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Some ‘Peace Now’ faithful dispute its claim that divestment will stoke ‘global anti-Semitism’

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Yesterday we published a statement against divestment by Americans for Peace Now that warned Presbyterians that they would be stoking “global anti-semitism” by voting for divestment from Israel (in fact the Presbyterians’ proposal was to divest from 3 companies doing business in the occupation).

Well Americans for Peace Now’s base doesn’t seem to like the APN statement, to judge from the 12 comments at that link, a few of which are from APN veterans. All  but one comment at the site oppose APN’s stance, some angrily. Here are excerpts of a few:


I am shocked by this — it is factually incorrect to suggest a) that the Presbyterian resolution ‘targets’ Israel rather than the occupation or b) that the Presbyterian church is making ‘common cause’ with anti-Semitic networks. …

For decades, Jewish faith communities & Presbyterians have worked closely in all sorts of social justice labors and in interfaith dialogue. I, for one, am a Presbyterian who feels strongly that Jewish contributions to America’s spiritual, moral, intellectual & political life have been splendid — uplifting our general culture with marvelous ethical critique, insights & ethical passion. It has been a terrible shock in the last decade as key organizations in the organized Jewish community have attacked our sincere & painstaking efforts to follow what we understand as God’s call to work for healing, peace & social justice in the horrible tragedies of the Middle East. How dare you stereotype & distort what we have been saying & doing? It has been an exceptionally painful & labored process in which we have struggled to listen to all voices. You might disagree with our conclusions & we might very well be wrong. But, why aren’t you focusing on the SUBSTANCE of our arguments? Why are you focusing more on categorizing (unfairly) the messenger, rather than the message? Why are you miscasting us as linking ourselves with horrific anti-Semitic forces — when we have explicitly fought against such? That we are involved in “campaigns” that”reflect a deep-seated hatred for and rejection of Israel.”??? COME ON, GET REAL! We are your allies, neighbors, co-workers on so many social justice labors! do not stereotype us! This sort of statement is damaging interfaith relationships! Are you listening to us? Or, are you trying to manipulate us?

Dear Ori [Nir],

As a former APN intern and someone who deeply respects your reporting, I am upset to read your statement smearing the U.S. Presbyterian Church’s effort toward responsible investing.

…As a Jew, I feel endangered when right-wing groups cheapen the word antisemitism by applying it to critics of Israel. As someone who has encountered antisemitism and been in the proximity of two fatal antisemitic shootings (one in Connecticut and one in DC), I am sad to see APN partake in this same behavior which makes the word meaningless.

I also feel that such statements will discredit APN in the eyes of many young Jews like myself. You appear to be playing a part in derailing a sincere interfaith effort (which includes Jews) toward ending the Israeli occupation, and I would like to know why.


Dan Fischer

Get serious. If it works for the Verwoerd Government it will work for the Israelis. They don’t understand anything in the Knesset. Their vile treatment of the Palestinians is a travesty on the Zionist belief in a homeland for the Jewish People….. they perverted the original ideas of Herzl and all my Russian Jewish forbears. I have nothing but contempt for the current regime, and the Palestinians are long overdue for social justice. You want Peace? Try Justice. Divestment is a mere slap on the wrist compared to what I would think up to persuade them to act more human.

Bullshit, APN. The Occupation is a continuing practice of injustice and unmitigated evil, and it is the policy of the state of Israel. All its citizens are complicit in this evil. I make no distinction between Israel and the Occupation. To do so is ridiculous ratiocination, a distinction without a difference. No sane person believes your cries of “global Anti-Semitism” any more – no more than anyone capable of critical thinking believes in the so-called “global war on terror.” Israel is not threatened with destruction, not by any stretch of the imagination. As a vassal of the Anglo-American imperium, it is the overwhelmingly dominant military power in the Middle East. Israel is a rogue state, and it should be sanctioned politically and economically by all available measures, until it is forced to reform. South Africa in decades past is a directly comparable model.

