Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A perspective from Israel

A perspective from Israel


Published February 26 in the Greenwich Time and Stamford Advocate of Connecticut.

I am a former 30-year resident of Stamford and now live in Netanya, Israel.

Through the years, Trudy Rubin has been right on some issues, but she is wrong and misleading on the Netanyahu speech to the Congress (op-ed, Feb 23, "Bibi, Boehner playing games") and I think your readers deserve another point of view. She quotes Nahum Barnea writing in Ha'aretz, a paper consistently critical of Netanyahu. His is only one voice among many. She accuses "Bibi" of plotting an end run around Obama who she claims has "twisted himself" in providing military and diplomatic support to Israel, when in truth the longstanding relationship between the United States and Israel has survived despite Obama's preference for changing Middle East policy to favor other regimes.

Rubin thinks Netanyahu is making this speech as a last desperate warning over Iran's intentions to dominate the Middle East by developing a bomb. She is right. Netanyahu is scared, and so are all of us who live in this region; not just Israeli's but also other Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. Perhaps Rubin hasn't been listening to Iran's continued threats to wipe Israel off the map.

But we have and we believe it!
Israelis are voting March 17 in an election that is focusing on domestic issues primarily. Whether Netanyahu makes a speech in the United States or doesn't, she is wrong in thinking that will sway the election on his behalf. It will not. What she doesn't tell you is that every major candidate is just as scared as Netanyahu is, and support his attempts to deter a "bad agreement."

This whole brouhaha is very painful for those of us who are both American and Israeli. I do not believe this was a deliberate plot to insult the president or to favor the Republicans. Mistakes were made but Obama's reaction looks to me like an opportunity to put Netanyahu in his place once and for all. And to influence the Israeli election. What Rubin doesn't tell you is that the White House is using every means available within the law to defeat Netanyahu, from setting up a legal lobbying group called V15 which is funded by an organization called One Voice based in the States which cannot directly fund and lobby because they are a foreign entity to using a public relations person once on Obama's White House team. These are just two examples.

The bottom line is this: Trudy Rubin can fling accusations at Netanyahu all she wants, true or untrue. But she isn't sitting under the gun, and neither are your readers. To really understand what is going on, I would invite anyone reading this to spend a few months with us here in Israel, maybe go through a barrage of missiles, or run for a shelter. One's perspective changes a lot when one is threatened as we are on an almost daily basis.

Jan Gaines is a former Stamford resident who now lives in Netanya, Israel.

Friday, February 27, 2015

PA's Paymaster

Published in the Jerusalem Post, Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sir, -- With regard to "Jerusalem hits back at claims it is causing collapse of PA" (February 23), I suggest that the government take the tax funds being withheld from the Palestinian Authority and use them to pay some of the PA's legal debts, specifically, those owed to the Israel Electric Corporation and the families of terror victims, to whom the PA now owes $655.5 million.

If it does that, no one could legitimately claim that Israel has been withholding funds from the PA since it would merely be acting as the PA's paymaster.

Alan Stein

CCSU, other universities should educate, not indoctrinate, students

CCSU, other universities should educate, not indoctrinate, students

By Jay Bergman

Jay Bergman is professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars.

Published in New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) Friday, February 27, 2015

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's claim that President Obama does not love America, while perhaps inartfully phrased, is defensible. Surely the president's intention, stated publicly when he was running for president, "to fundamentally transform America," suggests a strong aversion to America as it now exists. Moreover, he has condemned the American people for "clinging to their guns and their religion," and, by citing "their antipathy to people who aren't like them," slyly insinuated that they are collectively racist. When asked if he believed in American Exceptionalism, he replied that he believed in it the way Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism and the British in British Exceptionalism. His wife, Michelle, famously opined that American was "a downright mean country" and that until her husband ran for president, she had no reason to be proud of it.

Still, President Obama has his defenders, and in a country that is more or less evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, this is to be expected. Indeed, the whole issue of the president's true feelings about America is one on which reasonable people may disagree.

