Archive for the ‘J Street’ Category

J Street audience reveals itself

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

On Friday I discussed J Street for the umpteenth time. I argued that it was clear that rather than the pro-Israel Left that it purports to represent, J Street actually speaks for the extreme elements: those that want Israel to disappear.

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than audience reaction to two of the speakers at this weekend’s J Street national conference (you can watch many of the panels at their website here).

One was the representative of the Obama Administration, Camp David negotiator and Middle East adviser Dennis Ross. Ross discussed the upheavals in the US and the administration’s response to them. His talk was dry and contained nothing new or surprising. At about 20 minutes into it, he mentioned Israel for the first time, referring to the administration’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” bringing forth a short, clearly pro forma trickle of applause. He then discussed the need to bring about a two-state solution by bilateral negotiations, the danger of ‘extremists’ who want to prevent peace, etc. He received several other lukewarm responses.

The other was Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy. Although she insisted “this isn’t about Israel,” she went on to excoriate Israel in remarks that Adam Levick at the CiFWatch blog characterized as ‘dripping with contempt for the Jewish state’. And Levick asks us to listen to the applause — the hoots and cheers that her diatribe inspired. Don’t take my word and Levick’s — here is her talk (she begins at 1:30 into the video, and you can hear the reaction nicely at 6:30, for example, as she demands ‘freedom and dignity’ for Palestinian Arabs).

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Even the supportive Uriel Heilman writes that the real nature of J Street is becoming evident:

At the organization’s conference in Washington this week, which organizers say drew 2,400 people, the crowd was emphatic in its insistence on Palestinian rights, offered only weak, scattered applause for an Obama administration official’s line about America’s strong support for Israeli security, and complained that more Palestinians should have been featured on conference panels.

For Arnold Moses, an activist in his 70s who came to the conference from Reston, Va., J Street just wasn’t reflective of his politics. “They’re too kind to the Israelis,” he said of J Street. “Obama’s too soft on Israel. The Palestinians need to get out of the jail they’re in” …

For this crowd, the Israeli government is to blame for the lack of peace in the Middle East. Their main beef is with the traditional pro-Israel camp, not with the Palestinians.

“I would have liked to see an Israeli uprising of the people against our government,” Ron Pundak, director general of the Peres Center for Peace, said in a panel discussion Sunday about the implications of the uprisings in the Arab world.

“We don’t have today an Israeli partner or leadership,” Pundak said to applause. The Israeli people should “get rid of this terrible government which today is governing Israel.”

But J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami never stops spinning. Heilman continues,

For Ben-Ami and J Street supporters, being pro-Palestinian is not incompatible with being pro-Israel. In their mind, standing up for Palestinian rights, criticizing Israel’s policies in the West Bank and advocating for more pressure on the Israeli government is a way of supporting Israel by helping, or forcing, Israel to become the kind of place they believe it ought to be.

“We don’t view this as a zero-sum conflict,” Ben-Ami said Monday in a question-and-answer session with reporters. “You can be pro-Israel and be an advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Well, no, actually you cannot. Not if you take into account the Palestinian Arab narrative that makes clear that they will not have their full ‘rights’ until Arab refugees can ‘return’ to Israel. Not if you understand that when they talk about ‘occupation’, they mean the one that started in 1948, not 1967. Not if you read the founding documents of their leadership, the PLO/Fatah and Hamas. Not if you watch Palestinian Authority TV, or indeed any Arab media.

Most importantly, you cannot be pro-Israel if you accept the radical recasting of the Arab (and today Iranian) struggle to get the Jews out of the Middle East as an issue of human rights for oppressed Palestinian Arabs instead. This point of view, and the post-colonialist one that goes along with it, entirely turns reality on its head and makes the real underdog in the Middle East — Israel — out to be the aggressor rather than the victim.

It is especially ironic when Israelis themselves, whose homes are targeted by tens of thousands of missiles in Lebanon and Syria, missiles that will almost certainly be fired sometime in the next couple of years, participate in the delegitimization effort that is intended to prevent Israel from defending herself.

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Jews on the dark side

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Why do I write so much about anti-Zionist Jews, you ask? Why so much space dedicated to the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street, for example? We already know that there are a few Israel-hating crazies and naive-but-well-meaning liberals out there, but aren’t there more important targets?

Well, no, I don’t think so.

I am going to recommend a book that I am reading (I’ll have a full review later) by Kenneth Levin, called The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Smith & Kraus, 2005). Levin is a practicing (and teaching) psychiatrist who also happens to have a degree in History, and his book describes the psychological roots of the seemingly irrational anti-Jewish (not just anti-Zionist or anti-Israel) behavior of so many Jews.

It also documents and explains Jewish behavior throughout history, from the remarkable survival of Judaism in the face of the antisemitic depredations of the Middle Ages, through the vicious hatred for the state displayed by so many Israeli academics and intellectuals, to the concrete realization of delusional ways of thinking in politics, as exemplified by Israel’s behavior during the Oslo period.

This is a big book (more than 500 pages) and there is a lot of detail. It’s not exactly bedtime reading. But it is an essential book.

Levin’s thesis, somewhat oversimplified, is that anti-Jewish attitudes in oppressed Jews result from a) internalizing  and coming to believe the antisemitic canards of their oppressors, and b) an unrealistic delusion that they have the power to change the behavior of the antisemites by self-reform — by ‘improving’ themselves so as to no longer deserve antisemitic hatred.

These mechanisms have led to an attenuation of Judaism itself, in which the focus on God, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel in traditional Judaism has been replaced with a universalist doctrine which minimizes national, ethnic and cultural divisions and espouses abstract ‘justice’ for all humankind as its highest goal — and which sees a transnational utopia as the ultimate Jewish goal.

