Israel Musings January 5, 2015: American Historical Association (AHA) rejects anti-Israel resolutions at meeting



American Historical Association (AHA) rejects anti-Israel resolutions at meeting

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Historians gathering at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in New York City voted on Sunday evening, Jan. 4, 2015 against adding to their agenda a vote on two anti-Israel resolutions with an overwhelming vote of 144…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 27, 2014: Concordia voting on BDS contradicts Canada’s staunch support for Israel



Concordia voting on BDS contradicts Canada’s staunch support for Israel

Source: Times of Israel, 11-27-14
Concordia University’s student union in Montreal, Canada is deciding between Nov. 25 to 27, 2014 whether they will officially support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel…….READ MORE: Bonnie K. Goodman | The Blogs | The Times of Israel

Israel Musings January 30, 2014: Scarlett Johansson becomes Israel’s most famous advocate combating BDS with Soda



Scarlett Johansson becomes Israel’s most famous advocate combating BDS with Soda

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Whether Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson wanted to or not she has become Israel’s most famous advocate when she signed as the spokesperson, “global brand ambassador” for SodaStream International Ltd., and their carbonated soda machines. Although…READ MORE

Israel Advocacy 101 February 5, 2013: Israel Action Network Advocacy group releases manual IAN FACTs to fight delegitimization of Israel



Advocacy group releases manual to fight delegitimization of Israel

Source: JTA, 2-5-13

Click here to download FACTs

The Israel Action Network released a new manual aimed at fighting the delegitimization of Israel.

The advocacy group created by the Jewish Federations of North America put out a document called IAN FACTS aimed at countering efforts to isolate the Jewish state….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News November 19, 2012: Supporters of Israel, Palestinians clash in LA protests



Supporters of Israel, Palestinians clash in LA protests

Source: LAT, 11-19-12

Supporters of Israel and the Palestinians clashed during a rally Sunday outside the Federal Building in Westwood. No arrests were made, but one person suffered a broken arm and Wilshire Boulevard was closed for a time, officials said….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News July 26, 2012: Emergency Committee for Israel Raps Obama, J Street Hits Romney in Ads



Emergency Committee for Israel raps Obama, J Street hits Romney in ads

Source: JTA, 7-26-12
Liberal and conservative pro-Israel advocacy groups released ads targeting the presidential candidates….READ MORE

Israel Brief July 17, 2012: In Christian Version of AIPAC Conference, CUFI Conference Draws 5,600 to Washington for Pro-Israel Lobbying



In Christian version of AIPAC conference, CUFI draws 5,600 to Washington for pro-Israel lobbying

Source: JTA, 7-17-12

Despite its pro-Israel voice, many Jews remain wary of Christians United for Israel and its evangelical adherents….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News June 6, 2012: Jewish leaders denounced the Free University of Brussels Recognition of BDS Movement as Legitimate Student Forum



Jews Lash Out Against Recognition of BDS as Student Forum

Jewish leaders denounced the Free University of Brussels for recognizing BDS as a legitimate student forum.
Israeli tomatoes

Israeli tomatoes
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The president of the Committee of the Coordination of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB) denounced the Free University of Brussels (ULB) for recognizing the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions movement against Israel as a legitimate student forum.

While the proposal was submitted about a year ago, it was recently included in the agenda of a Board meeting held on 21st May 2012. A debate was held with the majority of Board member voting in favor of recognizing BDS as a ULB student framework.

“I don’t understand the attitude of the administrative council,” Maurice Sosnowski, head of the CCOJB, told the Belgian daily La Libre, according to The European Jewish Press.

“This decision calls ULB’s credibility into question, as it is the sole European institution to have admitted a BDS presence in its walls,” he said. “Not even Great Britain and Ireland have taken such negative steps. I would add that it’s not really an organization, but a local branch of an international movement. Its creation was not at all accidental and was purely politically driven. We are far from having open debates (there) and rather in an isolated position.”

Sosnowski condemned the university saying, “Two years ago, BDS requested a stand at a welcome reception for students, but the Vice-Chancellor refused them at the time.” He added that, “in Belgium there is no longer an anti-boycott law, as opposed to in France where even (far-left wing anti-Israel politician) Martine Aubry has taken a firm stand against the boycott”.

“Few people at ULB seem to know that 39 Nobel Prize winners of different origins have spoken out against the BDS movement,” he continued. “The idea of an academic boycott is the worst thing to present itself in a university that wishes to have world-wide appeal. It is even worse considering that (Flemish Prime Minister) Kris Peeters is leading the Vice-Chancellors of Flemish universities in a trip to Israel to prepare for increased bilateral relations (with Israeli institutions). It’s not really the time for ULB to distance itself from its Israel counterparts”.

