CUFI Sunday Afternoon Must-Reads: April 24, 2016

CUFI Sunday Must-Reads

This week’s CUFI Must-Read Articles of the Week focus on the dangers of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. This weekend, our Christians United for Israel On Campus (CUFI On Campus) leadership held another of the four anti-BDS boot camps they are holding this year to equip students with the tools they need to defeat BDS on their college campuses. To learn more about the BDS movement, visit www.cufi.org/smallgroups to view our CUFI Small Group Studies – including one on the BDS movement.

Birds of a Feather? The Link Between BDS and Hamas

Naïve college students are due for a wake-up call

By Ziva Dahl

The terrorist organization Hamas and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) share a common goal: The elimination of the Jewish State of Israel—one with rockets, tunnels, suicide bombers and explosives placed to kill the maximum number of civilians; the other with words and actions to demonize Israel, turning it into a pariah not worthy of its own state in the Middle East.

The Hamas Charter states, “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it…. There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.” Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq openly admits that the ultimate goal of BDS is to destroy Israel and calls for escalating BDS “to isolate the occupation and end the existence of its usurper entity.”

Palestinian Omar Barghouti, a founding member of BDS, contends, “A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian… most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine….Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself.”

In their own words, there is no daylight between the ultimate objective of Hamas and BDS

Since the goals of Hamas and BDS intersect, it’s not surprising that former U.S. Treasury terrorism analyst Jonathan Schanzer recently testified before two subcommittees of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about a troubling link between a major American funder of the U.S. BDS campaign and the terrorist organization Hamas.

Using available “open source” information, it’s possible to examine past associations of individuals now active in American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a major supporter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the campus arm of the American BDS movement. From this data, Mr. Schanzer, now working for the Foundation in Defense of Democracies (FDD), concluded that “at least seven individuals who work for or on behalf of AMP have worked for or on behalf of organizations previously shut down or held civilly liable in the United States for providing financial support to Hamas: the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Kind Hearts Foundation for Humanitarian Development” (KindHearts).

According to Mr. Schanzer’s testimony, the U.S. Treasury, in 2001, designated HLF the U.S. financing arm of Hamas. From 1995 to 2001, “HLF sent approximately $12.4 million outside of the United States with the intent to willfully contribute funds, goods, and services to Hamas.” Seven officials were indicted and the organization was closed down. Three individuals from HLF now work for or on behalf of AMP: Hossein Khatib, a board member for AMP and former regional director for HLF; Jamal Said, keynote speaker at AMP fundraisers and an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial against HLF; and Salah Sarsour, AMP board member who spent eight months in an Israeli jail for his Hamas activity.

Islamic Association for Palestine also raised money and provided material support for Hamas in America. IAP was found civilly liable in federal district court for supporting Hamas and it subsequently disbanded. FDD discovered that four former IAP operatives now are involved with AMP: Rafeeq Jaber, former president of IAP and current representative and tax preparer for AMP; Sufian Nabhan, AMP board member and IAP’s former Michigan representative; Osama Abu Irshaid, current National Coordinator for AMP and former editor of IAP’s newspaper; and Abdelbasset Hamayel, previously IAP’s secretary general and KindHearts’ Illinois representative and now a director for AMP. The U.S. Treasury froze KindHearts’ assets for providing support for terrorism and it disbanded.

Working closely with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) provides money, speakers, training, printed materials and campus coordinators to student activists. It spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014. AMP is a corporate not-for-profit, but not a federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. It uses the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation (AJP) as a fiscal sponsor, gives its money to AJP, who then disburses it to SJP and other BDS groups—a very convenient relationship that limits transparency. Read the rest at The Observer.

BDS Move At NYU Tears Apart Student Union

By Hannah Dreyfus

Story Update 4/22/16: The GCOS referendum vote to join the global BDS movement to boycott Israeli institutions and companies until Israel “ends the military occupation” passed with 66.5 percent of the vote. 645 students, representing approximately 38 percent of the current student union membership, cast votes. The additional referendum to join an academic boycott of Israeli institutions passed with 57.6 percent of the student vote. Results were announced on Friday morning.

A new BDS initiative at NYU is calling for the university to close its program at Tel Aviv University, a measure far more extreme than any urged in previous petitions, The Jewish Week has learned.

The new referendum, drafted by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), a union of graduate employees at NYU, is being voted on this week. Results of the vote will be announced on Friday, the first night of Passover. The referendum calls on the university to divest Israeli state institutions and companies, and encourages members to make an “individual commitment” to participate in an extensive academic boycott of Israeli institutions, in addition to shuttering the Tel Aviv program.

