Mahmoud Abbas and Revisionist History – in other words, “What a crock”

Yesterday (May 16, 2011), the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by Mahmoud Abbas, the erstwhile leader of half the Palestinians (I say half because clearly, he holds no sway in Gaza, and in spite of the new “unity deal with Hamas, he still isn’t running to visit Gaza.  I can only assume that it’s because Hamas still can’t guarantee his safety there – their words, not mine).

Abbas’ piece is titled “The Long Overdue Palestinian State” and can be read at the following link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/opinion/17abbas.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

As I read it, while not surprised at the broad historical license Mr. Abbas has taken, I was annoyed enough to sit down and provide some context and comment on the article.  I hope it will help my readers understand a more objective truth, and pay attention to the subtleties of the Arab narrative, which has evolved quite maliciously over the years to something quite distant from actual history (most of which can be easily found by taking a look at older history books and documents related to the Middle East).

In the first paragraph, Mr. Abbas states that he and his family “were forced to leave” their home in Safed.  The implication is that they were forced to do so by the Israelis.  The reality is that some Arabs were forced to leave, mainly in areas where they presented significant security risks, or where there were Arab troops firing on Jewish positions and convoys.  But, the vast majority left following exhortations by Arab leaders to get out of the way of the invading armies until the Jews had been pushed into the sea.  Then, the “refugees” could reclaim both their own homes and those of the Jews.

In paragraph two, Abbas states that they will declare their state “on the 1967 border”.  Unfortunately, no such animal exists.  What he calls “the 1967 border” is, in actuality, the 1948 ceasefire lines.  On one side of those lines was Israel, on the other, Jordan, which (illegally) occupied the West Bank and large parts of Jerusalem following Israel’s war for independence.

It is telling that Abbas mentions that there is value for all Palestinians in doing this, and specifically mentions “those living in the homeland, in exile and under occupation”.  The implication of this is that ISRAEL HAS NO RIGHT TO EXIST.  The “homeland” he so blithely mentions is what is recognized by the world to be Israel proper.  NOT the “Occupied West Bank”.  NOT Gaza.  This declaration is important, because it quite clearly indicates that Abbas does not recognize the right of Israel to exist.

Abbas states that after the UN partition plan, “Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued”.

Seriously?  The “Zionists” simply decided to expel the Arabs to ensure a Jewish majority?  The fact that seven (7) Arab armies immediately invaded the new country of Israel AFTER the Arabs rejected the partition plan had nothing to do with it?

How might Abbas explain the copious evidence that Jewish leaders pleaded for the Arab population to remain calm, stay in their homes, avoid the fighting, and be part of the new country as citizens with full rights?  How might he explain the Arabs who DID stay and are today citizens of Israel, most of whom want nothing to do with living in a Palestinian Arab state (based on any number of surveys)?

Abbas also mentions that although the US recognized Israel immediately, the Palestinian state “remains a promise unfulfilled”.

Yet, whose fault is that?  The boundaries of the Jewish state “granted” by the UN in 1947 was indefensible, and looked like something a disturbed child might draw, BUT, it was based upon extensive surveys of population, and the land was divided based on population density.  The Jews accepted it, the Arabs rejected it, and then invaded, promising to kill all the Jews, down to the last man, woman and child.

This is not an “interpretation” of history – these are well documented, easily verifiable facts.  The newspapers, recordings of radio, etc. still exist and can be found quite easily by anyone who wishes to do so.  While one can certainly debate intent of the various parties, the actual facts of what occurred should NOT be so open to interpretation (i.e. revising to make the “facts” fit your own desires).

Mr. Abbas is jubilant at the prospect of pursuing “legal claims” against Israel at the UN, Int’l Court of Justice, etc. and believes that declaring a state will enable them to do so.  Unfortunately, the actual rule of law will almost undoubtedly fall on Israel’s side, given the various treaties, UN resolutions calling for Israel to have secure borders, and on the facts of the case, namely that Israel, like many countries, repelled multiple invasions by foreign armies and gained territory necessary for defensible borders.

However, since I am not a lawyer, I prefer to leave those arguments to the lawyers.  But, the PA should beware.  The facts are not all on their side, and possession is a powerful tool in the lawyer’s arsenal.

