Jewish Federations acknowledge Israel’s ‘paradigm shift,’ then circle the wagons

I like to say the fat is in the fire, and the fat is in the fire. This week the Jewish Federations, the leading civic Jewish organizations in American cities, are holding their General Assembly in New Orleans and the big theme of the event looks to be fighting the boycott movement, or Israel’s “delegitimizers.” (Go to that link and you see Netanyahu’s picture. Mr. Charm. The idea that Israel ought to reform itself to gain the support of liberal American Jews doesn’t seem to be on the table.)

We’ve reported before on the Federations’ $6 million initiative to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Well, below is some of the literature from the conference. It feels very circle-the-wagons. Shouldn’t Israel change? Shouldn’t 62 years of Palestinian statelessness call on the Jewish conscience?

An email from a Federations spokesperson named Adam Muhlendorf hitting the big theme follows the break:

Important General Assembly Information re: Israel Action Network

A growing wave of individuals and groups across the United States are using radical rhetoric labeling Israel as an apartheid state, calling for boycotts, divestments and sanctions to wreck havoc and severly weaken Israel’s economy, and generally working to achieve what terrorist groups have been seeking for decades – turn Israel into a pariah.

The North American Jewish community has had enough and they are stepping up their efforts to confront Israel’s antagonist head on. And it begins at the GA… One of the major themes of this year’s General Assembly includes discussions on the North American Jewish community’s new efforts to proactively lead the conversation about the legitimacy of the State of Israel and to collectively counter those who challenge Israel’s existence.

Chief among these efforts is the Israel Action Network – a multi-million dollar project of The Jewish Federations of North America in cooperation with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs whose goal is to organize the collective ability and unique community-based infrastructure of the Jewish Federations movement to proactively promote a fair and balanced understanding of Israel and Middle East issues….

Throughout the GA, there will be numerous sessions that will discuss this new effort in detail. I have included a schedule (and additional details) of these programs below. As always we are happy to help facilitate any interviews with Israel Action Network spokespersons, Federations officials or panelists. Additionally, we expect Vice President Biden, Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to reference the Israel Action Network or the Jewish community’s efforts in their remarks.

Some of the events:

Confronting Israel’s Delegitimizers: The Jewish Community Responds

12:15 pm- 1:45 pm in the Mardi Gras D, Marriott New Orleans

In recent years, we have witnessed an intensifying, highly organized and well-financed assault on Israel’s legitimacy. Those engaged in this campaign have urged the use of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as tactics to weaken Israel economically and diplomatically while using other means to demonize and isolate Israel. The delegitimization of Israel/BDS has taken place in many arenas. This workshop will focus on arenas heavily targeted by anti-Israel activists where we regularly encounter divestment initiatives, association of Israel with the heinous policy of apartheid, academic boycotts, accusations of human rights abuses and war crimes, and claims of international illegality. What strategies and messages have proven to be effective in dealing with these challenges, particularly on college campuses, with church leaders, and in the artistic community? This workshop will also touch on other arenas affected by the delegitimization/BDS movement, including cultural events, civic and labor organizations, and political elites, and on the overall attempt to influence public opinion about Israel.

Moderator: Dr. Michael Kotzin Executive Vice President, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Ethan Felson Vice President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs Julie Bernstein Director of Campus and Community Programs, Middle East Project, Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco DJ Schneeweiss Anti-Boycott Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Israel Erez Cohen Israel Fellow, Hillel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Global Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy: How Do We Respond? 2:30 pm- 4:00 pm in the Grand Ballroom C, Sheraton

From 1948-1973, the image of Israel in most of the world (outside the Middle East) was of a plucky, peace-seeking little democracy defending its very existence against a solid wall of Arab hostility. Today, outside of North America, where it still enjoys widespread understanding and support, Israel increasingly is seen as the Goliath to the Palestinians’ David, with virtually every attempt to defend its citizens regarded as an “aggression.” This paradigm shift, in large measure, is the result of a steady drumbeat of anti-Israel invective emanating from governments (e.g., Iran) and international forums, especially the UN Human Rights Council, combined with a global initiative of NGOs and anti-Israel activists seeking to delegitimize and demonize Israel. In recent years, these efforts have intensified in North America and gained some traction within certain sectors. This session will provide an overview of this major global challenge facing Israel and the Jewish people, and will explore effective responses.

Moderator: Rabbi Steve Gutow President and CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs Gil Troy Professor, McGill University The Rev. Dr. Katherine R. Henderson President, Auburn Theological Seminary Barukh Binah Deputy Director General, Head of North American Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Israel

Monday, November 8, 2010 U.S. – Israeli Relations in a Changing World 8:00 am – 9:30 am in the Grand Ballroom C, Sheraton

The geopolitical map of the world, including the Middle East, has been fundamentally transformed since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, with radical Islam emerging as a serious threat to global security. In this context we have witnessed the rise of an Iranian regime with hegemonic and nuclear aspirations, endangering regional stability, posing an existential threat to the State of Israel, and creating significant foreign policy challenges for the U.S. At the same time, the U.S. is deeply engaged in the Middle East, prosecuting war and closing out on another, while engaging in outreach to the Islamic world. While there have been occasional periods of strain, the U.S. and Israel have historically maintained a close relationship solidly established on shared strategic interests and values. This session will explore the current status of the U.S.-Israel relationship and its potential evolution in a rapidly changing world.

