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May 19, 2015 3

The Distorted Image of Israel

Anti-Israel pun­dits con­tinue to invent new ways to use dis­tor­tions and half-truths to attack the Jew­ish state, pre­sent­ing Israel in a neg­a­tive light as racist, inhu­mane and entirely objec­tion­able. These Israel haters will often invert a pos­i­tive aspect of Israeli soci­ety, flip­ping it on its head in an effort to dele­git­imize the Jew­ish State.

This most well-known of these tac­tics is dubbed Pinkwash­ing by its inven­tors. It takes Israel’s proud record on LGBT issues and the open­ness Israeli soci­ety demon­strates towards the LGBT com­mu­nity, and absurdly argues that Israel uses this issue to deflect atten­tion away from its treat­ment of Palestinians.

Ken Roth, the direc­tor of Human Rights Watch, recently engaged in a sim­i­lar “deflec­tive” prac­tice with Israel’s life-saving efforts in Nepal fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake.  In response to Israel’s announce­ment that they were send­ing a del­e­ga­tion to pro­vide med­ical and search-and-rescue assis­tance, Roth cyn­i­cally tweeted: “Eas­ier to address a far-away human­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter than the nearby one of Israel’s mak­ing in Gaza. End the block­ade!”
Ken Roth

Another avenue used by Israel-hating activists is the so-called “Buz­zfeed model” of try­ing to main­stream dis­torted and overly sim­pli­fied lists of Israeli transgressions.

In a recent post­ing for Alter­net, anti-Israel writer Zaid Jilani con­cocted a list of “6 Crazy Things Israel Has Done to Main­tain Racial Purity.” The title is a dead give­away of the tac­tic — trum­pet­ing the hyper­bole and dis­tor­tions in the arti­cle to fol­low. And while there are grains of truth to each of the exam­ples listed, they all lack full con­text, and are spun in the most neg­a­tive of ways to accom­plish out­landish offence towards Israel.

One of the exam­ples listed is that only Jews are enti­tled to the right-of-return law, which pro­vides for auto­matic Israeli cit­i­zen­ship. This law does give spe­cial immi­gra­tion sta­tus to Jews and is gen­er­ally cham­pi­oned as a pos­i­tive ini­tia­tive by Israel, enabling Jews from around the world, and their descen­dants up to four gen­er­a­tions, to call Israel their home. Many of the Jews, espe­cially in the early years of the State, were sur­vivors of the Holo­caust and refugees from vio­lent expul­sion by hos­tile Arab coun­tries. Dur­ing the 1980s and 1990s, over a mil­lion Jews from the Soviet Union and tens of thou­sands from Ethiopia were able to escape oppres­sive con­di­tions and build new homes in Israel, thanks to this law. As the his­toric home­land of the Jew­ish peo­ple, Israel right­fully and proudly sees this law as one of its most impor­tant and pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to the safety and well-being of Jews from around the world. Other immi­grants to Israel are required to apply for cit­i­zen­ship, pur­suant to laws that are sim­i­lar to those in other democ­ra­cies, and are not guar­an­teed auto­matic cit­i­zen­ship status.

Israel is not a per­fect county. Like all West­ern democ­ra­cies, it is faced with its fair share of domes­tic and inter­na­tional chal­lenges. But it has also accom­plished a great deal in its short his­tory, and is home to a thriv­ing progressively-minded society.

It is sad that Israel can do no good in the eyes of the Pinkwash­ers and peo­ple like Roth and Jilani. No mat­ter Israel’s accom­plish­ments and con­tri­bu­tions to the world, these voices, cloaked in a mar­ble of right­eously pro­mot­ing a human-rights agenda, seem bent on invent­ing new ways to use hate-filled rhetoric hate-filled to upend Israel’s pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to soci­ety and the world to unjustly vil­ify the Jew­ish State.

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May 8, 2015 8

Gilad Atzmon and Yaakov Shapiro Condemn Israel and Zionism

gilad-atzmon-yaakov-shapiro-new-york-2015

Flyer adver­tis­ing the event

On May 6 in New York City, an anti-Israel event fea­tured Gilad Atz­mon, an Israeli-born anti-Semite based in Lon­don, and Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, Spokesper­son for the anti-Israel group “True Torah Jews.” The stated goal of the event, titled “Judaism ver­sus Jew­ish Iden­tity Pol­i­tics: Reli­gion ver­sus Trib­al­ism,” was to help “unravel the tan­gled web of sec­u­lar Jew­ish pol­i­tics, right and left.”

In his remarks, Atz­mon claimed that there have been con­certed efforts to silence his views, but that the efforts were “not from Zion­ist bod­ies, but actu­ally from Jew­ish left bod­ies,” such as Jew­ish Voice for Peace. He stated that JVP’s stance took him “by com­plete sur­prise” because he had always worked towards “oppos­ing Israel.”

Atz­mon claimed that there are three cat­e­gories of Jews:

  1. Jews who fol­low the Torah and see Judaism as the core of their identity
  2. Those who iden­tify as Jews because they have Jew­ish heritage
  3. Those who iden­tify polit­i­cally as Jews

Atz­mon, who referred to him­self as “a devoted self-hater,” stated that the first two cat­e­gories of Jews are “inno­cent” because reli­gious Jews “have never been involved in any col­lec­tive geno­ci­dal attempt against another peo­ple,” and that hav­ing “a Jew­ish mother doesn’t make you into a war criminal.”

