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StandWithUs praises UCI decision to suspend Muslim Student Union

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (Press Release)—StandWithUs, the international Israel education organization, welcomes UC Irvine’s (UCI) decision to take disciplinary action against Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU), an organization that repeatedly crossed red lines to foment hostility against Israel and intimidate its supporters on campus.

The MSU had claimed that its right to free speech included the right to deny free speech to others, such as Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren. Hopefully, UCI’s action will help restore civil, responsible debate and free speech on the divisive Arab-Israel issue. Pro-Israel students should now feel safer, and know that their voices can be heard freely on campus. “I hope other campuses that face similar problems will follow UCI’s lead,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs (SWU).  www.standwithus.com
 
On MOnday, UCI recommended that the MSU be suspended for the upcoming school year and prevented from organizing any events, be placed on disciplinary probation the following year, and complete 50 hours of community service as an organization. The MSU was censured for its premeditated, organized disruption of Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren’s February 8 speech on campus and for dishonesty to UCI authorities. MSU members denied they had pre-planned the disruption despite clear evidence of their careful planning. Eleven students were arrested, eight of whom were UCI MSU members, including the president of the organization. The MSU plans to appeal the decision and severity of the punishment to Rameen Talesh, UCI Dean of Students.
 
“Fortunately, SWU had our videographer filming Ambassador Oren’s talk, capturing details that clearly showed the disruption was orchestrated and that the shouting students were reading from prepared notes. The videographer also followed the MSU members out of the auditorium and recorded one of their leaders congratulating the group for their effort to shut down Ambassador Oren and then telling members where to go to ‘debrief’ following the event. This was very incriminating,” said Rothstein.
 
StandWithUs brought widespread attention to the event by immediately posting the video on YouTube, where it got over 700,000 viewers in just days. (The video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w96UR79TBw.)
 
UCI notified the MSU about its decision on May 27. Just two weeks earlier, during the MSU’s annual anti-Israel week, Rothstein had the opportunity to publicly question a frequent MSU guest, Abdel Malik Ali. In answer to her questions, he admitted on camera that he supports Hamas and Hezbollah, believes that MSU members should not even speak with pro-Israel students because “they are the new Nazis,” and also said he advocates “jihad on campus.”  Once again, SWU’ photographer filmed the event and posted it immediately on YouTube, where this video quickly received thousands of hits. (The video is still available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLvfX_SGcAA.) UCI’s Chancellor Drake quickly issued a statement condemning the “offensive remarks supporting terrorism.

While some MSU supporters have already criticized the UCI decision, claiming it is “draconian” and violates the MSU members’ free speech, StandWithUs points out that the decision actually reinforces the right to free speech by ensuring that invited speakers cannot be shouted down and silenced.

“Unfortunately, UCI has become known as one of America’s most anti-Israel campuses. Israel has regularly been demonized—not just criticized—by the MSU. Often, their events crossed the line into thinly veiled anti-Semitism. We certainly hope that the administration’s action will begin to turn things around at UCI so that UCI can become a model for other campuses to follow. Our universities must set standards for discussing even the most difficult issues responsibly, and they must ensure that all voices can be heard, including those of Israeli diplomats like Ambassador Oren,” said Dr. Roberta Seid.

“We can’t know the details of UCI’s deliberations, but I hope that the video showing Malik professing support for terrorist groups helped them see the extremism that pro-Israel students face and how much MSU speakers violate basic tenets of university life and standards of conduct by denying the free speech of others,” said Rothstein.

StandWithUs, which supports and empowers pro-Israel students around the world to counter anti-Israel extremism, has been working with UCI’s pro-Israel students, faculty, and administration since 2001, when the MSU organized its initial anti-Israel event. The annual event coincides with Israel’s Independence Day. Each year, the MSU crossed more red lines, according to StandWithUs. “When the administration reprimanded them for specific offenses, they complied but simply came up with other offensive actions. Many organizations, including SWU, have been calling on the UCI administration for years to take some firm steps to stop this extremism, and are glad they finally have.” explained Rothstein.
 
