Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

ISRAEL ADVOCACY “ALL-STARS,” I: ISI LEIBLER

During “All-Stars Week”, CIJR’s Isranet Briefings will highlight the work of outstanding individuals, whose invaluable efforts contribute to strengthening public perception of the Jewish state’s regional and global position. Each Briefing will include a sample of articles written over the last year by a given author, dealing with issues such as Israeli politics and security, as well as matters concerning Diaspora Jewry, and ways of combatting the delegitimation of Israel.

 

Today’s Briefing:

 

Isi Leibler is a veteran international Jewish leader with a distinguished record of contributions to the Jewish world and the cause of human rights.

Born in Antwerp Belgium in 1934, Leibler was brought to Australia by his parents as an infant just before the outbreak of World War II. Described in the new edition of Encyclopaedia Judaica as “unquestionably the dominant Jewish lay leader in Australia during the previous quarter century”, Leibler was leader of the Australian Jewish community (Executive Council of Australian Jewry) between 1978 and 1995.

In 1962, Mr. Leibler engineered a public campaign which resulted in Australia becoming the first country in the world to raise the plight of Soviet Jewry at the United Nations. Before the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Leibler made numerous visits to the Soviet Union and developed close associations with the leading Jewish dissidents and refuseniks, which he still maintains in Israel.

Following the liberation of Soviet Jewry, Mr. Leibler focused his attention on the Asia-Pacific region. His meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen were recognised as major contributions towards accelerating the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and both countries.

Leibler has occupied senior roles in the World Jewish Congress, the umbrella organization representing global Jewry, including Chairman of the Governing Board and Senior Vice President.

Leibler, an outstanding scholar of Jewish thought and history, and collector of one of the world’s outstanding libraries in the history of antisemitism and Judaica generally, writes prolifically and is a weekly columnist to the Jerusalem Post, enjoying a vast following throughout the world. He is also a regular columnist for Israel Hayom.

Mr Leibler was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1977 and an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) in 1989. Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem with his wife Naomi (herself a renowned leader of Emunah Women International).

THE SILENCE OF AMERICAN JEWISH LEADERS
Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2011

Traditionally, Diaspora Jewish leaders speak up on behalf of Israel, frequently even taking the lead on issues in which geopolitical considerations made it problematic for the Jewish state to be engaged. Examples abound: the plight of Soviet Jewry, the campaign to rescind the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, the World Jewish Congress exposure of Kurt Waldheim as a war criminal and, more importantly, achieving restitution for Jewish assets plundered by the Nazis from various bodies including the Swiss banks and insurance companies.

However, with the erosion of cabinet solidarity after the Rabin era, the intimate relationship which existed between Diaspora Jewish communities and the Israeli government and its ambassadors rapidly deteriorated.

In stark contrast to former charismatic leaders like David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and even Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is inclined to release trial balloons to test the waters of public opinion rather than articulate his policy in advance to the nation. This was exemplified by the contradictory rumors floated from government sources before it was resolved not to concede to the outrageous Turkish demands in the wake of the Mavi Marmara affair.

Combining the vagueness of publicly stated government policies with the dramatic upsurge in anti-Israel hostility, it is not surprising that most Diaspora Jewish leaders are now far more hesitant than in the past to criticize their host governments over Israel-related issues.

The change in behavior is especially obvious with American Jewish leaders who were formerly renowned for their feisty domestic and global initiatives on behalf of Israel. AIPAC continues to effectively lobby the case for Israel on a bipartisan level in Congress but its role is, by definition, limited to this arena.

However, over the past six months, the principal organizations involved in public affairs—the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations (Presidents Conference), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti- Defamation League (ADL), and Bnai Brith International—while remaining unreservedly committed to Israel have generally been reluctant to explicitly challenge the Obama administration’s pressures and one-sided demands upon Israel.

American Jews are understandably hyper-sensitive about a further erosion in the bipartisan relationship, a crucial factor in maintaining public support for Israel. Yet reluctance to publicly criticize their president contrasts sharply with the dramatic Jewish grassroots backlash against Obama exemplified by the stunning upset in the New York’s 9th Congressional District, a largely Jewish-populated electorate—where the Democratic candidate, an Orthodox Jew, was defeated by a Roman Catholic Republican.

In addition, many Democratic congressmen have themselves uninhibitedly contradicted their president by supporting Israel.

Despite the extraordinary support which emerged when Netanyahu articulated the case for Israel [this past May] in Congress, since then the Israeli government has consciously avoided airing its differences with the US administration. There are even rumors that Israeli officials encouraged Jewish leaders to remain silent to avoid further alienating the administration.

