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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Richard Allen’

Tuesday Rally: No Israel Boycotters in Celebrate Israel Parade

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A coalition of concerned pro-Israel New Yorkers will be gathering Tuesday evening outside of the UJA-Federation building at 130 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.

The organizers say they are having the rally because every other effort the group has made over the past several years has failed to convince the UJA-Federation and the JCRC that people affiliated with organizations which support the boycott of Jews in Israel – anywhere in Israel – should not be given an official hecksher of “pro-Israel” bona fides by being welcomed to march in the Israel Day Parade in New York.

The theme of the group coalesced over time and became “It starts with boycotts.” That’s because the people whom the group does not want to be granted acceptance support boycotting Jews as a legitimate tool the pressure Israel to accede to their – not the voters of Israel, but their wishes in resolving the Arab Israeli conflict.

“It starts with boycotts of Jewish products, and ends with violence against Jews,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky emailed The Jewish Press Monday evening. She is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

“At this time, perhaps more than any other time since the beginning of the Holocaust, when anti-Israel hatred, and anti-Semitic and jihadist violence, are surging across the globe, it is time for the Jewish community to demand that Jewish leaders show some backbone,” Gilinsky explained.

As two New Yorkers put it in a letter they sent to the head of the UJA-Federation, their objection to the inclusion of people who intentionally harm Israel in the Israel Day Parade is not a matter of restricting free speech.

“Please do not confuse our opposition to the inclusion of BDS groups in the parade with any attempt to stifle free speech. On the contrary, we have no objection to the right of people to state their positions,” wrote Benjamin S. Klapper, of Manhattan. “As Jews and supporters of the state of Israel we do not have to furnish the platform.”

All of the rally organizers repeatedly made clear that they support the good work that the UJA-Federation and the JCRC do, especially their services for indigent and elderly Jews. But they all felt very strongly that it is wrong to permit those who willingly harm fellow Jews, or give support to those who do, to march with those whose love for Israel means they will fight for it, not against it.

“We stand with Israel, against the anti-Israel, Arab-supported BDS movement which dehumanizes Jews, demonizes Israel and which, sadly, some dishonorable Jewish groups support,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

The BDS movement promotes economic and legal warfare against Israel by promoting the implementation of Boycotts of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel and Israeli leaders.

The sorest point between the rally organizers and the gatekeepers for the parade is in the definition of boycott. For the pro-Israel group, anyone prepared to support those who do, or who themselves use economic warfare against Jews are supporters of anti-Israel boycotts, whether the support is for a boycott of all of Israel or only of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

For those who make the eligibility determination, groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund and even the Partners for Progressive Israel, which consistently partner with or who fund groups that promote Israel boycotts or who promote boycotts themselves, their pro-Israel bona fides comes from their claim to “support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Richard Allen, is the founder of JCCWatch. Allen is the main catalyst for the rally and the sustained effort to ensure the Celebrate Israel Parade includes only actual lovers of Israel. He explained to The Jewish Press that the UJA-Federation has been telling concerned donors that no BDS supporters will be marching in the parade.

“But that’s simply not true and they know that. Partners for a Progressive Israel march in the parade. That is a pro-BDS group,” Allen said.

A quick skip over to the Partners for a Progressive Israel website reveals that oh yes indeed, the group most certainly promotes the boycott of all kinds of Israeli products, including SodaStream (what would Scarlett say?), Ahava and, all told, more than a dozen products including wines, salads and spices made by Jewish companies. Most of which, by the way, employ Arabs at salaries far higher than the salaries at Arab-owned companies.

Take a look:

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products 

Joe Rapaport is a New Yorker who took the time to speak with John Ruskay, executive director of the UJA-Federation. Ruskay told Rapaport, that all the “groups marching in the parade have signed off that they are NOT in favor of BDS.” How to explain that position with the Partners for Progressive Israel’s proud affirmation of their boycott is difficult to understand.

But there is no need to attempt to reconcile those two contradictory positions, because the official  ”2014 CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE – June 1, 2014 RULES AND REGULATIONS” makes no reference toBDS. The only requirement imposed on parade marchers is not even that they “support” Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but that they “identify” with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. No pledge is required, the statement just appears in the rule book.

Rapaport said that Ruskay also tried various hedges, like “the Federation does not decide who is in the parade, the JCRC does.” Ruskay conceded, however, according to Rapaport, that the Federation had the ability to influence the decision. Finally, Rapaport explained that Ruskay “jumped to the argument that to eliminate these [BDS supporting groups] would alienate big donors, specifically Bronfman.”

