Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jewish Voice for Peace-- Still Proudly Delegitimizing Israel

Jewish Voice for Peace, through their house organ Muzzlewatch , is still trying to keep one foot in the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) camp while claiming that they are still part of the dialogue within the mainstream of the Jewish community. Two recent posts on Muzzlewatch by Cecilie Surasky illustrate this schizophrenic attitude perfectly.

The first one dealt with a blog post elsewhere by James Besser, a veteran journalist in the Jewish press, entitled "Stifling Debate about Gaza". Besser raises very valid points about whether Israel's policy towards the Hamas regime has been correct--not in some morally ambiguous sense that equates the "rights" of a gang of radical Islamist thugs to launch rockets at civilians with the right of Israeli citizens to live in peace, but correct in the sense of best serving the interests of the state of Israel and its people. While clearly noting that he doesn't disagree with Israel's decision to use force in Gaza, he does write:

"I am saying there’s something disturbing about the growing determination to stifle debate in an American Jewish community with a multiplicity of pro-Israel views."

Presumably, Besser is referring to the controversies regarding J Street , which describes itself as a pro-Israel organization yet accepts money from Arab and Iranian interest groups and held a conference whose attendees jeered at the name of Elie Weisel and heckled suggestions that the Palestinians had some minimal degree of responsibility for their choices in voting for Hamas. Much of the discussion regarding J Street is not about their policy suggestions per se, but rather whether these positions are actually arising from a fundamentally Zionist viewpoint, as opposed to their own description of themselves as primarily an arm of President Obama's foreign policy.
(However, I know some committed Zionists who happen to agree with much of what J Street promotes. They should have every right to espouse these policies, just as those of us who disagree should have every right to respond without being accused of "stifling debate" merely for the act of disagreeing.)

But Cecilie missed Besser's key point: "a multiplicity of PRO-ISRAEL views." JVP is simply not part of this discussion, because they are not a pro-Israel organization! To being with, to be pro-Israel is to be a Zionist , to support the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own national homeland, just as this same right is accepted for almost every other self-defined national group. Not only does JVP explicitly refuse to support this, but they join in anti-Israel demonstrations with International ANSWER which openly supports Islamist terror groups; they have signed on to a public statement endorsing BDS as a way to pressure Israel into accepting the mythical "right" of return; they work with the anti-Zionist Sabeel, but never with any organization that supports the existence of a Jewish state; they hand out fliers drawn from the work of the anti-Zionist Ilan "facts aren't important" Pappe. I'm not sure who JVP is really trying to deceive here-- the genuine pro-Israel mainstream of the Jewish community, or themselves. They've certainly failed at the first.

Surasky's second post is Mr Hyde to her previous Dr Jekyll-- instead of trying to appeal for acceptance, she more accurately boasts of her role (and, by extension, JVP's) in supporting attempts to delegitimize Israel. She discusses the Reut Institute's recent analysis of worldwide delegimitization efforts against Israel, immodestly identifying herself as a "general in the new battlefield for Israel's survival". Sorry Cecilie-- propaganda officers are usually below command rank; the generals are the ones who are paying you to promote their policies. (As for me, I'm just a dedicated volunteer.)

Curiously, Surasky doesn't even note in passing several very important points from the Reut analysis--ones that she should have been crowing about as an endorsement of what she claims to stand for. As noted in the article in the Jerusalem Post: "Other recommendations presented by Reut to counter the hubs of delegitimacy are to break the 'all-or-nothing' dynamic of criticism of Israel, place more Israeli diplomats in the hubs [of delegitimization, like the San Francisco Bay Area], be wary of 'strange bedfellows' such as right-wing and evangelical organizations..." If you are a leftist Zionist group that opposes Israel's policies, and especially one that continuously claims to be calling for open debate and criticizes those who support Israel from the right, then isn't this a complete endorsement of your position? Surasky should be jumping up and shouting ecstatically about this! But, look at the strategies suggested later in that very same sentence: " support anti-boycott campaigns (buy Israeli products), establish a 'price tag' for attacking Israel and punish boycotters....". Yes, Cecilie, they are indeed to referring to you, JVP, and your extremist friends. And the price that you will continue to pay by denying Israel's legitimacy is not getting the legitimacy within the Jewish community that you so desperately crave yourself. After all, you can't get a seat at the table when you're trying to saw off its legs.

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