Mr. Abbas quite disingenuously claims  that “Negotiations remain our first option”.  Unfortunately, his actions over the past several years belie this statement.  He has been utterly unwilling to sit with the Israelis unless they meet his conditions for increasingly impossible demands BEFORE negotiating.  My interpretation of his reasoning is that he believes that the Palestinians will win the the courts of the media and popular opinion, forcing Israel to acquiesce in the end.  Unfortunately for him, Israel has no intention or obligation to withdraw from major settlement blocks in the West Bank, or Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, many of which were Jewish BEFORE 1948, and from which Jews were expelled by Jordan, only returning after Israel claimed the territory in 1967 while defending itself from an unprovoked attack by Jordanian forces.  Israel then proceeded to annex those parts of Jerusalem, leaving the PA high and dry.

It is interesting that Mr. Abbas claims that they have met all the prerequisites for statehood listed in the Montevideo Convention.  Clearly, it is arguable, considering that he is still in office years after the expiration of his term of office, and that, despite the appearance of “unity” with Hamas in Gaza, there is clearly no sharing of power, no free elections, and no intention of living peacefully with their neighbor – Israel.  In fact, they still claim ALL the land of Israel, a fact easily seen in their official graphics, maps, on TV, Radio, etc.

He claims that the Palestinians intend to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and the UN Charter.  Where, in all this, is there room for the very clear racist demands that there not be a single Jew in the new state of Palestine?  Or rockets and mortars from Gaza, supposedly part of the new Palestinian state?  Of the integration of Hamas (and its sister organizations, such as Islamic Jihad, etc.) which all call for the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jews?  Do these “principles” meet the intent of the charter of the UN?  Or of human rights?  I doubt it….

Mr. Abbas’ belief that he will be negotiating from “the position of one United Nations member whose territory is militarily occupied by another” is somewhat premature.  The fact that the PA declares a state, based on some arbitrary border (which was NEVER intended to be a border – something clearly stated in any number of ceasefire agreements and UN resolutions), does not, in any way, obligate Israel to recognize those borders, and in fact, opens the door for Israel to take any number of unilateral actions, including annexation of whatever areas they believe they need for their defense.  Abbas’ act will abrogate any and all interim agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, which will, in all likelihood, not work in their (the Palestinians’) favor.

Finally, Mr. Abbas complains that the international community has not kept “the promise it made to us six decades ago”, and calls upon them to keep it now.

I actually can sympathize with this statement.  I believe that the Palestinians are entitled to self-determination if that is what they want.  Their plight as a political football is the product of the Arab countries using them to keep alive the “cause” of the Arab and Muslim world to stamp out what they consider to be a cancer in their midst – namely Israel.

The fact that they have never accepted the legitimacy of Israel’s existence is, I believe, the root cause of the ongoing conflict, and the reason the Palestinians do not have a state.

Of course, their rejection of every offer of statehood along the way has something to do with it, as did their refusal in 1947 to accept the UN partition plan.

Unfortunately, Mr. Abbas’ “vision” of a “just solution for Palestinian refugees” involves millions of descendants of refugees swarming into Israel, effectively ending its ability to remain a Jewish state.

That is not something the Israelis are going to countenance, nor should they.

The Palestinians need to wake up and smell the coffee.  They are a political football, unliked by the rest of the Arab world, and in reality, unable to survive as a state without massive infusions of money from the rest of the world.

They need Israel’s goodwill if they wish to be a viable state.  They will not get it this way.

Good News #337 13 May, 2011 – Reprinted letter from Yosi Behar

– Good News #337  13 May, 2011

Private letter from Yosi Behar– No commercial intent

  screen resolution 1024×768

  onlyGood Newsfrom Israel 

in brief

 

Israel celebrates 63rd Independence Day – ceremonies, fireworks and barbecues

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries and bring you back into your own land” – – Ezekiel 36:24

The population is 7,746,000(compared with 600 000 – 63 years ago);75.3 % of population is Jewish, Over 70% of the Jewish population are native-born Israelis. 20.5% Arabs and 4.2% are immigrants who are not listed as Jewish.  178,000 babies born in past year.   24,500 immigrants made aliyah.

*

Psalms 126; “then said they among the heathen – The Lord hath done great things for them”.

