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May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

From Blood Libel to Tree Libel: JNF Responds to NYTimes OpEd

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

In his OpEd “The Two Israels,” (NY Times, March 1, 2015) Nicholas Kristof made a rather broad accusation stating that Jewish National Fund plants forests on land owned by Bedouin Arabs. Unfortunately, Mr. Kristof chose to subscribe to the BDS diatribe against Israel and used JNF as a straw man to do so. We take exception to such reporting and in a response to the Times on March 3 let them know.

Further, the fact that no Israeli governmental official was interviewed by Mr. Kristof to discuss that country’s laws, or identify any specific property disputes and claims procedures, or legal history on the subject should also raise red flags.

We are not a political actor in Israel but rather a 501(c) 3 charity and a UN NGO. Our mission betters the Land for all the people of Israel, regardless of ethnicity or religion. This multi-purposed goal facilitates the continuity of a secure and independent homeland for Jews across the diaspora, and supports our country’s only free and democratic strategic ally in the Middle East.

What Mr. Kristof did not report on was JNF’s multi-year work with the Bedouin community in the Negev that has improved their lives. Witness our efforts at a project called Wadi Atir, near the village of Hura, where the Bedouin community combines its traditional medicinal herbal practices and animal herding with modern farming techniques — the effects of which provide Bedouin men, and most importantly, women, with the tools to empower, educate and bring long-term financial and professional success.

In my meetings and visits with JNF’s wonderful volunteers, board members and staff, I am often overwhelmed by the caring and love shared for the people of Israel, in both good times and bad. Last year when rockets were sent from Gaza into Israel, we helped protect all of Israel’s residents on that border, including the Bedouin. Our partner Green Horizons responded to their villages to calm children with a variety of programs and bomb shelters were delivered to ensure safety.

JNF contributors understand that inclusiveness is the key to Israel’s future. Throughout the Negev Desert, JNF has partnered with numerous organizations to foster synergy and enhance and strengthen the region’s smaller communities that were often forgotten in the past. This small 8% of Israel’s population lives in some 60% of the land. Because they are so far removed from the central part of the country, they are often shortchanged for services, even when it comes to emergency treatment. To meet the demand for urgent care, last year we opened a medical center deep in the Negev Desert, alleviating the two-hour drive residents used to make.

Additionally, people with special needs are treated at our partner facilities Aleh Negev, Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center, and LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible – regardless of complexion, faith or language. And we have collaborated on a transboundary issue to repair an important watershed for the Palestinian Authority and the people of Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev, to make sure all have access to clean water.

For more than a century, JNF donors worldwide have taken part in a time-honored tradition and planted more than 250 million trees in Israel to commemorate important milestones, memorials or living testaments to loved ones. This act of taking care of the land has also served to create a green lung throughout the region. JNF is equally renowned for its protection of ecological systems, investing in smart technology and renewable energy, our leadership in sustainability, greening the desert and water conservation. Donors also choose to build farms, reservoirs, hospitals, schools, research centers, parks, and many other projects that benefit all the people of Israel.

Our history is one of love, nation building and industry that has reduced poverty, encouraged women’s rights and created economic opportunities for all. That’s the story that is Israel and JNF. That’s the story that the world needs to know.

‘Devastated’ by Slain Jew, yet Denmark Huge Funder of Anti-Israel Activity

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

The prime minister of Denmark laid flowers on Sunday, Feb. 15, at the site where the day before a Jewish man was shot in the head and killed while volunteering as a security guard outside of a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Was the murder of Dan Uzan, the son of an Israeli father, an act in which the Danish government was indirectly complicit?

When Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt laid the wreath outside of the synagogue, she offered her condolences to the slain man’s family and to the whole Jewish community. She said she and her entire country were devastated by Uzan’s murder, and by all that happened in Copenhagen on Feb. 14.

“A man has lost his life in a service of that synagogue and we are devastated,” Thorning-Schmidt said, speaking to Jewish Danes.

