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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

Podhoretz Storms Off 92nd Street Y Stage in Spat with J Street

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

See Shushed and Booed, Podhoretz Walks Out on 92 St. Y Panel for a better informed version of this story.

Commentary editor John Podhoretz stormed off the New York’s 92nd Street Y Stage Monday night in the middle of spat with J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami but denied reports that he said “students at Swarthmore College deserve to be spat upon.”

Jewish Daily Forward Jane Eisner, who moderated a panel discussion on the term “pro-Israel,” wrote in her account of the incident that Podhoretz “lost it when a member of the audience asked about the American Studies Association’s announcement Monday that it would boycott Israeli academic institutions over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

Ben-Ami agreed that the ASA vote was “hypocritical” but then launched into a tirade against Israeli government policies, which he said “make it difficult for some Americans to believe Israel really does want peace with the Palestinians.” Podhoretz angrily replied, Eisner tried to calm tempers, and he then stalked off stage.

The Commentary editor wrote following the incident that he had a “bad night,” and he clarified his remark on spitting. Referring to the Hillel group at Swarthmore College, he wrote, “What I said was that if you advocate anti-Zionism, you are calling for the destruction of the homeland of my family. You are free to do so, and I am free to revile you and spit upon you.”

“This bit of hysterical rhetoric was not my finest verbal improvisation,” Podhoretz added, but he emphasized that he did not say anyone should be spat on. “Given that an organization cannot be spat upon, the flourish here, though admittedly stupid and in bad taste, was clearly and entirely rhetorical. Aside from that, I wouldn’t change a word of what I said, though.”

Netanyahu Apoplectic about Iran Sanctions Deal, J Street Euphoric (VIDEO)

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Israel is reeling from the one-two punch delivered by the United States over the past few days.

First was Kerry’s verbal abuse and threats towards Israel should the Jewish state not accede to the suicidal deal with the Palestinian Arabs being rammed down Israel’s throat by the American handmaiden. And second, news of the “deal” that the U.S. is plowing towards in which Iran gets to have its nuclear cake and be relieved of those pesky “biting” sanctions also.

Naturally, long-time cheerleader for the Palestinian Arabs – J Street – is raising its pom-poms, urging on the Iran no-sanctions deal.  They are also doing clean-up duty, trying to get those stragglers in the U.S. senate who are signaling resistance to shredding the sanctions before the Iranian nuclear threat is diminished, let alone gone.

Within hours of Netanyahu’s crystal clear speech that the deal between Iran and the west is a “bad deal, a very, very bad deal,” see the video, below, J Street sent out the message through thousands of emails, and on its website, urging Americans to tell their senators to “take a time out from moving ahead with new sanctions.”

And J Street’s phraseology is precious.  It seeks to position itself as closer to the true north of American Jewry, and points to “organizations that claim to represent the American Jewish community” as the outliers. J Street calls those organizations “hawks” who are undermining the president’s reasoned and thus far successful approach to dealing with Iran.

And in J Street’s email message, though not on its website, J Street represents itself and its ally, this administration, as the cautionary party, the one whose strategy will prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, while those who disagree with the approach are increasing the chances of Iran going nuclear. J Street’s email message:

A nuclear-armed Iran would be a critical threat to the US, Israel, and global security.

That’s why we welcome reports of recent days’ progress in Geneva toward an agreement with Iran to begin freezing and rolling back its program.

And it’s also why reports that some in the Senate are considering moving a new round of sanctions legislation seems ill-timed and unhelpful.

What?

It is bad enough when J Street shamelessly and relentlessly push the Palestinian Arab propaganda line which claims Jews living and breathing beyond an arbitrary armistice line is the primary cause of unrest in the Middle East.

But when J Street throws its sheltering arms around the mullahs in Iran and tries to help browbeat members of the U.S. senate into easing Iran’s slide into the nuclear weapons club – a club whose doors should and must be shut to any nation that threatens to “exterminate” or “wipe off the face of the Earth” another nation, especially Israel – it makes it impossible to do anything but grimace at their tag line: “pro-Israel, pro-peace.”

