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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

J Street: Demand Israel’s Peace Process Goal be Palestinian State

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

In a May 22 email to the many thousands on J Street’s virtual rolodex, the organization that calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace” revealed its true nature: it is focused solely and exclusively on the creation of a Palestinian State, and peace be damned.

It did this by exhorting its American followers to demand that the democratically elected Israeli leadership say out loud what J Street wants it to say.

J Street cued up from U.S. secretary of state John Kerry’s efforts to launch yet another initiative aimed at achieving peace between Israel and its Arab Palestinian neighbors.

But it then takes what it wants to be true, asserts it as if there is no other truth, and demands that Americans get aggressive with the Israeli government to make a public commitment to J Street’s view of reality, rather than what the Israeli government knows is reality.

Here’s the sleight of hand in J Street’s email:

The basis of any such effort, of course, has to be a two-state solution — an independent Palestine existing in peace and security alongside Israel. But is this the policy of the government of Israel?

Some members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition are openly stating not only that they do not personally believe in a two-state solution but that the two-state solution is not official government policy. They wrangled about it publicly in a parliamentary committee meeting this week.

Member of Knesset and former Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) noted “substantial divides inside the government” on the question.

And MK Orit Struck (Jewish Home) came right out and said “two states for two peoples is not the government’s official position … it is perhaps Netanyahu’s position… but has not been accepted as the government’s position.”

J Street subtly takes what it says is a basis for a solution and converts it into the solution. In contrast, Israeli leadership is committed to having the goal of the peace process be peace. Such a position is apparently an affront to J Street’s worldview.

It is especially chutzpadik to demand that the Israeli government bend its knee to J Street and declare its support for the creation of a Palestinian state at this time of profound unrest in the Middle East.

This is a singularly dangerous time in Middle East history.  The terrorist-driven Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda and its affiliates are on the ascent.  The closest thing to a moderate Arab Palestinian leader is Mahmoud Abbas whose term as president expired almost 5 years ago.  Abbas routinely and publicly lionizes current and ancient terrorists and frequently admits, although mostly in Arabic,  that he is not committed to peace with Israel.

And Mahmoud Abbas is on record that not one Jew will be allowed to live and breathe in any Palestinian State.  So what exactly is it that J Street is demanding?

J Street’s letter imperiously casts anyone who disagrees with its vision of a perfect Middle East – one with a Palestinian State (whether or not there is peace) – as a roadblock to peace.  The hubris is dazzling.

For there to be any hope of progress, the Israeli government must state unequivocally that support for a two-state solution is a core principle of its foreign policy – as it has been under every Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin.

A simple declarative statement by Netanyahu or by Israel’s US ambassador Michael Oren would dispel these doubts immediately. They need to speak out now.

Adding still more urgency to its demand, J Street includes a quote from MK Ronen Hoffman, “how is it possible to expect the Palestinians to enter negotiations when part of our government opposes a Palestinian state?”

And yet, no demand is made of any Arab Palestinian leader to commit to peace with Israel.

Why isn’t J Street’s question turned around? Shouldn’t supporters of Israel logically ask this question, instead: “How is it possible to expect the Israeli government to enter negotiations with Arab Palestinian leaders when there is overwhelming evidence that few if any of the leadership supports peace with the Jewish State of Israel?”

J Street ends its May 22 email pooh-poohing the idea that mere talks between the parties is useful. Again it asserts its own position as if it were ultimate truth: “But what’s needed isn’t talk, it’s a resolution of this conflict and that will only happen if both sides are clearly committed to reaching the same goal: a two-state solution.”

U.S. Jewish Left Urging Bibi to ‘Make Painful Sacrifices’

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Some American Jews have a lot of chutzpah.

A gaggle of 100 mostly former heads of centrist to left-leaning American Jewish organizations – almost none of which represents an actual constituency – sent a finger-wagging letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on April 3, urging him to, in the wake of U.S. president Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East, “respond to President Obama’s call for peace.”

It’s a good thing President Obama has a Jewish echo chamber, or who knows if the Israeli government would ever realize it needs to think about peace.

