Obama gives Israelis something they can agree on

Where J-Street is leading Obama.


Today’s NYTimes carries an Op-Ed from Haaretz Editor Aluf Benn, “Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel?” His article is clear and concise and asks who is the fool behind the Obama administration policy on the middle-east why has Obama pursued a policy of distancing Israel and Israelis?

He points to three places where Obama got it wrong with Israel and that his policies are counterproductive at best, and downright dangerous at worst:
1-Israelis became spoiled by unfettered presidential attention.
2-Mr. Obama’s quest for diplomacy has appeared to Israelis as dangerous American naïveté.
3-Mr. Obama seems to have confused American Jews with Israelis.

Benn points to recent Jerusalem Post poll of Israelis which indicated that only 6 percent of those surveyed considered the Obama administration to be pro-Israel. In other words, the stats show that Israelis read our Presidents name as barack HUSSEIN obama. Pro-Arab, Pro-Palestinian, luke warm on Israel, and empowering Iran.

Benn’s Op-Ed, from a leading left-wing Israel newspaper, reveals that J Street has taken Obama down the Wrong Street. Obama, Rahm and Axelrod have failed to create a viable policy for the Middle East, and Hilary over in State is kept on a short leash in the dog house.

There is a great positive part of all of this.

Obama has gotten 94% of Israelis to agree on something.

Even with American Jews split on Obama’s direction, it is better for the survival of the Jewish people that Israelis are unified, than American Jews.

Ghost of Rachel Corrie haunts the SF Jewish Film Festival

Rachel Corrie burns a mock U.S. flag during a rally in the southern Gaza town of Rafah in February 2003. photo/ap/khalil hamra

Rachel Corrie burns a mock U.S. flag during a rally in the southern Gaza town of Rafah in February 2003. photo/ap/khalil hamra

The SF Jewish Film Festival has for years been a source of pride for my mom. She enjoys the great films they screen, buying a pass most years, in addition to volunteering. My mom saves each program guide for me to review, often marking down films that she thinks I would have enjoyed and the films that she enjoyed. I have a pile of those program guides somewhere.

So on account of my mom, I am pretty familiar with the SFJFF. The Festival has screened an incredible selection of Jewish films from around the world, some of them controversial. And they have screened their share of anti-Israel films. (There are lots of Jews and others willing to pay money to watch films about just how terrible those Zionist Jews are.)

However, now even long-time supporters of the Festival are asking questions about the goals of the Festival, and its board of directors, after it was revealed that the Festival is screening Rachel and seems to have been hijacked for use as a political platform.

“Rachel,” a film about the dead American activist Rachel Corrie, and her activist mother, are headlining the SF Jewish Film Festival this year. The Israeli Consulate is furious, as are many local and national Jewish groups.

Peter Stein, the film festival’s executive director said in J Weekly:

“I know there are many members of the community who would prefer if the festival stayed away from programming films on difficult topics or topics of passionate division of opinion

“That being said, if we, as an arts organization, are going to remain relevant in our time, it really is part of our role to catalyze conversation, however uncomfortable it may be.”

Stein argues that he has brought lots of other controversial stuff. However, Mr. Stein, Rachel Corrie is different.

Corrie is a martyred saint to those who chant “Death to Israel” and “Zionism is Racism”. Corrie is a icon of the Palestinian Resistance whose photo hangs along side those of suicide bombers. Corrie is a hero to those who want Israel gone and replaced by a bi-national state without a Jewish character.

Including the film and her mom Cindy, who have appeared at Israel Hate Weeks nationwide, and at UC Irvine’s week-long program, “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust,” is asking for, is planning for, enormous controversy, disunity, and acrimony.

Some might argue that Stein is good at his job. He is keeping the world focused on his film festival. Amid budget cuts, recession, and global troubles, he has gotten the Jewish community up in arms both in support and in disgust. I wonder how the Festival funders feel about the Festival becoming a platform for political turmoil?

Critics are pointing out that this screening is also creating huge publicity for a marginal group Jewish Voice for Peace, whose acting national director Rachell Pfeffer, now sits on the board of the SFJFF. J Weekly writes that, “Local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace… and the American Friends Service Committee… and others who have taken up the cause of the people of Gaza, signed on to help the festival promote “Rachel” to their constituencies.”

Meanwhile, the Festival board and all of their sponsors have been barraged by emails and criticism. They realize now that they hit THE MOTHER OF ALL FLASH POINTS for the pro-Israel camp – St. Rachel. They are trying to include one of the detractors to deflect some of the criticism and don’t understand why they are being singled out for such scrutiny. After all, in Israel people debate all kinds of things, why not here in America, you can hear supporters of the Festival say. It is true, in Israel, they have all kinds of detractors, and critics. However, the stated goal of those that promote Rachel Corrie and her mother are not benign nor constructive. They seek the dismantling of the Jewish state of Israel. Even Cindy Corrie herself is a pawn in a much larger game of destroying support for Israel among average Americans, liberal Christians, and on college campuses.

This whole episode coincides with the Three Weeks, a time that Jews have been divided by our enemies, and have historically treated each other with scorn and hate. This hatred led to the destruction of the Holy Temple. This hatred tears at the fabric of the Jewish community, and helps alienate already alienated young Jews who don’t know what to think or feel about being Jewish. Israel’s detractors scored a major victory this week.