אז יאמרו בגויים: הגדיל ה” לעשות עם אלה – תהילים קכו

 

Nicola Sarkozy; Israel is a miracle

 French President Nicholas Sarkozy; “.Israel is a miracle; I have always considered Israel a miracle, a refuge where every Jew in the world can go ifsomething befalls him. Israelis the national home, the spiritual dwelling, and the foundation for the liberty of the Jewish people. I have never hidden that I was always a friend of Israel and I shall always be a friend of Israel.

*

Stephen Harper; Canada will defend Israel whatever the cost

Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper; “Israel has appeared as a light to all humanity. The existence of Israel is a sign of hope to all the free world. Those who threatened the Jewish state are a threat to all of us.

I shall defend Israel whatever the cost”.

Curtsey Dr. Meir Monselise                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUfFdhIOoQM

*

Winston Churchill; The most remarkable race

Winston Churchill; “no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that the Jews are beyond all questions the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world”.

*

Barak Obama; the Jewish State in its historic homeland

Barak Obama, President of the US; the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland was finally realized with the remarkable achievements over the past six decades.” I have every confidence that the strong relationship between our countries will grow deeper with each passing year.”

*

Arnold Schwarzenegger; Israel is a lighthouse

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Israel Independence day celebration this week;” I fell in love with Israel at first sight. Israel beacon of democracy, human rights and advanced technologies. I was amazed by the technological advancement, the sophisticated agriculture and the wonderful taste of the fruit and vegetables. I plan to visit Israel again soon.”

http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/239/619.html?hp=1&cat=312&loc=2

*

Berlusconi; Italy has always stood by Israel

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi; “We shall not accept unilateral recognition of the PA, this isn’t the way to make agreements between countries, and that this was also the EU’s stance”.Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East and Italy is concerned when Israel is in difficult situations. Italy has always stood by Israel, even within the framework of the EU when it opposed decisions that were un-balanced and unjust towards Israel”.

Israelis gave the world tremendous innovations in Science, Technology and culture. The world would be poorer and less advanced without the contribution of Israel.

 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4067510,00.html

*

Air and Navy show

   

IAF > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYTTAg8p0Po

 

Navy > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLI80G83fMc

*

 

Beyond the call of duty

   120 IDF soldiers awarded the medal of excellence at the Presidential home – for exemplary service beyond the call of duty. Danny; “The IDF gave me more than I can reciprocate – values, strength and faith in my future”.

    

Meet some of them at > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WEhYhtf24I 

*

     

Bible world contest held in Jerusalem                                  

 

PM Benjamin Netanyahu; ‘The Book of the books’ is the secret weapon of the Jewish Nation, the power that binds this people to this land, the heritage and language that helped us survive for thousands of years while scattered all over the world.”

Education Minister Gideon Saar; “The Bible is the greatest gift of the Jewish people to the world”.

The World Bible Contest is held every year in Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day in Jerusalem. 52 young students from 28 countries took part in the final quiz this year.

http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/219494

*

 sport                                                                                                                                      

basketball;  Macabi TA wins 2nd place at Euroleague

6000 Israelis in yellow with banners and musical instruments paraded in Barcelona  

*

Judo; Alice Shlezinger won the gold 

World judo championship held in Baku Azerbaijan. .

*  *  *

Celebrating in the nature with traditional barbeque parties.

   

  *       *       *

 

  Weather                                                                                                               

Perfect weather conditions with Day temperatures around 20 centigrade,

 

   

Shabat Shalom

Yosi Behar

The PA-Hamas Unity Agreement and the Future

The recent “Unity Agreement” between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that was signed in Egypt is a harbinger of increased attacks on Israel, both on the diplomatic front and on the actual front lines between Gaza and Israel.

While to most observers, especially in Europe, this agreement is simply an attempt to reconcile the two parties in order to move the cause of “Peace” forward, in reality it is simply a device to advance the cause of Palestinian statehood without requiring the Palestinians to either negotiate with or recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

We are already seeing wishy-washy comments coming out of Israel’s European “allies” like Great Britain and France, where they have started already with the excuses for why it’s alright for Hamas to be included in negotiations with Israel, and handing over $85 million Euros to the PA to replace the tax revenues that Israel has refused to hand over to the PA since those funds would certainly be used, either directly or indirectly, to fund Hamas and its proxies in their efforts to improve their weaponry and their ability to wage war against Israel.

So, what does it all mean, anyway?

