What are we doing wrong?
Every other day I read about BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel (“Call for divestment gets louder,” WJW, March 28), and I cannot understand why so many “intelligent” college students and sophisticated organizations can be sucked into such propaganda. What are we doing wrong, and what are they doing right? Is it that these “intelligent” people cannot see beyond the biased reporting, or is it that the other side is using the victim card so strongly that pity cancels all?
We must have some very clever propaganda some place, where is it? Or, better still, why can’t we get the whole truth out of the darkness so all can see?
A group of naive, gullible students are determined to embellish an already bloated Palestinian narrative. Sycophants of J Street elders, J Street U, pushes dovish solutions leaving Israel at a disadvantage. Yet, they claim pro-Israel support (“J Street cuts through campus,” WJW, March 21).
It isn’t true. J Street U’s “concern” for Israel reveals a starry-eyed, unrealistic approach. Especially dangerous is its dismissal of historical perspective as it applies to Jewish existence – without which they can’t seriously recognize the tenuousness of Israel’s survival.
Surely J Street U is aware of anti-Semitism across U.S. campuses. In a recent survey taken by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research (IJCR), 43 percent of Jewish students reported being subjected to anti-Semitic harassment. Arab/ Muslim activists are involved. What has J Street U done about this?
We are judged by the company we keep. Why did J Street U agree to co-sponsor rigged panels of anti-Israel demonizers organized by Students for Palestine Justice? (This information was omitted in the March 21 article.)
Students for Palestine Justice has a decades-long record of bullying Jewish students and causing nightmares among college administrators. They are not amateurs. Nevertheless, clueless J Street U finds common ground with a bunch of liars who accuse Israel of apartheid. How can they caper with people obsessed with making boycott, divestment and sanctions succeed?
Rabbi Israel is dreaming. Not all Jews are on the same team.
Congratulations to WJW for publishing its hilarious April Fools’ parody, “You shouldn’t have voted for Obama” (April 4).
You had me at first – hook, line and sinker! But then I realized the tongue-in-cheek argument that since 70 percent of Muslims voted for Obama, the overwhelming majority of Jews must be wrong. The giveaway was of course that no data were presented that Muslim Americans are single-issue voters who only care to vote anti-Israel – as opposed to their perhaps sharing with Jews the values that elected President Obama.
I really appreciated the droll observation that “AIPAC remains enormously supportive of Israel” (a comment that is a martini so dry as to lack even a hint of vermouth).
Similarly riotous was the attack on any non-AIPAC group as being somehow dedicated to the destruction of Israel. The absolute giveaway of the parody would have been to condemn Ben Gurion for accepting a two-state solution in 1947.
Wait a second – the author of the article was serious?
Alan Elsner misquoted me in his piece (“How to advocate for Israel to progressives,” WJW, April 3) when he wrote: “Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the founder of The Israel Project, never tired of teaching us, we will never get ‘beyond the conflict’ until we solve the conflict.” What I had said was: “We cannot get beyond the conflict until we get beyond the conflict” (not to solve it). It was from research done by Frank Luntz, Stan Greenberg and Neil Newhouse years ago that showed that from a PR perspective that you can’t focus on the many wonderful PR elements of Israel (democracy, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.) until the American public stops seeing Israel only through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Thankfully, due to past work by the government of Israel, The Israel Project and others, Israel is now seen much better in the media. More importantly, however, media coverage has shifted to show the threat of Iran and the scary changes in the so-called “Arab spring.” The rapes in Egypt’s main square and the horrible attacks on civilians in Syria, for example, are shocking. The media is right to focus on these human rights tragedies.
I challenge J Street to spend its own time and dime doing its own research, as opposed to Alan Elsner quoting outdated studies. I bet they would find that Americans now understand that Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood, and that it is the only country in the region today that shares our values and vision for the future. And by the way, that vision includes a two-state solution … something that will come when both Palestinians and Israelis make a deal that includes security and peace. It will not magically show up because J Street carps at Israel’s democratically elected government.
Mr. Elsner, like the CEO of J Street, has Israeli citizenship. If they think they have all the answers for Israel they should go back to Israel and run for public office. If one of them gets elected prime minister, AIPAC would surely invite them to speak at their gala as well. Until that time, however, the people of J Street would be more productive in working for a two-state solution if they directed their love of Israel to spending time convincing Palestinians to want a lasting and peaceful two-state solution.
After all, Mr. Elsner fails to point out that polling consistently show that Palestinians overwhelmingly want Israel gone.
I am no longer at The Israel Project. But even from afar I can see that the most helpful peace program sponsored by Americans who love Israel is still The Israel Project’s program in Arabic that promotes people-to-people peace. J Street should join in those efforts and work to get the U.S. government to do the same.