This year, over 60 UCI faculty members, including Dr. Roberta Seid, who is also the education/research director of StandWithUs, signed and published a letter protesting the extremism and anti-Semitic elements of the annual MSU event. Dr. Seid spoke before the University of California Board of Regents on May 20 and distributed the letter along with other SWU materials and a petition signed by 700 University of California Jewish students urging the Regents to take steps to set up clear guidelines that would help stop this wave of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish agitation and feelings of intimidation on University of California campuses. It is unclear what role the Regents played in UCI’s decision the following week to discipline the MSU.

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Preceding provided by StandWithUs

Israeli violinist and pianist to perform together June 17 in Carlsbad

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment
By Eileen Wingard 
 

Eileen Wingard

CARLSBAD, California–Israel has supplied the world with an abundance of musical talent. In addition to many fine orchestras, topped by the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, it has been the birthplace or the nurturing ground for violinists Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Shlomo Mintz; pianinsts Yefim Bronfman, Daniel Barenboim and others. The organization most responsible for identifying and supporting burgeoning Israeli talent has been the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF).
    
This Thursday, June 17, at 7:00 p.m. at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium in Carlsbad’s Dove Library, 1779 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, two AICF recipients, violinist Asi Matathias, and pianist Victor Stanislavsky, will perform works by Cesar Franck and Edvard Grieg. The concert is part of the San Diego Jewish Music Series of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture. It is underwritten by the Leichtag Foundation.
    
Violinist Asi Matathias, 22, made his debut at 14 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Mehta was so impressed by the youth that he invited him to solo with the IPO the following season. Mehta described Asi as “extremely musical, sensitive and technically accurate.”
    
After Asi’s early violin training in Israel with Chaim Taub, the talented young man continued his studies at the Universitat fur Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He has been supported by the AICF since 1997.
    
Asi has performed with orchestras in Europe and recorded with the BBC, the Austrian Radio, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Currently, he is working with Pinchas Zukerman as a scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music.
    
Along with his studies, he continues to concertiize. His 2009-10 season included a concert at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, playing alongside pianist Yefim Bronfman and cellist Wolfgang Laufer; solo programs  in Carnegie Weill Recital Hall,  Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and in Japan, and another solo performance with the IPO.
    
Pianist Victor Stanislavsky, 27, has been an AICF scholarship winner since 2002. He has also won top prizes in Italy’s “Pozzoli International Piano Competion and in China’s International Piano Competition. Recently, he was one of thirty pianists world-wide, invited to compete in the Van Cliburn Competition.
    
Victor was born in the Ukraine and moved to Israel in 1990. His early training was at the Rubin Academy in Haifa. He received his BA degree with highest honors from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music of the Tel Aviv University.  In addition to soloing with Israel’s top orchestras, he has performed in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Eastern and Western Europe, South Korea and China.
    
After a recent Athenaeum Concert in La Jolla, Ken Herman of the La Jolla Light praised his “youthful vigor and mature interpretation.”
    
Tickets for the recital are $15 JCC members, $18 non-members. Call 858-362-1348. 
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Wingard is a freelance writer based in San Diego 
 
 
 

 

OPINION – Leon de Winter: Anti-Semitism is Salonfähig Again

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

 

(WJC)–The following article by the Dutch novelist Leon de Winter appeared in the ‘Wall Street Journal Europe’ on 14 June 2010.

 It’s a fascinating phenomenon: Why do people and organizations that present themselves as progressive team up with reactionary Muslims? The Free Gaza group is just such a Leftist-Islamist alliance. Well, Gaza is already free. Israel withdrew from the narrow strip five years ago. And there is also no need for any humanitarian aid. Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months, equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza.

But Gaza’s population voted in democratic elections to be ruled by a party whose hatred of Jews is the cornerstone of its existence. Anyone who doubts this should read the Hamas manifesto on the Internet. The fact that Gaza is completely “judenrein” isn’t enough for Hamas. It wants Israel to be “judenrein” too. The Israeli blockade for “strategic goods” is therefore not designed to punish ordinary Palestinians but to prevent Hamas from obtaining heavy weapons and building bunkers. It’s as simple as that. 

