Saturday, April 30, 2011

Carolyn Glick- Netanyahu's folly

Netanyahu's time to choose

By Caroline B. Glick

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority's peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren't tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, "The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both."

Netanyahu's statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen.

The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel's offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel.

The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev.

The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them. They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal. The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then prime minister Ehud Olmert's offer of statehood and peace.

The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.

Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas. In a real sense, Netanyahu's call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had 5 children with her new man.
It is a pathetic joke.

But worse than a pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel's leaders are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that Israel's leader cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel's destruction, and that Israel is done with playing along.

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel's international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to make peace with the Palestinians.

According to this myth — which has been the central pillar of Israel's foreign policy and domestic politics since Yitzhak Rabin first accepted the PLO as a legitimate actor in 1993 -- it doesn't matter how obvious it is that the Palestinians are uninterested in peaceful coexistence with Israel. It doesn't matter how openly they wage their war to destroy Israel. Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders' ability to persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about appeasing the Palestinians.

For the past several months, this profoundly neurotic perception of Israel's options has fed our leaders' hysterical response to the Palestinians' plan to unilaterally declare independence.
The Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of a peace treaty with Israel.

The PA will first attempt to get the Security Council to endorse an independent "Palestine." If the Obama administration vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians will get their resolution.

The question is, does this matter?

Everyone from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes, Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian permission.

These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and pledge to give Israel's heartland and capital to the Palestinians.

And according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around Netanyahu's ability to convince the EU-3 — British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn't offer up Israel's crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians. And if they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for Israel.

Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing "Palestine," all the Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its predecessors.

The threat of international isolation is also wildly exaggerated. Today Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at any time in its 63 year history. With the Obama administration treating the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.

According to the latest economic data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel's economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010. International trade is rising steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March, and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010.

The Israel-bashing EU remains Israel's largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year. These trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice: For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is empty.

The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy. But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of Marrickville's BDS-inspired boycott. Last December the anti-Israel coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it. Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more expensive non-Israeli ones.

Both Israel's booming foreign trade and the swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.

So what is preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging this happy truth?

Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy, Cameron, and Merkel are serious when tell us that Israel needs to prove it is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel does will have any impact on their votes.

When the Europeans forge their policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.

Since 1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US. Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel's side. So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are serious about peace, they aren't being serious. They are looking for an excuse to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize "Palestine" at the UN, (because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas.
Because that's the next step.

It would seem that Israel's leaders should have gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven't can be blamed on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its members — from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians, artists, actors and hack writers — are the only members of Israeli society that have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott Israelis.
And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed up radicals gathered in Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben Gurion proclaimed Israeli independence and declared the independence of "Palestine." They knew their followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but embrace our enemies' cause against our country.

The time has come for the vast majority of Israelis who aren't interested in the Nobel Prize for Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or University of Trondheim to call a spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar Ilan is more valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of scholarship as the Technion.

And it is well past time for our leaders to stop playing this fool's game. We don't need anyone's favors. Abbas has made his choice. Now it is time for Netanyahu to choose.

Caroline B. Glick

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Israel-do not trust Europe or the US

Many analysts claim that the Palestinians are not acting in good faith when it comes to the 'peace process.' But are the Europeans and Americans acting in good faith, or have they decided on a pre-ordained outcome that they plan to force on Israel?

Barry Rubin reminds us of very recent history to show how the Europeans and Americans have repeatedly reneged on their promises.

Will the Europeans give unilateral recognition to a Palestinian state without any commitments at all to Israel? There are conflicting voices in Britain, France, and elsewhere about what these states intend. The fact that such recognition conflicts with every commitment they have made to Israel for twenty years doesn’t seem to figure in their debates.

Next, the Americans. It seems likely there will be a U.S. plan for resolving the conflict based on the 1967 borders.

What is the problem with that?

Ah, yes, the second to last president of the United States agreed that Israel would get to negotiate its own borders with the Palestinians. Later, that same president proposed minor border changes involving about three percent of the West Bank but allowing Israel to protect its security and keep a large portion of settlers where they were without taking property belonging to individual Palestinian Arabs. In exchange for these promises, Israel made concessions and took risks.

The last president before this one promised–in exchange for more Israeli risks and concessions–that the United States would support the incorporation of “settlement blocs” along the lines mentioned above–into Israel.

In the autumn of 2009, the Obama Administration promised Israel, in exchange for the settlement freeze and other steps, to accept the settlement bloc idea.

Now the Obama Administration proposes to abrogate all of these promises, raising the question of why should Israel believe any of its future promises.

Another aspect of the Obama plan is likely to be security guarantees for Israel. But, as Barry Rubin points out, there is a problem with these as well.

Who is going to be making these guarantees? The United States and Europe? The United Nations? Yet the first have repeatedly broken promises to Israel and the second is going to remain passionately and unfairly anti-Israel no matter what concessions Israel makes and after a Palestinian state is created.

