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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Policy Forum’

Two Letters to Bibi: Congress Welcomes, Jews Warn

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Within four days last week, pro-Israel congressional leaders Cong. Brad Sherman (D-CA-30) and Cong. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05), gathered signatures from nearly 100 of their colleagues for a letter urging that a congressional invitation be extended to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The bi-partisan congressional letter called upon the leadership of the House of Representatives to invite Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of congress when he visits Washington this spring.

The letter cites the importance of inviting the leader of “our closest ally in the Middle East” to speak to congress, particularly given the widespread instability and turmoil in the region.

“Given the importance of our relationship with Israel we ask you to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a Join Session of Congress. Doing so would send a clear message of support for Israel,” the letter states.

“The strong support we have received for this initiative shows our close relationship with the State of Israel which is based on deeply shared values, as well as moral, historical and security ties,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) in a release issued on Thursday, Feb. 13.

At virtually the same time as members of congress were joining together in an effort to demonstrate support for America’s closest ally in the Middle East, another group of Americans were drafting a letter with a very different message to Netanyahu, Israel’s democratically elected leader.

JEWS LAUD KERRY’S EFFORTS; WANT NETANYAHU TO FOLLOW SUIT

This second letter was primarily drafted and signed by members of the Israel Policy Forum, a group once considered iconoclastic because it chose to follow a path that differed from the centrist American Israel Public Affairs Council.

The IPF, formed in the early 1990s, is largely indistinguishable from the newer J Street, other than that the leadership and membership of J Street is much younger. The IPF membership is not only significantly older than J Street, most are extraordinarily wealthy.  Moshe Dann wrote an informative article on the IPF membership in 2012. They have billionaires and heiresses and a felon, oh my!

The central plank of the IPF, like that of J Street, is that a “Two State Solution” to the Middle East conflict is imperative and American diplomatic strength must be deployed to push Israel to accept that policy immediately.

In keeping with that position, the IPF letter to Netanyahu on Wednesday, Feb. 12, lavishes praise on the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his “extraordinary resolve” in advancing the “efforts to pursue a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two states for two peoples.”

The IPF letter explained to Israel’s elected leader that they believe what Kerry is doing presents the best opportunity for Israel’s future.

We believe Secretary Kerry’s determined diplomatic effort offers an unprecedented opportunity to ensure Israel’s security, to enhance its prosperity, and to avoid the existential threat to the Jewish posed by bi-nationalism.

Those signing the letter express “hope” that the acting leader of the Palestinian Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, will help to advance the talks.

Describing this as being a  “pivotal moment of decision making” and a “critical juncture for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” the IPF signers implore Netanyahu “to move forward to pursue a lasting peace agreement.”

The letter is signed by 150 American Jews. Although they refer to themselves as a “cross section of American Jews,” most of them have been involved with the IPF for more than 20 years. Apparently they believe the inclusion of Professor Alan Dershowitz, a harsh critic of the boisterous J Street young bucks, gives them diversity creds.

Most recently (prior to last week’s letter) virtually the same passel of peaceniks wrote to Netanyahu in April, 2013.  That time they sent him a finger-wagging letter, imploring 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.”

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 Peace Business

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/the-peace-business.html

Anyone who has watched enough monster movies knows how hard it is to kill the monster. You can set Frankenstein on fire, stab Dracula through the chest with a wooden stake and take the Wolfman to the vet; but sooner or later they come roaring back twice as angry as ever.

The Israel Policy Forum, a left-wing group, which mated a few years ago with the Center for American Progress, has split away again to corner that booming market in Jewish organizations that hate Israel; but try to pretend not to when people are watching.

With J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Open Zion, Uri L’Tzedek and Americans for Peace Now, just to name a few, all boasting more column inches in the media than members, the revival of IPF is about as timely as opening up a bank dedicated to subprime loans. The market for Israel-bashing, like the market for underwater homes, is falling as fast as Obama’s approval ratings.

In 2008, shortly before IPF merged with CAP, it sent out a letter urging Condoleezza Rice to find a way to bring Hamas into the peace process. So far, the Israel Policy Forum has had no luck with Hamas, but it has dragged in the usual left-wing Jewish millionaires and billionaires looking to ride roughshod over Israel and the Jewish community.

Israel Policy Forum, like Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, is funded in part by Peter A. Joseph, who also serves as IPF’s president. Joseph presides over Palladium Equity Partners, the kind of private equity firm that liberals pretend to bash when it’s associated with Romney, but which they welcome when it’s associated with a lefty. Like so many other lefties with big pockets and bigger egos, Joseph’s money causes him to believe that he can hijack the Jewish community by spending money to create organizations full of fellow lefty millionaires and a few famous names with business ties to them.

The new IPF features David Avital, of the MTP Investment Group who founded Seeds of Peace. There’s hedge fund billionaire Donald Sussman, Neil Barsky of Alson Capital Partners, Lawrence Zicklin, formerly of Neuberger Berman Financial Services, and James E. Walker III, who isn’t actually Jewish, but is also an Obama donor and in the money management business. Finally there’s Marcia Riklis, the daughter of corporate raider Meshulam Riklis, and another Obama donor.

