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ASPartOfMe
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05 Apr 2024, 4:55 pm

Turning point? After deadly strikes on aid convoy, Democrats push Biden to put conditions on military help for Israel

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The Israeli airstrikes that claimed the lives of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers have stunned and outraged Democrats in Congress, fueling a fresh effort by lawmakers to push President Joe Biden to impose conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel.

Frustration has been mounting for months among Democrats in Congress over how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has carried out its military offensive in the Gaza Strip and the dire humanitarian conditions faced by Palestinian civilians. But Monday’s lethal strikes on a World Central Kitchen team jolted many lawmakers and their aides, who say the attack could serve as a defining moment for America’s approach to the war in Gaza and U.S. relations with Israel.

“This week could be a turning point,” one congressional official sa

Democratic Sen. Peter Welch of Vermont told NBC News that the attack on the aid convoy is “an indication that there has been no modification of the Netanyahu war plan” and “it’s creating increasing concern among more and more of my colleagues.”

Even lawmakers who initially refrained from sharply criticizing Israel over its tactics in Gaza have joined calls for a cease-fire or warned Netanyahu’s government not to enter the southern city of Rafah without a plan to safeguard the lives of its civilian population.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a close Biden ally and a longtime supporter of Israel, came out for the first time Thursday in favor of placing conditions on U.S. arms shipments to Israel if civilians are not protected in Rafah.

“If Benjamin Netanyahu were to order the IDF into Rafah at scale ... and make no provision for civilians or for humanitarian aid, I would vote to condition aid to Israel,” he told CNN. “I’ve never said that before, I’ve never been here before.”

According to Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street, a liberal lobbying group that says it is “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” more and more Democrats are urging the White House to back up its critical words with concrete actions.

Democrats in Congress are now focusing on the looming deadline of May 8, when the administration will have to declare whether Israel is abiding by international humanitarian law and U.S. human rights laws. Under a national security memorandum issued by Biden in February, the State Department has to formally assess if Israel’s assurances are “credible and reliable” and report its findings to Congress. If the administration concludes that Israel is failing to live up to its assurances, the president will have the option to suspend additional U.S. arms transfers.

Mounting concerns among Democrats about the situation in Gaza also threaten to jeopardize a long-delayed security assistance package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which passed the Senate but has been held up for months in the House of Representatives.

Until now, the main stumbling block was House Speaker Mike Johnson and some other Republicans who are wary of defying former President Donald Trump’s opposition to additional aid for Ukraine. But a growing number of House Democrats are now reluctant to sign off on more military assistance for Israel, particularly after the strikes on the World Central Kitchen convoy, congressional aides and lawmakers said.

If the Biden administration remains reluctant to impose conditions on aid to Israel, the top two Democrats on the Senate and House foreign relations committees could try to ratchet up the pressure on the White House by refusing to approve a proposed $18 billion arms package for Israel, which includes more F-15 fighter jets. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, have yet to say publicly if they will sign off on the planned sale.


Rutgers University President Escorted Out of Town Hall by Police as Student Protesters Take Over
Quote:
Rutgers University town hall descended into anarchy Thursday evening as anti-Israel students chanted demands to "globalize the intifada," hurled anti-Semitic insults at Jewish students, and forced the school's president to end the event early, according to videos of the event and attendees who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

One video obtained by the Free Beacon shows the school's president, Jonathan Holloway, escorted out by police after cutting short the event.

"Globalize the intifada. Long live the intifada. Long live resistance. Resistance is justified when people are occupied," chanted the protesters. "We don't want two states. We want 48. Displacing lives since '48. There's nothing here to celebrate," they declared in another chant.

Thursday night's disruption was caused primarily by two student groups, the Endowment Justice Collective—a "coalition of Rutgers organizations advocating for an endowment fund that ISN'T invested in Israeli apartheid"—and Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers-New Brunswick. The latter is carrying out a one-year probation period following an investigation into several violations of university policy.

Joe Gindi, a Syrian Jew and sophomore at Rutgers University who spoke to the Free Beacon, said that Jewish students wanted to hear what the university's president had to say. Gindi said that after talking to police, Jewish students were told they could leave through the emergency exits. Nearly all of them did.

"I and many other members of the Jewish community really appreciate President Holloway for standing up against this mob and not cowering to the calls to join in a boycott of Israel," Gindi said. "I really respect that."

Approximately 40 Jewish students—who also had to be escorted out—and 250 protesters were in attendance, Gindi told the Free Beacon.

Another Jewish student who spoke to the Free Beacon and asked to remain anonymous said that Jewish students came to the town hall to learn what the school would do to address campus anti-Semitism, but instead they were left "shaking" and terrified.

"Jewish students came to the town hall to learn what President Holloway and Rutgers would do to address antisemitism at Rutgers," said the student. "Instead of getting our answers, we were left shaking from another antisemitic incident. It was terrifying."

In another video captured by a student, protesters shouted at Rutgers Jewish students to "go back home." Protesters also told attendees that Jerusalem is their capital, not Israel's, and that Birthright Israel—a program offered through the school's Hillel chapter for young adults of Jewish descent to visit Israel—is not welcome on campus. Rutgers Hillel did not have a comment.

"Settlers, settlers, go back home. Palestine is ours alone," the protesters chanted. "Jerusalem's our capital. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. Rutgers, Rutgers, you will see, Palestine will be free. … Rutgers, Rutgers, you will learn, Palestinians will return. We will free Palestine within our lifetime. … Say it loud, say it clear, we don't want Birthright here."

Last week Jewish freshman Rivka Shafer's face was plastered on flyers for an anti-Israel referendum at Rutgers. Schafer told the New York Post that the flyers were posted in the dormitory where she lives. Schafer's attorney, Cory Rothbort, who spoke to the Free Beacon, said that "it is open season on Jewish students."

"Rivka Schafer was targeted where she sleeps," Rothbort said. "The message: 'Don't Support Israel—you aren't safe in your room.' At the town hall meeting, the message to Jewish students was similar: 'You aren't safe anywhere at Rutgers.'"


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06 Apr 2024, 7:16 am

Pelosi joins call by 37 Democrats for Biden to halt transfer of US weapons to Israel

Quote:
Several dozen Democratic members of Congress, including former speaker Nancy Pelosi, have sent a letter to US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for a halt on arms transfers to Israel following an IDF strike in Gaza that killed seven staffers of the World Central Kitchen, including a dual US citizen.

“In light of this incident, we strongly urge you to reconsider your recent decision to authorize the transfer of a new arms package to Israel, and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the airstrike is completed,” the House representatives wrote.

“We also urge you to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harm to innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate — or arbitrarily denies or restricts the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” they said.

Noting that Israel has said it did not intentionally target the aid workers, the Congress members said that “if this is true, it is a shockingly unacceptable mistake.” They also called for the administration “to conduct a thorough investigation into this airstrike,” which the White House reiterated Friday it will not do.

Most of the signatories were from the Democrat’s left flank but the backing by Pelosi indicated support for stopping weapons deliveries to Israel is increasingly becoming mainstream among Democrats.

Biden said Friday that Israel was heeding his demand to let aid into Gaza, a day after he warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a sharp shift in policy.

Asked as he left the White House whether he had threatened to stop military aid to Israel in the call with Netanyahu, Biden replied: “I asked them to do what they’re doing.”

Biden also appeared to take umbrage at the suggestion he would end support for Israel when asked by a reporter if he was abandoning Israel.

“Where you from, man?” Biden shot back, seemingly shocked by the question, given his longstanding support for the Jewish state.

“Are you abandoning Israel?” the reporter asked again.

“Is that a serious question?” the president replied, without giving a further response.


Majority of voters in UK back banning arms sales to Israel, poll finds
Quote:
A majority of voters in Britain back a ban on arms sales to Israel, according to a YouGov poll.