Read the whole article here:

send this to your Christian neighbors

Send this to your Christian neighbors

Mideast without Christians
Op-ed: Christians must realize Israel’s fate intertwined with fate of non-Muslims in region
Giulio Meotti
Published: 04.18.11, 21:14 / Israel Opinion

This is the saddest Easter in the long epic of Arab Christianity: The cross is near extinction in the lands of it origin. The much-vaunted diversity of the Middle East is going to be reduced to the flat monotony of a single religion, Islam, and to a handful of languages.

In 1919, the Egyptian revolution adopted a green flag with the crescent and the cross. Both Muslims and Christians participated in the nationalist revolution against British colonialism. Now, according to the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, more than 70 Christians a week are asking to leave the country due to Islamist threats.

The numbers are telling. Today there is only one Middle Eastern country where the number of Christians has grown: Israel. As documented in the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the Christian community that numbered 34,000 people in 1949 is now 163,000-strong, and will reach 187,000 in 2020.

In the rest of the Middle East, the drive for Islamic purity is going to banish all traces of pre-Islamic pasts. This has affected not only Christians, but other non-Islamic communities too, such as the Zoroastrians and Baha’is in Iran (the late also found refuge in Israel, in Haifa.)

The silence of the global forums, the flawed conscience of human rights groups, the self-denial of the media and the Vatican’s appeasement is helping facilitate this Islamist campaign. According to a report on religious freedom compiled by the US Department of State, the number of Christians in Turkey declined from two million to 85,000; in Lebanon they have gone from 55% to 35% of the population; in Syria, from half the population they have been reduced to 4%; in Jordan, from 18% to 2%. In Iraq, they will be exterminated.

Should the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem continue in the next two or three decades, there may be no clergy left to conduct religious services in Jesus’ birthplace. In Iran, Christians have become virtually non-existent since 1979, when Khomeini ordered the immediate closure of all Christian schools. In Gaza, the 3,000 who remain are subjected to persecution. In Sudan, Christians in the South are forced into slavery.

Israel’s flag a symbol of hope
In Lebanon, the Maronites, the only Christians to have held political power in the modern Arab world, have been reduced to a minority because of Muslim violence and Hezbollah’s rise. In Saudi Arabia, Christians have been beaten or tortured by religious police. Benjamin Sleiman, archbishop of Baghdad, is talking about “the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East.”

The Christian Egypt was symbolically represented by former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a Christian married to a Jewish woman whose sister was the wife of Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. In 1977, Boutros-Ghali, who was then Egypt’s foreign minister, accompanied President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem.

Sadat, who as a child had attended a Christian school, was killed because the treaty his signed with the “Zionists,” among other reasons, and his cold peace is now under attack from the new rulers in Cairo.

In 1948, the Middle East was cleansed of its ancient Jews. Today is the Christians’ turn. Just as Islamist totalitarians have ruthlessly persecuted Christians in the Middle East, they have been waging war for the past 63 years to destroy the Jewish state in their midst. That’s why the fate of Israel is intertwined with the fate of the non-Muslim minorities.

Should the Islamists prevail, the Middle East will be completely green, the colour of Islam. Under atomic and Islamist existential threats, the remnant of the Jewish people risks being liquidated before Israel’s centennial in 2048. It’s time for Christians to recognize that Israel’s survival is also critical and vital for them. During the Holocaust, when most Christians were bystanders or collaborators, the Yellow Star was a symbol of death for the Jews. Today, the white flag with the beautiful six pointed star is a symbol of survival and hope for both Jews and Christians.

Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism

News about Israel

1, Duh...
U.S.: Assad No Longer Potential Peace Partner for Israel - Hilary Leila Krieger
After two years of pushing Israel to reach a peace agreement with Syria, a top U.S. State Department official indicated Tuesday the Obama administration is no longer looking at the current regime as a partner for such a deal. "It's hard for us to stand by and see [President Bashar] Assad and his government engage in the kind of things they're doing against their own people and to then think easily about how to pursue other diplomatic missions," said Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department. (Jerusalem Post

2. Abbas admits it was Obama all along
Palestinian Leader Defies Israel and Vents about Obama - Dan Ephron
"It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze," Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told me. "I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."

3. Israelis are happier than we are

Israel Ranks 7th in "Happiness Index" - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
According to Gallup's global wellbeing survey, published over the weekend, Israel ranked 7th out of 124 countries.
63% of Israelis said they were happy with their lives, compared to 59% in the U.S.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Israel now more than ever

TEL AVIV, Israel—Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, asserts rightly that in view of the current political upheaval, America has no better or more trustworthy friend in the Middle East than Israel. Looking at the region's strategic map, one sees mostly instability and uncertainty. Who is going to rule Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia five years ahead? What will happen in Iraq if and when U.S. forces leave? And will Iran prevail as the new regional superpower under its current leadership, or will it go through regime change and return to the pro-Western camp?