Excuse me? As a WASP member of J Street, I don’t agree with you on this one. Its wonderfully marvelous that PCUSA is onto the fact that Israel is openly committing genocide with most of the world’s blessing.

I joined APN believing it to be a fair minded organization which can make change happen from within ; While I still believe this, your position here seems to ignore the obvious, that the policies of the Israeli government can not be decoupled from the occupation. I’m in complete agreement with the comments of Dan Fischer and James Weller. South Africa did not get the message until real, financial pressure was applied. Oppression is oppression, no matter how it might be rationalized away by the oppressor..

Sorry Peace Now. I’m a Jew who has supported Sholom Aschav [Israeli Peace Now movement] for years, and will continue to do so. But you blew it on this one and need to give a sincere apology to the Presbyterians.

Caterpillar will survive, and you may not agree with this tactic, but the State of Israel must bear the responsibility for what happens within its borders. Those of us who know that Israel is destroying itself, and undermining its very reason for existence–the vote of the United Nations in 1948– need to focus on that responsibility. The Presbyterians are on our side, and we need all the peaceniks we can get.

I am puzzled and disappointed by APN’s response. This sort of carefully targeted divestment from companies directly involved in facilitating the human rights abuses of the Occupation seems to be exactly the type of action we should be supporting, and very different from the calls for a blanket boycott of Israel that APN appears to have confused it with.

I agree with the vast majority above. This is an outrageous and hypocritical position. Using the word ‘anti-semitism’ in your argument against the Church’s proposed statement is abusive. The fact that, after all this time, you continue to distort the position of those who seek to act ethically and divest or boycott the settlements and their supporters is unacceptable.

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22 Responses

  1. seafoid
    July 6, 2012, 4:16 pm

    A fairly grim piece from Meron Benvenisti from early 2010 .

    He has this nugget

    “The volatile status quo survives due to the combination of several factors:
    1. Fragmentation of the Palestinian community and incitement of the remaining fragments against each other.
    2. Mobilization of the Jewish community into support for the occupation regime, which is perceived as safeguarding its very existence.
    3. Funding of the status quo by the “donor countries”.
    4. The strategy of the neighboring states which gives priority to bilateral and global interests over Arab ethnic solidarity.
    5. Success of the propaganda campaign known as “negotiations with the Palestinians,” which convinces many that the status quo is temporary and thus they can continue to amuse themselves with theoretical alternatives to the “final-status arrangement.”
    6. The silencing of all criticism as an expression of hatred and anti-Semitism; and abhorrence of the conclusion that the status quo is durable and will not be easily changed”

    Of the 6 points I think only number 1 is as strong as it was in 2010 and even in that case there is a new generation of activism coalescing around BDS. I think there is a lot more than can be done in this area. It also appears that the Palestinian American community is really maturing from an activism point of view and we’ll probably see a lot more from that angle in the future.

    2: JVP and sites like Mondo are blowing a hole in the circled wagons
    3 : beginning to crop up on the radar – gulf countries are not happy
    4 : too early to say
    what impact the arab spring will have but not as monolithic as 2010
    5 : dead
    6: Very flaky now

    This Presbyterian thing is an important signpost. Sure, it would have been nice to win but in 2010 331-333 would have been unimaginable.

  2. Krauss
    July 6, 2012, 4:22 pm

    Well AIPAC Light’s head honcho, Jeremy Ben-Ami, sits on the board of directors for that organization and he had a pretty serious passive-agressive rant. Did he have any influence on their scaremongering rhetoric?

    And now even the necons are noticing, who have been dismissing the BDS movement for years as ‘fringe’.

    The article reeks of fear.

    As well as it should be. Hopefully Americans for Peace Now will follow the suit of JVP – and get slammed by the ADL in the process – to endorse the boycott of the occupation next time the vote comes along. It’s only a matter of time before it gets accepted by the vast majority of the mainline churches. After that, the progressive synagoges and then the non-Establishment liberal institutions(namely, organizations other than CAP and others like it). Bit by bit, we’ll push ourselves into the mainstream establishment and challenge the power structures. Let them fear us.
    They should.