One of the first up-to-date assessments of whether Israel is losing public support in key allied states, the research also suggests most people believe the Israeli government is violating human rights in Gaza.

The loss of public support in the UK will alarm Israel, which has always relied on strong UK backing.

The poll was commissioned by Action for Humanity and conducted before seven aid workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike, an event for which Israel has apologised but not yet provided an explanation.

The poll shows that among all voters in the UK a majority of 56% to 17% are in favour of a ban on the export of arms and spare parts. By a majority of 59% to 12% voters say Israel is violating human rights in Gaza.

There has been very little British polling of public opinion on Israel’s conduct in Gaza, unlike in the US. The findings suggest that strenuous Israeli efforts at public diplomacy have failed to convince the British public.

The poll found strong support for an arms export ban among voters intending to vote Labour at the next election. An overwhelming 71% to 9% of those intending to vote Labour back an arms export ban, while Lib Dem voters support a ban by 70% to 14% and Conservative voters by 38% to 36%. Asked if Israel is violating human rights, Tory voters by two to one say Israel is doing so.


BDS activists say they successfully pressured a college to end its Israel study-abroad program
Quote:
An elite West Coast liberal arts school will no longer pre-approve students to study abroad at Haifa University, in a decision announced after its student government voted against the program in protest of Israel.

Anti-Zionist activists at Pitzer College and beyond are cheering the change as a victory for the movement to boycott Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace and the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine wrote on Instagram Monday that the decision was “historic” and said it “sets precedent for colleges and universities across the US to hold complicit Israeli universities accountable.”

But administrators at Pitzer, part of the Claremont Colleges consortium of schools in Southern California, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the decision was not due to the boycott movement.

Rather, they said, it stemmed from student disinterest. No students have signed up for the program in the past eight years, a college spokesperson said, and Haifa was one of 11 study-abroad programs the school removed from its pre-approval list.

In a statement, the college emphasized that students can still elect to study abroad in Haifa if they wish.

“These programs are not closed to Pitzer students, nor do any of these actions reflect an academic boycott of any country or educational institution,” the statement read.

Anti-Israel activity across the campus
The decision follows a swell of student anti-Israel activism on campus. In February, Pitzer’s student government held a formal vote to insist the university discontinue its Haifa program along with all other associations with Israeli institutions.

Student and faculty groups held similar votes in 2018 and 2019, which Pitzer’s president Melvin Oliver said he would ignore. But the latest came amid intense student activism around Israel since the outbreak of war in the Gaza Strip — and Jewish staff at the colleges said there have been tensions around Israel there for years.

“I learned from Pitzer Jewish students that going to Israel was ‘social suicide,’” Bethany Slater, director of the Claremont Colleges Hillel, told JTA. “Those who had been before college spoke about hiding that information from their peers. They said if people learned of plans to travel to Israel they would be subject to verbal harassment from other students as well as shaming on the anonymous social media platform used by students at Pitzer. I believe this is a significant reason for why the program was underutilized.”

Slater, who became the Claremont Hillel’s first full-time independent director last year, said student hostility toward the Haifa program was indicative of a deeper “vitriolic anti-Hillel discourse that has a hysterical quality.”

She said her “attempts to open conversation have been rebuffed by both students and faculty” and alleged that she had been “slandered by Jewish students publicly” in her capacity as Hillel director.

“As someone who spent many years living within both Palestinian and Israeli societies and as a scholar of inter-religious dialogue I had hoped it would be easier to build bridges here,” she added, describing JVP and SJP’s views as “suspicious and hateful.”

Despite the college’s stated reasoning for rescinding pre-approval of the Haifa program, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel celebrated the decision, as did JVP’s national organization, which trumpeted the move as the first major BDS victory on an American college campus.

Dan Segal, a Jewish anti-Zionist emeritus professor at Pitzer, suggested on the social network X that his college’s administrators were covering up the real reason why the Haifa program ended.

“Yesterday @pitzercollege closed the Pitzer-Haifa exchange program. Today the Dean said the program was no longer ‘approved’ but it was not ‘closed.’ LOL,” Segal wrote. “Do [the administrators] have any integrity?”


Sanctioned anti-Israel groups hold Columbia University event as students suspended
Quote:
The Columbia University administration warned suspended anti-Israel groups and other campus organizations that students could face disciplinary action for an unauthorized protest on Thursday, a warning issued not long after six students were allegedly suspended for a March 24 pro-Palestinian demonstration.

Local chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), who were suspended by the New York university in November for "repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events" culminating in a November 9 protest, were among groups calling for supporters to rally on Thursday for an "All out for Al-Shifa solidarity protest."

"The Zionist entity has massacred hundreds at Al-Shifa hospital and left it in complete ruin after a two week siege," said the advertisement featuring the logos of the Student Workers of Columbia and Columbia University Apartheid Divest.

Columbia SJP and JVP said that they would hold the university accountable for involvement in what they called a "genocide" and called upon all student organizations to attend.

Warnings placed before the protests
Columbia’s Chief Operating Officer Cas Holloway warned the groups against the unauthorized protest at Columbia's Morningside campus.

This protest is unsanctioned – organizers and participants will be subject to disciplinary action if they proceed," Holloway said in a Thursday statement. "I want to remind our entire community that it is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the safety of our campus and respect the rights of all the members of the Columbia community."

SJP Columbia claimed on Thursday that on Wednesday night six students, including a Palestinian and two Jewish students, were suspended over a March 24 event. The Columbia Spectator reported that the suspensions were lifted for two students. The students allegedly were given 24 hours notice to leave university housing.

The pro-Palestinian groups said that the suspensions came 2 days after a Palestinian student was visited by a private investigator hired by Columbia.

Holloway had said on March 28 that the investigator had been hired following the Resistance 101 event, which featured speakers from Within Our Lifetime, Masar Badil and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Network. Masar Badil and Samidoun are alleged to be connected to the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

“The event that took place Sunday night was unsanctioned and unapproved and was held despite multiple cancellations by both Columbia and Barnard," Holloway said at the time. "We have banned he outside speakers from campus".

Also on Thursday, the Columbia Engineering Student Council rejected a petition to issue a referendum on divestment from Israel. The ESC said that it had no power to act on the proposed referendum.


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06 Apr 2024, 4:25 pm

Ireland divests millions from six Israeli companies, report says

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The Irish government has pulled millions of euros of investment from several Israeli companies, Yahoo! News reported on Friday.

According to the report, the Irish National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) confirmed that it had made the decision to divest almost three million euros from its global equity portfolio in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).

he decision to divest reportedly encompasses shareholdings valued at a total of 2.95 million euros in six entities: Bank Hapoalim BM, Bank Leumi-le Israel BM, Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd, First International Bank and Rami Levi Chain Stores. Irish Finance Minister Michael McGrath called the move the “correct decision."

“ISIF has determined that the risk profile of these investments is no longer within its investment parameters and that the commercial objectives of these investments can be achieved via other investments. The decision will be implemented as soon as possible over the coming weeks,” he said.

“I am advised ISIF will keep under review the alignment of relevant investments within its investment parameters and commercial objectives.

“While recognising the independence of ISIF in the management of the investment portfolio, I believe this is the correct investment decision in respect of the assets it manages on behalf of the State.”

McGrath announced over the weekend the fund's decision to sell its holdings in companies engaged in certain activities in the "occupied Palestinian territories." The choice to withdraw investments from these companies stems from their mention in the UN database of companies operating in settlements.

Irish Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik welcomed the decision. “The relentless violence and suffering endured by the people of Gaza demands urgent international attention. It is heartening to see the NTMA taking steps to divest from investments in companies operating in the occupied territories, but this is just the beginning,” she said.

“The scale of destruction witnessed by the people of Gaza is nothing short of horrific. The case for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza becomes even more compelling each day, as the death toll mounts. We are bearing witness to awful devastation, unleashed by the Israeli government upon this civilian population trapped in a small, besieged enclave.”


