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Wednesday, March 17, 2010




An Arab member of the Knesset who goes all the way to the US and Canada to tell university students and professors that Israel is an apartheid state is not only a hypocrite and a liar, but is also causing huge damage to the interests of his own Arab voters and constituents.

If Israel were an apartheid state, what is this Arab doing in the Knesset? Doesn't apartheid mean that someone like this Knesset member would not, in the first place, even be permitted to run in an election?

Read on...

SJP leader Husam Zakharia


( University of California at Berkeley was again the site of a clash involving pro-Israel and anti-Israel activists last Friday when Husam Zakharia, leader of the Students for Justice in Palestine, assaulted Jessica Felber (StandWithUs Emerson fellow Alumnus) of the pro-Israel Tikvah group with a shopping cart.

The incident occurred during competing events from the SJP-run "Israel Apartheid Week" and "Israel Peace and Diversity Week" organized by Tikvah. Felber was holding a sign that read "Israel Wants Peace" when Zakharia intentionally slammed her from behind with a shopping cart filled with toys donated for the welfare of Arab children in the Hamas-controlled Gaza region.

Read on...


As 'Israel Apartheid Week' heats up, the question must be asked, what - if anything - makes the Israeli case similar to South Africa?

The organizers of "Israel Apartheid Week" (March 1- March 13, 2010) are hoping to replicate what they claim was an unprecedented success for their cause last year when they sponsored events in 40 cities around the world. Yet the arguments against their charge - that Israel is guilty of apartheid - are overwhelming. In fact, given the difficulty in applying the apartheid model to Israel, one wonders what the true hidden agenda is behind this campaign.

To begin with, in apartheid South Africa (1948-1994), blacks were not allowed to vote or to be candidates in the general elections, they could not attend white universities or be treated in white hospitals, and they were forcibly removed from white cities. Anyone who is the least bit familiar with Israel knows that Israeli Arabs vote for the Knesset and that there are Israeli Arab Knesset members, who also serve as deputy speakers of Israel's parliament; an Israeli Arab judge sits on Israel's Supreme Court; Israeli Arabs study in all Israeli universities and there are mixed Arab- Jewish cities, like Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle and Jerusalem.

Read on...

StandWithUs is proud to announce the opening of registration for GaP (Government and Politics) in Israel. GaP is a Menachem Begin Heritage Center initiative in affiliation with MASA. It offers outstanding and highly motivated Jewish post-high school students (18-19) an opportunity to study government, politics and society, with an emphasis on the Israeli context, on a specially tailored program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; combined with trips around Israel, volunteering projects and a special public diplomacy seminar. At the heart of the second semester will be a unique public diplomacy course, run by StandWithUs in collaboration with Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and only available to participants of GaP in Israel. Please visit the website for more information and to sign up:

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Lior, an Israeli solider tells Seattle Pacific students about his experience as a solider in the Israel Defense Force and what war is like when the cameras are turned off. Photo credit: CURTIS SIMPSON IV/The Falcon.


Supporting people over governments

On Monday, I listened to the testimony of two veterans of the Israeli Defense Force, Lior and Inon, concerning their conduct during combat operations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, refuting many assumptions made about the defense force since the release of the Goldstone Report last year. This report alleges that the Israeli army is guilty of misconduct and possibly war crimes.

I went with preconceived notions. I came away realizing just how little I know.

When it comes to war, there is seldom an easy answer to who is right or who is wrong, and as the tagline to the 1986 Oliver Stone movie Platoon states, "The first casualty of war is innocence."

I will neither justify nor condemn the actions of Israel. But I will say that there is a solidarity and unity of cause expressed in the testimonies of Lior and Inon (who refrained from giving last names) that I greatly admire and respect, and posit that very few of us can grasp or understand their struggle.

In general, I detest and distrust the establishment, power structures and ideologies that drive the modern world and national and international affairs. I believe in people, not governments. I cannot stand seeing the powerful crush the weak.

When one hears reports of a conflict in the Gaza Strip, which results in the death of 13 Israelis compared to the death of over 1,300 Palestinians, it is easy to feel outraged, to feel that Israel responds with violence that is not equal in proportion to the stimulus or that they are Zionist neo-fascists, power hungry warmongers that wipe the opposition off the map. But this would be as ignorant and false as saying all Muslims are terrorists or that all terrorists are Muslims.

When asked about the Gaza Strip conflict that left 1,300 Palestinians dead, Lior said the media often focuses on one aspect, such as the death toll, and fails to mention the eight years of attacks that preceded it.

Lior added that proportionality is not a gauge of right or wrong, that many more Nazis were killed than Americans in World War II, but we do not believe Nazis were any more right because more of them died. We never experienced years of rocket attacks from a neighboring country like Canada, living in constant fear of death on a daily basis, he said.

The media zeros in on instances of Israelis destroying a school, but fails to mention the personal experience of soldiers who, like himself, witness enemy rockets being fired from a school yard, devoid of children, he said.

When asked if Zionism was not simply another form of holy war, such as jihad, Lior said Zionism is not about religion, but about establishing a homeland for the Jewish people and to ensure another Holocaust never happens.

Since the end of the Civil War in 1865, there has not been a threat to our American homeland that can compare to what many have faced in Israel on a daily basis. Unlike the Israelis, we are not required to serve in the military to defend the freedoms we so often take for granted living in a peaceful country. That makes it very easy for many of us to condemn combat that we do not fully understand.

I do not fear that a suicide bomber will explode in a cafe or a restaurant, killing my friend and his family, as Lior experienced. When I walk down the streets, I do not fear rockets coming from neighboring states. While I may question the actions of a government, I will always support the men and women who fight for their freedom, and condemn those who seek to prevent others from enjoying it.

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