Israel Advocacy: Steven M. Cohen Study JTS Rabbis’ love for Israel: Is it a generational thing?


Israel & Zionist Education

Rabbis’ love for Israel: Is it a generational thing?

Source: JTA, 10-4-11

Steven M. Cohen. JTS Rabbis and Israel, Then and Now: The 2011 Survey of JTS Ordained Rabbis and Current Students. The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, September 2, 2011.

Celebrating Israel Independence Day at the Jewish Theological Seminary, which in its study of JTS-ordained rabbis and rabbinical students showed some evidence of a generational gap on their thoughts about Israel.  (Courtesy The Jewish Theological Seminary)
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Celebrating Israel Independence Day at the Jewish Theological Seminary, which in its study of JTS-ordained rabbis and rabbinical students showed some evidence of a generational gap on their thoughts about Israel. (Courtesy The Jewish Theological Seminary)

Do Conservative rabbis become more politically conservative on Israel as they grow older, or are older rabbis simply more right wing than younger rabbis when it comes to Israel?

A new study by the Conservative movement’s flagship institution presents some evidence of a generational gap among rabbis, finding that older ones tend to identify more closely with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, while younger ones also favorably view J Street, the more liberal “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group.

The author of the Jewish Theological Seminary survey, sociologist Steven M. Cohen, suggests that it’s a function not of the rabbis’ ages but the era in which they came of age.

“It is a major shift in a Zionist worldview — a movement towards a more progressive Zionist position,” said Cohen, a professor of Jewish social policy research at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a senior adviser to the seminary’s chancellor.

In an interview with JTA, Cohen surmised that younger rabbis identify as more liberal because “they grew up at a time when Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors was more complicated than the binary relationship that the older generation grew up with.” He suggested that because the rabbis are closer and more exposed to “real life” in Israel because their rabbinical programs require that they spend a year there, they are “more willing to adopt views critical of the Israeli government.”

The online survey of 317 JTS-ordained rabbis and 51 JTS rabbinical students, titled “JTS Rabbis and Israel, Then and Now: The 2011 Survey of JTS Ordained Rabbis and Current Students,” found that 58 percent of students and 54 percent of rabbis ordained since 1994 view J Street favorably, while 42 percent of students and 64 percent of rabbis view AIPAC favorably.

In the older cohort — rabbis ordained between 1980 and 1994 — 80 percent of the rabbis responding viewed AIPAC favorably, but only 32 percent had a favorable view of J Street. The survey also found that the students and younger rabbis were more concerned than their elders about social issues in Israel, such as the treatment of Arab citizens, women and Palestinians.

The survey was prompted by a controversial essay in the June issue of Commentary that argued that a growing proportion of non-Orthodox rabbis in training hold alarmingly hostile views toward Israel, and that rabbinical seminaries were refusing to address the issue. The author of the piece, Rabbi Daniel Gordis, vice president of the Shalem Center, a hawkish Israeli think tank, declined to comment for this story.

“We didn’t think it was true,” Cohen said of the Gordis essay, “but felt we needed to check it out.”

The new survey is the latest salvo in the intense debate over Israel among American Jews, and American Jewish groups concerned with Israel already are debating its findings. J Street officials told JTA that the study is indicative of a generational shift among American Jews toward more progressive Zionism.

“It’s very encouraging that rabbinical students are finding ways to bring their Jewish values with them when they talk about Israel,” said Rachel Lerner, vice president of the J Street Education Fund.

But a former AIPAC official dismissed the idea that the findings reflect a generational shift in the rabbinate.

“A lot of 22-year-olds say things they don’t believe when they’re 30,” said AIPAC’s former spokesman, Josh Block, who is now a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. “Thirty-year-olds change by the time when they’re 40. By the time they’re at a place where they’re joining positions of leadership, they will have matured, and know more about what these groups really do and work to achieve.”

Block also said the survey questions sounded biased, as they characterized AIPAC as “the Israel lobby” and J Street as “the ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ group.”

AIPAC declined to comment for this story.

Cohen said the survey’s results suggest that JTS rabbis across the generations have similarly high levels of attachment to Israel but expressed the attachments differently.

Asked how concerned they are about security threats toward Israel, 83 percent of the rabbis ordained between 1980 and 1994 said they were very concerned, compared to 80 percent of those ordained between 1995 and 2011, and 78 percent of current students.

Choosing among AIPAC, J Street, StandWithUs, Rabbis for Human Rights and the New Israel Fund, the rabbis said they viewed AIPAC most favorably, while the students were most favorable to the New Israel Fund.

