Category Archives: American Jewish Community

Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis

There was a pro-Israel rally of 10,000 people in New York yesterday, a half block from the United Nations, and Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, who is an executive of the NY Board of Rabbis, suggested that Palestinians who voted for Hamas are combatants who deserve to be targeted by Israel. The crowd cheered. Kirshner went on to say that the Israeli army is “the most moral army in the history of civilization.” He ended his remarks with the word, Amen.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine | Tagged | 265 Comments

Assault on Gaza fuels surge of civil disobedience in protest of Israeli actions

A wave of civil disobedience actions has spread around the U.S. in recent weeks as Israel’s pummeling of Gaza continues apace. The activists, many of them young people, including Jews, are putting their bodies on the line in an attempt to draw attention to how the U.S. is implicated in the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, Gaza, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics | 12 Comments

Watch: 9 Jewish activists arrested after occupying Friends of the Israel Defense Forces office

Nine Jewish activists protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza were arrested today after occupying the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) office in midtown Manhattan. The protesters, members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Jews Say No! (JSN), stood in the office for an hour, holding a banner, singing songs in Hebrew and English and reading the names of the more than 600 dead who have been killed as a result of the Israeli attack. The act of civil disobedience came amidst a wave of global protests against the Israeli attack.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, BDS, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics | 31 Comments

To my fellow American Jews

Beth Miller writes an open letter to the American Jewish community: “Because of you, I am loud and I shout. But I’ve noticed you are growing quiet – almost silent – as an injustice is taking place in Palestine. I think that I know why. I think that as Operation Protective Edge marches onward, you feel your convictions clashing. You, more so than me, were raised to believe that Israel is something it is not: a democracy, with values just like yours, amidst a sea of aggressors. But with each passing day, it becomes harder and harder to close your eyes to a glaring reality.”

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Violence outside Paris synagogue falsely attributed to anti-Semitism (Updated)

A violent incident that took place in Paris on Sunday is being widely described as an antisemitic attack but a firsthand report and amateur video indicate it was a street fight initiated by the Jewish Defense League against pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Posted in American Jewish Community | 76 Comments

Not In Our Name: The Jewish duty to stand with the people of Gaza

Sally Kantar writes: “In the wake of over 150 reported deaths in Operation Protective Edge, I feel ashamed by the persistent disregard for justice by a state supposedly founded on Jewish principles. Lobbies like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have been appealing to American Jews for support by classifying the extraordinary violence perpetrated in Gaza as acts of “self-defense” in protection of the Jewish state, and thereby, the safeguarding of the Jewish faith. Why must we remain silent when confronted with this manipulation of our identity?”

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Arizona rabbis who stood for LGBT rights at home refuse comment on Israeli rabbi who bars renting to lesbians

In May, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the municipal rabbi of Ramat Gan, Israel, made a statement against renting property to lesbians on a popular online forum. Dan Cohen approached liberal rabbis in Phoenix, Arizona, Ramat Gan’s sister city, for comment. Even though each of the rabbis had worked to defeat Arizona SB 1062 which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT citizens, none were willing to comment on Rabbi Ariel.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine | 5 Comments

Pro-Israel Muslim-basher Adam Milstein at center of storm over funding of California student elections

Right-wing philanthropist Adam Milstein is not a particularly well-known advocate for Israel in the U.S. But the Israeli-American has found himself at the center of a storm over an e-mail sent to him by a student government candidate at UCLA thanking Milstein for his “generous donation” to his election campaign. The disclosure of the e-mail has kicked up controversy, with students across the UC system calling for an investigation into the candidate’s relationship with Milstein, who has repeatedly derided Muslims and Islam. Above, Adam Milstein (far-right) with his wife (far-left) and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, BDS, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | 11 Comments

‘J Street has to change or die’: Divestment battle exposes tactical rift among liberal Zionists

The Presbyterian Church’s decision to divest from three corporations linked to the Israeli military has highlighted a growing rift between two-state solution advocates who see divestment as a legitimate tool and J Street, the leading liberal Zionist group who lobbied against the church measure. The divestment resolution comes at a time of growing frustration among those who believe in a two-state solution. Increasingly, those desperate to end the occupation are looking to the tactics BDS is pushing for salvation. And those same people, J Street’s natural constituency, are starting to voice criticism of the group for its ardent opposition to BDS.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, BDS, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | Tagged | 65 Comments

Reform Jewish leader offers alternative to Presbyterian divestment: meet Netanyahu

Liberal Zionists lobbying against the divestment measure at the Presbyterian General Assembly in Detroit have a new strategy: saying it is part of the BDS agenda, aimed at ending a Jewish state. Reform Judaism head Rabbi Rick Jacobs warned the Presbyterians that they would alienate Jews and offered another plan: “if we are truly partners and you disapprove this divestment overture I look forward to sitting with your leadership in the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem.” Jewish proponents of divestment say the liberal Zionists are employing threats.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, BDS, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | 47 Comments

LA City Council members denounce student activists over ethics pledge critiquing Israel lobby trips

