Redefining the Israel-Arab Conflict

The conflict between Israel and the Arab world must be redefined, British author Melanie Phillips told a gathering at a Maple Glen synagogue sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America.

There is no solution because the problem is misstated. The two-state solution is not axiomatic. Why are they fighting? It is not because of the absence of a Palestinian Arab state. The Arab world wishes Israel’s destruction, which is why this is the conflict that never seems to end.

Melanie Phillips Group Photo

ZOA Philadelphia ED Steve Feldman
ZOA Philadelphia Chairman Gene Shusman
British author Melanie Phillips
ZOA National President Morton Klein
ZOA Philadelphia President Lee Bender
William Wenger, ZOA host at Cong. Beth Or


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Consul General Sideman Addresses ZOA

Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman shows the plush doll that encourages violence against Israelis.

Yaron Sideman shows plush doll that encourages violence against Israelis.

— by Richard Chaitt

Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman spoke at The Zionist Organization of America – Greater Philadelphia District’s quarterly meeting Temple Adath Israel in Merion, PA. During his talk, he held up a toy. It was a plush terrorist doll (complete with rock to throw) that the Palestinian Authority wants their young children to play with. He contrasted this to a plush dreidel that Jewish children use.

_DSC8169Mort Klein detailed a number of anti-Israel activities worldwide. Steve Feldman and the local ZOA leadership discussed fighting media bias, helping to inform elected officials and politicians, monitoring school curriculum, reaching out to the uninformed and other needs. As pro-Israel advocates, we should be motivated to actively address these problems.

Mort Klein and Yaron Seidman both took questions after they spoke.

Photos by Richard Chaitt.

Reform Movement to Komen on Defunding of Planned Parenthood


Though the Komen Foundation announced that it would award no new contracts to Planned Parenthood clinics, Brinker denied that Komen was actually “defunding” Planned Parenthood, a technical point based on the fact that a few grants have yet to expire.

This afternoon, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to Ambassador Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

The full text of the letter follows the jump.

Dear Ambassador Brinker,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with membership of more than 1800 Reform rabbis, and the Women of Reform Judaism, which represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women’s groups in North America and around the world, we write to express our disappointment in Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to halt its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, thereby withholding funds to fight breast cancer where they are most needed.

Komen for the Cure has helped hundreds of thousands of women in the fight against breast cancer, and has educated millions, bringing the once taboo and closeted subject of breast cancer into the public domain. Indeed, the global impact that you and Komen for the Cure have had was precisely why we were so pleased to bestow upon you the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award at our recent Biennial convention. And this is why we are so deeply disappointed by Komen’s decision to cease funding mammograms provided by PPFA in the face of a politically-motivated investigation unrelated to PPFA’s breast cancer screenings for vulnerable women.

At the same December Biennial, the Women of Reform Judaism honored PPFA President Cecile Richards and applauded PPFA’s work to advance women’s health. It is painful for us now to see politics and partisanship interfere with and undermine efforts to support women who lack the resources they need for preventive medical services like mammograms. Each year Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly 830,000 breast exams. PPFA has stated that, over the past five years, 170,000 of the centers’ 4 million breast exams conducted were a direct result of Komen grants. Halting Komen grant money to PPFA is contrary to your organization’s mission and interests, directly and unfairly threatening the health and safety of women.

Upon accepting the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award, you told the story of two women, one Palestinian and one Israeli, marching together to combat breast cancer in the first Race for the Cure in Israel. You explained with admiration that, in the course of the walk, they were able to forget the political climate that divided them and they bonded instead over the common cause of women’s health. We now urge Komen to follow their example by rejecting efforts to sow division among women’s health advocates and providers and refusing to sacrifice the lives of women on the altar of political ideology.

