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July 5, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 5, 2013 PAGE 11A BDS challenge being met on campus, experts say in Israel By Ronen Shnidman JERUSALEM--Within the past year, three student- run legislative bodies at University of California (UC) state schools--UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC San Diego--passed resolutions urging divest- ment from Israel. These votes occurred amid allega- tions of the harassment of pro-Israel students on UC campuses. Yet at the same time, such resolutions were defeated at UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Santa Barbara, as well as outside the UC system at Stanford University. Who has the upper hand in the ongoing struggle on campus between Jewish students and advocates of the Boycott, Divest- ment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel? Experts at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference last week in Jerusalem expressed optimism about where pro-Israel students stand--with the most posi- tive tone coming from University of California President Mark Yudof. "Despite what you may have heard, Jewish students are thriving," Yudof said on a June 19 Presidential Conference panel titled "Campus as a Crossroads By Zeev Klein and Israel Hayom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an- nounced last Sunday that former Bank of Israel Gov- ernor Prof. Jacob Frenkel, who headed the central bank between 1991 and 2000, will replace outgoing Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, whose term ended this week. The new governor's nom- ination is pending the ap- proval of the Public Service Nominations Committee, headed by Judge (ret.) Jacob Turkel, as well as a cabinet vote. The nomination faces a legislative hurdle, as the Bank of Israel Law of 1954 limits the governor to two five-year terms. The government may have to pass an amendment to the law to facilitate Frenkel's nomination. Once confirmed, the 70-year-old Frenkel will be sworn in as Israel's ninth central bank chief by Presi- dent Shimon Peres. Frenkel, a laureate of the 2002 Israel Prize in Economics, cur- rently serves as chairman of JPMorgan Chase Inter- national, one of the three largest banks in the United States. He is expected to take office in mid-July. Frenkel, who in the past rejected former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's of- fer to become the finance minister, agreed to resume his position as the governor of the Bank of Israel after Netanyahu's top candidate for the position, Profes- sor Elhanan Helpman, in the Life of a Young Jew." Yudof's fellow panelists were Jewish Agency Chair- man Natan Sharansky, Taglit-Birthright CEO Gidi Mark, Chairperson of the European Union of Jewish Students Andi Gergely, and Israel Government Fellow and recent Cornell University graduate Rachel Greenspan. Talking about BDS, even Sharansky, the most re- strained panelist in terms of his optimism, appeared to cautiously agree that anti-Israel efforts on North American campuses did not appear to be picking up steam. "It seems like there is less energy to anti-Israel movements on campuses, but it is hard to say if you are winning or losing," he said. Nevertheless, Sharan- sky made clear his views on the need for college campus communities to mobilize support for Israel, recounting what he told then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a decade ago. "Our main battlefield for the future is on American campuses," Sharansky said he told Sharon. Sharansky attributed the improve- ment on campuses since that time partially to the work of organizations like Taglit-Birthright, Caravan for Democracy, StandWi- thUs, and others. Much credit was given during the panel discussion to Birthright in particu- lar, for shoring up young Diaspora Jews' identifica- tion with Israel. According to numbers presented to the panel by Birthright's CEO, Gidi Mark, more than 330,000 Jews from 62 countries have visited Israel on one of Birthright's 10- day organized trips. Mark also noted that according to a study by Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Birthright trip participants were 46 percent more likely to feel very connected to Israel and 51 percent more likely to marry a Jew, com- pared to trip applicants who did not end up participating on a trip. Yudof has responded to BDS efforts in the California state school system by reit- erating a 2005 UC Regents policy that UC divest from foreign countries only when the U.S. declares that a foreign government is com- mitting genocide. As part of his response to allegations of on-campus harassment of pro-Israel students, in 2010 Yudof instituted a system across UC for reporting incidents of intolerance or bias as a means to provide reliable data on harass- ment on campus commu- nities. Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Aus- tralia, on June 5, 2010. Nevertheless, Yudof doesn't think the BDS is much to worry about. "I don't see much po- litical base or gravitas, in a political sense, for the BDS movement," he said. Yudof also expressed his opposition to suppressing BDS activities on cam- puses. "We aren't going to silence these people on campus, nor should we," said Yudof. "If anything that effort will backfire," he added. During both the panel discussion and an interview with, Yudofsaid he seeks to create positive ways for Jewish students to be more informed about their own identity. In particular, he mentioned the UC sys- tem's reinstatement of its foreign exchange program to Israel in 2009, which he oversaw. The exchange pro- gram returned following a seven-year hiatus due to the U.S. State Department putting Israel on its travel advisory list. Yudof told that while he believes it is ac- ceptable for organizations outside the campus com- munity such as pro-Israel advocacy groups to provide support to students when they request it, he some- times thinks those outside groups treat campuses too much as battlegrounds. "Have a little faith in your own children," Yudof said. "They are not pawns to be manipulated." Shachar Azvan Jacob Frenkel, who Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu has nominated to be the next Bank of Israel governor. declined. Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid met with Ne- tanyahu over the weekend to finalize Frenkel's nomi- nation. Netanyahu then informed Fischer of the decision and he, in turn, informed Deputy Governor Dr. Karnit Flug--Fischer's choice to succeed him in the post--of the prime minister's decision. Frenkel's nomination came as a surprise, as the two-time bank governor was not in the running to replace Fischer. Netan- yahu's short list included former head of the govern- ment's committee for social reform Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, head of the Na- tional Economic Council at the Prime Minister's Office Professor Eugene Kandel, Bank Hapoalim Chief Econ- omist Leo Leiderman, and Professor Avi Ben-Bassat, former director-general of Netanyahu names Jacob Frenkel next Bank of Israel governor the Finance Ministry. The nomination was announced as the Bank of Israel was holding a farewell gala for Fischer, which was attended by Netanyahu, Peres, the cabinet minis- ters, the chairpersons of Israel's various banks, and some 280 other prominent figures. "We were blessed by your work in the eight years during which you served in this position," Netanyahu told Fischer. "We steadily weathered the global fi- nancial crisis and you were instrumental in that. Itwas not taken for granted." "There is currently awave of harassment directed at the private sector--the sector on which the entire economy relies--portray- ing the making of profits as a crime. This at a time whenwe need initiative and action, activism and cre- ativity from our business women and men, who will lead the Israeli economy forward," Netanyahu said. Lapid told Army Radio on Monday, "Frenkel's nomi- nation is wonderful and undisputed. He was basi- cally called up to serve his country again and that is not a simple thing since he will be taking a substantial pay cut." Knesset Finance Com- mittee Chairman MK Nis- san Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) welcomed the nomination, calling it "a worthy appointment that is well suited to meet the chal- lenges the Israeli economy faces at this time." MK Nachman Shai (Kad- ima) criticized the move, saying, "Nominating some- one who has already served in this position is a sign of conservatism and lack of initiative." In May, while addressing the Herzliya Conference, Frenkel said, "I would not want to be the governor of the central bank when you have zero interest [rates], because there is very little you can do then [for the economy]." At present, the interest rate is 1.25 percent. Frenkel, who has a bach- elor's degree in economics and political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a master's degree and doctorate in eco- nomics from the University of Chicago, was first named as governor of the Bank of Israel in 1991 by Prime Min- ister Yitzhak Shamir and Finance Minister Yitzhak Modal. He was serving as the director of research at the International Monetary Fund at the time. Frenkel resigned un- expectedly in 2000, one year prior to the end of his second term, during Ehud Barak's term as prime minister. During Netanyahu's first term as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999, the two led various economic and monetary reforms, includ- ing integrating the Israeli economy into the global financial system. Frenkel is also credited with reduc- ing inflation rates, enact- ing a pricing reform and introducing the currency band, meant to protect the shekel's exchange rate. Frenkel served as vice president of American International Group (AIG) from 2004 to 2009. He resigned in the wake of the company's collapse in mid-2010 and refused to acknowledge his personal responsibility to the com- pany's reckless real estate and credit policies. Once in office, Frenkel will have to face various challenges, including Is- rael's real estate bubble and rising housing prices. He will also have to decide whether to pursue Fischer's interest rate and foreign currency acquisition poli- cies. As governor of the Bank of Israel, Frenkel will also have to maintain the state's deficit goals to protect Is- rael's international credit rating. Visit us onlin at LANGLAW,NET