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|Headquarters||Los Angeles, CA|
StandWithUs (SWU, also known as the Israel Emergency Alliance) is an American right-wing pro-Israel advocacy organization. Known for working closely with the Israeli government, the organization focuses on education and is active on American campuses. SWU supports Israeli settlements and does not believe the West Bank is occupied.
StandWithUs was founded in 2001 by Roz Rothstein, a family therapist in Los Angeles whose parents were Holocaust survivors. According to her, the inspiration for StandWithUs came during the Second Intifada; she thought that Israel didn't get the backing it deserved so she and her husband set up a group with the mission to educate others about Israel.
Due to her leadership of SWU, Rothstein has twice been named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by The Forward, and the Jerusalem Post named her one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world in 2016.
Rothstein, who founded SWU in 2001, remains its Executive Director. In 2015, its Board of Directors were President Esther Renzer, Vice Presidents Steve Emerson,[fn 1] Marty Jannol, Esq., Bruce R. Lederman, Esq., Lawrence Post, and Naty Saidoff, Secretary Adrienne P. Wienir and Treasurer Barry Wolfe. Other prominent board members included Adam Milstein, his wife Gila, Arthur Bilger, and Larry J. Hochberg.
SWU has a team of 80 lawyers who provide pro-bono legal services to students and faculty confronting anti-Semitism or "anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism."
In 2009, nearly 15% of the group's budget went to the Israeli office, which trains 150 Israeli students each year, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop their advocacy skills.
According to Cause IQ, SWU's revenue and expenses for the fiscal year 2018 were $14,216,002 and $13,133,678 respectively. According to tax filings from 2009, over half of SWU's budget goes to fund student activities on U.S. campuses.
The pro-Palestinian website the Electronic Intifada reported in 2009 that Susan Wexner had donated over $850,000 and Andrew Hochberg over $400,000 to SWU. Another major donor was Adam Milstein who donated $851,500 to SWU from 2004 and 2016 according to The Intercept. Sheldon Adelson has also donated to SWU. SWU's educational program, the Emerson Fellowship, is funded by J. Steve and Rita Emerson.
In January 2015, the investigative Israeli website The Seventh Eye reported that SWU would receive $254,000 from the Prime Ministers Office, to setup a "Social Media Ambassadors" program to educate young people on how to use social media to promote Israel. However, according to SWU the project did not go ahead.
While SWU is often categorized as right-wing, Rothstein denies that the organization would be either right or left. In an interview with The Haaretz she claimed that "[w]e [SWU] don't take a position, we inform." However, she acknowledged having a soft spot for the Israeli settlements: "I do have an emotional attachment to Judea and Samaria. It’s where the Jewish people began, and I would be disingenuous if I told you I didn’t care." Judea and Samaria is another term for the West Bank which was popularized by Israel's annexationist right wing.
In November 2011, Nathan Guttman criticized SWU for towing the line of the right-wing Israeli government. As examples, he mentioned SWU education materials describing the Israeli settlements as legal, and the 1948 Palestinian exodus as not being caused by Israel. Rothstein, in response, wrote a letter to the editor criticizing the attempt to discredit SWU as right-wing. According to her, SWU does not advocate specific policy positions and its goal is merely to "to counter the vicious anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda campaign" by educating the public about Israel.
Rothstein is opposed to J Street, a self-declared "dovish" pro-Israel lobby; In a debate with its President Jeremy Ben-Ami she accused him of thinking that he knows "better than the Israelis" on how to achieve peace with the Palestinians. She also complained that J Street primarily pressures and criticizes Israel and not the Palestinians. Ben-Ami faulted her for taking a black-and-white approach to the conflict and concluded that there was little common ground between them. Rothstein is also opposed to Breaking the Silence, an organization of former Israeli soldiers opposed to the occupation of Palestinian lands.
SWU actively opposes the BDS movement, which has enjoyed some success on U.S. campuses. BDS calls for comprehensive boycotts of Israel until it stops its alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians. SWU is a proponent of anti-BDS laws, intended to discourage boycotts of Israel by requiring state contractors to promise that they aren't boycotting Israel. SWU does not believe such laws impinge on the First Amendment-protected freedom of speech.
