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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘American Task Force on Palestine’

Pro-Israel: ‘Intellectual Peaceniks’ v. ‘Rejectionist Idiots’?

Friday, January 17th, 2014

The Open Hillel (OH) movement, which rejects National Hillel’s Israel guidelines, and J Street, which seeks to redefine what it means to be pro-Israel, are trying to assert control over Jewish discussions about Israel.

These two organizations insist on campuses and in the media that their position represents the objective truth – and the only morally acceptable position – on the Arab-Israeli conflict.  As a result, those who differ with them are labeled morally deficient and inferior.

Capitalizing on western society’s natural aversion to war and violence, these groups have succeeded in marketing themselves to the masses. They quickly label opposing groups and individuals as “warmongering” and “rejectionist.” Traditional Zionist thought is labeled with that hateful term, “conservative,” while those who hold it are portrayed as the opponents of peace. The marketing has been very successful.

According to its website, J Street is “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.” It also claims as its mission being “pro-human rights, pro-justice and pro-Palestinian,” and to seek having an “open and honest discussion about Israel.” OH’s mission statement proclaims itself as “a student-run campaign to encourage inclusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels.” Given these groups’ stated devotion to diversity and openness, one would assume that everything would be up for debate, including what it means to support peace in the Middle East.

But rather than allow for different conceptions of what it means to be “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestinian” or “pro-human rights,” members of these two groups claim an inviolable monopoly over these terms. They refuse to allow debate on what it means to advocate for solutions in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The same people fighting for inclusion in the Hillel “pro-Israel tent,” are simultaneously delegitimizing and peremptorily rejecting those with alternative perspectives.

In an article by the President of J Street U’s National Student Board, “Hillel And Its Donors Repress Real Conversation About Israel” Jacob Plitman writes,“as some conservative donors demand a tighter conversation and enforce their political values, we risk losing that generation of young progressive Jews who won’t settle for tired hasbara and an Israel right-or-wrong approach.” J Street U Communications Co-Chair Benjy Cannon followed suit in Haaretz, where he opined that “Hillel’s tactic is no better than that of the ASA: It serves to exclude the very voices it should engage.”

The hypocrisy in their cry for “openness” is breath-taking, given J Street’s relentless insistence that only its beliefs are kosher.

J Street’s bullying is on display in an article by Plitman and Rachel Cohen in The Daily Beast. They write: “pro-Israel advocates cannot support the two-state solution in name only; we must all work to provide support for the Kerry initiative as a whole and for each of the difficult concessions necessary to reach an agreement. True backing means mobilizing support for peace talks based on pre-1967 borders with agreed-upon land swaps and robust security guarantees.”

Talking about conflict resolution in such absolute terms endangers the very democracy they demand. They believe and assert that “true backing” can only be achieved by endorsing J Street’s policy positions. According to Plitman and Cohen, if you do not back peace talks based on pre-1967 borders, you are not a true supporter of Israel. Rather than present their opinions as just that, opinions, they present their perspective as infallible, absolute truth.

Hussein Ibish is a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine and a frequent J Street U guest speaker. Eugene Kontorovich, a constitutional and international law scholar, is avowedly both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

In a recent article in Commentary, Kontorovich explained the fallacy of labeling Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs as undemocratic. In response, Ibish tweeted that “even by the standards of the Comintern (‪@Commentary) pro-occupation cult, this is certifiably insane & barking mad.” In place of an intellectual response to Kontorovich’s article, Ibish dismissed and labeled Kontorovich, and everyone at Commentary, as insane and “cultish.”

On January 8th, Ibish tweeted:“Anyone, Arab, Jewish or otherwise, opposed to a two-state solution is a fanatic and part of the problem. This is clear.” Ibish – a J Street U favored speaker is unabashed: if you do not see the resolution of the conflict on his terms you are a fanatic and an obstacle to peace. Such narrow-mindedness sets up a single rigid dichotomy: “intellectual peaceniks” on one side and “bloodthirsty idiots” on the other.

