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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

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

J Street U Pres Urges Jews to Fight the ‘Occupation’ via Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Yes, it’s now gotten to the point where the Muslim student president of the self-described “pro-Israel” J Street U is given the forum of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to tell Jews to be better pro-Israel advocates by fighting Israel’s “Occupation.”

J Street U gave this University of Maryland student a megaphone which she’s using to attack Israel, and now she’s being given a “Jewish” media outlet to amplify her anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Arab message.

Amna Farooqi, the J Street U president, seized upon another editorial from another leader of a Jewish organization brought to you by the JTA, David Bernstein of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs.

Bernstein, in turn, was warning Jewish Americans that in order to defeat the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement, Jews should start developing partnerships with various social justice groups “on the mainstream left.”

Bernstein wrote that the BDS movement is teaming up with other “social justice” organizations to together fight against Israel, and so he urged pro-Israel folks to ape this coalition building and thereby fight this “intersectionality” of “other oppressed groups” making alliances with anti-Israel groups.

Farooqi added the next step, which is that the best thing pro-Israel groups can do to defeat this intersectionality dilemma would be to join up with other groups opposing…what, other anti-Israel groups? Nope. Maybe pro-Israel groups should join together with organizations fighting against ISIS? Nope. How about suggesting pro-Israel groups create a coalition with organizations fighting for human rights for persecuted Christians in the Middle East? Nope.

Farooqi suggests the coalition pro-Israel groups should join are those progressives who are attacking Israel for engaging in the “Occupation” of Palestinian Arab land. No joke.

She is serious when she writes that demonstrating a commitment to social injustice:

doesn’t just mean joining in battles against injustice here in the United States. Many progressive movements see Israel’s occupation as related to the same injustices they are fighting in their own communities. We must take their concerns seriously. Peacefully ending Israel’s occupation is a legitimate and important social justice issue — and the pro-Israel community should treat it as such.

Farooqi has been taught that she is an appropriate representative of a self-described Jewish pro-Israel group, despite her being a Muslim whose sole Israel agenda item is her firm commitment to defeating the so-called “Occupation.” LINK

Perhaps Farooqi is not aware that there are serious Jewish and other pro-Israel supporters who understand that there is no Occupation of a people, the Palestinian Arabs, who never had a claim to the land they now insist is theirs and which was acquired by Israel during a defensive war and at a time when there was no sovereign and had not been one since the end of the Ottoman Empire.

But no matter, Farooqi’s hubris is as outsized as that of the leadership of the parent organization J Street. She, like they, believe that progressives have a monopoly on social justice which is theirs to define.

Farooqi acknowledges that there are some from her team who have failed to “acknowledge” that there are “nuances” to the Arab-Israeli conflict. She finds that “frustrating.” And then she launches into an unqualified statement of fact, i.e. her own opinion: “no reasonable, honest person can deny that Palestinians deserve civil rights and self-determination, which they have been deprived of for almost 50 years.” She believes it, so it’s a fact.

Here is just a little more of her finger-wagging:

As long as the institutional pro-Israel community ignores the occupation and treats its effects on Palestinians and Israelis as insignificant or marginal, it will continue to alienate progressives. The pro-Israel community has to do more to oppose the occupation and advocate for a two-state solution that guarantees security, liberty and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians if it wants to be part of progressive alliances.

Maybe the pro-Israel community prefers to be focused on asserting and protecting the “civil rights and self-determination,” let alone the security, of the Jewish State more than it cares to cater to the self-absorbed and inherently anti-Israel divisions of the “progressive alliances.” And really, does anyone in the pro-Israel world need to be lectured by Farooqi about security or liberty for Israel or Palestinian Arabs?

And what is to be made of the editorial running in the JTA, the source of virtually all non-local news for virtually every Federation-funded and other Jewish media outlet in the U.S.?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

White House Invites Arab MK Who Blames ‘Occupation’ for Terror

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

President Barack Obama is introducing anti-Zionist values into the White House. After J Street and “Breaking the Silence,” next in line is Knesset Arab Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, who blames Israel for Arab terror.

