Fatah brags: We killed 11,000 Israelis

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In honor of an unknown milestone, Fatah yesterday posted a list of its achievements on behalf of the Arabs living in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. The Palestinian Media Watch organization reports that Fatah did not cite even one peace-seeking or peace-promoting achievement, and instead listed only its acts of violence and terror.

Fatah even boasted that its attacks have killed 11,000 Israelis. While Fatah and the PLO have been murdering Israelis since 1965, this number is nowhere near the truth.

To be precise, the Jewish Virtual Library documents that 3,743 Jews have been murdered in terrorist attacks since 1920. This number does not include battle and war fatalities.

Fatah began its murderous attacks in 1965 – significantly, two years before Israel liberated Judea, Samaria, and Gaza – the areas now claimed the PLO for a Palestinian state. Between then and today, Fatah and its Palestinian terrorist allies have murdered 2,554 people in Israel.

PMW’s translation of yesterday’s Fatah Facebook post is as follows:

To those who argue [with Fatah], to the boors, and to those who do not know history:

Fatah has killed 11,000 Israelis

Fatah has sacrificed 170,000 Martyrs (Shahids)…

Fatah was the first to carry out operations [terror attacks] during the first Intifada (1988-1993), and it was the first Palestinian faction to reach the nuclear reactor in Dimona [the 1988 murder of three working mothers on their way to the Dimona plant]

Fatah was the first to fight in the second Intifada (2000-2005) (Baha Al-Sa’id, an officer in the Preventive Security Forces, infiltrated an Israeli settlement on the border with Gaza) [parenthesis in source]…

Fatah was the first to defeat the Zionist enemy (Battle of El-Karameh) [parenthesis in source]…

Fatah led the Palestinian attack on Israel in the UN.

The Battle of El-Karameh took place in Jordan in 1968, when Israeli forces attacked a village from Fatah terrorists had been using as a base for launching attacks against Israel. The Gaza attack referred to took place in Kfar Darom in November 2000; IDF soldiers Snir Flum and Sharon Shitoubi were killed, and Shitoubi shot the terrorist, who later died of his wounds.

Original Article: Arutz Sheva

The Middle East Conflict on Campus

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What some see as a celebration of culture through food, others see as a political statement, and an offensive one at that. Just slip an Israeli flag on a toothpick.

To the Tufts chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, last fall’s Taste of Israel was appropriation, pure and simple.

“I don’t think the Palestinian students on this campus would see it as ‘cultural’ if they were to walk in and see flags of Israel all over the food their grandmother used to cook before she was evicted from her village,” said Nic Serhan, an S.J.P. member who is part Arab, part African-American.

As students sampled pomegranate seeds, hummus, falafel and pita, Mr. Serhan and fellow protesters strode into the event carrying signs reading “Taste of Israeli Occupation,” “Don’t dip into apartheid” and “Fresh from stolen Palestinian land.” Then they passed out chocolates with anti-Israel sentiments on the wrappers and asked: “Do you want the real truth about Israel?”

This was not the biggest or loudest such protest at Tufts, a private university of some 12,000 students just outside of Boston. But it was the last straw. Whenever Friends of Israel or Hillel staged a lecture or event, it seemed, S.J.P. was there. There had been die-ins (students had to step over bodies on red cloths signifying blood) and checkpoints (mock Israeli soldiers conducted security checks around campus). Friends of Israel had already requested campus security at programs, but after the food festival they filed a complaint with Tufts’s judicial affairs office.

“It’s bullying masquerading as social justice,” Anna Linton, co-president of the club, told me.

Mr. Serhan countered: “Protests are supposed to be disruptive in nature.”

When it comes to the Middle East on campus, the environment is increasingly uneasy and even hostile. Many universities are grappling with how to balance students’ right to protest with Jewish students’ fears that their culture is under attack. Some students say they are ostracized when they show support for Israel, while Palestinian activists talk of being labeled “terrorists,” and finding their photos and names posted on canarymission, a website that tracks professors and students who, it says, promote “hatred of the United States, Israel and Jews.” S.J.P. members insist they are anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic — a debatable distinction to those who cannot separate the state of Israel from their Jewish identity.

While a majority of Americans, 54 percent, say they side with Israel and its struggles against terrorism, sympathy for the Palestinians’ cause has been rising, according to a Pew Research Center study released in May. The most significant increase is among millennials, to 27 percent from 9 percent in 2006. Images of the separation barrier running through the occupied West Bank, which Israel built to thwart Palestinian suicide bombings and shootings, have helped shift sentiments. Activists see parallels with apartheid in South Africa.

S.J.P., founded in 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley, has become the leading pro-Palestinian voice on campus. (Other student groups critical of Israel include Open Hillel, which is independent of Hillel, and Jewish Voices for Peace.)

A national organization was established in 2010 to connect chapters’ work, including annual conferences and speaking tours. There are now roughly 170 chapters, about 55 more than in 2014, according to conference organizers and a report by the Anti-Defamation League. The Tufts chapter, which has a core group of 25 members, is a significant player in this movement. It hosted the 2014 conference, which drew more than 500 attendees and sparked protests from Jewish alumni who objected to the university’s allowing the conference on campus.

Jeffrey Summit, executive director of Tufts Hillel, has watched sentiment against Israel rise during his 37 years on campus. “Our country is so polarized,” the rabbi said. “We’re trying to do something different here.”

That something is not to discourage protests, said Celene Ibrahim, Tufts’s Muslim chaplain, but to encourage students to converse about the complex arguments that divide them. But first they need to become comfortable with each other. She and Rabbi Summit have been working to bring both sides together in the same room.

