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October 17, 2014

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 17, 2014 By Ben Cohen For several decades now, Israel's enemies have actively and willfully defamed the Jewish state by comparing its actions to the atrocities com- mitted by the worst villains in recent history. We all know about the ludicrous and in- sulting parallel drawn between Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa. It was precisely that parallel that underpinned the notorious U.N. General Assembly resolu- tion of 1975, which has since been rescinded, equating Zionism with racism. And we know, too, of the obscene compari- son between Israel and Nazi Germany. Among those who have endorsed this ghastly canard, which takes the Nazi Holocaust as its starting point in order to trivialize the mass murder of 6 million Jews, is the newly elected Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who opined at the height of the Gazawar over the summer that lsrael was "worse" than Hitler. But now there's a new analogy--and it's one that attacks Israel by using a contemporary reference. Appropriately for our digital age, it takes the form of a Twitter hashtag: #JSIL. If it's not immediately clear what that means, JSIL is a spinoff of ISIL, referring to the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant," the barbaric jihadist terrorist organization (now simply known as Islamic State) with whom we are now at war. JSIL, meanwhile, stands for "Jewish State in the Levant." Yes, you read that correctly. There are people out there who are seriously equating a gang of rapists, decapitators, slave traders, and genocidal killers with a democratic state that takes the trouble, whenever it is dragged into an armed conflict, of informing civil- ians on the other side when and where it will be launching an attack so that they can get themselves to safety. Who, exactly, are these people making the analogy? Well, it's the usual crowd, and we can take some--but not much--comfort in that. Credit for the #JSIL hashtag resides with the U.S.-based pro-Hamas activist Max Blumentha[. The son of Bill and Hillary Clin- ton's veteran confidante Sidney Blumenthal, young Max rivals the worst anti-Semitic propagandists of the Soviet Union. Over the last few years, Blumenthal's anti-Israel screeds have become progressively more outlandish. But not content with grossly misrepresent- ing.the Nazi Holocaust, he now insults the thousands of Yazidi, Christian, and Kurdish victims of Islamic State violence by asserting that Israel inhabits the same moral universe as these murderers. Blumenthal made fhe Israel-Islamic State comparison during a session of the "Russell Letter from Israel s to By Ira Sharkansky and permanent boundaries, without serious threats against its existence. Relax? Geography along with the doctrines of Impossible. Islam and the warfare among the faithful in Too much is threatening, that "religion of peace" keeps our neighbors Daesh, whatever that is, is chopping heads from conceding our legitimacy, even though and managing to evade the U.S. air campaign many of them cooperate in ways that reflect (along with a few other participants providing Israel's accomplishments in economics, sci- 10 percent of the airstrikes), and imposing its ence, technology, and medicine, as well as its draconian Islam across much ofSyriaand Iraq. capacity to defend itself. Hamassaysthatitintendstodothroughout On the other hand, the contrasting reli- PalestinewhatDaeshisdoinginSyriaandlraq. gious observances of YomKippur and Eid al More modest Palestinians are demanding Adha passed quietly, despite the fears of their international recognition for something that potential for disaster. would shrink and threaten Israel. Sweden's Due to the lack of a leap year in the lunar prime minister and the British Parliament are calendar of Islam, the two events occasionally talking about recognizing Palestine, with or occur on the same day, every 30 years or so. without, the agreement of Israel. This year they came against the background The White House sees a partnership possible of Gaza, especially prominent murders of Jews with Iran, despite Iran's insistence on nuclear byArabs and an Arab by Jews in the West Bank independence and viewing Israel as a cancer and Jerusalem, and an escalation in stone that must be removed from the Middle East. throwing, fire bombs and other violence by Ebola has come out of West Africa along young Arabs, including that burning of a gas withthecareproviderswhohavebeeninfected, station on the border of Isaweea and French traveled to the U.S. and Europe, and has begun Hill. infecting people there. So far the numbers are Yom Kippur demands quiet for the sake of small, but panic is starting to show. contemplation. Streets are empty; ~ere are The American president and the Israeli no flights; radio and television are off the air prime minister~resquabbling inamore public for 30 hours. Surveys show that 60 percent or and nasty way than in the past. more of Israeli Jews fast. Looking beyond the debating points each Eid al Adha is a