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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Emergency Committee for Israel’

U.S. Jewish Left Urging Bibi to ‘Make Painful Sacrifices’

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Some American Jews have a lot of chutzpah.

A gaggle of 100 mostly former heads of centrist to left-leaning American Jewish organizations – almost none of which represents an actual constituency – sent a finger-wagging letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on April 3, urging him to, in the wake of U.S. president Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East, “respond to President Obama’s call for peace.”

It’s a good thing President Obama has a Jewish echo chamber, or who knows if the Israeli government would ever realize it needs to think about peace.

Virtually none of Netanyahu’s new pen pals have extensive foreign policy or military experience, or have devised anything approaching a successful policy-making and peace-stabilizing initiative.  But that didn’t stop these civilian Americans from telling Israel’s elected leader to take “concrete confidence building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In the minds of Netanyahu’s latest pen pals, Israel might – under the “guidance of Secretary of State John Kerry” – be able to “devise pragmatic initiatives” which would (finally?) “represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”

Less than 24 hours after the letter was sent to the Israeli prime minister, another one was sent and widely distributed.  This letter was written by the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel, the “pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community” – a quip uttered by William Kristol, editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard, and head of ECI.

The pro-Israel letter takes a much more humble approach towards its intended recipient, while bristling at the audacity of the finger-waggers’ letter.

It’s puzzling to us why a small group of American Jews believes it is appropriate to demand ‘painful territorial sacrifices’ of Israelis, when those issuing the demand will not experience the pain, or be compelled to sacrifice anything, should their advice prove foolish – as it has so many times in the past.

When asked about the impetus for their letter, Noah Pollak, ECI’s executive director, told The Jewish Press, “They might exhibit a little more humility and caution. Even if we accept the premise that all the signatories are actually leaders of the American Jewish community, how does that make them qualified, and give them standing, to issue foreign policy directives to the State of Israel?”

The ECI letter draws a clear line between Jewish non-Israelis who state their views about what kind of policies Israel should pursue, which is perfectly acceptable, and the kind of demands made in the finger-wagging letter: “We, too, have strong opinions on the peace process – but one thing we never presume to do is instruct our friends in Israel on the level of danger to which they should expose themselves.”

So who are some of these finger-wagging ersatz foreign policy advisers?  They read like a veritable who’s who…who? The claim to fame of nearly all of them is that they are wealthy individuals with strong connections to the Israel Policy Forum.  Nearly a third of the signers are either on the board of directors or on the advisory council of the IPF, which is sometimes referred to as the “old man’s J Street.”

Few who signed the IPF letter are famous for their policy acumen, and though only one is an actual felon, none have been responsible for the safety of a tiny nation surrounded by genocidal enemies.  But somebody must have been involved in Middle East peace process work, perhaps Israel’s leadership could benefit from their advice.

Oh, there’s Tom Dine – he’s someone whose name always pops up on letters like these.  Dine is almost always, at least in gatherings intended to suggest a broad range of political diversity, identified as a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

But much more recently than Dine’s AIPAC tenure, which ended 20 years ago, Dine has been busy peddling a kind of foreign policy initiative for peace in the Middle East, the focus of which was not Israel’s security, but instead was that of a different tiny nation in the vast Middle East as the lynchpin for peace.  That country was Syria.

Since 2007, Dine has been the senior adviser for Search for Common Ground‘s US-Syria program.  Common Ground’s  goal is “to transform the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving.”

Although Dine signed the letter advocating Israeli concessions in order to entice the Arab Palestinians back to the negotiating table, it was not long ago that he was insisting there was absolutely no chance for a bilateral resolution to the Middle East conflict.

At the far left J Street’s annual conference in February, 2011, Dine was adamant that there was no possibility for achieving a bilateral peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  Instead, he was heavily advocating a regional peace plan, one which “had to pass through Syria.”  Double oops.

Dov Zakheim, another finger wagging pen pal, is on the board of Common Ground. Zakheim is the only other pen pal whose name is at least familiar to the foreign policy crowd.  Zakheim had extensive stints in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, primarily overseeing budgets for defense spending.

One of the 19 women who signed the letter is Susie Gelman.  Gelman is the past president of the Washington D.C. Federation and, with her husband Michael, will serve as co-chair of the 2013 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.  Another leader in the Federation world is Marcia Riklis who is both on the IPF board and is also the campaign chair of the UJA-Federation of New York.