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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13 Apr 2024, 9:29 am

Anti-Arab hate, harassment and threats loom over this year’s Arab American Heritage Month

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Arab American Heritage Month is intended to commemorate and honor the achievements of the some of the roughly 3.7 million members of the community residing in the U.S.

But this year, many Arab Americans don’t feel inclined to celebrate.

Instances of anti-Arab hate and sentiment have been on the rise in the U.S. since the start of the war in Gaza in October, according to experts, who have received an influx of reports.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said it received 2,500 reports of anti-Arab hate from October to March, a sharp uptick from the under 500 reports it received in the same time period last year. The Council on American Islamic-Relations also reported receiving the highest number of bias reports in its 30-year history in 2023, with nearly half of them coming in the final three months of the year following the escalation of violence in Gaza. While not all Arabs are Muslim, “Muslim and Arab identities have long been conflated, particularly by those who seek to villainize both, making anti-Muslim hate part and parcel of anti-Arab” racism, according to the organization.

Bias incidents against Arabs range from verbal to fatal. The most high-profile incidents include the fatal stabbing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy, in Illinois and the shooting of three Palestinian men in Vermont. Experts say the violence in the U.S. is directly linked to the violence in Gaza, where Israel has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians and wounded over 75,000 others in its campaign to eliminate Hamas, according to the enclave’s Ministry of Health.

“It is hard to celebrate anything with all the death and the destruction happening through the genocide,” said Abed Ayoub, the national executive director of the ADC. “So I think this month — more than any month — is not a celebration, but it’s a show of our resilience, and it’s an opportunity to show our character and the fact that we exist.”

Zaina Ujayli, a 27-year-old Ph.D. student specializing in Arab American history, observes that although the community has long grappled with discrimination and racism, there’s a growing sense of comfort among certain individuals in openly expressing it.

“For the last few months, it’s just been so in your face,” Ujayli said. “It became very real and in your face in a way that I feel like we’d almost worked against in the years before.”

A community under attack
Arab Americans trace their origins to 22 Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and Africa, including the occupied Palestinian territories, Sudan, Algeria and Iraq. The community is not a monolith — Arabs can belong to any racial or religious groups, and differ culturally.

Arab Americans have a long history that stretches to the end of the 19th century, when Arabs started to immigrate to the U.S. to escape conflict and seek economic opportunities.

The long road to establishing a month to celebrate community members’ contributions to art, culture, diplomacy, technology and science started approximately 40 years ago, when advocacy groups including the ADC started pushing for one. It was first recognized at the local level by some states, but in 2021, President Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to declare April as Arab American Heritage Month.

This year, the month comes at a somber time for many Arab Americans, who are watching their family members, friends and fellow Arabs deal with loss, trauma and a looming famine in Gaza. Many supporters of Palestinian human rights have been calling for an end to the violence for the past six months by protesting and appealing to politicians with little result.

“It [Arab American Heritage Month] means nothing, especially with what’s going on,” said Palestinian American Nader Ihmoud, a writer and insurance agent. “If this administration or government here in the U.S. cared about Arab Americans at all, they have completely kept that hidden from us, because all their actions say otherwise.”

In past years, Ujayli said she would usually welcome Arab American Heritage Month by posting about it online, or helping organize events on her school’s campus. But in light of the current climate in the U.S., the month “feels a little bit cheap” this year, she said.

“If you’re not going to recognize Arab Americans’ political demands now, if you’re not going to listen to us when we’re asking you for a cease-fire, for political action — if you’re not even going to meet us with empathy, then I don’t care whether you want to celebrate our presence in this country,” she said.

Biden issued a proclamation again this year in which he acknowledged “the pain being felt by so many in the Arab American community with the war in Gaza” and mourned “the lives taken.”

He also highlighted that in the U.S., Arab Americans “remain the target of bias and discrimination — including harassment, hate crimes, racist rhetoric, and violent attacks,” adding that “hate never goes away. It only hides.”

Feeling unheard and unsafe
Still, some community members say Biden’s words are not enough, especially as his administration continues to send weapons to Israel, potentially assisting the violence in Gaza.

In February, Biden released a statement on the U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria in response to a deadly drone attack in Jordan that killed three American service members.

“If you harm an American, we will respond,” he said in the statement.

Many Arab Americans are wondering where that energy is for members of the community who have been targeted for being Arab or supporting Palestinian human rights. A few have even been killed or imprisoned in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Ujayli said she has attended protests calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, during which some people drive by and call those gathered “terrorists.” The slur has been employed to marginalize those in the Arab American community, aiming to portray them as outsiders in American society.

“If you’re assuming that your Arab American neighbors are calling for violence every time they go out to protest on the streets, that’s an implicit bias,” Ujayli said. “I frankly think it’s the most American thing it is, to speak out against injustice, to express our freedom of opinion.”

Jasmin Abdullah, a 35-year-old Iraqi American scientist and content creator, says she speaks out against the violence in Gaza on social media and is often met with harassment. She sometimes worries she may lose her job, which she uses to support her family, as a result of the advocacy.

They’ll attack you and say these horrible things,” Abdullah said about people who have targeted her for her beliefs on the internet. “Then they’ll go to your page and harass you, and they’ll harass people who follow you.”

The group Palestine Legal has been tracking incidents of bias and repression of people who advocate for Palestinian human rights. Since the day Hamas launched an attack in Israel on Oct. 7, the organization has received 1,680 reports of repression, around a 320% increase from the number it typically receives in a year. The incidents range from people being physically attacked for their advocacy to being verbally harassed or fired from their jobs “for doing things as simple as sharing a social media post or statement in support of Palestinians,” said Danya Zituni, communications manager for Palestine Legal.

“We’ve been both seeing and responding to incidents of repression across campuses, across workplaces — and really no industry or profession has been untouched,” Zituni said.

Zituni says statements released by officials acknowledging Arab American Heritage Month come across as disingenuous and hypocritical in light of the repression many community members have been subjected to, including the arrests of students at peaceful protests and the suspension of campus advocacy groups.

These documented incidents have not discouraged Ihmoud from speaking up for Palestinian rights, which he does with his relatives in the West Bank at the forefront of his mind.

“They’re in such a dire state right now that we can’t let our foot off the gas,” he said. “You got to continue pushing all the way until this comes to an end, and it’s not just the war ending — it’s the occupation ending, it’s the right of return. It’s everything that has been on the table for the last 75 years.”

He hopes to one day celebrate Arab American Heritage Month the way that other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. celebrate months dedicated to their history.

“Keep the month,” Ihmoud said. “Just don’t occupy our lands, don’t kill our people, don’t starve our children.”


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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15 Apr 2024, 5:04 pm

Rosemont hotel no longer hosting pro-Palestinian convention after receiving threats: spokesperson

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The Hyatt Regency O'Hare Chicago is no longer hosting the American Muslims for Palestine convention that was planned for next month.

This comes after the Rosemont hotel says it received multiple threats in relation to the event.


Multiple arrests made after protests halt traffic near O'Hare Airport
Quote:
According to officials, “multiple individuals” were taken into custody after the protest, which occurred in the outbound lanes of the Kennedy Expressway between Bessie Coleman Drive and the airport.

Police were unable to give an exact number of arrests that stemmed from the protest, but did confirm that it concluded Monday morning.

According to alerts from the Chicago Department of Aviation, the protests “substantially delayed” travel around the airport, with travelers urged to find other forms of transit.

Some travelers were even forced to get out of rideshare vehicles and taxis, with dozens seen walking along highway embankments as they brought their luggage into the terminal.

Traffic disruptions landed for at least an hour, with most roadways reopening by 9:30 a.m., according to officials.


