Archive for the ‘J Street’ Category

J Street wants to ‘test’ Jewish state out of existence

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

I have rarely read anything quite as incoherent as the latest from J Street. In response to the news that the Fatah and Hamas organizations are yet again proposing a unity government for the Palestinians, they write,

J Street regards today’s news of a preliminary agreement on political reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas with caution and urges the United States to press forward with an even more assertive effort to forge a two-state solution. Today’s developments only highlight how important it is for the United States – backed by the international community – to define the contours of a two–state solution.

A non-sequitur. But for J Street, nothing is more important, ever, than Israel being forced to withdraw from the territories. Anything that happens will “highlight” this, in their world.

J Street has consistently condemned Hamas for calling for Israel’s destruction, using terror and violence against Israeli civilians and denying the Holocaust. Bringing Hamas into a unity government poses real challenges to those of us who are deeply concerned about Israel’s security.

Hamas proudly proclaims that the highest calling of a Muslim is to kill Jews, and does its best to do so day in and out. So, yes, there are “real challenges” for those of us who want to stay alive. Does this mean that J Street reasonably opposes negotiations with a government that includes Hamas? Sounds like it…

However, we also recognize several important realities: first, that one makes peace with one’s enemies not one’s friends; second, that Hamas – although weaker today – still has a significant base of political support within Palestinian society; and, third, that overcoming the split between Fatah and Hamas (and between the West Bank and Gaza) has always been a condition for effective resolution of the conflict.

…but apparently not.

Of course you make peace with enemies, but only enemies with whom you have common interests, interests that are more compelling to them than their desire to kill you. Absent that, the conflict continues until one or the other side wins. Such common interests do not exist between Israel and Hamas, so the only way for us to survive is to win. Anything that strengthens Hamas physically or psychologically moves peace farther away, not closer. This is precisely why we should not negotiate with terrorists.

Many who oppose a two-state deal have argued that these divisions among the Palestinians make peace impossible. Reconciliation would, however, increase President Abbas’ ability to carry out a two-state agreement. Now, these opponents of a two-state agreement are likely to shift to arguing that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.

Certainly a divided Palestinian entity makes it harder to make an agreement that will stick — but so do the introduction of rejectionists into the Palestinian Authority. Regardless, even if Hamas didn’t exist, isn’t it clear that the PLO doesn’t want a negotiated end to the conflict? Hamas, in or out of the Palestinian Authority, only makes it worse.

If indeed this reconciliation deal is implemented – and history does give reason to question whether it will – the new Palestinian leadership that emerges will have to answer many questions in the coming weeks: Is the Palestinian Liberation Organization – as the official representative of the Palestinian people – still committed to a two-state solution? Is it willing to reaffirm its renunciation of the use of violence and terror against Israeli civilians? Will existing security understandings be honored?

The best way to test this is for the US to put a clear choice before the Israelis and the Palestinians. That is precisely why J Street has called today for the United States to put forward a framework for a two-state deal that sets out parameters for resolving the core issues of the conflict.

The PLO is not now and never was committed to a “two-state solution” (TSS) in the sense of a Jewish and Arab state living peacefully side by side. The TSS, to the PLO, has always meant an Arab-only apartheid state next to an “Israel” which implements the Arab ‘right of return’, and therefore ceases to be a Jewish state. This ambiguity has been consistently maintained throughout the ‘peace process’, which is one of the reasons it has consistently failed.

The ‘test’ proposed by the deliberately ‘naive’ leaders of J Street is for the US to force the implementation of some form of TSS. At very least it will include Israeli withdrawal from the territories. If the PLO fails to meet its commitments, what will happen? Will Israel send the IDF back into the territories, which will at that point be a sovereign ‘Palestine’? Will it un-bulldoze the settlements that it will have destroyed? Will it put its society back together after the upheaval caused by the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of its own people?

Some ‘test’!

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Bad ideas with legs

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Here’s a notable difference between American and Israeli Jews:

…it is true that more funds are being raised today than ever before [by J Street] from donors who depict Israel as the obstacle to peace and favor U.S. pressure to force Israeli concessions. The campaign contributions put muscle behind a flood of articles and speeches that portray Israel as a strategic liability rather than an asset — a trigger-happy country that exaggerates the Iranian threat and is plotting the annexation of the West Bank at the expense of the Palestinians.

Spokesmen for this view, like author Peter Beinart and J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, are taking ideas from the far left of the Israeli political spectrum and transforming them into mainstream beliefs of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, however, their counterparts in Israel have shrunk to insignificance: Meretz, the party of Peace Now and Yossi Beilin, has contracted from 14 seats in the Knesset to a mere three. Shelly Yachimovich, the new head of the Labor Party and informal leader of the Israeli opposition, has resisted fierce pressure to embrace the Beilinist agenda. The vast majority of the Israeli public has spoken, and it has rejected the ideology these critics are bringing to the United States.

But in America, these voices have found fertile ground. The American Jewish community is on average more liberal and more dovish on the Middle East than the Jewish majority in Israel. Reform temples and college campuses are particularly receptive to Beinart and Ben-Ami’s message. — Steven J. Rosen, Is J Street Winning?

Could it be that the Israelis, who so emphatically rejected their left-wing parties, are on to something?

American Jews, who have not had to deal with the horrors of the terrorist intifada and rocket barrages, find it comfortable to accept the simplistic conception that there is a two-state solution out there — and that if it hasn’t happened yet, it is because Israel hasn’t tried hard enough. It is much harder to face the reality — as most Israelis have — that there is no solution in the near term because there is no partner for peace on the Arab side.

