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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

Leftwing J Street Going After Pro-Israel Regavim’s US Tax-Exempt Status

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of leftwing, anti-Netanyahu group J Street, sent an email to his group’s supporters announcing that he is pressuring the Obama Administration to revoke the US tax-exempt status of the Israeli (and pro-Israel) NGO Regavim in response to their supposed activity against the two-state solution.

The urgent need to harm Regavim’s US donations resulted from the effective work the group has done in forcing the Israeli authorities to apply Supreme Court rulings on demolishing illegal Arab construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria. One of the recent focal points of the Regavim efforts has been the squatter camp outside the Jewish community of Susiya, which the US and the EU insist must stay put despite the fact that its existence violates every signed agreement between Israel and the PA.

Ben-Ami wrote his followers that he was shocked to discover that the “settler movements” aiming to destroy Susiya are partially funded by donations from the US — including Regavim which has systematically mapped out the Susiya shacks and lean-tos, pointing Israeli police at the precise location of structures that violate the law. Ben-Ami sees this well-organized campaign to enforce the law as a threat to a future Palestinian State, which, he believes, must some day be handed the entire area.

Ben-Ami attributes to his organization’s work behind the scenes with the US State Dept. the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Liberman have responded to international pressure and postponed the evacuation of the illegal Arab squatters until November 15.

The president of J Street shared in his email how enraged he is by the fact that groups that work against “the future of the State of Israel” and in direct defiance of US foreign policy and “perhaps” even US law, enjoy a tax-exempt status in the US, which is why J Street will continue to pressure the US government to revoke Regavim’s special status.

Should Ben-Ami be interested in learning what happened the last time the IRS has taken on a pro-Israel group, he should Google “Z Street,” a feisty organization headed by Jewish Press Online reporter Lori Lowenthal Marcus. As Lowenthal Marcus and others have reported over the past seven or so years, the IRS was “slow-rolling” discovery in lawsuits about how it slow-rolled applications by conservative non-profits in general and Z Street in particular.

In 2009, Z Street filed for 501(c)(3) status and was caught in the net of IRS targeting for groups that opposed Administration policy.

An IRS agent confirmed on the phone that Z Street’s application had been sent for special screening for groups connected with Israel. Z Street sued the IRS in 2010 for political discrimination that violated the First Amendment, and IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations Group manager Jon Waddell actually said in a December 2010 sworn declaration in federal court that the IRS flagged Z Street because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism.’”

“That’s hilarious,” wrote the Wall Street Journal last August, “since Z Street supports a country targeted by terrorism. But it also is untrue, which the Administration apparently knew before Mr. Waddell gave his statement to the court. In an October 25, 2010 internal IRS memo on the Z Street case produced in discovery, the IRS acknowledged that when Z Street’s application was being scrutinized Israel wasn’t on the list of terrorist countries, and that an agent may have been using an outdated list.”

If Jeremy Ben-Ami believes the Obama Administration is prepared to go after the tax-exempt status of yet another Zionist group — he should probably check with someone in the State Dept. Perhaps President Hillary Clinton would be inclined to alienate her Jewish voters and Israel by using the IRS for political purposes. It’s quite clear President Donald Trump won’t.

As to the self-congratulations of Ben-Ami on how he and J Street got the US and the EU to condemn Israel’s legal activities in Susiya — it stands to reason they knew all about it on their own. Why, the EU has been building illegal structures in Area C (which Regavim has successfully gotten demolished) without any help from J Street.

JNi.Media

I Stand By My critique of ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt

Monday, May 30th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem}

Jonathan Greenblatt’s response to my criticism of his embrace of J Street, alleging that I distorted his message, is disingenuous and reaffirms my assessment.

Invoking clichés “that there are steps Israel can take to ensure the viability of a two-state solution” are ill-becoming the head of a major Jewish organization whose contact with Israel has been minimal. It only serves to encourage U.S. President Barack Obama and the heads of other governments to intensify pressure against us. Greenblatt is surely aware that there is a consensus in Israel supporting immediate separation from the Palestinians, but also a recognition that further unilateral concessions in the absence of a genuine peace partner would endanger our security.

Greenblatt explicitly condemned Jews who deny the rights of “marginalized Palestinians” and fail to recognize the legitimacy of “the Palestinian narrative.” When he condemned “those who place blame on one side instead of putting forward solutions that acknowledge the role and responsibility of both sides”, he provided grist for the propaganda mills of those applying moral equivalence to Israelis and the Palestinians sanctifying terrorism and bent on our destruction. Greenblatt now reiterates (as I initially stated) that in his address to J Street, he also made remarks supporting Israel and condemning anti-Semitism. So what?