Another former head of the New York Federation who signed the finger-wagging letter is Larry Zicklin, who was previously chairman of IPF. A former leader of the UJA, Marvin Lender, signed on, as did a former chairman of the Jewish Agency, Richard Pearlstone. Nicholas Buncl is on the IPF advisory board and was previously the chair of the New York Jewish Community Center. Several well-known and well-monied men such as Charles Bronfman, S. Daniel Abraham, Lester Crown and Stanley Gold also signed the letter.

SAME CROWD SENT A SCOLDING LETTER TO NETANYAHU LAST  SUMMER

If many of these names have begun to ring a bell, that’s because a large number of them signed another letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu just last summer.  At that time they also presumed to instruct the Israeli prime minister about how best to run his government.  That letter was sent shortly after former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy had issued a long-awaited report regarding the legality of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. The Levy Report concluded that Jewish settlement in those territories is legal; there is no “occupation” in the territories.

Those pen pals, most of whom were also Israel Policy Forum members, instructed Netanyahu to “make sure his government rejects a controversial report that denies Israel is occupying” the land west of the Jordan River.

Moshe Dann wrote a carefully researched and detailed analysis of the funding and connections behind the July, 2012 letter writers, including the IPF members and the others in the larger leftist Jewish community, one that often seems more committed to the creation of a Palestinian State than they are concerned about the consequences such a creation would pose for the security of Israel.

As Dann pointed out in his article, very few of those who signed the  letter could have even read the report, as it was only in Hebrew at that time.  But an inability to read the Levy Report had no bearing on whether or not to criticize it, and the different Jewish organizations of the left, which include not only IPF, but the further left Center for American Progress,  Peter Beinart, and the New America Foundation, all seem to share members and funders.

“The difference between their letter and ours,” ECI’s Pollak offered as a final observation regarding the two U.S. letters sent to Netanyahu, “is that the prime minister might actually read ours.”

The Second American Letter to Netanyahu

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Recently, a group of American Jews, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ); Rabbi David Ellenson, President of the URJ’s Hebrew Union College and Jewish Institute of Religion; Rabbi Eric Yoffie, previous URJ head; and Rabbi David Saperstein of the URJ’s Religious Action Center, signed a letter to Israel’s PM Netanyahu. Joining them were several prominent Jewish philanthropists, academics and liberal politicians.

The letter lauds President Obama’s ‘leadership’ for helping to bring about Netanyahu’s apology to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara affair, which I and others believe to be a disastrous mistake.

And — almost incredibly, given the recent history of Israeli withdrawals and concessions answered only by war, terrorism and further demands — the letter has the chutzpah to call for Israel to make “painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”

This point of view may have made sense thirty years ago, but the world, as they say, has moved on, with the rise of Hamas and its violent takeover of Gaza, the second Intifada, the 2006 Lebanon war and consequent re-arming of Hizballah, the abrogation of the Oslo accords by the PLO, the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Iranian nuclear program, the civil war in Syria … need I go on?

As always, the letter fallaciously conflates actual peace with the signing of a ‘peace’ agreement between Israel and the PLO and concomitant  concessions and withdrawals by Israel.

The endorsement of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination in America, placed on this piece of obsequious stupidity is not surprising, considering that Rabbi Jacobs was an activist in the phony ‘pro-Israel’ group J Street as well as the New Israel Fund before being selected to head the URJ. Yet again the liberal Jewish establishment demonstrates that support for President Obama trumps concern for Israel’s survival.

The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), a conservative advocacy group which supports U.S. political candidates and policies favorable to Israel, put it remarkably well in its own letter to Netanyahu, which I reproduce here:

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

We know you don’t need our advice on how to handle the peace process – but given the decision by a group of self-described American Jewish leaders to call for you to make “painful territorial sacrifices,” we felt it appropriate to convey our own thoughts on the matter.

Be assured that they don’t speak for us or for a majority of Americans. We not only question the wisdom of their advice, we question their standing to issue such an admonition to a democratically-elected prime minister whose job is not to assuage the political longings of 100 American Jews, but to represent – and ensure the security of – the Israeli people.

Indeed, it’s puzzling to us why a small group of American Jews believes it appropriate to demand “painful territorial sacrifices” of Israelis, when those issuing the demand will not experience the pain, or be compelled to sacrifice anything, should their advice prove foolish – as it has so many times in the past. We affirm the words of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, who recently asked an American Jewish audience to “respect the decisions made by the world’s most resilient democracy.”