One week after Knesset Member Michael Oren was falsely quoted as saying that the president is bringing “radical Muslim values” into 1600 Pennsylvania, it turns out that he definitely is opening its doors to the Arab MK who thinks that Muslim terror against Jews is the fault of the “occupation.”

Even more absurd is that Odeh is a Christian, but that has not stopped him from embracing his fellow Muslim MKs who call the Israeli government “Nazi” and openly campaign for the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

MK Odeh said on Israel radio two months ago:

I always blame the occupation for being guilty. I cannot tell the nation how to struggle, where and at which target to throw the rock.

Odeh is the chairman of the Joint Arab List, and told Yediot Acharonot that he will talk to senior White House and State Dept. officials on “issues that matter to Israel’s Arab Citizens [and] are hardly represented in the international conversation.”

He also will meet with the Palestinian Authority ambassador to the United Nations and will give interviews to all of the “correct” media outlets, such as The New York Times, the Nation, Huffington Post and the Washington Post. There is no indication that he will meet with President Obama.

Odeh also will speak with Jewish leaders, all of them from the Reform movement that decries the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria and for which President Obama has rolled out the red carpet.

The Obama administration will describe Odeh as the leader of Israeli Arabs, but the truth is that he is not.

The JewishPress.com reported here last month:

A special survey conducted for Channel 2… reveals…54% of Israeli Arab respondents believe that the Arab MKs do not represent them, 25% say that Arab MKs represent them fairly well, and only a minority of 16% say that they represent them ‘very much.’

However, most of these surveyed criticized comments by Nazareth’s Arab Mayor Ali Salem that Odeh and his cohorts have been “ruining” the city by inciting violence and demonstrating in the city against Israel.

Salem said in October:

Every Saturday we get our 20 thousand guests—Jews, tourists and Israelis from across the country. This Saturday we barely reached 1,000 people from out of town.

For three days we had complete quiet. No politicians arrived and they didn’t riot or strike or demonstrate…. Businessmen I spoke to today were pleased, not because no one visited them for a month, but because they manage to rebuild the ruins they (the politicians) left us in the city.

On the eve of Odeh’s departure to Washington, he told Yediot:

Less than a month after Netanyahu’s visit to the US and his half-apology, I go so that I may tell the hard truth about him and the government in Israel, which rose to power through racist incitement against Arab citizens.”

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Obama Now Ready to Meet with Netanyahu

Friday, September 11th, 2015

President Barack Obama’s victory in the battle with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Republicans over the nuclear deal with Iran has given him his security blanket for a face-to-face meeting.

President Obama told rabbis in his annual pre-Rosh HaShanah phone call that he plans to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu next month, when the U.N. General Assembly convenes after a summer recess.

Obama said:

Our consultations have already begun with Israeli military and intelligence officials.

My hope is to have a long discussion with Mr. Netanyahu about these issues when he comes to the United Nations during the General Assembly of the United Nations, or immediately after that.

Obama avoided the Prime Minister earlier this year when he addressed Congress, two weeks before Israel’s general elections, which he said precluded a meeting that could be exploited for political purposes.

Now that Netanyahu, if not the United States itself, appears to be the loser in the fight over the nuclear agreement, Obama has not problem meeting him, if no other reason than to gloat.

However, Arab American leader James Zogby wrote an interesting analysis last week in The Huffington Post that shows that although Prime Minister Netanyahu lost the fight to reject the Ian deal, he actually was the winner in the long-term, particularly concerning the Palestinian Authority.

President Obama told the rabbis:

Israel’s long-term security does depend on somehow resolving the Palestinian issue. We’re going to have to work on these issues, and they’re going to be messy and challenging in the years to come.” There’s going to have to be some soul searching in Israel and the American Jewish community because they’re tough questions.

