May 21, 2019

Israeli Minister Denounces Sanders for Calling Netanyahu Government ‘Racist’

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) walks before a series of votes on legislation ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Israeli Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who is a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, condemned Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for calling the Israeli government “racist.”

In a CNN town hall on April 22, Sanders, who announced that he was running for president in February, said that while he is not “anti-Israel,” he thinks Netanyahu “is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”

“I just believe that the United States should deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis,” Sanders said. “In other words, the goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, you know, dare I say, racist government.”

He added, “Israel has every right in the world to exist and to exist in peace and security and not be subjected the terrorist attacks. But the United States needs to deal not just with Israel, but with the Palestinian people, as well.” 

Hanegbi told Israeli television station Reshet 13 that Sanders’ remarks were “really strange.”

“The Israeli government is not a racist government, nor does it include a single racist minister,” Hanegbi said. “To be right wing is not illegitimate, and it is odd that the Democratic Party allows one of its senior members to not respect the democratic choice of the State of Israel.”

AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) indirectly rebuked Sanders by tweeting, “The U.S.-Israel alliance serves America’s interests. We benefit from the close bonds between the governments and peoples. Name-calling by political leaders against the democratically elected government of Israel is counterproductive to maintaining close ties and advancing peace.”

Sanders also criticized Israel’s handling of the border riots at the Gaza Strip in May and was one of the 23 senators who voted against anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) legislation in February, although Sanders expressed opposition to the BDS movement in January.

Rep. Omar Featured on Newsweek Cover: ‘Changing the Conversation on Israel’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is being featured on the cover of Newsweek’s April 19 issue, with the story talking about how she is “changing the conversation about Israel.”

The Newsweek story, which was published online on April 9, states that Omar was frequently targeted by Republicans in speeches during the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs) conference in March for “using language easily regarded as anti-Semitic.” The article refers to AIPAC has having a “formidable political operation” that has promulgated “a decidedly unequal view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The article goes on to describe Omar “as the most voluble—and visible—of Israel’s critics.”

“She appears to embrace the role of a political provocateur, particularly when it comes to foreign policy,” the article states. “Omar articulates a view that is rarely heard from a sitting member of Congress, one that has been forged from her first-hand experiences of war and exile.”

Among those coming to Omar’s defense in the piece are Nihad Awad, the executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), stating that Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are “not trying to fit into the historical Washington mindset, which has been unjustly pro-Israel for decades. And they represent a whole new generation of progressive activists nationwide.”

Some Democrats are concerned about Omar, as the Newsweek article notes that the Democratic Majority for Israel was recently formed by veteran Democrats to support pro-Israel Democrats in response to concerns “that the influence of Omar and other progressives will erode support for Israel within the Democratic Party.”

The Newsweek article touts “Omar and her progressive supporters” as “the first credible challenge to” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies and the “occupation of the West Bank.”

“Their successful effort to produce a resolution that condemns all forms of bigotry, instead of only Omar and anti-Semitism, was no small accomplishment, given the strength of Israel’s supporters among Democrats,” the article states, referencing the March resolution condemning various forms of bigotry.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “Anyway they spin it, Ilhan Omar is an anti-Semite. Quotes from CAIR themselves are part of the problem.  The truth cannot be whitewashed. Democrats are not required to be at AIPAC, but must denounce anti-Semitism within their ranks.”

Philanthropist Jake Farber Dies at 94

Jake Farber

Jake Joseph Farber, whose unstinting support and dedication to a wide range of Jewish and Israeli causes earned him — along with his wife, Janet — the sobriquet “Tzedaka Heroes,” died March 24. He was 94.

Jake Farber was born Dec. 19, 1924, in Los Angeles, into a poor Orthodox family and raised in Boyle Heights. His father died when the boy was 8, and his mother worked as a seamstress to support Jake and his younger sister.

Later, as a successful businessman, Farber would recall “I know what it means not to have anything. So I was hoping for the day that I would be able to help someone else.”

During World War II, he was drafted into the U.S. Army a few days after his graduation from Roosevelt High School. Upon his discharge, he enrolled at USC under the GI Bill and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

He married Janet Alpert in 1950 and soon started working in her father’s scrap metal business, Alpert & Alpert Iron and Metal.

Together with his brother-in-law, Raymond Alpert, Farber grew the company to become one of the premier metal and recycling businesses in the nation.

As his wealth and position in the community grew, Farber dedicated himself to a large number of Jewish causes, always in partnership with Janet.

The couple was an active and generous supporter of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Camp Ramah, American Jewish University, Adat Ari El Synagogue, Jewish Home for the Aging, Builders of Jewish Education, de Toledo High School, AIPAC and the Pico-Union Project, among others.

In addition to its concern for domestic organizations, the Farbers were ardent supporters of Israel and Israeli causes and traveled to the Jewish state more than 50 times.

In 1948, as the birth of the Jewish state was nearing reality, the couple went from door to door in their neighborhood to raise funds for the emerging nation’s support. “If I saw a mezuzah on the front door, we knocked on it,” Janet Farber recalled.

Among the Israeli projects that benefited from the Farbers’ involvement was the Yemin Orde Youth Village for at-risk young people, and at its 2017 banquet, the Farbers were lauded for their nearly 70 years of sharing a passion for Israel.

“Their generosity, leadership and dedication have helped to build a strong and cohesive community in Los Angeles and a secure State of Israel for today and generations to come,” the scroll read.

On another occasion, at the 2013 gala of the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education, the Farbers were the honorees and were praised for embodying the Jewish concept of “le-dor-va-dor” — for all generations — through their deep ties to the Jewish community and Israel.”

The Farbers passed on their values to their three children. Son Howard is a member of the de Toledo High School community; daughter Rochelle Cohen currently serves on the board of the Federation; and daughter Nadine Lavender is active in Koreh L.A., a children’s literacy program.

In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Grandson Max Farber, observed, “My grandparents exemplify what it is to take an active role in one’s education, that is, to seek out education, rather than let it find me.”

Services for Jake Joseph Farber were held at the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to any of the causes and organizations which he supported.

Hakeem Jeffries: Majority of House Caucus Democrats Are Pro-Israel

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

WASHINGTON D.C.: “I represent the ninth most African American district in the country [Brooklyn and Queens] and the 14th most Jewish.”

This was just one of the statements made by House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference (AIPAC), that received raucous cheers and applause during a packed to the gills breakout session, filled with diverse attendees.

Indeed, moderator Labriah Lee, AIPAC’s director of outreach and engagement, made a point of stating, “I think it’s incredible to see diversity here across racial lines, political lines, across gender lines.”

In the conversation with Jeffries, which covered everything from his rising star in the Democratic party, to his work on criminal justice reform and his support for Israel, Hakeem said he believed that electorally, “the heart and soul of the Democratic base are middle-aged African American, largely church-going women who have powered elections all across the country including the election twice of President Barack Obama.”

Hakeem said this was important to note because, “I believe that we are the most authentic representatives of the American people and the House of course is the institution that was designed to represent the current people and the current mood and current passion.”

Of his unwavering support for Israel he said having been to Israel three times now (the first in 2008, then again as freshman congress person and finally last year with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff), on his first two visits he went to Yad Vashem.

“Just in terms of the historic tragedy that the Holocaust represented, just to be able to experience it with both Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues in a meaningful way,” helped him put into context the district he represents, he said.

“I represent people who were directly victimized and their families adversely impacted by the Holocaust. I talk often about the fact that I serve more Russian speaking Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union than any other congressman in the country. I mean, Hakeem Jeffries, who knew?”

Understanding what happened in the Holocaust, he said, “when you anchor that against that outrageous crime against humanity in the annals of human history, you understand the importance to strongly stand by Israel and its right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people as a Jewish and a democratic state.”

Jeffries also showed off his understanding of the geopolitical situation on the ground in the Middle East and the threats Israel faces. “Being physically on the ground and having the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders [from] defense, the IDF, the intelligence community professors and others had a meaningful impact on me,” he said. He added that it’s why he is urging all the new congress members to take the congressional trip to Israel this August.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries in conversation with AIPAC Outreach Director Labriah Lee

“I say often, when you step back and see Hamas in Gaza and the dangerous situation including elements of Al Qaeda in the south, in the Sinai, Hezbollah in the North, the chaos in Syria including Russia and other [adversarial] entities including ISIS as well as Iran with nuclear aspirations in that region — it’s clear Israel lives in a tough neighborhood.”

Drawing on his own roots, Jeffries said, “As someone who came of age in central Brooklyn in the late 80s and early 90s, I know from tough neighborhoods. I’ve learned from my own experiences that when you live in a tough neighborhood, at the end of the day the only thing that you can guarantee people respect is strength, which is why I’m committed to [Israel].”

Asked about the “current debate” around Democrats in the House — a veiled reference to the controversy surrounding Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn) comments about Israel, Jews and AIPAC, Jeffries said, “The overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus is strongly pro Israel, has been strongly been pro-Israel and will remain strongly pro-Israel.”

He added, “I’m committed as are many of my colleagues to [Israel] because of the shared democratic values of our two countries and the shared strategic interests of our two countries in an important region of the world.”

