Monday, December 23, 2019

Jewish Students Receive Protection from Aggression

Jewish Students Receive Protection from Aggression

by Steve Kramer

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement began on N. American college campuses during the previous administration. It’s just one of a number of campus campaigns aimed against Israel and Jewish students (others include Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine). They poison the minds of impressionable college students against Israel, Jews, and non-Jewish supporters of Israel. It uses programs and spectacles like the infamous campus “Apartheid week,” events which flood college campuses with Jew/Israel-hating propaganda. On a regular basis proponents of campus BDS disrupt or manage to prohibit “controversial” pro-Israel speakers, paradoxically using the 1st Amendment as justification. 

Among those whose speeches were disrupted or canceled are former ambassador to the US, Michael Oren; well-known lawyer and Constitutional scholar, Alan Dershowitz; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali-born Dutch American activist, writer, and politician.

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance - but it left a loophole by not mentioning religion. As such, Jews and supporters of Israel were not protected. On December 11, President Trump signed an Executive Order which includes Jews under existing Title VI protections against increasingly rampant campus aggression.

The President’s legally grounded declaration instantly received many condemnations, including from Jewish individuals and organizations. It has even been termed “racist.” In his succinct directive, Mr. Trump said antisemitism would henceforth be covered by the Civil Rights Ac, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin.” (Trump’s action doesn’t define Judaism as a nationality.)

Antisemitism (Jew/Israel-hatred) on campuses has become so prolific that Jewish students feel threatened, are threatened, or hide their Jewishness. A recent example: “Indiana University (IU) announced on Dec. 15 that the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity has been suspended after video footage emerged over the weekend of their members beating three Jewish students. The video footage shows 11 men beating up the three Jewish students — all of whom are members of IU’s Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) chapter — in front of a house on the evening of Dec. 13. The students suffered concussions from  the incident.” 

Immediately after the President’s initiative was announced, critics pounced: “Today, anti-Zionist Jewish and Palestinian groups hostile to Israel have mobilized to fight the White House’s expanded protections against anti-Semitism. It will now be more difficult for these groups to hide behind the ‘shield’ of human rights and free speech. That is why there is a long list lining up to denounce the Trump action and the IHRA (The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti- Semitism. They include far-Left groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, J Street, campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, Palestinian BDS Apartheid networks incited by the online Electronic Intifada, Palestinian expat academics, and student BDS warfare leaders.” (Dan Diker, 12/15/19,

There are also many examples of liberal Jewish criticism, many resulting, in my opinion, from the deep-seated rejection of anything promoted by President Trump. 
A few examples: 
“This is deeply objectionable, going back centuries in anti-Semitic thinking,” said Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel, who leads Temple Micah, a Reform congregation in Washington. ( … in Chicago, Rabbi Hara Person, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis [Reform Rabbinic leadership organization], said, “I’ve heard people say this feels like the first step toward us wearing yellow stars.” (

…the left-leaning J Street lobby group said in a statement that, “Trump’s executive order is a cynical, harmful measure designed to suppress free speech on college campuses, not fight anti-Semitism. This executive order, like the stalled congressional legislation it is based on, appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel.”( )

Other critics complain that coverage by Title VI implies that Jews are not American. This is rubbish. Are African Americans not American? If born to an American parent, a  black person is automatically an American too. The same can be said of any others born to an American parent. Therefore, if a Jewish person has an American parent, then American citizenship automatically applies, without reference to race, religion, or nationality. 

In its Twitter feed, the New York Times reported Trump’s action thus: "President Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality [sic], not just a religion, thus bolstering the Education Department's efforts to stamp out ‘Boycott Israel’ movements on college campuses."

Israeli columnist Carolyn Glick says that the New York Times’ tweet is, “… so off-base that it is impossible to view it as a mere misunderstanding by the paper of record for the liberal establishment. The assertion that Trump’s move "defined Judaism" smacks of cultural appropriation, and as such, it sounds like an act of aggression against Jews. By falsely claiming Trump defined Judaism as a nationality, the Times made it sound like Trump was saying that Jews aren’t American.”

In the Times of Israel’s summary article of the protection afforded to Jewish students by Trump’s declaration, it’s stated that in too many instances Jewish Americans, especially college students, are compelled to keep their heads down, or face abuse and harassment due to intimidation of Israelis, Israel, and by extension, Jews.
The most direct way to handle the problem is by applying the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to Jews, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of color, race and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance - which is almost every American college or university.