Jewish communists, the antecedents of J Street, also described themselves as “pro-peace” and defended Soviet anti-Semitism while portraying themselves as “pro-Jewish.” Likewise, J Street claims to be “pro-Israel” despite raising funds to support anti-Israeli congressional candidates, lobbying the Obama administration to exert further pressure on Israel, accepting generous funding from George Soros to support the government’s appeasement of Iran, and constantly condemning the security policies of the Israeli government.

Greenblatt cannot refute this. Does he really believe that Jews whose principal objective is to undermine and demonize Israel and encourage foreign intervention should still be considered members of the mainstream of the Jewish community and included in the big tent? Would the ADL seek to address and engage in dialogue with Jews promoting racism or homophobia?

The ADL national director goes further. He endorses the Black Lives Matter movement despite its open hostility to Israel. He also laments that the viciously anti-Israeli fringe group If Not Now is denied “safe space” for discourse and has informed them that the ADL “shares your commitment to change.”

Likewise, Greenblatt claims that the J Street group he addressed comprised “deeply thoughtful college students whose commitment to Israel is genuine and whose passion on the issue is impressive.” His objective is to maintain “a true sense of community and inclusion” with them.

Setting aside the legitimacy provided to J Street when endorsed by the head of a major Jewish body, one would have expected Greenblatt to spell out realities to these youngsters rather than praising them and engaging in kumbaya. He should surely have admonished them and explained why it is utterly immoral for Diaspora Jews to publicly campaign against security-related policies with life-and-death implications endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.

Furthermore, as head of the organization whose principal mandate is to combat anti-Semitism, Greenblatt should have focused his address on emphasizing how despicable it was for students to demonize Israel while their Jewish student peers at many campuses were subjected to unprecedented waves of anti-Israeli incitement and anti-Semitism.

Instead, Greenblatt nonsensically justifies his position, stating that “disagreement and dissent are not Jewish ideas — they are Jewish ideals.” In other words, Jews who defame Israel and canvas foreign governments to intensify pressure on the Jewish state should be welcomed.

He goes one step further and says, “Whether Leibler likes it or not, these are the future leaders in our community and country.” Well, like any committed Jew, I certainly would not “like it.” And if Greenblatt endorses people sharing the views of J Street heading our community, the ADL Board would be well advised to have a serious chat with him.

With the current surge of violent global anti-Semitism which has already impacted on Jewish students at many American campuses, there is an urgent need for a powerful Jewish body dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism.

The ADL’s task is not to provide advice to Israel on security issues. Nor should it purport to speak on behalf of the Jewish community on broad social issues concerning which Jews share different opinions. It should concentrate more on Islamic terrorism rather than highlighting so-called Islamophobia, which poses far less of a problem than anti-Semitism. While it should broadly condemn all forms of discrimination, its principal role today must be to concentrate on its primary mandate, which is to combat anti-Semitism.

 

Isi Leibler

Those Poor, Confused Palestinians

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Those poor, confused Palestinians!

A new poll shows that most Palestinian Arabs say the Palestinian Authority (which rules over them) is to blame for their troubles, and not Israel (which stopped occupying them more than twenty years ago).

For some reason, the Palestinians refuse to toe the party line that New York Times reporters and American Jewish radicals keep feeding them.

Those reporters and radicals seem to have swallowed the myth that the Palestinians are still “occupied” by Israel, and that the Israeli “occupation” is the source of all their problems.

But those poor, confused Palestinians look around and don’t see any Israeli soldiers and therefore refuse to go along with everyone else and pretend the Israelis are still there.

The new poll was conducted by the Palestinian organization AWRAD among 1,200 Palestinian Arabs in late April. It has a margin of error of three percent.

Residents of Judea/Samaria were asked: “How do you view the overall situation in the West Bank since the appointment of the Hamdallah government in 2013?” That’s Rami Hamdallah, who became prime minister of the Palestinian Authority under chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Some 44 percent responded that things have “worsened.” So they were asked a follow-up question: “If worsened, who do you believe is responsible?”

The possible answers were “Israel,” “the Palestinian Authority,” “Hamas,” “International donors,” or “Don’t know.”

Now, if these Palestinians had been paying close attention to what their American supporters were telling them, they would have known that the “correct” answer is Israel.

Diaa Haddid, the Times’s new correspondent in Jerusalem, and Thomas Friedman, its longtime foreign affairs columnist, are constantly claiming that Israel is “occupying the Palestinians” and that Israel is responsible for whatever goes wrong in the territories.