 

Netanyahu, Omar Engage in War of Words Over AIPAC

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) traded barbs at each other on March 26 after Netanyahu took a not-so-subtle shot at Omar during his AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference speech.

Netanyahu, who was giving his speech via satellite having returned Israel after the country was attacked by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, said, “My friends, ladies and gentlemen, some people will just never get it. They’ll never understand why the vast majority of Americans – Jews and non-Jews alike – support Israel.”

“Take it from this Benjamin, it’s not about the Benjamins,” Netanyahu said. “The reason the people of America support Israel is not because they want our money, it’s because they share our values.”

Omar, responding to a tweet from New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg featuring Netanyahu’s “Benjamins” quote, tweeted, “This from a man facing indictments for bribery and other crimes in three separate public corruption affairs. Next!”

In a separate Twitter thread, Omar accused Netanyahu of singling her out in his speech while ignoring other issues. Jerusalem Post editor Lahav Harkov responded with her own thread:

In February, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins” in response to a tweet noting that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was calling on Omar to be disciplined for her anti-Israel statements. She later responded that “AIPAC” was buying off political support for Israel; both tweets were subsequently deleted and Omar issued an apology.

Omar Says It Was ‘Beneath’ Pelosi to Condemn BDS in AIPAC Speech

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at an event in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) told reporters that it was “beneath” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in her AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference speech on March 26.

Pelosi said that Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) recently proposed a resolution stating that the BDS movement “does not recognize the right of Jewish people to national self-determination.”

“The resolution goes on to recognize that BDS movement does not favor a two-state solution and undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pelosi said. “I join my colleagues in reaffirming the House’s strong support for a solution consisting of two states, a democratic Jewish state of Israel and a viable democratic Palestinian state, living side by side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

Pelosi also said that “we should welcome legitimate debate on how best to honor our values and to advance our priorities without questioning loyalty or patriotism,” an apparent reference to Omar’s use of the dual loyalty trope in February. The speaker went onto tout the resolution passed by the House earlier in the month, which did not condemn Omar by name.

When asked by reporters about Pelosi’s remarks, Omar replied, “A condemnation for people that want to exercise their First Amendment rights is beneath any leader, and I hope that we find a better use of language when we are trying to speak as members of Congress that are sworn to protect the Constitution.”

Omar stated her opposition to the BDS movement during the election and then came out in favor of the movement after she won.

Pelosi’s office did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

Five Dem 2020 Presidential Candidates Meet With AIPAC Following MoveOn’s Call to Boycott

Screenshot from Twitter.

Five 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have met or will be meeting with AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) following MoveOn.org’s call for AIPAC’s Policy Conference to be boycotted.

On March 21, Iram Ali, MoveOn’s political action director, told Politico that they called for the AIPAC boycott because “AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage.”

However, Forward editor Aiden Pink noted that Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Mass.) have all met or will meet with constituents at AIPAC on March 26:

Harris tweeted out a photo of herself meeting with AIPAC’s leadership at her Washington, D.C. office:

Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter Ron Kampeas argued in a March 22 piece that “ AIPAC does not welcome candidates as speakers in non-election years. An AIPAC official confirmed the policy to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, but would not explain it. A best guess is that when there are more than a dozen candidates in play, it’s too unwieldy. By the time March of an election year rolls around, it’s down to three or four, which makes the logistics easier.”

Kampeas posited that some of the Democrat candidates who aren’t attending couldn’t because they were campaigning; he added that the 2020 AIPAC Policy Conference next March could be a more accurate barometer as to which candidates are actually engaging in an AIPAC boycott.

The Power of Pro-Israel Latina Leaders

L-R: Leticia Munguio, Olga Miranda, Hollie Velasquez, Maria Mejia

Washington, D.C.: Why would Latina women be so invested in supporting Israel? Four Latina women who spoke at this year’s AIPAC conference, laid out their reasons with passion, conviction and a sense of pride. All have visited Israel and said they have come away with a greater understanding of the Jewish State and why it’s important to be an advocate for it.

“I’ll be frank with you,” said Olga Miranda, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 87 in San Francisco. “Even when [Latino AIPAC supporters] walk the halls of this convention, people are looking at us [thinking] so why are you here?”

Why indeed?

“We as Latinos have always identified with the underdog,” Miranda continued. “Because it’s a damn struggle, to be brown, to be a woman but we have positions of strength and power.”

That, she said, is something she really saw in visiting Israel. Having been raised in Los Angeles, Miranda said, “To hear their stories of life in Israel was critical for me.” Hearing how children there deal with rocket attacks and constant threats and fears that maybe your children’s bus could be bombed on the way to school is something that “mothers in East LA, Compton, South Central and Echo Park can understand.”

For Hollie Velasquez, an energy and gas utility executive from Colorado who has a background in politics, including at one time working for now Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper, her first Israel trip last July was also an eye-opener and fueled her passion to stand up for Israel.

“I learned that everyone serves in the military at the age of 18,” she said. “And the concept of women being there with them [made me think] tactically about their military and the strategy that goes beyond understanding the dynamics of what’s going on around the country and how everybody care about you.”

Coming back to the United States, she said, “to hear conversations about ‘this person can’t serve in the military and that person can’t serve in the military,’ — that’s crazy.”

She said she’s still trying to deal with the notion that you can exclude people in [America] based on what they believe or how they look and then “to go to a country where you do not see that is something I deeply connected with. What it means to value women as partners in Israel I think is something we can continue to think about and grow.”

Panel moderator and participant Maria Mejia, spoke a lot about the ties that bind Latina women, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Mejia is the Los Angeles director for GenNext, a national community of entrepreneurs that focuses on education, economic opportunity and global security for future generations.

“Through GenNext and AIPAC I have pretty broad exposure to foreign policy and national security conversations at every level,” Mejia said. “About what’s at stake when communities like ours are not engaged.” That’s why, she said, she sees the “power and potential for what I like to call the emerging Latina diplomatic voice to strengthen the America-Israel relationship.”

She added, “I tell people, ‘you have to go to Israel.’ Being there and feeling it and seeing it is what gives you perspective and [shows] how important the relationship between Israel and the US has to be.”

Leticia Munguia, field director for the California State Employees Association in San Diego, said she saw connections with the Latino community and Israel through the work she has been involved in her whole life as the child of immigrants and working for service workers: janitors, bus drivers, kitchen staff, who have to fight for rights.

“I think there are many generations throughout this [AIPAC] conference where we can learn from each other,” she said. “Worker rights, economic rights, social justice are integrally related to the fight for Israel and making sure that we make it stronger.” That relationship, she added, “only comes together one relationship, one conversation at a time.”

She added that Latinas can bring a lot to the conversation about Israel because, “as a Latina working in labor, we bring our experience of multi-ethnic, multi-language and multi-cultural ties.”

Mejia said there is much that Latina women can take from Israel, too, noting that Israel tends to be more progressive than not only its neighbors but also the United States, “from the right to vote to electing their first female prime minister and having women serve in the military.”

Miranda added, “We’re very behind as far as women in leadership, in the administration, how commissions are selected, even on a local level. We’re very behind because we’re not pushing as strongly as we should whether we’re Latinas or not. Israel having had Golda, we’re still waiting for our own [Golda].”

Despite all the support by the women on the panel for Israel and AIPAC, Mejia posed the question: What can the AIPAC community do to help each of you navigate the [anti-Israel] pushback you receive?

Miranda said that the community has been attacked through affiliate unions on “how they view Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his opinions. They have really marked our community of immigrants,” she said.

She added that she has spoken with other Latino AIPAC participants. “We’ve sent several letters to the leadership of AIPAC saying we are taking on a fight not just the everyday fight of our respective communities but also the fight of Israel, but when we hear the Prime Minister make these kinds of comments like “the wall should have been built a long time ago,” that’s something we take offense to.”

While Miranda said they have “stood their ground” when it comes to defending Israel, “we also need for the Jewish community to stand theirs and understand what our issues are.”

She added, “No matter what, my personal commitment to AIPAC and to Israel is because even though there aren’t a lot of people fighting for my community, my mother always taught when there is something wrong, you step up, and we as a community have always done that.”

What AIPAC Adds to the Israel Conversation

AIPAC conference

After three days of bumping into hundreds of Israel supporters at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.; attending sessions on the cultural and scientific achievements that come out of the Jewish state; on the philosophical, political and security dilemmas that confront Israel; on the rise of anti-Semitism and the BDS movement; and on the complicated and evolving relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community– including the vexing challenge of maintaining bipartisan political support for the Jewish state– I think I’ve figured out the key value of this 18,000-people schmoozefest, besides the obvious benefit of going home with hundreds of business cards.

It is this: The Israel conversation in America needs this conference.

Over the past decade or so, much of the Jewish conversation on Israel has been hyper-polarized and emotional. Criticism of the right-wing policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often descended into bitterness and contempt. From their end, Bibi supporters, who are usually also President Trump supporters, have shown how they can be equally bitter and contemptuous. It’s a dynamic of mutual animosity and isolation.

Into this highly charged and unproductive atmosphere comes the AIPAC conference, as a way, perhaps, of calling an annual time-out for reflection on both the value and complexity of Israel.

