Minority of One

How does a regular young man from Cairo grow up hating Jews? How does he free his mind from that hatred and ultimately free himself, even at the risk of losing his life? What do pivotal world events like 9/11 and the Arab Spring look like through his eyes?

Hussein Aboubakr Mansour was born in 1989 in Cairo, Egypt. The ultimate villains in the local lore were the “bloodthirsty Zionists,” so Hussein began to study the supposed enemies of his people.

Hussein studied Hebrew at Cairo University, but did not adapt to the official anti-Israel, antisemitic curriculum of the regime. The first visitor to check out books and watch films at the Israeli Academic Center of Cairo, in 2010 Hussein was monitored, harassed, and jailed by the Egyptian State Police. That same year, he was suspected of being a “Zionist agent” and held a military detention facility where he was tortured to the point of wanting to kill himself.

He became an organizer of the Tahrir Square uprising in 2011. By 2012 the secret police of the Muslim Brotherhood regime again began persecuting Hussein for his contacts with Israelis and writings expressing hopes for coexistence and peace. His Coptic friends arranged his escape to the US. Hussein received asylum in 2014 and taught Hebrew in the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. He joined StandWitUs in 2019 as an educator and now lives in Los Angeles.

Minority of One tells Hussein Aboubakr’s story.

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High School Internship from StandWithUs and Gratz College

StandWithUs and Gratz College have partnered to offer the StandWithUs High School Interns college credit for successful completion of the Internship. The StandWithUs High School Internship is a year-long leadership program which prepares high school juniors and seniors for the challenges they may face regarding Israel in college and in their communities. The Gratz College course will appear in the Gratz course library as, “Israel: The Socio-Political History of a Modern State.” Participating students may apply the three college credits they receive to their future universities.

Dr. Paul Finkelman, the president of Gratz College noted that “for 125 years, part of the mission of the College had been to support and develop new programs in Jewish education.” He observed that “this partnership brings together two leading innovators in Jewish education: Gratz College and StandWithUs. Both strive to prepare the next generation of Jewish leaders to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The teenagers selected to participate in the StandWithUs High School Internship program are precisely the kind of students that Gratz seeks to work with: bright, articulate, caring, and motivated. We look forward to watching them develop through this program and beyond. We believe this new partnership will benefit StandWithUs, Gratz, and our larger communities through our joint efforts and through the leaders we help educate and inspire.”

Miri Kornfeld, StandWithUs Executive Director of High School Affairs, who holds an MA in Jewish Education, will oversee the program. She stated, “We are always seeking to provide our students with the best possible educational and leadership opportunities. Collaborating with Gratz College, a prestigious Jewish university, allows our students to be rewarded for their incredible effort and educational achievements during the course of their internship. We are thrilled that Gratz recognized the hard work that our students do every single year and are honored to to offer this game-changing opportunity to our students who truly are game-changers themselves in so many different ways.”

StandWithUs Israeli Soldiers Tour

By Ferne Hassan
Associate Director
StandWithUs/Mid-Atlantic Region

On October 14 two reservists will reveal their personal experiences in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They will be in Philadelphia as part of StandWithUs “Israeli Soldiers Tour” (IST). These veterans will share stories from the front lines, not from the headlines. Ilan and Yuval (last names withheld for security purposes) will also share their backgrounds, life in Israel and answer any tough questions members from the audience wish to pose to them.

Ilan was born in Venezuela and moved to Israel in 2010. Ilan’s father is a Christian Venezuelan and his mother is the daughter of a Holocaust refugee. His home, education, and life have always exemplified multiculturalism and coexistence. Ilan served in the Humanitarian and Civil Affairs Unit in the IDF, also known as COGAT, working with Palestinian civilians and representatives in projects focused on improving the lives of Palestinian families. Ilan lives in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv.

Yuval, 25, studies Law at the College of Management Academic Studies, in Rishon LeZion. At age 17 Yuval’s dance group won first place in a competition in Barcelona. At age 18, Yuval entered mandatory military service in the Israeli Air Force, administering tests both written and in a flight simulator to candidates for an Elite Pilots Course. After service, Yuval traveled by herself through Central and South America. Last year, she volunteered to be part of a humanitarian delegation to Tanzania helping renovate a school and taught children English and Mathematics. Yuval now lives in Kibbutz Palmachim.

Ilan and Yuval will speak at the Lower Merion Area Hebrew High School, Congregation Beth Or in Ambler, and the University of Pennsylvania Hillel.

StandWithUs Israeli Soldiers Tours Visited Philadelphia

– Ferne Hassan

The innovative Israeli Soldiers Tours (IST) program features two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists, who relate their personal experiences upholding the strict IDF moral code while fighting an enemy that hides behind its civilians. Their stories have never been heard before.

Six teams of two IST participants spent two weeks this fall speaking throughout the United States, primarily on campuses, in high schools, synagogues and churches. They put a human face on the IDF uniform. [Read more…]

StandWithUs Truck Ad During Roger Waters Concert

StandWithUs/Philadelphia is running a truck ad that will circle the city of Philadelphia prior to Roger Waters’ concert on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The truck will begin its circuit in downtown Philadelphia at 12:00 PM and head to the Wells Fargo Center arriving at 6:00 PM. It will be visible to concert-goers until 8:00 PM.

