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October 6, 2015 / 23 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami Appoints Himself New American Jewish Rep

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

J Street is apparently indulging itself in a deliberate attempt to twist both the intent and words of Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks on his upcoming trip to Washington next month.

The group’s director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, writes with a Left wing bent that has in the past positioned him as one who sometimes walks the thin line separating support for the State of Israel from that for the border-free, terrorist-riddled entity endorsed as “Palestine” by the United Nations General Assembly.

And in a display ad appropriately bearing turquoise blue and black (like a bruise on the landscape) on its logo, J Street runs with the slogan, “The political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.” A graver misnomer could not be.

“Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that when he comes to Washington next month, he’ll be speaking “not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representatiave of the entire Jewish people.” I don’t know about you, but he doesn’t speak for me. Help us let his Ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, know: as an American, as a Jew – Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t speak for you.” the ad reads.

It then goes on to claim: “In the coming Israeli election, less than a quarter of Israelis will vote for him. More than half the Israeli public disapproves of his performance.

“And, here in the United States, where Jews overwhelmingly support diplomacy with Iran, the Prime Minister is deeply out of step with our community politically. “Make clear that no one person – even the Prime Minister of Israel – speaks for us all by signing our petition today.”

A link to J Street’s petition is embedded in the web campaign ad, which is also found in a “P.S.” that reminds, “Ambassador Dermer needs to hear from us.” and urges the reader to recruit “friends and family” to visit “DoesNotSpeakFor.me.”

Pretty slick. But the problem is, the statistics are really off. And Netanyahu never claimed to speak for every Jew. He said he is “representing” all Jews when he stands up to fight against the existential threat to Israel posed by anti-Semitism and Iranian nuclear technology development.

This writer wonders why Ben-Ami is picking a fight with Israel’s prime minister. In fact, it seems that over the past six weeks, everyone is picking a fight with Israel’s prime minister, and doing so with really cool, sophisticated slogans alongside. Sure looks like a well-funded fancy American-style ad campaign to me. American Jewish leaders organized to lobby Israel’s political leadership over Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress?

American Jewish heavy hitters coming out with weighty, well-thought-out statements offering sage advice to the prime minister on various ways to back out of his commitment to the Speaker of the House?

Vice President Joe Biden and a panel of top Democratic lawmakers notifying media about their plans not to attend Netanyahu’s speech to Congress?

A boycott on meetings with Netanyahu when he arrives in Washington by the White House, the State Department and all the rest of the U.S. top leadership, casually brushed off by President Barack Obama as “protocol” since the Israeli elections follow two weeks later?

Leaks to international media about meetings at the Munich Security Conference between Israeli opposition leader, Labor party chairman Isaac Herzog and a host of top leaders – including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and European Union foreign policy chief Federico Mogherini among them?

Not to mention frequent references by the U.S. president to his differences with Netanyahu on the “Iran issue” and most recently – yesterday, in fact – an outright plea not to “sour” a deal with Iran on its nuclear development activities under discussion between Tehran, the U.S. and world powers.

V15 – Look Who is Behind the New US Democratic-Style Campaign in Israel

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

There’s a new grassroots, door-to-door knocking, community organizing style campaign effort that just landed in Israel. It’s focused on hoping for change and changing for hope and taking-the-street-to-the-street style shake it up electioneering.

Flying in to run the show is none other than Jeremy Bird. The same Bird who was the deputy national campaign director and then national campaign director for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, respectively.

The new outfit is called V15 (as in Victory 2015), and it is a project of something called OneVoice, which is itself a program of the PeaceWorks Network, a non-profit, tax-exempt entity. Really. Funding this political campaign effort.

V15 sent out a press release in which it described itself as a “a non-partisan movement founded by young adults just as the 2015 Israeli elections were announced, V15 members have set aside party affiliation to disrupt the status quo.” But just about everybody else is calling it the “Anybody but Bibi” campaign.

So who is behind this V15, in addition to Obama’s former campaigns director? Well, as we learn from J.E Dyer, over at Liberty Unyielding, when OneVoice was formed in 2003, its inaugural board of advisers included Gary Gladstein. And who is Gladstein? He used to be the chief operations officer of Soros Fund Management. As in George Soros. Doesn’t it feel as if everything really, really awful has Soros’ fingerprints somehow, someway?

OneVoice explains in its 2014 Annual Report that it is dedicated to peaceful solutions in the Middle East. This is how it describes the actions it takes to bring about change:

promoting popular resistance, state-building, and the Arab Peace Initiative, while advocating for an end to the conflict and a two-state solution along the 1967 borders.

