Weekly roundup of world briefs


Israel opening its universities to besieged US Jewish students

(JNS) — Israel has launched a program to facilitate the educational transfer of Jewish students from American universities under siege by pro-Hamas agitators.

The Israeli Diaspora Affairs Ministry has issued the call to Israeli universities to absorb as many Jewish-American college students as possible, with the assistance of a data-driven program developed by Inbal Ratz-Gilmore and professor Yuval Sinai of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a Jerusalem-based think tank that promotes free-market policies.

“When we developed this program, it was to help Jewish-American students strengthen the connection to Israel and to overcome bureaucracy.  Now that American students are under siege, this is the right policy at the right time to give Jewish students a safe space,” said Gilmore.

Jewish college students in the United States are facing a relentless wave of antisemitic hatred from anti-Israel mobs, with the weeks-long encampments increasingly turning disruptive and violent as administrations start to crack down on them.

This violent trend has been demonstrated in recent days at New York’s Columbia University, where the police were brought in to break up the pro-Hamas protests on Tuesday night.

Clashes broke out at the University of California, Los Angeles on Tuesday night after the administration declared the encampment “unlawful,” with local media reporting on the notable absence of police forces on the scene to restore order amid unverified reports of injuries.

Ritchie Torres, Mike Lawler introduce bill that would allow feds to name antisemitism monitors to campuses

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two New York congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, introduced a bill that would allow the federal government to compel universities to accept supervision from an antisemitism monitor.

The bill introduced Friday by Reps. Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, and Mike Lawler, a Rockland County Republican, comes in the wake of anti-Israel protests roiling Columbia University. The lawmakers named the bill the COLUMBIA (College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability) Act.

It would allow the federal government to bring in an outside monitor to oversee how universities accused of allowing antisemitism to fester on campus are dealing with the allegations.

“The monitor would be appointed by the Secretary of Education, the terms and conditions of the monitorship would be set by the Secretary, and the expenses of the monitorship would be paid by the particular college or university that has been selected for monitorship,” said a release from Torres’ office. “Failure to comply with the monitorship would result in the loss of federal funds.”

Torres stands out as a progressive who has been unapologetically pro-Israel. He got a hero’s welcome in the country during a recent visit.

A number of his fellow progressives in the Democratic caucus have decried what they depict as an overreaction by local, state and federal governments to the pro-Palestinian protests sweeping campuses.

Lawler, who has a substantial Jewish population in his district, has similarly been outspoken in his defense of Israel.

Efforts underway in Poland to preserve shoe remains from Holocaust victims

(JNS) — Musician Grzegorz Kwiatkowski says walking doesn’t feel right on the ground outside of what was once the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdańsk, Poland. He learned the reason for that—and is now doing something about the tons of rubber from the decaying shoes of those murdered by the German Nazis during World War II and the Holocaust.

He is now working to raise awareness about the need to preserve and study the remains of the footwear, including identifying their owners, wrote The Guardian. He said the area “should have been fenced off, first and foremost, right from the start.”

Kwiatkowski has called for forensic and other experts to find out where the shoes came from and who owned them “in honor and commemoration of the victims.”

“They should now be dug out—and not only preserved and put on display but thoroughly examined by experts to find out who owned them,” he said, adding that they should be “the pride of the museum authorities.”

The Polish government is said to be exploring options on measures to save them.

“The past is not the past, it’s the present,” Kwiatkowski said. “Ignoring the artifacts of genocide is a scandal, and this scandal radiates.”

The topic becomes more pressing with the approach of Yom Hashoah on May 6.

Poll shows Harvard faculty divided over severity of campus antisemitism

(JNS) — Harvard University’s student newspaper published research providing a snapshot of views held by professors at the Ivy League school on the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip after Oct. 7.

The annual Faculty of Arts and Sciences survey by The Harvard Crimson—open from April 3-17 to more than 1,400 faculty members—received 508 responses, 310 completed in full. The stated goal of the poll, which varies the topic from year to year, is to provide a broad understanding of faculty experiences and to compare conditions with peer institutions.

The results showed that 59.4 percent of respondents either “somewhat” or “strongly” disagreed with the claim of systemic antisemitism at the college in Cambridge, Mass. Those who “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed measured 25.2 percent.

Those who believe that Israel has engaged in genocide against the Palestinians numbered 28 percent while those regarding Israel’s response as merely “excessive” numbered 47.9 percent. Those who support Israel’s efforts to eradicate Hamas from Gaza numbered 14.2 percent, with 1.4 percent claiming that the Jewish state has not gone far enough.

The survey also showed significant numbers supporting Israelis or Palestinians while rejecting their leaders. Those advocating for Palestinians but not for Hamas reached 72 percent, while those rejecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration reached 67 percent. Those who support both Israel and Netanyahu numbered 2.9 percent while Hamas-supporting Palestinian voices only added up to 2.6 percent.

This comes in the wake of congressional testimony by then-university president Claudine Gay on Dec. 5, when she did not state that genocide against Jews was against school policy. She resigned on Jan. 2, six months after she accepted the job.

Anti-Israel protests started on campus almost immediately after the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7 that left 1,200 people dead and more than 250 men, women and children taken hostage by Hamas into Gaza, where as many as 133 are still being held captive.

IDF to establish safe zone for Rafah evacuees in central Gaza

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces will establish a humanitarian safe zone in the central Gaza Strip as part of preparations for the evacuation of noncombatants from the southernmost city of Rafah.

It will be located south of Wadi Gaza and north of the central camps—Nuseirat and Bureij, near the east-west Netzarim Corridor the IDF recently created to split the Strip into two parts, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.

Additionally, the current shelter area near the southern coastal town of Al-Mawasi will be expanded eastward towards Khan Yunis.

(Before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Al-Mawasi was a Bedouin enclave within the Katif Bloc of Israeli communities.)

The evacuation preparations come ahead of an expected IDF offensive in Rafah, Hamas’s last terror bastion where four of its last six battalions are entrenched, consisting of several thousand fighters. Jerusalem says that conquering the city on the Egyptian border is essential to winning the war. 

However, there is intense international opposition to a full-scale offensive, including from the United States, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Riyadh on Monday that “we have not yet seen a plan that gives us confidence that civilians can be effectively protected.”

The American diplomat was in Israel on Wednesday to discuss the Rafah operation concerns and push for a hostage release deal, saying that Hamas is solely responsible for the lack of an agreement.

Warsaw synagogue firebombed

(JNS) — Warsaw’s Nożyk Synagogue, the only Jewish house of worship in the Polish capital that survived the Holocaust, was hit with three firebombs overnight Tuesday.

The attack caused slight damage and no injuries, according to the Associated Press.

Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told the AP that the synagogue was spared “by tremendous luck or miracle.”

Israel’s Ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne said, “Outrageous antisemitic attacks such as this cannot be tolerated. The perpetrators must be found and punished.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda condemned the “shameful attack,” adding, “There is no place for antisemitism in Poland! There is no place for hatred in Poland!”

Some 3 million Polish Jews were exterminated in Nazi death camps located in occupied Poland during WWII.

The Warsaw Ghetto was established by Nazi forces in 1940 as a segregated and confined area where hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to live in extremely cramped and inhumane conditions.

In 1943, as the Nazis began the final stages of liquidating the ghetto and deporting its inhabitants to extermination camps, the ghetto’s Jewish inhabitants, primarily from various resistance organizations, initiated armed resistance despite being significantly outnumbered and outgunned by.

The face-off lasted more than a month before the Nazis brutally suppressed the uprising and the ghetto was razed to the ground, but the episode has become a symbol of Jewish resistance and the struggle for human rights and freedom during the Holocaust.

Police arrest anti-Israel activists on Emory campus, including faculty members

(JNS) — Gregory L. Fenves, president of Emory University in Atlanta, released a statement on Friday about campus protests the day before that resulted in 28 arrests, placing the blame on outside agitators for a demonstration that ended in violence.

Professor Noëlle McAfee, chair of the philosophy department, was one of three faculty members arrested on April 25. She describes herself as “a critical theorist working in the tradition of the Frankfurt School, drawing on feminist philosophy, psychoanalysis and political theory.”

Fenves told the New York Post, “I am saddened by what took place at Emory. To watch these highly organized, outside protestors (sic) arrive on campus in vans, construct an encampment, and overtake the Quad just days after it was vandalized with hateful and threatening messages was deeply disturbing.”

The demonstrators’ actions led to police utilizing tasers and pepperballs.