The Ultimate Ally
By Michael Oren

Whiff of Desperation
By Stephen M. Walt

Friends Forever?
By Jeffrey Goldberg

The Long View
By Robert Satloff
While no American analyst or policymaker can answer these questions with any degree of confidence, they can be certain that Israel will be around with its democracy, developed economy, strong military -- and deeply rooted pro-Americanism. No doubt, backing Israel's policies in the international arena and supplying it with generous military aid and top-notch weaponry might lose you some points in the Arab street and in Western Europe. Still, it remains a stubborn fact that the only serious force standing up to Iran and its proxies in the Middle East is the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces. The West, with all its big talk about promoting its values and going after the bad guys, simply doesn't have either the strength or the will to fight, as NATO's poor performance in Libya has shown. Against this backdrop, Israel is still "the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk," in the words of former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig, as quoted by Oren.

Since the 1950s, Israel has shared the West's concern about pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism, while encouraging particular Arab states' nationalism (wataniya) through wars and diplomacy. Israel fought Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, the pan-Arab prophet, alongside France and Britain in 1956 and with American backing from 1967 to 1970, but made peace with his successors Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, who favored Egyptian interests over wider Arab or Muslim causes. Today, Israel and the United States are fighting a life-or-death cold war with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the bastion of pan-Islamism, which replaced their former ally the shah.





Even in its rocky relationship with the Palestinians, Israel aims at limiting Palestinian aspirations to the West Bank and Gaza, while ignoring the wider Palestinian diaspora and its theme of refugee return to pre-1948 Palestine. Again, this policy is shared by the West through its declared support for a two-state partition of the land, rather than acceptance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latter-day Nasserite vision of doing away with the Jewish state and bringing back the millions of 1948 refugees and their descendants to their nonexistent towns and villages.

A realist approach, then, would subscribe to Oren's analysis of Israel's strategic importance to America -- and to Israel's self-description as a Western outpost in a hostile Muslim neighborhood. But Oren does not contain himself to the mutual strategic worldview shared in Washington and Jerusalem. He argues that Israel reflects America's fundamental values and the Zionist beliefs of its Founding Fathers. In his narrative, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln preceded Theodor Herzl, the recognized father of political Zionism, with their dreams of a resurrected Judea. These romantic visions have been underlying America's support of Israel through thick and thin.

According to Oren, then, Israel is a mini-America in the Middle East, with identical values and policies. He acknowledges some disagreements between the two allies, but minimizes their importance or influence. In his view, Israel's settlement enterprise in the territories it occupied in 1967 is only a minor nuisance, which does not impede peace, nor fuels the conflict.

Alas, Oren ignores the deeper disagreement over values caused by Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, which runs against America's anti-colonialist tradition. Like the former British and French rulers of India and Africa, Israel preserves its democracy at home, but not among its subjects across the Green Line -- where Jewish settlers enjoy superior rights over their Arab neighbors. This visible injustice, more than any misunderstanding over practical policy or succumbing to pro-Arab propaganda, explains U.S. President Barack Obama's evident aversion to Israel's settlements and to Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government and its policies.

Oren does allude to the dispute. "[E]ven the warmest friendships are never disagreement-free," he writes. "This was certainly the case with the Anglo-American relationship during World War II, modern history's most celebrated alliance, but one that was riven by disputes over military planning and postwar arrangements." Indeed, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill could barely stand one another, disagreed over war priorities, and represented mismatching powers -- a rising global leader and economic powerhouse lending its hand to a declining, bankrupt empire that barely escaped defeat. But apart from their personal and practical disagreements, Roosevelt and Churchill were deeply divided over their values. The American leader hated Britain's colonialism, a policy his British counterpart stood staunchly behind throughout his career. Roosevelt's price for joining the war after the Pearl Harbor attack was eventual independence for India.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

why Israel's "most moral army" hurts Israel

Richard Baehr wrote:
David Horovitz conducts an interview with one of the men who developed the ethical guidelines on how the IDF should fight- and be "the most moral army in the world".
But one critic thinks the rules of engagement help explain why Israel is no longer winning wars.

3. Let us assume that the IDF is the most moral army in the world. The Goldstone Report suggests it does not matter- Israel will be hammered by NGOs, the U.N., and the international left, regardless of its behavior. Syria can fire on unarmed civilians in an attempt to kill some and terrorize the rest, and it will never come before any international tribunal or receive any U.N condemnation.
Avi Bell argues that there never was a real Goldstone investigation:
Richard Landes provides all you want to know about what is wrong with the Goldstone Report and its criticism of of Israeli behavior in the Gaza war. :
Part one:
Part two:

Orthodox vandalize non-Orhodox synagogues in Netanya

In Israel, Wave of Vandalism Hits Non-Orthodox Synagogues
By David Sheen (Haaretz)
Published April 22, 2011.
A Netanya Conservative and Reform house of worship has become the target of stone-throwing attacks, allegedly by ultra-Orthodox youths waging a battle to scare the congregants into leaving.
The Beit Yisrael synagogue in Netanya has been pelted with rocks on three different Friday nights in the last month. The youths reportedly hurled epithets at the synagogue parishioners, called them Gentiles and demanded that they leave the area. The rocks caused no damage, and no one has been hurt in the attacks.
The stone-throwings, which began on March 25, have occurred consistently during Sabbath evening prayers, says Morrie Kaporovsky, president of the Conservative congregation. Kaporovsky says that the first time it occurred, when he rushed down into the entrance hall to discover the cause of the banging noises he heard, he found a group of young men wearing white shirts, black pants, skullcaps and fringes.

