Is the glass half full or half empty? That's the question we are often left struggling to answer as we combat anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-Israel activity. One day we see hate of the most horrific variety. The next, we can spot encouraging signs.
This month we bring you a story that combines the revolting with the reassuring. It takes the form of the latest calumny from the World Health Organization. In this case, the glass is mostly empty, but note the sign of progress.
You can also read this month about two groups making a difference: one, stakeholders at a prominent U.S. medical school who cried foul on anti-Israel activity on-campus; and two, DARA - which is upping its leadership role in confronting media bias.
WHO bashes Israel, loses support
Ho-hum: that would be a legitimate response to news last week that the World Health Organization once again singled out Israel for blame.
The UN body's latest resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab bloc and the Palestinian delegation, flagged Israel over health conditions in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan.
Other items on the WHO's agenda focused on health concerns such as vaccines and other health technologies; universal health coverage; the rise of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and a shortage of health workers.
The furor over health conditions in the Middle East was the lone agenda item to condemn a specific country, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch.
“Out of 21 items on the meeting’s Agenda, only one—Item No. 14 against Israel—focused on a specific country," said Neuer. "There was no agenda item or resolution on any other country, including Syria, where hospitals and medical infrastructure have suffered devastating bombings by Syrian and Russian forces; Yemen, where 19.7 million people lack access to health-care service due to the current crisis; or Venezuela, where the health system has collapsed, causing millions to flee the country.”
As DARA has documented repeatedly in the past, the criticism is faulty even on its face.
Israel has provided care for Syrians fleeing war in the conflict-riven country. It has also brought West Bank residents to Israeli hospitals. In addition, while Israel is not without fault in this area, much of the blame should be attributed to Palestinian leadership. Hamas in particular has diverted funds designed for aid - to terrorism.
Five countries shift support to Israel
Amid the negative news came a positive development for Israel-watchers.
It's not every day that almost 150 faculty and alumni of a prominent medical school come together to protest anti-Semitism, but that's what happened last week.
Five countries voting no - Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras, Hungary - voted yes or abstained when faced with a similar resolution last year. They joined Canada, the U.S., the UK, Australia, Guatemala, and Israel.
While the biased resolution passed, the shifting of these five countries represents momentum. More work remains: Western countries like France and Belgium voted yes to the resolution.
Diagnosis: Anti-Semitism at NYU med school
The group drew attention to New York University’s School of Medicine and called on its president to take action - alleging a “climate of anti-Semitism at NYU that creates a hostile environment for Jewish students, prevents honest discourse and limits academic freedom on our campus.”
Their letter highlighted the role of a large pro-Palestinian organization in fostering anti-Semitism on campus.
"“Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an organization that has become a symbol for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred, was awarded the highest honor of any organization at NYU, the President’s Service Award,” the letter read.
The group also mentioned NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, which refused to cooperate with the NYU's campus in Tel Aviv.
School leaders have criticized SJP and the SCA boycott. However, the letter's signatories want the administration to take action.
“Rescind SJP’s award,” the signatories urged. “Reprimand the SCA Department. Reaffirm your commitment to protecting and uplifting all students, including Jewish and Zionist students.”
DARA collaborates with CAMERA
DARA is proud to announce a collaboration with the new heath care group at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA.
CAMERA, which monitors the media to ensure accurate reporting on Israel and the Middle East, is a mainstay of Israel advocacy. Its new group furthers this mission from a health care angle.
The DARA-CAMERA collaboration is designed to help both organizations pursue their complementary missions. The two groups will share information on projects of mutual interest and can expand their reach by accessing new audiences in Canada, the U.S., and around the world.
"This collaboration is a natural fit," said Dr. Leon Kadish, chair of DARA's board. "DARA and CAMERA can provide expertise in our own areas of focus to support our discrete yet related missions. We look forward to developing this new opportunity and learning from CAMERA, an organization with great people and a fantastic track record serving the community."