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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

Thank You J Street (You Too, Reform Movement)

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

In the aftermath of being denied entry to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, J Street has fulfilled the predictions and warnings of those who foresaw divisiveness and petulance within the ranks had  J Street been admitted.

Rather than taking the vote as a sign that the organization had not yet become sufficiently established for the mainstream organizations to feel confident it would play nicely in the sandbox with others, J Street began a letter-writing campaign ridiculing the long-serving and highly respected executive vice president Malcolm Hoenlein. That campaign also attacked the manner in which the vote had been taken – a vote in accordance with the bylaws of the organization.

J Street lashed out at those who dared to apply the same rules to it as the Conference has applied to every other new member.

The sophomoric message J Street posted on its website sought to rebuke the Conference of Presidents, and to claim that the fact it was rejected proves its conceit:  its positions are bold, brave and absent from the Conference and the fact it was rejected proves its voice is needed.

J Street suggests that without its voice as an essential and robust part of the conversation, the Palestinian Arabs will continue to be victims of the Israeli aggressors and deprived of their rights to at least half of the sliver of land to which Israel is currently in control, either due to a global licence or as the result of a defensive war.

The emptiness of those claims is revealed when one actually looks at the membership of the Conference of Presidents.

Of the 49 voting members, well more than half are easily classifiable as either center, center left or simply left, when it comes to support for Israel.  And J Street’s claim and dominant focus is Israel and Israeli security.

Americans for Peace Now, the Jewish Labor Committee, the four or five organizations which represent the Reform movement, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the four or five organizations which represent the Conservative movement, and Ameinu all represent the leftist end of the spectrum of American Judaism.

The core center is well-represented by at least a dozen other organizations such as the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, B’Nai Brith International, the Jewish National Fund, American Jewish Congress, American Gathering/ Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Zionist Movement, Amit, the Anti-Defamation League, B’Nai Zion, Israel Bonds, Hadassah,  NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, ORT America, Alpha Epsilon Pi,  and the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

So J Street claims that its rejection from the club is because the Conference of Presidents rigged the system to exclude J Street, or that without its voice at the table American Jewry is deprived of a desperately needed view, or that J Street is entitled to an admission process different than the one  applied to every other application is yet more affirmation that the organization and not the Conference needs to change.

This is J Street’s message to its supporters:

THANK YOU, CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS!

Yesterday’s rejection of J Street’s bid to join the Conference validates the reason for J Street: those claiming to speak for the entire Jewish community don’t in fact represent the full diversity of pro-Israel views in our community.

The Conference of President claims to be the “the proven and effective voice of organized American Jewry.” Last night’s vote removed that pretense.

So join us in thanking Malcolm Hoenlein for for clarifying this situation and revealing to all what we’ve long known: a new voice is needed to represent the true majority of American Jews–and non-Jewish supporters of an Israel at peace.

Mainstream American Jewish Groups Reject J Street

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

In a rebuke to the relatively young but very well (and oddly so) financed group J Street, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations decisively rejected the group’s bid for membership.

J Street has only been in existence since 2008, but it shot out of the starting block with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank and the backing of a wide array of well-connected American (mostly) Jews (mostly) who were itching to establish a new standard for the American Jewish community’s attitude towards Israel.

J Street’s backers are the ones who bridle at the idea that American Jews should feel a strong inclination to support and respect the Jewish State’s assessments of the level of threat it can survive with. They also chafe at the notion that those whose jobs and whose lives are put most at risk as the result of Israel’s security compromises are the ones who are entrusted with making the decisions about how and where and, especially, when, those compromises will be made, if at all.

But J Street’s star rose along with President Barack Obama’s election to office. The first year of its existence, J Street was already invited into the pantheons of American political and media power.

With the kind of cachet that adheres to those close to positions of wealth and power – for it is, as always, wealth and power that gives prestige, even if the wealth and power belongs to those who claim to disdain such “conservative” markers of strength, J Street’s coffers were well-stocked and its dance card was always filled.

But on Wednesday, April 30 – the day after, by the way, the latest effort to impose a “solution” on parties whose elemental problems are far from solved – the royal court of mainstream American Jewish organizations shut the door firmly in J Street’s face.

The Conference has 50 members, only 42 of whom voted. And while the vote was supposed to be confidential, over the past few days several organizations made public statements about their positions.

Few were surprised when the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the parent body of the Jewish Community Relations Councils, came out declaring it was going to vote in favor of including J Street.

Fewer still were surprised that the staunchly pro-Israel Zionist Organization of America came out strongly against admitting J Street to the Conference of Presidents.

