The Anger from the Zionist Center

Yossi Klein Halevi penned a piece in the left-wing journal by the Forward, Sh’ma Now called “A Jubilee For Our Political Certainties.” The article advanced the notion that both the right-wing and left-wing camps have valid points regarding Israel’s administration of Judea and Samaria/ the “West Bank.” However, Israeli society – and increasingly the American one as well – has become more polarized and is unwilling to listen to the validity of the other side’s arguments. The goal of the center should therefore be to not have someone adopt their position, but to appreciate some elements of the counter argument.

In short, he argues for balance.

As someone right-of-center, I appreciate the sentiment of the article, but I disagree with the author’s contention that American Jews are simply engaging in “that dysfunctional Israeli debate.” Such language suggests that some American Jews are simply expressing a personal opinion. They are not.

They are actively pushing Israel’s largest benefactor – the USA – to abandon Israel.

Since 2008/9, the left-wing of the American Jewish community took a much more aggressive stance amid a backdrop of new wars from Palestinian Arabs and the ascendency of a liberal American president.

  • November 2007: Palestinians launched a push for a global boycott (BDS) campaign of Israel
  • April 2008: J Street founded
  • July 2008: J Street pushed against naval blockade of Iran, as sanctions were pushing Iran to the negotiating table
  • November 2008/ January 2009: Election and inauguration of President Barack Obama
  • December 2008/ January 2009: First Gaza War
  • May 2009: First meeting between Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu in which Obama ignored Netanyahu’s argument for aggressively countering Iran and instead demanded settlement freezes
  • October 2009: Daniel Sokatch takes over as head of the New Israel Fund
The election of a liberal to the White House with absolutely no international experience was an opportunity for liberal Jews to actively advance a new set of policies towards Israel. J Street falsely billed itself to the Obama administration as an alternative to AIPAC (a non-partisan pro-Israel lobby) rather than an alternative to the Republican Jewish Coalition. J Street told Obama that many American Jews were against the “occupation of the West Bank,” and preferred a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear program.
The left-wing “pro-Israel” group told Obama that American Jews hated Israel’s policies (counter to actual facts), and advocated that he take actions directly opposite the desires of the Israeli government.
Such activity is not joining Klein Halevi’s “debate,” but manipulating a judge to determine the outcome.

Peaceful protest against Iran nuclear deal in Times Square, NYC July 2015
(photo: First.One.Through)
Over the past decade left-wing American Jews:
  • pushed the US administration to allow anti-Israel resolutions to pass at the United Nations
  • pushed BDS proposals in universities, so schools could not invest in Israel and would ban Israeli speakers on campus
  • rewrote Jewish texts (the NIF Haggadah) in a shared assault with anti-Zionists to undermine Jewish history
  • supported a pathway for Iran, a state-sponsor of terrorism that has called for wiping Israel from the map, to obtain nuclear weapons

In short, the left has become an active participant in the attacks on Israel, not just a protestor. And they are pushing such arguments with Israel’s prime supporter, the United States.

And that is the main issue with Yossi Klein Halevi’s approach.

Klein Halevi is correct that the center can see the merit of the arguments of both the left and right. But many in the center cannot agree with ACTIONS taken.

While the right-wing may give money to support the “settlements,” those actions are: 1) supportive of Israelis; 2) limited in scope; and 3) can be reversed (such as Israel’s removal of settlements in Sinai in 1982 and Gaza in 2005, or adjustments to the path of the security barrier).

However, the actions of the left-wing are: 1) harming Israelis by advocating for Israeli boycotts and Iranian nuclear weapons; 2) done on an international level; and 3) becoming permanent international law.

As the left-wing has moved from personal opinions to dangerous global actions, the split in the American Jewish community has moved passed a civil exchange on matters of policy. It has become a fight between people.

As such, Klein Halevi’s conclusion for “each side to concede the enormity of our dilemma and the compelling arguments of the other,” is insufficient. The two sides need to withdraw the weapons and from the forums of their disagreement:

  • The debate should be internal: Make the arguments about Judea and Samaria with the government of Israel, not with Israel’s key ally, the United States. It certainly should not be with Israel’s enemies or at the United Nations.
  • The actions should not be malicious: Calling for boycotts of Israeli businesses and people is harmful to Israel on many levels. Argue about policies; do not hurt people with whom you disagree.

