The Anti-Israel Community in a Jewish House of Worship

On November 26, 2019, a progressive Reform Temple in Westchester County, New York brought together a collection of people from the far-left and anti-Israel community to talk about the situation in “Israel/Palestine.” The discussion was civil and disappointing.

The Israel Action Committee of the Temple Israel of New Rochelle put together the event with “Friends of Mossawa,” an organization based in Tarrytown, NY which claims to fight for equality in Israel, and the United Nations, an organization which claims to be a unifying agency for people all over the world. As the evening demonstrated, what unites these parties is their strong distaste for Israel.

The speakers included Laura Wharton, a left-wing, anti-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu member of Jerusalem’s City Council; Rana Abu Farha, a host on the Palestinian run Ma’an 24 news show; and Hanan Al Sanah, a representative of an NGO in the Negev which advocates for Bedouin women. It was moderated by Paul Warhit, President of the Westchester Jewish Council.

Hanan Al Sanah, Rana Abu Farha, Laura Wharton and Paul Warhit at TINR
November 26, 2019
From the outset, the tone of the two hour evening discussion was clearly not going to follow the script as laid out in the invitationThe Lived Reality in Israel and the Palestinian Territory: Current Political Developments and the Prospects for a Peaceful Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The members of the TINR clergy and Israel Action Committee who welcomed the fifty-person audience repeatedly referred to “Israel/Palestine,” and not the “Palestinian Territory,” upgrading the PA-ruled lands to an actual country. They also noted that one of the evenings invited speakers, Ali Ghaith, an “activist and freelance journalist” was not able to attend as he had recently written a negative piece about Netanyahu and was therefore not able to get a travel visa from Israel. Various people in the audience booed Israel’s actions.

The Left-Wing Israeli Politician

Wharton began the discussion stating that she has “complete solidarity with the Palestinian people” and would state later that she is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. Her comments during the evening really only proved the latter.

Even though she serves as a member of the Jerusalem’s City Council, she was woefully ignorant of the city’s composition stating that only about 2,000 Jews live in “East Jerusalem,” even though the actual number is over 200,000 in the eastern part of the city.

Wharton was particularly worried about mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. She said that it was “worrisome that more Israelis are moving into Palestinian neighborhoods,” especially right-wing Israelis. She said that Jerusalem will ultimately need to be divided as part of a peace agreement and the Jewish presence among the Palestinians made that separation harder. She voiced her belief that the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall should remain in Israeli hands, but the balance of East Jerusalem should be part of Palestine, with Christian holy places under the jurisdiction of the United Nations.

Wharton believed that the problems in Jerusalem paled relative to the West Bank. She commented that the settlements are illegal by international law and many are also illegal under Israeli law. She believed that all of the settlements complicated matters significantly by placing Jewish towns alongside Arab towns. Neither she nor the moderator chose to mention how Jews and Arabs get along just fine in Haifa, the headquarters of Mossawa.

Wharton ended her remarks by stating that she supported the B.D.S. movement of Israeli goods made in the West Bank but urged people in the audience to not boycott Israel in its entirety, as it silenced the voices of the dovish Israelis like herself and gave ammunition to the right-wing.

The Anti-Israel Palestinian Newscaster

Rana made Laura’s pro-B.D.S. comments look tame.

She decried the “occupation” throughout her remarks, stating that the over 130 Israeli settlements consisting of 1 million Jews pushed 2.5 million Palestinians to live in “ghettos.” (The actual number of Jews in the West Bank is half that number). She said that Netanyahu went to war in Gaza the other week because he feared he was losing the election so thought it would help to kill Arab civilians to excite the Israeli public. She added that the entire notion that Israel is democratic is a joke, and that it just holds election as a marketing ploy to the western world that it shares democratic ideals when it is really just a racist colonial occupier. The moderator chose not to push back aggressively on these libels.

The Palestinian newscaster went on that she thought that every single settler must leave the West Bank and that all 6 million Palestinian refugees (there are actually 5.5 million registered with UNRWA) should be allowed to move to Israel. When asked by Warhit how Israel could possibly allow 6 million Arabs into the country to overwhelm the Jews, she simply stated that “it’s their land so it’s their choice.” The members of the UN and Friends of Mossawa who sat in the audience grunted their approval. Warhit could only summon that he appreciated her position about getting rid of the settlements but could not imagine Israel allowing 6 million Arabs into the country. The TINR organizer of the event admonished Warhit to not share his opinion and just get the panel talking.

The Bedouin Arab

Compared to the other people on stage, Hanan was actually quite good, even while her English was the weakest. She said that she considered herself an Israeli but was frustrated by the country’s lack of investment in the Bedouin community and Israel’s refusal to allow them to live in their traditional lifestyle. At the same time, she acknowledged that she was also frustrated by her own Bedouin traditional lifestyle that kept women illiterate and as second-class citizens. She was advocating for change in the Bedouin culture to empower women, but for more of the traditional status quo from the Israelis to not force them to move into conventional cities.

End Points

The Q&A at the end of the panel discussion was mostly a repeat of prior comments. When asked about the Palestinian and left-wing Israeli poll in the summer of 2018 that showed that almost all Israeli Arabs were in favor of capping the number of refugees coming to Israel and in favor of Israel’s Nation State Law, the denials began to flow.

The questioner was first directed by the panelists to call Israeli Arabs as “Palestinian Citizens of Israel” and told that the poll figures must be wrong. Both Laura and Rana mentioned the huge protests in the streets after the Knesset passed the law which undermined the poll’s statistics. Wharton considered the poll’s point of Israeli Arabs wanting to cap refugees as perhaps stemming from Palestinian Arab viewpoint of Israeli Arabs as collaborators with Israel while they suffered in refugee camps. Rana effectively ignored the question and repeated that all of the Palestinians have a natural right to return to their homes (or more accurately, grandparents’ homes).

At program’s end, when Rana was asked how many Jews she thought could live in a Palestinian State, she repeated that every settlement had to be removed. Pushed further if she would accept a situation in which every Israeli soldier left the land, and every Jewish civilian in the West Bank opted to become a Palestinian citizen, she reiterated her stance that no settlers could remain. When challenged as to why she would take such an antisemitic stance to forbid any Jew from living in a Palestinian State, the organizer of the event from TINR jumped in and said “don’t put words in her mouth” and then tried to escort her out of the room.


Temple Israel of New Rochelle is proud of its progressive bona fides. Its rabbi serves on the board of J Street (a left-wing Israel advocacy group), Planned Parenthood, and Rabbis for Human Rights. It was therefore not surprising to see such a progressive organization give a warm welcome to people advocating for a boycott of Jews in the West Bank, expulsion of all the Jews living there, and changing Israel into a bi-national state. Such is the state of progressive views about Israel today.


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Unity – not Unanimity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

There are Standards for Unity

Arabs in Jerusalem

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

The Reform Movement’s Rick Jacobs Has no Understanding of Tolerance

J Street is Only Considered “Pro-Israel” in Progressive Circles

On Heretics and Slanderers

The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

Fake Definitions: Pluralism and Progressive / Liberalism

In Defense of Foundation Principles

J Street is a Partisan Left-Wing Group, NOT an Alternative to AIPAC

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

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Omar and Tlaib’s Antisemitic B.D.S.

Two members of congress, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were denied entry into Israel in August 2019 because of their work advocating for an economic war against Israel, called B.D.S. for boycott, divest and sanction. The two contend that their motives are noble in that they just seek to exercise their freedom of expression and speech to pressure Israel to improve the rights of Palestinian Arabs. In response to being rejected by Israel, they are now seeking to cut U.S. economic aid to Israel. It seems that haters of Israel can always find an excuse for B.D.S., including hurt pride.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar hold press conference on the ban preventing them from traveling to Israel, Aug. 18, 2019, in St Paul, Minn.

