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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

Modern King David Fighting the USA Campus Goliath

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

On Shabbat I read a disturbing open letter in the Jerusalem Post and decided to blog about it. Unfortunately, it’s not one of the op-eds on their site. After a mercifully quick Google search, I found it someplace else.

An open letter to the FM By Justin Hayet

Dear Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the entire Netanyahu government,

I asked you, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, a question this Sunday at the Jerusalem Post’s Annual Conference in New York. My question, I thought, was simple; “What is the Foreign Ministry of Israel doing to stand with college students, like myself, to fight BDS [Boycott, Divest, Sanction] on campus?”

Your response was nothing but loaded rhetoric downplaying the existential BDS threat and downplaying the attacks against me on my campus for being a Zionist. Perhaps worst of all, you downplayed the anti-Semitic attacks on students across the United States, Europe and soon the world. These attacks exist because we are proud Zionists.

You should have responded with a big fat “nothing,” because the Foreign Ministry of Israel has decided to focus its attention elsewhere. Though it may be more practical to allocate time and resources elsewhere, in doing so, Israel is taking a risk it cannot afford to take. By focusing all of its energy on its adversaries, many of whom will never recognize Israel either on a map or as a Jewish state with a right to exist, Israel is putting the passion of North American Zionists, many of whom are Jews and many of whom are not, on the back burner. This, I believe, is of a greater existential threat than a nuclear-ambitions Iran.

I was not born in Israel. I was not born in an Israeli home in American. I am a Jewish American. But before I am anything, at the most fundamental level of my existence; like Foreign Minister Liberman, like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, like every soldier my age in the IDF, I am a Zionist. And you, Mr. Foreign Minister, overlooked the fact that, unlike Israelis, I and the thousands of students made the active decision to fight for Israel, a country which has redefined and challenged our perception of what “home” really means.

Though five thousand miles away from Israel, we awake to Israel each morning as we flinch our eyes to see the Israeli flag hanging in its infinite blue beauty above our beds. We do so with pride. Israel is with us as we wake to see the news from the past day in Israel as we slumbered in our secure beds in upstate New York. Though not wearing a Magen David every day, we carry our Zionism on our backs each day, and people try to slander us for it as if “Zionism” is a dirty word.

We are the lost unit of the IDF Spokesman’s Office, we are the story of SUNY (State University of New York) students who stayed up until 5 a.m. to watch the victorious fight against BDS resolutions at UC Berkeley, we are the students who laughed off the libelous labels of being called “imperial genocidal maniacs” by a paid employee of our university. And we carry out these increasingly routine acts of educated-backed passion, not because we are in contract with Israel to do so or because we want accolades; we do it because we are Zionists. Contrary to those closed-minded individuals who say Zionists must live in Israel, the movement of young college students in the States fighting for Israel represents the very core of Zionism. That is, young people doing incredible things for the State of Israel.

You have given us MASA, you have contributed to the founding of Birthright-Taglit and this was your gift to us. We, now, have a gift for you, Mr. Foreign Minister and Mr. Prime Minister. Its called hasbara (public diplomacy). It’s free, it’s our duty, it’s our calling, it’s our obligation and it’s our gift to you and the Jewish state and the flag we awake to every morning. What do you think?

Scarlett Johansson: I’m Called ‘New Face of Apartheid’

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Scarlett Johansson told Vanity Fair magazine that anti-Semitism is behind condemnation of her sponsoring Israeli-made SodaStream products.

In a wide-ranging interview that focused mainly on Hollywoody subjects, gossip and social media, she was asked about her rejecting criticism for signing up as ambassador for SodaStream which runs a factory in the Jewish city of Maaleh Adumim in the Judean desert, where the Palestinian Authority imagines it will rule one day.

“[I'm being called] the new face of apartheid. There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” she commented.