There are a few things to consider.

1.  Hamas and the PA/PLO/Fatah have a few things in common.  They both (in reality) hate the concept of a Jewish state on any land that they want to claim as Palestinian Arab lands (regardless of the fact that Israel exists already).  They both want a Palestinian state.  They both want money from their supporters such as the US and the European Union.  And, they really, really want the Jewish state to just disappear.  If it won’t do it all on its own, they’re perfectly willing to help it disappear.

2.  Hamas and the PA/PLO/Fatah hate each other.  They have been killing, maiming, torturing, and imprisoning each other for a number of years, especially since 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza.  They cannot play well together, and frankly, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they are back at each others’ throats.  Since Hamas took over Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas cannot even set foot there, even though he is ostensibly the president of the PA.  Hamas has told him point blank that they cannot guarantee his safety if he dares to come to Gaza, supposedly territory that is part of the PA.  Nice, right?

3.  Hamas is firmly in a state of almost-war with Israel.  They lob a few shells and rockets into Israel every few days, occasionally a major barrage of rockets, but run crying “foul” when Israel retaliates.  Israel is NOT in a state of almost-war with the powers that be in the West Bank.  The union of these two entities could potentially be interpreted in two ways:  Either Hamas is giving up their “war” in favor of negotiations with Israel, or the PA/PLO/Fatah is giving up on negotiations and choosing the path of Hamas.  There is no real middle ground, a fact of which Israel is acutely aware.

4.  Israel’s position (rightly so, I believe) is that they will not negotiate with Hamas, which is considered by the world to be a terrorist organization.  It’s ironic, really, that the world actually recognizes that fact, since the reality is that Hamas enjoys significant, worldwide support not only from countries like Iran, Syria, and Turkey, but now from Egypt and even from France and Britain.  The considerable attention lavished in the form of flotillas, exhortations to end the blockade of Gaza, volunteers working tirelessly to end the “oppression” of Gaza by the Israelis, and the efforts of many units of the UN to crush Israel’s ability to defend itself against aggression from Gaza all make it clear that the world really does not consider Hamas to be terrorists, but rather freedom fighters.  The fact that they are Islamo-fascist thugs who brutally suppress and oppress their own people is of no import, clearly, as long as they keep the heat on Israel, nor is it important that they are rabid anti-Semites, anti-women’s rights, anti-gay rights, and anti most forms of freedoms that we take for granted in most civilized nations.

Since Israel now considers that Hamas and the PA/PLO/Fatah are now joined, and since Israel is at war with them (by default), their position is that they certainly have no obligation to provide the “union” with funds.  It would be like us (the USA) giving Iran money and assistance to help them advance their nuclear weaponry capabilities.  Kind of stupid, right?

Yet, world reaction, although muted for the moment, will doubtless return to any lack of negotiations being the fault of Israel and building/expansion of settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem.  Already, European leaders are hedging, by giving some “wiggle room” to Hamas to be part of negotiations (even though they claim they’ll never negotiate with Israel) if they agree to the conditions set by the Quartet.

Frankly, I doubt that will ever happen.  Long before the parties get to the state where anyone would need to sit down, Hamas and the PA will have “broken up”.

In the meantime, the “peace process” is essentially dead as a doornail.    In any event, as I discussed here recently, it really wasn’t a “peace” process so much as a process to get statehood for the Palestinians.  There’s nothing in any of what is going on that would lead to true peace.  The best Israel can hope for from any negotiations with the PA (eventually) is a truce, since they will most likely NEVER recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and that is the crux of the entire conflict.

So, I mentioned the future.

Here’s what it looks like to me.

I believe there will be no negotiations with Israel (for all the reasons discussed above and ad nauseum), and the Hamas/PA unity government will actually stay together until the fall.  At that time, the PA will petition the UN General Assembly for recognition as a country, and will request (read “demand”) membership in the UN.   Of course, the GA cannot legally confer statehood upon them.  The Security Council has to agree, and it’s likely the US will veto it (I hope).  In that case, they will still behave as if they have a state.  Unfortunately for them, if that happens, Israel is likely to unilaterally declare a set of “secure” borders.  At that point, the dispute over the occupied territories will essentially become a border dispute.  Luckily for Israel, it has the superior force AND has possession of those areas it wants to keep, so it will be up to the Palestinians to somehow legally validate their claims, which unfortunately for them, they cannot do since there is no legal precedent for the land to belong to a Palestinian state, and there is ample precedent (and UN resolutions) declaring that Israel has a right to “secure borders”, which does NOT mean the 1948 armistice lines (commonly referred to as “the 1967 borders”).

