OBERLIN COLLEGE in Ohio has placed a professor who made some anti-Israel tweets on leave. Oberlin placed Professor Joy Karega on paid leave and announced she will not be permitted to teach on campus any longer. She is an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition. During Spring semester, the school had defended her academic freedom after her postings on social media made international news. An Oberlin statement read: “In March, in consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the trustees of Oberlin College asked the administration and faculty to ‘challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings. The college initiated its faculty governance process to review Dr. Karega’s professional fitness in light of these postings.? The faculty governance process that began thereafter is ongoing, and the Oberlin administration will continue to respect this process as it plays out. Until that process is complete, Dr. Karega has been placed on paid leave and will not teach at Oberlin.” Her rhetoric included postings that blamed Jews for the 9/11 terror attacks; and posted a picture of an ISIS fighter with a Star of David tattoo on his forearm pulling off a mask, exposing the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Earlier this year, President Krislov wrote, “I am a practicing Jew, grandson of an Orthodox rabbi. Members of our family were murdered in the Holocaust. As someone who has studied history, I cannot comprehend how any person could or would question its existence, its horrors and the evil which caused it. I feel the same way about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories… I am also the son of a tenured faculty member at a large research university. My father instilled in me a strong belief in academic freedom. I believe, as the American Association of University Professors says, that academic freedom is ‘the indispensable quality of institutions of higher education’ because it encourages free inquiry, promotes the expansion of knowledge, and creates an environment in which learning and research can flourish.”
POLITICO is the first secular media site to interview Trump’s go-to-man on Israel. It is filled with cliches like “mild-mannered” and mentions of gold covered office furnishings, but gives a nice portrait of the man. The “man” is Trump’s lawyer who has an office nearly adjacent to Trump’s. Jason Greenblatt, 49, an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions, is a graduate of Yeshiva University and has visited Israel several times. he is the Chief Legal Officer of the Trump Organization. He even studied in a yeshiva there. While he doesn’t have the credentials that other presidential advisers usually possess, such as a doctorate in foreign policy, time in the foreign service or NSA, a membership in the CFR, he is loyal to Trump, and that counts for a lot more. He is not so haughty as to take the spotlight and say that he is Trump’s policy advisor. He sees himself as assembling a team of experts: Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee. While professionals may grouse at his position (For example, Lisa SPies who did Jewish outreach for Romney’s campaign said, “To me it’s almost degrading to say, just because you’re Jewish, you know this… This is degrading to people who actually do this professionally.”) I am sure that AIPAC and other people close to Israel’s government are making a bee-line to Jason’s ear (his ear is pictured above at an RNC minyan).
Speaking of Trump, The Jewish Journal in Los Angeles profilesDavid Friedman, Trump’s Number Two Man on Israel Policy. Friedman, another Trump attorney is the 58-year old son of a well known NYC rabbi and – like Trump – a native New Yorker. He heads the American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which raises money for project in the settlement and is a regular columnist in Arutz Sheva.
The Black Lives Matter movement (or the coalition of groups that are affiliated with it, or the Movement for Black Lives) issued a statement on its agenda this week. Among their six demands were Reparations, End the War on Black People, and stop funding Israel and use these funds for reparations. In their words, “… approximately 3 billion dollars in US aid is allocated to Israel, a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades… resources and funds needed for reparations and for building a just and equitable society domestically are instead used to wage war against a majority of the world’s communities.”
The Washington Post reports that some Jewish groups have criticized the platform. While Jewish groups believe in more funding or progressive policies on education, food insecurity, criminal sentencing and policing, many Jewish groups are angered by the platform’s calls for an end to U.S. federal aid for Israel and by stating that funding makes America “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”
On the other hand… two members of Boston’s Jewish community wrote an opinion in The Forward that said as two Jewish queer women, they supported the platform. In their opinion, the organized Jewish community are out of touch with young Jews if they criticize the Black Lives Matter platform.
Story ideas come from everywhere. Imaa Hadid reports in The New York Times that that a policeman in an Australian airport told her about how how sponsored a boy in the West Bank through World Vision for many years and wondered what happened to him. The reporter visited the town near Bethlehem and quickly found the boy, now 18, and his extended family. Sure, World Vision helped the town of Husan, but the individual child? Not really. Turns out the children never really knew their photos and names were being used to solicit funds. World Vision, like Save The Children, used to promote a perception that donors were sponsoring and corresponding with actual children. The monies are actually pooled and used for large projects that benefit groups and communities and not individuals. It is like someone going to a JNF forest and looking for the actual specific tree that they donated.
In brighter news, Yossi Klein Halevi profiles Rabbi Micha Odenheimer, who heads the Jerusalem-based NGO Tevel b’Tzedek, which brings young Israeli volunteers to Nepalese villages to support long-term change.