contrast on just about ev- has scored against" the other, one is hard ery dimension. The emphasis is celebration pressed to ignore the greater power behind and feasting, with travel for family visits, the the U.S. president. The U.S. can live without slaughter of sheep and roasting of its meat, Israel, butIsraelisareworriedhowwell--orifit with the aroma going here and there without all--we can livewithoutAmericans to provide respect for those nearbywho might be hungry. anoccasionalvetointheUNSecurityCouncil, Religious leaders of Jews and Muslims as well as money from the government budget preached tolerance for several days in advance and private sector investors, and access to the of the holiday, and it passed quietly, without American market for Israeli exports, the catastrophe that was feared. Israel seems unable to obtain what every There were problems within the Jewish other country in its league (Western, demo- sector, but nothing unusual. As soon as the cratic, with high levels of income, education, and decent social services) has by way of clear Sharkansky on page 15A THE VIEWS E~PRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ISSN 0199-0721 CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE Winner of 43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor E W I S H N n W S Gene Stare Kim Fischer 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: Assistant Editor Christine DeSouza Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Loft Apple * Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore Tribunal on Palestine," an unaccountable kan- garoo court dedicated to smearing Israel with the crime of genocide. Fittingly, Blumenthal was flanked by the rock musician Roger Waters and the film director Ken Loach as he did so. Quite like the musical output of his band, Pink Floyd, Waters's political interventions on Israel have gotten more boring and predictable as he gets older. Much the same can be said of Loach, who has continually insisted that Israel is the cause of the anti-Semitic violence plaguing Jews in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere. Why, though, should we worry about the usual suspects finding a new theme to play with? After all, they've made the apartheid and Nazi comparisons, and yet Israel continues to thrive. Leading politicians around the world have joined the chorus of condemnation of anti-Semitism, and Hamas has only a bruised Palestinian population to show for its efforts to eliminate Israel. Similarly, one might say that however offensive and downright stupid the Islamic State comparison is, it won't change a damn thing when it comes to policy. Regrettably, I don't think we have the luxury of complacency on this one. Just this week, Deutsche Welle, the taxpayer-funded Ger- man broadcaster, published an article on its website that cast American Jews volunteering for the IDF in the same light as Muslims from Europe and elsewhere joining the Islamic State terrorists. Leave aside the fact that such an equation is being made by Germans--who really should, by now, know better. What is more significant for our purposes is the potential impact that this equation can have on the formulation of By Eric Fingerhut WASHINGTON (JTA)--Once again the love affair between the Jewish people and higher education is back in full bloom. The start of a new school year, and the Jewish New Year, marked the beginning of robust programming for Jewish college students across the globe. As students dig into their studies, the events in Israel and Gaza this past summer are a hot topic on many campuses. In response, Hillel International, the largest Jewish stu- dent organization in the world-- its growing network now serves some 550 campuses in North and South America, Europe, Central Asia, Australia and Israel--is drawing on its expertise in promoting deep and thoughtful discussion. Hillel is sponsoring a broad range of programs to help students understand the issues and how they will affect Israel and its neighbors in the future. Hillel professionals have heard presenta- tions from both the Israeli ambassador to the United States and the leader of the opposi- tion in the Knesset. Hillel student leaders have organized interfaith gatherings and intercul- tural dialogues. Hillel educators have offered seminars and discussions for students to learn about contemporary Israeli society and culture, to reflect on their own relationships with Israel and to develop skills as dialogue facilitators. Hillel students have also modeled what re- spectful discourse looks like: At Cooper Union Hillel in New York City, students countered an effort to boycott a speech by the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and encouraged Jewish students to attend and listen respectfully, which they did. And, of course, the tens of thousands of students who attended High Holiday services at Hillel joined Jews all over the world in praying for a year of peace for all people. What all these activities have in common is they welcome and include students of all back- grounds, all political positions and who have an exceptionally wide