The Israeli Left, having lost local support, nevertheless has retained the ability to project its opinions outward. Supported to a great extent by money from European governments, international anti-Zionists like George Soros, and American liberals, Israel’s post-Zionist media, academics and NGOs articulate their positions in international forums and media in English.

They paint the centrist Netanyahu government — which has been anything but ‘hardline’ where concessions to the Palestinians are concerned — as reactionary, anti-democratic, racist and theocratic. Israelis, used to the hyperbole of their politics, know nonsense when they see it, and pay no attention.

But in America, there are powerful forces — including the State Department, the White House and he CIA — for whom it is a priority to see Israel forced to give up the territories and eastern Jerusalem, and who would love to see a more pliable regime in Israel.

They have found it effective to present the Israeli Left as the authentic voice of Israel. Through their compliant media (e.g., the NY Times and NPR), personalities like Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart, and tools like J Street (whose leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami, once called his group “President Obama’s blocking back”), these positions are expressed as consonant with the liberal values that many American Jews hold.

Since they are not as well-informed about the realities of the Middle East as the Israelis that live in it, many American Jews are fooled, accepting J Street’s claim to be “pro-Israel” despite the consistently anti-Israel positions — even opposing sanctions on Iran — that it has taken. Even if they don’t follow groups like J Street, they accept what is now becoming the regular ‘line’ of the Democratic party, as Rosen explained.

One of the major obstacles to those elements that desire to meddle with Israel has, in the past, been the strong support for the policies of Israeli governments by American Jews, as expressed by the traditional Zionist organizations like AIPAC, etc.

Little by little, left-indoctrinated Jews are moving into American Jewish institutions like the Federations, Hillel and even AIPAC, and their influence dilutes the formerly strong support provided by these organizations. One has to appreciate the strategic ability of Israel’s enemies.

It’s ironic that an ideology that failed the test of reality in Israel has found a new home here — as a political fantasy among American Jews. But after all, we are the folks that gave the world Hollywood.

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J Street gets a ‘Rabbinic Organizer’

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

J Street: Hello, J Street. Ben Ami speaking.

Rabbi Malcolm Shain: Bon Ami? No, I didn’t want cleanser. I’m looking for J Street, the Pro-Israel, Pro-peace people.

JS: This is J Street. Although we could really use some Bon Ami. I can’t describe how disgusting the sink is since all the help quit. First we lost Spitalnick and Luria, and now Susskind has gone to Tides. Hmm, maybe some Tide would work on this sink.

MS: Oh. Well, I’m calling about the job…

JS: Great! Come over right away, and bring your mop and Bon Ami.

MS: No, not the janitorial job. I mean the Rabbinic Organizer that you advertised for. I’m Rabbi Shain. You can call me Mal.

JS: Oh. Are you sure you didn’t want the janitor position? It’s so hard to get good help these days. Well, we need to organize the Rabbis just as much as we need to clean the sink, so let’s go with that. First of all, I need to ask you one important question: are you absolutely, 100%, totally pro-Israel? Because that’s something we won’t compromise on.

MS: Positively. Whenever I’m in Israel, I join demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah or Bili’in. I work with Rabbis for Human Rights to protect Palestinian olive groves against those evil settlers. I work tirelessly for the Lef– er, I mean, for democracy. Because I love Israel and want to make it better!

JS: Well, that sounds good. What about here in the US?

MS: I’m pro-Israel here, too. I lead encounter groups for American Jews to meet real Palestinians to  learn how indigenous people are mistreated by the right-wing regime in Israel. Did you know that all Hamas wants is to end the occupation — and Bibi bombs them for it!

JS: Yes, Israel would certainly be a more vibrant democracy without Bibi. How do you feel about a two-state solution?

MS: It’s absolutely essential! Two states for two peoples! One for the Palestinian people, and one for the Arabs!

JS: Er, Mal… you meant the Jewish People, didn’t you?

MS: Oh, of course. I forgot about them. They have rights, too.

JS: We need a dynamic organizer who can whip our Rabbinic Cabinet into shape. They’ve been fleeing like rats deserting a sinking– I mean, there’s been a lot of attrition lately. Some of them don’t understand how important it is for them to make us look– I mean, to be validators of our pro-Israel message. What we need is a community organizer for rabbis.

MS: A community organizer! How inspiring! Just like–

JS: Exactly. The sky is the limit. Now tell me — can you handle rabbis? Can you talk the lingo, quote the text and liturgy? Some of them are religious.

MS: No problemo! I know what to order in a Chinese restaurant. One state from column A, one from column B. Ha ha, get it? I even have a kipa in my pocket that I borrowed from a funeral, just in case.

JS: Er, yes. You sound perfect for the job. When can you start?

MS: Right away! My congregation decided not to renew my contract for some reason. Can you imagine? I’ll be over as soon as I get the tar and feathers off.

JS: Great! And Mal… pick up some Bon Ami on the way. We really need to take care of this sink.

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Jeremy Ben-Ami, rebel

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
Yitzhak Ben-Ami in the US Army, 1944

Yitzhak Ben-Ami in the US Army, 1944

Earlier this week I wrote about the Bergson Group and their struggle to get the FDR Administration to take action to save European Jews during the Holocaust. I’ve come across an article by Sol Stern that adds something new to the story.

Along with Hillel Kook (alias Peter Bergson) was one Yitzhak Ben-Ami. Kook, Ben-Ami and the others were members of the ‘Irgun’, a right-wing Zionist organization led by Menachem Begin. They had initially come to the US from the yishuv in Palestine to raise money and obtain arms for the clandestine militia, but when they realized what was happening in Europe, the mission changed.