J Street and the S. Daniel Abraham Center push the same line. And just last week, a group of American novelists, led by Michael Chabon, an outspoken Jewish critic of Israel, toured parts of Judea/Samaria in preparation for their forthcoming book on the “50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation” – you know, the occupation that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ended in 1995.

These American advocates of Palestinian statehood don’t seem to know that the Israelis withdrew in 1995 from the cities where 98 percent of the Palestinians live. But the Palestinians know it because they actually live there, and they know the Israelis are gone. They know there are no Israelis left in Ramallah. Or Bethlehem. Or Nablus (Shechem). The list goes on and on.

And because the Palestinians know they are occupied by the Palestinian Authority, most of them find it impossible to rail (to the pollster) against Israel’s nonexistent occupation.

Only 28 percent of the poll’s respondents answered that Israel is mostly to blame for their troubles. Fully 59 percent said the PA is to blame. (Five percent blamed the donors; 7 percent had no opinion.)

Oops!

Those politically incorrect poll results were particularly inconvenient for the Chabon-led gang of traveling novelists. Just last week, Chabon, a self-appointed “expert” on the situation after returning from a few days in the territories, was telling anyone who would listen about that awful Israeli “occupation” which he imagines he saw.

“The occupation [is] the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life,” he announced.

AWRAD, the aforementioned pollsters responsible for the survey, should be receiving an angry letter from Chabon’s publicist any day now. After all, if AWRAD keeps asking Palestinians simple, logical questions, there is a real danger the respondents might continue telling the truth about the Palestinian Authority occupation regime. And if they do that, sales of Chabon’s “Israeli occupation” book are likely to be meager indeed.

Michael Chabon might even be compelled to return to writing fiction – although some might say he never stopped.

Stephen M. Flatow

Biden Attacks ‘Overwhelmingly’ Frustrating Israel Hours after Bus Bombing

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden attacked time and again the Netanyahu government which he said causes the White House “overwhelming frustration,” in a speech at the leftwing J Street organization’s annual gala dinner on Monday. “The present course Israel’s on is not one that’s likely to secure its existence as a Jewish, democratic state— and we have to make sure that happens,” Biden said.

Biden recalled his recent meetings with both Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas, concluding that “there is at the moment no political will that I observed among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations. The trust that is necessary to take risks for peace is fractured on both sides.”

According to Politico, the tone and direction of that Biden reference and his overall speech “seemed to rule out the chances of a final year peace push from the Obama administration.” Perhaps.

Biden acknowledged the attack on a Jerusalem bus by Arab terrorists that took place on the same day he was sharing his frustrations regarding the Netanyahu government’s lack of willingness to pursue the two-state solution. Biden condemned the bombing, saying it had been done by “misguided cowards.” He offered prayers to the injured and their families. Which is probably more realistic at this point than anything else the administration could do to promote its goals in the region. That should be frustrating indeed.

Biden began his speech with praise for another guest of honor, young, first-term MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Camp – Labor), who reminded him, he said, of the time he had run for the Senate at the age of 29. “May your views once again begin to have a majority opinion in the Knesset,” Biden said.

Not likely. In fact, if Labor ever wants to be a contender in Israeli coalition politics, it’ll have to move to the center—as the majority of its members have been advocating—which could mean the dropping of needless indulgences like Shaffir.

Towards the end, Biden said, “We are Israel’s maybe not-only friend, but only absolutely certain friend.” That statement will be tested in November, after the elections, when the US Administration will have to decide whether or not to veto a UN Security Council resolution unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.

JNi.Media

Pro-Israel Bona Fides at Issue in Lawsuit Between Jewish School and Parents

Friday, February 26th, 2016

North Carolina is currently the site of one of the saddest public chapters of Jews and Jewish institutions turning on each other.

A family left a Jewish day school because the school is not pro-Israel and instead harbors wildly anti-Israel administrators and teachers. In turn, the school insists it is pro-Israel and that the parents, who departed before the school year began, should have paid the full year’s tuition for their two children, as they were required under the contract they signed.

The school is suing the parents for breach of contract.

The parents, confident that they were justified, turned to the media to draw attention to what they see as a shanda: a Jewish school employing anti-Israel agitators. The school in turn has enlisted the other Jewish communal organizations in the area, as well as parents and parents of alumni, to publicly defend the school and criticize the defecting family.

Ugly does not begin to cover it.

