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Major American Jewish conference refuses to discuss occupation

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The annual conference of the Jewish Federations, the largest American Jewish communal organization, will be in Israel next month. The Forward’s Larry Cohler-Esses reports that the assembly will take up a lot of political issues but is avoiding all discussion of the occupation–  which its leader declines to characterize as an occupation. Headline: “Debate Occupation? No Thanks, We’re Jewish.”

Another chapter in the tragedy of the American Jewish community. Let’s be clear, these folks are not just tuning out Palestinians (i.e., demonstrating racism), they’re ignoring all the Beinarts, the liberal Zionists. Cohler-Esses:

During a recent visit to the Forward’s newsroom, Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, … said [that the] GA’s 2013 program, he stressed, will emphasize the group’s openness to “dialogue” and “questions,” particularly from young Jews, with no holds barred.

“We need new thinking, new minds around the table,” emphasized Silverman, a former senior executive with the Stride Rite Corp. and Levi Strauss & Co.

But asked if the confab — one of the most important on the Jewish calendar — would include any discussion of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Silverman vigorously shook his head. His body language told a story of its own as he held his hands out in front of him as if pushing something away.

“I don’t use the word ‘occupation,’” he said. “We as an organization don’t get into the political arena.”

Yet on its website devoted exclusively to the GA, JFNA boasts that the gathering “tackles the most critical issues of the day” and brings together Jews “from North America and Israelis from across the political spectrum to discuss issues facing Israel.”

Cohler-Esses shows that the General Assembly will have many panels focusing on political questions, the delegitimization of Israel and how to make the case for Israel in the U.S. Ignoring the causes of that delegitimization.

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9 Responses

  1. piotr
    October 27, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Conference materials stress that the meeting will focus on new challenges and the search for new solutions, and clearly, occupation is pretty old. I tried some clicking to get the whiff of those new problem, and I actually did hit something that I was not familiar with. The clicking route was through a GA session on female philanthropy and a previous speaking engagement of one of the speakers.

    “The Annual Family Office & Wealth Management Conference”

    DC Finance, a leading producer of financial conferences in Israel, is pleased to announce that its “Family Office and Wealth Management” conference is now an annual event and is to be held in Tel Aviv on March 30th, 2011. Heading this important Forum on Wealth Preservation, Investments & Family is Professor Nasser David Khalili KCSS KCFO, a scholar, collector, real estate magnate and philanthropist of international standing. Professor Khalili is the co-founder and chairman of the Maimonides Foundation which promotes peace and understanding between the three great monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The conference’s agenda is to address the complex and challenging financial, relationship and lifestyle planning issues faced by family or multi-family offices in Israel.

    “The ongoing global financial and economic crisis mandates that families understand risk, financial management tools, family dynamics and planning for the future. Demand from last year’s conference proves that Israeli-based high-net individuals and families understand these needs and are acting to provide for the future,” remarked DC Finance CEO, Denny Chared. “Israel’s economy is mature enough that we now have high-net worth multi-generational families and more are joining this group as industrial, venture capital, high tech, and professional services wealth is increasing. We look forward to hearing from international and local experts, especially Prof. Nasser David Khalili, as they address the community’s issues.”

  2. seafoid
    October 27, 2013, 4:39 pm

    “Jewish Federations” is a very troublesome name. They are obviously very Zionist kosher. How is a clued in Moroccan or Omani supposed to understand that Zionism is not Judaism ?

    • Sibiriak
      October 28, 2013, 3:04 am

      How is a clued in Moroccan or Omani supposed to understand that Zionism is not Judaism ?

      The wide and deep mainstream of Judaism IS Zionism, and only a few small rivulets are not?

    • Walid
      October 28, 2013, 10:03 am

      “How is a clued in Moroccan or Omani supposed to understand that Zionism is not Judaism ?

      A. Moroccans have always been historically enamoured with Jews, Israelis, Zionists and the rest of the flavours they come in. We can say that the love is likewise there by the Jews for the Moroccans. I remember having seen several maroquineries and fashion shops of Moroccan Jewish owners with a large framed photograph of the Moroccan king displayed high on a wall.

      B. For Omanis, they follow the Gulf wave, which these days makes them favourable to all flavours, so whatever difference exists, it would be of no consequence to them.

  3. just
    October 27, 2013, 9:00 pm

    I guess they can just “talk, talk, talk among themselves”.

    ““We need new thinking, new minds around the table,” emphasized Silverman, a former senior executive with the Stride Rite Corp. and Levi Strauss & Co.”

    This is not dialogue, this is not bending any arc toward justice, this is just piling more “feel-good” hasbara upon more hasbara.

    (day-um– I wore plenty of Levi jeans and Stride Rite shoes as well)

    BDS! 1S1P1V!

    “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

    One more quote:

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

  4. Sibiriak
    October 28, 2013, 2:54 am

    “I don’t use the word ‘occupation,’” he said.

    Of course, not. There’s no occupation, just ever-creeping de facto annexation.

  5. seafoid
    October 28, 2013, 9:18 am

    Major Jewish Federations refused to use the word “cancer” and insisted that Haredi prayers would protect Israel.

  6. Talkback
    October 28, 2013, 11:05 am

    I’m sure that certain Germans didn’t use the word “occupation”, too.

  7. hophmi
    October 28, 2013, 11:47 am

    I don’t think the characterization is fair. The occupation will come up, whether they devote a panel to it or not. People will be raising it in many of these sessions.

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