“Over the past several years, Congress made several attempts to amend Title VI to include anti-Jewish discrimination. These efforts enjoyed broad bipartisan support. But they were all blocked by members of the progressive camp inside the Democratic congressional caucus. Like the anti-Semitic boycott activists ostracizing Jews on campuses, the progressive lawmakers claimed that expansion of the protections of Title VI to include anti-Jewish discrimination would undermine the free speech rights of anti-Israel activists on campuses. That is, they said the rights of anti-Semites to preach anti-Semitism superseded the rights of Jewish students not to be harassed.”

Trump’s order makes it clear that Title VI applies to anti-Semitism as defined by the IHRA. That definition says anti-Semitism may include “targeting of the state of Israel conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” (

Shmuel Rosner, an editor at the Jewish Journal and a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, insists: “Jews were never merely the followers of a certain religion, they were always – both in their consciousness and the eyes of others – a people, which some would describe as a nation. Jewishness was always a combination of many things – religion, culture, and a sense of peoplehood and nationhood that binds them together.”

Jews are a people who identify with the religious and/or moral percepts of Judaism. Some Jews are secular, considering themselves “Jewish” only in the cultural sense. Regardless, today any Jew may be subject to harassment, especially during college years. The inclusion of Jews under Title VI’s protective umbrella is a welcome event, not some sort of calamity.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Op-Ed: The Rabbis of Silence

This op-ed was published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger's September 20 issue. It may also be found on the Jewish Ledger's website at

The Rabbis of Silence

By Alan Stein

During the 26 years since the start of the Oslo process, Israel has gone to lengths previously unimaginable to reach a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Warrior turned peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin was emphatic about never accepting a Palestinian Arab state, but every prime minister since has crossed that and other red lines.

Oslo required the PLO to renounce and fight against terrorism and settle all disagreements by negotiations. Israel turned over to the PLO the governance of 40% of Judea and Samaria (renamed the "West Bank" by Jordan) and almost all of Gaza. 95% of the Arabs in the disputed territories established their own government and, for most practical purposes, ended the so-called "occupation."

Regrettably, the PLO didn't change its stripes. Israel has faced several waves of Palestinian terrorism, including the epidemic of bus bombings in 1995-6, the terror offensive Arafat launched after torpedoing the Camp David talks in 2000, the knife intifada Mahmoud Abbas encouraged by asserting Jews have no right to "desecrate" the Temple Mount with their "filthy feet," and, since 2017, the weekly Hamas-organized riots in Gaza featuring attempts to breach the border fence along with explosive-laden balloons, kites and condoms.

A rational world would be standing strongly with Israel because it is both the moral and smart thing to do. When Palestinian Arab terrorists gain from attacking Israel, other terrorists are encouraged. This has led to atrocities in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, New York and elsewhere, even in capitals, such as Istanbul, Moscow and Tehran, of countries that themselves sponsor terror groups.

A healthy Jewish community would proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel, its support stronger than ever.

Perversely, precisely the opposite is the case.

Every time the Palestinians have said no to peace, support for them has grown and Israel criticized.

Every time the Palestinians have started another terror offensive, support for them has grown and Israel maligned.

Every time terrorists from Gaza launch another volley of rockets at Sderot, Ashkelon, Beersheva or Tel Aviv and Israel defends its people, our people, our Jewish brethren, Israel gets blamed and demonized.

Our Jewish community, rather than standing resolutely with Israel, now contains groups like J Street, which claims to be pro-Israel but seeks to undercut AIPAC and reserves almost all its criticism for Israel, giving not just succor but ammunition to those trying to destroy the Jewish state. It also contains openly anti-Israel groups such as IfNotNow and the diabolically named "Jewish Voice for Peace."

Psychiatrist and historian Kenneth Levin coined the term "Oslo Syndrome" to describe this phenomenon, which is related to "Stockholm Syndrome," where brutalized kidnap victims identify with their kidnapers.

As terrorism continues, Israel is increasingly demonized and the Oslo Syndrome is spreading. Some relatively new organizations, such as Stand With Us, have tried to step up to the plate. Christians United for Israel stands more strongly with the Jewish state than much of the Jewish community. In Connecticut, PRIMER (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) does its best to counter anti-Israel bias in the media, but it's a small, targeted, completely volunteer organization without the resources of national and international organizations.