Hmm. Something is missing there. Nothing about ending terrorism or violence or incitement.

And it’s pretty much the same view of how to “resolve” the Middle East conflict that flows out of the White House and Foggy Bottom. In Secretary of State John Kerry’s requiem for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, he cited as one of the king’s greatest contributions, that the “courageous Arab Peace Initiative that he sponsored remains a critical document for the goal we shared of two states, Israel and Palestine.” 

Making cameo appearances in the OneVoice 2014 Annual Report are both Tzippi Livni and J Street. Not quite so apolitical as it claims.

Here’s another problematic aspect of this whole V15/OneVoice/PeaceWorks Network Foundation campaign effort. What does the PeaceWorks Foundation have to say about its OneVoice project on its tax return? It describes this project as an organization which “aims to amplify the voice of the silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity. These efforts are known as the OneVoice movement.”

And on its tax form, where it is required to state the purpose of grants it makes to entities or organizations outside of the U.S., including the grants it makes to the “Middle East and Africa,” the purpose it states is “educate peace and condemn violence.”  Nothing about running a campaign field office. And how could it, given it is a 501(c)(3) entity. Where is Lois Lerner when you need her?

Finally, there is another source of information about the kinds of bedfellows the V15/OneVoice/PeaceWorks Network keeps. It is the listing it provides of its partners. Along with at least half a dozen “peace” organizations and even the UK Conservative Party, it has lots of questionable listings. Those include: Association of British Muslims, the Christian Muslim Forum, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the New Israel Fund, Yachad (the “British J Street”), Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East, the UK Labour Party and Labour Friends of Israel.

"partner" of V15's parent organization

“partner” of V15’s parent organization

Their partners also include the European Commission and the U.S. Department of State.

There will be much more to come on V15.

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.

UK Jews Invited British J Street Into its Inner Sanctum

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Yachad, the United Kingdom’s version of J Street, has just been admitted into the official inner sanctum of British Jewry, the Board of Deputies.

The Board of Deputies is a rough equivalent of the much longer named Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. That organization rejected J Street’s bid for admission late last spring. The BoD  has many more member organizations, although each represents a much smaller total number of Jews than does the American counterpart.

Officially the BoD describes itself as “the voice of British Jewry: a cross-communal, democratic, grassroots organization, and thus the authoritative first port of cal for Government, media and others seeking to understand Jewish community  interests and concerns.”

Every single synagogue and Jewish communal organization in England is entitled to name a deputy to the BoD. There are close to 300 members. The question voted on was whether to admit Yachad as one of those Jewish communal organization membership groups.

With 196 votes cast on Sunday, Nov. 16, there were 61 votes against admitting Yachad and 135 in favor, eking out just five votes over the necessary two-thirds majority.

Four of the five members of the Executive voted in favor of Yachad’s admission, according to an insider. The sole Executive vote against Yachad came from Jonathan Arkush, who is reputed to be a frontrunner for the position of president of the Board, a position which opens in May, 2015.

One member of the BoD spoke out fervently against the admission of Yachad to the group.

Jonathan Hoffman, a BoD deputy for half a dozen years representing the Woodside Park Synagogue, beseeched the large group to remain committed to the ideals of the BoD Constitution which requires the entity to “advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing.”

Hoffman made clear: Yachad is the antithesis of the BoD’s constitutional requirements and instead undermines them at every opportunity.

Hoffman provided several concrete examples of why Yachad should not be voted in as a member of the British Board of Deputies.

One reason he provided, and he drew heavily on an account given by a person who experienced it firsthand, is that Yachad’s main activity in Israel is arranging trips into Judea and Samaria with a horrific group whose sole goal is to denigrate the Israel Defense Force, a well-known group called ‘Breaking the Silence.’ The information provided by this organization – with Yachad’s apparent full support – blamed Israel for every problem and the Palestinian Arabs for none.

A second example provided by Hoffman was the irrefutable fact that Yachad supported the upgrade of the status of “Palestine” at the United Nations. This was particularly galling, given the BoD had assiduously lobbied members of Parliament against this alteration.

Hoffman rounded out his opposition to the inclusion of Yachad by pointing out that the the group has never condemned a boycott of Israeli goods, nor has it ever bothered to explain that Hamas targets Israeli civilians. Instead, “Yachad portrays the Security Fence only as something which harms the Palestinians. Yachad is silent when it comes to the number of Israeli lives the Fence has saved.

Taking the larger group to task for absurdly insisting that the BoD needs “to embrace Jewish organizations with whom we might disagree,” Hoffman demanded to know whether those voting in favor of embracing Yachad have no red lines at all.

