Globe Briefs September 9

Globe Briefs September 9

Defense minister: Israel to follow court order to demolish Amona settlement

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the Jewish state will raze the West Bank settlement of Amona by the Dec. 25 deadline ordered by the Supreme Court.

“I have said before and I say again to the settlers of Amona, there is a judgment of the Supreme Court and we shall honor it,” Liberman said last week, according to AFP.

The Amona outpost contains about 40 homes and was built on private Palestinian land. Since 1997, the Supreme Court has issued several demolition orders for the settlement.

Liberman also said Israel would evacuate Palestinians living in unauthorized homes in the nearby village of Susya.

“I think that the world, especially the free world … needs to respect our judicial system and it cannot be that it demands one thing of the Amona settlers and something else regarding what happens in Susya,” he said.

The matter of where the Amona and Susya residents will live remains unclear and controversial.

Liberman said the evacuation in Susya had been pushed off for three months in order to find alternative housing for the approximately 300 residents, AFP reported.

The defense minister also said the government “proposed a lot of alternatives” to the Jewish settlers whose homes were to be destroyed.

The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said last month that the Defense Ministry was trying to relocate the Jewish settlers to land only meters away from Amona that had been confiscated from Palestinians.

The alleged plan drew condemnation from the U.S., with State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau saying it “would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that’s … counter to longstanding Israeli policy to not seize private Palestinian land for Israeli settlements.”

Last week, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s plan to expand housing units in four West Bank settlements.

UCLA campus leader leaves over ‘hostile and unsafe’ climate for pro-Israel students

The former president of the UCLA Graduate Students Association has left the university’s law school over what he calls a “hostile and unsafe campus climate.”

Milan Chatterjee will complete his third year of law school at New York University School of Law, the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal reported.

In July, Chatterjee was reprimanded by the university for using his position to threaten to withhold funding for an event if it were used to promote divestment from Israel.

Chatterjee, who is Hindu, threatened to rescind funding for a student town hall last November if pro-Palestinian groups used the occasion to promote divestment from Israel. He said his intention was to maintain the Graduate Student Association’s neutrality in political affairs.

The Discrimination Prevention Office found that Chatterjee acted “outside the authority of the presidency and cabinet to create policy and make funding decisions, among other findings.”

Late last month, Chatterjee sent a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block informing the university that he was leaving in the wake of bullying and harassment by students and organizations backing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The attacks against him came after the 2015 UCLA Diversity Caucus event, whose funding Chatterjee conditioned on its sponsors not associating with the BDS movement.

“I reached out to senior members of your administration many times — for guidance and support to diffuse this situation,” Chatterjee said in the Aug. 24 letter to Block. “Furthermore, I believed that these administrators would be especially sensitive given the public outcry caused by similar BDS-led efforts against UCLA students. … I could not have been more mistaken. Your administrators were non-responsive and unhelpful.”

He called the UCLA campus “a hostile and unsafe environment for students, Jewish and non-Jewish, who choose not to support the BDS movement, let alone support the State of Israel.”

In a statement sent to the Jewish Journal, UCLA defended its investigation of the incident, which found that Chatterjee violated the university’s “viewpoint neutrality” policy.

“Throughout the entire process, university officials took great care to respect Chatterjee’s rights, to get to the bottom of the issue fairly and to encourage all sides to de-escalate the heated rhetoric surrounding the dispute between Chatterjee and his fellow students,” the Aug. 31 statement said.

Netanyahu opens school year with visit to Arab town

More than 2 million Israeli children headed to school for the 2016-17 school year.

Last Thursday was the first day of school for most Israeli children from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed students to their first day of school at Tamra Haemek public elementary school in Tamra, an Israeli Arab town in northern Israel.

The lawmakers were welcomed during an opening ceremony by the school’s approximately 200 pupils in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Netanyahu told the students to listen to their teachers and to listen to their parents.

“I want you to learn — learn to write, learn to read, learn Hebrew, Arabic and English. I want you to learn mathematics. I want you to learn science. I want you to learn history — history of the Jewish people, the history of your public. I want you to learn the truth, and the truth says that we were destined to live together,” Netanyahu told the students according to his office.

“I want you to be doctors, scientists and writers, and be whatever you want to — and are able to — be. I want you to be loyal citizens, integrated into the State of Israel; this is your state,” he said.

Of the 2.2 million Israeli students who started school on Thursday, some 159,000 are entering first grade and 123,000 are entering their last year of high school.

There are some 180,000 educators working in the Israeli school system, including 9,000 who are teaching this year for the first time.