Unfortunately, many of those older organizations have been reluctant to strongly support Israel. In 2006, the president and executive director of my own Jewish Federation adamantly opposed and defeated community efforts to hold a rally supporting Israel at the time Hezbollah was raining rockets on Israel's north.

For years, PRIMER has been trying to get our religious leaders to speak up publicly. We've tried to find rabbis willing to write articles, including op-eds, for newspapers on various Jewish holidays, educating the public and helping people understand the intimate connection between Judaism, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The number of willing rabbis we've recently found could be counted on one hand, with fingers left over.

Thus, I was surprised to see a letter published in the New Haven Register and Connecticut Post over the signatures of no fewer than 18 Connecticut rabbis. The rabbis slammed President Trump for his criticism of the Congresswomen comprising "The Squad," Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

Trump deserved rebuke, particularly for saying they should "go back where they came from." Yet I wonder why it was so important for those rabbis, so reticent about defending Israel from obsessive and unfair criticism, to en masse jump on Trump.

I wonder why those rabbis have been silent as Omar has insinuated Jews have dual loyalty and were buying off support of Congress with "Benjamins."

I wonder why those rabbis have been silent as Tlaib compared the antisemitic boycott of Israel to Americans boycotting Nazi Germany, rather than pointing out the appropriate analogy was to the Nazi boycott of Jews.

It takes no courage to criticize Trump, even though often deserved. He's a popular target. One more voice, or 18 more voices, makes little or no difference.

These days, it does take courage to defend Israel against the plethora of defamation directed at it. When it comes to defending Israel, every voice is needed and makes a difference.

I hope our rabbis are now finding their voices. With the High Holidays on the horizon, I hope to read rabbinical wisdom and support for Israel in every Connecticut newspaper. Respectfully, I submit that support for the Jewish people and the Jewish state is a rabbinic responsibility.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., is president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut, founder of PRIMER-Mass. and PRIMER-Israel, and former president of the Jewish Federation of Waterbury (now Jewish Federation of Western CT). He currently lives in Natick, Mass. and Netanya, Israel.

Alan Stein will discuss "Opportunities, Challenges and Revelations: A Journey from Waterbury, CT to a Life in Israel" on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., at the Jewish Federation of Western CT, 444 Main Street North in Southbury. For information: (203) 267-3177

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How Has Iran Been Violating the JCPOA? Let Me Count the Ways

This list of seven ways is courtesy of Peter Goodman. If we've missed any, let us know.

1. Iran exceeded the limits on heavy water at least twice. See, for example the Radio Free Europe article

2. Iran never came clean about its prior work on nuclear weapons. See, for example, PM Netanyahu presents conclusive proof of Iranian secret nuclear weapons program.

3. Even after the implementation of the JCPOA, Iran continued to try, and in some cases succeeded, in procuring illicit nuclear technology. See, for example, German
Intelligence: Iran Still Seeking Illicit Nuclear Technology.

4. Iran stored tons of illegal radioactive material in Tehran and then, when revealed by Israel, denied doing so and spread the material around to avoid detection. Despite being given the evidence by the Israeli government, the IAEA first refused to investigate and then delayed, apparently in the hope the evidence would be gone by the time they looked. However, that didn't work and the IAEA recently found evidence it could not cover up. See, for example, the July 11 Jerusalem Post article Material at Iran site, proving it broke deal - Report.

5. Iran, in direct violation of the JCPOA, procured replacements parts for the Arak reactor. Iran's Nuclear Chief Salehi: We Had Secretly Purchased Replacements for Nuclear Equipment That the JCPOA Had Required Us to Destroy; Yellowcake Production Facilities are Operational; We Are Advancing in Nuclear Propulsion. Watch the twitter video.

6. Iran failed to file reports to the IAEA based on their own SELF-INSPECTED data of their own sites. (Can you believe that the JCPOA allowed them to self-inspect?)

7. The head of Iran’s nuclear agency told lawmakers that Iran has enriched 24 metric tons of uranium since the 2015 nuclear deal was reached in clear violation of its terms.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Open letter to Needham Patch about Amnesty International's fanatical Zionophobia

The Needham Patch on July 10 published an article "TripAdvisor Criticized For Palestine Listings" without correcting any of Amnesty International's factual errors or balancing any of its virtually insupportable and biased assertions.