The “centrist” article ultimately suggests “an invitation to humility,” to appreciate the merits of both sides of the Israel/Palestinian Arab debate. I would suggest another form of humility: that American Jews realize that they are not Israeli citizens. While they are deeply engaged and attached to Israel for many reasons, the day-to-day ramifications of policies are only felt by the people who live there. Have some humility about the actions that you advocate to advance your personal sense of “morality” on the backs of people living in a dangerous part of the world thousands of miles away.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

For Liberals, It’s Israelis, Palestinians, and Indifference

Squeezing Zionism

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

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The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

On January 5, 2017, the left-wing organization J Street took out a full page advertisement in The New York Times to thank President Obama for letting a UN Security Council resolution pass that condemned Israelis living east of the Green Line (EGL). A casual observer would think that the left-wing group was simply being appreciative of a position that they described as “both practical and moral.” The reality is that J Street is RESPOSNSIBLE for pushing the Obama administration to take the action.

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Full page J Street advertisement in the New York Times
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

J Street has been active in “educating” Barack Obama since he became the Democratic nominee for president in 2008.

At the AIPAC conference in June 2008, Obama announced that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” I was there and applauded, as did the entire conference hall.

That enthusiasm would be short-lived.

The next day, Obama back-tracked on the statement and said that it would be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate the status of the city. Rep. Robert Wexler (NY), who defended Obama in the remarks, was officially endorsed by J Street just a few weeks later, as part of a wave of endorsements of liberal candidates including Rep. Keith Ellison (MN). Another recipient of a J Street endorsement was Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL), a far left-wing Congresswoman from Obama’s home state, who was also very involved in the education of the novice nominee about the new liberal agenda regarding Israel.

J Street and their favorite candidates would push President Obama over his tenure to retreat from historic bi-partisan pro-Israel positions. Here are some of J Street’s positions that it advanced:

January 2011: “[I]f the [UN] Resolution [condemning Israeli settlements] does come to a vote, we urge the Obama administration to work to craft language, particularly around Jerusalem, that it can support condemning settlement activity and promoting a two-state solution.

While we hope never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.”

In September 2014: “J Street urges the United States government to undertake a thorough review of its policy toward Israeli settlements and to announce the steps it will take if Israel goes forward with this decision. As a first step, it should declare now that it is the view of the United States that settlements are not merely “unhelpful” or “illegitimate” but illegal under international law as laid out in the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

In 2015, the J Street candidates would boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress (Wexler was no longer in office, having resigned in 2010). Other J Street favorites like Rep. Steve Cohen (TN) would not only walk out on Netanyahu, but defend Obama’s December 2016 UN vote.

Some of J Street’s candidates like Rep. John Yarmuth (KY) and David Price (NC) proposed a resolution in the US Congress in April 2016 to condemn Israeli settlements (to J Street applause). Not surprisingly, both were part of the 50 Democratic representative bloc that boycotted Netanyahu’s 2015 speech. On December 28, 2016, Yarmuth commended Kerry’s speech after the UN vote in which he lambasted Israel. On December 31, Jan Schakowsky did the same.

J Street let their candidates know that walking out on and abandoning Israel was perfectly Okay in the pro-Israel community.

It is important for everyone to realize that J Street is not simply an organization grateful to Obama that has an extremist position related to Israel. It is the organization that ACTIVELY PROMOTED Obama’s actions at the United Nations against Israel.

If the US vote at the UN Security Council angered you, just don’t vent at an outgoing administration. Take it out on J Street and the candidates it supports.


Related First One Through articles:

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

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

J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

Adalah, Dismantling Zionism

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

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

J Street touts itself as an alternative to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is not. It is the liberal alternative to the Republican Jewish Coalition, the RJC.

The difference is important.

By not using a clear delineator that the group is a left-wing partisan organization by using a name like Progressive Jewish Coalition, J Street misleads the public that it is a mainstream group. It uses a benign tagline “The Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Americans,” as opposed to the more clear tagline as used by the RJC, “Fostering & enhancing ties between the American Jewish Community & Republican Lawmakers.” By doing so, J Street has attempted to displace the actual bipartisan mainstream group AIPAC. It is completely misleading.

As evidence of its partisanship, consider that the people JStreetPAC supported in the 2016 election were all Democrats.