Israel and Gaza will continue to take potshots at each other, until Israel has had enough, and we’ll see some version of Cast Lead II.  The important difference will be that Gaza will be considered by the rest of the world to be part of a Palestinian state, giving Israel that much more “quasi-legal” justification for slamming the hell out of them again.

From my viewpoint, the future does NOT look rosy, particularly if Egypt, as some of their prospective presidents promise, provides armed support to Gaza in the event that Israel attacks Gaza.  It could get very ugly, very fast.

Clearly, there is quite a bit more that can be said about this, but, that’s all the time I have today!

Letter from Tammi Benjamin to Ken Stern (Head of the AJC) regarding anti-Semitism on campus and Title VI

Tammi Benjamin is a lecturer at the University of California, and has filed a federal complaint against the university, alleging discrimination against Jewish students, in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  There is a link to her complaint in the body of the letter.  I believe all the links below (in the body of her letter) should work, but if not, please feel free to contact me and I will forward them to you.

I am copying the entire text of Ms. Benjamin’s letter below.  I think it is important that we, as Jews, ALL read this letter in its entirety along with Mr. Stern’s statement, which can be found at the following link:

http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/about/pres/let/antisemitism.htm

John Poris

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Mr. Stern,

I am a lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), one of the three universities you mention in your recent statement co-authored with AAUP president Cary Nelson.  I am also the author of a federal complaint against my university, alleging a long-standing and pervasive pattern of discrimination against Jewish students emanating from faculty and administrators, which I believe is in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  (See HERE for a copy of my complaint).

Since your statement assails the reactions of “some” to the incidents on these three campuses, reactions which you claim “are making the situation worse by distorting the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and what has been called the ‘working definition of anti-Semitism’,” and since, to the best of my knowledge, mine is the only Title VI complaint that has been filed in reaction to anti-Jewish harassment at any of these three campuses, it is clear that your statement is directed at my Title VI complaint.  I would like to make the following points in response to your charges. I do so because I believe these charges are both inaccurate and unfounded.

1) Without offering a shred of evidence — not even one example — you imply that the “working definition” of anti-Semitism in the Title VI complaint is distorted. However, the complaint contains dozens of examples of rhetoric that fit squarely within the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism.  Here are two:

  • In March 2007, a conference entitled “Alternative Histories Within and Beyond Zionism” took place at UCSC, sponsored by eight university departments.  Four professors and one graduate student, none of them scholars of Israel or Zionism though all of them self-proclaimed anti-Zionists, delivered papers demonizing the Jewish state, denigrating its founding ideology and encouraging actions such as divestment in order to harm Israel.  The five talks were replete with gross misrepresentations of the facts, selected half-truths, and numerous unsubstantiated claims, such as the following: Zionism is racism; Israel is an apartheid state; Israel commits heinous crimes against humanity, including genocide and ethnic cleansing; Israel’s behavior is comparable to Nazi Germany; Jews exaggerate the Holocaust as a tool of Zionist propaganda; and Israel should be dismantled as a Jewish state.

  • In the Summer of 2007, a UCSC Community Studies class designed to train social activists was taught by a professor, who described herself in her on-line syllabus as an active participant in the “campaign against the Apartheid Wall being built in Palestine,” and whose course readings, all biased against Israel, included such unreferenced and anti-Semitic statements as the following:

“Israeli massacres are often accompanied by sexual assault, particularly of pregnant women as a symbolic way of uprooting the children from the mother, or the Palestinian from the land.”

“We define Zionism as a settler-colonial political movement that seeks to ethnically cleanse historical Palestine of the indigenous population and populate it as a Jewish-only state.”

“Not only does the Zionist project use the experience of the Holocaust to legitimate the creation of an exclusionary state at the expense of the displaced indigenous Arab population, it also attempts to foreclose the possibility of other peoples…from calling attention to genocidal practices which in many ways mirror the atrocities that took place in World War II.”

