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October 2010

Tree Planting in Palestine 5th – 14th February 2011 JOIN US!


For the registration form for this years olive tree planting in Palestine, please e mail visitpalestine@yahoo.co.uk as registration is now taking place.

Full itinerary below:

JAI-ATG Olive Planting Program – February 2011

A program for Civil International Solidarity with Palestinians

Invitation

5th – 14th February, 2011

 

Agricultural experts in the Holy Land estimate that over a million olive trees have been uprooted and destroyed by Israel since it was created in 1948. Almost half of these olive trees were uprooted since the start of the 2nd Intifada in 2000 (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli Military Occupation).

Disrespecting its’ religious, cultural, natural, nutritious and economic value, the olive tree has been constantly targeted by the Israeli military occupation under the guise of security, the construction of the Wall on Palestinian lands, and the expansion of Israeli – Jewish only – colonies (settlements). The destruction of olive trees has had intentional and destructive results on the lives of many Palestinian farmers, land owners and the Palestinian population in general.

For these reasons and many others, the olive tree campaign was launched in 2001 as a positive response to systematic destruction by addressing the needs of effected farmers. The Olive Tree Campaign uses the olive tree as a tool to advocate for the Palestinians right to peace with justice. So far eight successful seasons of planting have helped hundreds of Palestinian farmers and land owners, and brought awareness to an expanding international network of friends and partners about the real life of the Palestinians who have been striving for peace with justice for more than half of a century.

Since 2008, the campaign has invited friends and partners to plant olive trees as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians. People came from various corners of the world to show solidarity with the Palestinians and to strengthen our mission to “Keep Hope Alive” for a better future of peace with justice to the oppressed in this ongoing conflict.

Besides olive planting, the program will feature introductory presentations about the current situation in Palestine and the effects of the Apartheid Wall, tours in the old city of Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, in addition to cultural events and social gatherings.
Proposed Schedule:

  • Saturday, Feb 5, Day 1: Arrival to the airport and travel to Bethlehem to meet representatives from the organizing institutions for an overview and discussion of the program. Dinner and free time.
  • Sunday, Feb 6, Day 2: Visiting Bethlehem. An afternoon of site-seeing and an introduction to the town. Watching Documentary about the situation in Palestine.
  • Monday, Feb 7, Day 3: Half day planting trees at a selected field followed by lunch. Visiting Duheisha refugee camp. Evening with BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugees’ Rights. Dinner and free time.
  • Tuesday, Feb 8, Day 4: Half day planting trees at a selected field followed by lunch. Meeting with the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) for a presentation on the Israeli Apartheid Wall and land expropriation by Israeli authorities. Dinner and free time.
  • Wednesday, Feb 9, Day 5: Visiting YMCA headquarters in Jerusalem, A tour in the old city of Jerusalem to visit the main sites in the city. Lunch. In the afternoon we will join  The Israeli Committee Against House Demolition ICAHD for a settlement tour around Jerusalem. Dinner and free time. (suggested family stay).
  • Thursday, Feb 10, Day 6: Visit to the city of Ramallah. A meeting with Al Haq Organization, Al-Dameer , Right to Education Campaign and a Palestinian political representative. Dinner and free time.
  • Friday, Feb 11, Day 7: Half day planting trees at a selected field followed by lunch. A tour in the old city of Hebron to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque, es-souq (the market), and to see the Israeli division of Hebron and the Israeli settlers who occupy the center of the city. Followed by a meeting with an organization based in Hebron. Dinner and free time (suggested family stay).
  • Saturday, Feb 12, Day 8: Half day planting trees at a selected field followed by lunch. Meeting with representatives from the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine Dinner and free time.
  • Sunday, Feb 13, Day 9: Half day planting trees at a selected field followed by lunch. Evaluation meeting followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant with staff members and volunteers. Overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Monday, Feb 14, Day 10: Departure

More Information:

  • The cost of the program including accommodation, guides, meals, and local transportation is 650$. For the cost in your local currency, please go to the following web site – http://www.xe.com/ucc/
  • Accommodation will be arranged at a Hotel or with a local family.
  • A tour guide will be present with the group at all times for facilitation purposes.
  • Travel from and to the airport is not included in the cost but can be arranged for groups.
  • Places are limited.