Read more:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

a new dayenu for Israel

Dayenu, the famous and beloved song, recited around the world at Passover Seders, is one of the oldest passages in the Haggadah. The song details the miracles experienced by the Jewish People from the time of the Exodus to the building of the Temple. Is there a better time than Passover to remind ourselves of the many “modern miracles” of Israelis and Jews around the world in modern times? From establishing the State to our efforts to build a democratic, tolerant and open society, our story continues to one of striving toward a better society.\

In this spirit and in recognition of the achievements of Zionism, let’s add “A New Dayenu” to our seder tables.

If we had returned to Israel after two thousand years and had not established the State of Israel – Dayenu.

If we had established the State of Israel and had not founded cities and made the desert bloom – Dayenu.

If we had founded cities and made the desert bloom and had not absorbed millions of olim – Dayenu.

If we had absorbed millions of olim and had not revived the Hebrew language – Dayenu.

If we had revived the Hebrew language and had not developed a unique Israeli culture – Dayenu.

If we had developed a unique Israeli culture and had not established a myriad of social action organizations to improve society – Dayenu.

If we had established a myriad of social action organizations to improve society but had not developed innovative technologies which benefit the entire world – Dayenu.

If we had done all of this and even more, but had not returned to Israel -
Could we still say “Dayenu?”

courtesy American Zionist Movement; clicking on the above image brings you to the AZM website where you can also download a PDF version of A New Dayenu

Monday, April 11, 2011

UN and a Palestinian state

There are reports that this September, the Palestinian delegation to the UN, which has observer status, will attempt to introduce a new "Uniting for Peace" resolution calling for recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 boundaries. In fact, a 2003 Arab-sponsored "Uniting for Peace" resolution has already called for "affirming the necessity of ending the conflict on the basis of...the Armistice Line of 1949."
If adopted, a new such resolution would not be binding on Israel or on any other state. Under international law, except for cases where a former border is inherited by new states, borders can only be delimited by agreement between the states concerned. No UN organ has the authority to delimit boundaries.
Even if the Palestinians were to declare themselves as a state, the General Assembly could then only accept Palestine as a member of the UN if there is a recommendation to that effect from the Security Council, where a permanent member of the Council could veto such a recommendation.

Gaza shooting rockets

Palestinian Rocket Assault on Israel - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
Over the weekend, over 100 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza at Israel, and hundreds of thousands of Israelis took shelter in secure areas. On Thursday, a 16-year-old Israeli was critically wounded after Hamas militants fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus. Had the bus been full, it surely would have set off another war. The claim by Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri that the people who fired the missile were unaware that the target was a school bus is ridiculous.
As far as Israel is concerned, the targeting of the bus means a red line has been crossed; this triggered a wide air assault on militant targets in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
IDF Response to Children's Bus Attack
On April 8-9, Israeli aircraft and armored forces targeted 11 squads of terrorists in Gaza immediately following their firing of rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians. Israeli aircraft also targeted 15 terror infrastructure sites, Hamas outposts, smuggling tunnels, and weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.
Additionally, Israeli aircraft targeted Hamas commanders and operatives, including senior Hamas operative Tayser Abu Snima, who was directly and physically involved in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Most recently, he was in charge of a terror attack from Sinai, firing rockets at the city of Eilat. (Israel Defense Forces)
Video: Terrorists in Gaza Fire at Israeli Community from a Cemetery
On Friday, April 8, a terrorist squad is spotted in a Gaza cemetery immediately after the firing of rockets at Israel. Four mortar shells fired from the cemetery, located in Sajaiya, hit the Israeli community of Nahal Oz. (Israel Defense Forces

Israeli rocket interceptor

Israel Hails Success of New Rocket Interceptor - Ari Rabinovitch
Israel said on Sunday its new Iron Dome interceptor had successfully shot down at least eight Palestinian rockets in mid-air aimed at Israeli cities, and other countries were already expressing interest. But smaller towns closer to the border remain exposed to shorter-range fire and have been repeatedly hit.
Produced by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Iron Dome uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of between 5 km and 70 km, as well as mortar bombs, in mid-air. At least 120 rockets have been fired at southern Israel in the latest round of fighting. The system calculates the trajectory of each rocket and ignores those that will land in non-populated areas. Ofir Shoham, head of weapons development in the Defense Ministry, said the units had not missed a single rocket within their parameters, preventing "significant damage." (Reuters)

Notes from Aipac on the parasha Achrei mot

Parashat Achrei Mot & Passover

Critical Context

After the death of the two sons of Aaron (Leviticus 16:1) אחרי מות שני בני אהרן (ויקרא טז:א)

Why does the Torah mention the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, which were already recorded in the bible (see Leviticus 10:1-2), when describing the Yom Kippur service in the Tabernacle? Rashi (on 16:1) explains that their fate is recalled to remind Moses about their improper behavior during the priestly service: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah would tell a parable of a sick man who visited a doctor that told him, ‘Don’t eat cold food, nor sleep in a damp place.’ Another doctor came and said to him, ‘Don’t eat anything cold nor sleep in a cold space, lest you die as so-and-so did.’ The latter urged him more than the former.” As such, recalling the deaths of Nadab and Abihu was intended to serve as a more powerful warning to follow the proper protocol of the Yom Kippur service.

