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Fascinating Barbara Walters shilled for racially-discriminatory organization

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Two days ago Barbara Walters unveiled her list of the ten most fascinating people of 2015. The most fascinating of all was of course Caitlyn Jenner.

“If you found yourself unable to take your eyes of Caitlyn Jenner this year, you weren’t alone,” said Walters. “Through her own transformation, [she] transformed society this year and that, for us, makes her the most fascinating person of 2015.”

Well it turns out Barbara Walters is pretty fascinating herself. I recently learned that she was a keynote speaker for the Jewish National Fund gala in Ottawa in 2011. The Jewish National Fund is a quasi-governmental agency that buys land for Jews in Israel and Palestine.

This very week, Ayman Odeh, the Palestinian leader of the Joint List in Israel, refused to set foot in the Jewish Agency offices in New York in part because of its association with the JNF. As Mairav Zonszein said, Odeh’s decision was in line with American values:

His decision not to enter a New York office owned by an Israeli quasi-governmental organization that has — since its founding and to this day — promoted Jewish-only immigration and worked with the government and bodies like the Jewish National Fund to ensure contiguous Jewish-only territory throughout Israel is an act that sincerely and coherently reflects his positions and politics.

It also contains a lesson for the American Jewish establishment, which puts too much focus on open dialogue about Israel, and not enough on taking resolute action in the face of fundamental violations of its declared values.

Zonszein’s great editorial was in the Forward; and the editor, Jane Eisner, did something I’ve never seen in the Forward, wrote a piece big-footing her own contributor, Zonszein. Eisner reported on her own meeting with Odeh.

[H]he won’t accept Zionism that privileges Jewish ties to the land over Palestinian ties. And even though he is a member of the Israeli legislature, he and his Joint List colleagues won’t participate in the governmental work of the ministries of foreign affairs, security and absorption because of those agencies’ roles in foundational Zionism.

From there, it’s a direct but tenuous line to boycotting the Jewish Agency for its support of efforts that still today, Odeh contends, oppress the Arab minority.

I don’t think that’s a tenuous line. More than 1 million Israeli Palestinians believe that they are second-class citizens. You can’t argue them out of that belief. There are good reasons for their belief, including discriminatory land practices. Michael Bloomberg was shaped by the fact that when his family moved to Medford, Mass., they had to overcome anti-Semitic real estate covenants by having an Irish person buy their house for them. “It was a significant part of the family lore, it happened, everybody was clear that it happened,” his sister told the New York Times.

No American should belittle Ayman Odeh’s understanding about anti-Palestinian land restrictions. And Barbara Walters shouldn’t shill for a discriminatory agency.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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21 Responses

  1. annie on December 19, 2015, 1:11 pm

    Eisner was not altogether forthcoming when she wrote “refused to meet with a group of American Jewish leaders because the meeting was to be held in offices rented from the Jewish Agency for Israel”

    he ‘refused’ to meet them in that location but he offered to meet them elsewhere. this is from her source link so i’m sure she knew that:

    Odeh told the Forward that he had not known that the meeting would be held in a Jewish Agency space, and offered to meet instead at the offices of the Union of Reform Judaism, which are in the same building. Hoenlein said that the URJ’s conference room was unavailable, and that, even if it had been available, he would not have agreed to switch venues.

    “Why would I succumb to that?” Hoenlein said.

    heck, they could have gone to a restaurant around the corner. Odeh didn’t refuse to meet them — Hoenlein refused to change venues thereby, ultimately, tanking the talks.

    • just on December 19, 2015, 3:13 pm

      Exactly right, Annie. She conveniently and deliberately left the truth out. Fairly typical, n’est ce pas? What is atypical is Zonszein’s take and editorial.

      Ugh to Barbara.

      “2011 Negev Dinner” in Ottawa ~ simply surreal. All the while supporting the illegal settlers and thieving bandits who displace the real and historical residents of the Negev, the Bedouins.

      Check this out, and note the year it was written:

      “Negev land is reserved for Jewish citizens, whenever and wherever they want….We must expel Arabs and take their places…and if we have to use force, then we have force at our disposal — not in order to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but in order to guarantee our own right to settle in those Places.” — David Ben Gurion, in a letter to his son Amos, 5 October 1937.”

      From a 2003 article at EI: “Bedouins of the Negev: Israeli ctizens or punishable trespassers?”

      And from Zonszein’s piece:

      “… As Odeh explained, “I came here to represent the Arab public in Israel to American audiences. As their representative, I cannot in good conscience participate in meetings in the offices of organizations whose work displaces Arab citizens, just as in the Knesset, we do not participate in the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.”

      Ten days after Odeh was elected leader of the third-largest party in the country last March, his first act as a Knesset member was leading a four-day march through Israel’s south to call attention to the needs of the neglected, impoverished and officially “unrecognized” Bedouin villages of the Negev, where about 100,000 Palestinian citizens live. …”

      Read more:

      • can of worms on December 19, 2015, 4:28 pm

        I cannot in good conscience participate in meetings in the offices of organizations…”

        That’s such a problem. How do you know where to draw the line for being “in good conscience”? I mean, how did he know that the out-of-bounds conscientious stuff was at the office and wasn’t located, let’s say, in the hallway or up the stairs, or inside the big black limo?