The article may be found at I sent the following letter to the Needham Patch at with a copy to the reporter, Jimmy Bentley, at

Dear Needham Patch and Jimmy Bentley:

I have long been disappointed by the way Amnesty International, an organization I used to admire, has lost its moral compass when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict and has, in effect if not intent, crossed the line into antisemitism. I was thus not surprised by one of AI's latest outrages, but am disappointed that it was reported empathetically in the Needham Patch with no corrections of the factual errors or caution about the bias or absurdity of AI's action and assertions.

I urge you to publish a followup in which you educate readers about those errors, absurdities and misrepresentations. I include below an analysis of some of those and, since my summer home is nearby, in Natick, I would be happy to meet with you and explain and discuss some of these issues in person.


Alan Stein
Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel
Founder, PRIMER-Massachusetts
Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting


The errors begin with the headline, "TripAdvisor Criticized For Palestine Listings," referring to "Palestine" as if it were a state. Even Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, clearly recognizes there is no such state, notwithstanding the way he has applied for and, incredibly received, recognition of status as a "non-member state" from the United Nations General Assembly. He often demands the establishment of the "state of Palestine" with a capital in "East Jerusalem," itself a non-existent "city;" obviously, there would be no need to establish "Palestine" if it already existed.

The article begins: "The world's largest human rights organization accused a local online travel company of 'profiting off war crimes' by listing hotels and other businesses at Israeli settlements in Palestine on its website." This once again refers to "Palestine" as if it were a state and ups the ante by referring to alleged but non-existent "war crimes," which it refers to again in the next paragraph when it quotes AI claiming TripAdvisor is "profiting off war crimes by listing tourist attractions and properties in illegal Israeli settlements."

While some claim the Jewish communities in the disputed territories, pejoratively referred to as "settlements," are "illegal," this is highly questionable and even if they were it they would hardly constitute "war crimes."

The San Remo Conference following World War I called for "close settlement" by Jews in what was then called Palestine; this resolution was approved by the League of Nations, giving it the status of international law, was incorporated into the founding documents of the United Nations, and has never been revoked. It would thus appear that Jewish settlement in the currently disputed territories is not only not illegal, but encouraged under international law. This should have been noted along with AI's questionable claim.

The absurdity of claiming that Jewish building in Jerusalem (inaccurately referred to as "occupied" by many) and the disputed territories is illegal is obvious if one considers the following.

The portions of Jerusalem militarily captured by Jordan in the 1948 war included the Jewish Quarter. Jordan kicked out all the Jews and destroyed all the synagogues. After Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, Jews moved back into the Jewish Quarter and many of the synagogues were rebuilt. To call that building in the Jewish Quarter "illegal" and a "war crime" is effectively sanitizing the violent ethnic cleansing carried out by Jordan and is patently absurd.

The same is true of the Etzion Bloc. In fact, many of those who moved to the Etzion Bloc after 1967 were members of some of the very families that were kicked out by Jordan, some being the very people who had been kicked out.

According to AI, returning to one's family's property and running a hotel or restaurant or renting an apartment there constitutes a "war crime" and when TripAdvisor lists one of those family businesses it is "profiting off war crimes."

Can you think of anything more absurd? Yet AI's claims were reported not just as if they weren't absurd, but relatively favorably.

The article, without comment, quotes Amnesty International's letter saying "The settlements have had a devastating impact on Palestinian communities over the past five decades, ... "

According to the World Health Organization, in 2015, life expectancy in the disputed territories was 72 years for males and 75 years for females. In 1967, it was 49 years.

Infant mortality is now 14.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 152 in the West Bank and 162 in Gaza in 1967. This hardly constitutes a "devastating impact."

AI continues: "To make way for their construction, Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian homes, forcibly displaced large portions of the population and diverted water and other Palestinian natural resources for settlement use."

Almost all Israeli construction has been on previously uninhabited land and takes up a miniscule portion, in the neighborhood of 1-2% of the disputed territories. There is rampant illegal construction by Arabs in the disputed territories, only a small portion of which has been demolished by the Israeli government. Hypocritically, the same people who criticize the destruction of illegal structures built by Arabs demand the destruction of structures built by Jews. I personally have Jewish friends who were forced by the Israeli government to demolish a home they had built because they hadn't obtained the required permits.