The Lerner School (until very recently the Sandra E. Lerner Jewish Community Day School) brought its breach of contract claim against Dr. Guy and Sloan Rachmuth in North Carolina state district court, located in Durham.

Much has already been written about this battle, including at FrontPage and, more recently at JNS.

The motivating factor which led the Rathmuchs to withdraw their children from the school before the start of term in 2014 was their realization that the school is not, as they had been promised, pro-Israel.

Local Jewish communal leaders responded by claiming that from their personal experience, that claim is false, almost laughably so. But this is no laughing matter.

One of the strongest voices in this chorus of Lerner School support comes from Rabbi Larry Bach of Judea Reform Congregation, which is located on the same campus as the Lerner School. Bach explained that it has an “ongoing partnership with Lerner, which includes “sharing space and resources.”

On Feb. 17, Rabbi Bach wrote a letter to his Judea Reform congregants in support of the Lerner School position. That letter has been distributed beyond the congregation, as testament to the Lerner School’s pro-Israel bona fides. He wrote that he was “incredulous at the charges leveled against the school,” and that “nothing that I’ve seen of the school comports with the story being told by its detractors.”

He also wrote:

My brief experience is nothing compared to the connections many of you have. Judea Reform members are proud parents and former parents, founders, teachers and administrators, and benefactors. We at JRC are proud of our ongoing partnership with Lerner, which manifests in sharing space and resources, and in other ways, big and  small. I look forward to a deepening relationship with Lerner, both personally and between our two institutions, in the years ahead.

Just a reminder: the Rachmuths serious disagreement with the Lerner School was that it was not supportive of Israel, and that instead its position towards Israel, as evidenced by its hiring of anti-Israel faculty and members its own administration, made it an environment in which their children could not be educated. The basis of the family’s counterclaim against the school is for “unfair and deceptive trade practices,” based on promises made by the school specifically about its pro-Israel positions.

So it is relevant to consider what goes on in the Jewish congregation next door, which has a “partnership” with Lerner, including “sharing space and resources, and in other ways, big and small,” specifically regarding Israel.

A quick scan of the temple’s speakers and presentations brings one up short. The Judea Reform website reveals a particular orientation regarding Israel, but it isn’t close to what either Lerner is claiming or what the Rachmuths were allegedly promised by its school partner. In fact, every topic that has anything to do with Israel is one-sided against the Jewish State.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Will Bernie Give Israel Heartburn?

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Fairly late into this primary season, the now Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders posted a section on his campaign website about his Jewishness and his views on the Israel-Arab conflict. But that website does not reveal that Sanders’ Middle East advisers include a vitriolic critic of Israel and an organization whose driving goal for the Arab-Israel conflict is to immediately create a Palestinian State and Israel’s security be damned.

Sanders forthrightly considers himself Jewish, although he is not religious and he is married to a Catholic woman, whose children he considers his own. Much of Sanders’ father’s family was murdered in the Holocaust.

According to a partially animated video on Sanders’ website, the Arab-Israel conflict is not about ideology, it is about land.

Sanders states he is firmly in favor of a two state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he believes that both the Israeli and the Palestinian people want to live together in peace, and that “Israel has a right to exist in security,” and at the same time the “Palestinians should have a land of their own.”

Sanders was an early supporter of the Nuclear Iran Deal, calling it a “victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.”

Sanders distinguishes between Hamas’ tactics and the Palestinians, and has supported U.S. legislation that provides aid for Palestinians. Similarly, Bernie distinguishes between Israel and its government. Although he is supportive of the State of Israel, he is “not a great fan” of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his tactics to address issues in the Middle East region.

Sanders has condemned “— and sees as a barrier to peace — the terrorist actions of Hamas, including their practice of firing rockets into houses and urban centers.” He has also called Israel’s attacks on Palestinians “reprehensible,” particularly in the context of “Israel being the occupying power in the conflict.”

In what was clearly a deeply uncomfortable moment for Sanders, a reporter asserted that he had “dual citizenship with Israel.” Sanders emphatically stated that although he visited Israel several times, he was only a citizen of the U.S.

Sanders spent some time in the 1960s on a socialist kibbutz in northern Israel with his first wife. According to the New York Times, Sanders lived at Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim, a Hashomer Hatzair youth movement kibbutz, established in pre-state Israel in 1935. The kibbutz “saw the Soviet Union as a model, and often flew the red flag at outdoor events.”

SANDERS’ PROBLEMATIC MIDDLE EAST ADVISORS

Sanders’ website certainly aims to give the impression that the presidential candidate evenly supports the rights of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, a recent report in the Washington Free Beacon revealed a troubling fact.