As I wrote, Kook’s group met with resistance from the Jewish establishment in the US. Stern tells what happened:

No single figure did more to undermine the Committee’s work than Rabbi Stephen Wise of Temple Emmanuel [sic], undisputed boss of several national Jewish organizations and often referred to as “King of the Jews.”  On the day that Ben-Ami and his colleagues were leading 100 orthodox rabbis in a demonstration in front of the White House to protest the Roosevelt administration’s inaction on rescue, Wise was advising administration officials that the Bergson group “did not represent Jewish thinking in America.” Wise viewed the young Palestinians and their American supporters as interlopers and even tried to get Ben-Ami and his colleagues deported. Accused by Wise of being a draft dodger, Ben-Ami then enlisted in the American Army.

Yitzhak Ben-Ami, himself the son of pioneer Zionists who were among the founders of Tel Aviv (supposedly he was the first Jewish baby born in the new city in 1911), survived the Battle of the Bulge and came back to the US.

In New York he raised a daughter, Deborah, and a son, Jeremy. Yes, that Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby, J Street.

Yitzhak did well in America, and Jeremy’s life was much easier than that of his father (who died in 1984), including private school and Princeton. After a job as regional director for the anti-Zionist New Israel Fund (if you have a problem with my adjective, please read the linked post),  Jeremy went to work for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and then for Fenton Communications.

Fenton is a PR firm that specializes in progressive causes. Indeed, they proudly write “We only represent causes we believe in ourselves” on their website, and they claim to have helped “galvanize public opposition to end apartheid” and “save the North Atlantic Swordfish from the brink of extinction.”

Apparently they also believe in helping Hamas, because — as I reported here last June — they did extensive work for a propaganda enterprise called the Al Fakhoora Project, paid for by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, wife of the Emir of Qatar, and which calls for the ending of all restrictions on goods and transit to the Gaza Strip, as well as dispensing the usual demonization of Israel.

According to Mandy Katz, Ben-Ami began to work on J Street while he was an Executive Vice President at Fenton:

When Dean’s campaign folded in 2004, Ben-Ami took up in earnest his father’s focus on Israel. Bringing his experience and a list of progressive donors acquired since his Clinton years, he sought advice from David Fenton of Fenton Communications, a consultancy for progressive non-profits. “David convinced me to do the incubation as a project of Fenton,” Ben-Ami says. Now based in Washington, Ben-Ami consulted for other Fenton clients on issues like climate change, while pushing for a new organization—possibly a merger of existing groups, that would also be the Zionist left’s first registered lobby.

Ben-Ami left Fenton to become executive director of J Street in late 2007, before the Al Fakhoora project contract was signed (2009, per J Street’s Myths and Facts page), and claims to have no knowledge of it. Ben-Ami also claimed that J Street had received no funds from George Soros — until it became public knowledge.

J Street was helped a great deal by Ben-Ami’s relationship with the Obama Administration, which in 2009 invited the new organization to a meeting of ‘Jewish leaders’ at the White House — a traditional gathering from which the right-leaning Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) was dropped for the first time.

It’s ironic that Jeremy Ben-Ami, welcome in the White House the way his father was not,  sees himself an outsider struggling against a powerful establishment. Stern writes,

But it takes a huge historical leap and considerable conceit to suggest that there is any valid comparison between J Street’s political movement of today and Jeremy’s father’s struggles in the 1940s to alert Americans to the ongoing destruction of European Jewry. For daring to advance their own ideas about the best way to rescue the endangered Jews of Europe, Yitzhak Ben-Ami and his Irgun colleagues were subjected to calumny and dirty tricks directed against them from mainstream Jewish leaders like Rabbi Wise.  These leaders betrayed their moral obligation to forcefully advocate the rescue of Jews in Nazi occupied Europe because of their lack of political imagination and a cowardly unwillingness to challenge a popular American president.

The situation today is almost reversed. Whatever else one might say about AIPAC and the current “establishment,” American Jewish leaders have apparently learned the dreadful lessons of the 1940s. On the other hand it is the J Street “dissidents” who seem indifferent to the fact that Israel’s five million Jews are threatened with either physical destruction or politicide by a new international coalition of Jew haters. In that circumstance it is perfectly reasonable for American Jews to express their solidarity with whatever government Israelis have chosen (at the ballot box) to lead them in the current emergency…

… Ben-Ami’s father exhibited true courage when he stood up to Rabbi Wise in the 1940s and championed the lost cause of the European Jews. On the other hand, it is truly an Orwellian moment when Ben Ami anoints Peter Beinart as courageous for writing an article for the New York Review of Books (which Beinart followed up on by bagging a six figure book advance and lucrative Passover speaking engagements at Jewish resorts). It became all the more grotesque when Beinart, in his J Street speech, cited Rabbi Wise as his own liberal Zionist hero.

Jeremy Ben-Ami’s reflexive response to criticism is to accuse his critics of being “right-wing” (the phrase appears five times on J Street’s “myths and facts” page).

I wonder what Yitzhak Ben-Ami would say to that?

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NPR presents 4:16 of anti-Israel propaganda

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Four minutes and 16 seconds on NPR’s premier daily news program, “All Things Considered,” is a major story. The longest one on Thursday, July 28’s program, about the difficulties facing the spouses of US military personnel, clocked in at 4:59.

Four minutes and 16 seconds were provided as a platform for Israel-bashing by one left-wing Israeli retired general, one Arab representing Fatah, the Arab terrorist organization that has killed more Israelis than any other — let’s call it what it is — and Daniel Levy, the co-founder of J Street who famously said (video here)

Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain’t a good idea.

