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August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘AFSI’

Grass Roots Rally Against NYC Jewish Bigwigs for Providing Cover to Anti-Israel Groups

Monday, May 11th, 2015

On Monday, May 11, several NYC-based pro-Israel grass roots organizations will hold a rally outside of the UFA Federation building. The groups are protesting the continued tacit (and even overt) approval of certain Jewish organizations that cloak themselves with a pro-Israel patina but are, in fact, supporters of economic and legal warfare against the Jewish State.

The UJA Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council are the focus of the rally. Groups such as JCC Watch, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Americans for a Safe Israel, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, ZOA and others are behind the event at which they intend to blow 101 shofars (ram’s horns), hoping the New York City Jewish establishment will “Hear O Israel,” and come to their senses.

The problem, as these grass roots organizations have pointed out so many times, is that the major institutional Jewish organizations continue to allow groups who promote harm against the Jewish state to march in the annual Celebrate Israel Day parade.

The primary target of this coalition has been groups, such as the New Israel Fund, which financially support organizations which advocate economic warfare against Israel, such as boycotts against such iconic Israeli companies as SodaStream and Ahava.

The parade this year will take place on Sunday, May 31. And this year, just like last year and ones before, organizations like the New Israel Fund and others will be participating, right alongside all the freshly-scrubbed Jewish day school students.

If you were to ask those students whether they think it is right for anyone to boycott Israeli goods or products, they would undoubtedly answer “no.” And if you were to ask those students whether people who support such activity are pro-Israel, they would also answer “no.” Finally, if one were to ask those students whether anyone who tries to harm Israel either through economic or legal measures, should march in the Celebrate Israel parade, they would, undoubtedly, answer “no.”

But the executives at the New York UJA-Federation and the NYC Jewish Community Relations Council don’t appear to understand what is so plainly obvious to most Jewish day school students.

Richard Allen, the engine behind JCC Watch and one of the main supporters of Monday’s rally, explained to the JewishPress.com one of the saddest ironies behind the BDS infiltration into what should be an event by pro-Israel supporters, for Israel.

“We call on the UJA-Federation to stop their promotion and support for groups that call for a boycott of Israeli companies Iike SodaStream and Ahava Cosmetics. The President of the UJA-Federation, Alisa Doctoroff is a major funder of the New Israel Fund, a group that finances the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel on a worldwide basis,” Allen said.

“The UJA-Federation protects and promotes the BDS groups in the Israel Day Parade and we insist this be stopped immediately.”

Sadly, this year there is perhaps even more stunning news than that ostensibly Jewish “leaders” are protecting and promoting those who engage in economic and legal warfare against the Jewish State.

As Allen shared with the JewishPress.com, “the Israel Consul General in New York is being used by the BDS forces in the UJA-Federation to protect the New Israel Fund.  The head of the UJA-Federation, Eric Goldstein, is now hiding behind the Consul General. He said in a radio interview that the Israeli Government supports BDS in the Israel Day Parade. We are here today to demand that Jewish Charitable dollars and institutions not be used by the BDS forces to push their agenda.”

The rally is taking place today, May 11, from 5 – 7:30 p.m., outside the UJA Federation building, 130 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. If you cannot bring your own shofar, they will have extras to hand out.

Christians United Launch ‘Attend Bibi’s Speech’ Campaign, What about Jewish Groups?

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

The Christians United for Israel organization posted the message on its website and sent emails to its two million members, urging its followers to send e-letters imploring their elected representatives to attend Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress on March 3.

The short sample letter explains that Netanyahu was invited by Speaker of the House John Boehner, and the issue about which Netanyahu will speak, Iran, is of critical importance. CUFI seeks to reach all congressional members, and hopes to persuade even those members who disagree with Netanyahu’s position to consider their constituents’ views.

The text of CUFI’s short sample letter is clear: “I can think of no issue more important for America, Israel and the West than our response to Iran’s nuclear efforts. And I can think of no voice on this issue more important than the Prime Minister of our front-line ally, Israel.”

The CUFI sample letter ends with a poignant plea: “Please don’t let partisan politics and petty excuses keep you from fulfilling the most basic of responsibilities of your office.”

The website links to the email accounts, by zip code, of letter writers’ congressional representatives.

SUPPORT OF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS?

What about the Jewish organizations?

The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman, and the head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rick Jacobs, said it was a bad idea for Netanyahu to speak before Congress in March.

The American Jewish Committee has nothing on its website about the speech, nor does the Jewish Federations of North America, or the Conference of Presidents.

Mort Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America. blasted the ADL and Reform Judaism leadership for criticizing Netanyahu’s acceptance of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He also called out the leadership of the American Israeli Public Affairs Council and the American Jewish Committee for remaining silent on the speech issue.