While you’ll hear criticism of Israeli policies from individual panelists at some of the many breakout sessions, that’s not the main purpose of the conference. The overriding purpose, as I see it, is to encourage supporters of Israel to stay engaged, and to find their own way of staying engaged, for the simple reason that it’s good for Israel and it’s good for America.

There’s so much going on at the conference that one can easily punch holes here and there, especially if the sessions you pick are not to your liking. But maybe I got lucky, because I attended a session on Shabbat that moved me enough that I felt that session alone was worth the whole trip.

“Compromise doesn’t mean a betrayal of your truth,” was the line that stuck with me. Tal Becker, a scholar and Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, was speaking about how human beings are wired to be tribal. To elevate from a tribal morality to a meta morality, he said, takes work. It takes “thinking slow.” But when you get there, he assured us, compromise becomes an opportunity to access a “higher truth” that is difficult to see when we think fast and tribal. Becker was making a compelling moral case for something that has gone horribly out of fashion these days– listening and honoring the other side.

I felt a sense of liberation coming out of his session. The complexity didn’t phase me; it stayed with me. It freed me to think further.

Not everyone will draw the same conclusions from their experience at AIPAC, but this was mine: The conference offers a kaleidoscope of stories and issues and discussions about Israel and the Israel-American relationship that remind us why it all matters and why we should care.

And of course, there are those stacks of business cards we bring home with us, which no doubt will add complexity to our lives.

AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr: Stand Up to Anti-Israel Critics

AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr

WASHINGTON DC: Amidst cheers and applause, the opening session of the 2019 AIPAC conference began, as expected, with a variety of people speaking about why they are pro-Israel, and why they are members of AIPAC.

However, things turned more somber when AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr took the stage and wasted no time in addressing what he termed “the critics and detractors.”

Without mentioning a single person or incident, from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)’s disconcerting tweets and comments about Jews and Israel, or the decision by several prominent Democratic congress members’ decisions to pull out of the AIPAC conference at the 11th hour, Kohr said in his 22 years as CEO of AIPAC he’s always used the conference as an opportunity to discuss the threats Israel faces and the essential elements of the US-Israel relationship.

“But today, I want to talk to you about our mission and our rights as pro-Israel activists and as proud American citizens,” Kohr said. “Because today things are different. We are being challenged in a way that is new and far more aggressive.”

Kohr went on to say while there have always been critics and detractors, “today they are emboldened and energized and their false claims are taken at face value by new and larger audiences. Those claims are not meant to inform or engage in legitimate debate. They are meant isolate us and demonize us. So they can undermine America’s historic support for Israel.”

He said detractors who say you can’t be “a good campus leader and a supporter of Israel” or a “good progressive and supporter of Israel or even a “good American and supporter of Israel,” go far beyond normal policy discussions and debate. “This is defamation masquerading as discourse,” he said, adding, “the scurrilous charge of dual loyalty is a signal. And that signal amplified by today’s social media is now empowering people who have long opposed our cause; our movement; and frankly everything we have built.”

Kohr spoke of “intense hatred” of Israel “creeping from the margins to the center of our politics. They want to starve Israel of America’s support. They want America on the sidelines. They want the Jewish state vulnerable. Alone.”

He noted that what unites the pro-Israel movement “is the passion for bringing Israel and America closer.”

He concluded his remarks with a call to action, stating it’s not enough to say to critics that they’re wrong. “We need to make the pro Israel movement in America even more effective and bigger,” he said. He called on all 18,000 attendees to reach out to the “millions and millions of pro-Israel Americans who are not yet involved.”

Specifically, he called on people to get involved in political campaigns; to donate to federal campaigns and get to know and speak with their representatives and talk about the important relationship with Israel.

“Don’t’ wait for others to step up,” Kohr said. “Israel’s antagonists have decided to mount a political assault on us. In return, they must get a political response. That response must be large. It must be sweeping and it must define our movement for years to come. Our detractors think we’re vulnerable; that we will fold when we’re pushed but they don’t know what we are made of.”

.To rousing applause and a massive standing ovation, Kohr concluded, “When they tell us to step back we move forward. When they try to silence us we speak up. And when they tell us to sit down we stand up. We stand up. We. Stand. Up.”

Israel’s Election Handbook: Will Golan Heights Recognition Boost Netanyahu?

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chats with Israeli soldiers at a military outpost during a visit to Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights over looking the Israel-Syria border February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

We call this format a Timesaver Guide to Israel’s Coming Elections. This will be a usual feature on Rosner’s Domain until April 9. We hope to make it short, factual, devoid of election hype, and of he-said-she-said no news, unimportant inside baseball gossip.

Bottom Line

The United States gets ready to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Main News

Donald Trump: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights”.

Benjamin Netanyahu: “President Trump has just made history”.

Kahol Lavan party, Netanyahu’s political rivals: “a dream come true”.

Netanyahu, Trump to meet next week.

Netanyahu, Benny Gantz prepare to speak at AIPAC.

Growing demand to investigate whether Netanyahu profited off Israel’s submarine purchases.

Developments to Watch

Material: Is recognition of Golan coming next week? Will Netanyahu get even more boost from Trump – for example, by bringing spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel?

Political: Will the polls of early next week reflect public appreciation of Netanyahu following the Trump move?

Legal: Will there be a decision by the Attorney General to reopen the case of Netanyahu’s involvement in the submarine case – or an announcement by him that there is no new information that merits investigation?

Personal: Campaigns entering the final stage with intensified camp infighting. Labor attacks Kahol Lavan.

The Blocs and Their Meaning

The three graphs we present today deal with the three most crucial political issues today:

  1. Will Kahol Lavan get strong enough to have a claim on forming the next coalition? By their own admission the leaders of this party seek a gap of at least five seats between them and Likud. Gantz spoke earlier this week about getting 40 seats. For now, this is a goal that seems quite far – if the polls are to be believed:

2. The right-religious camp is the key for Netanyahu’s success. He would like to see a camp of more than 60 Members of Knesset telling the President to hand him the job of forming a coalition. Will he have such camp? That depends on the parties you think he can count on. If he can trust all of his former allies, that’s one thing, if some of them, notably Kulanu, entertain other options, that’s another story. Also, the new Zehut Party is a mystery. Its leader, Moshe Feiglin, does not commit himself to Netanyahu. So here, too, there is potential for trouble – from Netanyahu’s viewpoint. The graph bellow counts the seats for coalitions with and without Kulanu and Zehut – based on the averages of polls since March 10.

 

 

3. Which parties might not cross the electoral threshold? One of two that do not cross could throw off all coalition calculations at the very last minute. Note, all parties with an average of a little less or a little more than four seats are in danger. In addition to the parties listed here, in some polls Meretz gets four seats.

 

 

 

Four Dem Presidential Candidates Announce They Will Not Attend AIPAC As MoveOn.Org Calls for Boycott

AIPAC conference

Several declared 2020 Democratic presidential candidates confirmed on March 21 that they will not be attending the March 24-26 AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] conference, the same day a progressive group called for a boycott of the conference.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as well as former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke all confirmed on March 21 that they will not be attending the conference. Harris spoke at the March 2017 AIPAC conference. Other declared Democratic presidential candidates such as Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have all spoken at prior AIPAC conferences but have not said if they are attending the upcoming conference.

MoveOn.org, a self-described “social justice” organization, called for Democratic presidential candidates to boycott the upcoming AIPAC conference on March 21.

“It’s no secret that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” Iram Ali, MoveOn Political Action’s campaign director, said in a statement to Politico.

Ali also told NBC News, “You cannot be a progressive and support AIPAC because of the policies that they’ve supported.” However, he told NBC that attending the AIPAC conference will be only one of several “benchmarks” they would be using when they decide to endorse a candidate.

Politico noted that “MoveOn’s move may be largely symbolic, as there is no evidence candidates planned to attend” the upcoming conference.

“In past political cycles, presidential candidates have tended to appear at the annual conference during election years rather than off years,” the Politico report states. “Hillary Clinton appeared at the 2016 conference, and both she and Barack Obama appeared at the 2008 conference.

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), said in a March 21 podcast with National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, “We disagree with [MoveOn’s] approach, just as we disagree with boycotts of Israel.”

“Even if you disagree with the policies of any one organization, I think that by excluding yourself and urging others to not have a seat at the table, you can’t expect your voice to be heard,” Soifer said. “So I think it’s important for all organizations to participate.”

She added that support for “the U.S.-Israel relationship should remain bipartisan.”

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party said in a statement sent to the Journal, “We’re disappointed but not surprised at the call to boycott AIPAC. While we think it’s important to note the majority of Democratic candidates were not scheduled to attend in the first place, we firmly believe it is more necessary than ever to engage with institutions like AIPAC to ensure our voices are represented and heard in the United States and in Israel.”

There are currently zero declared Democratic presidential candidates speaking at the conference.

New Pro-Israel Group Seeks to Maintain U.S.-Israel Alliance in Congress

Photo by Reuters

A new pro-Israel organization was launched on March 19 with the goal of upholding the alliance between the United States and Israel in Congress.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization, Pro-Israel America, is a bipartisan organization that was founded by former AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) national outreach director Jeff Mendelsohn and former AIPAC managing director for national affairs Jonathan Missner; the organization aims to elect pro-Israel congressional candidates. They have already endorsed 27 candidates – 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats – for the 2020 elections; these candidates include Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.).