Both of these examples, and almost all of the others included in the complaint, involve language that clearly meets the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism, including rhetoric that denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination (such as by claiming that Zionism is racism); that makes mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of the Jewish collective; that applies a double standard to Israel’s behavior not applied to any other democratic nation; that uses the symbols associated with classic antisemitism (e.g. blood libel); that compares Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; and that accuses the Jewish people and the state of Israel of exaggerating the Holocaust.

Where is the distortion, Mr. Stern?  If these are not anti-Semitic expressions, then what are they?  Moreover, if the EUMC working definition, which you helped to draft, can not be used to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and expressions of anti-Jewish animus on college campuses, then what good is the definition?

2) As you well know, the existence of anti-Semitic incidents per se does not constitute a violation of Title VI.  Although the complaint provides many examples of anti-Semitic rhetoric, nowhere are these incidents, in and of themselves, claimed to be violations of federal anti-discrimination law.  Rather, it is argued that the long-standing and pervasive nature of such anti-Semitic expression has contributed to creating a hostile environment for Jewish students, and it is this hostile environment that has violated the provisions of Title VI.  The complaint contains numerous student testimonies corroborating this claim.  Here are a few:

  • A Jewish student in a Community Studies class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict wrote: “The professor used her lectures, classroom discussions and course readings as a vehicle for her own personal vendetta against the state of Israel, against Zionism, against Israelis and against Jews…Many times when I would confront the professor in class or on [the class email list], she would argue with me so harshly that I felt personally assaulted by her.”

  • A Jewish student in a senior seminar class in Politics wrote: “My final topic and presentation involved a discussion of Zionism, and was followed by a question and answer session. This session didn’t actually involve any questions, but was rather a blunt attack on me by my fellow students. Several students kept asking hurtful and very personal questions, while the professor sat quietly in his seat. I felt as if I was under attack…one student contemptuously responded that Zionism was Nazism and that I as a Zionist am nothing less than a Nazi. I was numb. It was silent in the class; the professor said nothing. Can you even begin to imagine how painful it is to hear such a thing? I, as the granddaughter of holocaust survivors, am now being called the name of the very same people responsible for the murder of my granduncles and aunts. I still cannot believe the events of that day. I cannot believe I was called a Nazi. And above all, I cannot believe my professor didn’t even react. I must admit that I spent the ten-minute break in the bathroom stall crying my eyes out. I was heart-broken.”

  • In response to an anti-Zionist panel discussion sponsored by one of UCSC’s 10 residential colleges, a student wrote: “I am so perplexed and distressed when intelligent academics fail to recognize Israel’s legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East. This anti-Zionism is tossed around without any compassion to the Jewish people. As a Jew, Israel is central to my identity–to my culture, to my religion, to my ethnicity. To claim so misguidedly that Israel is illegitimate, and furthermore, should be revoked–is so hurtful and so offensive beyond words. [My college’s] sponsorship of this event is more than hurtful, it’s absolutely unsettling. My trust in UCSC as a non-discriminatory academic environment has been damaged.”

  • 90 Jewish students signed a petition to the administrators of one of the residential college, requesting that the college rescind its sponsorship of an event that the students believed would be a hateful, one-sided attack on Zionism and Israel, that is “politically biased and discriminates against the Jewish student population.”

Despite the substantial evidence brought to demonstrate a hostile environment for Jewish students at UCSC, you have wrongly insinuated that the complaint was filed to silence all criticism of Israel.  Rather, the intention has always and only been to protect Jewish students, as Title VI provides. And this is undoubtedly what motivated 13 Jewish organizations (including the American Jewish Committee) and 38 members of the U.S. Congress to write letters last year to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, urging him to ensure that Jewish students are covered under the provisions of Title VI and have the same protections as other ethnic minority students, such as African American, Latino, and Arab.

Again, where is the distortion?  How have the provisions of Title VI been abused?  If, as you suggest, the provisions of Title VI should not be used to protect Jewish students in this way, were the efforts of 13 Jewish organizations and 38 senators in vain? Now that Jewish students have won equal protection under federal law, why would you want to take that protection away?

Thankfully, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights does not see things as you do.  The OCR does not believe the complaint distorts the provisions of Title VI.  In fact, after a thorough evaluation of the complaint, they concluded that the charges raised were serious enough to warrant a federal investigation.