While the mentioning of Aaron’s sons in our parashah may seem odd, when we understand the context we can appreciate the Torah’s true intention. Nowadays, understanding contexts remains as important as ever. As the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) moves to take action against Israel based on the findings of the Goldstone Report, the author’s recent retraction, as well as a separate report from a Palestinian rights group, puts Israel’s actions in Gaza in their proper context.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Justice Richard Goldstone acknowledged serious errors and factual inaccuracies in the U.N. commissioned report bearing his name. Goldstone went further to say that “the allegations of intentionality [of killing civilians] by Israel were based on no evidence.” Conversely, he stated plainly that Hamas “rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.” In his original report, Goldstone overlooked the basic fact that Israel faces an adversary that intentionally places civilians in harm’s way to gain a military and political advantage. This fact has now come into greater focus with the recent condemnation of Hamas by a Palestinian human rights group. The New York Times reported that the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza “took the unusual step...of condemning the building and storage of anti-Israel rockets in densely populated areas, a practice that has led to injuries and deaths of civilians. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that locally produced projectiles had fallen on homes in Gaza or exploded in factories where they were made or stored.” Israel has long provided visual evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields and storage of weapons in civilian areas. For more on Justice Goldstone’s retraction of the Goldstone Report, click here. For more on Hamas, click here.

Like the Torah’s mention of Aaron’s sons, when we consider the Goldstone Report’s findings—and Hamas’ terrorist tactics—in their proper context, the intention becomes clear. Now, the United States should press the United Nations to nullify the Goldstone Report and take no further action as a result of its inaccurate findings. 

Tradition for All

Let all those in need come and make Pesach (Passover Haggadah) כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח (הגדה של פסח)

Helping those in need celebrate Passover has long been an integral part of Jewish tradition. Indeed, it is customary to donate each year to special ma’ot chitin, funds for the poor to help offset the additional expenses of the holiday. We explicitly express this generosity as we sit down to the seder. In the opening paragraph of ha lachma anya, we recall the “bread of poverty” that the Jewish nation ate throughout the ordeal of slavery in Egypt, and invite the poor to join us by saying: “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and celebrate the Passover festival.” In remembrance of our hunger in Egypt, we offer to share our wealth with those in need.

Caring and giving to others are core values that underlie the celebration of Passover. In this spirit, a unique Israel Defense Forces delegation is helping bring relief to the Jews in Japan who have seen their homes, and any hope for carrying out their Passover traditions this year, decimated.

Tzvi Yehuda Mansbach, a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces rabbinical corps, is just the man to bring that hope back to life. Mansbach recently arrived in Minamisanriku, Japan with 60 members of an IDF aid delegation, and has been tending to the spiritual needs of the delegation members as well as the local community. According to Yediot Achronot,Mansbach also brought “seder kits” for each soldier, and extra kits for “Tokyo’s Jewish community, who will most likely find it hard to provide themselves with matzos, wine and Passover Haggadahs for the holiday.” As these soldiers help the local Jewish community celebrate Passover, they are also following in the Jewish tradition of supporting the less fortunate. In fact, the aid delegation “includes 50 doctors and brought with it 62 tons of medical equipment and 18 tons of humanitarian aid, including some 10,000 coats, 6,000 blankets, 8,000 gloves and 150 portable toilets.”

Each year as we begin our seder, we symbolically invite the disadvantaged, promising to provide them with their Passover needs. This year, the IDF took that promise to heart, taking incredible steps to ensure that the Jews of Japan would be able to maintain tradition, and supporting the needy victims of the recent natural disasters. 

Modern Persecution

In every generation (Passover Haggadah) שבכל דוד ודור (הגדה של פסח)

During the seder, before the actual retelling of the story of the Exodus, we remind ourselves that “In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us.” In his commentary to the Haggadah, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik connects the relevance of this phrase to our modern lives, stating that the night of the seder represents not just a ceremony of remembrance, but a ceremony of experience: “We inform the listener that our method is one…of translating the past into the present, of identifying memory with reality. The parashah tells us that we are a lonely people, that we are all a band of wandering Arameans facing hostility” (The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening p. 58).

On the night of the seder, as we stress the connection between past hostility towards the Jewish people with present threats, we must look at our world and take note of the continuing movement to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.

