Dennis Ross: Pull Out of J-Street Conference!


By Jonathan Hoffman
February 24, 2011
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A Letter to Dennis Ross: Give Voice to America’s Pro-Israel Values
February 24, 2011

Ambassador Dennis Ross
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20500

Dear Ambassador Ross:

You have devoted your career to helping Israel find peace with her neighbors. In high-level positions in administrations of both parties, you have been a leading presence in the peace process for over two decades. Because you possess such a detailed knowledge of the conflict and the attempts to resolve it, you are capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, helpful criticism and destructive activism.

It is thus with some surprise that I learned you would be speaking at this year’s J Street conference. Speaking, that is, before a group that has worked diligently over the past three years to become a voice for weakening the U.S.-Israel alliance, for pressuring Israel to accept policies that Israeli voters have rejected as dangerous, and perhaps most important, for giving Jewish support to a global campaign of delegitimization directed against Israel and Zionism.

J Street has spent much of the last two years opposing sanctions on Iran while demanding that Israel refuse to consider military self-defense; it has partnered with leaders of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement; its inability to draw distinctions between Hamas and the IDF during the Gaza War was so striking that the president of the Union for Reform Judaism called the group “morally deficient” and “appallingly naïve.” And, more recently, the group was exposed as having dissembled for years about its sources of funding (much of it foreign) and about its support for the Goldstone Report. Rep. Gary Ackerman recently ended his relationship with the group in exasperation, writing that J Street is “so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”

The conference at which you will be speaking is titled “Giving Voice to Our Values.” J Street’s values are most clearly articulated by the speakers it has selected for its conference. These include:

Maen Areikat of the PLO, who denies there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accuses Israel of “state terrorism.”

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who said that Israel has “a full-fledged Apartheid system” that is “much worse than what prevailed in South Africa,” and that Israel has been “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians since 1948.

Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, a correspondent for MBC TV, who says that Hamas should not be “lumped in” with other terrorist groups because “once Palestine is liberated then [Hamas] will cease to use violence.”
Edina Lekovic, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was a managing editor of a magazine that praised Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter.”

Imam Feisal Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque leader, who refuses to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.

James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, who has compared Israelis to Nazis and accused the IDF of “genocide” and a “Holocaust.” Only three months ago he wrote that “In a real sense, the plight of the Palestinians is to the Arabs, what the Holocaust is to Jews worldwide.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, a former State Department official, who has repeatedly accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of “working for Israel” and being “card-carrying members of the Likud Party,” and asked whether “their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel.”

Daniel Levy, one of Richard Goldstone’s leading advocates in Washington.

Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, who says that “the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa” and that Israel’s policy toward Gaza is a “siege.”

Naomi Chazan, a leader of the New Israel Fund and a conference honoree. Her organization funds NGO’s that accuse Israel of war crimes and Apartheid, provided the bulk of the accusations contained in the Goldstone Report, support the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, and seek the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, who runs the BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace. She has said, “Just as in Apartheid South Africa’s day, Israel’s society seems to be turning more bluntly racist and repressive.” She says her organization “speaks out for Goldstone, and we speak out for BDS campaigners.”

Debra Delee, president and CEO of the NGO Americans for Peace Now, who commented on the Turkish flotilla attack on IDF soldiers, “The root of this disaster lies not in the actions of the flotilla’s participants.”

Oded Na’aman, a founder of Breaking the Silence, which accuses IDF soldiers of war crimes. He says the IDF “is guilty of a wide range of abuses” including “allowing Jewish settlers to poison Palestinian wells” and evacuating entire blocks of Palestinian towns and then demolishing them. Palestinian terrorism, he says, is merely a “perceived threat.”

Daniel Seidemann, founder of the NGO “Terrestrial Jerusalem,” who claims that the Old City of Jerusalem is being turned into an “Evangelical settler theme park” and compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin wall.

Michael Sfard, a lawyer for several radical NGO’s, who routinely demonizes Israel, accuses it of “Apartheid,” and promotes war crimes allegations against it. He testified as a paid witness on behalf of the PLO in a lawsuit brought in U.S. Federal Court by victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. He is best known as a leading advocate of “lawfare” – prosecuting Israeli soldiers and officials in European war-crimes trials.

Will you challenge those who seek to brand nearly every Israeli security measure a war crime? Will you take on the inventors and proponents of so many false claims about Israel? Will you repudiate the Goldstone Report?