Proponents of this universalist ethic see it as an evolution in Jewish ethical principles, a progressive improvement from a particularist and parochial past to a more modern, ‘higher’ form of ethics. But often — as when Jewish left-wing activists call for ‘justice for Palestinian Arabs’ while ignoring the context of the intermittent war being prosecuted against the Jewish state by the entire Arab world and Iran — universalist ethics provide a cover for anti-Israel positions.

Levin goes into detail about the failure of the Jewish community in America and the yishuv in Palestine to rescue more European Jews during the Holocaust. Of course, the primary responsibility for the lack of action must fall on the US State Department, President Roosevelt and the despicable British Foreign Office, which actually opposed any actions to save European Jews after the mass murders became known, because they might want to go to Palestine after the war. Levin quotes a memo which refers to “the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.” Really.

What may not be generally known is the degree to which attempts to rescue Jews — which could have been accomplished with very little effort and without damage to the overall war effort — were often stymied by resistance from irrational or delusional Jews.

For example, Levin notes that the New York Times, under direct orders from its (Jewish) publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, published only one story during the war relating to the Holocaust on page one above the fold: one which reported as true a State Department claim in the Fall of 1943 that 580,000 Jewish refugees had entered the country (the true number was about 21,000). The story had the immediate effect of short-circuiting support for a Rescue Resolution in Congress, at least until other sources revealed that the State Department numbers were false.

Perhaps even worse, the swinish philosopher Martin Buber, whose own butt was safely in Jerusalem (he escaped from Germany in 1938), published an article in 1944 which called for a binational state and said  that levels of Jewish immigration must be determined in agreement with Palestinian Arabs (who of course wanted it to be zero and whose leadership collaborated with the Nazis). So although he professed admiration for the spirituality of the Jews of Eastern Europe, Buber preferred to leave their bodies in the hands of Hitler!

Indeed, all through the 1930′s, as David Ben Gurion frantically tried to create a united front to maximize Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe — where he clearly saw that there was no future — he was fought tooth and nail by Jews like Buber, Felix Warburg and Judah Magnes, all of whom felt that a Jewish majority would be disastrous (it would lead to antisemitism, be unjust, etc.).

How many Jews could have been saved but for the obstructions placed by Jewish anti-Zionists? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We don’t know, of course.

Today it seems to me that the degree to which the Jewish people has become infected with the delusional irrationality that Levin describes is greater even than in the past. While Israel faces a physical/military danger that is no less threatening than that which loomed over European Jewry in the 1930′s, the very leadership, the vangaurd of the movement to delegitimize Israel, to prevent it from defending itself and to deter others from coming to its aid, is Jewish.

Not only is the Jewish contingent ubiquitous in the ranks of the information war against Israel — for every Ali Abunimah there are several Jeremy Ben-Amis — but they are highly effective, both because they are remarkably inventive and enthusiastic, and because of the psychological force of the ‘as a Jew’ argument.

In addition there is the simple fact that every Jew who goes to the Dark Side is one less who might support Israel politically or materially. Such support has to start with Jews, even if there are plenty of non-Jews who are prepared to help. But without the Jews most of them have little reason to do so.

The struggle against Jewish anti-Zionists isn’t a sideshow. In my opinion the information war will be won or lost depending on its outcome. The enemy understands this. We need to as well.

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Is the White House as anti-Zionist as J Street?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The annual J Street national conference begins this weekend. Some have suggested that the phony ‘pro-Israel’ group will soon be breathing its last, crushed by the weight of its persistent dishonesty, and by the fact that you just can’t claim to be pro-Israel while calling for the US to not veto an anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council for the first time in history.

Recently a milestone was passed when one of J Street’s congressional supporters, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D. NY) loudly defected, saying in part,

After learning of J Street’s current public call for the Obama Administration to not veto a prospective UN Security Council resolution that, under the rubric of concern about settlement activity, would effectively and unjustly place the whole responsibility for the current impasse in the peace process on Israel, and–critically–would give fresh and powerful impetus to the effort to internationally isolate and delegitimize Israel, I’ve come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated…

America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively pro-peace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J-Street ain’t it.”

Unfortunately, although J Street may be losing the respectable pro-Israel Left, it is gaining support from the anti-Israel fringe, including supporters of Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) which J Street has (so far) claimed to oppose.

In an open letter to US diplomat, administration adviser and Camp David negotiator Dennis Ross, who is listed as one of the speakers at the J Street conference, Noah Pollak asks if Ross wishes to be associated with the other scheduled speakers, who include

  • Maen Areikat of the PLO, who denies there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accuses Israel of “state terrorism.”
  • Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who said that Israel has “a full-fledged Apartheid system” that is “much worse than what prevailed in South Africa,” and that Israel has been “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians since 1948. A BDS supporter.
  • Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, a correspondent for MBC TV, who says that Hamas should not be “lumped in” with other terrorist groups because “once Palestine is liberated then [Hamas] will cease to use violence.”
  • Edina Lekovic, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was a managing editor of a magazine that praised Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter.”
  • Imam Feisal Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque leader, who refuses to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
  • James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, who has compared Israelis to Nazis and accused the IDF of “genocide” and a “Holocaust.” Only three months ago he wrote that “In a real sense, the plight of the Palestinians is to the Arabs, what the Holocaust is to Jews worldwide.”
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, a former State Department official, who has repeatedly accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of “working for Israel” and being “card-carrying members of the Likud Party,” and asked whether “their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel.”
  • Daniel Levy, one of Richard Goldstone’s leading advocates in Washington, who said that Israel’s creation was “an act that was wrong,” and that if Israel had to fight for its existence, “maybe Israel ain’t [sic] such a good idea.”
  • Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, who says that “the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa” and that Israel’s policy toward Gaza is a “siege.”
  • Naomi Chazan, a leader of the New Israel Fund and a conference honoree. Her organization funds NGO’s that accuse Israel of war crimes and Apartheid, provided the bulk of the accusations contained in the Goldstone Report, support the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, and seek the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Rebecca Vilkomerson, who runs the BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace. She has said, “Just as in Apartheid South Africa’s day, Israel’s society seems to be turning more bluntly racist and repressive.” She says her organization “speaks out for Goldstone, and we speak out for BDS campaigners.”
  • Debra Delee, president and CEO of the NGO Americans for Peace Now, who commented on the Turkish flotilla attack on IDF soldiers, “The root of this disaster lies not in the actions of the flotilla’s participants.”
  • Oded Na’aman, a founder of Breaking the Silence, which accuses IDF soldiers of war crimes. He says the IDF “is guilty of a wide range of abuses” including “allowing Jewish settlers to poison Palestinian wells” and evacuating entire blocks of Palestinian towns and then demolishing them. Palestinian terrorism, he says, is merely a “perceived threat.”
  • Daniel Seidemann, founder of the NGO “Terrestrial Jerusalem,” who claims that the Old City of Jerusalem is being turned into an “Evangelical settler theme park” and compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin wall.
  • Michael Sfard, a lawyer for several radical NGO’s, who routinely demonizes Israel, accuses it of “Apartheid,” and promotes war crimes allegations against it. He testified as a paid witness on behalf of the PLO in a lawsuit brought in U.S. Federal Court by victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. He is best known as a leading advocate of “lawfare” – prosecuting Israeli soldiers and officials in European war-crimes trials.