Israel Brief September 15, 2011: Hillel & JAFI Introducing Advocacy Program ‘Talk Israel’ to US College Campuses



‘Talk Israel’ tents coming to U.S. college campuses

Source: JTA, 9-15-11

The Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel are erecting white tents on 20 campuses throughout North America to serve as forums to discuss Israel and the Middle East.

The “Talk Israel” program will take place Sept. 20 and 21 at universities including the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, George Washington and the University of Maryland.

The tents will serve as campus venues for students to engage in respectful dialogue and raise questions and issues relating to the peace process and the Palestinian Authority’s statehood initiative at the United Nations.

“This is our answer to the war against Israel’s legitimacy that is being waged around the world; to bring Jewish students to Israel and to foster in them a sense of belonging, identity and pride,” Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said in a statement.

Israel Brief August 23, 2011: Canada’s restructured Jewish advocacy agency named the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs



Canada’s restructured Jewish advocacy agency gets name

Source: JTA, 8-23-11

Canada’s newly restructured Israel and Jewish advocacy agency finally has a name: the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

The name was announced last week by the organization’s branding committee, which reportedly surveyed preferences from among a select group of stakeholders and interested parties. The new agency oversees and coordinates the work of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canada-Israel Committee, Quebec-Israel Committee, National Jewish Campus Life and the University Outreach Committee.

The restructuring of Canada Jewish and Israel advocacy organizations was an 18-month-long process conducted largely behind closed doors. The restructuring also resulted in the firing of nine employees, six of them formerly with the Canadian Jewish Congress.

All along, some community members expressed concerns that the consolidation of agencies would result in the demise of the 92-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress. After the announecment, Frank Bialystok, the CJC’s Ontario region chair, said his organization has not disappeared.

“The national executive of Congress is still intact,” Bialystok told the Canadian Jewish News. “We have no budget so we can’t operate. But we own the name. We own the logo. And only we can decide to fold up.”

We’ve Got It Backward: Israel Education Should Come First, Then Advocacy



The evidence is growing that we may be fighting the wrong battle in the struggle to support Israel these days.

The situation is grim, if not alarming: Jerusalem is increasingly on the defensive diplomatically, faced with a United Nations vote for a Palestinian state in September, and a range of outside efforts aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the Jewish State, from boycotts to flotillas. What’s more, there is concern that the circle-the-wagon response in Jerusalem to these threats can lead to more problems; witness the recent passage of anti-boycott resolution in the Knesset that has been widely criticized as undemocratic, even among mainstream Jewish organizations.

True, Israel advocacy groups are proliferating, offering programs, websites and curriculum, many of them first-rate in presenting Jerusalem’s case and countering critics. But at the same time the number of Americans who care about the Jewish State in a more than superficial way is decreasing.

Polls continue to indicate that Americans favor Israel over the Palestinians by wide margins. But the findings also suggest that most Americans would not be willing to have the U.S. involved with either side in the event of a Mideast war. Other surveys find increasing indifference on the topic.

There is a growing recognition among some American Jewish leaders that Israel advocacy is not enough because it provides answers to questions that most people aren’t asking. We need a fresh and creative approach.

First, let me be clear. I am a believer in Israel advocacy and have seen its positive impact, particularly through Write On For Israel, the program sponsored by The Jewish Week with funding from the Avi Chai Foundation. Now in its ninth year, it continues to provide a select group of high school juniors and seniors with the Mideast facts and moral confidence to be effective supporters of Israel on campus. The program has a proven track record of success as our graduates have taken on leadership roles as freshmen and sophomores at colleges around the country.

But the foundation for effective advocacy is education, and there is far too little Modern Israel education in our community. Even top day schools spend far more time focusing on ancient Jewish history than on the complex Mideast events of the 20th century that frame the current conflict.

Could it be that because of our long history as a people, the curriculum never quite makes it to modern times?…READ MORE

New Israel Advocacy Model Unfolds in Canada


Source: EJewish Philanthropy, from The Canadian Jewish News, 7-1-11

New era in community advocacy to begin

Call it the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy 2.0 (CIJA 2.0) – for now.

The much-anticipated reconfiguration of the existing Canadian Jewish community national advocacy structure will officially begin on July 1.

Gone are organizations including the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the Canada-Israel Committee (CIC), Quebec Israel Committee (QIC), the University Outreach Committee (UOC) and National Jewish Campus Life (NJCL).

All their functions have now been absorbed into a greater Canadian Jewish advocacy apparatus under the auspices of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), which had previously acted as the umbrella organization for the above-mentioned agencies.

… As a national entity, CIJA 2.0 will create policy and messaging for “local partners” throughout the country’s Jewish communities.

Each local partner will be “anchored or embedded” in a local federation – in smaller Jewish communities without a federation presence, there will be an alternative.

… CIJA 2.0 “will provide resources” for all local partners, and the chairs of the local committees will, together, form a national cabinet.