The ZOA is pleading with its colleagues to support Israeli PM Netanyahu, Democratic Senator Menendez, Majority Leader John Boehner, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee Elliot Engel, and so many others to provide PM Netanyahu with this major forum to move us, to edify us, to inspire us to do more to stop this Nazi-like radical Islamic Republic of Iran from achieving weapons that could murder millions of Jews, Christians, Americans,  Europeans and others.

By not supporting Israel’s Prime Minister and Congress, we are sending a terrible message to Iran that we are not unified and strong in our resolve against this deadly enemy.

The ZOA’s Klein was focused on the leadership of other organizations; his group did not send out an action alert on the topic or call on its members to make their views known to Congress.

It appears that of the Jewish pro-Israel organizations, only two have done what CUFI has. The Washington, D.C.-based Endowment for Middle East Truth sent out action alert emails and placed on its website a request for members to call their congressional representatives to ensure they attend Netanyahu’s March 3 speech.

The New York-based Americans For a Safe Israel not only called on its members to urge their representatives in Congress to attend Netanyahu’s speech, but also to contact representatives who have said they will boycott the speech to express their outrage.

That’s a pretty short list.

UPDATE: The Republican Jewish Coalition also had a petition calling on its members to join in supporting “Bibi and Boehner to stand up to Iran.”

JCC Watch: Stop Giving Jewish Money to Fund Anti-Israel Activities

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Pro-Israel New Yorkers continue to seek ways to prevent Jewish charitable dollars from supporting anti-Israel activities and speakers.

Because the UJA-Federation is the source of funding for so many Jewish organizations, an organized effort is about to get underway to ensure that this funding source – all of which comes from Jewish donors – is being used to fund programming that is infused with Jewish values and which is supportive of Israel.  This effort is in response to several years during which UJA-Federation-supported entities use some of those donors’ dollars to support efforts to cripple the Jewish state.

One of the most active efforts to stop this suicidal movement is led by Richard Allen who began JCC Watch several years ago when he was no longer able to abide the many anti-Israel events taking place at New York City’s Jewish Community Center.

Allen decided that one way to fight the battle was to inform as many people as possible about the problem.  He created a huge database of email addresses and periodically sends out emails with detailed information about anti-Israel events and suggestions for action. He is judicious about the frequency of his mailings and is careful to include accurate information.  And he just keeps adding to the roll of email addresses.

Allen and his colleagues found that the NYC JCC was partnering with groups that blatantly promote economic and political warfare against Israel known as the BDS movement (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel).

In March 2011, JCC Watch held a protest outside the JCC and issued a call for the JCC to “establish public and transparent guidelines that make clear that the JCC will not partner with nor link to other organizations that support or fund the BDS movement.”

While the JCC has not stopped its anti-Israel programming completely, Allen and others have said that there has been an improvement in the kinds of activities and events it has hosted over the past two years.

Most recently, JCC Watch has been closely following the hosting by the 92nd Street Y of several virulently anti-Israel BDS advocates.

Two of the most ardent “celebrity” promoters of BDS were recently scheduled to appear at the Y.  Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame was supposed to appear at the 92nd Street Y in April, and only didn’t because he encountered scheduling problems.  And just a few weeks ago, the rabidly anti-Israel novelist Alice Walker spoke at the Y.  Both endorse BDS and both actively attempt to get other artists to boycott and otherwise harm the Jewish State.

The National Council of Young Israel issued a call to the Y’s leadership on Wednesday, June 12.

“While we admire your longstanding effort to promote Jewish culture,” the NCYI leadership wrote, “we are deeply concerned over your ill-considered programmatic decisions that run counter to the interests of your own constituency. Extending an invitation to noted anti-Israel personalities is counterproductive and runs afoul of your desire to affirm a commitment to the State of Israel and world Jewry. Individuals who denigrate the Jewish State should not be welcomed with open arms at any venue that is associated with a Jewish group or organization.”

NCYI went on to ask that the leadership of the 92nd Street Y give greater care “in the future to the selection of featured speakers at the 92nd Street Y and ask that you invite those who stand for and with Israel instead of those who call for boycotting Israel.”

JCC Watch was thrilled that other Jewish organizations are responding to the need to prevent Jewish donors’ dollars from being used to fund anti-Israel activity. It and several supporters tried repeatedly to reach administration personnel at the Y in order to discuss the matter, but their efforts were stymied by bureaucratic roadblocks.

Now JCC Watch is taking the issue to the UJA-Federation, because the 92nd St Y receives funding from UJA-Federation.