Nothing illustrates J Street’s place in the ideological spectrum better than this lineup, most of whom are anti-Zionist at best. Rep. Ackerman clearly woke up and smelled the coffee in time, understanding that this was not the gang that his liberal constituents  wanted him to pal around with.

So is J Street on life support? I doubt it. Organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, etc. are lately flush with funds, opening new branches, running speaking tours and other programs. There is apparently a lot of money available for these people, and it’s unlikely that the somewhat marginal individuals who are associated with them are funding them from their own pockets.

J Street has historically been very close to the Obama Administration. Director Jeremy Ben-Ami called himself “the president’s blocking back [in Congress],” and J Street was invited to a White House meeting of ‘Jewish leaders’ in July 2009, while some other groups like the Zionist Organization of America, which had previously attended such meetings, were pointedly left out. J Street’s positions have often very closely echoed the administration’s, and J Street’s statement on the UNSC resolution closely parallels that of Ambassador Susan Rice, who made it clear that her ‘no’ vote was being cast for technical reasons only and that she agreed with the content of the resolution.

The interesting question is this: does J Street’s dropping the veil of ‘pro-Israelness’ in practice if not in words reflect the attitude of the Obama Administration? Is it as frankly anti-Zionist as J Street?

My guess is yes, and I think it will express itself in the form of a US proposal for an imposed solution. This will give the Arabs an ‘out’ to accept it — they can say that Obama gave them no choice, even though it doesn’t meet all of their maximal demands. It’s probable that the US will then seek some form of multilateral support for it, maybe even in the Security Council. The dynamics of this would be very interesting, with Arabs and their friends pulling to harden the terms against Israel.

Not much has happened since Israel ‘dissed’ President Obama by refusing to accept the absurd extension of the 10-month settlement freeze proposed last September. I suspect that for a time the administration will have more pressing issues to deal with as the Arab world goes up in flames (if they had any sense, they would ask what this implies about their theory that everything depends on Israel). But I continue to wait for the other shoe to drop.

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J Street lays a trap for Birthright

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

J Street’s recent attempt to slime Taglit-Birthright shows yet again that J Street is nothing more than a Trojan Horse intended to sabotage American Jewish support for Israel.

Birthright is an organization that provides free trips to Israel for young people from 18-27 years old, on the premise that nothing creates understanding and connection better than personal experience.

It’s been wildly successful, perhaps showing that the much-remarked lack of connection to Israel among young American Jews is due more to the suffusion of colleges and universities by anti-Israel propaganda than to Israel’s illiberal tendencies, as Peter Beinart has alleged.

J Street’s campus arm, J Street U, announced that they would be leading a Birthright tour with a difference. It would be called “Explore Israel: Progressive Zionism and Social Justice.” It would be “from a perspective that acknowledges your Jewish and progressive values,” and would help participants discover “the full contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” by meeting with “members of Israeli civil society working to advance the goals of democracy and human rights.”

In other words, J Street U would use the resources of Birthright to indoctrinate students with their brand of anti-Israel politics. And it’s not just theoretical — J Street U has organized Jewish students to join left-wing protests in Israel.

The announcement prompted inquiries to Birthright, which responded that no such tour had been approved. But J Street U pressed the matter, claiming that Birthright had ‘canceled’ their planned tour. And then J Street’s director, the serial liar Jeremy Ben Ami weighed in to suggest that the tour was killed for political reasons.

But Birthright never received a formal proposal and the trip was never approved at all:

Taglit-Birthright Israel wishes to clarify that at no time did it approve of a Birthright Israel trip in association with JStreet, nor did it give its trip provider, the Israel Experience, any approval for such a trip. We did not rescind its approval as no approval was given in the first place.

Three months ago, we were approached by the Israel Experience which informally inquired about holding a trip focusing on Progressive Zionism and social justice in conjunction with JStreet. We said such a trip, as described in a brief conversation with the Israel Experience, would likely be out of keeping with our longstanding policy of not conducting trips with a political orientation.

The Israel Experience made no follow-up, and it did not submit any formal request for such a trip. At no time did Taglit-Birthright Israel have any contact with JStreet or JStreetU.

Last week, we were perplexed to read a press release by JStreetU announcing it was “leading” a Birthright Israel trip, and soliciting participants to register for the trip on its website bearing a Taglit-Birthright Israel logo. Aside from the fact that no such trip was ever approved, there cannot have been any registered participants, since registration in North America begins on February 15th and takes place only through our website.