 

 

Rap News vs News World Order (The war on journalism)

Segregation of Jews and Arabs in 2010 Israel is Almost Absolute



For those of us who live here, it is something we take for granted. But visitors from abroad cannot believe their eyes.

By Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu

October 30, 2010 “Haaretz” — Under the guise of the deceptively mundane name “Amendment to the Cooperative Associations Bill,” the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee this week finalized a bill intended to bypass previous rulings of the High Court of Justice. If indeed this legislation is approved by the Knesset plenum, it will not be possible to describe it as anything other than an apartheid law.

Ten years ago, the High Court of Justice ordered the town of Katzir to accept the family of Adel and Iman Kaadan, Arab citizens of Israel, as members of the community. Seven years later, the court issued a similar ruling against the Galilee village of Rakefet, which, like Katzir, is Jewish. Now, however, the legislature has come up with a proper “Zionist” response to the justices: If it becomes law, the amendment will give acceptance committees of communal villages the authority to limit residence in their towns exclusively to Jews.

Using polished and sanitized language, the bill would allow such committees in small rural suburbs to reject applications from families that “are incompatible with the social-cultural fabric of the community, and where there are grounds to assume that they will disrupt this fabric.”

In other words, if admissions committees were previously forced to exercise some degree of creativity if they wanted to hide their national-ethnic grounds for rejecting Arabs, now, as Rabbi Akiva said, “All is foreseen, and freedom of choice is granted” (Pirkei Avot 3 ). Arabs? Not here. Sorry, the law is with us on this.

Those who feign innocence, including some from the center of our political map, will say, “The bill is not intended to keep out Arabs. What’s wrong with supporting the right of communities to protect their unique way of life?”

Indeed, what is wrong with that? There’s no argument that the vegetarians of Moshav Amirim, in the Galilee, have a right to defend themselves against an invasion of carnivores, just as the practitioners of transcendental meditation at Hararit, in the Misgav region, need to be able to meditate without interruption, but those communities are genuinely unique in character. This is not the case for the dozens of yeshuvim kehilati’im (literally, “community settlements” ) all over Israel, whose principal cultural feature is the fact that their residents are Jewish and Zionist – hardly a population under imminent threat, whose unique way of life needs protection.

Several months ago, we were given a glimpse of just how quickly the new law will be implemented, when several such villages, anticipating the Knesset’s action, hurriedly established bylaws that effectively barred Arabs. In the communities of Yuvalim and Manof, in the Misgav area, applicants are now required to declare their allegiance to the Zionist vision, while in Mitzpe Aviv, a bit to the south, applicants must declare their identification with the values of Zionism and the definition of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

It’s not as if Arab families are standing in line to move to these gated communities, which were established mainly in the 1970s and ’80s by Zionist organizations like the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund for the purpose of “Judaizing” areas like the Negev and the Galilee. No one ever expected these towns to provide the answer to the horrendous housing shortage faced by Israel’s Arab population. For them, not a single new town has been established since 1948, with the exception of a few impoverished Bedouin settlements in the Negev. Nor has the central government seen fit to assist or give approval to the existing Arab municipalities in the drawing up of master plans that would allow them to implement a program of growth and development to meet the needs of a growing population or mitigate their poor quality of life.

And this is without even mentioning cities like Upper Nazareth, Safed or Carmiel, where a variety of statements have been made – sometimes by the most senior municipal officials themselves – that are designed to push Arabs out or prevent their integration into these cities.