Did I mention that these gentlemen are in the US on a tour sponsored by the same phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby, J Street? NPR did, but its piece didn’t talk about J Street’s funding from anti-Israel sources, or its history of lobbying against sanctions on Iran, for the Goldstone report, and for the condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council.

As expected, the speakers blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and predicted disaster if Israel did not preemptively surrender to Arab demands. I won’t repeat most of it — you can read it at NPR’s site. But the most outrageous statement of all was made by Levy:

The U.S. hasn’t helped matters, says Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation. He says that the Obama administration tried, but failed, to get its partners — the U.N., European Union and Russia — to sign onto a statement encouraging the Palestinians to drop the U.N. bid. The text, Levy says, looked like it was drafted in Jerusalem.

“That’s where we got stuck. I think that isn’t helping get past this U.N. bump. It’s probably going to make a U.N. vote more likely and … this kind of approach, it’s really beginning to marginalize and almost make irrelevant U.S. diplomacy on such an important issue,” he says.

So what extremist demand from Jerusalem did the US ask for that made it impossible to get the Quartet’s agreement? Let me quote a news report:

One of the reasons the Quartet was unable to issue a statement was because [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov reportedly objected to a formula whereby the Quartet would have endorsed renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on a return to the 1967 lines, with agreed upon swaps, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Lavrov – reflecting Russia’s desire to play to the Arab League – wasn’t enamored of the Jewish state part of the equation. And it wasn’t only Lavrov.

According to Israeli officials, the EU’s Ashton came to the meeting hoping to get the Quartet to call for a renewal of talks based on US President Barack Obama’s parameters of the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, but without other language Obama used during his two Middle East speeches in May: language much more amenable to Israel that affirmed the country as a Jewish state and called for ironclad security arrangements before any future Israeli withdrawal.

In other words, the Russians, who represented Arab interests in the negotiations, wanted an agreement calling for Israel to withdraw to (more or less) pre-1967 lines without getting anything in return — not even recognition of what will be left of Israel as a Jewish state!

The recognition issue is key, and the Palestinian Arabs have consistently refused to agree to it. Even the language of the Obama plan, which represented a sharp shift in US policy toward the Arabs, was not enough for them.

The NPR piece didn’t mention recognition of the Jewish state, didn’t mention the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to negotiate anything other than acceptance of all of its demands, and — this goes without saying — didn’t discuss doubts about the ultimate intentions of the Arab side.

It was 4 minutes and 16 seconds of unrelieved propaganda, without even a nod toward balance.

Remember this when your local public radio station asks for donations. I will.

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Rabbi Jacobs confirmed URJ President, critics ignored

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

A press release from the Union for Reform Judaism:

New York, June 12, 2011- The Board of Trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism today unanimously and enthusiastically elected Rabbi Richard Jacobs to serve as its next President. Only the fourth person to hold the office since its creation in 1943, Jacobs follows Rabbis Maurice Eisendrath, Alexander Schindler and Eric Yoffie. Rabbi Jacobs currently serves as Senior Rabbi at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY, and will assume the URJ Presidency in 2012.

The fourth person to hold this office, Rabbi Jacobs is also the first to be a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet and a board member of the New Israel Fund (NIF) — organizations which are, despite their denials, anti-Zionist. He is also the first to take part in a demonstration against Jewish sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem.

The unanimity and enthusiasm of the Board is noted. It’s not unimaginable that at least one of them was a little uneasy, but kept quiet for shalom beit. Let’s hope so.

Current URJ President Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie remarked, “There were, to be sure, many fine candidates, but the selection of Rabbi Jacobs as the next President of the Union was an extraordinary and an inspired choice, and one that has been greeted with acclaim throughout our Movement

One hundred Reform Jews purchased advertisements in Jewish publications to oppose Rabbi Jacobs. You can see one of them here. What are we, chopped liver? Plenty of Reform Rabbis and professionals agreed with us too, although I expect some were intimidated by the threats to their livelihoods coming from Rabbi Jacobs’ supporters.

This really is the essence of the problem: A self-appointed elite that has defined “the movement” as only those that share their political perspective.

As Rabbi Jacobs winds down his responsibilities with Westchester Reform Temple, he also will step down from his involvement in other organizations, boards and advisory committees during the first years of his Presidency in order to focus his energies on the task ahead of him. Additionally, as President of the URJ, he will assume many new official posts on Jewish communal organizations including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, among others.

Presumably this means that he will give up his positions with J Street and the NIF for a while, but may return to them later, when things quiet down.

Is this supposed to make his critics feel better? Our problem is not his workload! How about a statement that as President of the URJ he understands that it is inappropriate for him to belong to — let alone take a leadership role in — these organizations?

As I wrote a few days ago, this appointment is a triumph for J Street, who now can inject their pernicious point of view into multiple mainstream Jewish organizations.

The URJ press release treats Rabbi Jacobs’ critics as if they are invisible, but Jacobs himself, in his acceptance speech does not:

First, I stand squarely in the tradition of Rabbis Schindler and Yoffie, that I will never, ever compromise on Israel’s security, never. I will ever lift up our efforts to strengthen it as a Jewish and democratic state, and that I will be proud to work to advance the Israel policies that this Movement has adopted over the past generations.

Second, and just as important, I hope that when the time comes for such a debate, that it will be a machlochet L’shem shamayim – a dispute for the sake of heaven…that we will conduct that debate with passion, to be sure. I hope and pray we will always debate with passion — but with civility and a respect for those who hold differing views.

I hope we will work to learn what others really think, and have really said, rather than relying on rumors, half-truths and outright lies. I hope that we will talk about real issues, and not find people guilty by association. I hope that anyone who wants to know what I think about something will ask me. As you will learn, I’m not exactly shy.

