hamas actions against the State of Israel on the international stage.
The worst of it is not that you support and fund these organizations, but that so do European countries and Palestinian foundations. Palestinians fund their actions. The question is whether you, dear donor, knew of this activity. Does it reflect your values and do you agree that this is the use for the money which you donate to these organizations?
Dear lover of Israel – don’t let these Foreign Agent organizations, funded by foreign governments, tear away at Israeli democracy. Don’t let them tamper with the State of Israel.
Sergeant Bar Shalev, Judea and Samaria Division; Air Force Officer Daniel Salame,; Staff Sergeant Ori Moskovich, Unit 926; Sergeant Major Matan Milles, 3 Squadron, The Navy; Staff Sergeant Chaim Prince, Engineering Corps; Staff Sergeant Aviad Harush, Unit 7002; Staff Sergeant Ilana Valdman, The Home Front Command; First Sergeant Hanani Ladel, Regiment 188; Staff Sergeant Almog Qashty, The Military Police; Sergeant Major Ze'ev Lev, Unit 7012;Staff Sergeant Eli Baraz, Regional Brigade Binyamin; Staff Sergeant Matan Haratz, Unit 710; Sergeant Major Lev Liberman, Central Command; Sergeant Major Matan Arad, Supply Unit 91; Staff Sergeant Naama Carmel, Intelligence; Lieutenant Ofir Levine, Engineering Corps; Staff Sergeant Tzur Ofir, Unit 9135; Staff Sergeant Ariel Iskov, Unit 868; Staff Sergeant Uria Peled, Air Defence Forces; Sergeant Major Nadav Simantov, Unit 43.
|Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld||August 4th 2015|
New York City
I sadly reflect over the last few days in the midst of our community’s divided response to the Iran deal crisis. When we view ourselves today in the light of our history as portrayed in the scriptures, how as a community can we American Jews be less shamed than American Jewry should have been over their poor and divided response to the Holocaust? As Golda might have opined – “don’t be so modest; we’re not so great.” I have examined the American Jewish response to the Holocaust for many years, sometimes to the point of obsession. We recall the New York Times burial of Holocaust news when the Ochs-Sulzbergers published anything at all on the subject. We recall the strife between Rabbi Stephen Wise and the Bergson Group, with the former working mightily to distance the White House from the “infamous” march of the rabbis to save the small remnant of Jews still alive in Europe. We recall the false analyses of the War Department to suppress any thought of bombing Auschwitz rail lines. For those who excused our collective behavior by arguing the tenor of the times, the unprecedented nature of the crisis and so forth – what do they say today, armed with that history, about a regime that seeks endless weaponry including nuclear capability and whose “Shema” is “Death to Israel?” How can it be that there is a land governed by would-be exterminators of the Jewish people and Jews in the US actually have “differences of opinion” on a deal which lays the path for Iran better than it did for the strengthening and arming of Nazi Germany? We delude ourselves that somehow our “Talmudic debating history” encourages such division on the question of self-preservation? Where is there another people on this earth who would react in the divided manner that we do?
We have leaders who make platitudinous pronouncements about “pluralism,” diversity of opinion and the like – because Jewish liberalism gives them overwhelming faith in one political party and president to remedy this crisis. I am ashamed of organizations who are there for everyone else – but unlike everyone else, are not there for their co-ethnics. I am ashamed that our umbrella organizations, and indeed many of our federations, including our beloved UJA here in New York must be mindful of this “pluralism” and difference of opinion lest they tear this “united community” asunder. We should not be proud – we should be shamed for our warped view that reciprocity in uni-directional. We should be ashamed for NOT remembering, for NOT recalling our recent history and for the inability to understand and internalize “Death to Israel.”
|Roz Rothstein||July 15th 2015|
While StandWithUs welcomes international efforts to end Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy, the details emerging about the agreement reached yesterday, July 14, 2015, between the P5+1 and Iran raise serious concerns. It appears the deal will not prevent Iran`s regime from developing nuclear weapons, moderate its aggressive policies, or persuade it to stop sponsoring terrorism. Rather it only delays its pursuit of nuclear weapons and allows it to continue promoting violence and instability around the world. We hope that Congress, which has 60 days to review the agreement after it is submitted by the administration, will ensure that the deal protects the U.S. and our allies, and prevents nuclear proliferation in the region. This should not be a partisan issue. The stakes are too high and this will impact too many people in the international community. Here we have the world`s main sponsor of international terrorism, a fundamentalist regime that believes in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, that calls for the elimination of neighboring states, abuses its own people, and leads chants of "death to America." All Americans should work together to prevent this regime from gaining more destructive ability. The choice is not between this agreement or war. It is between an agreement that will prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and one that will not. We hope that both parties in Congress work together to ensure that the only deal America agrees to is one that will rein in Iran and keep it from getting nuclear weapons not just in the short term, but in the long term. In the not too distant past, liberal democracies failed to stop a fascist, racist, anti-Semitic regime. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake. We will do all we can to alert the public and encourage Congress to hold fast to the terms the United States and the world needs to prevent a nuclear-armed regime in Iran.
|Michael Spaney||July 14th 2015|
The European coalition STOP THE BOMB sharply criticizes the announced agreement of the UN Security Council members and Germany with the Iranian regime. With what is known until now, this agreement leaves nearly the whole nuclear infrastructure of the nuclear and missiles programs intact. It does not prevent the Iranian bomb, but rather institutionalizes its necessary components. A nuclear arms race with the Arab states has already started. The aggressive regional expansion of the Iranian regime has been ignored in the talks just as the annihilation threats against Israel which have been repeated several times amid the negotiations. STOP THE BOMB regards the planned removal of sanctions as especially disturbing. Reinstating sanctions in case of Iranian violations of the agreement will prove unworkable. It took 10 years to establish the anyway insufficient sanctions architecture, which was met by harsh resistance. The Iranian regime exactly knows that there will not be a rapid reinstatement once the sanctions are removed. Billions of dollars currently blocked will soon be unfrozen as a result of this deal and at the anti-Semitic regime’s disposal. This will enable the regime to sponsor its terror proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah in unprecedented ways. The terror against the Iranian population will not decrease, but increase. Already now more people have been executed under allegedly "moderate" President Rouhani than under his predecessor Ahmadinejad.
|Kevin Mitchell||July 2nd 2015|
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) applaudes the decision of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate recent public communications by major U.S. network airlines that could prove to represent illegal coordination among industry competitors to restrict capacity in domestic U.S., transatlantic and other international markets for the purpose of maintaining and/or increasing upward pressure on ticket pricing. DOJ is no doubt observing the reduction in competition and concomitant increase in total air travel prices and decrease in product innovation and declining customer service satisfaction levels. The DOJ investigation is coming at a critical time for consumers. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal's (D-CT) recent leadership on this problem is welcomed, and the European Commission should join in on this investigation. There is precedent for this investigation per previous U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigations and rulings with respect to tacit competitor coordination – especially on analyst calls. The number one concern that antitrust experts have - with no close second - as with regard to radical consolidation of any industry, is the risk of tacit competitor coordination on policies, practices and prices among a reduced number of industry participants. Since recent U.S. airline mega-mergers, we have witnessed near constant airline CEO calls for 'capacity discipline' during industry gatherings and analyst earnings calls only to be echoed by analysts in follow-on earning calls with other airlines. This represents perhaps the darkest hours of airline coordination as well as a too-cozy harmonization between airlines and Wall Street. Sadly, this apparent tacit coordination on capacity is accompanied by an even more aggressive and widely coordinated attack on price transparency, consumer protections and competition.
|Kevin Mitchell ||May 26th 2015|
The American people would be saddened and sickened to learn that some Members of Congress not only put their own personal interests before their constituents but also can go much further and inflict financial harm on the traveling public, mid-size communities and those seeking employment in the travel and tourism industry.
Members are allowed to double and triple book flights home from Washington and pay nothing week in and week out for multiple changes while, in contrast, ordinary citizens can pay hundreds of dollars to make just a single flight change.
Airlines cultivate a cozy relationship with Members through that practice as well as special reservations desks that begin the very exceptional treatment Members receive throughout the entire travel experience. Airlines are repaid handsomely when they receive generous legislative support and when Members sign letters that airline lobbyists put before them.
While this convenient relationship substantially undermines credibility, specifically of a recent letter that 262 Members of the House of Representatives signed on behalf of the BIG 3 U.S. airlines - American, Delta and United - it nevertheless underscores what is so very wrong with Washingtons unyielding focus on its own interests and those of Special Interests at the expense of everyday consumers.
The BIG 3 claim that the Gulf airlines -- Emirates, Qatar and Etihad - receive government support that is harming the U.S. carriers. The Congressional letter supports the BIG 3s call for a freeze in new air services by the Gulf airlines -- all without having allowed those carriers an opportunity to respond to the allegations, not to mention the glaring hypocrisy that the U.S. airline industry, by the BIG 3s very own math, has been the most heavily taxpayer subsidized and structurally advantaged in history of commercial aviation.
Now that U.S. airlines have secured antitrust immunity for their global alliances and achieved radical consolidation of the U.S. airline industry, they want to block new competition. Members are all too willing to lend a hand in this building of Fortress America first by supporting U.S. airlines continuing quest to prevent Norwegian Air International from introducing new competitive flights to the U.S. and second by endorsing the airlines overarching strategy to increase profits by foreclosing on new competition from the Gulf carriers.
If successful in frustrating foreign carrier new entry and robust competition, then Members of Congress will have inflicted financial injury on virtually all Americans through the Mother of all Subsidies -- artificially higher airfares and fees. Whats more, Members will be responsible for lost travel and tourism jobs and reduced economic development for mid-sized communities due to lost connectivity to the worlds important business centers and emerging markets.
When it comes commercial aviation, antitrust and competition policy, the consumer represents the North Star; policy needs to be in alignment with consumers interests. Moreover, in the U.S. free enterprise system, consumers have sovereignty -- the power or freedom to have final say. In the end, consumers determine whether any business succeeds or fails. Government protectionist policies rob consumers of this power and distort markets. No market in the world is fair; to succeed market participants must play to their unique strengths and advantages. Members of Congress need to understand this and act accordingly and in the best interests of consumers.
For more information, see: BusinessTravelCoalition.com
|Asaf Romirowsky||May 21st 2015|
It is with great sadness that SPME mourns the loss of our friend and colleague Robert Wistrich who died suddenly on Tuesday in Rome. Robert was the Neuburger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the head of the University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. The world has lost one of its leading experts on antisemitism but, SPME lost a dear friend who has been a guide and supporter of our work from the very start and he will be sorely missed.
Robert was a preeminent scholar on the study of antisemitism. A true intellectual - who mastered the history of antisemitism and became a leading scholar on the contemporary manifestations of this longest hatred - a term Wistrich made popular. He was intimately involved with the subject of antisemitism. Wistrich was born in Lenger, in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, on April 7, 1945. His family fled antisemitism in Poland a few years early but, were met with similar animosity in the Soviet Union, where his father was twice arrested by the secret police. After World War II, the family returned to Poland but encountered more Jewish hatred and relocated to France and from there to England. At the age of 17 Wistrich won an open scholarship in history to Queens’ College, Cambridge, eventually earning his masters degree in 1969, followed by a doctorate at the University of London in 1974. Robert's scholarly achievements are unparalleled. Among his dozens of books and essays, Socialism and the Jews received the American Jewish Committee Award; The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph won the Austrian State Prize for Danubian History and Anti-Semitism; The Longest Hatred was awarded the United Kingdom's H.H. Wingate Prize for Non-Fiction and became the basis of a PBS documentary on antisemitism, which Robert created. With the global rise of antisemitism today – it was Robert who became a guardian of the Jewish People and the gold standard for all of us.
May his Memory be a Blessing to all of Us.
It’s estimated that in the last century we have lost 97 percent of the world’s tigers. In just the last 13 years there has been a 76 percent decline in the elephant population. Last year alone, there were over 1,200 rhinoceros killed. Each of these animal populations are being severely depleted in large part due to illegal wildlife trafficking, an issue that our own government has recently announced it is taking on in an effort to combat the problem. Now, people have the opportunity to learn more about the world of illegal wildlife trafficking at a new exhibit, called “Ivory, Tortoise Shell, & Fur: The Ugly Truth of Wildlife Trafficking” at the Crime Museum, located in Washington, D.C.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking is an issue that we should all be concerned with,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer of the Crime Museum. “The manner in which these poached animals are killed is horrific. If we educate the public on this cruelty, maybe consumers will stop purchasing goods like ivory earrings or tortoise shell necklaces.”
By collaborating with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other amazing partners, the Crime Museum is able to offer the Wildlife Trafficking exhibit to the public. It’s estimated that the illegal trade market for wildlife products is around $20 billion annually. Being so profitable, it leads many people abroad to illegally kill animals for particular parts that they can sell on the black market. The items being traded include tiger bones, elephant ivory, bear and fish bladders, rhinoceros horns, sea turtles shells, and more.
Many of these products make their way to the American consumer, as well as other foreign shoppers. Many people do not realize when they purchase things made from ivory or turtle shells that the animal has been illegally poached for that purpose. Products readily available made from such harvested items include Asian medicines, wall hangings, trinkets, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, statues, and more.
Recently, the Obama administration announced a plan to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking. Using American intelligence agency power, they will help locate those who are profiting from the illegal trade. The president also called it an “international crisis.” Even Prince William has come out and publicly condemned illegal wildlife trafficking, saying that it “…erodes the rule of law, fuels conflict and may even fund terrorism."
"The 'ugly truth about wildlife trafficking' is that by purchasing certain products people are contributing to the killing of endangered plants and animals, helping invasive species and diseases spread around the world, and supporting the actions of criminal networks threatening the security of many nations. But all is not hopeless,” says Jennifer Sevin, President, Youth Environmental Programs, Inc. “There are innovative tools and techniques being implemented, such as those highlighted in this exhibit, by agencies and organizations tirelessly working to combat this illicit practice. We hope that visitors of the exhibit help reduce the demand and take action to stop wildlife trafficking."
The Wildlife Trafficking exhibit will be at the Crime Museum from June 2015 through February 2016, giving people an opportunity to see if they are contributing to the problem, and how they can help. The Crime Museum also offers a variety of other temporary and traveling exhibits, summer camp programs, walking tours, educational hands-on exhibits, and more. For more information to purchase tickets, visit their site at www.crimemuseum.org.
|Jim Little||April 18th 2015|
In the community's must-do file, add an urgent cautionary note for the Huron campus worksite in Endicott that sits atop a toxic pool of trichloroethylene. About 1,500 people work at the former IBM site where the ground and water table is contaminated with the chemical that IBM used in its manufacturing operations. TCE vapors have been detected in the buildings at the property that IBM sold in 2002 to Huron Real Estate Associates. BAE Systems Electronics, i3 Electronics (formerly Endicott Interconnect), Binghamton University and other smaller firms have operations on the property. An expert on TCE contamination recently told a workers and residents meeting in Endicott that employees at the location ought to be getting more information about the TCE vapor testing and the chemical's concentration levels in the indoor air. State and federal regulations have weak provisions mandating notification to workers when TCE is detected in workplaces. Workers ought to know whether the air they inhale at work carries TCE vapors and what the concentration is. Of particular concern in Endicott and at other spill sites across the country is that TCE exposure is now associated with birth defects for women exposed to it for short periods of time over days or weeks. TCE exposure has previously been linked to several serious human diseases. In 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency determined the chemical was a carcinogen.
