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Brandeis student senate that declined to condemn Hamas doesn’t speak for us, say 2 student statements

(JTA) — The decision by Brandeis University’s student government senate to reject a resolution condemning Hamas is drawing significant dissent from within the university’s community.

Two statements published Tuesday aim to demonstrate that the vote Sunday night does not represent the majority view at the university, which was founded in 1948 by leaders of the U.S. Jewish community. One of the statements suggests that the vote did not even represent the majority view of the student government.

The first statement to appear was written and circulated by Eitan Marks, a senior and the president of Brandeis Hillel. Structured as an open letter, it had garnered more than 1,000 signatures by Thursday morning from current students and their families, university faculty and staff and alumni dating back to 1960. Brandeis Hillel has also signed it.

“We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the atrocious and barbaric Hamas terror attacks against the people of Israel this month, including many connected to the Brandeis community,” the letter begins. It adds, “Failure to denounce these atrocities without reservation is a moral stain.”

The letter goes on to commend Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz for his support for Israel, and calls on more campus leaders to speak out as well. Liebowitz put out statements on Oct. 7, the day of Hamas’ attack on Israel, and again this week, emphasizing that Brandeis supports Israel’s right to defend itself.

“I’m really proud of our students for mobilizing so quickly,” Rabbi Seth Winberg, the executive director of Brandeis Hillel, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Winberg also signed the letter.

The second statement, from by the Brandeis Undergraduate Student Union, similarly condemns Hamas. It was emailed to all undergraduate students Wednesday afternoon and posted on social media.

Brandeis’ government, called the Student Union, consists of five branches, including a senate that passes legislation and an executive board that oversees the entire government. The senate — which voted down the resolution condemning Hamas 6-10, with five abstentions — typically sets policy positions for the entire Student Union.

The Student Union letter suggests that the Marks’ letter was a better barometer of sentiment than the senate vote.

“We agree wholeheartedly with this statement and the need to support our community during this time,” reads the Student Union’s letter, referring to the letter written by Marks.

“We want to send a message to all of our students, including our Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students, we are here to support you,” it continues. “We are here for you as your student government.”

Marks told JTA that he viewed the Student Union’s letter as an important corrective at a challenging time.

“It is clear that on this issue, the vote of a few students on the student government does not actually represent the Brandeis community,” Marks told JTA via email, referring to the senate vote. “I am glad they corrected their mistake and unequivocally condemned Hamas terrorism. Brandeis is, and will always be the best university for Jewish students in the United States.”

But Stephan Gaughan, a Jewish sophomore who resigned from Brandeis’ student government over the senate’s decision, told JTA that the overwhelming response he has heard from students on campus is that the Student Union’s letter is “too little too late.”

Gaughan signed the student-led letter but said he finds it troubling that the student government letter is not signed by any individuals by name. (He did note that Student Union President Noah Risley shared the letter on Instagram.)

“I’m glad to see a statement, but I think what we need right now is transparency,” Gaughan said. “Specifically as to whom in the union this represents.”

The Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel student group, released a statement on Tuesday rejecting the senate’s decision. “BIPAC is disappointed and frightened by the decision of our Student Union against adopting the proposed resolution to condemn ‘all acts of terrorism, violence and hatred,’” the statement reads. The group called on Brandeis students to “be loud about your commitment to human rights.”

Many campuses have been roiled since Oct. 7 over their leaders’ handling of Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s ensuing war against the terror group in Gaza. Some have seen donors cut off funding to protest responses that they perceived as insufficiently supportive of Israel or Jewish students.

Aside from the senate vote, Gaughan said the campus response to Hamas’ attack has been largely in support of Israel and Brandeis’ Jewish community, which includes about a third of undergraduates. He said there have been isolated incidents of anti-Israel graffiti on campus.

A university spokesperson told JTA there have been no demonstrations on campus in support of Hamas and noted that in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks, multiple vigils have been organized by Jewish and Israeli students.

The campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which drew national attention when it held a rally on campus in February, has not advertised on-campus activity on its Instagram page. It participated in a Boston-wide pro-Palestinian rally on Sunday and on Tuesday initiated an open letter of its own.

The letter, whose signatories have not been made public, denounces the “the Israeli genocide” and says Brandeis’ founding “by the American Jewish community that has experienced anti-semitism and genocide for decades by white supremacists” requires the university to stand with Palestinians now.

“Realistically, we realize that the school cannot and will not show any support for Palestine,” the SJP letter says. “However, the least we can expect as advocates for Palestinian students on campus is acknowledgment of the suffering that they and their families have been going through for the past 75 years.” The letter also asks for special resources for Palestinian and Muslim students, including an Arab social worker at the university counseling center.