The resolution reads, in part: “I will personally adhere to the academic boycott, by refusing to take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, publications or other activities that are sponsored by or require official affiliation with the Israeli government or Israeli academic institutions.”

According to graduate student Samuel Zerin, this is the first time GSOC, initially created to negotiate fair workers’ rights for graduate student employees, has ever called for an academic boycott.

“There’s something very different about this,” said Zerin, 29, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Arts and Science and a member of GSOC. “NYU has campuses all over the world, in locations with severe human rights violations, but there has never been a call to divest. Israel is being singled out in a very extreme manner.”

In response to the new BDS initiative, 10 Jewish graduate students came together over the past few weeks to mobilize a counter-plan. After creating a caucus for graduate students who oppose BDS, the core group encouraged 180 students to join the union in order to cast votes against the referendum.

However, members of the GSOC who support divestment have actively tried to stem the flow of new applicants, said Ilana Ben Ezra, one of the students involved in the counter-efforts. Of the 18 “stewards,” or graduate student leaders, who run the union, none of them oppose BDS, she said.

“There’s been a lot of fishy red-tape about who can register, who can’t — changing dates about when registration cards have to be in. It’s made it very difficult for us to mobilize,” said Ben Ezra, a first year Ph.D. student in the history and Judaic studies department.

Still, even more concerning than the far-reaching BDS referendum is the manner in which the GSOC has been “co-opted” to serve an “unrelated political purpose,” instead of functioning to serve the graduate student body, she said.

“The union is being used as a platform for BDS, which is absolutely not its purpose,” Ben Ezra charged. “The union is intended to ensure fair working conditions for graduate student employees. How can we succeed in our actual purpose if we are being divided over irrelevant issues?”

Maya Wind, a member of GSOC who supports the BDS resolution, believes the union’s parent organization, the United Autoworkers Union Local 2110 Executive Board, is actively trying to suppress the BDS vote. In a complicating controversy, the “local” elected several new stewards to the GSOC last week. Several of the new members openly opposed the BDS referendum, infuriating members who had been working on the initiative since last November.

“Such strong-armed interference in the election process is unprecedented in the union,” Wind told The Jewish Week.

Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, executive director of the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, said the controversy has left him “astonished.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “This level of discord within a student union is unprecedented.” Read more at The Jewish Week.

Terror Victims Win Supreme Court Judgment against Iran

Iran Has Not Changed Graphic

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a judgment allowing families of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism to collect nearly $2 billion.

The court on Wednesday ruled 6-2 in favor of relatives of the 241 Marines who died in a 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut and victims of other attacks that courts have linked to Iran.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the court rejecting efforts by Iran’s central bank to try to stave off court orders that would allow the relatives to be paid for their losses.

Iran’s Bank Markazi complained that Congress was intruding into the business of federal courts when it passed a 2012 law that specifically directs that the banks’ assets in the United States be turned over to the families.

The law, Ginsburg wrote, “does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented. “The authority of the political branches is sufficient; they have no need to seize ours,” Roberts wrote.

More than 1,300 people are among the relatives of the victims of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 1996 terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 service members, and other attacks that were carried out by groups with links to Iran. The lead plaintiff is Deborah Peterson, whose brother, Lance Cpl. James C. Knipple, was killed in Beirut.

Congress has repeatedly changed the law in the past 20 years to make it easier for victims to sue over state-sponsored terrorism; federal courts have ruled for the victims. But Iran has refused to comply with the judgments, leading lawyers to hunt for Iranian assets in the United States. Read the rest at Fox News.

Meltdown At College Debate Championships Over Palestinian Terror Resolution

US DEBATING CHAMPSThe 2016 U.S. Universities Debating Championship, which took place at Morehouse College in Atlanta over the weekend, was marred by controversy after one of the propositions to be debated was revealed to be “This House Believes That Palestinian Violence Against Israeli Civilians Is Justified,” a decision that led to some participants to walk out.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a frequent topic at college debate tournaments — past prompts have included whether a Jewish state should have been created somewhere other than the Middle East, and whether Israel should have unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Other past championship questions have also had the potential to cause offense, such as arguing over whether the feminist movement has a right to exclude trans women.

But the wording of the question for the sixth of eight opening rounds was criticized for forcing half of all participants, who are assigned their viewpoints, to argue in favor of committing terror attacks on specific civilians. People who spoke to The Tower said they believed the wording of the question to be unprecedented. The debate prompt was especially distressing for participants who were Jewish or otherwise had ties to Israel, as they may have been forced to choose between losing crucial points in the national championship and advocating for murdering people they knew.