Segregation of Jews and Arabs in Israel of 2010 is almost absolute. For those of us who live here, it is something we take for granted. But visitors from abroad cannot believe their eyes: segregated education, segregated businesses, separate entertainment venues, different languages, separate political parties … and of course, segregated housing. In many senses, this is the way members of both groups want things to be, but such separation only contributes to the growing mutual alienation of Jews and Arabs.

Several courageous attempts – particularly in mixed cities and regions – have been made to change the situation, bridge the rifts and promote integration. These range from efforts to develop mixed educational frameworks, to joint economic ventures and other interventions intended to foster good neighborly relations based on equal opportunity. Until now, these attempts addressed a situation of de facto segregation. From today, however, segregation will be de jure, to the shame of Israel.

Amnon Be’eri Sulitzeanu is the co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, an organization that promotes coexistence and equality between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.

source

Gilad Atzmon: Zionist Tolerance For a Change

DateFriday, October 29, 2010 at 8:24PM AuthorGilad Atzmon

I have spent the last ten years elaborating on Jewish national ideology and tribal politics.  During my journey of grasping what Zionism and Israel stand for, I came to realize that it is actually the Jewish left — and Jewish Marxists in particular — that provide us with an adequate glimpse into contemporary Jewish identity,  tribal supremacy,  marginal politics and tribalism.

‘Jewish left’ is basically an oxymoron. It is a contradiction in terms, because ‘Jewishness’ is a tribal ideology, whilst ‘the left’ are traditionally understood as aspiring to universalism.

On the face of it, the ‘Jewish left’ is, at least categorically, no different from Israel or Zionism: after all, it is an attempt to form yet another ‘Jews only political club’.  And as  far as the Palestinian solidarity movement is concerned, its role is subject to a growing debate — For  on the one hand, one can see the political benefit of pointing at a very few ‘good Jews’, and emphasizing that there are Jews who ‘oppose Zionism as Jews’. Yet on the other hand, however, accepting the legitimacy of such a racially orientated political affair, is in itself, an acceptance of yet another form, or manifestation of Zionism, for Zionism claims that Jews are primarily Jewish, and had better operate politically as Jews(1).

To a certain extent then, it is clear that Jewish anti Zionism, is, in itself, still just another  form of Zionism.

‘Jewish dissidence’ has two main roles: First, it attempts to depict and bolster a positive image of Jews in general (2). Second, it is there to silence and obscure any attempts on the part of the outsider to grasp the meaning of Jewish identity and Jewish politics within the machinations of the Jewish state. It is also there to stop elements in this movement from elaborating on the crucial role of Jewish lobbying.

The Jewish Left is there then, to mute any possible criticism of Jewish politics within the wider Left movements.  It is there to stop the Goyim from looking into Jewish affairs.

A decade ago I met the Kosher dissident brigade for the first time — As soon as I started to  express criticism of Israel and Zionism — they started to  bounce around me.

For a short while, I fitted nicely into their  discourse : I was young  and energetic.   I was an award winning musician, as well as a promising writer. In their eyes I was a celebrity, or at least a good reason to celebrate.  Their chief commissars reserved  the best, and most expensive dining tables ahead  of my Orient House’s  Ensemble concerts. The five grass-root penniless activists, followed the trend and came to my free stage Jazz Combo  afternoon  concerts in the Barbican Centre’s Foyer.  They all wanted to believe that I would follow their agenda, and become a commissar myself.  They were also very quick  to preach to me who were the ‘bad guys’, those who should be burnt in hell: Israel Shahak, Paul EisenIsrael Shamir and Otto Weininger were just a few amongst the many baddies.  As one may guess by now, it didn’t take me too long to admit to myself that there was more wisdom in a single sentence  by Eisen, Weininger, Shahak or Shamir than in the entire work of the Jewish Left  put together. I was quick to make it clear to my new ‘Red’ fans that it was not going to work : I was an ex-Israeli, and I no longer regarded myself as a Jew any more. I shared nothing with them and I did not believe in their agenda.  Indeed, I had left Israel because I wanted to drift as far away as I could from any form of tribal politics.

