Award-winning investigative journalist, political analyst, and media commentator Lisa Daftari is returning to her native borough to be the keynote speaker at Paramus Bat-Sheva Hadassah’s annual Jean Lipshitz Memorial Meeting on June 5. (See box.)
Ms. Daftari, who lives in Los Angeles but grew up in Paramus, will speak about “The Rise of Anti-Semitism Globally and in the U.S.: A Focus on the Media, College Campuses, and the BDS Movement.”
“As a staunch supporter of Israel and someone who has advocated for all moderate actors in the Middle East as well as all peace-loving citizens of the region, it is increasingly difficult to watch anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric become so common whether it be on campus, in Hollywood, or even on Twitter or Facebook,” Ms. Daftari said in an interview.
“I do believe this has a lot to do with the mainstream media and its false and imbalanced approach to covering the Middle East conflict, namely taking a very non-nuanced approach to reporting the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel, but even more so the tolerance that the mainstream media platforms have developed and inspired toward dismissing anti-Semitic rhetoric,” she continued.
She does not believe in taking a passive approach to this disturbing trend.
“It doesn’t matter if it comes from an anchor, a pundit, a member of Congress, or a college professor,” she warned. “Unless we begin to call out anti-Semitism across the board, the situation will only get worse.”
Ms. Daftari frequently appears on Fox News, CBS, NBC, PBS, Voice of America, and SiriusXM commenting on such topics as the Middle East and North Africa, terrorism, national security, ISIS on the web, global Christian persecution, human rights, and cybersecurity. Her exclusive reports have appeared on the Drudge Report, Fox News, the Telegraph, Newsweek, CNN, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post.
She also is director and founding editor of the Foreign Desk, a newswire service with an emphasis on global stories relevant to U.S. foreign policy. She says that her daily “top 10” email containing articles she chooses as the day’s most vital foreign-affairs stories reaches 250,000 monthly subscribers.
Because she is the daughter of Iranian immigrants and therefore speaks fluent Farsi as well as Spanish and Hebrew, Ms. Daftari has provided Iran-related briefings and expert testimony to government and private entities and has written reports for the Pentagon and other government agencies.
Her documentary film about an Iranian underground political movement — produced when she was a graduate student in broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California — was screened before a Congressional subcommittee in 2006 to draw attention to human-rights abuses and regime change in Iran.
In her talk at the Hadassah meeting, Ms. Daftari plans to emphasize the point that “anti-Semitism, or any kind of bigotry, is never a partisan issue. If it is happening to one group of Americans, it means it can happen to any other group.”
Accordingly, she says, “It is so important for supporters of Israel to find partners in the local community on both sides of the political divide who are willing to call out anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric and are willing to stand up against BDS and call it out as a weapon that is wrongly used against Israel and against Jews.”
As reported in the Jewish Standard, last October Ms. Daftari’s scheduled lecture at Rutgers University on “Radicalism on College Campuses” was canceled four days before it was scheduled, apparently because several student groups threatened to disrupt it.
Although the Rutgers administration later offered to reschedule her appearance, she declined, saying: “To have a small number of students acting very thuggishly triumph over those students who wanted to come hear me speak — that’s very upsetting. As an Iranian female, I’ve always been proud to live in the United States and have the opportunities I have. That freedom was stripped from me. I was not able to exercise my First Amendment freedom.”
Radicalism on college campuses is an issue of great concern to many Jewish parents and grandparents, so this topic is bound to be of interest to the Paramus Bat-Sheva Hadassah audience. But Ms. Daftari said the problem does not begin at the higher-education level and must be addressed in whatever context it occurs.
“The seeking of justice can never be too local or too minimal in scope,” she said. “Whether your child is in elementary school or attends a large and influential university, if there is something that is said that is wrong, action must be taken to correct it. Parents of younger students should approach the administration and in the case of college students, parents should equip their children with the proper confidence and integrity to speak up when they hear or see injustice.
“There is no other way. Surrendering is not
The annual Jean Lipshitz Memorial Meeting is underwritten by Elan Lipshitz in memory of his wife, Jean, a past president of the chapter. Hadassah Northern New Jersey, Eric Mark, Rabbi Bob Mark, Jewish Lifecycle Events, and Jerry Menter also are sponsored.
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is an American Jewish volunteer women’s organization founded in 1912. Said to be the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States today, Hadassah focuses on empowering its members to advocate for health, wellbeing, and support of Israel. Hadassah’s eponymous hospitals in Jerusalem treat some one million patients of all ethnicities annually and serve as hubs for groundbreaking medical research.
What: Lisa Daftari discusses “The Rise of Anti-Semitism Globally and in the U.S.: A Focus on the Media, College Campuses, and the BDS Movement,” for Paramus Bat-Sheva Hadassah’s annual Jean Lipshitz Memorial Meeting
When: Wednesday, June 5. Doors open at 7 p.m. for dairy refreshments; program at 7:30. A meet and greet (with $36 donation) follows.
Where: JCC of Paramus/Congregation Beth Tikvah, East 304 Midland Ave., Paramus
How much: Free, but registration required; no walk-ins: hadassahgeneralmeeting.eventbrite.com or ParamusBatShevaHadassah@gmail.com.