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December 12, 2014

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 12, 2014 / By Ben Cohen To properly understand how the Holocaust has been seared onto Israel's collective con- sciousness, one should visit the country on the 27th of Nisan, a date in the Hebrew calendar that falls in either April or May in the solar one. On that day, Yom HaShoah, the unsuspecting visitor is dumbstruck by the sight of an entire country coming to a halt. At 10 a.m. on the dot, a siren sounds across the country. Schools, hospitals, trading floors, garages, news rooms, tech start-ups--all these and more freeze exactly where they are as Israeli citizens observe a minute of silent contemplation. Both the stillness and the weeping siren suggest that this is not an act of anger against the outside world, but a humbling opportunity for all Jews, regardless of background or religious observance, to pay tribute to the 6 million who perished. It's a spectacle that also confirms the Ho- locaust, rightly so, as the most destructive episode in the history of Jewish tragedies. Other persecutions are remembered respectfully, but it's likely only those with a penchant for history who will learn about the pogroms in Kishinev or Damascus, or the expulsion from Spain. Everyone, on the other hand, knows the scale of the Holocaust. In that environment, it has been difficult for Jews of Mizrahi descent--those, like my family, who originate from communities in the Middle East and North Africa--to get the State of Israel to properly recognize the tragedy of their dispossession. The pointwasn't so much competition with the Holocaust, but the bald fact that the Holocaust was a civili- zational convulsion without peer. And in any case, how many times each year can a nation pause and weep? Another factor was politics. Israeli leaders for many decades were reluctant to acknowl- edge that the expulsion of the Jews from Arab countries, following the creation of the Jewish state, meant that there were not one, but at least two, refugee populations in the Middle East. Only in the last few years have prominent Israeli politicians emphasized that focusing solely on the Arab refugees from British Pal- estine in 1948 is a distortion of both history and morality. It's interesting, perhaps, that the further we get from those torrid years of Mizrahi Jewish suffering, the more Israel has embraced the memory of what happened. Maybe we've gotten to a point where there's space to remember more than one Jewish tragedy, and without the raw emotion that inevitably marked com- memorations during the latter half of the 20th century. rl By Melanie Goldberg / Itall started when I took out some anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) informa- tion sheets at a Brooklyn College-sponsored event last year that featured Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement. You'd expect that of any student opposed to the speaker's anti-Israel views. I planned to chal- lenge Barghouti by taking notes as he spoke and asking questions during the Q&A period. But I never got the chance to participate. A member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the event's main organizer, had other plans. He had the view that this wasn't the time or place to voice opposition, so I should either hand over my sheets or be kicked out. When I refused, he had City University of New York (CUNY) security officials escort me and two other yarmulke-clad students Out of the event, no questions asked. The following week, my name was synony- mous with"FirstAmendment oppression." My phone rang incessantly. Politicians wanted to speak to me and lawyers flooded my inbox with requests to advocate for my legal rights. Yet I was a college ~enior. I should've been applying to graduate schools, finishing my honors thesis, and interviewing for jobs--not vetting law firms, bonding with politicians, and answering reporters. I was elbow deep in a controversy that was much bigger than myself, and while I began to realize that indeed a gross constitutional violation had been committed, I didn't know enough to understand what I was entitled to and what consequences the courts could enforce against the violators. Enter the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. Like in my case, students are often unfamiliarwith their rights. This ignorance can lead academic institutions to unlawfully restrict students. Ironically, academia should be the place where students feel safest to speak their minds. The Brandeis Center assisted me and the two other students, and Brooklyn College eventually apologized. The apology wasn't personally important to me. But it was crucial to know that other students wouldn't have to experience what I did. Fast forward to today and, in less than two years, the situation has become more grim for Jewish students, There has recently been a dramatic spike in anti-Semitic incidents on campuses nationwide. In fact, more than 40 percent of Jewish American college