September Roundup: CAMERA on Campus Students and Staff Start the Semester Strong
CAMERA on Campus Documents and Condemns Antisemitic “Festival” at UPenn
Douglas Sandoval, Managing Director of CAMERA on Campus attended the Palestine Writes Festival at the University of Pennsylvania which took place from September 22nd to September 24th, 2023. Above is a photograph of organizers during the opening plenary in the Irvine Auditorium.
CAMERA on Campus Weighs In On “Palestine Writes”
Find a statement by campus director, Hali Spiegel regarding the Palestine Writes Festival below:
CAMERA on Campus, the campus branch of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting & Analysis (CAMERA), raises a significant question regarding the University of Pennsylvania’s plans to host the upcoming “Palestine Writes” conference.
Does the conference and its confirmed speakers align with the academic mission and values of the University of Pennsylvania?
While CAMERA unequivocally supports free speech, institutions of higher learning are also expected to provide intellectual rigor and a certain level of cultural sophistication. By providing a platform for antisemites, “Palestine Writes” is failing to fulfill the school’s academic mission.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the administrators at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Arts and Sciences, the sponsoring academic department, to determine the kind of academic culture they wish to foster for their students, particularly for minority groups such as Jews.
Scheduled to take place from September 22nd to 24th, 2023, “Palestine Writes” is organized by Susan Abulhawa and Huda Fakhreddine, individuals known for their history of glorifying terrorism and disseminating antisemitism.
Throughout the three-day conference, Abulhawa and Fakhreddine intend to provide a platform for academics, activists, and public figures with a documented history of blatant Jew hatred. This includes Refaat Alareer, Wisam Rafeedie, Salam Abusitta, Nadia Tannous, Marc Lamont Hill, Roger Waters, and Noura Erakat.
A comprehensive report, meticulously compiled by members of the Jewish community, documents the antisemitic rhetoric and numerous ties to internationally recognized terror groups associated with the individuals mentioned above.
We call upon Governor Josh Shapiro, President Liz Magill, the UPenn Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity programs, Dr. Khalid N. Mumin at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and Bonterra to thoroughly review and seriously consider whether providing a platform to individuals who openly profess hatred of Jews and the State of Israel—the world’s only Jewish state—aligns with their values and the academic mission of the University of Pennsylvania.
—Hali Spiegel, campus director, CAMERA
This statement was originally published on the CAMERA on Campus blog and sent to the media.
In the News: How CAMERA on Campus Initiatives Change the Playing Field for Jewish and pro-Israel Students
Despite massive protests by hundreds of students, community members, and Jewish organizations, to stop the spread of antisemitism on campuses, the University of Pennsylvania went on with its plans to conduct a weekend Jew-hating conference right before the eve of Yom Kippur.
September 22-24, 2023, marked an event that was conducted to deliberately spread an anti-Jewish agenda, hosted by the “Palestine Writes” 2023 literature festival.
Before the event began, a comprehensive report, compiled by members of the Jewish community in America, documented the antisemitic rhetoric of the speakers, including their association with recognized terrorist groups.
CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting & Analysis, called upon the heads of the University of Pennsylvania, to reconsider allowing a platform to individuals who openly profess hatred of Jews and Israel. CAMERA questioned whether this type of behavior aligned with the values and academic mission of the university.
A statement from the University of Pennsylvania said that this event was “not organized by the university.” However, the event was held in Irvine Auditorium, Penn Commons, and in other university spaces, with the full acknowledgement of its faculty.
The speakers involved were those who, in the past, have defended terror attacks that have taken place against Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora.
Douglas Sandoval, Managing Editor for ‘CAMERA on Campus,’ spoke to this writer. “What I witnessed at this conference was the denial of Jewish history; the denial of a Jewish connection to the land; and antagonism directed at the state of Israel and also the Jewish People.”
He was surprised by the agenda of the speakers: “They flat out deny that Jews are indigenous to the land. In fact, they claim to be all the people from all religions. They claim that the Palestinians are the Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians of the Holy Land. They opened the conference with this absurd claim – that the Jews of today have no connection to the land at all!”