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?

“I have received calls this week from members of the Jewish establishment accusing us of trying to stop the parade altogether,” Gilinsky said.

“Neither could be farther from the truth. We certainly want the Celebrate Israel event to succeed — just without promoters of the anti-Jewish, Hamas-backed BDS movement parading down Fifth Avenue!”

Groups participating in the rally include JCC Watch, Americans for a Safe Israel, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Coalition for Israel, Young Israel of Kew Gardens, Jewish Action Alliance, Never Again is Now and the Jewish Political Education. Foundation

Post-Scandal 92nd St Y, Time to Re-Set Jewish, Pro-Israel Values

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Throughout the spring The Jewish Press and other media have repeatedly covered various missteps by what had been an esteemed New York Jewish institution, the 92nd St Y.

But it was recently revealed that the man who was supposed to be running the show was instead running around with his assistant; that the assistant’s son-in-law was not only an ex-con but that he had been put in charge of procurement for the Y’s facilities; and that he has recently been accused of demanding kickbacks from Y vendors.

The Y’s board hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.  The probe found strong evidence of wrongdoing, according to the New York Daily News.

But perhaps the Y can now not only cleanse itself from the tawdriness of the current scandal, but recommit to pro-Israel as well as to Jewish values.  While the Board of the Y is engaged in the hiring process for a new executive director, it would be a welcome relief to many if it were also to commit itself to ensuring that Jewish communal dollars are not spent providing a platform to Israel’s most vociferous haters.

Because for some reason, even if only relatively recently, under the previous executive director’s (failure of) leadership, the Y has let down many former supporters. Its scheduling included some people who are not only not supportive of Israel, but who rank among Israel’s biggest celebrity enemies.

First there was the disastrous dalliance with Roger Waters, one of celebritydom’s most outspoken anti-Israel defamers.  The former Pink Floyd rocker’s many acts of hatred towards Israel were chronicled in several articles in The Jewish Press.  Those articles ran when Waters was scheduled to appear in April.  At the last minute, and in a shamelessly stealthy move, a last minute scheduling conflict on Waters’ part allowed the Y to slide out of its commitment.

And then, just a month later, Waters’ sidekick in the effort to bar the Israeli Philharmonic from performing at Carnegie Hall, Alice Walker, was invited into the Y to help promote her new book. Walker is such an overt fountain spewing Israel hatred that even the mainstream Anti-Defamation League has labeled her comparisons of Israelis with Nazis and justifying suicide bombers as shocking and anti-Semitic.

Throughout these episodes, all the efforts to contact the Y’s executive director, Sol Adler, were met with no response.

Now we know why.

The emergent pattern at the Y of  booking not only opponents of Israel, but also the absolute stonewalling by the executive director as well as the communications director, led to the creation of a recurring protest outside of the 92nd Street Y.

The protest is known as “Close Your Wallets,” and it calls upon members of the Jewish community to make their views known by, literally, “Closing their Wallets” to Jewish communal organizations which allow money raised from the Jewish community to be spent supporting haters of Israel. They call that “donor fraud.”

Every second Thursday of every month – the next one is scheduled for August 8 – pro-Israel members of the larger New York City Jewish community stand outside the 92nd Street Y and distribute literature and educate passersby about the donor fraud problem.

And while no one likes to kick a dog when it’s down, perhaps the revelation about such extreme wrong doing as has just been disclosed will set the stage for some widespread housecleaning at the Y.  Therein lies the silver lining to the dark cloud currently hanging over the Y.

“This is a great opportunity for the Y’s board of directors to take control and stop the promotion of speakers who favor the boycott of Israel,” Richard Allen who heads JCC Watch, the driving force in the efforts to prevent, and then to educate about the problem of donor fraud, told The Jewish Press.

“They need guidelines, so they know what should not be crossed,” Allen continued. “The former leadership was not open to having them, but now, when putting in place other guidelines, those responsible for the Y’s future should also make it clear that Jewish communal dollars must not be used to fund anti-Israel activities.”

Allen told The Jewish Press that the Close Your Wallets protests will continue on the second Thursday of every month, until the Jewish communal organizations set those guidelines.

The Y is currently being run by the deputy executive director Deputy Executive Director Henry Timms, until a new executive director is selected.

