As 2018 is coming to a close, we have seen a significant uptick in the normalization of anti-Semitism in the US and around the world compounded by the political toxicity on the Left and the Right. The American university is now in many instances a toxic environment for both students and faculty who have an open mind about Israel.
Moreover, since the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, campuses have been directly impacted as we see Jewish professors and students been targeted more actively.
The environment has clearly motivated the University of California to issue the first of its kind, condemnation against faculty who support BDS especially, following the recent events at the University of Michigan and Pitzer College.
The ten chancellors of the University of California stated,
“As chancellors of the University of California campuses, we write to reaffirm our long-standing opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and/or individual scholars…We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East.”
Still, we expect more challenges and hurdles in 2019 as the continued relentless misrepresentation of the reality of the Middle East gets skewed by fallacious human rights violations, slanderous talk of Israeli “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” all which are taking a massive toll on Western civil discourse.
As always, we welcome your feedback and article submissions.
Wishing you and your families a Happy Holiday Season and Happy New Year!
Asaf Romirowsky, PhD
Below you will find a recent report by the President of SPME’s German Chapter on the recent Israel Conference in Frankfurt
A Short Report on the Israel Conference 2018 in Frankfurt.
By Dr. Elvira Groezinger, President of SPME Germany
On November 24 und 25, Frankfurt the 5th traditional bi-annual international Israel Conference took place which was by Sacha Stawski, member of the German Branch of SPME, and his team. Stawski is the founder, editor and Chairman of Honestly Concerned, a Pro-Israel association and internet platform fighting Antisemitism and informing about Middle East affairs, and President of ILI-I LIKE ISRAEL, an association promoting Israel via on-line information and organizing annual events, called the Israel-Day in many German cities. Stawski was aided this year by Maya Zehden, co-director of ILI and Vice-President of the German-Israeli Society. The organization of this big event is quite a challenge but it was mastered well, and the Frankfurt Convention Center near the main railway station was a convenient location.
The Conference this year was again supported by many organizations, including the Israeli Embassy, Israel Bonds, the Magistrate of the City of Frankfurt, the B’nai B’rith Loge, Chamber of Trade and Industry as well as the Chamber of Commerce, and many others. Among the participating organizations was the SPME, represented by the General Director, Dr. Asaf Romirowsky, KKL, The AJC, IsraAID Germany, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Middle East Forum (MEF), Christians with Israel, MFFB, IIBSA, Israel Bonds etc.
The President of the State of Israel, Ruven Rivlin, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Yuli-Yoel Ederlstein, President of the Knesset and Ron Huldai, the Mayor of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa sent their greetings. Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, the Minister of Culture of the Land of Hessen, Frankfurt’s Mayor and Treasurer, Uwe Becker, together with the Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, the Director General Ran Ichay from the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, opened the conference.
The various panels included a presentation of “Israeli Organizations making the world into a better place”, dealt with “opportunities and challenges facing Israel in the international arena”, discussing the possible means of attaining a peaceful coexistence reaching out also to the next generation by “changing the culture of hatred and seizing opportunities for peace” and the “chances for building peace in the region”. Further focus was dedicated to the German-Israeli relations, such as “German-Israeli friendship on the parliamentary level”, and to topics connected with human rights, technology transfer, research, economy and education.
High-calibre speakers and facilitators included well-known personalities, among others Deidre Berger (AJC), Hillel Neuer (UN Watch), Dr. Asaf Romirowsky (SPME), Daniel Pipes, Dr. Felix Klein, Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the fight against anti-Semitism, Maj.-Res. Arye Sharuz-Shalicar, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Member of Parliament, Chairman of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag, Ahmad Mansour, Islamism expert, Dr. Adel Feyzi, representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) in Germany, Olga Deutsch, NGO Monitor, Nicola Beer, General Secretary of the FDP, German Liberal Party, Sandra Simovich, Consul General of Israel in Munich, and many more.
The highlights of the conference were the awards ceremonies to special friends of Israel, such as Frankfurt’s Mayor and Treasurer Uwe Becker who received the Special Friendship Prize from the Israeli Ambassador, and the Arno Lustiger Honor Prize to German Sports Youth and the Soccer Club Eintracht Frankfurt promoting German-Israeli friendship. The eulogy was held by the politician and sports functionary Michaela Engelmeier, a tried and true friend of Israel.
The participation of Arab, Kurdish and Druze representatives gives hope for further progress in building bridges on the way to peace.
Parties, receptions and musical framing completed the program of the gathering as a lively and successful event strengthening the bonds between Israel, Germany, and its genuine friends are looking forward to the next conference in two years’ time.