But that was not the case among the faculty at Central Connecticut State University after Mayor Giuliani delivered his broadside. On the campus email list-serve, one professor vowed that she would refuse to attend any lecture the mayor might give here. Another, recently retired, pronounced him a racist. Yet another, while conceding that the mayor was not a racist, argued that his derogation of the president nevertheless harmed the generic struggle against racism - which seems to imply that President Obama should not be criticized for anything and that anyone who does so is morally deficient.

As it happens, Mayor Giuliani spoke at CCSU two years ago under the auspices of the Vance Foundation, which over the years has brought to campus speakers on both sides of the political spectrum, such as George McGovern and Jimmy Carter on the left and George H. W. Bush and Jeane Kirkpatrick on the right. Could Giuliani's statement about Obama cause the foundation to bring him here again? Judging from the comments above, it seems safe to predict that should it do so, the response from faculty would be volcanic. Some have even suggested that in the future the Vance Foundation should either sponsor speakers the faculty agrees with or should be barred from using the university as the venue for the lectures it pays for.

In November 2013, a committee selected by the Faculty Senate sent the foundation a list of seven nominees to speak at CCSU in 2014. One was Melissa Harris-Perry, who, in a recent interview on MSNBC with Attorney General Eric Holder, asked him to quack like a duck. Another, Alice Walker, has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. The late Maya Angelou, also on the list, praised the barbaric and oppressive regime of the Castro brothers in Cuba. Three of the remaining four were similarly situated on the far left of the political spectrum. The last, Valerie Strauss, opposes school vouchers benefitting students from poor families while sending her children to expensive private schools.

College faculties across America are overwhelmingly liberal, and their political contributions show this vividly. In 2012, 96 percent of donations from Ivy League faculty went to President Obama, the remaining 4 percent to Governor Romney. This imbalance is most apparent in humanities departments, where the temptation to indoctrinate students politically is especially pronounced; when President Bush was in office, students of mine regularly complained about professors denouncing him instead of teaching what they were contractually obligated to teach.

The CCSU administration and faculty loudly proclaim their devotion to "diversity." But their commitment is more rhetorical than real. What they really seek is the opposite: a faculty and student body that are racially and ethnically heterogeneous but that politically think the same things. I hope that the good people of Connecticut, who through their taxes largely subsidize higher education in the state, make clear to their elected representatives that instead of indoctrinating students, our universities should educate them, which means, in part, practicing genuine intellectual diversity.

At CCSU, a good start toward this objective would be allowing the Vance Foundation to sponsor speakers with whom the faculty will occasionally disagree.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Attendance at Netanyahu’s Mar. 3 speech sends a strong message to Iran

By June Neal

Published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger

Regarding the Jewish Ledger’s editorial of Feb. 11, “Netanyahu Should Pass On Speech Before Congress”: When Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress on March 17, one white-haired, 86-year-old man will take a seat in the audience: Elie Wiesel, the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose name is a metaphor for the conscience of the world. His presence will cast an aura of righteousness that should shame those members of Congress who chose to boycott the speech because of team loyalty over demonstrating respect for the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East. In an advertisement he is running in two major newspapers, Wiesel will cite “the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran” and ask our leaders: “Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”

People of good will want to believe that diplomacy can forestall a nuclear-armed Iran. But successful diplomacy requires both parties to be honest brokers. Iran is a criminal theocracy that has never moved from its stated goal of destruction of the United States, which it calls The Great Satan. And it is frightening that the only insurance policy we have against Iran’s surreptitious nuclear development is the International Atomic Energy Agency, an arm of the United Nations, with which Iran has played a shell game for years.

Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty but continued to enrich uranium beyond agreed levels. It has ignored United Nations Security Council resolutions.

As the Ledger’s editorial correctly states, “Every single day Iran’s centrifuges are spinning.” So, why ask Netanyahu to cancel his speech? His call to action is needed now, before this bad pact is signed. And how would it be enforced when the agency charged with its oversight can’t do its job? According to the IAEA’s own November 20, 2014 report, Section H: “The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” And Section L: “…the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Just days later, the IAEA Director, General Yukiya Amano, told CNN: “The IAEA has been addressing this issue of Iran nuclear issues for more than 10 years but we still cannot give the assurance that all of the activities in Iran are for peaceful purposes. We have two problems: one is that Iran is not fully cooperating with the Agency to clarify the information that may have military aspects. Another problem is that Iran is not allowing us to implement a more powerful verification tool that is called an ‘Additional Protocol.’ Agreement was not reached.”