After the Taste of Israel brouhaha, Rabbi Summit and students in Hillel established the Visions of Peace initiative. Leaders from Hillel and the Muslim Students Association teamed to organize a day in April that would include attending each other’s religious services and a talk by a Palestinian activist and a Jewish settler in the occupied West Bank. In September, students would be able to meet families who had lost loved ones in the conflict and are united on peace efforts. Chaplain Ibrahim also is planning a Jewish-Muslim women’s retreat.

The chaplain is careful to note that the division on campus isn’t necessarily a Muslim-Jewish one: Jews, Christians and Hindus as well as Muslims are members of S.J.P. chapters. Tufts is roughly a quarter Jewish, but there are only a few hundred Muslim students. Most come from South Asia and may not have a stake in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, the Muslim Students Association has taken no stance on the conflict or S.J.P. And some members of Friends of Israel actively lobby against Israel’s policies toward the West Bank and Gaza.

“This is one of the stereotypes I’m trying to undo,” Chaplain Ibrahim said. “What does it mean to be pro-Israel? There’s a lot of nuance around it.”

Mr. Serhan, a rising senior, has participated in numerous S.J.P. actions and marched in a Black Lives Matter protest on campus. He does not identify with a particular religion. His parents are Christian. His mother, from New Orleans, is black; his father was born in Kuwait. Mr. Serhan began advocating for Palestinians while taking a freshman course on peace and justice, when he heard an S.J.P. member speak about what Palestinians lost when Israel became a state in 1948. He said he is passionate about protesting any event or lecture celebrating Israel.

He reached into his backpack to pull out his kaffiyeh, draping the scarf around his neck as he headed out of a cafe for a panel discussion on cultures affected by colonization, part of national Israeli Apartheid Week. As we walked across campus, he described how a Tufts student called him and two other activists “terrorists” because they were wearing kaffiyehs, the iconic symbol of Yasir Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization leader.
What exactly does S.J.P. want? During its first national conference, in 2011 at Columbia, S.J.P. created a mission statement that called for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel and its products (causes the B.D.S. movement is named for); for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank; and for dismantling the separation barrier. In answer to charges that S.J.P. fosters anti-Semitism, members point to this mission directive: Chapters must be vigilant against “homophobia, sexism, racism, bigotry, classism, colonialism, and discrimination of any form.” It condemns terrorism.

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“Criticism of Israel is a criticism of a state,” said Amahl Bishara, a Palestinian-American professor of anthropology at Tufts. “I don’t see any blurred lines there.”

To leaders of Jewish organizations, those lines are frequently blurred. They equate supporting the B.D.S. movement to supporting Hamas and the destruction of their homeland. They point to S.J.P.-sponsored speakers who have compared Israelis to Nazis yet defend those who have committed random attacks of violence against Israelis.

Leonard Saxe, director of the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, led a survey of 3,199 Jewish students and recent graduates from some 100 universities. A quarter said they had been blamed for actions of Israel. Nearly three-fourths had been exposed to at least one anti-Semitic statement in the previous year.

Last year at the University of California, Davis, vandals spray-painted swastikas on a Jewish fraternity house, and in March, protesters marched to the front of a classroom and loudly chanted, “Israel is an apartheid state.” The guest speaker was an Israeli diplomat whose topic was the art of diplomacy

Concerned about a swell in incidents, the Zionist Organization of America in 2014 coordinated a letter to 2,500 college and university presidents asking them to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism, specifically from what it called S.J.P.’s “harassment and intimidation tactics.” And in December, Mark G. Yudof, former president of the University of California system, helped create the Academic Engagement Network. The group has some 275 members, mostly faculty, on about 110 campuses working in opposition to the B.D.S. movement. “I don’t want to see B.D.S. become stronger because, 20 years from now, these students will be judges, heads of Congress,” Mr. Yudof told me. “We have to respond now to maintain the historical relationship with Israel.”

In March, the University of California adopted a statement condemning anti-Semitism and “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.” Stanford’s student government later approved a similar resolution. Opponents object to such resolutions as anti-Arab and attempts to curtail free speech.

“It is not the place of the president, the chancellor or the former chancellor to tsk-tsk the students because they don’t like the style of debate,” said Liz Jackson, a lawyer with Palestine Legal, which formed in 2012 to work with activists.

Lawyers who advise S.J.P. members facing disciplinary charges say that First Amendment rights are routinely ignored when Israel is the subject, and that universities are trying to intimidate members into silence.

Northeastern University’s chapter was suspended for the remainder of the school year after its members slipped 600 strongly worded mock eviction notices under dorm room doors to mirror the eviction of Palestinians. The notices reminded some of the expulsion of Jews during the Holocaust. And after various incidents at the City University of New York, including the disruption of a faculty meeting at Brooklyn College, several state lawmakers began an effort to get S.J.P. chapters expelled, even though a broad coalition of activists had caused the disruption. They did not succeed. But in February, the Zionist Organization of America sent a letter to CUNY asking for a public condemnation of S.J.P. for promoting anti-Semitism and creating a “hostile campus environment” for Jewish students on at least four CUNY campuses.

Friends of Israel, in its complaint to Tufts administrators, said that the Taste of Israel protest had victimized students and violated university policy, including one called Working With One Another. They wanted to meet with S.J.P. leaders and a mediator.

“They can push back on our belief and opinions of Israel, but they actually have to hear us out first,” Itamar Ben-Aharon, president of the club, said after a meeting in which members discussed current events, competed in a trivia quiz on Israel and boned up on how to counter criticism during Israeli Apartheid Week.

S.J.P. declined mediation after a string of unproductive exchanges, saying they had not intimidated students and saw no need for university involvement, and besides, debate is encouraged at its events. Friends of Israel, fearing an escalation in hostility, dropped its complaint this past spring. The university would not comment on the incident. But Mary Pat McMahon, a dean of student affairs, posited this challenge: “How do we foster learning and students working together even when it’s unlikely common ground will come any time soon?”

