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May 4, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 4, 2018

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 4, 2018 By Ron Kampeas traversed the politicalspectrum: In Israel's first years, the famed screenwriter and Zionist Ben WASHINGTON (JTA)--Natalie Portman's HechtaccusedtheLaborPartyleadershipthere statement explaining why she declined to of betrayingthe country's rightists. attend an award ceremony in Israel in her Yet somethingaboutPortman'sdecisionnot honorwas a pointed rebuke, and ofaparticular to travel to accept the Genesis Prize, given to individual, celebrities who exemplify "the core traits of "I did not want to appear as endorsing the Jewish character and values of the Jewish Benjamin Netanyahu," she said of the Israeli people," has resonated like no similar state- prime minister, ment in decades. But it also was an intimate and tactile em- JTA's initial story about her non-appearance brace of her native land, covering its flavors, is among the most-read in the news service's its images, its vision, even its movement, onlinehistory, andtheintensityoftheresponse "I treasure my Israeli friends and family, from Israelis was white hot, with government Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance," ministers accusing Portman of borderline the Jerusalem-born director and actor said anti-Semitism. late Friday in an Instagram post explaining "Like many Israelis and Jews around the why she would not take part in the festivities world, I can be critical of the leadership in surrounding the 2018 Genesis Prize. Israel without wanting to boycott the entire The argument that one may love Israel and nation," Portman said. despise its leaders is as old as the state and has J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East .-meaning policy group, had sustained support for a decade on essentially that principle, and it is one also embraced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt a 2016 Democratic presidential candi- date. In fact, Sanders anticipated Portman's case just days before at the J Street annual conference. "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist and to exist in peace and security," the Jewish lawmaker said, "we must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel!" The J Street crowd ate it up, but the com- mentwent largely unremarked upon outside of the conference. Why did Portman's comment draw such heat? "This is the most prominent figure in American entertainment who has delivered this message," Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street's president, said. Not only has Portman won an Academy Award (in 2011 for "Black Swan"), but her Jewish bona tides are unassailable: She was born in Israel. She made the Hebrew-language movie "A Tale of Love and Darkness." And as a Harvard student, she served as a research assistant to attorney Alan Dershowitz for his 2003 book "The Case for Israel." Mik Moore, a strategic consultant to liberal groups, including a number of Jewish groups, said Portman's fame was critical to advancing the topic because it attached a name and face to liberal Zionists. As a group, Moore said, liberal Zionists have felt squeezed by the pro-Israel right on one side, and on the other by the non- and anti-Zionist left, including advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, or BDS. "Portman occupies a gray area where many American Jews live: hating Bibi while maintaining love or at least affection for Israel and Zionism," Moore said, using Netanyahu's nickname. Jill Jacobs, the director of T'ruah, a rab- binical human rights groups, said Portman provided relief from the squeeze that liberal Zionists feel from both sides. "It's the people on the right and far left who are collaborating to erase this space and to insist on a false dichotomy between pro-Israel and anti-occupation/pro-democracy," she said on Facebook. Portman on page 15A By Lyn Julius Brooklyn synagogue could have warned Angela Merkel before she opened Germany's (Sephardi Perspective via JNS)--German floodgates to a million Syrian refugees that Chancellor Angela Merkel has finally woken she was in danger of unleashing the demons up and smelled the coffee, of anti-Semitism. Speaking after a 19-year-old Syrian refugee The Syrian Jews' ordeal and escape were still lungedwith abelt at an Israeliwearing a kipah, fresh in their memories: They were rescued as Merkel denounced a "different type of anti- recently as the 1990s from the clutches of the Semitism" that has taken root in her country. Syrians. The regime spied on them, treated "We have refugees now, for example, or them as hostages, abducted their leaders and people of Arab origin, who bring a different murdered those trying to escape, while the type ofanti-Semitismintothecountry,"Merkel people at large nurtured a fearsome level of said in an interview with Israel's Channel 10. anti-Jewish hatred. The same anti-Semitism Jews have been among the first to "virtue the refugees are now importing into Europe. signal" their compassion for refugees from Chastened Western governments have the Syrian civil war. revised their "open door" policies toward When the refugee crisis broke, Jewish or- refugees. Scamdinaviangovernmentshavesent ganizationscoordinatedtheirresponses.They back the sizeable numbers who are not bona launchedappealsforemergencyaid.U.S.rabbis fide refugees and asylum-seekers. signed a petition asking Congress to welcome There are hardly any Jews left in Syria. Today, the refugees in. Meetings were packed with the locus of Muslim hatred is on the Syrian people who wanted to know what they could Christian refugees, who have been avoiding do to help. In conjunction with Islamic Relief official camps for fear of harassment. Their US, the Jewish relief agency HIAS is providing priests have had their throats cut. More Chris- legal services to Syrian refugees in Greece. tian than Muslim refugees were admitted to The HIAS slogan is"welcome the stranger." the United States in the first months of the After all, Jews, of all people, should empathize Trump administration, reversing a trend that with Syrian refugees. As former US President had seen Muslims outnumber Christians in Barack Obama told them: "In the Syrian seek- the final fiscal year under President Obama. ing refuge today, we should see the Jewish But among Jews in the West (and not for refugee of the Second WorldWar." the first time), the Syrian-Jewish refugee When news of the refugee crisis first narrative has been eclipsed by the Ashkenazi broke, during a meeting in the Syrian-Jewish refugee experience. heartland at a synagogue in Brooklyn, N.Y For avariety of reasons, the analogybetween New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the Middle East refugees and Jews escaping the congregation to show compassion for the Nazis does not fit. Syrian refugees. As the Syrian-Jewish refugees know only Butthecongregantsshifteduneasilyintheir too well, there is a difference between people seats. They only applauded the mayor when who