On January 7th, Alan Elsner, Vice President of Communications for J Street, penned an article attacking Israeli Knesset member Naftali Bennett. Elsner characterized Bennett as only offering, “many spurious arguments, among them that the demographic clock is working in Israel’s favor and that whenever there are peace negotiations terrorism increases.“

“This is the nature of the opposition to peace. We can’t say we haven’t been warned,” Elsner concluded. Rather than attempting to explain why he thinks Bennett’s statements are wrong, Elsner jumps to an intellectually dishonest conclusion that fits perfectly into J Street’s marketing message: Bennett opposes J Street’s position, ergo, Bennett is an opponent of peace.

For Elsner, for J Street, for Open Hillel, to oppose the imposition of its favored peace plan on Israel by the United States (which is not a party), makes even a democratically elected member of the Israeli government an opponent of peace.

As it stands now, It is impossible to have a productive discussion about who is really pro-Israel with J Street and its ilk because when others disagree they are labeled as insane and barking mad (Ibish), opponents of peace (Elsner), or conservative and exclusive (Plitman).

With their monopoly on morality, the last thing that these groups can claim is to encourage dialogue and discussion. Their policies are not a subset of the “open conversation” but rather the precursor. Rather than having a solution as a result of discussion, the “agreed upon conclusion” is established before anyone begins talking. J Street U Brandeis’ mission statement epitomizes the greater demand that specific policy trumps actual, open conversation: “Our mission is twofold: (1) Primarily, we are working to achieve a two-state solution through creating an informed and invested student body that will influence Congress to push for American diplomatic leadership on this issue. (2) Simultaneously, we are working to engage the American Jewish community in an honest and open conversation about Israel.”

US Mid-East Czar: Settlers Bad

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The United States strongly condemns settler violence and does not accept the legitimacy of Judea and Samaria settlement expansion, a top Obama administration official told the American Task Force on Palestine, JTA reported.

Philip Gordon, the National Security Council coordinator for Middle East policy, emphasized perceived Israeli transgressions in describing the difficulties afflicting renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in an address Tuesday evening to the annual gala dinner of the ATFP.

“The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement expansion,” Gordon said, an apparent reference to new housing starts announced by Israel in recent weeks.

Citing attacks by settlers on Palestinian olive groves, he said, “We also strongly condemn settler violence.”

Of course, it is well known that no olive tree is ever pruned by Arabs – they’re all cut down brutally by settlers who, let’s face it, hate olive trees and are even prepared to violate the laws off Shabbat to take down those poor trees.

Like on Saturday, Oct. 19, as reported by Ma’an, Israeli settlers chopped down more than 100 olive trees in “the village of Qaryut early Saturday.”

“Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli destroyed over 100 trees.”

Here’s a telling factoid in the same Ma’an story: “According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.” So, you prune your tree, then you realize there are so many broken branches rolling on the ground, they shouldn’t go to waste, and you come up with this ingenious story about settlers who are violating the Sabbath because they hate olives so much.

Gordon praised both sides for renewing talks and for confidence building measures, noting that Israel has released prisoners convicted of terrorist attacks and that the Palestinians have suspended bids to achieve statehood recognition.

You see the difference between the two sets of gestures? The released prisoners are gone, and even if the Palestinians walk from the negotiations table tomorrow, the prisoners will stay gone. But the suspended bids for statehood – they can be unsuspended at any time.

It’s so cool when you can do that…

However, in citing elements that do not create a “conducive atmosphere” for the talks, Czar Gordon did not mention Israeli complaints about the Palestinians, including a spate of recent rocket attacks and the Israeli sense that Palestinians are not doing much to discourage incitement to violence. Heck, they’re doing much of the inciting themselves, over their official TV.

He praised Israel for removing some restrictions inhibiting Palestinian movement in Judea and Samaria, but called on it to do more.

According to JTA, The ATFP is a leading advocate for a two-state solution, and works closely with a broad array of Jewish and pro-Israel groups. Many of them were represented at the gala dinner.

Jewish groups collaborating with ATFP include Americans for Peace Now.

Much of the above report was filed by JTA, but we felt compelled to correct some of the items presented as facts in the initial copy. We did so much fixing, that we feel it can no longer be presented as a JTA report. But the original news gathering for this report was definitely done by JTA.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-mid-east-czar-settlers-bad/2013/10/30/

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