Los Angeles City Council members led by Bob Blumenfield, above, have introduced a resolution denouncing an ethics pledge against trips for student leaders organized by groups that fuel anti-Muslim and anti-Armenian sentiment. The move is the latest chapter of a roiling controversy sparked by student activist efforts to have student government members refrain from being wined and dined by groups like AIPAC and the ADL.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, BDS, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | Tagged | 19 Comments

Destroyed Palestinian village outfitted with 1,000 JNF trees memorializing Denver couple’s dead dogs

American JNF board members travels to Israel to plant 1,000 trees honoring his dead dogs, on the land of a destroyed Palestinian village.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine, Nakba | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Boteach forges close ties with Rwanda leader linked to ethnic slaughter

Last month, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach traveled to Rwanda to deliver a prayer at an official memorial service for the victims of the Rwandan genocide. The New Jersey rabbi has forged a close personal relationship with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has allied with Israel–Boteach’s other cause–and who has been accused of rampant human rights abuses.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | 14 Comments

What’s wrong with the ADL survey and how it could be improved

Foxman and the vice president at ADL centennial gala last week

There has been a lot of criticism of the ADL’s worldwide survey of anti-Semitism, including the organization that commissioned the study is hardly a disinterested, unbiased observer. An ADL study on anti-Semitism should be greeted with the same skepticism as a tobacco industry study on the effects of second-hand smoke, and yet the global survey’s deeply flawed methodology could have been fixed by replacing its 11 questions with simply one — Are Jews equal to others?

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine | Tagged | 145 Comments

‘It’s time to build the future of the American Jewish community’: Open Hillel announces first national conference

Open Hillel announced today that it will be holding a national conference this fall. The conference will take place from October 11-13 at Harvard University. The conference will bring in speakers spanning the spectrum of political views on Israel-Palestine. Organizers plan to particularly focus on including those — such as Judith Butler, David Harris-Gershon, and Rashid Khalidi — who have recently been banned from speaking at Jewish institutions.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine | 7 Comments

Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?

Now that the Two State Solution has finally received its autopsy results, what will liberal Zionists do: move left to support equality, or move right to support a state of permanent apartheid? For self-identified liberal Zionists, like Peter Beinart pictured above, that’s the obvious existential question.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, One state/Two states | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 93 Comments

J Street rejected from the imperial court of contemporary Jewish life

Yesterday, J Street was denied admission to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Should we care that J Street didn’t make the irrelevant Jewish establishment team? Not really – except for the fact that they wanted in. Because wanting to be in the mainstream of Jewish life at this point in history is to solidify one’s culpability in injustice. You surrender whatever dissent you proposed – if, in fact, you were dissenting in the first place. This, rather than their exclusion yesterday, is the real issue with J Street.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | 13 Comments

Fiddler on the Nakba

Terry Gross and Sheldon Harnick wax nostalgic over the culture of the Russian shtetl from which Jews were “forced out,” commemorated by Fiddler on the Roof. Would that Palestinian village life before the Nakba has such a place in American culture. Some day.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Nakba, US Politics | Comments Off

J Street woos the lobby as Israel considers annexing the West Bank

This week there will be a vote on whether or not to admit J Street to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. Meanwhile, political leaders in Israel are calling for unilateral measures against the Palestinians, including the possibility of annexing large parts of the West Bank.

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Occupation | 13 Comments

Jewish Voice for “Real” Peace

Whether Jewishness can exist for long without justice at the center is uncertain. Whether Jewishness without justice can exist without devolving into apathy and cynicism is unknown. Does JVP – do Jews of Conscience – have another Jewish gear that can get us out of this dark place?

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine | 37 Comments

Resurrecting Passover?

Jews need Passover today like Christians need salvation – to be diverted from the injustice we are enabling. Has Passover become a faux prophetic trope to banish the unstable Jewish prophetic?

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine | 35 Comments

Cornell student government puts the kibosh on divestment debate

The Cornell student government last week voted to table a resolution calling for divestment from companies profiting off the Israeli occupation. Students in favor of divestment reacted in anger at the decision to table the vote.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, BDS, Israel/Palestine, US Politics | 3 Comments

Handling holy hypocrisy at holiday season

If Passover cannot really be celebrated without Palestinians being free – and since Palestinian freedom isn’t on the immediate or even long-range horizon and ironically Passover has become a time for punishing Palestinians for asserting their right to be free – should we suspend our celebration of Passover?

Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine | 13 Comments

Passover for Palestine

The Passover experience for Jews has been distorted beyond recognition. While the New York Times debates whether mobile phones should be used to enhance the Passover experience, it ignores the obvious question: How can Jews celebrate Passover when we are oppressing another people? The plaintive cry – “Next year in Jerusalem” – has already occurred. The results are devastating for Palestinians. In the long run, are they less disastrous for Jews?

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New book explores intersection of Islamophobia and support for Israel

Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel have a new book out that explores the intersection of Islamophobia and Israel—and the ways that the U.S. “war on terror” impacts both.

Posted in Activism, American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics, War on Terror | 5 Comments