But some were surprised that the Anti-Defamation League announced it planned to vote in favor of inclusion, and perhaps not everyone could have predicted that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism movement voted to welcome into the inner circle a group which had long fought hard against economic sanctions to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The final vote was a resounding one against including the group that (usually) refers with the tagline “pro-Israel, pro-peace.”

According to the bylaws of the Conference of Presidents, J Street needed a full 2/3s membership vote in its favor. It didn’t even get a simple majority. In the end, only 17 members of the Conference voted in favor of including J Street, 22 voted against it, and three voting members abstained.

Members of the Conference told the Jerusalem Post “what J Street is doing is exploiting the situation to get visibility.”

In other words, hubris – which is what propelled J Street out of the starting gate is also what slammed the door shut in its face.

 

J Street’s Phony Liberalism

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Today, April 30, the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations meets to decide whether J Street should become a member of this exclusive Club. A positive decision will do nothing either for Israel or for the liberal progressive values J Street purports to promote.

Over the years, J Street has branded itself as the voice of progressive liberal supporters of Israel. But examination of the evidence suggests its record is anything but progressive and liberal.

There is a tradition of Jewish participation and leadership in matters of social justice around the world –in keeping with the norms of Pikuah Nefesh, and some would say, Tikun Olam. In keeping with this tradition, it would therefore seem appropriate to ask what J Street’s positions and activities have been on the core values of life, respect for life and human dignity as they apply to today’s worst horror stories?

These core values of life, respect for human life and dignity are embedded in international law, human rights and universal justice world wide. There is a responsibility to prevent such injustices and protect those subject to such threats to live and human dignity.

Yet, genocide, genocidal massacres, mass rapes, genocidal terror, and other assaults on life and human dignity are very much part of the current landscape.

I am referring to the horrendous acts of genocide and mass rapes in the Congo and the Central African Republic over the past years, (5 million dead) and Darfur (400,000 dead?), and North Korea (1,000,000 or more from forced starvation and more), the continued repression of Tibetans by China, the rampages of Muslim terrorists against Christians in Nigeria, the discrimination, persecution and threats against Copts in Egypt and other Christian groups in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, and the Bahai in Iran and of course, the mass butchery in Syria (150,000 dead and 2.5 million refugees).

J Street has been loudly silent on Iran’s suppression of human rights, its some 100,000 executions of its own citizens, its support for genocidal terror, its race to achieve nuclear capacity and its incitement to genocide—its use of stonings to kill women for so-called sexual crimes, and fact that Iran has the highest per capita rate of executions in the world, with more than 140 since Rouhami came to power.

Its silence on Iranian incitement to genocide against Jews and Israel makes it a complicit bystander to this crime against humanity as specified by the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Yet J Street has consistently opposed stronger sanctions against Iran.

I am unable to find any sign of a leadership role for J Street– or even as a straggler–in the fight against the persecution of women throughout much of the Islamic world, (female genital mutilation, stonings, bigamy, forced child marriages, execution for so called sexual crimes).

Were J Street truly a progressive voice for a peace based on the most basic of human rights, its leadership would be in the forefront of addressing these issues.

Let me suggest: J Street is not about building bridges, but driving wedges–between Israel and the world, between Israel and the American Jewish Community, between Jews within the American Jewish Community and between Israel and the surrounding Arab world.

J Street appears to have no interest in promoting peace based on respect for life, live and let live and human dignity and freedom–in the Middle East or anywhere else. It is an organization with many naive members— led by cynical and opportunistic operatives who see no problem with taking positions which undermine and destabilize Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East.

Were J Street truly a progressive voice for peace, its leadership would be in the forefront of addressing the real issues of concern for liberals and progressives. So far the record shows it is a bystander.

The Three Little Kosher Pigs

Monday, April 28th, 2014

It is always amusing to see the look on the faces of fellow American Jews when they discover that I am a Republican. Lacking originality, they typically say, “A Republican Jewish woman? Now that’s an oxymoron!” Well no, not at all.

Sadly, Israel has become a partisan issue. But it is the Republicans who are her staunchest supporters. Yet ironically, the vast majority of American Jews, whose progressive values are flaunted with elitist moral authority, have found a home in the Democrat party — the one whose members boo any mention of God and Jerusalem and whose policy makers formulate plans and strategies that are simply dangerous for Israel.

As we finish celebrating Passover during which time we remember our peoples’ exodus from bondage in Egypt to a life of freedom in Israel and observe Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — it is an appropriate time to reflect on the state of Jewish Zionism in America.