Hoffman ended his statement by urging his fellow deputies to vote against Yachad membership to the Board.

“At this time – above all times – Israel needs support from the Diaspora. The last thing Israel needs is the vilification, denigration and falsehoods routinely seen from Yachad.”

Sadly, Hoffman’s prediction that his plea would be in vain was correct. The Board of Deputies has admitted Yachad as a full membership organization.

J Street Poll Shows Obama Out of Touch with US Jews

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

A poll of American Jewish voters carried out by the left-wing J Street lobby shows an overwhelming number of Jew support building in some Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The results of the survey should be a wake-up call to President Barack Obama, who has surrounded himself with left-wing Jewish advisers and has given J Street a free pass to the White House while distancing traditional Jewish lobbies, particularly AIPAC.

J Street has been a consistent opponent of almost everything the Netanyahu government does, as reflected in President president’s holy ghost, otherwise known as the “Peace Process.”

A whopping 72 percent of polled American Jewish voters said they support construction in Jewish communities that are not outside the core settlement blocs. Twenty percent of that number back building for Jews in all of Judea and Samaria as well as Jerusalem.

Only 28 percent said Israel should freeze all construction in the same areas.

All of the respondents in the poll voted in last week’s mid-term elections. Nearly one-third of the respondents did not describe their affiliation with a stream of Judaism, while the breakdown for the others was 37 percent Reform, 20 percent Conservative and 10 percent Orthodox.

That means that the support for building in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria has deepened among Reform Jews, previously thought to be heavily left-wing and against a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

A majority of American Jews polled also said they have a favorable view of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, contradicting assumptions that most Jews in the United States oppose him and his policies.

The survey also verified other estimates that 69 percent of American Jews voted for Democratic candidates last week, another indication that President Obama cannot assume that Jewish Democrats back his and J Street’s view that settlers are “illegal” and “illegitimate.”

The Obama administration’s constant pointing fingers at Israel for allegedly blocking a peace agreement appears to be wearing thin on American Jews.

While 85 percent support an active role for the United States in the Arab-Israeli conflict, slightly more than half of the respondents “oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements with Israel.”

In answer to the question, “Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on Israel to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace?” 54 percent replied in the negative.

The poll also showed massive support for Israel in the Protective Edge counter-terror war with Hamas this past summer. The 80 percent approval showed how little J Street’s lobby against Israel has influenced American Jews.

Most of its influence seems to have been felt inside the White House, and anyone thinking of running for the Democratic presidential nomination in two years will pay close attention to the poll.

Hillary Clinton is the most highly favored candidate among the Jewish who were polled, winning support of 66-69 percent if Jeb Bush were running as the GOP nominee, and 70 percent if Rand Paul were the Republican candidate.

The poll also showed that only 25 percent of U.S. Jews support the Boycott Israel-BDS movement.

As usual, Israel was near the bottom of the list of subjects that concern American Jews, but more significant was that “terrorism and national security” were the number four issue, after the economy, health care and Social Security/Medicare.

The Islamic State beheadings of two Americans, one of the them Jewish, and an increasing number of Islamic-linked attacks on American soil have brought terror closer to home and brought all Americans to better understand Israel’s refusal to consider sponsors of terrorism “peace partners.”

Reflecting the overall mood of the United States, 57 percent of American Jews “feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track” in the United States.

Nevertheless, Obama remains more popular among American Jews than among most other voting blocs. Fifty-seven percent either “somewhat” or “strongly” approve of how Obama is handling his job as president and 53 percent approved the way Congress is functioning.

J Street Poll: US Jews Love Bibi Netanyahu

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

First Published at Jewish Business News

All the way at the bottom of an article in Haaretz about the Jewish voters by and large maintaining their loyalty to the Democratic party, you’ll discover another classic: U.S. Jews are enamored with Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, more than any other person alive.

American Jewish voters did not change their voting behavior on Tuesday’s mid-term elections, and favored Democrats over Republicans by a 69%-28% margin, according to a new poll released on Wednesday by the left-leaning J Street, Haaretz reported.

The poll results included several contradictory results, which should be of concern to the J Street folks, if they’re looking beyond the headlines:

84% of American Jews prefer a deal with Iran over war

85% support an active American role in the Arab-Israeli conflict

73% support U.S. pressure of both sides

47% approve of pressure on Israel “to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace”

80% support a two-state solution

28% of those polled said Israel should suspend all settlement activity in the West Bank.