Johansson, who is Jewish, also was ambassador for Oxfam, but when the group demanded she break her ties with SodaStream, she stood up and said that the Israeli-based company does more for peace than anyone else by employing Palestinian Authority Arabs at equal wages with Israel.

BDS has unsuccessfully campaigned for a universal boycott of SodaStream, which gives people the opportunity to make soda in their own homes and add flavors instead of buying bottle carbonated drinks.

Johansson has been a lead punch in the stomach of the Boycott Israel crowd, which is not used to an apolitical figure, especially one from Hollywood, proving to the world that the anti-Zionist case is null and void.

Tuesday Rally: No Israel Boycotters in Celebrate Israel Parade

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A coalition of concerned pro-Israel New Yorkers will be gathering Tuesday evening outside of the UJA-Federation building at 130 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.

The organizers say they are having the rally because every other effort the group has made over the past several years has failed to convince the UJA-Federation and the JCRC that people affiliated with organizations which support the boycott of Jews in Israel – anywhere in Israel – should not be given an official hecksher of “pro-Israel” bona fides by being welcomed to march in the Israel Day Parade in New York.

The theme of the group coalesced over time and became “It starts with boycotts.” That’s because the people whom the group does not want to be granted acceptance support boycotting Jews as a legitimate tool the pressure Israel to accede to their – not the voters of Israel, but their wishes in resolving the Arab Israeli conflict.

“It starts with boycotts of Jewish products, and ends with violence against Jews,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky emailed The Jewish Press Monday evening. She is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

“At this time, perhaps more than any other time since the beginning of the Holocaust, when anti-Israel hatred, and anti-Semitic and jihadist violence, are surging across the globe, it is time for the Jewish community to demand that Jewish leaders show some backbone,” Gilinsky explained.

As two New Yorkers put it in a letter they sent to the head of the UJA-Federation, their objection to the inclusion of people who intentionally harm Israel in the Israel Day Parade is not a matter of restricting free speech.

“Please do not confuse our opposition to the inclusion of BDS groups in the parade with any attempt to stifle free speech. On the contrary, we have no objection to the right of people to state their positions,” wrote Benjamin S. Klapper, of Manhattan. “As Jews and supporters of the state of Israel we do not have to furnish the platform.”

All of the rally organizers repeatedly made clear that they support the good work that the UJA-Federation and the JCRC do, especially their services for indigent and elderly Jews. But they all felt very strongly that it is wrong to permit those who willingly harm fellow Jews, or give support to those who do, to march with those whose love for Israel means they will fight for it, not against it.

“We stand with Israel, against the anti-Israel, Arab-supported BDS movement which dehumanizes Jews, demonizes Israel and which, sadly, some dishonorable Jewish groups support,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

The BDS movement promotes economic and legal warfare against Israel by promoting the implementation of Boycotts of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel and Israeli leaders.

The sorest point between the rally organizers and the gatekeepers for the parade is in the definition of boycott. For the pro-Israel group, anyone prepared to support those who do, or who themselves use economic warfare against Jews are supporters of anti-Israel boycotts, whether the support is for a boycott of all of Israel or only of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

For those who make the eligibility determination, groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund and even the Partners for Progressive Israel, which consistently partner with or who fund groups that promote Israel boycotts or who promote boycotts themselves, their pro-Israel bona fides comes from their claim to “support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Richard Allen, is the founder of JCCWatch. Allen is the main catalyst for the rally and the sustained effort to ensure the Celebrate Israel Parade includes only actual lovers of Israel. He explained to The Jewish Press that the UJA-Federation has been telling concerned donors that no BDS supporters will be marching in the parade.

“But that’s simply not true and they know that. Partners for a Progressive Israel march in the parade. That is a pro-BDS group,” Allen said.

A quick skip over to the Partners for a Progressive Israel website reveals that oh yes indeed, the group most certainly promotes the boycott of all kinds of Israeli products, including SodaStream (what would Scarlett say?), Ahava and, all told, more than a dozen products including wines, salads and spices made by Jewish companies. Most of which, by the way, employ Arabs at salaries far higher than the salaries at Arab-owned companies.