“Our thoughts go to the whole of the Jewish community today. They belong in Denmark, they are a lasting part of our community. And we will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community,” the Prime Minister concluded, before turning towards the makeshift shrine to Uzan, and then briefly embracing two members of the Jewish community.

On Sunday evening, Thorning-Schmidt spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. She provided him with the details of the weekend’s terrorist attacks. During the conversation, Netanyahu told his Danish counterpart that Israel and Denmark must together fight the current terrorism, one that knows no borders.

Netanyahu also told Thoring-Schmidt that “countries which do not fight terrorism today will deal with much worse terrorism tomorrow.”

But other than when a Jew is killed – in a spectacular way – on its soil, does Denmark show support for its Jewish community or the Jewish people? Or does its action actually contribute to the demonization of the Jewish State and of Jews?

This past September, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard threatened Israel. He said that if the then ongoing ‘peace’ negotiations between Israel and the PA did not resolve according to his lights, punitive action would have to be considered.

Lidegaard warned that if Israel failed to commit to serious concessions, such as ending the blockade of Gaza or stopping “illegal settlements,” then Denmark and the European Union would need to consider taking punitive steps. The threats he mentioned included changing trade relations with the Jewish state, Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post reported at the time.

But it isn’t only Lidegaard and it isn’t only recently that Denmark has put the screws to Israel.

Denmark has been financially supporting anti-Israel organizations to the tune of many millions of dollars a year, for many years running.

According to the exhaustive data collection and analysis provided by organizational watchdog NGO-Monitor, in recent years the Danes have contributed tens of million of dollars for Israeli and Palestinian Arab organizations. Many of those organizations engage in economic and legal warfare against Israel known as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns. The BDS movement, along with demonizing Israel, also engages in acts of blatant, hostile anti-Semitism.

Lidegaard’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs directly funds anti-Israel organizations. In 2011 alone, the Danes contributed over $1.1 million directly to Israeli organizations which actively demonize and seek to harm the Jewish State.

Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO-Monitor, told The Jewish Press, the “Danish government is among the leaders in funding for anti-Israel NGO demonization in Europe, irresponsibly providing large sums via a number of mechanisms.”

Steinberg explained that the Danes support the so-called Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, which is managed by Birzeit University. That entity in turn funds groups such as Adalah, Breaking the Silence, and Al Haq. These and a number of other recipient NGOs promote false “war crimes” allegations and blood libels against the Jewish state. Another recipient of Danish largesse – Badil – uses the money to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee demands and anti-Semitic themes.

NYC Israel Parade Exec Cries Foul Over Jewish Press Article

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

On Friday, an article ran on this site: “For NYC Israel Day Parade, BDS Banned Only in Words.” There was a mistake in it, which we take this opportunity to correct.

The focus of that article was on what at first seemed to be a big change for this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade. In the registration packet for this year’s marchers was a set of guidelines which, on the face of it, clearly prohibited any group from marching that supports economic warfare against Israel.

The new guidelines’ language was quoted in that article: “All Groups must oppose, not fund, nor advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by not recognizing it as a Jewish state.”

In the past, the parade organizers had permitted groups to march which explicitly advocate (or fund groups which explicitly advocate) boycotts of companies located beyond the so-called “Green Line.” For this reason, a reporter from The Jewish Press contacted parade officials. That reporter’s conversation with Michael Mittelman, Celebrate Israel director and the associate general counsel of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, was recounted in the Feb. 13 article.

The article stated that Mittelman refused to answer questions about whether or not the parade organizers will permit groups to march which support boycotts of Israeli products over the “Green Line.”

The reporter finally asked Mittelman point blank: would groups that advocate boycotts against SodaStream and Ahava be permitted to march? SodaStream used to be located outside of “Green Line” Israel and some people claim the Dead Sea is part of “Palestinian” territory. Mittelman refused to answer.

Mittelman repeatedly stated that the only further words the parade organizers would say on the topic were contained in a statement, which he promised to send.