students report that they have experienced or are aware of anti-Semitism on their campuses. Just this month, swastikas were drawn on two fliers posted at Northeastern University to publi- cize a lecture by an Israeli military official. Last month, a Jewish student at Claremont ' University had his Israeli flag and mezuzah ripped off his dorm room. A month before that, a Jewish student at Temple University was punched in the face, knocked down, and called "baby-killer, racist, Zionist pig" by a fel- low student. Last spring, SJP at Vassar College republished a vile anti-Semitic Nazi cartoon. Around that same time at the University of Michigan, anti-Israel student activists hurled death threats at a Jewish student and called him "dirty Jew" and "kike." And these examples cover only roughly the past six months. Back to New York, where Brooklyn College students still worry about SJP's discrimina- tory practices on campus. A resolution against SJP's unlawful behavior was never instituted. Concerns are voiced at CUNY JohrrJay and the CUNY Graduate Center, ranging from students' fear to wear their yarmulkes on campus due to the recent anti-Zionism morphing into anti- SemitiC chants, to the legality of a pro-BDS resolution vote being held on a Friday night to prevent Jews from vocalizing their side. At Fordham University, students are worried because a professor who vocalized opposition to the American Studies Association's pro-BDS Goldberg on page 22A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ~ CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE * * ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Stare Kim FischerChristine DeSouza 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, lnc., 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 correspondeflce 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 Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso emaih Account Executives Loft Apple Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman , Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore Whatever the explanation, Sunday, Nov. 30, stripped of their citizenship and property by markedthefirstinstanceofanannualremem- avowedly anti-Semitic regimes, their fate brance day in which Israel commemorated, remains largely hidden from the gaze of his- thanks to a Knesset bill passed in June, the toriansandjournalists.Inpart, that'sbecause "JeWish refugees from Arab lands and Iran." these refugees didn't stay refugees for very Remembrance ceremonieswere held, special long. The majority was absorbed in Israel, still classes were conducted in schools, and Israeli others went to Europe and the Americas, all diplomatsraisedtheissuewiththeirinterlocu- of them got on with their lives. But funda- tors. (In tandem, the Mizrahi Jewish advocacy mentally, the injustice remains unaddressed. organization JIMENA held special events in There'sanotherreason, though, whyIthink North America and around the world.) the commemoration day is so important--and Commenting on the Knesset bill after itwas it relates directly to the torrid period in which passed, MK Shimon Ohayon noted "we have we are living. In recalling what happened to finally correctedahistoricinjusticeandplaced the Mizrahi Jews, we are compelled to focus the issue of Jews who were expelled or pushed on the religious and ethnic persecution that out of the Arab world in the last century, on continues to disfigure the Middle East today. the national and international agenda." Kurds are repressed by Syrians, Iranians and Elaborating, he added, "In Israel, the his- Turks; Yazidis and Christians are ethnically tory of the Jews who originally came from cleansed and massacred by Islamist barbar- the Middle East or North Africa, who make ians in Iraq; Sunni and Shi'a terrorists target up around half of the population, was ignored each other's mosques; Bahai*s are incarcer- for too long. This is a vital part of our fight ated in Iran. It's a depressing list that could against those internally ,and externally who go on and on. delegitimize our presence here and claim we But the point is this. What Israel has are somehow foreign to the region."shown--for all of the imperfections it shares He'sright.Thethemeof"indigeneity"--that with other democracies--is that a multi- " those deemed to be native to a particular ter- cultural and multi-faith society is possible ritory have supreme rights over it--has been in the Middle East. And that is the message a core element of the Palestinian and Arab that should ring loud and clear from all these campaign,toportray Israel as a colonial inter- commemorative events, whether we are loper, and an alien presence in a Muslim-Arab mourning the Holocaust or the expulsion of region. But Jews lived in the Islamic world for the Mizrahi Jews. thousands ofyears, just as they did in the land Ben Cohen is the Shillman analyst for JNS. that is now Israel. org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle In that sense, there is a political goal behind Eastern politics