These two congresspeople have been openly hostile to Israel for many years. The question being discussed is whether these two women and the B.D.S. movement are really about real or perceived actions of Israel OR pure antisemitism.

The Sole Jewish State.
There is only one Jewish state, a situation very dissimilar to the dozens of Christian and Muslim countries. Boycotting Israel is therefore an attack on every Jewish state. One could perhaps not be so cynical about the two Muslim women’s motives if they were targeting only one out of ten Jewish states, similar to President Trump’s temporary travel ban on 10% of the Muslim-majority countries because of their poor security controls. But these same women gave no allowance to Trump and said he was singling denying entry to Muslims in a “hateful” assault. So, one can draw a conclusion that these women are driven by their own “hateful” ideology, persecuting 100% of the Jewish countries, not just 10 percent of them.

Relying on Prior Comments
Omar had no compunction calling out Trump’s travel ban because of the prior comments he had made about Muslims and Islam. Yet she cannot understand people viewing her attacks on Israel through the prism of her repeated negative comments about Jews. She says that “Islamophobia and antisemitism are two sides of the same bigoted coin,” but the reality is people see her and Trump as two similar bigoted talking heads.

Outrageous Claims
The B.D.S. movement which Tlaib proudly supports, makes wildly false and inflammatory claims about Israel. It openly uses terms like “apartheid,” “settler colonialism” and “ethnic cleansing” in vile libels which not only have no basis in fact, but are incendiary comments designed to rile up people to actively attack the Jewish state.

  • Israel Welcomes non-Jews While the Muslim Countries Practice Antisemitism
    The “ethnic cleansing” attack on Israel is an inversion of facts. At Israel’s founding it welcomed 160,000 non-Jews as citizens, while at the same time, Jordan expelled every Jew from the land it seized from Israel and specifically denied any Jew citizenship. Fellow Arab and Muslim countries followed suit and evicted one million Jews between the 1930’s and 1960’s. Today, there are 100 times the number of Arabs living inside Israel as there are Jews living in Arab and Muslim countries. Arabs in Israel are thriving. where their numbers are growing faster than the organic population of any neighboring Arab country.
  • Israeli Arabs like the Jewish State
    When Israel passed its Nation-State Law, many supporters of the B.D.S. movement claimed that it showed Israel to be a racist country. However, they ignored the polls which showed that Israeli Arabs overwhelmingly support the law, even more than Israeli Jews!
  • Israel is more tolerant of Muslims than Europe
    Israel permits people to wear hijabs and burqas, to build churches, mosques and minarets, to have halal food, perform circumcisions and use Sharia courts. Those are freedoms you cannot find in France, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Latvia or Turkey, to name a few countries.
  • Israel is the most liberal country in MENA
    The simple fact is that Israel is an open liberal democracy, with rights and protections for all people. There are Arabs in the Israeli parliament, the Supreme Court and the army. Muslims are allowed to pray at Judaism’s holiest site and can become the prime minister in the country. Those liberties are in sharp contrast to its Arab Muslim neighbors.
  • Israel is the Reestablishment of Jewish Sovereignty
    The B.D.S. claim of “colonialism” is not just a lie but antisemitic. It deliberately erases the 3,300 years of Jewish history in the land and ignores Judaism’s focus of prayer and pilgrimage to Jerusalem for millenia. It is a part of a new type of repulsive “replacement theology” in which Arabs have transformed themselves into the indigenous people in the holy land and Jews are recent invaders.

B.D.S.’s Goal is the Destruction of Israel
The founder of the B.D.S. movement, Omar Barghouti, states very clearly that his movement seeks to end the Jewish State in any configuration or size, “most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” Even long-time critic of Israel Norman Finkelstein said that the supporters of B.D.S. “don’t want Israel [to exist].”

B.D.S. Tactics are Attacks, not Protests
The tactics deployed by the B.D.S. movement are through economic and cultural warfare. Omar and Tlaib saying that they are just expressing their opinions is a far cry from reality. The movement wants universities, companies and countries to stop investing in Israel, from conducting any commerce, collaboration or trade, and to sanction it often and repeatedly. A small country like Israel would be crippled without its export/import industry.

Democratic Socialists Embrace B.D.S.
Tlaib and Omar have common cause with the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialists which have also embraced B.D.S. In doing so, they are mainstreaming the falsehoods and vilification of Israel and advancing an economic war against the Jewish State.

Pressuring Only the Jewish State in the Dispute
The two members of Congress and the B.D.S. movement claim they are seeking a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Arab conflict, but are only attacking one party, not attempting to bring them together.

  • Nominally about a Dispute or a Civil War
    The Arabs have been fighting with the Jews over the control of the land for 100 years in a long-simmering civil war. It has still not ended as neither side has claimed victory nor defeat, leaving millions of Arabs stateless. Progressive empathy is naturally drawn to the weaker party, without consideration of who is actually right or whether the fault of the terrible situation lies at the leadership of the weaker party. The alt-left and Muslim extremists either ignore or celebrate the acting-president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas calling for millions of fighters to descend on Jerusalem (1:03) and the Hamas Charter which calls for the killing of Jews and refusing to ever negotiate a peace with Israel.
  • Palestinians Have No Ability to Negotiate
    The leader of the PA’s four-year term in office ran out over a decade ago. He has no mandate to negotiate, and polls show that the Palestinians want him to resign. He also does not control Gaza, and has not been able to govern a Palestinian parliament which has 58% of the members belonging to Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization. Abbas has never shown a compromise in his negotiations with Israel and has never been able to control Hamas. Therefore, there is no logic for Israel to negotiate with a straw man who cannot deliver, and it is unfair to punish Israel for failing to reach an agreement with such counter-party.

Omar and Tlaib Refuse Visit to Israel and Schedule Visit to “Palestine”
Over forty Democratic members of Congress went to Israel in the beginning of August and met with Israelis and Palestinian Arabs in a well organized trip. But Omar and Tlaib boycotted the trip and instead decided to go on a trip to the State of “Palestine,” even though the United States does not recognize such a country. Their agenda was organized by Miftah, a group which has excused the killing of Israeli civilians.


The B.D.S. movement is dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State and the nullification of Jewish history and Jewish rights, which is why the Israeli government banned entry for people affiliated with the movement. It is manifestation of Palestineism which believes the dignity of Palestinians is predicated on erasing the dignity of Jews. Omar and Tlaib are its current ugly face, but it’s in the hearts and minds of other Democratic Socialists.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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Ilhan Omar Isn’t Debating Israeli Policy, She is Attacking Americans

Muslim Women Debate Anti-Semitism

The Insidious Jihad in America

The Antisemitic Youth

The Mourabitat Women of Congress

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

Anti-Israel Lobbyists Dwarf Pro-Israel Lobbyists

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Time to Define Banning Jews From Living Somewhere as Antisemitic

The German government voted in May 2019 to officially label the boycott, divestment and sanctions (B.D.S.) of Israel movement as antisemitic.

The resolution entitled “Resisting the BDS movement decisively –fighting antisemitism,” calls on the German government to “cease providing premises and facilities under the administration of the Bundestag to organizations that use anti-Semitic terms or question Israel’s right to exist.” This marks the first time a major European parliament has defined the BDS movement as antisemitic.

