Latest update: July 18th, 2012
Anyone who has watched enough monster movies knows how hard it is to kill the monster. You can set Frankenstein on fire, stab Dracula through the chest with a wooden stake and take the Wolfman to the vet; but sooner or later they come roaring back twice as angry as ever.
The Israel Policy Forum, a left-wing group, which mated a few years ago with the Center for American Progress, has split away again to corner that booming market in Jewish organizations that hate Israel; but try to pretend not to when people are watching.
With J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Open Zion, Uri L’Tzedek and Americans for Peace Now, just to name a few, all boasting more column inches in the media than members, the revival of IPF is about as timely as opening up a bank dedicated to subprime loans. The market for Israel-bashing, like the market for underwater homes, is falling as fast as Obama’s approval ratings.
In 2008, shortly before IPF merged with CAP, it sent out a letter urging Condoleezza Rice to find a way to bring Hamas into the peace process. So far, the Israel Policy Forum has had no luck with Hamas, but it has dragged in the usual left-wing Jewish millionaires and billionaires looking to ride roughshod over Israel and the Jewish community.
Israel Policy Forum, like Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, is funded in part by Peter A. Joseph, who also serves as IPF’s president. Joseph presides over Palladium Equity Partners, the kind of private equity firm that liberals pretend to bash when it’s associated with Romney, but which they welcome when it’s associated with a lefty. Like so many other lefties with big pockets and bigger egos, Joseph’s money causes him to believe that he can hijack the Jewish community by spending money to create organizations full of fellow lefty millionaires and a few famous names with business ties to them.
The new IPF features David Avital, of the MTP Investment Group who founded Seeds of Peace. There’s hedge fund billionaire Donald Sussman, Neil Barsky of Alson Capital Partners, Lawrence Zicklin, formerly of Neuberger Berman Financial Services, and James E. Walker III, who isn’t actually Jewish, but is also an Obama donor and in the money management business. Finally there’s Marcia Riklis, the daughter of corporate raider Meshulam Riklis, and another Obama donor.
Naturally all the financial guys brought along their lawyers and Israel Policy Forum is full of them, the slimiest of whom may be Melvyn Weiss who specialized in securities class action lawsuits, pleaded guilty to kickback charges and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Weiss also had ties to Blagojevich and has been disbarred, but he’s back out of prison and back at IPF..
With all these Wall Street guys and layers, IPF looks a lot like a hostile takeover and that’s just what it is. It’s one more attempt by the Anti-Israel left to stage a hostile takeover of the Jewish community and swing the agenda their way. But it didn’t work with J Street and it won’t work with IPF.
The tycoons and lawyers have brought along some of their clients and pet “rabbis” to make the IPF look like something other than a group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires trying to forcibly set the agenda for the Jewish community. And they’re going about it in the usual way, by authoring letters to heads of state telling them what to do, because when you’re playing at that level, that’s just the sort of thing you do.
The IPF has relaunched its bid for policymaking power with a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu telling him to ignore the Levy Report, which found that Israel is not an Occupying Power, and that there is no reason to discriminate against Jewish homes in any part of Israel. The letter claims to represent a larger consensus, which it does not, despite being chock full of presidents and former presidents of Jewish organizations, who were not elected by any Jewish community, but whose paths to power were paid for, either by them or by those wealthy donors who truly control them.
Then there are a few others, like Deborah Lipstadt who occupies the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History chair at Emory U. Dorot is partnered with the far-left New Israel Fund and a number of other Anti-Israel groups. Dorot has given grants to J Street, and its assets are partly managed by Neuberger Berman Financial Services, mentioned above.
Daniel Gordis’ last book was jointly co-authored with David Ellenson, a member of IPF’s Advisory Council. Ellenson is the president of Hebrew Union College, on whose board of governors IPF president Peter A. Joseph sits. Ellenson and Gordis have been described as “good friends”.
Attempting to defend his signature on the IPF letter, Gordis did not take issue with the legal basis for the Levy Report, arguing that even though, “Israel has no partner with which to make peace”, accepting it would make it appear that Israel is no longer committed to creating a Palestinian state. And it would be a terrible thing if Israel stopped being committed to an unworkable program that is destroying its diplomacy and killing its people.
In his Haaretz editorial, Gordis rewrote Zionism’s aspiration from building a nation to making peace by giving up a sizable portion of its country to people whom he admits have no interest in making peace. Gordis’ argument, that the hope of Hatikvah actually means believing in a peace that even he can’t summon up any argument for believing in, makes absolutely no sense. But when there’s enough money and power leaning on one side of the scales, then the arguments don’t have to make sense anymore. They just have to be made.
