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What Do Israel’s Critics Demand of the Palestinians?

An aerial view shows the bodies of victims of an attack following a mass infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip lying on the ground in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

Earlier this week, the Telegraph published an op-ed by Ben Wallace, Conservative MP and former Defense Minister (“Netanyahu’s tactics are weakening Israel,” Dec. 17).

Though Wallace condemns Hamas unequivocally, calls the group out on their antisemitic charter, admits that a “ceasefire” is meaningless as long as the terror group is in power, he also resorts to cliches illustrating his failure to understand the history of the conflict. For instance, he warns that Israel’s “disproportionate response” will serve as Hamas’s “best recruiting sergeant,” and that the war — which he describes as the IDF’s “crude and indiscriminate method of attack” — will alienate “moderate Palestinians who do want a two-state solution.”

First, as so many commentators have done over the years, Wallace denies Palestinians agency by suggesting that it’s Israelis, and not Palestinians themselves, who are responsible for shaping Palestinian attitudes towards peace and two states. It also erases the history of the conflict, in which Palestinian terror and extremism often peaked at times when Jerusalem was offering dramatic concessions for peace.

This includes the dramatic increase in terror attacks inside Israel by Hamas and other groups in the 1990s amidst the hope fueled by the Olso Accords, as well as the terror campaign known as the Second Intifada which, lets remember, broke out just as Israeli leaders were offering dramatic concessions that — if not turned down by Yasser Arafat — would have resulted in the creation of a Palestinian state.

The Second Intifada example is especially instructive, as those, like Wallace, who moan about Israeli counter-terror actions putatively causing Palestinians to be disenchanted with peace and co-existence never acknowledge the impact of destructive Palestinian decisions on Israeli views. For instance, the brutal war by Palestinian terror groups on Israeli civilians from 2000-2005 arguably did more to crush the Israeli peace movement than any other event since Oslo.

Similarly, Hamas’ rise to power occurred shortly after Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, a timeline that wasn’t lost on those on the Israeli left and center, most of whom assumed that the country’s unilateral disengagement from the territory would result in greater peace. “Moderate Israelis,” to use Wallace’s formulation, were alienated by Palestinian decisions to reward Israeli concessions with more violence.

Wallace’s blind spot and double standards also extend to his failure to empathize with the unimaginable shock and trauma Israelis have experienced as the result of the savage murder, rape, torture, and mutilation of Jews on October 7, the worst antisemitic attack since the Holocaust.

Most of those living in the Gaza envelope communities decimated by Hamas terrorists, let’s remember, were on the political left, a good number of whom were engaged in peace projects with Palestinians.

Many residents of those in towns, like Be’eri and Kfar Aza, who weren’t murdered on that horrific day can’t help but reconsider their assumption that most Palestinians long for peace, in light of the atrocity itself, widespread Palestinian support for Hamas’ savagery, and videos showing the rapturous reception in Gaza for terrorists returning from their killing campaign, with their brutalized Jewish victims being presented as trophies.

Indeed, it’s been reported that some Palestinians who worked in the Israeli kibbutzim targeted by Hamas on Oct. 7 took part in the atrocities, while other workers allegedly used their access to those communities to gather intelligence for Hamas, “from the layout of homes to entry codes for the kindergartens.”

As Ilanit Suissa, a survivor of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and (former) self-described peacenik, told the Jewish News, “My heart is not just broken because of the Holocaust that took place here, but also because my whole agenda and ideology has broken down. I don’t know what to believe any more.”

Note that Suissa wasn’t “radicalized” by the Hamas massacre. She merely responded in a healthy way to the cognitive dissonance she experienced as a result of her strongly held beliefs clashing with reality. Moreover, Israeli society as a whole — despite the immeasurable trauma of Oct. 7 — hasn’t turned to extremism, with polls showing that a centrist coalition would trounce the current right-wing government if elections were held today.

This brings us back to the Palestinians.

What does the MP for Wyre and Preston North demand of them in response to the ISIS-style Hamas massacre of Jews Oct. 7? In his Telegraph op-ed, he addresses how they may respond to Israel’s military response to Oct. 7, but ignores the question of their response to the atrocity itself. It seems that — at least if he agrees that Palestinians should be held to the same moral standard that Israelis are held to — he should expect them to denounce Hamas, the group who speaks in their name, and their supporters, if not apologize to the Israeli victims on behalf of the Palestinian community.

Moreover, as the destruction in Gaza is the direct result of Hamas’s killing rage on Oct. 7, they should rightly hold Hamas directly responsible for the suffering Palestinians in the territory have experienced.

Let’s put it this way: If Israeli society did in fact radicalize as the result of Oct. 7 and voted in large majorities for Itamar Ben-Gvir-style extremism, Israelis themselves would be held responsible by Wallace for their decision to take that destructive political path. So, why wouldn’t he similarly hold Palestinians — and Palestinians alone — responsible for a collective decision they may make to embrace the antisemitic death cult that wrought horrors upon the region?

We’re not holding our breath, but we’d love to know his response.

Adam Levick serves as co-editor of CAMERA UK – an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), where a version of this article first appeared.

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University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation

Graphic posted on a social media account administered by University of California-Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on February 17, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.

“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”

Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”

Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.

“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.

A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.

SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.

The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza 

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden (34) was taken hostage with his wife Shiri (32) and 2 children Kfir (10 months) and Ariel (4), holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. 

Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate. 

“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday. 

“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages. 

The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children. 

The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”

“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said.  “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”

The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas. 

Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”

“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.

Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”

A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7. 

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Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College

Illustrative: Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.

The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi  wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.

“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”

“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.

Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.

“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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