The problem with TCE wafting into workplaces in Endicott may continue for years. Earlier this month in reporting on an in-depth look on the 35-year-old cleanup, writer Tom Wilber found there is no remedy for draining the pool of solvents from under the manufacturing site. Wilber learned from Alex Czuhanich, an engineering geologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, it may take years before a proven remedy is found. That leaves the workers in those buildings facing years of additional exposure. Meanwhile, the known risks from the TCE vapors at concentrations measured in a few micrograms per cubic meter of air is uncertain. The state Health Department determined after a 2005 study that the TCE levels at the Huron campus present a "low" health risk to people working there. That decision remains "under review" as more information comes to light, said Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond. Such reassurances provide little comfort to those working in those buildings and even smaller comfort to pregnant workers whose unborn children may be especially vulnerable to health problems from TCE exposure.
|Ari Morgenstern||March 11th 2015|
On Tuesday, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization, sent an action alert encouraging senators to support the Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S. 615). The emails to senators noted in part “Things are moving quickly. The Administration may reach a framework agreement with Iran by the end of this month. You must act now to ensure that any final deal is subject to your final approval.”
“It is unconscionable that the President would consider signing a deal of this import without Congressional approval. Congress is the voice of the people, and the massive response to this action alert makes clear that on Iran, the people want their voice heard,” said CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee. “Every major arms control agreement in recent history has been submitted to Congress for approval. A deal with Iran should be no different. Both our national security and our Constitutional balance of powers are at stake here. We expect our senators to stand up for both.” added CUFI executive director David Brog. With more than 2 million members, Christians United for Israel is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world. CUFI spans all fifty states and reaches millions with its message. Each year CUFI holds hundreds of pro-Israel events in cities around the country. And each July, thousands of pro-Israel Christians gather in Washington, D.C. to participate in the CUFI Washington Summit and make their voices heard in support of Israel and the Jewish people.
|Deborah Owens||February 25th 2015|
Rev. Williams Owens, President and Founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) called on Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from the same-sex marriage case to be heard by the Court this session, citing their stated bias. In order to preserve the integrity of the Court, CAAP also announced its intention of launching a petition campaign that would bring attention to the Justice’s lack of impartiality. The move sprung from public comments made by Justice Ginsburg regarding her conviction that that American public would accept a ruling for same-sex marriage as well as actions by both Ginsburg and Kagan that confirm their biased position on the issue. Both Justices have performed same-sex weddings.
A Justice of the Supreme Court is called on to avoid the appearance of bias—especially on a highly controversial and sensitive issue that is currently before the Court,” stated Rev. William Owens, President of the Coalition of African American Pastors. “And yet, both Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan have taken a public stance in favor of same-sex marriage, even going so far as to officiate at a same-sex wedding. Not only is this a breach of ethics, but it calls into question the integrity of the Court and the supposed balance that the judicial branch is meant to provide in Constitutional interpretation,” Rev. Owens continued. “It is beyond objectionable that no action has yet been taken to ensure that the case will be adjudicated fairly. And so it falls to us, the people, to take action. CAAP is launching a petition urging Justices Kagan and Ginsburg remove themselves from decision-making on this issue and prevent a crisis brought on by the taint of a biased judiciary.
Rev. Owens noted that members of the public were welcome to sign the petition on the CAAP website at caapusa.org. The Court has shown willingness in the past to insert itself in matters that are more properly the domain of the voters," he said. "For a case that promises to dramatically affect the future of family, religious freedom, and much more, there cannot be any question of political bias on the part of the judges involved. We ask that Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan disqualify themselves from involvement in this case or that the Chief Justice Roberts takes the action needed to protect the integrity of the Court.
|Sarah Stern||February 5th 2015|
It has become quite clear that the voice of concerned Americans is not being heard by the White House. Like millions of Americans, Endowment for Middle East Truth is concerned about the failing Iranian nuclear negotiations and the breakdown of the US-Israel relationship, including the recent inflated obsession with a matter of simple protocol of a routine invitation by House Speaker John Boehner to a foreign leader to address Congress. This had been handled no differently than the 2011 invitation from Speaker Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that was before the President was a “lame duck” and did not need the support of the Jewish community. It is appalling that this is occurring at the precise time that the Islamic terrorist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS) reached a despicable new low as they released a video showing the captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive in a cage. Lt. al-Kaseasbeh’s murder is a stark reminder that the ISIS organization is the kind of evil that is not only a threat to the US, but an affront to humanity. That brutal organization is functioning now on Israel’s northern border in Syria. Yet while facing these crucial national security problems for the United States and its one democratic ally in the region, the State of Israel, the White House continues to promote an ineffective foreign policy which is weakening the image of America abroad, ignoring the concerns of its citizens, and throwing our allies under the bus. Each of us will have to ask ourselves one day: did we stand aside while radical Islamists like ISIS attacked our way of life and our ally, Israel, or did we do something to help stop them? After seeing ISIS murder thousands of people, including the beheading of three Americans, you may wonder what you, as a citizen, can do. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for the White House to change its policy. There will be no change unless you make your voice heard.
|Andrew Borans||February 4th 2015|
Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the anti-Semitic hate crime that recently occurred at the University of California, Davis. (UC-Davis). AEPi’s 9,000 undergraduate and 85,000 alumni brothers stand strongly in solidarity and support with our brothers at UC-Davis. On campuses throughout North America and Europe, AEPi brothers have been leading the Jewish community and leading the student movement to defend Israel. Because of that leadership, in the last few months alone, our brothers have been the targets of anti-Semitic attacks at a dozen universities including Oregon, the Claremont Colleges, Arizona, Calgary, Loyola, Ohio, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Temple, Emory, SUNY-Oneonta, Tufts and, now, in Davis. Last week, our UC-Davis brothers proudly defended Israel while the student government voted to adopt a hostile anti-Israel resolution. Within hours of that vote, during the Sabbath night, our fraternity house was vandalized with swastikas. Anti-Semitism is on the rise on college campuses across the world, and the “BDS movement” -- the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel -- is the chief face of campus anti-Semitism. Alpha Epsilon Pi International has dispatched staff and security experts to Davis to assure that our brothers are safe in their university and safe when expressing their Judaism and support for Israel. We are cooperating with university and law enforcement authorities in the ongoing criminal investigation. Additionally, we are working in coordination with the Secure Community Network -- the national homeland security initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations -- to assure the safety of our Brothers across the world and to educate students, college administrators, and local communities about the rising tide of anti-Semitism. AEPi will not allow any brother -- or any Jew -- on any campus to be intimidated or threatened because of their ethnicity or their support for Israel.
|Bliss Baker||January 30th 2015|
Today, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) criticized a new report by World Resources Institute (WRI) for its false data on the environmental and land use impacts of biofuels. The report titled, ‘Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land’, makes several hypothetical predictions about biofuels but fails to substantiate its claim that bioenergy is competing for food crops and land.
The report, authored by Timothy Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich, claims that biofuels have increased competition for land and food but fails to show how. Several major studies, which have looked at this issue using actual historical data not hypothetical projections, have shown that increased global demand for agricultural crops has been mostly met by increased productivity, such as increased production on existed agricultural land, and not through additional land use. This means that, based on historical trends, increased use of crops for biofuels will not cause significant additional land use. Despite referring to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) throughout the report, the authors ignore recent comments from the FAO Director-General Mr. da Silva who praised biofuels for their social, agricultural and environmental benefits. The FAO chief said that biofuels are part of a necessary paradigm shift in global agriculture that will support increased food production.
