The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Campus Outreach division, the dynamic and innovative iACT, forges strategic alliances with campus groups, faculty, staff and students, to foster a new awareness of contemporary human rights, social justice and ethics in today’s college and university students.

By exposing the truth behind anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, by fighting for America’s energy independence, by promoting human rights and dignity, by standing firmly with Israel, and by celebrating our unique identity as Jews, iACT is creating a strong and effective presence on campuses nationwide and giving a voice to the next generation of global human rights activists.

The Facts

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Campus Outreach blog

Lobbying for Fair Criticism:
A Critical Look at The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
by Amos Rozdiel

Recently, the "Israel Lobby" has resurfaced as the alleged reason for the resignation of an official from the Obama administration. The concept of the "Israel Lobby" in its most modern form was conceptualized by two American professors, Mearsheimer and Walt. A single, all-powerful "Israel Lobby" is a more subtle version, under academic guise, of earlier Anti-Semitic texts. And exactly because it has already entered the academia, it is important that students in particular will know how to properly refute the "Israel Lobby" thesis.
A detailed analysis and critique of Mearsheimer and Walt's 2007 book can be found here...


 Is Israel an Apartheid State? You Decide

“Jimmy Carter labeled Israel as an Apartheid state” …This ridiculous comparison caused African American congressman, John Conyers, of Michigan to take President Carter to task. Conyers is a founding member of the Black Congress. He strongly criticized Carter for using the work “Apartheid” in his book, because it belittled the horrors of real racial
discrimination. Conyers said, “It does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been the victims of the worst discrimination – resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.”

• Israel is not an Apartheid state because the roots of Jewish civilization in the Holy Land did not have to be invented, as they were in South Africa. There had been a continuous Jewish presence there for thousands of years, as well as constant cultural and religious connections to the land.

• Apartheid refers to the official policy of segregation once practiced in South Africa. o Blacks were discriminated against both legally and politically.

   o Blacks lived in separate areas of the country
   o Blacks could not establish businesses or professions in white areas without special permits
   o Blacks received inferior education and medical care
   o Blacks could not vote or become citizens

• Years before Israel was established, David Ben Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Mustafa Alami “We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we become only landlords, this will not be our homeland.”

• Israel’s Declaration of Independence gave Arabs full and equal citizenship and “due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions” Employers may not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity. Arabs have served in government and diplomatic posts, including the nation’s Supreme Court. Israeli society, like other free societies is not perfect. Discrimination exists there, as it does in the US and other countries. But it is a far cry from Apartheid. When unfairness is discovered in Israel, the aggrieved party, regardless of ethnicity or religion, has redress through the courts. This is not true of an Apartheid system.

• Although the Jews of Israel make up 80% of the population, the Arab minority are full citizens with equal rights. They vote in elections and send representatives to the Israeli Parliament. The Arabs in the disputed territories are not Israeli citizens and, therefore, do not enjoy the rights of Israeli citizens. However, they are represented by their own parliament to which they elect their own representatives and run their own affairs. For Israel to give them full citizenship would mean that Palestinian territories would have to be annexed.

• Israel, a multi-ethnic society is one of the few countries who took persecuted Black Africans in – the Jews of Ethiopia have been successfully integrated into Israeli Society. Israel has also accepted some refugees from the Sudan.

• The great majority of Palestinians are ruled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. They have no guarantees of free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly – the Arabs in Israel do! Hamas is committed to a Jew-free Greater Palestine. The use of term apartheid by Israel’s foes is a lazy label for addressing the complexities of the Middle East. Further, it is used so that the goal of the destruction of the Jewish state can be presented to the world as a moral cause. It does not stand up to serious intellectual scrutiny.

• Those who call Israel an Apartheid state and try to make her a world pariah conveniently close their eyes to human rights abuses in Iran, China, Myanmar, Libya, and other nations where freedoms are limited.