It is highly appropriate for the European country which led the charge to annihilate the Jews in the 1930’s and 1940’s to lead the way for curtailing the mainstreaming of Jew-hatred today. The noxious B.D.S. antisemitism is being championed by the far-left, Islamic radicals and the alt-right, so Germany’s voice in protesting the activity as it recalls its own actions during the Holocaust is a clarion call for the the world to eradicate pernicious evil at its roots.

Nazis labeling Jewish stores for boycott in 1933. An den Fenstern j¸discher Geschte werden von Nationalsozialisten Plakate mit der Aufforderung “Deutsche, wehrt euch, kauft nicht bei Juden” angebracht.

It is similarly time for the United Nations to call out the Jew-hatred in its ranks and acknowledge and label that the banning of Jews from living anywhere is antisemitic.

The UN devolved into its current antisemitic state over the decades from the 1950’s to 1970’s, as many Muslim countries hostile to the Jewish State were admitted as members, and the former Nazi Kurt Waldheim served as the leader of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981. Over Waldheim’s watch, the organization passed many anti-Israel and anti-Semitic resolutions. They included:

  • UN Resolution 3236 (1974) declaring that Palestinians have – uniquely among all people in the world – an inalienable right to sovereignty and to return to a house where an ancestor lived (even if they were just renters and lived there for a short time).
  • UN Resolution 3379 (1975) declaring “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.

The United States helped repeal UN Res. 3379 in 1991, but the absurdity of UN Res. 3236 lives on, perpetuating a simmering battle between Arabs and Jews.

The absurd resolution is matched by explicitly antisemitic resolutions, such as UN Security Council 2334 (2016). By liberally switching between the concept of “settlements” and “settlers” as well as “Israel” and “Jews,” the UN pushed forward the notion that Jews should be forbidden to live in huge swathes of their homeland, including their holiest city of Jerusalem. An Israeli Arab moving to the West Bank is considered a non-issue, while a Jew buying an apartment in the Old City of Jerusalem is considered “a flagrant violation under international law.” It’s outrageous, it’s antisemitic, and it’s considered perfectly acceptable by the UN today.

In a similar vein, the UN has refused to comment of the Palestinian Authority law which calls for the death sentence for any Arab selling land to Jews in eastern Jerusalem and all lands east of the Green Line (EGL), as the UN would rather state that the PA is a credible partner for peace. Imagine the uproar at the UN if Israel had a law which forbade Arabs from living in the country.

Perhaps, just as Germany took the lead in labeling the B.D.S. movement as antisemitic, Russia should take a leadership role in noting that the banning of Jews from owning property and living in certain areas is antisemitic, to acknowledge its role in limiting Jews to just the Pale of Settlement. Maybe the United Kingdom will admit that evicting all Jews from the city of Hebron in 1929, and from all of England in 1290 was wrong. Better still, the UK should state clearly that it fiercely objects and opposes the currently outstanding terms of the Treaty of Utecht which bans Jews from living in Gibraltar, and together with Spain which drafted the language, officially remove it.

How can we expect the world to recognize the antisemitism of BDS, when it hasn’t clearly condemned the laws which ban Jews from living in certain locations?


Related First.One.Through articles:

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BDS is a Movement by Radical Islamists and Far-Left Progressives to Block Your Freedoms

In countries that embrace both capitalism and democracy, there is an appreciation of the ability to buy any legal product from any vendor within the country and from an allied country. That freedom is under assault by radical Islamists and far-left progressives.

Full Personal Freedom to Buy/
Limits on Selling Preferences

The ability to purchase legal goods from a company in good standing from an ally is natural. It is up to the individual – say an American citizen – to choose to buy an item to his liking – perhaps Droste Chocolate from the Netherlands or an Audi automobile from Germany. People are not compelled to purchase the item either because of a preference regarding the item (maybe they don’t like the taste of Droste Chocolate) or because they have an issue with the government (not buying anything German because of the Holocaust.) The legal structure of the society enables each person to make a buying decision on their own.

However, such rights are not so absolute when it comes to SELLING something. As examples, a person cannot decide to only sell their home to a white person any more than a store owner can prevent a gay person from buying a soda. Anti-discrimination laws specifically disallow such actions. A business or individual can decide not to sell something, but once a decision is made to sell a product, everyone must have equal access to acquire the item.

BDS

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel portrays itself as a human rights effort to pressure Israel to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. It is not. It is an anti-Semitic movement designed to eradicate Zionism launched by Radical Islamists that has begun to co-opt far left-wing Progressives (RIAPs, Radical Islamists and Progressives).

The RIAPs often compare Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa in their quest for BDS, which has many flaws:

  1. There are two parties in this conflict. As opposed to the apartheid regime in South Africa which limited freedoms for its own citizens, the Israel-Arab conflict is between distinct parties.
  2. The United Nations and dozens of Arab and Muslim countries back the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority has tremendous support from many countries around the world, including the United Nations itself. The blacks in South Africa were an isolated minority trying to fight for rights against its own government.
  3. Israel has attempted to forge a peace agreement. For several decades, the Israeli government has tried to reach a peace agreement with the Arabs in the region. The dynamic here is not one of desire to reach a settlement, but a gap between the positions of the Israelis and PA.
  4. The Israeli government has a good track record. The Israelis gave up land for peace with Egypt and were able to reach a peace agreement with Jordan. Israel gave control of Gaza and sections of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. For their part, the PA has not even been able to reach any settlements with rival parties.

Which party really needs pressure / help in getting to a peace deal?


Protesters hold signs calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)
in Washington, D.C., August 2, 2014.
(photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

More to the point being addressed here, BDS prevents ordinary people from buying the Israeli products they desire.

As noted above, any individual can make a personal choice to avoid buying products made in Israel or the Israeli territories in Judea and Samaria. But establishing a boycott infringes on the rights of other people who very much want to purchase the products and services from the leading liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

If progressives really cared about human rights, shouldn’t they have lambasted the Obama Administration for not only handing $150 billion to Iran, a country that hangs gays by cranes in the middle of Tehran and executes minors? Shouldn’t the progressives have been further incensed with Obama for promising to import Iranian rugs, caviar and pistachios (see page 67 of the JCPOA).

How can progressives approve of the importation of goods from a country that executes gays and minors, but seek to boycott a country which has only reached a peaceful settlement with some of its Arab neighbors?

It is because the RIAPs believe that Israel is a completely illegal Zionist Project. Iran and other regressive Islamic societies like Saudi Arabia may be vile, but they are viewed by the extremist groups as legitimate. Meanwhile, they contend that Israel is illegal at its core and should cease to exist.

Consider the platform in Black Lives Matter “Invest – Divest” which declared America’s support for Israel, its “Global War on Terror,” and AFRICOM as simply tools of colonialism under the mask of combating terror. Under the BLM worldview, Israel is an extension of the racist American colonial project, putting Jews in homes where they do not belong, stealing from people of color.

These extremists do not simply have their own disturbing anti-Semitic worldview in which Jews are uniquely denied their history, heritage and basic human rights, but want to force every person to comply with their anti-Semitic agenda. They seek to rob every American of their choice of doing business with Israel.

BDS is the toxic combination of stealing individual freedom and forcing people to participate in antisemitism. Organizations that participate in BDS should be fined in the same manner as those that have policies that discriminate against any group.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

BDS and Christian Persecution

Please Don’t Vote for a Democratic Socialist

When Power Talks the Truth

Denying Entry and Citizenship

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

The Personalisation of War

Iran’s New Favorite Jewish Scholars

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Denying Entry and Citizenship

In 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return which enabled all Jews from around the world to move to Israel and quickly obtain citizenship. In that declaration, the law gave the state room to exclude certain kinds of individuals, specifically any Jew who:

“(1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or

(2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.”