Virtually none of Netanyahu’s new pen pals have extensive foreign policy or military experience, or have devised anything approaching a successful policy-making and peace-stabilizing initiative.  But that didn’t stop these civilian Americans from telling Israel’s elected leader to take “concrete confidence building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In the minds of Netanyahu’s latest pen pals, Israel might – under the “guidance of Secretary of State John Kerry” – be able to “devise pragmatic initiatives” which would (finally?) “represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”

Less than 24 hours after the letter was sent to the Israeli prime minister, another one was sent and widely distributed.  This letter was written by the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel, the “pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community” – a quip uttered by William Kristol, editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard, and head of ECI.

The pro-Israel letter takes a much more humble approach towards its intended recipient, while bristling at the audacity of the finger-waggers’ letter.

It’s puzzling to us why a small group of American Jews believes it is appropriate to demand ‘painful territorial sacrifices’ of Israelis, when those issuing the demand will not experience the pain, or be compelled to sacrifice anything, should their advice prove foolish – as it has so many times in the past.

When asked about the impetus for their letter, Noah Pollak, ECI’s executive director, told The Jewish Press, “They might exhibit a little more humility and caution. Even if we accept the premise that all the signatories are actually leaders of the American Jewish community, how does that make them qualified, and give them standing, to issue foreign policy directives to the State of Israel?”

The ECI letter draws a clear line between Jewish non-Israelis who state their views about what kind of policies Israel should pursue, which is perfectly acceptable, and the kind of demands made in the finger-wagging letter: “We, too, have strong opinions on the peace process – but one thing we never presume to do is instruct our friends in Israel on the level of danger to which they should expose themselves.”

So who are some of these finger-wagging ersatz foreign policy advisers?  They read like a veritable who’s who…who? The claim to fame of nearly all of them is that they are wealthy individuals with strong connections to the Israel Policy Forum.  Nearly a third of the signers are either on the board of directors or on the advisory council of the IPF, which is sometimes referred to as the “old man’s J Street.”

Few who signed the IPF letter are famous for their policy acumen, and though only one is an actual felon, none have been responsible for the safety of a tiny nation surrounded by genocidal enemies.  But somebody must have been involved in Middle East peace process work, perhaps Israel’s leadership could benefit from their advice.

Oh, there’s Tom Dine – he’s someone whose name always pops up on letters like these.  Dine is almost always, at least in gatherings intended to suggest a broad range of political diversity, identified as a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

But much more recently than Dine’s AIPAC tenure, which ended 20 years ago, Dine has been busy peddling a kind of foreign policy initiative for peace in the Middle East, the focus of which was not Israel’s security, but instead was that of a different tiny nation in the vast Middle East as the lynchpin for peace.  That country was Syria.

Since 2007, Dine has been the senior adviser for Search for Common Ground‘s US-Syria program.  Common Ground’s  goal is “to transform the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving.”

Although Dine signed the letter advocating Israeli concessions in order to entice the Arab Palestinians back to the negotiating table, it was not long ago that he was insisting there was absolutely no chance for a bilateral resolution to the Middle East conflict.

At the far left J Street’s annual conference in February, 2011, Dine was adamant that there was no possibility for achieving a bilateral peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  Instead, he was heavily advocating a regional peace plan, one which “had to pass through Syria.”  Double oops.

Dov Zakheim, another finger wagging pen pal, is on the board of Common Ground. Zakheim is the only other pen pal whose name is at least familiar to the foreign policy crowd.  Zakheim had extensive stints in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, primarily overseeing budgets for defense spending.

One of the 19 women who signed the letter is Susie Gelman.  Gelman is the past president of the Washington D.C. Federation and, with her husband Michael, will serve as co-chair of the 2013 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.  Another leader in the Federation world is Marcia Riklis who is both on the IPF board and is also the campaign chair of the UJA-Federation of New York.

Another former head of the New York Federation who signed the finger-wagging letter is Larry Zicklin, who was previously chairman of IPF. A former leader of the UJA, Marvin Lender, signed on, as did a former chairman of the Jewish Agency, Richard Pearlstone. Nicholas Buncl is on the IPF advisory board and was previously the chair of the New York Jewish Community Center. Several well-known and well-monied men such as Charles Bronfman, S. Daniel Abraham, Lester Crown and Stanley Gold also signed the letter.