The pro-Israel community – and the American people – have great respect for Israel because of her consistent willingness to seek peace with her neighbors, even as those neighbors have used the peace process as a means to continue to fight. The American people not only understand and sympathize with Israel’s security challenges, but they refuse to be taken in by cynical and fraudulent accusations that aim to make it impossible for Israel to exercise her right to self-defense. Not only do they refuse to be fooled, they admire the Jewish State for the way it has created a vibrant and prosperous democracy while being subjected to constant terrorism, hatred, and incitement.

There are few moments when someone with your experience and credibility is invited into the anti-Israel echo chamber and provided an opportunity to dispel myths, combat falsehoods, deliver much-needed moral clarity – and state clearly that the United States stands with Israel. I trust that you will seize this moment to explain why the Jewish State is not just one of our closest allies, but a country that fully deserves the admiration and moral support of all Americans.

Yours sincerely,

Noah Pollak
Executive Director, Emergency Committee for Israel

COMMENTS

Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 23:39

Rate this:

-4 points

Unfortunately, all this goes to show is that the "Amen-to-every-Israeli-policy" wing will accept no argument, believes itself to be infallible, is anti-democratic and against diversity of response and support. It also goes to show that both in the US and here -- and no doubt elsewhere in the diaspora too -- that wing is so far behind the curve and the feelings of the majority so as to make them an irrelevance.


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 23:48

Rate this:

-1 points

Joe
If, by the "Amen -to-every-Israeli-policy" wing, you mean those of us who support the right of the State Of Israel to live in peace and Security without fear of Grad missiles being rained down on us, this view point is that of the MAJORITY.
The majority are not the vociferous lefties that love to hear the sound of their own voices at conferences. The majority do not have the time for "blogs".
The majority do not have the time for protest movements.
Unfortunately, we have a loud, vociferous minority, who, thanks to the likes of Geogre Soros, have endless funding to make their tiny, tiny, MINORITY views heard.
Thank G-d the MAJORITY take absoultey NO notice.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 23:52

Rate this:

-1 points

The majority, Jon, support a two-state solution, think settlements are an obstacle to peace, think that criticising Israel even in public shouldn't be frowned upon and, horror of horrors, think that for peace Israel should negotiate even with Hamas.
The sheep who follow every Israeli policy have had their day. They achieved nothing and lost all credibility.


Yoni1

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 09:06

Rate this:

-2 points

In your ridiculous dreams, Millis. It is you who is regarded here with derision and contempt, who never had any credibility to begin with, and who is invariably on the wrong side of the argument.
Settlements are manifestly not an obstacle to peace; it's the insistence of the Arabs that there should not be an independent Jewish state anywhere in the Middle East that is the obstacle. Making Judea & Samaria Judenrein is not the answer. They were Judenrein in June 1967. Anyone with a microgram of common sense and a nanogram of knowledge of the region is perfectly clear on that. Majorities of sheep, like you, even if they are the majority which I doubt, don't make something true which is untrue.


Joe Millis

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 09:56

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-2 points

As the polls are very clear on this, Jose/Yoni1, I'm afraid what you contend is Baaaaaaa humbug.


mattpryor

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 12:23

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-3 points

The list of charges against JStreet is just outrageous. They cannot claim to be a pro-Israel organisation in any way. I urge everyone who does not want to destroy Israel to distance themselves from it.

I'm skipping over Joe Millis's comments as frankly they piss me off, are not worthy of reply, and distract from the main topic.

Yoni: I agree with you that settlements are most definitely not the reason that peace negotiations are not taking place, and this is evidenced by the fact that Jewish construction has gone on pretty much uninterrupted apart from the 10-month freeze, and it was never a reason to stop negotiations until Obama made it one. It's an excuse, not a reason. If the P.A. wants statehood, why won't they just rejoin negotiations? Then an agreement can be made on limiting housing etc.

The other thing I find very concerning is that by making "settlements" out to be the big issue (which they are not), it allows Israel's enemies to determine what a "settlement" is. I remember the shock of Jerusalem residents being told by the Commander in Chief that they were settlers. Since most people are pretty ignorant about Israel's geography, what's to stop them saying Tel Aviv is a settlement? They already think it. All they need is for gullible left wingers who hate Israel to agree with them - which they will readily do.

It must not be left to Israel's enemies to determine what is rightfully Israel's land. Israel must decide on its red lines, publish them worldwide in no uncertain terms, and stick to them. The reason nobody in power accepts Israel's claim to Judea and Samaria these days is that the Jewish right to settle the land has not been argued forcefully enough. People forget that the region is central to Judaic lore, history and beliefs. This makes the Jewish claim every bit as strong as the Arab claim, and this is something that can be reasonably argued. Once this is accepted, Britain and the US's position of expecting Israel to evacuate, without anything in return (even peace) utterly contemptuous.

Supporters of Israel also have to argue that religious extremists of the Quran-bashing kind do not accept Israel's existence at all and they cannot be reasoned with. Reason to them is a weapon to use against us. Therefore with those people it is a zero sum game. You have to pick your side and support them. And when picking your side, decide which society you would rather live in (I shouldn't have to mention the torture, abuse, systematic violation of freedoms etc) before condemning others to live in it.

The only way Israel can make Hamas accept its existence is to make them understand that they cannot win. That requires conviction and belief from Israel but also Israel's friends - that our way is better than theirs and that we are prepared to fight to the death to defend it, if needs be. If they want to live in a hell hole where life is cheap, you cannot speak your mind or trust your neighbour, and children are born into misery and slavery, that's up to them. We don't.


Joe Millis

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 12:30

Rate this:

-2 points

Sorry, Matt, but the days of keeping shtum or saying Amen to every Israeli policy are over. If we want Israel to survive, and I assume you do, then as true friends we have to tell it the truth. That's why Mick Davis is right. That's why, hopefully, there will be good news in the UK about a new pro-Israel, pro-peace organisation where Jews will work Together to help Israel out of the mess it is in.


mattpryor

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 13:27

Rate this:

-3 points

Jews will work Together to help Israel out of the mess it is in.

But only people that agree with your vision of the future, it seems. And your vision of the future does not involve any compromise on the Arabs' part, which is just as dangerous as no agreement at all.


mattpryor

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 13:29

Rate this:

-3 points

And you failed to address a single one of my points, and just repeated what you've said here a million times before.


Joe Millis

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 14:08

Rate this:

-1 points

Matt we all repeat here what we believe.
Growing numbers of people agree with that vision of Israel's future, as polls here, the US and elsewhere in the diaspora show.
I have my own reservations about Jstreet, not least its funding But the fact that it is able to attract such high profile people and the fact that it is able to garner growing support from US Jews despite full-on attempts at delegitimisation by the likes of Pollak and his people here should tell you something about the need for such an organisation. And that's what really worries those who think the best and only way to support Israel is to shout and to back all israeli policies.
Obviously peace is a two way street. The Palestinians will have to accept that any deal is final and that israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people. But Israel is the strong side here and it is up to Israel to make concessions, proper ones not actions designed to inflame the situation or place the process in formaldehyde, and it is time for an Israeli leader to look his or her people in the eye and say: sorry, we have wasted billions on settlements in areas we will no longer control. We now have to develop those areas where we will stay.


Harvey

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 14:10

Rate this:

-1 points

Joe Millis

Settlements ,occupation . Nonsense . You have swallowed the snake oil hook line and sinker .
There was no occupation and no settlements between 1948 and 1967 . It did not stop the PLO launching one murderous attack after another inside Israel , the Israel today which is meant to be the other party to the so called " Two State Solution"

I have posed this question time and time again without ever receiving a semblance of a convincing reply.

If withdrawal from the West Bank thus allowing a Palestinian state is the solution to this intractable problem ,why was it not the solution back then.

The simple fact of the matter is that withdrawal from the West Bank is merely a short term solution for the Palestinians and their supporters.The 6 Day War and the results thereof represented a massive step back in their long term ambition to establish an Islamic state from the River to the Sea . Effectively they must first return to the starting blocks which is what this is all about .

The Settlement question is an absolute red herring designed so as to maximise sympathy and propaganda for their spurious cause.

At least Hamas are quite transparent in their ultimate goal . A casual talk with any Palestinian protagonist here will reinforce this summation.

Those like you are living in some alternative universe if you believe withdrawal from the West Bank will lead to an irrevocable Peace Accord with the Arabs .

Fortunately you may be excused this risible thought process. Those of us here who inhabit the real world and have seen the fruits of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza may wish to take a more circumspect view.


Joe Millis

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 14:25

Rate this:

-2 points

Harvey, are you aware of the J M Keynes quote: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
The facts have changed. Israel cannot hold on to the West Bank or settle it because that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. Now, I'm sure you don't want that to happen.
Fact is, maybe in the past agreeing with every Israeli line and shouting at those who disagree with you worked for some because of some deeply felt guilt at not being there. But the days of the guilt trip are over, and more and more people in the community, as you no doubt are aware because you read the polls too, are not going to keep shtum or sing from the same siddur page (we don't have hymn sheets).


Anonymous

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 15:46

Rate this:

-5 points

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