Israel Advocacy Group Forces Delay in Gaza-Bound Flotilla

Source: NYT, 6-28-11

The departure of a pro-Palestinian flotilla of international ships with plans to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza has been delayed, in large part due to the efforts of an Israeli advocacy group, both sides said Tuesday.

Greek authorities have held two of the ships docked here in recent days, including an American vessel, after the Israeli advocacy group, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, filed a complaint to the Greek coast guard suggesting that seven of the ships might be lacking insurance or improperly registered.

Ten ships are slated to head toward Gaza this week, in a challenge to Israel’s naval embargo of the Palestinian coastal strip governed by Hamas, the militant group that opposes Israel’s right to exist. All the vessels are insured and have been certified as seaworthy, said Adam Shapiro, a coordinator and spokesman for the flotilla….READ MORE

International scholars’ group condemns academic boycott of Israel

International scholars’ group condemns academic boycott of Israel

Source: JTA, 6-9-11

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East has condemned Britain’s largest academic union for voting to adopt an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The international organization has also condemned the University and College Union for rejecting the European Union definition of anti-Semitism.

The resolution was passed on May 29 at UCU’s annual conference in Harrogate, Yorkshire. It is the union’s third such vote since it was established in 2006.

The Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East said in a statement issued June 7 that it: “Strongly condemns the Union of College and Universities vote on May 29, 2011 to promote the campaign to academically boycott Israel, despite advice from its own legal counsel which has advised it may be a illegal action based on discriminatory practices as well as being well beyond the scope of the charter of the union.”

The statement also strongly condemned  “the UCU voting to disassociate itself from the European Union (EU) Working Definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism on May 30, 2011 which signals to all that the Union does not take anti-Semitism seriously. In rejecting this working definition the UCU is promoting a hostile, anti-Semitic study and work environment for Jewish and Israeli students and faculty in colleges and universities throughout the UK who support the right of Israel to exist within safe and secure borders and who challenge those who would demonize, delegitimize and hold Israel to a double standard despite the Union’s protestations and rationalizations to the contrary.”

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East represents about 55,000 university and college professors, researchers, administrators, teachers, librarians, and students on more than 3,500 campuses worldwide, according to its website.

Shira Herzog: What does being pro-Israel mean?

In North American and European Jewish communities, criticism of Israel’s attack on the Turkish flotilla has reignited discussion over a deceptively simple question: What does being pro-Israel mean? Regardless of widespread domestic criticism (even after this week’s findings by an Israeli military investigation) of both the decision to attack and its faulty execution, leading Jewish organizations largely defended Israel. Liberal Jewish organizations questioned Israel’s action, as they do others with which they disagree.

These divisions aren’t new, but they’re particularly sensitive now. Last year’s Gaza incursion and the flotilla incident have isolated Israel to an unprecedented degree. In parallel, recently formed American (J Street) and European (JCall) Jewish lobby groups have gone public with their dissent without following the Jewish establishment’s automatic support of Israeli policies. They consider themselves no less pro-Israel and see ending the Palestinian conflict and holding Israel accountable for its human-rights record as critical for its future.

Last month, Peter Beinert spawned the latest round in this debate with his New York Review of Books essay, The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment. Mr. Beinert argued that, if established Jewish advocacy groups don’t make room for “pro-Israel criticism of Israel,” they’ll alienate liberal American Jews from an Israel whose policies are increasingly dissonant with their American values. Mainstream Jewish organizations quickly contested his conclusions, reiterating that, in an increasingly critical world, burdened by unique security imperatives and with only one reliable ally (the U.S.), being pro-Israel requires holding the line against public criticism.

There’s no doubt that Israel is more vulnerable due to the growing presence and sophistication of what the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute calls “the delegitimization network.” That disparate, largely viral coalition links European and North American radical left NGOs and fundamentalist Islamic groups in rejecting Israel’s legitimacy. In other words, they don’t distinguish between Israel and its continued occupation of Palestinians and territory. They’re focused not on resolving the Palestinian issue through a two-state deal that would respect Israel’s territorial integrity and Jewish majority alongside a Palestinian state, but on branding Israel as a pariah internationally. (The loose network includes the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers this new “battleground for legitimacy” serious enough to rank it as one of Israel’s key challenges (along with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian process). He isn’t wrong: Reut’s comprehensive report documents the potential scope of the network’s reach and its strategic implications for the country’s international standing unless checked….READ MORE

Gil Troy’s Why I Am A Zionist: Israel @ 60

A video slide show celebrating 60 years of Israel set to Gil Troy’s updated version of his “Why I Am A Zionist” article (2001).

Video designed and edited by Bonnie K. Goodman.
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