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GERMANY EDITION

January 23, 2011

Dear friends:

The last few weeks have been traumatic here in the U.S. The attempted
assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona which
also resulted in the murder of six and wounding of 14 bystanders at an outdoor
“Meet the Congresswoman” public meeting touched and depressed all
Americans. It was such a shock that Pres. Obama felt it necessary to fly to
Tucson to participate (and make a great speech) at the open service for the dead
and wounded hosted by the University of Arizona. 14,000 people attended.

Interestingly, Representative Giffords is the product of a half Jewish family but,


after a trip to Israel sponsored by AJC some years ago, she chose Judaism as
her religion and is an active member of a Tucson synagogue. After a lot of
investigation it appears that her religion had nothing to do with the shooting. The
shooter is allegedly mentally ill and is being held for trial. Rep. Giffords is
undergoing a miraculous recovery and has been transferred to a rehab center.
Hopes for her recovery are high.

During these past couple of weeks the Republican Party majority has taken over
the House of Representatives and almost immediately voted to repeal the health
care law that was passed last year. It will remain on the books as the Democrats,
who rule the Senate, will not allow it to be brought up to the floor in that body.

So, the political battle royal between the two Parties is now in full blossom and
will remain so until the Presidential election in 2012 and, of course, after as well.
Everyone is wondering whether anything can get done politically between now
and November of 2012. We’ll have to wait and see.

As always though, matters on the American Jewish and Israeli fronts are never
quiet. So, let’s get on with the news…

IN THIS EDITION

CRITICIZING ISRAEL: BY AMERICAN JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS – Who says


we always say yes?

WHERE DO THEY WANT TO LIVE? – Surprise! Life in Israel ain’t so bad.

ISOLATION & THE PEACE PROCESS – Is Israel’s isolation more dangerous


than a peace agreement?

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LOBBYING & THE JEWISH AGENDA – Other issues important to American
Jews.

ANTI-CHRISTIANISM – In the Islamic world it’s not only anti-Semitism that is


rearing its ugly head.

A DOUBLE STANDARD? – Are Christian organizations easier on the purveyors


of anti-Christian sentiment than on anti-Semites?

CRITICIZING ISRAEL: BY AMERICAN JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS

I think that there is a common perception that American Jewish organizations


always follow Israel’s leads and are very reluctant to voice any criticism of the
Jewish State. Well, that is not the case. Most of these organizations in order to
maintain their credibility and self-respect criticize when there is, indeed,
something to be critical about.

Only recently, according to JTA, “The American Jewish Committee and the
Union for Reform Judaism have delivered broadsides in recent days against
recent Israeli government initiatives targeting nongovernmental groups in Israel
that monitor human rights. Last week, the Knesset approved in a preliminary
reading a bill that would investigate the funding sources of nongovernmental
groups that monitor and criticize the Israeli army.

“The Knesset’s action today contravenes the democratic principles that are
Israel’s greatest strength,” AJC Executive Director David Harris said after Israel’s
parliament voted Jan. 5 to investigate human rights groups. “Israel’s vibrant
democracy not only can survive criticism, but it also thrives and is improved by
it.”

Echoing demands from Israel’s left, the AJC and the Reform body instead called
for across-the-board transparency in Israel.

In its statement the Reform movement suggested that such actions make it more
difficult to defend Israel in other forums.

“The recent initiative undermines Israel's place in the global community and is a
source of concern to the Jewish community throughout the world and to Israel's
friends everywhere,” the statement said.

That was a theme picked up by the Anti-Defamation League, which in a


statement posted on its website did not directly address the proposed Knesset
law but expressed concerns about the “highly disturbing trend” of “Israeli

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intolerance.”

Inflammatory statements have a negative impact on attitudes toward Israel


around the world, even in friendly countries like the U.S.,” the ADL statement
said. “More important, however, is the impact they have within Israel,
undermining the democratic fiber, creating a mean-spiritedness in society and
enlarging already significant communal rifts."

The significance of such statements was in their bearers -- mainstream American


Jewish organizations, which are more accustomed to slamming Israel’s critics. In
the past, these groups have targeted manifestations of bigotry by marginal Israeli
groups, Israeli government discrimination against non-Orthodox religious
streams and, in some cases, remarks by Israeli officials about the country’s Arab
citizens.

What’s new is the concern by U.S. Jewish groups that discrimination and a
diminishing of democratic values is becoming mainstream in Israel.

