web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘AJC’

Power Pushing Israel’s Bid for Security Council

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Samantha Power, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, recommitted to securing Israel a tour on the U.N. Security Council after assisting its entry to a U.N. regional group.

Israel last month became a member of the JUSCANZ regional group at U.N. headquarters in New York. JUSCANZ stands for Japan, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, some of the 15 members of the regional group, which is a sub-group of the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group at the U.N.

Israel was admitted to WEOG in New York in 2000, and in Geneva in 2013. Israel had been a member of JUSCANZ in Geneva, but until late last month not in New York.

In an address Monday to the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, Power said she will not give up on achieving a seat on the U.N. Security Council for Israel.

Israel is vying with Germany and Belgium for a seat on the 2019-20 Security Council.

“We have pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the U.N. system,” Power said.

Joining regional groups is an important example of the “continuing effort to chip away at systemic discrimination against Israel at the U.N.,” she added.

AJC Executive Director David Harris praised Power for shepherding Israel’s membership into the JUSCANZ grouping.

“JUSCANZ membership is another important step in rectifying the systemic discrimination against Israel at the U.N.,” Harris said. “Both Ambassador Power and her Canadian counterpart, Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski, were instrumental in achieving this long overdue breakthrough.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Tuesday that Benjamin Netanyahu would travel to Colombia and Mexico this spring following the announcement that Israel was granted observer status in the Pacific Alliance.

The alliance, formed in 2011 to increase economic cooperation among its member states, is composed of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The United States and France are among its observer states, which can participate in conferences and in staff work.

The decision to add Israel as an observer state was made Monday at the Pacific Alliance summit in Cartagena, Colombia.

Israel exports $864 million in goods to the Pacific Alliance countries each year, which is about 1 percent of its total exports, according to Ynet.

Shushed and Booed, Podhoretz Walks Out on 92 St. Y Panel

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

There have already been several reports of the ruckus that occurred during a talk entitled, “What Does it Mean to be Pro-Israel in America Today?” which was held at the 92nd St Y in Manhattan Monday night, Dec. 16.

But no accounts thus far examine the role of the audience in inciting a panelist to get up and walk out of the event.

There were first hand accounts by John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary and the panelist who walked out of the event, and another by Jane Eisner, the editor of the Daily Forward, who was the moderator of the event.

The other two panelists were Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, and David Harris, president of the American Jewish Committee.

One account can be found on this website.  Haaretz and the New York Times weighed in with their own versions, based, loosely, on the earlier accounts.

The rabidly anti-Israel blog Mondoweiss headlined the story “Podhoretz leaves 92nd St Y stage after saying Swarthmore Hillel deserves to be ‘spat on.’”

Over on planet Mondoweiss, the editor was so eager to prove his true lefty street creds he expressed outrage that the event was held without a single Palestinian Arab on the panel. He mused: “I wonder what liberal Jewish forum would have staged a debate on Jim Crow back in the ’60s without black leaders…” Earth to Mondoweiss: the topic for the evening was “What Does it Mean to be Pro-Israel in America Today?”

WHY AND WHEN DID PODHORETZ EXIT STAGE RIGHT

Podhoretz admits saying that the decision by the Swarthmore “Hillel” to vote itself out of Hillel so it could sponsor anti-Zionists was their right, just as it was his right to (rhetorically, he claims) “spit at” the Swarthmore (former) Hillel group. This was the topic of discussion by several commentators.

But that isn’t when Podhoretz left the stage.

According to the accounts of the two participants, Podhoretz became agitated during the discussion of the recent American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

What happened was that although all of the panelists said they disapproved of the ASA boycott, J Street’s Ben Ami then began recounting what he said were Israeli policies that led people to believe that a boycott of Israeli institutions was appropriate.

PODHORETZ DEFENDS ISRAEL, AUDIENCE EXPLODES, ‘ENRAGED’

“You’re blaming the victim!” Podhoretz exclaimed.

To which the 92nd Street Y audience erupted into loud booing.

According to the moderator, Eisner, who is much closer to Ben-Ami’s Israel viewpoint than the others – having served as a co-chair of her local New Israel Fund regional council – there was not just scattered booing. She wrote in her blog on the topic that when Podhoretz accused Ben-Ami of blaming the victim, some “members of the audience became enraged.”

The audience was so disruptive with what Podhoretz described as a “prolonged bout of booing,” that he turned to the audience and asked with what he thought was obvious irony, “why don’t you also hiss?”

Eisner did not understand that Podhoretz was being sarcastic.  She wrote that “mystifyingly, the Commentary editor encouraged them, challenging them to boo and hiss.”