We understand that this funding decision comes from a new standard employed by Komen for the Cure that defunds organizations under government investigation. While we understand the desire to have an objective policy in place, this particular standard is misguided, threatening more than just grants to PPFA. We believe there are less partisan ways to accomplish your goals. For example, a standard that is linked to investigations carried out by law enforcement is more likely to be free of partisanship. The standard that Komen has established allows Komen’s funding decisions to be dictated by the political whims, partisanship and pet issues of individual members of Congress, who persuade their committees to launch an investigation.  This new standard may appear to extricate Komen from politicization, yet in reality it leaves the group open to even greater politicization.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
s
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism

The Jewish People’s 3000-Year Presence in Palestine


Lee Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

— by Steve Feldman

Two of the most malignant lies promulgated about Israel and the Jewish people are the invectives “occupier” and “colonialist.” Separately and in tandem, our enemies use them as weapons to delegitimize us.

But one local man, fed up with the anti-Jewish mythology, has written the verbal equivalent of a sledgehammer to smash these attacks. Author Jerome R. Verlin’s Israel 3000: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine is now in its second edition, and Verlin discussed the book‘s key points at a recent Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El Israel Advocacy Group breakfast.

More after the jump.
Both Israel’s enemies and those ignorant of the facts claim that Jews have been in the land for a mere 63 years — since David Ben-Gurion read Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Others use 1897 — the year of First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland — as the purported beginning point of the Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael to depict the Jews as an ersatz indigenous people.

Then there are those who acknowledge that Jews began living in the land more than 3,000 years ago but were exiled and claim Jews were devoid from the area following the Roman conquest.

But Verlin, using historical, archaeological, and other data, plus the conclusions of noted past experts and observations of travelers to the Holy Land, to document that yes, Jews began living in the territory thousands of years ago, and despite the slaughters, name permutations and repeated conquests, Jews have consistently and continuously lived in Israel.

“The truth of the matter is, we didn’t go away,” Verlin noted, after it went from being called Israel and Judea to “Palestine.”

Yet figures from President Jimmy Carter and Mahmoud Abbas to The New York Times ignore all of the evidence, according to Verlin, to erase or weaken the legitimate Jewish claim to the land.

Verlin went through the history of the settlement of the land from the biblical period to today, explaining the many times control of the region changed hands from the Jews, Babylonians, Persians, Jews, Romans, Greeks and Byzantines, various Middle Eastern groups, crusaders, more Arabs and Turks, the British and finally the Jewish People. All along the way he documented that through it all, Jews were the lone constant.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence to support the claims that the land belonged to the Palestinian-Arabs or that the Muslims pre-dated the Jewish presence there. Also, the people who today call themselves “Palestinians” are not related at all to those Middle Eastern peoples who had temporary sway over the region in different periods, Verlin said. Therefore, previous or theoretical land concessions Israel or the Jewish people have made or will be asked to make should never be referred to as “giving back” territory, he stressed.

“Jews” and or “Judea” or “Israel” turn up in artifacts, the Bible, accounts of wars, chronicles of pilgrims and official records and censuses. Verlin offered numerous examples that none but the irrational could dispute in their totality.

Further, since the mid-19th Century, Verlin noted, Jews once again were the majority in our holiest city: Jerusalem.

“We have to make the case to the world,” Verlin stressed, because our adversaries would like public opinion to shift away from the Jews and Israel in favor of the false Arab and Muslim narratives. If most people viewed the Jews as interlopers or a people who have displaced the native “Palestinians,” it would endanger Israel’s very existence and give credence to Arab and Muslim claims that Jews stole “their” land or that Israel was “created” only as a refuge for Holocaust survivors.

“Each of us has to do what each of us can,” said Verlin, to dispel the lies and myths to solidify the Jewish right to the land. “Either we disappear or we stand up for ourselves,” he added, stressing: “We have to be [on the] offensive, not just defensive.”

It might be awkward for Israel’s advocates to walk around with sledgehammers, but Verlin’s paperback will go a long way in countering the libels and slanders that we are the new kids on the Middle Eastern block.