The message, which will be placed all three sides of the truck reads:
Say NO to Racist Attacks Against Israel By Roger Waters!

“Roger Waters has a history of blaming only the state of Israel for the lack of peace. He supports the boycott campaign against Israel, which does not promote peace, does not create a better life for Palestinians, and whose agenda is the destruction of the State of Israel. He has even flown a helium pig with a Star of David on it during his concerts,” states Joseph Puder, executive director, StandWithUs/Philadelphia.

“Waters claims to be against all forms of injustice, but where is his outrage at the Palestinian Authority which incentivizes murder of Israeli civilians by paying subsidies to terrorists in Israeli jails and their families? StandWithUs is sending a clear message to Waters that his double standard, hatred and lies against Israel will not go unanswered,” Puder continued.

StandWithUs Passover Haggadah

unnamed-1A new Passover Haggadah is being distributed by StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, that emphasizes not only the themes of slavery and freedom but also underscores Jews’ 3,000-year-long connection to their ancestral homeland, Israel. The Haggadah, From Ancient Egypt to Modern Israel, is the brainchild of StandWithUs co-founder and COO, Jerry Rothstein.

“According to a Pew research survey, 70% of Jews in America from all denominations will likely participate in a Passover Seder,” states Rothstein. “This statistic is greater than participation on Yom Kippur, on Rosh Hashanah, or during the lighting of Shabbat candles. What better time to reach high numbers of Jews of all ages as well as their non-Jewish friends who will be attending their Seders?”

The new StandWithUs Haggadah contains the traditional service and adds beautiful original artwork, Hebrew text with English translation, and updates the language to modify the text from “you should tell your sons” to “you should tell your children.” StandWithUs is also preparing to distribute this Haggadah published in other languages.

“While all Haggadahs do a great job focusing on the Jewish suffering during slavery and the miracle of the escape from Egypt, the subsequent arrival in the ancestral land of Israel (immediately following the Exodus) should also be taught at the Passover table,” adds Rothstein.

StandWithUs Israeli Soldiers Tour

Come hear the stories of two extraordinary Israelis – their struggles, successes, military service and their hopes and dreams. Shai and Nir will share stories from the front lines that have never been heard before. They will put a “human face” on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uniform. Ask the tough questions and learn what its really like to live in a country that is the subject of so much discussion. Their last names are withheld for security purposes.

Shai, 24, is from Kibbutz Tzora, a traditional collective community. She studies communications at Sapir Academic College, and completed the StandWithUs Israel Fellowship. She lives in Sderot, located in Southern Israel near the Gaza border. She served in the Israeli Air Force’s Pilot Cadet Course. Her parents are Australian and Indian.

Nir grew up on an Israeli Air Force base, due to his father’s service in the IDF. Nir was active in the Israeli scouts movement. He served in the elite Paratroopers Brigade as an officer and a deputy company commander. After service, he volunteered to assist families with financial difficulties. Nir is the Alumni Network Manager for StandWithUs’ Israel Fellowship Program, where he is responsible for over 1,300 alumni.

Governor Tom Wolf Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law

By Ferne Hassan

governor_tom_wolf_official_portrait_2015Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf scored a double win for his state by signing into law a bill (HB- 2107), which combats the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign on November 4, 2016. Its most significant impact will be on prohibiting any company that seeks to do business with Pennsylvania from engaging in economic warfare with Israel, or any other trading partner with favored nation status. It also defends Pennsylvania’s economic interests against attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel.

This bipartisan bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Matthew Baker (R) with 26 co-sponsors from both parties, passed by a vote of 181-9.

“Taking a stand against the BDS movement seems especially appropriate for Pennsylvania, a state which proudly takes the lead against discrimination,” states Joseph Puder, Director, StandWithUs Philadlephia. “I am proud of Pennsylvania’s legislators and governor for opposing the economic warfare which is being waged against Israel and for once again upholding fairness and sound public policy.”

The goal of BDS is the demonization and isolation of Israel. BDS proponents often present their case in terms of justice; however, this masks the real agenda of seeking to destroy Israel rather than improve the lives of Palestinians. The movement falls clearly under the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as it demonizes, delegitimizes and holds Israel to a double standard, the only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East. This law asserts that Pennsylvania will not be a partner to discrimination and anti-Semitism.

The law also protects Pennsylvania’s economic interests. PA enjoys over $200 million in annual economic trade with Israeli entities, in addition to business done with many other partners who have commercial interests in Israel. This trade encompasses many of the state’s most important economic sectors, such as defense, technology research and development, and health sciences. Passage of HB-2107 sends a clear message to the Israeli business community that it is welcome here.

The bill does not violate any First Amendment rights. It exercises the state’s own right to choose the companies with which it will contract. It does not penalize or infringe on anyone’s private speech or conduct. Companies are free to make whatever statements they wish, even stupid or hostile things about Israel; individuals are not impacted at all. The bill simply clarifies that if an entity chooses to engage in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), then the state can exercise its right to not support that entity. Exercising such discretion with taxpayer funds is an important part of reinforcing economic interests, public policy and the basic ethical standards of government.

The U.S. government has also emphatically rejected boycotts based on national origin and interference with foreign trade policy in general. Congress has legislated against boycotts of Israel for four decades, and federal courts have ruled that economic boycotts are not protected free speech.

Pennsylvania joins twelve states that have passed such legislation and are fighting back against bigotry.