Paddling in chicken soup has never been  my thing.

Naturally, I bought  myself at least a half a dozen enemies, and they were quick to run a campaign against me. They tried to silence me; they desperately ( and hopelessly ) tried to wreck my music career; they mounted pressure on political institutions, media outlets,  and music venues.  One of them even tried to drag me to court.

But they failed all the way through and they failed on every possible level. The more pressure they mounted, the more people read my writing. At a certain point, people around me were convinced that my detractors were actually running my PR campaign. Moreover, the relentless attempts to silence me could only prove my point. They were there to divert attention away from the crucial role of Jewish politics and Jewish identity politics.

I have asked myself often enough — how is it that they failed with me? But I guess that the same internet that successfully defeated Israeli Hasbara, has also defeated the Jewish left and its hegemony within the movement. In the wider scheme of things, it is totally obvious how marginal the Jewish Marxist discourse is. Its voice within the dissident movement is, in actuality, insignificant.

I guess also, that the fact that I am a popular Jazz artist didn’t make life easy for them — At the time those Jewish commissars labeled me as a racist and an anti Semite, I was touring around the world with two ex Israeli Jews, an Argentinean Jew, a Romanian Gipsy and  a Palestinian Oud player.  It just couldn’t work for them, and it didn’t.

But here is an interesting twist :  In comparison with the contemporaneous  Jewish Red terror, Zionism comes across as a relatively tolerant  endeavour.  In recent months I have been approached by every possible Israeli media outlet. In the summer, Ouvda, the leading Israeli investigative TV show asked repeatedly to join with me and my band on the road. They were interested to  launch a debate, and to discuss my ideas in prime time.  This week, The Israeli Second Channel approached me for a news item.  Again, they were interested in my views. Yesterday, I discussed my views for an hour with Guy Elhanan on Israel’s ‘Kol ha-shalom’ (Voice of Peace).

For the most obvious of reasons, I am very cautious when dealing with the Israeli media.  I choose my outlets very carefully. I usually tend to refuse. But, I also accept that as a person who cares about the prospect of  peace I must keep an open channel with the Israeli public, and two weeks ago I agreed to be interviewed by Haaretz writer,Yaron Frid.  This was my first published interview in Israel for more than a decade. I must admit that I was shocked to find out that not a single word of mine had been removed or censored. Haaretz let me say everything that the Kosher ‘Socialists’ had consistently tried to stop me from saying.

On my ‘self-hatred’ and  Jewishness   the Israeli paper Haaretz let me say :

“I am not a nice Jew, because I don’t want to be a Jew, because Jewish values don’t really turn me on and all this ‘Pour out Thy wrath on the nations’ stuff doesn’t impress me.”

It also let me question the entire Zionist ethos; the reality of plunder and deluded historicism : “Why do I live on lands that are not mine, the plundered lands of another people whose owners want to return to them but cannot? Why do I send my children to kill and be killed, after I myself was a soldier, too? Why do I believe all this bullshit about ‘because it’s the land of our forefathers’ and ‘our patrimony’ if I am not even religious?

And about  Palestinians’ right of return, I said :

“The Israelis can put an end to the conflict in two fucking minutes. Netanyahu gets up tomorrow morning, returns to the Palestinians the lands that belong to them.”

They let me express how I would differentiate between, and define Israel and Palestine:  “Palestine is the land and Israel is the state. It took me time to realize that Israel was never my home, but only a fantasy saturated in blood and sweat.”

About chosen-ness, de-Judification  and Jewish identity I said, “for Netanyahu and the Israelis to do that (accept the Palestinian  right of return), they have to undergo de-Judaization and accept the fact that they are like all peoples and are not the chosen people. So, in my analysis this is not a political, sociopolitical or socioeconomic issue but something basic that has to do with Jewish identity.”