      • annie on December 19, 2015, 5:07 pm

        just, btw thanks for your earlier link to taxi’s great article on syria.

        what do you mean What is atypical is Zonszein’s take and editorial.

        do you mean atypical in the sense it was published in the forward. because i don’t think it was atypical for Zonszein. i follow her on twitter , have cited her writing in my articles here, and am a fan of hers. she’s an awesome asset as far as i am concerned.

      • just on December 19, 2015, 5:14 pm

        “do you mean atypical in the sense it was published in the forward.”

        Yes. I respect her very much and read her pieces at +972. I’m not a fan of The Forward (Backward).

        (I am glad that you read Taxi’s utterly amazing piece, Annie!)

      • annie on December 19, 2015, 11:55 pm

        just checking! and i adore taxi. she’s bookmarked on my toolbar.

      • RockyMissouri on December 21, 2015, 12:15 pm

        Thank you. I respect Odeh even more.

  2. Kay24 on December 20, 2015, 4:05 am

    From Wikipedia:

    Upon Walters’ retirement, wrote of “her craven obsession with power” and attacked her for her friendships with Henry Kissinger, Roy Cohn and Bashar al-Assad.[66]

    S.J. Perelman once called Walters “the most insincere, brassy nitwit in the business.” [67]”

    Nuff said.

    • Mooser on December 20, 2015, 11:34 am

      “S.J. Perelman”

      Who? Never heard of him.

      • Kay24 on December 20, 2015, 8:57 pm

        I did not either until I looked him up:

        “Sidney Joseph Perelman (February 1, 1904 – October 17, 1979), known as S. J. Perelman, was an American humorist, author, and screenwriter. He is best known for his humorous short pieces written over many years for The New Yorker. He also wrote for several other magazines, including Judge, as well as books, scripts, and screenplays. Perelman received an Academy Award for screenwriting in 1956.” Wikipedia

        We learn something new every day.

      • Mooser on December 20, 2015, 9:04 pm

        Oh, that Perelman. Feh. Before they made SJ Perelman, they broke the mold. When told he had Bright’s disease, he said “Yes, but he’s got mine!”

      • wondering jew on December 21, 2015, 5:36 am

        Perlman is listed as the first writer of the Marx Brothers’ “Monkey Business”. He is the third writer listed for the Brothers’ “Horse Feathers.”

      • Mooser on December 21, 2015, 12:01 pm

        “Perlman is listed as the first writer”

        “Listed” is the operative word here, “Yonah”. This “Perelman” character (if he ever existed) is a mere pigment of your imagination.

        Those scripts were actually written by Adam Sandler Sr. the father of the famous comedian, and Meistrerhannukahsinger

      • Mooser on December 21, 2015, 12:45 pm

        Ah yes, the ostensible SJ Perelman.
        Purportedly button-cute, wafer-thin and whip-smart, with hair like the raven’s wing, a body by Adonis, and patrician arches you could drive a truck through, he was reputed to be redolent of Napoleon brandy, See’s Candy, and Camembert.
        Somewhere a Roscoe still barks (ker-chow) in his memory.

    • RockyMissouri on December 21, 2015, 12:17 pm

      I agree.

  3. Krauss on December 20, 2015, 4:45 am

    This is a sidenote, but in reference to Phil’s continued observation how coverage of Adelson has obscured his core interest: Israel.

    Well, Reuters for one doesn’t duck the issue:

    Also interesting that even if my guess is that Adelson prefers Rubio, he also wants to back a winner. In a sense, he and Trump share more similarities. Both are socially liberal casino moguls with a deep streak of militarism.

    Adelson probably only hesitates to back Trump because he won’t be a puppet in the way Rubio clearly already is.

  4. Scott on December 20, 2015, 10:21 am

    I could be wrong, but everything I sense about Trump is that Adelson would be stupid to back him. Opposition to Iraq war/ opposition to overthrow of Assad/refusal to commit to “united” Jerusalem under Israeli control/refusal to commit to W’s “commitments” to Ariel Sharon/ etc. Trump is polite/friendly with Adelson because they kind of speak the same mogul developer language, and Trump isn’t looking for a fight with the Israel lobby. But he is less likely to do the Lobby’s bidding than anyone running except, maybe, Sanders, IMHO.

    • Boomer on December 20, 2015, 2:44 pm

      re: “But he [Sanders] is less likely to do the Lobby’s bidding than anyone running except, maybe, Sanders, IMHO.”

      Interesting take. You evidently suspect that Mrs. Clinton will take the Lobby’s money and kiss it on the lips before the election, then show some independence while in office? Could be. I wish we had a better plan, but I guess we will find out.

      • Boomer on December 20, 2015, 2:51 pm

        I see that I misread the original comment . . . please excuse the confused comment I just posted. I missed the edit window to fix it.

      • inbound39 on December 21, 2015, 12:14 am

        Americans would be digging their pit ever deeper by voting in Clinton. For America to regain its previous respect and standing it needs to flush the Israeli Special Relationship straight down the toilet because it is doing major harm to America and placing its citizens at risk and in no way can America defend what Israel is doing. Israel is a political embarassment and insult for Americans and Clinton has voiced unwaivering support for Israel….nuff said.

    • echinococcus on December 20, 2015, 7:23 pm

      How would Sanders be less likely to bend to the Lobby? He’d go along but as a “liberal” Zionist, i.e. no change from same old except the color.

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