Moderator: Martin Raffel Senior Vice President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs Shoshana Bryen Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs Ambassador Michael Oren Ambassador to the United States, State of Israel Ambassador Marc Ginsberg Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco;

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 Iran at a Crossroads: The Jewish Community Responds 8:15 am- 9:30 am in the Armstrong Ballroom, Sheraton

The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is a matter of the gravest concern and utmost urgency to the world. Indeed, preventing the regime in Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons is a defining issue of our time and it is imperative that the voices of all those who seek a more peaceful world are heard. This session will focus on how the North American Jewish community can address this urgent crisis by mobilizing a broad range of American voices to fill the public square across religious, ethnic and political lines. Moderator: Midge Perlman Shafton Co-Chair, Israel Advocacy Initiative Hindy Poupko Director, Israel and International Affairs, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York Bradley Gordon Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, American Israel Public Affairs Committee Ambassador Mark D. Wallace President & CEO, United Against Nuclear Iran Dr. Oded Eran Director, Institute of National Security Studies in Tel Aviv

Advocating for Israel Online 9:45 am- 11:00 am in the Rhythms I room, Sheraton

If we are to effectively respond to the delegitimization/BDS campaign against Israel, the People of the Book also have to become the People of Cyberspace. Understanding how much anti-Israel material is out there, monitoring attacks and crafting tailored pro-Israel messages to the right audiences—especially to the younger generation—is now dependent on our ability to strategically and effectively utilize the Internet, new media, Websites and social networks. This workshop will provide hands-on guidance on how Federations, and other organizations, networks and individuals can implement advocacy and communications strategies for the 21st Century.

Moderator: Jay Sanderson President, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Ido Aharoni Acting Consul General, Consulate General of Israel in New York Howard English Vice President, Strategic Communications, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Dr. Frank Luntz CEO, Luntz Global, LLC Margot Stern Marketing Director

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{ 54 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Good grief, the utter lack of awareness of why Israel is viewed negatively is staggering. Just mention a few old standby cardboard villains – Iran, anti-Semites and radical Islam – and the situation is restored to ‘normal’. Nothing whatsoever to do with Israel’s actions, its piracy, warmongering and denial of human rights and justice to the indigenous population. No, we must never mention or acknowledge the source of the problem, but keep the fantasy propaganda alive. With friends like that, Israel is just going to carry on losing any hope of goodwill. It’s like listening to a gathering of old soldiers, still fighting their old wars, completely unaware of how the situation has utterly changed. Feeble and pathetic.

    • Sumud says:

      Good grief, the utter lack of awareness of why Israel is viewed negatively is staggering.

      There’s no legitimate reason they could claim a lack of awareness. It’s not like it’s WW2 and the state has total control of the media.

      These American zionists know exactly what’s going on, and they support it unconditionally. They should be forced to participate in the Truth & Reconciliation Commission(s) that will occur when Israel transitions formally to a single state. And they should start thinking now how they’ll explain to their grandchildren why they supported the vicious apartheid regime in Israel.

    • MRW says:

      I hope everyone understands the technique being used here, an age-old disinfo technique.

      Relabeling what Israel is doing that the world community is objecting to is a ploy they hope will work, the age-old: smearing the objection with a verb that describes how Israel is viewing it then recasting that verb as a smear.

      Anyone falling for, or even allowing a discussion of, sticking a ‘delegitimizing Israel’ label on BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanction is a perfectly non-violent means of political activity) gets their attention and energy diverted from BDS, and fulfills the first half of the technique, which is to create a fireball over in the corner that you can’t resist looking at, nor discussing.

      The proper response to this effort is to do one more thing to honor BDS, and to use their energy, their PR, by pointing out that we’re trying to Delegitimize Apartheid.

  2. annie says:

    Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons is a defining issue of our time …..This session will focus on how the North American Jewish community can address this urgent crisis by mobilizing a broad range of American voices to fill the public square across religious, ethnic and political lines

    they should call this session ‘get america to invade iran without them noticing it’s coming from israel’, it should read ‘fill the public square void across religious, ethnic and political lines. like, who else is pushing this? most americans don’t want another war.

    has it ever occurred to israel to change their actions instead of our reactions to them? hello!!!

    • annie says:

      whoops, my line crossout thru the ‘square’ prior to ‘void’ didn’t come thru on the html and i forgot to close my quote mark after that sentence. sorry.

    • Shingo says:

      “The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is a matter of the gravest concern and utmost urgency to the world. Indeed, preventing the regime in Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons is a defining issue of our time and it is imperative that the voices of all those who seek a more peaceful world are heard. ”

      Yes, this is the narrative Israel want to push in order to divert the attention from their own criminality and their own nuclear weapons arsenal.

      Bibbi decided in the 90′s on the tactic to lump all of Israel’s enemies into one, and insist al roads lead to Tehran.

      • Antidote says:

        “Bibbi decided in the 90’s on the tactic to lump all of Israel’s enemies into one, and insist al roads lead to Tehran.”

