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Columbia Political Review: Response to “The A-Word”

Posted by Ben Lewinter on March 17, 2013 @ 12:04 am

This piece was featured in the Columbia Political Review on Friday, March 15, 2013. It was written by Ben Lewinter, LionPAC Deputy of Public Relations.

The apartheid analogy is in no way apt.

Students for Justice in Palestine have set up a protest this week on College Walk as part of their annual Israel Apartheid Week. Conversely, Omar Abboud lamented in a CPR column that the word “apartheid” has been universally rejected as a basis for criticizing Israel. While legitimately highlighting how criticism of Israel can be rejected by some circles, Mr. Abboud fails to explore the actual meaning of apartheid and the factual evidence that shows how it does not apply to Israel. Attempts to describe the situation in Israel as “apartheid” adversely oversimplifies and cheapens what is a significantly complicated conflict that demands honest intellectual discourse, not name-calling and rejection.

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AIPAC Policy Conference 2013 Reflections

Posted by Anna Etra on March 7, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

It is a rare thing to enjoy being just a number. This weekend, I was just that, one of 13,000 Pro-Israel activists attending AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C., one of 2,000 students from all over the country and one of 10 students from Columbia. Sometimes it is important to be just a number, and in this case, I was representing those three groups. AIPAC Policy Conference was an incredible, eye-opening experience, where I got to see how what I did on campus matters.

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Conversation, Not Confrontation: Moving Forward Together

Posted by Shapiro Ron on February 27, 2012 @ 1:59 am

In preparation for Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine’s ‘Israeli Apartheid Week,’ below is the text for the Columbia/Barnard Hillel Israel Va’ad fact sheet. Click here for the flyer image file.

Sustained Security

  • Since construction of the security barrier began in 2003, the number of terrorist attacks in Israel has declined by 97%.
  • The purpose of the barrier is to establish security, not to create a social divide. It is not the permanent solution.

Economic Progress

  • The Palestine Investment Conference is actively working on new and innovative ideas to advance the Palestinian economy. One project is the planned city of Rawabi, which is in its early stages, and once it is fully built, it will be the first planned Palestinian city.1
  • Ramallah, the largest city in the West Bank, has been undergoing a construction boom, and the large increases in property development are indicators of strong economic growth.2
  • There have also been positive joint economic ventures, such as the burgeoning relationship between the Palestinian city of Jenin and the Israeli area of Gilboa. The two cities have worked to create joint business enterprises and are planning an industrial zone to connect the two cities.3

Working Towards Democracy

  • Since the Oslo Peace Accords, 96% of Palestinians live under full Palestinian civil administration, of which 55% live under Palestinian security control as well.
  • The Palestinian Authority has instituted its own criminal justice system and court structure to try Palestinian people according to their own legal system.
  • The prospect of a viable Palestinian state is moving towards becoming a reality. This state will govern its own people by passing and enforcing its own laws. Israel, judged by its repeated offers to the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state, wants such a state to be created; Israel does not want Palestinians to continue to live under its authority.

Civil Equality

  • All Israelis, including Arabs, have equal rights.
  • Arabs have been elected to every Knesset (Israeli Parliament) since Israel’s founding. At present Arabs hold 14 of 120 seats.
  • Palestinians living in the West Bank can bring cases to the Israeli Supreme Court if they feel that the security barrier causes them excessive harm. In the past, the Court has ruled in favor of Palestinians and ordered the route of the barrier to be moved.4

1http://huff.to/89gSkd

2http://reut.rs/g1j213

3http://www.jpost.com/LocalIsrael/Article.aspx?id=157631

4http://www.jpost.com/topic/Alfei_Menashe


Ivy League Letter to PennBDS

Posted by hannaflesh on February 7, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

This letter, written by Hanna Flesh – Director of Political Affairs, Shira Poliak – Director of Public Relations, and Eric Schorr – President, was sent to the University of Pennsylvania before last weekend as the PennBDS conference was about to begin.