In an interview with Atlanta’s 11Alive, McAfee disagreed with the university president’s statement, stating that to “say they were outside agitators” was “false.” She conceded that “there were perhaps some students here from other universities” but countered that the students she had spoken with “are Emory students that I’ve known for years.”

The feminist critical theorist academic said, “I think the outside agitators were the Atlanta police and the Georgia state troopers. They were the agitators.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp released a statement on April 25 saying he was “thankful for state and local law enforcement, which responded swiftly to Emory University’s call for support and restored order on campus.”

Kemp warned that “those who choose to make the unwise decision to use our college campuses to intimidate, make threats, promote violence, or in any other way break the law will be met with the full force of the law and brought to justice.”

The school “will not tolerate vandalism, violence or any attempt to disrupt our campus through the construction of encampments,” said Fenves. “These actions are counter to our values, and they disrupt the core purpose of the university and its educational and research missions.”

House Appropriations Committee member warns schools about inaction on Jew-hatred

(JNS) — Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a statement on Tuesday about the “sharp increase in antisemitism on college campuses nationwide.”

“I respect the right to assemble and free speech. Denying students access to areas of campus because they are Jewish is discrimination,” the congresswoman said. “Intimidating and harassing Jewish students, breaking into academic buildings and spewing hate speech is not legitimate discourse. There is no place for this vile behavior in America.”

“I would remind college and university administrators that violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act could result in a loss of federal funding,” she added.

Israel demolishes Samaria outpost for second time this year

(JNS)  — Israeli security forces on Wednesday evacuated the Givat Or Meir outpost, located in the Binyamin region of Samaria, and arrested some two dozen people who tried to prevent the demolition.

According to the IDF Civil Administration, Givat Or Meir—established last year near Ofra—is built on privately owned Palestinian land. Authorities have repeatedly evacuated the community, most recently in February.

The HaKol HaYehudi news site reported on Wednesday that large numbers of Israel Police officers and Civil Administration inspectors showed up with bulldozers and destroyed Givat Or Meir’s access road.

Close to 30 Israeli teenagers, including at least five girls, were detained by police as they tried to block the forces from carrying out their orders. Police used a large tour bus to remove the detainees.

The demolition, which began on Wednesday morning, lasted more than four hours.

Activist Elisha Yered, who founded the nearby Sde Yonatan outpost, cited on X sources in the area as saying that there was “great fear” that additional outposts were slated for destruction.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich aims to legalize 68 outposts in Judea and Samaria and has instructed various ministries to prepare to provide them with public services, his office announced last week.

The coalition deal between Smotrich’s Religious Zionism Party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud calls for the legalization of these “young settlements” and providing them with electricity and water.

Smotrich has also instructed ministries to plan to establish educational institutions in the outposts, construct roads leading to them and open state-funded clinics therein.

Saudi Arabia reportedly cracking down on anti-Israel voices

By Adi Nirman

(JNS) — As the war between Israel and Hamas drags on, Saudi Arabia is intensifying arrests of citizens for social media posts criticizing Israel or expressing pro-Palestinian views, according to Bloomberg.

The wave of detentions signals Riyadh’s eagerness to pursue diplomatic ties with Israel—provided it commits to Palestinian statehood—and its determination to quash any dissent that could derail normalization efforts, per the reports.

However, the crackdown underscores Saudi Arabia’s broader restrictions on free speech and political expression. Riyadh-based diplomats and human rights groups state that the latest series of arrests are driven by security concerns distinctly connected to the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of Israel and the events that unfolded in its wake, to prevent online rhetoric that could impact national security.

The arrests have targeted individuals whose online comments about the Gaza war were deemed incendiary by authorities, even if the posts were over a decade old.

Those detained, Bloomberg says, include an executive involved in the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic plan, a media figure who stated Israel should never be forgiven and someone calling for a boycott of American fast-food chains.

Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza, calling for an immediate ceasefire. However, the kingdom has also signaled a willingness to pursue warmer relations with Israel.

The arrest of Saudi citizens for posts related to Gaza suggests that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s government will crack down on dissenting voices that do not align with the official stance on normalizing ties with Israel.

The latter is an initiative that Saudi Arabia had been pursuing in coordination with the United States prior to the events of Oct. 7, which appear to have thrown a wrench into those plans.


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