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October 23, 2014

Tufts University Hosting National Students For Justice In Palestine Conference

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the nation’s largest pro-Palestinian student organization with more than 80 active chapters on college and university campuses, will hold its 4th National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference at Tufts University. The conference, which runs from October 24-26, is titled “Beyond Solidarity: Resisting Racism and Colonialism from the U.S. to Palestine,” a reference to SJP activists’ efforts to connect varying struggles and movements to the Palestinian cause.sjp-national-conference-tufts-university

As with previous SJP national conferences this year’s conference is only open to students who are active with a campus group. The conference is set to feature a wide array of anti-Israel activists, including university professors, students, clergy members, and members of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Among the invited speakers are J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, an Associate Professor of American Studies & Anthropology at Wesleyan University and an advisor to the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI); Muhammad Desai, the coordinator of BDS South Africa who was seen singing the words “shoot the Jew” at a 2013 anti-Israel protest; Sara Kershner, a co-founder of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; and several student activists from various SJP chapters.

The conference panels, according to the SJP conference website, will consist of discussions that conflate social justice with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Panel titles include: “From Ferguson to Palestine: Resisting State Violence and Racism,” and “Migrant Justice and the Undocumented Palestinian Experience in the U.S.” SJP chapters often try to link domestic issues and events, such as the Ferguson, Missouri shooting and its aftermath to the conflict in Gaza, couching hostility toward Israel in social justice terms to appeal to a broader audience. In addition, there will also be a session on “Islamic Movements of Palestine,” that will examine “how Islam informed resistance movements and what different ways Islamic movements operated in Palestine.”

In previous years SJP held its national conference at Columbia University in 2011, the University of Michigan in 2012, and at Stanford University in 2013. The conferences typically include inflammatory language and rhetoric to describe Israel, and, at times, speakers have glorified the use of violence by Palestinian groups.

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October 22, 2014

Pro-Hezbollah Hackers Target Media Group For Its Position On Israel

On October 20, pro-Hezbollah hackers took control of the Twitter account of a prominent Lebanese Christian TV station, Murr Television, known as MTV Lebanon, because the station allegedly failed to describe Hamas combatants killed in the fighting with Israel as “martyrs.”mtv-lebanon-hacking-hezbollah

The hackers changed the Twitter account’s cover image to a photo of a Hezbollah fighter under a Hezbollah flag and tweeted a message from the account stating:

“[Only] when you learn the difference between a martyr and a killed [person], between an agent [of Israel] and a resistance fighter…. [Only] When you learn that Israel is the enemy, then your account will return to you. So we don’t forget Palestine.@MTVLebanonNews.”

While no group has claimed responsibility for the hacking, Hezbollah’s media arm,Al Manar, praised the attack in a report published yesterday that read in part, “For several hours today, the flag of Hezbollah kept waving over the public page of MTV twitter account.”

The hacking of MTV Lebanon and subsequent praising of it by Hezbollah’s media arm could represent a new tactic in the way terrorist groups in the Middle East attack their opponents online and spread their ideology to a wider audience. It does not appear that Hezbollah has previously endorsed cyber-attacks against its opponents.

ADL has tracked several hacking operations against Jewish and Israeli institutions by anti-Israel groups.

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October 20, 2014

The Lancet Editor Reconsiders Israel

In a significant about face, Dr. Richard Horton, the editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, published an article on October 11 reflecting on his recent visit to Israel and announcing several policy initiatives the journal will now undertake which will more accurately reflect the Israeli medical system and deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Horton’s visit to Israel and his written reflections came in the aftermath of a firestorm that met The Lancet’s posting on July 23 of a highly one-sided, propagandistic  “Open Letter for the People of Gaza,”  condemning Israeli “aggression” in Gaza and charging Israel and Israeli physicians with full culpability for the situation in Gaza.    The letter, signed by 24 individuals who identified themselves as “doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives” (many of whom have been strongly critical of Israel for a long time), appeared on The Lancet website without any counter-perspective and, initially, the publication encouraged readers to add their names. As of July 30, the website had garnered 20,000 signatures before the signing function was shut down. The Lancet later posted a handful of letters in response to the Gaza open letter on its website, including many by Israeli physicians and medical professionals.

Controversy over the letter raged at the height of the Israel-Hamas conflict, with many, including ADL, calling into questions Dr. Horton’s decision to feature such a “partisan” and “highly politicized screed.”

In September, Horton, invited by Professor Karl Skorecki of the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, decided to visit Israel for the first time. (See a video of his speech at Rambam below.)   The reality of Israel apparently took Dr. Horton by surprise.  He writes:

At Rambam I saw an inspiring model of partnership between Jews and Arabs in a part of Israel where 40% of the population is Arab. I saw Rambam offering an open hand, gladly grasped by families from Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria, who were living with life-threatening health-care needs. I saw Rambam as one example of a vision for a peaceful and productive future between peoples, which I learned exists throughout Israel’s hospitals.

Significantly, Dr. Horton admitted :  “I have seen for myself that what was written in the Manduca et al letter does not describe the full reality.”

He also laid out new guidelines for the editors to more thoroughly review the “interests” of authors, as well as consider how to approach potentially divisive and polarizing content, and announced plans for a Lancet series on Israel’s health and medical system.

In a letter to Dr. Horton, ADL commended his article and statements and requested that a link to it appear prominently alongside the “Open Letter” which can still be found on The Lancet website.   ADL also noted that:

In your October 11 article you state that “…The Lancet opposes all forms of boycott.”   You may be aware that numerous anti-Israel resolutions presented in universities, professional associations and the like – including those calling for boycotts of and divestment from Israel – cite material from The Lancet in bolstering their advocacy.  We urge you to speak out against all efforts to link The Lancet to advocacy in favor of boycotting Israel, its academics and professionals.

Dr. Horton says he will return to Israel in January 2015.  Medical professional around the world will watch with interest what might result from this new awareness and openness to Israel.

 

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