(June 12, 2019 / JNS) Some 500 supporters of Israel gathered in New York City on June 2 to celebrate the annual gala event of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).
The two themes of the event were “the promise of Israel” and “the battle for truth.”
Four giant screens in the elegant ballroom played a slideshow of colorful images that depicted the gala’s two themes. Some slides showed Israel’s scientific, commercial and artistic achievements, which represented “the promise of Israel,” according to event organizers.
Other slides showed some of the 206 media corrections that CAMERA prompted over the past year at mainstream news outlets, as well as the organization’s work to defend Israel on campuses in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. These images signified “the battle for truth.”
Among those honored at the event was Irish student Daniel O’Dowd, whose remarks about anti-Israel hostility in Ireland stirred the crowd.
“In Ireland, defending Israel can be a lonely, painful and intimidating experience, especially on campus, especially at my campus at Maynooth University,” he said. “Nonetheless, there is resistance. You in this room are the resistance.”
The crowd rose to its feet, clapping.
UCLA computer scientist Judea Pearl received CAMERA’s inaugural Ometz Award for courage in recognition of his public renunciation of his status as a “distinguished alumnus” of New York University after the school gave its President’s Service Award to the anti-Israel student group Students for Justice in Palestine.
After receiving the Ometz Award, Pearl tweeted that it might be even more of an honor than the prestigious Turing Award he received in 2011: “If I have encouraged even one professor/student at NYU to voice his/her knowledge and convictions about Israel, or to speak against the way Zionism is maligned on some BDS-occupied campuses, I would consider this [CAMERA] award the greatest honor of my life.”
During dinner—which featured foods from Israeli farmers targeted by the anti-Israel boycott campaign—a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was read to the crowd.
“All too often, Israel is the subject of biased and sometimes blatantly false information,” Netanyahu said. “To combat this, CAMERA empowers readers, students, academics, politicians, business leaders and the general public to address these distortions in reporting about the Middle East, and to defend Israel against egregious accusations and harmful inaccuracies in the media.”
Following dinner, the organization gave its highest honor, the Emet Award, to Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer.
Dermer said at the podium, “CAMERA is an organization that for nearly four decades has been unwavering in defending the truth about Israel. And if this organization, which I respect so much, saw fit to honor me, then I guess I’ve been doing something right.”
The ambassador also doubled down on critical remarks he recently made about The New York Times.
“A month ago, at a Holocaust memorial ceremony in the Capitol Building, I called The New York Times ‘a cesspool of hostility to Israel,’ ” he said, drawing loud applause from the crowd.
“Which was the most diplomatic way I could think of expressing what I really thought about The New York Times,” he added with a laugh.
He said the Times needs to “start recognizing that vilifying a democratic Israel from a comfortable office in midtown Manhattan takes zero courage. It’s not physical courage and it’s not social courage.”
“What would take real courage,” he said, “is sending journalists into Gaza to report the truth about Hamas’s brutal rule, sending journalists to Ramallah to report about the Palestinian Authority paying people to murder Jews, and sending people to Tehran to report about dissidents being executed for speaking out against the regime, women being imprisoned for uncovering their hair, and gays being hanged from cranes in public squares.”
To loud applause, he said, “Is there a cocktail party in this town that won’t invite someone who is anti-Israel? Well, this is a cocktail party that won’t invite someone who’s anti-Israel.”