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06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



Israelis and Obama

nyt-global-edition-mastheadOp-Ed by Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, and director of the U.S./Middle East Project, 1st November 2009

Polls indicate that President Obama enjoys the support of only 6 to 10 percent of the Israeli public — perhaps his lowest popularity in any country in the world.

According to media reports, the president’s advisers are searching for ways of reassuring Israel’s public of President Obama’s friendship and unqualified commitment to Israel’s security.

That friendship and commitment are real, President Obama’s poll numbers in Israel notwithstanding. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to reinforce that message during her visit to Israel. The presidential envoy George Mitchell has reportedly been asked to make similar efforts during his far more frequent visits to Jerusalem.

The White House is about to set a new record in the number of reassuring messages and video greetings sent by an American president to Israel, as well as to Jewish organizations in the United States, on this subject. Plans for a presidential visit to Jerusalem are under discussion.

Presidential aides worry that the hostility toward President Obama among Israelis can be damaging to his peace efforts. This is undoubtedly true.

But a White House campaign to ingratiate the president with Israel’s public could be far more damaging, because the reason for this unprecedented Israeli hostility toward an American president is a fear that President Obama is serious about ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Israelis do not oppose President Obama’s peace efforts because they dislike him; they dislike him because of his peace efforts. He will regain their affection only when he abandons these efforts.

That is how Israel’s government and people respond to any outside pressure for a peace agreement that demands Israel’s conformity to international law and to U.N. resolutions that call for a return to the 1967 pre-conflict borders and reject unilateral changes in that border.

Like Israel’s government, Israel’s public never tires of proclaiming to pollsters its aspiration for peace and its support of a two-state solution. What the polls do not report is that this support depends on Israel defining the terms of that peace, its territorial dimensions, and the constraints to be placed on the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.

An American president who addresses the Arab world and promises a fair and evenhanded approach to peacemaking is immediately seen by Israelis as anti-Israel. The head of one of America’s leading Jewish organizations objected to the appointment of Senator Mitchell as President Obama’s peace envoy because, he said, his objectivity and evenhandedness disqualified him for this assignment.

The Israeli reaction to serious peacemaking efforts is nothing less than pathological — the consequence of an inability to adjust to the Jewish people’s reentry into history with a state of their own following 2,000 years of powerlessness and victimhood.

Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whose assassination by a Jewish right-wing extremist is being remembered this week in Israel, told Israelis at his inauguration in 1992 that their country is militarily powerful, and neither friendless nor at risk. They should therefore stop thinking and acting like victims.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message that the whole world is against Israel and that Israelis are at risk of another Holocaust — a fear he invoked repeatedly during his address in September at the United Nations General Assembly in order to discredit Judge Richard Goldstone’s Gaza fact-finding report — is unfortunately still a more comforting message for too many Israelis.

This pathology has been aided and abetted by American Jewish organizations whose agendas conform to the political and ideological views of Israel’s right wing. These organizations do not reflect the views of most American Jews who voted overwhelmingly — nearly 80 percent — for Mr. Obama in the presidential elections.

An Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement has eluded all previous U.S. administrations not because they were unable to devise a proper formula for its achievement; everyone has known for some time now the essential features of that formula, which were proposed by President Clinton in early 2000.

Rather, the conflict continues because U.S. presidents — and to a far greater extent, members of the U.S. Congress, who depend every two years on electoral contributions — have accommodated a pathology that can only be cured by its defiance.

Only a U.S. president with the political courage to risk Israeli displeasure — and criticism from that part of the pro-Israel lobby in America which reflexively supports the policies of the Israeli government of the day, no matter how deeply they offend reason or morality — can cure this pathology.

If President Obama is serious about his promise to finally end Israel’s 40-year occupation, bring about a two-state solution, assure Israel’s long-range survival as a Jewish and democratic state, and protect vital U.S. national interests in the region, he will have to risk that displeasure. If he delivers on his promise, he will earn Israelis’ eternal gratitude.

Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, is director of the U.S./Middle East Project.

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