Author and radio talk-show host Dennis Prager writes in the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes. com) on Oct. 9 that a status symbol in Jewish life is now a huge problem for American Jewry:
"American Jewry is experiencing a cognitive dissonance the likes of which it has never known.
"Education has a religion-like status in both religious and secular Jewish life. And the university is romantically thought of as the temple of education. The university is regarded as the key vehicle to professional success, also a great value in Jews'' lives. The university is the most secular of all major institutions, and many Jews believe in secularism as much as Orthodox Jews believe in Judaism. For many Jews, happiness is largely dependent on deriving nachas (Yiddish for "pride and joy") from their children, and nothing gives them more nachas than being able to tell people that their child attends a prestigious university.
"Yet universities have become society''s primary breeding grounds for hatred of Israel. This hatred is often so intense that the college campus has become a haven for people who use anti-Zionism to mask their anti-Semitism. Moreover, anti-Zionism itself is a form of anti-Semitism, even if some Jews share it.
"Why? Because anti-Zionism is not simply criticism of Israel, which is as legitimate as criticism of any country. Anti-Zionism means that Israel as a Jewish state has no right to exist. And when a person argues that only one country in the world is unworthy of existence – and that happens to be the one Jewish country in the world – one is engaged in anti-Semitism, whether personally anti-Semitic or not.
"Not long ago, on my radio show, I invited a UCLA student who, on the occasion of Israel''s birthday, had written a hate-filled article about the Jewish state in the Bruin, the school newspaper. I asked her if she had always been anti-Israel. She said that as a Jewish girl growing up in Britain, she was actually a Zionist who had visited Israel a number of times on Jewish student trips there.
" ''What changed you?'' I asked. ''The university,'' she responded.
"That sort of transformation may be what inspired Harvard University''s president, Lawrence Summers, to deliver a speech in which he identified the university as replacing the far right as a center of anti-Semitism.
"The vast majority of pro-Israel Jews, secular and religious, liberal and conservative, know this.
"To make matters worse for many Jews'' psyches, not only has the institution they most revere turned out to be a moral wasteland and the most congenial place for enemies of the Jewish people – and of the United States (but that is another story) – at the same time, the people whom many Jews have most feared, conservative Christians, have turned out to be the Jews'' most loyal friends.
"That the secular university is bad for Jews, and conservative Christians are good for Jews, is more than enough cognitive dissonance for a Jew to experience in a lifetime."
Disappointed by Sundance Channel, and Its Cinematic Misinformation
The executive director of Camera, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Andrea Levin, writes in the New York Sun (www. nysun.com) about how Robert Redford''s film channel is promoting anti-Israel poison:
"Unlike American journalists who subscribe in principle, if not always practice, to a high-minded code of ethics calling for accuracy, balance and accountability in news coverage, documentary filmmakers of various nationalities often freely blend fact, distortion, ideology, and even fiction and defamation without pretense of adherence to any such standards.
"Evidence of the indifference to fairness and fact has been a lineup of startlingly one-sided and sometimes blatantly propagandistic anti-Israel documentaries airing in the summer and fall on the Sundance Channel, a popular premium cable channel said to be ''under the creative direction of Robert Redford.'' The works are often broadcast multiple times in multiple cycles reaching viewers at all hours of the day.
" ''Checkpoint,'' for instance, as described by Sundance on its own Web site, looks at ''the petty humiliations, absurdist interrogations and abusive uses of power Palestinians encounter daily.''
"The brief historical background given by the director never bothers to mention that checkpoints were erected in recent years to halt a surge of West Bank Palestinian terrorists from crossing into Israel and killing innocents – and they have worked, helping to save lives.
" ''Ford Transit'' by Hany Abu-Assad similarly presents Palestinians as victims of Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints. Unmentioned by Sundance in its Web-site blurb on the work is the director''s controversial use of actors and staged events to cast Israel and its military as abusive. One scripted scene had an actor dressed as an Israeli soldier punch a Palestinian driver – also an actor. According to Daily Variety, a Dutch public broadcaster that co-produced the film withdrew it from the nation''s most prestigious film competition on learning of the fabrications.
"Numerous other productions cast Israel, its leaders, its military or its society as either grossly unjust and brutal, or reprehensible and tainted. ''Detained,'' ''My Terrorist,'' ''Aftershock,'' and ''Raging Dove'' are among these.
"But few equal in sheer malevolence the propaganda film titled ''Writers on the Borders,'' an account of the visit of eight international writers to Ramallah and Gaza in March 2002. The documentary – by Samir Abdallah and José Reynes – was part of a full-blown campaign in which the authors, including two Nobel prize winners, joined in condemning Israel at the height of the terrorist bombings against the Jewish state.
"The participants, after shooting the documentary, then published articles in which they elaborated on their abhorrence of Israel.
"Each offers his own on-camera denunciation of Israel as the party addresses local audiences or passes scenes of bulldozers, tanks and rubble. The denunciations never once hint at the Palestinian terrorist onslaught that had spawned Israeli reaction.
"It is Portuguese bestseller José Saramago who creates headlines for the delegation, observing on March 25, 2002, that ''What is happening in Palestine is a crime on the same plane as Auschwitz.'' Unfazed by the outrage from Israelis of every political stripe, he explains months later that they had not been sufficiently pained by the condemnations of the other writers. ''It was the fact that I put my finger in the Auschwitz wound that made them jump.''
"The same sadism evident in Mr. Saramago''s tormenting of Israel is implicit in the often stunningly ignorant and baseless verbal assaults of all the strutting writers who came to embrace the Palestinians and excoriate Israel at a moment when the Jewish state was under the worst terrorist assault in its history.
"While the unbridled ill will of many European elites has become all too apparent, it is worrisome, indeed, that Mr. Redford and Sundance – with their reputation for innovation and independence – would be a party to amplifying the poison and airing as well other shoddy and distorted productions."