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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘AJC’

Anti-democratic Effort to Bar Pro-Israel Voices in UCLA Govt Fails

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

An effort to invalidate the votes of presumably anti-divestment voting students at UCLA who had traveled to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel organizations was defeated on Wednesday, May 21.

That effort was one of two promoted by the aggressively anti-Israel organization Students for Justice in Palestine. The other SJP initiative was to ask students wishing to serve in the UCLA student government to sign a pledge that they would not go on such pro-Israel sponsored trips to Israel.

The decision Wednesday rejecting SJP’s effort was issued by the UCLA judicial board. The judicial board was considering a Complaint brought by SJP which claimed that the pro-Israel groups had, essentially, “bought” the students anti-divestment vote by bringing the students to Israel.

The two students whose experiences were under investigation, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers, visited Israel on trips sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, respectively, according to the Jewish Journal.

The vote by the undergraduate Judicial Board was 4 – 0, with two abstentions. The vote meant that taking such trips did not constitute a conflict of interest for members of student government. In other words, members of the student government who had been on trips to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel organizations were not required to abstain from voting on matters pertaining to the Middle East, or be barred from participating in student government altogether.

Representatives from local ADL and AJC branches which sponsored the trips to Israel on which Singh and Rogers went were called to present evidence and undergo cross-examination. Both maintained, apparently credibly, that the trips were not a quid pro quo for pro-Israel votes on relevant matters that came before the UCLA student government.

A written opinion will be issued by the judicial board on June 4.

This vote constitutes the latest in a series of stinging defeats for SJP. That organization, heady from a series of successful bullying tactics, hit the wall once Jewish and other pro-Israel students began standing up to the organization’s bullying, over-the-top tactics.

Pro-Israel students at Brooklyn College, Northeastern University, Cornell University and New York University, to name just a few, have defeated anti-Israel efforts by the SJP over the past year.

Unfortunately, the judicial board vote rejecting SJP’s complaint came too late to save Singh’s run for the UCLA student government presidency. It is Singh’s opinion that, although his platform was about increasing mental health resources and efficiency of student government, the SJP’s harping on the issue of Israel helped lead to his defeat by a candidate who took the SJP pledge not to travel to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel groups.

The SJP initiatives were also supported by the radical pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace.

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.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/religious-secular-in-israel-israel/israels-chief-rabbinate-facing-heated-calls-for-change-on-several-fronts/2012/07/11/

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