Take a look:

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products 

Joe Rapaport is a New Yorker who took the time to speak with John Ruskay, executive director of the UJA-Federation. Ruskay told Rapaport, that all the “groups marching in the parade have signed off that they are NOT in favor of BDS.” How to explain that position with the Partners for Progressive Israel’s proud affirmation of their boycott is difficult to understand.

But there is no need to attempt to reconcile those two contradictory positions, because the official  ”2014 CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE – June 1, 2014 RULES AND REGULATIONS” makes no reference toBDS. The only requirement imposed on parade marchers is not even that they “support” Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but that they “identify” with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. No pledge is required, the statement just appears in the rule book.

Rapaport said that Ruskay also tried various hedges, like “the Federation does not decide who is in the parade, the JCRC does.” Ruskay conceded, however, according to Rapaport, that the Federation had the ability to influence the decision. Finally, Rapaport explained that Ruskay “jumped to the argument that to eliminate these [BDS supporting groups] would alienate big donors, specifically Bronfman.”

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?

“I have received calls this week from members of the Jewish establishment accusing us of trying to stop the parade altogether,” Gilinsky said.

“Neither could be farther from the truth. We certainly want the Celebrate Israel event to succeed — just without promoters of the anti-Jewish, Hamas-backed BDS movement parading down Fifth Avenue!”

Groups participating in the rally include JCC Watch, Americans for a Safe Israel, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Coalition for Israel, Young Israel of Kew Gardens, Jewish Action Alliance, Never Again is Now and the Jewish Political Education. Foundation

Ryerson U. Student Union Passes Symbolic Vote to Join BDS

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

The student union of Ryerson University in Toronto voted to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at Israel, but the university said it will ignore the non-binding decision.

“The student union is a corporation independent of the university, we have to be clear there,” said Michael Forbes, a spokesperson for Ryerson and quoted by the Canadian National Post. “The university does not support a boycott. We don’t support divestment, nor do we support sanctions against Israel. We’ve been consistent on this point.”

Students at the University of Windsor and York University also have voted to join BDS.

The vote at Ryerson was passed amid jeers and boos at Jewish students who walked out in protest, holding as sign stating, “Hate off Campus.”

A Response to Thomas Friedman: We Need More Sheldon Adelsons

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

In Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote a scathing column against Israel’s foremost supporters and lovers. Friedman’s column is a hit piece meant to serve as fodder for some of the NY Times’ anti-Israel and left-wing readership. But instead of delving into the author’s motives for writing the piece, I’d like to examine the various claims he makes.

The thesis of his column is that Sheldon Adelson’s “loving Israel to death” serves Iran’s interests and makes Adelson “Iran’s Best Friend.” What an absolutely pathetic and fallacious claim.

I have the great privilege of knowing Sheldon Adelson personally. There is nobody in the philanthropic arm of the Jewish community that has been a more vocal opponent of Khameini and Iran than Sheldon.

We in the Jewish community know that there are few things Khameini and his ilk hate more than the idea of promoting Jewish continuity and preserving the memory of the Holocaust. On that note, there is nobody who has invested more dollars into both of these initiatives than have Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

When it comes to promoting Jewish continuity, the Adelsons have served as the principal supporters of Birthright Israel – thereby responsible for sending over 350,000 young Jews from across the world to experience their birthright firsthand. Surely we can agree that Khameini and his adherents seek more than just the delegitimization and destruction of Israel; but also the destruction of the Jewish people.

Then there is the Adelsons’ investment of tens of millions of dollars toward preserving the memory of the Holocaust. They have done this to not only ensure that members of my generation never forget about the slaughtering of 6 million Jews, but to also educate the senseless and intellectually dishonest Jew-haters about the Holocaust, many of whom are found in the Iranian leadership.