The “American Jewish leaders” who deign to advise you today are largely the same leaders who rarely, if ever, demand “painful sacrifices” of Palestinian leaders – or even demand that they come to the negotiating table, which they have refused to do in any meaningful way since 2008. From the safety of America, in the past they have recommended trusting Yasser Arafat, dividing Jerusalem, surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria, and withdrawing from territory that today is controlled by Iranian-backed terrorist groups.

Before rushing to issue new recommendations, we suggest that these oracles of bad advice might pause to reflect on the wisdom of the recommendations they’ve already made.

We, too, have strong opinions on the peace process – but one thing we never presume to do is instruct our friends in Israel on the level of danger to which they should expose themselves.

We trust, of course, that you are under no misapprehensions about any of this. But we felt it important that you heard from a mainstream voice in addition to the predictable calls from a certain cast of American activists for more Israeli concessions.

Sincerely,

William Kristol
Rachel Abrams
Gary Bauer
Noah Pollak
Michael Goldfarb

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More Dumb and Dumbest from Chuck Hagel (Video)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Today the Emergency Committee for Israel released “Confusion,” a web ad highlighting Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s confused response at last week’s hearing to questions about the Obama administration’s Iran policy.

During his confirmation hearing on Thursday, Hagel could not explain — despite repeated attempts — the administration’s policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Instead, Hagel first said he supported the president’s policy of “containment,” i.e. containing Iran after it acquires nuclear weapons. Then, attempting to correct himself, he said the administration “takes no position” on containment. Finally, Senator Levin was forced to explain to Hagel that “we do not favor containment.”

ECI’s executive director, Noah Pollak, said: “Is it too much to ask that the nominee for Secretary of Defense understands the policy of the Obama administration on the single most important national security challenge facing the United States?”

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Jewish Response to Hagel Nomination Tepid to Furious

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

As expected, yesterday, January 6, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB) for the position of Secretary of Defense.

The confirmation process ahead may be a bruising one, although many in the mainstream and “progressive” media are trying to paint the tepid announcements and refusals by centrist Jewish groups to officially oppose Hagel for the position as akin to a hecksher.  But not so fast.

In a Twitter world occupied by liberal media-types, the same people repeatedly retweeted each other’s statements with tepid comments about Hagel’s acceptability to Jewish Democrats, in an effort to create the appearance of a groundswell.

In what amounted to news for some,  Jewish organizations widely viewed as almost entirely peopled by Democrats issued statements harshly criticizing Hagel’s positions and statements on Israel and on Jews, but refraining from directly confronting their party leader by officially opposing the Hagel nomination.

For example, the press release issued by the Anti-Defamation League was a study in pretzel-twisting.  While recounting the many reasons why the ADL is unhappy about the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, the organization pulls back at the brink and does not  officially oppose the nomination.  Here’s part of their release:

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:

Senator Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect the President’s prerogative.

I trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for Senator Hagel to address concerns about his positions, which seem so out of sync with President Obama’s clear commitment on issues like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and Hezbollah and the president’s strong support for a deepening of U.S. Israel strategic cooperation.

I particularly hope Senator Hagel will clarify and explain his comments about the “Jewish Lobby” that were hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.

The League previously expressed concerns with the Senator’s record on Israel and Iran, and said of his record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship that it was “at best disturbing and at worst, very troubling,” citing his remarks about the Jewish lobby and his voting record on Israel and Iran.

It seems as though the best most pro-Israel leaders who are reluctant to cross President Obama on his “prerogative,” were willing to do was to downplay the policy-making role of secretary of defense.  The National Jewish Democratic Council, which had also publicly criticized Hagel’s positions on Israel in the past, was willing to rely on their great faith in President Obama’s support and concern for Israel to let the Hagel nomination pass without an objection.  The NJDC statement:

“President Barack Obama’s unprecedented pro-Israel credentials are unquestionable, and setting policy starts and stops with the president. While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, former Sen. Chuck Hagel will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel — on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”

Israeli media sang from the same hymnal as Israel Channel 2′s foreign news editor, Arad Nir, pointed out, “Obama is still the commander-in-chief.”  That was unlikely to be much comfort for those for whom President Obama’s policies are a source of concern.

On the other side of the journalistic political spectrum, the Emergency Committee for Israel pulled off a coup worthy of the Merry Pranksters of the 1960′s, but 21st Century style.  ECI had obtained the domain name ChuckHagel.Com.  If you click the link you are taken to a website which provides information about the former Senator on various issues of importance including Iran, Israel, Syria, public statements made by politicians, both Republican and Democratic.  As the headline of the website clearly shows, ECI believes the information on the site shows that  Hagel is “not a responsible option” for the position of Secretary of Defense.