Protesters arrested after shutting down Golden Gate Bridge for hours
Quote:
Activists protesting the war in Gaza shut down Highway 101 on the Golden Gate Bridge Monday morning, snarling the commute into San Francisco and resulting in multiple arrests.

At around 7:30 a.m. Monday, dozens of protesters stopped their vehicles and blocked all southbound lanes of the span, demanding the U.S. stop arming and funding Israel in the war in Gaza, organizers say.

At about 10:30 a.m., CHP Marin said on social media it had started making arrests. As of 11:30 a.m., about 15 people had been taken into custody, and officials said they expected to arrest 25-30 total.

Other Gaza war protests happened simultaneously in the East Bay, where all lanes of northbound Interstate 880 at Fifth Avenue in Oakland were blocked for hours and another protest emerged on I-880 at I-980 farther north in Oakland.


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators snarl traffic on Brooklyn Bridge, leading to arrests
Quote:
Police have made some arrests after Pro-Palestinian demonstrators crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, snarling traffic Monday evening.

Citizen App video shows police making arrests after demonstrators crossed onto the Bridge from the Manhattan side.

Westbound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge remain closed as police continue to disperse protestors. The New York City's Office of Emergency Management told drivers they should expect delays.

In New York City, Wall Street became the site where hundreds of protestors gathered to voice their stance on the tension in the Middle East.

With temperatures rising in the city, the tempers of demonstrators both for and against the war clashed just outside of the New York Stock Exchange.

At one point, police stepped between the feuding sides before the incident escalated beyond pushing and shoving.

For the pro-Palestinian protestors who turned out, their message was this: "Israel bombs. Wall Street profits."

Nerdeen Kiwanis, organizer at Within our Lifetime, said the pro-Palestinian group opted to protest on Tax Day to send a clear message.

That large pro-Palestinian group clashed with a smaller pro-Israeli group. There was pushing, shoving and tripping as about a dozen counter-protestors made their way through the crowd.


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16 Apr 2024, 3:47 pm

Sen. Tom Cotton encourages drivers to drag Gaza cease-fire protesters from blocked roads

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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on Tuesday doubled down on earlier comments encouraging people stuck in traffic caused by cease-fire protests to “take matters into their own hands” and forcibly remove the demonstrators from the roads.

Cotton posted a video on X on Tuesday showing people dragging protesters off the roads by their legs and their jacket hoods, tossing them to the curb to let cars through.

“How it should be done,” the senator wrote in the post.

On Monday, traffic came to an hourslong standstill on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and in major cities including Chicago, Seattle and New York as demonstrators planted themselves on the roads to draw attention to the war in Gaza.

“If something like this happened in Arkansas, on a bridge there, let’s just say I think there would be a lot of very wet criminals that had been tossed overboard not by law enforcement, but by the people whose road they’re blocking,” Cotton said in a Fox News interview on Monday.

“If they glued their hands to a car or the pavement, well, probably pretty painful to have their skin ripped off but I think that’s how we would handle it in Arkansas and I would encourage most people anywhere that get stuck behind criminals like this who are trying to block traffic to take matters into their own hands

The senator stirred some controversy Monday night after taking that message to social media, urging drivers blocked by the protesters to “take matters into your own hands” in a post on X. Minutes later, Cotton updated that post, clarifying that drivers should “take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way.”

Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, was among the critics who bashed Cotton on social media for his comments: “Just a U.S. Senator calling for vigilante violence.”


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16 Apr 2024, 10:06 pm

House resolution condemning 'From the River to the Sea' chant as antisemitic passes with 44 opposed

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The House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning a pro-Palestinian activist chant as antisemitic on Tuesday – but 43 Democrats and one Republican voted against it.

A House GOP-led resolution introduced by Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, R-N.Y., to formally criticize the use of the phrase "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" passed in a 377 to 44 vote.

As has been the case with most issues surrounding Israel, the measure split the Democratic Party, with progressives bucking their more traditional colleagues in their criticism of the longstanding U.S. ally.
Progressive "Squad" Democrats were among those to vote against it, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y.; Cori Bush, D-Mo., as well as House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

One Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., voted against the measure as well.

The bill is part of a list of 17 measures House Republican leaders are putting up for a vote this week aimed at affirming support for Israel and condemning Iran after the latter launched a barrage of airstrikes over the weekend.


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17 Apr 2024, 11:14 am

Google employees arrested following protest over Israel ties at executive’s office

Quote:
Google employees were arrested on Tuesday after staging a more than eight hour sit-in at the California office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, in protest of the company's ties with Israel. Arrests were also made following a protest at the tech giant’s New York office.

The protest was part of a larger nation-wide initiative by Google employees across the U.S. called “No Tech for Genocide Day of Action,” with protests held at Google offices in Seattle in addition to California and New York. They were organized by Google employees under the banner of “No Tech for Apartheid,” a group which claims to represent over 1000 Google and Amazon employees.

The demands of the protest include that Google drop Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing deal between Google and Amazon and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, that “Amazon & Google stop doing business with Israeli apartheid & powering the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” to “stop the harassment, intimidation, bullying, silencing, and censorship of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim Googlers" and to “address the health and safety crisis among Google workers,” who they claim have been suffering from “serious mental health consequences working at a company that is using their labor to enable a genocide.”

According to a spokesperson for the protesters, nine employees were arrested at both the Cloud Division offices in New York and California. According to The Washington Post, Google ordered the arrest of the protesters who were told by police who ultimately arrested them after they refused to leave voluntarily.

Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and we will investigate and take action,” said Bailey Tomson, a Google spokesperson. “These employees were put on administrative leave, and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”

In 2021, about 90 Google employees and 300 Amazon employees launched a petition for the tech giants to withdraw their bid for the Nimbus project contract in Israel, which stated that "Google’s contract with the Israeli military and government will directly harm Palestinians using the technology that Google employees are expected to create."

Google previously fired a worker in March who disrupted a speech by Barak Regev, Managing Director of Google Israel, at Calcalist’s Mind the Tech Conference in New York.


Columbia University president grilled on campus antisemitism at congressional hearing
Quote:
Columbia University’s president strongly denounced antisemitism during a congressional hearing Wednesday, saying that after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, “the world changed, and so did my focus.”

“Antisemitism has no place on our campus, and I am personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly,” President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik told the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “Israel was brutally attacked by Hamas terrorists and very soon it became clear that these horrific events would ignite fear and anguish across our campus.”

Shafik faced questions on her handling of antisemitism on campus after the Oct. 7 attack alongside two members of Columbia's Board of Trustees and the head of the university's antisemitism task force. She faced particular scrutiny for how the university handled faculty members who made comments about Hamas that were perceived as antisemitic.

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., grilled Shafik about Joseph Massad, a tenured professor in Columbia’s Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies department who published comments in October calling Hamas' attack a “stunning victory.”

“I do condemn his statement. I am appalled by what he said,” Shafik responded. “He has been spoken to.”

The hearing became particularly heated when Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., pressed Shafik on why Massad is still listed on Columbia’s website as the chair of the academic review committee.

Stefanik asked Shafik for her commitment that Massad would be removed as chair, and Shafik said she would get back to her.

Stefanik also questioned Shafik about Mohamed Abdou, a visiting professor at the Middle East Institute at Columbia. She referred to an Oct. 11 post on Facebook in which Abdou wrote, “Yes, I’m with the muqawamah (the resistance) be it Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad but up to a point.”

When asked about consequences, Shafik said Abdou “will never work at Columbia again.”

Her appearance in Congress came after she declined to testify at a hearing in December, citing scheduling conflicts.

When Shafik and her colleagues were asked by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., whether calling for the genocide of Jewish people violates Columbia’s rules — the same question posed to Harvard, MIT and Penn’s presidents — all answered “yes.” Bonamici also asked Shafik about the chants “by any means necessary” and “intifada,” which Shafik said were distressing.

