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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Fighting for Israel from Seattle

Michael Behar is fighting the good fight for Israel from Seattle.

Michael Behar is fighting the good fight for Israel from Seattle.

While the JTNews publishes plenty of articles promoting positive aspects of the Jewish State, the paper remains neutral when it comes to Israel’s survival. It feels like there’s no emotional investment in the idea that Israel should continue to exist.

I expressed that thought in a letter to the Editor in August of 2011 which the JTNews entitled “No More Criticism.” I wrote, “Week after week, month after month, in articles, op-eds, and letters, the very legitimacy of the State of Israel is battled out on the pages of the JTNews. Israel’s critics are granted more than sufficient ink in the Seattle Times, The New York Times and in every other major or minor news publication. Would it be too much to expect that Washington’s sole Jewish newspaper serve as an unapologetic advocate of the Jewish state rather than just another outlet for its demonization?”

Then, in January 2012, the JTNews published a full-color cover photo depicting three men with signs comparing Israel to the racist Apartheid South Africa regime and advocating for the boycott of Israel.

The accompanying article provided little context and no coherent defense of Israel, nor did it confront the absurdity of the allegation. The paper did not even inform its readers it was anti-Israel extremist Craig Corrie (father of Rachel Corrie) in the cover photo, though they did give Corrie plenty of unchallenged print space.

In discussions with the JTNews staff it was clear they had no comprehension of the obscene path they had taken. That motivated me to use The Mike Report, a blog I’d halfheartedly started a few weeks earlier to provide some context and depth to the superficial and irresponsible coverage offered by the JTNews.

I expected no response. In fact my impression was that the Pacific Northwest pro-Israel crowd was pretty burnt out. It turns out they just needed a flag to rally around. I think The Mike Report has played a small role in that regard both through education and through making Seattle aware of the single most robust, creative and responsive pro-Israel organization in the region, StandWithUs.

Original cartoon by Michael Behar

Original cartoon by Michael Behar

Varda: You mentioned Rachel Corrie. Tell us how her death a decade ago, still impacts Seattle.

Mike: Rachel Corrie is used as a bludgeon to motivate anti-Israel sentiment. Craig and Cindy Corrie haul her out all over the place and it’s very hard to rationally and sensitively challenge the lies of “grieving parents.”

Varda: We heard about Pamela Geller’s bus ads campaign. What did you think of that? Was there support for the campaign?

Mike: People are already exhausted by rounds one and two of the nasty anti-Israel ads campaign sponsored by SEAMAC. Pam Geller was round three. So it was just another bus ad to people. Geller’s ads mentioned the Palestinian demand for a Judenrein Palestinian state. The Federation put out a statement saying that Pam Geller’s ads were divisive taking place as they were during peace negotiations.

The attitude of the Federation was that if you can’t say something supportive of the peace process, don’t say anything. So the Federation made a statement condemning the pro-Israel Geller ads.

I see Seattle as a crucible, an experimental lab for American Jewry. This is where it starts. Unchecked it will spread and grow on radical college campuses.

Varda: How strong would you say are the pro-Israel forces within your community?

Mike: The Orthodox community is for the most part pro-Israel. Otherwise, it’s hard to gauge the percentages. If I had to characterize the established community’s stance on Israel, I’d describe them as experiencing Woody Allenesque angst. They’re pulled back and forth: it’s like a pilpul shiur.

About the Author: Blogger and mother of 12 Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program, Kars for Kids.


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3 Responses to “Fighting for Israel from Seattle”

  1. Pedro Acosta says:

    Nothing “progressive” about BDS and the ultra liberal, anti Israel lobby. I find it a misnomer to call them same. These young people are ignorant and ranting against anything good.

  2. Jerry Levin says:

    I'm glad Michael Behar is fighting for Israel. But overall the article was depressing. The same progressive Jews somehow attacking Israel and/or giving voice to its enemies. Can someone be angry and bored at the same time? These people are upsetting, irritating and boring at the same time, sort of throwbacks to the 1930s "popular front": support any "good cause" except our own!

  3. It IS depressing. It's depressing that he's a lone voice over there. It's depressing that the Federation doesn't dare speak out. It's depressing that progressivism is regressivism to the 1930's. And boring. And irritating. We need more Michael Behars.

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