There is no crime in being a partisan group.  Indeed, the RJC points out that it views J Street as the competition as it supports Republican candidates for office. The RJC does not pretend to be anything but biased.

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Marketing materials produced by the Republican Jewish Coalition
comparing its performance in the 2016 elections to J Street

However, when the media quotes J Street, it appears that it is quoting a balanced pro-Israel group, rather than a part of the Democratic machine.  Articles by the Times quote AIPAC and J Street, as if the two are balanced with one being hawkish and the latter dovish. That absurdity gives a false message to readers. The media should either only quote AIPAC, or use quotes from both J Street and the RJC.

As the Republicans take control of the White House and both the Senate and House of Representatives, one can envision that J Street will be attacking appointments, bills and positions over the next few years. The media and readers must keep in mind that the views of J Street are simply those of the opposition, and do not represent the Jewish community’s independent views on Israel.


Related First.One.Through articles:

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

Liberal Hypocrisy on Foreign Government Intervention

Is Hillary Clinton as Pro-Israel as George W Bush?

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J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

J Street, a far-left lobbying group which calls itself “pro-Israel” has a select appreciation for the value of transparency.  Consider its statements in the recent past:

On October 23, 2015, the group stated: “J Street congratulates delegates to the World Zionist Congress for overwhelmingly approving a resolution requiring the institutions it oversees to provide Jewish communities around the world with comprehensive and accurate information on their budget, finances and activities.

This was an important vote for democracy and accountability. Jews in Israel and around the world should know where the money they raise to support the State of Israel is invested. They should know that these funds are spent in ways consistent with Jewish values and in a manner that advances Israel’s future as a secure democratic homeland of the Jewish people.  
 
For too long, the actions of vital institutions like the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization have operated in secrecy, cloaked in deliberate confusion. Investigations have raised serious concerns about corruption. Meanwhile, some of these organizations, under the direction of the Government of Israel, have funneled funds to strengthen settlements in the West Bank at the expense of needy communities within Israel’s 1967 boundaries…. This massive support shows that financial transparency is something Jews around the world can unite around.”

J Street seemed particularly happy with the notion of clearly showing the flow of funds at organizations as it promoted “democracy,” “accountability” and “transparency.”

However, if the transparency of the flow of funds came against parties J Street supported, like those that opposed settlements, J Street reversed its opinion.

benami-J Street
Executive Director of J Street, Jeremy Ben Ami
(photo: JTA/J Street)

On December 28, 2015, J Street condemned the Israeli government for a bill that would provide financial transparency of NGOs (non-governmental governmental organizations):

J Street is deeply concerned and disappointed by the Israeli cabinet’s decision Sunday to send to the Knesset for approval a one-sided bill aimed at restricting the work of progressive non-governmental organizations which monitor human rights and oppose the occupation…. The bill, which was introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Jewish Home party, would create a series of onerous new requirements that aim to demonize and discredit progressive organizations. Under the guise of “transparency,” these groups would have to identify themselves as foreign agents on the grounds that they receive the majority of their funding from foreign governments. Meanwhile, right-wing organizations, which receive significant funding from private foreign entities, would be free to continue to funnel money to West Bank settlements and to other anti-democratic causes without being subject to the same requirements.”

Somehow, J Street likes transparency in some situations, while not in others.

The group claims that the bill only targets progressive groups, but that is not the case at all.  All NGOs, whether left-wing or right-wing, would be forced to declare if they received the majority of their funding from foreign governments.  All NGOs funded by private foreign entities – left-wing ones like George Soros’s Open Society, or right-wing groups – would not need to declare if that they were foreign entities.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and current MK (Kulanu) Michael Oren believes that the bill to provide transparency would hurt Israel’s ties to the United States.  He suggested including labels for private donations as well as governmental donations. “You either have transparency, or you don’t.

Perhaps a solution to meet everyone’s goals on transparency would be to label groups funded by foreign governments “Foreign Entities,” and those sponsored by private foreign money “Internationally Sponsored.”


J Street is always keen to expose, highlight and label Jews living in Judea and Samaria and those that support them.  As it states on its website: “Communal institutions should provide full transparency to supporters regarding the source, amount and purpose of funds transferred through their accounts to institutions and programs on the West Bank.

That is why J Street also supports removing the “Made in Israel” label of products made in the “West Bank,” and using a distinct label of products as being “Made in the West Bank.”