“This is a critical moment for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Mendelsohn, the executive director of Pro-Israel America, told the Journal in a phone interview. “We can’t take the relationship for granted, nor can we take congressional support for the U.S.-Israel relationship for granted. Congress changes rapidly, and more than 20 percent of the current U.S. House are new members… so it’s critical for those of us who care about the relationship to engage members of Congress and to support candidates for Congress who are pro-Israel and share our values.”

Mendelsohn said that the reason he and Missner, who is chairing Pro-Israel America, started the organization is to create a “one-stop shop” for pro-Israel Americans to be able to easily determine pro-Israel candidates that are winning; members of the organization can support those candidates through Pro-Israel America’s online action portal.

According to the Pro-Israel America website, the organization “will forward 100 percent of your contributions to your chosen candidates’ campaign committee within 10 days.”

“I think that’s different than most other pro-Israel organizations,” Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn added that Pro-Israel America could get involved in congressional primaries if there is “a strong political candidate in the race” against a candidate who is not a supporter of the U.S.-Israeli alliance; when asked by the Journal if Pro-Israel America would get involved in any potential primary efforts against Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) – both of whom are open supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Mendelsohn said, “We’ll have to wait and see how those races develop.”

Pro-Israel America has already received praise from prominent members on both sides of the political aisle, including former Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

“We’re very excited to bring together the voices of political activism of pro-Israel Americans across the country and to help strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Mendelsohn said.

Thomas Friedman Gets AIPAC Wrong

Thomas Friedman; Photo from CNBC

Thomas Friedman, the venerable Middle East commentator, has a problem with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the pro-Israel lobby group whose mission is “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.”

In his most recent column in the New York Times, Friedman accuses Aipac of being “a rubber stamp on the right-wing policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has resulted in tens of thousands of Israeli settlers now ensconced in the heart of the West Bank, imperiling Israel as a democracy.”

When I read that, I thought: What is Friedman asking for, exactly? Would piling on the attacks on Netanyahu really help Aipac’s mission to strengthen, protect and promote the US—Israel relationship? Aipac is a lobby group, not a think tank. As a rule, it respects and honors the democratic choices of Israeli voters, whether they choose Labor leaders like Shimon Peres, Yitzchak Rabin and Ehud Barak, or Likud leaders like Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon.

Friedman seems to blame Aipac for Israeli voters who have put their faith in more security-driven, right-wing coalitions over the past decade. And if anyone is to blame for Israel becoming a more partisan issue in Congress, which Friedman also attributes to Aipac, I would look first at the alarming anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist vibes arising out of new members like Ilan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. If anything, Aipac’s efforts are mitigating this trend.

Apparently, in Friedman’s fantasy world, there’s no end to Aipac’s power. If only Aipac had taken on Netanyahu, if only they had attacked his right-wing policies that have resulted in “tens of thousands of Israeli settlers now ensconced in the heart of the West Bank,” maybe the Palestinian leaders would have come to their senses and a two-state solution would have been more likely.

Never mind that there were already “tens of thousands of Israeli settlers” well before Netanyahu took office, and it was the Labor party not the Likud party that started the settlement enterprise in the first place.

And as much as people may hate Netanyahu, he was still the only Israeli prime minister who implemented a settlement freeze that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “unprecedented.” And despite the constraints of his right-wing coalition, according to a January 2019 piece in the Jerusalem Post, “The growth rate in the settler population has slowed under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to its lowest point in over 23 years and possibly its lowest point ever.”

Never mind all that.

In full melodramatic mode, Friedman wants to put the weight of the highest Jewish ideals on Aipac’s back: “I don’t like Aipac,” he writes, “because I strongly believe in the right of the Jewish people to build a nation-state in their ancient homeland — a nation-state envisaged by its founders to reflect the best of Jewish and democratic values.”

Is he implying that Aipac doesn’t believe in all that?

It’s clear that by putting so much undue pressure on Aipac, Friedman is unfairly maligning the group. First, he should know better. He should know, for example, that it’s not Israeli policies—right wing or left wing—that have most stymied the peace process, but the pathological rejectionism of a Palestinian leadership that refuses to do anything that might be good for the Jews or even their own people. Israeli voters have figured that out. 

But by implying that Aipac could have done something about an epic failure to resolve an intractable conflict that has jeopardized “the best of Jewish and democratic values,” Friedman is doing more than unfairly maligning Aipac.

Unwittingly, he’s reinforcing the age-old canard of dark, all-powerful Jewish forces that control the levers of power and can get anything done.

No Israeli government, left or right, has succeeded in making peace with the Palestinians. By suggesting Aipac has the power to influence that, Friedman is treating the group the way anti-Semites treat any Jewish lobby group: Too powerful. 

 

Rep. Ilhan Omar Meets Mrs. Maisel

Mrs. Maisel: Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me!

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.): Of course.

Maisel: I mean, I know how busy you are. First few months in a new job, adoring fans, intense scrutiny. … But since we often use the same material …

Omar: What do you mean?

Maisel: Well, I talk about the Jews, you talk about the Jews …

Omar: I’m sorry, maybe this wasn’t a good idea. I don’t talk about the Jewish people.

Maisel: Oh, right. Sorry. Wrong decade. You talk about Zionists, Israel, AIPAC …

Omar looks at her warily.

Maisel: But such great lines! “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby” — I’m totally stealing that. These Upper East Siders come into B. Altman — you know, I’m at the makeup counter — and they want me to give them free samples of everything. And if I don’t have samples, they try to haggle the price down. Can you believe it? Where are we, back in the shtetl?

Omar looks confused.

Maisel: Oh, I’m sorry, you talk about us so much, sometimes I forget you’re not Jewish. Shtetl is Yiddish. You know, that language we had to speak in other countries, when no one wanted us. But we’re here now, and I mean, well, most people are OK with us. Or at least they put up with us. So we really don’t need Yiddish anymore, but it really is such a great language. I mean, what language has 25 words for someone who says stupid things all the time?

Omar: I think I should be going.

Maisel: I’m rambling, and you’re a very busy woman. What I really want to talk about is our beloved Israel. I mean, not your beloved Israel but our — the Jews’ — beloved Israel. You see, we waited patiently — OK, not so patiently, but a long time — to get our homeland back. You know, like 2,000 years. And even if many of us don’t live there right now, we’re just so happy to know it’s there, thriving — a miracle in the desert!

Omar stares at her icily.

Maisel: Oh, I’m not saying there aren’t other miracles in the desert! The pyramids — what a miracle those slaves created. And, of course, Hanukkah. See, that’s the thing. Israel has brought so much light into this world — freedoms for Muslims, for women — you could call it a mecca of freedom and diversity! 

Look, you guys really know how to get the numbers up — there are like 2 billion Muslims, right? The Jews, after the Holocaust, we just have, like, a few million — OK, maybe we’re up to 14 million, but still. You guys have lots of countries — like 50 countries — and we just have this tiny one, smaller than New Jersey. We’re just so proud of her. She’s our jewel. And we just want to be left alone. Do you understand?

Omar says nothing.

Maisel: Yes, of course, you want to be left alone, too. I get it. We Jews are a passionate, intense people. We make up for size with intensity. If you use that, can you please credit me? I’m still trying to develop my audience, like you. Oh, I didn’t mean to compare a comedian to a congresswoman! Now that would be offensive, right? You are so insanely qualified. I mean, that line about the Benjamins, you have to be pretty shrewd to come up with that! Oh, wait, is it offensive if I call you a word that people call us? This new system is so confusing.

They call us shrewd because they think we’re good with money — if they only knew how much I spend every week on hats! Look, I know it’s not your fault, you’re just reading from the script. And the script keeps changing. It’s hard to keep up. I mean, are Jews white this week? Maybe I should give you a guidebook to anti-Semitic slurs.

Omar stands up.

Maisel: I truly hope this wasn’t a waste of your time. I just wanted to show you that we’re not satanic. But we do control the weather. I’ll send you a hat.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

Americans for Peace Now, Religious Zionists, Young Israel Synagogues Denounce Netanyahu

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Aug. 9. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

Americans for Peace Now (APN) and 22 Young Israel synagogues are denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, citing his suspected malfeasance after Israel’s attorney general on Feb. 28 announced his intention to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges, and also cited Netanyahu’s striking a political deal with a far-right party, Otzma Yehudit, on Feb. 24.

Netanyahu had helped make a deal in a bid to boost right-wing partners ahead of April elections. Otzma Yehudit’s leaders call themselves Kahanists, after American-born, anti-Arab activist Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was outlawed in Israel. Kahane was assassinated in 1990 in New York.

APN launched a petition Feb. 27, calling on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to “condemn and disinvite” Netanyahu from its conference in March.

AIPAC’s condemnation of Otzma Yehudit was important — but equally notable for what it failed to say. If AIPAC wants to stand against Kahanists being mainstreamed into Israeli political life, it will need to repudiate the man responsible for bringing them in,” the petition said. “Don’t let Netanyahu use AIPAC’s podium to send a pre-election message to Israelis that pro-Israel Americans tolerate normalizing racists.”

The petition was sent out the day before Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict the prime minister for bribery, pending a hearing.

