Donate Shop Register


How visits from an Iranian-Israeli musician and Iraqi-Jewish-American writer to
How visits from an Iranian-Israeli musician and Iraqi-Jewish-American writer to Stanford demonstrate that divestment is faulty



By Doniel Kaye
The Stanford Daily
March 5, 2013


On November 3rd, Stanford hosted Iranian-Israeli musician Rita Jahanforuz.  The 50-year-old celebrity has delighted audiences in Israel for decades with her unique blending of music genres from throughout the Middle East.  She espouses her intent to “puncture the wall of tension” between Israel and Iran, hoping to bridge divides between people through her multicultural personal background and musical medleys.  As she puts it, her aim is to serve as an “ambassador of peace.”  Melodious in both her ability to harmonize music and unite people of various backgrounds, Rita is the quintessential multicultural success story.

Earlier this month, the author and radio show host Joseph Braude addressed the ways in which different ethnic and cultural demographics within Israel produces the multiculturalism Jahanforuz celebrates through her music.  Mr. Braude was invited to speak at Stanford on the topic of “Jews in the Arab World” from the perspective of a seasoned reporter and an Iraqi Jewish-American.  Braude’s talk, which was sponsored by JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), highlighted the little-known story of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Mr. Braude expressed how grave circumstances led to the migration of Arab Jews from Arab lands after the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.  Approximately 850,000 Jews were expelled or forced to flee from the Middle East and North Africa.

Just two significant Jewish communities remain in North Africa, in Morocco and Tunisia.  The once robust community of a quarter million Jews in Morocco is now 6,000.  The Tunisian Jewish population of 100,000 has dwindled to 2,000.

Many of these displaced persons immigrated to Israel. Largely as a result, nearly half of the Israeli population is of Middle Eastern and North African descent, accounting for much of the nation’s diverse ethnic and cultural composition.

Approximately 20% of the Israeli population is non-Jewish, and 14% identify as Arab-Muslim.  All citizens, regardless of race or creed, are represented and participate fully in Israeli national politics.  Arab-Muslims have held as many as 12 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, and add significantly to the plurality of opinions and perspectives represented in Israeli society.

As Stanford students interested in gaining more comprehensive, nuanced, and accurate understandings of current developments around the world, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is imperative to familiarize ourselves with these stories – the stories of Jews from Arab countries as well as other minorities who have been affected by tension and intolerance.  Understanding the origins of current demographic realities in the region will help us to more fully contextualize different narratives on crucial issues affecting Israel – notably among them divestment, which is currently under debate in the ASSU Undergraduate Senate.

The Associated Students of Stanford University are responsible for representing the entire student body, and by extension, exercise discretion and sensibility when considering proposals that will affect the university.  The Selective Divestment campaign is connected to the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to undermine reconciliation efforts between the Palestinians and Israelis by singling out Israel as the antagonist in the conflict through a process of targeted demonization.

Much like the United States, Israel is and always has been a melting pot, a nation composed of peoples of myriad ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  Yes, Israel is imperfect – no one will deny this.

But let us look at the bigger picture.  How does Israel approach its problems?  It does so rigorously, through multicultural democratic processes – through public debate, discourse and compromise.  The scale is in constant flux.  The balancing act never ends.  Just as any other society striving toward the ideal of democracy, Israel is working on striking the right balance, to preserve both liberty and security.

Targeting a country populated by peoples of various backgrounds – a country that pursues and strives for justice, congruity, and equality in all facets of public life – is unwise and counterproductive.  When the international community condemns Israel, like the BDS campaign does without question, it serves to alienate rather than unite.  Perversely but understandably, it makes Israel feel more weary of a world that insists on criticizing and vilifying its actions rather than collaborating in efforts toward peace.

If the ASSU chooses to support BDS, indubitably, many students will be estranged.  Many will be extremely offended, uncomfortable, and unaccepted.  At a minimum, the ASSU, as a deliberative body representing all the students at Stanford, must understand the consequences of its actions.

Doniel Kaye
Stanford University Class of 2015
StandWithUs Emerson Fellow
Campus Outreach Chair of the Stanford Israel Alliance



Read article here
Other stories
12/2/2016
StandWithUs Canada Applauds Ontario Legislature Vote Against Intolerance on December 1, 20...
12/1/2016
I write this in fear of what we have become and accepted as our norms. I write this refle...
12/1/2016
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has various offshoots worldwide. To educate...
11/30/2016
StandWithUs is partnering with North West Friends of Israel and Sussex Friends of Israel f...
11/30/2016
Over the past year and a half, I found myself disappointed by the relentless hatred that h...
11/29/2016
On Tuesday, November 8th, the United States witnessed an unprecedented election. After ext...
11/28/2016
Leaders of Tomorrow Gala was held at Gotham in Manhattan, NY on November 13th, 2016 by Sta...
11/28/2016
Rayna Exelbierd, StandWithUs Southeast High School Coordinator will share her journey fro...
11/25/2016
Midreshet Shalhevet`s Committee for Israel Activism (CIA), led by Mr. Simcha Bader and clu...
11/23/2016
The first time Israeli animal rights activist Chen Cohen met the StandWithUs staffer who i...
11/23/2016
Like any teen, Muhammad Zoabi dreamed he might make his mark someday. He did, but not in t...
11/17/2016
StandWithUs Espanol...
11/16/2016
StandWithUs Congratulates U of Michigan Students for Defeating Discriminatory Divestment R...
11/16/2016
Alums for Campus Fairness congratulates Oberlin College...
11/15/2016
Wrapped in Israeli flags and holding signs condemning UNESCO, hundreds of people walked in...
11/15/2016
On this unseasonably warm and sunny day, students sit on the grassy knoll of McGill Univer...
11/15/2016
Around this time a year ago, the Daily, as well as many other publications throughout the ...
11/15/2016
On September 20, the UN General Assembly began its 2016 session. This, and thousands of ot...
11/15/2016
On November 10, 2016, Bellator MMA held their first major worldwide broadcast event in Tel...

 

About Us
Get Involved
Resources
Shop For Israel
Social Media
StandWithUs Websites