When Obama, a Democrat, announced Hagel’s nomination this morning, he said that his selection of a Republican “represents the bipartisan tradition that we need more of in Washington.”

Republicans roared back.

“He has long severed his ties with the Republican Party,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday. Graham called the selection “an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel.”  Sen. John Conryn (R-TX) has already said he will vote against Hagel’s nomination, and predicted that many Republicans would join him in voting against Hagel.  “Some of Sen. Hagel’s positions would either render America weaker or create ambiguity in regard to our role in maintaining security and peace,” said Conryn.

J Street Boasting of Defeating Israel’s Friends, But its Relevance Is Questionable

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Given the large election majority received by President Obama and many other of their favored candidates, a reasonable morning-after position for a group such as J Street would be one of quiet satisfaction, or even – why not? – gleeful rejoicing.

But J Street, which has rarely met a critic of Israel it didn’t like, instead tried to promote itself as an integral part of the campaign, a driving wind propelling Democratic victories. So eager to claim a starring role, J Street released details of several exit polls they commissioned which, upon examination, tell far more about how little J Street matters.

But first, to refresh your memory regarding the quality of candidates supported by J Street:

In the Wisconsin race for U.S. Senator, the Democratic contender, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, defeated former Wisconsin governor Republican Tommy Thompson. Although Israel was not much of an issue in the race, the Emergency Committee for Israel, a staunchly pro-Israel organization with conservative political roots, aired an ad attacking what they called Baldwin’s anti-Israel position during her congressional career.

ECI said Baldwin was “nothing less than hostile to the U.S.-Israel alliance. She has accused Israel of war crimes, befriended anti-Israel groups, refused to sign bipartisan letters of support for Israel, and defended the libelous Goldstone Report.”

Yes, that was J Street’s candidate in that race.

J Street supported Cheri Bustos in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, and she defeated Republican Bobby Schilling. Unlike Baldwin, Bustos has nothing whatsover to say about foreign policy. Her issues are jobs, the economy, Medicare and Social Security, and the second Amendment. But in losing Schilling, Israel has lost a great friend in Congress, with a 0 rating by the Arab American Institute.

There goes another J Street-targeted friend of Israel.

And, as was to by expected, J Street threw their support behind the CAIR and Hamas man in Washington, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. He is a regular at CAIR fundraisers and pro-Hamas rallies. A former member in Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, Ellison has also participated, later in life, in interfaith dialogue (mostly with Reform rabbis). Even if we were to discard past accusations of Antisemitism and his defense of Farrakhan – what business does a Jewish PAC have supporting him?

J Street also supported Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, one of the most widely recognized anti-Israel members of Congress. With a +3 rating by the Arab American Institute, Dingell voted No on withholding US contributions until the UN retracts accusations of Israeli war crimes, on opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and Absent on a bill to ensure that United States taxpayer dollars are not used to fund terrorist entities in Lebanon. What point is J street making by giving him PAC money, and why are they so happy he won?

LITTLE ACTUAL INFLUENCE

The above short list demonstrates rather well J Street’s agenda in these elections, but the fact that candidates they supported have won does not mean that the organization’s contribution actually got them over the threshold.

J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, boasted in an email sent out to thousands with the subject line “Astounding! J Street Goes 71 for 70 on Election Day,” but with respect to Jewish voters—whom J Street claims it represents, and whom it is trying to persuade—in very few of the campaigns in which it contributed heavily did the Jewish voters who were in play make a difference.

In an upstate New York race, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) was defeated by the man she herself had defeated two years ago, Dan Maffei. J Street backed Maffei, but the hot issue in that race was abortion, not Israel. Maffei successfully tied Buerkle to Missouri’s Republican contender for Senator Todd Akin, notorious for his unfortunate “legitimate rape” comment.

In Florida, Republican Rep. Allen West was defeated by Patrick Murphy in an extremely tight race. West was redistricted out of his comfortable seat, and Israel was far down on the list of issues on which Murphy focused.

In Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth defeated sitting Congressman Joe Walsh. Walsh is an ardent Israel supporter, but the district they battled over is a majority Democratic one, and Duckworth had received the endorsement of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The focus of her attention was energy, the economy and education – not Israel.