Although it doesn’t indicate the exact number of people who signed, the Jewish Press reported that more than 1,000 individuals had signed the petition as of Feb. 28.

APN wasn’t the only organization upset by Netanyahu’s actions. More than 20 synagogues belonging to the national Orthodox Young Israel movement have condemned the National Council of Young Israel’s (NCYI) defense of Netanyahu’s political deal.

“In recognition of the current, highly divisive political environment in the United States, Israel, and beyond, we … call upon NCYI leadership to immediately cease making all political pronouncements,” the synagogues’ statement said March 1. “… all past statements issued by NCYI leadership about political matters — including but not limited to its recent statement about Otzma Yehudit and the Israeli political process — do not represent the diverse views within our individual synagogue communities.”

Thirty-eight religious Zionist American rabbis also signed a statement March 1, condemning the condemning the deal between Otzma Yehudit and Netanyahu’s Likud party. “This violent, racist party has no place in the Religious Zionist movement,” the rabbis’ petition, organized by clergy at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York, read.

WATCH: Marc Lamont Hill Defends Omar’s AIPAC Tweets

Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired from CNN in November for calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” defended Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) recent tweets in an Al Jazeera video.

Omar recently apologized to Jewish groups in a confidential phone call for tweeting that AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) buys off politicians’ support for Israel. Hill said in the Feb. 20 AJ+ video that he didn’t think Omar’s comments were anti-Semitic since she was discussing “the relationship between lobbying groups and America’s support for Israel.”

“Everyone who’s offered a principled, balanced and, I think, honest position on Israeli-Palestinian relations and of the occupation of Palestine, is being labeled anti-Semitic,” Hill said. “They’re being painted with a very broad brush and it’s not only unfair and dishonest, but it’s also dangerous.”

Hill said that while he thinks anti-Semitism is a serious threat, he also believes that “Jewish lives and Palestinian lives are worth the same.”

Hill then defended his “free Palestine from the river to the sea” comment at the United Nations in November.

“When people were saying I was calling for the destruction of Israel in a speech where I was very explicitly and directly calling for Israel to be reformed, for me it was frustrating,” Hill said.

Hill concluded the video by criticizing the Democrats of caving to Omar’s criticism by issuing their own criticism of her AIPAC comments, saying the whole controversy was due to Omar being seen as part of “outsiderness that gets assigned to Muslims, that gets assigned to women, that gets assigned to black folk.”

Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice-president for international affairs, told the Journal in an email at the time that Hill’s remarks were “divisive and destructive.” The Temple University Board of Trustees also condemned Hill’s remarks in December.

Duke Student Newspaper Under Fire for AIPAC Editorial

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Duke University’s student newspaper, The Duke Chronicle, is being criticized for a Feb. 15 editorial regarding AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) that critics say crossed the line into anti-Semitism.

The editorial argued that while Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) Feb. 10 tweets on AIPAC featured “ill-conceived wording,” she is correct that “AIPAC has a considerable influence over American politicians and legislation.”

“The firestorm of events surrounding Omar’s correct assertion that a powerful lobbying group hold sway over politicians is indicative of just how difficult it is to have substantive conversations about Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” the editorial states. “The representative didn’t even delve into how AIPAC has ensured that Israel remains one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid without having to answer for the 295 Palestinians killed and 29,000 injured by Israeli forces in 2018. Nor did she demand attention be paid to multiple reported war crimes committed by the settler state.”

The editorial also said it was “dangerous” for people to conflate anti-Semitism “with critiques of Israel’s settler colonial practices.”

“This false binary hinges on an anti-Semitic conflation of Judaism with Zionist settler colonialism and it negates the possibility of important conversations that are long overdue, given the hostility that student groups who advocate for Palestinians are met with,” the editorial states. “It also erases the radical activism of many Jews around the world who have bravely stood against both Israel’s settler colonialism and the U.S.’s imperial policies, like Jewish Voices for Peace.”

The editorial said it was “imperative” to show “solidarity” with the Palestinians by “participating in local divestment efforts.”

Since then, there have been three op-eds published in the Chronicle lambasting the paper’s editorial board, two of which directly accused the editorial of being anti-Semitic. In a Feb. 16 op-ed, students Max Cherman and Ezra Loeb, both of whom are members of Duke Israel Public Affairs Committee (DIPAC), said the editorial “embodies 21st century anti-Semitism.”

“While criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic, the Editorial Board, nevertheless, engages in hurtful anti-Semitic tropes,” Cherman and Loeb wrote. “By labeling Israel a ‘settler colonialist project,’ the Editorial Board denies the right for a Jewish State to exist and crosses the line into anti-Semitism. The label of ‘settler colonialism’ disregards Jewish history, including the fact that Jews have had a continuous presence in the Land of Israel and the Middle East for two thousand years.”

Cherman and Loeb also criticized the editorial for “falsely accusing Israel of genocide,” arguing that the editorial didn’t mention that “while Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian death, Israel’s enemies actively target civilians.” They also noted that AIPAC does not donate money to politicians or work on behalf of the Israel government, the organization reflects the majority of Americans’ support for Israel.

“The notion that AIPAC’s role in politics is ‘outsized and damaging’ further engages in anti-Semitic tropes,” Cherman and Loeb wrote. “The trope of ‘Jewish power’ has been used for millennia to ‘punch upwards’ against Jewish bankers, store owners, and ‘racial infiltrators,’ and has led to some of history’s worst instances of oppression.”

Duke student Davin Bialow similarly noted in a Feb. 19 op-ed that the editorial demonstrated how anti-Zionism can be “a veil for underlying sentiments of anti-Semitism.”

“The characterization of Israeli policies toward Palestinians as “settler colonialist” is inflammatory and historically problematic in its own right,” Bialow wrote. “On the other hand, invoking characterizations of Israeli policy as “murderous” and ‘genocidal,’ along with the article’s blatant implication that Israel is somehow responsible for contributing to racism and murder of black people in America, is beyond offensive. It is anti-Semitic propaganda that is unworthy of this university and its wonderfully diverse student body.”

Bialow added that it was “problematic” that none of the members of the Chronicle’s editorial board are Jewish.

“It is totally illegitimate for a group of non-Jewish individuals to define anti-Semitism for the rest of us,” Bialow wrote. “It is shameful and offensive that the board believes it has the right to decide what does and does not constitute anti-Semitism. I hope everyone, regardless of religion or ideology, can recognize why it is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for a group that has never been subjected to anti-Semitism to dictate the terms of Jewish suffering. “

Max Labaton, a managing editor for the Chronicle, did not directly accuse the editorial of anti-Semitism in a Feb. 18 op-ed but argued that “we can criticize Israel without delegimitizing the Jewish state.”

“Calling Israel a ‘settler-colonial’ state trivializes the painful history of Jewish persecution and ignores the fact that Jews lived in Israel before being expelled by the Babylonians and then the Romans,” Labaton wrote. “For 2,000 years, the Jewish people lacked a state. Jews immigrated to Israel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because they were persecuted in Europe. During this time, America offered only limited safe haven to persecuted Jews. In the mid 20th century, Arab governments, such as those in Egypt and Iraq, expelled local Jewish populations. Jews did not arrive in Israel to colonize Palestinians; they came to flee persecution.”

Labaton also argued that anti-Zionists “believe that centuries of persecution and the lack of a secure homeland still do not justify the creation of a Jewish state in the land where Jews had lived for thousands of years.”

“Anti-Zionism means holding Israel to different standards than other countries. This pernicious ideology goes beyond reasonable critiques of Israeli policy, to suggest that Israel should not exist as a state for the Jewish people,” Labaton wrote. “Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are inseparable.”

Labaton concluded his op-ed by stating, “Our community should move on from relying on tired anti-Semitic tropes that seek to delegitimize Israel to a more constructive debate about how activism can promote an end to seven decades of conflict and ensure that Israelis and Palestinians can peacefully coexist.”

The Chronicle did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Rep. Omar Apologizes for AIPAC Comments in Reported Phone Call With Jewish Groups

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves the U.S. Senate chamber and walks back to the House of Representatives side of the Capitol with colleagues after watching the failure of both competing Republican and Democratic proposals to end the partial government shutdown in back to back votes on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) reportedly apologized for her AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) tweet in a Feb. 19 phone call with several Jewish groups, which included the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

According to the Times of Israel, Omar told the Jewish groups – including the ADL, Americans for Peace Now, Bend the Arc, HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and the Jewish Democratic Council of America – during the confidential call that she is apologizing again “for any actual hurt my words have caused.”

“I know there are a lot of people who in the last weeks have expressed support in trying to say this isn’t anti-Semitic or this shouldn’t be looked at in that way,” Omar said.

She added that Jews need to have a consensus definition of anti-Semitism since she doesn’t want to provide anyone who wants to downplay “the hurt” with the time of day.

Omar also reportedly pledged to meet with each of the groups in person in the call.

The congresswoman, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was apologizing for her Feb. 10 tweets accusing AIPAC of buying off politicians to support Israel. She released a statement the next day saying that she was still in the process of learning anti-Semitic tropes.

The most commonly used definition of anti-Semitism is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition, which includes the demonization and de-legitimization of Israel as among the modern forms of anti-Semitism.