Irrespective of the merits of such an approach, it would be a major blunder for Israelis to encourage American Jews to behave passively while the Obama administration treats Israel, its ally, in such a shabby manner.

Take for example the Turkish imbroglio and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s intense pressure on the Israeli government to apologize and concede to their outrageous demands. One can imagine how Begin or Rabin would have reacted had the US pressed them to capitulate over such an issue, but our government decided not to respond. Yet why should American Jews not express indignation at the chutzpah of their government pressuring Israel to apologize for its soldiers defending themselves against terrorists?…

Surely American Jews, angered by their government’s one-sided demands, which place Israel at such a disadvantage, should not feel inhibited about protesting against such behaviour.… Public opinion in the United States is currently overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. But this should not be taken for granted and it would be shameful to rely on Christians and conservative friends of Israel to publicly protest against the double standards employed by the Obama administration.…

We return to the original question. Why are most reputable American Jewish leaders off the radar and reluctant to publicly confront the excesses of the administration? If, for purported diplomatic reasons, the Netanyahu government has asked them to remain silent, this would be scandalous. Diaspora Jews living in a democracy like the US do not require a green light from the government of Israel to speak up.… If Jewish leaders persist in remaining silent, their kinsmen at a grassroots level will simply continue bypassing them.

THE TWO FACES OF THE NEW ISRAEL FUND
Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 15, 2011

It is a somber reflection on the naivety of well-intended Jewish philanthropists that they continue donating vast amounts of money to Israel’s largest NGO, the New Israel Fund (NIF). They do so despite repeated documented exposures demonstrating that this body is sponsoring anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian and post-Zionist organizations, committed to undermining the Jewish state and promoting the narrative of the Palestinians as victims and Israelis as oppressors.

Many of the donors are liberal Jews genuinely committed to Israel who blindly accept at face value statements from NIF officials who obfuscate the truth.

Recently, yet another bombshell discrediting this organization was revealed by Wikileaks. A confidential cable quoted a conversation between officials at the Tel Aviv US embassy and NIF associate director Hedva Radanovitz, who until last year controlled the NIF distribution of grants to 350 NGOs totaling $18 million per annum. She told embassy personnel that “she believed that in 100 years, Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of the Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.” Radanovitz was in fact, rationalizing why the NIF has and continues to provide millions of dollars to groups supporting the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

In response to media coverage of these bizarre remarks, NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch stated that Radanovitz was at the time “not optimistic about Israeli support for human rights and democracy” and that her views were not supported by his organization. He also stressed that she was now no longer employed by the NIF. However, Sokatch and other NIF leaders failed to explain why many other senior NIF officers share an ideological view of Israel as a Jewish state which most Israelis would bitterly oppose.…

When NIF spokesmen address the public, they speak exclusively of the bona fide social organizations they fund. They fail to disclose that they are also providing vast funds to organizations that by no stretch of the imagination could qualify for inclusion in that category. Even after their recent adamant assurance to the public and donors that organizations opposed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state would no longer be sponsored, last year they still directed over a quarter of their funding ($4.3 million) to groups engaged in delegitimization and other forms of anti-Israeli activity.

Here are a few examples of NIF allotments last year to organizations for political advocacy that are deeply engaged in anti-Israeli campaigns.

Nearly $500,000 was provided to Adalah, a group which contributed to and campaigned for the Goldstone report, urged foreign governments to “reevaluate their relationship with Israel,” described Israel as “a colonial enterprise promoting apartheid,” called for implementing the Palestinian right of return to Israel, provided affidavits to Spanish courts in order to charge Israeli officials with war crimes, and defended Hizbullah spy Amir Makhoul as a “human rights defender.…”

Mada al-Carmel, another recipient of NIF funds, engages in anti-Israeli agitation and openly repudiates the legitimacy of the Jewish state. NIF continued to fund the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), a leader of the campaign expressly promoting global “boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.” CWP also organizes events for Israel apartheid week.

In 2010, NIF tripled the funding for “Breaking the Silence,” another organization which paved the way for the Goldstone report by making unsubstantiated claims of war crimes by the IDF. During the Goldstone committee inquiry “Breaking the Silence,” in conjunction with B’tselem and other NIF-funded NGOs, accused Israel of war crimes and provided “evidence” to the Goldstone Commission to substantiate their biased and defamatory report.

The sordidness of these virulently anti-Israeli, NIF-funded NGOs is heightened by the fact that many are primarily funded by foreign foundations, in particular European governments, promoting campaigns against Israel and engaged in bolstering far Left Israeli fringe groups.… One could not visualize any European state tolerating such interference in its domestic affairs by foreign countries or organizations seeking to subvert the democratically elected government under the cloak of promoting human rights.