As his supporters have done, Rabbi Jacobs himself takes the low road. I certainly haven’t, in any of my posts about his nomination, relied on “rumors, half-truths and outright lies” or told any of them. I challenge Rabbi Jacobs to come up with even one. And I have not tried to divine what is in his mind. I have simply pointed out that he is an activist in two organizations that I and others have documented, over and over, as taking positions inimical to the state of Israel.

Further, here’s a logic lesson: it’s not “guilt by association.” Let’s look at an example of real guilt by association. Consider this:

  1. I was seen having a beer with Tony Soprano.
  2. Therefore I must be a member of the Mafia.

Agreed, unsound reasoning. Guilt by association.  But what about this?

  1. Rabbi Jacobs has a leadership role in J Street.
  2. Therefore Rabbi Jacobs supports, in general, the actions and principles of J Street.

That is a much better argument, isn’t it? Sure, he will say that he doesn’t agree with all of their actions. But unless he agrees with most of them, why would he be a part of it?

Here is what I want to know about what Rabbi Jacobs thinks. I would like him to answer this question:

What is there about an organization that lobbies for the US to allow a motion condemning Israel to pass in the security council, that lobbied against a congressional letter condemning incitement in the official Palestinian Authority media and the naming of public squares after terrorists that killed Israeli children, that introduced the author of the Goldstone Report to members of Congress and supported the Goldstone report that accused the IDF of war crimes, that applauds the Hamas-Fatah pact, that lobbied against a congressional resolution calling for sanctions on Iran, that called for an immediate cease-fire on day 1 of Operation Cast Lead while the Qassams were raining down on southern Israel, whose co-founder thinks that the creation of Israel was a mistake, that takes money from a former president of the Arab-American Institute, a Turkish maker of antisemitic films, and the self-proclaimed anti-Zionist George Soros (and lies about it) — what is there about J Street that you don’t understand?

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Mainstream Jewish groups infiltrated by anti-Israel J Street

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Item: the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston, in a controversial vote on May 25, decided to keep J Street as a member. The JCRC of Hartford, Connecticut is co-sponsoring an event with J Street on June 13th, despite community opposition.

Item: the University of Pennsylvania Hillel allowed J Street to hold the kickoff event in February for its new local network in its space; the Harvard Hillel cooperated with J Street U (downloadable video) to host Breaking the Silence in March; and the Columbia-Barnard Hillel hosted a “Bagel Brunch” with J Street of NYC this month.

Item: the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has nominated, and despite protests will probably confirm, J Street and New Israel Fund activist Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its new president.

In all of these cases the argument was made that J Street represents a legitimately pro-Israel point of view — dovish, left-wing, perhaps, but nevertheless pro-Israel. A point of view that might be taken by someone who wants Israel to survive and thrive, but disagrees with the policies of the present government because they are too ‘hard-line’ toward the Palestinians. A point of view that belongs ‘in the big tent’ with other shades of Jewish opinion. A ‘loyal opposition’, so to speak. After all, there are plenty of Israelis that disagree with their government, too.

In the 30 posts that I’ve written about J Street I’ve argued that this is not the case. I’ve argued that there is direct evidence — J Street’s official positions and their lobbying activities — that show that J Street acts against the interests of the Jewish state. Lobbying for a security council resolution condemning Israel, in favor of the Goldstone report, against sanctions on Iran, even against a congressional letter denouncing the continuing Palestinian incitement to hatred at the time of the vicious murder of the Fogel family, cannot possibly be construed as ‘pro-Israel’.

There is also indirect evidence that J Street is actually an anti-Israel organization: the fact that it has received funds from individuals and groups that are anything but pro-Israel, like the former president of the Arab-American institute and anti-Zionist George Soros (about which they lied for at least a year). Further evidence is the fact that J Street invited anti-Zionists and supporters of boycott-divestment-sanctions to speak at their convention, where they received enthusiastic applause — including the vicious Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy.

I will go as far as to say this: the J Street leadership is consciously aligned with Israel’s enemies, even if some of its uninformed supporters still think of themselves as merely pro-Israel peaceniks. Its true goal is not to make Israel ‘better’, but to help replace it with an Arab state.

The Boston JCRC is already learning what it means to invite J Street ‘into the tent':

In a January 2011 meeting, the group’s representative successfully pushed through a motion diluting the language in a statement calling for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The same person also pushed through a motion opposing Israel’s insistence on direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Yet another vote almost succeeded in calling for division of Jerusalem. — Andrea Levin, “Jewry with the fringe on top: Boston JCRC boosts J Street,” Boston Jewish Advocate

A recent poll shows that the great majority of American Jews do not agree with J Street’s point of view. Nevertheless, the strategy of infiltrating mainstream Jewish organizations like JCRCs and campus Hillels is proving to be a highly effective way to amplify a fringe ideology — indeed, an ideology which is exactly the opposite of what it claims to be.

The nomination of Rabbi Jacobs to head the URJ represents the opening of an entirely new chapter in the saga, because there are more Reform Jews in America than any other denomination. Several Reform rabbis that I talked to indicated that they were blindsided by the vehemence of the opposition to Rabbi Jacobs from pro-Israel Reform Jews. It may sound odd, but apparently many of them, concerned about financial and management issues in the movement, did not think to ask whether Jacobs’ position on Israel might become a problem!

This may be so, but I’m certain that there is a well-organized group that was very conscious of ideology regarding Israel, and committed to getting their kind of candidate selected. The takeover of the URJ is perhaps the greatest triumph yet — Jacobs is certain to be confirmed — for the strategy of infiltration.

