Tectonic Shifts in Attitudes Toward Israel: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Dec. 27, 2018— As Arabs and Muslims warm to Israel, the Left grows colder.
Women’s March Facing Unknown Challenges With Antisemitism Allegations: Josefin Dolsten, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2018— When the Women’s March galvanized millions of women in 2017 as a response to the inauguration of Donald Trump as president, Jewish participants were loud and proud.
Is J Street Still Pro-Israel?: David M. Weinberg, JNS, Dec. 23, 2018— When it was founded 11 years ago, J Street claimed to be a pro-Israel and pro-peace organization.
Anti-Semites and their Jewish Apologists: Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press, Dec. 9, 2018— In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, there is no way to go on pretending that right-wing anti-Semitism isn’t alive and still presents a deadly threat to Jews
On Topic Links
Women’s March Loses Donor, More Affiliates Over Anti-Semitism Concerns: IPT News, Dec. 26, 2018
Is the Women’s March Melting Down?: Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel, Tablet, Dec. 10, 2018
In Democratic Circles, Anti-Semitism is Becoming Normal: Roger Kimball, Spectator, Nov. 14, 2018
Review: ‘To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel’ by Jonathan Neumann: David Isaac, Free Beacon, Sept. 9, 2018
TECTONIC SHIFTS IN ATTITUDES TOWARD ISRAEL
Washington Times, Dec. 27, 2018
As Arabs and Muslims warm to Israel, the Left grows colder. These shifts imply one great imperative for the Jewish state. On the first shift: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently pointed out “a great change” in the Arab world which has a growing connection to Israeli companies because it needs Israeli “technology and innovation, … water, electricity, medical care, and high-tech.” Explaining this normalization as a result of Arab states “looking for links with the strong,” Netanyahu was too tactful of American liberals to add another factor: Barack Obama’s policy of appeasing Tehran jolted the Arab states to get serious about the real threats facing them.
It is striking to note that full-scale Arab state warfare versus Israel lasted a mere 25 years (1948-73) and ended 45 long years ago; and that Turkey and Iran have since picked up the anti-Zionist torch. Nor is it just Israeli companies making inroads into Arab countries. The Israeli minister of sports broke into tears as Hatikvah, Israel’s anthem, was played in Abu Dhabi upon the victory of an Israeli athlete. Rumors are swirling about a handshake to come between Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) and Israel’s prime minister.
That Arab and Muslim enmity has fractured, probably never to be reconstituted, amounts to one tectonic shift in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The second, no less important, involves the global Left’s growing hostility to Israel. This pattern can be found consistently from South Korea to Thailand to South Africa to Sweden to Brazil. The Durban conference of 2001 initially brought this phenomenon to light. Among many other examples, the Black Lives Matter platform accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “genocide.” A communist labor union in India representing 16 million farmers, apparently joined the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movement.
Attitudes toward the Jewish state follow an almost linear progression of growing negativity as one goes from right to left. A 2012 Pew Research Center survey of American adults found 75 percent of conservative Republicans sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians, followed by 60 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans, 47 percent of Independents, 46 percent of conservative and moderate Democrats, and 33 percent of liberal Democrats.
It was not always thus. Joseph Stalin was so instrumental to Israel’s birth in 1947-49 by providing diplomatic support and armaments that Abba Eban, Israel’s first UN ambassador, observed that “we couldn’t have made it, either diplomatically or militarily,” if not for Soviet help. Democrats Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy rank among the most pro-Israel of American presidents, but Republican Dwight Eisenhower was unquestionably the most antagonistic.
MbS versus Jeremy Corbyn symbolizes these two tectonic shifts, as does Israel now enjoying better relations with Egypt than with Sweden. The president of Chad turns up in Israel but a singer from New Zealand does not. Israel’s athletes compete in the United Arab Emirates but get banned in Spain. Muslims show increasing indifference to the breakdown in Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy, but Leftists express growing anger over it.
This last point has great importance: the rage against Israel is not about Ashkenazi-Sephardi relations, tensions on the Temple Mount, a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, or Israel’s own nuclear weapons. Rather, it almost exclusively concerns the status of some 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Thanks to a mix of Palestinian public relations expertise and continued antisemitism, the welfare of this small and powerless but fanatical population has transmogrified into the premier global issue of human rights, getting endlessly more attention than, say, Ethiopia – and motivates nearly all denunciations of Israel.