Noa Fay, a Jewish student at Columbia who attended the hearing, told NBC News that she was "underwhelmed" by Shafik's testimony. Fay added that last semester it was “nearly impossible for me to get through academically and mentally” because of antisemitism she said she experienced on campus.

“I’m an RA and last semester, all my bulletin boards that I post up in our halls were vandalized, written with ‘stop supporting genocide, ceasefire, free Palestine, from the river to the sea,’ all of these things,” Fay said. “It has consumed every aspect of our student life.”

Ahead of her hearing, Shafik published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about what she planned to say in her testimony to Congress.

"Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, I have spent the most of my time addressing its aftershocks," Shafik wrote. "It is hard to describe how difficult this has been, especially on a large, diverse urban campus with students from all over the world and a long tradition of political activism."


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18 Apr 2024, 12:53 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Google employees arrested following protest over Israel ties at executive’s office
Quote:
Google employees were arrested on Tuesday after staging a more than eight hour sit-in at the California office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, in protest of the company's ties with Israel. Arrests were also made following a protest at the tech giant’s New York office.

The protest was part of a larger nation-wide initiative by Google employees across the U.S. called “No Tech for Genocide Day of Action,” with protests held at Google offices in Seattle in addition to California and New York. They were organized by Google employees under the banner of “No Tech for Apartheid,” a group which claims to represent over 1000 Google and Amazon employees.

The demands of the protest include that Google drop Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing deal between Google and Amazon and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, that “Amazon & Google stop doing business with Israeli apartheid & powering the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” to “stop the harassment, intimidation, bullying, silencing, and censorship of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim Googlers" and to “address the health and safety crisis among Google workers,” who they claim have been suffering from “serious mental health consequences working at a company that is using their labor to enable a genocide.”

According to a spokesperson for the protesters, nine employees were arrested at both the Cloud Division offices in New York and California. According to The Washington Post, Google ordered the arrest of the protesters who were told by police who ultimately arrested them after they refused to leave voluntarily.

Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and we will investigate and take action,” said Bailey Tomson, a Google spokesperson. “These employees were put on administrative leave, and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”

In 2021, about 90 Google employees and 300 Amazon employees launched a petition for the tech giants to withdraw their bid for the Nimbus project contract in Israel, which stated that "Google’s contract with the Israeli military and government will directly harm Palestinians using the technology that Google employees are expected to create."

Google previously fired a worker in March who disrupted a speech by Barak Regev, Managing Director of Google Israel, at Calcalist’s Mind the Tech Conference in New York.



These Google employess are out right heroes imho !


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18 Apr 2024, 11:52 am

USC decision to cancel Muslim valedictorian's speech further inflames tensions on campus

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Some students at the University of Southern California said their sense of pride was dashed this week when the school canceled Muslim student Asna Tabassum's valedictorian speech out of security concerns.

They said the announcement of Tabassum's selection as valedictorian this month made them feel seen and heard.

“It showed me that our people have a voice on campus,” said USC student Abdullah Khlefat, who is Muslim.

Another student, named Layan, who asked that her last name not be used because she was afraid of being harassed for speaking out, said the announcement had brightened her outlook about the future.

“For a sliver of a moment, I had a sense of hope. I felt like one day I could be like Asna,” said Layan, a first-year student majoring in political science.

Those dreams were crushed when USC Provost Andrew Guzman rescinded Tabassum's invitation to speak at graduation, citing security concerns over tensions related to “the ongoing conflict in the Middle East."

He said in an announcement Monday that “over the past several days, discussion relating to the selection of our valedictorian has taken on an alarming tenor.”

The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement,” the announcement read in part.

First-year student Danica Gonzalez, who supports Tabassum as valedictorian, said she believes the university is using security as pretext. She pointed to last year's commencement, which former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, attended when their daughter Sasha graduated.

"There is no way the university can’t protect her," Gonzalez said of Tabassum. "It’s just that they’re choosing not to."

After Tabassum was selected as valedictorian, at least two pro-Israel and Jewish groups complained to USC about the choice. They pointed to her social media activity, including her Instagram account, which links to a slideshow encouraging people to “learn about what’s happening in palestine, and how to help.”

It calls for “one palestinian state,” which it says “would mean palestinian liberation, and the complete abolishment of the state of israel.”

Brandon Tavakoli, president of Trojans for Israel, called Tabassum’s post “antisemitic.”

“The university has to make the decision about whether this valedictorian and her propagation of antisemitic vitriol online is worthy of being the representative of the class of 2024,” he told NBC News. “Commencement is supposed to be an inclusive and welcoming space for all students, including Jewish graduates and their families.”

Trojans for Israel said in a statement on Instagram that university officials failed to vet Tabassum's social media posts and condemn what it described as antisemitic content.

Last week, a University of California, Berkeley, professor confronted a Muslim student during a dinner for graduating law students, an incident that was recorded on video and triggered an outpouring of anger and frustration from both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups.

Earlier this month, 20 students at Pomona College in Southern California were arrested after they stormed and occupied the college president’s office.

At Columbia University in New York, several students were suspended this month after they hosted an unsanctioned event on campus featuring a speaker linked to a terrorist organization.

Tensions at USC reached a boiling point this month after Tabassum was selected as valedictorian, Gonzalez said. Students who disagreed with Tabassum's support for the Palestinian cause berated her on social media, and her supporters used those same platforms to defend her and denounce the school when her speech was canceled.

"It's been very jarring," Gonzalez said. "It feels like the university is just trying to protect its image."

Tabassum was born in the Southern California community of Chino Hills and majored in biomedical engineering with a minor in resistance to genocide, which included studying how technology, immigration and literacy play roles in the type of medical care people receive, according to a statement USC released when she was named valedictorian.

Layan, who was born in Syria and moved to the U.S. in the fifth grade, described Tabassum as a mentor and a role model.

“She wears a hijab, and I wear a hijab and am also Muslim,” Layan said. “I feel so connected to her.”

Layan first met Tabassum at the Muslim Student Union this year, she said. Tabassum introduced herself and swapped phone numbers with Layan, promising to keep her updated on events where Layan could meet new people.

“She is genuinely such a sweet person. I just know from the bottom of my heart she wouldn’t wish violence on anyone,” Layan said.

In a statement, Tabassum said the university’s decision is thinly veiled racism.

“Although this should have been a time of celebration for my family, friends, professors, and classmates, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices have subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of my uncompromising belief in human rights for all,” she said.

USC is a private institution so there is no Government suppression of free speech issue here.

Theoretically graduation is supposed to celebrate the students achievements. Politics seems inappropriate in this setting. In reality they usually have a political angle to them. Invited commencement speakers are often political figures. Usually they do give milquetoast “You can do anything you set your mind to”, “Be yourself and don’t let anybody discourage you” type speeches. That said it is far from unheard of for valedictorians to use that platform to make a political statements. Either way by inviting political figures the universities are making political statements.

The security issue is bogus. If an important donor wanted to speak they would find the money for security. Anybody that tries to do something to her during the speech will throw away the rest of their lives. If that person is a student all the time, effort, and tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars spent for a USC education will have gone for naught.

USC did this because they were intimidated by some students who assumed they would be offended by what she might have said and are offended by who she is. This is the result of the precedents repeatedly set for a long time now.

I get that this is a very fraught time for these universities. It is what it is. If they did not invite her to speak they endorse intimidation. If they invited her they would have offended some students on what should be a milestone occasion. The latter was not a unrealistic possibility considering her minor. Inviting her and then rescinding the offer was the worst decision of all.


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18 Apr 2024, 5:57 pm

Cops storm Columbia, bust 100 anti-Israel protesters after university prez finally tells NYPD to clear campus

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At least 100 protesters were cuffed and hauled away from Columbia University when NYPD cops in riot gear swarmed the campus Thursday after the president made the bombshell decision to clear a large anti-Israel protest encampment.