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, in a knitted kipa and gray beard that reached his chest, spoke first at the Visions of Peace day in April, strolling back and forth with a microphone before some 40 attendees in the Interfaith Center; a map of Israel was projected on a screen.

“How could it be for 33 years I lived in an area where there were nine Palestinians for every Israeli and I never met a Palestinian?” Rabbi Schlesinger asked, almost shouting the question, as if admonishing his younger self. Some 40 years ago, he had left New York to live in a Jewish settlement on the occupied West Bank. Settlers and Palestinians spoke different languages, practiced different religions and lived under different laws. “Under these circumstances,” he said, “there will be ignorance, stereotypes, and if you add in the violence, of course there’s going to be fear and anger toward the other for killing us.”

His fear faded after attending a dinner of Palestinians and Jewish settlers organized by Roots, an effort based in the West Bank to achieve peace with nonviolence. He grew to realize that “our triumph was their tragedy,” and went on to lead Roots with Ali Abu Awwad, who co-founded the initiative in 2014.

Mr. Awwad took his turn on the stage. He told the audience in a soft, impassioned voice that his father became a refugee when his village was depopulated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. His mother was a P.L.O. leader and beaten in front of him in their home. “I don’t think you need to teach someone how to hate in that situation,” he said.

He was arrested twice during uprisings and would spend four years in prison. In 2000, he was wounded in the knee in a drive-by shooting by an Israeli settler. A few months later, his older brother was killed by an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint. “How many Israelis have to die to bring justice?” he asked. “The only justice I can think of is to have him back, and that won’t happen.”

Then, bereaved Jewish families came to offer solace to his family. “For the first time, I saw an Israeli crying. You don’t see Jewish tears at checkpoints. I couldn’t even imagine that Jewish people had tears.”

Scanning the students in the room, Mr. Awwad criticized S.J.P. and divestment supporters for refusing to enter into dialogue with Jewish groups because they felt it legitimized Israel. Both sides lay claim to the land. Both sides have been victimized. He implored the students not to focus on which side was right. “I spent nights of my life hoping Israel will disappear and explode,” he said. Now he was in a different place, working for peace.

After the talk, Rabbi Schlesinger said he was disappointed at how few Muslims were in the room. All told, some 250 students showed up for at least one of the day’s events; only about two dozen were Muslim, but half of them took Hillel up on the invitation to attend the Jewish prayer service. Some were entering Hillel’s center for the first time, “and that’s the crossing of a threshold,” said Chaplain Ibrahim.

Most S.J.P. members saw Visions of Peace as an attempt to mollify their group and vowed to skip it. Leah Muskin-Pierret, who is Jewish, was the sole S.J.P. attendee at the talk. Her voice rising and quickening, she told me she found much of it infuriating. She was embarrassed by an American Jewish settler wanting dialogue about Israel. She wished the focus had been on the daily hardships faced by Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Mr. Ben-Aharon appreciated the frank talk but had doubts. Roots was idealistic. Opposing sides would not suddenly work together. And every time the campus experiences an uptick in tension, the answer is the same: Start a new initiative.

Before the dinner, as part of interfaith storytelling in one of Hillel’s prayer spaces, Nazifa Sarawat told a circle of fellow students and clergy members how she had arrived in New York City as a toddler from Bangladesh. She and her family had had little exposure to other religions, so she saw non-Muslims as the “other.”

One of the day’s organizers, she wanted more collaboration, and with Hillel the key player, she worried about a power imbalance. Maybe students at the grass-roots level should be in charge, she said. Maybe a Mideast culture group should form and partner with Israeli clubs.

From the clerics’ perspective, the day was a beginning. “Here, people are listening to one another,” Rabbi Summit said. “On so many college campuses, opposing sides are just shouting.”

At the dinner that closed the program, after students led the group in blessings over the challah, Chaplain Ibrahim, wearing a hijab that shimmered in the light, stood up and described the sensation she had during the Sabbath service. She felt as if she were experiencing her own faith of Islam because so much of the liturgy sounded familiar.

“It pains me,” she said softly, “to see events in the world dividing communities that are meant to be together.”

Original Article: The New York Times

Spanish Israel lobby group deals triple blow to BDS movement in Spain

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ACOM has presented lawsuits against every single city council or public institution that has declared a boycott against Israel.

An Israel lobby group working to combat BDS in Spain, has dealt a triple blow to the boycott movement this past week, garnering three legal victories throughout the country.

The group claimed its first victory after a court ruling suspended the effects of a local boycott against Israel in the Olesa municipality on the outskirts of Barcelona.

The Court acknowledged that local boycott agreements against Israel may be brought before Spanish courts, thereby rebutting points contained in a report being disseminated among city halls, commissioned by the Solidarity Network against the Occupation of Palestine (Red Solidaria contra la Ocupación de Palestina), an umbrella group of pro-BDS supporters.

The judge stated that a local boycott agreement produced legal effects, even if no measures are actually taken and if there is only the potential for such actions.

“The sheer existence of a local agreement of this nature implies the possibility of denying participation to any entity or person of Israeli nationality or origin in any contract or activity sponsored by the City Council”, the judge stated.

A few days later, a Madrid Court suspended boycott agreements against Israel adopted by the Rivas Vaciamadrid City Council.

The agreements were incorporated into a motion of adherence to the BDS movement, proposed by Izquierda Unida, the Communist Party and the extreme left-wing party Podemos, a rising political party in the country.

The motion had called to “not establish any political, trading, agricultural, educational, cultural, sporting or security deal, contract or agreement with Israeli institutions, companies or organizations.”

The City Council had further committed not to establish any ties with organizations “deriving economic benefit from violations of international law and human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory or the Golan.”

In addition, a boycott motion against Israel was defeated in a plenary session in La Guardia, a town of 11,000 inhabitants in northern Spain this past week.