The debate format gives participants 15 minutes between announcing the subject and beginning the debate. “Once the topic is released, debaters are probably not going to react immediately, because they are on a timed clock,” Jessica Weiss, a second-year student at Willamette University who attended the tournament, explained to The Tower. “Once my partner and I got the topic, we immediately started walking to [our assigned] room in a rush. I was shocked, a lot of people were shocked. We were opposing the topic, so it wasn’t as bad for me, but I was still emotionally affected by it. I was tearing up and my partner was trying to calm me down.”

“I cried during most of the preparation time,” Weiss said. “It was sourced from my personal experiences being [in Israel]. But I’ve debated many controversial topics before, and I just kept telling myself this is just another one.” Weiss said that she that by the time the debate was scheduled to begin, she was emotionally as well as intellectually prepared — the fact that competitors only had 15 minutes to prepare to discuss a controversial subject pertaining to a complicated region meant that “a lot of people didn’t know what they were talking about. … There was a general lack of knowledge in that round.”

“[When the topic was announced] I was in the highest-ranked room of the tournament, with one of the chief adjudicators judging me,” Stanford debater Harry Elliott, who was assigned to argue in favor of the motion, told The Tower. “My first instinct was to drop out and walk out.” But as part of a high-ranking team that had traveled all the way from California, “we felt a pretty strong obligation to get on with the round…so [we] ran the case in the way we deemed most acceptable.”

Multiple sources told The Tower that they had heard reports of people crying in the middle of their presentations because they were so uncomfortable giving speeches in favor of the motion.

Some debaters who were assigned the “pro” position tried to turn the debate into a discussion of the morality of terrorism in general, or the acceptability of Palestinian lethal self-defense from Jewish terrorist attacks. But many participants were penalized by judges for not specifically discussing the issue of targeting Israeli civilians, a judge who refused to participate in the debate told The Tower. That judge, who is a college student, asked not to be named because he was concerned that being seen as sympathetic towards Israel would affect his future job prospects.

Ironically, a forum on “safe spaces” was cut short in order to announce the controversial debate prompt. The announcement led to an outcry among some participants, who asked that the debate be postponed and a new prompt given. But at that point, most participants had already headed to their assigned rooms to begin prepping for the debate. The “equity officer,” who was in charge of fair and equitable treatment for all debate participants, agreed that the subject was unacceptable and said that participation in that round should be optional, according to a recounting of events on the tournament’s Facebook page. But the officer added that she did not have the capability to inform participants of that decision so close to the scheduled commencement of the debate.

Nearly every debater completed the round, but around 30 people submitted “equity violation” notices to the equity officer after the round’s conclusion, Weiss told The Tower – including a Palestinian-American on the Willamette team. Some teams even decided to leave the tournament early. A meeting was scheduled to discuss the appropriateness of the question, the judge said, but it was postponed twice and then moved to an online forum. Read the rest at The Tower.

I Believe in the Power of Prayer

Many of you know Akaya Lee Kitchen because of her incredibly inspiring speech at our Christians United for Israel Washington Summit in 2013. 

By Akaya Kitchen

“And she said: ‘Oh, my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.” I Samuel 1:26 (The Israel Bible™)

There is a great movement of prayer for Israel amongst today’s Christians. Tens of thousands pray regularly for Israel, for the protection and safety of the nation, for the wisdom and guidance of her leaders, and certainly for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalms 122:6).

Some might ask the question: “Why?” Why would anyone take time to pray for Israel? Some may think that the efforts are futile, simply a deed to help Christians feel like they’ve done something for Israel, a deed that has neither born any real fruit nor made any real impact.

The Bible gives great examples of the power of prayer throughout Israel’s history. My personal favorite example of this power is when Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still, and they both stood still until Israel won victory in the fight against their enemies (the account can be found in Joshua 10).

I am encouraged by another account that details how the prophet Elijah prayed to the Lord for a miracle and the Lord caused fire to fall and consume a sacrifice, altar and water, which in turned caused people to declare that the Lord is God:

And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.’

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’ (1 Kings 18:36-39)

The Lord also heard the cry of King Hezekiah when he turned his face to the wall and asked the Lord to grant him more time to live. The Lord’s response to the king through the prophet Isaiah is encouraging:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you…I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.’” (from 2 Kings 20).

I believe in the power of prayer because the Lord hears and answers prayers. “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them” (Psalms 145:18-19).

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalms 34:15).

Still today I believe the Lord hears and answers the prayers of thousands around the globe because the Lord even said of Himself, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). I believe the Lord is hearing and answering the prayers that go up on Israel’s behalf. And I believe we will see people declare that “the Lord, He is God!” because He will answer the prayers of those interceding for Israel.

Read the rest at Breaking Israel News.