Zogby explained that President Obama will be careful before he pushes his luck with Jewish Democratic Congressmen who supported the P5+1 agreement with Iran.

He wrote:

By throwing what amounted to a political and diplomatic tantrum, the Israeli side succeeded in making itself the center of attention for the Administration and Congress. In the last few months, there were more meetings held, more hours spent, and more effort expended on reassuring Israel and its supporters of America’s ‘unbreakable, unshakable’ commitment, than in any period in our history….

Senators and members of Congress will also now be inclined to make clear their support for Israel. Many Democrats who announced their intention to support the president made sure that their statements declared undying support for Israel. The myth that ‘AIPAC will beat you if you don’t toe the line’ continues to hold strong, and so it can be expected that many members, despite their resentment of AIPAC and Netanyahu’s pressure, will spend excessive time and energy between now and next November playing “make up” by proving their support for Israel.

However, Zogby said that in the longer-term, “The emergence and rapid growth of liberal pro-Israel Jewish groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now, or non-Zionist Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, or the expansion of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement on college campuses are all evidence “of a shift in American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

He can credit President Obama with having successful weakened the influence of AIPAC by bolstering the prestige of the left-wing groups, but he doesn’t realize that they have gone so far out in left field that they are leaving “mainstream Jewish” support out of the ball park.

Even if they nevertheless one day are viewed as representing American Jews, probably by including 3-4 million people who simply call themselves Jews, it will be too late because the Palestinian Authority by then will have succeeded in making demands that prove that a new Arab country within Israel’s present borders would mean the end of Israel.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Obama Cashes in on Separating Israel from American Jews’ Concerns

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Obama knows how to capitalize on the bulk of American Jews, who want Israel to be a nice Jewish boy that doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable

President Barack Obama declared that American Jews’ concerns are like those of Afro-Americans and other Americans, indicating that Israel is not one of those worries.

He unsurprisingly chose the left-wing and secular Forward to be the first Jewish newspaper ever to interview him.

Having embraced J Street and trying to manipulate public opinion into believing that it is speaks for mainstream American Jews, his choice of The Forward was natural. The newspaper for more than a century was known as “The Jewish Daily Forward.”
This year it became simply “The Forward.”

Its editor Jane Eisner told the Observer earlier this year that the newspaper has been trying “to understand who we are, who are readers are, who are readers ought to be….What we know is that most American Jews today are living a very pluralistic life—there’s a lot of intermarriage and interfaith relationships.”

The same Jane Eisner on Friday interviewed President Obama, who also likes to see American Jews as any other hyphenated ethnic community that views their old homeland as a fond memory that it relives, in the case of American Jews, by eating gefilte fish.

The president knows, as Eisner indicated to the Observer, that American Jews are a vanishing through an assimilation rate approaching 70 percent and that the number of Jews in the United States rises only by changing the definition of a Jew to embrace pluralism, the melting pot that is supposed to erase any outward indication that belies the belief in Mom, Flag and Apple Pie.

He knows that the hard-core pro-Israel Jews, those who view Judea and Samaria as a part of Israel, Jerusalem as the capital, and a strong Israel good for the security United States, are a minority.

Deep down in the interview with Eisner, President Obama said:

American Jews, like African-Americans or any other cohort of Americans, have a wide range of concerns. They care about student loans; they care about housing; they care about poverty; they care about women’s health issues. And so it’s not as if the American Jewish community makes decisions solely on the basis of a single issue

The “single issue,” of course, is Israel. He does not, nor do most American Jews, think too much about Israel, especially when it comes to the nuclear agreement with Iran, which was the focus of his comments to the Forward.

He explained:

I do get disturbed sometimes when I hear folks suggesting that those who oppose the deal are pro-Israel. We’re all pro-Israel. The issue is, how do we solve this very particular problem of making sure Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon….