The post Brandeis student senate that declined to condemn Hamas doesn’t speak for us, say 2 student statements appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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US ‘Strongly Opposes’ China-Brokered Deal to Form Palestinian Unity Government With Terrorist Groups

Mahmoud al-Aloul, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of Palestinian organization and political party Fatah, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Mussa Abu Marzuk, senior member of the Palestinian terror movement Hamas, attend an event at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on July 23, 2024. Photo: Pedro Pardo/Pool via REUTERS

The US on Tuesday said it “strongly opposes” a Beijing-brokered declaration signed earlier in the day by the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah movement and the Hamas terror group, aimed at reconciling their longstanding divisions and establishing a unity government to manage Gaza after the war.

The declaration, which was also signed by more than a dozen other Palestinian factions, is seen as a symbolic win for China’s role as a global mediator, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi describing it as a “historic moment for the cause of Palestine’s liberation.” However, doubts linger about its effectiveness in addressing the years-long rift between the groups.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responded to the announcement, saying Hamas had “blood on its hands, of Israelis and of Palestinians,” and could not be in any leadership role.

“When it comes to governance of Gaza at the end of the conflict, there can’t be a role for a terrorist organization,” Miller said.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) — which currently exercises limited self-governance in the West and has long been riddled with allegations of corruption and authoritarianism — should be in control of both the West Bank and Gaza, Miller said, adding that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), unlike Hamas, had renounced terrorism.

The PLO is a coalition of Palestinian factions, including Fatah.

“If you look at the death and destruction that Hamas’ decision to launch the attacks of Oct. 7 has brought on Gaza, they have — there’s no one that has brought more pain and suffering to the people in Gaza than Hamas through their decisions — first to launch the attacks of Oct. 7, and then their ongoing decision, which continues today, to hide among civilian communities and use civilians as human shields.”

Miller also addressed China’s role in the mediation, saying that the US has generally encouraged China to leverage its influence with regional countries, especially those where the US has less sway, to prevent conflict escalation. One example was the Chinese-mediated deal last year restoring ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US also urged China to discourage both Iran from financing proxies attacking Israel and the Houthis from targeting commercial shipping. “We have asked China to use its influence to try to bring those attacks to an end, and we’ll continue to do that,” Miller said.

Tuvia Gering, a China and Middle East analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, said the move is part of China’s effort to rival the US by building alliances with developing nations as well as the Arab and Muslim world to prioritize its interests and stifle Western dominance.

China is “challenging America in every space possible as a new type of major power that takes in the considerations of the Global South and the coalitions of those oppressed by imperialism and Western hegemony” to create “a new global order,” he told The Algemeiner.

Gering condemned Beijing’s move, saying it “normalized terrorism” and will embolden the Palestinians into further intransigence in talks for any future peace accord.

“Until today, China failed to criticize [the Palestinians] and put all the onus onto Israel. This means effectively that the Palestinians will only adhere to the most maximalist positions in negotiations for the two state solution [which] will become even more of a distant reality,” Gering told The Algemeiner.

Gering also predicted that the “golden age” of China-Israel relations, which burgeoned over the last decade with the inking of major bilateral deals, was over because of China’s decision to “legitimize terror” since Oct. 7. Gering warned that moving forward, Israeli strategy in the region must also take China into account.

Gering expressed doubts that the declaration signed on Tuesday would lead to any major developments, noting “a large amount of skepticism” in the Arab world.

Indeed, the declaration gave no outline for how or when a new unity Palestinian government would be formed.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, which was also a signatory on the declaration, issued a statement later in the day outlining its demand for all factions in any future unity government to reject recognition of Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz blasted the agreement, saying it underscored Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ embrace of “the murderers and rapists” of Hamas, which rules Gaza.

“In reality, this won’t happen because Hamas’ rule will be crushed, and Abbas will be watching Gaza from afar. Israel’s security will remain solely in Israel’s hands,” Katz said.

In his statement, Wang reiterated China’s commitment to a “comprehensive, lasting, and sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza and advocated for an “international peace conference” aimed at pursuing a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dina Lisnyansky, an expert in Middle East affairs and Islam, warned that while the deal may not come to fruition, China’s role is of growing concern for Israel. Egypt and Algeria — both mediators in failed past attempts at rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas — were far weaker than China as regional actors. “When China sets its sights on something it usually achieves its goals, so it should worry us greatly,” Lisnyansky told The Algemeiner.

Lisnyansky also said that Israel should sanction the PA for signing the declaration. “Israel should negate any entity that has any ties at all to Hamas, which needs to lose both its authority and legitimacy.”

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Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics

And who has the best chance of medalling in Paris.

The post Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President

US Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Following US President Joe Biden’s stunning exit from the 2024 presidential race, allies of Israel are looking for clues as to how Vice President Kamala Harris, the new presumptive Democratic nominee, could approach issues affecting the Jewish state if she were to win the White House in November.