        Indeed, Shingo, and Ahmadinejad plays along perfectly: nuclear programm, Hezbollah supporter, weapons for Hamas, Holocaust denier/revisionist, predicting the end of the evil Zionist regime and liberation of the Palestinians/return to their homeland, friendly relations with new enemy Turkey etc etc

        One point validates and amplifies another fabricating the image of a ruthless dictator and human rights violator who wants to ‘wipe Israel off the map’. Easy game for Netanyahu who can even work Israel’s increasing isolation to his advantage: once again, the Jews are threatened by a Hitler and deserted by the rest of the world. So Israel needs a strong and tough government and military to survive. Never again. You’d think N and A they work together

        • It was Ephraim Sneh, not Netanyahu, who introduced to Knesset the scheme of designating Iran’s nuclear project as the boogie man du jour, back in 1992. Sneh was deputy defense minister at the time, in charge of military spending, and he was convinced Israel (or, more accurately, US) was not spending enough on Israel’s anti-nuclear defense capability. He created a powerpoint presentation that he presented to decision makers in Israel and in the Knesset. After several rebuffs, Knesset went along with Sneh’s plan.

          Antidote, don’t know if your comment re Ahmadinejad is toungue-in-cheek: if it’s a a straight comment, it is historically and rhetorically inaccurate, and buys into the Israeli composed, dare I say contrived, narrative. The most important way to debunk the contrived anti-Ahmadinejad narrative is to reach deep, deep into the intellectual toolbag used by historians and persons of reason and observe that Sneh started on the anti-Iran warpath in 1992; AIPAC got the first set of sanctions across Bill Clinton’s desk in 1995, followed closely by the AIPAC-driven Libya-Iran Sanctions Act (the D’Amato Amendment” in 1995-96.

          In 1995, Ahmadinejad was teaching civil engineering/city management in Iranian universities; a few years later he became mayor of Tehran, the fifth-largest city in the world, and was on the short-list for most effective mayor in the world. He was not elected to the presidency of Iran until 2005. Israeli historian Yossi Melman wrote in Nuclear Sphinx of Iran that nobody — not Mossad, not MI5, not CIA — had Ahmadinejad in their radar prior to his election in 2005.
          Ahmadinejad has used rhetoric that deeply disturbs the Israeli narrative; Mitchell Bard, who prints a pro-zionist hate-newsletter out of Montgomery County, Maryland, has written that Ahmadinejad is the “gift that keeps on giving” to AIPAC’s treasury. That may be true, but Ahmadinejad is still standing, and it is Israel, not Ahmadinejad that is on the defensive, seeking another goad to assist in picking the pockets of American Jews, to keep the narrative alive–or to prevent increasingly large and vocal segments of American taxpayers and voters from discovering the putrid falsity of Israel’s narrative.

          Israel has seriously overplayed its hand in the degree of venom it is spewing about Ahmadinejad: Elie Weisel calls him a pathological liar and a psychopath who is driven by religious fanaticism. Even semi-serious journalists can debunk Weisel’s rantings with a few quick google-strokes.

          If that is the case — that it is plainly obvious that Ahmadinejad is NOT Hitler, and that the large proportion of the demonization campaign aimed at Iran and at Ahmadinejad is baseless, false, dangerous, and calculated to advantage the zionist project at the expense of whatever nation gets in its way, then is there a danger that a similar examination of zionism’s contrived narratives, timelines, motives, and ceaseless propaganda in the years leading up to the rise of the NASD and the second world war will likewise implicate zionists as causal agents in the destruction of not only European Jewry but also of millions of innocent French, Italian, British, and American Christians?

          If zionists are, today, willing to so propagandize Americans so that they will permit the destruction of 70 million Iranians, at great cost to American treasure, blood, and moral standing, why should any reasonable person not believe that the same fanatic mindset was at work in ginning up war in Europe, a war in which Hitler played the role of useful dupe but whose actions spun out of control?

          Hosea 8, 1-14.

        • Antidote says:

          PG – my comment was a little bit, but not entirely ‘tongue-in-cheek’

          I certainly don’t think of Ahmadinejad as a pathological liar and psychopath (I do think that label fits Wiesel, though). I think, with van Creveld and others, that he would be nuts not to try to get nuclear weapons as a means to prevent invasion/attack by the US and Israel. Ahmadinejad plays into Israeli fears in a shrewd and provocative way, such as to make them appear as paranoid warmongers while never threatening them in any plausible or direct way. In many ways, a brilliant and effective performance for which he is simultaneously vilified by Israel’s friends, and rewarded by these same friends in the US and EU who do their best to keep Israel from overreacting by imposing crippling sanctions. Whether sanctions will be enough to stop Iran from producing WMDs is anyone’s guess, but for the moment they can try without fear of being attacked.

          But who knows:

          “Israel will be compelled to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities by this November unless the U.S. and its allies enact “crippling sanctions that will undermine the regime in Tehran,” former deputy defense minister Brig. Gen. Ephraim Sneh said on Wednesday in Tel Aviv.
          Sneh does not foresee any U.S. military strikes on Iran, an analysis that is shared by most observers in Washington, who see the Obama administration moving toward containment as opposed to confrontation with Iran.


          While Sneh is no longer in the Israeli government, his revelation of a drop-dead date for an Israeli military strike on Iran must be taken seriously, Israel-watchers in the U.S. tell Newsmax.

          “Ephraim Sneh is a serious guy,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “He was deputy minister of defense and has long been focused on the issue of Iran.”

          Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director for Security Policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), said that what struck her most about Sneh’s comments was the shift of emphasis from resolving the Palestinian problem to Iran.

          “For 30 years, he’s been saying that solving the Palestinian problem is Israel’s biggest priority. Now he’s saying, forget about the Palestinians. Iran is the problem.”

          link to

          That was in April, it’s now November, and the ‘bomb Iran’ campaign is in full swing.

          I do realize that the Iranian threat goes back to the early 90s and goes far beyond Likud/Netanyahu. But you are wrong blaming AIPAC for US sanctions against Iran. US sanctions started immediately after the Revolution with the hostage crisis and continued through the 80s under Reagan, parallel to the Iran-Contra affair. Go figure.

          I think it is as difficult to ascribe the outbreak of WW II to a single cause, country, national movement or evil dictator than it would be in the present situation and wrt the possible outbreak of WW III.

    • RoHa says:

      “has it ever occurred to israel to change their actions instead of our reactions to them?”

      Of course not! Israel’s actions are always right, so it must be our reactions that are wrong.

    • Mooser says:

      most americans don’t want another war

      They most certainly do want another war. And Israel is the perfect pretense, and the perfect scapegoat when it goes badly.
      After all, war is good for the economy.

      • potsherd says:

        Americans are all for wars that hurt other people but not themselves.

        • Mooser says:

          Well, I think it might be more accurate to say that America’s desire and willingness to enter into war is predicated much more on America’s internal situation and politics than any objective view of who will be hurt and who will benefit. And the justice or legality of the war is irrelevant. Remember VietNam? Remember Nationalist China? Remember Iraq? Afghanistan?
          If it pleases the US to go to war on Israel’s behalf, we will do so.

        • So, you think Americans want more war? That’s an easy theory to test. Simply institute a new draft and let’s see how that goes over. (luckily, I’m not a black congressman so I can get away with saying the obvious)

          And hell, if you really believe Americans are so full of bloodlust, let’s sell the new war as Americans Die Overseas For Jews Cause They’re Too Precious To Fight. Reasons ought to be irrelevant for a nation of murderers, right?

        • Mooser says:

          ” Simply institute a new draft and let’s see how that goes over.”

          Why bother? The “volunteer Army” augmented by US and foreign based mercenary firms are just about meeting the manpower needs. The current economic and education policies in America will also help keep enlistments high.
          And what good is all that military training (assuming they live through their combat duty) if a draftee’s dearest wish is to leave the military. Volunteers are more likely to select military careers, or at least add to the corp of trained bully-boys, goons and fascists needed for police duty in the US.
          Christ, I’m glad I’m old!

  3. Sin Nombre says:

    What’s interesting is that in their genius for turning every disagreement with or criticism of them into the most extreme if not violent dispute possible (as do so many other Israeli partisans it seems), this group just paints itself and its followers and etc. into a corner: If after all the BDS movement objecting to the continued occupation of palestinian lands “delegitimizes” Israel, then I guess that can only mean that Israel’s core legitimacy does rest upon such colonial, might-makes-right, theft-like precepts.

    “Well, okaaay,” one feels tempted to say. “If you insist….”

    • Shingo says:

      “If after all the BDS movement objecting to the continued occupation of palestinian lands “delegitimizes” Israel, then I guess that can only mean that Israel’s core legitimacy does rest upon such colonial, might-makes-right, theft-like precepts.”

      Indeed the message has simply been massaged and refined from accusing opponents of occupation and colocian expasion with calls for Israel’s destruction.

  4. Antidote says:

    “In recent years, we have witnessed an intensifying, highly organized and well-financed assault on Israel’s legitimacy….”

    Nice. Nothing but money could possibly be fueling and sustaining this campaign.

    “The delegitimization of Israel/BDS has taken place in many arenas.”

    Will they have a session on Israel? Here is how Likud plans to crack down on pro-Palestinian groups (aka ‘lunatic fringe’ from the Likud perspective) promoting cultural boycotts in the settlements:

    link to

    Example of how one of the conference speakers, Gil Troy views the issues:

    link to

    “Troy is also the author of Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today. The book has been hailed as a “must read,” and the most persuasive presentation of the Zionist case “in decades.” It has been released in a third expanded and updated edition, having sold over 25,000 copies.”

    link to

    • Antidote says:

      addition: Finkelstein vs. Troy on DN

      • Shingo says:

        “addition: Finkelstein vs. Troy on DN”

        It never ceases to surprise me how anti intectual the pro Zionist position is.

        Here is another professor arguing the Istaeli case, and apart from reeling out the standard hasbara talking points, his rejection of lavellkmg Israel an apartheid state was that it would detail the peace process – an admission in fact that Israel would behave irrationally if they are insulted.

        • Antidote says:

          According to a recent piece by Troy “too many of the ‘chattering classes’ and cultural elites in the West today soft-pedal the Islamist problem. A surprisingly seductive combination of post-colonial, post-imperial white guilt mixed with liberal condescension has dulled the moral senses.” No doubt he would include Finkelstein, presumably as a ‘self-hating Jew’ who appeals to self-hating Westerners:

          “The logical rage against Islamist anti-Semitism is further diluted, festering in Apologia Alley, at the fog-inducing intersection where Western self-hatred and traditional Jew hatred meet.”