Scores of protesters – including some who had to be carried away — were quickly filed onto waiting NYPD corrections buses.

A huge crowd of other demonstrators then defiantly swarmed to the police vehicles to temporarily block them from leaving the scene.

In the wake of the busts, officers then set about tearing down dozens of tents and dumping them in the trash.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik announced she “authorized” the NYPD to crack down on the encampment.

Dozens students occupied the camp on Columbia’s South Lawn, which went up Wednesday morning, even after the administration had warned participants to clear out by 9 p.m. Wednesday — or risk preliminary suspensions.

While the student protesters sat quietly in rows and didn’t resist arrest, onlookers jeered and shouted at the authorities to stand down.

“Shame, shame, shame!” the crowd taunted, as others demanded “Let them go!”

In the lead-up to the crackdown, the NYPD moved to block off 114th and 115th Streets, which are south of the schools’ main entrance.

Meanwhile, Shafik had earlier emailed students, faculty and staff saying she’d requested the NYPD’s assistance — despite her hopes that the move would “never be necessary.”

“I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances,” she said. “The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies.”

The student protesters were warned several times to clear out, the embattled prez added.

It comes after Shafik had sent a letter to the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of legal matters Wednesday asking cops to step in because students were now “trespassing” on school property in the wake of their suspensions.


Rep. Ilhan Omar’s daughter Isra Hirsi busted at Columbia anti-Israel protest
Quote:
sra Hirsi, the daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), was among the more than 100 protesters nabbed at Thursday’s anti-Israel protest at Columbia University.

“Yes, [Rep. Omar’s] daughter was arrested. She was also summoned for trespassing. She will be getting a summons.” Capt. Jaclyn Keane, Executive Officer of the Legal Bureau told reporters at an NYPD press conference announcing the arrests.

The 21-year-old Barnard College junior was spotted on video taken by The Post with her arms behind her back, grimacing as NYPD officers clad in riot helmets put her in cuffs.

Earlier in the afternoon Hirsi had revealed that she was suspended from the Columbia-affiliated Barnard College over her involvement in the protests.

“I just received notice that I am 1 of 3 students suspended for standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide,” the 21-year-old wrote on X.

“I’m an organizer with CU Apartheid Divest @ColumbiaSJP, in my 3 years at @BarnardCollege I have never been reprimanded or received any disciplinary warnings,” she added.


Columbia student kicked and told to ‘kill himself’ as his US flag is set on fire at NYC pro-Palestinian rally
Quote:
A Jewish Columbia student was told to “kill yourself” and viciously kicked in the stomach by a keffiyeh-wearing pro-Palestinian protester for carrying an American flag.

Elisha “Lishi” Baker, 21, of Boston, was also nearly burned on Monday while attending a pro-Palestinian rally in New York City after a protester lit the flag on fire, causing his shirt to catch flames.

A police officer then ripped it out of his hands to protect him at the events, blocks from the World Trade Center.

“I knew the anti-American sentiment was rampant [among protesters],” Baker told The Post Wednesday.

“I didn’t know how deadly rampant it was until my shirt was on fire. Personally, I felt they didn’t see my humanity.”

Baker, alongside his friend David Lederer, 22, and a few other Columbia students, attended the rally to see how truly bad it was after seeing a similar event take place in Michigan.

Lederer and Baker expected to get a few “death to America” chants thrown their way, but Baker never expected to be assaulted for simply holding an American flag.

“Kill yourself, kill yourself,” Baker remembered them chanting at him.

The protester went berserk after Lederer, who studies financial engineering, asked him about his feelings toward the American flag.

The unidentified demonstrator then kicked Baker, who was standing next to his friend, in the stomach before running away.

“We were less safe walking around New York City with an American flag than if we weren’t,” Lederer, of Long Island, said in a separate phone interview.

The group of four arrived to the protest around 2:15 p.m. Monday and stayed until 3:30 p.m. While there, the students stuck close to police and did not wear anything which indicated they were Jewish.

They simply carried five American flags — two of which were burned and one which was stolen by a woman who later burned it on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Burn it again, burn it again,” Lederer recalled protesters chanting. Demonstrators also called them “genocide supporters” and told them they were “not welcome.”

The group of Columbia students attended the rally because they “wanted to see the reaction” to the American flag, Lederer said, making it clear they did not attend the event to counter-protest.

“They think they can block roads and streets with impunity,” Lederer said Wednesday.

Lederer and Baker have documented their time at the rally across their social media pages, and Baker told The Post they did it because they think it’s “important to document how anti-American these protests are.”


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19 Apr 2024, 10:27 am

From the above qoute about a middle Eastern persons validictorians speech.....Quote :
""""USC is a private institution so there is no Government suppression of free speech issue here."""

Uhm... Sorry this statement does not reflect , knowledge of The University of the State of Californias , massive
investments to keep that school solvent from many many years back ... And the State of Calif. recieves Federal Funding to keep schools of Higher Education in business .. THEY ARE Obliged to. the Gov. And they still charge massive tuitions.
Then there are many organizations private and public that provide endowments to these facilities aswell .


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Last edited by Jakki on 19 Apr 2024, 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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19 Apr 2024, 12:11 pm

They criticized Israel. This Twitter account upended their lives. Since Oct. 7, StopAntisemitism has flagged hundreds of people who have criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza. Many were swiftly fired.

Quote:
Dani Marzouca was in bed trying to sleep when the phone started buzzing. An organization dedicated to publicly rebuking critics of Israel had posted on X a clip of Marzouca declaring that “radical solidarity with Palestine means … not apologizing for Hamas.”

The 20-second clip, from an Instagram live stream, rapidly garnered more than 1 million views. Soon, the group, StopAntisemitism, was calling Marzouca a “Hamas terrorist supporter” and tagging their employer, the branding firm Terakeet of Syracuse, N.Y. Hundreds of people commented on X, LinkedIn and email, including one who asked: “Do you really have antisemites like this working for you, @Terakeet?”

Within a day, Marzouca was fired — a development Terakeet announced as a reply to StopAntisemitism’s thread on X, 15 hours after the original post.

“Thank you for your swift action,” StopAntisemitism wrote.

Terakeet did not respond to a request for comment.

Marzouca, 32, is one of nearly three dozen people who have been fired or suspended from their jobs after being featured by StopAntisemitism, according to the group’s X feed, part of a wave of digital activism related to the Israel-Gaza war. Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel responded by attacking Gaza, groups have poured resources into identifying people with opposing political beliefs, sometimes deploying aggressive publicity campaigns that have resulted in profound real-world consequences.

Within weeks of Oct. 7, “doxing trucks” prowled the campuses of Harvard, Columbia and Princeton, displaying the names and photos of students and professors who had signed statements declaring solidarity with Palestinians. In January, a Rutgers Law School student sued the university, alleging that he had faced discriminatory disciplinary action after sharing what he deemed “pro-Hamas” messages from his classmates with school administrators.

Six months into the war, the strategy has spread well beyond academia — and become especially potent among pro-Israel groups determined to call out any statement they believe to be antisemitic.

Among a bevy of small social media accounts, StopAntisemitism has become one of the most prominent — and widely followed. Though some groups are dedicated to surfacing anti-Palestinian speech, none has StopAntisemitism’s reach or impact. Founded in 2018 as a “response to increasing antisemitic violence,” StopAntisemitism has dialed up its activity on X since the war, and often provides its more than 300,000 followers with personal social media profiles and employer details for people it identifies as antisemitic.

By publicly exposing antisemites, StopAntisemitism has created an environment where those who propagate hatred against the Jewish people are met with real-world consequences including but not limited to job loss and school expulsions,” StopAntisemitism’s website reads.

“StopAntisemitism gets results,” Liora Rez, the group’s executive director, boasted in a LinkedIn post in November.