JENNIFER LASZLO MIZRAHI
Executive director, Laszlo Strategies
It’s not pro-Israel
Alan Elsner, J Street’s vice president for communications, promotes the libel (“How to advocate for Israel to progressives,” WJW, April 3) that Israel “occupies” the West Bank and controls the Arabs there, which he calls the greatest threat to its democracy, including on demographic grounds, because with current fertility rates, Jews will constitute only a minority in Israel-plus-the-West Bank by 2048. He blames this “occupation” for the withering of support for Israel among liberals and progressives.
But as Elsner knows, the “occupation” he speaks of ended in 1994 and 1996, when Israel withdrew in stages from the Arab-occupied parts of the West Bank, designated under the Oslo Accords as Areas A and (parts of) Area B, and gave the Arabs living there self-determination and independence. They have installed their own thugocracy there, the Palestinian Authority, which governs their everyday life.
Israel maintains only backup security control of those areas, primarily through nighttime incursions, to arrest those engaging in terrorist operations, and checkpoints, to clamp down on roadside violence and other terrorist activities.
No one in the current government and few in Israeli society would ever consider incorporating these Arabs or the ones in Gaza into the Israeli body politic, denying them the self-determination and independence they have already been given, or retaking the land on which they reside. The issue is what additional, uninhabited, land and land from which Jews would be cleansed, they should be given in the West Bank, considering the security threat of rocket and other terrorist attacks from strategic locations.
Israel’s loss of support among American liberals and progressives is attributable to slanderous propaganda spread by individuals and organizations like Elsner and J Street, which WJW mistakenly calls a “pro-Israel” advocacy group, its own, self-proclaimed, label. It is not, as Elsner’s article clearly demonstrates.
Forces of neo-fascism
In his April 4 commentary in WJW (“How to advocate for Israel to progressives”), Alan Elsner bemoans the “growing problem in reaching out to progressives and liberals” by pro-Israel activists. It is perplexing for those of us who are old enough to remember a time when being a liberal was close to being synonymous to being pro-Israel. It is also puzzling why some who call themselves liberals would sympathize with the forces of neo-fascism – and I do not use the term fascism lightly. One need only check the media of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc., to see the nationalistic cries for domination and the prosecution of political opposition, not to mention the frequent calls for genocide.
There are various explanations. But Mr. Elsner might want to begin with his own organization – J Street. J Street is highly influential in liberal circles, yet it presents a skewed and distorted image.
They frequently cite P.A. President Abbas as a peace partner, and by implication the Israeli government as an impediment to peace. This totally ignores Abbas’ consistent demands that all major issues be settled his way without negotiations. It totally ignores Abbas’ continued denial of Jewish rights in the land. It overlooks Abbas’ veneration of Amin el-Husseini, the World War II-era, pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.
All this would and should cause most Jews and Israelis to question Abbas as a peacemaker. True he has made efforts to avoid a new Intifada, but that’s not the same as supporting a permanent diplomatic settlement. It only proves Abbas is working to secure a status quo in which there is neither peace nor war, as both would be a threat to his rule.
J Street persists in praising Abbas and condemning any Israeli government. And yet Elsner cannot understand why certain people who call themselves liberal or progressive question Israel’s legitimacy.
My wife and I recently traveled to Israel for the first time in many years. When planning our trips, we research and book hotels ourselves. We have stayed at, and been pleased with, Marriott Hotels in many of our travels.
Unfortunately, Marriott has no named properties in Israel, excepting the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv. This aroused my curiosity, and I searched the Marriott website for their properties in the Middle East. Not surprisingly, they have two properties in Saudi Arabia, at least three in Jordan, one in Libya (Tripoli), several in Dubai and the UAE, and planned properties in Iraq.
I wrote to Marriott Hotels regarding this issue, and received a quick, but boilerplate response. I inquired as to whether their corporate policy was anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or both. The only individual response stated:
“At this time Marriott has only the Renaissance Tel Aviv in the Israel ‘area.’ Marriott is always looking to expand, and thanks you for your feedback.”
The remainder of the response was rote, corporate jibberish, not answering my specific question as to why Marriott has no property in the only democracy and most vibrant economy in the Middle East. Also, I have never seen or read of the term, “Israel area.” What we apparently have are, at least superficially, both latent and blatant anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic policy, at the highest corporate levels. I find no other possible explanation as to why a multinational corporation would choose not to have its well-known brand in Israel. Is Israeli money somehow tainted? Is there a tacit boycott of Israel by Marriott? Is Marriott pacifying some party or country with whom it does business?
Perhaps you can explain this better than Marriott. Inquiring minds want to know.
STEVEN M. JACOBY