Indeed, without the perseverance and determined investigative analysis of Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, the public would be totally unaware that such vast sums are provided to anti-Israeli organizations. Steinberg has also been instrumental in promoting Knesset legislation which now requires NGOs to be transparent and disclose their sources of foreign funding, based on the model of the US Foreign Agent Registration ACT (FARA). This requirement will enable Israelis to appreciate the extent of foreign initiatives designed to fund anti-government “political activity.…”

Clearly, in these difficult times there is a need for drastic change in the personnel managing [the NIF] organization and an end to the secrecy under which they operate in order to ensure that funds raised for the welfare of Israel are not diverted to organizations committed to undermining the Jewish state.

THE NEVER-ENDING CLAIMS SCANDAL
Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2011

This week the Conference on Material Claims against Germany (Claims Conference) is convening its annual board meeting in New York. The agenda has already been circulated. Yet most of the 60 well-intentioned directors, whose principal involvement with the conference involves attending annual meetings, will have difficulty comprehending the complex and confusing data presented to them. As they have for over 40 years, the majority are likely to continue acting as a rubber stamp, automatically endorsing resolutions and allocations recommended by the small inner-management clique.

It is evident that the burning issues raised last year remain unresolved, and in many cases were not even seriously considered. Directors are thus unlikely to gain further insight into who was responsible for the lack of oversight that facilitated the greatest fraud ever inflicted on a Jewish charitable organization.

The theft, first disclosed in February 2010 as a $350,000 swindle, had risen by July to $7 million. In November, the amount had escalated to $42.5m. A few weeks ago, we were blithely informed that the sum was about $50m. and likely to rise even higher.

How could such a scam proceed unimpeded for over 15 years in the head office of the Claims Conference, literally under the noses of the chief executives, with six key staff members, including a manager, being the alleged perpetrators? In any enterprise—private or public—after such a scandal, one would expect resignations or at least some acceptance of responsibility.

The Claims Conference, a nonprofit charity, employs highly paid, purportedly top “professional” executives. The CEO receives a salary commensurate with the head of the International Monetary Fund. Despite ignoring repeated warnings that a single part-time internal comptroller was absurdly insufficient for an organization handling billions of dollars, no one is now willing to accept responsibility.

After the theft was discovered, the chief executive even had the gall to praise management for its “efficient” response, insisting that there had been no deviation from standard operating procedures.…

Directors will no doubt be informed of the commendable steps undertaken following the much-heralded K2 Global Consulting company’s recommendations to implement greater safeguards and ensure that such an outrage is not replicated. However, K2 is not qualified to undertake an audit or review. In the wake of such a scandal, it is surely mandatory for directors to demand a fully independent forensic audit to guarantee that there are no additional areas in which lack of oversight could enable the plundering of public funds—for example, allocations of funds, alleged conflicts of interest, the recovery and sale of German properties, and other issues. However, the management adamantly rejected such a review.

The reality is that a handful of people—basically an old boys’ club—operates the Claims Conference like a personal fiefdom. The excessive centralization of control and lack of checks and balances is highlighted by the fact that Chairman Julius Berman (who has occupied the position for a decade) also appointed himself chairman of key committees such as the all-powerful Allocations Committee, the US Allocations Advisory Committee, and even its Israeli counterpart. That the chairman, an American resident, appoints himself to head the Israeli Advisory Allocations Committee says it all.…

It is astonishing that since the last annual meeting, there has been no public outcry, and the management continues to deny any responsibility for the $50m. fraud. The onus surely rests with organizations represented on the board to rectify this and ensure that substantive reforms are instituted to achieve genuine transparency and accountability.

A genuinely independent forensic audit reviewing all aspects of the organization should be immediately undertaken to ensure that there are no additional ‘black holes’ requiring attention. Those responsible for the failure of oversight regarding the financial scandal should retire or be retired. Term limits for senior elected officers must be introduced. Berman should do the honorable thing and step down as chairman. Potential conflicts of interest for directors whose organizations obtain funding should also be reviewed.

Most importantly, intensified efforts must be undertaken to ease the desperate plight of the remaining ailing survivors. Despite the commendable agreement by the Germans to substantially increase support for those requiring home services, it is an indictment on us all that many elderly Jewish survivors still have insufficient resources to pay for food, fuel and basic medical expenses.…

We must demand that the Claims Conference act ethically and with the highest possible standards of integrity, transparency and sensitivity. If there is the slightest doubt as to whether those standards are being upheld, board members and the organizations they represent have a legal fiduciary obligation to act.