  3. anonymouscomments
    July 6, 2012, 4:53 pm

    This made me fully bury JStreet and Peace Now (not that I liked em much anyways). Are people in these orgs acting as controlled opposition? I think some key people are…. though many members are actually working for peace.

    Divestment does not stoke “global anti-Semitism”….

    Israel’s ACTIONS undeniably DO. Especially the decades old occupation with concurrent colonization and creeping ethnic cleansing.

    Jewish peace groups should LOVE targeted divestment, and if they had half a brain, they would even support FULL BDS of Israel, till she stops the insanity.

    • anonymouscomments
      July 6, 2012, 6:23 pm

      Let me also state this…. the world should also BDS the USA for our continual wars and occupations based on BS and lies. BDS the US! (and Israel)

    • Miura
      July 6, 2012, 11:02 pm

      Someone who has been following this saga for more than 7 decades also considers “Peace Now” to be not only acting in bad faith, but actually harming prospects for peace:

      One good thing that has happened in Israel is that for the first time, a significant, authentic peace movement has developed. I don’t mean Peace Now, which is largely there in order to convince American liberals that they should continue to support Israel…As far as Peace Now goes, I met with their activists while I was there, and I read their literature. They refuse to take a position. They are extremely evasive. They say things vaguely like “Palestinians have rights.”…They say something, and then they retract it. But Peace Now does much worse. Their statements are much more evasive…Peace Now is a very establishment group. They say in private that they see their role as ensuring that American liberals and liberals in the American Jewish community don’t give up on Israel. I consider them very damaging. They are very harmful for the cause of peace. I have told them that many times.

  4. Robert Naiman
    Robert Naiman
    July 6, 2012, 5:56 pm

    Make that 13. I added my own comment of deep disappointment, not so much in their position of opposition – that’s disappointing. But their lying and slander – that is deeply disappointing. The resolution *was* focused on the *occupation* and *not* on *Israel*, contrary to APN’s shameful lying about it.

  5. American
    July 6, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Glad to see those comments…I agree with all of them.

  6. CloakAndDagger
    July 6, 2012, 7:25 pm

    This is very encouraging, indeed! I am agog with curiosity to see how the proprietors of APN react to this push back. It will tell us a lot about their true nature.

  7. Avi_G.
    July 6, 2012, 7:38 pm

    What’s APN’s total membership base?

    Let’s be realistic about this, a few comments on a website don’t necessarily reflect an overwhelming proportional majority. So unless APN’s total membership is between 10 to 15 members, then the percentage of those who disagree with its official line is closer to the single-digits ~ 3% to 7%?

    But wait, I’m sure clenchy will come along at once and claim that boycotting the settlements alone will bring about world peace and unicorns will go galloping in the Jewish-only roads of the occupied West Bank. It’s amazing the degree to which human beings can delude themselves, especially when a company can easily stamp its products Made in Israel while it manufactures them in Ariel, East Jerusalem, the occupied Jordan Valley or Jordan for that matter (Yes. Israeli textile companies with factories in Jordan export their products as Made in Israel. Fancy that).

    • clenchner
      July 6, 2012, 11:18 pm

      Giggle. It’s come to this: Avi making comments on my behalf so he can poke fun at them and make personal attacks.
      Silly Avi, there’s plenty to write about without inventing stuff!
      Avi can attack the leadership shown by JVP and Gush Shalom all he wants in their efforts to focus on specific, strategic targets that highlight the occupation. I’m still a fan.

      • Avi_G.
        July 7, 2012, 10:49 am

        I tell ya, this website is lucky to have a slippery slimy trout like you setting the record straight.

        Quite pathological.

      • clenchner
        July 7, 2012, 12:50 pm

        You need help! Here goes:
        “An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.[1] Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as a logical fallacy,[2][3][4] more precisely an informal fallacy and an irrelevance.[5]”

      • Avi_G.
        July 9, 2012, 12:31 am

        If one kept a list of the logical fallacies you employed in your posts, one would find that I have been extremely patient with your monkeying about.