The Feb. 13 article stated that Mittelman never sent that statement.

IN FACT, Mittelman did send the promised statement. Unfortunately, that email went to this reporter’s SPAM mailbox and remained there until Monday, Feb. 16, when she was informed that Mittelman had complained about several things in the Feb. 13 article.

The other complaints about the article in Mittelman’s letter concerned how he was portrayed and the functionality of the links on his site, about which disagreement remains, but it is absolutely true that he had, as promised, emailed the statement and one of the two linked-to articles.

However, one point in the article – the main point – was not disputed by Mittelman. He did not assert that the article falsely suggested the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade would permit groups to march that advocate boycotts of Israeli products made by Israeli companies located beyond the Green Line. In a legal arena, one could claim that such an omission constitutes a form of admission.

And Mittelman did not claim that the article was wrong in stating that the New Israel Fund, an entity which has funded and supports groups that boycott “beyond Green Line” Israeli companies, would be marching in this year’s parade because the new guidelines do not bar it, as an NIF official told another reporter.

The statement Mittelman was so exercised about — and which he repeatedly invoked as the JCRC’s final word about which groups could march in this year’s parade — simply repeats the new language in the Guidelines which was quoted in the Feb. 13 article.

There you have it. This reporter was wrong – albeit inadvertently – when she asserted that Michael Mittelman did not send the JCRC statement as promised.

She appears not to have been wrong about something much more important: the new language in this year’s guidelines for the 2015 Celebrate Israel Parade which appears to ban from marching those who advocate economic warfare against Israel is, in fact, no change at all.

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

Israeli Wine Exports Sparkle [video]

Monday, January 26th, 2015

L’chaim.

Israel wine exports rose 10 percent last year and reached $40 million and total sales were $220 million.

The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute announced the figures on Monday at the start of the two-day Tel Aviv Sommelier Wine festival.

There is a growing demand from North America, Europe and Asia for Israeli wines, some of which have won dozens of prizes and are rated with top wines from California and France.

“In recent years Israeli won has won international recognition and the rise in wine exports to Asia where the kosher market is insignificant demonstrates the strength of Israel’s wine brand around the world,” the Export Institute Wine Department’s head Ya’ara Shimoni told Globes business newspaper.

Israel has 250 wineries, half of which are commercial operations.

Several wineries produce products from grapes grown n the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria, where dry summers, cold winters and high altitudes contribute to the grapes’ high quality.

God has not cooperated with the Boycott Israel movement.

This winter has been usually cold and wet, just what the grape vines before waking up in the Spring.

Anti-Israel Resolutions Fail at American Historical Association

Monday, January 5th, 2015

The American Historical Association today, Jan. 5, defeated an attempt by a splinter group “Historians Against the War” to introduce two anti-Israel resolutions to its full membership, according to a report in the cutting-edge academic website Legal Insurrection.

Apparently the AHA is not as thoroughly infiltrated by the intolerants demanding tolerance, and a Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions Against Israel (BDS) resolution was not presented.

Instead, one of the resolutions HAW wanted the full AHA to vote on called for “Academic Freedom of U.S. Citizens Visiting Israel and Palestine,” and the other was for “Protecting the Right to Education in Palestine-Israel.”

The resolution demanding academic freedom deplores the efforts by the Israelis to place limits on the numbers of foreign nationals to lecture, teach and attend conferences at Palestinian Arab universities.

According to the proposed resolution, such a position denies those at Palestinian Arab universities, “both faculty and students the rich experience enjoyed by their peers at Israeli universities and other universities around the world.” Imagine. Israel refuses to treat the students and faculty at Palestinian Arab universities the same way they treat students at Israeli universities.

The HAW Protecting Right to Education resolution claims that Israel violates its obligations by “refusing to allow students from Gaza to travel in order to pursue higher education abroad, and even at West Bank universities.” Imagine that. Israel demands the right to protect its own borders against a culture and government dedicated to destroying the Jewish State. The nerve.