Once again the proposal for the boycott was proposed by the extreme left-wing party Podemos and BNG, a separatist far-left group.

According to ACOM, in the days prior to the voting session, the group contacted local political groups and provided them with factual information on Israel and the goals of the BDS movement.

In June, ACOM chairman Angel Mas told The Jerusalem Post that a growing number of cities across Spain have passed declarations in favor of BDS over the past year, as far Left political parties, such as Podemos, have gained access to public institutions and local government.

Mas revealed that Podemos had been under scrutiny in the Spanish media after police revealed the party is financed by the Venezuelan and the Iranian regimes.

He said this external funding has allowed the Podemos party to rise to power gaining control over some 40 localities, including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, Spain’s three largest cities.

“This means access to even more public resources and at that point what we noticed was that the strategy of the BDS campaign changed and stepped up,” he said. “This is something we haven’t seen anywhere else. It is a deliberate and well planned campaign for cities to create an area with ‘Israel Free Apartheid.’”

This past week’s victories were only a number in a long line of lawsuits. ACOM has responded aggressively by presenting lawsuits against every single city council or public institution that has declared a boycott against Israel.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

BDS on campus: the current discussions

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A breakdown of some of the major sticking points in the emotion-packed dispute that has taken American institutions of higher education by storm.

While the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel has picked up steam in recent years on campuses across the US, those observing the phenomenon may have come to ask themselves what draws activists to one side or the other of the issue.

The BDS movement encourages economic and cultural boycotts of Israel in an effort to advance their pro-Palestinian political demands while isolating the Jewish state.

As the heated debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rages, a mix of Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian students from US colleges sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss the escalation of the BDS student movement, and their involvement in the campaign or the battle against it.

With such contentious discourse surrounding the conflict, here is a breakdown of some of the major sticking points in the emotion-packed dispute that has taken American institutions of higher education by storm.

The labels

Are the ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘anti-Israel’ labels mutually exclusive with the ‘pro-Palestinian’ and ‘anti-Palestinian’ ones?

Not necessarily.

Whether the discussion is about identifying with or defining the actions of one side or the other, such labels and the underlying stances they encapsulate have become increasingly more complicated to define for both sides. With controversial issues like religion, security, human rights, and apartheid–all issues that have come up when discussing BDS–there is a vast spectrum of positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

When asked about labels regarding the conflict, most students interviewed agreed that labels do more to confuse students and drift them away from the actual issue.

“I think my labels are relatively accurate, though these terms can mean different things for different people,” Jason Epstein of the University of Texas at Austin told JPost. “Some will skew these definitions to align with their political views, some will skew these to bash the other side, and some may focus these definitions on a group of people, rather than a country.”

For American University student Noa Banayan, these labels create further division that deter from peace.

With an Israeli father, she said, “I’m pro the culture and my family, but I’m not against anything or another people. I’m just pro-peace. These labels create a bigger division that isn’t going to lead to peace.”

For many students, when discussing Israel’s actions, the issue comes down to human rights and security.

Some students, like Jessica Markowitz from New York University, feel as though siding with the pro-Israel platform means, “supporting Israel and its decisions and advocating for its needs and safety.”

On the other hand, for Palestinian-American student, who asked to be called Leila as she plans on visiting the Palestinian territories soon, being pro-Israel can mean anything from “complacency, pro-occupation, illegal settlements, and impunity” to individuals “who genuinely believe in self-determination and who desperately want to see Israel improve itself as a country, to uphold international standards and respect human rights policies.”

It goes both ways, and labeling the issue only escalates the tensions, misunderstandings and controversy spewing from the BDS conversation.

The movements

The most notable form of dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been facilitated through student activist groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), J Street U and Students for Justice and Palestine (SJP). Although they allow for discussions of the conflict, student groups continue to be polarized, which often creates a one-sided and unproductive conversation, especially regarding BDS.

For student Leila being a part of SJP entails being an activist and voice for her Palestinian community. She said that the mission of SJP at her school is “to stand in solidarity with the demands of the Palestinian people and support their basic human right to self determination.”

For University of Michigan student Lauren Siegel, her involvement with student groups also comes down to her “deep connection to Israel” and belief that student support outside of Israel is “vital to the survival of the State.”

For others, like Gabriella Levy from American University where political and social activism drives the student body, this conversation seems to be the most taboo. She said, “I feel like [the conflict is] one of the only things that I would not necessarily feel comfortable bringing up depending on who I’m with.”

College campus BDS

Understanding the roots of activist movements on each side is just as essential to the conversation as learning about the conflict.

For some students, BDS has had a direct impact on their daily lives. A report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), titled BDS on ‘American College Campuses: 2014-15 Year-In-Review,’ cited studies that showed 520 explicitly anti-Israel events and programs took place nationwide on college campuses, representing a 30% increase from the previous academic year, and that over 50% of those events focused on various aspects of the BDS movement.

In the same report, the ADL released a list of 19 universities that considered divestment resolutions or referenda this year, including the results of these votes. Included in the list are prestigious schools, such as Stanford and Northwestern–two colleges where the student governments decided to pass a BDS resolution. Others on the list, like University of Texas at Austin, Princeton University and University of Michigan, either came close to passing a boycott resolution or passed referenda similar to or associated with the BDS movement.

For University of Texas at Austin student Sam Reichstein, the topic of the BDS movement has become all too familiar, as BDS legislation was pushed for on UT’s campus through its Student Government, though ended up losing in the spring of 2015. Recalling this moment in her campus’s history, Samantha felt nervous and worried, and at times unsafe wearing an Israeli t-shirt or a Hebrew necklace.

For Josh Woznica, head of the Jewish Student Union at Berkeley University, who attends a school that has been known for its strong anti-Israel sentiments and successful BDS movements, the feeling is similar, and added that he feels that BDS is not conducive to any product dialogue.

