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