Global ethanol production utilizes only 2% of grain supplies, not enough to compete with food production or significantly alter food prices. When biofuels are produced so too are food co-products such as animal feed which benefit food security, as recognised by the UN FAO, a benefit which solar panels do not have. At the same time, the significant impacts of global food waste on food supplies – 50% of global food production is wasted – are completely ignored by this report. Addressing this food waste, and its unsustainable consequences, is where real action is needed to ensure the world has enough food. Additionally, the positive environmental impact of biofuels are very well established. According to F.O. Licht, global ethanol production was forecasted to reach 90.38 billion litres in 2014 and its use worldwide would reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes globally, equal to removing 21 million cars off the road annually.
|Abraham Foxman||January 14th 2015|
New York City
President Carter continues to show his bias against Jews and Israel in his latest comments linking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. His on-air remarks were highly insensitive to the victims and their families, and his downplaying of the role of radical extremist Islamic ideology in the attack, and suggestion that other external factors were to blame, is divorced from the realities of the anti-Semitic and fanatical anti-Western beliefs of the perpetrators of the attacks in France. At a time when Christians are being targeted for violence by extremists in Arab countries throughout the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives in Syria, President Carter used his appearance on the Daily Show to once again express his ossified perspective on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. While we agree with President Carter’s concluding analysis that the Paris attacks are a wakeup call in the fight against a ‘new evolutionary development in terrorism,’ ignoring the true root causes of these attacks by focusing on unrelated factors will ultimately prove counterproductive in international efforts to combat growing anti-Western and anti-Semitic extremism and terrorism.
|Bob Dinneen||December 18th 2014|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is delaying finalization of the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) until 2015. Deciding not to decide is not a decision. Unfortunately, the announcement today perpetuates the uncertainty that has plagued the continued evolution of biofuels production and marketing for a year. Nevertheless, the Administration has taken a major step by walking away from a proposed rule that was wrong on the law, wrong on the market impacts, wrong for innovation, and wrong for consumers. Moreover, it is clear that one of the reasons we find ourselves in this position is that the oil industry has steadfastly refused to make the investments in infrastructure or allow their marketers to offer higher ethanol blends like E85 or E15. In the absence of their dogged efforts to undermine the RFS, this would be far simpler for EPA. The monopoly-protecting talking points of the oil industry notwithstanding, the RFS has been enormously successful. It has compelled competition in motor fuel markets, lowered consumer gasoline costs, and reduced the carbon footprint of transportation fuels. We look forward to working with the Administration to assure this critically important program is implemented consistent with congressional intent, to the benefit of consumers and with the goal of advancing the evolution of biofuels production and marketing. Refiners will continue to resist the competition from biofuels. The RFS must be allowed to be the market forcing mechanism it was designed to be. In the end, the verdict on today’s announcement can only be made after a decision on a path forward for biofuels is identified.
Bob Dinneen is president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.
|Robert Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein||October 30th 2014|
New York City
We are deeply concerned by a number of recent public and private criticisms, personal insults and inappropriate characterizations emanating from official sources. These often anonymous, but no less harmful, declarations undermine the common interests of the United States and Israel on the critical issues which face both countries and the real extraordinary cooperation on the security, intelligence, political and other levels. It is the common efforts of these two great democratic allies to address the threat of Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state, the rise of ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups, the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya, and the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, among other issues of vital significance to both countries, that is of primary importance. It is only natural that there may be disagreements on issues, but we believe those should be discussed privately between the leaders of both countries and there should be no place for personal attacks which undermine mutual confidence and support so essential to advancing the interests of both the United States and Israel. We welcomed the statement of the Administration describing the recent comments made by an unnamed US official in an interview in The Atlantic as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘counterproductive’ and noted the frequent visits and exchanges between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. We ask that the person responsible be held to account and the appropriate steps be taken by the Administration. We call on officials, media and others in the public arena to consider the consequences of the words and deeds. Apologies do not undo the damage and every manifestation of division between these two allies is exploited by the enemies of both.
Robert G. Sugarman is Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein is Executive Vice Chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
|Josh London||September 22nd 2014|
Everyone who can do so to attend the important rally on Monday September 22, 2014, at Lincoln Center, at Broadway and 65th Street in Manhattan, starting at 4:30 p.m., to protest against the Met Opera's scheduled eight performances of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist opera, "Death of Klinghoffer." Prominent speakers will include former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Israeli Knesset member Nissim Ze'ev; ZOA President Morton Klein; Catholic League President Dr. Bill Donahue; Rabbi Avi Weiss; Assemblyman Dov Hikind; New York Board of Rabbis Executive Vice President Rabbi Joseph Potasnik; Dean of Rambam Mesivta and Shalhevet High Schools Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman; IDF Sgt. Benjamin Anthony; victims of terrorism, and others. Judge Mukasey presided over the prosecutions of the blind sheik (who was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing), El Sayyid Nosair (who assassinated Meir Kahane and was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Jose Padilla (who plotted to build and explode a dirty nuclear bomb in the U.S.). Thousands of protestors, including students from area high schools, are expected to attend the protest rally. After the main speeches from 4:30 to 6 p.m., the rally will continue on for many hours, with songs, marching around Lincoln Centers, and more.
The Met Opera's production of "Klinghoffer" will be particularly venomous against Israel and Jews. Among other things, we understand that parts of the opera will be set at a wall in Israel that the opera falsely depicts as a symbol of oppression of Palestinian Arabs. The opera utterly fails to explain that Israel erected a security fence in order to stop Palestinian Arab terrorists from continuing to carry out deadly suicide bombings of pizza stores and buses, which had become a regular occurrence. (The security fence is only an actual wall in a few areas next to major roads where Palestinian Arabs were shooting at innocent Israeli drivers in cars.) From September 2000 to mid-2005, Palestinian Arab terrorists carried out hundreds of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, killing almost 2,000 innocent Israelis, and maiming thousands of other innocent Israelis. In addition, Israel's security fence was erected 20 years after Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered Leon Klinghoffer, and 15 years after John Adams composed "Death of Klinghoffer." Apparently the opera's producers will stoop to any stratagem, no matter how historically inaccurate, to attempt to malign Jews and Israel and justify terrorism.
The opera's pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-American attitude is reflected in a short video interview of "Klinghoffer" composer John Adams, which is now posted on the Met Opera's website. In the Met's video, the composer again blames the innocent victims of terrorism. In his Met website video interview, Adams attempts to justify terrorism as follows: "Opera is the art form that goes to the max; it is the art form that is the most emotional; the one that goes the furthest. In a sense terrorism is the same thing, terrorism is the act that goes to the max, it [terrorism] is the act of desperation."
"Klinghoffer" composer Adams also blames the victims and attempts to justify terror and justify "humanizing" terrorists again, later in his website interview. Adams states that the terrorists "are still human beings and there have to be reasons why they did this act."
There will be additional protests at Lincoln Center if "Klinghoffer" is not cancelled, on Monday October 20, 2014; Wednesday October 29; Wednesday November 5; Saturday night November 8; and Tuesday November 11. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or check our website StopDeathofKlinghoffer.org.
The rally on Monday September 22 at 4:30 p.m. is sponsored by a large coalition of Jewish, Catholic, Christian and anti-terror groups, including: the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA); the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mothers Against Terrorism; The Catholic League; COJO (the Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations); The Bridge Project; Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign (CIPAC): AMCHA; Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI); COPMA (Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art); Congregation Or Zarua; Congregation Ohab Zedek; Hasbara Fellowships; Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (HRCARI); International Committee for the Land of Israel; Lincoln Square Synagogue; Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE); Israel Forever Foundation; Israel's Voice; Jewish Action Alliance; Advocates for Israel (AFI); Jewish Political Education Foundation; JCCWatch.org; One Israel Fund; Middle East Research Center Ltd. (MERCL); Rambam Mesivta HS; Shalhevet HS for Girls; Stand With Us; Strength to Strength; and Westchester Hebrew High School (WHHS).
|David Drimer||August 22nd 2014|
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has written to Temple University President, Neil D. Theobald, condemning the vile anti-Semitic attack on a Temple University Jewish student by a member of or sympathizer with the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group devoted to Israel's elimination, and calling for SJP at Temple University to be investigated to determine if an immediate suspension of the group is appropriate and for the specific SJP student to be expelled.
Days ago, Daniel Vessal, a Camera on Campus fellow and a member of the Jewish fraternity AEPi, was punched in the face by a violent an SJP member at "Templefest," which is organized for students on campus to gain new information about campus clubs a week before the start of classes. Vessal says that he saw the SJP table on one of the university's main walkways and went up peacefully to engage in discussion, saying, "'when Hamas stops sending the rockets, that's when there can be peace. That's when we can start.' This one girl sitting at the end of the table was just laughing and laughing at me ... As she was laughing at me, people at the table were calling me a 'baby killer,' I said when she stops then maybe we could have a genuinely peaceful conversation. And then this kid [one of the four or five people at the SJP table] just rocks me in the face as hard as he can. My glasses flew off. After a two-second blur I had no clue what had happened. I couldn't believe the kid actually hit me ... When the police came over and were filing the report the kids at the table were screaming 'You Zionist pig, you racist, that's what you get.'