          Troy hates “writing this” but nevertheless sinks to the level of outing the “the Islamists’ fellow travelers, the carriers of the West’s anti- Semitism gene.” So now it’s officially genetic, bred in the bones of Western culture. Who are the genetically impaired?

          “…the ones who single out Israel, making it ‘the Jew’ among nations while excusing the far worse crimes of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. They are the ones at UNESCO who can decide the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb are not shared properties reflecting Jews’ and Muslims’ common cultural heritage, but should be exclusively Palestinian. And they are the ones who will downplay the anti-Semitic intent when a synagogue in Chicago is targeted or an El Al waiting area in Los Angeles is attacked.

          This blind spot regarding Jewish oppression offers an odd echo of the reporting during the 1940s. Then, reporters described Hitler’s victims as civilians not Jews, while ghettoizing the coverage of the few anti-Hitler protests by labeling them Jewish protests, which were more easily ignored.”

          Remember the Holocaust.

          link to

        • from <Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession, by Ben Gurion Univ. prof. Haggai Ram:

          . . .Israeli narratives of Iran revealed the radically inappropriate expertise of their Israeli producers, regardless of the immense authority and popularity the latter enjoy among Israeli Jews. This lack of expertise is most prominently rooted in the fact that Euro-America remains the silent referent in Israeli historical knowledge. . . .
          . . .Israeli historians of Euro-America are generally unfamiliar with, and often look down upon, Middle East (including Iranian) languages, histories, cultures, and societies. Nor have they been too shy of demonstrating this utter lack of knowledge either. [emphasis added] For example, a prominent Israeli historian of Medieval European Christianity recently asked me at a social event if it were true that Aryanism was first introduced in Iran after the 1979 revolution!

          That is, Israeli scholars are ignorant of Iranian culture and history, and the ignorance is embedded in the zionist worldview.

          One of the major themes of Ram’s remarkable book is how the zionist narrative, constructed and enforced by Israel’s political and military leaders, forms the tight box outside which Israeli academia may not venture: research that reveals discrepancies with the given narrative are censored out of mind in the Israeli academy.

          This should be even more troubling to Americans, when you consider that Kenneth Katzman, a zionist, is the “Middle East Specialist” at the Congressional Research Service, whose job it is to provide information to the US Congress on the history and politics of Iran. If you listen to Katzman’s comments in the link, above, you will hear the proscribed zionist narrative. That is what US Congressmen hear about Iran.

        • Antidote says:

          “….the proscribed zionist narrative. That is what US Congressmen hear about Iran.”

          It’s not a matter of cause and effect, but of mutual enforcement. American politicians have been blind to foreign cultures long before Zionism or Israel came into existence. They did not understand what fueled the revolts of Native Americans or the Philippines any more than they could see that communists in Vietnam and elsewhere were driven by idealism rather than plain madness. Same with the Muslim world and militant Islam. They just don’t get it that there are people who would not want or recognize the American way of life as the ultimate political and economic system. They keep trying to enforce it upon the rest of the world, while its shortcomings and moral depravity are becoming ever more apparent even to Americans. So they have to blame the whole mess on an outside enemy, as does Israel.

    • Citizen says:

      Re: “In recent years, we have witnessed an intensifying, highly organized and well-financed assault on Israel’s legitimacy….”

      What is the actual substance of Israel’s legitimacy? The world as a whole does not recognize a first priority premise based on the Old and/or New Testatment or Zionism. If anything, the world does recognize the rule of its common law as it has developed over time.

      Nothing in the 1945 UN Charter remotely hints of a power or entitlement in its SC to change international borders. R 242 merely calls for a withdrawal of forces. It doesn’t speak at all of a permanent change in boundaries. The Israeli settlements are clearly illegal because an occupying power has no right to de facto annexation of any portion of the territory by population transfers.

      The 1948 international Nuremberg Tribunal (applying the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact) abolished the idea of acquisition of territory by military conquest. Regardless of who starts any war, international borders cannot be changed by war, which resort is itself illegal. Self-defense is legal but not if it constitutes a new war of aggression itself. And if so, the land taken may at best be temporarily occupied, but cannot be annexed.

      The November 29, 1947 UN R 181 fixed the legal borders between Israel and Palestine. Those borders cannot be changed except either by explicit agreement between Israel and the authorized representatives of Palestine, or by international arbitration in the few cases of limited disputed areas where the verbal description contained in R 181 is ambiguous in terms of existing maps or surveys. The SC has never had any power by UN Charter to change international borders.s. As I said above, e
      ven R 242 only calls for a withdrawal of forces, and makes no mention of a permanent change in boundaries. As far as the Israeli settlements are concerned, they are clearly illegal; an occupying power has no right to de facto annexation of portions of the territory by population transfers.

      The 1967 war increased the practical/ de facto size of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. Immediately after that war, the SC (under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter) passed R 242 calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces “from territories of recent conflict” and “achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.” [Israel and the U.S. interpreted the Resolution’s call for “withdrawal from territories,” and not “the” territories, as a less than complete withdrawal because the word “the” was not mentioned. The joke at the time was that anyone opposed to the U.S.-Israeli interpretation was “anti-semantic”. Israel took the position that it was therefore not legally required to withdraw from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that it had just conquered, and indeed that it could erect Israeli settlements in those territories. In other words, Israel played semantics, arguing that no “the” meant implying “some” territories. (Why the US government at the time went along with Israel on this semantics game is a question not unlike why the US covered up Israel’s sinking of the US’s best intelligence ship, the USS Liberty, a cover up that included the muzzling of the survivors and the single such event in US history that has never been fully and formally addressed by the US congress.) But the SC does not have the power to take land from X and give it to Y under its legal power to act in the event of a threat or breach of the peace to restore international peace and security because the sanctity of international borders is a principle of international law over 5,000 years older than the UN Charter.

