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Anti-Semitism on Southern universities discussed in Boca Raton

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Sergio Carmona

December 20, 2019



From left, Talia Lerner, Hussein Aboubakr, TM Garret and Carly Gammill at the StandWithUs event, "New Anti-Semitism meets Old: Southern Jews, Southern Universities," in Boca Raton. (Alec Mandell/Courtesy)

StandWithUs/Southeast recently presented a program in Boca Raton that raised awareness about anti-Semitism and anti-Israel actions on Southern college campuses.


StandWithUs, founded in 2001, is an organization that's dedicated to educating people of all ages and faiths about Israel and combating anti-Semitism. The Boca Raton-based Southeast regional office's program, called "New Anti-Semitism meets Old: Southern Jews, Southern Universities," featured a panel discussion moderated by Carly Gammill, director of the SWU Center for Combating Anti-Semitism. Panelists were Talia Lerner, SWU southern campus coordinator; Hussein Aboubakr, an educator for the organization who is considered an expert on anti-Semitism in the Arab world; and TM Garret, a former white supremacist leader who is now an author, public speaker and human rights activist.


Sara Gold Rafel, executive director for SWU/SE, said, "This is a powerful event we created to raise the issue of what is happening right now on Southern campuses."


“Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel actions and rhetoric have escalated, fueled by both the far right and the far left. This is the old anti-Semitism meeting the new. Are these hateful and anti-Semitic incidents on Southern campuses omens for rest of the country? This needed to be exposed to the community. I am encouraged by the turnout, that there are so many concerned people who want to be educated.”


During the program, Lerner provided examples of anti-Semitic incidents including swastikas, Nazi paraphernalia, the resurgence of the Apartheid Wall and staged and disruptive walk-outs by Students for Justice in Palestine at pro-Israel events on college campuses. Targeted campuses mentioned include the University of Florida, Florida State University and Duke University. She also discussed the agreement the University of North Carolina had to reach with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to settle a complaint filed against it for hosting an anti-Israel conference on Gaza. There was an article quoting Gammill about it in the gift bag guests received.


The program was co-chaired by SWU/SE board member Susan Mandell and Rosette and Abe Narkunski, members of the Polo Club in Boca Raton, where the event took place. Both Rosette Narkunski and Mandell introduced the event.


Mandell stressed the urgent need to fight this issue of anti-Semitism and how apparent it is on Southern college campuses where the attendees’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are affected by it. It was critical for her to be involved with the event because the crisis hits close to home to her as her grandson is confronting anti-Semitism at Elon University as the SWU Emerson Fellow.


Rosette Narkunski said, “My husband Abe and I are children of Holocaust survivors.”


“Abe was born in a DP camp in Germany. I was born in Brussels, Belgium and I came to America at age four. Both of our families came looking for religious freedom. To think that 75 years after the Holocaust we would be thinking, worrying and talking about anti-Semitism is mind-boggling and frightening. This is why it is critical for all of us Jews and non-Jews to support this important organization, StandWithUs.”


Contact Rafel at sarar@standwithus.com or call the organization’s Southeast office at 561-961-0752 for more information.


Read the article here.

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