The audience also did not understand, or was not embarrassed by Podhoretz’s sarcastic effort to remind them they were adults listening to a panel discussion, not bloodthirsty members of a bullfight audience, howling for blood. We know they didn’t understand because their response was to hiss, along with the booing.

That appears to really be what tipped the balance.

It was with the audience hissing and booing, that Eisner claims Podhoretz raised his voice and wagged a finger at Ben-Ami. Eisner wrote: “That’s when I stepped in, trying to rein in the argument, using my hands (I am known to gesticulate) to try to calm him down.”

Ukrainian Jewish Leaders: Romania Unfit to Lead Holocaust Body

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Ukrainian Jewish leaders said Romania was unfit to head a Holocaust remembrance forum because it has not done enough to come to grips with its own Holocaust-era culpability.

Approximately 380,000 Jews were murdered in Romania-controlled areas during the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

“Romania’s actions prove it is not ready to assume responsibility for the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust, when Romanian troops acted as an occupying force in large parts of Ukraine under orders from the country’s pro-Nazi leadership,” Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA.

Feldman was reacting to reports that Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean was interested in having Romania head the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, in 2016. Canada currently heads the alliance.

Ukrainian Jewish Committee Secretary Eduard Dolinsky said that Romania’s embassy in Ukraine has rejected invitations by his organization to discuss ways to jointly commemorate the murder of Jews by Romanian troops.

The Romanian bid is supported in principle by Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international affairs and personal representative on combating anti-Semitism for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe — an intergovernmental agency with 57 member states known by the acronym OSCE.

“There may be additional issues to tackle but Romania has taken some important steps toward coming to grips with its Holocaust-era record,” Baker said. He noted the 2005 establishment of the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania and the 2004 designation of a national Holocaust remembrance day on Oct. 9 — the day that Romanian authorities began deporting Jews to their deaths 72 years ago.

UN: Ban Ki-moon Did Not Mean to Retract Statement on Anti-Israel Bias

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry attempted to clarify Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s seemingly conflicting statements regarding anti-Israel bias at the world body, stating that Ban did not retract his original statement confirming the existence of that bias.

On Aug. 16, Ban told university students at the UN headquarters in Jerusalem, “Unfortunately, because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias and sometimes even discrimination.”

But when later pressed by reporters in New York about his statements regarding UN discrimination against Israel, Ban answered, “No, I don’t think there is discrimination against Israel at the United Nations. The Israeli government in fact, you know, raised this issue that [there is] some bias against Israel.”

In an interview on Israel Radio on Sunday, however, Serry said that Ban meant what he originally said.

“I’ve been in touch with the Secretary-General’s office in New York, and I can assure you that what he said there in New York was not meant as a retraction,” Serry said on Israel Radio.

“[Ban] has said, unfortunately, because of the conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism, and suffered from lies and sometimes even discrimination,” Serry added. “This is what I know he has been saying here, and I know this is what he stands for.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) welcomed Serry’s clarification of Ban’s comments.

“We are pleased that Mr. Serry has reiterated the Secretary-General’s belief that Israel is not treated fairly, and does indeed suffer from ‘lies’ and ‘discrimination’ in the world body,” AJC Executive Director David Harris said in a statement.

Roger Cohen Praises AJC’s Harris Attack on Bennett

Friday, June 21st, 2013

There’s no doubt that liberal U.S. Jews are becoming alarmed that fewer and fewer Israelis are prepared to support the delusional view that, in order to gain acceptance on paper by the Arabs, Israel must first render itself completely vulnerable by handing over its most important territorial assets.

Roger Cohen praises, in this morning’s NY Times (Why American Jews Matter), A.J.C. Executive Director David Harris, who rebuked Minister Naftali Bennett’s comment about the need to “build, build, build” in Judea and Samaria, and to accept that the Palestinian issue, like that by now notorious shrapnel in his friend’s backside, will continue to cause us the occasional, but not critical, pain.

Harris said the minister’s remarks were “stunningly shortsighted,” that they must be “repudiated by the country’s top leaders,” and that they offered “only the prospect of a dead-end strategy of endless conflict and growing isolation for Israel.”

Roger Cohen praised “Harris’s shots inside the troops carrier,” writing admiringly: “To say such language is unusual at major U.S. Jewish organizations is an understatement: Israel has had near carte blanche from them, with negative consequences.”

Did you get that part? Israel was enjoying a carte blanche, as if the Jewish State actually needs the approval of possibly three million, loosely organized but oh so vociferous American Jews in order to carry out its policies.

