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‘You Will Be Held Accountable’: US Congress Questions University Presidents Over Pro-Hamas Encampments

Northwestern University president Michael Schill looks on during a US House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on anti-Israel protests on college campuses, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, May 23, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

US lawmakers on Thursday interrogated the presidents of Northwestern University, Rutgers University, and the University of California, Los Angeles during a three-hour hearing about their responses to pro-Hamas “encampments” which convulsed their campuses at the end of the school year.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce organized the hearing — titled “Calling for Accountability: Stopping Antisemitic College Chaos” — after an eruption of anti-Zionist protests on college campuses in which students illegally occupied sections of school property and refused to leave unless their schools agreed to condemn and boycott Israel.

Northwestern University president Michael Schill faced the brunt of the committee’s questions, sparring with them over the meaning of antisemitism, his settlement with the organizers of the pro-Hamas encampment, and what constitutes discipline.

“I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals,” Schill told Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) when asked if he would have negotiated with Ku Klux Klan members who had threatened and uttered hate speech about Black students.

“It’s striking that you decided to negotiate a sweetheart deal with pro-Hamas students and professors who denied Oct. 7, either denied it, celebrated, or simply don’t care. I look at that as pure evil,” Burgess said in response.

They continued to exchange remarks, with Burgess inquiring into large donations that Northwestern University has received from Qatar, which, Burgess noted, harbors Hamas members. Schill insisted that Hamas’ relationship with Qatar isn’t his “area of expertise,” which prompted Burgess to suggest that he must find it acceptable.

“I really — I’m offended by you telling me what my views are,” Schill retorted, raising his voice.

Schill has been criticized for agreeing — in exchange for the group Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) ending its encampment — to establish a scholarship for Palestinian undergraduates, contact potential employers of students who caused recent campus disruptions to insist on their being hired, and create a segregated dormitory hall that will be occupied exclusively by Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim students. He also agreed to form a new advisory committee in which anti-Zionists students and faculty may wield an outsized voice.

He denied during Thursday’s hearing that he acceded to any of SJP’s demands, including their insistence on divesting from and boycotting Israel.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said that he did, calling his agreement with SJP — which was called the “Deering Meadow Agreement” throughout the hearing —  a “unilateral capitulation. She also accused him of failing to protect Jewish students from the violence of the anti-Zionist protesters, incidents that Schill described as “allegations.”

“Let’s talk about what has occurred on this encampment,” Stefanik said. “Isn’t it true that a Jewish Northwestern student was assaulted?”

“There are allegations that a Jewish student was assaulted. We are investigating those allegations,” Schill said.

Stefanik recounted several more incidents of alleged antisemitic violence — including one in which a Jewish student was spit on — and harassment, pressing Schill to estimate when the school will complete its investigations. She then excoriated the deal Schill negotiated with SJP, volleying a series of remarks which included her accusing him of pressuring Northwestern Hillel to hire an anti-Zionist Jew as its director.

Schill denied the allegation.

Rutgers University president Jonathan Holloway appeared to defend the organizers of the encampment on his campus during his testimony, comparing them to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who he said was unpopular in his time. At one point, Holloway refused to answer whether he believes Israel is a “genocidal” country, agreeing only to say that Israel has a right to defend itself. Later, he stated that he does not believe that Israel is genocidal.

About two hours into the hearing, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) questioned University of California, Los Angeles chancellor Gene Block about his handling of the school’s encampment, an opportunity she used to portray anti-Zionist activists as victims. Omar called the pro-Hamas group which amassed there “peaceful,” accusing Jewish students of releasing rats into their encampment and calling footage of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that pro-Israel activists played near the encampment as a counter-protest “vile and disturbing.”

“You should be ashamed at the fact that you failed your students,” Omar told Block, commenting on a melee that broke out between pro-Hamas and pro-Israel activists during the encampment. “You should be ashamed for letting a peaceful protest gathering get hijacked by an angry mob. You should be ashamed for allowing such violence to take place on your campus, which will now be weaponized by Republicans on this committee. You played right into the hands in laying the ground for attacking institutions of public education, stripping students of their rights, and broader repression of movements.”