Therefore, when the Left, now largely excluded from power, eventually returns to office in countries like Japan, India, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Israel will face a crisis due to the unresolved situations in the West Bank and Gaza. Accordingly, a resolution of this issue should be an utmost priority for Israelis. That does not mean touting yet another “peace plan” doomed to crash on the hard rock of Palestinian intransigence. It does mean, whatever one’s favored plan might be, the need to end Palestinian aggression toward Israel: no more suicide attacks, kite bombings, and rockets. Only this will soothe Leftist rage. Only an Israel victory and a Palestinian defeat will achieve this. In other words, getting the Palestinians to cry uncle is an urgent priority for Israel and its supporters.
WOMEN’S MARCH FACING UNKNOWN
CHALLENGES WITH ANTISEMITISM ALLEGATIONS
Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2018
When the Women’s March galvanized millions of women in 2017 as a response to the inauguration of Donald Trump as president, Jewish participants were loud and proud. Synagogues and Jewish activist organizations sent large contingents to the main march in Washington and satellites around the country. Groups ranging from the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center to Chabad offered their support to marchers.
Two years later, the Women’s March is in disarray, with leaders facing allegations of mismanagement and local chapters seeking to go their own way out of either political or logistical self-interest. And for Jewish women there is an added layer of anguish: Top leaders of the main organization have been accused of engaging in or condoning antisemitism, and failing to heed the concerns of its thousands of Jewish backers.
“It’s bad for the movement,” Emiliana Guereca, the executive director of Women’s March Los Angeles, told JTA. Guereca’s chapter has a disclaimer on its website stating that it “has no affiliation and was never part of Women’s March Inc.” Still, most people don’t realize that the two are separate, and total donations to her chapter are down by about 60 percent, as are the number of organizations willing to partner with the group, Guereca said. “I think we’ve spent the entire month of December responding to all of this, and we’re going to continue to respond. That for us stops the work from happening,” she said.
The Los Angeles chapter isn’t the only one feeling the heat. Katherine Siemionko, founder of the Women’s March Alliance, which organizes the Women’s March on NYC, has a similar disclaimer on the website as the Los Angeles group. Siemionko says her group lost thousands of social media followers and newsletter subscribers, as articles have continued to come out criticizing the national organizers. Donors have also dropped out and celebrities turned down offers to speak at its 2019 rally, citing concerns about antisemitism. “It’s been a huge impact,” she said. “It’s shifted everything that we do.”
Gloria Moore, who is organizing a Women’s March in Atlanta, echoed the sentiments. After clashing with a local Women’s March affiliate, Moore went on to found March on Georgia, which is affiliated with Siemionko’s New York group. “All the articles that are being written, all the discussions that are taking place on social media, they are all negative about the national organization,” Moore said. “Because we’ve never been associated with them, we have no reason to be affiliated with them now, and from a local standpoint they have hurt us more than they have helped us.”
Last week, the Women’s March in Washington State cited antisemitism in its decision to sever its affiliation with the national Women’s March organization. “Continuing to be a part of the Women’s March with the blatant bigotry they display would be breaking a promise. We can’t betray our Jewish community by remaining a part of this organization,” board director Angie Beem wrote in a Facebook post announcing the decision. In November, Women’s March co-founder Teresa Shook called on the national co-chairs to resign, saying they “allowed antisemitism” and other hateful rhetoric. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano also said that she would not speak at the march if asked.
The controversy surrounding the march arose from organizer Tamika Mallory’s ties to antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Earlier this year, Mallory was criticized for not speaking out after she attended an event during which Farrakhan said “the powerful Jews are my enemy” and accused “Satanic Jews” of having a “grip on the media.” Farrakhan has a long history of making antisemitic and homophobic statements. The organizers of the march later said the Nation of Islam leader’s statements “are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles,” but also defended Mallory against criticism. Mallory has defended her and her family’s association with Farrakhan.
Following Shook and Milano’s statements last month, organizer Linda Sarsour apologized on behalf of the Women’s March for being too slow to show its commitment to fighting antisemitism. The fire was further stoked by a report published earlier this month in Tablet that Mallory and fellow organizer Carmen Perez had made antisemitic statements at two Women’s March planning meetings. Tablet has an on-the-record account by a Jewish participant for each of the two meetings. These issues have only intensified frustrations among some local Women’s March chapters about the national organization’s behavior…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
IS J STREET STILL PRO-ISRAEL?
David M. Weinberg
JNS, Dec. 23, 2018
When it was founded 11 years ago, J Street claimed to be a pro-Israel and pro-peace organization. That was taken to mean partnering with the mainstream Israeli political left to build support in Washington for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Or so we were led to believe. Since then, alas, J Street has become something else altogether: an organization that spends almost all its time and money besmirching Israel, smearing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other leading American Jewish organizations, boosting U.S.-Iran relations and backing political candidates for whom promoting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is a badge of honor.
