Take Action Against the Delegitimization of Israel Today

Voice your objection to the boycott of the Jewish State.

In the wake of the tragic slaying of the Fogel family in Itamar, Israel, some have found renewed inspiration for the cause to protect the Jewish State and her people. This call to action is not merely in response to the heinous nature of the crime -- in which an infant, two children and their parents were slaughtered in their sleep, their hearts stabbed and throats slit -- but also to the reaction it has received in certain precincts. Activists for the BDS movement and segments of the popular culture that have been influenced by them, have not failed to diminish and obscure the unadulterated savagery of this event. Moreover, their insistence that Palestinians are genuine partners in peace is increasingly difficult to defend in light of the murders.  Now, more than ever, the BDS movement is losing credibility, and a new movement is underway to scale-back its influence. If you are affiliated with a Jewish Federation, you can be a part of this campaign now, with just a few moments of your time.

After news of the Fogel murders were publicized, Palestinians in the Gaza city of Rafah were reported distributing candy and sweets in celebration. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, responding to the arrest of several of Hamas’s “activists” said, "The report of five murdered Israelis is not enough to punish someone. However; we in Hamas completely support the resistance against settlers who murder and use crime and terror against the Palestinian people under the auspices of the Israeli occupation soldiers."

Such cruel sentiments are unfortunately not restricted to terrorists and their sympathizers. After some heartfelt well-wishing for the victims of the disaster in Japan, well-know BDS activist and speaker Mazin Qumsiyeh wrote coldly to his followers about “settlers” in “the most extremist of settlements” who were killed by unknown assailants. He didn’t find it necessary to mention that it was a family of settlers, the brutal manner in which they were killed, or that the perpetrators were widely presumed to be Palestinian terrorists. Rather, what Qumsiyeh was more interested in was that the “apartheid state decided to build 500 more houses for more racist settlers on Palestinian lands” after the killing of these unsympathetic, nefarious settlers took place.

Qumsiyeh is a man who “considers ‘Zionism to be a disease,” observes Jerry Gordon in a first-of-its-kind pledge to establish uniform protocols in Jewish Federations across the country that would prohibit funding for BDS activities. Gordon, who is the senior editor at the New English Review, was instrumental in the crafting of the pledge, which he and others wish to carry out in the memory of the slain Fogel family. These concerned individuals have begun to recognize the insidious effects the BDS movement has had on the discourse surrounding Israel. The BDS narrative -- that of Israeli apartheid, racism, oppression, occupation, etc. -- is becoming increasingly influential, and certainly has pervaded much of the coverage of the Fogel family’s tragic end. Some think it's time to strike back.

In 2010, the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation (SFJCF) adopted pioneering protocol into its funding guidelines to prohibit funding for BDS and BDS-related activities. The need for this protocol arose from the showing of a controversial independent film called "Rachel" that was partially sponsored by SFJCF funds (more precisely, funds in support the of San Francisco Jewish Film Festival). The film is about the accidental death of an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist named Rachel Corrie, who was inadvertently killed in 2003 in Gaza during an IDF operation to destroy underground tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists. The ISM is a known supporter of Palestinian terrorism, and the film greatly distorted the facts surrounding Corrie's death, blaming and demonizing Israel.

Much outrage was expressed over the film, including by the San Francisco-based Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation. The SFJCF resolved to adopt anti-BDS guidelines to avoid future incidents. Joining suit, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America has also urged that the momentum of the BDS movement be addressed more seriously.

At a time when the BDS debate is becoming more and more prominent, Gordon and other concerned individuals and activists, such as Dee Sterling of Orange County, California, who is known for her opposition to Jewish funding for a student program known as the Olive Tree Initiative, have worked to take the bold first steps of the SFJCF to the national level. With the talent of individuals like Rabbi Dov Fischer, esq. of Orange County and Debra Glazer, esq., a pledge has been devised for all Jewish Federations in the country to sign to ensure that communal funds do not go to BDS activity. By signing the pledge, the federation is not admitting to prior complicity in funding of BDS programming. Rather, the pledge provides simple, staight-forward guidelines for federations to sign to set a standard for the future.

Its makers hope that this unique pledge, which is printed on the following page, will provide the opportunity for many disparate groups in the Jewish community to come together to accept the minimum standard that is necessary to stop the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. It has already received support from the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism, the Zionist Organization of America, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. In addition, an electronic petition is available at www.ha-Emet.com for all community members to send to their federations to encourage them to adopt the pledge. The pledge itself is a wealth of information on the details of BDS, and clearly elucidates why the time for individuals -- and Jewish Federations everywhere -- to take a stand on this issue is now.