The threshold for deciding on granting citizenship was left to the Minister of Immigration. Presumably there were many people who were denied citizenship over the decades since the law was enacted.

The government of Israel does not limit its scrutiny of Jews who arrive in Israel to make aliyah to become citizens, but also deciding who should be granted entry to the country at all.

In January 2018, the Knesset decided to bar entry to members of 20 organizations that threaten the state through calls for BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) of the Jewish State. Those organizations included:

From Europe

  • AFPS (France-Palestine Solidarity Association)
  • BDS France
  • BDS Italy
  • ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine)
  • FOA (Friends of al-Aqsa)
  • IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
  • Norge Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway)
  • Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (PGS-Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden)
  • PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
  • War on Want
  • BDS Kampagne

From the United States

  • AFSC (American Friends Service Committee)
  • AMP (American Muslims for Palestine)
  • Code Pink
  • JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace)
  • NSJP (National Students for Justice in Palestine)
  • USCPR (U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights)

Other groups

  • BDS Chile
  • BDS South Africa
  • BDS National Committee

In July 2018, a prominent voice for Code Pink and BDS activist, Ariel Gold, was denied entry into Israel. After being denied entry, she said that she would entertain making aliyah to the country she was lobbying against. She was perhaps not aware of the caveat in the Law of Return that would prohibit her being granted citizenship.

Ariel Gold of Code Pink at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
The Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan saidThe policy I have set is clear: anyone who acts consistently to boycott us will not enter the country. The rules have changed and the State of Israel will not hold back anymore against those who try to harm us.

Another BDS promoter from Netherlands was similarly denied entry in July 2018.

In August 2018, a leftist activist was detained at the Sinai border with Israel. She belonged to a group called Gisha which advocates for Gazans, but was not on the BDS list. She was eventually allowed entry after a few hours of questioning.

The trend of denying people entry to a country because of the perception that they will foment hatred or violence is occurring in several democracies.

The United Kingdom has barred several right-wing journalists. Since 2009, the UK has prohibited the conservative talk show host Michael Savage from entering the country. In March 2018, the UK denied entry to Canadian right-wing journalist Lauren Southern, and some other YouTubers from Austria. Both Savage and Southern were denied entry because of their comments about Islam. The UK stated “Border Force has the power to refuse entry to an individual if it is considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.” The UK phrase of “public good” seems to have a much lower threshold than Israel’s “harm.”

Under the Obama administration, the United States prevented journalists from entering the country with little information as to the reason. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol denied Canadian journalist Ed Ou entry in 2016. The CBP said that it examined Ou’s files and phones because “keeping America safe and enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the U.S.” Under the Trump administration, several journalists have been denied visas to enter the country, including Afrah Nasser from Yemen, as her country was on a travel ban.

Many countries – including the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and Israel – deny both citizenship and visitation rights to people who are deemed to be not conducive to the public good / promoters of harm. Activists and journalists from both the right-wing and left-wing have been caught in these nets for decades. But one can be sure that American and British Jews have only called out Israel for such activity, while remaining silent on activities executed by their own governments.


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Hamas Thanks Israel Bashers Who Post and Blog

On January 21, 2018, a Hamas journalist wrote that it was time to take advantage of the sympathy that has been building for the “resistance” against the existence of Israel from online pro-Palestinian “activists,” by beginning to attack Israel in new ways and locations, including abroad.

‘Imad Al-‘Afana (photo: alresalah.ps)
As reported by MEMRI, Imad Al-‘Afana, a journalist and former secretary general of Hamas’s faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), wrote that attacks from the West Bank and the Gaza border against Israel had become ineffective, and it was time to launch a new wave of attacks:

“The resistance must take advantage of the public climate that is supportive of it and of the Palestinian rights… [to head] in new directions, in addition to the non-violent demonstrations and the [soliciting of] sympathy in the virtual realm [i.e., on the Internet], and this in order to convey powerful messages that will halt the efforts of various elements in the region to [promote] normalization and recognition of Israel. We must deliver painful blows to the enemy’s vulnerable underbelly, that is, target its interests, its investments, its diaspora and its representations around the world.

Here was a member of Hamas appreciating the efforts of groups and individuals that advanced the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, as well as others who called on their governments to halt the normalization and recognition of Israel around the world. The terrorist argued that the softening of support for Israel would make it easier to attack Israel’s “vulnerable underbelly,… its investments, its diaspora and its representations around the world.

  • Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink, you will be held responsible for terrorism against Israelis in the United States.
  • The UK Labour Party and Oxfam, you will bear partial responsibility for terrorism in the United Kingdom against Israelis.
  • Norge Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway) and Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (PGS-Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden), you will be held liable for terrorism against Israelis in Scandinavia

Hamas has long been labeled a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and many other countries. Its 1988 Charter is one of the most anti-Semitic political documents ever drafted, on par with Nazi Germany.

And a spokesperson for this anti-Semitic terrorist group has publicly thanked the online anti-Zionist propagandists for preparing their countries for the next wave of terrorism targeting Israelis and Jews.

The Noble Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel noted the importance of words for both good and evil, warning and encouraging people of the world to be careful and deliberate with their voices and opinions. Terrorists have now noted and reminded us of the same.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The UN is Watering the Seeds of Anti-Jewish Hate Speech for Future Massacres

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

Abbas’ European Audience for His Rantings

The War Preferred

Names and Narrative: Genocide / Intifada

Palestinians of Today and the Holocaust

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

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Charlie Hebdo Will No Longer Sell Magazines to 20 Islamic Terrorist Groups

A satire.

On the three year anniversary of the shooting at the satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo, the magazine’s publishers announced that it was no longer going to sell its papers to Islamic terrorists.

The January 2015 attack by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) killed a dozen people as the group was infuriated by the magazine’s depiction of their prophet Mohammed in cartoons. In killing the people at the magazine, the Islamic terrorists sought to shut down the offensive paper.

But three years on, Charlie Hebdo is still functioning and printing its satirical assaults on politicians and religions. The Islamic jihadists are no more amused today than they were three years ago.

Al Qaeda operatives continue to be among the most ardent followers of the magazine, with some estimates having the various jihadist groups buying as much as 18% of the total circulation. The AQAP Facebook page posts several harangues about the devilish nature of the paper and its publishers after every issue. AQAP, the Taliban and 18 other jihadist groups have sought a new fatwa against all people associated with the magazine and have urged the world to boycott the publication.

Charlie Hebdo blacklisted the 20 groups in response.

The head of marketing and advertising (who has withheld his name for fear of retribution) at Charlie Hebdo said that they thought they were helping the jihadists in breaking a terrible addictive habit. “On the one hand, they hate us and on the other, they are obsessed with us. We thought we were doing them a favor,” in preventing them from buying more magazines. “They keep on coming back so they can get more incensed. Their anger produces more invective producing bad outcomes for everyone. It’s bad enough that their terrorists; now they’re also angry.

The magazine has worked out a deal with its distributors that prospective purchasers must present ID cards when they attempt to buy the magazine. Anyone with an AQAP gun association or AAA (Al-Qaeda Automotive Attackers) card will be turned down and instead offered a coupon for a 30-minute massage. “Our thought was to help the jihadists get some quiet time and stop them from killing others,” said Guy Klever, the Minister of Strategic Affairs. “Charlie Hebdo will actively prevent such groups from spreading their slander against our satire. They must chill immediately!