And in the interview I compared Jewish left with National Socialism — And Haaretz’s editorial  let it through: “The idea of left-wing Jews is fundamentally sickening.  It contains an absolute internal contradiction. If you are leftists it doesn’t matter whether you’re Jewish or not, so on principle when you present yourselves as leftist Jews you are accepting the idea of national socialism. Nazism.”

Haaretz, as could be expected, challenged   my  opposition to Jewish politics :    “Atzmon has been accused from every possible platform of disseminating vitriol against Jews. He, though, maintains that he ‘hates everyone in equal measure.’ He’s also been accused of self-hatred, but he is the first to admit this, and in comparison with Otto Weininger – the Austrian Jewish philosopher who converted to Christianity and of whom Hitler said, ‘There was one good Jew in Germany, and he killed himself’ – he is even proud. ‘Otto and I are good friends.’”

But clearly, at least Israelis can cope with Otto Weininger and his ideology. However — when I gave a talk about Otto Weininger in a London Marxist book shop five years ago (Bookmarks), a ‘synagogue’ of fourteen Jewish Marxists unsuccessfully tried to picket the event and to pressure the SWP into submission.

Guess what; they failed.

Haaretz  challenged  my take on the Holocaust; yet it  printed my answer without changing  a single word. “I am fighting against all the disgusting laws and persecutions of those so-called Holocaust deniers – a categorization I don’t accept. I think the Holocaust, like any historical episode, must be open to research, to examination, to discussion and debate.”

And Haaretz, evidently an Israeli Zionist paper, let me express my thoughts about Israeli mass murderers and their destiny. “It might be a good thing if the Nazi hunters hunt down [Shaul] Mofaz and [Ehud] Barak, for example, and not all kinds of 96-year-olds who are barely alive. It’s pathetic.”

It also let me tell Israelis that they are all to be blamed : “In Israel 94 percent of the nation supported Operation Cast Lead. On the one hand, you want to behave like a post-enlightenment state and talk to me about individualism, but on the other hand you surround yourselves with a wall and remain attached to a tribal identity.”

Yaron Frid ended his piece saying, “Israel lost Gilad,” and,   “The score, for now: 1-0, Palestine leading.”

I was happy with the article. But I was also jealous. For here in Britain, we are still far from being free  to explore these issues.

The message here is plain and simple — Haaretz, a  Zionist paper,  has let me discuss all those intellectual avenues that ‘the  Kosher Socialists’ insist on blocking. A week before my Haaretz special, the Israeli paper featured Mavi Marmara hero Ken O’keefe. Again, Haaretz coverage was fairly balanced; certainly more balanced than BBC Panorama.

The moral is clear : As much as Zionism is repugnant and  murderous — it is still way ahead of the Jewish Left , simply because it is still, in some regards at least, part of an ongoing and open discourse.

There is no doubt that amongst the  most prolific enemies of Israel and Jewish identity,  you will find Israelis and ex Israelis, such as Ilan Pappe,  Gideon Levi, Amira Hass, Tali Fahima, Israel Shamir, Israel Shahak,  Nurit Peled , Rami Elhanan Guy Elhanan, Jonathan Shapira, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Mordechai Vanunu,  Uri Avneri, Shimon Tzabar, myself,  and others.

We may not always agree with each other — but we let each other be.

Zionism was an attempt to bring about a new Jew: an ethical, productive and authentic being.  But Zionism failed all the way through. Israel is a criminal state, and the Israelis are collectively complicit in relentless crimes against humanity. And yet, Zionism has also  succeeded  in  erecting  a solid   school of eloquent and proud  ‘self haters’. Israelis are taught to be outspoken  and critical. Unlike the Diaspora Jewish left, that for some reason, operates as a thought-police, Israeli dissidence speaks out. Israelis are trained to celebrate their ‘symptoms’ — and this also applies in the case of dissidence.