Pro-Israel advocacy training
SWU offers two one-year programs to train students in Israel advocacy. The Emerson Fellowship program, created in 2007, to train college student leaders, known as "Emerson Fellows," to "act as campus emissaries of the Jewish state [Israel]." As of 2020, the program is offered to North American, British, and Brazilian students. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a $1,000 stipend, and the chance to continue working for SWU. The number of students enrolled in the program has grown from 38 in 2007 and 2008 to 107 in 2020.
The other program, the StandWithUs High School Internship created in 2012, is directed at North American high school students in 11th and 12th grade and had 125 students enrolled in 2020.
Shagririm (meaning "ambassadors") is an educational program directed at young adult Israeli-Americans in southern California. The intent of the program is to connect such individuals to generate pro-Israeli initiatives. As of 2012, the program included 54 individuals from southern Californian universities. In contrast to Emerson Fellows, Shagririm is only open to Israeli-Americans.
Creative Community for Peace
In 2011, SWU formed the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an effort to counter BDS' calls for celebrities to boycott Israel. David Renzer, a founding member of the group, claims that CCFP operates independently, though its detractors dispute that claim. They allege that tax filings show that CCFP is a fictitious business name for SWU. CCFP, just like SWU, does not believe the Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace nor that the West Bank is occupied. The group also strongly opposes the claim that Israel engages in apartheid.
Campaigns and activities
Four Roman Catholic orders of nuns and the pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace planned in 2005 to introduce a resolution at a Caterpillar shareholder meeting. The resolution asked for an investigation into whether Israel's use of the company's bulldozer to destroy Palestinian homes conformed with the company's code of business conduct. In response, SWU urged its members to buy Caterpillar stock and to write letters of support to the company. Representatives of SWU also planned to attend the shareholder meeting and speak out against the resolution. SWU and other Jewish organizations stated that Israel was being unfairly singled out.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad protest (2007)
In September 2007, SWU sponsored a protest against Columbia University in New York who had invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak as part of their World Leaders Forum. SWU Campus Director Dani Klein said that inviting Ahmadinejad went "above and beyond the issues of free speech" and that giving him a platform was "honoring him." University President Lee Bollinger defended the decision to invite Ahmadinejad as giving the students a chance to hear an adversary's views.
Transit poster campaign (2007)
In May 2007, the pro-Palestinian U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation placed 20 poster ads in the Washington, D.C. subway system showing a tank with its turret pointing at a child with a school bag. Text on the poster read: "Imagine if this were your child's path to school. Palestinians don't have to imagine." SWU in response launched their own ad campaign with posters showing Palestinian children with military gear. "Teaching children to hate will never lead to peace," one ad read.
Campus Post (2008)
In collaboration with the Jerusalem Post, StandWithUs began publishing a monthly newspaper, Campus Post, in 2008, to be distributed on university campuses. The short-lived paper included articles by Jerusalem Post writers on the topics of Israeli news, society, and culture, while students and others in North America contributed articles about pro-Israel activism.
Durban II protests (2009)
SWU organized protests against the Durban II conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in April 2009, which it claimed were anti-Israel. A small group rallied in New York and SWU sent 15 delegates to the conference itself. Three French students donned clown costumes and heckled Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his speech. According to Rothstein, the clown image were supposed to illustrate the absurdity of having countries that violate human rights at the event.
J Street (2009)
SWU campaigned against the inaugural conference of J Street in October 2009. SWU claimed that many of J Street's founders and advisers have "opposed Israel" or have ties with Arab governments that they regard as "consistently hostile to Israel". The campaign consisted of emails, phone calls, and faxes to members of Congress denouncing J Street as "Jewish Stalinists," terrorist sympathizers, and "the surrender lobby." J Street's President, Jeremy Ben-Ami, hit back, claiming SWU engaged in "thuggish smear tactics."
The campaign was not perceived to be effective in discouraging policymakers from attending, given the conference's greater-than-expected turnout. The attendees included many congressmen as well as National Security Advisor General James Jones.
Disrupting Jewish Voice for Peace Meeting (2010)
On November 14, Robin Dubner, Michael Harris, and 8 other SWU activists disrupted a local Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) meeting in Berkeley. They heckled the speakers and prevented the meeting from taking place. One activist pepper-sprayed two JVP members but said that she was "physically attacked". JVP members said the pepper-spraying was unprovoked. The SWU activists said that the action was in retaliation to JVP members who had heckled Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the week before. According to JVP, SWU activists had previously harassed JVP supporters.
Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit (2011–2018)
In 2011, SWU helped organize the Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit. In 2010, the Board of Directors of the Olympia Food Co-op had decided to institute a boycott of Israeli goods. Five co-op members, aided by SWU, sued, alleging that the board had acted beyond their scope of their authority and breached their fiduciary duties. SWU denied running the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, while SWU's critics claimed that it indeed were.
The court ruled in 2012 that the lawsuit was an illegal Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). A decision that was upheld by the appeals court. However, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state's anti-SLAPP law was unconstitutional which meant that the case could be reopened. But at that point, the five co-op members had abandoned the case and the litigation was ended in 2018.
According to a report published in October 2009 by Inter Press Service, SWU has received funds from a "web of funders who support organisations that have been accused of anti-Muslim propaganda and encouraging a militant Israeli and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East." SWU countered by stating, "Radical Islam has impacted the Middle East greatly. All this stuff comes from a very fundamentalist religious position and looking at it does not make you right- or left-wing."
The right-wing Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) criticized SWU in 2018 for claiming that Israel "officially supports the two-state solution". ZOA stated that Israel opposes a Palestinian state and slammed SWU's claim as "extremely harmful" and a "serious falsehood".
- American Israel Public Affairs Committee
- Christians United for Israel
- Hasbara Fellowships
- The David Project
- AMCHA Initiative
- Israel On Campus Coalition
- Israel lobby in the United States
- Not to be confused with Steven Emerson.
- Cause IQ.
- Bouarrouj 2019: the Israel Emergency Alliance/StandWithUs
- Cronin, Marusek & Miller 2016, p. 49: the staunchly right-wing pro-advocacy group StandWithUs; Elia 2012, p. 63: Founded in 2001, StandWithUs is a right-wing Israel advocacy organisation; Perugini 2020: the right-wing pro-Israeli organisation Stand With Us; Feldman 2021, p. 298: StandWithUs, a right-wing US-based Israel support group
- Cronin, Marusek & Miller 2016, p. 49: known to work closely with the Israeli government
- Cronin, Marusek & Miller 2016, p. 49: StandWithUs supports the settlement project, claiming it is legal and distributing material saying that the West Bank is not occupied land.; Guttman 2011: A possible clue to SWU's own view may be seen in a high-visibility video clip it produced in July 2011 starring ... Danny Ayalon ... Ayalon dismissed the notation that the West Bank was occupied land.
- Cronin, Marusek & Miller 2016, p. 49.
- Guttman 2011.
- "Roz Rothstein". Israeli American Council. July 20, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
- Maltz 2016.
- "Board of Directors" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-03-14.
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- Clifton 2009. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFClifton2009 (help)
- Kane 2019.
- Gold 2008.
- Haaretz 2015: The Prime Minister's Office will pay the right-wing Israel-advocacy group StandWithUs just over 1 million shekels ($254,000) to help it push the government's political line this year via social media, the Israeli media website The Seventh Eye reported on Tuesday.
- JNS 2015.
- The Times of Israel 2015: The project described in this article did not go ahead. According to StandWithUs, “it was intended to run for one year, 2015, pending final approval by both StandWithUs and the National Information Directorate, which was not fulfilled.”
- Lustick, Ian S. (1990). "The West Bank is not "Judea and Samaria"". Newsletter (Association for Israel Studies). 5 (2): 21–23. ISSN 1050-5083. JSTOR 41805648.
- Lustick, Ian (1987). Benvenisti, Meron; Tzaban, Haim (eds.). "Israeli State-Building in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: Theory and Practice". International Organization. 41 (1): 151–171. doi:10.1017/S0020818300000771. ISSN 0020-8183. JSTOR 2706673.