Naturally all the financial guys brought along their lawyers and Israel Policy Forum is full of them, the slimiest of whom may be Melvyn Weiss who specialized in securities class action lawsuits, pleaded guilty to kickback charges and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Weiss also had ties to Blagojevich and has been disbarred, but he’s back out of prison and back at IPF..

With all these Wall Street guys and layers, IPF looks a lot like a hostile takeover and that’s just what it is. It’s one more attempt by the Anti-Israel left to stage a hostile takeover of the Jewish community and swing the agenda their way. But it didn’t work with J Street and it won’t work with IPF.

The tycoons and lawyers have brought along some of their clients and pet “rabbis” to make the IPF look like something other than a group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires trying to forcibly set the agenda for the Jewish community. And they’re going about it in the usual way, by authoring letters to heads of state telling them what to do, because when you’re playing at that level, that’s just the sort of thing you do.

The IPF has relaunched its bid for policymaking power with a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu telling him to ignore the Levy Report, which found that Israel is not an Occupying Power, and that there is no reason to discriminate against Jewish homes in any part of Israel. The letter claims to represent a larger consensus, which it does not, despite being chock full of presidents and former presidents of Jewish organizations, who were not elected by any Jewish community, but whose paths to power were paid for, either by them or by those wealthy donors who truly control them.

Then there are a few others, like Deborah Lipstadt who occupies the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History chair at Emory U. Dorot is partnered with the far-left New Israel Fund and a number of other Anti-Israel groups. Dorot has given grants to J Street, and its assets are partly managed by Neuberger Berman Financial Services, mentioned above.

Prominent American Jews Who Are Ruled by Fear

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/07/10321/ The Israel Policy Forum (IPF) is a left-of-center group formerly associated with Clinton Administration officials, which apparently slipped into irrelevance with the eclipse of the ‘peace process’, the violence of the Second Intifada, and the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

It’s back, reconstituted under the sponsorship of philanthropist Charles Bronfman, and with some big names in the American (and American-Israeli) world behind it.

But money and names can’t change reality.

No matter how irrational the land-for-peace paradigm proves, no matter how little support there is for it among ordinary Israelis (who will have to deal with the consequences), no matter how vicious the anti-Jewish hatred spewing from PLO media, no matter how many rockets land in southern Israel, no matter how explicit the Palestinian leadership is about its desire to replace Israel with an Arab state, no matter how often the Arabs pocket concessions and immediately escalate demands, no matter how clear it is beyond any reasonable doubt that further concessions at this point will lead to war, not peace — no matter what, some people simply cannot face the brute fact that there is no possibility of peace with the Palestinian Arabs and the larger Arab world in the foreseeable future.

They have convinced themselves that yet another partition of the land of Israel (or ‘Palestine’ — whatever you want to call it) will end the conflict. It won’t. It will only damage Israel’s ability to defend herself while providing a platform for more demands. Soon we will be hearing about “Arab Haifa, Yafo and Acco,” and then perhaps “Tel Arabiyya.”

This is the lesson of recent history. This is what we have learned from what the Arabs say and from what they do. But the ideological commitment to the impossible ‘solution’ seems to override the ability to learn from events.

Here is the letter that 40 well-known (mostly) American Jews have written to Israel’s Prime Minister, under the auspices of the IPF, calling upon him to reject the report of the Levy Commission, which offered a legal opinion that Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal under international law. I’ll intersperse comments.

As strong advocates for Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings of the government commission led by Supreme Court Jurist (Ret.) Edmund Levy. We fear that if approved, this report will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.

There is no comment about whether the Levy report is correct in its legal judgment or not; only that its adoption will make it harder for Israel to cede land to the Arabs in pursuit of the imaginary ‘solution’, and that it will anger the “international community,” which, by and large, would prefer that there be no sovereign Jewish state.

It’s important to understand that the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria derives from the same source — the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine — as does the Jewish presence West of the Green Line. The line is an accidental boundary with no legal significance. Hence if the Government of Israel were to reject the report, then it could be construed as weakening the case for Jewish sovereignty anywhere. This is a far greater ‘peril’ than the loss of the two-state fantasy.

As you boldly stated in your address to the United States Congress last May, “I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.” As you said clearly, doing so is not easy. While the Jewish people indeed share a biblical connection to the lands of Judea and Samaria, you told Congress, “there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they’ll be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state.”

If Israel does give up part of the “ancestral Jewish homeland” for peace — if somehow this becomes possible, as it clearly is not today — it will be as part of a comprehensive agreement that recognizes that the Jewish people do have a right to a homeland here. Rejecting the report today implies that there is no such right, before there is even a glimmer of hope for an agreement. Insisting that we have a right to this land doesn’t preclude us from agreeing to part with some of it. And if we don’t have the right, why should we keep any of it?

Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings. We recognize and regret that the Palestinian Authority has abdicated leadership by not returning to the negotiating table. Nonetheless, our great fear is that the Levy Report will not strengthen Israel’s position in this conflict, but rather add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

This paragraph is shocking in its open admission of cowardice and assertion that appeasement is better than standing up for our rights! Never mind if it is actually legitimate for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, let’s say it’s not — so the Arabs will be empowered to demand that we expel those Jews, in the name of ‘peace’ that they will never permit us to have anyway.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/prominent-american-jews-who-are-ruled-by-fear/2012/07/17/

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