        1) On a few occasions you lied.

        2) You tend to use spin and obfuscation.

        3) You accuse others of taking your words out of context.

        4) Straw man.

        5) On several occasions you rejected facts and dismissed them as mere opinion.

        6) You claim to be an expert on certain subjects or claim to have experience with certain matters when you clearly do not.

        7) You bandy around the ad hominem fallacy as though that changes the simple fact that you routinely engage in all of the above-listed points.

        8) You repeatedly cite privacy concerns when you are challenged on your wild claims concerning your so-called activism.

  8. Alex Kane
    Alex Kane
    July 6, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Wow. That’s amazing.

  9. Mayhem
    July 6, 2012, 9:59 pm

    When would an interfaith do gooder want to be tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism?
    These are the typical emotional, defensive reactions of people who need to justify themselves and their self-aggrandising efforts.
    From those who are totally off the rails linking South Africa with Israel to those with no sense of proportion about the full nature of the conflict. From no-one a rational explanation that their actions won’t fuel anti-Semitism.

    • eljay
      July 7, 2012, 10:34 am

      >> From no-one a rational explanation that their actions won’t fuel anti-Semitism.

      Correct. Not one Zio-supremacist has been able to explain how…
      – Jewish terrorism, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands, and the creation of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist Jewish State, and
      – the Jewish State’s 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder
      …have not fuelled – and won’t continue to fuel – anti-Semitism.

      • yourstruly
        July 7, 2012, 1:43 pm

        why of course, anti-semitism is fueled by the zionist entity & its israel firster supporters in the u.s. of a., so that, end the occupation and antisemitism shrinks to a size that can be flushed down a toilet.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    July 7, 2012, 12:14 am

    RE: “Yesterday we published a statement against divestment by Americans for Peace Now that warned Presbyterians that they would be stoking ‘global anti-semitism’ by voting for divestment. . . ” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Shame on Americans for Peace Now (APN) for sending out a press release urging the Presbyterian Church not to divest from three companies doing business in the occupation because the measure serves those who seek “Israel’s destruction” and raises “very real and understandable worries about global anti-Semitism.”
    Instead, Americans for Peace Now (APN) should have sent out a press release urging the Presbyterian Church to divest from the three companies doing business in the occupation because Israel’s occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinians (not BDS) serves those who seek “Israel’s destruction” and raises “very real and understandable worries about global anti-Semitism.”

  11. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    July 7, 2012, 2:01 am

    There’s already global anti-semitism, is called ‘disagreeing with Israel’s policies.’

  12. piotr
    July 7, 2012, 10:00 am

    Someone digged out a polite statement by leaders of APN concerning the death of Yitzhac Shamir. On the principle “de mortuis nil nisi bonum”, big swaths of European press skipped the obituary, there was none in Sweden, and Google News shows but two in Poland. In Poland it was a very terse version of agency news. Judging on comments, if you do not want to “stoke anti-Semitism”, do not mention Shamir AT ALL. Keep him in the closet with all the skeletons, and do not mention unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

    Sadly, Shamir bio is such a mother lode that hostile comments were basically purely factual, with an impolite word or two (like “Jewish bands massacring Arab villages”). Although it is also not nice to comment “The world is a bit better today.”

  13. Abu Malia
    Abu Malia
    July 7, 2012, 10:12 am

    “From those who are totally off the rails linking South Africa with Israel to those with no sense of proportion about the full nature of the conflict”

    The link between apartheid S. Africa and Zionist Israel is well documented. They were close buddies who saw themselves engaged in similar campaigns of colonialism. This friendship was so deep that Israel offered to sell/give nuclear tipped jericho missiles to P.W. Botha’s administration.

    If you meant to say people who compare the two are off the rails, I totally agree with you – Israel is by far the worse; ask Archbishop Tutu.

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