      Israel has ignored the generous Arab proposal to normalize its relations in the region by simply withdrawing to its pre-1967 boundaries. I say generous in light of the boundaries already established by R 181. While Israel is entitled to the physical security of its people, how is it entitled to preserve Jewish ethnic/religious superiority even at the expense of the individual choices of its citizens? This is why Israel is in no hurry for peace, for a Palestine state; the right of return endangers Jewish identity when applied in behalf the Palestinians. Israel’s security is not in danger, but peace would endanger Jewish superiority, Jewish pureness; that’s why Israel’s record shows it wants the peace process, but not peace.

      • Citizen says:

        Remember the American slogan, America right or wrong, when right, stay right, when wrong make it right? It seems America forget this patriotic principle. Israel never voiced it in the first place. Time for Jewish American to realize and support the truth that it’s the occupation that deligitimizes Israel, not BDS, but how to make zionists see that Zoraster’s long debunked model of “pro-Israel” versus “anti-Israel” is a model for failure? link to

        link to

  5. potsherd says:

    I suspect we’ll be seeing more clueless trolls showing up soon.

    unique community-based infrastructure of the Jewish Federations movement to proactively promote a fair and balanced understanding of Israel and Middle East issues This probably translates into more pressure campaigns to prevent other points of view from being heard.

  6. yourstruly says:

    The claim of these Zionist organizations that they speak for Jews is deflamatory in that it implies that all Jewish-Americans support the fascist apartheid settler-state Israel and its repeated wars against neighboring countries. Jewish-Americans who object to being slurred with the Zionist brush might consider what some German-Americans did 68 years ago in response to the German American Bund’s embrace of Naziism. What happened was that fifty leading German Americans including Babe Ruth signed a Christmas Declaration* by men and women of German ancestry condemning Naziism, which appeared in ten major U.S. daily newspapers. An analogous letter from Jewish anti-Zionists today would have its signatories condemming Israel, its supporters and Zionism, the ideology upon which the idea of colonizing Palestine was based.


    • a few months ago at a J Street meeting at a local synagogue, one participant declared quite proudly that he had instructed the region’s Jewish Federation NOT to use his contributions for settlements in Israel.

      Another participant pointed out to him that “money is fungible.” For example, if the anti-settlement person’s contribution goes to the Jewish Old Folk’s fund, then fewer dollars from other contributors would have to be committed to that fund and could, instead, be used for settlement activities. The only real impact the anti-settlement person could make would be to refuse to contribute to UJF altogether.

      “I can’t do that!” the anti-settlement person said. “I have to honor my commitment!”

  7. Colin Murray says:

    A brief glance at the list of moderators puts to the lie any feeble attempt to describe the Jewish Federations as anything other than an organization that is required by law to register with the Department of Justice as a ‘Foreign Agent’ for lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. Note that the list of names below is drawn from only “some of the events.”

    DJ Schneeweiss Anti-Boycott Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Israel

    Barukh Binah Deputy Director General, Head of North American Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Israel

    Ambassador Michael Oren Ambassador to the United States

    Dr. Oded Eran Director, Institute of National Security Studies in Tel Aviv (formerly named and better known as the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies)

    The degree of coordination and cooperation by many American Jewish institutions with official representatives of the Israeli government does not lead impartial observers to the conclusion that American Jewish institutions are predominately looking out for the interests of American Jews, but rather with the interests of an Israeli government dominated by pro-apartheid, pro-ethnic cleansing, pro-colonization racists and fascists.

    Foreign Agents Registration Act

    The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents. The FARA Registration Unit of the Counterespionage Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

  8. syvanen says:

    antidote picked up on the same quote but with a different twist:

    In recent years, we have witnessed an intensifying, highly organized and well-financed assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

    Let me add: As opposed to the highly organized and well-financed assault (by American Zionists) on Palestinian legitimacy (which has been a constant since at least the 1930′s). Oh boo hoo, life is so unfair, the victims of Israeli aggression are finally responding in the national arena that really counts. That arena, of course, being the US and Western Europe.

    To drop my sarcasm, these stories are really significant. Zionist for once in this country are starting to sound defensive. That is positive. It means they realize that they no longer control the message. They are being forced on the defensive. No more will mindless slogans such as “a people for a land in a land without people”, the Jews “made the desert bloom”, “there is no such thing as a Palestinian”, or “they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” suffice to carry the Zionist message. Nope today they must directly confront the issues and arguments being defined by the non-violent Palestinian resistance movement.

    This change is subtle and it is difficult to see it as progress, but yet it is. This is one reason a few year back Phil spent so much time writing about the changes that were occurring during the 1850′s with regard to the issue of slavery. I thought then that he was being overly abstract, but the parallels to today are, to say the least, very interesting.

    • potsherd says:

      It really does take chutzpah to new heights when the Zionist organizations start to complain about well financed opposition to their apartheid project.

