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February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘AIPAC’

White House Says Netanyahu’s Visit Shows ‘Deep Bonds’ with Israel

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The White House on Wednesday confirmed that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet on March 3 and added that the Prime Minister’s visit “is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of security issues.”

That was White House press secretary Jay Carney’s way of stating that Obama is ready to beat Netanyahu over the head to come up with a deal with the Palestinian Authority if he wants the United States to get serious over Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

President Obama also will be meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II this Friday. A meeting Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is also scheduled in the near future as tensions grows towards the supposed end of  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s nine-month peace talk program.

Netanyahu will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention next month. He told the Likud Beitenu faction in the Knesset earlier this week that his visit to the United States will focus on Iran, the Palm, Israeli technology and tourism.

Angry NYC Ultra-Liberal Jews Told to Stuff It

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, ads will appear in numerous New York City area Jewish media, castigating a list of 58 angry New York Jews.

Why? Because those angry Jews publicly admonished newly-elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for daring to appear at a pro-Israel event, declaring his support for the sponsoring organization and for Israel.

The pushback is coming from a small, quickly mobilized group of business and other professional New York residents who want it known that “AIPAC, like the JCRCs and the Federations are the backbone of the American Jewish community and they represent mainstream American Jewry. Mainstream Jewry expects and appreciates support for Israel from its elected officials.”

What is going on?

DE BLASIO TOLD AIPAC HIS DOOR IS OPEN

In an unscheduled appearance at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee event on Jan. 23, to which the media were most decidedly not invited, Mayor de Blasio gave a fairly run-of-the-mill pro-Israel speech. No biggie pretty much anywhere in North America, and certainly not in New York City.

As Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, one of the New Yorkers who took out the ad told The Jewish Press, the mayor gave a solid, pro-Israel speech. But “these myopic, progressive New York Jews are so foolish, they don’t care that AIPAC supported Rabin and Barak when they were each prime minister.  Whatever government is democratically elected, that’s who AIPAC supports. But no, these people have to put their own selfish, progressive interests ahead of everything.

“When you start attacking the mainstays of the Jewish community, when AIPAC is unacceptable, that reveals a pathological selfishness,” Wiesenfeld growled.

For some reason, a gaggle of the “tolerant” progressive New York Jewish crowd, responded – shall we say, intolerantly – to what they saw as a possible betrayal of their progressive values by the most “progressive” of White politicians to make it to the top rung of city politics.

The public dressing-down of de Blasio came in the form of a letter which was sent out on the cheap electronically, then became viral, and ended up (for free) on the pages of the progressives’ darling Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

The angry epistle took de Blasio to task for foolishly telling a mid-town AIPAC crowd that New York City Hall’s doors will remain open to them.  According to the public letter, de Blasio told the AIPAC crowd, “When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily, ’cause that’s my job.”

But this group of angry New York Jews had some news for Mayor de Blasio. They told him that AIPAC does not speak for them. They told him that his job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding or be at its call.

“AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us,” they explained.

For the few sentient Jews who do not know, perhaps it needs to be explained that AIPAC’s positions always reflect the positions held by whatever Israeli government is in office.  When the far left is in power, AIPAC’s positions mirror those of the far left. When the center or far right are in power, AIPAC supports the positions of the leadership of those factions.

To say it more plainly, the Angry 58s reject Israel’s democratic process and shun the most centrist pro-Israel organization there is. They reject their mayor’s recognition and support for that democratic process and publicly humiliate him for daring to say so.

WHO ARE THE ANGRY 58?

In the Angry 58 signatories are many whose names don’t raise an eyebrow. For example, it was no surprise to see Peter Beinart’s name, or Eve Ensler, or Lotty Cottin Pogrebin (and her husband, Bertrand – who knew there was one?) Same dull nods for Anne Roiphe and Gloria Steinem. Of course, the only surprise seeing the name Rebecca Vilkomerson – she heads the extremist Jewish Voice for Peace, staunch promoters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and ardent opponents of AIPAC – was to learn that she is a New Yorker.

AIPAC-Sponsored Trip to Israel a Big Issue in Nevada Lt. Gov. Race

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Travel to Israel sponsored by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has become an issue in the race for Nevada lieutenant governor.

Sue Lowden, a former state senator, said her opponent in the Republican primary race, State Sen. Mark Hutchison, should have disclosed his 2013 trip to Israel with the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the pro-Israel lobbying group’s educational affiliate.

“I think you should be on the safe side of reporting and report everything so you’re on the safe side of integrity,” Lowden told the Las Vegas Sun in an article posted Tuesday.

Her criticism came in the wake of a long report in the Sun on Sunday outlining how lawmakers define what is and isn’t a gift that requires mention on disclosure forms.

It noted that four Nevada state legislators, including Hutchison, did not classify the AIEF trip as a gift, saying that it was educational and also that they had the backing of legislative legal counsel in declining to define it as a gift.