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The URJ’s sharp left turn onto J Street

Monday, May 9th, 2011

JTA has published yet another list of eminent Reform personalities who support the selection of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).

Like all the other responses to the objection raised by some Reform Jews that an activist member of J Street and the New Israel Fund (NIF) is not an appropriate choice to lead the largest Jewish denomination in America, it offers no arguments, just character witness:

Rabbi Jacobs has made the welfare, security and democratic character of Israel a prime focus of his rabbinate. He is an ohev Yisrael, a lover of Israel, of the first order.

What we need today are Jewish leaders in Israel and North America who will not hesitate to struggle with the difficult questions of peacemaking and human rights while being firmly committed to the security of Israel. Rick Jacobs is such a leader. Rabbi Jacobs speaks his mind independently and with unswerving integrity.

In other words, “He’s cool. Trust us.” It isn’t enough.

It does not respond to the point of our criticism, which was that one cannot be a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet and a board member of the NIF and still be a Zionist in any meaningful sense.

There have always been Jewish anti-Zionists, those who oppose a sovereign state for the Jewish people for various reasons. Some think that only God can create such a state; others, that it will cause conflict or increase antisemitism in the Diaspora, etc. Even the Reform movement was quite anti-Zionist in the beginning, and only slowly moved toward Zionism over the years.

But there is a new twist to the anti-Zionism of J Street and the NIF: they act against the Jewish state while insisting that they are acting out of love for it. They attack and weaken the state while claiming that they are only trying to make it better, more democratic, more peaceful, more tolerant. They are remarkably arrogant, because they believe that they know better than the great majority of Israeli Jews who more or less approve of the policies of their elected government (and who are directly, physically, impacted by them).

In addition, they damage the image of Israel in the US — which is absolutely critical to Israel’s survival — by arguing that Israel is becoming undemocratic, theocratic and intolerant, and imply that it is not worthy of support by enlightened liberals.

The supporters of Rabbi Jacobs suggest that they are only trying to change the location of the center, to move it leftward to meet what they perceive as the new consensus among young Jews. As Rabbis Ellenson, Kelman and Marmur wrote in response to the original criticism:

A significant number of North American Jews of a liberal disposition under the age of 40 are less and less likely to make Israel a central part of their lives. Yet, a small and highly influential committed core is swimming against the tide, and developing meaningful models for engagement for this cohort with Israel at this dramatic and uncertain time is a necessity for all of us who love and support the Jewish State. In Rabbi Jacobs’ example of encounter with Israel, in his willingness to confront complexity and face up to unpalatable realities, in his infectious enthusiasm and immense charm, he is a model for such younger Jews. To vilify him is to alienate them still further.

J Street and the NIF do not represent a new, slightly more ‘liberal’ approach to Zionism. J Street espouses and the NIF funds anti-Zionist causes. In the case of J Street, there’s good reason to believe that it’s fundamentally fraudulent, financially supported by people and institutions that are aligned with Israel’s enemies.

The URJ’s move is a major realignment, not a minor ideological shift. We probably owe it to the way anti-Zionism has become fashionable in US colleges and universities, part of the conventional wisdom for progressives.

But fashionable or not, we don’t have to accept it.  There are a great many Reform Jews — we think they are a majority — that believe that the Jewish people has a right to self-determination in its own land and that without a state the Jewish people will return to the unstable existence as luftmenschen that characterized Jewish life for centuries.

Such Zionists understand that it is antithetical to their beliefs to apply the same double standards, to join in the delegitimizing and even demonizing tactics that are employed by Israel’s — and Jewry’s — most vicious enemies.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the most dangerous foe that Israel faces in this dangerous time consists of Jews — Jews who are obsessively self-critical, delusively optimistic about the intentions of their enemies, and convinced that the only moral path is that of appeasement. Nothing validates the anti-Israel forces more than to be able to point to a Jew that agrees with them. Imagine if that Jew happens to be the President of the URJ!

Am I being fair to Rabbi Jacobs? Perhaps not — but as long as he continues to support and take an active role in J Street and the NIF, which do their best to promote the principles of Jewish anti-Zionism, then one can only assume that they are his principles too.

I know that the URJ leadership feels that the movement is facing many serious problems, and they wish this one would go away (one rabbi wrote that the issue was ‘irrelevant’). But I hope they realize that we are not going away. There will be more advertisements and we will continue talking about this issue.

And I hope that they understand that it is not we who are the divisive force. They are the ones that decided to take a sharp left turn away from Israel and onto J Street.

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Deceptive logic from Jewish branch of Arab lobby

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

J Street is excruciatingly careful in its response to the Hamas-Fatah rapprochement. It’s really a masterpiece of deceptive logic:

Overcoming the split between Fatah and Hamas, and between the West Bank and Gaza, has always been a precondition for final resolution of the conflict. In fact, many who oppose a two-state deal have, in recent years, done so by arguing that divisions among the Palestinians make peace impossible. Obviously, reconciliation reduces that obstacle – but now skeptics of a two-state agreement have immediately stepped forward to say that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.

The obstacle for those of us who are ‘skeptics’ has not been that the Palestinian Arabs were split. Rather, it’s been that even if it were true that the Fatah/PLO faction was a partner for peace (which I doubt), 40% of the Palestinians are ruled by Hamas, which is explicitly and unrepentantly racist, terrorist and genocidal. The marriage of these groups can only make the situation worse, not better.

We are well aware that there are those in Hamas who are not interested in a two-state solution but who seek the long-term destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish national home. No one should have any illusions about the dangers and risks ahead.