“Those are Jewish charitable dollars, given by Jewish residents of New York who want their dollars to go towards funding Jewish Values.  Trying to destroy the Jewish State is not a Jewish value and is not something donors had any reason to believe they would be funding,” said Allen.

On Wednesday, June 12, JCC Watch gave Jerry W. Levin, president of the UJA-Federation, a heads up regarding the next stage of activity for JCC Watch and its allies.

Levin was advised that unless assurances are given that anti-Israel programming such as Walker and Waters will not be supported with Jewish Communal charity money, there will be a monthly protest in front of
the 92St Y.

These monthly protests will include what is being called the “Close Your Wallets” campaign.  This campaign will ask people to stop supporting charities which support, through funding, these anti-Israel events.

The ongoing “Close Your Wallets” campaign will be called: The Sons & Daughters of Zion in Blue & White.  Blue & White Ribbons will be given to the public each protest day and protesters will be urged to wear Blue & White.  The educational component of this campaign will begin this week, and the protests are expected to begin in early July.

“Just like the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina,” Allen wrote, “we will build the pressure until they have to respond.”

Allen envisions the campaign to include emails, direct mailings, direct phone campaigns and synagogue organizing throughout the greater New York area.  He said the JCC Watch “Jewish Community Alert” will be used, and that goes directly to the inbox of every rabbi, synagogue and organizational leadership, student leadership, charitable and educational leadership throughout the organized Jewish world.”

JCC Watch urged UJA-Federation’s head Levin to review financial support to institutions that provide a venue to anti-Israel programming.  Levin was informed that Allen will “personally fund this effort to insure a complete national saturation within the Jewish Community of our activities.”

Americans for a Safe Israel’s executive director, Helen Freedman, wrote in an email to The Jewish Press, that “rather than try to plug every leak, it is important to get to the leadership of Jewish institutions like the 92nd Street Y and the JCC in NYC and discuss the issues with them. If the scheduling of BDS and anti-Israel speakers is inadvertent, then more careful attention must be paid. If it is deliberate, it is inexcusable and the Jewish community should withdraw its financial and participatory support.”

“The goal of the New York Lawyers Committee to Stop BDS is to make sure that Jewish organizations immediately implement programs that educate and inform our community about the dangers to world Jewry in general and Israel in particular of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel,” its chairman, Robert Sidi, told The Jewish Press. “The 92 Street Y must stop hosting supporters of BDS; our own Jewish leadership must stop denouncing, denigrating and delegitimizing Israel.”

“If the leadership of the Y and JCC refuse to meet with us in order to clarify and rectify the situation, AFSI will have no choice but to join with the organizations picketing against them,” AFSI’s Freedman wrote.

‘Because It’s Ours’ – Tent City Rises in Hebron on Shabbat Chaye Sarah (Video)

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Shabbat Chaye Sarah in Hebron isn’t a normal Shabbat. It’s an experience.

Yesterday, according to conservative estimates, over 20,000 people visited this holy city. Here in our offices, this event began weeks ago; planning for the multitudes. Many man hours and much money are invested to ensure that the day will be a success. And as much as we want, and need rain, we sort of hope that this day will remain dry.

My Chaye Sarah began on Friday, wandering around, hoping to get some good photos. Being that the main events are on Shabbat, I have no way to photograph the occasion. (That’s really my only regret about this wonderful day.)

Toward early mid-afternoon the tents start popping up on the lawn in the park across from the Cave of Machpela. Men, women, kids of all ages, can be found camping out. I spoke to people who’d come from Netanya and Akko to sleep in a tent on the ground because “this is the city of the Patriarchs. It’s ours.” On Friday night, walking back from amazing evening prayers at Machpela, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Families pitched tents on the road, between parked cars and opened up small tables from which to enjoy their Shabbat meal. Young children, swathed in winter jackets, sat around such tables, eating, singing and enjoying the festivity.

Evening prayers are unbelievable. Various minions – prayer services – spring up on the lawn outside, in the courtyard, and inside the building. Thousands upon thousands descend on Herod’s 2,000 year old structure to offer Shabbat prayers. These worship services include song and dance, true joy. More than one group includes dozens of people who have flown into Israel from the United States and Europe, for 48 hours, to participate in this massive celebration. It is indescribable.

During meals, huge tents were filled to capacity. People hosted, some more, some less. In my apartment, aside from filling our bedrooms (in one, three older married women slept together), our living room floor contained four guys and the couch bedded my friend Moshe Goldshmid, whose family has been coming to us for about 14 years for this Shabbat. Moshe’s grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Goldshmid, was murdered in Hebron during the 1929 riots. For meals, another visiting family joined us.