Leila said, however, that, BDS is “one of the main peaceful means of protest that appeals to conscience and employs non-violent measures,” so groups on campus should continue to be allowed to advocate for the movement.

The media and education

While the amount of formal discussion in classrooms on the topic varies by campus, those who have not visited the Middle East or lack personal ties to the conflict are generally misinformed by the media.

What adds to the contention on campuses is that the majority of students seem to know, or care, relatively little about the conflict.

As Woznica said, “It’s to get the sort of 70% of students who really know nothing about the conflict and walk by and see a demonstration or a protest–it’s to really get them to understand the conflict.”

In response to this indifference and misinformation, some students suggest speaking to actual Palestinians and Israelis who have lived and spent time in the region, and others go further to recommend that courses on the conflict be required on campus.

Future possibilities

Whether genuine dialogue on the Middle East conflict is possible depends largely on the students who choose to engage; most students are hopeful that it is.

“The only way to bring new ideas to light is to keep talking about the conflict. Strong dialogue is the best way to inform and be informed,” said American University student Niv Avneri.

On the center of his campus, Woznica has witnessed small groups of students come and sit down and discuss. Though it often becomes very personal, and naturally so, “at least they’re hearing each other’s sides on a one-to-one basis,” he said.

Leila pointed to a critical matter, stating, “To overcome the differences that exist between the opposing sides, one must be brave enough to confront the ugly and brutal realities that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict produces both in the Middle East and here in the United States.”

“We cannot continue to silence critical debates because of fear for this coming at the expense of ‘civility,” she added.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Golan Druze leader disputes UN statement on ‘hardship of Israeli occupation’

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Mayor of Majdal Shams says local residents enjoy a good life, always find ‘attentive ear’ with government.

A leader of the Druze population of the Golan Heights disputed the assertion of a United Nations committee that accused Israel of imposing economic and social hardships on his community.

Dulan abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Golan, told Makor Rishon that the UN Economic and Social Council’s recent statement on the area was “a total joke,” the daily reported Friday.

Unlike other Druze populations in Israel who serve in the Israel Defense Forces, the Golan’s Druze population of some 20,000 has been careful not to align itself publicly with the Jewish state, which annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967.

The eruption in 2011 of a civil war in Syria changed that, causing a sharp increase in the number of Golan Druze who applied for Israeli citizenship, which has been available to them since 1981.

Abu-Saleh objected to the inclusion of his native area in the UN panel’s statement earlier this month, which said that “economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

“I don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s laughable,” abu-Saleh said. Druze in the Golan “don’t serve in the IDF and so far are only receiv[e] from the state.” Referencing the war in Syria, he said: “Why don’t they condemn the horrors in Syria, where dozens of children are killed daily? Golan residents have a good life.”

He also said: “Although we weren’t included in some major cabinet decisions on budgets, when we build and make up plans we never felt discrimination. On the contrary, we always found an attentive ear.”

Prior to the eruption in 2011 of a civil war in Syria, only 1,700 of the Golan’s Druze claimed Israeli citizenship offered to them. Hundreds have applied since then.

Very rarely engaging in hostilities, their communities have opened hundreds of restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts serving Israelis and tourists who visit the Golan’s many nature reserves. But the Druze community leaders always insisted they were Syrian citizens seeking to return to Syria from Israeli occupation.

Karim Batkhish, a resident of the town of Masa’ada, is quoted as saying: “The war in Syria is irrelevant to us. Some may say they support [Syrian President Bashar] Assad but it’s a lie to show Syria we’re with them. They’re lying, no one wants to see Syria here.”

Separately, the international nonprofit Human Rights Watch, which like the UN has faced accusations of displaying a bias against Israel, was criticized Thursday for saying in a report on child detention that Israeli “military courts do not provide for specialized juvenile justice.”

This statement is “completely false,” the watchdog group NGO Monitor said Thursday. “A special Juvenile Military Court was established in 2009, and according to the Israeli Ministry of Justice only ‘judges that have received relevant professional training, similar to the training offered to justices of the Youth Courts in Israel, are qualified to serve as juvenile judges.’“

The accusation appears in a report published by HRW Thursday entitled “Extreme Measures: Abuses against Children Detained as National Security Threats.” It also cites a 2013 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child document which claims that, “Israel had ‘fully disregarded’ previous recommendations to comply with international law.”

But this allegation is also false, according to NGO Monitor. In February 2015, UNICEF published a report on its ongoing dialogue with the Israeli government, citing “positive developments in the administration of juvenile military justice.”

The report “clearly reflects the primacy of HRW’s political agenda over methodological rigor and due diligance,” NGO Monitor wrote.

Original Article: The Times of Israel

The Jewish Exception to Free Speech on Campus

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In 2012, the Electronic Intifada, an online anti-Zionist media outlet that aggressively promotes the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, ran a lengthy article suggesting that “allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ create a real climate of fear” that is “silencing” pro-Palestinian student activists on US campuses. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the article, not because of the absurd nature of the charges — that Jewish students were somehow intimidating and silencing pro-Palestinian student activists just by virtue of speaking up about the intimidation, and silencing they themselves were experiencing at the hands of those same activists — I laughed because of the accompanying photograph set beneath the headline. In one concise image, it revealed the utter disingenuousness of the thousand words that followed.

The photo, credited to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at University of California Berkeley, depicted a large pole on campus that was covered from top to bottom with multiple layers of promotional flyers. However, the only ones that were fully visible — because they had been affixed directly on top of the others — were the SJP’s flyers demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and urging the university community to support BDS. The juxtaposition of the photo with its caption, “Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses,” practically begged the reader to think: Which students are facing a climate of intimidation? Certainly not the members of SJP, whose bold and brazen “freedom of expression” to demonize and delegitimize Israel and promote efforts to harm it is literally smothering everyone else’s!

