Archive for the ‘J Street’ Category

Rabbi Jacobs confirmed URJ President, critics ignored

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

by Vic Rosenthal

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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