“There are those in Hamas…?” What are the J Streeters smoking? Are there ‘those’ in Hamas who do not seek the destruction of Israel? And what’s this “Jewish national home” stuff? That’s the language of the Balfour Declaration, which was specifically not drawn in terms of a sovereign state (why it is like this is a fascinating historical question, but not relevant here).

In a way, J Street is correct. ‘Some’ in Hamas do accept the idea that a number Jews may be allowed to continue living in the state of ‘Palestine’, tolerated as dhimmis under Islamic rule. Of course, ‘some’ others believe that all the Jews should be exterminated, even outside of ‘Palestine’.  But the illusion they are trying to generate, that there is a ‘moderate’ wing of Hamas with which Israel can negotiate, is absurd.

So what’s their point? It’s this:

The only way to answer the questions raised by these new developments is through engagement and talks. We urge the United States, Israel and the international community to respond to this new development with caution and questions, but not with hostility. Encouraging movement in the right direction through engagement is more likely to lead to a long-term peaceful resolution than responding, for instance, by automatically cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority.

The only way to respond to someone who wants to kill you is with hostility, not financial support. Here is the Hamas idea of ‘engagement’, article 13 of the Hamas Covenant:

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has represented itself as interested in a peaceful two-state solution, although in fact we know that its definition of such does not include a sovereign Jewish state. But aligning itself with Hamas means that even this pretense is being discarded.

J Street suggests that, for all that, the new Palestinian entity may be moderate:

If indeed this reconciliation deal is implemented – and history does give reason to question whether it will – there are many questions that the new Palestinian leadership must answer in the coming weeks and months. Is the Palestinian Liberation Organization – as the official representative of the Palestinian people – still committed to a two-state solution? Is it willing to reaffirm its renunciation of the use of violence and terror against Israeli civilians? Will existing security understandings be honored? Will rocket fire from Gaza be stopped?

This is one of the sneakiest bits of verbiage I’ve come across in some time, but par for the course for the deceitful J Street. As originally reported by “Eldad Tzioni” and further discussed by me here, it is not at all certain that Hamas will join the PLO although it will participate in a ‘unity government’. The PLO, as we know, pays lip service to the idea of a two-state solution, the renunciation of terror, etc. But Hamas won’t even need to lie about it in order for it to be part of the Palestinian government.

What is important to J Street, in its role as the Jewish branch of the Arab lobby, is that the US should support the PA regardless of its policies.

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Drama on J Street

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

From J Street’s blog:

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement upon news that J Street VP of New Media and Communications Isaac Luria and J Street Press Secretary Amy Spitalnick are moving on to new positions:

It is with very mixed emotions that I am announcing that two of J Street’s staff who have been with the organization since its very beginning are now moving on to new positions elsewhere – Isaac Luria and Amy Spitalnick.

On the one hand, I am so sad to lose such talented and energetic colleagues from our movement. On the other, I am happy to see them prepare to take on new responsibilities and challenges as their careers and lives continue to develop.

Isaac Luria: Jeremy? Jeremy — Amy and I have something to tell you.

Amy Spitalnick: Yes. Jeremy… this isn’t easy for us, but we can’t hide it any longer.

Jeremy Ben-Ami: Nu?

IL: We’re leaving, Jeremy. Leaving J Street!

JBA: (sits silently for a moment, stunned). But —

AS: Yes, we’re leaving. And it’s — (wipes away a tear) — it’s because J Street is not pro-Israel enough.

JBA: But how can you say that?  We’ve tried so hard!  Didn’t we demand an immediate cease-fire in Cast Lead to help Israel? Didn’t we oppose sanctions on Iran because we love Israel?

IL: I’m sorry, Jeremy. It’s not enough.

JBA: But we arranged meetings for Judge Goldstone on Capitol Hill — before he recanted, of course. We supported Saudi operative Chas Freeman for director of the National Intelligence Council. And — this is a big one — we urged President Obama to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel! If that isn’t love, what is? Even Obama doesn’t love Israel as much as we do!

AS: I know you feel betrayed…

JBA: Betrayed isn’t the word! How will I tell our pro-Israel financial supporters? Richard Abdoo of the Arab-American institute? Nancy Dutton, attorney for the Saudi Embassy? Mehmet Celebi, Turkish producer of antisemitic and anti-American films? The mysterious Connie Esdicul in Hong Kong? And one of the most pro-Israel rich guys in the world, George Soros?

IL: I know, Jeremy. But we all have to be strong. Just like J Street co-founder Daniel Levy, who let his pro-Israel feelings all hang out when he said that “maybe… Israel really ain’t a good idea.”

JBA: Isaac and Amy, before you go … please, tell me just one thing. What will you do now? Where will you go? How will you actualize your pro-Israel ideals to really make a difference in the world? I must know!

AS: Oh, that’s easy. Ismail Haniyya’s offered us really great positions with Hamas in Gaza!

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Shorts: 1) Helen Thomas, playmate; 2) Who the Hell is Martin Raffel?

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Playmate of the month

Helen Thomas has done an interview for Playboy magazine (no, I will not make centerfold jokes here) in which she claims that she was misunderstood:

Nobody asked me to explain myself.  Nobody said, ‘What did you really mean?'”

said Thomas, who was widely called antisemitic for telling Israeli Jews to “go home” to Poland, etc. So she sets the record straight:

[The Jews are] using their power, and they have power in every direction…Power over the White House, power over Congress…Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood.  Same thing with the financial markets.  There’s total control…It isn’t the two percent.  It’s real power when you own the White House, when you own these other places in terms of your political persuasion.  Of course they have power.  [To the interviewer] You don’t deny that.  You’re Jewish, aren’t you?

She said a lot of other things, about the Palestinian Arabs, etc., but you know …who cares?