White House Asks Pro-Israel Groups to Tone Down Iran Sanctions Talk

Friday, November 1st, 2013

The U.S. government is asking pro-Israel activists to reduce their public support for more sanctions on Iran just prior to another round of discussions on the issue between Iranian and world leaders. White House officials met with Jewish organizations including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, a pro-Israel official who attended the briefing said that the Obama administration does not “want the new [sanctions] to come out now.”

Additionally, the lobby group J Street said Tuesday that “moving forward with new sanctions now could severely undermine prospects for a diplomatic solution.” The statement “could have been written by the White House itself,” a source familiar with the meeting told the Washington Free Beacon .

Democrats in Congress have also drafted a bill designed to establish a panel to “review, assess, and make recommendations” regarding the prospect of increasing sanctions on Iran.

The Never-Ending Struggle for Jerusalem

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat may or may not be re-elected for a second term this coming Tuesday. But even his opponents had much to learn from a talk he delivered in one of his campaign stops this week, in which he briefly recounted aspects of the glorious history of Yerushalayim, the holy city.

His talk must be understood, however, in the light of the alarming tone taken by a senior Israeli government figure, considered to be close to – i.e., a mouthpiece for – Prime Minister Netanyahu. Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, speaking about the ongoing, very secret negotiations between top Israeli and PA negotiators, has a solution for Jerusalem that he would actually welcome and that the PA can also accept.

Hanegbi does not expect a breakthrough in the talks: “I don’t see the Palestinians adopting the red-line principles that the prime minister has set any time soon,” he said. “These principles include “no division of Jerusalem,” he reassured, as well as continued Israeli presence/control in the Jordan Valley and retention of settlement blocs – “the extent of which will be the subject of a major argument.”

What exactly does he mean when he says “no division of Jerusalem?” Speaking at the recent J Street national conference in Washington, Hanegbi said, “I think we will be able to give a good answer, a win-win answer, to almost every issue, including the Jerusalem issue.” Jerusalem wouldn’t actually be “divided,” he explained, but there would rather “be some creative idea that will allow them to have their own sovereignty in their neighborhoods and to declare whatever they want to declare about it, and we will have sovereignty over other parts.”

“We will never agree to the division of Jerusalem,” he said later, “but rather to creative solutions that will allow the city’s hundreds of thousands of Arabs, whom no one wants to become Israeli citizens, to become part of the Palestinian entity.”

If this is what a senior government figure feels is an acceptable approach to Yerushalayim – i.e., giving up, in one form or another, on large portions of Arab-populated territory in and surrounding the holy Jewish capital – then supporters of a united, Jewish Jerusalem have reason for concern.

One thing on which Prime Minister Netanyahu truly does insist is, of course, PA recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. He has repeatedly explained that the reason this is so critical is so that the PA will be able to demand neither its own national rights in Israeli territory, nor the return of Arab refugees into Israel – so as not to threaten the country’s Jewish majority.

No Arab National Rights

Keep in mind that the San Remo Resolutions, unanimously confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922, made sure to grant the Arabs of the Holy Land individual civil and religious rights – but specifically not those of a national political nature. Calling for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” it emphasized that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

The League of Nations itself resolved to recognize “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and… the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” No such recognition of Arab rights in Palestine was granted.

Back to Mayor Barkat. He alluded to King David, who turned the city into the spiritual center it was destined to be ever since the Torah alluded to it as the “place that I [God] will choose.” King David also made it the political capital of the Jewish Nation, while his son King Shlomo built the Holy Temple there. The structure was so impressive that it totally bowled over the visiting Queen of Sheba (Kings I 10:5). No wonder even the Arabs call the city “Al-Quds,” short for “Bait al Makdis,” or Beit HaMikdash.

No mention of Jerusalem’s history is complete without mention of the Second Temple; the Talmud states that whoever did not see it (at least in its later stages), “never saw a beautiful building in his life.” After it, too, was destroyed, the loving bonds between the Jewish people and their holy capital were detached – physically. All that was left was prayer, and throughout the coming centuries, the Jewish People prayed thrice every day for the return to Yerushalayim.