Farrakhan: Rep. Omar Shouldn’t Have Apologized for AIPAC Comments

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said during his Feb. 17 keynote speech at the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day conference that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) shouldn’t have apologized for AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) remarks.

Omar tweeted on Feb. 10 that AIPAC buys off politicians’ support for Israel, prompting her to issue a statement the following day saying that she was still learning about anti-Semitic tropes.

Farrakhan, who has a lengthy history of promulgating anti-Semitic epithets himself, said that Omar was under pressure to apologize.

“Sweetheart, don’t do that,” Farrakhan said, adding that Omar is attempting to “shake the government up.”

“You have nothing apologize to for,” Farrakhan said. “Israel and AIPAC pays off senators and congressmen to do their bidding. So you’re not lying.”

Farrakhan added, “So if you’re not lying, stop laying down! You were sent there by the people to shake up that corrupt House. Shake it up!”

Farrakhan also blamed the “wicked Jews” for causing the Women’s March, Inc. controversy during his keynote speech.

Omar’s office did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Rep. Omar to CNN Reporter: ‘Are You Serious?’

Photo from Flickr.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) lashed out at CNN reporter Manu Raju on Feb. 13 when he asked her questions about her recent controversies, saying to him, “Are you serious?”

According to Raju, he asked Omar to comment on President Trump calling on her to resign after she tweeted that AIPAC [American Public Affairs Committee] buys off politicians to support Israel, and she declined to comment. When Raju was about to ask her again later on, Omar said, “Are you serious? What’s wrong with you?”

Omar eventually said, “Yes I tweeted, and there’s a response. You can run that.”

Omar was likely referencing her tweet from earlier in the morning, when she said to Trump, “You have trafficked in hate your whole life—against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people and more. I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?”

On Feb. 11, Omar was asked by reporters if she had learned anything from her controversial tweets and if she regretted them; Omar referred them to her statement addressing the matter. Omar also said she was “always surprised” by the criticism and she was “absolutely not” worried about losing her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

Democrats Respond to Rep. Omar Tweet About AIPAC, ‘Benjamins’

Screenshot from Twitter.

On Feb. 10, freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), responded to a post by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.), where he said Democrats should act on Omar’s anti-Israel statements.

“We took action on our own side. I think when they stay silent, they are just as guilty,” McCarthy said Friday, according to The Washington Post. “I think this will not be the end of this.”

Omar responded: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” a slang term for money.

Batya Ungar-Sargon, an editor at The Forward followed up that tweet with a question: “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess.”

“AIPAC!” Omar tweeted back (but has since removed it).

The American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC), as its own website states, does not contribute to politicians.

The tweet did not go unnoticed by members of Omar’s own party – who took to Twitter to blast her response.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y). chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, of which Omar is a member wrote:

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who is Jewish, said

Rep. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla), chairman of the Ethics Committee responded:

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Appropriations committee wrote:

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), another member of the “freshman class” posted:

Democratic leadership posted a letter on behalf of Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-Mass.)

The ADL also released a statement in response:

Voices on the other side of the aisle, including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), have called for Omar to be removed from her committee role:

Omar recently apologized for a 2012 tweet in which where she accused Israel of “hypnotizing” the world, acknowledging that she had unwittingly echoed anti-Semitic themes.

 

Former AIPAC President Larry Weinberg Dies at 92

Larry Weinberg

 

Lawrence (Larry) Jay Weinberg, the former founder and first owner of the Portland Trailblazers and a major contributor to the founding of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) passed away on Jan. 1. He was 92.

His family sent a message to the Journal stating, “It is with sadness that the family and friends of Larry and Barbi Weinberg mourn the passing of their beloved “Larry,” affectionately known to his loved ones as “Gamu.” After a valiant years-long battle with bone marrow cancer, Larry succumbed to his illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, surrounded by his adoring family.”

Weinberg was a successful nationwide homebuilder and leader of the Jewish community. He was the founder and president of the Larwin Group Companies, former President and CEO of the Portland Trail Blazers NBA franchise, and past chairman of AIPAC.

Following his passing, AIPAC issued a statement mourning his passing and saying, he “was a deeply respected leader in the pro-Israel community. Larry and his wife, Barbi, were critical in forging the movement to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and the Jewish state. Their dedicated efforts over many years educated scores of political and community leaders about the importance of our bipartisan alliance with our democratic ally. Perhaps most importantly, Larry’s example inspired his family to join him in pro-Israel activism.”

Weinberg was also a recipient of the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, and the Bronze Star for meritorious service in WWII.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Barbi Weinberg, his children Jeff and Susan Weinberg, Jan and Phil Zakowski, Jimmy and Leslie Weinberg, Julie and Rand Fishbein, and multiple grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Congress Passes Bill Sanctioning Terror Groups Who Use Civilians As Human Shields

FILE PHOTO: A man holds a Hezbollah flag at Meis al-Jabal village in south Lebanon, December 9, 2018. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

Congress passed a bill on Wednesday that would sanction terror groups like Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields.

The bill, titled the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act, specifically condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for their use of civilians as human shields.

“Throughout the 2006 conflict with the State of Israel, Hezbollah forces utilized human shields to protect themselves from counterattacks by Israeli forces, including storing weapons inside civilian homes and firing rockets from inside populated civilian areas,” the bill states. “Hezbollah has rearmed to include an arsenal of over 150,000 missiles, and other destabilizing weapons provided by the Syrian and Iranian governments, which are concealed in Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, often beneath civilian infrastructure.”

The bill later adds, “It shall be the policy of the United States to consider the use of human shields by Hezbollah as a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, to officially and publicly condemn the use of innocent civilians as human shields by Hezbollah, and to take effective action against those that engage in the grave breach of international law through the use of human shields.”

Hamas is also listed as a terror group that will be sanctioned under the bill.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, was originally passed by the House of Representatives in October 2017. A year later, the Senate sent back a revised bill back to the House and tacked on some amendments. The final bill passed the House on Thursday.

AIPAC, one of the key groups lobbying for the bill, praised Congress for taking “legislative action against this heinous practice” in a statement.

“The importance of this legislation is underscored by the recent discovery of Hezbollah terror tunnels into Israel that originated under the cover of civilian houses in Lebanon,” AIPAC said. “And just weeks ago – using the cover of civilian populations in Gaza – Hamas fired more than 500 rockets at communities across southern Israel.”

Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which was also involved in lobbying for the bill, also hailed the passage of the bill.

“Those who use human shields are the worst kind of cowards,” CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said in a statement. “The practitioners of this monstrous practice hide behind the skirts of women and the bodies of children in order to attack neighboring innocent civilians.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted:

The bill will now be sent to President Trump’s desk.

Progressive Zionists of the CA Democrat Party ‘Deeply Disappointed’ in Rashida Tlaib’s Support for BDS

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib canvasses a neighborhood before Election Day in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party told the Journal that they were “deeply disappointed” in Congresswoman-Elect Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on Monday.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian woman to be elected to Congress, came out in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and told The Intercept, “I personally support the BDS movement” because of “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party told the Journal that they’re “deeply disappointed and troubled by Rashida Tlaib’s support of BDS and of one-state solution.”

“They are inconsistent with the platform of the Democratic Party, which clearly opposes BDS and supports a just peace, a two-state solution, and the safety, dignity, and sovereignty of Israelis and Palestinians,” they said. “We hope that Congresswoman Tlaib is willing to engage with people within and outside of her district as well as other representatives in the House who are troubled by her extreme views.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an emailed statement that Tlaib should realize that “Germany has deemed BDS anti-Semitic.”

“If Congresswoman-elect Tlaib wants to help bring peace and reconciliation to the region she should stop embracing extremist campaigns that never help a single Palestinians, whose only goals are the demonization and de-legitimization of the Israel, America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East,” Cooper told the Journal. “If she chooses to promote such campaigns, she puts herself in the camp of those that seek the Jewish state’s demise.”

The Intercept’s report was focused on how Tlaib is substituting AIPAC’s annual trip to Israel for newly elected members of Congress with her own trip to the Palestinian territories to “highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories, which Tlaib likens to what African-Americans in the United States endured in the Jim Crow era.”

StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein told the Journal while it’s “problematic” for Tlaib to support “a discriminatory, anti-Semitic campaign,” it is “even more troubling that she refuses to learn from facts-on-the-ground in Israel.”

“Perhaps she fears that those facts will get in the way of her strongly-held anti-Israel beliefs,” Rothstein added.

Maccabee Task Force executive director David Brog told the Journal in a statement that if Tlaib were to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority and take off her “ideological blinders,” she would learn “how wrong she is when she blames Israel – and only Israel – for this conflict, which is exactly what she’s doing by supporting BDS.”

“The Maccabee Task Force knows from the experience of bringing thousands of students to both Israel and the Palestinian territories that an unbiased visit to the region is the greatest antidote that there is to BDS,” Brog said.

On the other hand, groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) expressed support for Tlaib’s actions.

“Palestinian rights are being integrated into the broader progressive agenda,” JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson told The Intercept. “It’s becoming almost standard that if you support single-payer health care and climate justice, you’ll support Palestinian rights.”