So, now to the final paragraph:

The poll asked respondents to rate their feelings of warmth towards various personalities and institutions on a scale of 0-100, and the results, in descending order of their mean score were: Netanyahu (61), Jon Stewart (58), Clinton (57), Democratic Party (51), Barack Obama (49), Malcolm Hoenlein (45), Sheldon Adelson (28), Republican Party (28), John Boehner (25) and the newly elected and soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (24).

Now, one word about the Jewish voter’s loyalties: Congressional elections are not national, they are run district by district, which means that in many Jewish centers across America Jewish voters are voting Democrat because the Democratic candidate is either running unopposed, or has been so entrenched in his position, the other side isn’t even trying to compete seriously.

This is true not just for Jews, but for all the other voting groups.

In fact, with that being our electoral reality, the 69% figure of Jews voting Democrats represents some loss in Jewish loyalty. Back in 2008, Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote.

And that was down from 1960, when JFK took a whopping 82% of the Jewish vote.

Anyway, someone should tell Bibi we love him, he could use it this week.

The Gaza War, and the New U.S. Jewish Consensus on Israel

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

It’s hard to imagine any issue on which more than 90% of American Jews agree. Is anti-Semitism bad? Are latkes good? Are reruns of “Seinfeld” worth watching?

Yet we finally do have one such issue. According to a new Gallup Poll released on August 1, when asked about the Gaza War, 93% of American Jews said they sympathize with Israel, 5% sympathize with both sides, and 2% sympathize with the Palestinians.

Note that the poll was carried out amidst a veritable tsunami of pro-Palestinian news media coverage in the United States. American Jews have been bombarded daily with heart-rending images of frightened or wounded Palestinians. The New York Times, especially, has done its utmost to perpetuate the notion that the Palestinians are innocent victims of Israeli brutality.

Just before the poll results were released, a front-page story in The Forward, reporting on American Jewish opinion regarding the war, was headlined “Many Jews Rally For Israel, While Some Protest Gaza War.”

The headline alone conveyed the impression that a substantial proportion of U.S. Jews were criticizing Israel.

According to the body of the article, “a series of opposing rallies and protests have drawn Jews on both sides.” Reinforcing the idea of a deep division in the community, six of the nine individuals interviewed in the article were critics of Israel. (And even one of the pro-Israel demonstrators was quoted not in support of Israel, but in defense of the right of the critics to speak out against Israel.)

The Gallup poll clearly demonstrates the opposite: that the division, if one can call it that, is more than 9 to 1 in support of Israel. (Note that the respondents were not forced to choose between Israel and the Palestinians; they had the option of choosing “both sides.” Yet only 5% did so.)

How is that there is such overwhelming – almost unanimous – support among American Jews for Israel in this war?

After all, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is routinely portrayed in the news media as “right-wing,” and most American Jews are supposedly liberal to left-wing. So shouldn’t they be opposing Netanyahu’s war policies (even though they are backed by an overwhelming majority of Israelis)?

Furthermore, most American Jews voted for Barack Obama, and the Obama Administration has often been harshly critical of Israel’s conduct of the war, while showing sympathy to the Palestinians. So shouldn’t they be supporting Obama?

Moreover, this is a community that has – over three generations – repeatedly given birth to dissident organizations that are opposed to Zionism or Israel. In the 1940s, it was the American Council for Judaism, a group established by anti-Zionist Reform rabbis. In the 1970s, it was Breira, organized by former anti-Vietnam war radicals. In the 1980s, it was the New Jewish Agenda, created by New Age activists.

More recently, J Street has emerged. One of J Street’s oft-repeated claims is that the mainstream pro-Israel organizations do not speak for most American Jews – that there is a silent majority in the Jewish community favoring J Street’s positions. Certainly if one were to believe the fawning media coverage it has received, J Street would appear to have the support of a significant number of American Jews.

But the new Gallup Poll strongly suggests otherwise.

It’s not that there has been much of a shift to the “right” in the Jewish community. In fact, American Jews haven’t abandoned an essentially liberal outlook all that much. It’s the world that has changed.

Beginning with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, many Palestinian leaders and spokesmen attempted to convince the world – and American Jewry – that they had become moderate and no longer sought the destruction of Israel. For some twenty years, American Jews watched as the “moderate Palestinian” myth gradually fell apart. The “jihad” speeches … the hate-filled Palestinian school books … the attempt to smuggle in a ship filled with fifty tons of weapons … the salaries for imprisoned terrorists … Every new development chipped away at the Oslo illusion.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-gaza-war-and-the-new-u-s-jewish-consensus-on-israel/2014/08/07/

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