Just don’t make J Street or its supporters provide transparency itself on its foreign funding.


Note:  To learn more about which organizations and countries support the various lobbying and activist groups, go to NGO-Monitor.  For example, the anti-Zionism group Adalah received money from: Switzerland; Belgium; Netherlands; Germany; Sweden; Denmark; the EU as detailed here.

NGO Monitor


Related First.One.Through articles:

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

Adalah, Dismantling Zionism

Squeezing Zionism

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

The BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel and Israeli companies has been going on for several years.  According to Professor Eugene Kontorovich, the movement focuses on three main areas: campuses; companies and countries.  He notes that the college campus activities get a lot of attention, but have little practical impact.  The BDS of specific Israeli companies have more direct financial ramifications on the targeted companies (like Sodastream), while actions by countries can have the most severe impact on the Jewish State.

In that light, it is interesting to note the actions of J Street, which describes itself as a “Pro-Israel” group.

benami-J Street
J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami
(photo: JTA/ J Street)

There is no question that the country with the largest economic and security relationship with Israel is the United States.  As detailed in “International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu,” the US is by far Israel’s largest trading partner.  Further, Israel relies on the US not only for $3 billion in military aid each year, but protection at the United Nations Security Council.

Therefore, the threat of the United States government putting pressure on Israel is many magnitudes more significant than a group of angry anthropologists on college campuses.  Such US pressure could cripple Israel both on a financial front and the security of its people.

And that is exactly what J Street proposes.

January 2011: “[I]f the [UN] Resolution [condemning Israeli settlements] does come to a vote, we urge the Obama administration to work to craft language, particularly around Jerusalem, that it can support condemning settlement activity and promoting a two-state solution.

While we hope never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.”

J Street advocated that the United States abandon Israel at the UN Security Council, a place where the US is often the only voice of support.  The statement above was so reprehensible to many, that even devout liberal politician Gary Ackerman (D-NY) condemned the group and stated that he would have nothing to do with it.

J Street continued:

In September 2014: “J Street urges the United States government to undertake a thorough review of its policy toward Israeli settlements and to announce the steps it will take if Israel goes forward with this decision. As a first step, it should declare now that it is the view of the United States that settlements are not merely “unhelpful” or “illegitimate” but illegal under international law as laid out in the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

There are many leading international authorities (as well as the government of Israel itself) that clearly lay out why the settlements are neither illegal, nor counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, it was the Jordanian annexation of the “West Bank” in 1950 and the expulsion of all of the Jews from the area that was clearly counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Not only does J Street not side with the Israeli government in this regard, it “urges the United States government” to penalize Israel at the United Nations security council and elsewhere.

These official policy statements of J Street have implications well beyond angry annoying voices at universities.  They put Israel directly at risk.

J Street may make proclamations that they do not support BDS, but their voices and lobbying efforts are actually much more dangerous to the security of Israel.


Related First One Through articles:

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

Adalah, Dismantling Zionism

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

 

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Hillary Clinton is no FDR

In October 2015, the Democratic presidential candidates held a debate. The debate moderator quoted a line from Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he ran for president in 1932 “judge me by the enemies I have made,” and asked the candidates to describe enemies they are most proud of. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded “well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians, probably the Republicans.” This response drew huge applause from both the Democratic audience and the left-wing media.

It was nice of Clinton to mention at least one foreign entity when she recalled her enemies. After all, she was Secretary of State for four years during the War on Terror. However, I guess she felt that she did not do a very good job fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram or other radical jihadist groups to mention any of them. She certainly did not want to draw attention to her handling of Libya where she overthrew the government and then let the Islamic State take over the country.  Or the way she oversaw leaving Iraq, letting the Islamic State take over that region.  Or her refusal to engage in Syria to let Syrian leader Assad kill hundreds of thousands of his own people… and cede some of that country to the Islamic State too.

The radical jihadists probably view Clinton as their best friend.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Libyan soldiers declaring victory,
October 2011 
(photo: Reuters)

Clinton did not highlight foreign enemies because they got the better of her. The one foreign entity that she mentioned was Iran, where she ultimately supported a deal that left the Iranian nuclear infrastructure intact.

