Signs at a pro-BDS protest in New York following the US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri.
Israel advocates need to “go to the moral dimension of the issue, not to run away from it,” said UCLA professor Judea Pearl, father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, in a fiery plea to students at a recent conference focused on combating the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
“This is where we are strong. This is our cause, and this is where we can win hands down,” Pearl said. “Talk about your emotions. I have emotions too, and not just as a grieving father, but as a man born in Israel. My friends came back in coffins from many wars — wars we did not start.”
More than 500 people, representing a multitude of Jewish and pro-Israel groups, gathered in Los Angeles from January 19-22 to take part in the fourth annual “Israel in Focus” conference, hosted by StandWithUs. The conference nearly doubled in size from last year, and included some 350 high school and college students from all across the US, Canada, Mexico and the UK.
StandWithUs, an Israel education and advocacy organization that was founded in 2001, hosts the conference each year to give the pro-Israel community a platform to share best practices on countering BDS.
JNS.org – As the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, a recently unveiled exhibit at a Holocaust museum in…
“It’s very interesting to see how what we do on campuses is now materializing in further action,” Adah Forer, a 20-year-old senior at the University of California, Berkeley, told JNS. “And it’s not just on campus, but in state government and beyond. It’s very heartening.”
Forer, whose campus is a hotbed for BDS activity, also spoke on a panel dubbed “Anti-Zionism: the New Face of Anti-Semitism,” in which she detailed her efforts to work with university administrators to address antisemitic incidents. She said that many high school students sought her out after the panel.
“It’s cool to talk to high school students who are interested in continuing their passion and joining pro-Israel groups when they come to campus. It’s what we need,” Forer said.
Knesset member Sharren Haskel (Likud) was the conference’s keynote speaker, and former MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) was in attendance.
Chairman of the Spirit Music Group David Renzer spoke to a packed ballroom about BDS proponents’ war on culture. He cited Lorde’s recent cancellation of a Tel Aviv concert, following BDS pressure.
Renzer, who co-founded Creative Community for Peace — an initiative involving power players in the arts — has been instrumental in bringing artists like Elton John, Boy George, Cyndi Lauper and Alicia Keyes to Israel for shows as well, as meetings with Israeli politicians. Those celebrities also learn about causes like LGBT rights in the Holy Land.
“Clearly this movement (BDS) is not going away, and it absolutely targets artists and culture,” Rezner said. “It’s doing so with great strategy, a laser focus and apparently some serious funding. Our goal is to continue what we’re doing and expand on what we’re doing [to oppose it].”
Renzer announced his group’s plans to add a New York office to deal with BDS issues in the theatre world, like a recent boycott campaign to shut down the production of a Lincoln Center Festival play funded by the Israeli Culture and Sport Ministry.
Many conference sessions focused on forming coalitions outside of the Jewish community. One participant was Chelsea Andrews, director of campus relations for Passages, a Christian pro-Israel advocacy group — which nicknames itself the “Christian Birthright” — that leads trips to Israel for Christian college students. She brought nearly 30 of her students to the conference, in order to encourage more dialogue with Jewish students.
“If we’re not coming together and hearing other perspectives, then we’re not seeing a more inclusive area and I don’t think Israel should be just the root of Christianity, or just a Jewish thing. It needs to be more pluralistic or we can get into a dangerous space,” she said.
Evon Sworesho, a Middle East affairs analyst, drew parallels between BDS and historical persecution in the region against Jews and Christians. Several pastors also spoke on a panel about the presence of BDS and anti-Israel views in churches.
State lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum, including Republican Texas Representative Phil King and Democratic Rhode Island Representative Mia Ackerman, discussed how their states have passed anti-boycott laws. King, whose state relies on Israel as its fourth-largest trade partner, and as a vital contributor of agricultural technology, said that anti-boycott legislation was a no-brainer for Texas.
“BDS, at its core, is economic warfare,” he said. “Most Texans recognize that regardless of it being a national issue, one that affects our homeland security — as Israel is our only friend in the Middle East — there are a lot of state hooks, like our long trade history.”
Both state lawmakers agreed that the economic impact of BDS in the West Bank inflicts the most harm on Palestinians who work for Israeli companies, referencing the 500 Palestinians who lost their jobs at SodaStream in 2016, due to BDS pressure.
Ahava Helfenbaum, a 16-year-old high school student from Toronto and a StandWithUs intern, told JNS that she was returning home from the conference with renewed purpose.
“All these success stories on fighting BDS I’ve been hearing all weekend are so inspirational and are giving me the confidence to keep going. It’s really a propeller forward for me,” she said.
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, said that her organization added some new features to the conference schedule this year in order to encourage more student interaction and engagement.
“We did a bit of an experiment and combined the high school and campus students in one community … to see if everyone was able to take from the conference what we wanted to give them — namely information, inspiration and the resources to build a network,” she said. “It was very effective this year. I’m receiving unsolicited compliments everywhere I go, even in the elevator.”
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
Henry Ford devoted his life to two passions: making cars and demonizing Jews. When Hitler said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” he wasn’t referring to his car manufacturing. He was referring to Ford’s anti-Semitic ideology that eventuated in the genocide of six million Jews.
Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
Al Qaeda had used that dysfunctional state as a safe haven and, while there, was able to plan and execute the attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people in. After the West invaded, the Taliban