In a recent address, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer decried the ongoing efforts to delegitimize Israel and spread anti-Semitism throughout much of the Arab world, The Jerusalem Post reported. “If this is a new era of openness in the Middle East, then the work of defending Israel from ideological attacks becomes even more pressing,” Hoyer said. “That’s because, if this is a new era of openness, it matters more than ever that the Arab people have a view of Israel unclouded by bigotry.” This would not be easy work, due to “the lingering effect of generations of anti-Semitic propaganda and incitement of hatred.” Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee, echoed Hoyer’s sentiments, emphasizing the continued efforts to undermine Israel in the halls of the United Nations: “When it comes to the delegitimization of Israel, one need look no further than New York, [to] the United Nations,” he said. “The discredited UN Human Rights Council is at the heart of [the] anti-Israel movement.”

The authors of the Haggadah remind us that the Passover story never really ended, and that the tragic saga of anti-Semitism merely began in Egypt. Sadly, one need only read the news to see just how right they were. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

On Metzora, slander and Goldstone

Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Joseph ben Zimra that anyone who bears evil tales (lashon hara) will be visited by skin disease (tzaraat), as it is said in oever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I destroy (azmit)." The Gemara read azmit to allude to tzaraat, and cited how Leviticus25: says "in perpetuity" (la-zemitut). And Resh Lakish interpreted the words of "This shall be the law of the person with skin disease (metzora, מְּצֹרָע)," to mean, "This shall be the law for him who brings up an evil name (motzi shem ra)." (Babylonian Talmud Arachin 15b.)
Similarly, Rabbi Haninah taught that skin disease came only from slander. The Rabbis found a proof for this from the case of Miriam, arguing that because she uttered slander against Moses, plagues attacked her. And the Rabbis read it to support this when it says in connection with skin disease, "remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam." (Deuteronomy Rabbah 6:8.) read Number 12 for the full story here.
Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Johanan that skin disease results from seven things: slander, the shedding of blood, vain oath, incest, arrogance, robbery, and envy. The Gemara cited scriptural bases for each of the associations: For slander, for bloodshed, 2 Samuel for a vain oath, for incest,Genesis for arrogance, 2 Chronicles for robbery, (as a Tanna taught that those who collect money that does not belong to them will see a priest come and scatter their money around the street); and for envy,(Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 16a.)
Similarly, a midrash taught that skin disease resulted from 10 sins: (1) idol-worship, (2) unchastity, (3) bloodshed, (4) the profanation of the Divine Name, (5) blasphemy of the Divine Name, (6) robbing the public, (7) usurping a dignity to which one has no right, (8) overweening pride, (9) evil speech, and (10) an evil eye.

Do we really think skin disease comes from these? Well, we know our insides can affect our health but they were obviously very concerned about slander and gossip and used this portion to warn against it.

a memo from Aipac said
Parashat Metzora, with its emphasis on lashon hara, brings to mind a famous parable told about a Jew who slandered a town's rabbi. After a time, the man felt pangs of remorse for his actions and begged the rabbi for forgiveness.

"Of course I'll forgive you," the rabbi told him. "But before I do you must do one thing for me."
"Anything," the man promised.
"Go to the center of town with a pillow, and rip open the pillow and spread the feathers into the wind. When you're done, come back to me."
The man, puzzled, did what the rabbi asked and split open a feather pillow in the center of town. When he finished, he returned to the rabbi for his forgiveness.
"One more thing," said the rabbi. "Now go and collect all the feathers."
"That's impossible!" said the man. "I can't possibly collect all the feathers."
Asked the rabbi, "And what about my reputation? How will you return that to me?"

This parable speaks to us this week as we consider how Justice Richard Goldstone has retracted the central claims of his controversial report that falsely accused Israel of targeting civilians during its Cast Lead military campaign. While the slander from the Goldstone Report-like the scattering of the feathers-cannot be undone, the United Nations can and should renounce the report and take no further action as a result of its inaccurate findings.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Will J Street apologize as Goldstone did?

Goldstone Wasn't Alone

J Street, New Israel Fund Helped Spread his Calumny Against the Jewish State

There is a famous Chasidic story that compares tale-bearing and slander to a feather pillow that has been torn open and scattered to the wind: once you release the feathers it is impossible to gather them back again.
So with Goldstone's famous report. Despite the fact that Goldstone now confirms that Israel did not target Gaza civilians as a matter of policy, the damage he has done has been scattered to the four corners of the earth and cannot be undone.
Among the repercussions of the Goldstone Report:
Its conclusions have been endorsed by such institutions as the UN General Assembly, the European Parliament, Human Rights Watch and countless respectable journalists and bloggers, thereby entering the collective consciousness.
It made Israeli politicians and army officers fearful of travelling abroad lest they be arrested in connection to war crimes.
It may have led to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews around the world.
It increased calls for boycotts against the state of Israel.
It led to Israel's increased delegitimization every time it attempted to defend itself: witness the Gaza flotilla incident.
The worst part is that Goldstone was not alone. In fact, money and activists from within the Jewish community, notably J Street and the New Israel Fund, were instrumental in his campaign of slander against the Jewish State.
Will they issue a mea culpa as well?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Goldstone changes his mind!


Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes

By Richard Goldstone, Friday, April , 8:42 PM

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.
The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.
The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.
While I welcome Israel’s investigations into allegations, I share the concerns reflected in the McGowan Davis report that few of Israel’s inquiries have been concluded and believe that the proceedings should have been held in a public forum. Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.
Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants. The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas (although Hamas may have reason to inflate the number of its combatants).
As I indicated from the very beginning, I would have welcomed Israel’s cooperation. The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel. I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within. Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations. I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.
Some have charged that the process we followed did not live up to judicial standards. To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank. We made our recommendations based on the record before us, which unfortunately did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government. Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.
Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.
In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise. So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.
I continue to believe in the cause of establishing and applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts. Our report has led to numerous “lessons learned” and policy changes, including the adoption of new Israel Defense Forces procedures for protecting civilians in cases of urban warfare and limiting the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas. The Palestinian Authority established an independent inquiry into our allegations of human rights abuses — assassinations, torture and illegal detentions — perpetrated by Fatah in the West Bank, especially against members of Hamas. Most of those allegations were confirmed by this inquiry. Regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.
The writer, a retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jewish dollars supporting anti-Israel efforts

Jewish World Review April 1, 2011 / 26 Adar II, 5771
Jewry's Jewish problem
By Caroline B. Glick

Across the US, Jewish communities are failing to prevent anti-Zionist Jews from hijacking communal funds and facilities to finance anti-Israel activities | Over the past year or so, American Jewish opponents of Israel like writer and activist Peter Beinart have sought to intimidate and demoralize Israelis by telling us that American Jews either no longer support us or will stop supporting us if we don't give in to all the Arabs' demands.
But statistical evidence exposes these threats as utter lies. According to mountainous survey evidence, the American Jewish community writ large remains deeply supportive of Israel. Two surveys released last year by the American Jewish Committee and Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies showed that three quarters of American Jews care deeply about Israel and that Israel is an important part of their Jewish identity. The Brandeis survey notably showed that young American Jews are no less likely to support Israel than they were in the past.
In fact, American Jews under 30 are more hawkish about the Palestinian conflict with Israel than Jews between the ages of 31-40 are. According to the Brandeis survey, 51 percent of American Jews oppose a future division of Jerusalem while a mere 29 percent would support it. Younger Jews are more opposed to the capital's partition than older Jews are.
It is notable that the Brandeis survey found that political views do not impact American Jews' support for Israel. This is striking because among Americans at large, polls show Republicans are significantly stronger supporters of Israel than Democrats. But not among Jews. "Liberals felt no less connected than conservatives and were no less likely to regard Israel as important to their Jewish identities. These observations hold true for both younger and older respondents," the Brandeis survey report explained.