Pro-Israel New Yorkers Protest 92nd St Y’s anti-Israel Speaker

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

“She can say whatever she wants, but not in ‘our’ building,” was Manhattan attorney Robert Sidi’s response when finding out that the 92nd Street Y was hosting vocal Israel-hater novelist Alice Walker.

Sidi was explaining to The Jewish Press why he showed up Thursday night, May 30, to stand outside the 92nd Street Y and protest the fact that a Jewish institution, built and maintained with funds from Jewish charities, was providing a platform to someone who “denounces, denigrates and demonizes Israel.”

About a dozen pro-Israel New Yorkers joined Sidi last night, protesting the appearance by Alice Walker at the Y.  Walker was at the 92nd St Y to promote a recent publication of a book of poetry and to talk “about her activism and her writing, her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world.”

Lainee Cohen Grauman and her husband Jonathan Grauman told The Jewish Press that they only found out about Walker’s appearance at the 92nd Street Y two days before the event.

“It really riled me,” Lainee Cohen Grauman said. “I liked her book, The Color Purple, but her politics and anti-Israel activities are  horrible.”  Grauman ticked off several anti-Israel positions Walker has taken: “she was on the flotilla to break the blockade of Gaza, she tried to stop Carnegie Hall from hosting the Israeli Philharmonic, and now she is trying to get Alicia Keys to back out of her appearance in Israel.”

Alicia Keys is a popular R & B singer scheduled to appear in Tel Aviv in July.  In a public letter Alice Walker called on Keys to pull out of her commitment to perform in the Jewish State.

In the letter Walker wrote to Keys, “It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists.”

Walker was not content to merely call Israel an apartheid country.  She told Keys Israel is “unbelievably evil,” “greedy” and “cruel,” and that it is responsible for a great deal of global suffering.

This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil. You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity. Greed. It is a vast eye-opener into the causes of much of the affliction in our suffering world.

Grauman tried to call the 92nd Street Y administration to ask why they were providing a forum for Alice Walker, but finally gave up after  being repeatedly foiled by the switchboard.  Not only could she not speak with anyone, she could not even leave a message.

“It was important to show up outside the Y for two reasons,” Jonathan Grauman told The Jewish Press. First, it is important to send a message to the Y and to other Jewish institutions – they need to be put on notice that there are members of the Jewish community who do not want Jewish communal dollars spent supporting enemies of Israel.  And second, we want Alice Walker to know that we are aware of her anti-Israel message and she will not go unchallenged.”

Both Graumans concurred that it was important to go out and challenge falsehoods against Israel. “Walker’s insistence that the land belongs to the Palestinians is not just anti-Israel, it is a rejection of 2000 years of Jewish history,” Jonathan Grauman explained.

Richard Allen is the head of JCC Watch, which sent out the original notice about Walker’s appearance at the Y.

“It is shameful that the 92nd Street Y is diverting Jewish community money for anti-Israel activities,” Allen told The Jewish Press. “There has been a pattern – first with [BDS activist] Roger Waters and now with Alice Walker.  And all of our efforts to speak with the 92nd Street Y administrators have been met with closed doors, closed ears and closed minds.”

The Israel supporters who showed up outside the 92nd St Y last night to protest Walker’s appearance had a rare opportunity: as she approached the entrance to the Y at about 8:00 p.m., they were able to engage Walker in discussion about what they claim are her severely twisted and untrue assertions about Israel.

YU’s Law School to Honor Jimmy Carter for ‘Conflict Resolution’

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law is scheduled to present former U.S. president Jimmy Carter with the “International Advocate for Peace” Award this Wednesday, April 10.

Since leaving the presidency, former president Carter has been present in many places around the globe where  tremendous conflict has taken – and continues to take – place. With respect to the conflicts foremost in the minds of pro-Israel Jews and other Zionists, the role Carter has played has been wildly unpopular.

The award is being presented by the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution. The law school administration has insisted – through a statement issued by a public relations firm – it was a choice made by the students. Sources have suggested the opposite is the case.

In what appeared to be an effort to distance themselves from the award and the event, at least to those complaining, some concerned individuals were told “on good assurance” that neither Cardozo’s Dean Diller nor YU’s President Joel would be present at the award ceremony, and that they were completely uninvolved.

As a letter obtained by The Jewish Press that was sent by Dean Diller to certain “high roller” alumni inviting them to the event made clear, however, Diller plans to be front and center at the event.

“Today, I am particularly pleased and honored to invite you,” wrote Dean Diller, “to a very special afternoon with President Jimmy Carter on April 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm.”  Diller closed the letter by telling the big givers he hoped they would “plan to join me in welcoming the 39th President of the United States to the law school.”