No, Clinton mentioned DOMESTIC enemies. She mentioned the NRA (the National Rifle Association) which fights to protect the second amendment of the Bill of Rights. The right that the NRA defends have arguably much greater standing than Clinton’s favored group, Planned Parenthood (which she loudly defended in her remarks), which performs and advocates for procedures that are not specifically enumerated in the U.S. constitution.

Clinton’s calling out of Republicans as an enemy was also telling. Was she targeting 41% of American citizens, or just the Republicans elected to government office?

In a two-party system such as the United States, the democracy requires each party to exist. The other party is not an enemy which seeks to harm the country that must be vanquished. It is a counter-party with a different set of priorities and/or policies to govern. Each party serves an important and essential role in balancing budgets and laws to avoid a run-away system of governance by executive fiat.

Yet the person with arguably the most experience in government of any of the presidential candidates, believes the worst enemies she has encountered are: a group that tries to defend the U.S. constitution; and either half of the country or the other political party that enables America’s democracy to exist.

Perhaps Clinton should familiarize herself with the rest of FDR’s 1932 speech in which he also said “we are not Democrats, we are not Republicans; we are a people united in a common patriotism…. My friends, my policy is as radical as American liberty. My policy is as radical as the Constitution of the United States.

Today’s leading liberal put fellow Americans in her crosshairs.  Her battle plan is to shape a democracy of her liking, bending to her interpretation of law.

Liberal American Jews’ Number One Enemy is Israel

American Jews tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections, as roughly 70% of Jews are registered Democrats.  J Street, a left-wing group did a poll in September 2015 that concluded that 68% of Jews would vote for Hillary Clinton (the 68% figure would actually be the worst showing for a Democrat amongst Jewish voters since Michael Dukakis secured 64% of the Jewish vote in 1988).

Regarding the U.S.A., many liberal Jews focus their efforts on attacking conservative American policies.  When it comes to Israel, liberal Jews are twice as likely as conservative Jews to berate the Jewish State.

In October 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll with the following findings:

  • 50% of Republican Jews had a very strong emotional attachment to Israel, compared to 25% for Jewish Democrats
  • 67% of Republican Jews feel that Israel was given to Jews by God, while only 30% of Democratic Jews felt that way
  • Meanwhile 56% of Jewish Democrats felt that Jewish “settlements” in Judea and Samaria hurt Israel’s security, while only 20% of Republican Jews considered Jews living in homes east of the Green Line a security threat
  • Under President Obama, 66% of Republican Jews felt the US was not supportive enough of Israel, while 62% of Democrats thought that Obama had it just right

J Street pushed very aggressively against the current Israeli government run by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu as detailed in “The Fault in our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech” including advocating that the U.S. government should vote against Israel at the UN Security Council.

Like J Street, the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz held a conference in the United States in 2015, along with the liberal group the New Israel Fund, NIF.  The HaaretzQ conference included peculiar (alarming?) demonstrations of removing the Israeli flag from the stage as it offended some speakers, and a Haaretz columnist describing Jews who move to Israel as committing a “crime”, as Jewish Aliyah should be illegal.  That line received wide applause from the liberal crowd.

Palestinian Authority member, Saeb Erekat, speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in Roosevelt Hotel, NYC, on December 13, 2015. Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????????

Palestinian Authority member, Saeb Erekat, at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in NYC, on December 13, 2015. (Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90)

Another left-wing group, Jewish Voice for Peace, JVP, claims to advocate for “social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals.”  The group’s interpretation of their mission is that Israel, by its very nature as a Jewish State, cannot meet these ideals, so their mission is to push the U.S. to dismantle the Zionist project.  JVP’s 2015 conference loudly supported the BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of Israel.

Even the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a less radical liberal Jewish group, described a handful of Jews living in Hebron in just 3% of the city as a “self-imposed existential threat” to the country.

Liberals have become convinced that most Jews and the Jewish State are the enemies of peace.  It’s a line familiar to anyone that has read the Hamas Charter.

Recently, liberal groups have focused their attention on checking off each of Natan Sharansky’s “3 D Test” of anti-Semitism: demonization; double standards; and delegitimization.

  • Demonizing the Israeli Defense Forces, as groups like NIF fund Breaking the Silence
  • Double standards for Israel, the most liberal country for a thousand miles in any direction, as JVP reserved its criticism, condemnation and calls for divestment only against Israel
  • Delegitimization, as the Haaretz conference and speakers sought to remove Jews and Jewish symbols from the land

Jewish liberals think like Hillary Clinton: the enemy is from within, and must be stopped by all measures possible.