Who the Hell is Martin Raffel?

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA, not to be confused with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) calls itself “the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community.” It is affiliated with the JFNA, formerly the UJC and before that the UJA, the umbrella organization of the Jewish Federations in the US and Canada.

Confused yet? What’s important to know is that the Jewish Federations raise large sums of money. Some of it is spent for charitable purposes in local communities (despite what Helen Thomas thinks, there are poor Jews) and some of it goes to support the Jewish Agency in Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee, which helps Jews in difficult situations around the world.

These agencies in part paid for the rescue of Jews in Europe after WWII, Jews from Arab countries, Soviet Jews, Ethiopian Jews, etc.

Today I’m afraid that there is beginning to be a loss of focus: JFNA has some highly paid corporate officers, and the agencies that it supports are also less than efficient (the Jewish Agency is famous as a home for tired Israeli politicians).

But I want to talk about the JCPA.

I’m a member of the board of our local Jewish Federation, and I had heard very little about the JCPA until recently, when I received several press releases (for example, this one). While I didn’t find them particularly objectionable, I asked myself who appointed JCPA to speak for the Jewish community — and why we were paying them to do so. Certainly my organization wasn’t consulted!

Here’s an example of why this may not be a good idea. JCPA has created an “Israel Action Network” supposedly to combat attacks on the legitimacy of the Jewish state. Its director, Martin Raffel, has become embroiled in a controversy about which “Zionists of the Left” belong in the “big tent” and should be considered “allies.”

You know where this is going. What about those ‘Zionists’ of the Left called J Street? Raffel wants to include them, because — while they do support boycotting some parts of Israel, they are opposed to boycotting all of it:

But what to think about Zionists on the political left who have demonstrated consistent concern for Israel’s security, support Israel’s inalienable right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, and consider Israel to be the eternal home of the Jewish people — but have decided to express their opposition to specific policies of the Israeli government by refraining from participating in events taking place in the West Bank or purchasing goods produced there? I vigorously would argue that such actions are counter-productive in advancing the cause of peace based on two states that they espouse, a goal that we share. But this is not sufficient cause to place them outside the tent.

Statement of Martin Raffel in JCPA press release

Of course I strongly disagree. An attack on Jewish presence beyond the Green Line is an attack on the legitimacy of Israel as expressed by the League of Nations Mandate. It is a rejection of UNSC resolution 242, which calls for “secure and recognized boundaries,” which are clearly not the 1949 armistice lines. It is an attempt to punish law-abiding Israeli citizens and to support the racist Arab position about who may live where. It is more than just counter-productive, it’s anti-Zionist.

But the more important point is this:

Who the hell is Martin Raffel and who said he speaks for me?

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Shorts: the Victoria, J Street revealed again, ISM in Awarta

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Today there are almost too many Israel-related things to write about.

Probably the most important is the IDF’s capture of a ship carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms,  en route to Alexandria, from which the weapons would be smuggled to Hamas terrorists in Gaza.  Barry Rubin notes that

The story of the Liberian-flag ship Victoria is dramatic enough but few will understand, at least immediately, that it opens a new era in the region’s history. It is a period when, for the first time [in] more than thirty years … Egypt will not be a reliable force for regional peace and stability.

Here in America, the intrepid Lori Lowenthal Marcus sat through hours of boring video from the recent J Street conference, finding this gem, uttered by J Street co-founder Daniel Levy — already famous for telling an Al Jazeera panel that the creation of Israel was an “act that was wrong” (although “excusable”). This time, he provides no excuses. If they hate us no matter, what, he says, then

Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain’t a good idea.

Here’s a clip, courtesy of Elder of Ziyon:

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Wouldn’t you like to slap this guy? I would.* Note that there is no gasp of surprise from the attendees when he says it. They certainly have given new meaning to ‘pro-Israel!’

When the IDF arrived at the scene of the horrific massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar, they found footprints leading to the nearby Arab village of Awarta. So naturally, they clamped a curfew on it. And yet again, caught in the middle of the conflict were a group of ‘international activists’ from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), (and see also here) the folks who specialize in being human shields for the peace-loving cadres of Hamas and Fatah.

In the breathless prose that characterizes these self-important idiots, they describe their predicament (h/t: Israel Medad):

Today the village of Awarta, near Nablus, is facing the second day of a severe curfew imposed by the Israeli military, following Friday morning’s murder of a settler family in the settlement Itamar. Three ISM activists–Cinda, 23, Chad, 25, from Sweden, and Cissy, 53, from Norway–are currently trapped in the village. Anyone caught stepping outside of their house is arrested. Soldiers have said that they’ll maintain the curfew until they’ve apprehended the settler family’s murderer. The army hasn’t presented any evidence that the murderer was from Awarta, and villagers have said to the ISM that they strongly doubt the murderer was even Palestinian as the settlement is so heavily guarded it would be impossible to break in.

Soldiers are beating people and continuing their house raids: destroying houses from the inside, cutting off electricity, and polluting the drinking water by throwing mud in the water-tanks. 30 homes were occupied by soldiers last night. Computers and phones have been destroyed and money and property were stolen by the soldiers. In the last two days soldiers have been throwing sound grenades inside and outside the houses, and shooting in the air. The ISM activists may be arrested soon, but they intend to stay as long as possible because they feel their presence improves the behavior of the soldiers, and villagers have asked them to stay.

Palestinian sources have suggested that possibly the murderers were crazed foreign workers from Thailand. Because a Palestinian Arab would never, ever, do anything like that.

After all, how would Palestinian society look at them?


*Legal note: this is not a threat, merely a description of the feelings evoked by this remarkable dickhead.

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