Top dog terrorist Hay’man al-Za’worry was outraged at being denied the right to purchase the magazine. “This is a war on freedom of speech and commerce,” he announced. “This is a new low, even for such a despicable organization. It will not slow us down in our efforts to vilify and shut down this paper. We will continue to buy as many as possible until we put them out of business.”

Rebeka Folkcommerce, executive director of the Jewish Voice for Propaganda, chimed in about the blacklisting, “As someone who buys and publishes a lot of propaganda, this policy will be a real hardship,” for anyone that needs to buy the paper to enable them to destroy it.

Upon learning about the loss of thousands of magazine orders due to the blacklisting, Israel placed a standing order to purchase the same number so that Charlie Hebdo would not feel the pinch. “Something about this blacklist feels eerily familiar,” noted Israeli Prime Minister Bubba Netanyahu.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Netanyahu’s Doctoral Thesis on the Nakba

Palestinian Job Fair for Peace

The Turkish Chickpea: Recep “Hummus” Erdogan

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The Personalisation of War

There was a time that wars were fought between countries. Whether military or economic, a country or a group of countries would battle other countries. In extreme cases, the wars would ensnare much of the world.

But in modern times, battles have moved to a personal level.

Non-State Actors

Non-state actors like Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Liberation Organization have been waging political terrorism for a long time. However in modern times (since 2011), terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram moved the goalposts considerably, by using social media as an active part of their war efforts. The groups used Facebook and Twitter to share videos of brutal murders to both instill fear in their enemies and to enlist new troops. Such efforts were so successful, that politicians made combating these groups online one of their priorities in defeating the terrorists.

While social media became a new fertile area for the recruitment of civilians, the war efforts were still overseen and directed by the leadership of the terrorist groups. The leaders either deployed the new recruits in active fields of battle such as Iraq and Syria, or instructed them to conduct terrorist attacks in western countries that were supporting the battle against the jihadist groups.

That formula began to evolve in 2014.

Armies of One

For most of mankind’s history, an individual was a local being without a voice. In dictatorships, people’s opinions were irrelevant. A person’s existence was to pay taxes and serve in the army to further the goals of the leader. Even in democracies in which an individual’s opinion mattered in shaping a government’s makeup and therefore its policies, the individual’s impact would be relegated to the voting booth. If people wanted to achieve a more direct impact on government foreign policy, the choices were being part of a massive protest or joining the army or government. However, in each of those cases, the ultimate arbiter of foreign policy remained at the government level.

Social media has started to change that dynamic. Not only could non-state actors reach civilians around the world as described above, civilians could share their opinions and express their anger and actually impact foreign policy in a number of ways.

Defamation: In the third Hamas war from Gaza against Israel in 2014, Palestinian Arabs took to Facebook and Twitter to describe their personal situation. As described in the new book “War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century,”  a teenage girl from Gaza posted live about her fear and suffering in the war, reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world, punishing Israel’s image on a global level. According to the author of the book, “Israel lost the global information war because it did not ‘bleed’ enough, and as long as it maintains its military advantage, it never will.

Violence: By the 2014 war’s end, the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank felt that they had also not ‘bled’ enough, and began a car ramming and stabbing intifada against Israelis, both civilians and soldiers. The attacks were inspired – but not orchestrated – by Arab leadership from the West Bank Fatah party as well as the Gaza-based Hamas party.


Cartoon from Fatah website directing people to use cars to run over Jews
November 6, 2014


Palestinian girl discussing stabbing Jews
November 12, 2015

The deadly “lone wolf” attacks in the United States from 2015 to 2017 were similarly inspired by ISIS, but were not planned by the terrorist group’s leadership.

Economic: The personal war is not just being waged with violence and libel. It is economic as well.

In the past countries-war model, countries would use economic pressure against one another, such as after Egypt lost the Yom Kippur War to Israel in 1973, it engaged in an economic war against all of the countries that supported Israel including the US via an oil embargo. In today’s individual-war model, people engage in a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The BDS movement targets the government of Israel, professors at Israeli universities, Israeli companies and even individuals looking to perform in Israel. The latest victim was the pop singer Lorde, who cancelled her Israel concert in December 2017 after being barraged by threats from individuals.

This is a new phenomenon. Individuals are now attackers and individuals are now victims. The ties that bind both attacker and victim are no longer based on nationality and borders, but by identity. Jihadists fight anti-jihadists around the world, and anti-Zionists fight Zionists everywhere. The global economy and pervasiveness of social media have enabled the protagonists to organize.

In such a new format, is Israel worse off or better? The one Jewish State is outnumbered 57-to-1 by the number of Muslim countries, but by 100-to-1 in terms of Muslim-to-Jewish population (twice as small). In general, Israel is just a single country out of 193 countries at the United Nations, but is dwarfed by 900-to-1 in terms of the global population (five times as small).

In a new personalized-war model, the small country looks even smaller.

But the personalization of war also leads invariably to a personalization of defense, and therein lies an amazing opportunity.

There is only one Jewish State and only a limited number of Jews, so Israel will always be outnumbered on the world stage. But there are millions of pro-Zionists in the world. These people must be educated and prepared to counter the scourge of demonization that is being touted on social media. They should be marketed to as consumers of Israeli products to repel the efforts of BDS minions. And they should be called upon to defend Israel when individuals, groups and countries shout “from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” in efforts to destroy the one Jewish State.

Sign up to FirstOneThrough and other pro-Israel sites and share the articles and videos broadly on social media. The personalization of war has made everyone an active participant in the fight.

 


Related First.One.Through articles:

Car Ramming from Islamic Terrorism Explodes as it Approaches its Second Anniversary

The Big, Bad Lone Wolves of Terrorism

Stabbing the Palestinian “Right of Return”

The Current Intifada against Everyone

The New Salman Abedi High School for Boys in England and the Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel Soccer Tournament in France

“Won’t you be my Neighbor?”

Israel’s Peers and Neighbors

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The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The tensions between the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations and Israel seemingly became tense over the Israeli government’s decision to postpone plans for an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, the Western Wall. In truth, the relationship between the Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal and Reform branches of Judaism (the 3R’s) and the Jewish State have been terrible for a long time.

There are a number of Jewish organizations that actively seek to harm Israel in public fora. As detailed in “Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent,” the largest and most noxious of the left-wing organizations are: the Jewish Voice for Peace that advocates for a global boycott of Israel; J Street that advocates for sanctions against Israel at the United Nations; and the New Israel Fund, that supports organizations that go on global tours bad-mouthing Israel and groups that seek to destroy the Jewish character of Israel.

What that article did not convey and will be discussed and explored here, was that these anti-Zionist groups are uniquely backed by non-Orthodox rabbis.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Arguably the most proudly vocal anti-Zionist group is the Jewish Voice for Peace, JVP. The rabbis of JVP have supported the Gaza flotilla; written books demonizing Israel as a modern day blood libel; and arguably promoted the murder of Israelis.


JVP post supporting convicted terrorist Rasmeah Odeh

JVP’s rabbinic leadership almost exclusively comes from the Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal branches of Judaism. At their core, they seek a Judaism that has nothing to do with Zionism. Many are proudly anti-Zionist.