Ben Ami mentioned that Birthright trips had been led by other organizations that are ‘political’, such as AIPAC. But the difference is that AIPAC submitted a proposal beforehand, as Birthright explains:

For years, we have run a Capital-to-Capital trip through another trip provider, which focuses on the Israeli political system. The provider has been running this trip, with input from AIPAC, a mainstream Israel advocacy group, long before JStreet was established. It focuses on Israel’s political structure, with an approach similar to a political science class; the trip has never been tilted to one side of the political spectrum. Needless to say, the trip organizer submitted a formal trip proposal which underwent rigorous review before it was approved.

Ben Ami lays a trap for Birthright, suggesting that if it approves one ‘political’ group it must approve any such group. But by this principle, even Hamas could lead a trip! Of course there have to be limits, and AIPAC — whose point of view parallels that of the Government of Israel — is mainstream while J Street is not. In any event, since no proposal was submitted, Birthright didn’t have to decide.

The project, in my opinion, was intended to embarrass Birthright. If it agreed to a J Street-led tour it would anger its Zionist supporters as well as contribute to J Street’s efforts on behalf of the campaign to delegitimize Israel. On the other hand, refusing to approve it leaves Birthright open to the charge that it is a political organization — perhaps even imperiling its 501(c)(3) status (far-fetched? See here, here and here).

Birthright is one of the most effective tools we have to counteract the massive propaganda blitz that our young people are exposed to on campus and from their ‘progressive’ friends. Support and protect it.

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More on J Street’s Birthright trip

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Yesterday I wrote about the Birthright trip supposedly to be led by J Street U, the campus branch of the phony ‘pro-Israel’ organization J Street. I urged readers to write to Birthright and The Israel Experience, the ‘trip provider’ said to be organizing the tour for J Street.

Birthright responded to me that they were looking into the matter. An official of The Israel Experience responded to a reader, saying

Neither Birthright nor the Israel Experience are providing a JStreet trip. (rumors)

At first I thought that the press release from J Street U’s director, Daniel May, which appeared in several blogs (see here and here) was a hoax, because it didn’t appear on either the J Street or J Street U site. But one of the bloggers kindly pointed me to the signup page for the tour on J Street’s web site.

So here’s what I think:

Someone at J Street thought that it would be clever to trade on the good name of Birthright — after all, how could Birthright allow an anti-Zionist group to lead a tour? — and at the same time exploit the funding provided by truly pro-Israel donors and the Israeli government. The plan was to bring young people to Israel where they could meet with left-wing Jews and anti-Zionist Arabs, who would present to them J Street’s fundamentally anti-Zionist point of view.

But they apparently ‘forgot’ to ask Birthright before announcing the program!

This is a maneuver characteristic of J Street, which essentially exists to dishonestly use Jewish resources against Israel. So it accepts donations from well-meaning liberal Jews while also receiving funds from extreme left-wing sources such as George Soros and from individuals connected to Arab interests and Iran.

I have asked Birthright and The Israel Experience to publicly disavow any connection to J Street or J Street U. Email addresses are in my previous post, if you want to do the same.

Update [1126 PST]: I received the following (unsigned) email from Birthright:

JStreet has been asked to remove this page.

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Action alert: Don’t let J Street exploit Birthright

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

No program has been more effective in creating Zionist consciousness in Jewish young people than Birthright. Israel really is a vital, democratic, modern and generally cool place, so sending kids there for ten days for free is the best way to arm them against the barrage of anti-Israel propaganda they face at college or among their ‘progressive’ friends.

So naturally this had to happen:

J Street U is very happy to announce that we will be leading a free, ten-day Taglit-Birthright trip this summer titled, “Explore Israel: Progressive Zionism and Social Justice.”

This trip is an incredible opportunity to connect with the Israel that isn’t on the front page or in the guide books. Move beyond the headlines, and see what’s really happening on the ground…

The trip is a chance to appreciate the vibrancy of Israel’s history, culture and landscape from a perspective that acknowledges your Jewish and progressive values.

The best way to discover the richness of Israeli society and the full contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to travel around Israel and meet people from the diverse groups of the region. There is simply no substitute for seeing the land and connecting with the people.

On the trip, we’ll speak with members of Israeli civil society working to advance the goals of democracy and human rights. Our itinerary will provide a cross-section of Israeli opinion.

This trip is a gift of Taglit-Birthright Israel and will be provided by The Israel Experience, Ltd. — J Street press release (my emphasis)

In other words, the phony ‘pro-Israel’ organization J Street, a group that takes money from people associated with Saudi Arabia, the Arab-American institute,  Iranian interests, anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, a mysterious woman associated with the guy who beat the Hong Kong horse-racing track, and the Turkish producer of anti-Israel propaganda films; whose co-founder called the creation of Israel ‘an act that was wrong’; and which facilitated meetings between members of Congress and Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the notorious Goldstone report that accused Israel of deliberately murdering civilians in the Gaza war  — this organization has the chutzpah to use funds provided by Taglit-Birthright to sabotage its purpose!

J Street U, the campus branch of J Street which will be guiding the students on this trip, stopped calling itself ‘pro-Israel’ because

“We don’t want to isolate people because they don’t feel quite so comfortable with ‘pro-Israel,’ so we say ‘pro-peace,’” said American University junior Lauren Barr of the “J Street U” slogan, “but behind that is ‘pro-Israel.’”