Tlaib has previously come out against the idea of a two-state solution and supports cutting aid to Israel. When Tlaib won the race, she had the Palestinian flag draped around her shoulders before giving her victory speech.

Tlaib joins Congresswoman-Elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in announcing their support of the BDS movement after they won their respective elections.

AIPAC declined to comment on this story.

Haley Rips U.N. At AIPAC for Their ‘Bullying’ of Israel

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley is pictured on board a helicopter at the Air Force Base in Guatemala City, Guatemala March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tore into the U.N. at American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)’s conference in Washington, D.C. for “bullying” Israel.

Haley explained how she was initially skeptical about taking the position as ambassador to the U.N. since her political experience has mainly been as a governor, but she was sold on the job when she told President Trump that she would be speaking her mind at all times. Trump’s response: “That’s exactly why I want you to do this.”

On her first day on the job, she told Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon the December 2016 resolution that slapped Israel for building settlements in Judea and Samaria “would never happen again” under Haley.

Leading into her experience at the U.N. thus far, Haley explained how at times her family experienced bullying as an Indian immigrant family in South Carolina, leading her to establish an anti-bullying program when she became governor of the state.

“For me it was just so fundamental: you don’t pick on someone just because they look different than you,” Haley said. “You don’t pick on someone just because they think differently than you or because you can.”

Haley added, “This idea has always been with me when I was child, but I didn’t think it would come to play at the United Nations.”

Haley claimed that the U.N. shows constant bias against Israel, citing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an example.

“UNESCO recently declared one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian heritage site in need of protection from Israel,” Haley said. “That was enough. Ten months into this administration, the United States withdrew from UNESCO.”

Haley also reiterated her support for President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel,” Haley said. “This was not something that was created by an American decision; America did not make Jerusalem Israel’s capital. What President Trump did, to his great credit, was recognize a reality that American presidents had denied for too long.”

Haley concluded her speech with poignant words against the U.N.

“Israel must be treated like any other normal country,” Haley said. “We will continue to demand that Israel not be treated like some sort of temporary provisional entity.”

“It cannot be the case that only one country in the world doesn’t get to choose its capital city. It cannot be the case that the U.N. Human Rights Council has a standing agenda item for only one country. It cannot be the case that only one set of refugees throughout the world is counted in a way that causes the number to grow forever. It cannot be the case that in an organization with 193 countries, the United Nations spends half of its time attacking only one country. We will not accept it any longer.”

Her full speech can be seen below:

Washington Free Beacon reporter Alex Griswold tweeted that Haley garnered the most applause at AIPAC:

According to Haaretz, AIPAC attendees viewed her as their “Wonder Woman” and even the next president of the United States.

AIPAC 2018: No News is Good News?

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, U.S., March 26. Photo by Joshua Roberts/REUTERS.

1.

This was the least eventful AIPAC conference I remember, and I’ve been to many AIPAC conferences. It looked uneventful almost by design. The US President, a man of many talents – among which the talent to make headlines – did not attend. His VP visited Israel not long ago and had nothing much to add. Nikki Haley is a rock star, but let’s be honest: vilifying the UN at Aipac is an easy job. And then there is Prime Minister Netanyahu. He made headlines, but not here in Washington. If Israel goes to election soon, if Netanyahu is going to be indicted soon, these will all be post-Aipac events.

2.

So, no major headlines were coming out of Aipac – is that good or bad?

On the one hand, it could reinforce the notion, shared by even some of the participants, that Aipac’s stage is not as important as it used to be in years past.

On the other hand, it could reinforce the message that Aipac clearly aimed to send this year: we are truly bipartisan, we are truly a place where a discussion can take place among people who have different views and still share a goal, or a love of Israel.

An uneventful political event in Trump’s America. Maybe that’s the headline. Maybe that’s what makes it unique.

3.

From several conversations I had, I get the impression that the appeal to progressives in this conference was quite successful. It felt like a real attempt at inclusion, and at least some of the progressive participants were convinced that Aipac is genuine in trying to send a message of a broad tent. Of course, such message has benefit and a cost. It might result in a toning down, or even a watering down, the way Aipac deals with policy and legislation. It might result in enlarging the camp of people that are willing to identify with the organization and its goals.

4.

The appeal to progressives also impacts the relations with Israel – and its quite conservative ruling coalition. Expressing fervent support for a two state solution is essential as you appeal to American progressives. But it will make certain Israelis wonder about Aipac’s priorities: Is it to support Israel, or to appeal to Americans who find it difficult to support Israel? For the time being, this question is not an urgent one, because no major conflict concerning negotiations with the Palestinians is on the horizon. But it still has the potential to become a thorny complication is Aipac’s way forward.

5.

Earlier this week I wrote (in JJ’s Daily Roundtable – I assume you already subscribed to it) that in addition to the obvious reasons – Iran, Palestinians, Syria and Russia – Netanyahu came to Washington carrying two messages to his domestic audience. These messages are linked but are not exactly the same.

One – I am still functioning, and not too distracted by the ongoing investigations to be effective as a leader.

Two – I am indispensable. No Israeli has such standings in America and the world, no one can replace me and have similar success.

Did he succeed in carrying this message? I’d argue that he was upstaged by well timed events at home: a political crisis that could end his term, and the signing of yet another state witness against him. Since his meeting with Trump, and his Aipac speech did not result in a dramatic headline – his trip was not a huge domestic success.

6.

I also wrote that yes, there’s a political angle, as we all understand, but that gossipy cynicism aside, Netanyahu’s plate of issues for this visit includes more than just domestic considerations. If a decision on the Iran nuclear agreement is about to take place, it better be coordinated. If a policy on the future of Syria is something the US is mulling, Israel’s input must be taken into account.

Two days ago, the NYT describes an “American strategic void” in response to Russia’s recent moves. This void worries Israel, and can be of great consequence for its security. Thus, the challenge for Netanyahu was a tricky one: to alert Trump to the need for a more robust US policy, without being seen as too critical or too pushy, as not to disrupt the good rapport between these two leaders.

7.

Were you listening to PM Netanyahu’s speech? It was the sunniest I remember him ever giving. It this Bibi? Or maybe Shimon Peres’s ghost just came back to haunt us? The threats took a backseat to the opportunities. The bad news – there were bad news – took a backseat to the good news. I wonder if this was Bibi’s way to accommodate Aipac’s message to the delegates – or maybe his way to surprise, to keep the delegates awake – what the routine speech on the threat of Iran can no longer do.

One way or the other, it was a change for the better.

A note to readers: I was invited to speak at Aipac’s 2018 policy conference, and was happy to accept the invitation. My travel expenses were paid by the organization.

At AIPAC, Vice President Mike Pence Affirms U.S.-Israel Bond

Vice President Mike Pence addresses the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference

At the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence opened his speech on Monday night by calling Trump the “most pro-Israel president in American history.” He began the statement, however, by calling Trump the “most pro-life president” but then corrected himself to say pro-Israel.

It was the one gaffe in an otherwise well received speech in Washington D.C., on the second night of the three-day AIPAC conference. Multiple times during his remarks Pence reiterated the U.S. commitment to supporting the State of Israel.

“American stands with Israel, today, tomorrow and always,” he said.

Frequently garnering applause during his approximately 20-minute remarks, Pence denounced the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, saying the U.S. “would no longer certify the disastrous nuclear deal,” which was ratified under former U.S. President Barack Obama.

He indicated the possibility the U.S. would withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

He said the recent decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel set him apart from his predecessors.

“While every president for the past two decades promised to recognize the capital of Israel, President Trump did more than promise—he delivered,” Pence said.

“By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction and fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace,” he added.

The U.S. plans to open its embassy in Jerusalem this May, he said, which would move the American embassy in Israel from its current location in Tel Aviv.

While the Arab world denounced the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Pence spoke of the changing political landscape in the Middle East, saying that Israel is finding unlikely allies in the Muslim world.

“The winds of change are blowing across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners; old foes are finding new ground for cooperation and the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause to meet, as the president’s said, history’s great test, and conquer extremism and vanquish forces of terrorism, and we will meet that test together,” Pence said.

Moving & Shaking: Beit T’Shuvah Celebrates, Aliyah Hosts MLK Prayer

From left: Beit T’Shuvah gala auction co-chair Stefanie Post, auction co-chair Laura Kinsman, Beit T’Shuvah founder Harriet Rossetto, Beit T’Shuvah Senior Rabbi and honoree Mark Borovitz, Beit T’Shuvah President Annette Shapiro, Beit T’Shuvah board member and honoree Sam Delug, gala co-chair Lynn Bider and gala co-chair Heidi Praw attend the annual Beit T’Shuvah gala. Photo courtesy of Beit T’Shuvah

Jewish rehabilitation organization Beit T’Shuvah held its 26th annual gala on Jan. 28 at the Beverly Hilton.

The event drew about 900 people and raised $2.2 million for the organization, making it the top-grossing event in the organization’s 31-year history, said Janet Rosenblum, Beit T’Shuvah’s director of advancement.

The cocktail-attire event honored “Rebel Rabbi” Mark Borovitz, the senior rabbi at Beit T’Shuvah, and “Mogul Mensch” Sam Delug, a Beit T’Shuvah board of directors member.