Activists have long used the internet to publicize comments they find offensive, and such pressure campaigns have been central to movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. But the complex politics and brutal violence of the Israel-Gaza war have created a particularly divisive moment. A slew of figures have faced consequences for making statements about Israelis, the Israeli state and the war, including a New York Times Magazine writer, law students entering the job market and Palestinian Israelis, who have been jailed in Israel for being perceived as sympathetic to Hamas.

Marzouca, who lives in Los Angeles and uses they/them pronouns, said StopAntisemitism’s X post triggered a stream of threats. People emailed Marzouca saying they deserved to be sent to Gaza to die and criticizing their appearance, with one person calling them a “disgusting, manipulative rat.”

In response to questions from The Washington Post about the group’s online activity, Marc Greendorfer, founder of the Zachor Legal Institute, a legal think tank representing StopAntisemitism, described the group’s activity as “reposting.” It “[repeats] verbatim, the public statements of people making antisemitic statements and provides opinion on those statements,” he wrote in a letter.

Some prominent Jewish advocates argue that groups like StopAntisemitism play an important role in cracking down on religious discrimination. “If an individual is going to publish or say hateful things — against any person or group — they should be held to account for them,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Post in a statement. He added that the ADL directly confronts such individuals, “calling for consequences if they do not apologize or attempt to change their ways.”

Others view this type of sleuthing as a damaging form of online vigilantism. Joan Donovan, an expert in digital activism and an assistant professor at Boston University, argued that the group’s efforts are a form of doxing — the practice of posting personal information online to encourage harassment — which in turn chills debate.

“When the mob is the judge, jury and executioner, we all end up suffering,” Donovan added.

The high-stakes war has found especially fertile ground on social media, where some Palestinian rights activists say they are disproportionately named, shamed and punished.

“The intent here is not just to punish but also to have a chilling effect,” said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a think tank. “It’s to send a message to people that … if you dare speak out of line when it comes to questions related to Israel, you can and may face dramatic consequences — life-changing consequences.”

StopAntisemitism gets results
The bloody Israel-Gaza war has intensified the long-standing debate over when and whether critiques of Israel are antisemitic. Since the Zionist movement began in the late 1800s, with European Jews seeking a nation-state, it has drawn heavy criticism — and birthed common false conspiracy theories about Jewish power. But as critics of Israel, including many Jewish people, have denounced the state for its treatment of Palestinians, some supporters have countered with a broad argument that any criticism of Israel or Zionism is inherently anti-Jewish.

There are a lot of reasonable differences,” said Lila Corwin Berman, a professor of Jewish history at Temple University. “[But] a lot of organizations [are] taking a pretty blunt-tool approach that any articulation of anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”

Greendorfer, of the Zachor Legal Institute, said StopAntisemitism uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which includes denying Israel’s right to exist.

StopAntisemitism has flagged people for a variety of statements the organization considers antisemitic, including a college instructor who called Israelis “pigs” and a high school basketball coach who wore a shirt with a watermelon, a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, to a game. (Both apologized, and the college instructor is “no longer with” their workplace, according to a StopAntisemitism post.)

The organization is ratcheting up its sleuthing abilities. As of early February, StopAntisemitism has been seeking a senior open-source intelligence researcher who has existing partnerships with law enforcement and is adept at monitoring social media and the dark web for antisemitic posts, according to StopAntisemitism’s website. (The role pays between $85,000 and $100,000, the job posting said.)

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation lists StopAntisemitism as a “supported organization” on its website. The philanthropy is tied to Adam Milstein, a wealthy real estate investor who is the co-founder of the Israeli American Council, a prominent Jewish advocacy group.

According to 2022 tax filings, the Merona Leadership Foundation, where Milstein’s wife, Gila, serves as president, paid a $125,633 salary to Rez, StopAntisemitism’s executive director, and provides the organization about $270,000 to cover its expenses.

Greendorfer said The Post’s characterization of StopAntisemitism’s funding is a “misinterpretation” but declined to elaborate further. Nathan Miller, a representative for the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, declined to comment. The Merona Leadership Foundation declined to comment.

Donovan, of Boston University, said online efforts to punish enemies originate with activist accounts, such as those that identify unethical police officers. But as a flurry of right- and left-wing accounts used the tactic to publicize and shame people without public power, the strategy became diffuse, wielded to demonize everyone from supporters of transgender rights to Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

These accounts have become so widespread that it is difficult for social media companies to regulate them, Donovan said. When the billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter, now named X, the platform’s attempts to rein in posts triggering harassment dropped significantly, she added. Representatives from X did not respond to a request for comment.

Greendorfer says that because StopAntisemitism doesn’t post “private information,” its methods don’t amount to doxing.

Posting identifying information about nonpublic figures can be harmful, according to Nina Jankowicz, an expert on disinformation and online abuse.

“When we’re thinking about … using social media to blow the whistle or to hold powerful people to account, that’s very different than [doing it] because you disagree with them or because they’ve expressed an opinion that you find repugnant,” she said.

Celine Khalife, a 25-year-old therapist, says StopAntisemitism shut down her career just as it was getting started. A video posted by StopAntisemitism shows the Palestinian American tearing down a poster of Israeli hostages. She said Israel kidnapped its own citizens, a false conspiracy theory.

Khalife, who fled Lebanon after Israel bombed Beirut in 2006, told The Post that she was flustered and misspoke in the video. She said she removed the poster because it contained the phrase “Hamas terrorists” — propaganda, she argues, meant to minimize the Palestinian struggle.

StopAntisemitism linked to Khalife’s therapy clinic bio and posted her Psychology Today profile, warning that “patients must be made aware of her intrinsic bias and hateful act.”

Dozens messaged her workplace insisting she be fired immediately; other notes poured into her cellphone and personal email. “What’s going on with your nutjob therapist, Celine Khalife?” one message viewed by The Post said.

Four days after the video surfaced, the clinic fired Khalife, according to an internal message viewed by The Post.

Khalife said it was “crippling” to deal with the harassment, job loss and damage to her professional reputation. She was not sure she could even pay her roommate $1,100 in rent.

“I felt like I couldn’t go lower,” she said. “And then I did.”


Zionist version of Antifa on steroids.

Editors Note
I regularly look at that site. 99 percent of what they publish never makes it into this thread. The allegations needs be backed up by other sources and it needs to be in my view newsworthy. An opinion written in social media by some person does not count.

The headline is accurate but misleading. People who post something like “Israel has gone too far” are not targeted. It has to be something like “From River to Sea” or “Genocidal state”.

Upon further thought the Antifa remark needs clarification. During Antifa’s mid to late 2010s heyday I was very critical of them about their cancellation campaigns against people they deemed fascist. Antifa for the most part limited their campaigns to people who had some sort of management or leadership positions. As noted in the article StopAntisemitism targets students and regular working people, people who cannot afford to hire a Defamation Lawyer.


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20 Apr 2024, 8:09 pm

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USC decision to cancel Muslim valedictorian's speech further inflames tensions on campus
Quote:
Some students at the University of Southern California said their sense of pride was dashed this week when the school canceled Muslim student Asna Tabassum's valedictorian speech out of security concerns.

They said the announcement of Tabassum's selection as valedictorian this month made them feel seen and heard.

“It showed me that our people have a voice on campus,” said USC student Abdullah Khlefat, who is Muslim.

Another student, named Layan, who asked that her last name not be used because she was afraid of being harassed for speaking out, said the announcement had brightened her outlook about the future.

“For a sliver of a moment, I had a sense of hope. I felt like one day I could be like Asna,” said Layan, a first-year student majoring in political science.

Those dreams were crushed when USC Provost Andrew Guzman rescinded Tabassum's invitation to speak at graduation, citing security concerns over tensions related to “the ongoing conflict in the Middle East."