Israel also created important infrastructure, including roads, schools, hospitals and water resources, which had been neglected or was non-existent during the 19 years of Arab occupation. During the Oslo period, Israel has actually provided more water to the Palestinian Authority than called for by the accords, while the Palestinian Authority has not only declined to cooperate with Israel on the management of water resources but allowed activities, such as illegal drilling of wells, that has sabotaged the scarce shared resources.

AI continues: "By promoting tourism in these illegal settlements, TripAdvisor is boosting their economy, helping them to expand and contributing to the mass suffering they've caused."

Not only does AI once again incorrectly call the Jewish communities "illegal," but falsely claims they contribute to "mass suffering." In actuality, the Israeli recapture of the disputed territories was a boon to the Palestinian Arabs. I noted the amazing improvements  in life expectancy and infant mortality. The Jewish communities also provide employment opportunities that have been a godsend to many Arab workers and their families, with salaries paid on the Israeli scale, far higher than those paid by Arab companies or the Palestinian Authority.

Rather than "expanding," the Israeli government has authorized the construction of just one single new Jewish "settlement" since the Oslo process began a quarter century ago; the footprint of the Jewish communities has remained essentially unchanged.

According to the article, "Amnesty International argued TripAdvisor could be the leading voice against human rights violations if it drops the travel listings."

There are hundreds of territorial disputes in the world today; by ignoring others singling out the world's only Jewish state, one which has a strong claim to the disputed territory, which is in the Biblical Jewish homeland and was designated by the League of Nations to be part of the reestablished, sovereign Jewish state, AI is acting in a discriminatory, indeed antisemitic manner. It also effectively rewards the Palestinian Arabs for their refusal to make peace and their pathological commitment to terrorism; in this way, AI is actually encouraging human rights violations by other terror groups.

It is reasonable to report Amnesty International's actions, but it is not responsible or balanced to fail to note the factual errors or the strong counterarguments.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Israel-Gaza Conflict: Is There Hope segment on All Things Considered

The following comments were sent to NPR about the All Things Considered segment "Israel-Gaza Conflict: Is There Hope," broadcast on May 9, 2019. The transcript of the segment may be found at

From: Alan Stein
To: All Things Considered

Re: Israel-Gaza Conflict: Is There Hope (May 9, 2019, 4:07 PM)

I have some comments and questions about this segment.

• You repeatedly refer to "Palestinian militants." Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are terror organizations. Why do you not point that out? Firing 690 missiles into civilian areas constitutes 690 acts of terrorism? Why do you not use that word?

• Ari Shapiro uses the inaccurate term "cycle of violence," as if there is an equivalence between terrorist attacks (but Gaza terrorists) and the defense against terror attacks. It's not a "cycle of violence;" it's a cycle of terror attacks followed by reactions to the terror attacks.

• Daniel Estrin says "Israel considers Hamas to be an enemy out to destroy it." Why the insinuation that this is an opinion rather than an undisputed fact, declared by Hamas itself in its charter? Why did Ari Shapiro not point this out?

• Estrin also says "Hamas fires rockets to pressure Israel to lift its restrictions on Gaza." But Hamas started firing rockets long before there was the so-called "blockade." (Traditionally, blockades do not involve the blockader transferring massive amounts of humanitarian assistance, building materials, fuel and power to the enemy they are blockading.) Hamas also calls its weekly (and often more often) violent riots its "Great March of Return," meaning the "return" of millions of descendants of refugees to a place they've never lived, Israel, in order to destroy it.

Why do you not at least speculate that the reason Hamas wants the various restrictions eased is to make it easier to launch even more rockets at Israel?

• Estrin refers to allegedly banned items and notes "Israel's worried Hamas might use [them] to build military infrastructure." Why is it not pointed out that Hamas has already used those items to build not just military infrastructure like terror tunnels but weapons, like missiles?

• Estrin remarks that with border controls, "people can't go to work in Israel like they used to." There's irony in that remark, given that people in Gaza couldn't go to work in Israel before 1967 and it became hard for people from Gaza to work in Israel only after Gaza was taken over by the Palestinian Authority and terrorism became a massive problem. One wonders why a creative observer doesn't express the obvious inference that things were best in Gaza when it was governed by Israel.

• When will All Things Consider start considering the obvious question: why do so many in the world - sometimes it seems like virtually everyone in the world - expect Israel to provide for an entity from which it's continually attacked, governed by a terror organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel? Can you even find any similar situation in history?