These American Jewish groups remain dedicated to defending Israel. Indeed,


representatives of the same groups will attend conferences in Miami later this
month aimed at combating boycotts and delegitimization of Israel.

But they are no longer holding back on criticizing Israel -- criticism they view as
constructive.

Some would consider this a “trend”. I don’t believe it is. My experience is that
American Jewish organizations have always voiced criticism of Israel when it was
called for. In many instances the criticism is delivered quietly – frequently away
from the media which has a “field day” when the grab hold of something about
which American Jews criticize Israel. The bottom line, of course, is to bring about
change. If that can be done quietly, all the better.

American Jewish organizations, almost invariably, have boards of directors and


memberships. It is very difficult for an organization to keep criticism “under the
carpet” when the membership wants it out in the public it gets out.

There is, of course, a “family component” involved. Family “dirty laundry” is


always best washed in private. However, when the occasion for public criticism is
called for, no matter how painful, you can read about it in The New York Times.

WHERE DO THEY WANT TO LIVE?

Washington Post columnist and Deputy Editorial Editor, Jackson Diehl recently
wrote “One of the givens of the Middle East peace process is that Palestinians
are eager to be free of rule by Israel and to live in a state of their own. That's why

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a new poll of the Arabs of East Jerusalem is striking: It shows that more of those
people actually would prefer to be citizens of Israel than of a Palestinian state.

The poll, conducted in November, may be something of an embarrassment to


Palestinian political leaders, who lately have been insisting that Israel should
stop expanding settlements in the eastern half of Jerusalem -- in effect giving up
any claim to it -- as a precondition for the resumption of peace negotiations.

The awkward fact is that the 270,000 Arabs who live in East Jerusalem may not
be very enthusiastic about joining Palestine. The survey, which was designed
and supervised by former State Department Middle East researcher David
Pollock, found that only 30 percent said they would prefer to be citizens of
Palestine in a two-state solution, while 35 percent said they would choose Israeli
citizenship. (The rest said they didn't know or refused to answer.) Forty percent
said they would consider moving to another neighborhood in order to become a
citizen of Israel rather than Palestine, and 54 percent said that if their
neighborhood were assigned to Israel, they would not move to Palestine.

The reasons for these attitudes are pretty understandable, even healthy. Arabs
say they prefer Israel's jobs, schools, health care and welfare benefits to those of
a Palestinian state -- and their nationalism is not strong enough for them to set
aside these advantages in order to live in an Arab country. The East
Jerusalemites don't much love Israel -- they say they suffer from discrimination.
But they seem to like what it has to offer. Remarkably, 56 percent said they
traveled inside Israel at least once a week; 60 percent said access to its
Mediterranean beaches was "very important" or "moderately important" to them.

The East Jerusalemites do have one thing in common with other Palestinians, as
well as Israelis: They are pessimistic about the current peace process. More than
40 percent said that even if Israelis and Palestinians signed a peace deal and
East Jerusalem became the capital of a new state, some Palestinian militants
would certainly or probably continue an armed struggle against Israel. And fully
64 percent said it was very likely or somewhat likely that if the current
negotiations collapse, there will be a new intifada, or uprising by Palestinians,
including those in Jerusalem.

The bottom line messages seem to be that peace talks are essential to prevent
violence, but that even success won't lead to total peace; and that a lot of
Palestinians would prefer to live near, but not in, a Palestinian state.

ISOLATION & THE PEACE PROCESS

One of the most knowledgeable commentators of the Middle East situation is J.J.
Goldberg, a columnist for The Forward. In his January 14th column he noted that
former hard line military and police brass were joining Israel’s more middle of the
road Kadima Party.

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In his article Goldberg notes, “Most in Israel’s security establishment — hard-
liners included — worry that continuing to rule over the West Bank, with its 2.5
million hostile Palestinians, is more dangerous than Palestinian statehood.
Netanyahu claims to agree, but his Likud doesn’t, and he seems unable or
unwilling to budge. As Israel grows more isolated, its defense chiefs grow more
alarmed and impatient.

Talking about Gabi Ashkenazi, the current Israel Defense Forces Chief of staff,
who, when he steps down might challenge for the leadership of the Labor Party,
he writes, “In the meantime, he intends to organize a national campaign for
peace negotiations with Syria. He views peace with Syria as the surest
protection against the Iranian nuclear threat. In exchange for the return of the
Golan Heights and improved ties with the West, Ashkenazi believes, Syria would
break with Iran, leaving the mullahs isolated, and cut off aid to Hezbollah. That’s
a view shared unanimously by the heads of Israel’s intelligence agencies.

Most knowledgeable Israelis have at least an inkling of how the defense brass
thinks. It’s not uncommon for active-duty generals to give interviews in which
they let policy disagreements slip out. It’s never done by a sitting chief of staff,
though. And it’s never done in Haaretz or The Jerusalem Post, where their words
will appear in English. Instead they keep it in the family by talking to Yediot
Aharonot and Maariv, which don’t translate their printed copy. This time the
silencers are off.

I am not an expert of Israeli politics or its defense policy. However, when J.J.
Goldberg writes something I take it seriously. Therefore, if there are, indeed,
strong forces in Israel who see the current isolation of Israel as more threatening
because of the current policy and others who think that a Syrian peace process
might separate Syria from Iran; one has to listen and take that seriously.

You should read the entire Goldberg article which you can by clicking here.
http://www.forward.com/articles/134483

While on the subject of the peace process, it is obvious that the Obama initiatives
currently are not going anywhere. Politico.com reports, “With U.S. Middle East
peace efforts at an impasse, the Obama administration has sought new ideas
from outside experts on how to advance the peace process.

One task force has been convened by Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley,
former national security advisers to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush,
respectively, to offer recommendations on the Middle East peace process to the
National Security Council.

A second effort, led by Martin Indyk, vice president of foreign policy studies at
the Brookings Institution, held meetings this week with senior NSC Middle

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East/Iran adviser Dennis Ross, Palestinian negotiator Maen Erekat and Israel’s
ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, among others.

The solicitation of ideas comes as the administration’s peace efforts are “utterly
stuck,” as one outside adviser who consults the administration on the issue told
POLITICO Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

“There are three options that this administration can adopt,” former U.S.
Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer told POLITICO Thursday. “It can elicit an
Israeli initiative. It can elicit a Palestinian initiative. Or it can develop its own
initiative.”

“It’s had no success with the first two, and it hasn’t tried the third,” Kurtzer said.
“So if it wants to try to develop an initiative, it’s got to come up with a substantive
program that says to the parties, ‘When you get to negotiations, here are your
terms of reference.’ … And they have to be relatively narrow terms of reference,
so we don’t start from where we were 15 years ago.

Though the Israeli government has resisted suggestions that the U.S.
administration present “an American plan,” Kurtzer argued that the U.S.
experience to date has proved “there is no other option.”

Meanwhile, former Middle East Quartet deputy envoy Robert Danin proposed in
the Financial Times this week that the U.S. focus its efforts on stepping up
support for the state-building efforts of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,
an initiative that has wide support in both the U.S. and the Israeli administrations.

But the Washington Middle East adviser said there’s a risk in supporting such a
“bottom-up” approach without pursuing a corresponding top-down process that
meaningfully advances Palestinian sovereignty.

Without a process that will achieve Palestinian statehood, Fayyad and


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “are vulnerable to being seen
as policemen of the Israeli occupation,” he said. Support for Palestinian
institution building, he said, “is like apple pie and motherhood — everybody is all
for it. It can’t be the only thing out there.”

Another possibility is that the U.S. could step back from the process – either de
facto or in a more deliberate manner.

There’s a little more to the article which you can read by clicking here.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/47571.html

One has to give Pres. Obama credit for not shrinking away from this very
complex matter. In spite of his false starts and failures he keeps on trying and

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that is admirable. But if you fully read the two articles I have cited you will see
that we are still very far away from any movement forward, let alone a solution.

Even if, indeed, the Israelis decide to move more forcefully toward some sort of
solution, the major problem remains the Palestinians and what they are willing to
accept. I see nothing that deters me from believing that, in the final analysis they
will settle for nothing less than a one state solution with their being in the majority
which, of course, means the end of the Jewish state of Israel. So, I’m not very
hopeful. I do think a “no war’ agreement is possible no matter what it is called.
Let’s hope something happens.

LOBBYING & THE JEWISH AGENDA

According to Wikipedia, Lobbying is the intention of influencing decisions made


by legislators and officials in the government by individuals, other legislators,
constituents, or advocacy groups. It’s American as apple pie and American Jews
through their various organizations are thoroughly involved in it.

When a new force is introduced onto the American political scene such as the
Republican capture of the House of Representatives, all lobbying organization
groups scurry around in an effort to see the best way to push their own agenda.

JTA reports, “Faced with a new Congress intent on slashing the U.S. federal
budget, Jewish groups are trimming their agendas to hew to its contours.

On issues from Israel aid to the environment to elderly care, Jewish


organizations are planning to promote priorities that would find favorable
reception in the new Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives. The groups
are trying to build alliances based on shared interests and recasting pitches for
existing programs as Republican-friendly.

On domestic issues, many of the major Jewish organizations are devoted to


policies that directly contradict Republican approaches. (Jewish staffers have
been) told JCPA representatives that the best strategy for working around that is
to cherry-pick the smaller issues within the broader agendas that could appeal to
Republicans.

Israel funding is likely to remain steady, Capitol Hill sources said, although there
are concerns about how the funding will take place given the Republicans'
interest in trimming foreign spending.

Some leading Republicans, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the new
chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee,
say Congress could separate funding for Israel from overall foreign spending,
allowing conservatives to maintain current levels for Israel while slashing foreign
spending for countries they don’t see as friendly or programs they oppose.

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The pro-Israel community sees such a proposal as disastrous, in part because it
will make Israel a “special case” after years of efforts to make backing Israel a
natural extension of foreign policy. That could engender resentment of Israel.

Correspondingly, the pro-Israel lobby sees foreign aid as a means to bolster


support for the U.S.-Israel alliance in the international community. Pro-Israel
groups in Washington often have taken the lead in lobbying for Israel-friendly
countries in the past.

Officials say the best asset available to Jewish organizations dealing with
domestic and foreign policy is the grass roots -- not the lobbyists in Washington,
but the activists across the country that make appointments to see their
lawmakers on home visits.

The lesson of the Tea Party, the grass-roots movement that propelled
Republicans to retake the House, should not be lost on Jewish groups, says
Sammie Moshenberg, the Washington director for the National Council of Jewish
Women, which will advocate this year for President Obama’s judicial nominees,
pay equity and immigration reform, among other issues.

“The inside-the-Beltway strategy is to find our friends where we can, on a


bipartisan basis,” she said. “But also to get the grass roots to speak out -- that's
key, that's what always turns the tide. If the Tea Party taught us nothing, it’s that
getting folks to speak out and be persistently involved makes a difference.”

I know that that in some circles there is the feeling that the “Jewish lobby” gets its
way on all matters. Were it only so, the job of those of us who work in the Jewish
community would be very easy. However, that is not the case. Influencing the
U.S. Government is a tough, complicated job. All sorts of groups are involved in
it. The “special interest” industry is gigantic. If you want results you have to work
hard for them. American Jews like all other ethnic groups are hard at it. Winning
public support and then translating that into policy results is a tough business.
Nothing is easy in our “apple pie” nation.

Read the JTA story by clicking here.


http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/01/11/2742505/jewish-groups-trim-agendas-for-
new-congress

ANTI-CHRISTIANISM

Jews in the U.S. do not pay much attention to “anti-Christianism”. Christians are
the majority religion here so it seems almost outlandish to most Americans that
Christians are discriminated against anywhere. Every once in a while an article
appears in the bowels of some newspaper about the treatment of Christians in
the Middle East but, frankly, most people give it a glance and quickly move on.

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Jews are consumed enough about the newest (actually it’s not so new) anti-
Semitism that has emerged as a genuine threat from Islamic quarters. However,
more serious articles have begun to appear pointing out that Jews and Israel are
not the only targets of extreme Islamism.

Lee Smith, an editor at The Weekly Standard, a conservative journal notes in an


article entitled, The Long Withdrawing Roar, “…but for now the Christians of the
Middle East are facing danger. Both recent converts and ancient congregations
—the Assyrians in Iraq, the Copts in Egypt, Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics, and
more, long antedating Islam—are under fire. The land where Christianity began
is being cleansed of Jesus’ followers. It is possible that we will soon see an event
without precedent: the end of a living Christian witness in this region after more
than 2,000 years.

…rhetorical defenses of the Christians are cautious. Pope Benedict, like popes
before him, chooses his words carefully when addressing the situation of Middle
Eastern Christians, lest they be made to pay for perceived slights. Arab
nationalists and Sunni Islamists assume that any discussion of regional
minorities—whether Christians, Jews, or even Shia—by outsiders is coded
language for a project to colonize the Middle East on behalf of the great powers.

…the rise in anti-Christian violence to the virulent strain of radical Islam that
began with the Muslim Brotherhood and now comes in both Sunni and Shia
variants. Arab security services fight Islamist groups when it suits regime
interests—and it is dangerous for regimes to be perceived as siding with
Christians against the Muslim majority. Thus, every day brings a fresh outrage
against Egypt’s Copts, while the Cairo government’s notoriously active, and
vicious, security services sit idly by. In Iraq, some Christians even long for the
reign of Saddam Hussein and his Christian deputy, Tariq Aziz, who protected
them.

That notion of “protection” has a particular history. Since the Arab conquests
beginning in the mid-seventh century, Christians and Jews under Muslim rule
were recognized as “people of the book.” In theory, they were protected
minorities, or dhimmi. But they could not enjoy equality with the Muslim, typically
Sunni, majority, and the lot of dhimmis varied with the disposition of the rulers.
That Saddam, for instance, “protected” Christians to some degree did not ensure
that his sons would have done the same.

And as for the glory days of Middle Eastern coexistence that supposedly
preceded the rise of the present extremists, the Ottomans’ slaughter of the
Armenians and other Christians belies it. As long as believers are without legal
rights guaranteed by governments willing and able to enforce them, the Christian
presence in the region will be in peril.

I do not think a united front between Middle East Christians and Israelis is in the

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cards. A union of the discriminated against won’t happen. However, the
implications of religious discrimination are serious. However, that part of the
world seems impervious to its harms. It seems to be part of their way of life.
However, I want to stress that behavior in the East in no way excuses the anti-
Islamism that has arisen in the West.

Religious discrimination anywhere is toxic to the society in which it arises.


However, when it prevails and is part of government action and policy then it is a
danger to all. Will anti-Christian and anti-Semitic (masquerading as anti-Israel)
actions cease anytime soon? Don’t count on it!

A DOUBLE STANDARD?

While I’m on the subject of anti-Christianism coming from elements in Islam, Dr.
Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Co-Publisher of the Jerusalem
Letter/Viewpoints and Co-Publisher of Jewish Environmental Perspectives wrote
an interesting piece in Y-Net News noting that after 23 Christian Coptics were
murdered in Alexandria, Egypt, the Christian world is finally waking up to violence
against Christians in Islamic countries.

Dr. Gerstenfeld notes, “…the Alexandria murders raise many important issues
which go beyond this major incident. Some of these are of special importance to
Israel and the Jews. The attacks were followed by threats on an al-Qaeda
connected website which indicated that Coptic churches in Europe would also be
targeted. As a result, Coptic New Year services in various European countries
had to be guarded. For decades, the only European religious services with a
security system in place were at synagogues. Once again, Jews were the first
targets while others followed later.

Several Western Protestant organizations have, over the past years, relentlessly
criticized Israel’s attitude toward Palestinian Christians, while remaining silent
about incomparably bigger problems caused them by Palestinian Muslims. The
same bodies have also long ignored the harassment of Christians by Muslims in
a large number of countries, including Egypt.

To … illustrate the hypocrisy of various Christian bodies: The Open Doors


organization recently published a ranking of countries in which Christians suffer
the most from oppression. Communist North Korea headed the list. The eight
countries following it are all Muslim ones. They include Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi
Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq and Uzbekistan. In 10th place is
communist Laos. The Palestinian Authority is in 45th place on the list. Israel
does not appear on it.

Double standards toward Israel are at the heart of the new anti-Semitism. It is
high time that Jewish and Israeli organizations as well as their many Christian

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friends expose strongly the many anti-Israeli Protestant bodies in Western
countries. One prime target is the Geneva-based World Council of Churches
which has almost consistently ignored oppression of Christians in Muslim lands,
yet has given much negative attention to Israel.

Double standards are nothing new when it comes to the outside world judging
Jews and Israel. Dr. Gerstenfeld points out, “This motif of ignoring Muslim
aggression and focusing on Jews is an ancient one. In 2005, historian Rivka
Fishman published an article showing that from the Seventh Century, the
Byzantines were threatened by Muslims. The Christian leaders, however, largely
ignored this and instead focused their attention on hate mongering against the
Jews.

It seems not much has changed in the last fourteen centuries. With militant
Islamism having become such a force in the last number of years, attacks on
Christians will probably multiply in the future. The least Christian groups can do is
to honestly evaluate from where the problem emanates and not look for
traditional scapegoats on which to blame it.

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See you again in February.

DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted
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