Conclusion

Tuvia Tenenbom wrote a book in 2015 called “Catch the Jew!” where he assumed a Sacha Baron Cohen/Ali G/ Borat kind of persona in Israel and the West Bank.  At times he pretended to be Jewish, Christian or Muslim, and sometimes German or Israeli.  He was a “Master Agent” and donned whatever role would get people to open-up and speak freely about their thoughts about Israel, Palestine, Jews and Arabs.

Tenenbom’s book spared no one.  He saw racism and petty-mindedness in every corner of the Holy Land.  The food and land received the accolades, while the residents of the land and consumers of the food were roundly criticized.

However, Tenenbom’s conclusion broke the region into shades of black: while he cringed at Jewish and Arab racism, he at least understood it.  There’s a selfish motivation to wanting an Arab-free or Jew-free country.  However, he viewed the liberal Europeans who fund NGO’s to “Catch the Jew” as a more vile form of racism, a deeper shade of black. How racist can one be to travel over a thousand miles to criticize Jews?

But the darkest shade of black, the worst kind of person to Tenenbom, were the self-haters.  Groups like Rabbis for Human Rights and individuals like Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy were skewered the most.  Tenenbom concluded that Germans do not have to openly be anti-Semitic anymore; they can just fund self-hating Jews and let them destroy Israel by themselves:

“If logic is any guide, Israel will not survive.  Besieged by hate from without and from within, no land can survive for very long.”


Liberals often laugh at conservative Americans who proudly wave their flag.  I used to think it was because liberals thought conservative Americans to be primitives who “cling to religion and guns” as Senator Barack Obama said when he ran for office in 2008.  However, in 2015, it became clear that liberals do not look down in a condescending manner at fellow countrymen, but stare across their neighbor’s yard through a rifle scope.

In 2015, liberals declared that the enemy is from within.  What battles will that bring in 2016?


Related First.One.Through articles:

A Disservice to Jewish Community

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

Joe Biden Stabs a Finger at Israel

Parallel and Perpendicular Views of Iranian Nuclear Deal

Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

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Full page NIF ad in The Jewish Week, November 20, 2015
claiming those opposed to NIF have an “ultranationalist agenda” and implying
that Israel without NIF intervention would be an illiberal, racist country

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

 Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic, penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Angry voices are again being heard about J Street due to their position in favor of the Iranian nuclear deal promoted by the Obama administration. Is Wieseltier correct in that we only seek to hear our own voices and that “the orthodoxies and the bubbles and the closed loops and the echo chambers are everywhere?” Is there a “red line” that J Street and others have crossed and therefore deserve to be excluded from the broad tent of acceptable conversation?

Individual Hate Speech

Many countries have laws that ban hate speech. Sometimes the exact language is clearly spelled out about what cannot be said publicly and sometimes it is more general in nature.

For example, several European countries, including Germany, have laws that prohibit Holocaust denial. Those countries took such steps not simply because such expressions offend Jews, but because of the continent’s failure to step in and protect Jews which led to their slaughter. Silence became complicity which must never be allowed to happen again.

For its part, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 16/18 whose goal is “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief.” The resolution was drafted principally at the behest of Islamic countries who were worried about the spread of “Islamophobia.”

The various laws against hate speech all seek to curtail an incitement to violence and harm. The banned speech relates to a specific group of people (ie. Muslims) and not a concept (for example, a religion like Islam).  While a person can legally say disparaging remarks about a concept (“Communism is evil”), one risks breaking the law by attacking a group of people (“All Communists should be beaten up”).

Banned Groups

Hate Speech laws are typically drafted against individuals. However, laws are also drafted against groups that incite violence.  Israel banned two political parties, Kach and Kahane Chai in 1994 as they were defined as terrorist organizations.  The groups’ ideology was based on the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane who called for expelling Arabs from Israel, thereby running afoul of the premise of calling for negative actions against people.  Israel has also banned some Arab parties from running in elections which supported terrorism.

BDS, Hamas and Iran

Liberals and J Street supporters feel that BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), Hamas and the Iranian nuclear deal should be rightly within civil discourse.  However, do these topics and groups support violence against people, or are they just broad discussions about policies and ideas?