It’s no secret that Rouhani is a Holocaust denier. Perhaps Mr. Friedman could please explain how Mr. Adelson’s gift of $25 million to Yad Vashem, the largest in the museum’s history, makes Adelson “Iran’s best friend.” I would instead posit that these two major philanthropic endeavors that the Adelsons have proudly taken upon themselves make Khameini and Rouhani cringe – as they should.

Friedman goes on to talk about the so called “occupied territories” and how the continuation of such a policy under the auspices of the Israeli government is what is truly responsible for the BDS campaign and the world’s increased hostility toward Israel. This is evidence that what Mr. Friedman needs more than anything else is a history lesson.

The West Bank or Judea and Samaria were not lands that Israel conquered through a war of its own choosing. Instead, Israel captured these lands from the actual illegal occupiers of it, the Jordanians, the ones who attacked Israel and forced her into battle there in 1967. The term “occupied territories” is therefore a farce, one designed to delegitimize Israel, much like the BDS campaign and its proponents.

Perhaps Friedman should reassess which team he belongs to; is it the Adelson camp? One that supports and loves Israel to the point of courageously standing against its enemies even when it means being subjected to the wrath of some in the mainstream press. Or instead, does Friedman belong to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign camp, a camp that does not include supporters of Israel? Should Friedman be counted amongst those working vociferously to delegitimize Israel by continuing to harp on the fallacious claim that the Israelis are “occupiers?”

Mr. Friedman, as a current student of your Alma Mater, Brandeis University, I can tell you with full confidence that the BDS campaign has little to do with the reality of life in the so-called “occupied territories” and is instead rooted in pure Jew hatred. I urge you to visit some college campuses next year during Israel Apartheid Week so that you can witness this first-hand. The folks behind the BDS effort aren’t looking for peace. They are merely anti-Semites trying to conceal their genuine motives through a campaign that folks of your stature have deemed to be, and thereby appear to make, credible.

A Day in History: The First Nazi BDS of Jewish Business

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

On April 1, 1933, 81 years ago, the Nazis carried out their first nationwide, coordinated action against the Jews: a boycott of Jewish businesses – today these activities are commonly known as BDS: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

And even today, that Nazi-inspired BDS tactic continues, directed at the Jewish state of Israel.

What is perhaps even worse is when there are Jewish organizations who join in, also calling for the boycott and divestment of Jewish businesses and products made in the Land of Israel – and they have the gall to call themselves Zionists and want to march in the Israel Day Parade.

Do organizations like that really fit inside the open tent?

Alabama Celebrates Israel

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Huntsville, AL — The Alabama-Israel Task Force (AITF) held an “Alabama Celebrates Israel”  statewide celebration to mark seventy years of friendship and support by the state of Alabama for the Jewish state of Israel.  During the festive evening filled with dance, song, and speeches in honor of Israel, the AITF announced it will create an “Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Center” in Sderot, Israel.

The historical ties between Alabama and Israel dates back to 1943, when the Alabama legislature passed a unanimous joint resolution during World War II, calling for the establishment of the Jewish state and Jewish homeland, five years ahead of the formation of the state of Israel. Over the years, and ever since, the people of Alabama have publicly supported Israel through resolutions, proclamations, establishing sister-cities between the two, and most recently, declaring a “Stand with Israel Day.”

Similar to Alabama, which has suffered hurricanes and tornadoes that demolished homes and ravaged communities, the Sderot community in Israel is under continuous bombardment by rockets and missiles fired from Gaza which destroy Sderot resident’s homes and any semblance of normal everyday living. Sderot residents have less than sixty seconds to find safe shelter when the warning siren of an incoming missile goes off, and more than 12,000 missiles have been fired since 2001. Thus, the “Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Center,” in Sderot will be a joint effort between Alabama civil emergency management leaders and young Israeli leaders, to train and share emergency management tactics.