In 1948, it almost happened. The Jewish people returned from the four corners of the earth after nearly 1,900 years in exile, and re-established their long-destroyed national home. Yet, amazingly, one thing was still missing: The holy city of Jerusalem. True, the younger suburbs, known today as western Jerusalem, were in Israeli hands – but the site of the Temples and the original City of David were taken over by Jordan.

As anyone who has ever heard the song Yerushalayim Shel Zahav knows, this state of detachment between the Jewish nation and its City of Joy did not last forever: After 19 years, Israel liberated it and restored it to its People.

Let’s recall how this came about. Israel had been facing existential threats from its Arab neighbors for a number of months. “Israel’s existence has continued too long,” Cairo Radio broadcast in mid-May. “The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel.” A few days later, Syria’s president announced, “We want a full scale, popular war of liberation… to destroy the Zionist enemy.” Iraq’s president, too, said, “Our goal is clear: to wipe Israel off the map.”

The liberation of Jerusalem was therefore not on anyone’s mind at that time (except perhaps for Rav Tzvi Yehua Kook, who, just three weeks before the Six-Day War, cried out prophetically against the absence of Judea and Samaria from Israel’s borders). Instead the concern was whether Israel would soon be annihilated, Heaven forbid.

Israel’s leaders informed Jordan’s King Hussein that if he refrained from attacking Israel, Israel would not attack him. But he ignored the warnings and on the very first day of the war launched multiple attacks on Israel. His forces shelled Tel Aviv suburbs, the Ramat David airfield, Netanya and Kfar Saba – and especially western Jerusalem, hit by thousands of mortar shells. It is not often remembered that 20 Israelis died in these attacks, 1,000 were wounded, and 900 buildings were damaged.

All this happened before Israel took any military action against Jordan and its hold on Jerusalem or the west bank of the Jordan River. Only on the third day of the war was the command given to liberate Jerusalem, and the Jewish nation was reunited once again with its beloved holy city. Because Jordan attacked without provocation, Israel’s response was an act of self-defense, and its new borders were the result of Jordanian aggression.

UC Berkeley’s Jewish Student Union Rejects J Street

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

The Jewish Student Union at the University of California, Berkley has denied membership to a college branch of the self-labeled “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group J Street, citing its violation of the student union’s bylaws through the hosting of speakers who demonize Israel.

J Street U’s membership was voted down 8-2, marking the second time the Jewish Student Union has rejected the group since 2011.

“A lot of people have said that they want the (Jewish Student Union) to stay a place they feel comfortable saying they love Israel,” Jewish Student Union President Daphna Torbati told the Daily Californian.

J Street’s hosting of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, which works with Israeli veterans that heavily criticize Israel’s military operations, has raised concern among Jewish students that such programming “unfairly disparages Israeli soldiers” and alienates students, UC Berkeley student leaders said.

J Street and the Decline of American Power

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

A few weeks ago, I ventured the theory that rather than the so-called Israel Lobby controlling the administration, it’s the administration that controls the Israel Lobby.

As evidence, I cited two recent episodes. First, Secretary of State John Kerry’s much-vaunted effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations, which, to this date, have gone nowhere for much the same reason that past efforts have failed: the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s historic legitimacy by abandoning the so-called “right of return.”

Nonetheless, American Jewish organizations faithfully broadcast Kerry’s message.

Second, the Obama administration’s mobilization of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to garner support on Capitol Hill for limited air strikes against the Syrian regime. That also came to naught, largely because Obama himself was seduced by the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to cajole Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into giving up his chemical weapons.

Both the “Lobby” and the administration would likely reject the charge that one controls the other. Instead, they would portray the relationship as a two-way street, with lots of mutual backscratching going on.

But outside the fevered minds of Israel Lobby conspiracy theorists, it’s clear that the administration holds the cards. Consequently, an otherwise spectacularly unsuccessful president has pulled off one small achievement, by closing off any prospects for sustained opposition to his Middle East policies from the mainstream Jewish organizations.