A motion was introduced at the meeting on Monday to try and get the anti-Israel resolutions considered at the AHA’s business meeting. This unusual procedural move was necessary because the HAW failed to submit a request to have their resolutions considered before the November 1 deadline.  These are professors, mind you, neglecting to submit the necessary request on time – somewhat ironic, no?

But the motion to get the anti-Israel resolutions through the business meeting and then before the full membership for a vote failed. The vote was 144 against, 54 in favor and three voting present.

 

ZOA: Anti-Zionists Should Not Be Allowed in World Zionist Congress

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

The Zionist Organization of America has filed a formal objection with the World Zionist Organization against a coalition of what ZOA calls anti-Zionist organizations running a slate to have an increased presence in the World Zionist Congress.

ZOA points out that the World Zionist Organization’s Constitution does not permit members to be organizations that discriminate against Jewish and Israeli businesses, or against other Jews. In addition to violating the WZO’s own constitution, boycotts of Jewish or Israeli businesses also violate New York State Human Rights Law.

If that is the case, then the organizations which named their slate “Hatikvah,” Partners for a Progressive Israel, Ameinu, Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim Dror, should be booted.

But there’s a catch, one that the anti-Zionists hope is a permanent life raft. The same organizations ZOA is calling to have tossed from the WZC’s fall 2015 election have all belonged to the WZO for years.

The organizations seeking to join the World Zionist Congress reads like a Who’s Who of the Jewish organizations who love to hate Zionism, and who claim to criticize Israel first, last and only, “out of love” for the Jewish State. Love like that kills.

The groups joining together in a united front include: Partners for a Progressive Israel (formerly MeretzUSA), Ameinu, Habonim Dror North America, and Hashomer Hatzair. The groups share various essentials, according to ZOA, including New York office space, various directors and ideology.

The PPI brazenly supports consumer boycotts against such Israeli companies as Ahava, SodaStream and a list of others.

While Ameinu calls itself an “American Zionist organization” and insists it opposes boycotts of Israeli products, the ZOA points out that Ameinu began a special unit in its organization which lobbies the American and European governments to impose severe financial and travel restrictions on Israel’s Finance Minister and other Israeli leaders.

Yet another objection ZOA raises to the HaTikvah slate is what ZOA describes as close involvement between PPI, Ameinu and the J Street organization. J Street has long hosted and supported many of the leading Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel groups and individuals. Despite claims of not being BDS advocates, their history and associations make clear the opposite is true.

The ZOA wants both the American Zionist Movement and the World Zionist Organization to expel PPI and Ameinu from membership, and to prevent HaTikvah from running for the World Zionist Congress. ZOA is currently a member of the AZM and the WZC, and so believes it has standing to bring this claim.

Should ZOA fail in its bid to bar the ani-Zionist slate from running, ZOA wants, at a minimum, for that group of organizations to be prevented from using the name HaTikvah. The basis for that move is that such a name, which of course evokes the Israeli national anthem, is confusing and will mislead uninformed voters who think the slate actually stands for what the words to the Israeli anthem mean, the essence of which is for Jews to be able to live freely in their ancient land.

As pointed out in ZOA’s  formal complaint filed first with the American Zionist Movement, and then with the Central Election Board, Ameinu’s  longtime director Leonard Fein called the words of the anthem HaTikvah “an insult” in a 2000 speech.

Judge Abraham Gafni of the American Zionist Movement rejected ZOA’s complaint. Gafni said that PPI, Ameinu and the HaTikvah slate were all entitled to participate in the 2015 World Zionist Congress election because they ran before and won at least one seat in the 2006 and 2010 World Zionist Congress elections.

The ZOA, however, said that fact should be irrelevant for several reasons. First of all, the BDS movement had barely gotten off the ground in 2010, and certainly in 2006. Furthermore, Ameinu’s new council seeking severe sanctions on Israeli leaders only began very recently.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/zoa-anti-zionists-should-not-be-allowed-in-world-zionist-congress/2015/01/02/

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