Vessal's story has been corroborated by two witnesses, Josh Josephs and Alex Winokur, who added that they heard SJP members call Vessal a 'kike,' 'stupid Jew,' and 'Zionist' while he lay on the ground. The police did not detain the assailant and campus police disagreed with the head of student activities on campus that the SJP table needed to be closed. SJP claims the assailant is not a SJP member, merely an acquaintance" of SJP (Daniel Mael, 'Temple Univ. Jewish Student Punched In Face And Called "Kike" In Anti-Semitic Attack,' Truth Revolt, August 20, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein has written to Temple University President, saying, "Some recent developments on our campuses are simply horrifying, not least this unprovoked physical attack on a Jewish student. "We see that Israel's enemies are not content merely to slander her and tell the most outrageous lies about the Jewish state while apologizing for and sanitizing the unreformed, rejectionist Palestinian Arab movement, but are willing to assault Jews and use disgusting anti-Semitic language. Such groups have no place on our university campuses.
"Those who participate in such action need to be held accountable; not sent home by police, as was the case here. This is not appropriate disciplinary action; this is indulgence and appeasement of violent, lawless people. I respectfully call upon the University to immediately mount an investigation into SJP's activities on campus to see if it appropriate to suspend it as a student group in light of their actions. It is also necessary to ascertain why campus police did not arrest the assailant and hold him in custody, but instead sent him home unpunished. If Mr. Vessal's assailant is a Temple University student, whether or not a member of SJP, he should be expelled. Should it emerge that the assailant is not a Temple University student, the University should use the full weight of the law to prosecute him for assault."
|Mort Klein||August 15th 2014|
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed deep concern over disturbing reports that President Barack Obama has pressured Israel by withholding military shipments to Israel in the midst of its war with Hamas over his opposition to Israel continuing its military operations. Reports, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official confirmed to Israeli media that the U.S. had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel on the grounds of what the official reportedly described as "increased diplomatic tension ... the Obama administration, perturbed that much of the ammunition was used by the IDF in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, revised the review process in a move that is likely to limit or at least delay Israel's requests for weapons" (Marissa Newman, 'Israeli official confirms US nixed arms shipment; pols argue over who's to blame,' Times of Israel, August 14, 2014).
A report in the Wall Street Journal claimed the White House and State Department had been angered by a transfer of arms to Israel by the Pentagon and had ordered greater oversight into future sales. Yet, a Defense Department official has confirmed that weapons transfer was unexceptional and that "The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have." The same report notes that a "particularly combative phone call" is said to have taken place yesterday between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Adam Entous, 'Gaza Crisis: Israel Outflanks the White House on Strategy,' Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2014).
We find these reports deeply disturbing. If these reports are true, it means that President Obama has been withholding arms to Israel in the middle of a war Israel is waging in protection of its citizens from Hamas terrorists who are continuously assaulting Israel with over 3,000 missiles in an attempt to murder as many Jews as possible. They are targeting major civilian population areas. If not for the Iron Dome missile defense system, thousands of Israelis would have ben killed by these missiles. Allies cannot always precisely agree on policy. But it is inexcusable for the American President to withhold urgent requests for arms, especially in the middle of a war.
|Harold P. Wimmer and Thomas Ferkol||August 15th 2014|
Few things are more frightening for a parent than racing to the hospital with a child who can’t breathe. Few things are more difficult for a physician than telling a family that a loved one will not recover from an asthma attack. We work with people who know those experiences far too well and –because of those experiences– support reducing carbon pollution. The American Lung Association and the American Thoracic Society members and volunteers understand the impact of polluted air. We know that, as a nation, we have to do more to protect the ability of people to breathe, and that requires us to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. It isn’t enough for physicians to educate patients about the health risks of air pollution, and for parents to keep their children with asthma indoors on bad air days. We must reduce pollution before it takes a further toll on our children and families. As a nation, we have cut air pollution by over 70 percent since 1970, but today more than 147 million Americans (nearly half of the U.S. population) still live where the air is unhealthy to breathe. Warmer temperatures from climate change will make it even harder to reduce air pollution in many places, and increase the likelihood of drought, wildfires and other threats to our health. Fortunately, we can fight those threats.
Recently, hundreds of people attended public hearings hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC to speak out in support of the proposed Clean Power Plan to place first-ever limits on power plant carbon pollution. They spoke up because they recognize that reducing carbon pollution benefits the health of communities across the nation. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan provides states with tools to reduce the carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent, moving us forward in the fight against climate change. But the plan would do more than that. When fully implemented, the carbon reduction plan will also reduce lethal air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury by 25 percent, preventing up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children each year. The plan would also help prevent heart attacks, hospital admissions and missed days of work or school due to illness.
Public health experts call this prevention. For the rest of us, it’s just simple common sense.
Harold P. Wimmeris National President and CEO, American Lung Association and Thomas Ferkol, MD, is President, American Thoracic Society.
|Richard Russo||July 11th 2014|
The primary mission of the Authors Guild has always been the defense of the writing life. While it may be true that there are new opportunities and platforms for writers in the digital age, only the willfully blind refuse to acknowledge that authorship is imperiled on many fronts. True, not all writers are equally impacted. Some authors still make fortunes through traditional publishing, and genre writers (both traditionally published and independently published) appear to be doing better than writers of nonfiction and “literary” mid-list fiction. (The Guild has members in all of these categories.) But there’s evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that as a species we are significantly endangered. In the UK, for instance, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society reports that authors’ incomes have fallen 29 percent since 2005, a decline they deem “shocking.” If a similar study were done in the U.S., the results would be, we believe, all too similar.
On Tuesday, Amazon made an offer to Hachette Book Group that would “take authors out of the middle” of their ongoing dispute by offering Hachette authors windfall royalties on e-books until the dispute between the companies is resolved. While Amazon claims to be concerned about the fate of mid-list and debut authors, we believe their offer—the majority of which Hachette would essentially fund—is highly disingenuous. For one thing, it’s impossible to remove authors from the middle of the dispute. We write the books they’re fighting over. And because it is the writing life itself we seek to defend, we’re not interested in a short-term windfall to some of the writers we represent. What we care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive. We believe that ecosystem should be as diverse as possible, containing traditional big publishers, smaller publishers, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as both e-books and print books. We believe that such an ecosystem cannot exist while entities within it are committed to the eradication of other entities.
Over the years the Guild has often opposed Amazon’s more ruthless tactics, not because we’re anti-Amazon but because we believe the company has stepped over the line and threatened the publishing ecosystem in ways that jeopardize both our livelihoods and the future of authorship itself. There’s no need to rehash our disagreements here. But it is worth stating that we are not anti-Amazon, or anti-e-book, or anti-indie-publishing. Amazon invented a platform for selling e-books that enriches the very ecosystem we believe in, and for which we are grateful. If indie authors are making a living using that platform, bravo. Nor are we taking Hachette’s side in the present dispute. Those of us who publish traditionally may love our publishers, but the truth is, they’ve not treated us fairly with regard to e-book revenues, and they know it. That needs to change. If we sometimes appear to take their side against Amazon, it’s because we’re in the same business: the book business. It may be true that some of our publishers are owned by corporations that, like Amazon, sell a lot more than books, but those larger corporations seem to understand that books are special, indeed integral to the culture in a way that garden tools and diapers and flat-screen TVs are not. To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can’t be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn’t strike us as an oversight. If we’re wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. We’d love to be your partners.