As pro-Israel, pro-peace campus and community leaders from across the Ivy League, we join together to condemn the BDS movement and its conference at the University of Pennsylvania the weekend of February 3, 2012. We salute the pro-Israel organizations and the many Penn students who are spreading awareness about Israel’s religious, political and cultural diversity. Boycotts are an obstacle to peace.  They constrain dialogue by placing all the blame on one side. The BDS Movement fails to recognize Israel’s prior offerings of peace that have been categorically rejected by Palestinian leadership and therefore seeks to vilify Israel.

If the PennBDS organizers were truly interested in a lasting peace, they would have chosen a different path. Boycotting Israel does nothing to help Palestinians improve their own lives, or to help build democratic institutions where few exist.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be resolved through bilateral negotiations and mutual recognition. To create a strong foundation for peace we must support both economies by buying Israeli and Palestinian products alike. We should be supporting organizations like Hand in Hand, which builds integrated schools for Israeli and Arab children so that they can grow and learn together in the same classroom. If those behind the BDS movement truly believe in a two-state solution, they will support measures to bring the two sides together, not draw them further apart.

We, the undersigned, therefore reaffirm our solidarity with the students of University of Pennsylvania and the greater Philadelphia community. We applaud their efforts to tackle the challenges presented by the BDS movement and other anti-Israel campaigns. Finally, we pledge our continued support in defense of the State of Israel, a democratic state and stalwart ally of the United States, on our college campuses and in our communities across the country.

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Iran Week: a journey of cooperation

Posted by jonathanhuberman on April 7, 2011 @ 10:53 am

Courtesy: Columbia Daily Spectator

This piece was featured in the Columbia Spectator on Friday, March 4, 2011.  It was collaboratively written by Jonathan Huberman, LionPAC Director of Public Relations, and Roxanne Moadel-Attie, President of Columbia Iranian Students Association.

In light of the recent political instability in the Middle East, Iran, like many other countries in the region, has become a centerpiece of American attention and media. However, very few have focused on the spirit and culture of the Iranian people. This week, the Columbia Iranian Students Association and LionPAC are hosting several events that analyze the geopolitical questions surrounding Iran within the context of Iranian culture and nationalism.

Despite Iran’s rich culture, Iranians all over the world are negatively stereotyped based on the actions and behavior of their unpopular government. The word “Iranian” has become a loaded term used only in association with “nuclear weapons,” “Islamic fundamentalism,” and “terrorism.” These media hot topics have overshadowed the long-standing ethnic and religious diversity within Iran, spotlighting overgeneralizations and negativity about Iranians on the whole. Contrary to common misconceptions, Iranians belong to a variety of ethnic groups, including Persians, Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, Armenians, etc., and practice many religions, such as Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and the Baha’i faith. The beauty of the mainstream Persian culture lies in its ability to interweave many ethnic and religious beliefs and traditions, while also honoring ancient customs and rituals.

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Reconsidering the Goldstone Report

Posted by Shapiro Ron on April 3, 2011 @ 1:37 am

On Friday, Justice Richard Goldstone, Chair of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, wrote an article in the Washington Post, discussing how recent information that has been released by Israel would have changed the outcome of the Goldstone Report from September of 2009. Below are a couple interesting quotes from the report:

“While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

“Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.

-Richard Goldstone
Chair of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

The full text can be read here.


Revolution in Egypt: Farewell Peace, or Welcome Democracy?

Posted by tamararoth on March 6, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

“Egypt is free!” shouted thousands of elated protesters, who took the streets of Cairo upon hearing that President Hosni Mubarak had resigned after 30 years of rule. Protesters hope that Mubarak’s resignation will pave the way to making Egypt into a true democracy.

Will Egypt succeed? The Egyptian military council presently has control over Egypt, and, along with Israel, Egypt has affirmed its support for the Israel-Egyptian peace. However, when the military steps down, who will fill the power void? Moreover, what does this mean for Israel, whose peace with Egypt for the last 30 years was dependent upon Mubarak’s support?

Political pundit Jonathan Schanzer sees three possible outcomes for Egypt’s government: a new dictatorship, the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, or a successful democracy.

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Where are the moderates?