Sandoval explains that the conference proved the severity of antisemitism on campuses. He acknowledged that the University of Pennsylvania did nothing to stop it. “I think we have to let people know; we have to make the community aware of what the university is sponsoring.”
Click the button marked “Read more” below to continue reading this article on the CAMERA on Campus Blog.
From the desk of Carrie Hart, a news analyst reporting on political, diplomatic, military and social issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community on the Times of Israel Blogs.
Prepared for the Challenges Ahead: CAMERA Fellows Share Their Perspectives
Watch CAMERA Fellows share about the strategic value of CAMERA on Campus’s initiatives for Jewish and pro-Israel students across the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
Israel and Zionism Society of Exeter Speaks Out Against Antisemitic Incident, CAMERA on Campus UK Pledges Support
On September 26th, members of the Israel & Zionism Society of Exeter were verbally harassed while tabling on campus.
CAMERA on Campus was made aware of the cooperation of the University of Exeter, who has agreed to fully investigate the incident.
CAMERA on Campus UK commends the swift action of the university in taking discrimination and harassment of the Jewish community seriously as they would any other minority group. No students should be targeted for expressing their identity on campus. We stand with the Jewish and pro-Israel community at the University of Exeter and pledge our full support for their right to be proud of their Jewish identity and longstanding connection to the State of Israel.
Find the Israeli and Zionist Society’s statement below:
The Israeli and Zionist Society is disheartened to hear about the verbal abuse that took place towards our treasurer, Sena-Rojin Cantay, and Harry Stock, president while they held a stall today.
Both Sena-Rojin and Harry were referred to as “baby killers” due to their support for the State of Israel and defending measures the IDF takes to keep civilians out of harm’s way.
In addition, their accusers also invoked antisemitic blood libels, alleging that Sena-Rojin and Harry support the murder of Palestinians. They also claimed the State of Israel is “built on the blood of Palestinians.”
The students who verbally abused Sena-Rojin and Harry also denied that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Despite the fact that the UK government proscribed Hamas a terrorist organization. It is worrying to hear that students on UK campuses support this terror group that actively calls for the annihilation of the only Jewish state in the world.
It is sad that Jewish and Zionist students are not allowed to voice their opinions on campus without fear and intimidation. We call on the University of Exeter to undertake a formal investigation into the students who undertook this verbal attack on our students.
CAMERA Fellows in the United States and United Kingdom kicked off the academic year tabling and sharing about what they aim to accomplish on their respective campuses.
CAMERA on Campus Initiatives
If you are interested in educating your peers about Israel on campus, correcting misinformation regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and strengthening your writing or event planning skills, consider applying for one of CAMERA on Campus’s flagship programs described below:
Applications Are Now Open for the 2024-2025 CAMERA Fellowship
The CAMERA Fellowship is an exclusive one-year program with numerous tracks that cater to the strengths and interests of top-tier student activists. While applications for 2023-2024 academic year are closed, we are now accepting applications for 2024-2025.
The CAMERA Fellowship application and interview process is highly selective but we encourage all interested students to apply. Our Fellows are leaders on campus, proactively spreading the truth about Israel to fellow students, professors, and campus media. Students from across North America, the UK, and Israel are selected based on their in-depth knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict, history of Israel, experience with Israel activism on campus, and portfolio of their published work. Fellows receive a stipend upon completion. Click here to apply for the 2024-2025 CAMERA Fellowship.
The CAMERA on Campus Coalition provides educational and financial resources for student activists who want to either create a new Israel group on campus or strengthen their existing, but underfunded group. CAMERA on Campus provides guidance and extensive resources to help you build an effective, independent Israel group on campus. Members of the CAMERA on Campus Coalition learn life-long skills in debate, writing, and public speaking, and benefit from close collaboration with CAMERA on Campus staff and CAMERA researchers. Click the button below to apply for the CAMERA on Campus Coalition.
“This Is Zionism” is a CAMERA on Campus Instagram project that aims to show the world that Zionists come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse interests. We showcase different Zionists, their stories, their interests, and their beliefs. To be featured in our #ThisIsZionism campaign click the button below.