    • Danaa says:

      Your comment is interesting, syvanen – in the heat of today’s new arguments we often forget that yesterday’s were just a earth shaking. The world sometimes does seem to have a strange “deja vu” flavor to it, especially to those fond of delving into history now and then. Kind of like a symphonic theme played and replayed in different keys, instruments, tempos and arrangements. The way collective attitude seems to shift is a good example, and Phil was indeed presciently on target when he brought up slavery and the way attitudes towards it went from something acceptable to utterly despicable – seemingly in the space of a few decades. I know this is a generalization, and some thing can be explained in term of the civil war fought and lost by one side, but reading old accounts and even fiction written that period make it clear how there was a sea change in attitude. Looking back on the shift it seems like it occurred at lightening speed – there it was and there it wasn’t. Yet, in reality, it took nearly a lifetime of a human for the change to happen – a generation or two had to come and go for the attitude to change.

      With zionism I believe we are witnessing something similar. A word that was positive is slowly but surely acquiring negative connotations. I had already the experience of two people who are strongly pro-Israel (one Jewish, one not). Yet when I tried to label them them “zionists” in the midst of a little argument (the stage when we resort to name calling?) they became indignant, vehemently denying it. Probably without even knowing what the word quite means. Something negative and nationalist and bigoted – that’s probably how it comes across to many nowadays. I reckon that’s the way it was in the later part of the 1800′s – when people who were still racists through and through would become indignant when accused of being for slavery.

      The most uncanny thing about replicating history BTW is the way modern day Israel – including its relationship to the diaspora – seems like a replay of what happened at the turn of the first centuries BC to AD. It’ not an exact parallel of course but some common themes is discernable to more than a few.

  9. Bumblebye says:

    “Truth Seekers”
    Excerpt of the above documentary in Ma’an article.

    link to

    featuring interviews with Palestinian journalists who have been targetted by IOF and Settlers. Not for the faint-hearted.

  10. RE: “the People of the Book also have to become the People of Cyberspace” ~ a Federations spokesperson named Adam Muhlendorf
    MY SNARK: That’s really, really catchy! And so clever! And downright embarrassing.

  11. RE: “And downright embarrassing.” – me, above
    MY COMMENT: Unless it was meant to be kitsch. And in that case, it is very good kitsch!

  12. Linda J says:

    “Nope today they must directly confront the issues and arguments being defined by the non-violent Palestinian resistance movement.” Syvanen

    Sometimes the confrontations are a bit to “direct” for comfort.

    The other day at a weekly peace vigil, a friend was holding a sign “End U.S. Funding for the Israel Occupation.” An SUV pulled over and gestured to her to come over. When she got there, the woman in the car (w/2 small kids in back) pointed to my friend and told the kids: “See this woman? She is an anti-semite and she wants you dead.”

    My friend was very upset, but I made the same point to her that others above have made. Panic is beginning to set in and this gives rise to lashing out.

    • Mooser says:

      ” An SUV pulled over and gestured to her to come over. “

      “And gestured for her to come over”. Obviously a woman who is terrified of anti-Semites. I mean when I’m terrified of someone, I always call them over and try to start a fight.

  13. sherbrsi says:

    The Jewish Federation, while acknowledging the paradigm shift against Israel, is still playing right by the old hasbara handbook. Stubborn defensiveness, an unhealthy obsession with victim-hood and in all PR matters the progression of warmongering and hateful propaganda against yet another Middle Eastern state, much of the confirmed variety that the group alleges BDS to have in regards to Israel. The Americans who are increasingly skeptical of Israel are opening their eyes not only to the brutal occupation of Palestine but also the stranglehold of power being projected by Zionists over their own institutions and media. This is why any counter to BDS is poised to fail. The shift in sentiment is not the result of a think-tank, political party or outside element, but the growing realization that Israel has been feeding off of America and other Western states as a parasite, and that Israel’s so-called friends are worse off for it, not to mention the effect of blind support for it on world security and stability.

    One thing is for certain: there has to be change. Clinton has repeatedly said the status quo is unsustainable. The Mossad declared that Israel is turning gradually from an asset to a liability to America. Israel and its supporters aren’t getting the message, to their own detriment.

    If BDS is such a tough pill to swallow, Israel must change its ways, not its image.

    • Citizen says:

      But why should Israel change its ways when it is simply fighting for its right to self-govern as a people, indeed to survive as a people?

  14. Shmuel says:

    BDS out. Fine. But what form of Palestinian struggle would be OK with the Federations? The answer is quite obviously none. Which leads to another question: What can “proactively promote a fair and balanced understanding of Israel and Middle East issues” possibly mean without significant Palestinian struggle – the only means of compelling the Israeli electorate to accept the difficult steps (especially with regard to territory and settlements) its leaders must take for even the most lopsided (in Israel’s favour) two-state solution?

    The only alternatives to any kind of real concessions on Israel’s part: ethnic cleansing and apartheid. How do the Federations feel about that? How far do such illegal and immoral practices go to “”delegitimizing Israel” without any help from its “antagonists”?

    • Bandolero says:

      “The only alternatives to any kind of real concessions on Israel’s part: ethnic cleansing and apartheid. ”

      No, there is another alterntive. Zionists, who don’t like to live in Palestine, shall go home.