Harris’s previous statements reveal a mixed record on Israel, offering signs of both optimism and pessimism to pro-Israel advocates.

Though Harris has voiced support for the Jewish state’s right to existence and self defense, she has also expressed sympathy for far-left narratives that brand Israel as “genocidal.” The vice president has additionally often criticized Israel’s war effort against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

In 2017, while giving a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), then-Senator Harris delivered a 19-minute speech in which she showered praise on Israel, stating that she supports “the United States’ commitment to provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.” Harris stated that America has “shared values” with Israel and that the bond between the two nations is “unbreakable.”

In 2020, while giving another speech to AIPAC, Harris emphasized that US support for Israel must remain “rock solid” and noted that Hamas “maintains its control of Gaza and fires rockets.”

Despite such statements of support, however, Harris has previously exhibited a degree of patience for those who make baseless smears against Israel. 

In October 2021, when confronted by a George Mason University student who angrily accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide” against Palestinians, Harris quietly nodded along and then praised the student. 

“And again, this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard,” Harris told the student. 

Following Hamas’ slaughter of 1,200 people and kidnapping of 250 others across southern Israel on Oct. 7, Harris has shown inconsistent support for the Jewish state. Although she initially backed Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas’ terrorism, she has also levied sharp criticism against the Jewish state’s ensuing war effort in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

During a call with then-Israeli war cabinet leader Benny Gantz earlier this year, Harris suggested that the Jewish state has recklessly imperiled the lives of Palestinian civilians while targeting Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

“Far too many Palestinian civilians, innocent civilians have been killed,” Harris said. 

The same month, while delivering a speech commemorating the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Harris called the conditions in Gaza “devastating.”

“And given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks,” Harris said.

While speaking with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover in April, Harris shared “deep concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and discussed steps to increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians and ensure its safe distribution.”

Harris also pushed the unsubstantiated narrative that Israel has intentionally withheld aid from the people of Gaza, triggering a famine. 

“People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane. And our common humanity compels us to act,” Harris said. “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid.”

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, released a report in June arguing that there is not enough “supporting evidence” to suggest that a famine has occurred in Gaza.

Harris has also expressed sympathy for anti-Israel protesters on US university campuses. In an interview published earlier this month, Harris said that college students protesting Israel’s defensive military efforts against Hamas are “showing exactly what the human emotion should be.”

“There are things some of the protesters are saying that I absolutely reject, so I don’t mean to wholesale endorse their points,” she added. “But we have to navigate it. I understand the emotion behind it.”

Some indicators suggest that Harris could adopt a more antagonistic approach to the Jewish state than Biden. For example, Harris urged the White House to be more “sympathetic” toward Palestinians and take a “tougher” stance against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Politico report in December. In March, White House aides forced Harris to tone down a speech that was too tough on Israel, according to NBC News.

Later, she did not rule out “consequences” for Israel if it launched a large-scale military offensive to root out Hamas battalions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, citing humanitarian concerns for the civilian population.

Harris initially called for an “immediate ceasefire” before Biden and has often used more pointed language when discussing the war, Israel, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, her advisers have sought to downplay the notion that she may be tougher on the Jewish state.

“The difference is not in substance but probably in tone,” one of Harris’s advisers told The Nation.

Meanwhile, Halie Soifer, who served as national security adviser to Harris during the then-senator’s first two years in Congress, said the current vice president’s support for Israel has been just as strong as Biden’s. “There really has been no daylight to be found” between the two, she told Reuters.

Still, Biden, 81, has a decades-long history of maintaining relationships with Israeli leaders and recently called himself a “Zionist.” Harris, 59, does not have such a connection to the Jewish state and maintains closer ties to Democratic progressives, many of whom have increasingly called for the US to turn away — or at least adopt a tougher approach toward — Israel

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that Harris would be a far less reliable ally than Biden, pointing to her ideological alignment with the most progressive lawmakers in Congress. 

“Biden made many mistakes regarding Israel, but he is miles ahead of Harris in terms of support for Israel,” Friedman told The Jerusalem Post. “She is on the fringe of the progressive wing of the party, which sympathizes more with the Palestinian cause.”

“This will move Jewish voters to the Republican side,” the former ambassador argued. “Harris lacks any affinity for Israel, and the Democratic Convention will highlight this contrast. This could lead to a historic shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.”

Meanwhile, J Street, a progressive Zionist organization, eagerly endorsed Harris the day after Biden dropped out of the presidential race, citing her “nuanced, balanced approach” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflictt.

“Kamala Harris has been a powerful advocate for J Street’s values in the White House, from the fight against antisemitism to the need for a nuanced, balanced approach on Israel-Palestine,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. “She’s been a steadfast supporter of hostage families and Israel’s security, while also being a leading voice for the protection of Palestinian civilians and the need to secure an urgent ceasefire.”

The post Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President first appeared on

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