Barr, secretary of the J Street U student board that decided the slogan’s terminology, explained that on campus, “people feel alienated when the conversation revolves around a connection to Israel only, because people feel connected to Palestine, people feel connected to social justice, people feel connected to the Middle East…”

What is J Street U? Its National Board President U is a Middlebury College student named Moriel Rothman. Here is how he explains the controversy around the Sheik Jarrah / Shimon haTzadik neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Pay attention not only to his words, but his tone:

…the Jerusalem municipality has been bending to the will of fanatic Jewish settlers, and producing -based on archaic documents from the Ottoman period and manufactured Israeli law- eviction notices to a number of Palestinian families, and in some cases -such as with three families in Sheikh Jarrah- acting on those eviction notices by force and removing those Palestinian families from their homes. The municipality’s actions are hugely problematic from a moral standpoint: not only are Jews buying up and/or stealing Arab land in East Jerusalem, but Arabs are moreover unable to buy land in the primarily Jewish West Jerusalem… These policies are also hugely problematic from the standpoint of peace, as East Jerusalem must be the capital of the future Palestinian state, and the Clinton Parameters, which state that Palestine will get control of Arab neighborhoods and Israel will control Jewish neighborhoods, are made harder and harder to implement with each infiltration of Jewish settlers into Arab neighborhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.

This is what they call “progressive Zionism!” If you ask me, it has ‘progressed’ to the point that it can’t be distinguished from Arab propaganda — Ali Abunimah could have written that paragraph.

Now I am not saying that, distasteful as it is, an anti-Zionist organization like J Street U can be prevented from leading a trip to Israel in which young people will meet various Jewish left-wing extremists and Arab anti-Zionists, perhaps participate in a demonstration or two, and in general see the country through the eyes of those who hate it.

But I think it is highly inappropriate that funds that have been given to Taglit-Birthright by Zionists like me and by Israeli taxpayers should be used to pay for it!

So I suggest that you contact Birthright — you can email them at information@birthrightisrael.com and ask them if they think that the anti-Zionist organization J Street U should be allowed to lead a Birthright trip.

Birthright works through ‘trip providers’ like The Israel Experience Ltd, in Israel — a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency. You can email the Deputy Director-General of TIE, Eran Applebaum at eranap@israelexperience.org.il, and ask him if he thinks his organization should be helping J Street to damage Israel.

Do it now. I have, and I’ll report on any results.

Update [27 Jan 1307 PST]: This press release may have been a hoax. It does not appear on the websites of either J Street U or J Street. I found it in two blogs, here and here. Both of the writers took it seriously, but I’ve been told that Birthright denies that there will be such a trip!

Update [1629 PST]: It’s for real. Here’s the signup page.

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End the J Street charade

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

This one is just too good (h/t: Lenny Ben-David).

News item:

The United States House of Representatives unanimously on Thursday approved a resolution opposing unilateral declaration of [a] Palestinian state.

The resolution introduced by Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slams Palestinian efforts to push the international community to recognize a state in such a manner as “true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.”

The resolution calls on the U.S. administration to “deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.”

Makes sense, right? It wouldn’t exactly promote peace if an Arab state were suddenly declared within some arbitrary borders (the 1949 armistice lines are exactly that). There would be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no land swaps for the large settlement blocs, no agreements to guarantee Jews access to holy places, no security arrangements to prevent ‘Palestine’ from inviting Iranian troops for ‘protection’, and more. And it would violate numerous UN resolutions, the Road Map, and the Oslo agreements.

The fact that it was unanimously adopted by the House shows how noncontroversial it is.

Why, only someone who really wanted to hurt Israel would oppose it. Even the most pro-Arab House members didn’t. But guess what?

The pro-Israel lobby [sic!] J Street issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing Berman’s resolution, saying “it addresses only one issue standing in the way of peace.”

In the statement, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that the resolution continued “a pattern in which overly one-sided resolutions are introduced and moved to the floor of the House without an adequate opportunity for debate, discussion and modification by the Members.”

Let’s see: J Street takes money from people associated with Saudi Arabia, the Arab-American institute,  Iranian interests, anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, a mysterious woman associated with the guy who beat the Hong Kong horse-racing track, and the Turkish producer of anti-Israel propaganda films. Its co-founder called the creation of Israel ‘an act that was wrong’. J Street also facilitated meetings between members of Congress and Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the notorious Goldstone report that accused Israel of deliberately murdering civilians in the Gaza war. And of course they’ve opposed other pro-Israel resolutions in Congress.

Time to end the charade.

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UN, J Street, Hitler, fight for Palestinian rights

Sunday, December 12th, 2010
'Cultural performance' by al-Ashtar theater group at UN on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

'Cultural performance' by al-Ashtar theater group at UN on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. UN photo.

This is going to be an easy post for me to write, since I will let my friends at our United Nations write most of it for me:

In 1975, by its resolution 3376 the United Nations General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and requested it to recommend a programme of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty; and to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced. The Committee’s recommendations were endorsed by the Assembly, to which the Committee reports annually. The Assembly established the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights (later redesignated as the Division for Palestinian Rights) as its secretariat and, throughout the years, has gradually expanded the Committee’s mandate.

As far as I know, no other ‘people’ has a committee to help them exercise their inalienable rights — certainly not the Jewish people, or the Kurdish people or the Tibetan people or anyone else. To make sure that nobody forgets the ‘plight’ of the sainted Palestinians,

Assisted by the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Committee organizes international meetings and conferences, cooperates and liaises with civil society organizations worldwide, maintains a publications and information programme, and holds each year on 29 November or around that date a special meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November).

November 29, 1947, as everyone knows, is the date that the UN General Assembly passed the partition resolution which would have created — for the first time in history — a state for the ‘Palestinian people’!

That must be why they’re celebrating it, of course — oops, no, they are commemorating the nakba, the ‘catastrophe’ which came about because the peace-loving ‘Palestinian people’ started a war with the Jews in the Mandate — not because they wanted a Palestinian state but because they didn’t want a Jewish one! And they got their neighbors to join in.

By the way, those neighbors — Transjordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon — didn’t want to create a Palestinian state either, but they too didn’t want a Jewish state, so they invaded the area of the Mandate and tried to get the territory for themselves. This is how Jordan came to control Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem for 19 years.