AIEF trips to Israel are heavy with meetings and lectures, although they also include tourist stops and restaurant meals.

Lowden called the trip a “junket,” albeit one that might be useful for a lieutenant governor, who heads the state tourist board; she said her problem was that her opponent did not disclose the trip.

Hutchison called her criticism “desperate.”

Lowden lost the 2010 primary to be the Republican nominee for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat; she earned notoriety when she suggested those who could not afford medical care could barter goods for it.

Will the Real Debbie Wasserman Schultz Please Stand Up?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

First she was touting the sanctions imposed on Iran as the single most significant reason why Jews should be supporting President Barack Obama for re-election this past fall.

That was Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)(D), chief cheerleader for the quarterback at the top of her ticket, intimating that Obama was responsible for the passage of strict sanctions.

The truth, of course, was that Obama did his best to muzzle those sanctions every step of the way. And he did temper them as best he could by delivering exemptions to countries such as China, India and Turkey, thereby effectively removing at least several major incisors from the bite.

More recently it was reported that Wasserman Schultz has been aggressively backing the president’s position against Iran sanctions, and this time around she was allegedly telling her counterparts in the U.S. Senate not to support the Menendez-Kirk bill.

That bill, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, calls for stiffened sanctions but only in the event Iran fails to fulfill its obligations under an agreement it entered into with the P5+1 countries, which became effective last Monday.

Wasserman Schultz was also reportedly telling her colleagues in the House that they should not sign on to the Cantor-Hoyer resolution which supports the Menendez-Kirk bill, although her Florida constituents are largely supportive of the measure.

And that’s where what we call a machloket arose.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Jan. 14, that the south Florida regional arm of the venerable American pro-Israel institution, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, wagged its finger in Wasserman Schultz’s direction. It reported that word went out to some members asking Wasserman Schultz to explain why she was lobbying against the sanctions legislation.

The WFB cited a report in the Daily Beast in which Mara Sloan, a spokesperson for Wasserman Schultz, said the congresswoman believes in “holding off on new sanctions until the diplomacy plays out.” Sloan also said that the congresswoman was “not working against introducing Iran legislation.”

Contrasting the position offered to the Daily Beast, the WFB then served up another quote from Sloan which seems to present Wasserman Schultz as having a very different position.

“Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a strong supporter of sanctions against Iran and will continue to be,” Sloan told a Miami Herald blogger who called asking for the congresswoman’s position.

That Miami Herald blogger, Marc Caputo, called for clarification in response to an ad aired by the conservative Emergency Committe for Israel.  That ad called out Wasserman Schultz for what it said were her efforts to block the Iran sanctions bill. The ECI ad aired on Sunday news shows and on sports shows in the south Florida area. It is also available on YouTube.

Wasserman Schultz’s spokesperson also told Caputo that right now, ” there is not a resolution on sanctions offered in the House. As soon as one is filed, she will review the language, as she does with any legislation and decide whether it helps to ensure that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”

But that begs the question, because, according to an WFB earlier report citing congressional insiders, Wasserman Schultz was perhaps the driving force behind the implosion of the House resolution urging the Senate to pass the latest sanctions bill.

If you are diagramming the debate, get ready for a new player on the field.

Following the WFB versus DWS versions of anti-sanctions versus pro-sanctions positions, now comes another voice from AIPAC. On Jan. 24, a new AIPAC letter was sent out forwarding a statement from an AIPAC national board member denigrating earlier news reports suggesting Wasserman Schultz was anything but a stalwart defender of Israel.

Mayor De Blasio Says Defending Israel Is Part of His Job

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Bill de Blasio, New York’s newly installed mayor said, “Part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel” while speaking at a private New York event of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“There’s no greater ally on earth, and that’s something we should say proudly,” he said last Thursday, as first reported Friday by the Capital New York news website.

De Blasio, elected in November described his visit to Israel with his family several years ago, and said that “City Hall will always be open” to AIPAC.

He noted in his talk that New York has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. Successive New York mayors have for decades cultivated close ties with Israel.

The AIPAC event was omitted from the mayor’s schedule distributed to the press corps, and the mayor said it was because AIPAC wanted the dinner to be closed to the press. De Blasio promised to provide a “clearer understanding” of his schedule and speeches, in the wake of the AIPAC speech.

Students Angered by Hillel’s Pro-Israel Standards

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Hillel, which self-defines as the “center of Jewish life on campus,” and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are calling attention to their frequent collaboration in an op-ed penned by national Hillel’s new president and chief executive officer, Eric Fingerhut, and Jonathan Kessler, AIPAC’s leadership development director, in this week’s issue of the New York Jewish Week .