The AITF was co-founded by Eeki (Itshak) Elner, Special Envoy for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the founder and director of the “Israel Leadership Institute” (ILI) in Sderot, Israel, John Buhler, founder of “Christian Advocates for Israel”, and Laura King, former president of the Jewish Federations of North Alabama. One year after Elner moved to Sderot to establish ILI, a rocket landed in his living room where he had been standing only a minute before. Regardless, Elner is resolute on remaining on the frontlines in Sderot and continuing his mission there.

The statewide AITF celebration had Huntsville children performing dance and songs about peace in Jerusalem for several hundred, and there was a pop-up shop with “made in Israel” products for sale.  Israeli dignitaries, including, Ambassador Danny Ayalon and the Director of  the Hasbara organization “The Truth about Israel,” MK Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, MK and former Shin Bet Deputy Director Israel Hason, and MK Silvan Shalom, all offered greetings.

Yet, despite the support by Alabama elected officials, which included greetings from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, and a keynote address from Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey who presides over the same legislative body that issued the 1943 resolution supporting a Jewish homeland in Israel, not all Alabama residents are in favor of this alliance.

A few days prior to AITF’s statewide celebration, the “North Alabama Peace Network” invited Josh Reubner who was promoting the BDS – Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement as a means to delegitimize Israel, as well as plug his new book, to speak at the Huntsville mosque. Reubner is a dual American/Israeli citizen, as he is the son of a Jewish father who was born in what is now Israel.

Laura King thought little of the Reubner gathering and doubts the BDS movement will take root, saying, “Fortunately our local Islamic community knows when they are being patronized.”   As for partnering with the Christian community to support Israel, she says the Jewish community needs defenders in all communities, “We, as a small community, need friends if we are going to attempt to surmount the current wave of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel.  This thinly veiled attempt at disguising the true hate, needs defenders from all communities. Our partners reach many people and are influential in politics and other important positions in our community including of course religious institutions.”

For more information or to sign the Declaration of Reaffirmation of the Historic 1943 Resolution and Renewed Commitment in Our Generation visit  www.AITF-Web.org.

The video, below, was screened during AITF’s Alabama Celebrates Israel.
“Sweet Home Jerusalem,” by Rabbi Lazer Brody, is sung to the tune of “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Israel Boycott Promoters Do Not Belong in Israel Day Parade

Monday, March 31st, 2014

It is incomprehensible. This year, the sponsors of New York’s annual Israel Day Parade are allowing organizations to march who actively promote a boycott of Israeli businesses and companies owned by Jews in Judea-Samaria.

The UJA-Federation, responsible for the annual parade, has given the Green Light to groups organizing boycotts against products of Jewish owners in Judea and Samaria. These groups work every day to isolate Israel and make her a global pariah, announcing to the world the names of specific Jewish-owned companies operating in Judea-Samaria they want punished.

Yet, these “Jewish” groups are being invited to infiltrate the Parade, either because of agreement with their tactics or as a way of affirming what the UJA-Federation calls an “open tent.”

Join us Tuesday, April 8, in Manhattan to tell the UJA: No. This cannot stand. Decent people cannot tolerate this perfidy. We will not accept such corruption of values, such appeasement, and public forfeiture of Jewish dignity. There is something sick about this. Imagine a St. Patrick’s Day Parade with Irishmen marching who call for boycotting parts of Ireland and Irish-owned businesses. These are marching orders no self-respecting Jew can countenance.

There is a fundamental principle involved here, which is: No Jew can accept the boycotting of Jewish businesses, the State of Israel, or the Jewish people. Period! Especially not Jewish organizations, founded to defend the Jewish people. Providing boycotters a public stamp of approval affirms and further enables the boycotting. Merely signing a paper of commitment to Israel’s existence in no way kosherizes the activists promoting the despicable, unacceptable category of anti-Jewish boycotts.