SAME CROWD SENT A SCOLDING LETTER TO NETANYAHU LAST  SUMMER

If many of these names have begun to ring a bell, that’s because a large number of them signed another letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu just last summer.  At that time they also presumed to instruct the Israeli prime minister about how best to run his government.  That letter was sent shortly after former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy had issued a long-awaited report regarding the legality of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. The Levy Report concluded that Jewish settlement in those territories is legal; there is no “occupation” in the territories.

Those pen pals, most of whom were also Israel Policy Forum members, instructed Netanyahu to “make sure his government rejects a controversial report that denies Israel is occupying” the land west of the Jordan River.

Moshe Dann wrote a carefully researched and detailed analysis of the funding and connections behind the July, 2012 letter writers, including the IPF members and the others in the larger leftist Jewish community, one that often seems more committed to the creation of a Palestinian State than they are concerned about the consequences such a creation would pose for the security of Israel.

As Dann pointed out in his article, very few of those who signed the  letter could have even read the report, as it was only in Hebrew at that time.  But an inability to read the Levy Report had no bearing on whether or not to criticize it, and the different Jewish organizations of the left, which include not only IPF, but the further left Center for American Progress,  Peter Beinart, and the New America Foundation, all seem to share members and funders.

“The difference between their letter and ours,” ECI’s Pollak offered as a final observation regarding the two U.S. letters sent to Netanyahu, “is that the prime minister might actually read ours.”

Penn Hillel Provided Platform to Venomous ‘Breaking The Silence’

Friday, March 29th, 2013

In yet another example of academia succumbing to a flawed battering ram of freedom of speech, the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia was outsmarted by J Street U which guilted them into providing a home for an event the sole purpose of which is to indict and delegitimize the defense forces of the Jewish State.

On Thursday evening, March 28, Steinhardt Hall -  the Hillel building at the University of Pennsylvania – provided the platform for the pro-Palestinian J Street U to defile the integrity of the Israel Defense Forces through a well-funded delegitimization organization known as Breaking the Silence.

The “silence” that the group supposedly “breaks” is the unspoken criticism of Israel and Israel’s military.  Yes, that’s right – without Breaking the Silence, one would never hear a negative word about the IDF, because the New York Times, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the EU, the Guardian, the Iranian regime, the Arab League, the Huffington Post, CNN, El Mundo, El Diario or just about any other entity with a microphone or a media outlet never criticizes the IDF.

Well, that’s what the young whippersnappers at J Street U were able to convince the grownups on the board of the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.

Breaking the Silence, which was created in 2004, exists to shout from the rooftops that the IDF is not a “defense” force but is instead an immoral military force that is dedicated to “annexation of territory, terrorizing and tightening the control over the civilian [Arab] population.”

NGO Monitor is a non-profit organization that provides information on, analysis of and promotes accountability for the reports and activities of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) which claim to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas, but which instead so frequently primarily promote the vilification of Israel.

According to NGO Monitor, the 2010 publication created by Breaking the Silence, “Occupation of the Territories – Israeli Soldier testimonies 2000-2010,” suffers from several fatal flaws: all testimony is anonymous, and almost none provide a date, location or context for the incidents being described.  In addition, of the 183 incidents mentioned in the report, only 16 were reported to superiors at the time, which makes it especially difficult to rely on the credibility or motivation for the late, non-reported, anonymous “episodic” revelations.

The effort of Breaking the Silence to smear the IDF as an immoral military force falls apart most decisively when a careful reading of the many violations it claims to catalogue reveal that all – to the extent they are real – are themselves violations of IDF policy, so while problematic, they are evidence solely of errors and missteps engaged in by individuals.

Even the indefatigably leftist Haaretz expressed disdain for the repeated claim by Breaking the Silence that it is a human rights organization:

“Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a ‘human rights organization.’ Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the ‘corruption which permeates the military system’ is not a neutral observer.