What does it say about a people who align themselves with  political organizations that at best feign support for Israel for fundraising purposes but in reality take measures that could possibly harm that country’s long-term survival? In the face of existential dangers including growing Islamic fundamentalist death threats that are ignored around the world (including in the UN, EU and US) and growing apathy of Jews in the diaspora, perhaps a brief history of the Jewish peoples’ struggles against anti-Semitism is worth a revisit.

A modern version of Jewish history can be analyzed through the lens of the Three Little Pigs. In the Jewish version of this fable, the Jewish people are the three pigs (the kosher version, of course) looking to build a home to live as Jews in peace. The anti-Semites are the big bad wolf (of which there is no shortage) intent on ripping the pigs from their homes and destroying them.

The Jews in ancient times built houses of straw that were blown awayby anti-Semitic wolves during the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and centuries-old pogroms. By the time they reached the shores of Europe in the later part of the 20th century, Jews built wooden homes believing themselves safe to practice their religion among the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We all know how that ended.

In the Jewish version of the story, the third pig represents two brothers that I’ll call Cain and Abel. Abel smartly moved to the land of Israel. The Jews in Israel learned their lessons of history, recognized their responsibility as God’s Chosen People, and built homes of bricks. And every time the big bad wolf attempted to climb down the chimney and destroy them, they further fortified their cities with concrete walls and missile defense systems. After thousands of years of wandering the global desert, they understood the gift – and obligation – bestowed upon them by God. To call these Jews survivors would be an understatement.

Cain moved to the U.S. and presents quite a different story indeed. American Jews have not learned the lessons of history and ignore their responsibilities to God and the Jewish people as a whole. Instead of building houses of bricks they have chosen to build a “big tent.”

They emulate their European ancestors who focused so intently on assimilating into society that they could not see the fires of the Holocaust burning around them. They worship false idols and pray at the Torah of abortion rights, environmentalism, and socialism much the way the Jewish people fell for the golden calf while waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai with God’s Commandments.

Like their ancestors, American Jews may find themselves forced to wander a desert of secular empty activism in the hopes of one day returning to their homeland if they do not wake up to the dangers surrounding them. A big tent is no way to survive when big bad wolves are looking to destroy you.

Ron Pundak, Active in Many Failed Peace Initiatives, Dead at 59

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Ron Pundak, who was the executive director of the Peres Center for Peace, an architect of the Oslo Accords, and an active participant in the Geneva Initiative, died from cancer on Friday. Pundak was 59 years old.

Pundak is being widely lauded as a great peace activist and a visionary.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres said that Pundak, was a warrior, a man of values and an intellectual.

“He [Pundak] dedicated his whole life for the achievement of peace with our neighbors. He was willing to do anything for peace, sacrifice his life and dedicated each and every moment of his life to it. Ron was a family man, a great soul and he will be missed,” Peres said.

Israeli politician Tzipi Livni said: “There are war heroes but Ron was hero of peace. He was a Zionist who believed in peace and was not deterred by extremists, cynics and the hopeless.”

However, the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Initiative have both resulted in great harm to Israel.

And at the J Street Conference in 2011, Ron Pundak told the audience something to which they responded with thunderous applause.

“Israel,” Pundak said, “can live with a nuclear Iran and it must not base its policies on a worst-case scenario.”

Funeral arrangements had not yet been made before Shabbat.

Will J Street U Take the J Street Challenge?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

J Street U is the campus branch of J Street, the organization which claims to be pro-Israel and pro-peace. J Street U states it is committed to improving the campus dialogue around the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Claiming they were adhering to the values of debate and inquiry, J Street U affiliates across the country have co-sponsored events with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which the Anti-Defamation League lists as one of the top ten anti-Israel groups in America. It has also hosted speakers who support the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.

Listed among J Street U’s Educational Resources are a number of films critical of Israel, including “5 Broken Cameras” and “Encounter Point.” The first two of the suggested articles on the group’s website are, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” and “The Rise of Settler Terrorism.” Clearly, J Street U has no problem initiating or participating in discussions which harshly condemn Israel or that are sponsored by those critical of Israel’s existence.

The organization claims that its concern for Jewish values plays a key role in its desire to further the public conversation about Israel. According to its website, “Many of us are Jews that expect our community to live out the values of debate, inquiry and a pursuit of justice that we have been taught are central to our tradition.”

If J Street U wants to continue claiming it encourages open dialogue and conversation, the members need to screen “The J Street Challenge” on campuses around the country.

Produced by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, “The J Street Challenge” highlights many elements of J Street’s organizational failures and features contributors from across the political spectrum. While Caroline Glick and Alan Dershowitz may not agree on Israeli settlement policy, they do agree – in the film — that J Street’s strategy includes circumventing Israeli democracy and being dishonest about its positions.