“Hope” has been the only selling point of the Two-State Solution. There is no logical argument to be made for empowering terrorists as a path to peace. By 2012, the only way to still peddle peace is by irrationally insisting that every Israeli leader and every Israeli concession somehow fell short of achieving peace or even a cessation of violence because they didn’t go far enough.
While presenting “Hope” as an argument may remind some people of hippies on park lawns, it reminds me of a more conventional form of marketing. When you can’t sell your product based on the tangibles, you have to sell it on the intangibles. Appeasement, especially with a twenty year track record of failing to work, is a hard sell. But rename it “Hope” and suddenly it’s flying off the shelves. And once you’ve sold people a few bags of “Hope” and they realize there’s nothing inside, then you can tell them that it’s Israel’s fault.
The Merchants of False Hope know that they have no wares, but they still have to move a product. The real product they’re moving isn’t “Hope”. The true product comes in a variety of flavors. There’s “Make Israel Stop Embarrassing Me” and “I Want Things My Way” and the old popular, “Destroy the Jewish State”. It’s not always possible to know which merchant is selling which wares, most of them are labeled the same way. But the attitudes of the merchants give us an occasional clue.
However the truly significant question is whose interests does the peace business serve. It certainly doesn’t serve Israel’s interests. A quick comparison between Israel’s international position and domestic security in 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012 makes that rather painfully clear. It isn’t in America’s interests either, though plenty of domestic appeasers have tried to make that case over the years.
Destructive ideas go away after having failed enough times, but a destructive idea that is extensively funded and subsidized is like Dracula; no matter how often you kill it, it pops up again with a cry of “Blood” or “Hope.”
“Two State Solution” doesn’t rhyme with “Hope”. It rhymes with “Dissolution” which is exactly what it accomplishes. But everyone has their own interests and their own agenda.
In the small towns in Judea and Samaria, farmers and herders are just trying to survive, battling government bureaucracy, judicial activism and Islamic terror. But for a lot of investors, Israel is just a troubled company that needs to dump those people and their towns, sell off whatever resources it has to make a deal with the terrorists, and then reap the benefits of legitimacy and stability. They call their program the “Two State Solution.”
The Israeli left is an alliance between Israeli and American oligarchs who would be perfectly happy with a country the size of Singapore, a city-state stretching across the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area, a place with a bustling stock exchange, a lot of good restaurants and start up companies coming up with clever new gimmicks for them to invest in. A properly liberal place at peace with its Muslim neighbors, with gay bars side-by-side with mosques and experimental theaters putting on the latest revolutionary plays.
That such a country is completely nonviable doesn’t interest them; it’s what Israeli leaders have led them to believe is possible. Most of all though it’s what they want, and they are used to getting what they want. And if the people, Israeli and American Jews, aren’t as enthusiastic about this vision as they are, they will find people to sell it to them as “Hope”.
Anything can be sold with the right marketing. Throw together enough organizations, inject peace and the Two-State Solution into every conceivable arena until it seems as inseparable a part of Israel as the Tembel, and just as foolish, and keep pushing the politicians to deliver this “Peace” thing. If there’s no peace, hire some experts, give them a few organizations and let them work out why there isn’t any peace and how the government, and those farmers and herders in Judea and Samaria are to blame.
This disgusting orgy of hollow organizations populated by the greasy leftovers of rubber chicken dinners is what passes for Jewish leadership these days. These are the people who not only invested with Madoff, but who dragged the charitable organizations on whose boards they sat, into making those same bad investments. But Madoff is small potatoes compared to their “Peace Process” investment, which may only be a decade or two away from killing the Jewish State.
The Peace Business is bad under Netanyahu, so the hedge funders get together, summon their lawyers, bring in a few of their more famous friends, and draft a letter telling the Prime Minister of Israel to stop paying attention to the law and start paying attention to them. And it he doesn’t, then he had better stay tuned for the next letter and the next phony organization they create to harass Israel.
Israel is in a range war, not only with Muslim terrorists, but with lefty billionaires who would like to see a few hundred thousand farmers, herders and small businessmen kicked off their land in the hope of securing the rest of the country within the 48 borders. The Levy Report bothers the peace barons, as does every new house and barn that goes up, every new field planted and every new vineyard tended, because it tells them that they may not get their wish. That despite their money and the organizations that they create; the victory will in Israel’s range war will not go to the billionaire on Wall Street, but the farmers and herders of Judea.
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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