Its campus arm, J Street U, has become a primary vehicle for conveying the most poisonous messages against Israel to students and the sapping of support for Israel at American universities. I hear firsthand more and more about J Street U’s venomous campaigning and destructive activities—from young Israeli men and women who serve as Jewish Agency emissaries on campus, and Hillel and Orthodox Union professionals who work with students. Almost every truly pro-Israel activity they try to organize is opposed or disrupted by J Street U hatchet men and women.
About one year ago, J Street launched its “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” campaign, designed to “challenge our communities to wake up to the omission and erasure of Palestinian perspectives and narratives, which create the environment that makes it easy to ignore demolitions, settlement expansion and occupation.” he younger J Streeters hosted teach-ins and sleep-ins, marched to Israeli embassies and called consulates, formed coalitions with progressive campus organizations across America, and pressed congressmen to speak out critically against Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria (which, of course, many J Streeters call by its U.N. moniker, the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” or OPT).
Now J Street is on a second phase of its campaign: to undermine the Birthright program because it serves the “right-wing annexationist agenda.” Birthright is one of the American Jewish community’s most important and successful initiatives of this generation; a lifeline in the difficult struggle to keep young American Jews Jewish and to give them some Zionist foundations. But J Street is not happy with Birthright because it and many other trips that bring some 50,000 students on tours of Israel are major sources of “omission and erasure,” i.e., the trips “omit Palestinian narratives in their programming and erase Palestinians and the occupation from our collective consciousness.”
I’m quoting here verbatim from J Street campus propaganda: “Birthright completely ignores the voices and experiences of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank. These trips therefore perpetuate the attitudes and politics that help make demolitions and occupation possible.” They might, God forbid, lead “our communities to feel no compulsion to speak out on behalf of Palestinian rights.” J Street claims it wants to reform Birthright content, but it hasn’t approached Birthright with thoughtful, constructive educational ideas; it’s just sought to sabotage the program. Dozens of campus professionals in the field tell me that J Street U activists work assiduously to undermine Birthright recruitment drives. They make life hell for potential participants.
So you see, “bringing home the realities of the occupation and mobilizing our communities to help bring it to an end” is the hostile hobgoblin that J Street has become. In the name of “our communities”—a term that J Street loves using, denoting a hard-left orbit of Jews and non-Jews for whom haranguing Israel is the psychoneurotic driving force in their lives—J Streeters are prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater and kill Birthright. Crushing the “occupation” and promoting Palestinian independence-cum-dictatorship is more important than building basic Jewish identity and core Zionist sympathies.
The truth is that in historical perspective we can’t be too surprised that members of J Street’s younger generation have ended up so distant from Israel. Their elders certainly laid the groundwork over the past 20 years for such souring on Israel. Have you ever heard of a place where “fundamentalists and gangs” in a “surging tide of extremism,” “spit,” “beat,” “vandalize,” “assault,” “attack,” “fight” and “brutally abuse” innocent people? Are you familiar with a country (mention Afghanistan and Iran to hint at its nature) where “religious extremists” seek to “turn back the clock” (mention this three times for emphasis), notoriously practice “discrimination” (repeat four times), and otherwise seek to “impose,” “intimidate,” “demand,” “repress,” “coerce” and “dictate” (nine repetitions) their “intolerant” views on a beleaguered society?
Well, that was the language used by the New Israel Fund to describe Israel in a fundraising campaign launched in 1997 to “promote religious pluralism in Israel.” Israel was further described as a country that “shows the world a repugnant face of Judaism,” and where it is not safe to walk down the street without being “set upon by a gang of angry, enraged men.” All this hyperbolic, radical imagery, which wasn’t true then and it’s not accurate now either, had the long-term corrosive effect of painting Israel as a dark, extremist place. Think of Israel and think of cancer. Think of Israel, and think of intolerance and occupation. Who in their right mind wants to be associated with such a retrogressive, thuggish place?
It’s no surprise, then, that not a few sons and daughters of the Jewish leaders of yesteryear are J Street U, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow leaders today. They are next-generation poisoned fruit, carrying the demonization of Israel a step further. J Street campaigns love to reference the “character” of Israel; Israel’s “soul that is being corrupted,” as it were. They’re out to save Israel from rot, and they will fight on until Israelis realize just how good American-style religious pluralism really is or how wonderful full-fledged Palestinian statehood would be.
Of course, all Jews on either side of the Atlantic are entitled to their opinions and their political campaigns. But to spuriously malign Israel as medieval and militaristically criminal is beyond the pale. In painting the situation in such dire and apocalyptic terms, and by attacking Birthright, hard-left activists are cutting away the limb—love for and identification with Israel—upon which all pro-Israel Jewish community activity must be based.