J Street U should have no problem screening the movie and refuting the claims immediately afterwards. A failure to screen the film would confirm a central theme of The J Street Challenge – that J Street silences dissent and does not actually participate in real, open dialogue.

At the Miami premiere of the film on Monday night, Professor Dershowitz stated that he has previously offered to attend J Street events and conferences at his own expense but was denied that opportunity by J Street. Professor Dershowitz made it clear that he would be willing to engage in a discussion before or after the movie, wherever it is shown. If J Street U members were honest about the organization’s stated desire for dialogue and open inquiry, they should have no problem meeting his challenge.

It is nonsensical that as they censor Dershowitz — who thinks J Street’s many idealistic young followers simply don’t know the organization’s actual positions, on Iran, for example –, they invite the likes of Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine, and BDS supporter Sam Bahour.

When J Street U Brandeis, a Hillel at Brandeis-endorsed group, brought Bahour to campus, its members cited “Jewish tradition,” and penned that “Bahour was able to present the Palestinian narrative that so many Zionists need to hear before they formulate an opinion.” All the more so, many young Zionists needs to hear an alternative perspective on J Street before they commit to the organization – J Street U must screen “The J Street Challenge.”

J Street founder and President Jeremy Ben-Ami has acknowledged that one of J Street’s missions is to change the quality of discourse regarding Israel. The best expression of the Jewish value of free and open inquiry would be for J Street U to screen “The J Street Challenge” and openly discuss the organization across college campuses.

Film Exposé of J Street Reveals Decaying Core of Moral Narcissism

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Is it really possible to get all of the most important information about the no-longer upstart, but still disingenuous J Street into a one hour film, one that provides sufficient background information for the uninitiated to be able to grasp just what could be wrong with the organization that promotes itself as “pro-peace, pro-Israel”? It is. The Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance have done it.

Here’s how they did it with the film “The J Street Challenge.

They used a secret weapon: truth.

In this hour long exposé, executive producer, director and writer Avi Goldwasser and his colleagues lined up everything J Street says, who runs it, who funds it, and reveals the organization to be nearly the inverse of what it claims to be. The film is worth it just to see acting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas say the exact opposite of what Jeremy Ben-Ami describes him as saying. Or to have another leader of the Fatah Central Committee refute entirely what J Street fellow traveler Naomi Chazan claims the Fatah leadership says. Or any of at least another half dozen blatant misrepresentations made by J Street to sell its version of reality.

But the most significant achievement of the film is that it explains what J Street, at its core, is trying to do.  As Ben-Ami himself explains in one chilling segment, J Street is about redefining the meaning of pro-Israel.

Rather than accepting that the definition of being pro-Israel should be “unquestioning support for the government of Israel,”(can you hear the sneer come through as you read this? It comes through in the movie), here, in Ben-Ami’s own words, is the J Street re-definition of being “pro-Israel”:

We define it as the active, urgent action to facilitate the Two State Solution.

“Pro-Israel,” in J Street-speak, means pro-Two State Solution. And that’s all it means. To be perfectly blunt: for J Street, “pro-Israel” simply means “Palestine Now.”

That 3 seconds of the movie makes it well worth your time to find out where the movie is playing and then going to watch it. And bring with you every parent, grandparent and college and high school student you know. Because they all need to see this film.

Once it becomes clear that for J Street, the definition of “pro-Israel” is forcing Israel to adopt the J Street goal – which may have absolutely nothing to do with what is best for Israel, for the United States, for the Middle East, or for anyone other than J Street – you will be far better prepared to respond to the smoke and mirrors that are being used in an attempt to “redefine” pro-Israel as demanding the creation of a Palestinian State. Right Now. Without any other objective.

Avi Goldwasser, the producer of “The J Street Challenge,” told The Jewish Press that the movie was made “in response to what we perceived as a one-sided discussion, dominated by J Street spokespersons, about the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel.”

In the half dozen years of its existence, J Street has used its millions of dollars (some coming from non-Jews, from non-Americans, and even from some Israel haters!) in financial resources, public relations and marketing know-how in an attempt to re-orient the way American Jews think and talk about Israel and the conflict in the Middle East.

“We wanted to provide the community with the most articulate scholars, writers and activists about the subject,” Goldwasser explained.

Once it becomes clear that the J Street definition of being pro-Israel is only about promoting the single product they are selling, you are already in a much better position to deal with the promoters.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/film-expose-of-j-street-reveals-decaying-core-of-moral-narcissism/2014/02/21/

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