‘Leaders’ of Jewish communities speaking only for themselves
UPDATED 23.10 23 November
In this posting, two letters from JfJfP signatories (1) protesting that the sycophantic letter to Daniel Taub from establishment Jewish bodies (2) do NOT speak for all Jews; 3) linked by theme, an editorial from Jewish Forward on the wealthy groups which ‘represent’ Jews.
They don’t speak for me
Letter from Diana Neslen to the Independent
November 22, 2012
The organised Jewish community has taken upon itself the task of defending Israel’s indefensible actions and states that it is speaking for all Jews. I am writing to say that they do not speak for me.
The signatories to a letter to the Israeli ambassador, who include the Chief Rabbi and heads of all religious and communal organisations, state: “Operation Pillar of Defence is an entirely understandable response to the intolerable assault upon the citizens of southern Israel and the continued provocations of Hamas – an antisemitic terrorist organisation.”
If the organised Jewish community genuinely wishes to help Israel, they could do no better than insist that Israel makes the search for a political solution its main objective.
If the signatories really cared about Jewish life, they would demand that Israel maintains the Jewish ethical tradition emanating from our great sage Rabbi Hillel: “That which is hateful to you, do not to another.”
Letter from Richard Kuper to Jewish Chronicle
(Letters published in the Jewish Chronicle are not available online)
November 23, 2012
The claim by Jewish leaders that “all sections” of the British Jewish community support Israel’s attack on Gaza, reflecting the “national consensus” in Israeli society, as reported on the JC website, is inaccurate and dishonest. Jews for Justice for Palestinians emphatically does not support this. We condemned Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari, as a deliberate and cynical act of escalation and provocation just at the point when the leaders of Hamas and other groups were ready to agree a ceasefire.
Everything that has happened in the days since then reinforces the view that this has been a cynical move by Israeli leaders, designed to abort peace, not to bring it about.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
To: HE Daniel Taub
The Israel Ambassador
Embassy of Israel
2 Palace Green
15 November 2012
At this difficult and challenging time for the State of Israel and its citizens we wanted to send you an important message of support and solidarity from leaders and key institutions of the UK Jewish community. These sentiments prevail across all sections of our community, reflecting the national consensus within Israel itself.
Over the past decade we have rallied together in support of Israel under the banner of ‘Yes to Peace, No to Terror and No to Hamas’. The current Operation Pillar of Defence is an entirely understandable response to the intolerable assault upon the citizens of Southern Israel and the continued provocations of Hamas – an antisemitic terrorist organisation.
We take pride in the commitment of Israel’s political and military leadership to leave no stone unturned in seeking to avoid civilian casualties and remain true to the Jewish ethical ethos that underpins the doctrine of the IDF.
We also take this opportunity to commend you personally on the admirable manner in which you stepped up to take an important lead in advocating for Israel so effectively across the UK national media over the past twenty-four hours. This is a difficult and often hostile arena. You have done your country proud.
Your Excellency, please convey to your Government the support and sentiments of the leadership of this community.
Yours in solidarity,
Mick Davis – Chair of the Board of Trustees, The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) & Chairman, UJIA
Vivian Wineman – President, Board of Deputies of British Jews & Chairman, JLC
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks – Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner – Movement Rabbi, Movement for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy – Emeritus Spiritual Head, Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation
Rabbi Danny Rich – CEO, Liberal Judaism also on behalf of Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference
Jon Benjamin – CEO, The Board of Deputies of British Jews
Jeremy Newmark – Chief Executive, The Jewish Leadership Council
Frank Baigel – President of Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region
Kate Bearman – JLC Political Oversight Group & Former Director of Labour Friends of Israel
Bill Benjamin – Member, JLC
Linda Boxer – Chief Executive, WIZO UK
Alex Brummer – Vice-President of Board of Deputies (Chair International Division)
Paul Charney – Chair, Zionist Federation
David Chinn – Member, JLC Political Oversight Group
Sir Trevor Chinn CVO – Vice President, JLC & Chair of JLC Political Oversight Group
Daniel H Clapham – Vice-President, Glasgow Jewish Representative Council
Adrian Cohen – Chair, London Jewish Forum & Member of JLC
David Cohen – Vice President, JLC
David Dangoor – President, Board of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation
Lord Stanley Fink – Vice-President, JLC
Judith Flacks – Campaigns Director, UJS
Nick Gendler – Co-chair, Masorti Judaism
Jonathan Goldstein – Chair, PaJeS
Lord Young of Graffam – Chairman, Jewish Museum & Member, JLC
Alex Green – Chair, Union of Jewish Students and Member, JLC
Henry Grunwald OBE QC – Vice President, JLC & Past President, Board of Deputies
Robert Halfon MP
Andrew Heller – Chairman, Executive Board of Conservative Friends of Israel
Lucian J Hudson – Chairman, Liberal Judaism
Edward Isaacs – President, Glasgow Jewish Representative Council
Jeremy Jacobs – CEO, United Synagogue
Lord Janner of Braunstone – Vice-President, JLC
Isaac Kaye – BICOM & JLC Political Oversight Group
Dermot Kehoe – CEO, BICOM
Brian Kerner – Co-chair, Fair Play Campaign Group & Member of JLC
Debbie Klein – Chairman, JCC for London
Douglas Krikler – Political Oversight Group, JLC
Nigel Layton – Chairman, LEAD
Howard Leigh – Vice President, JLC
James Libson – Trustee, JLC
Hilton Lorie – President, Leeds Jewish Representative Council
Laura Marks – Senior Vice-President, Board of Deputies of British Jews
Howard Miller – CEO, Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation
Edward Misrahi – Vice Chair, BICOM & Chairman, ‘We Believe in Israel’
Paul H Morron – Vice-President, Glasgow Jewish Representative Council
Leo Noé – Vice President, JLC
Stephen Pack – President, United Synagogue
Jenny Pizer – Chair, Movement for Reform Judaism
Stuart Polak – Director, Conservative Friends of Israel
Ben Rich – CEO, Movement for Reform Judaism
Jo Rosenfelder – Board Member & Trustee, Tzedek & Member of JLC Political Oversight Group
Jill Shaw – Chair, WIZO UK
Clive Sheldon – Co-chair, Masorti Judaism
Rebecca Simon – Board Member, Labour Friends of Israel
Gavin Stollar – Chairman, Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel
Nick Viner – CEO, JCC for London
Michael Weiger – Chief Executive, UJIA
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg – Senior Rabbi, Assembly of Masorti Synagogues UK
Joy Wolfe MBE – Chairman, StandWithUs UK & President, Manchester Zionist Central Council
Poju Zabludowicz – Chairman, BICOM
Editorial, Jewish Forward
November 19, 2012
Now that the presidential election is finally over, it’s time to be blunt: The extreme nastiness of the discourse on Israel, coming mostly from those who opposed President Obama, did a great disservice to the American Jewish community. Well-funded advocacy groups, shadowy organizations and wealthy individuals poisoned the atmosphere and polarized the conversation. They resorted to fear tactics that harmed reputations and paid little heed to facts and fairness.
And it didn’t even work.
So before the next round of campaigning begins, some communal soul-searching is in order. Passionate debate is to be expected when something as significant as Israel’s future is at stake. But it’s time to say that the kind of meanness and mendacity on display this year has no home in the mainstream Jewish community.
A few examples: In March, the Emergency Committee for Israel ran a full-page (and mighty expensive) ad in The New York Times excoriating two small, liberal organizations for some things their staff members wrote. It used quotes from two Jewish leaders without their permission and out of context; both men unequivocably denounced the ad and ECI. The American Jewish Committee, also mentioned in the ad, released a statement saying it, too, was never consulted and wanted readers to know it.
This was only one of many newspaper ads, giant billboards and videos produced by ECI, which as a 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization is not obliged to disclose its donors. But we know that ECI is run by a small board that includes William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a regular of the Sunday talk shows and Jewish events, where he presents a far more amiable persona than is evident in ECI’s handiwork.
Another example: Jews for Israel 2012, a “concerned group of private Jewish citizens based in Boston” — that’s all we know about them — ran full-page ads in Jewish newspapers in Ohio and Pennsylvania just before the election asking readers: “Are you willing to bet the life of the Jewish people on this President?” Well, that’s a helpful question.
And another: The Republican Jewish Coalition ran an advertisement in this and other outlets in September seeking to taint the hundreds of “Rabbis for Obama” because of the views of one of them — views that were presented in a vulgar, distorted way.
Republicans are not the only ones at fault. In a blog post, the National Jewish Democratic Council attacked Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and mega-GOP donor, alleging that he profited from prostitution at his Macau casino. He asked for an apology; NJDC refused and he sued for defamation. It’s a case that has dropped into post-election oblivion.
But there’s no avoiding the fact that the bulk of the vituperative language came from those seeking to deny Obama a second term. Although the Republicans picked up a few percentage points of the national Jewish vote — how much is debatable — that gain was scarcely worth the damage to communal respect and cohesiveness.
We don’t believe in censorship, and in fact, as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization, the Forward felt compelled to publish the RJC ad. Instead, we believe that speech should counter speech. Hence this editorial.
Emergency Committee for Israel
From Wikipedia, retrieved November 20, 2012
The Emergency Committee for Israel is a right-wing 501(c) political advocacy organization in the United States. The group’s board members include Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, and conservative writer Rachel Abrams, wife of Elliott Abrams. Noah Pollak is its executive director.
Kristol said his group, created in mid-2010, was inspired by the new “liberal” J Street group, “whose ability to amplify criticism of the Israeli government showed the power of a small new group — if on the other side of the debate.” Pollak said, shortly after the group’s creation, that it planned to be involved in a number of congressional races. “We want to be hard-hitting; we want to get into the debate and shake things up and make some points in a firm way,” he said.
As it started up, the organization ran ads opposing the elections of U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestakand U.S. House of Representatives candidates Rush D. Holt, Jr., Mary Jo Kilroy and John F. Tierney, portraying them as “openly hostile” to Israel.
In October 2011, the committee produced a video portraying Occupy Wall Street as anti-Semitic. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen referred to the video and said he found no evidence of antisemitism during his two visits to the demonstration site.
In February 2012, the committee produced a 30-minute documentary covering President Barack Obama’s record on Israel. The documentary received 200,000 views in its first week.
In June 2012, the committee ran an ad encouraging the US Government to immediately put an end to Iran’s nuclear program.
The ad ran in New York, Washington, DC, and additional markets.In October 2012, the group released a robo-call which combined clips of Obama from 2009 and 2011 and a clip from a speech Benjamin Netanyahu gave in 2012, in a form that appeared as if the two were having a debate. Pollak said that month that his group would release further “secret Obama-Netanyahu debate recordings.”