But to almost everyone’s dismay, the Jewish state came into being. One of the most dismayed was the exiled leader of the ‘Palestinian people’, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had expected the Hitler would nip the Jewish state in the bud by murdering the Palestinian Jews. Here is a snippet from a NY Times report on revelations from newly declassified documents:

In chilling detail, the report also elaborates on the close working relationship between Nazi leaders and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who later claimed that he sought refuge in wartime Germany only to avoid arrest by the British.

In fact, the report says, the Muslim leader was paid “an absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year). It also said he energetically recruited Muslims for the SS, the Nazi Party’s elite military command, and was promised that he would be installed as the leader of Palestine after German troops drove out the British and exterminated more than 350,000 Jews there.

On Nov. 28, 1941, the authors say, Hitler told Mr. Husseini that the Afrika Corps and German troops deployed from the Caucasus region would liberate Arabs in the Middle East and that “Germany’s only objective there would be the destruction of the Jews.”

The report details how Mr. Husseini himself was allowed to flee after the war to Syria — he was in the custody of the French, who did not want to alienate Middle East regimes — and how high-ranking Nazis escaped from Germany to become advisers to anti-Israeli Arab leaders and “were able to carry on and transmit to others Nazi racial-ideological anti-Semitism.”

“You have an actual contract between officials of the Nazi Foreign Ministry with Arab leaders, including Husseini, extending after the war because they saw a cause they believed in,” Dr. Breitman said. “And after the war, you have real Nazi war criminals — Wilhelm Beisner, Franz Rademacher and Alois Brunner — who were quite influential in Arab countries.”

Too bad for Husseini and his ‘Palestinian people’, but Montgomery, Eisenhower and the Red Army stopped the Afrika Corps and Hitlerism before they were given their ‘inalienable rights’ to a judenrein ‘Palestine’.

Apparently our United Nations has taken up Husseini’s cause, now that Hitler is gone. The UN has set up a “Civil Society Network” that non-governmental organizations can join if they really care about helping the Palestinians get their inalienable rights.

Want to join? Here is all you need to do:

(a) be a recognized local, national or international non-profit organization;

(b) support the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law and the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily its right to self-determination;

(c) have demonstrated that it has concrete programmes or the serious intent to establish such programmes in support of the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

And our United Nations also publicizes the activities of organizations working for this humanitarian goal. For example, here is the North American calendar of “NGO Action News” for the past week:

Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah-NY, Brooklyn for Peace, Code Pink, Jews Say No!, and Students for Justice in Palestine-Columbia held a demonstration on 10 December at TIAA-CREF’s offices in New York, to protest the financial service’s investment in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. Supporters who were unable to join the protest are invited to sign a related petition.

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) has launched its Winter Bazaar 2010, which will run until 21 December, in Washington, DC. Proceeds from sales of Middle Eastern maps, manuscripts and art, will benefit the ATFP as well as the American Charities for Palestine.

CODEPINK will lead a delegation to Gaza from 30 January to 6 February, to get a firsthand look at conditions on the ground.

J Street will hold a conference on peace in the Middle East called “Giving Voice to our Values,” from 26 February to 1 March, in Washington, DC.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation urges Americans to tell their Members of Congress to put US — and not Israeli — interests first, when it comes to budget decisions.

Creative Nonviolent Resistance against Injustice and PalestinianGandhis.org are selling Fair-Traded Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Palestine in order to benefit Palestinian farmers. All profits will be donated to the newly created Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. For more information, contact Dennis Loh at: lohdennis@gmail.com.

J Street: pro-Israel and pro-peace. Right.

Oh, an aside: the UN’s Committee claims to support a “two-state solution.” But nowhere do they say anything like “two states for two peoples” or mention the Jewish people. Combined with the call for a right of return for ‘Palestinian refugees’, this implies that their vision of “two states” is the same as that of Mahmoud Abbas (which ultimately is the same as that of Husseini and Hitler): A Jew-free ‘Palestine’ alongside a former ‘Israel’ overrun by 4.5 million ‘refugees’.

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J Street calls for imposed map

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The main thing to keep in in mind about the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby J Street is that it is a creature of the Obama Administration.

So what are we to make of the latest J Street initiative, which appears to call for the US to impose a map on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA)?

…whether direct talks resume or not, we believe the time has come for American efforts to shift from a heavy focus on getting the parties to decide whether to keep talking – to one that puts fundamental choices squarely before the parties about whether and how to end the conflict.

Therefore, we believe that it is time for the Obama Administration to adopt a “borders and security first” strategy that focuses on delineating a permanent border between Israel and a future state of Palestine, based on 100 percent of the land beyond the 1967 Green Line with one-to-one land swaps, as well as finalizing the necessary security arrangements for a two-state agreement.  Such a strategy should be adopted with or without a 90-day extension of the limited moratorium on settlement construction.

Setting an agreed-upon border would both create positive momentum to address other final status issues and eliminate the issue of settlements as a barrier to continued negotiations, as Israel and the Palestinians would be able to build where they please within their established borders.

Let’s look at what they are asking for:

First, J Street is prepared to give up on the idea of direct talks, which means they realize (correctly) that there is no intersection between Israeli and Arab bottom lines, and that therefore the talks cannot succeed.

This is because the Arab leadership doesn’t accept the existence of any Jewish state, and so the only way to proceed is to keep (more or less) the status quo while helping the Arabs learn that they need new and different leaders. But of course neither J Street nor the administration gets this.

So they are suggesting that the border be delineated now. This is the important part of the proposal (I’ll get to the “security arrangements” later). Once a map has been drawn and somehow given legitimacy, then the argument that the 1949 lines are not borders goes away. One side is Israel, the other becomes Palestine. At this point there would be no obstacle to declaring the Arab state.

One would expect that the land swaps would be defined so as to keep some of the large settlement blocs in Israel. At best, perhaps a hundred thousand Jews would have to leave their homes in what would be ‘Palestine’. Of course, no Arabs will be forced to move, regardless of boundaries. After all, that would be racism [sarcasm alert].