array of relationships with their Jewish identities and with Israel. They do so within an environment that is intellectually rigorous, respectful of difference and committed to honest conversation. Hillel is among the most religiously, intellectually, culturally and politically pluralistic organi- zations in the Jewish world -- a testament to both the diversity of Jewish experience and of the college campuses we serve. Inclusivity and broad-mindedness are part of our core values. All students are always welcome at Hillel. And these values guide all ofourwork. Thatwork includes listening to ai| student voices including those of the activists behind the "Open Hillel" campaign and other campus groups. At the same time, Hillel is deeply dedicated policy. If we, rightly, seek to criminalize those among our Muslim citizens who join the Is- lamic State onslaughts, we open ourselves up to the contention that foreign Jews fighting With the IDF should be treated in the same manner. Certainly, Blumenthal and his anti-Semitic cohorts will argue that such individuals are war criminals--and what the Deutsche Welle piece demonstrates is how easily this clumsy, morally illiterate argument can penetrate the mainstream. Inadvertently, the same article offers a solu- tion to this dilemma in its conclusion, which states, "But when former Israeli Americans return to the U.S. after their military service, they will be treated much differently than those who wish to return, tired of fighting with ex- tremist groups. The former will be welcomed and commended and accepted by family and friends, while the latter will likely be arrested, imprisoned, and interrogatedwith little chance of returning to an American way of life." That is how it should be. American Jews fighting with the IDF are fighting with an ally of the U,S. and Western democracy. Those who join Islamic State, on the other hand, are fighting for the destruction of everything we stand for. We need to ensure that the law in Europe and the U.S. continues to recognize this vital distinction. Ben Cohen is the Shillman analyst for and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal Commentary, Haaretz, and other publications. His book, "Some Of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism" (Edition Critic, 2014), is now available through Amazon. open to Israel. Fromthe tens of thousands we've led on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, to the nearly 100 Israelis who serve as Israel Fellows on our campuses, to the many efforts of our profes- sionals to engage and educate students, Israel is a vital part of our mission. For some, those simultaneous commit= ments to openness and pluralism on the one hand and to passionate support of Israel on the other may seem contradictory. For Hillel, there is no contradiction. Our Standards for Partnership, which were developed in close consultation with local Hillels, are designed to ensure that our efforts uphold these com- mitments to openness and pluralism and to Israel. Hillel will not partner with orga- nizations that espouse anti-Semitism, apply a double standard to Israel, spout racism or promote Islamophobia. Such viewpoints do not represent the values of Hillel International nor the overwhelming number of Jewish stu- dents and professionals everywhere. Hillel's programming decisions are made by thousands of local student leaders, profes- sionals and lay leaders who are dedicated to engaging the largest number of students in Jewish life on their campuses. In doing so, these leaders are guided by their knowledge of the local environment and by Hillel's vision of encouraging students to build an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. This weekend, a small group of activists who created the "Open Hillel" campaign are meeting at Harvard University. The campaign calls on Hillel to eliminate its Standards of Partnership in order to provide a platform for organizations that promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other anti-Israel activities. Several weeks ago, I met with some leaders of this campaign and listened to their concerns. They assured me that they consider them- selves a part of Hillel and intend to continue their advocacy within Hillel International. In our meeting, I told the students present what they have already heard from their local Hillel directors: that every student is welcome at Hil- lel regardless of his or her personal views on Israel or any other topic in Jewish life. At the same time, Hillel International stands by its Standards of Partnership. More impor- tantly, Hillel International will always back the dedicated student leaders, professionals and lay leaderswho are supportingvibrant Jewish life on campus. We work every day to help students find their connection to the Jewish people and live the Jewish values that make this a better world for all people. As we grow, Hillel will continue to hold firm to the values that define the Jewish community worldwidempeoplehood, nation- hood and faith in the future. Eric Fingerhut is the president and chief executive officer of Hillel International.