The Pledge to Prevent the Demonization and Delegitimization of Israel

On Friday evening, March 11th, five members of the Fogel family, a father, mother and three children, one as young as three months old, who lived in the  community of Itamar in Samaria, were brutally and stealthily slaughtered Jihad style in their sleep by one or more intruders coming, most likely,  from a nearby Arab village. Read this report: “West Bank Settler Family Murdered in their Beds.”

Watch this Reuters Report and note the comments by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu about Palestinian duplicity: talking peace in English and incitement to murder in Arabic conveyed in mosques, schools and in state -controlled media.

This was patent Jihad against innocent Jews. It is the latest example of what an Arab Muslim ‘peace’ would look like, if Jewish settlements in Samaria and Judea were included in any proposed peace agreement between Israel and what passes for the Palestinian Authority in the disputed territories.

We mention the brutal murders of the Fogel family because we believe it fitting that the proposal we describe in this article be dedicated to their memories. It is vitally important to rally against violent Jihad of the type committed against the Fogels.  However, it is equally essential to rally against the self-destructive behavior of many American Jewish organizations whose primary value has become dialogue with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups.

JCCWatch in Manhattan Objects to Sponsorship of Anti-Israel Events

David Horowitz recounts in a Front PageMagazine article, “It’s Time for Jews to Stand Up for Themselves“, how he was protected by the actions of CUNY System trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld at Brooklyn College during the recent Israel Apartheid Week. Wiesenfeld intervened with Brooklyn College administrators, who quickly provided five police officers to screen entrants to Horowitz’s March 10 event.  This New York City higher educational institution is, unfortunately, a bastion of anti-Israel pro-Palestinian agitation and Muslim student intimidation of Jewish campus groups. The result was a civil discussion of the threat of the current Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns on college campuses around the country led by left-liberal academic and Muslim Brotherhood student allies of the Palestinian cause.  Wiesenfeld is a fellow board member at Z Street and a leader behind JCCWatch.org (JCC Watch), which  monitors sponsorship of anti-Israel functions by the Manhattan West Side Jewish Community Center (JCC).  JCCWatch has reproached the Manhattan JCC about its sponsorship of The Other Israel Film Festival, which included a showing of films by a prominent Palestinian director who  came to the Festival to discuss his anti-Israel films.

JCCWatch has also criticized anti-Israel Jewish groups who regularly use space at the Manhattan JCC.  On Sunday, March 13th, JCCWatch sponsored a protest at the Manhattan West Side JCC to drive home its concern about Jewish community institutions and NGOs  “seeking to demonize, delegitimize, and ultimately destroy Israel by the spread of misinformation, by incitement, and by promoting every conceivable boycott imaginable: cultural, economic, union, religious, political, sports, academic”. Among those groups cited by JCCWatch  are The New Israel Fund, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and J Street. In its news release JCCWatch. noted it had requested “that the JCC's board of directors establish public and transparent guidelines regarding BDS, but to no avail.”  JCCWatch founder Richard Allen noted:

It's time that the board of directors of the JCC in Manhattan takes action. It's simple: all they have to do is stop supporting groups that partner with, fund, or support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel.

The Olive Tree Initiative-‘The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”

What JCCWatch in Manhattan, the Orange County (California) Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism (OC Task Force) and the Ha Emet-The Truth website

(www.Ha-Emet.com) are concerned about is the self destruction of American Jews. Jews, who pray, at what Norman Podhoretz has called “the torah of liberalism.” There are Jewish communal leaders who fund and endorse  projects like  sending Jewish students to ‘dialogue’ with enemies of Israel in the disputed territories, often with Federation and Jewish philanthropic support. As absurd as this may strike you, it is in fact going on with the Olive Tree Initiative at a number of University of California institutions. It is  why  OTI critic, Dee Sterling in Orange  County called  the U.C. Irvine program “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”.

