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The Cross of Bethlehem II

Jewish Setback in Berkeley

On Divestment from Israel, Apartheid Week and Jewish Organizations Weakness



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The Unbearable Slowness of War

Certain wars are slow. So slow, that the result of their single battles are reported with intervals of years between them. So slow, that if not actively searching for them, they would pass unperceived.

Despite an apparent calm, the American Jewish community is at war. It had declared war on everybody and every organization daring to criticize Israel, no matter how justified this criticism is. Cite the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which was written by a Jew and defines Israel as a terror organization in article 1690 and others, and you are automatically defined as an anti-Semite, despite the report having been overwhelmingly approved by the UN General Assembly on October 16, 2009. That despite the report being backed by a more terrifying document issued with the cooperation of the IDF itself, the Beit Oranim Transcript (Hebrew). Now, the American Jewish community is beginning a struggle inwards, against those of its members daring to oppose the Zionist state.

The perpetrators of such hideous crimes – the denouncing of Zionist crimes - may be sued and harassed by Jewish organizations, who do not care about the Israeli violence recognized by Israel itself. These days, we saw one of these battles being won by the free and the good, and the rearrangement of the Zionist forces to strike back in a nearfuture.

Apartheid Week at UC Berkeley

This year, two Jewish students alleged harassment by Muslim students during the event of the Apartheid Week at UC Berkeley. The plaintiffs, a current student and a recent graduate, said the harassment included checkpoints at an annual event protesting Israeli policies. Demonstrators in military attire and carrying fake weapons at the checkpoints allegedly asked passing students whether they were Jewish.

On the third week of December 2011, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. US District Judge Richard Seeborg said much of the alleged harassment, even if true, constituted protected political speech that UC Berkeley had no obligation to stop. The plaintiffs failed to clarify if they oppose violent identity checks by IDF soldiers.

Jessica Felber vs. UC Berkeley

In March 2011, Jessica Felber filed a suit against the University of California campus at Berkeley for allegedly failing to protect her from an anti-Semitic attack. She claimed that Husam Zakharia, a fellow student and the head of Students for Justice in Palestine, slammed her metal cart into Felber because of the pro-Israel sign she was holding during a pro-Israel demonstration on the Berkeley campus in March 5, 2010. The rally had been organized by the Zionist students’ group Tikvah (“hope”), and was in response to anti-Israel events being held that same week as part of Israel Apartheid Week.

In her suit, she claimed that the university has tolerated “the growing cancer of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses” and that violates the rights of Jewish and other students “to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.”

I have seen pictures from that rally. Ms. Felber doesn’t look peaceful. She can be seen screaming in front of an Israeli flag. If there, I would have kept as far as possible from her and her friends. Oddly enough, since it was filed, there haven’t been follow up reports on this lawsuit. Was it dismissed? Ms. Felber, can you tell me why is it illegitimate to verbally oppose physical violence by the Zionists? Can you explain that logically? Please don’t beat me.

The Apartheid Week and Boycott of Israel are supported also by Jewish Organizations

In the last week of June, the Apartheid Week took place in the Berkeley Campus; on a wall at the campus entrance were hung posters with anti-Israel slogans. Apartheid, genocide, Nazism – they read. Nearby stood representatives of Muslim organizations who acted out a blockage scenario, accompanied by anti-Israeli chanting behind them.

In this campus there are five thousand Jewish students. Most of them are organized in Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the largest Jewish students’ organization worldwide. Despite this apparent strength, very few of them protested the anti-Israel protest.

Simply, anti-Israeli voices had penetrated the organization. Internal political shifts within the Jewish community in the US, and the weakening of ties between young American Jews to Israel, have allowed for anti-Israeli voices to change the balance of power. Hillel has become an American pro-Israeli organization under which anti-Israeli activities are being held across some US universities. It means not only quietly supporting events hostile to Israel but also open criticism against Israel.

The Failed First Boycott

While I was in the US, there was an ongoing battle between the American Presbyterian Church and American Jews. Actually, its San Francisco Synod had invited me there in 2006 with false promises of political asylum. The East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, which took legal care of the event, is located just in front of the Berkeley Campus. Back to 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church adopted a policy of "phased, selective divestment" from American corporations operating in Israel due to the barbaric assassination of Rachel Corrie by the IDF. This was seen as a measure for influencing the Israeli government; the companies included: Caterpillar, Citigroup, ITT Industries, Motorola and United Technologies. American Jews became wild and eventually managed to cancel the church decision on the grounds that one cannot behave toward neighbors in such unfriendly way. (They referred to themselves as “neighbors of the Presbyterians” but ignored Israeli Jews as “neighbors of the Palestinians.”) Sadly, the church made a sharp turn towards Israel, bending to pressure from American Jews. In June 2006, the 217th General Assembly overwhelmingly (483-28) replaced the original decision, requiring now the consideration of "practical realities," a "commitment to positive outcomes" and an awareness of the potential impact of strategies on "both the Israeli and Palestinian economies."

Sather Gate, University of California, Berkeley Campus

Sather Gate, University of California, Berkeley Campus

The claim of American Jews on this issue is even more disconcerting. Israel defined Sunday as a working day in clear disregard for its Christian citizens and neighbors. How can they demand respect if they do not respect others?

The Failed Second Boycott

In early 2010, UC Berkeley became the first American university to declare a boycott against companies that do business with Israel. The message behind the bill, proposed by the members of the Students for Justice in Palestine organization, was to cause financial harm to Israel and its supporters.

Jewish organizations supported this. Members of the Hillel organization "Kesher Enoshi" ("human contact" in Hebrew) spoke out against Israel. They openly commented on their Jewish identity and discussed their objection to the war crimes committed by Israel.

The UC Berkeley student senate voted 16-4 in favor of the divestment bill. However following an intense Israeli blackmailing effort, the Berkeley student body president overturned the decision.

Similar events took place in other American universities.

Hillel Strikes Back

Despite many grassroots Hillel activists opposing Israeli terror, the directing body of this organization is preparing to strike back.

"Hillel is committed to create deep and supportive relations with the State of Israel and we do everything with that in mind," said Berkeley Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Adam Naftalin. "We will not allow anyone calling for a boycott against Israel to become part of us." The Hillel administration at Washington University stated as an answer to these events: "The foundation is the cornerstone of pro-Israeli activities in north-American campuses, working together with the Jewish Agency and other organizations to provide students of different backgrounds the opportunity to build a relationship with Israel," and “the foundation has established rules and regulations intended to prevent activities with organizations calling to boycott Israel."

As of now, it is unclear how Hillel is planning to stop Kesher Enoshi or how it would stop further protests against Israel in America. The only clear thing is that the Jewish Wars had arrived in America.

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