• Unlike many opponents of Israel, those who opposed Apartheid in South Africa did not seek an end to South Africa; they just wanted to end Apartheid. However, in addition to many Palestinian Arabs, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad regularly calls for the Jewish state’s demise. In fact, Hamas, which was elected by a majority of Palestinians rules the Gaza Strip is openly sworn to destroy the Jewish State.

• “Israel’s Law of Return is racist”…

• Israel, like any country, has the right to decide whom it will admit. In this case, the law stems from the original purpose in creating a Jewish state. It is a religious issue…not one of Apartheid. Jews in Israel come in all colors and ethnicities. Non-Jews can apply for Israeli citizenship under regulations similar to those of foreigners seeking entry into the US, Canada, and other western countries.

• The separation fence built on the Gaza border and the West Bank, is not motivated by Apartheid. It is meant to prevent terrorist infiltration and has been enormously successful. It is not meant to separate races of ethnicities.

• Currently there are public services and roads in the Occupied Territories exist. But they are a result of the Intifada and terrorist attacks. Before that, they did not exist. They were only created as a way of protecting Israelis from attacks from Palestinian Terrorists. As a result, the number of Palestinians working in Israel proper has dropped significantly. To argue that Palestinians in the disputed territories can’t always work in Israel is like saying Mexicans can’t just cross the border and work in the US. Palestinians in the territories are not citizens of Israel; they are citizens of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza. When the terror and hate stop the walls and barriers can come down.

• Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and removed all 9,000 Jewish residents in an effort to promote peace. What they got in return was a takeover by Hamas, which has launched more than 3,000 rockets against Israelis since then.


Welcome to the iACT blog.  Come join the discussion… and come often because I’m going to be updating the blog every chance I get -- after every trip, with every new idea, whenever I’ve got something new and interesting to add.

So, what’s the iACT discussion all about? Well, iACT takes a long, hard look at antisemitism, xenophobia, hatred and anti-Israel attitudes that are becoming more and more prevalent on our college and university campuses. We ask the tough questions, raise the controversial issues, inspire deep thought, and urge ACTion.

If you’ve been to one of our events, you know a little about what we do: we show our hard-hitting films and then we open the door for the tough questions and difficult conversations about controversial issues surrounding Israel, anti-Semitism and hatred.

I guess you could say that iACT is all about rocking the boat! And if you’ve been on a college campus recently, you know the boat we need to rock right now is student and faculty attitudes toward Israel.

Listen, it’s a dangerous world out there for Israel -- and it’s getting more dangerous all the time. We can’t afford to play it safe anymore. We’ve got to stand up for the Jewish State and for Jews the world over.

You’ve heard Einstein’s famous quote: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

We at iACT refuse to be the ones who sit back and let the evil in this world do its nefarious work -- not because of fear, not because of inertia, not because we’re just too darned busy. We’re fighting for all we’re worth to make this world better. I believe we can do it.

And I challenge you to join iACT in trying.

•A Brief History of Israel

I am constantly amazed by the misinformation surrounding Israel -- it’s truly mind-boggling! So before we can really defend Israel’s legitimacy and counter the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish attitudes that seem to be creeping into the mainstream, we’ve got to get our facts straight.

So, let’s do a quick history recap:

Jews have lived on the land that now contains the State of Israel for over 3,000 years. (1) In other words, they’re natives.

In fact, “Historians believe that the Hebrews arrived in present-day Israel some time in the second millennium B.C.E.,” according to Alan Dershowitz in his fantastic book The Case for Israel. (2) Jews have lived there ever since, despite repeated attempts by the Romans, the Crusaders, and now, extremist Muslims, to drive them out.