Rabbi Joseph Berman (Non-Denominational)
Rabbi Linda Holtzman (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Buzz Bogage, Denver, CO
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Evanston, IL (Reconstructionist)
Student Rabbi Leora Abelson
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Lev Baesh (Reform)
Rabbi David Basior (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Haim Beliak (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Joseph Berman (Unaffiliated)
Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Meryl Crean (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Michael Davis (also backed by the Students for Justice in Palestine which has supported terrorist groups)
Rabbi Art Donsky (Non-denominational)
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny (Egalitarian)
Rabbi Shai Gluskin (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Borukh Goldberg
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Julie Greenberg
Rabbi Edward Klein
Rabbi Alan LaPayover (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Eyal Levinson (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom (Conservative)
Rabbi David Mivasair (Progressive)
Rabbi Dev Noily (Progressive)
Rabbi Alexis Pearce (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Michael Ramberg (Progressive)
Rabbi Ken Rosenstein (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Lew Weiss (Reform)
Rabbi Alissa Wise (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Joey Wolf (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Rain Zohav (Jewish Renewal)

The Anti-Defamation has essentially labeled JVP a hate group stating:

“JVP has consistently co-sponsored demonstrations to oppose Israeli military policy that have been marked by signs comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and slogans that voice support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. JVP has not condemned or sought to distance itself from these messages.”

The rabbis of these communities put politics front-and-center of their religion. And their politics are anti-Zionism.

J Street

J Street officially states that it is not in favor of the BDS movement, but has supported many speakers who do call for the boycott of Israel. More, J Street actively lobbied the Obama Administration to allow the censure of Israel at the United Nations and enabling the resolution labeling Israeli territory east of the Green Line to be deemed illegal.

The rabbinic core of J Street is slightly more “traditional” than the rabbis from JVP, counting many Reform rabbis. The list of hundreds of rabbis is too long to review here, but a sample highlights the trend:

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Brooklyn, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Lauren Henderson, Chicago, IL (Conservative)
Rabbi Alexander Kress, Abington, PA (Reform)
Rabbi Marisa Elana James, New York, NY (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, New York, NY (Conservative)
Rabbi Amanda Schwartz, New York, NY (Conservative)
Rabbi Scott Aaron, Pittsburgh, PA (Reform)
Rabbi Alison Abrams, Deerfield, IL (Reform)
Rabbi Ruth Adar, Oakland, CA (Reform)
Rabbi David Adelson, New York, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Wayland, MA (Independent)
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Philadelphia, PA (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Thomas Alpert, Needham, MA (Reform)
Rabbi Steven Altarescu, Bronx, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, San Francisco, CA (Reform)
Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, Louisville, KY (Reform)
Susan J Averbach, San Francisco, CA (Humanistic Judaism)
Rabbi Benjamin Arnold, Evergreen, CO (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Los Gatos, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman, Jerusalem, Israel (Reform)
Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, Woodstock, NY (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Larry Bach, Durham, NC (Reform)
Rabbi Lev Baesh, Lexington, MA (Reform)
Rabbi Chava Bahle, Suttons Bay, MI (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Justus Baird, Princeton, NJ (Reform)
Rabbi Rachel Evelyne Barenblat, Williamstown, MA (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Benjamin H. Barnett, Corvallis, OR (Pluralistic)
Rabbi Bernard Barsky, Dayton, OH
Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, Encino, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Geoffrey Basik, Baltimore, MD (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, San Francisco, CA (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Renee H. Bauer, Madison, WI
Rabbi David Baylinson, Atlanta, GA (Reform)
Rabbi Micah Becker-Klein, Hockessin, DE
Rabbi Martin Beifeld, Richmond, VA (Reform)
Rabbi Anne Belford, Houston, TX (Reform)
Rabbi Marc J. Belgrad, Buffalo Grove, IL (Reform)
Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer, Savannah, GA (Reform)
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appel, Highland Park, IL (post-denominational)
Rabbi Karen Bender, Tarzana, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, Seattle, WA (Reform)
Rabbi Allen Bennett, San Francisco, CA (Reform)
Rabbi James Bennett, St. Louis, MO (Reform)
Rabbi Philip J. Bentley, Hendersonville, NC (Reform)

The Reform movement isn’t explicitly anti-Israel the way that much of the Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal movements are currently. However, the current head of the Reform movement, Rabbi Rick Jacobs is particularly political and claims that the official stance of Reform Judaism is anti-settlements. How he declared that his personal anti-Jews living in Judea and Samaria politics should frame the entire movement is something that members of Reform Judaism need to address.

New Israel Fund

The New Israel Fund gives money to groups like Adalah that have a stated purpose of ending any Jewishness in Israel. It lures people to donate money stating that it is about equality in Israel – and by that it means ending the Jewish Law of Return; the Hatikvah; Jewish star on the national flag, et cetera.

The international council of NIF features a number of non-Orthodox rabbis:

Rabbi Rachel Mikva (Reform)
Rabbi Bernard Mehlman (Reform)
Rabbi Anson Laytner (Reform)
Rabbi Daniel Weiner (Reform)
Rabbi David Levin (Reform)
Rabbi Morris Allen (Conservative)
Rabbi Norman Cohen (Reform)
Rabbi Alexander Davis (Conservative)
Rabbi Shosh Dworsky (Conservative)
Rabbi David Freedman
Rabbi Yosi Gordon (Conservative)
Rabbi Michael Adam Latz (Reform)
Rabbi Cathy Nemiroff (Reform)
Rabbi Debra Rappaport (Reform)
Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein (Conservative)
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker (Reform)
Rabbi Sharon Stiefel (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Aaron Weininger (Conservative)
Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman (Reform)
Rabbi Sharon Brous (Conservative)
Rabbi Rachel B. Cowan (Reform)
Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson (Reform)
Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen (Reform)
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon (non-denominational)
Rabbi Aaron Panken (Reform)
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, White Plains (Conservative)

Relative to JVP and J Street, the New Israel Fund has many more Conservative rabbis joining its leadership ranks. But still, none of these anti-Zionist organizations that have thousands of rabbis in leadership positions have a single Orthodox rabbi.

Why?

Beyond Liberal Politics

There is no question that some of these forms of Judaism revolve around liberal politics more than religion. Many of the synagogues state clearly on their websites that they are focused on tikkun olam (repairing the world), and they do this not through Torah-inspired commandments like helping the widow and orphan, but in new imagined ways like raising the minimum wage and saving the planet.

But there are many liberal rabbis in the Orthodox community too, and they support the Jewish State. They are proud to point out that Israel is one of the most liberal countries in the world, and certainly within the xenophobic, antisemitic and misogynistic Middle East. When liberal Orthodox rabbis find a need to criticize the Israeli government, they do it directly with the government in a constructive manner, not through antagonistic actions on the global stage.

Therefore, the issue cannot be simply attributed to the politics of many rabbis in the non-Orthodox world. There must be something systemic in the religious philosophy of those denominations that make them embrace Israel-bashing.

Who Is a Jew

The key Jewish prayer Shemoneh Esrei recited several times every day begins with the blessing of “our God and the God of our fathers.” It encapsulates the notion that Judaism is both a religion of being, passed down physically from our ancestors, as well as one of choice – “our God” – in which each person takes ownership of his faith.

In regards to being a Jew, Orthodox Judaism (and Conservative Judaism, at this point in time) have held the line on using traditional halacha in critical life events that define “who is a Jew.” Two of those are birth and marriage.

Both the Orthodox and Conservative movements believe that the child of a Jewish mother is a Jew, regardless of the religion of the father. The other denominations believe in patrilineal descent, that religion can be passed down via the father’s religion. This is a fundamental breakdown between the religious denominations regarding “who is a Jew.”

Similarly, Orthodox and Conservative rabbis do not perform interfaith weddings. The rabbis in the other movements are very proud to perform such ceremonies and openly advertise their services.