Contrary to Gaza, Chechnya, for example, isn’t free. The Russians have crushed the struggle for independence of the Chechens by carpet-bombing their capital. And what about a Kurdish state? The Turks and Iraqis have inflicted unspeakable horrors on the Kurds. And yet, there are no Free Kurdistan flotillas sailing toward Turkey, and Russian officials don’t have to fear to be arrested in European capitals for war crimes.

Here are some more facts — lousy, stubborn facts. Let’s look at the infant mortality rate in Gaza. It is a key number that says a lot about the state of hygiene, nutrition, and health care. In Israel the infant mortality rate is 4.17 per 1,000 births, which is about the same as in Western countries. In Sudan the rate is 78.1, that is, one in 13 infants die at birth. In Gaza, infant mortality per 1,000 births is 17.71. Yes, that’s higher than in Israel, but much lower than in Sudan. And Turkey’s infant mortality rate? Well, that’s 24.84. Yes, more infants die at birth in Turkey than in Gaza.

Here is another fact. Life expectancy at birth is 73.68 years in Gaza. And in Turkey, Gaza’s new protector, life expectancy is only 72.23 years. If the Israelis really wanted to make the lives of Palestinians short and nasty, then they are obviously doing something wrong.

The progressives don’t care for any other group of poor or suppressed Muslims. They only cry for the “victims” of the Jews. Why is that so?

One reason is Yasser Arafat, whose genius was to redefine the Palestinian cause in neo-Marxist and anti-imperialist rhetorics. He created a new context for his people: The struggle against colonialism and racism. He was a classic corrupt warlord with an amazing talent to play the Western media and politicians. The progressives adopted the Palestinians as their favorite, quintessential victims of imperialism and colonialism as epitomized by the Zionist state.

But there is another reason why Western progressives hate Israel but are indifferent toward human rights abuses in Turkey, Iran, or Russia. It’s because of the Holocaust.

Europeans, who represent much of what goes for world opinion, have grown tired of carrying the guilt for the destruction of the Continent’s Jews. They have started to long for some form of historical release. That comes in the form of Israel’s military response to Islamist attacks and terror. The Europeans couldn’t suppress the chance to defame the Jews and redefine Israel’s defense measures as either “disproportionate” or outright aggression — war crimes in other words.

In progressive European eyes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became a conflict without comparison, a unique phenomenon of European victims creating Palestinian victims, which seemed to diminish the weight of the ordinary European mass-slaughter of the Jews.

Watching Israel’s demonization, the attack on its right to defend itself as Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said, it becomes clear that there is a deep need among Europeans to call the Jews murderers. This is why the Palestinians, as “victims” of the Jews, are more important than the numerous Muslim victims of Muslim extremists; this is why millions of other Muslims living under worse conditions than the Palestinians hardly get any mention in the media; this is why Gaza is compared to the Warsaw Ghetto or Auschwitz. By calling the Israeli Nazis, the original Nazis have been legitimized. It feels as if the Europeans, led by the progressives, want the Arabs to finish the job. Enough with the Jews. It is what it is — we see Europe’s liberation from the legacy of the Holocaust.

For decades, our progressive, peace-loving Western activists have been fooled and manipulated by Arab tyrants and now by Turkish and Iranian Islamists. They have allowed themselves to assist in efforts to destroy one of the greatest adventures in modern times: the creation of the State of Israel.

What we have witnessed with the Gaza flotilla is the perfect execution of a masterful piece of Islamist theater. The media’s wild indignation, an orgasm of hypocrisy, marks the next chapter in the long story of European hatred toward the Jews. It is salonfahig again to be an anti-Semite.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Israel sets up independent inquiry into Gaza flotilla raid

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The Israel Cabinet has unanimously voted to up an independent public inquiry into the deadly raid on one of the ships of the ‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla’ a fortnight ago, in which nine people were killed. The inquiry will be headed by the former Israel Supreme Court judge Jacob Turkel. The former first minister of Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble as well as the former Canadian lawyer Ken Watkin will be non-voting members on the commission. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision would “make it clear to the world that Israel is acting legally, responsibly, and with complete transparency.”

The other Israeli members will be international law professor Shabtai Rosen and the retired IDF major-general Amos Horev. Under the terms of its mandate, the commission will consider the security circumstances for imposing a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and the conformity of the naval blockade with the rules of international law, the conformity of the actions taken by Israel to the principles of international law, and the actions taken by those who organized and participated in  the flotilla.