In the four years since that article was published, the smothering of speech depicted in the article’s photo has not improved. In fact for one group of students, it has gotten worse. Much worse.

A study of antisemitic activity in 2016 on more than 100 campuses, which our organization released earlier this week, revealed that over the past year the number of incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly by members of SJP or other anti-Zionist student groups had approximately doubled. For example, in April of this year, more than two dozen members of the General Union of Palestine Students at San Francisco State University disrupted and ultimately shut down a Jewish student event featuring a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. A few minutes after Barkat’s speech had begun, protestors stormed into the hall and loudly chanted slogans such as “Get the hell off our campus,” “Long live the Intifada,” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free,” until the speech was prematurely terminated. Similar disruptions and attempted shut-downs of Jewish student events unfolded on campuses across the country.

It is telling that in our study we found a strong correlation between incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly and those involving the expression of antisemitic tropes that demonize and delegitimize Israel or promote its destruction: in 2016 all 12 of the schools at which the speech and assembly of Jewish students were suppressed played host to one or more incidents of anti-Zionist expression, and the greater the number of these incidents, the higher the likelihood that Jewish student expression would be suppressed. Not only does this strong correlation suggest that anti-Zionist expression may incite conduct which harms Jewish students, it also underscores the breathtaking hypocrisy of anti-Zionist activists on campus, who vigorously exercise their own freedom of expression but deny Jewish students that same right and freedom.

In addition, the increase in incidents which trample on the civil rights of Jewish students indicates the growing success of a tactic known as “anti-normalization,” which members of SJP and similar anti-Zionist groups routinely employ to aggressively stifle all pro-Israel expression. For example, in one of its founding documents the SJP group at Binghamton University outlined strategies for harassing Jewish students and disrupting or shutting down their Israel-related events in a section entitled: “Tactics and Strategies Used to Counter Zionist Normalization.”

Adherents of “anti-normalization” target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well-being. In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.

The situation has become intolerable for many Jewish students.

This past spring, the University of California system took a critical stand against the rising antisemitism plaguing its 10 campuses. Its Board of Regents issued a Statement of Principles Against Intolerance acknowledging that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism which incites additional Jew hatred and, like other forms of discrimination, has no place at the University of California system. The Regents’ statement also singled out “actions that physically or otherwise interfere with the ability of an individual or group to assemble, speak, and share or hear the opinion of others,” stating that they “impair the mission and intellectual life of the University and will not be tolerated.”

Universities across the country must follow suit.

Original Article: Algemeiner

JERUSALEM: Terrorist with bomb covered in poisoned nails, Palestinian tried to attack

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Engineering student at Hebron University tells investigators he wanted ‘revenge’ for non-Muslims visiting Temple Mount.

A Hebron University student who attempted to bomb the Jerusalem light rail last month sneaked into the capital through a valley east of the city, police revealed Tuesday.

On July 15, Ali Abu Hassan entered Israel through a valley outside of the eastern Tsur Baher neighborhood, with the intention of carrying out an attack in the capital as a form of “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount,” police said in a statement.

He was armed with three pipe bombs he had linked together into one large explosive and had covered with nails and screws dipped in rat poison. “In his bag there were also two knives and a cellphone,” police said Tuesday.

Hassan researched how to make a pipe bomb that would “cause the most, and most effective, damage” on the internet and “even carried out test explosions with a number of bombs in order to check them before entering Israel,” according to a joint Shin Bet-Israel Police investigation.

The civil engineering student came from Bayt Ula, a village northwest of Hebron, and hid out in an olive grove near the neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, police said.

“Before he entered Israel, he wrote a final testament, which he left at the university and asked his friends to deliver to his parents,” police said.

While in the olive grove, he shaved off his beard and changed into shorts and a T-shirt to better blend in with the Jerusalem population.

On July 17, Hassan took a bus to the center of the capital and walked along Jerusalem’s popular Jaffa Road to find a target for his bombing, before stopping near the intersection with King George Street.

According to investigators, he originally intended to attack a restaurant on Jaffa Road and scoped out the area to prepare for his assault. However, when he noticed the large number of passengers boarding the light rail that runs through downtown, Hassan changed his target.

When he attempted to board the tram, he was stopped after he raised the suspicions of a security guard. When the guard asked to examine the contents of the bag, he noticed the bomb and called the police.

Sappers were promptly deployed to the scene and the road was closed off, along with the adjacent King George Street.

A video from the scene showed police pointing their guns at the suspect, who lay on the ground near the train stop. A second clip showed sappers strip-searching him, apparently for explosives.

On Tuesday, an Israeli court charged the 21-year-old Palestinian man with attempted murder, creating a weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Original Article: The Times Of Israel

Jewish and Christian Israel supporters discuss anti-BDS efforts in Knesset

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“In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us,” Israeli MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) reminded a packed Knesset hall earlier this month during the premier joint meeting of the Knesset Caucus to Fight Delegitimization of Israel and the Christian Allies Caucus. The focus of the event: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and how Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel can work together to quash the economic warfare movement against Israel.

“MK Lavie did not complete the quote from the haggadah,” Josh Reinstein, director of the Christian Allies Caucus, told JNS.org with a smirk. “It ends that ‘The Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.’ That is why we came together.”

Lavie, who co-chairs the delegitizamtion caucus with MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), told nodding heads that “BDS is just a type of anti-Semitism.”

Coalition and opposition members shared the floor alongside their Christian supporters in what was a rare display of Israeli unity. As one member of Knesset said, “We are divided about many issues. But we are all on the same page when it comes to defending our state.”