Needless to say, this is a bad outcome for Israel, which loses control of the territory in return for basically nothing: no recognition of Israel as Jewish state, no renunciation of further claims or ‘right of return’, and no end of conflict. Consider also that only about 8,000 Israelis were evacuated from Gaza, and the social repercussions continue today. Multiply that by at least 12. And I haven’t even mentioned Jerusalem, the holy sites, etc.

Although they say that it will create “momentum to address other final status issues” it will do the opposite. Once Israel relinquishes control of the land, the Arabs have no reason to give up anything. What would it get them?

What about the “security arrangements?” Well, this is supposedly what Israel gets. Israel’s concerns about a Gaza-like terror state being established a couple of miles from its international airport can’t be denied. Unlike the Gaza strip, it would be an internationally recognized state which can make treaties and invite foreign armies, etc. So there has to be a way to guarantee Israel’s security, or at least to pretend to do so, once she has been forced to live within indefensible borders.

This is especially true because once the IDF leaves the territories, there will be nothing to prevent a takeover by Hamas (the ‘Palestinian security forces’ will not stand for a day).

So there will be some kind of guarantee, perhaps involving NATO peacekeepers or even Americans. But none of these will be prepared to die for Israel, and either they will be gone after the first large-scale terror attack against them, or they will be as ineffective as UNIFIL is in enforcing the arms blockade against Hizballah.

Understand that the concern for security is lip service. What is important is to create ‘Palestine’. That is the objective of the Obama Administration.

So the interesting question is “why is J Street floating this idea?” Are they announcing the administration’s intent? Or is it just a threat — this is what will happen if we don’t get a freeze?

My guess is that it is actually the position of the administration. The freeze seems to be a non-starter, with the PA refusing to accept it unless it explicitly mentions Jerusalem. Not to mention the fact that the Palestinians have no incentive to restart talks if the alternative — as J Street suggests — is an imposed map!

What I would like Israel to do is agree to the freeze on condition that the Arabs commit in advance that any agreement must include the following:

  • Recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people
  • Renunciation of all Arab claims against Israel, including for ‘right of return’
  • Agreement that the treaty marks the end of the conflict

It seems to me that these principles represent the minimum requirements for a treaty that will actually be a peace agreement, and not simply the document of surrender that the Arabs have been demanding. Otherwise, talking about borders is premature.

The Arabs seem to have defined the problem as Israel’s possession of Arab land. Israel needs to take control of the story and bring it back to reality, which is that the problem is Arab aggression against the legitimate state of Israel.

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J Street’s anti-Israel advocacy

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

There is probably no single political action that has done more to prevent peace between Israel and the Arabs than the cynical exploitation of the descendants of the Arab refugees of the 1948 war. John Ging is the head of UNRWA, the UN refugee agency which does the dirty work of keeping the ‘Palestinian refugees’ living in camps for the Arab nations, who will agree to no form of resettlement except ‘return’ to Israel.

He’s the perfect guy for the job: here is a fact sheet on John Ging from NGO Monitor:

NGO Monitor

November 4, 2010

The Role of John Ging, UNRWA Director in Gaza, in Political Warfare

John Ging has been the head of the United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza since 2006. In this role, Ging has promoted political warfare targeting Israel, as illustrated by the following quotes:

  • Support for “Free Gaza flotillas” provoking violent confrontations with Israel: In May 2010, Ging expressed support for flotillas to Gaza, encouraging the world to “send ships to the shores of Gaza”: “Many human rights organizations have been successful in previous similar steps, and proved that breaking the siege on Gaza is possible.” In fact, most flotillas have been comprised of fringe activists from ISM, ICAHD, Viva Palestina, and the IHH terror organization. One week after Ging’s remarks, the “Free Gaza” flotilla initiated a violent confrontation with the Israeli navy, resulting in nine deaths.
  • Promoting Palestinian victimization: “I am delighted that the Elders come again to Gaza…The truth that…we are in the fourth year of an illegal, inhumane and counterproductive blockade on 1.5 million innocent civilians…it has taken the tragic deaths of activists on a flotilla to generate this new level of political clarity and resolve… Whether it is realized or not depends on the triumph of truth over propaganda and legality over illegality. The fate of children well beyond the borders of Gaza is at stake.” (“Gaza: The simple truths that go untold,” John Ging, The Elders, October 16, 2010)
  • “Stripped of their dignity”: “The situation is very desperate at the humanitarian level, I mean people have been stripped of their dignity here, it is a struggle to survive for every body.” (“UN aid chief to EI: Gaza people ‘stripped of their dignity’”, Electronic Initfada, November 25, 2008)
  • “Sub-human existence” in Gaza: “There’s a very sub-human existence for the general population… The definitions of a humanitarian crisis are rather obscene when compared with just how people are having to struggle to survive here…” (“‘A disaster for everybody’”, Guardian UK, May 12, 2008)
  • “Immoral equivalence” on Gilad Shalit (comparing the kidnapped Israeli soldier to Palestinian terrorists): “Equally, there must be action to end all violence emanating from Gaza into Israel and to secure the release of Gilad Shalit and Palestinians administratively detained in Israeli prisons, including more than 300 children.” (“Gaza: The simple truths that go untold,” John Ging, The Elders, October 16, 2010)
  • Demonization of Israel: Ging’s condemnation of Israel for allegedly causing 43 civilian deaths in an UNRWA school in Jabalya, Gaza on January 6, 2009 fuelled false accusations of an Israeli “massacre” and demonization of Israel. Ging’s statements erased the fact that Hamas fighters were in the immediate vicinity of the school, and that the deaths occurred outside the school grounds. Three weeks later Ging admitted, “I know no one was killed in the school,” and acknowledged that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school. (For more on Ging’s role, see CAMERA’s “UNRWA’s Omissions Distort Coverage of Jabaliya Tragedy,” February 4, 2009)

***

Does John Ging sound like a “pro-Israel” figure to you? Would you invite him to speak to people interested in peace in the Middle East?