Richard Russo is a novelist and co-Vice President of the Authors Guild.
|Roz Rothstein||June 30th 2014|
Our hearts are breaking at the horrific news of the murder of the three Israeli teenagers: Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer. Israelis, Jews and people of goodwill around the world were consumed with worry following the cruel and cowardly kidnapping of the teens. The news of their brutal murder is painful to absorb. As we stood with and embraced their families following the kidnapping, we stand with them today, sharing their grief and wishing them strength at this tragic time. This sad news reminds us that terrorists continue to act with impunity under Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It reminds us that Hamas is a terrorist organization and has no place in any serious leadership or negotiating position. We see a clear link between the horrific acts of violence by Jihadists in Iraq and Syria and the acts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror groups. Hate education against Jews and Israelis continues unabated in the Palestinian Authority, Gaza and many Arab countries. The result is hatred, terrorism and murder. The institutionalized incitement against Jews and Israel permeates education, the media, mosques and other social institutions, directed and supported by the Palestinian leadership. This education produced the stomach-turning images of some Palestinians celebrating the boys` abduction. This "education" resulted in the murder of our three innocent boys.
The world has been united in keeping the boys and their families uppermost in its thoughts and prayers and will continue to do so now. We pray for the strength that the families and our greater community will need to cope with this tragedy. International pressure must be placed on the Palestinian Authority to stop the ongoing incitement to hatred, terrorism and murder. The Palestinian leadership, both Abbas and Hamas, must finally be held accountable for their actions. EU and American funding of the PA should be tied to that accountability. We continue to support Israel`s security procedures that protect its citizens from acts of terror like this. We join all of Israel, and good people around the world, in mourning Eyal, Naftali and Gilad.
|Sarah Brown||June 30th 2014|
Today in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage that they object to on religious grounds. This is a disappointing decision for women. We respect the views of people of deep faith and we also respect the proven value of contraception as part of basic women’s health care. However, by allowing a private for-profit company to impose the owners’ beliefs on its employees, the Court is limiting the ability of such employees to choose the method of contraception that they and their doctor decide is best for them. Pregnancy planning and spacing though the use of contraception has well-documented benefits. These include reducing maternal and infant mortality, improving educational attainment, reducing poverty and reducing abortion. These are goals we can all support. Almost all Americans (95% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans) agree that for those trying not to get pregnant, using birth control is taking personal responsibility. Furthermore, three-quarters of Americans (78% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans) think policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of birth control. Half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned as reported by women themselves and half of all unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. Moreover, unplanned pregnancy lies behind 90% of all abortions in America. Research shows that when cost is removed as a barrier and women can choose from the full range of contraceptives, including the most effective ones, there have been dramatic declines in unplanned pregnancy and abortion. While the ruling does not affect birth control coverage for most employees, it presents a serious barrier for women working at certain closely-held corporations to plan and space their pregnancies, which benefits everyone.
Sarah Brown is CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
|Roz Rothstein||May 24th 2014|
We applaud the pro-Israel students at DePaul University for standing up to the bigotry and bullying of Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP] who organized a school-wide referendum to divest from companies associated with Israel. Because of pro-Israel students’ courage and hard work, the referendum passed by only a slim margin, with only around 10% of the total student body voting. "The close results of the vote show that the #DePaulDivest campaign is divisive, and a large number of students saw through its hypocrisy and double standards. DePaul SJP launched a referendum because they were afraid to debate the issue on its merits in the student senate, and instead resorted to street theater, lies, and intimidation of their opponents. SJP had little respect for the democratic process, and employed many extreme tactics, including campaigning in classrooms, libraries, dormitories, blocking entrances to campus buildings, and putting on raucous demonstrations. Some students have also filed official complaints regarding campaign violations by SJP. In many cases SJP’s aggressive actions backfired and alienated students, as we have seen happen at other universities,” said Brett Cohen, StandWithUs National Campus Program Director who worked with pro-Israel DePaul students.
The referendum could not accurately reflect student opinion because it presented allegations against Israel as settled facts when they are actually false or contested claims. Therefore, the language inherently suggested a particular answer instead of presenting the issue impartially. We have seen divestment create this toxic campus environment wherever it rears its ugly head, as it has on several American campuses. Divestment advocates bring lies about Israel to campus, and display extreme ignorance about the complexities of the Middle East conflict, about Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, about the anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian society, and about Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace. This movement singles out Israel and targets and intimidates pro-Israel and Jewish students, and resonates with anti-Semitism. We hope that DePaul and other school administrations will educate their students about how to understand and discuss complex issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict, that they ensure that pro-Israel and Jewish students can feel safe on campus, and that they restore the informed debate that should be a hallmark of universities.
Roz Rothstein is CEO of StandWithUS.
|Asaf Romirowsky||May 21st 2014|
These groups : AMCHA Initiative, Institute for Black Solidarity With Israel, The Lawfare Project, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, Stand With Us, and Zionist Organization of America, have written a letter to UCLA's Chancellor Block, President Napolitano and UC Board of Regents. The letter follows:
We are deeply concerned about the behavior of a registered student group at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
In an attempt to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel Jewish students at UCLA, SJP members recently launched a campaign calling for a Judicial Board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by Jewish organizations. The SJP also demanded that candidates for student government positions sign a statement pledging that they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by three Jewish organizations.
The SJP has targeted only Israel. And it has targeted three Jewish organizations that sponsor trips to Israel. Not a single church or mosque that pays for or sponsors Israel trips was singled out. This is an outrageous and impermissible violation of students’ right to free expression, their right to free association, and their fundamental right to travel and move freely. The SJP cannot be permitted to infringe on any student’s personal liberties and freedoms, or to bully students into not associating with certain Jewish groups that are dedicated to building love and support for Israel.
The SJP’s motive is clear: to manipulate the composition of the student government so that it is filled with anti-Israel activists who support the SJP’s hateful agenda. This is the SJP’s latest effort to harass, intimidate and bully pro-Israel Jewish students. The group’s shenanigans plainly follow from the SJP’s failed attempt to get the student government to endorse an anti-Israel divestment resolution last February
Since the ASUC rejected the SJP’s divestment resolution, members of the SJP have engaged in what one Jewish student leader has described as a campaign of hatred and bullying directed "toward both the Jewish community and council members that voted against the resolution." Some students who opposed the anti-Israel divestment resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received. According to the Jewish student leader, "Rather than dealing with their frustrations as a result of the failure of the resolution, members of SJP continue to target their anger at the Jewish community."
The SJP is the only university-funded student organization at UCLA whose very mission targets an ethnic minority for hatred and vilification and whose activities routinely harass, intimidate, threaten and seek to silence members of that ethnic minority on campus.
The SJP’s conduct violates the UCLA Principles of Community which state:
"We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, profiling or other conduct causing harm to individuals on the basis of expression of race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religious beliefs, political preference, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or national origin among other personal characteristics. Such conduct violates UCLA’s Principles of Community and may result in imposition of sanctions according to campus policies governing the conduct of students, staff and faculty."
The SJP’s conduct also violates Section 102.11 of UCLA’s Student Conduct Code, which prohibits harassment, defined as “conduct that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so substantially impairs a person’s access to University programs or activities that the person is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.” The SJP’s scheme to prevent pro-Israel Jewish students from having equal access to positions in the student government is a disgraceful violation of the Code. UCLA’s Code of Conduct and its Principles of Community are more than just words; they demand action. Indeed, UCLA’s standards of conduct may be higher than what the law would require. According to the Code, the regulations it contains were “developed to create and maintain a safe, supportive, and inclusive campus community” – values that the SJP is completely indifferent to and does not support. As leaders of UCLA, you have a duty to stop to the SJP's acts of wanton discrimination, harassment and bullying, and its deliberate interference with students’ rights and freedoms. We call on you to protect the safety and well-being of Jewish students at UCLA and hold SJP members accountable for their shameful misconduct.
Today, Western Values Project released a new report highlighting the increase in the practice of venting and flaring natural gas on public lands, and the associated economic costs. The report’s release coincides with the latest in a series of listening sessions held by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) addressing fugitive emissions from onshore oil and gas leases. Using the same methodology as a 2010 GAO report on federal oil and gas leases, new analysis from Western Values Project finds that millions of dollars’ worth of royalty payments are lost annually as industry vents and flares the byproducts of oil and gas production. That amount is now as much as two to three times higher than in 2010, by conservative estimates. Venting and flaring also continues to waste enormous quantities of natural gas that can never be recovered or sold. In fact, just last year, enough gas was vented or flared to meet the needs of all the homes in Los Angeles for a year. This enormous waste highlights the need for a robust rule from BLM.