Others hosted literally dozens, eating in shifts (and maybe sleeping in shifts too). After evening meals many participated in political panel discussions, including numerous Israeli MKs, ministers and Rabbis. Visitors toured all day and all night. Saturday afternoon my friend Noam Arnon led a huge tour in the Casba. Simcha Hochbaum guided a huge group throughout the Jewish neighborhoods. I had two tours of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, showing the uninitiated the wonders of ancient-new Hebron.

I must also mention: Friday afternoon we dedicated a memorial room to our dear friend, Herb Zweibon, founder and director of AFSI, Americans for a Safe Israel. Herb was a genuine friend of Israel, and especially of Hebron’s Jewish community. AFSI’s executive director, Helen Freedman led a group of about 25 friends from the US for a week-long visit in Israel, and to Hebron for this Shabbat. We all gathered at the new “Zweibon Hall,” at the entrance to the ‘Hezkiah neighborhood,” here in Hebron to dedicate this room in Herb’s memory.

Late Saturday afternoon I participated in the ‘3rd meal’ with our friends attending via Hebron’s US branch, the Hebron Fund. The fund’s new director, Rabbi Dan Rosenstein, asked me to speak with the group for a few minutes. I asked them to take their “Hebron Shabbat High’ back home, to convey it to others, and to be ambassadors for Hebron’s Jewish community, getting the word out, letting other know what Hebron is really all about. They are all, as much as we are, ‘keepers of the keys,’ insuring Hebron’s Jewish future forever.

By the time Shabbat ended, everyone was exhausted, but the day hadn’t yet concluded. I sat with my AFSI friend in our Beit Hadassah apartment, answering questions and discussing various issues common to all of us for about an hour. Only later did I have the luxury to collapse.

Backlash Against Inclusion of BDS in Israel Day Parade

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

A major backlash against a UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) decision to permit groups encouraging Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel to march in the upcoming Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City has led to a campaign to oust the groups from the event.

“A coalition of community Jewish organizations urgently calls on all friends of Israel to make their voices heard,” an e-mail from an organization called JCC Watch reads. “We urge everyone to raise your voices and call the UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).  Urge them to stop these groups from marching in the Israel Day Parade and hijacking a pro-Israel event for their anti-Israel purposes.”

Those who participate in the campaign will be responding to news that the New Israel Fund (NIF) will be participating in this year’s parade, despite funding projects that many see as aiming to delegitimize and weaken Israel, both socio-politically and economically.

NIF is a funder of various organizations which have urged divestment from Israel, including Mossawa, Adalaha, Machsom Watch, Coalition of Women for Peace, Social TV, and Women Against Violence.

The NIF marched in last year’s parade, along with Israel Apartheid Week supporter B’Tselem , Rabbis for Human Rights, and  Partners for Progressive Israel, which has called for a boycott of all products produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria.

JCC Watch founder and member of the newly established Committee for a Pro-Israel Parade Richard Allen stated that “it is not surprising that the UJA-Federation is pushing these bash Israel groups to march in the June 3, 2012 Israel Parade.”  He accused several senior members of the UJA of being involved in anti-Israel work, including one officer he says worked with Noam Chomsky on an anti-Israel project and another he says gave $1 million in UJA funds to the “George Soros-funded political group”  Jewish Funds for Justice.

Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI) Executive Director Helen Freedman decried the participation of the BDS groups, noting that when her organization wanted to march in the parade with signs promoting Jewish sovereignty over all the land assigned to the Jewish people in biblical texts, her group was denied. “We were turned down because we were too “extremist” and our banners in support of a whole Israel – yisrael shlayma -were not welcome,” Freedman said, according to a letter from her posted on the website of activist Batya Meidad.

Supporters of the campaign to oust BDS groups from the annual New York City parade are being encouraged to call or e-mail Board members of the UJA Federation of New York.

Members of the Committee for a Pro-Israel Parade include Allen of JCCWatch, Rabbi Steven Axelman of Whitestone Hebrew Centre, Helen Freedman of Americans for a Safe Israel, Beth Gilinsky of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Eli E. Hertz of “Myths and Facts”, Lori Lowenthal Marcus of Z Street, Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Congregation Ohab Zedek, and Rabbi Eli Kowalsky.

Chayei Sarah with Sheikh Jabari

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

This year’s Shabbat Chaye Sarah, was, thank God, very successful, as expected. Despite the rain, somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 people walked the streets of Hebron, worshiped at Ma’arat HaMachpela, and even tented outside. Lectures and Torah classes to people of all ages were conducted in Kiryat Arba and Hebron. Groups of Americans, visiting Hebron via the New York-based Hebron Fund, and also AFSI, feasted on scrumptious meals at the Gutnick Center, adjacent to Machpela and participated in various Hebron excursions, including the famed Casbah tour, Shabbat afternoon.