The organization has a clear agenda: to expose the consequences of IDF troops serving in the West Bank and Gaza. This seems more of interest to its members than seeking justice for specific injustices.”

And yet, the board of the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia was conned into believing that Breaking the Silence, whose sponsors include not only J Street U, but also the New Israel Fund, the European Union, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, NDC (funds from Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark), and George Soros’ Open Society Institute was needed to amplify the tintinnabulation of hatred already ringing across U.S. campuses from such groups as the BDS movement and the annual Israel Apartheid Week hate fiestas which vilify every move taken by Israel and the IDF to protect Israeli citizens – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and others – from Arab Palestinian terrorism.

Although the HGP several years ago crafted and approved a policy that explicitly stated it would not lend its space for events or organizations the primary goal of which was to delegitimize Israel, J Street U succeeded in persuading the board that their point of view – that is, explicitly and simply, that the IDF is a terrorist, expansionist militaristic entity – does not get enough play at the University of Pennsylvania. While the HGP board initially refused to allow the event in the building, the board members’ hesitation was eventually drowned out.

UK’s Zionist Jewry Rejects British J Street Clone

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Zionist Federation, the official representative body of Jewish organizations in England, this week rejected the membership application of Yachad UK, the leftist J Street-esque organization which was formed in England in 2011.

The vote took place on Monday, February 25, and was conducted as required by the ZF’s constitution: member organizations vote to decide whether an applicant organization’s mission and actions are consistent with the mission of the ZF.

According to a statement by the ZF, every constituent organization was given the opportunity to consider Yachad’s application, and representatives of those organizations consulted with their members in order to make a decision.  This process began ten months ago.  When the ZF met on Monday, the organization representatives voted on and rejected Yachad UK’s application.

Although ZF leadership members were unwilling to respond to media inquiries about the decision, they pointed to the deliberative process in which the ZF had engaged, which was consistent with prior membership decisions.

In response to the vote, Yachad, which is Hebrew for “together,” went on the offensive.  It instituted an email campaign informing contacts that they are being discriminated against, along with a twitter attack with the hashtag “whatswrongwithmyzionism.”

Yachad’s first line of offense was to present themselves as innocent Zionist victims of overbearingly aggressive, right-wing Zionist Jews.  They claimed at the top of their website that, “78% of Anglo Jewry favour a two state solution. Is their Zionism not good enough for the Zionist Federation?”

The Zionist Federation issued a public statement in response.  “It is important to note that despite claims by Yachad’s statement, the ZF strongly supports peace in the Middle East and the two state solution.  To say that we do not is factually incorrect.”

WHAT IS YACHAD UK?

Yachad UK is quite similar in orientation and mission to J Street in the U.S.  The tagline for Yachad is “together for peace, together for Israel,” and it describes itself as “the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement for British Jews,” exactly the same claim J Street makes for U.S. Jews.  About the only difference between the two organizations, as Hannah Weisfeld, Yachad’s director, said at its launch, is that Yachad will not engage in political lobbying.

And just as is the case with J Street, there are many Zionists who do not believe Yachad’s self-description is accurate.  They instead claim that Yachad’s relentless criticism of Israel and refusal to make any demands on the Arab Palestinians reveals the true nature of Yachad, one that they believe is instead an anti-Zionist orientation.

DOES YACHAD PRESENT ITSELF AS A ZIONIST ORGANIZATION?

The pingpong match of public statements declaring either that Yachad is a Zionist organization that should be welcomed into the UK’s Zionist Federation, or that it is an anti-Zionist organization which has no place in the ZF is not especially helpful in determining the truth.

Rather than look at the public rhetoric, The Jewish Press decided it is most useful to see what Yachad really does and where Yachad really goes. The best way to do this is to peruse the activities posted on Yachad UK’s Facebook page.

This is what you will find there:

• November 11 and February 10, Yachad showed the movie “The Law in These Parts,” a movie that is “a compelling indictment of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,” another shows a Yachad trip to Israel in which the participants join up with an Israeli leftist activist group, Ir Amim, to rally against Jews living in parts of Jerusalem.