SEARCHING FOR ONE PALESTINIAN MODERATE
Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, November 9, 2011

The Bible tells us that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah despite Abraham’s intercession because there weren’t even 10 righteous people in these cities. Alas, I believe that if one were to review the entire spectrum of Palestinian political, religious and intellectual leadership, one would be unable to identify even a single righteous or moderate Palestinian leader who is committed to achieving a genuine peace.

We are repeatedly told that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are our genuine peace partners and that we are unlikely to find more moderate Palestinians with whom to negotiate.

Yet Abbas, who obtained his “doctorate” by justifying Holocaust denial:

• Refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, insists that the “occupation” dates back to 1948 and even denies any Jewish link to the Holy Land.

• Sanctifies mass murderers of Israeli women and children by bestowing honor on the killers and granting state pensions to their families.

• Rules over an Authority in which the controlled media, mosques and state educational system incite hatred against Jews and deny Israel’s right to exist.

• Endorses the execution of any Palestinian who sells land to a Jew.

• Assures his people that any future Palestinian state will be entirely cleansed of Jews.

• Is committed to reuniting with the genocidal Islamic Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the elimination of Israel.

Even when he did negotiate with Israel, Abbas effectively rejected offers made by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to cede 95 percent of the territories conquered in response to Jordan’s offensive against Israel. Indeed, the more Israelis concede, the more Abbas demands. Today he has escalated the issue of so-called “right” of return of refugees to Palestine as a non-negotiable demand, despite realizing that this would bring an end to Jewish sovereignty which no Israeli government could contemplate.

On the surface, the PA appears moderate compared to Hamas. But their objectives are identical. Abbas speaks with a forked tongue and is vague about his long-term goals when he addresses non-Arab audiences, whereas Hamas is completely honest and boasts that it will never negotiate and will continue to fight until the Jewish state is destroyed.

Some PA leaders are now becoming less inhibited. Only a few weeks ago, a prominent Fatah leader explicitly proclaimed that a Palestinian State would merely represent the first stepping stone towards the ultimate objective of eliminating the Jewish state. Unfortunately, all opinion polls demonstrate that the Palestinian masses have been brainwashed and endorse these views.

Professor Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Bir Zeit University, was hailed by many naive Israelis as a Palestinian model of moderation. Dr. Yossi Beilin referred to him as a living testimony to the fact that Oslo was not a failure.

Nearly 10 years ago I challenged the bona fides of Nusseibeh, pointing out that he was appointed by, reported to and accepted instructions from Yasser Arafat. I observed that political dissidents under Arafat’s authority had extraordinarily limited life-spans and suggested that Nusseibeh’s role was to provide the PA with a moderate face to present to the Western world. His amiable and soothing approach was obviously designed to revive Israel’s fond memories of the “irreversible peace process” and Arafat’s cynical “peace of the brave.…”

In a lengthy article recently published on the al-Jazeera website, Nusseibeh set aside his cloak of moderation and demonstrated that despite the sophisticated chatter, he was no more moderate than any of his Palestinian counterparts. His article is a passionate opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The arguments he employs, arguing that Jews should be the only people denied the right to statehood, testify to the fact that his moderation is a sham.

He warns that were Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state, it would become an “apartheid” entity. Not only would Israel’s Arabs be stripped of their citizenship and other rights, but they would also be killed like the ancient Canaanites and Jebusites were by the Israelites according to the Bible. He conveniently ignores that Israel being a Jewish state was the rationale for its creation by the United Nations in 1947. He also overlooks the inconsistency that the new Palestinian entity would be governed by Shari’a law and cleansed of any Jews and that there is no Arab country which remotely extends similar rights to minorities comparable to Israel.

Furthermore, he has the gall to condemn Jewish intolerance towards other faiths in Jerusalem, disregarding the fact that it was only when Jerusalem came under Jewish sovereignty in 1967 that freedom of religious association and worship were extended for the first time to all religions—in dramatic contrast to the manner in which the Jordanians ruled the city.

Adopting the Abbas UN approach, Nusseibeh also reneged on his previous call to Palestinians to cease promoting the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel. He actually insisted that—hold your take a deep breath—7 million diaspora Palestinians are entitled to repatriation or compensation.

Nusseibeh’s turnaround reaffirms that there is not a single Palestinian leader of political, religious, or intellectual distinction who could be described as a moderate and who would be willing to support a negotiated settlement to achieve genuine peace deal with the Jewish state. But in this insane Alice in Wonderland global environment, we are being told to deal with these bigots as though they were genuine peace partners.…

To the world and those calling on us to continue providing unilateral concessions—which without exception have weakened our position and encouraged our adversaries—I make one challenge: Please identify one single Palestinian leader or intellectual who genuinely advocated moderation and was not assassinated.