Unlike Jewish Marxism that operates  largely as a tribal PR campaign, Israeli dissidence is an ethical approach : You wouldn’t hear Israeli activists  shouting ‘not in my name’.   The Israelis mentioned above do accept that each Israeli crime is committed  in their names. They also accept that activism is the crucial shift from guilt into responsibility.  Hence, it is also far from  surprising that on the ‘Jewish Boat to Gaza’ mission, the Israeli veteran AIF pilot Shapira and also Elahanan, both spoke about ethics and humanitarian issues, while the British Jew, Kuper, was apparently, judging from his words, perhaps more concerned  with the amendment of  the image of world Jewry.

Being an ex Israeli, I believe that the only thing I  can do for Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, myself, my family, my neighbours and humanity — is to stand firm and speak my heart against all odds.

I also believe that we all know the truth.

We just need to be courageous enough to spit it out.

(1) As bizarre as it may sound to some, ‘Jews Against  Zionists’ (JAZ) and ‘Jews for BDS’ (Boycott of Divestment of Israeli Goods) do affirm the Zionist mantra : They operate, primarily, as Jews.  As much as it is impossible for uprooted Palestinians   to settle in Israel and become a citizen with equal civil rights — it is also impossible for them to  join any of the primarily Jewish groups for Palestine.

(2) Richard Kuper,  the person behind ‘Irene-the Jewish Boat to Gaza’, was bold enough to admit it —  “Our goal is to show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians,” he said. It is now an established fact that the Jewish boat carried hardly any humanitarian aid for the Gazans : its main mission, as far as Kuper was concerned, seems to have been to amend Jewish reputation.

 

Amazon.co.uk

 

French Boat for Gaza

Meltdown of the Macher: Abe Foxman loses it, calls Israeli interviewer a bigot and condemns the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi”

See Max Blumenthal’s commentary.

Ken O’Keefe on the Mavi Marmara

Former US marine & former US citizen Ken O’Keefe speaks here about being on board the MV Mavi Marmara when it was attacked and boarded by Israeli commandos in international waters on 31st May 2010.
The ship was one of a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid from 37 countries to the people of Gaza, who have suffered more than three years of privation under the internationally condemned Israeli blockade.
During the attack 9 people were killed by the Israelis, two of whom were shot as they lay injured, a UN report found.

Israel Flotilla Raid w/ MJ Rosenberg of Media Matters Action Network

Federations, JCPA teaming to fight delegitimization of Israel

By Jacob Berkman · October 24, 2010

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are launching a multimillion-dollar joint initiative to combat anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.

The JFNA and the rest of the Jewish federation system have agreed to invest $6 million over the next three years in the new initiative, which is being called the Israel Action Network. The federations will be working in conjunction with JCPA, an umbrella organization bringing together local Jewish community relations councils across North America.

The network is expected to serve as a rapid-response team charged with countering the growing campaign to isolate Israel as a rogue state akin to apartheid-era South Africa – a campaign that the Israeli government and Jewish groups see as an existential threat to the Jewish state. In fighting back against anti-Israel forces, the network will seek to capitalize on the reach of North America’s 157 federations, 125 local Jewish community relations councils and nearly 400 communities under the federation system.

“There is a very, very high sense of urgency in [fighting] the delegitimizing of the State of Israel,” the JFNA’s president and CEO, Jerry Silverman, told The Fundermentalist. “There is no question that it is among the most critical challenges facing the state today.”

In fact, Silverman added, Israeli leaders identify this as the second most dangerous threat to Israel, after Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Under a plan approved in late September during a special conference call of the JFNA’s board of trustees, the JCPA’s senior vice president, Martin Raffel, will oversee the new network. He will be working in concert with the head of the JFNA’s Washington office, William Daroff. Over the next several months, Raffel will be putting together his team, including six people in New York, one in Israel and one in Washington.

The network will monitor the delegitimization movement worldwide and create a strategic plan to counter it wherever it crops up. It will work with local federations and community relations councils to enlist the help of key leaders at churches, labor unions and cultural institutions to fight anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.