Accord­ing to Atz­mon, the third cat­e­gory of Jews are “guilty” because they have sup­pos­edly been “at the cen­ter of too many dis­as­ters,” includ­ing the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion, the Span­ish Civil War, and the “Nakba.” He added that in the U.S. there was “Jew­ish influ­ence within the neo-conservative school” and that Amer­ica is “pay­ing the price for those wars,” which he stated were not “rab­bini­cal wars.”

After Atz­mon con­cluded his ini­tial remarks, Rabbi Shapiro spoke, echo­ing much of what Atz­mon said, and adding his reli­gious anti-Zionist ide­ol­ogy to the dis­cus­sion. Like Atz­mon, he spoke against the cre­ation of Israel and called its for­ma­tion “a his­tor­i­cal anom­aly.” But, rather than focus­ing on the var­i­ous cat­e­gories of Jews that Atz­mon did, Shapiro instead spoke only about sec­u­lar Jews and reli­gious Jews.

Accord­ing to Shapiro, Zion­ism was cre­ated by sec­u­lar Jews who wanted to destroy Ortho­dox Judaism because they allegedly “absorbed the atti­tudes of the anti-Semites and looked at the Jews them­selves with the same dis­gust and loathing that the anti-Semites did.” He con­tin­ued and stated “the rea­son the Jews were dis­gust­ing is because they looked like me and they acted like me. And they blamed the reli­gious Jews for anti-Semitism.”

Shapiro added, “When Gilad says ‘the Jews do this and the Jews do that,’ he’s talk­ing about one type, those are sec­u­lar Jews…The Jews that stole our iden­tity. Nev­er­mind the Pales­tini­ans say they stole our land. They stole our Jew­ish name, they stole my iden­tity, they are not real Jews!”

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April 23, 2015 2

“Israel Lobby” Conference Features Anti-Israel Rhetoric

A one-day con­fer­ence titled, “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?” took place on April 10, 2015 at the National Press Club in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The con­fer­ence fea­tured sev­eral anti-Israel speak­ers who chose to focus on the alleged role that the “Israel lobby” plays in the U.S.-Israel rela­tion­ship and to eval­u­ate whether it is pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive for both countries.

Miko Peled

Miko Peled speak­ing at the conference

At the con­fer­ence, there were six panel dis­cus­sions on top­ics such as “What Is the Israel Lobby and How Does It Work?,” “Are Crit­i­cal Voices Silenced?,” “Is Free­dom of Speech Encour­aged on Amer­i­can Cam­puses?,” and “Is the Lobby Good for Israel?” Speak­ers on the pan­els included Grant Smith, the founder and direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Research: Mid­dle East­ern Pol­icy (IRMEP); Israeli anti-Zionist author and activist Miko Peled; Gideon Levy, an Israeli jour­nal­ist from Ha’aretz; Richard Falk, the for­mer United Nations Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Pales­tin­ian human rights; and Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the Inter­na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity Move­ment (ISM).

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sions, par­tic­i­pants spoke about var­i­ous aspects of the “Israel lobby” and groups that are involved with Israel advo­cacy work in the U.S. Below are some of the most inflam­ma­tory com­ments from par­tic­i­pants at the conference:

  • Richard Falk, in his pre­sen­ta­tion titled “Weak­en­ing and dis­cred­it­ing the UN: The work of pro-Israel NGOs,” claimed that the United Nations is biased towards Israel and that pro-Israel groups are engaged in work to dele­git­imize the UN. He spoke about the recent AIPAC Pol­icy Con­fer­ence where Sen­a­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham report­edly spoke neg­a­tively about the UN and stated that Graham’s remarks didn’t rest on facts, but instead claimed, “It rests on the rep­e­ti­tion of the defama­tion and if you repeat, as Joseph Goebbels under­stood very well…If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes a kind of pub­licly accepted truth. And that’s where the very destruc­tive effect of these kinds of tac­tics occurred.”
  • Miko Peled spoke about “How the Lobby enables Israeli Pol­icy: Views of an Israeli in Amer­ica.” In his remarks, he claimed that Israel was founded on eth­nic cleans­ing and that Israel is an ille­git­i­mate state because “Israel was cre­ated as a result of a bru­tal eth­nic cleans­ing and estab­lished itself as an apartheid regime imme­di­ately when it was formed. There was no bet­ter Israel. There was no uncor­rupt Israel. There can­not be an uncor­rupt Israel because it was built on a crime and has no legitimacy.”
  • Gideon Levy’s pre­sen­ta­tion, which was titled “Does uncon­di­tional sup­port for Israel endan­ger Israeli voices?,” addressed whether or not the U.S.-Israel rela­tion­ship is cor­rupt and whether it has had a neg­a­tive impact on both coun­tries. Levy stated, “We are deal­ing with a cor­rupt­ing friend­ship. I think that if it wouldn’t be the Israel lobby, Israel would have been today a bet­ter place to live in. Israel would have been a more just place. And I think that if there wasn’t an Israel lobby, the United States would have been a bet­ter place and a more demo­c­ra­tic place, but it’s not for me to judge the Amer­i­can politics.”
  • Grant Smith deliv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion titled “How big is the Lobby and what does it do? An overview of the 501© uni­verse,” and in his remarks, he claimed that U.S. tax­pay­ers are “vic­tims” who are owed money from Israel for U.S. aid that he believes was deliv­ered to Israel on false pre­text. He also labeled pro-Israel groups in the U.S. as “Israel-affinity groups” and claimed that, “The edu­ca­tion and train­ing indoc­tri­na­tion seg­ment of Israel-affinity groups and orga­ni­za­tions is really involved with train­ing within the com­mu­nity, Zion­ist education.

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