He said in an announcement Monday that “over the past several days, discussion relating to the selection of our valedictorian has taken on an alarming tenor.”

The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement,” the announcement read in part.

First-year student Danica Gonzalez, who supports Tabassum as valedictorian, said she believes the university is using security as pretext. She pointed to last year's commencement, which former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, attended when their daughter Sasha graduated.

"There is no way the university can’t protect her," Gonzalez said of Tabassum. "It’s just that they’re choosing not to."

After Tabassum was selected as valedictorian, at least two pro-Israel and Jewish groups complained to USC about the choice. They pointed to her social media activity, including her Instagram account, which links to a slideshow encouraging people to “learn about what’s happening in palestine, and how to help.”

It calls for “one palestinian state,” which it says “would mean palestinian liberation, and the complete abolishment of the state of israel.”

Brandon Tavakoli, president of Trojans for Israel, called Tabassum’s post “antisemitic.”

“The university has to make the decision about whether this valedictorian and her propagation of antisemitic vitriol online is worthy of being the representative of the class of 2024,” he told NBC News. “Commencement is supposed to be an inclusive and welcoming space for all students, including Jewish graduates and their families.”

Trojans for Israel said in a statement on Instagram that university officials failed to vet Tabassum's social media posts and condemn what it described as antisemitic content.

Last week, a University of California, Berkeley, professor confronted a Muslim student during a dinner for graduating law students, an incident that was recorded on video and triggered an outpouring of anger and frustration from both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups.

Earlier this month, 20 students at Pomona College in Southern California were arrested after they stormed and occupied the college president’s office.

At Columbia University in New York, several students were suspended this month after they hosted an unsanctioned event on campus featuring a speaker linked to a terrorist organization.

Tensions at USC reached a boiling point this month after Tabassum was selected as valedictorian, Gonzalez said. Students who disagreed with Tabassum's support for the Palestinian cause berated her on social media, and her supporters used those same platforms to defend her and denounce the school when her speech was canceled.

"It's been very jarring," Gonzalez said. "It feels like the university is just trying to protect its image."

Tabassum was born in the Southern California community of Chino Hills and majored in biomedical engineering with a minor in resistance to genocide, which included studying how technology, immigration and literacy play roles in the type of medical care people receive, according to a statement USC released when she was named valedictorian.

Layan, who was born in Syria and moved to the U.S. in the fifth grade, described Tabassum as a mentor and a role model.

“She wears a hijab, and I wear a hijab and am also Muslim,” Layan said. “I feel so connected to her.”

Layan first met Tabassum at the Muslim Student Union this year, she said. Tabassum introduced herself and swapped phone numbers with Layan, promising to keep her updated on events where Layan could meet new people.

“She is genuinely such a sweet person. I just know from the bottom of my heart she wouldn’t wish violence on anyone,” Layan said.

In a statement, Tabassum said the university’s decision is thinly veiled racism.

“Although this should have been a time of celebration for my family, friends, professors, and classmates, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices have subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of my uncompromising belief in human rights for all,” she said.

USC is a private institution so there is no Government suppression of free speech issue here.

Theoretically graduation is supposed to celebrate the students achievements. Politics seems inappropriate in this setting. In reality they usually have a political angle to them. Invited commencement speakers are often political figures. Usually they do give milquetoast “You can do anything you set your mind to”, “Be yourself and don’t let anybody discourage you” type speeches. That said it is far from unheard of for valedictorians to use that platform to make a political statements. Either way by inviting political figures the universities are making political statements.

The security issue is bogus. If an important donor wanted to speak they would find the money for security. Anybody that tries to do something to her during the speech will throw away the rest of their lives. If that person is a student all the time, effort, and tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars spent for a USC education will have gone for naught.

USC did this because they were intimidated by some students who assumed they would be offended by what she might have said and are offended by who she is. This is the result of the precedents repeatedly set for a long time now.

I get that this is a very fraught time for these universities. It is what it is. If they did not invite her to speak they endorse intimidation. If they invited her they would have offended some students on what should be a milestone occasion. The latter was not a unrealistic possibility considering her minor. Inviting her and then rescinding the offer was the worst decision of all.


USC cancels guest speakers, honorees at main commencement after valedictorian decision
Quote:
Following the publicized decision to cancel a commencement speech by a Muslim valedictorian, the University of Southern California said Friday it will have no outside speakers or honorees at the main stage commencement event.

“Given the highly publicized circumstances surrounding our main-stage commencement program, university leadership has decided it is best to release our outside speakers and honorees from attending this year’s ceremony,” USC said in a statement. University leadership will still speak.

“Crazy Rich Asians" and “Wicked” film director Jon M. Chu, an alumnus of USC, was to give the keynote commencement address and was to receive an honorary degree, the university had announced. Tennis star Billie Jean King was among those to get an honorary degree.

USC said Friday that those who were to receive honorary degrees will hopefully be awarded them at a future commencement or other academic event.

Tabassum said that she "was hoping to use my commencement speech to inspire my classmates with a message of hope."

She said in a statement that she is imploring students at USC "to work towards a world where cries for equality and human dignity are not manipulated to be expressions of hatred."

Cowards


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20 Apr 2024, 8:32 pm

'October 7 is about to be every day:' Columbia rally sees Hamas support

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A woman in a Keffiyeh shouted at a pro-Israel activist, "We are Hamas," outside Columbia on Wednesday. "We're all Hamas," she said at the counter-protesters that had rallied outside the university.

Anti-Israel activists threatened Jewish and Israeli students with further October 7 Massacres, claimed membership with Hamas, and expressed support for terrorism during the Columbia University protests that began on Wednesday, according to footage and accounts from local media and organizations.

"Remember the 7th of October!" shouted a man with a red keffiyeh over his face in a video published by Columbia Sundial editor-in-chief Jonas Du on social media on Friday. "That will happen not one more time, not five more times, not 10 more times, not 100 more times, not 1000 more times, but 10,000 time.

Calling for "October 7 everyday”
Never forget the 7th of October," said another masked man wearing a Palestinian flag, standing outside the campus gates on Thursday night. "Are you ready? 7th of October is about to be every day. Every day. 7th of October is going to be every day for you.”

A woman in a Keffiyeh shouted at a pro-Israel activist, "We are Hamas," outside Columbia on Wednesday, according to a video published by Freedom News on Youtube.

‘We're all Hamas," she said at the counter-protesters that had rallied outside the New York City university.

Students were also seen holding a sign with the face of Walid Daqqah, who died from cancer on April 7 in Israeli prison. Daqqah was commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine cell that kidnapped, tortured, and executed IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.

Students Supporting Israel Columbia claimed in a Friday statement that when the encampment was set up on the university campus on Wednesday, anti-Israel activists chanted, "We don't want Zionists here." Protesters reportedly threw fake blood at Jewish students outside the campus.

"We know where you live now," the activists called, according to SSI. "You killed half our family."
SSI said that on Friday, pro-Israeli counter-protesters were told to kill themselves, and some were approached by a person holding up the emblem of Hamas

I belong to them," said the student with the Hamas sigil, according to SSI. "You guys lost the war, man. We did a lot. From the river to the sea. And you will all be kicked out, you'll see. Soon. Sooner or later."

SSI said that the situation was untenable, as "Students’ rights to peacefully attend their university courses without fear of being accosted or assaulted on their way to class were denied."
The student group also reminded that political commentator Yoseph Haddad was attacked on Friday by an anti-Israel protestor before he was set to give them a lecture

"I was physically attacked by pro-terror protesters before my lecture at Columbia University," Haddad said on Instagram. "Instead of a lecture, I had to file a complaint with the police. They may have drawn blood, but these cowards will never stop me.”


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 20 Apr 2024, 8:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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20 Apr 2024, 8:38 pm

Thank you for updating this thread regularily.


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