Posted by jonathanhuberman on March 4, 2011 @ 10:36 am

C-SJP misrepresents the views of moderate Palestinians.

Courtesy: Amalia Rinehart, Columbia Spectator

This was featured in the Columbia Spectator on Friday, March 4, 2011.  It was written by Jonathan Huberman, LionPAC Director of Public Relations.

During Israeli Apartheid Week, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestinehas once again offensively exploited a historical tragedy. No rational person can deny the plight of the Palestinians, and no moral person can ignore their suffering. However, labeling Israel as an apartheid state grossly distorts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and belittles the suffering of South African apartheid victims. If Apartheid Week has proven anything, it has shown that C-SJP misrepresents the moderate majority of Palestinians and works against a peaceful two-state solution.

Israel is a democratic, multi-ethnic country that upholds equal rights for all of its citizens. Minorities comprise 20 percent of Israel’s population, and they enjoy the same civil liberties as any Israeli. Israeli-Arabs vote in Israel’s democratic elections and hold seats in Israel’s parliament. An Israeli-Arab, Salim Jubran, is a judge on Israel’s Supreme Court, and other Israeli-Arabs have served as deputy speakers of the Israeli parliament. Not surprisingly, a recent poll showed that 40 percent of Israeli-Arabs living in East Jerusalem would rather relocate their homes and maintain Israeli citizenship than join a Palestinian state. In contrast to citizens of other Middle Eastern nations, Israeli-Arabs enjoy greater political freedom and opportunity in Israel than they would in any other Arab country.

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Israeli Apartheid Week 2011 – Official Press Release

Posted by jonathanhuberman on February 28, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY—This week, our campus must again contend with deceitful anti-Israel propaganda, as Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (CSJP) participates in the International Israeli Apartheid Week. Apartheid refers to the system of racial oppression that occurred in South Africa, and CSJP seeks to equate Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with the racist South African regime. Beneath the façade of the apartheid analogy, CSJP makes the insidious allegation that Israel is an inherently immoral and colonial regime with no right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. These claims are false and offensive, and we cannot stand by silently as our fellow students vilify our homeland.

Israel is a moral country, and we should feel proud to defend it as an island of egalitarian democracy in a sea of despotic oppression. Israel provides equal rights to all of its citizens, regardless of their background. Israeli-Arabs vote in elections, hold seats in the Knesset, and sit on the Israeli Supreme Court. When Israel takes measures of self-defense, such as its construction of the security barrier, it does so from a desire to protect its diverse population, not to enforce racist ideologies. While some inequality does exist in Israel, as it does in every western democracy, the Israeli government has persistently sought to preserve its cultural richness and equality.

LionPAC urges everyone on campus to participate in the many LionPAC and other Hillel sponsored events this week that will respond to the false moniker of apartheid and to help Hillel on College Walk as we seek to further an honest presentation of the facts. Lastly, as always, check back often on http://lionpac.org/ for event announcements, insightful blog posts, and relevant Spectator op-eds.


A Moral Soldier’s Response to “Breaking the Silence” Event

Posted by jonathanhuberman on February 16, 2011 @ 12:34 am

By Adam Shoshani, GS | 2014

Before I begin, I would like to clarify my views: I hold moderate political opinions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and truly believe that there is only one way to end this longtime conflict in the Middle East- a two state solution- with Israel, as a Jewish and democratic state, living peacefully side by side with a free Palestinian state. Moreover, I place myself somewhere in the center of the political map in Israel.

Holding these opinions, I attended the “Breaking the Silence” event at Barnard College hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine on January 26. Breaking the Silence is a public-benefit organization of former Israeli soldiers working to “raise awareness about the daily reality in the occupied territories.” While I had heard several views regarding the organization, I decided to hear the group’s opinions and presentation for myself. I watched the movie for nearly two hours, and I found myself not only surprised but also disappointed. Following the event, I decided that I could not stand still as different people and organizations hypocritically and wrongfully delegitimized my own country- the state of Israel. The movie presented from start to finish a one-sided story with no real consideration of the Israeli perspective. I am responding to this crude event to give a more balanced and historical view of this tragic conflict.

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