• February 11th and 12th meetings with former Haaretz editor David Landau, who famously told U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should “rape Israel,” and that it has always been a secret erotic dream of his to discuss this with her.”

• July 29, June 21, June 18, June 17 meetings with Nadav Greenberg of “Just Vision,” who recently completed a documentary, “Budrus and Home Front: Portraits from Sheikh Jarrah,”  that presents four people, all of whom oppose the Israeli efforts to allow Jews to live in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood of Jerusalem, known to pro-Arab Palestinian activists as the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Most of the more than 100 photos on Yachad’s page are of Yachad trips to Israel.

J Street Speech Reveals Hagel Will Push Saudi Peace Initiative

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Posts’ blog Right Turn, bless her heart, has learned from her Senate sources that the “left-wing group J Street” was refusing to provide a video of Chuck Hagel speaking before the group’s first conference in 2009.

“Senators were tipped off that Hagel departed from his prepared remarks and made controversial comments to the J Street Conference. In exchanges with Senate Armed Services Committee staff, J Street volunteered the prepared remarks and said it decided not to provide the complete video for fear that Hagel’s remarks would be taken out of context,” Rubin wrote on Tuesday.

She commented that J Street would have to provide the tape, should the Armed Services Committee issues a subpoena for it. Finally, on Tuesday night, Rubin updated her story to report that J Street contacted the Senate Armed Services Committee to report that it was going to post the entire video of Hagel’s 2009 speech online.

I downloaded the video and sat and transcribed portions of the tape itself, to male sure they did not differ from the online text. In my opinion, the truly alarming text was delivered by Hagel in the official speech, which he read, word for word. I will get to it later, and share with you why I think Hagel may be the worst thing to hit the U.S.-Israel relationship since Casper Weinberger locked the IAF off the Iraqi ballistic missile launchers.

But, first, here’s the stuff that didn’t make it into the official speech, and came at the short Q&A portion at the end. Hagel was asked by the host what advise he would give newly elected Prseident Obama, who took him on as an advisor, regarding the Middle east.

Hagel responded: “Engagement. I’ve never understood a great nation like the United States who would be afraid to engage. Why are we afraid to talk with someone? If we believe that we have a pretty good system—and I don’t think we should go around the world imposing it on anyone—but if we have some sense of who we are, and believe in who we are, then why wouldn’t we engage? how in the world do we think we can make a better world? How in the world do we think isolating someone is going to somehow bring them around to your way of thinking? I think just the opposite. So, engagement.”

Big applause.

“2 – it seems to me a comprehensive framework of a foreign policy is essential. Because I have never believed you go to war in Iraq, you go to war in Afghanistan, and believe that you can deal with those battlefields, those countries, in microcosms, or narrow channels. These are regional issues. There will not be any peace in the Middle East or in Afghanistan, central Asia, without Iran somewhere…”

Host: “So Iran is connected to Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is connected to Israel and Palestine, and connected to Syria…”

Hagel: “It’s all connected.”

More dangerous words have not been uttered since Wayne Wheeler and Andrew J. Volstead from Minnesota invented the 18th Amendment (the one about not letting the boys coming back from war in Europe have a drink). The notion that the war-loving Afghani tribes are shooting and tooting on account of the Iranians not liking the delayed peace negotiations in Ramallah, which in turn drives the rebel army outside Damascus is the craziest pile of horse manure dumped on the American political scene since the Domino theory.

And it’s no wonder the J Street folks have kept those comments out. In light of the civil war in Syria and the emerging civil war in Egypt, they make the presumptive Secretary of defense sound like Jimmy Carter.

In that vein, just look at what the man said about Syria, back in 2009:

“I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies. For its own self interests… not because they want to do a favor for the U.S. or Israel. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S. Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table.”

My Lord – is there even one assumption in that pile of fragrant stuff that is still true today? Is this man capable of making even one observation that isn’t a trite cliché and hopelessly divorced from Middle east reality?