BDS: Reasonable people can arrive at different conclusions about Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Some feel that all the settlements are completely legal as called for in international law in 1922, while others feel that Jews living east of the Green Line is against international law as recently stated by the UN Secretary General. Those competing viewpoints would fall within legal and acceptable conversation, both in public society and in an open-minded pro-Israel community.

However, inciting hatred against settlers is inciting violence.  Calling on the economic strangulation of Jews who legally purchased homes and businesses is akin to hate speech.  As such, new laws are being passed which specifically outlaw supporting BDS.

Hamas: Hamas is a rabidly anti-Semitic organization that calls for the complete destruction of Israel. It has fired well over 10,000 rockets into Israel, killed thousands of people in hundreds of attacks. Since completely taking over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has engaged in three wars against Israel.

Supporting Hamas in any way is supporting terror.  It should be banned completely in public society and in the pro-Israel tent.

Iranian nuclear deal: The Iranian nuclear agreement took various turns over the past several years. As Iran openly calls for the destruction of Israel, any group supporting Iran or helping Iran obtain weaponry would be supporting violence against Israel.

While the Iranian deal may arguably slow down Iran’s pathway to nuclear weapons, it certainly gives Iran tremendous financing and weaponry.  As such, 78% of Israelis oppose the Iran deal in its current format.

J Street Views

J Street has taken provocative stances on these three issues.

  • On BDS, the group technically states that it opposes the BDS movement, while it supports efforts that do call for BDS, particularly of communities east of the Green Line.
  • On Hamas, the group’s own website states that “Hamas is a political movement with an important and significant base of support within Palestinian society… and we support efforts by third parties to achieve reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas which Israel opposes] and a unity government.”  One could similarly say that the Nazi party was a political party.
  • On Iran, the group launched a major campaign to support the deal, in direct opposition to pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC and the government of Israel itself. J Street was even against Iranian sanctions in 2009.

20150724_072448
 Full page J Street Advertisement supporting Iran Deal
New York Times July 25, 2015

On these issues which directly harm Israelis and the state of Israel, J Street has sided against the stated desires of the government of Israel.  Each time, they have taken stances which closely align with Israel’s enemies which seek to harm the country and its citizens.

Further, and most alarmingly, J Street has urged the Obama administration to vote against Israel at the United Nations Security Council, which is the sole voice of support in many instances. That action was so reprehensible, that even devout liberal politician Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said I’ve come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated….America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively pro-peace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J-Street ain’t it.

Erekat
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat at J Street Conference
March 2015 (photo: J Street)

A Related View from Tisha b’Av

The Talmud relates a story about the reason the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed:

In Gittin 56ab the Talmud tells the story of zealots who wanted to fight the Romans as they got ready to attack Jerusalem. These zealots burned decades worth of food that had been stored in Jerusalem in order to force the residents of the city to confront the Romans.

These zealots undoubtedly considered themselves pro-Jewish. They thought that by destroying all safeguards and alternative options, they could force the rest of the Jewish people to adopt their position in the battle against Rome.

J Street, like the zealots 2000 years ago, view themselves as pro-Israel. While some parts of the Arab and Muslim world (f/k/a Romans) may seek to attack and destroy Israel, J Street views their approach to the conflict as the only logical course of action.  As such, they have engaged in co-opting the US government to take positions against those sought by the government of Israel.  Like the zealots who burned all of Jerusalem’s food supplies (now known as US support), they feel that Israel stripped of all of the territories won in 1967, without a Gaza blockade, and with a nuclear pact in place with Iran will secure Israel’s future. J Street is pursuing global and US pressure to make that happen, rather than seeking to convince the Israeli government.

JStreet-Map
Bookmark designed for J Street Conference
(Photo: Lisa Goldman)

 In the minds of many, the J Street positions have made them the a modern-looking version of Neturei Karta, the anti-Zionist Chasidic sect, similar to the clean-shaven Jewish outreach people who market a more modern version of Chabad outreach.


Debating the merits of different approaches for how Israel deals with hostile neighbors is within constructive debate.  Consistently arguing in favor of Israel’s enemies that seek to destroy the country and kill its people is akin to inciting violence.

Review the statements and positions of J Street here and consider whether such voices deserve to be heard in your community.


Related First One Through articles:

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

A Disservice to Jewish Community

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