I think we have to steer away from incendiary language that suggests that either those who are in favor of the deal are appeasing Iran or, conversely, that those who are opposed to the deal are not thinking about America’s interest.

If anyone has used incendiary language, it is President Obama, who has implied, as Eisner reported that she told him, “that even some of his supporters say that he has contributed to the incendiary language by implying that opponents of the deal are ‘warmongers.'”

She said that was the only time in the interview “that I saw him bristle and his back stiffen.” He replied:

What I said is that if we reject the deal, the logical conclusion is that if we want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, military strikes will be the last option remaining at some point. It may not be under my administration; it might be under the next one. And that is something that has to be taken into account.

She did not respond, “What about more sanctions instead of war?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Hillel CEO Mocked at J Street U’s Student Leadership Event

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Lots of campus organizations have their retreats in the summer. It’s a time for energizing the members before they return to campus in the fall.

J Street U, the campus arm of J Street, is having its Summer Leadership Institute this week, just outside of Washington, D.C.

On Monday, Aug. 17, Hillel International’s CEO Eric Fingerhut addressed the organization that claims to be pro-Israel. Fingerhut was looking to stake out common ground. The only issue the J Street U students wanted Fingerhut to discuss, however, was the Israeli “occupation” of the Palestinian Arabs.

Fingerhut was invited to address J Street’s SLI back in June, when he met with J Street’s leadership to discuss ways the two organizations could work together. The June meeting took place after Fingerhut, who originally agreed to speak at J Street’s annual conference, pulled out of that commitment.

After Fingerhut’s no-show at the March J Street Conference, a mob of J Street conference attendees descended on Hillel’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, demanding to know why Fingerhut refused to address their event. They pasted post-it notes haranguing Fingerhut for canceling on them, along with a box of letters demanding a meeting with him.

The Hillel leadership concluded that Hillel and J Street U share a mutual interest: opposing the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement. It was on this topic that Fingerhut planned to speak at the J Street U’s SLI.

Fingerhut, according to J Street U members present, said he “applauded” the campus group for opposing BDS, and told them “we appreciate what you do in building vibrant Jewish community.”

He also sought to mollify them by feeling their pain, as when he told them “sometimes you have also been subject to unfair criticism. That is wrong too and contrary to Jewish principles.”

But despite the earlier agreement, this time it was J Street U’s turn to pull the rug on Fingerhut.

With Fingerhut seeking to establish common ground, J Street U leadership members and the organization itself seemed to mock Fingerhut on social media: “. repeatedly calls for common ground b/w & . We will never compromise on condemning occupation.

J Street U and its members tweeted throughout Fingerhut’s address to the students, with most of the messages demanding to know whether Fingerhut would “acknowledge the occupation threatens Israel’s Jewish and democratic future as much/more than bds?”

There also was clearly a generation gap problem, with J Street U students incredulous that Fingerhut appeared to be boasting that “@HillelIntl is opposed to racism and islamophobia.” The students wanted none of the liberal credentials being offered: “Jewish leaders, lets be clear: mentioning Jewish solidarity w/ civil rights in the 60s doesn’t mean you uphold those values today.”

But the constant refrain was annoyance that Fingerhut was not addressing the issue foremost on the minds of the J Street U members who were listening to the Hillel executive: Israel’s “Occupation” is the central issue and absolutely their central concern.

The incoming 2015 J Street U president Amna Farooqi made the point quite clearly at the SLI gathering, during the Question and Answer session following Fingerhut’s address: “We are not here to talk about the pro-Israel conversation on campus. We are here to talk about the occupation.”

In fact, Farooqi announced at the event that 2015 for J Street U is going to be all about their favorite topic: “year – long anti occupation work.”

Here is a portion of J Street U’s simultaneous tweets during Fingerhut’s talk to J Street U’s Student Leadership Institute:

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hillel-ceo-mocked-at-j-street-us-student-leadership-event/2015/08/18/

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