‘J Street’ Loves Chuck Hagel and the Treif in his Bagel

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Often, when a group wants to hound someone with an opposing viewpoint, they will offer to donate one financial unit for every time the opponent does something the donor dislikes.  The kicker, though, is that the donation is made to a group or cause the opponent abhors, thereby creating a disincentive for the bad actor to continue his actions, which have become the source of support for the opposing viewpoint.

This is how it works: say a group of anti-Israel protesters show up regularly to protest the Israel Defense Force in front of an Israeli Consulate. The pro-Israel group then publicly announces it will donate $18 to the American Friends of the IDF for every anti-Israel nudnik who shows up at the Consulate to protest.

J Street, an American pro-’Palestinian’ group, has part of the concept, but has failed to understand the disincentive part.  J Street has come out as one of the strongest backers of President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel (R-NB), has now unveiled a clever new campaign. It’s mostly clever because it has a rhyme that invokes the aroma of “Jewishness.”

The campaign slogan is: “Smear a Bagel, Not Chuck Hagel.”

And J Street offers that “for every 18 actions in support of Chuck Hagel, we’ll send a bagel to the DC Area Food Bank — in Bill Kristol’s honor.” Bill Kristol is the founder and board member of the Emergency Committee for Israel, which purchased the domain name ChuckHagel.com, and filled the site with all the reasons why Sen. Hagel is unqualified to be the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

So the Smear Bagel, Not Hagel rhyme is good, evoking something Jewish — but not religious — which works well for J Street (how long did it take most people to find out that the “J” in J Street has nothing to do with Jewish, but instead is a play on the absence of a street that bears the letter “J” in Washington, D.C. grid system?).

But there are a few problems with this campaign.

First, as anyone who has grown up in a Jewish household surely knows, the authentic Yiddish word for applying butter, cream cheese or other spread on a bagel is “schmear,” not “smear.”  Second,  there is no food bank in Washington, D.C. with the name, “the DC Area Food Bank,” and given that J Street does not state what exactly the donation will be, and the language describing what triggers the donation to the mystery food bank is vague, some might begin to wonder about the motivation behind this campaign.

By clicking through on the links, you learn that the “action” which, when 18 are accumulated, triggers the donation, is a signature on J Street’s petition of support for Chuck Hagel.  The petition explains that the signer supports President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel, and urges the Senate to confirm the nomination.  It also acknowledges that “legitimate questions should be asked during the confirmation hearings about his policy positions and prior statements, but I object to the personal smears and attacks on the Senator, which should have no place in the process.”

Ah, now we know what the bagel schmear was about: J Street doesn’t like that some people (dare we say the “Jewish lobby”?) have criticized Hagel for being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. For J Street, any such claims are “smears” that have no business being part of the vetting process for Secretary of Defense. For most people, those are questions that should, and must, be addressed.  No baloney.

Finally, rather than trying to discourage the enemies of Hagel from raising questions about his suitability for the office to which he has been nominated, J Street’s goal seems to be the harvesting of new email addresses.  That’s a reasonable thing for an organization to do, but not nearly as generous as simply making donations to the needy.

 

Benter’s Back

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

It shouldn’t come to any of us as a surprise that, like any political campaign, getting yourself confirmed as Secretary of Defense takes big bucks for advertising, lobbying, PR, etc.

So who is funding the ‘campaign’ of Chuck Hagel, whom Jennifer Rubin called “the most anti-Israel nominee in recent memory (in either party)?”

Josh Rogin tells us:

…without White House assistance before Monday’s official nomination and without a staff of his own, Hagel was ill-equipped to fight the onslaught of negative publicity coming from his many critics, and his critics were able to set the initial frame and tone of the coming confirmation debate.

But over the last two weeks, Hagel’s friends in the Democratic political world have come to his aid, principally by rounding up senior former officials to write supportive op-eds and funding an advertising effort to spread the word that Hagel does in fact have bipartisan support.

The Cable has learned that a large chunk of that pro-Hagel money is coming from one Democratic donor, gambling legend Bill Benter, who is working with the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm, to support pro-Hagel advertising.

Benter is the shadowy mathematician with CIA and Arab connections who figured out how to beat the odds at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley race track, and funneled more than $800,000 through an ‘associate,’ the even shadowier Connie Esdicul, into the up-and coming J Street organization in 2010.