have been published in Com- the commemoration day, and it's nothing to mentary, theNew YorkPost, Ha'aretz, Jewish apologize for. Almost 70 years after Jews were Ideas Daily and many other publications. Letter from Israel By Ira Sharkansky the Palestinians. It involves U.S. money, Jordanian training, Israeli cooperation, It would be prime material for a standup equipment from the U.S. and Israel, and has comedian if it were not.the reality that could produced Palestinian security forces that hot do us all a lot of harm. only go after terrorists who target Jews, but The current triumvirate dealing with three round up Palestinian criminals of the kind interdependent, national entities, with more who make life unpleasant for Palestinians in than the average capacity to affect wider ca- Judea and Samaria. tastrophes, have all been operating as politi- Obama's errors haveincludedthe promotion cal caricatures, making things worse while of an Israeli-Palestinian fantasy that made proclaiming their certainty about making things worse by highlighting the very issues things better, that have to be kept under wraps for the two They are Mahmoud Abbas, Benyamin Ne- people to get along (borders, settlements, tanyahu, and Barack Obama. Jerusalem, refugees), as well as showing more A cynic would say that they deserve one of his misunderstanding of the Middle East another. They all speak in hyperbole, talk past by stumbling between demanding social and one another, and manage to incite one another political reforms where they are unlikely, his to ever-higher levels of certainty about their prominentlackofsuccesswithrespecttoSyria own wisdom, and Iran, and a failure to persuade Muslim They have all been judged by their con- countries to provide the personnel for combat stituents to have fallen short of expectations, with Muslim extremists. yet they persist in moving--or threatening The president's personal limitations in to move--to more extreme positions likely the most tragic of ways have also come to to hurt themselves as well as the rest of us. the surface in yet another indication of his Obama's comeuppance appeared in the country's failure to deal with its racial ten- results of the recent Congressional elections, sions. One hundred and fifty years since the Netanyahu's appear in a poll showing a end of slavery, and 50 years since the end of decline in popular support from 77 percent legally enforced segregation, the country that in August to 38 percent presently, tells Israelis, Palestinians, and others how to Abbas' is apparent in several polls showing deal with their internal problems is showing his shakiness as leader of Palestine. The abject once again that it cannot deal with its own. failure of his highly touted unity of Fatah and Head Start may have been a great idea for Hamas is apparent in West Bank confronta- helping along ghhtto kids at the beginning tions, Fatah actions against Hamas activists, of their schooling, but it isn't so easy to cope the barely begun reconstruction in Gaza and with fatherless children once they reach the the virtual lack of delivery of the billions ageswhensex, drugs, and violence make their pledged by foreign, donors for Abbas-led devel- lives exciting. opmental efforts in Gaza and the West Bank. Israelis are tiring from their long serving Netanyahu's high touting of legislating prime minister. Israel's status as the State of the Jewish People Should an election be held in the current has gotten rave condemnations from Israeli setting of the latest poll, the outcome would and overseas sources on account of being both be more of the same. Likud would remain the unnecessaryand threatening the working, but ' largest party, but with only 24 Knesset seats. imperfect balance between Israel's Jews, Israeli Nine other parties mostly supported by Jews Arabs and Palestinians, as well as between would have between four and 16 seats, and secular and religious Israeli Jews. -three largely Arab rejectionist parties would Abbas is threatening once again to demand get their usual 10-12. from the United Nations a Palestinian State We can expect more of the same from each with the borders of 1967 and a capital in Je- ~-of our mousketeers. Continuity is typical in rusalem, without bothering to negotiate with politics and government. Expectations of Israel. Most recently he has upped his threats 'salvation produce frustration. Coping is the by saying that he will stop security coopera- }way of realism to deal with what is insoluble. tion with Israel if he doesn't get what he wants "Let's hope that the worthies have internalized according to the timetable that he demands. .that lesson, even while they proclaim their Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation assurance of having all the solutions. has operated below the high drama of world Ira Sharkansky is a professor (Emeritus) of headlines, but is one of the working accom- the Department of Political Science, Hebrew plishments of the U.S., Jordan, Israel, and University of Jerusalem.