ANTI-SEMITES AND THEIR JEWISH APOLOGISTS
Jonathan S. Tobin
Jewish Press, Dec. 9, 2018
In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, there is no way to go on pretending that right-wing anti-Semitism isn’t alive and still presents a deadly threat to Jews, even if the numbers of its adherents remain small and marginalized in terms of their access to positions of influence or power. But when faced with the increased visibility and influence of those willing to openly advocate for the demonization and destruction of the one Jewish state on the planet, the reaction from some on the left has been not so much to discount this trend as to embrace it.
That’s the unfortunate conclusion to be drawn from reactions to last week’s controversy over now former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill and his anti-Israel tirade at the United Nations, as well as the open support for the BDS movement on the part of two new Muslim-American members of Congress. The most prominent example of this trend is New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. In her latest column, she makes a straightforward argument for the proposition that support for the elimination of the Jewish state is not only not anti-Semitic, but also somehow more in keeping with the values of Diaspora Jews.
While this argument is framed in terms that attempt to depict Israel’s left-wing foes as advocates of liberal values, the opposite is the truth. Goldberg’s stand is one that justifies a form of bias that is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism. That she does so while depicting herself as a guardian of Jewish values is utterly despicable.
Goldberg’s argument has a precedent. Anti-Zionism was popular among some American Jews prior to World War II. But if anti-Zionist groups like the American Council for Judaism declined from mainstream status to a group of marginal cranks after the Holocaust, it was because the overwhelming majority of American Jews were capable of drawing obvious conclusions from historical events. They understood that the Zionists were right about the necessity for a Jewish state in a world where anti-Semitism was a virus capable of attaching itself to a variety of ideological movements. At a moment when Jew-hatred is on the rise, both in the Muslim world and the streets of Western European cities, that basic truth remains unchallenged even as Israel has become the stand-in for the stereotype of the homeless, despised Jew that had long sustained such hate.
Goldberg claims that opposing Jewish ethno-nationalism doesn’t make you a bigot. But those who wish to deny the Jews the right to their own state, as well as the right to live there in security—things they don’t seek to deny to other ethno-religious groups in this fashion—are singling them out in the same way anti-Semites have always done and are practicing a form of bias. And bias against Jews is anti-Semitism. That’s why the BDS movement, which can now count among its adherents two new members of Congress in Democratic Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, is not interested in changing Israel’s policies so much as it wants no Israel at all, and engages in anti-Semitic invective and violence to get its way. Yet to justify their stance and the notion that nice, liberal Diaspora Jews—as opposed to those nasty Israeli Jews who remain determined to defend their state against those who are still waging a century-old war on Zionism—should praise them for it, Goldberg distorts three basic issues.
One is that she gets the Israel-Palestine conflict dead wrong. The columnist claims that the Israeli government’s foreclosure of a two-state solution via settlements justifies the efforts of Palestinians to replace the Jewish state with a secular alternative. Yet in order to come to that conclusion, you have to forget the last 25 years of history during which the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected offers of an independent state. They did so because they were unwilling to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. Israelis also saw what happened when they withdrew every soldier, settlement and settler from Gaza in 2005 and think that replicating the terrorist state that now exists there in the West Bank would be suicidal madness…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
Women’s March Loses Donor, More Affiliates Over Anti-Semitism Concerns: IPT News, Dec. 26, 2018—First, two high-profile liberal actors broke from the national Women’s March because of a pattern of anti-Semitism involving march leaders. Then a number of local Women’s March organizers either broke with the group or made it clear that they operated independently after a Tablet investigation provided detailed accounts of the anti-Semitism repeatedly exhibited among March leaders Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez. The story also uncovered some questionable financial structures established after the leadership pushed other founders aside.
Is the Women’s March Melting Down?: Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel, Tablet, Dec. 10, 2018—On Nov. 12, 2016, a group of seven women held a meeting in New York. They had never worked together before—in fact, most of them had never met—but they were brought together by what felt like the shared vision of an emerging mission.
In Democratic Circles, Anti-Semitism is Becoming Normal: Roger Kimball, Spectator, Nov. 14, 2018—As people scramble to explain the sudden resurgence of socialism not only on America’s college campuses but also in the corridors of political power, it is worth noting the concomitant resurgence of anti-Semitism in those redoubts.
Review: ‘To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel’ by Jonathan Neumann: David Isaac, Free Beacon, Sept. 9, 2018—Jonathan Neumann has written a splendid book. The first-time author has produced a devastating broadside against Jewish radicals who have co-opted tikkun olam—a Hebrew phrase meaning “to heal (or repair) the world”—to claim a special Jewish religious obligation to engage in left-wing politics.