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Across the board, American Jews blame the Palestinians for the absence of peace and believe there is little chance that there will be peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the foreseeable future. 75 percent agreed with the statement, "The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel."
94 percent said the Palestinians should be required to accept the Jewish state's right to exist.
In light of these overwhelming levels of support, it is disconcerting to see that across the US, Jewish communities are failing to prevent anti-Zionist Jews from hijacking communal funds and facilities to finance anti-Israel activities.
Consider a few recent examples.
• In Orange County, California, intra-communal rancor is growing over the local Jewish Federation's financial and organizational support for University of California at Irvine's Olive Tree Initiative.
The Federation subsidizes Olive Tree Initiative-organized tours of Israel for Jewish students. As Tammi Benjamin from UC Santa Cruz explained in a letter last December to local Federation CEO Shalom Elcott and local Hillel director Jordan Fruchtman, while OTI claims to be interested in fostering good relations between Jewish and Arab students, it actually just propagandizes against Israel. The speakers who addressed students participating in the two-week trip were overwhelmingly anti-Israel. Almost all the Palestinian speakers expressed hatred for Israel. Many of the Israeli speakers represented groups that call for economic warfare against Israel and defame Israel as a racist state. Half of the supposedly neutral representatives of international organizations who spoke to the group are notorious for their opposition to Israel.
Rather than end the practice of using Jewish communal funds to propagandize Jewish students to hate the Jewish state that most American Jews support and see as important to their Jewish identity, the Federation and Hillel have dug in their heels This week the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported that over the past two months, allegedly acting on instructions from the Federation, two local synagogues cancelled an event sponsored by the local branch of the Zionist Organization of America at which's Rabbi Dov Fischer was to present information about OTI's anti-Israel activities.
Speaking to the paper Fischer, of Irvine, California, said, "The amazing thing is how there has been a clamp-down by The Federation to prevent any speech or dissent in the community against The Federation's program. The idea that two different temples in the community, who have all kinds of speakers, canceled this program is profoundly shocking."
• Meanwhile on the East Coast, both the Washington and New York Jewish communities are embroiled in a feud over Federation funding for anti-Israel Jewish groups. In Washington, a group of pro-Israel activist operating as the Committee Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art has begun a campaign to end Federation funding for anti-Israel activities.
In a letter to Federation President Susie Gelman and Federation board members from March 6, COPMA's Chairman Robert Samet argued, "It is critical that the Federation establish guidelines for withholding funding from partner agencies that engage in political propaganda and activism denigrating Israel and undermining its legitimacy as a strong, secure and independent Jewish state."
COPMA's specific concern is Federation Funding for the District of Columbia's Jewish Community Center's professional theater group Theater J. As the letter explained, "Theater J, a partner agency of the Federation and a recipient of its funding and support, has turned an arts program at the DCJCC…into a platform for political activism that expresses hostility and antipathy towards the State of Israel and little regard for its security."
In 2009 Theater J staged the virulently anti-Semitic post-modern passion play "Seven Jewish Children" by Caryl Churchill. The play accuses the entire Jewish population of Israel of mass murders that were never committed.
Unfortunately, as COPMA notes, this is par for the course. In the past Theater J's Artistic Director Ari Roth organized buses to bring community members to Shepherdstown, West Virginia to watch a production of the virulently anti-Israel propaganda play "My Name is Rachel Corrie."
This year, under Roth's leadership, Theater J presented "Return to Haifa," a play that COPMA argues, "distorts the history and origins of Israel and makes the historically accurate death of a Jewish child in the Holocaust…comparable to the fabricated and utterly fantastical story of an Arab child allegedly abandoned by his fleeing parents in Haifa in 1948, ostensibly as a result of their terror over advancing Israelis."
In response to COPMA's letter, Roth told the Forward that it "is not a prerogative of the donor," to intervene in artistic content and claimed that attempts to limit the theater's activities amount to censorship or blacklisting.
Carol Greenwald, COPMA's treasurer rejects Roth's arguments. In her words, "The issue is not artistic freedom to create whatever the artist chooses; the issue is the appropriateness of a Jewish communal institution using Jewish communal funding to showcase defamation of the Jewish people."
The Forward quoted Andrew Apostolou, a local Jewish Community Relations Council member as quite sensibly saying, "There are things a Jewish community shouldn't be doing, like serving a bacon cheeseburger on Yom Kippur. Putting on an anti-Semitic play is one of these things."
• COPMA is not alone in its concerns. In New York, a group of activists formed a new organization called JCC Watch to force the New York Jewish Federation to end financial support to the Manhattan JCC due to its partnership with organizations that support economic warfare against Israel through calls for economic boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Like COPMA, JCC Watch asks that the local Federation adopt guidelines to prevent Federation funds from being transferred to groups and programming that showcase calls for economic and political warfare against Israel.
So far, Washington's Federation has not responded to COPMA's letter. Interviewed by the Forward, the Washington Federation's CEO defended giving supporters of anti-Israel sanctions the stage as part of Federation-sponsored panels on the grounds of "welcoming multiple voices." And in an op-ed in New York Jewish Week last month, New York Federation's CEO defended the JCC's partnership with groups that engage in economic and political warfare against Israel.
What is going on here? According to the AJC and Brandeis surveys, less than ten percent of American Jews tend to accept the Arab line against Israel. Given the wall to wall support for Israel among American Jews, why do American Jewish organizational leaders refuse to do what their members want them to do? Why are they taking Jewish communal funds to finance activities and causes that are offensive to the Jewish community? Why are they pretending that the call to end communal funding for anti-Israel activities is a call for an abrogation of free speech?
To get a sense of how unprecedented this is, it is useful to consider the American Jewish community's response to Jews for Jesus. While Reform and Orthodox rabbis agree on almost nothing relating to Jewish laws and practices, since the emergence of Jews for Jesus in the 1970s, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis have been unified in their rejection of the Christian missionary group's protestations of being Jewish.
Everyone understands that while Jews have a perfect right to change their religion, they have no right to force the Jewish community to accept Christians as Jews. That is they have no right to change the definition of Judaism to include people who worship Jesus. So-called Messianic Jews falsely call themselves Jews to undermine the community from within. But no Federation feels compelled to invite a representative of so-called Messianic Jews to proselytize on stage as part of a panel discussion in order to "welcome multiple voices." Hillel organizations have rightly refused space and funding to Messianic Jewish groups.
But today, American Jews find themselves helpless when a marginal group of anti-Zionist Jews demands —like the Messianic Jews of their day—communal funding and space for their anti-Israel activities.
The anti-Zionist groups make the same arguments as the Messianic Jews. They call themselves pro-Israel even as they engage in activities aimed at harming, defaming, weakening and delegitimizing the Jewish state. They claim that refusing them communal funds constitutes a violation of their free speech rights.
Yet while communal leaders did not hesitate to call the so-called Messianic Jews' bluff, they cannot find the way to expunge anti-Israel groups from their umbrella organizations. The explanation for this behavior apparently is apparently social. Federation leaders don't mind disappointing evangelical Christians. But most of their friends are leftist. Consequently, the perceived social cost of taking action against groups like Theater J, J Street, B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence and Jewish Voices for Peace is too high for many American Jewish leaders to bear.
Happily, a handful of committed community members throughout the country are standing up and demanding that their communal leaders act in the interests of the communities they serve. It can only be hoped that the overwhelming majority of American Jews who clearly wish to support Israel will join these activists' call and demand that all Jewish Federations stop allowing anti-Israel groups to feed from the communal trough. If they do they will find that much to their surprise, the social costs of actions will be far smaller than they expected. After all, Israel's supporters are the majority.