are driven from their homes by war and he vowed to protect the city's Jews against people who have been singled out because of terrorist attacks, who they are. "Iwas sitting next to awomanwho isaSyrian But liberal opinion and Jewish-relief organi- [Jewish] refugee, and she really reacted and it zations are still adopting too broad-brush an was uncomfortable," one congregant told the approach toward the refugee crisis. They need New York Post. to wake up to the acrid smell of anti-Semitism Another congregantwhose family fled Syria they are helping to propagate. commented:"The difference between me com- Lyn Julius is the founder of Harif, the UK inghere in 1991withmy familyis thatwe were Association of Jews from the Middle East and kicked out for being Jewish." North Africa, and the author of "Uprooted: "The Jews never had a history of being How3,000 Years of Jewish Civilisation in the destructive," said another. Arab World Vanished Overnight" (Vallentine The Syrian-Jewish congregants of that Mitchell). THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. , CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE , ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 46 Press Awards ITAGE HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor Gene Stare Kim Fischer Christine DeSouza Society Editor Office Manager Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Kim Fischer Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Mel Pearlman David Bornstein * Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore (JTA)--We are Jewish and pro-Israel students who are active within our Jewish communities on college campuses across North America. Many of us have helped or- ganize against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions-affiliated movements throughout our time on campus. Over the course of our time fighting BDS campaigns, Canary Mission was brought to our attention repeatedly. Canary Mission is an anonymous site that blacklists individuals and professors across the country for their support of the BDS movement, presumed anti-Semitic remarks and hateful rhetoric against Israel and the United States. As a group of conscientious students on the front lines fighting BDS on our campuses, we are compelled to speak out against this website because it uses intimidation tactics, is antithetical to our democratic and Jewish values, is counterproductive to our efforts and is morally reprehensible. This blacklist aggregates public informa- tion about students across the country under the guise of combating anti-Semitism. It highlights their LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pictures, old tweets, quotes in newspapers and YouTube videos. The site chronicles each stu- dent's involvement with pro-Palestinian causes and names other students and organizations with whom the given student may be affiliated. We view much of the rhetoric employed to villainize these individuals as hateful and, in some cases, Islamophobic and racist. In addi- tion, Canary Mission's wide scope wrongfully equates supporting a BDS resolution with some of the most virulent expressions of anti- Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric and activity. Throughout our time on campus, many among us have been active in the fight against BDS. Some of us have campaigned against BDS, others have vigorously spoken out against BDS, and some have even cast votes on our central student governments against BDS. We have opposed, and continue to oppose, BDS because we believe that BDS delegitimizes the State of Israel, aims to isolate it as a pariah, paints the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a zero-sum and oversimplified issue, continually reinforces double standards and polarizes our campuses in the process. Given our experiences on our campuses, we believe that the best way to combat such ideas is through open discourse and critical analysis of the issues surrounding the conflict. That said, we condemn all forms of hate in the strongest possible terms, which includes any and all anti-Semitic rhetoric used by some pro-Palestinian activists. However, we believe that promoting a negative perception of Muslims, particularly Muslim students on our campuses, as Canary Mission does, is similarly hateful. As students on the front lines, we hope that Jewish and pro-Israel communal organizations will trust us and work more collaboratively with us to handle this fight in a credible, respectful and moral manner among our student com- munities. We believe that Canary Mission is antithetical and destructive to our shared cause of supporting Israel and eliminating anti-Semitism on campus. Instead, we expect credible Jewish and pro-Israel communal or- ganizations to help us combat anti-Semitism on college campuses, and around the world, in a diplomatic manner that seeks to protect our community rather than shaming the other side anonymously, as Canary Mission does. We wish to highlight how counterproduc- tive this blacklist is to our efforts refuting BDS on campus. In some cases, such as at the University of Michigan, fear of being blacklisted led pro-BDS students to successfully argue in support of a secret ballot, which made student government members less accountable to their fellow students. It also granted them anonym- ity to vote in favor of seemingly advancing Palestinian human rights while disregarding the nuance of the conflict. At George Washington University, not only did the student government plan to hold a secret ballot, but the extremist tactics used by Canary Mission discouraged pro-Israel students from wanting to fight BDS due to fear of association with the shadowy blacklist. Canary Mission obstructed pro-Israel George Washington students from pursuing inclusive and respectful dialogue to combat BDS. The passing of BDS-affiliated legislation in many of this year's student government votes across the country showed us how the apparent intent of Canary Mission, to combat BDS, actually has the opposite impact. It only makes it easier for BDS-affiliated legislation to pass. It seems that somewhere along the way, a disconnect has formed between the goals of our Jewish peers and institutions (to combat anti-Semitism and create a positive campus climate) and the true impact of their efforts. Unfortunately, the disconnect has created a situation in which we feel the Jewish values we hold deep, such as "loving our neighbors as ourselves" and "all of Israel being responsible for one another," are being misrepresented and perverted. It is time to bridge that gap. As students devoted to this issue, we will work to promote strong education and programming around Israel that does not demonize one side over the other. We will work to figure out how we can share our passion for Israel with others at our universities while fostering a positive, inclusive and educated student body. Finally, we will work to call out anti-Semitism for what it is, in all of its modern nuanced forms, and hold our fellow students and professors accountable for their remarks and actions. BDS on page 15A