And in Ohio, where Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown handily won over his upstart Republican challenger Josh Mandell, a New York Times editorial written by Mitt Romney back in 2oo8 probably did more to defeat any Ohio Republican challenger for office in 2012. In this state, second only to Michigan for auto-related employment, Romney’s opposition to the automobile industry bailout and his op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” was just too much of a kick in the home state face to overcome. Even though what Romney actually called for was a re-structuring of the car companies, a “managed bankruptcy,” the details were swept away while the headline hung there and hanged the Republicans.

It is clear that J Street’s role in this year’s election was basically irrelevant, and certainly far humbler than its own superlative: “astounding.” While revealing just how unabashedly anti-Israel their choices are, Ben-Ami et al simply have not demonstrated that they mobilized the Jewish vote in a direction it wasn’t already following.

DISMAYING POLL RESULTS

The Republican Jewish Coalition also released poll results, in which they tracked the same few Jews, in virtually the same ways, and received pretty much the same results.

In the broadest terms: Obama won. He won big amongst Jews. No argument from either group. According to the RJC, Romney received just under 32 percent of the votes cast by Jews, according to J Street, Romney received 30%. Not such a big difference.

Where the information and the analysis did begin to differ, was in determining whether there was a significant decrease in Jews voting for Obama this election, versus 2008. While most agreed that Barack Obama received approximately 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008, J Street is now claiming that a more recent calculation revised that number downwards to 74%. With the four fewer percentage points in 2008, and a two point lower estimate in 2012, the differences become more significant.

If, as the RJC claims, there was a 10% increase in Jews voting for the Republican presidential candidate, which amounts to a 50% gain (22% of American Jews cast their vote for McCain in 2008, and 32% of American Jews cast their vote for Romney in 2012), that reflects a recognizable and significantly growing trend, albeit with only two data points.

If you accept J Street’s sudden revision of historic facts, claiming that a greater percentage of Jews cast their votes for the Republican candidate in 2008, and, consequently, that somewhat fewer Jews voted for Romney this time around, the loss of Jewish voters to the Democratic candidate becomes only four percentage points, which means that over the lifetime of Obama’s “blocking back,” J Street, there have not been nearly as many Jews jumping from the Democrats’ ship.

Either way, of course, far fewer Jews cast their votes for President Obama this time around, and either way, of course, President Obama remains in office for four more years.

First, the information provided by the exit polls paints an alarming picture, even without looking at whom the respondents chose.

For Jewish Press readers, there’s a frightening picture that calls out for action: American voting Jews don’t care all that much about Israel, and they really don’t care about Israel’s number one concern: Iran.

The J Street and the RJC polls asked the question slightly differently, but either way, only about 10% of American Jews consider Israel to be an issue that drives their voting decisions (J Street poll), and for more than 21% Israel is of no importance in making the decision for whom to vote (RJC poll). To look on the bright side, slightly more than 75% consider Israel to be either very important (30.2%) or somewhat important (46.3%). But still, we are talking about Jews here, not the general public.

The denominational breakdown between the two polls is of vital interest: 11.9% of the RJC poll respondents identified as Orthodox and 31.1% identified as Conservative, while only 10% of the J Street poll respondents identified as Orthodox and 27% identified as Conservative. In both polls the largest denomination was the Reform movement.

Only the RJC poll asked about synagogue attendance, but the responses there were interesting. Slightly more than 25% of those answering the poll claimed they attend synagogue almost every day or once a week, but 13.9% said they never attend, and nearly 2% refused to answer the question.

One quirky finding is who received high favorability ratings. President Obama garnered a 60% favorability rating, the second highest of those included in the question (Bill Clinton received the highest). But Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a 59% rating, beating even Vice President Joe Biden, who came in with a 54% rating. And DNC Chair Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a 46% favorability rating — that’s far below any of the other Democrats, Netanyahu, or the Democratic Party as a whole.

Although Iran and Israel are not significant voting issues for American Jews, fewer than half of those polled think that sanctions and diplomacy as tools for dealing with Iran’s nuclear race should be given more time, and a full 35% think those methods have failed.

The RJC poll asked about respondents’ understanding of Barack Obama’s attitude towards Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Nearly 45% believe Barack Obama is more pro-Israel, 22.8% more pro-Palestinian, and 17.4 believes he is neutral, while a full 15.3 either refused to answer the question or said they did not know.

So, strangely enough, while J Street cannot show serious influence in this election, essentially cheering races that would have been won without them – the overall picture emerging from the polls of Jewish voters’ attitudes are an icy shower to American Jews with traditional Jewish values.

Yori Yanover contributed to this article.