Organizers of the network are looking at the response to an attempted boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival last year as a model for how the system could potentially work.

When the festival organizers decided to focus on filmmakers from Tel Aviv, more than 1,000 prominent actors and filmmakers signed a statement saying that the organizers had become part of Israel’s propaganda machine, and they threatened to boycott the event. In response, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles worked together to come up with a counter statement supporting the festival. The counter statement won the signatures of even more prominent Hollywood figures, including Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Alexander and Lenny Kravitz.

“The partnership started last year around the Toronto international film festival,” said Ted Sokolsky, president of the Toronto federation. “We jointly produced an ad saying that we don’t need another blacklist.”

Sokolsky went on to say, “I spoke to Jay [Sanderson, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles] and said, ‘Here, there are a lot of prominent Hollywood types on the delegitimization protest. Can you reach out to the Hollywood community and find some pro-Israel leadership?’ He reached out to some key leadership in Hollywood. And it was like waking up a sleeping giant. Then we realized we can’t all fight this alone.”

He added that “It was a great lesson and set a template on how to respond because clearly, the other side is running a linked campaign with international funding and global strategy but local implementation.”

When similar delegitimizing attempts erupt, leaders of the new network plan to respond early, according to Silverman.

“If the community in Chattanooga all of a sudden is faced with [a boycott of] Israeli products in the mall, they should be able to call the [Israel] Action Network and have response and implementation within 12 hours, and not spend time thinking about how to do it,” he said. “We should be able to do that in every community.”

Toronto and Los Angeles are two of the largest federations in the JFNA system, but the smaller federations feel that the network will benefit them as well.

Michael Papo, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, said that Indiana has not yet witnessed a full-fledged anti-Israel boycott campaign.

“But it could happen,” he said. “It could happen quickly. It could happen on our college campuses, and it would be helpful to have that national network to call for help.”

Papo said he sees the network as being able to provide guidance when his federation has to face situations such as the one it faced several years ago, when the Presbyterian Church (USA) pursued a divestment strategy against Israel. At that time, he and his colleagues were able to influence local Presbyterian churches in Indiana to vote against the divestment campaign at their national convention.

“As a Jewish community, we have a huge range of contacts in the general community,” he said. “We are connected politically, culturally, socially, academically and in the business world — anyplace we work and live, we have connections with neighbors. …  If and when we need support, we are quite capable.”

Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, said that federations and their local partners are uniquely positioned to take on delegitimization campaigns against Israel.

“A top-down approach cannot fully comprehend or appreciate local nuance, and after each and every incident, when the headlines recede, it is the local community that is in the best position to strengthen the community for the future,” Nasatir said in an e-mailed statement. “Over the past few years, active local Federations have countered the boycott of Israeli products by buyout of those same products. They have demanded that university institutions require civility from anti-Israel protestors trying to drown out Israeli speakers. And, through ongoing contact with local elected leaders, they have sensitized public officials and institutions to the need for fairness, civility and appropriate monitoring of anti-Israel thuggery.”

While other groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Zionist Organization of America and J Street, focus primarily on influencing the political arena, and others, such as the Israel Project and CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), key in on the media, the new network will aim to influence civic leaders.

The Jewish federations have agreed to give the JFNA $1.6 million to fund the project fully in its first year. In the two subsequent years, the federations will split the cost 50-50 with JFNA.

“Israel’s government has been advocating for this, especially over the past six months or eight months,” Silverman said. “It has been in dialogue within our federation movement for a while, especially following the Toronto incident and the incident in San Francisco with the film festival, and divestment movements in the Protestant and Presbyterian churches. This idea was born out of the large city executives meeting that said, ‘It is time. And time is running out.’ We have to do this quickly and we have to be armed in our community and be offensive, not defensive.”

Silverman said that he expects the Israel Action Network to be fully staffed and up and running by Jan. 1.

Source

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