I urge all our senators and our representatives to attend Mr. Netanyahu’s speech. In doing so, they will send a strong message to Iran and to all who seek our destruction: this is a matter of conscience, not politics, and the security of the United States of America is paramount. In this we stand together.

June Neal
Delray Beach, Fla.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Israel and U.S. beacons of civilization

Israel and U.S. beacons of civilization

Published as an op-ed in the Connecticut Post.

Andy Piascik's "logic" ("Getting serious about terrorism," Feb. 19) may appeal to those who agree with him that America is the source of all evil in the world. Fortunately, most people have more sense and realize that, for all their faults, both the United States and Israel, its only true friend in the Middle East, are beacons of sanity, civilization, democracy and hope in the world.

With respect to what Piascik incorrectly calls "occupied Palestine," it's interesting to contrast its situation today with its situation between 1948 and 1967.

During that period, Gaza was occupied by Egypt while Judea and Samaria were occupied by Jordan, which had renamed it the "West Bank." There was no movement of goods or people between those territories and Israel, because the Arabs refused to allow any. The exceptions which proved the rule were the terror attacks launched from those territories against Israelis.

Today, Gaza is totally controlled by its own government, run by the terror group Hamas, which has launched thousands upon thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Despite this, and despite the continuing Arab boycott, Israel transfers massive amounts of humanitarian goods to the people in Gaza and routinely brings Gazans to Israeli hospitals for medical care.

In Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority has for two decades governed approximately 95 percent of the Arabs in those areas, but has several times turned down offers to establish an independent state in almost all that territory, along with all of Gaza.

Thanks to Israel, many of the Arabs living there have well-paying jobs either in Israel and in businesses within Jewish communities in the disputed territories.

In both Gaza and Judea and Samaria, the Arabs are taking advantage of many colleges, universities and hospitals which didn't exist in 1967 but were built during the period Israel administered the territory.

One important aspect which hasn't changed is the existence of "refugee camps."

I use quotes because very few of their residents are refugees; rather, the overwhelming majority are descendants - children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren - of refugees.

They have been forced to remain in these camps simply to be used as pawns, as human weapons in the genocidal campaign against the world's only Jewish state. When Israel administered the territory, it made an attempt to improve the lives of the people living in those camps; it tried to move them from the camps to real homes in real cities and towns but pulled back from those plans in the face of irrational but massive criticism.

One of the first steps we need to take if we are really serious about fighting terrorism is to insist the United Nations disband UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which has done so much to expand the "refugee" population, and start closing those "refugee camps," which would more accurately be called "terrorist training camps."

It's almost beyond comprehension that the Palestinian Authority has governed so much of the disputed territories for two decades yet has not allowed a single one of those camps under its jurisdiction to be closed.

Beyond comprehension, but telling: the agenda of the Palestinian Authority, whether first under the leadership of Yasser Arafat - the godfather of modern terrorism - or as currently under the leadership of the so-called "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, has never been about improving the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs or about establishing a Palestinian state; rather, it is about disestablishing of the one functioning democracy in the Middle East, Israel.

Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel
The writer is founder of the Massachusetts chapter of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting (PRIMER) and president emeritus of the Connecticut chapter.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Our Representatives in Congress Must Listen to Israel's Prime Minister's Message

Iran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons is the most dangerous problem facing the world today. Its importance far transcends partisan politics.

We beseech you to remind our Senators and Congresspersons of that fact.

Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the extremists in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran is far more important than who wins Israel's elections in a few weeks and even more important than who wins America's next election. It is the most important responsibility of our leaders, both in the Executive Branch and Congress.

The prime minister of Israel has been invited to address a joint session of Congress March 3. He will be interrupting his election campaign to speak; this issue is that important.

Our representatives in Congress must listen to his message.

Iran's nuclear weapons program is not only an existential threat to the world's only Jewish state, but is a dangerous threat to our own safety. The ICBMs being developed by Iran aren't needed to deliver a bomb to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv; they are being developed so that Iran will be able to threaten New York, Washington and Boston.

Please join us and do your part as patriotic Americans, supporters of our ancestral but threatened homeland and citizens of the world by reminding our leaders of their responsibility, that we expect them to uphold their responsibility, to be present when the Israeli prime minister addresses Congress, to listen carefully and to do everything in their power to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Ayatollah Khamenei and the terror groups he finances, trains and arms.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords

Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords 
Amb. Alan Baker 
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs  January 5, 2015 
Courtesy of IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis 

1. The peace negotiation process as set out in the Oslo Accords was intended to lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinian People and mutual recognition of each other’s "mutual legitimate and political rights" (Preamble, Oslo I and Oslo II).

2. In this context Israel was prepared to compromise on the historic and legal rights of the Jewish People in the area, through agreement for peaceful relations. To this end the parties agreed in the Oslo Accords not to initiate or take any steps that will change the status of the territories pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations (Oslo II, Article 31(7)).

3. Yasser Arafat, in his September 9, 1993, letter to Yitzhak Rabin, declared that "all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations."

4. This overall series of commitments and obligations constitutes a contractual framework of obligations between Israel and the Palestinians, signed as witnesses and guarantors by the King of Jordan, the Presidents of the U.S. and Egypt, the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Norway, the EU and endorsed by the UN.

5. By petitioning the UN, the International Criminal Court and international organizations to recognize them and accept them as a full member state, and by their unification with the Hamas terror organization, the Palestinians have knowingly and deliberately bypassed their contractual obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords in an attempt to prejudge the main negotiating issues outside the negotiation.

6. This, together with their attempts to delegitimize Israel among the international community and their attempted actions against Israel’s leaders, has served to frustrate any possibility of realization of the Oslo Accords, and as such the Palestinians are in material breach of their contractual obligations.

7. By the same token those countries supporting them are in breach of their obligations and guarantees as witnesses.

8. By all legal standards, according to the accepted and universally recognized laws of contracts and international agreements, a fundamental breach enables the injured party to declare the agreement void and is freed from any further obligations pursuant to the agreement or contract.

9. Therefore the fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords by the Palestinians is indicative of their conscious decision to undermine them and prevent any possibility of their implementation. As such they have rendered the Accords void.

10. In such a situation of fundamental breach and according to all accepted rules of contracts and agreements, Israel has the legitimate right to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid and to act unilaterally in order to protect its essential legal and security interests.
Amb. Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's ambassador to Canada.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014


By: Prof. Ervin Birnbaum

It is surprising and stunning to observe that some supposedly highly informed people refer to the State of Israel as an "apartheid" State.

Apartheid is defined in the Webster New Universal Unabridged Dictionary as "the policy of strict racist segregation and discrimination".  When one considers that Dr. Salman Zarka, a Druse physician, born in the village of Peki'in in Northern
Galillee, became this month the Director-General of Safed's Medical Center, after having served for years as the highest commander of the Israel Defence Forces' Center for Medical Services, one wonders how in the world he managed to
avoid the punishing apartheid supposedly imposed by Israel on its minorities.

When I consider Dr. J. Daka, my wonderful dentist, welcoming his numerous Jewish patients with a wide smile in his clinic
in the city of Netanya, although he is an Arab from a neighboring Arab village, I wonder how in the world he manages to
avoid the punishing apartheid inflicted by Israel on its Arabs.

When you travel from Netanya to Afuleh in the direction of Mount Tabor, where the prophetess Deborah fought a victorious
battle against Yavin the King of Hazor 3,300 years ago, and you pass near millitant Arab-Muslim strongholds such as the city
of Umm-El-Fahem, you can't help but stare mouth agape at the beautiful villas inhabited by the Arabs in the heart of Israel.
Now if that is apartheid, believe you me, friend, it pays to live under apartheid.

All one needs to do is to check reliable statistics from impartial sources to receive revealing statistics about which State
treats its religious, ethnic, racial and other minorities as human beings. The only State in the Middle East where the Christian minority of any racial, color or economic background increased in recent decades is Israel.

Consider the following figures, easily checked out: In 1948 there were in Syria 27,000 Jews; today there are 100. In Lebanon
there were 10,000 Jews in the 1950's; today there are less then 100. In Iraq there were 125,000 Jews in 1948; today there
are zero. In Yemen the number of Jews dropped from 45,000 in 1948, to approximately 200. And so on, down the roster of
Arab lands. Yet the Jews who were driven out of Arab lands form no refugee camps because their sisters and brothers in
Israel were ready to welcome them and help them. Yet, there are numerous Arab refugee camps, poor people whom their
brothers were not ready to embrace and kept them in consistent squalor. Would it be out of line to consider that this was done and continues to be done for a political purpose, though it lacks a sense of humanness?

To call Israel an Apartheid state is at best a gross distortion, a lack of understanding of the meaning of the term. However,
in many cases it is simply an outright, blasphemous lie. It is exploited for political ends, taking advantage of well-meaning
individuals of all ages and all professions from university students to high-level academics who believe what they see in
print, or what they are being told by people who are capable without blushing to look straight into their listeners' eyes and
utter the famous BIG LIE. Precisely because of its absurd enormity, it would seem preposterous to be uttered were it a lie --
and yet, that is exactly what it is -- a lie. It is a useful tactics, exploiting the psychological weakness of good people who can't
even begin to fathom the enormity of such distortion. This tactics was used in the past, it is used today, and no doubt will be
used in the future, by all dictators, zealots, insanely ambitious people whether it be a Stalin, Hitler, Ahmedinejad, Arafat or
others who cannot attain their goals by truthful and honest means.

Among those who are forced to resort to highly devious means to attain their ends in destroying the State of Israel is the so-
called "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" group. One of the examples of how they operate was produced at the University
of Harvard, as recorded in the daily paper of the University campus, "The Harvard Crimson" in an article entitled "HUDS
(Harvard University Dining Services) Suspends Puchases from Israeli Soda Company". It relates that "some members of the College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society" cited "discomfort with...the potential" of Sodastream
machines produced in Israel "to offend those affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict".  Since this discomfort "could be offensive to Palestinian students", Rachel J. Sandalow-Ash, a member of the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, agreed that these machines not be used on the university campus. Miss Sandalow-Ash claims that her stand is neither anti-Israel nor anti-Semite. It is purely a stand against the occupation.

Surely, it would have been proper for Miss Sandalow-Ash to ask herself several questions before reaching her decision. 

Is Sodastrem really in occupied territory? Sodastream is relocating its facility to undisputed, non-controversial land in Israel's Negev. It could be considered "occupied" land only if you agree with the extreme Palestinian stand that all of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Haifa, are to be viewed as occupied land -- in other words, that Israel has no right to exist. This is indeed, one of the basic principles of the Boycott group. It goes hand in hand with the group's demand for the return of all the refugees to Israel. Is this what Miss Sandalow-Ash desires?

The representative of the Jewish Alliance could have further taken into account not only the discomfort of the Palestinian
students, but also the feelings of the Jewish students, who could wonder why one should introduce a soda-machine into
the Israel-Palestine conflict? How far should one go in playing games with those so-called "microaggressions"? The head
of Hammas, Halled Masshal, recently sent his daughter for treatment to an Israeli hospital. Since this could have been a
matter affecting life, I could see his refusing Israeli medication. However he evidently didn't. But to wipe the faces of thousands of Jewish students in the dirt by offending them and causing them potential discomfort in refusing a product just because it is manufactured in Israel, that seems to be allright for Miss Sandalow-Ash. Yet, God forbid, don't call her anti-Israel nor an anti-Semite. After all, she is Jewish, representing a Progressive Jewish Alliance. How could she be less sensitive to Jewish feelings and needs than to her Palestinian cousins?

One can feel overwhelming pity for good individuals who do not see how they become instruments of evil, not realizing that a Palestine Solidarity Committee and an Islamic Society are utilizing them for their own satanic ends of destroying Israel through boycott. Would it perhaps be helpful to Rachel J. Sandalow-Ash and to hundreds of dedicated Jewish students throughout the campuses of American Universities, and to thousands of well-meaning Jews throughout the United States, to point out that when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, precisely two months later, on April 1 he came out with his first manifest anti-Jewish act which consisted of an ECONOMIC BOYCOTT. Throughout Germany gigantic posters appeared on billboards informing the German public of a general boycott on Jewish businesses. The posters read:

Till Saturday morning,10 o'clock
The jews are given to reflect
Then the fight begins! 

The day, April 1, 1933, marked the beginning of the stage of psychological isolation of the Jews in Germany.
Let us be aware. History has a tendency to repeat itself.

Ervin Birnbaum is Professor of Political Science at City University of New York, Haifa University and Moscow University of Humanities. He published numerous books including "The Islamic State of Pakistan", "Politics of Compromise" and "In the Shadow of the Struggle", and most recently "Turning Obstacles into Stepping Stones". hadnerv1@012.net.il

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Letter Not Published

Carol Denbo wrote a letter to the Jewish Advocate in response to a letter which was published. The published letter referred to an article earlier published about J Street.

Denbo's was told her letter would not be published, with an explanation that the Jewish Advocate had a new policy and would no longer publish responses to letters.

Posted here are Denbo's letter, followed by the correspondence between Denbo and Daniel Kimmel, the editor of the Jewish Advocate. This correspondence has been edited to make it easier to follow. The correspondence is followed by the original article about J Street and the letter to which Denbo responded.

Denbo's letter, submitted November 14:

Stan Fleischman's letter last week placing part of the blame on Netanyahu for the inability to find a workable two state solution has several flaws.

First, there were no announcements of "new settlements" but simply announcements about plans for future building in existing communities which will in all likely hood  remain part of Israel if there were ever to be an agreement. Abbas has already decreed that any  Palestinian State would become Judenfrei. With over a million and half Arabs currently living in Israel,  Mr Fleischman might want to ask himself who in this case the real undemocratic leader is. Finally the recent escalation of terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians has prompted the Israeli government to consider preventing Palestinian Arabs in disputed areas from riding on certain buses. I would not call this undemocratic but simply a smart move on the part of the Israeli government to safeguard its citizens from terrorism.   Let's not rest the blame for the lack of peace on the only true Democratic government in the Middle East.

The fact remains that there will never be a workable two state until the  Palestinian leadership recognizes Israel's right to exist as a sovereign Jewish State and stops inciting its citizens to violence.

Carol Denbo
Swampscott MA

The letter was submitted with the following request:


Can you kindly print this in next edition of Advocate?

Thank you

Kimmel's response:

I'm afraid not.  I've been discussing the letters column with the publisher and the decision was made that letters should address articles in the paper, not other letters.  I know this will seem unfair but I'm sure there will be an opportunity for you to respond to an article or op-ed, or perhaps you would like to submit an op-ed for consideration yourself.  However as a response to a letter from another reader, we're not going to be able to use it.

Denbo to Kimmel:

That is a bad decision!! I am in total disagreement.

Subscribers should have the opportunity to express an opinion that is totally contrary to another opinion. Letters do have an influence on readers and you are not allowing an opportunity for a dissenting thought.

I am getting fed up with the direction of your paper and will  discontinue my subscription!

Kimmel to Denbo:

I've offered you alternatives to express your viewpoint.  We have limited space for letters and we can't use it for a back and forth between readers. I am more than happy to have a wide range of views and "dissenting thought" in the paper.  However we (not just myself) have decided that readers arguing with each other is not the ideal format for that.

Denbo to Kimmel:

Who is the "we"?

The Jewish Journal has a policy that allows for ONE response to each letter and no more. This way it allows for another opinion and it does not have to be carried on endlessly. It is not "arguing" but simply presenting another viewpoint! It is a policy that you need to consider.

Until that time, I have decided to discontinue my subscription to your paper.

There are many others who feel the same way and I would advise you to take another look at this if you do not wish to lose more subscribers.

I am not in the habit of writing op-eds; I simply write letters!

The original article about J Street, published October 31, 2014:

J Street documentary shows strengths, weaknesses of controversial group 
Local screening continues ongoing debate 

By Sam Lanckton 
Special to the Advocate 

"We wanted to see what the J Street journey was like. This is an interesting topic that has not been covered," filmmaker Ken Winikur said at an Emerson College screening of his film, "J Street: The Art of the Possible" on Oct. 22. "My view of how you get politics done in America dramatically changed while making the film. It is extremely difficult. Their dedication to the cause, whether you like them or don't like them, gave me a new admiration for people who can stick it out in politics."

"I want people to walk out after viewing this film feeling hope, because the alternative is...there is no alternative. And the American Jewish Community has a role to play in this," co-director Ben Avishai said.

"Time is running out on a two-state solution. This is a dire situation. You can love J Street, you can hate J Street. But either way, time is running out," Winikur said. "It's in everyone's best interest, Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans, to resolve the conflict."

"We want people to feel a sense of urgency and a sense of optimism about what's happening," Avishai concluded.

The film makes the case that there is an urgent need to resolve the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and to find a workable two-state solution. Experts such as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman and others weigh in on the merits (and flaws) inherent in the goals J Street is trying to achieve, and the ways in which the group goes about trying to achieve them. At times vilified as an anti-Israel lobby, at times praised as a thoughtful, albeit critical, partner with the Zionist cause, the organization emerges in the film as a project created by complex individuals attempting to negotiate a most complex set of political, societal and ideological issues.

If the film has a hero it is Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street. He is seen traveling the country and speaking out at venues large and small in defense of the notion that one can be pro- Israel while also being critical of Israel's policies. Some listeners and co-panelists greet this concept with scorn, while others seem won over to Ben-Ami's point of view.

As the attempt to achieve a two-state solution suffers repeated setbacks, the staff at J Street becomes ever more frustrated. Further frustration derives from efforts by more mainstream American Jewish organizations to marginalize the organization and even to dismiss it as irrelevant. J Street achieves perhaps its greatest victory when Vice President Joe Biden addresses its annual conference, thereby conferring on the group a much-needed degree of legitimacy.

Following the screening, Avishai and Winikur helped lead a discussion on creating a two-state solution in light of the recent war in Israel. Participating in the discussion were journalist Danny Rubinstein, Israel's longest serving West Bank correspondent and former editor of Ha'aretz Daily, and Professor Bernard Avishai of Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dartmouth College, an author of three books on Israel, and father of co-director Ben Avishai.

"The two-state solution doesn't have any future. Not because I don't like it," Rubinstein said. "I like it very much. I like a lot of things I cannot achieve. It's not practical anymore. It's one state today. It's one economy. I don't believe the Arabs will continue with terrorism and violence, not for much longer. Today we are under assault from a political campaign. And the Israeli government is doomed to lose. Israel is becoming an apartheid state, and we have to figure out a way for this not to happen, for everyone there to co-exist."

"A two-state solution has to mean some kind of confederation, some kind of urban infrastructure that is divided up cooperatively," Professor Avishai countered. "There is no such thing as a one-state solution. At some point you cannot deny political rights to people and expect them to swallow it. At some point it becomes violent."

The avoidance of such future violence through a two-state solution is the mission of J Street. Whether one agrees or disagrees with their politics or methods, this intelligent and insightful film offers an engaging glimpse into the organization.

The letter published November 14 to which Denbo tried to respond:

Two state alarms

I can’t agree more that “there is an urgent need to resolve the tension between the Israelis and Palestinians and find a workable two-state solution.” (“J Street documentary shows strengths, weaknesses of controversial group”, Oct 31). While Abbas and the Palestinians have contributed their share of obstacles to peace, such as calling the temporary closure of the Temple Mount a “declaration of war”, Netanyahu and his government have likewise been taking every opportunity to fan the flames of fear and discord.

The deterioration in the Middle East situation has spurred J Street to launch a program of “two-state alarms” to alert American Jews of undemocratic actions of the Netanyahu government. These include the announcement of new settlements, allowing dozens of settlers to move into a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood, and proposing to keep Jews and Arabs on segregated buses by creating Palestinian-only bus lines.

Newton Highlands
(The writer is a member of the J Street Boston Media Committee)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A new immigrant gives advice to the prime minister

Prime Minister Netanyahu should bow to reality and recognize the “State of Palestine.”

By Alan Stein

As published in the Jerusalem Post on November 6, 2014.  It may be found on the Jerusalem Post website at http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/A-new-immigrant-gives-advice-to-the-prime-minister-380926.

As an oleh chadash, or new immigrant to Israel, I recognize one of my responsibilities is to tell the prime minister how to run the country. I feel somewhat derelict, as my teudat zehut (I.D. card) is already nine days old and I have yet to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu any advice, but I will try to rectify that starting here and now. I herein provide my advice on how to deal with the nefarious effort by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in violation of the solemn commitments made by the Palestinian Arab leadership in the failed Oslo accords, to obtain international recognition of the non-existent Palestinian state of which he is president.

Prime Minister Netanyahu should bow to reality and recognize the “State of Palestine.” Although it does not meet the internationally accepted criteria for statehood, generally accepted standards are never applied to entities fighting Israel and the PA has, for most practical if not legal purposes, been a state for nearly two decades. Fighting international recognition is a costly and losing battle and there can be benefits for Israel if it can treat Palestine as a state.

Besides giving Netanyahu this advice, I am happy to offer additional assistance in the form of the following letter to be sent by him to Mahmoud Abbas:

My Dear Friend Mahmoud,

I wish to apologize for not immediately and enthusiastically agreeing to your insistence on having the Palestinian Authority recognized as a state. In my own defense, it was somewhat difficult, since you have been assiduously avoiding speaking with me during my term as prime minister of the Zionist entity. I hope you’ll accept my apology and join with me in ironing out the technical details necessary for our states to live side by side.

I invite you, at your convenience, to come and speak to our Knesset in our capital of Jerusalem. I welcome your expeditious appointment of an ambassador to Israel. My government will cooperate fully in enabling you to find a suitable location for your embassy in our capital.

I hope you will reciprocate by inviting me to address your legislature in your capital of Ramallah. I will soon choose our ambassador to your state and expect you to similarly help us find a suitable location for our Israeli embassy to be built in Ramallah, the capital of Palestine.

We do still have technical details to negotiate, as we are both obligated by the Oslo accords, which remain in effect until superseded by an agreement between our states.

While we accept in advance your sovereignty over Area A, Israel still has overall security responsibility there, while we have joint responsibilities over Area B and Israel retains full responsibility for Area C. We also need to negotiate the allocation of Areas B and C between our states.

We should be able to agree on the general principle enunciated once by president Clinton in another context, that as much as possible predominantly Arab areas should be allocated to the Arab entity, predominantly Jewish areas should remain with the Jewish State of Israel, and the rest of the disputed territory should be divided between our states rationally and in a way which keeps the border between us as natural as possible.

I don’t have to remind you that there are certain unsociable acts, including launching missiles at kindergartens in Sderot, building tunnels into Israel and using them to launch terror attacks, bombing pizzerias and various other activities which have been popular with your people the past few decades, which are acts of war and, in some cases, war crimes. I trust that you, as president of Palestine, will work assiduously to prevent all such acts and will understand if, despite your best efforts, your citizens continue these popular activities and we in Israel will be forced to defend ourselves.

On a personal level, let me express my admiration for the way you have maintained your role as president into the tenth year of your four-year term. Here in Israel, we are inconvenienced by something called “democratic elections.” Every few years we elect a new Knesset and if the people don’t like what I’m doing I can be kicked out on my tuches. Perhaps we can get together one day over a nice plate of hummus and you can give me some advice on how to avoid calling elections.

Your friend,

It’s possible the prime minister may wish to make some small changes before sending this letter to Mr. Abbas; I am prepared to offer any additional assistance he requests.

Personally, I am delighted to finally be a citizen in a country where everyone is the prime minister.

The author just made aliya (October 22) and even on the plane was thinking about submitting this sort of op-ed to The Jerusalem Post. He’s been busy with other things, such as the wonderful Israeli bureaucracy, but finally got around to composing it last evening.