    • potsherd says:

      The only thing that would be OK with the Federations is for the world to act like the 3 monkeys while Israel goes about completing its apartheid project.

    • Danaa says:

      Shmuel, you know probably all too well that the underlying attitude among a vast number of Israelis is something along the line of – “the American settlers got away with cleansing the Indians, having conquered the land fair and square; why can’t we? it’s so unfair!”

      And that attitude has seriously infected the jewish establishment in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. Basically they see the palestinians as a conquered people, hence the problem is not that they were dealt with too harshly but that it wasn’t harsh enough to shut them up once and for all. A a result paletinians braying about their “human rights” are seen as a nuisance to be dealt with, not as actual people with grievances worth paying attention to. They (Israelis and Jewish establishment supporters) for the most part resent the fact that palestinians are a bit better equipped than the American Indians or the Australian aboriginees of old, using the conqueror’s own culture and political devices to fight back against them. I believe “the power that be” will try absolutely everything in their power to assure continued dominance of Israel over however much territory they can get away with. The only question in their mind is “how much” is that, ie, a simple cost-benefit analysis in which morality, justice and compassion play no role, other than as a distraction.

      That is why BDS, with its the ominous undertones of civil disobedience, is perceived as such a threat. This is not a tool of “savages” who can then be easily discounted for being so, well, “primitive”. It is a tool burnished from within western civilization itself, one that has been used effectively in the past to undermine dominant narratives.

      Nothing is more threatening to those who wish to keep the spoils of war than a well-honed new story line. In that, the pen* is indeed mightier than the sword!

      *not my keyboard though with its missing ‘s’ letters. Why couldn’t it happen to the ‘q’?

      • using the conqueror’s own culture and political devices to fight back against them.

        I’ve noticed that when American X-spurts get together to talk about “home-grown terrorists” such as the aborted bombing in Times Square, a great deal of attention is paid to the fact that “they speak English;” “they know American idioms and culture!” “they are internet-savvy!”

        always astonishes me. The US has gone from, “them uppity blacks want to read and write just like us civilized folks,” to “the people who invented zero actually know how to use it, just like us civilized folks.”

      • Citizen says:

        What do the principles laid down by the international Nuremberg Tribunal mean to Israel?

  15. “association of Israel with the heinous policy of apartheid”

    link to
    Part II of an excellent and clearly written article on the apartheid question , and comparisons / contrasts with current Israel , definitely worth reading for whoever has the time (h/t Max) :
    Israel/Palestine and the Apartheid Analogy:
    Critics, Apologists and Strategic Lessons (Part 2) :

    …* This system of migrant labour opened up a contradiction between political and economic imperatives. To fulfil apartheid ideology, it broke down families and the social order, hampered efforts to create a skilled labour force, reduced productivity, and gave rise to crime and social protest. To control people’s movements, it created a bloated and expensive repressive apparatus, which put a constant burden on state resources and capacities. Domestic and industrial employers faced increasing difficulties in meeting their labour needs. From an economic asset (for whites) it became an economic liability. It simply had to go.
    * The economic imperative of the Israeli system, in contrast, has been to create employment for Jewish immigrants. Palestinian labour power was used by certain groups at certain times because it was available and convenient, but it was never central to Jewish prosperity in Israel. After the outbreak of the first Intifada in the late 1980s, and under conditions of globalization, it could easily be replaced by politically unproblematic Chinese, Turkish, Thai and Romanian workers. In addition, a massive wave of Russian Jewish immigration in the 1990s helped this process. The externalization of Palestinians, through denial of rights, ethnic cleansing and ‘disengagement’, has presented few economic problems for Israeli Jews. There is little evidence of the contradiction between economic and political imperatives that undermined apartheid South Africa…

  16. Linda J says:

    Definition of apartheid: “The crime of apartheid is defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity ‘committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.’”

    link to

  17. Mooser says:

    “The idea that Israel ought to reform itself to gain the support of liberal American Jews doesn’t seem to be on the table.”

    Gosh, I’m shocked, shocked. And wait til you see the next step in ultra-chutzpah! Israel telling American Jews what to do, and being supported by Gentiles and the Government.
    I mean, heck, who could possibly know more about being Jewish than somebody who lives in the 19th century British Public School Biblical Geography?

  18. MRW says:

    Amusing that they think they can gain a foothold with a cyberwar to influence people. Gil Maguire (who wrote the piece on Turkey here) has another post on his blog called: “Enough Already: Let the Europeans Handle Israel.”
    link to

    In it is a link to a powerful talk that Chas Freeman gave to Norwegian officials at the beginning of September. It is well worth reading, especially for the four suggestions he gives at the end.

    Four weeks after this talk, Norway banned the German submarine builder, HWD, from testing any submarines bound for Israel in its waters.

    Israel-bound submarines will no longer be allowed to undergo tests in Norwegian territory, as part of the country’s ban on security exports to Israel, Norway has informed a German shipbuilder.

    If the Israelis are so stupid that they think global PR is going to solve that which can only be made soluble by dealing with the issues, and instead think that shellacking the planet with verbal denials is going to do the trick, well let them try. They ignore two things: (1) the world is fed up with the ‘cry wolf’ of anti-semitism, and (2) are silent because of it. They’re not too good at reading tea leaves, a fact that Chas Freeman caught in his September speech.