These two life events are obviously interconnected. An interfaith couple will have a non-Jewish parent, and about half of the time, produce a non-Jewish child according to the traditions of matrilineal descent practiced by Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. Sanctioning interfaith marriages has produced a chasm between the Reform/Reconstructionist/Jewish Renewal (3R) movements with other Jewish denominations, AND with Israel itself.

Israel created a Law of Return in 1950 that allowed any Jew to move to Israel. In 1970, the law was amended to clarify that a Jew “means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.” While the 1970 amendment made provisions for the non-Jewish spouse and children of a Jew to move to Israel, the Law of Return used a definition of matrilineal descent that only Conservative and Orthodox used, upsetting other denominations that support patrlineal descent. However, the law’s clause on conversion did accept non-Orthodox conversions performed outside of Israel, as decided by the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2016.

Universalism versus Particularism

Being a Jew is simply part one. The actions and demands of the religion, the mitzvot, are part two, and the breakdown between Orthodox Judaism and the branches that seek to harm Israel are profound.

Orthodox Judaism believes that the Torah has 613 commandments for a Jew to live by. Some are clear-cut, like “Do not kill,” while others are subject to broader interpretation like “keep the Sabbath holy,” as there may be many different methods of keeping the Sabbath holy. Conservative Judaism basically follows the concept of the 613 mitzvot, but interprets them differently (for example, Orthodox Jews will not use electricity on Sabbath to “keep it holy,” while Conservative Jews will often use electricity.)

In contrast, the 3R branches of Judaism have revamped the mitzvot in a way that fits a “new age” rewriting of the laws. They have made the commandments about human-centered spirituality that spreads out to God and all mankind, rather than commandments that are passed down from God to man.

The Jewish Renewal site makes its mantra clear, stating it’s “a transdenominational approach to revitalizing Judaism.” Its reach is to everyone: “Renewal is an attitude, not a denomination,” with “an emphasis on accessible spiritual experience.” In other words, this is a movement without demands, such as only eating kosher foods. It is more akin to a yoga retreat. Not only is there no need to be Jewish, a person needn’t perform ancient rote rituals. Just engage in new age meditation.

Reconstructionist Judaism is more traditional than Jewish Renewal, but far from “traditional.” Its emphasis is on “Jewish Identity,” as its website states: “what primarily gives Jews our identity is not belief but rather the feeling of belonging to the Jewish civilization itself. We observe Jewish holidays, rituals and customs, not because a divine being commanded us to, but because it is our primary method of reinforcing Jewish identity.” In other words, God’s commandments are not really commandments (or God doesn’t exist) for Reconstructionist Jews. The basis for observing any tradition is simply a matter of keeping the “Jewish identity” around, not because of any higher authority.

These days, the Reform movement has put the world front and center. It’s mission is to build “communities that transform the way people connect to Jewish life, building a more whole, just, and compassionate world.” It does this through tikkum olam, “repairing the world.” The movement’s leader, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, speaks of Reform Judaism as operating in concert with the global community: “the heart of a tikkun olam that embraces always both the universal and the particular.

These three branches of Judaism approach religious practice very differently than Orthodox Judaism. Their Judaism is centered on global mankind’s yearning to connect – to the planet and the people around the world – to achieve a personal fulfillment of serenity. Jewish rituals are props to achieve that state of zen. Similarly, non-Jews bring their own props to their encounters with God and mankind. Universalism and particularism (of props) coexist in a human-centered meditative state of bliss.

This 3R approach towards religion is an inversion of Orthodox Judaism that is premised on a top-down philosophy. The Bible and Ten Commandments began with God, not man. The 613 commandments given to Jews were just that – commandments – not guides to validate one’s own sense of social justice. These commandments were uniquely given to Jews, as Orthodoxy believes that non-Jews were given only seven commandments which relate to universal morality.

The orientation of particularism of Orthodox rabbis extends broadly: to Jewish people (they do not perform interfaith weddings); the Bible (with unique commandments only for Jews); and to the holy land itself, which they believe was given to the Jewish people. According to a Pew poll in 2013, 84% of Orthodox Jews believe that God gave Israel to the Jews. That compares to only 54%, 35% and 24% of Conservative, Reform, and non-denominational Jews, respectively. By way of comparison, 55% of Christians believe that God gave Israel to the Jews. How remarkable is that? Christians are more Zionistic than non-Orthodox Jews.

This dichotomy between Orthodox and non-Orthodox denominations is at the core of different approaches to the Jewish State and the holy land. For Orthodox Jews, the Jewish State is particular, just like the bible and Jewish people. In contrast, the non-Orthodox denominations focus on universalism, and shun particularism as a form of tribalism and nationalism, with more than a whiff of racism.

It is therefore not a surprise that Jewish denominations that shun particularism in favor of universalism also denounce Zionism.

But why would universalists attack Israel on the global stage?

The fundamental approaches to Judaism, Jews and the holy land do not just lead to a difference of opinions; it destroys the baseline of communication, making discussion virtually impossible. In mathematical terms, the universalists are speaking in base 10 and the particularists are speaking in base 7. They can both understand each other in simple matters, like single digit numbers or that Abraham is the father of monotheism. But on complicated matters like a democratic Jewish State living in peace and security in the heart of the Arab Muslim Middle East, the interaction falls apart like discussing the number 242 (equal to 242 in base 10, but just 170 when converting base 7 to base 10). They are just not talking about the same thing. So rather than talk to each other, they talk to people with a similar language. The 3R rabbis take their version of tikkun olam to the global stage, like the United Nations.

Whereas Orthodox liberal Jews can call out for rights for Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs without vilifying Israel, non-Orthodox rabbis seemingly cannot. Orthodoxy can approach equality within the rubric that the holy land as special and unique for Jews, while the non-Orthodox only see tribalism and primitive thinking. The 3R rabbis burnish their bona fides by burning ties that could reek of particularism as they engage with the global community.

The Current Dynamic

The universalism / “anti-tribalism” movement within the 3R denominations often attacks both Orthodox Jews and the Jewish state. It has sometimes provoked a backlash.

In September 2015, the Reconstructionist movement announced a new policy to allow rabbis to marry non-Jews as a reaction to the movement’s conclusion that “many younger progressive Jews, including many rabbis and rabbinical students, now perceive restrictions placed on those who are intermarried as reinforcing a tribalism that feels personally alienating and morally troubling in the 21st century.” With such declaration, several Reconstructionist rabbis became fed up.

In April 2016, twenty Reconstructionist rabbis left the denomination to form Beit Kaplan, as they felt that the Reconstructionist movement had lost its way. They said that “the decision to form the association was sparked, in part, by the recent RRC policy shift that muddled the definition of what it means for a rabbi to have a Jewish family. Other contributing factors include a desire to return the focus of liberal Judaism to Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s vision of Jewish peoplehood and a desire to affirm connections to the Jewish people globally, including in Israel.”

Several Reconstructionist rabbis became infuriated with the official positions of Reconstructionist’s universalism. Their new assembly felt compelled to clarify that not only did it think that sanctioning rabbis intermarrying was a destructive force on the Jewish family, it said that it “unequivocally reject[s] any movement to delegitimize Israel in the community of nations,” because the Reconstructionist movement had become a haven for demonizing the Jewish State.

In short, Beit Kaplan felt that the Reconstructionist movement had lost the basic concept of the definition of being a Jew and the special nature of the Jewish State.

The 3R rabbis’ Israel-bashing had started to gain momentum during the 2014 Gaza War, when many non-Orthodox rabbis actively vilified the Jewish State. The lunatic rabbinic fringe even held fasts for the people of Gaza, but not for anyone in Israel.