The Jewish Press sent repeated queries to find out why and how Cardozo, of all law schools – it is the only one connected to an officially Jewish institution – chose to honor Jimmy Carter.

The Cardozo statement explained that Jimmy Carter was being honored specifically for his “lifetime of work, from the historic Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt, to monitoring some 90 elections around the world and supporting fledgling democracies to resolve conflicts without violence.”

When he found out about the award, Cardozo alumnus Gary Emmanuel decided to act.  He gathered other alumni and concerned individuals to form the group “The Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni.”  When they looked at Carter’s “lifetime of work,” they saw something very different from what was expressed in Cardozo’s official statement.  The CCCA also created a website, Shame On Cardozo for Honoring Jimmy Carter, on which Carter is described as having a history of “anti-Israel bigotry”:

He is responsible for helping to mainstream the antisemitic notion that Israel is an apartheid state with his provocatively titled book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”, the publication of which prompted mass resignations from the Carter Center. He has met numerous times with leaders of the terror group Hamas whitewashing their genocidal goals and undermining US efforts to isolate Hamas. And Carter’s record of slandering Israel is so voluminous that both CAMERA and Alan Dershowitz have written books refuting his lies.

The Shame on Cardozo website links to a litany of Carter’s anti-Israel activities, including his stating on national television in 2006 that Hamas had observed an 18-month truce – not true – and in 2007 using a faked Nelson Mandela letter to “prove” Israel is an Apartheid state.

Perhaps most troublesome is that just over a year ago Jimmy Carter said in an interview with Time magazine that he didn’t think it was such a big deal if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.  Here’s the full quote, with no characterizations:

Well, of course, the religious leaders of Iran have sworn on their word of honor that they’re not going to manufacture nuclear weapons. If they are lying, then I don’t see that as a major catastrophe because they’ll only have one or two military weapons. Israel probably has 300 or so.

In the four days since Carter’s Cardozo award became public, on April 4, emails and Twitter blasts have been ricocheting around the Internet.  Most have been highly critical of the pending honor.  In addition, alumni and others interested have sent letters of protest to Richard Joel, the President of Yeshiva University, and to Matthew Diller, the Dean of Cardozo School of Law.

Israel Hater Waters Washed Out of NYC 92nd Street Y

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

So far no one is saying for sure how it happened or who made the final decision, but there are many supporters of Israel who are breathing a big sigh of relief that Roger Waters, former front man for the 1970′s rock band Pink Floyd, and currently best known for being a rabid hater of Israel, will not be performing at New York City’s 92nd Street Y on April 30th, as had been scheduled.

Waters is still a popular musician, particularly for the aging boomer crowd.  His one night appearance, “A Conversation with Rogers Waters” at the 92nd Street Y had been sold out for some time.  With a mere 900 seat capacity, however, the Kaufman Concert Hall is hardly the size of the mega-theaters Waters used to fill in his prime during his Pink Floyd days.

When news of Waters’ appearance at the 92nd Street Y first began circulating among Jews supportive of Israel, the man behind JCCWatch.org, Richard Allen, sent an email to Sol Adler, executive director of the Y.  Allen suggested perhaps Adler was not aware that Waters is a fanatical supporter of the economic warfare movement against Israel, known as BDS (Boycott of, Divestment From and Sanctions against Israel).  That email was sent on March 24, 2013.

Waters is not only a committed supporter of BDS, he bragged about having been instrumental in convincing Stevie Wonder to renege on his agreement to perform at a pro-Israel benefit in California that took place last year.  He also spoke at the United Nations on November 29, 2012, condemning Israel as an Apartheid state, and blaming Israel for denying the “Palestinian” people their “inalienable right” to “self-determination.”

In addition to these efforts to convince others that Israel must be shunned for committing “human rights violations,” Waters also was a leader of the effort to get Carnegie Hall to cancel the scheduled appearance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in October of 2012.  Given his role in attempting to prevent the Israeli Philharmonic from giving a purely musical performance, it should be difficult for Waters’ supporters to complain about efforts to prevent Waters from appearance at the 92nd Street Y, where he was going to talk about his Israel-hatred.

The Y holds itself out as a center for Jewish life that offers learning opportunities, multigenerational holiday celebrations, and “talks on a broad range of Jewish topics encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own special meaning in Jewish tradition and find joy in Jewish life and culture.”