Well, the phony ‘pro-Israel’ group J Street would:

J Street DC Metro and the Peace Café present a Two State/One District Dialogue — “A Conversation about Gaza” with John Ging, Director, Gaza Operations, United Nations Relief and Works Agency.  Mr. Ging will be joined by Stephanie Fox, who works with UNWRA in Gaza.  We will explore Director Ging’s and Ms. Fox’s experiences and the impact of unremitting conflict on the people of Gaza.

And that’s not all. Recently J Street partnered with Yale’s “Students for Justice in Palestine” to present Anat Biletzki, an extreme left-wing academic from Tel Aviv University. Biletzki calls for a “right of return” for Arab ‘refugees’ and recently co-authored a study which purports to show that there would be less terrorism if Israel stopped defending herself.

While Ging and Biletzki have a right to speak in the US, even if they are advocating for Israel’s enemies and the destruction of the Jewish state, is it really the role of a “pro-Israel” organization to sponsor them?

You decide.

More FresnoZionism posts about J Street are here.

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J Street U teaches anti-Zionism

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I thought it was impossible to find anything else to criticize about the self-described ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ J Street, after it was exposed for taking money from anti-Israel sources and lying about it (some of my previous posts on J Street are here), but apparently its perfidy is  bottomless.

J Street has a youth organization, J Street U, “The Campus Address for Middle East Peace and Security.” What does it teach American college students about Israel and the conflict?

J Street U has a new National Board President, a Middlebury College senior named Moriel Rothman. Here’s how he explains the controversy surrounding the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheik Jarrah:

…the Jerusalem municipality has been bending to the will of fanatic Jewish settlers, and producing -based on archaic documents from the Ottoman period and manufactured Israeli law- eviction notices to a number of Palestinian families, and in some cases -such as with three families in Sheikh Jarrah- acting on those eviction notices by force and removing those Palestinian families from their homes. The municipality’s actions are hugely problematic from a moral standpoint: not only are Jews buying up and/or stealing Arab land in East Jerusalem, but Arabs are moreover unable to buy land in the primarily Jewish West Jerusalem… These policies are also hugely problematic from the standpoint of peace, as East Jerusalem must be the capital of the future Palestinian state, and the Clinton Parameters, which state that Palestine will get control of Arab neighborhoods and Israel will control Jewish neighborhoods, are made harder and harder to implement with each infiltration of Jewish settlers into Arab neighborhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.

I am not going to go into detail about the legal issues, except to mention that the Jewish ownership of the homes in question was decided by the left-leaning Israeli Supreme Court. Palestinian Arabs and their supporters have simply decided that the neighborhood will be theirs for political reasons, and the law be damned. I quote this passage in order to draw attention to Rothman’s tone. Not very ‘pro-Israel’, is he?

But at least they oppose the boycott-divestment sanctions (BDS) movement. Don’t they?  Lori Lowenthal Marcus writes,

…let’s take a close look at the single positive point about J Street raised in the articles by those who admit being disappointed by J Street’s lies but believe there’s still life in them thar liars.

Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils, criticized J Street’s lack of candor [!] but said that he and some of his constituent agencies have praised the organization because J Street was “very helpful” as a “credible left-wing pro-Israel organization” that opposed divestment efforts on campuses…

BDS attempts to damage Israel economically, but far more significantly, to delegitimize it by placing it on the same moral level as apartheid South Africa, which was subjected to similar actions. Marcus notes that J Street U doesn’t seem to have a problem with this aspect of BDS:

But why doesn’t J Street favor divestment from Israel? Is it because an economically strong Israel is a healthy and safe Israel? Nope. Is it because an economic intifada is a danger to Israel’s existence? Nope. Is it maybe even that Israel isn’t so bad that it deserves BDS? Nope again.

The reasons appear in an email sent about a year ago from J Street U National Board member Tal Schechter (quoted in the abominable Mondoweiss blog at http://mondoweiss.net/2009/11/j-street-seeks-to-undermine-bds.html):

To Jewish Israelis, divestment only reinforces the notion that they are constantly under attack, creating an environment in which it is harder to achieve peace, not easier.

For Palestinians who already suffer from a weak economy, divestment only puts their society more at risk.

Get it? It will make those irrational Israelis even more stubborn and it will damage the Palestinian economy. They oppose BDS because it is counterproductive, the same reason given by Mahmoud Abbas for (at least for the present) opposing terrorism.

That’s it. That’s the most ‘pro-Israel’ they get.

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J Street co-founder lacks moral sense

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Daniel Levy is one of the co-founders (with Jeremy Ben-Ami) of the phony pro-Israel organization J Street. He took part in a panel discussion called “The Future of Palestine: in Search of Alternatives,” which seems to have taken place this May in Doha, Qatar.

Following is a short (2 minute) video clip in which Levy says two notable things:

One is that the creation of Israel was an “act that was wrong”, although it was “excused” for Levy by “the way Jewish history was in 1948,” apparently a reference to the Holocaust. And he adds that “there is no reason for a Palestinian to think that there was justice in the creation of Israel.” This is perhaps reminiscent of Ahmadinejad’s comment that the Palestinian Arabs should not be made to suffer for the mistreatment of the Jews in Europe (although maybe it didn’t happen).

The other is that murderous Arab violence is normal, if ill-advised. “It’s a human reaction, when a foot is held to your throat, to respond violently,” says Levy. But “it’s not the most strategic thing to do always, it’s not the most effective thing.” Just like Mahmoud Abbas, who cannot bring himself to criticize the murder of Jewish children on any but practical grounds, Levy seems to be lacking in moral sense.

Watch the video and then decide if J Street — which, incidentally, denied that Levy had said what he said and provided a cropped video as proof (really) — can be called a pro-Israel organization.

And then ask yourself what Daniel Levy should be called.

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