J Street, if you have forgotten, is the fake “pro-Israel” lobbying group which has consistently worked against Israel’s interests in Washington — also with Arab connections — all the while claiming that they are doing it for Israel’s own good.

Just like, er, Chuck Hagel. In fact J Street supports Hagel, and its positions on Iranian sanctions, Hamas, etc., almost precisely agree with his. Which, surprisingly enough, are the same as those of George Soros, another big J Street funder, and of President Barack Obama.

This is one of those times that I wish the anti-Semites were right, and that there was actually a semi-covert, powerful and well-funded Jewish lobby forcing the captive US (“Zionist-occupied”) government to do its bidding.

Instead, there is a Jewish community sharply divided on many political issues — and a large part of that community has decided that if it comes down to a choice between Israel and what it calls ‘progressive values,’ they’ll choose the latter.

And this is alongside a semi-covert, powerful and well-funded anti-Israel lobby, which is not at all divided about what it wants.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Reporter Alan Elsner Leaving Pro-Israel Group for ‘Ideologically Better Suited’ J Street

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The Israel Project is a bi-partisan pro-Israel messaging organization with close relationships to many people spread across the Israeli political spectrum and with liberal centrist pro-Israel Democrats in the U.S. government.

TIP is perhaps best known for its polling and messaging efforts to improve Israel’s image with the public, and the helicopter rides they offer foreign journalists stationed in Israel, so that the size of the country, especially in comparison to its hostile neighbors, is understood.

In what has been a stable yet rapidly-expanding organization, several changes have recently taken place at TIP that surprised the somewhat inbred pro-Israel world.

First, TIP’s ubiquitous founder and president left – for good this time  – but perhaps far more shocking, the former number two at TIP has joined J Street.  Whereas TIP is focused on helping Israel improve its image throughout the world, many consider J Street to be the source of more harm to Israel’s image than just about any other organization, and certainly more than any other organization which claims to be pro-Israel.

TIP was founded ten years ago by three women, one of whom became the president and remained in that position until this summer.  Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi was a communications and political consulting strategist as well as a former operative with the Democratic National Committee until she launched TIP.  After ten years, TIP grew to an organization with staff of more than 80 and with offices in three different cities – including Jerusalem – and an annual budget of up to $11 million.

The TIP Board came up with a new strategic plan last year, and Laszlo Mizrahi had already decided it was time for her to move on.

The board’s strategic plan was to scale back the enormous worldwide focus – TIP was not only working on pro-Israel messaging in the United States but was also working with Israeli, Russian, Spanish, British, German, Arabic and Chinese press to improve Israel’s image.

One former employee told The Jewish Press that it was hard to justify spending lots of money to improve relations with Russian and Chinese journalists, given that the press is tightly controlled by the government in both of those countries.

The search to find a new TIP president and executive director concluded when former American Israel Public Affairs Committee spokesperson Josh Block agreed to sign on.  Block’s mandate included a more tightly focused agenda – concentrating on the U.S. market where results are more likely and more quantifiable.  He also took the helm when the nature of the media messaging was shifting, with a stronger emphasis on digital engagement – twitter, Facebook and other social media.  The nature of these changes – not in message but in delivery – meant TIP was going to become a leaner machine.

Alan Elsner, the former number two at TIP,  saw the writing on the wall and left the organization earlier this fall.  Elsner had been a journalist with Reuters for more than 30 years, but retired from that job two years ago.  In a move that surprised some, Elsner joined TIP and was its senior communications director during his two year stint.

Elsner told The Jewish Press that he first met Laszlo Mizrahi while he was Reuters’ political correspondent.  At that time Laszlo Mizrahi was what Elsner called a DNC “operative,” and she had been a source for him.  Over the years the two maintained a friendship, and after Elsner left Reuters, Laszlo Mizrahi asked him to join TIP.

Taking a position at a hasbara organization is something few journalists would deign to do, especially one coming from an organization like Reuters.  But while some folks expressed surprise when Elsner went to TIP, he said that because he was “retired” from journalism, he was finally able to do what he really wanted.  And Israel has always been important to Elsner.