The two acknowledge the Jewish community’s concern about this country’s campus environment “that is too often hostile to Israel. Public demonstrations, inflammatory language and personal attacks by anti-Israel organizations seek to exploit the spirit of open debate and public action central to American academic life.”

The article gives examples of the efficacy of their collaboration to “strategically and proactively empower, train and prepare American Jewish students to be effective pro-Israel activists on and beyond the campus.”

In theory, it is a good idea, and there is anecdotal evidence of success.

OPEN HILLEL

However, some students were alarmed by what seemed to be a formalizing of the relationship between Hillel and AIPAC.  These are students and adult mentors who are trying to create a movement known as “Open Hillel.”

This movement started earlier this year at Harvard – although it has not yet been successful there. However, it is cropping up on other campuses. In fact, this Sunday, Dec. 8, the Swarthmore College Hillel student board unanimously voted to declare itself an Open Hillel.

The activists behind Open Hillel are opponents of Hillel’s national guidelines. Those guidelines, crafted several years ago, discuss the many ways in which Hillel is an inclusive institution, but places outside its boundaries those entities that seek to “delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel,” or which advocate the economic and political warfare known as the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement.

What’s wrong with that standard?  Well, there are college students who are put out by such rules.  They say:

These guidelines are counterproductive to creating real conversations about Israel on campus. They prevent campus Hillels from inviting co-sponsorship or dialogue with Palestinians, as almost all Palestinian campus groups support the boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel. They also exclude certain Jewish groups because of their political views. Although individual campus Hillels are not obligated to follow the guidelines, they have been used to pressure Hillels into shutting down open discourse on Israel.

Mind you, these students still want to benefit from the goodies they get from Hillel donors, such as the meeting space, the opportunity (i.e. funds) to bring in (anti-Israel) speakers, communication networks and lots of other goods and services for which the Hillel donors pay.  Those guidelines certainly could not stop any independent student groups from engaging in whatever anti-Israel activities they desire.  But the advocates for an Open Hillel want their tent and the right to blow it up, also.

Perhaps there will be a movement by Hillel donors demanding that the money provided to the Hillel foundation not be used for activities that are contrary to the organization’s stated guidelines.  Maybe an open door will be shown to those who want an Open Hillel.

However, in response to this newly formalized collaboration between Hillel and AIPAC, the Open Hillel advocates are lovingly supportive of the high priority Hillel places on inclusiveness. This time it is the “hawkish AIPAC” they resent.

Why?

Because, according to this group, AIPAC’s definition of “pro-Israel” cannot be the benchmark for what is and is not acceptable within the Jewish community on campus. The example of an unacceptable AIPAC position provided in the Open Hillel Response to Fingerhut and Kessler’s celebration of collaboration is “the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.” Why is that unacceptable? “Because the Palestinian Arabs also claim Jerusalem as their capital.”

Again, this is not a question of whether any group can bring anti-Israel speakers or activities to campus, the only question is whether Hillel donors should be required to pay for it.

A quote comes to mind from Cong. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) when talking about the “open-mindedness” of J Street with respect to Israel positions. He said “an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”

There is another direction from which the Hillel/AIPAC relationship may receive criticism. But these students don’t demand that Hillel changes, these students seek out other organizations on campus with which to work.

For these pro-Israel students on campus, the Hillel method of dealing with anti-Israel activity, rather than being empowering, actually seems to empower the anti-Israel activists.

That is because the “behind-the-scenes” diplomacy and interfaith gestures Hillels generally favor seem, some believe, to result in pro-Israel students simply remaining silent and ignoring lies and distortions and the painting of Israel as an evil occupier. A preferred method for responding to, for example, BDS conferences is to host inclusive Shabbat dinners. Those are nice, but do nothing to counter the lies which, when repeated often enough, attain the status of truth to the students who hear them, or who read reports of those events.

For these less passive pro-Israel students, there are the more action-oriented groups such as the CAMERA Campus Activist Project, or StandWithUs or the Chabads on campus.

The students who work with these groups may still utilize Hillel resources for other activities, but turn to other sources of guidance, and resources, in order to pursue their version of Israel advocacy.

ZOA: Iran Deal Is Munich, Obama Is Chamberlain

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The Zionist Organization of America blasted the interim Iran deal in the strongest terms, describing the agreement concluded over the weekend in Geneva between  the P5+1 –– the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States) and Germany –– and the Islamic Republic of Iran as an appeasement deal.

“This is our era’s new Munich and President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are the new Neville Chamberlains,” the ZOA stated.

Other prominent Jewish groups — including AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League — have also expressed strong reservations about the deal, but perhaps none in language quite so barbed as the ZOA.

The ZOA’s statement may actually be the closest in tone to the response of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who refrained from name-calling, but called the agreement a “historic mistake” that “made the world a much more dangerous place.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/zoa-iran-deal-is-munich-obama-is-chamberlain/2013/11/26/

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