Americans would be outraged if they knew what was really going on here. As folks in the Midwest faced severe propane shortages this past winter, and paid sky high prices to heat their homes, billions of dollars’ worth of valuable natural gas went up in flames. This level of waste has cost national, state and local budgets hundreds of millions of dollars’ in the past several years, and unless action is taken, the problem will only get worse. Our Key Findings reveal: 1) In 2013, enough natural gas to meet the home needs of a city the size of Los Angeles or Chicago for an entire year, was vented and flared on federal public lands. 2) Over the next decade, American taxpayers stand to lose over $800 million in lost revenue due to venting and flaring. Conservative estimates for 2013, put the loss to taxpayers at between $54 and $64 million in lost royalties, nearly three times higher than in 2010. 3) In the last five years, at least $350 million in potential revenue has been lost due to flaring, as companies burn publicly owned gas without having to pay for it. 4) It’s estimated that every month, over $100 million worth of gas is vented or flared in North Dakota alone.
|Aram Hamparian||May 7th 2014|
The Warlick plan proposed offers little new. The framework it presents is neither morally acceptable nor practically sustainable. While we do welcome the renewed focus on the centrality of status, at a fundamental level, this plan falls far short of our American ideal of democratic self-determination, the enduring principle upon which our nation was founded and through which more than one hundred new countries have emerged over the past half century. Using the profoundly incendiary and patently inaccurate language of "occupation," this proposed framework again effectively calls upon Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia - the victims of Baku's war of aggression - to make up-front, strategic security concessions in return for entirely undefined and easily reversible promises by an increasingly belligerent Azerbaijani government. We remain hopeful in the overall prospects for an OSCE-brokered peace, are disappointed by the status and security asymmetry in this particular proposal, and look forward to engaging, as meaningful stakeholders, in a more balanced, inclusive and democratic framework for the future of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. Over-riding Baku's veto on Nagorno Karabakh's full and direct participation in all peace talks should, of course, be the first item on the OSCE's agenda.
Aram Hamparian is Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.
|Seamus Conlon||May 6th 2014|
We would like to announce that going forward we www.Cruise.co.uk will be boycotting the Brunei-owned luxury hotel chain Dorchester Collection. This decision has been made after the countries law was changed May 1 2014 to phase in increasing the sentence for homosexuality from a maximum ten year prison sentence to death by stoning. Since the announcement on the May 01 many celebrities have called for a boycott including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Ellen DeGeneres. On Sunday Virgin owner Richard Branson announced a Virgin-wide boycott of the chain and www.CRUISE.co.uk are proud to work in an industry that places the morals of an issue like this over profit. This law was barbaric fifteen hundred years ago and nothing has changed to make it any less so today.
Seamus Conlon is managing director of Cruise.co.uk.
|Alveda King||April 30th 2014|
It has been amply stated and often proven that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Donald Sterling’s jealous rage, and pride in his skin color has left him in disgrace. All of his money and all of his minions cannot undo the destruction he has brought upon himself and his reputation. All is not lost for Mr. Sterling, though. There is hope for him just as there is for all of us who have stumbled in one way or another. Hope begins with humility, a humility that causes us to see just how fallen and broken we are and how much we need God. Jealousy blinds our senses and distorts our reason. Pride causes us to believe we are better than others, sometimes that we are above God. It’s what led Adam and Eve to sin.
Jealousy and pride have led Donald Sterling to allow his mistress to bait him hook line and sinker. How many men have found themselves slammed to destruction over a pretty face and a racist heart? In the gone but not forgotten days of slavery, we found fatal triangles such as the beleaguered Clippers owner is entangled in today. A scorned wife, a tricky mistress, money and racism! Wow!
Yes, like countless others, Mr. Sterling has discovered that his money is not God; his passion is marred with lust; and the world who seemed to love and revere him is fickle. Pride deceived Mr. Stirling into puffing himself up by looking down his nose at those he considers to be beneath him. Never mind the tawny, beautiful, honey colored mistress who was found in that same position only to rise up and bury a dagger in his back. All too often, jealousy, greed and pride allow our society to discriminate against an entire class of people – in this case, skin color is the issue. I wouldn't be true to my calling though, if I didn't remember that the unborn – because they’re small, dependent, and helpless - are also a part of the looming presence of The Elephant - Discrimination - in the bedrooms and boardrooms across America and the world.
We don’t want to be reminded that we’re small, dependent, and helpless – it offends our pride. So we pretend that some "classes" of people like Blacks, or the unborn for example, are… well… different. My Uncle M.L. spoke of building a loving community. As a man of God, he understood that love has to be the foundation for any meaningful transformation of society or individuals. He knew that love changes the heart from prideful to humble so that we see our own brokenness. He knew that a loving community has compassion for all of its members, not just those who are like “us.” Donald Sterling has presented us with a teachable moment; a time when we may consider Uncle M.L.’s words and his life and work for a more loving community.
It’s also a prayerful moment.
My Uncle ML and his brother AD King, my father died for raising the alarm over racial discrimination and inequity in America. The force of racism remains alive today, in bedrooms, boardrooms and in the wombs of mothers. It is time to face the truth and slay the beast.
Donald Sterling is rich enough and famous enough to catch the eye of the media. Yet, he is just the tip of the iceberg, the festering proof of a splintered society.
Let's pray for Donald Sterling; and indeed all who are victims of the deceptions of racism and classism.
Let's continue to pray that God will open all eyes blinded by pride, lust, greed, jealousy and every human failing. Oh that God will change our hearts and free our souls. There is no evil, be it discrimination against darker-skinned people or discrimination against smaller people in the womb, too great for God to overcome.
Alevda King is daughter of the late slain civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King and Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Founder of King for America, Inc. Mother of six and doting grandmother.
|Yariv Levin||April 29th 2014|
As coalition chairman at the Knesset in Jerusalem, I am deeply moved by the tireless supporters and marchers in the Celebrate Israel Parade and by the courageous stance of so many friends of Israel involved in the parade, calling to delegitimize those who delegitimize Israel. It is not logical or reasonable for Israel supporters to condone or overlook or indirectly cooperate with BDS groups which represent the antithesis of support for Israel. Refusing to recognize the State of Israel's sovereign right to develop and maintain an independent legal position on any issue of national importance is not legitimate. The State of Israel came into being by virtue of our people's unassailable rights having historical, legal and religious foundations. I am certain that by mutual effort our just path will surmount any attempt to strike down Jewish survival and the Jewish way of life in the land of our forefathers.
|Leah Stein-Lopez||April 28th 2014|
Let me second the motion. Edwin Black's reporting in NIF Parade Fracas Pushes Outraged Jewish Groups to Define Mainstream
on a recent Page One of the Edge was more than revealing. To the letter writer who suggested Mr. Black take a good look at Progressive Partners for Peace, may I second the motion. I read Black's book on eugenics and the funding there--Carnegie and Rockefeller. He follows the money with undeniable precision. We need more sunlight on this issue as well.
|Sima Cohen||April 26th 2014|
I have read with interest Edwin Black latest investigative report NIF Parade Fracas Pushes Outraged Jewish Groups to Define Mainstream
on your Page One to be illuminating. Black does again what he always does so way--he follows the follow--regardless of how powerful. Now I hope Black will turn his attention to and take a good look at one of the organizations being protested in the parade, namely Progressive Partners for Peace. With Black's track record looking at IBM, GM, Rockefeller, the Ford Foundation, and the New Israel Fund--taking a look at Progressive Partners for Peace should be next.
|Naama Navon||April 23rd 2014|
I found Financing the Flames
(see Arts, Fourteen Jewish Groups Come Together in New Jersey to Hear Edwin Black on the New Israel Fund and BDS
) title by Edwin Black to be an excellent expose. But I am baffled by the Israeli governments' apologetic stance in light of the security risk and obvious public misunderstanding that results from their inaction.
|David Drimer||January 9th 2014|
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned actress Emma Thompson and three dozen other British actors, for seeking the boycotting of Israel’s celebrated Habima Theater troupe, which is to perform later this year in a six-week theatrical festival taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Thompson and her colleagues cite spurious human rights concerns but hypocritically fail to call for a boycott of the National Theater of China, which is participating in the same festival. The ZOA has condemned Thompson and urged people to boycott her recently-released movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
In a letter to the British Guardian newspaper, Thompson and her colleagues accused Habima of having “a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic] ... By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law ... by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company ... We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land” (Nathan Burstein, ‘Oscar winner Emma Thompson calls for Israeli theater’s ban,’ Times of Israel, April 1, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We condemn Emma Thompson and her colleagues for their advocacy of boycotting Israel’s famed Habima Theater. Their call is in no way justified, or in any way less serious or worthy of condemnation, because Habima has refused to boycott a cultural center that opened in Ariel.