- Rothstein, Roz (7 December 2011). "What Do You Mean by Right Wing". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Zeveloff 2011: J Street ... declared its intention to offer dovish Jews an avenue for critical support of Israel. ... J Street is an unabashed lobbying organization.; The Times of Israel 2015: the liberal “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street
- Rothstein, Roz. "My conversation with J Street's Jeremy Ben-Ami". JNS News Service. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Guttman 2011; The Times of Israel 2015: The group’s efforts are focused mainly on US college campuses, where it often challenges ... the growing BDS ... movement.
- "Missouri Legislature Passes Anti-BDS Bill". Jewish Journal. May 15, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Roth, Daniel J. (February 9, 2018). "Pro-Israel groups combat ACLU's suit on Arizona's anti-BDS law". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
The brief further argues that the Arizona law is constitutional and does not curtail anyone’s First Amendment rights, according to a StandWithUs press release. “The Act does not constrain... expression of political views; it addresses nonexpressive conduct not entitled to First Amendment protection.”
- "StandWithUs Conferences Connect Students Virtually". Oregon Jewish Life. August 18, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Karni, Annie (December 10, 2007). "Pro-Israel Group Puts Emissaries on Campuses". New York: New York Sun.
- "Paid internships and Fellowships". Northeastern University. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- "StandWithUs Campus » StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship". StandWithUs - Fighting hate and the new anti-semitism. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- StandWithUs (21 August 2012). "STANDWITHUS EMERSON FELLOWSHIP ENTERS ITS SIXTH YEAR WITH A RECORD NUMBER OF STUDENTS". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Schmidt, Lauren (10 May 2012). "Shagririm: Israeli-American Ambassadors, on Campus". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
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- Watanabe, Teresa (13 April 2005). "Jews Target Caterpillar Shareholder Effort". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Knowlton, Brian (24 September 2007). "Tough questions and protests for Ahmadinejad in New York". New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
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- Liphshiz, Cnaan (May 1, 2009). "Clown costumes encapsulated absurdity of Durban II". Haaretz.com. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- "Students rally while Mahmoud rants". thejewishstar.wordpress.com. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02.
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- "Pro-Israel with a twist: J Street lobby group works to loosen big beasts' grip on Congress". the Guardian. October 23, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- US-MIDEAST: J Street Meet Draws Foreign Policy Heavyweights Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine by Eli Clifton, Inter Press Service, IPS, Oct. 28, 2009.
- "Pro-Israel activists disrupt Jewish Voice for Peace meeting – J." J. November 19, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Kampeas, Ron (November 17, 2010). "Fight erupts between right-wing and left-wing activists in San Francisco". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- "StandWithUs member attacks Jewish Voice for Peace activists". The Electronic Intifada. November 16, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- "Former Olympia Food Co-op Board Members Move to End Seven-Year Lawsuit Over Boycott of Israeli Goods". Center for Constitutional Rights. November 16, 2017. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
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- Ali Abunimah (3 March 2014). The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Haymarket Books. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-1-60846-347-3.
- "5 Olympia Food Co-op members who sued to end Israeli boycott must pay $160K". BDS Movement. July 12, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
- "WA Court Dismisses Seven-Year Lawsuit Over Boycott of Israeli Goods". Center for Constitutional Rights. March 9, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
- Bulkin & Nevel 2012.
- Blumenthal 2012.
- Burston 2018: the right-wing Zionist Organization of America ... slammed ... StandWithUs ... for ... the "extremely harmful" and "serious falsehood" that Israel officially supports the two-state solution; Oppenheim 2018: One of the talking points included, “Israel does not oppose the notion of an independent Palestinian state, and officially supports the two-state solution.” ... ZOA criticized SWU, alleging that, “In fact, Israel OPPOSES a Palestinian state. ..."
- Jankovic, Colleen (2013). ""You Can't Film Here": Queer Political Fantasy and Thin Critique of Israeli Occupation in "The Bubble"". Revue Canadienne d'Études cinématographiques / Canadian Journal of Film Studies. 22 (2): 101. doi:10.3138/cjfs.22.2.97. ISSN 0847-5911. JSTOR 24411810 – via JSTOR.
- Sirvent & Haiphong 2019, p. 295.
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