One dare not legitimize the boycotting of Jewish businesses or Jews, qua Jews, no matter his claim that he is doing it for the “right reasons” or to “effectuate necessary change.” If we do, then anyone can boycott Jews or Israel by simply stating they are “doing it for necessary and ‘moral’ reasons.”

To the world, a boycott is a boycott, east of the Green Line or west of it. Approving one leads to the other. Boycotting Israel will spur future boycotting of those “bad” Jews, for example, in Brooklyn or London.

Ironically, the ‘conscience-struck’ Jewish boycotters never boycott Arab or Moslem businesses, despite the ubiquitous terrorism and their violations of human rights. Their outrage is only against the Jewish state and its Jews.

Nazism began even before the implementation of the Final Solution. It began with boycotts against Jewish owned businesses, Jewish merchants, and Jews providing services. The Nazi idea of boycotting Jewish businesses was an essential component and standard of Nazism. Nazism was evil in all of its stages, including the limited earlier stages of anti-Jewish boycotts of the 1930s. It remains just as evil today, even when done by Jews; enthusiastically done in concert with non-Jewish anti-Semites and those arrayed against the State of the Jews, Israel.

UJA’s desire for an ‘open tent’ should not devolve into the destruction of the tent. The purpose of Jewish organizations is to promote and defend Jewish interests, not provide credence for the unacceptable, nor be part of a slow, step-by-step destruction of Jewish sovereignty. There is a big world out there where one can easily find all the available “OPEN” forums blaming Israel and seeking its destruction. Too often, we are hoodwinked by this pernicious notion that “Jewish values” demand we see only our opponent’s and enemy’s viewpoint and forgo our own Jewish survival. Strange, very strange indeed.

Besides, we know the Jewish establishment’s call for an “open tent” does not include many they consider too “right wing.” They select those with whom they ultimately share some simpatico.

Courage is not found in condemning Israel. The whole world does that.

Courage is found in standing up to in-house Jewish boycotters for the sake of something greater than their feigned liberalism, to wit, the defense of the Jewish people and Israel. We expect that from UJA-Federation. That is their duty! But too often the Jewish establishment will not to do that which goes against leftwing, politically-correct thinking. They camouflage their timidity, or concurrence, by intoning lofty but phony clichés.

Look how far some Jewish people have fallen: That which their destroyers did to them, they are now doing to their own brothers and sisters. It stems not from a higher sense of morality but a lower regard for Jewish peoplehood and nationalism….. and noxious self-righteousness. Out of a need to be accepted in their leftwing circles, as well as their unwillingness to stand up and fight the unpopular fight of our day, many are riding the fashionable bandwagon against Israel.

Too many Jews are now part of the herd sport of anti-Semitism, previously forbidden to them but now permitted under forms of anti-Israelism. Many are simply what used to be called: traitors. Traitors should be shunned, not given prominence as desired partners in our parades.

If you can’t attend Tuesday’s gathering, send your protest to UJA- Federation. There are additional instances where Federation-affiliated agencies are inviting speakers who are known to be anti-Israel, against any self-defense measures, and even anti-Jewish, posing simply as “temporary” opponents of Israel with differing views.

Let the directors of UJA-Federation and other Jewish organizations know of your concern about their silence over the beating of Jews across Europe by Moslem gangs and Knockout gangs here. Directors are not necessarily leaders. Real Jewish leaders should not be indifferent, silent, nor lend support to boycotters and others wishing to tear us down.

The directors of our Jewish organizations are not infallible. They certainly weren’t during the 30s and 40s. We’ve seen this before: blind obedience is foolish and leaving our destiny and safety to those who claim they “know best” often can be devastating. This time in history, we must not make the same mistake.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero is author of “Push Back” and was a pulpit rabbi for almost forty years. He can be reached at rabbispero@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israel-boycott-promoters-do-not-belong-in-israel-day-parade/2014/03/31/

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