3) Like you, I believe there are many things a university could and should do to combat anti-Semitic bigotry, and that “Title VI is a remedy when university leadership neglects its job to stop bigoted harassment of students.”  Indeed, that is precisely why the Title VI was filed: After years of documenting examples of faculty and college-sponsored anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism and its effects on Jewish students, and using this evidence to encourage faculty and administrators to address the problem with the means available to them, no university leader was willing to address — or even acknowledge — this longstanding and pervasive problem.

UCSC is not unusual in this regard.  University leaders on many UC campuses have been unwilling to adequately acknowledge and address the problem of anti-Semitic bigotry.  Outraged by this refusal to protect Jewish students, 12 major Jewish organizations, including the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Orthodox Union, signed a letter to UC President Mark Yudof, urging him to address the harassment and intimidation directed against Jewish students on UC campuses.  The American Jewish Committee was also requested to sign the letter to President Yudof, but your organization refused.

4) Ironically, although you refused to stand together with other Jewish organizations in order to demand the safety of Jewish students at the University of California, you have made common cause with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an organization that has not only been wholly unsympathetic to the plight of Jewish students, but has vilified and sought to silence those who have struggled to stand up on their behalf.

Since its founding in 1915, the AAUP has been looked to as the authority on academic freedom.  In recent years, however, the AAUP has been responsible for a tragic distortion of those same principles.  That organization has rushed to the defense of professors — often their own members and leaders — whose unscholarly, politically motivated, anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish state and its supporters have been identified as egregious abuses of academic freedom by many in the Jewish community, and AAUP leaders have assailed all those who would raise legitimate concerns about these abuses.

Consider the following facts about the organization with which you have partnered:

  • In 2006, the AAUP organized a conference on academic boycotts, which was heavily weighted with speakers who backed the academic boycott of Israeli universities.  The conference was postponed after an article taken from a Holocaust-denying magazine was circulated by AAUP organizers to conference participants.  Joan Scott, the chief organizer of the conference and the head of the AAUP’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 1999, posted on-line a scathing note blaming the postponement on “a carefully-orchestrated campaign to abort the conference by a lobby of people (pro-Israel occupation) who believe that any representation of a point of view other than theirs is anathema.”

  • In 2007, the AAUP published “Freedom in the Classroom,”  a statement drafted by the AAUP’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, as a response to perceived challenges from groups outside of the University who “have sought to regulate classroom instruction.”   The authors of the report acknowledge that professors have been accused of indoctrinating rather than educating students and of failing to provide balanced perspectives on controversial issues, but they belittle these accusations and instead call those outside groups who would raise them — a thinly-veiled allusion to Jewish organizations combating anti-Semitic harassment of Jewish students — “a modern menace.”

  • On the heels of the publication of the 2007 AAUP report, five prominent academics calling themselves The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University, including the AAUP’s Joan Scott, issued a public statement condemning outside groups that have “defamed scholars, pressured administrators, and tried to bypass or subvert established procedures of academic governance” in order to achieve their political ends.  The Ad Hoc Committee’s harshest condemnation was directed at “groups portraying themselves as defenders of Israel…[that] have targeted scholars who have expressed perspectives on Israeli policies and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with which they disagree.”

  • Two current members of the AAUP’s elite Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure have endorsed the anti-Semitic U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

5) Mr. Stern, you have exploited your credentials as the American Jewish Committee’s director on anti-Semitism and the lead drafter of the EUMC “working definition” of anti-Semitism to add credibility and legitimacy to this spurious statement. In so doing, you have also undermined the efforts of a great many in the Jewish community and done enormous harm to the cause of combating campus anti-Semitism.  It is unclear to me why you would do such a thing.  What is clear is that your co-authorship of this statement is an egregious and shameful failure of Jewish leadership, and I urge you to publicly retract it.

The following individuals have been copied and blind-copied on this email: the leaders of the Jewish organizations that signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, asking him to ensure that Jewish students are protected under the provisions of Title VI; the leaders of other Jewish organizations that have been at the forefront of fighting campus anti-Semitism; and several hundred individuals who are deeply concerned for the safety of Jewish students on campuses across the country. I encourage all of them to write to you and AJC Executive Director David Harris, adding their voices to mine in condemning your statement and urging its retraction.

Sincerely,

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Lecturer, University of California Santa Cruz