While keynote addresses by the U.S. Director of the Israel Allies Foundation Joseph Sabag and Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, a teacher at the Northwestern School of Law and a senior researcher at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, did not reveal anything particularly new about the BDS movement, it did offer a chance to unpack some of the latest and most dangerous reports, as well as discuss the next steps for pro-Israel parties in Israel and the U.S.

Israeli criminologist and politician Dr. Anat Berko (Likud) said revisionist history – eradicating Judeo-Christian roots in Israel and replacing them with a false Palestinian narrative – is the freshest effort by anti-Israel activists.

“Jesus is called a Palestinian in some circles,” Berko said with a sigh. “This has left a real clash of what is the truth in Israel. It is funny to say Jesus was a Palestinian. He spoke Hebrew.”

The battle heats up most when it comes to the Temple Mount, Berko said. The claim that no Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem, and that Jews have no rights whatsoever to the Temple Mount is part of what Berko termed a “temple denial” doctrine that has been increasingly internalized in Palestinian academic, religious and political circles, including a recent UNESCO resolution that views the Temple Mount as a solely Muslim site.

The other challenge is the Western world’s tendency to ignore the roots of terrorism, Berko said.

“They pretend it doesn’t exist; that is not a good way to be,” Berko warned. “We are all in the same pot now.”

To combat BDS, two efforts were discussed: anti-BDS legislation and combatting lies. The former has seen tremendous success in the last year, largely due to Kontorovich’s efforts. He spent two years researching how to move such legislation forward, resulting in 12 states passing anti-BDS laws since May 2015, when South Carolina adopted modern legislation regulating against commercial discrimination of Israel. Sabag said he expects to see another 15 to 20 states pass similar legislation by this time next year.

In his address, Kontorovich explained there are two kinds of anti-BDS laws: those that will disallow local and state governmental bodies to conduct any kind of business with companies that actively support BDS, and those that set up a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and require the state’s pension funds to divest from those companies.

He said these laws are intended for companies already doing business with Israel and are being harassed for it.

“They can tell the protestors, ‘There is no reason to have a die-in in front of our shareholders meeting. They might be annoyed [about Israel], but they will be more annoyed if they cannot do business with 12 or 13 other States because of a decision not to do business with Israel.’ We see these laws as a lifejacket.”

However, Sabag said legislation is “a starting point.” Given the “ugly rhetoric and falsehoods” that BDS activists spew, the pro-Israel community should waste no time in efforts trying to reason with these enemies. Rather, he said, “We need to expose the lies.”

MK Oren said how people often attack Israel through the BDS movement for its relationship with the Christian community. He recalled how in 2012 60 Minutes “spent millions of dollars proving a blood libel” when it broadcast a segment reporting that the Israeli occupation has led to the evaporation of Jerusalem’s and the West Bank’s Palestinian Christian communities.

“Israel has the only growing Christian community in the Middle East,” said Oren. “Israeli Arab Christians are more affluent and educated than Israeli Jews. We have to intersect these points to defend ourselves.”

Kontorovich called on the Israeli government to take action, too.

“Israel cannot be protected without the action of the Israeli government,” he said, noting that no one can legitimize Israel better than a well-run, democratic Israeli parliament.

“BDS might have started with the Jews, but it will not end with the Jews,” said Berko. “BDS is not about Judea and Samaria or the Bekaa Valley. It is about our right to exist.”

Nonetheless, with a room of people offering to help, MK Nachman Shai (Labor) said that he believes, “In the end, BDS will pass.”

“There is cause for optimism,” added MK Lavie. “Look at this conference – these people coming together. The most important thing is to be united against BDS.”

Originial Article: JNS.ORG

US and Israeli flags burned at Bernie protest at DNC

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Bernie Sanders supporters protest Democratic party corruption in favoring Clinton; elements within the crowd seen burning Israel, US flags.

As the Democratic Convention rumbles on in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, controversy continues to rage through the streets of the city.

Supporters of erstwhile primary candidate Bernie Sanders are enraged by revelations in a WikiLeaks publication, which featured thousands of emails sent between members of the Democratic National Committee, in which a desire by party officials to facilitate the nomination of Hillary Clinton emerges as a clear pattern.

Despite considerable efforts by Sanders to calm things down and promote party unity, protests continue outside the Wells Fargo Center, where the convention is being held.

Due to the far-left character of much of the Bernie Sanders support, anti-Israel and anti-American elements are attracted to the protests. On the first night of the convention Palestinian flags were raised in the audience. At the protests on the street last night, flags of countries less approved by some of the protesters were burned. Observers said they saw more PLO flags than US flags at the convention.

Original Article: Arutz Sheva

Palestinians seeking to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour Declaration

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Palestinian Authority urges Arab League to help prepare legal file against UK government over nearly 100-year-old letter.

The Palestinians have called on the Arab League to help them prepare a legal file against the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration almost 100 years ago.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki spoke of the impact of that 1917 document — the first to formally recognize the Jewish right to a homeland — in a speech he delivered on behalf of PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the 27th Arab League Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania on Monday evening.

“With the coming of this painful anniversary, the passing of approximately 100 years since the historic massacre of our land and our people’s fates, and with the continuation of this catastrophe without a resolution, we call on the secretariat general of the Arab League to support us in preparing a legal file to raise against the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration and thereafter implementing it as a mandatory authority,” Maliki said.

Maliki then proceeded to thank Arab countries and other states, who have supported the Palestinian issue. “Our people will not forget the good countries and peoples, especially our Arab brothers and many other friendly countries, who extended and still extend their hands in supporting, standing beside, and embracing our people in its trials and tribulations,” he said.

In a separate context, Maliki affirmed that Arab states should not normalize relations with Israel before the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“We warn Arab states of the concept of ‘regional cooperation and security’, which is aimed at creating regional security cooperation between Arab countries and Israel and normalizing relations before the end of the Israeli occupation,” he stated.

