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‘Unconscionable’: Major Academic Association Endorses Call for Ceasefire in Gaza

Illustrative New York University students stage a protest in Washington Square Park in Manhattan to oppose Israel and call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 25, 2023. Photo: Gordon Donovan/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an academic professional organization, endorsed a labor union coalition’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza on Wednesday, according to Inside Higher Ed,

“We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege in Gaza,” says the statement the group endorsed. “We cannot bomb our way to peace. We also condemn any hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else.”

Despite pressing for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas — a measure which pro-Israel activists have criticized for its potential to forestall eradicating Hamas from the Palestinian territories — the statement also call for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza. It also urged that “water, fuel, and food” be transported to Gaza without restrictions.

“Both Hamas and Israel must adhere to standards of international law and Geneva Convention rules of warfare concerning the welfare and security of civilians,” it continued. “The cycle of  violence must stop so that negotiations for an enduring peace proceed.”

Founded in 1915 by John Dewey and Arthur Oncken Lovejoy, the American Association of University Professors comprises over 370,000 members from higher education institutions across the US. Once regarded as a bulwark against attempts to politicize higher education, it has, in recent years been disparaged — by nonprofits such as the National Association of Scholars (NAS),  for example —  for allegedly becoming a shamelessly partisan advocacy group for the far-left.

Following Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, which included hundreds of murders of civilians and sexual assaults, two-and-a-half weeks passed before the AAUP commented on the ensuing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and, when it did, the group said nothing about the terrorist group’s atrocities but discussed the importance of academic freedom. At the time, dozens of professors were denounced for cheering Hamas’ violence and encouraging extreme anti-Zionist demonstrations in which masses of students and faculty called for the elimination of the Jewish state “from the river to the sea,” which is widely considered genocidal.

On Wednesday, Middle East experts told The Algemeiner that AAUP’s endorsing a ceasefire further accentuates the group’s political biases.

“The AAUP has once again shown its true bias colors by signing onto a call by multiple American labor unions for a ‘ceasefire in Israel and Palestine,’ Asaf Romirowsky, who serves as executive director of both Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), said in a statement.

He continued, “The AAUP thinks Hamas can become an organization that behaves accordingly with international and humanitarian norms, which is absurd. The evidence of the Nazi-Islamist barbarism of Oct. 7 clearly shows otherwise and highlights the AAUP’s disconnect from the reality of the conflict in the Middle East.”

Miriam Elman, executive director of Academic Engagement Network, an organization which promotes academic freedom, also criticized the AAUP on Tuesday, explaining that it endorsed a false and “unconscionable” equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

“The AAUP is exceeding its mandate and mission by adopting a particular political position on the Israel-Hamas war,” Elman said. “The AAUP could be a leader in condemning and combating the ongoing ostracism, shunning, and boycotting of Israeli scholars and researcher, which has increased markedly since October 7. Instead its leadership is spending its time lending the AAUP’s name to a poorly worded, politicized statement.”

AAUP has commented on politically contentious matters before. In 2020, after the killing of George Floyd sparked protests across the US, the group said “it affirmed that Black lives matter and that the association is committed to addressing systemic racism in higher education and working toward racial justice.”

However, it has consistently opposed efforts to combat extreme anti-Zionist rhetoric.

In March 2022 it issued a statement which denounced the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, used by hundreds of entities to identify antisemitic conduct and speech, alleging that it “privileges the political interests of the state of Israel and suppresses discussion and activism on behalf of Palestinian rights.” In the same communication, the AAUP criticized the state of Florida for adopting the IHRA definition in legislation regarding public K-12 schools and colleges, describing the law and others like as “legislative attacks…presented in the guise of protecting students from discrimination.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips

After a weekend overnight shutdown of Israeli airspace, during which time Iranian missiles and drones attacked the country, Canadians ware cautiously optimistic that travel to and from Ben Gurion Airport will resume regular schedules later this week. Air Canada cancelled departures from Toronto on Saturday and from Tel Aviv on Monday—the latter despite the airport […]

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

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