In exchange, the White House will provide its leading lights, like Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, to speak at events sponsored by these same organizations in order to demonstrate to well-heeled donors that their influence remains intact.

From the White House’s standpoint, that’s a pretty good deal.

Which brings us to J Street, the leftist lobbying group that claims to be pro-Israel and that has just held its annual policy conference.

J Street wants to be seen as part of the Jewish mainstream, and its roster of speakers this year – among them Biden, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Middle East negotiator Martin Indyk – certainly undermines the assertions of Jews on the right that its influence is marginal.

Nonetheless, J Street’s moment in the sun is the result of fortuitous political circumstances, rather than any ingenious strategy on its part. As the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reported last week, the group has spent $100,000 reaching out to lawmakers to look kindly on both Iranian diplomatic entreaties and Palestinian efforts to secure unilateral recognition – a stance that contradicts the administration’s commitment to direct talks.

As we are now at a juncture where the administration is attempting to engage Iran on a level not seen since the Islamic revolution of 1979, J Street’s willingness to persuade American Jews that the mullahs can be trusted comes in very handy.

Leave aside, for the moment, the abysmal spectacle of a Jewish organization prettifying the outreach of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, who is as much of a Holocaust denier as his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, just not as bombastic. J Street has always had tin ear when it comes to anti-Semitism, as its dogma determines that Jew-hatred, along with Iran’s nukes and the Arab refusal to normalize relations with Israel, will disappear if only Israel would make territorial concessions to the Palestinian authority.

There are more important reasons for alarm at the administration’s alignment with J Street. One, there’s the pettiness: AIPAC’s efforts on Syria have been hung out to dry, while the White House is apparently unconcerned at J Street’s refusal to back Obama when he was dangling the prospect of air strikes against Assad.

Two, it’s emblematic of the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy. Rather than maintaining our status as an unchallenged superpower, the emphasis is instead upon persuading nervous Americans that, unlike the evil George W. Bush administration, we are not going to go to war, and we are not going to tell foreigners what to do, even if their leaders are human rights-abusing tyrants.

In other words, what we’ve seen over the last month is the rapid decline of American power. In this drama, J Street, much like other left-wing groups, is an enthusiastic cheerleader, nothing more.

The rest of us will have to calculate what that means for U.S. allies in the Middle East, not just Israel but the conservative Sunni regimes too. Their distrust of any deal with Iran will not be assuaged by Obama – and if they decide to take unilateral action without American support, we really will be saying, “Welcome to the New World Order.”

Biden to J Street: Regional Instability Is our Incentive for Peace

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden told J Street’s annual conference Monday that he and President Obama were asked often why they chose to focus on restarting Israeli-Palestinian talks, considering the fires consuming Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain.

“In light of all these problems, some people ask us: Why Biden, why, why Obama. Why are you so set on trying to resolve the peace process?” Biden said.

He said it was because it was the best chance for introducing stability in the region.

“The Palestinian-Israeli issue involves the least ideological and least sectarian Arabs in the Middle East,” Biden said.

Arriving hours late — “Blame the President,” Biden said to laughs from the crowd — the vice president proceeded to rehash many of the same themes, and even the anecdotes, he discussed during his speech at the American Israel Public Affairs conference last spring.

The reaction from some 3,000 activists attending the liberal pro-Israel group’s annual conference was mixed. While he received light applause for his mentions of Iran sanctions, it was his call to support diplomacy that won more praise.

Referencing his Irish heritage, Biden said he was aware that history could complicate things but that such a legacy should be an impetus to create peace.

“I understand old hatreds dying slowly. Old scars are the hardest ones to paper over,” he said. “Both sides have to realize that every grievance from the past can’t be visited on their children.”

He defended the American role in peace negotiations, noting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his meeting earlier Monday with Obama thanked the president for encouraging the restart of peace talks. Biden was present at the meeting as well.

“Both sides deserve our support and both sides need our support,” he said to roars from the crowd. “If not us, who?

“It is long past time, it is long past time, and I believe with your help we will get there. Keep the faith!”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/biden-to-j-street-regional-instability-is-our-incentive-for-peace/2013/10/01/

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