Obama Campaign Enlisting Support from Radical, Anti-Israel Rabbis

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

According to Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, President Obama’s attitude towards Jewish voters is astonishing.

Speaking to The Jewish Press, Pollak said, “the Rabbis for Obama group, which includes Jews who are amongst the most hostile to Israel anywhere in America, underscores the lack of seriousness with which they take their effort to convince pro-Israel voters that this president is pro-Israel.”

Earlier this week the Obama campaign announced the formation of a Rabbis for Obama group which includes rabbis from nearly 40 states. In heralding the formation of the group, Ira Forman, the Obama campaign’s Jewish outreach director said in a  news release that these “rabbis represents a broad group of respected Jewish leaders from all parts of the country. These rabbis mirror the diversity of American Jewry.”

Not exactly.

It’s not just that the list is heavily dominated by politically liberal rabbis from non-traditional denominations, but, as many have pointed out, there is a large number of rabbis on the list who are in the forefront of organized efforts to delegitimize Israel.

For example, almost a third of the rabbinical council of the radical-left, anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace are members of Rabbis for Obama, including the JVP co-chair, Rabbi Brant Rosen.  JVP is the leading advocacy group for economic terrorism against Israel.  JVP promotes the Boycotting of Israeli goods; Divestment of stocks from Israeli companies, and Sanctions against the Jewish State (“BDS”).

Rabbi Brant Rosen, who recently toured Iran with a JVP delegation (along with BDS promoter Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb), came back convinced that all the governments involved in the dispute are wrong, but, especially, “the role of the Israel lobby in the Iran issue has been nothing short of shameful.  And at times openly, brazenly disingenuous” (posted on his Shalom Rav blog).

Rabbis for Human Rights is another organization which promotes left-wing causes in the name of Judaism, and is a frequent critic of what they call Israel’s “occupation” of the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.  Nearly a dozen members of Rabbis for Obama are members of Rabbis for Human Rights, including three members of its executive committee.

To date, nothing has helped to better define Obama as the most anti-Israel president since Jimmy Carter.

The Republican Jewish Coalition issued a press release on Thursday, calling on the Obama campaign to remove what it called the “Obama Campaign’s Radical Rabbi.”  The RJC was referring to Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb.  In its release, the RJC said, “Rabbi Gottlieb has a long and troubling history, which includes dining with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being the first American rabbi to visit Tehran, and serving in an organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, which the Anti-Defamation League has called one of the ‘top ten anti-Israel groups.’”

Although the RJC only singled out Gottlieb, and only mentioned her membership in JVP in its call for the Obama campaign to reject her endorsement, there are many other anti-Israel aspects to members of the list. For one thing, Gottlieb is the initiator of the “Jewish Fast for Gaza.” This  group, which includes several other members of the rabbis for Obama list, have committed to monthly daytime fasts to “give witness to the violation of Palestinian rights.”  The language of the Fast for Gaza manifesto evokes the Yom Kippur liturgy, but with an odd twist:

Fasting is a form of lament. We mourn the death and injury of tens of thousands of people caused by Israeli enforcement of the infrastructure of occupation. We call on an end to the systematic violence described in The Goldstone Report and many other first hand accounts of occupation.

The Emergency Committee for Israel sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday, pointing out the discrepancy between the campaign’s rhetoric of support for Israel, and the inclusion of rabbis in the campaign who have “demonstrated a deep hostility to the state of Israel and a deep commitment to demonizing the Jewish state and undermining the U.S.-Israel alliance.”

The ECI’s Pollak could not understand how a presidential campaign, with hundreds on staff, apparently did not bother to check into the backgrounds of the rabbis whose names are being used to prove the president’s pro-Israel bona fides.  “It’s like they are just phoning it in,” he said.

When asked whether ECI would be content with the removal of Lynn Gottlieb from the Rabbis for Obama list, Pollak said no.

“There are clear red lines here that have been crossed by so many rabbis on this list, support for the now-repudiated anti-Israel Goldstone Report, promotion of BDS, charging Israeli leaders with war crimes, there should have been some level of concern that such anti-Israel radicals are on the list,” said Pollak, “it was clear there was none.”

President Obama’s Jewish outreach director, Ira Forman, did not respond to a request from The Jewish Press for comment, but by mid-day Thursday the Obama campaign had issued an official rejection of the criticism.

“The President’s strong support of Israel and toughest-ever actions against Iran has led rabbis from across the political spectrum to express their support for the president and have committed to seeing him reelected,” a campaign official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The President obviously does not endorse or embrace their every affiliation, action or utterance.”

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