Today I am fed-up and sick of NPR’s Doublespeak

As I Twittered (or it is twitted?) this AM:

NPR news just called Iran pres “critic of Israel.” That’s like calling a serial killer “a critic of people.”

NPR was discussing Bibi’s upcoming talk, and whether Bibi would discuss the situation with Iran. They actually referred to the Iranian Madman Ahmedstolehisjob, the man who wants to “wipe Israel off the map,” and is building the means to do so, as a “critic of Israel.” I nearly threw up.

NPR, CNN, they deal with the elections in Iran as if they are in some kind of legitimate democracy. Boker Tov Chevre – you are on some kind of permanent trip, you took too many shrooms at Wakarusa, you are living in a skunky haze at an LA Farmacy. You are totally out of touch with reality. Iran is an Islamic Totalitarian theocracy with a fascist hold on the media, and a misogynist, xenophobic, anti-Jewish agenda. They arrest and imprison political prisoners at will, funnel millions of dollars to terror groups like Hizbollah and Hamas, advocate the genocide of the Jewish people. Sheesh.

While we might not love Bibi, he is the least humble Israeli politician in history, he was elected in an uncontested contest. Bibi’s opponents were not arrested after his victory. His police did not shoot at and tear gas protesters in the streets. Bibi did not turn off access to mobile phone texting, twitter, BBC, and a host of other media to lock out his people. Why oh why do they equate the two?

Makes me start to appreciate FOX, oy vey. George Orwell? Where are you George?


Protecting Hate at UCI

welcome to israel

From the Los Angeles The Jewish Journal

May 20, 2009
Protecting Hate at UC Irvine

by Neelie Genya Milstein opinion/article/protecting_hate_at_uc_irvine_20090520/

Imagine walking on a campus past buildings where you have taken numerous classes with many peers, past the Student Center where you have eaten lunch many times, past all the familiar places where you have felt safe and accepted. Now imagine walking by those same places and seeing blood-stained flags of a nation that is part of your identity. Posters with “anti-hate = anti-Israel” and “Stop Israeli Genocide” parade in front of you. Displays surround you with images of cruel IDF soldiers, dead Gazans, Anne Frank — a symbol of Jewish tragedy — wearing a kaffiyeh, and of Israel’s barrier to protect Jews from terrorism, labeled an “apartheid wall.” It is as if everything Israel and Jews ever stood for is racism, bloodshed and war. You are a Jew; a proud Jew, a proud supporter of Israel. Now you are seen as nothing but a racist murderer on your own campus.

When I first walked onto campus and saw the Israeli flag blowing in the wind, ripped and blood-stained, I was filled with anger, sadness, and helplessness. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “These are lies. This is disgusting!” I didn’t scream, but I trembled with rage at the Muslim Student Union (MSU), and even more, at the UCI administration for standing by as their students are humiliated, chewed up and spit out, and depicted almost as animals.

Anyone who knows Israel’s history knows of its challenges, triumphs and mistakes. I refuse to accept vicious propaganda that demonizes Israel. I refuse to accept desecration of cherished symbols of Jewish identity. I recognize that freedom of speech entails freedom to preach hate, lies and prejudice, but I am repulsed. The MSU depicts the suffering caused by Israel’s recent war with Hamas, but it never acknowledges the reasons for Israel’s actions, the suffering of Israelis, Hamas’ goal to destroy Israel, or the tactics Hamas used, such as human shields, that raised the civilian toll. I, along with Israelis and the Jewish world, grieve for the innocent civilians who died. Why doesn’t the MSU show equal concern for Jewish fears and suffering? Could they share Hamas’ view that whenever an Israeli man, woman, or child is killed, it should be cause for celebration and passing out candy?

I have been told to censor myself so that potential students are not afraid to come to UCI, but I have had enough censorship. With truth comes power, not fear. The MSU’s hate is dangerous. I have been in Jewish private schools since second grade and I have always been taught that hatred is wrong. I know that Israelis are taught not to hate Arabs, and that Jewish national identity demands equal protection for Muslim religious identity. I know that UCI’s Jewish students never even thought of retaliating with a weeklong campaign of “The World Without Mecca” or “Palestinian Nationalism=Islamic Terrorism and Racism.” Then I came to UCI, and found that my fear of hatred was more than justified. At UCI, hate is a yearly event that lasts for a week. It isn’t just any hatred. It is hatred directed at me, my friends, my community and my history.

After my three years at UCI, you would think I would be desensitized, and could just ignore the MSU’s “apartheid wall.” But I stand for more than that. I am standing up for all the Jews in past generations who did their best to uphold our religion and protect our people. I am standing up for all who understand and support the State of Israel as one of the most extraordinary achievements of the Jewish people.

I am not asking the UCI administration to censor the hate speech. I am asking them to denounce this style of rhetoric and displays just as they would denounce campaigns for white supremacy, sexism, or Islamophobia. I am asking them to be as fearful of countenancing hatred as I was taught to be, not just because of its present impact, but because of what it bodes for the future.

Neelie Genya Milstein is a student at UC Irvine.

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