I spent a good part of Friday night and Shabbat day with a group of American/Israeli youth, who study in a special Yeshiva High School near the Kinneret in northern Israel. Their Rosh Yeshiva, the dean of the institution, Rabbi Danny, told me that he wanted the guys to have a good time, but also have a meaningful experience. It’s a long drive, to and from Hebron, and he wanted to make sure the Shabbat was a full educational experience.

I set up a Torah class Friday evening, as well as a short discussion with a Hebron resident. We also took a tour of Tel Rumeida in the cold crisp night air. The next day we toured other Hebron sites, and concluded with a discussion, tea, cake and cookies in my apartment in Beit Hadassah. They certainly left Hebron knowing more than they did when they arrived. More importantly, they ‘felt Hebron.’

However, a real highlight of the day took place on Friday afternoon. The Hebron Fund group, together with AFSI, drove in two buses, early Friday afternoon, about 15 minutes south of Hebron, to the Zif junction. There, leaving the buses, we all walked a few minutes to a big tent, where everyone was asked to remove their shoes before entering.

A number of years ago, a group of Arabs, together with Israeli leftists and anarchists, planned on burning down the Hazon David Synagogue, just outside the gates of Kiryat Arba, on the eve of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. The event was stopped at the last minute when it came to the attention of Sheikh Jabari, leader of Hebron’s largest clan. He told Hebron Arabs that he didn’t agree to destruction of a ‘holy place,’ especially on a Jewish holiday. He told them that this was a place of prayer, and prevented the destruction.

Following his intervention, a meeting was arranged between several Hebron leaders and the Sheikh, thanking him for his involvement. Since then, the Sheikh and Hebron-Kiryat Arba leaders meet relatively frequently, discussing relevant issues. He has publicly declared his opposition to unilateral declaration of a ‘palestinian state’ in the UN and also acknowledged the right of Jews to live in Hebron. Last summer he met at his Hebron home with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Pastor John Hagee.

This past Friday afternoon he met with almost 70 Americans and a few Hebron residents in a large tent, just outside Hebron. Welcoming the group, he asked those attending to be ambassadors to his message of peace ‘in the land of peace.’ He also spoke of Shabbat Chaye Sarah, Abraham and Ma’arat HaMachpela, saying that Machpela should unite all of us together, that we are one family, from one father, Abraham. He blessed the group ‘from all his heart, on this holy Shabbat.’ He thanked the group for visiting him, saying he appreciated that they came from so far away for this holy occasion.

Other members of the group addressed the Sheikh, expressing thanks for his hospitality, commenting and asking questions. The event concluded after the group was given a small cup of traditional Turkish coffee.

Murdered Family Honored By Holocaust Torah

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

In an effort to honor the memory of a Jewish Israeli family which experienced its own personal Holocaust, an American donor has dedicated a Torah scroll rescued from the flames of the Shoah to help build their community.

Ehud (36), Ruth (35), Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas (3 months) Fogel were knifed to death in their home in the Samaria community of Itamar on March 11 by a pair of Arabs from neighboring Awarta.  Three Fogel children – Tamar, Roi, and Yishai – were not physically harmed and have been taken in by their grandparents.

An international outcry was raised following the massacre, with foreign governments condemning the killings and Jewish communities holding memorial services.  In New York, a man by the name of Jack Ross prepared a gift for the community of Itamar, to strengthen the grieving town.

Ross, who was in possession of a Torah scroll which had been rescued from Poland during the Holocaust, made contact with Itamar with the help of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), and offered to donate the scroll to the community.

He then had the scroll repaired and restored by a scribe.  Next, he joined a group from AFSI to go to Itamar and help finish building a synagogue and new ark for the residents, a project sponsored by the Israel Independence Fund.  On Tuesday, he and the inhabitants of Itamar took part in a ceremony to write the last letters in the scroll, and to escort it to its new home in the new ark of the new synagogue.

At the ceremony, Samaria Regional Council Liaison David Ha’ivri and Itamar Mayor Moshe Goldsmith presented Ross and AFSI president Helen Freedman with certificates of appreciation.

Samaria Regional Council Director Gershon Mesika told attendees that just as the Torah is the heart of the Jewish people, Itamar is the heart of Israel on the map.  He thanked Ross and the directors of AFSI and the Israel Independence Fund for their friendship and ongoing support.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/murdered-family-honored-by-holocaust-torah/2011/11/17/

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