Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Statement on CAMERA Event

This evening, Swarthmore Students for Israel is hosting a CAMERA on Campus event that claims to show a “balanced and engaging overview of Israel and its place in the Middle East” with Daniel Rubenstein, “an Israeli tour guide and political communications expert.” The event description fails to mention, however, that Rubenstein formerly worked for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as managing editor of the IDF’s social media platforms and “key architect” of the IDF’s communications strategy during Operations Pillar of Defense (2012) and Protective Edge (2014). In 2014, in its assault on Gaza, the IDF killed over 2,100 Palestinians, including at least 500 children, which Rubenstein worked to justify.

Additionally, CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) exists as part of a broader network of staunchly far-Right, pro-Apartheid, pro-Occupation lobbying and watchdog groups that drive efforts to silence and criminalize the movement for Palestinian human rights. This network employs tactics of racist monitoring and surveillance in order to produce false and inflammatory accusations of terrorism and anti-Semitism within pro-Palestine groups. They consistently equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, which not only diverts attention from the reality of the Occupation but also erases rich histories of Jewish anti-Zionism and undermines serious discussions on anti-Semitism as it manifests in the world today.

Through their threatening, inflammatory tactics, CAMERA and other organizations disproportionately target  the most vulnerable among us: Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, low-income, and/or immigrant students. We are deeply committed to the liberation of all peoples and resistance to all systems of oppression, from white supremacy to colonialism to Islamophobia to anti-Semitism. Any effort that attacks marginalized communities is far from “balanced.”

We know that words matter. We must comprehend the full reality of occupation, apartheid, and colonial dispossession. We do not use the term “conflict,” because there are not two equal but opposing sides, but rather a State and an occupied people, an indefensible imbalance of power. Recognizing this reality is the first step to changing it. The next step is taking action. Join us on Thursdays at 6pm in Kohlberg 202 to fight to end the U.S.’s continued support for apartheid and occupation.

For more information on efforts to silence and target Palestinian rights activists, we encourage folks to check out Palestine Legal’s 2015 report “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech”. This report was published in collaboration with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Additional Resources

“CAMERA and FLAME: Pressuring U.S. Media” | Mitchell Kaidy, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs