American Jewry's gutless 'leadership' is afraid to say 'NO' to the 'New Israel Fund'thought that the 'New Israel Fund' and its constituent organizations would be banned from the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City because of their support for BDS (boycott, divest, sanction actions against Israel) and for organizations that hurt Israel. Then you hoped that their claim that 'of course' they would be at the parade would be proven false. Now, Ronn Torossian reports on the behind the scenes pressure being exerted on by the opponents of BDS by American Jewry's gutless 'leadership' to drop their opposition to the 'New Israel Fund' participating.
Since writing an article in the Observer urging the New York Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the UJA-Federation to refuse the New Israel Fund (NIF) participation to the annual “Celebrate Israel Parade,” I have been inundated with calls and e-mails from people supporting – and attacking – my position.
So much panic has been caused that Israel’s Former Ambassador Danny Ayalon – who was aware of and supported my position before I wrote of it – received calls in the last 48 hours from Michael Miller, the head of the JCRC; Eric Goldstein, President of UJA; and Jerry Levin, UJA’s past President pressuring him to silence the voices condemning the NIF. They have a Monday meeting set to discuss this issue.
Clearly, mass concern remains over the parade’s decision on allowing the the participation of the extremist New Israel Fund (NIF), a group that hurts the Jewish State, funds legal efforts that seek to place the rights of the terrorists over victims who were killed while praying in Jerusalem, and has called Israel “racist” and “murderous.”
In response to my op-ed, the JCRC crafted a statement, which reads “JCRC-NY has for years required that all Parade groups must identify with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. This year, JCRC-NY, for clarification purposes, added a new rule that ‘all groups must oppose, not fund, nor advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by not recognizing it as a Jewish state.”
However the JCRC will not address the fact that on NIF’s own website the group clearly supports BDS. Even though the NIF states that it ” will not fund global BDS activities against Israel” a paragraph later it apologizes for exactly those activities, stating “NIF will thus not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.”
Instead of owning up to their mistake, the JCRC is digging its heels in and calling in favors to quiet pressure. Wealthy donors and Jewish leaders have called on former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon to try and stop those of us nay-sayers. Ayalon is active against NIF, yet they have summoned him for a Monday meeting to appeal to his sense of the “importance of the parade.”
This is not an issue of the right versus the left; it is an issue of the right versus the wrong.
In private appeals, the most senior executives from these Jewish organizations, whom I know and like personally, talk about their families in Israel, their love for Israel, and of course, how long and hard they have worked for the Jewish people. They had a prominent JCRC board member and professional colleague ask me to stop writing. While many of these people tell me privately they abhor NIF, they will not speak out publicly.The Talmud says that every generation gets the leadership that it deserves - for better or for worse. Clearly, we have some soul-searching to do about why we have merited such gutless 'Jewish leaders.'
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