Some cases of Chutzpah run deeper than its mere insolent bruising. Every once in a while, you can glean from the Chutzpah an entire world view.

Roger Cohen, sitting on West 46th Street, sipping a cool lemonade, actually believes that his opinion matters. That the good people of Israel, having buried thousands of their dead after two intifadas and two Gaza wars, will actually take into account some leftist American Jew’s view about giving the Arabs a fourth chance to annihilate us. Or that we will continue to accept a policy of construction freeze in our population areas that are literally bursting with the highest birth rate in the country.

Sitting on 46th Street, a member of an economic elite in a country whose middle class is mired in poverty, in a country so panicked by the fear of terrorism, it has annulled at least five of the first amendments to its constitution, Roger Cohen is calling the views of Bennett and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, “messianic:”

“This Messianic view of the Jewish state’s destiny has grown for the past 46 years, despite undertakings from various leaders, including Netanyahu in 2009, to seek a two-state peace. If the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, outside East Jerusalem, has almost doubled in the past dozen years to over 350,000 (Bennett put the number at 400,000), it is because the notion that all the land belongs to Israel by divine decree has been ascendant and compromise increasingly seen as a deficit of faith. Construction has spelled out what official government policy could not quite say: We have no plans to leave.”

You understand that the Jewish person Roger Cohen uses “messianic” as a pejorative term. In his world, faith in the Messiah is inherently delusional. Faith in our life here, in Eretz Israel, being part of an ongoing messianic redemption – that’s as foreign a concept to him as voting Republican.

But now, that Bennett and Danon have shown their true faces—as, I’m sure, will be the case with the majority of the Likud-Beiteinu delegation, should the day come for an up or down vote on the 2-state—now, says Roger Cohen, we caught those messianic perversions in time, and we can stop them.

“It is in this sense that Bennett’s statement is a true public service. Far better to have clarity about the meaning of Israel’s actions in the West Bank than to have a fait accompli — the growing settler presence — cloaked in governmental opacity about the ultimate objective. If the aim is known then a judgment can be made, not least by American Jewish organizations.”

How marvelous. There’s a story that was told by the Holy Rizhiner, that in the end of time, Elijah will have another bout with the Baal prophets, except this time they will be able to set their alter ablaze, while Elijah will not. They will look grand and victorious, and Elijah will appear like the defeated fool.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Facing Heated Calls For Change On Several Fronts

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

WASHINGTON – The latest battle over religious pluralism in Israel has unleashed a new barrage of criticism and calls for reform aimed at the Orthodox-controlled Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

Unlike major flare-ups in past decades, however, this time it’s not just the Reform and Conservative movements leading the charge – mainstream, consensus-oriented Jewish groups with no denominational affiliations are speaking out, too.

One flashpoint has been the fallout from the Israeli attorney general’s decision to approve government funding for Reform and Conservative religious leaders as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities” – albeit through the Ministry of Culture and Sports rather than the Orthodox-controlled Religious Services Ministry, which funds Orthodox rabbis.

That announcement drew a caustic response from Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who in a June 27 meeting urged more than 100 fellow Orthodox rabbis – including Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger – to pray “in order to stop the destroyers and saboteurs of Judaism [because] they are trying to uproot the foundation of Judaism.”

“There is a natural backlash on the part of American Jews and American Jewish leaders when the Chief Rabbinate issues such statements,” said Steven Bayme, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations. “As we enter the 21st century, the [Chief Rabbinate] needs to be reevaluted in terms of democratic norms and modern Israel’s relationship to world Jewry.”

In response to Rabbi Amar’s remarks, about 50 Reform and Conservative rabbis protested outside of the Chief Rabbinate’s building in Jerusalem. Two Conservative rabbis filed a police complaint accusing Amar of incitement – a particularly serious claim in Israel ever since the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Jewish Federations of North America, which has leaders from across the religious spectrum, but which in recent years has become more vocal on behalf of Israel’s non-Orthodox Jews, was quick to respond.

“It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” Jerry Silverman, the president and CEO of JFNA, said in a statement. “Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish state.”

Shortly after that controversy, the board of governors of the AJC – another nonsectarian Jewish organization with no formal ties to either the Reform or Conservative movements – went even further in criticizing the Chief Rabbinate and calling for major changes to the institution.

“In the 21st century, a coercive Chief Rabbinate has become, at best, an anachronism, and at worst a force dividing the Jewish people,” the AJC’s leaders declared in a resolution.

The Chief Rabbinate’s actions “threaten to divide the Jewish people and risk an anti-religious backlash against Judaism itself within the Jewish state,” they wrote. The AJC urged Israel’s government “to undertake promptly all needed actions” to end the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over issues of personal status.