Lynn Bider and Heidi Praw, who have been involved with Beit T’Shuvah for over a decade, co-chaired the event.

Valley Beth Shalom Senior Rabbi Ed Feinstein served as emcee of the event, which also featured a silent auction, dinner and an awards program.

Attendees included Stanley Black, Rev. Mark Whitlock, Annette and Leonard Shapiro, Joyce Brandman, Charlotte Kamenir and members of the Kamenir-Reznik family, Nancy Mishkin, Ruth Ziegler and representatives of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, a partner of Beit T’Shuvah.

Beit T’Shuvah serves people recovering from substance abuse and other addictions, including gambling, eating disorders and compulsive behaviors. Every year, Beit T’Shuvah reaches more than 500 residential clients and an additional 2,500 community members through its congregation and prevention programs.

“With the opioid epidemic now considered a national emergency, Beit T’Shuvah is one of the few places dealing with addiction regardless of someone’s ability to pay for treatment,” Rosenblum said. “We are truly unique that way, and we don’t throw you out when your insurance runs out. Many of our 145 residents stay six months to a year. This dinner makes this possible.”

Honorary chairs were Joyce Brandman, Warren Breslow and Gail Buchalter, Asher Delug, Jeff Frasco and Beverly Frank, and Annette and Leonard Shapiro. Laura Kinsman and Stefanie Post Pollard were the auction chairs.

Elana Wien, vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, has been selected as a Wexner Field Fellow. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles

Bailey London, executive director at USC Hillel, has been selected as a Wexner Field Fellow. Photo courtesy of Bailey London

Los Angeles Jewish community leaders Elana Wien, vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and Bailey London, executive director of USC Hillel, have been selected for the latest cohort of the Wexner Field Fellowship, a three-year leadership development program for the Jewish community.

The fellowship is awarded by the Wexner Foundation in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation.

“We are very proud of Elana Wien for her many contributions in the community, including this significant honor,” Jewish Community Foundation President and CEO Marvin Schotland said in a statement. “Having worked with Elana for over six years, I’ve watched her develop into the outstanding Jewish leader she is today. We congratulate Elana, and all of the Wexner Field fellows, and look forward to her continued growth through this fellowship and beyond.”

Wien and London are among 15 fellows selected for the 2018 Wexner Field cohort, from cities that include Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

“I’m beyond honored to have been selected to be a part of the second class of the Wexner Field Fellowship,” London said. “Throughout the early stages of my career, I have had the privilege of participating in high-level professional development, and this opportunity is, by far, the most comprehensive way I can imagine continuing the process of growing and learning. I’m most excited to be a part of a network around the world of professional and volunteer leadership that has not only been invested in their own development but in strengthening the Jewish community for generations to come.”

From left: Vance Serchuk, director of KKR Global Institute; former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi; and retired Gen. David Petraeus were the keynote panel at the recent AIPAC L.A. gala. Photo by Timothy J. Carr Photography

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held its annual Los Angeles gala on Jan. 21 at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. About 1,000 people attended the event, the theme of which was a celebration of 70 years of friendship between the United States and Israel.

The program featured AIPAC Regional Director Wayne Klifosky; Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards; AIPAC UCLA student activist Amir Kashfi; and a keynote panel with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and Vance Serchuk, director of the investment firm KKR Global Institute.

The panelists discussed the U.S.-Israel relationship and challenges and opportunities in the Middle East.

AIPAC is a bipartisan pro-Israel lobby seeking to promote and strengthen the U.S-Israel relationship.

L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who has pledged $7.5 million over five years to Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, appeared at a ceremony for the pledge. Photo courtesy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, through his philanthropic organization the Ballmer Group, which supports economic mobility, has pledged $7.5 million over five years to Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

The Ballmer Group, which Ballmer co-founded with his wife, Connie, and the Weingart Foundation, a grant-making foundation founded by the late Ben Weingart and his late wife, Stella, together pledged $15 million to the nonprofit hospital serving South Los Angeles.

“Both Weingart and the Ballmers identified the hospital as an agent for change in South Los Angeles,” said a Jan. 12 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital press release.

The organizations’ goal is to bring more doctors to South Los Angeles and thus close the physician gap, the
release said.

Ballmer attended a Jan. 12 ceremony at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion that celebrated the pledges.

The Temple Aliyah Martin Luther King Jr. Day interfaith service featured Jewish and Christian children’s choirs. Photo courtesy of Temple Aliyah

Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered together on Jan. 19 at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills for the 19th annual Voices of Unity interfaith prayer service in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

An estimated 800 people attended the Shabbat service, including Pastor Najuma Smith Pollard of Word of Encouragement Church in Pico-Union, Pastor Michael J. Fisher of Greater Zion Church Family in Compton, Father Michael Evans of St. Bernardine of Siena Church in Woodland Hills, and Shaykh Suhail Hasan Mulla of the Council of Islamic Scholars.

The service included performances by Christian and Jewish children’s choirs and Algerian actor-activist Ben Youcef, who is also a muezzin, the man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque. Youcef sang the Abrahamic prayer “We Are All Children of Abraham,” which Temple Aliyah Cantor Mike Stein had translated into English so the choirs could accompany him. They created a fusion of voices, singing in harmony in English and Arabic and sending a message of peace and friendship.

Over the years, Stein said, Temple Aliyah’s collaborations with Christian churches and the Ezzi Masjid Mosque in Woodland Hills have gone beyond the annual prayer service.

“Five years ago, while [the Ezzi Masjid Mosque] was going through renovations, they used our synagogue on Saturdays for their classes,” Stein said. “And when we found some swastikas on our walls about 2½ months ago, the Shaykh Mulla came with a bouquet of flowers to show support.”

The prayer service concluded with the participants singing “Oseh Shalom Bimromav” and “We Shall Overcome.”

“We have been doing this for 19 years, and each year people leave feeling a wellspring of hope that no one will be treated differently because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual preference,” Stein said. “We are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This event started and continues to be inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream — that people will not be judged by the color of their skin, only by the content of their character and their souls.”

Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

AIPAC backs Taylor Force Act in letter to senators

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in Washington, D.C., on July 27. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

After months of declining to explicitly endorse the Taylor Force Act, AIPAC announced on Wednesday their support of the bipartisan legislation that would cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until they cease payments to families of terrorists.

[This story originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]

“We urge all members of the committee to work together to move this important legislation forward and to VOTE YES to report the bill from committee,” Brad Gordon and Marvin Feuer, AIPAC’s Directors on Policy and Government Affairs, wrote in a letter to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We are hopeful that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee markup will produce a strong, bipartisan bill that will send a very clear message to the Palestinian Authority: Stop these payments to terrorists and their families or your assistance will be cut.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the bill on Thursday morning.

AIPAC appears to be persuaded by the revised version of the bill released on Tuesday. The updated version allows continued payments towards Palestinian humanitarian programs and also contains an exemption for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. “The Taylor Force Act does not affect U.S. funding for security cooperation, nor does it cut humanitarian programs,” AIPAC noted. Unlike the Jerusalem Embassy Act, this legislation does not contain a waiver allowing the president to delay implementation of the funding cut.

The bill had no Democratic backing when it was first introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in February. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation in June. However, despite the bipartisan support, AIPAC remained unwilling to actively lobby for the bill. “We strongly support the legislation’s goals and we are working with Congress to build broad bipartisan support that will require the Palestinian leadership to end these abhorrent payments,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider at the time.

On Monday, Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced a deal was reached with members of the committee to advance the legislation. “This is yet another sign of the bipartisan commitment in Congress to the security of Israel and to ending the Palestinian Authority’s outrageous incitement to violence against Israelis,” the conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement.

The House version of the bill, introduced by Doug Lamborn (R-CO), has increasedsubstantially the number of co-sponsors to 100, but without any Democratic support.

“For too long, some supporters of Israel have feared cutting funding to the PA because it would ‘destabilize’ a supposed peace partner. Now, hopefully, [they] all understand that continuing to fund the PA while it funds murder legitimizes their policy and keeps peace further away,” Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, told Jewish Insider. “The Palestinian government’s salaries for convicted terrorists is not just a reward for murder, it is murder-for-hire.”

Noah Pollak, an advocate in favor of the Taylor Force Act, said that AIPAC’s formal backing is a “welcome development and something we have been encouraging for many months. We hope that AIPAC will now put its considerable resources behind promoting the bill, even if it is not possible to earn a perfectly equal number of Republican and Democratic votes. We have worked hard to gain bipartisan support. But in the end, passage of a strong, meaningful bill is more important than the details of the vote count.”

In a statement emailed to Jewish Insider, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) applauded AIPAC’s support  and expressed hope that “Democrats will step up, join in, and support a strong and effective version of the bill without diluting it with amendments.”

When informed of AIPAC’s support of the bill, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the decision was helpful. While AIPAC’s view on the Taylor Force ACT isn’t conditional for Rubio, the pro-Israel organization’s position “is influential with me,” he added.

“Once this bill became bipartisan, it became easier for a wider range of groups to support it,” Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), explained. “It’s also important to see that the bill ensures continued security assistance to the PA, as well as humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need. In short, the politics in Washington have made this easier to back, and the bill itself does not ignore the importance of stability.”