“Jews have a perfect right in law and morality to live and build homes and communities in Judea and Samaria, part of the territory earmarked for Jewish settlement at the 1920 San Remo Conference. Contrary to Thompson’s ignorant/malicious claim of illegality, the right of Jews to live and settle in these territories has never been extinguished by any subsequent, legally binding international agreement. Moreover, under the Oslo II agreement, it was specifically stated in Chapter 3, Article 17 that the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would remain under Israeli jurisdiction, pending a final peace agreement. In other words, the PA itself has signed a legally binding agreement that explicitly accepts the existence of Jewish communities under Israeli control.
“Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one, so the repeated, periodic international calls for a Jewish construction freeze, or the removal of Jewish communities, or the boycott and ostracism of anyone who fails to oppose their existence, would remain inappropriate even if the prospect of genuine peace negotiations with a truly peaceful Palestinian partner were possible.
“Why may not 300,000 Jews live among 2 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria while 1.2 million Arabs live among 6 million Jews in Israel? Emma Thompson and her colleagues are displaying ignorance and prejudice in working towards a world in which Jews are banned from and expelled from their religious, historical and legal homeland.
“These people claim to be concerned about justice and peace. But one never hears them criticize the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or their rejection of the 2000 Clinton peace plan, or their resort to a wave of terror. They never issue statements demanding that the PA end terror and incitement to hatred and murder against Israel – the demonization of Jews does not disturb these haters of the Jewish state and expose their own vicious bias, dressed up as concern for human rights.
“We also note the rank hypocrisy of Thompson and her ilk condemning Habima and seeking its boycott –– but having no problem with the National Theater of China participating in the same festival, even though China’s observance of human rights is, to put it mildly, abysmal. “Emma Thompson and these other actors are clearly people who, because they are celebrities, enjoy unmerited influence and ability to publicize their political views. This places an even greater responsibility on them to think carefully before speaking on political matters, which they have clearly failed. They deserve to be condemned and shunned by the Jewish, pro-Israeli community and all other people of goodwill. We urge everyone to boycott Emma Thompson’s current movie, Saving Mr. Banks.”
|Timothy P. White||January 3rd 2014|
The California State University denounces the resolution calling for an academic boycott of the higher education institutions in Israel, which was issued by the American Studies Association and has been supported by other organizations. Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”
Timothy P. White is Chancellor of California State University.
|Daniel Weiss||December 30th 2013|
Although Haverford College is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association, we write to express our opposition to their proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions because such an action is antithetical to the full expression of academic freedom. We fully support the statement issued by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in opposition to the boycott, which holds that “Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.” We also acknowledge that individual members of our community have the right to their own opinions, including the right to support the actions of the ASA.
Daniel Weiss is President of Haverford College. His letter is cosigned by Provost Kimberly Benston, Dean Martha Denney, Assistant Vice President for College Communications Chris Mills, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Dick Wynn, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Jess Lord, Chief Investment Officer Mike Casel, Chief Information Officer Joe Spadaro, and Chief of Staff Jesse Lytle.
|Eric Fingerhut||December 30th 2013|
On Sunday, December 29, The New York Times published an article regarding the “Open Hillel” vote, which took place three weeks ago at Swarthmore College. It is teased on the front page and appears on page 21 of the A-section; it is also available online. As you know, there have been many articles on this topic, and we expect more. Although this article has been in the works for weeks, the Times does little more than repeat claims made in other publications by a handful of students. Instead of seizing the opportunity to look deeply into this issue, the Times took the easy way and turned its story into a simplistic discussion of free speech on campus and conflict among millennial Jews and their elders.
This article couldn’t be more wrong.
I spoke to the reporter for nearly an hour. David Eden also spoke with her several times. As you can see, we both are briefly quoted in comparison to the few students who are showcased. Information was sent refuting the alleged Harvard incident, the Swarthmore vote (including that only seven out of a 14-member student board voted “unanimously”), and the alleged Binghamton College incident (which was noted).
This article took the position that Hillel “whose core mission is to keep the next generation of Jews in the fold, says that under its auspices one thing is not open to debate: Those who reject or repudiate Israel have no place.”
Hillel has never said any such thing, and the Times knows it.
First, Hillel’s “core mission,” clearly expressed on our website and repeated to the Times reporter several times, is to build an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. We are pursuing this mission vigorously every day. More importantly, our guidelines on Israel refer explicitly to rejecting partnerships with organizations and speakers that seek to harm or destroy Israel. Nowhere does Hillel declare that any Jewish student has “no place” at Hillel, nor would I or anyone associated with Hillel International say such a thing.
As we have said many times, Hillel welcomes all students, Jewish and non-Jewish, to discuss and debate topics that are sensitive on many topics, including Israel. We welcome students who have a diverse range of political views and who may be aligned with a broad range of political organizations to talk about a wide variety of issues. We are an open, accepting, educational, humanistic organization, and any suggestion to the contrary is false and a disservice to the student and professional leaders that make Hillel such a special place on 550 campuses across five continents.
The Times reported that a “nationwide online petition in support of the Swarthmore Hillel’s rejection of [the Hillel Israel] guidelines has gathered 1,200 signatures.” It was pointed out to the reporter that there are approximately 400,000 Jewish students on American college campuses, nearly 20 million college students overall, and that a thousand or so names, many from non-students or signed “anonymous,” was not a large number. That fact was ignored. When it was pointed out that there is no groundswell of support for “Open Hillel,” it was brushed aside and not included.
Where Hillel draws the line, and what we have said consistently, as reported in the Timesand elsewhere, is that “‘anti-Zionists’ will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.” The Times also noted our Israel guidelines that spell out that Hillel “will not host or work with speakers or groups that deny the right of Israel to exist; “delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel”; support boycotts, divestment or sanctions against Israel; or “foster an atmosphere of incivility.”
This is hardly a policy of censorship or free speech. As Alan M. Dershowitz said to theTimes: “I don’t think this is a free-speech issue. The people who want divestment and boycotts have plenty of opportunity to speak on campus. The question is a branding one. You can see why Hillel does not want its brand to be diluted.” In 2010, Hillel developed its Israel guidelines precisely because every responsible organization needs to establish certain rules. Ours, created with a wide group of stakeholders, are appropriate and we intend to maintain them.
I was quoted correctly in the Times saying, “If we’re an organization that is committed to building Jewish identity and lifelong connections to the Jewish world and to Israel, then we certainly have to draw lines.”
We have drawn that line. We are unwavering.
Hillel will continue to reach out to all college students who have questions about Israel. Some have deeply held disagreements with Israel’s policies and still consider themselves Zionists. Others mistake their deeply held disagreements with the policies of the Israeli government as anti-Zionism, while others are swept up in the anti-Zionism of friends or faculty, or simply in the passion of being young and on campus. With all students, our professional and student leaders will work heartily to provide knowledge and build trust. But there are some who are simply not interested in any such thing. We will still welcome them as students for Shabbat dinner and other events, but we cannot and will not let them guide our programming.
Hillel loves Eretz Israel because it is part of our Jewish identity. It is our job, together with other Jewish organizations and leaders, to encourage Jewish college students to embrace this love of Jewish life, learning and Israel as part of the character and self-identities they are building while in college. We will continue to take all necessary steps to support and promote this mission.
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