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March 4, 2014

Abuse Of Yik Yak App Underscores Need For Personal Accountability

Update: March 10, 2014 – Threats found on Yik Yak resulted in back-to-back evacuations of a high school in Marblehead, Massachusetts, as well as the lockdown of a Decatur, Alabama, Middle School and a San Clemente, California High School, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some of the schools that have been subject to threats on Yik Yak have reportedly blocked students from accessing the app directly through campus Internet networks. At least four Chicago-area high schools warned parents about Yik Yak in the past two weeks, according to the Chicago Tribune, and principals have asked parents to delete the app from their children’s devices.

The abuse of a controversial new app that enables users to communicate with complete anonymity highlights the need for some user identification functions and personal accountability.yikyak

The app, Yik Yak, which promotes itself as being a place “to post anonymously or under an alias – you can become the talk of the town and never get discovered,”  has been reportedly abused by students in Roswell, Georgia; North Kansas City, Missouri; and Mobile, Alabama.

In Roswell, a letter was sent to parents of High School students saying that “this app is allowing students to verbally abuse each other, teachers and staff…”

In North Kansas City, one parent found a hateful post about her daughter as well as teachers and administrators.

And in Mobile, two students under the age of 16 were reportedly arrested for using the app to make terroristic threats. Apparently acting separately, each allegedly used Yik Yak to threatened shootings at local high schools. They were arrested on felony charges.

These incidents emphasize the consequences of a lack of any registration requirements, including age verification, or a cursory online identification.

In his latest book Viral Hate, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman speaks to this issue, noting that “emboldened by anonymity,” individuals are “freely spewing hateful vitriol on the Internet without worrying about repercussions. Lies, bullying, conspiracy theories, bigoted and racist rants, and calls for violence targeting the most vulnerable circulate openly on the web.”

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June 19, 2013

Anti-Israel Groups Organize Youth Summer Camps

As summer nears for millions of students across the country, anti-Israel organizations are recruiting them to spend some of their free time being indoctrinated in anti-Israel advocacy and a one-sided narrative of Palestinian history and culture.boycott_divestment_sanctions

The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that has long engaged in efforts to delegitimize Israel, has teamed up with the notoriously anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace to hold a four-day-long “Summer BDS Institute” in late July for college-age students who are already involved in pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigning on their college campuses or are interested in launching a BDS campaign on campus next year.

Proponents of BDS, an almost decade-old movement, seek to demonize Israel, delegitimize Israeli policy and, in its most extreme forms, promote the destruction of the Jewish character of Israel in an effort to turn public opinion against the Jewish state.

The program will train students about organizing and implementing a campaign, dealing with media requests, “direct action” planning and more. The program, which will take place in New York, is cynically being promoted as “fun in a summer camp-like environment!” on AFSC’s website. It is the latest effort by off-campus anti-Israel groups to provide students with the tools to better organize and initiate programs attacking Israel on campus.

JVP is one of the leading pro-BDS organizations in the United States and is the primary group behind, thus far unsuccessful, efforts to pressure TIAA-CREF, a major financial institution, to disinvest from multinational companies that work with Israel. AFSC has also, to a lesser extent, played a part in promoting BDS in the U.S. and sponsors dozens of anti-Israel events and programs across the country.

In September 2008, AFSC members met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he was visiting New York for the UN General Assembly. AFSC was one of five religious groups to sponsor a dinner and conversation – billed as an “international dialogue between religious leaders and political figures” – with the Iranian leader, one of the world’s most prominent anti-Semites. ADL forcefully condemned the meeting as a “perversion of the search for peace.”

Separately, American Muslims for Palestine, the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country, plans to hold a summer camp for youth aged 8-12 in Chicago on Saturdays throughout the summer.

AMP, which had previously been in the business of training high school and college students and adults to engage in anti-Israel campaigns, has a highly political agenda and regularly demonizes Israel. At times, the group has also provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans about “the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination.”

A description for the camp notes that the children will be taught about “Palestine and its history,” which will likely be a much distorted version of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The description also notes that the children will learn about Palestinian arts, culture and history and “participate in fun activities.”

ADL described the summer camp programs as venues to “indoctrinate the next generation of activists with biased messages intended to single out Israel” and criticized AMP’s “cynical calculation that there is no such thing as being too young to start learning how to hate Israel.”

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June 7, 2012

Anti-Israel Group Increases Outreach to High School Students

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a Chicago-based anti-Israel organization, is planning to host a joint conference on “Palestine activism” with the High School Muslim Student Association of Southern California (HSMSA), an inter-high school network of Muslim student organizations.

The conference is scheduled to take place on June 24 at the University of California, Irvine, a center for virulently anti-Israel campus activity in recent years. It is part of AMP’s 7th annual campaign to commemorate the “Nakba,” an Arabic term that means “catastrophe” and is used by Palestinians and their supporters to describe Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

AMP organizers say the conference is designed to help “train high school, college, and non-student activists on issues pertinent to Palestine activism.” The list of speakers invited to “educate” students on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict include several anti-Israel activists known for their use of rhetoric to delegitimize Israel.

Speakers include Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the anti-Israel Electronic Intifada blog; Taher Herzallah, AMP’s National Campus Coordinator and one of the 11 students arrested for shouting down Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during a 2010 speech at UC Irvine; and Osama Abu Irshaid, an AMP board member who has previously expressed support for Hezbollah and conspiratorially alleged that the U.S. government makes decisions based on the “influential Jewish community.”

AMP targeted high school students earlier this year when it held its first high school training session in Villa Park, Illinois. The workshop was similarly organized to the upcoming conference at UC Irvine and included workshops on subjects such as the Islamic significance of Palestine, activism, and how to utilize the media.

This year’s AMP Nakba campaign consists primarily of educational and training sessions designed to “raise awareness about the occupation” and to “help bring justice and liberty to the Holy Land.” These events will be held throughout the month of June across the Southern California region, which include the cities of Hawthorne, Corona-Narco, Anaheim, Temecula, and Lomita.

AMP has increasingly made an effort to engage in facilitating student activism on college campuses and high schools nationwide. The importance of encouraging AMP’s presence among students was the central theme of the organization’s 2011 national conference, where a number of sessions were dedicated to how students can discuss the issue of Palestine in schools and on campuses. AMP’s concerted effort to engage with students has led to increased collaboration with on campus anti-Israel groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

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