The OTI was initiated at  U.C.Irvine and given some funds by the Rose Project, an affiliate of the Orange County Jewish Federation (OCJFed). The objective of the Rose Project OTI effort is to inform and educate Orange County college students about Israel and to sharpen the advocacy skills of students in  groups like Anteaters for Israel at U.C.Irvine by exposing them to opponents of Israel and the Jewish people.  Another purpose of the Rose Project is to facilitate respectful dialogue among the different constituencies on campus and in the greater community, and to promote bridge-building and improved relations with the University. Beginning in 2008, OTI has sent groups of U.C.Irvine Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze  and non-religious students  on these missions.

Among recent OTI speakers encountered on these tours were Yossi Beilin. former Labor Justice Minister and architect of the Oslo and faux Geneva Accords, anti-Israel Palestinian Christians connected to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Arab- list Members of the Knesset.   The most recent flashpoint was the appearance of George Rishmawi, a co-founder of the virulently anti-Israel ISM, on the U.C.Irvine campus on November 22, 2010 at an event sponsored by the OTI. Rishmawi had met with OTI student tour groups on past trips.. Read this report by Roz Rothstein of StandWithUs on the Rishmawi appearance at the OTI U.C.Irvine program.

Rishmawi is an anti-Israel Christian Palestinian from the predominately Christian village of Beit Sahour across from Gilo in southern Jerusalem. Rishmawi's Beit Sahour colleague  who spoke to the OTI delegation in September, 2010 was none other than Mazin Qumsiyeh., a man who considers "Zionism a disease."  Until 2005, Qumsiyeh was active in the US organizing events on college campuses by the anti-Israel pro-Palestinian Al-Awda (ThePalestine Right to Return Coalition).  According to Lee Kaplan of Stop the ISM, Qumsiyeh was denied tenure as a Professor of Genetics at Yale Medical School over an infamous alleged anti-Semitic email incident on the New Haven campus.  We  have written about Mazin Qumsiyeh and his cousin Samir, two opposites, in a FrontPage Magazine article, "A Tale of Two Palestinians."  Qumsiyeh returned to the disputed territories to teach and do research at Bethlehem and Bir Zeit Universities and run the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between Peoples, where Rishmawi was a former Board member. You can read about Qumsiyeh’s involvement in the launch of the 2010 International Apartheid Week at his website, Axis of Logic. Rishmawi's Siraj Center for ;Holy Land Studies website has links to the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center of Jerusalem that the NGO Monitor accuses of fueling the anti-Israel  Palestinian Kairos Document,  the latter signed by anti-Israel Middle East Christian clerics. These clerics are promoters of anti-Israel BDS initiatives modeled on South African anti-Apartheid experience from the 1980's. After his controversial appearance at U.C.Irvine in the OTI sponsored event, Rishmawi spoke at a Friends of Sabeel of North America event in Denver, Colorado on November 28, 2010.

Instead of expressing dismay that the OTI had brought someone like Rishmawi to address an audience in Irvine, the  OC JFED and OC Hillel engaged in trashing critics of the OTI program like Sterling and others. OC Hillel even went so far as to circulate a statement supporting the OTI program and denouncing Sterling and her criticisms, allegedly signed by over twenty UC Irvine students, hastily crafted in a rare burst of activity.  The problem was that many of the so-called signatories never even gave their consent to including their names on the statement.

For about ten years now, the MSU chapter at U.C.Irvine has been engaged in perennial anti-Israel 'apartheid week' campaigns.  In February, 2010, an emboldened MSU orchestrated the premeditated disruption of a speaking engagement by Israeli’s Ambassador to the US  Michael Oren. That disturbance of a public gathering and denial of Oren's and our free speech rights resulted in the arrest of MSU protesters and suspension of the MSU chapter from the U.C.Irvine student activities program for a short academic quarter. . It was simply a slap on the wrist.

Eleven members of the U.C. Riverside Muslim Students Association (MSA) and U.C.Irvine MSU chapters – both being Muslim Brotherhood fronts - were recently charged  following  a grand jury investigation by Orange County District Attorney Rackauckas with conspiring to disrupt Ambassador Oren’s speech.  Ironically, “Jewish Studies” faculty members at a number of U.C. System institutions signed a petition in support of the 11 Muslim students indicted by the Orange County DA.

Virulently anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood speakers such as Malik Ali and Siraj Wahhaj have spoken under U.C. Irvine MSU sponsorship.  Yet Jewish student leaders at U.C. Irvine Hillel, local Orange County JFed officials and students who have gone on OTI sponsored trips persist in saying that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist on campus.  They persist in the delusion that the other side may have “valid points of criticism against Israel.” They do everything to discredit critics like Dee Sterling of Ha- Emet.com and members of the OC Task Force.

Especially troubling is that the  OTI model is being spread to other U.C. campuses  and to  private  higher educational institutions in California. The Fourth Spring OTI Symposium will be held at UCLA  on the weekend of April 9th and 10th. According to the UCLA OTI program announcement, students from “ U.C. Irvine, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Santa Barbara,  U.C. San Diego and University of Southern California are expected to attend.”

The Pioneering San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Guidelines and its Critics

It is time to put a stop to this self-destructive activity by local Jewish community and collegiate groups.  That could be facilitated by adoption of a Pledge not to fund BDS and related activities by local Federations and their affiliates. The Pledge is modeled on guidelines that were established by the board of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation (SFJFed) in February, 2010.

The SFJFed guidelines were prompted by the showing of the controversial film, “Rachel”   shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in July, 2009 sponsored, in part, by the SFJFed.  The film “Rachel” was about the tragic accidental death of Rachel Corrie of the virulently anti-Israel group, the ISM, in Gaza in 2003.  Her death occurred during protests of IDF operations destroying smuggling tunnels built by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups used to smuggle weapons. The film “Rachel” was an unabashed attempt to demonize Israel for Ms. Corrie’s unfortunate accidental death.   The film showing was criticized by the prominent San Francisco-based Jewish organizations known as Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation.  The organizations noted:

  • The Koret Foundation and Taube Philanthropies do not support any organization that promotes or provokes anti-Israel sentiment; nor do we provide funding to any organization whose mission runs counter to our position. We take issue in particular with three egregious errors by S.F. Jewish Film Festival in its presentation of the film, “Rachel”:
  • Partnered with Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee, two virulently anti-Israel, anti-Semitic groups that support boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. . . closely associated with the International Solidarity Movement that aids and abets terror against the Jewish State.
  • laid blame for the accidental death of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Rachel Corrie on the State of Israel.
  • The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival invited Cindy Corrie. This bereaved mother cannot help but have a negative bias toward Israel. Why would a Jewish organization hand her a microphone and a soapbox from which to condemn Israel as Jewish audiences are expected to sit and listen politely?

The Board of Directors of the SFJFed, after lengthy deliberations among community members holding divergent views on the issue, formally adopted, on February 18, 2010, its “Funding Policy for Grantees on Potentially Controversial Israel-Related Programming” (the “SF Policy”), the complete text and FAQs about the policy can be found at the  SFJFed website  http://sfjcf.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/policy/.

In addition, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America has adopted resolutions calling for an effective response and proactive strategies to halt the alarming spread of the anti-Israel BDS movement.

However, there are those in Jewish communities, like Los Angeles Jewish Journal editor Rob Eshman, who in a February 16th editorial, “Just Say Yes”, argued against adoption of such guidelines.  He commented:

  • One insider told me that Federation leaders in New York and Boston are resisting the kind of guidelines that San Francisco enacted because they lead down a slippery slope of some committee deciding what constitutes “kosher” art.
  • “You really don’t want to do this,” said the insider, who requested anonymity. “What if someone says, ‘I don’t want to fund gays and lesbians.’ Are you really ready to have this argument over every controversial issue? Who gets to legislate?”
  • Federations and Jewish foundations administer thousands of donor-advised funds that give money to hundreds of nonprofits. Any 501(c)(3) is eligible. Once you begin to regulate what they can or can’t do, every cause on the left, right and in between become fair game. It plays into the hands of Israel’s worst critics to engage in what is bound to be seen as censorship and suppression of dissenting views.
  • [. . .]
  • Leave the rejection, red-lining and boycotting to others; our focus should be outreach, outreach, outreach.
  • How ironic — no, scratch that; how incredibly shortsighted — that just as Egypt starts to open up, an American Jewish community would start to clamp down.

The Pledge to ban Jewish Federation funding of Anti-Israel Activities

Notwithstanding the  viewpoints of L.A. Jewish Journal editor Eshman and like- minded Jewish Federation officials, there is rising concern by groups like JCCWatch in Manhattan, CAMERA in Boston, and local Federations in the Southeastern and Northeastern regions who believe that the time has come to commit to the prinicple of not funding  BDS or elated activities.  It is time to publicly sign a Pledge against funding BDS.  The proposed Pledge included below was  drafted with the assistance of activists from the Orange County  ZoA chapter, the OCTask Force and United West, and it has already been  circulated  for the consideration   of local JFeds and their boards in key regions around the country. In light of the Fogel Family murders in Samaria, we have suggested carrying out the Pledge in their blessed memory.

Adoption of such a Pledge would demonstrate resolve to stop the demonization, delegitimization and destruction of the Jewish State of Israel by those ‘diverse’ voices from within the American Jewish community.  Diverse voices who commit the sin of moral equivalency by tapping JFed funds and venues to promote the enemies of the Jewish people both in Israel and at home.   Adoption of such a Pledge by JFed board resolution would clearly draw a line in the sand about what constitutes permitted practices and funding for Jewish communal events. Adoption of this Pledge would help to avert the self- destruction of the American Jewish community that obsessive pursuit of diversity, tolerance and dialogue portend.  It would be a Pledge  to honor the blessed memories of the Jewish Fogel family struck down by  Palestinian Jihadists  who  murdered  them in their sleep at their home in Itamar, Samaria on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath..

The language of the Pledge is as follows:

RESOLVED: We, the Board of Directors and officers of the Jewish Federation of [fill in the location], hereby resolve that, effective immediately, we will:

1) Deny funding, whether directly from our Federation or indirectly from agencies or funds related to, associated with, or controlled or administered by our Federation,

  • to any individual,  program or organization, whether foreign or domestic, that directly or indirectly,  through its doctrine, mission, policies, activities, leadership or partnerships, engages in any manner or in any respect whatsoever  and to any degree, large or small, in
  • (a) Promoting or advocating the delegitimization of the State of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state; or
  • a. promoting or advocating BDS; or
  • b.      promoting or advocating anti-Semitism or harm to any Jewish   community in any location throughout the world; or
  • c. facilitating, encouraging, or supporting the bringing of Jewish persons (including but not limited to Jewish students of all ages), to any location (including but not limited to Middle East locations within or outside the State of Israel) to attend lectures, presentations, or discussions by individuals who support the delegitimization of the State of Israel or BDS or are opposed to the existence of the State of Israel as a secure, independent, democratic Jewish state.

2) Deny sponsorship of or participation in any forum or program (including any interfaith religious group) whose doctrine, mission, policies, activities, leadership or partnerships support or advocate in any manner or in any respect whatsoever and to any degree, large or small, (a) anti-Semitism, harm to any Jewish community, delegitimization of the State of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state or BDS, or (b) proselytizing, conversion, or replacement theology.

3) Refrain from endorsing, praising, promoting or publicizing any individual, program or organization, whether foreign or domestic, that directly or indirectly, through its doctrine, mission, policies, activities, leadership or partnerships engages in any manner or in any respect whatsoever and to any degree, large or small, in promoting or advocating  anti-Semitism, harm to any Jewish community, the delegitimization of the State of Israel as a  secure independent, democratic Jewish state, or  BDS.

4)  Actively, regularly, and with appropriate and considered due diligence monitor the activities of (a) member groups, agencies and funds within our Federation, including groups such as Israel Action or Hasbarah committees, and (b) any grantee which has received any funding, support or endorsement, financial or otherwise , from our Federation, agencies or funds, so as to effectively enforce these resolutions and to prevent or remove Federation involvement, directly or indirectly, in any activity that conflicts with these resolutions.

5)  Issue written guidelines to all individuals, programs or organizations (Jewish and  non-Jewish) which seek funds, support or endorsement directly from our Federation or indirectly from agencies or funds related to, associated with, or controlled or administered by our Federation, alerting them to the terms of these resolutions and to our policy regarding same.

6) Create appropriate systems of checks and balances within our Jewish Federation so as to provide robust oversight of our activities, in order to ensure that they correspond to the terms and intent of these resolutions and of our policies. Among other things, we will consult with professional and lay leadership within the Federation and within the greater local, national and international communities, and with experts in the relevant fields of academia, cultural arts, business, and so forth, including people holding divergent views, to seek advice and input with respect to our implementation of these resolutions and our policies, particularly in situations that may be controversial or problematic.

7) Promptly inform the Board of Directors and officers of our Federation of all decisions made by our professional staff, and seek and obtain the prior consent of the Board in all situations that may be controversial or problematic.

8 ) Promptly consider and adopt a policy identical or substantially similar to the SF Policy; and adopt internal policies and procedures so as to effectively and publicly implement the terms, guidelines and requirements to be set forth in such policy.