Israel Political Brief July 12, 2012: Rabbis in Fiery Letter to Peres: You Should Apologize over Jewish West Bank Settlement Remarks

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Rabbis in Fiery Letter to Peres: You Should Apologize

Source: Israel National News, 7-12-12

Pikuach Nefesh organization sends Peres a letter over his remarks that Jewish settlement threatens Israel’s Jewish majority.
President Shimon Peres

President Shimon Peres
Flash 90

The heads of the Pikuach Nefesh rabbinical organization, which represents 350 rabbis in Israel, sent President Shimon Peres a letter on Wednesday in which they condemned his remarks that the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron) threatens Israel’s Jewish majority….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief June 10, 2012: Israel’s Rabbis Call for Harsh Protest over Givat HaUlpana

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Rabbis Call for Harsh Protest over Givat HaUlpana

Rabbis lament “destruction for destruction’s sake.” Will homes be sealed off instead of moved?

 

Protesting the planned eviction.

Protesting the planned eviction.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbis from the Derech HaEmunah movement issued a call to the public Monday in which they asked people to take action against the government’s intention to destroy the Givat HaUlpana homes and evict 30 families.

“We call for the cancellation of the decree of destroying the homes at Givat HaUlpana in Beit El,” they wrote. “This is a decree that the public cannot abide by. It is contrary to the Bible and human morality. It is destruction for destruction’s sake.”

“We call upon the public to carry out a harsh and meaningful protest that will bring about a change in the government’s decision, which endangers thousands of homes that have been built in the settlements,” the rabbis added, with the caveat that “No violence should be used against the security forces or against the settlers, G-d forbid.”

The letter is signed by Rav Haim Shteiner, Rav David Chai HaCohen, Rav Iser Klonsky, Rav Avi Smotritz, Rav Yosef Artziel, Rav Ben Dahan and Rav Shimon Cohen.

Meanwhile, the daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom reported Monday that the state may ask for a postponement of the destruction at Beit El, following intensive contacts between the settlers and representatives on behalf of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, including Minister Gilad Erdan….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 9, 2012: Montreal Rabbis, Academics Urge President Shimon Peres to Advocate for Jonathan Pollard

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Canadian Rabbis Urge Peres to Advocate for Pollard

Int’l Jewry continues to press Israel’s leaders to act on behalf of Johnathan Pollard.
Pollard

Pollard
Israel news photomontage

President Shimon Peres received a letter from a delegation of rabbis and professors in Montreal, Canada imploring him to seek the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

To the Honourable President Peres,
We warmly welcome you to our community in Montreal. As a distinguished representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide, it is our pleasure to host you. We all share your pride at being awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As representatives of the Jewish community of Canada, we support your humanitarian appeal to President Obama for clemency for Jonathan Pollard. The Jewish community of Montreal stands behind your efforts on behalf of the release of Jonathan Pollard. We would like to encourage you and to ask that you act according to the best of your abilities so that your appeal will be answered in the affirmative.
Mr. President, we all recognize that your efforts can bring about Jonathan’s release and save his life. Please act in order to bring this terrible tragedy to an end.
Sincerely,
Rabbi Shachar Orenstein, Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue – President of Rabbinical
Council of Canada
Rabbi Benjamin Weiss, Chief Rabbi of Montreal
Rabbi David Sabbah, Chief Rabbi of Quebec
Rabbi Jacob Benaroch, Young Israel of Chomedy
Rabbi Tuvia Hoffman, Beth Zion
Rabbi Moshe Jablon, Beth Ora
Rabbi Asher Jacobson, Chevra Kadisha
Rabbi Mendel Kaufman, Young Israel of Montreal
Rabbi Ronnie Fine, Chabad of Queen Mary
Rabbi Leibel Fine, Chabad of Dollard des Ormeaux
Rabbi Mark Fishman, Assistant Rabbi Beth Tikvah
Rabbi Dov Harrouch, Jewish Experience
Rabbi Michael Harrosch, Jewish Experience
Rabbi Leibish Hundert, former rabbi of Ghetto Shul
Rabbi Nadav Levin, Kollel Torah Mitzion
Rabbi Avraham Marouani, Or Shalom
Rabbi Dovid Merling, Agudath Israel
Rabbi Moishe New, Montreal Torah Center
Rabbi Moise Ohana, Or HaHayim
Rabbi Ben Vago, Hillel House
Rabbi Yossi Shanowitz, Chabad West Mount
Rabbi Zushe Silberstein, Chabad Chabanel
Rabbi Pesach Sperlin, Chabad of Montreal West
Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Tiferet Beth David Jerusalem
Rabbi Shmuly Weiss, Chabad McGill
Rabbi Mordecai Zeitz, Beth Tikvah Ahavat Shalom Nusach Hoari
Prof. Fred Krantz, Canadian Institute of Jewish Research (CIJR)
Prof. Philip Carl Salzman, McGill University
Prof. Gil Troy, McGill University
Pollard, a Jewish-American convicted by the United States on one count of supplying classified data to a foreign nation, has been serving a sentence of life without parole since 4 March 1987.
In recent years, as Pollard’s health has deteriorated, his release has become a growing concern of the American Jewish community – and Israel’s nationalist camp.
The disproportionate length of Pollard’s sentence when compared to other’s convicted of the same crime – almost always less that 7 years – has also become a point of contention with American Jews.
Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres personally asked US President Barack Obama to grant Pollard clemency on humanitarian grounds during their respective meetings in the White House earlier this year.
Peres made a second, direct personal appeal to Obama for Pollard’s release following the latter’s sudden hospitalization on April 4.
Israel’s president is expected to ask Obama to grant Pollard clemency a third time when he recieves the Medal of Freedom in Washington DC in June.
Peres will carry with him a letter bearing the signatures of 80 Israeli lawmakers.

Israel Political Brief November 22, 2011: VP Joe Biden meets with Jewish leaders on Jonathan Pollard

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Biden meets with Jewish leaders on Pollard

Source: JTA, 11-22-11

Vice President Joseph Biden met with several Jewish American leaders to discuss the case of convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard.

During Monday evening’s meeting, Biden reportedly listened to the seven American Jewish leaders, who made a case for the severity of the sentence and the support of U.S. political leaders for clemency, Ynet reported. The newspaper did not name the participants.

Biden promised last month that he would meet with Jewish leaders on the Pollard case after telling rabbis at a political meeting in Florida that “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’ ”

Jewish organizational leaders from across the political and religious spectrum have called on successive presidents to grant clemency to Pollard, a U.S. Navy civilian analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. In recent months, Obama has received a flood of clemency appeals on behalf of Pollard from members of Congress, former U.S. government officials and Israeli officials.

On Monday, Pollard entered his 27th year in prison in the United States.

Pollard’s wife, Esther, said in a statement issued Monday that her husband may not survive another year in prison.

“In the last year, as Jonathan’s [medical] condition became worse, he was too weak to even sit through a one-hour visit. I feel he’s withering away in front of my very eyes,” Esther Pollard said in the statement.

She added that after “26 years, all his systems are feeble and we both know that the next emergency hospitalization or operation are just a matter a time, and that no one is promising us he’ll make it through.”…READ MORE

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

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

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.

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