The name “Palestine” (or Palestina) was actually imposed by the conquering Romans, who renamed the area “in an effort to separate the Jews, many of whom they exiled, from their land.” (3)

According to the Israel Information Center: “The Birthplace of the Jewish People is the Land of Israel. There, a significant part of the nation’s long history was enacted, of which the two thousand years are recorded in the Bible; there its cultural, religious, and national identity formed; and there its physical presence has been maintained through the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile. During the many years of dispersion, the Jewish people never severed nor forgot its bond with the land. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost 2000 years earlier, was renewed.” (4)

In 1947, the newly formed United Nations decreed that two states -- Israel and Palestine -- should exist side by side. But in 1948 war broke out with the surrounding Arab states, which refused to accept the U.N.’s plan. (5)

In the more than sixty years since Israel won that first war, it has been fighting enemies on all sides for its very right to exist. Terrorist attacks have killed and maimed tens of thousands of its citizens.

Even so, the tiny country has accomplished remarkable feats in the arts, sciences, technology, medicine, and other endeavors.

But are these achievements in the face of monumental struggle what people are talking about when they discuss Israel?

Nope. More often, I hear Israel called an imperialist state, Israelis labeled colonial usurpers, and Palestinian terrorism excused. The conversation’s getting pretty ugly, and far too much of it is based on lies.

The only way we’re going to change those attitudes is to get out there and tell the TRUTH about the Jewish State. I’ve laid out the basic facts and given you a few resources so you can learn more about Israel’s history.

Now, it’s up to you to take ACTion.

(1)   Wikipedia “History of Israel”
(2)   The Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz, page 17
(3)   1948, by Benny Morris
(4)   Facts About Israel, Israel Information Center
(5)   Wikipedia “Israel”

•Zionism

It’s what an extremist says with a sneer when he wants to denounce a Jew without sounding overtly antisemitic. It’s what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called “a small but cunning group who control the important centers of the economy and the decision-making” in his recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

I’m talking, of course, about the word “Zionist.”

Well, I’m proud to be a Zionist! Let me tell you why.

In its simplest definition, Zionism is an international movement to establish a homeland and self-determination for the Jewish people. (1) It officially began in the late 1800s, but really, Zionism has existed as long as Jews have been in exile from their homeland. And it’s far more than just a political movement.

Whenever Jews were separated from Israel -- beginning with the Babylonian Exile that started in 586BCE (2) -- Zionism, that longing to return to the land and determine their own futures, took hold. It helped them preserve their Jewish culture amidst great adversity, far from any temple or familiar landmark.

According to Ami Isseroff, author of A History of Zionism and Modern Israel, “Only the Jews made the land into their national home. Jewish national culture, fused with religion, centered around the geography, seasons and history of the land and of the Jews in the land. The Jews created the Old Testament Bible -- The Tanach, which described their history and the history of the land, and their connection to it. The Bible formed the backbone of Jewish culture and later was to form the backbone of Western Christian culture, so that the entire world recognized the connection between the Jews and their land.”(2)

That is the real Zionism, and it’s been a sustaining force of hope and heritage for Jews the world over for more than 3,000 years. During the countless hardships -- and the joys -- experienced by the Jewish people for millennia, Zionism was there.

Extremists and antisemites have a long and storied history of perverting Zionism as a way of demonizing the Jewish people. And they’re up to those same old tricks today -- after all, why should they change something that has worked so well?

These days, most of the anti-Zionist talk is aimed at delegitimizing the State of Israel -- because if they can make Zionism sound bad enough, maybe they can convince enough people that Israel shouldn’t exist.

But because Zionism is so deeply embedded in the Jewish culture, anti-Zionists are crossing the thin line into antisemitism. And that’s got to stop.

Proud Zionists like you and me can -- and should -- take ACTion and spread the truth about Zionism. We can remind Jews and non-Jews alike that Zionism is something to embrace, something to be uplifted by, something that proves the ancient historic ties of Jews to “Eretz Yisrael” -- the land of Israel.

I’m a proud Zionist…are you?

(1)   Wikipedia -- “Zionism”
(2)   The Book of Jewish Knowledge by Nathan Ausubel; art. Zionism p. 526
(3)   A History of Zionism and Modern Israel by Ami Isseroff

Date Created: 9/4/2008 10:32:24 AM
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