When asked who are Sanders’ advisors on the Middle East, the answer was Arabist James Zogby, the faux pro-Israel organization J Street, and former assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence J. Korb, a strong proponent of the Nuclear Iran Deal.

J Street consistently favors candidates and positions which denigrate Israel, and its primary goal for the Middle East is the immediate creation of a Palestinian State.

Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute, who just days ago posted a column on Washington Watch, entitled “Silencing Critics of Israel.” The First line of that piece reads:

Israel doesn’t accept criticism. In fact, whether from friend or foe, even mild criticism is viewed as an existential threat prompting Israeli officials to unleash a torrent of abuse in an effort to silence and/or punish critics. And given new initiatives being rolled out in Israel and here is the US, by Congress and some state legislatures, this effort to silence critics is endangering free speech and the search for peace.

Later in this column, Zogby actually attacks the Obama administration for bending over backwards to appease Jews, by adopting what he considers an aggressively broad definition of anti-Semitism, which he charges amounts to an assault on free speech and will deny people the right “to peacefully organize and act to affect change in Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian lands.”

Zogby then slams Israelis for whining about a “double standard” against Israel, when, he claims, they attempt to create a world in which it is only “Israel which would be singled out as the only country that cannot be criticized.”

Sounds like Sanders might give Israel heartburn.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Here’s an Easy Way to Find Out if Your Congress Member is Actually Pro-Israel

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Last spring and summer, many pro-Israel Americans were shocked to find out that their own congressional representatives, despite claiming to be pro-Israel, pledged to support the Nuclear Iran Deal.

We know how that went – nearly all Democrats in Congress either readily agreed to abandon their commitment to global – and especially Israel’s – security, or succumbed to enormous pressure and ultimately caved, claiming the Nuclear Iran Deal, while not perfect, was worthy of their support.

Many members of Congress — unable to say with a straight face that the Iran deal was actually “good” — twisted themselves into pretzels trying to justify a position supporting the agreement. Given the high priority assigned to the Iran Deal by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as emblematic of their political legacies, the pressure to fall in line on this vote must have been staggering.

But now there is another chance for elected federal officials to demonstrate their pro-Israel bona fides, one with much lower stakes for the administration, although that won’t stop it from lobbying against the proposed measure.

In this case it would be hard to understand how a legislator who claims to be pro-Israel could justify any position other than support for the bill introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), on Monday, Feb. 1. That is, unless one is comfortable with being cast as hostile to Israeli Jews and more favorably disposed to Palestinian Arabs.

PROPOSED BILL TO UNDO THE U.S. ANTI-ISRAEL LABELING LAW

The proposed measure, S.2474, was introduced to override this Administration’s latest stealth anti-Israel move: a promise to start strictly enforcing a nearly 20 year administrative agency regulation — never enforced until now, and with good reason — that bans the use of the word “Israel” to denote the source of origin for products produced in the disputed territories: Judea and Samaria (as those areas are called by those interested in  historical accuracy).

The areas are referred to, and the labeling permitted, as the “West Bank” and “Gaza” by those so hell-bent on enforcing a Two State Solution they are willing to overlook the fact that there is not as yet any state of Palestine, nor is the West Bank any more real a “country of origin” notation for the area in dispute than is Israel.

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Cotton’s bill would amend the underlying statute to incorporate what the 1997 regulation allowed, that is, the designation for “West Bank” and “Gaza,” but it would also permit the designation of “Israel” for items produced in Jewish communities in those areas. What it accomplishes, is throwing out a regulation – something decided upon by administrative agencies, not elected officials – and instead incorporates the myriad regulations into comprehensive, and more balanced, legislation.

The bill was referred on Monday to the Senate Finance Committee.

BUT WHERE ARE THE CO-SPONSORS?

So far, only a pitifully small number of U.S. senators care enough about Israel to attach their names to this legislation which is merely an effort to prevent the U.S. from enforcing a boycott against Israeli goods, and every one who has stood up for Israel so far is a Republican.

As of Thursday, Feb. 4, three co-sponsors have joined on to the bill, in addition to Cotton, who is the original sponsor. Those three are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

People have been claiming for some time that the Democratic party has abandoned Israel. So far, at least with respect to S.2474, that’s true, although it’s also true that not many Republicans have as yet signed on either.

Unless legislators hear from their constituents, they may think this issue is unimportant. Israel certainly does not think so. Neither should pro-Israel Americans.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/heres-an-easy-way-to-find-out-if-your-congress-member-is-actually-pro-israel/2016/02/05/

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