Consider Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the leader of an enormous gay Reconstructionist congregation, member of J Street and listed in Newsweek’s list of 50 Influential Rabbis. Her radical left-wing politics were mostly blessed by her members, but her tirades against Israel became too much for many to bear. In 2014, one of the board members of her congregation resigned, publicly stating the “recent [2014 Gaza War] events have demonstrated that CBST [the gay synagogue] is far more committed to a progressive political agenda than to the Jewish people….  I don’t want to raise my kids in a synagogue that’s praying for people firing rockets.

The attitude was pervasive. Leading rabbis of JVP and J Street – all non-Orthodox – called for a divorce between Judaism and the Jewish State, and between the holy land and Jews.

Consider Rabbi Brian Walt, a member of JVP and coordinator of the Jewish Fast for Gaza, who gave a talk entitled “Affirming a Judaism and Jewish identity without Zionism,” in which he declared: “political Zionism violates everything I believe about Judaism.” Or Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, on the board of J Street and signatory to the fast for Gaza who penned a letter for Code Pink to support the BDS movement, stating she “saw the destruction that is wrought by too many Israeli settlers,” making her change “my mind about the purchase of products made in the Jewish West Bank.

Non-Orthodox rabbis comfortably argued that there are too many Jews in the holy land because they segmented the religion, the people, the land and their identity. As they believe that religion is defined solely by identity, there is no need for a particular land, and no narrow definition of the Jewish people, as identity is self-selected.


Non-Orthodox rabbis wrap themselves in a tallit as a mere Jewish prop in a universalistic and humanistic approach towards meditation, while they shudder at the particularism of the God of Orthodox Judaism and the Jewish State.

Supporting Israel is not a battle of political orientation between liberal and conservative Jews. It is a philosophical break in the Jewish community with a fault line regarding the uniqueness of Jews and the Jewish State. The non-Orthodox denominations’ religious philosophy will only let it embrace an Israel that is: about people, not God; about rights not rituals; more secular than religious; more democratic than Jewish; and more universal than particular.


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The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) of Israel movement seeks to use global pressure on Israel force it to change its policies towards Palestinian Arabs. The pressure includes economic and cultural boycotts of Israel and denying any normalization of relations with the Jewish State.

The backers of BDS fall into three general camps. Those that seek to:

  1. Dismantle the Jewish State
  2. Remove all Jews from the West Bank
  3. Remove all Jews from historic Palestine

The first group wants to change the character of Israel by cleansing its ethnicity, while both the second and third groups promote ethnic cleansing the land of Jews themselves.

Dismantling the Jewish State

Many of the founders of the BDS movement despise the nature of the “Jewish State.” They find a system of Jewish preferences (such as automatic citizenship for Jews around the world) and Jewish symbols in the flag and national anthem as the antithesis of democracy and a burden for Israeli Arabs. Their goal is rid Israel of its “Jewishness.”

Some of the prominent supporters of BDS seek to accomplish this goal by forming a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They seek the “right of return” of millions of Arabs to the region and the removal of all Jewish symbols and privileges in the state. Their goal is to turn Jews into a minority in the country, and to dismantle the Zionist Project.

As stated by Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement:

  • “I am completely and categorically against binationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”
  • “A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically….Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
  • “(The one state solution means) a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.”

There are Jewish anti-Zionist groups that also support this vision including the New Israel Fund. Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish professor and loud Israel-basher has called out his fellow BDS supporters for masking their desire to end the Jewish State, as opposed to their publicly-stated goals of ending the “occupation” of the West Bank.

“I mean we have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuousness. They don’t want Israel. They think they are being very clever; they call it their three tier. We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what, what is the result? You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel!”

Some pro-Zionists like Caroline Glick also support a one state solution (without Gaza). They do not believe the predictions of Jews becoming a minority in a state without Gaza and without permitting millions of descendants of Palestinian Arabs to move to Israel. The roughly 1.8 million Arabs living in Israel today plus the 2.5 million Arabs in the West Bank would be 2 million people fewer than the 6.5 million Jews living in the region. Israel would remain a democratic and Jewish State.

Removing Jews from the West Bank

A significant portion of the western world considers the goal of removing all Jews from the “West Bank,” a noble goal. They have advanced a notion at the United Nations Security Council (with the approval of the US Obama administration) that “Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law.” With such passage, they have opened legal venues for countries to advance boycotts of products made in the settlements.

The measure unfortunately ignores several important matters:

  • Jews have a legal basis for living east of the Green Line in international law. The 1920 San Remo Agreement and 1922 Mandate of Palestine clearly laid out the rights of Jews to live throughout Palestine. There was no such thing as a “West Bank” which was an artifice of the 1948-9 Israel war of independence. The arbitrary line (which Israel and the Arab states all agreed was NOT a border) has no bearing on where Jews can and cannot live.
  • There is no basis in law for “occupying” disputed territory. While the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine in 1947, the vote did not create the two states. Further, the Arabs rejected the partition, as they sought the entirety of the land. The land east of the Green Line (EGL) remains disputed and subject to various agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including Oslo II (1995). International law uses the term “occupation” only in relation to a foreign force taking over another country, not disputed land. Lastly, international law forbids seizing additional territory in an offensive action, not as a matter of defense as was the case of Israel defending itself from Jordanian attack in 1967.

Jews have historically lived in the currently disputed lands for thousands of years. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region by Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs in 1948-9, and the Arabs subsequent refusal to grant any Jew in the region citizenship or visitation rights to their holy land, does not make such actions either legal or worthy of repetition.

Yet this is the publicly “accepted” face of the BDS movement, backed by the acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas adds fuel to the fire by stating that Israel is a “colonial occupier” that advances an “apartheid regime” in an effort to “ethnically cleanse” the area of Palestinians. All are inflammatory terms to paint Israel as an evil and malicious invader which should be expelled.

Removing Jews from Historic Palestine

For many Arabs and anti-Zionists, the term “colonial occupier” means the entirety of pre-Mandate Palestine, not just the West Bank and Gaza. They view the 1920 and 1922 international laws as fundamentally invalid, as they were made by foreign powers without input from the local Palestinians. As such, Abbas has demanded an apology from the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which served as a basis for the international laws allowing Jews to reestablish a homeland in Palestine.

The popular Palestinian party Hamas, which was elected to 58% of the Palestinian parliament, is defined as a terrorist group by much of the world. Its charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel, as the success of Zionism undermines the supremacy of Islam.

The more “moderate” (only on a relative basis) Palestinian party Fatah also called for a complete destruction of the Jewish state in its constitution until August 2007, when it modified some of its official positions. It did this, as it prepared to launch the global BDS movement in November 2007 to appear as a more reasonable fight against the Jewish state.

Ethnic Cleansing

Ethnic cleansing is not a distinct crime under international law, and there is no precise definition. The United Nations took steps to define “ethnic cleansing” in the aftermath of the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In its interim report it used a definition:

 “… rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.

The final report was more stringent, and limited the term to the use of violence to achieve its goals:

a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.

The BDS actions of the past decade are the latest manifestation of anti-Zionists attempting to destroy the Jewish State after decades of failing to do so militarily, in actions that would clearly have fallen under “ethnic cleansing.”

Today’s BDS movement is attempting to use “force and intimidation” to ethnically cleanse all-or-part of the holy land of Jews, and to cleanse Israel of its Jewish ethnicity.


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“Ethnic Cleansing” in Israel and the Israeli Territories

What’s “Outrageous” for the United Nations

Regime Reactions to Israel’s “Apartheid” and “Genocide”

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

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