Israel’s government said in a statement that the commission would also consider the question of “whether the inquiry and investigation mechanisms vis-à-vis complaints and claims regarding violations of the laws of armed conflict, as followed by Israel in general and as implemented with regard to the event in question, conform with the State of Israel’s obligations under the rules of international law.”

The Obama administration publicly endorsed the Israeli decision: “The structure and terms of reference of Israel’s proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Prasquier re-elected as political leader of French Jewry

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Richard Prasquier, a 65-year-old Paris cardiologist, has been re-elected as president of CRIF, the umbrella representative group of French Jewish organizations, for a second three-year term. At a meeting of the organization’s General Assembly, Prasquier beat his rival Meyer Habib, one of CRIF’s vice-presidents, by 106 to 61 votes.

Some 60 Jewish associations and movements are represented in the General Assembly. Prasquier was first elected in 2007, when he succeeded Roger Cukierman.

CRIF, which defines itself as the “official and political voice of France’s Jewish community, was founded in Lyon in 1943 as an underground network to save Jews in Nazi-occupied France from deportation to the death camps.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

UK government appoints first-ever envoy for Holocaust-related issues

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The British government has appointed its first-ever envoy to deal with post-Holocaust issues. Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that Sir Andrew Burns, a former ambassador to Israel, would take the job. Hague said his country was committed to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and would support efforts to make sure that the lessons of this period in history are not forgotten.

Burns will oversee efforts to resolve outstanding issues and claims related to property and art restitution. He will also take part in education efforts and promote remembrance and research about the Holocaust. “Sir Andrew’s appointment will ensure that we continue to support those working to right past wrongs,” Hague said.

Burns’ appointment was applauded in Israel. “We think it’s a very positive and important step … and we wish him a lot of success in his work in promoting Holocaust education and fighting for the rights of the survivors,” said Estee Yaari, a spokeswoman for Yad Vashem, was quoted by AP as saying. “The Holocaust is an issue that is part of all of our history.”

Recent international efforts have focused on providing restitution to aging victims of Nazi persecution. Last week, more than 40 countries agreed on a set of international rules for returning real estate stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners or heirs.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

European Union and Red Cross press Israel to ease Gaza blockade

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–European Union officials said on Monday that Israel will likely agree to relax its blockade of the Gaza Strip by opening at least one border crossing to large-scale commercial traffic. Diplomats in Brussels were quoted by AP as saying that Israel would likely drop its restrictive list of goods that are permitted into the region. Instead, there would be a short, agreed list of items banned because of Israeli security concerns, the diplomats said on the condition that they not be named.

A diplomat said that Israel might be willing to open either the Karni or the Kerem Shalom border crossings for large-scale imports into Gaza. Israel rejected a proposal for cargo to be delivered by ships checked in a third location such as Cyprus, he added. The Karni and Kerem Shalom crossings have been open for humanitarian goods for the past few years. Israeli security officials have said talks are now under way to replace the Israeli supervision with an international presence, with the involvement of the Palestinians and the Egyptians.

EU foreign ministers are planning to call the Israeli blockade as “unacceptable and counterproductive”, according to a draft statement released on Monday. After meeting with Palestinian President Abbas in Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose government currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, called for a “strong, joint EU position toward what happened in Gaza and the humanitarian situation in that area.”

Meanwhile, Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and now Middle East envoy of the International Quartet, said he was hopeful of a “significant” easing of Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Blair said he saw no real prospect of Israel lifting the naval blockade of the territory but added it was possible the list of items permitted to be brought into Gaza by land could be redrafted to allow more necessities of ordinary life to enter the coastal enclave. “I think it is possible to get a role back for the EU and the Palestinian Authority in the way that these crossings, or some of them, are monitored. The idea would be to make a significant change where the blockade would remain in respect of those items that are a security risk for Israel, but items for daily life will be able to come in,” Blair said on a BBC radio program.

In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for the blockade to be lifted, saying it violated the Geneva Conventions. The ICRC also called on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier abducted in a cross-border raid nearly four years ago. “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” the ICRC said. “The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.