92nd Street Y Concert of Roger Waters, huge promoter of economic boycott of Israel, has been cancelled.

92nd Street Y Concert of Roger Waters, huge promoter of economic boycott of Israel, has been cancelled.

The Jewish Press ran a story on March 25 about Waters’ scheduled appearance at the 92nd Street Y, noting that the Y had begun nearly 140 years earlier as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, and how ironic it was that it was going to host one of the biggest haters of Israel west of the Middle East.

And then things became a little strange at the 92nd Street Y website.

On March 26th, the Waters event at the Y was listed on the website as “postponed.”  Then, sometime during the first days of Passover, all mention of the Waters concert was removed from the Y’s website, including from its calendar listing.  However, curious callers to the box office were told that the concert was going on as planned.  By late in the evening of March 28, the event once again was listed on the website.

On March 29, the box office staff told curious callers that they should keep their tickets and they would be called with information about a new date, but later that same day a new date for the Waters’ concert – June 19th – was posted on a British website.

The turmoil continued for the 92nd Street Y management, scheduling office, and webmaster, as the public outcry continued, reaching a crescendo on April 3.

Emails were sent to Adler at the Y and to John Ruskay, the chair of New York City’s United Jewish Appeal – Federation, asking how they could provide a forum at the Y to someone with such a visceral hatred for Israel, someone who has publicly stated his commitment to do everything within his power to destroy Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens from terrorism.

The NYC United Jewish Appeal-Federation provides more than $800,000 to the 92nd St Y.  JCCWatch’s Richard Allen told The Jewish Press that “it is unforgivable for someone who recently said ‘total BDS is the way to go,’ someone who is a clear cut enemy of Israel, to be given a platform at an institution paid for, in part, using Federation resources.”

Lionel Leventhal, a Manhattan healthcare private equity fund manager, explained to The Jewish Press why he sent an email to Federation’s Ruskay and Adler from the Y, asking them to explain, or better yet just undo, the disastrous decision to host Waters at the Y.

“How is it possible,” Leventhal asked, “that Israel, the only country in the region in which artists are given the total right of self-expression is the one being targeted for abuse…by an artist?!”

Leventhal was particularly incensed because he grew up in Manhattan, and has attended cultural events at the 92nd St Y for more than 40 years. While declining to categorize himself as a particular kind of Jew – “I’m just really proud to be Jewish,” he said, there were three things that he found particularly irksome about the Waters’ gig.

“First, Waters is engaged in an organized effort to misinform artists,” Leventhal explained.

“Second, Waters has his facts upside down – he is completely mischaracterizing Israel,” he continued, “and third, the 92nd Street Y is a center for education, a center for all things Jewish, to host someone like Waters is completely antithetical to the mission of the institution.”

Craig Dershowitz is another New Yorker in high dudgeon that the 92nd Street Y booked an Israel vilifier to appear at its venue.  Dershowitz is a graffiti artist whose organization, Artists 4 Israel, promotes positive information about Israel. Dershowitz was a bit less temperate than Leventhal or Allen in his suppositions regarding the role the Y and the NYC Federation played in this drama.

“The UJA, like so many other Jewish organizations, are not only simply consorting with the enemy, they are now justifying and even promoting what is in this case, at least, the metaphorical slaughter of our people.”

Dershowitz offered less benign explanations for the Waters event to have been scheduled in the first place.  While Allen believed that the Y leadership simply did not know about Waters’ Israel hatred, and Leventhal seemed pretty sure it was an error, Dershowitz had this to say:

“Either the Y did no due diligence, which is pathetic; or, because as an institution it is becoming more and more irrelevant the management decided to go for something controversial to draw attention to the venue; or, the leadership simply thought Waters was awesome, but then so was black and white television when it first came out, which reveals how irrelevant the Y is to contemporary arts and culture.”

Repeated phone calls by The Jewish Press to the 92nd Street Y media relations director over the course of the past week were not returned, but callers to the box office were told the event was cancelled because Waters has a “scheduling conflict.”

An article in the Jewish Daily Forward suggests the Y cancelled the event because of “heat” and quotes an April 3 statement issued by JCCWatch, but then reveals it has not received any official explanation for the cancellation.

A British Pink Floyd fan site, “Brain Dead,” seems to suggest that the event was cancelled because “certain parts of the Jewish community were not happy with the event, due to Roger’s views on Israel,” but then it links back to the Forward article which doesn’t contain any independent basis upon which to determine who was responsible for cancelling the event.

 

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