The latest wave of criticism comes amid a backdrop of religion-related controversies – tensions between Modern Orthodox rabbis and haredi Orthodox rabbis over conversions; the push for civil marriage in Israel; and the struggle over whether haredi men should serve in the military or continue to be exempt to study in yeshivas.

“Like any human institution, the Chief Rabbinate could use improvement,” said Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive director emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

“What those improvements would be though requires a lot of thought and a lot of study, and from the OU’s perspective in no way could the Orthodox nature and the halachic nature of the Chief Rabbinate be compromised.”

Rabbi Weinreb stressed that OU congregations and rabbis adhere to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s decisions. He added that the process of electing chief rabbis could be refined so that it is “less political.”

The call for radical reform of the Chief Rabbinate was greeted warmly by Reform and Conservative groups.

“It’s a powerful letter from the dead center of the American Jewish establishment weighing in on what the Israeli government and the Israeli public still thinks is a fringe issue,” Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said of the AJC’s position. “It’s a welcome voice in that debate.”

Canadian Foreign Minister: ‘We’re Israel’s Best Friend’

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

At the end of a week in which the United Church of Canada, that country’s largest Protestant denomination called for a boycott of goods produced in “illegal” Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird declared that “Israel has no greater friend in the world today than Canada.”

The foreign minister was addressing the American Jewish Committee World Leaders Plenary, attended by an audience of more than 1,500, including many ambassadors in Washington, D.C. The foreign ministers of Cyprus and Germany also spoke at that Global Forum session.

“Our strong support for Israel is not about politics at home, and certainly not about winning popularity contests at the United Nations. Canada certainly has the scars to show for it,” Baird said. “It’s about values.”

Canada’s pro-Israel position, he said, was a matter of principle, based on the values of “freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law” that Canada shares with Israel and the U.S.

“At the UN and elsewhere, we make it clear that Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable. We vote against one-sided and unfair resolutions,” he said.

Canada has not always been so friendly to Israel, said Baird, who recalled two incidents in his own career when his suggestions to speak up for the Jewish state were rebuffed as naive and politically unrealistic.

“That is no longer how Canada operates,” he declared, “Not under this Foreign Minister. And not under this Prime Minister.” Baird’s speech was interrupted by frequent applause.

The current Canadian government “rejects the concept of moral relativism in international relations,” said Baird, adding that in Canada’s view “liberal democracies and international terrorist groups are not equal.”

Baird remarked that over the decades Canada has “paid a high toll for the principles that guide us” in fighting against hatred and intolerance, and in defense of freedom, democracy and dignity in two world wars and other conflicts around the world.

“In Afghanistan, we have invested billions of dollars and sacrificed more than 150 lives to ensure that country never again becomes a haven for terrorism,” said Baird.

Baird also expressed his country’s commitment to human rights, specifically denouncing Iran for its persecution of women, Christians and Baha’i; China for driving Christianity underground; and Egypt for its treatment of Coptic Christians.

And he pointed out that AJC, similarly, “does important advocacy work” not just for Jews but supports “dignity and respect for all peoples.”

The Foreign Minister also stressed the importance of economic prosperity for areas of the world that are beset with unrest and violence. He described his government’s success in providing “jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.”

Noting that Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world, Baird spoke of the potential benefits to his country and the U.S. of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which AJC strongly supports.

Incidentally, the United Church of Canada report will be considered by the Church’s General Council, which meets in Ottawa in August. Until then, the report is not yet official Church policy.

Poll: Obama Winning Back Jews

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Jewish support for President Obama has improved significantly in the last year and a half, according to a new survey by the American Jewish Committee .

Release Monday, the poll shows 61 percent of Jews would vote for Obama, as opposed to 28 percent for Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

In September, an AJC survey showed President Obama scoring 50 percent of votes, with Romney earning 32 percent.

However, exit polls in 2008 showed Obama winning 78 percent of Jewish votes.

In the latest AJC poll, respondents listed the economy and health care as the most important campaign issues.

Respondents also supported Obama’s treatment of Israel, with 58 percent approving of his management of the US-Israel relationship, up a whopping 18 percent since last September.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also took a leap in approval for his handling of the US-Israel relationship – up to 70 percent from 54 percent in September.

An overwhelming majority – 89% – of AJC poll respondents expressed concern over Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, with 64 percent saying the US should conduct a military strike if all other alternatives fail to thwart Iranian nuclear progress.

The online poll took place March 14-27 and surveyed 1,074 respondents who identified themselves as Jewish. It had a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/poll-obama-winning-back-jews/2012/05/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: