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Posts Tagged ‘Zionist Organization of America’

ZOA Protests Mount of Olives Violence

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The Zionist Organization of America has called on US Consul General in Jerusalem Michael Ratney to condemn stoning attacks against Jews at the Mount of Olives, and to press Palestinian Authority officials to deal with the issue from their side.

The Mount of Olives is the oldest extant Jewish site in the world, dating back at least 2,500 years, and is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. The cemetery, which contains more than 150,000 graves, includes the graves of Hebrew prophets, generations of leading rabbis, Israeli politicians and centuries of simple Jews who felt that if they couldn’t live in the Holy City, at least they wanted to be buried here.

But the site has been subject to neglect and to Palestinian violence for years. Illegal Palestinian building has continued unabated – there is an illegal mosque just 10 meters from the grave of Israeli Prime Mininster Menachem Begen – despite court orders instructing police to demolish the illegal structures.

Worse, Jewish pilgrims to the cemetery are routinely stoned, most recently in early April, when US citizen Tova Richler was prevented from attending her father’s funeral by Palestinian stone throwers.  In addition, Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) were subject to a rock attack at  the cemetery in 2012.

ZOA Israel Director Jeff Daube said he is grateful to Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), whose HR 4028 bill would amend a former bill to include international cemetery desecrations. He has also asked the US special envoy on anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, to classify the rock attacks as anti-Semitism since only Jews are being targeted.

“I would remind the Consul this is an ongoing and worsening problem over the course of too many years. Having previously raised the problem in several meetings and letter correspondence, including with Ratney’s predecessor Consul General Daniel Rubinstein — without any known steps thus far having been taken by any U.S. official to mitigate the disgraceful status quo — I would suggest it is time for Ratney to enter the conversation,” Daube said.

Daube also said he has asked the Consul General to elicit condemnations in Arabic from local Arab leaders and muhktars, and from Palestinian Authority  officials.

(It should be noted that existing Israel-Palestinian agreements bar the Palestinian Authority from maintaining a presence in Jerusalem).

The ZOA letter additionally asked that the Mount of Olives area attacks be included in this year’s publication of two annual State Department reports, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Country Reports on Terrorism. Daube noted that Palestinian rock attacks were omitted from the 2013 editions of both reports, but that the terrorism report did contain “extensive and disproportionate” references to the price tag attacks on Arab property.

Daube expressed guarded optimism that Consul General Ratney would be sympathetic, having arranged a meeting in November, 2012 between Ratney and Michael Palmer, the father/grandfather of Asher and Yonatan Palmer at which the Consul General said that protecting American citizens was his “number one job.”

The Palmer were US citizens who were murdered in a Palestinian Arab stoning attack on Asher’s car.

The letter also referenced a recent IDF radio report detailing the reality for Jews living in Mount of Olives neighborhoods. In March, Jews were attacked by Arabs with rocks, boulders or Molotov cocktails at least 157 times, up from 150 reported attacks in February and 140 in January. The fewest number of reported attacks in any month over the last 18 months has been nearly 80, and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch admitted to the Knesset Interior Committee that 66 percent of violent crimes in Israel go unreported.

“It’s a no-brainer that mourners and pilgrims of all nationalities should not have to worry about terror and intimidation, or be confronted with desecrated gravestones and deliberately strewn garbage, when they visit Judaism’s holiest cemetery. That consulate officials have not ever contacted and supported at least the American victims, nor voiced concern to them, nor expressed outrage let alone condemnations, is very disappointing. Hopefully the recent attacks on Ms. Richler and others will catalyze an adequate response to the habitual civil and human rights abuses directed at Jews, in this and other parts of eastern Jerusalem,” Daube said.

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.

 

Seeking ‘Peace’ by Waging War?

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

All along this has been the modus operandi of the Palestinian-Arabs and their supporters.  They have fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians; committed shootings, stonings and bombings; and incited hatred and violence among the Palestinian-Arab population.  Outside of the region they seek to defame or delegitimize Israel or punish Israel economically.  This onslaught has been incessant. Hardly the ingredients for “peace.”

A major conference taking place in Philadelphia on March 28 and 29 by supporters of the Palestinian-Arabs looks to perpetuate the attacks rather than end them.

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) is staging “The Role of the US in Israel-Palestine: Current Realities and Creative Responses” at the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) headquarters in Center City Philadelphia.  FOSNA is a support arm of a radical Christian Palestinian-Arab group based in Jerusalem called Sabeel.

Sabeel is a stew of Christian liberation theology and replacement theology that politicizes religion to advance a political agenda.  In this case, that agenda is an end to the Israel we know and love; an Israel that serves as a vital ally to America.

Rather than truly seeking ways to co-exist or to build up a normal Palestinian-Arab society, FOSNA has assembled a roster of Israel haters and antagonists to present discussions and workshops geared toward delegitimizing and defaming Israel, hurting the Jewish state economically and eroding support for Israel – particularly among American Christians.

Based on a conference schedule posted on its Web site, the FOSNA conference will encourage the termination of American military aid to Israel; recast “the Israel-Palestine conflict as a civil rights struggle, with parallels to South Africa and the American South;” seek to increase anti-Israel activities on campuses; and promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  FOSNA believes that the mainstream media is not already biased against Israel and thus will discuss strategies to make it more unfavorable to Israel, and to turn more Christians against Israel.

According to its Web site, conference sponsors include: Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Catholic Peace Fellowship, the Philadelphia Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace, and the Peacemaking Committee of the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

To the Jewish community, the lack of a consistent position regarding Israel within Christianity can be confusing.  Groups including Friends of Israel (founded in 1938), Christians United For Israel (founded about a decade ago) and smaller groups such as Delaware’s Olive Tree Ministries are fervently pro-Israel, while other Christians such as the Quakers and “Main Line” Protestant denominations have been antagonistic toward Israel.  This divide is as old as the modern State of Israel itself.

When the State of Israel declared its independence in 1948, many Palestinian-Christian clergymen abandoned the Hebrew Bible because they believed it was too Zionist.  In an effort to reclaim it for their people, they replaced the Israelites with Palestinians in the narrative.  For example, instead of adhering to the biblical context of the Exodus, they supplant that with an interpretation of the Palestinian-Arabs going to the Knesset, saying: “Let my people go!”

“Palestinian Liberation Theology” takes interpretive liberties with the biblical accounts and prophecies of the Hebrew Bible in order to mold it to specific political and theological agendas.  It maintains that certain Torah passages are outdated and irrelevant, claiming they reveal a primitive way of understanding G-d’s revelation to man.  A majority of these “irrelevant” sections often involve G-d’s promise to give or return the Jewish people to their land.

“Palestinian Liberation Theology” is still considered fringe within mainstream Christianity.  Its proponents wish to advance the cause of the Palestinian Christians, who desire to create a Palestinian state.  The impetus for the movement stems from “Replacement Theology,” a faulty method of biblical interpretation that claims the church has replaced the role of Israel in the Bible.  Denominations that commonly hold to “Replacement Theology” to a degree include some Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Methodists.

Mort Klein Re-Elected as ZOA President

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

At the Hilton on City Line Avenue at the far northwestern edge of Philadelphia county, just across the highway from the tony suburbs of Lower Merion Township, the annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America is taking place today, Sunday, March 9, and tomorrow.

At around mid-day Sunday, the two contenders for the seat of president of ZOA, the incumbent, Mort Klein, and the challenger, Steve Goldberg, spoke to the crowd, setting out the reasons each believes himself best qualified to lead the ZOA.

Klein has been the president of the organization since 1993.

Goldberg has been on the national board of the ZOA for five years, and was the president of the Western Region of the ZOA for a time.

The tallying of the votes cast by the delegates began at about 3:00 p.m. ET and at 3:30 the results were announced. Mort Klein won re-election. The vote was 115 votes for Klein, 9 votes for Goldberg.

Goldberg remarked to Liz Berney, Klein’s campaign manager, “I did better than I thought.”

The campaign was extremely ugly, filled primarily with nasty charges leveled against Klein by Goldberg, and, eventually, a response to those charges and counter charges against Goldberg.

Everyone suffered, including the mission of this important organization.

Now that the votes have been tallied, all the complaints and the boasts should be left behind and the organization should – it must – move forward in a positive direction.

Intemperate Challenger for ZOA, Mort Klein Should Win

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Tomorrow, March 9, there will be an election in Philadelphia of all eligible delegates to the Zionist Organization of America’s annual convention. The delegates will be voting for the person they want to be president, the person they want to lead the oldest Zionist organization in America.

For the first time in more than twenty years, this is a contested election. There are two candidates. One, Mort Klein, has been the president of ZOA since 1993. The other, Steve Goldberg, had been Klein’s protegé and has been, with Klein’s support, a vice president of the ZOA national board for the past five years.

Goldberg filed his candidacy papers for the office of ZOA president five weeks ago, at the last possible moment under the ZOA’s Charter rules. Since that time he has attacked Klein relentlessly.

The issues Goldberg has raised include lack of transparency, disproportionate compensation to Klein and underwhelming fundraising and membership growth.

Some of Goldberg’s charges against Klein are totally without merit. Some are accurate but wildly exaggerated, either in terms of the severity of the problem or the nexus to Klein himself. These include the criticism about ZOA temporarily losing its tax-exempt status and the salary and benefits Klein receives. Others are accurate and need to be addressed.

There must be, as Goldberg suggests, a responsible transition plan put in place for ZOA as quickly as possible. The organization needs to become far more bottom-up, less top-down, and controls should be put in place so that people are adequately mentored, and those at the top have strict term limits. None of these constitute grounds to eject a devoted and highly successful, charismatic leader for an untried upstart whose personal behavior raises huge red flags.

Goldberg has leveled many harsh charges against Klein. After an initial obstinate refusal to engage, Klein and his re-election team lashed out at Goldberg, pointing out previously unknown, but troublesome patterns of behavior and action they say make him unworthy of leading the national organization.

The charges and counter-charges need to be addressed and evaluated. Goldberg’s campaign site is savethezoa.com, and Klein’s is ReelectzoapresidentMortKlein.com.  About the vast majority of those charges, a careful reader should be able to come to her own conclusions; they won’t be addressed here.

But the bottom line question has to be, what will best preserve the ZOA: replacing Klein with Goldberg, or retaining Klein as president.

There is lots of ugliness to go around.

What is there positive to be said? About Steve Goldberg: he is clearly intelligent, he has degrees from fancy schools, he’s been involved in pro-Israel activity for many years, and he’s obviously energetic and creative. What’s more, Goldberg was the president of one of the ZOA district offices, and is a member of the ZOA national board. That shows experience and familiarity with the organization.

There’s much more of a track record for Klein. He took a bankrupt, dying organization, revived it, and turned it into a driving force in the public discourse on Israel and the Middle East conflict. He’s fearlessly captained the ZOA upstream when the rest of the major American Jewish organizations fell into line, one by one, in support of many of the worst self-inflicted disasters to befall Israel over the past twenty years.

Klein opposed Oslo when the popular position was to sign on and believe peace was on its way. Klein emphatically, vigorously fought against the removal of all 9,000 Jews, living and dead, from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in 2005, when even most of the so-called right wing supporters of Israel supported the “Disengagement.” And Klein has consistently fought against the idea of dividing Jerusalem and of creating a Palestinian state given that the acting leadership of the Palestinian Arabs – like their predecessors – support the annihilation of the Jewish State.

Black State Senator: Academic Boycott of Israel Antisemitic

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Pennsylvania state senator Anthony Williams (D-8) is condemning as anti-Semitic the American Studies Association’s recent decision to boycott Israeli academics. Williams introduced a resolution into the Pennsylvania legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 6, in which he calls out the ASA and calls on all colleges and universities in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to reject antisemitism and refuse to participate in the ASA’s boycott of Israel.

“I’ve been greatly disappointed by recent actions taken by people lauded as ‘scholars,’ and particularly offended by them as someone who fights for equal justice for all. The only glimmers of hope I’ve seen in this debacle are the rigorous and principled retorts and rebukes of the ASA boycott by academic leaders in our area, across Pennsylvania and across the country,” Williams said in a statement released to the public on Jan. 6.

“The rationale offered for this boycott is flimsy at best; intellectually dishonest at worst, and seems to indicate an encroaching anti-Semitic sentiment that was shameful a century ago, but even more so as we enter 2014. Intolerance will not lead to acceptance or understanding. An exchange of ideas, even conflicting ones, will bring us closer to that desired outcome, which once was the goal of higher education. Let’s hope it will be again.”

In Williams’ Pennsylvania Senate Resolution 279, the background of and the backlash to the ASA Israel boycott is laid out clearly. Important facts, such as that a mere 16 percent of the ASA’s membership voted in favor of the boycott, and that so many presidents of leading universities and academic associations have condemned the ASA boycott, are spelled out.

To date, 145 college and university presidents have condemned the ASA boycott, including the president of every Ivy League institution and nearly all of the top ranked schools in America.

What is emphasized most strongly in the Resolution is that Israel is a Jewish democratic nation which promotes academic freedom and free speech and educates students from around the globe.

The Resolution Williams introduced concludes that the “practical effect of the American Studies Association Israeli boycott is a resurgence of anti-Semitism.”

If passed, Williams’ anti-boycott resolution will represent the full Pennsylvania Senate’s condemnation of the ASA’s boycott of Israel “in the strongest possible terms.”

THE RESOLUTION HOLDS THAT THE ASA BOYCOTT IS AN ‘ANTI-SEMITIC, BASE FORM OF BIGOTRY’

The resolution, if passed, will represent the Pennsylvania legislature’s view that the ASA boycott is an “intolerable, anti-Semitic, base form of bigotry and hatred” which is “unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

The Resolution was sent to the Education Committee. The Jewish Press will track its progress.

Although his district – Pennsylvania’s 8th – does not have a large Jewish population, Senator Williams has long been a stalwart friend of Israel and of the Jewish community. He introduced legislation last year, PA Senate Bill 47, which would mandate Holocaust education in Pennsylvania public schools for grades six through twelve.

ASKED PENN PRESIDENT NOT TO HOST BDS CONFERENCE, THEN CAME AND SPOKE OF HIS REJECTION OF BDS TO JEWISH STUDENTS

In the winter of 2012, the University of Pennsylvania played host to a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference. Williams opposed the university playing host.  This is what he wrote to Penn president Amy Gutmann:

While an ardent supporter of free speech, [I believe] hate speech remains an exemption from this privilege,” he wrote. “Based on prior evidence brought to my attention, that is to what BDS amounts. I would no more support this event than I would a Klan rally, a homophobia convention, a ‘birther’ march, or an Islamophobia assembly on the Penn Quadrangle.

When Penn chose to host the conference anyway, Williams showed up at Penn’s Hillel building to speak with Jewish students and express his solidarity with them.

REJECTED JVP’S CALL FOR WILLIAMS TO REJECT ZOA AWARD

At this year’s annual gala dinner of the Organization of America’s Greater Philadelphia District, held on Oct. 9, Williams was honored with the Friend of Zion Award.

Senator Williams not only gladly accepted ZOA’s award, he rebuffed a public overture made to him by Jewish Voice for Peace and other cloyingly named anti-Israel groups which urged him to decline it.

Those groups warned Williams that the ZOA is a “fringe right-wing group” which supports “the illegal – and chronically violent – settler movement,” condemns “Palestinian expressions of national rights,” and even had the temerity to “endorse Knesset legislation that could revoke the citizenship of Palestinian citizens for alleged ‘disloyalty.’”

The anti-Israel Jewish groups threatened Williams.  They warned that if he went to the ZOA event and accepted its award, they would go to the media and explain that Williams was intolerant to the Muslim community, which comprises a portion of his own district.

Williams responded to JVP both in deed and with words. The Pennsylvania state senator not only accepted ZOA’s award to him, he gave a ten minute speech about why he did. The video of that speech can be seen at the end of this article.

Williams told the crowd that “forty years ago the Jewish community and the African American community locked arm in arm and fought to provide civil rights for all citizens. So when you challenge me on the integrity of my friends, the only thing I can resort to is that you are not my friend.”

In one of many statements Williams made that brought the crowd to its feet, Williams thundered,

There is a state of Israel not just because Jews wanted it, but because the world demanded it. Israel is not a mistake, it is not an affront it is not a robbery, it is a contribution in a region that sometimes is not only sexist and racist but also ignorant about democracy.

Williams concluded his remarks by acknowledging that his appearance at the event and acceptance of the award would likely be a talked-about chapter in his political history. But, he said, “I am proud to carry this award, I am proud to be a part of this event. Shalom.”

Watch his entire speech here:

 

4 Major American Jewish Orgs Rebuke Cardozo Over Carter Award

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Wednesday afternoon, April 10, a journal from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of law will be presenting former President Jimmy Carter with an award, honoring him for his “human rights record.”  The Jewish Press has covered developments concerning this award and responses to it, extensively.

In addition to the many alumni and concerned individuals who spoke out against the Carter Cardozo Award, four of the largest American Jewish organizations have weighed in over the last 24 hours, all expressing their disgust 0ver the decision of a Jewish-affiliated school to give kavod (honor) to someone like Jimmy Carter.

On Tuesday, April 9, two organizations called on Cardozo to rescind the Carter honor. The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement, describing Carter as having a “repellant, decades-long record as an Israel-basher and promoter of Israel’s most vicious enemies, including Hamas.”

The National Council of Young Israel also issued a statement calling on Cardozo to rescind the invitation to Carter.  Farley Weiss, the president of the NCYI, wrote, “Mr. Carter’s well-known animus and bias towards the State of Israel has earned him widespread condemnation from Jews and non-Jews alike, and he certainly does not deserve to have any honor bestowed upon by him by an entity that has ties to the Jewish community and the Jewish State.”

On Wednesday, April 10, the day of the award ceremony, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League each publicly criticized Yeshiva University’s law school for choosing to honor and provide a platform to someone with such a well-documented anti-Israel history.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said the Cardozo law students had not exercised “due diligence” before choosing Jimmy Carter as an honoree.

“Had they done so,’ he told the Algemeiner, “they would have discovered that Mr Carter has never resolved his conflict with the Jewish state. His serial bias against Israel is well-documented. That alone should have led tomorrow’s lawyers, whatever their ethnicity or religion, to conclude  that President Carter should not receive such an honor.”

The ADL’s Foxman slammed the students, saying, “The students were wrong – they are entitled to be wrong and inappropriate and we are entitled to say that honoring former President Carter is wrong, especially for  a Jewish institution…and indeed for any institution.”

In response to Cardozo’s refusal to revoke the award and ceremony for Jimmy Carter, the Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni issued the following statement:

It is shameful that President Richard Joel of Yeshiva University and Dean Matthew Diller of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School are not prepared to take a moral stand and rescind the invite to honor Jimmy Carter made by the Cardozo Journal for Conflict Resolution. By providing moral cover for those who would eradicate Israel and who despise America for her democratic values President Carter has caused irreparable harm to Israelis, Jews across the world and democracies across the globe. Cardozo has now provided a similar fig-leaf to President Carter and that is a terrible shame.

Jimmy Carter has an ignominious 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.

It is disingenuous of the Cardozo administration to justify its decision to allow the event to go ahead in the name of “academic freedom”.  If a student journal at Cardozo were to invite David Duke to bestow an honor upon him, rest assured that Cardozo administration would not have remained aloof on the matter. By honoring Carter at a bedrock of the American Jewish community, Cardozo administration not only betrays the values of honesty, integrity and truth but it betrays its community of supporters who rightfully view Jimmy Carter as anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/4-major-american-jewish-orgs-rebuke-cardozo-over-carter-award/2013/04/10/

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