Maliki also said that the Palestinian leadership supports an independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders. “The time has come, before its too late, to galvanize Arab and international support to enable our people to achieve its freedom and independence, establishing an independent Palestinian state along June 4, 1967 borders,” he said.

Since the failure of the last round of negotiations in May 2014, the Palestinian leadership renewed a international campaign to achieve statehood.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

US Policy on Judea and Samaria Is Hindering Peace

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The United States Consulate in Jerusalem reported that two NBA players, along with trainers and administrators, recently traveled through Jerusalem and the West Bank. The trip was made possible by the Consulate General. The players were Kelenna Azubuike and Temeka Johnson, and they ran clinics for several hundred Palestinian players and coaches.

This trip was termed a “sports diplomacy” initiative to connect Americans and Palestinians through a shared love of sports. The Department of State maintains a #SportsUnited program, which sends American athletes around the world and also brings young international athletes to the United States. The trip is also part of the NBA’s global outreach efforts through the #NBACares program.

It would be safe to assume that a visit to a Jewish community was not on the schedule. I have highlighted the situation of disallowing any Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria from participating in such programs here, here and here.

This shunning of Jews is a major failure of the State Department. The problem isn’t officials on the ground — it’s the directives from Washington, which ignore or exclude Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria from all such programs.

Let me make it clear: I am all for sports being used to encourage all peoples to learn the value of rules, community and fairness. I think Arab children and coaches, outside of basketball, could apply those lessons to other fields of human endeavors.

I just don’t see why the Consulate excludes the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria from its various programs, as well as from its student grant and aid funds. Having Jews and Arabs learn about basketball and play together could be a tremendous step towards peace, or at least coexistence or mutual tolerance.

Peace cannot be forced. It needs be developed. Peace is actual life and relationships between peoples.

Original Article: Algemeiner

Georgia Democrat compares Israeli settlers to burrowing termites

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Rep. Hank Johnson apologizes for ‘poor choice of words’ after ADL pans his ‘offensive, unhelpful’ comments.

As a contentious convention got underway under stormy skies in Philadelphia, a prominent Georgia Democrat came under fire Monday for seeming to compare Israeli settlers to termites during an event supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement held on the convention’s sidelines.

Speaking at an event sponsored by the pro-BDS organization US Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation, Johnson complained that “there has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself, there has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity and at an ever increasing rate to the point where it has become alarming.”

Johnson’s comments were initially reported in the right-wing Washington Free Beacon, and the Georgia congressman has not challenged their accuracy, although his office did challenge the original report’s headline that the legislator had called Israelis termites.

“It has come to the point that occupation, with highways that cut through Palestinian land, with walls that go up, with the inability or the restriction, with the illegality of Palestinians being able to travel on those roads and those roads cutting off Palestinian neighborhoods from each other,” Johnson continued during his Monday morning comments. “And then with the building of walls and the building of checkpoints that restrict movement of Palestinians. We’ve gotten to the point where the thought of a Palestinian homeland gets further and further removed from reality.”

The Anti-Defamation League called Johnson’s comments “offensive and unhelpful” and asked the lawmaker to retract his remarks. “Demonization, dehumanization of settlers doesn’t advance peace,” the organization tweeted.

Johnson later apologized for his remarks, saying they were a “poor choice of words.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition asked how long it would take for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party to officially denounce Johnson.

Johnson is also listed on J Street’s website, which allows readers to donate to his re-election campaign. According to the organization, Johnson has traveled both to Israel and to the Palestinian territories, and “is a strong supporter of J Street’s mission.”

The Anti-Defamation League described Johnson’s comments as “an offensive and unhelpful characterization.”

In a tweet directed at the congressman, the organization chided that “demonization, dehumanization of settlers doesn’t advance peace.”

Johnson responded directly to the organization, also using the social media platform to say that the comment reflected a “poor choice of words.”

“Apologies for offense,” continued the legislator who represents Atlanta suburbs in DeKalb County. “Point is settlement activity continues (to) slowly undermine 2-state solution.”

In addition to challenging the original headline in a statement to Johnson’s local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the congressman’s office emphasized that “Congressman Johnson did not call Israelis termites but did say the settlement policies threaten peace and the two-state solution.”

“Congressman Johnson did not intend to insult or speak derogatorily of the Israelis or the Jewish people,” the statement continued. “When using the metaphor of termites, the Congressman was referring to the corrosive process, not the people.”

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Ironically, Johnson was elected to replace former representative Cynthia McKinney who garnered headlines over the weekend when she claimed on Twitter that an Israeli photographer had been on hand for massacres in Nice and Munich, proving in her mind that Israel had a hand in both attacks.

McKinney, a former Democrat now affiliated with the Green Party, posted a conspiracy theory video on Twitter, adding her comment: “Same Israeli photographer captures Nice and Munich tragedies. How likely is that? Remember the Dancing Israelis?…”

“Dancing Israelis” refers to a widely discredited conspiracy theory that five Israeli men were arrested in New Jersey on September 11, 2001, after being seen celebrating the terror attack.

This was not the former Georgia representative’s first brush with complaints of anti-Semitism. McKinney, who served from 1992 to 2002, was defeated in the 2002 Democratic primary day after her father appeared on TV saying “Jews have bought everybody … J-E-W-S.”

Johnson’s comments came at a convention in which Palestinian claims have sprung to the forefront of the fractious politics of the left-leaning party. Yellow stickers proclaiming support for Palestinian rights were distributed at the entrance to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ afternoon address to his delegates.

Later in the day, activists unfurled Palestinian flags on the convention’s main floor when delegates participated in a voice vote to approve the party’s platform.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a prominent feature of the platform drafting debate, with Sanders representatives pushing for — but failing to secure — stronger language decrying Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian land.

Original Article: The Times Of Israel