Alan Elsner grew up in England, but his parents eventually moved to Israel.  Elsner lived in Israel for eight years, and served in the Israel Defense Forces from 1981-82.  His sister and brother-in-law still live there, in the south, near Beer Sheva, as do their four sons.  Elsner is a child of a Holocaust survivor, and one of the books he wrote is about his father’s experience during World War II, “Guarded by Angels.”

Laszlo Mizrahi – who told The Jewish Press that she had no comment for this article – developed the TIP style of not criticizing either journalists or Israeli government officials for doing the wrong thing, but instead to offer material and resources to the former and information and polling data to the latter, to help achieve the desired results – a more positive image for Israel.  TIP does not create Israel’s message. Instead, TIP helps to package Israel’s message – either through changes in word choice, context or emphasis – so that the global audience is less likely to have its feathers ruffled – or its prejudices kick in.

Elsner, on the other hand, says he now understands that his personal style and ideology is better suited to J Street.

Echoing a statement released by J Street when Elsner accepted the new position as its senior communications director this week, he told The Jewish Press, “accentuating positive messages about Israel, while it can be useful, ultimately is not going to get Israel to where it needs to go.”

Unlike TIP, J Street is not interested in helping Israel deliver its message with better packaging. J Street has its own idea of what Israel’s message should be, and is perfectly happy delivering its own message to rather than for Israel.  That message is that there must be a Palestinian State and any efforts that get in the way of creating that result – and their primary focus for criticism is Israel – is destructive and should be treated accordingly by the U.S. administration.

So what should Israel be doing? According to Elsner, “Israel should find a way to get back to the peace process.”  He said, “continuing to build settlements, just eating up land where the Palestinian State is going to be established” takes everyone further away from a solution.

When asked what message he has for Israel, Elsner’s response was not surprising.  He said, “the only way to safeguard Israel as a democratic, Jewish state is to reach a peace agreement with the ‘Palestinians’ so that they have their own state, that has to be the priority.”

Elsner continued, “Israel cannot take positions that make it [the 'Two State Solution'] more difficult, and Israeli politicians are making short term choices for political reasons, ones that always outweigh the long term good of the nation.”

Elsner criticized the recent announcement approving a stage in the process of construction in the area known as E-1 by Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Some former colleagues described Elsner as a “Bibi hater.”

“There should be room in the discussion for those who want to pursue a real peace process and who value dialogue above settlements,” is the way J Street, and also Elsner – now publicly – frame the issue.

When asked whether he thought it was acceptable for a future Palestinian State to forbid Jews from living there, Elsner’s response echoed what the J Street crowd calls “Jewish out of bounds talk,” i.e. they claim it is not acceptable to speak harshly about the “settlements.”  In this instance, when it is suggested that those who push the Two State Solution are actually promoting a Judenrein state, the suggestion is balked at, turned away from, but ultimately never addressed head on.

In an effort to draw out Elsner on this concept, The Jewish Press reminded him of the tragic story of Koby Mandell, the 13 year old Jewish American-Israeli boy who, with his friend Yosef Ishran, was bludgeoned to death in 2001 by Arab Palestinians in the wadi outside of his home in Tekoa, in the Judean desert.

The Mandell family moved to Tekoa in the wake of the Oslo Accords.  They believed peace was truly going to break out between Jews and Arabs, and when they moved to Tekoa, according to Koby’s father, Rabbi Seth Mandell, they really did not know whether the land would be part of Israel or of a Palestinian State, and they didn’t think it mattered.

Elsner’s response – while perhaps not intentionally harsh, and certainly not intentionally ironic – was that lots of blood has been spilled on both sides, and that there was an excessive level of naivete many years ago that no longer is as prevalent.

Since announcing his new position, Elsner said he has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, especially from his friends and relatives in Israel.

How he lasted two years in senior leadership at The Israel Project is the real mystery.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/reporter-alan-elsner-leaving-pro-israel-group-for-ideologicallyy-better-suited-j-street/2012/12/06/

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