The director of Aish Campus Boston, Rabbi Chananel Weiner, was sickened to hear that Boston donors helped support a trip to Yasser Arafat’s grave:
I am appalled and offended by the visit to Arafat’s grave funded by Boston’s Jewish community for the Harvard Trek to Israel.
For Boston’s Jewish community’s funds to go toward the lionizing of Arafat strikes me as a turn of events that will stain our community beyond recognition.
As someone who lived in Israel from 2000-2005 and witnessed first hand the destruction of lives, buses, cafes, property, and much more I cannot stand for this revisionist history and allocation of funds for the next leaders of our world.
I personally heard an Arafat-dispatched suicide bomber murder 11 people in a café in the heart of Jerusalem and wounding many others. I was personally on a bus that Arafat’s henchmen hurled a boulder through the windshield in an attempt to kill us all. And, I have family and friends that witnessed more than I and went through more than I too. And that’s just me. Everyone living in Israel at that time was targeted and knows someone deeply and directly affected by Arafat’s murderous intentions.
If the point was to prove “nuance,” than trips to Arafat’s victims graves would have been more appropriate so they don’t become relegated to simply statistics and anonymity. Even more so, visiting his living victims, those merely maimed by his thugs, would have been a far better usage of time and resources.
In fact, calling Arafat a murderer is the nicest term we could use. Certainly a tirade of expletives and worse should be used to define him. He should go down on history’s list of infamy and not be famed by a group of college students from any university, let alone the prestigious Harvard.
As someone who works tirelessly to educate students on the relevant issues and the reality of the situation in Israel, with all the complexities and viewpoints taken into account and shared openly, I see this as a major setback for activism on campus. Imagine the guide’s talk at the grave? ‘Here lies Arafat’…then what? Freedom fighter? Revolutionary? Pioneer? Philosopher?
I cannot believe that our community’s donors that support Israel Activism on Campus would support this activity.
To contrast, our Hasbara New England initiative has been incredibly effective in teaching students to stand for Israel on campus. In fact, most of the truly pro-Israel leadership on most of the campuses are students who have completed our training program and come back enthused, confident, and capable to take over where the last group left off. We are not perfect, but we do what we do incredibly well and our students lead the call to support Israel far and wide, effectively using social media and building strategic relationships with student groups and leaders and advocating through programming that engages students on a peer to peer basis.
To see our community donors supporting a project that puts Arafat on a pedestal? Scary is an understatement.
This is an affront to Arafat’s victims; it is an affront to the Jewish people. How my beloved Jewish community in Boston could have paid for this is beyond me.