Omar also denied that pro-Hamas protesters erected checkpoints around the campus where they refused to let Jewish students cross. Video evidence of that happening was played at the hearing, however.

“Students cannot learn when they feel threatened, and it’s part of our responsibility, I think, to see that students who feel threatened are relieved of that fear,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said in concluding the hearing. “Today’s testimony certainly brought bad things to light, beyond the craven deals and shocking inaction we already knew about.”

Foxx went on to accuse Schill of “condescension” and noted that Holloway’s faculty at Rutgers have praised and celebrated Hamas’ violence.

“Today’s hearing is the beginning, not the end, of the committees investigation of your institutions,” she said. “You will be held accountable for your records. Congress will not stand by while you violate your obligations to uphold Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, fail to protect Jewish students, cut deals advancing divestment, and promote terrorism and radical antisemitic ideologies.”

On Thursday, the executive director of the Academic Engagement Network — which promotes diversity viewpoints and academic freedom — told The Algemeiner during an interview that Holloway’s handling of antisemitism at Rutgers, particularly the antisemitism of the faculty at the Center for Security, Race, and Rights (CSSR) at its Newark campus, should continue to be scrutinized during the course of the committee’s investigation.

“Holloway admitted at one point that anti-Israel political advocacy is not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars, yet the CSSR at the Newark campus that he funds through the chancellor’s office is absolutely doing that,” Miriam Elman said. “CSSR is an anti-Israel advocacy academic unit in which Jewish students do not feel welcome, and even after he admitted that its conduct is inappropriate, he would not commit to shutting it down, which is a contradiction that needs to be called out.”

Elman added that a faculty group of AEN members formed the Jewish Faculty, Administrators, and Staff (JFAS) group over ten years ago to raise awareness of their concerns about antisemitism at Rutgers and were ignored.

“They have been repeatedly asking for more attention to antisemitism and more viewpoint diversity on Israel, particularly at Newark, and getting nowhere,” she continued. “I couldn’t even believe that a committee member [Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)] actually mentioned them in their testimony, because they, like the committee, believe that there should have been no negotiations with or acceding to the demands of the protesters. Not only did doing so reward bad behavior, it allowed a radical few to determine these outcomes over the voices of everybody else.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Timothée Chalamet to Play Lead Role in New Film About Jewish Ping Pong Champion Marty Reisman

Timothée Chalamet at the World Premiere of ‘Dune: Part Two’ held at the Leicester Square Gardens, London, United Kingdom on Feb. 15, 2024. Photo: Cover Media via Reuters Connect

French Jewish actor and Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet is set to star in and produce a new film about the late Jewish table tennis legend Marty Reisman.

Chalamat will play the lead role in “Marty Supreme,” written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, who will also produce with Eli Bush and Anthony Katagas. The film is from producer A24, which also distributed Safdie’s past films “Uncut Gems” and “Good Time.” A24 took to social media on Tuesday to confirm that Chalamet has joined the project. A release date for the film has not been announced.


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Nicknamed the “wizard of table tennis,” Reisman was an American professional ping pong champion who won 22 major table tennis titles between 1946 and 2002, including two United States Opens and a British Open. He won five bronze medals at the World Table Tennis Championships and, in 1997, became the oldest player to ever win an open national competition in a racket sport at the age of 67 by winning the United States National Hardbat Championship.

Reisman was known as “the Needle” for his slim frame and quick wit, and once opened for the Harlem Globetrotters with a ping pong comedy routine in which he used his shoes as paddles. He was also known for his flamboyant style and gravitated towards bright colored clothing, Borsalino fedoras, and Panama hats. Reisman was born in New York City and began playing table tennis as a child. He started his career as a hustler in Manhattan, playing for bets. He died in 2012 in Manhattan at the age of 82.

The Safdie bothers split up creatively earlier this year to pursue solo projects. “Marty Supreme” is the first time that Josh Safdie is directing a film since “Uncut Gems,” and his first solo feature directorial effort since 2008’s “The Pleasure of Being Robbed.” In 2019, Chalamat praised the Safdie brothers, saying they have “continuously put out contemporary, raw, and untethered work over the last decade, each film building on the traits of the prior, but never once sacrificing their innate grittiness.”

Chalamet’s latest film — James Mangold’s “A Complete Unknown,” in which he plays a young Bob Dylan — is currently in post-production.

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The Hostages Should Be an International Issue — Not Just an Israeli One

People walk past images of hostages kidnapped in the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 11, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The world witnessed an unprecedented crisis when citizens from 24 countries were abducted by Hamas and taken into Gaza as hostages on October 7, 2023.

Even now, there are hostages still being held by Hamas with 22 foreign nationalities: The United States, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tanzania, Thailand, the UK, and Ukraine.

Despite the representation of countries across the globe, the international outcry has been surprisingly — and sadly — muted. The “hostage issue” has largely been perceived as an Israeli one, leaving the responsibility of bringing them home to the IDF and the Israeli government.

According to Daniel Shek, a former Israeli diplomat and spokesperson for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the international dimension of this crisis is crucial. He warns that the unprecedented kidnapping on October 7 should concern the global community, because something similar could happen anywhere in the world, especially if those responsible are not severely punished for it.

Shek’s assessment of the international response is blunt: “Sufficient? Certainly not.”

There has not been a significant, concerted effort among the various countries to work together or form some kind of pressure group to release the hostages, he says. Most of the concrete efforts to try and resolve the situation have been individual or independent of each other.

In late October 2023, Russian diplomats met with a Hamas delegation in Moscow and insisted that special attention be paid to eight Russian-Israeli citizens being held hostage in Gaza. By November, three of these hostages were released, including Roni Krivoi, a sound engineer working at the Nova Festival when it was attacked (one of the few men released from captivity during this time).

Following the initial release of 17 Thai citizens, two additional Thais were released from captivity in November. A Thai Muslim group claimed its efforts were key to ensuring the release of those hostages. “We were the sole party that spoke to Hamas since the beginning of the war to ask for the release of Thais,” Lerpong Syed, President of the Thai-Iran Alumni Association told Reuters.

One significant effort occurred on April 25, when the leaders of 17 countries joined US President Joe Biden in the first official joint statement calling for the release of the hostages. Among the countries were Argentina, France, Germany, and the UK:

We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for over 200 days. They include our own citizens. The fate of the hostages and the civilian population in Gaza, who are protected under international law, is of international concern…We strongly support the ongoing mediation efforts in order to bring our people home. We reiterate our call on Hamas to release the hostages, and let us end this crisis so that collectively we can focus our efforts on bringing peace and stability to the region.

Since this statement, however, concrete efforts have been minimal. Biden has expressed a moral commitment to bringing Israeli-American hostages home and has met with them and their families on multiple occasions, but his success in doing so has been limited. There are still eight American citizens being held hostage in Gaza, five of whom are presumed alive.

Liat Beinin Atzili is a survivor.

It was my honor to welcome her to the White House this evening, hear firsthand about her resilience despite enduring the unthinkable, and promise her that my work isn’t done until we secure the release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas.

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 9, 2024

When compared to previous high-profile hostage situations, such as the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the disparity in global attention is unmistakable. The Iranian hostage crisis gripped the American public and media, whereas the Israeli hostages, including US citizens, have not gained similar levels of attention from the American people.

In 2014, when 276 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, by the Islamist militia group Boko Haram, a campaign for their return drew widespread international support.

The “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign included endorsements from prominent figures like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. In stark contrast, the Israeli hostages’ plight has not seen comparable global outrage. This is despite the hard work of hostages’ families, who fly across the world to fight for their loved ones’ freedom.

In some cases, the hostages have even faced negative attention — a phenomenon unheard of in past crises. Posters of the hostages have been torn down around the world, and some media personalities have questioned the legitimacy of reports from the October 7 attacks.

Shek sums up the universal nature of this cause.

“It doesn’t really matter on which side of the political divide you are in Israel, the US, in France, or anywhere else. It doesn’t really matter on which side of the Israel-Palestine divide you are,” he says. “It’s unjust that innocent civilians have been held for nine months under inhumane conditions. They have been deprived of their rights under international law, and have had no decent medical care or access by the Red Cross. This should concern anyone who cares about human rights.”

The fact that 120 hostages from 22 different countries were taken from Israel by terrorists and remain in Gaza until today demands urgent international action. This hostage crisis is not only an Israeli issue, but a global one.

So, world, where is your outrage? Why don’t you fight to bring your people home?

Miriam Bash is from Livingston, New Jersey, and currently studying Psychology and Marketing at Washington University in St. Louis. Outside of class, she is involved in the TAMID Group at WashU, and is an active member of her campus’ Hillel and Chabad organizations. She is an intern at HonestReporting, where a version of this article first appeared.

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Hamas Leader Deif’s Deadly Hideout: Media Overlook the Strategic Civilian Shield

Hamas executed one of its military commanders for informing the Israelis on the hideout used by Mohammad Deif (pictured above) during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. PHOTO: Channel 2 News.

The IDF carried out one of its most significant operations in on Saturday since the start of the war against Hamas, executing a strike that targeted Mohammad Deif, one of the masterminds behind the October 7 attack.

Eliminating Deif, the leader of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas’ second-in-command in Gaza, would be a significant blow. While there’s no official confirmation of his death, and Hamas claims Deif is “fine,” it’s worth noting that Saudi news network Al-Hadath reported that his deputy, Khan Younis Brigade Commander Rafa Salama, who was with Deif, was killed.

Deif, nicknamed “The Guest” for his habit of frequently changing locations to avoid detection, has long been hunted by Israel for his involvement in planning and executing numerous terror attacks throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including the 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings.

Some facts about Saturday’s incident were immediately clear.

First, it took place in the al-Muwasi humanitarian zone near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, and the IDF is investigating reports that a number of civilians died.

Second, the airstrike targeted senior Hamas operatives.

This latter point was highlighted in almost every international media outlet, noting that Deif might have been killed and invariably referring to him as the Hamas “military chief” or the “architect of October 7,” with a few notable exceptions.

The BBC botched an initial report on July 13.

On its YouTube channel, the broadcaster framed the incident as “90 killed and 300 injured” in an Israeli strike on a Gaza “humanitarian area,” and only mentioned later in the report that Israel was targeting senior Hamas commanders, including Deif.

Similarly, CBS News neglected to mention Deif in its headline, describing it instead as an “Israeli attack on the southern Gaza Strip” that left “at least 90 dead,” according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

The Irish Times reported the death toll as fact, without any attribution, in a piece headlined, “Gaza: At least 90 killed, 300 injured in Israeli airstrike on designated humanitarian zone.”

The focus on the strike taking place in a designated humanitarian zone explains why there were civilian casualties. However, not a single media outlet commented on the fact that senior Hamas commanders, including Deif, were intentionally hiding there. This omission ignores the blatant reality that Hamas exploits civilian areas for cover, leading to inevitable deaths.

Journalism students are often taught about using the “five Ws” – Who? What? When? Where? Why? – to gather the essential points for a story. There used to be another critical question, one that many journalists now forget to ask: “How?”

How did Palestinian civilians die in an Israeli airstrike calculated to take out senior Hamas commanders?

The media should report the patently obvious answer: Deif and his terror acolytes chose to hide in the al-Muwasi humanitarian zone, using the men and women sheltering there as human shields.

Hamas leaders embed themselves within civilian populations because they want Palestinians to die, with Yahya Sinwar even describing civilian deaths as “necessary sacrifices.”

On Saturday, The New York Times detailed how Hamas terrorists, dressed in plain clothes, “hide under residential neighborhoods, storing their weapons in miles of tunnels and in houses, mosques, sofas – even a child’s bedroom – blurring the boundary between civilians and combatants.”

While the Israeli military makes every effort to minimize civilian harm – including, in this case, using accurate visualizations of the “open, wooded area” and acting on additional intelligence information–unintended casualties are a tragic consequence of Hamas’ strategy.

The fact is that Israel has a duty to defend its citizens and protect them from further harm. In the context of its war against Hamas in Gaza, this means eliminating the terrorists who perpetrated the very massacre that started this war.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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