Posted by: ZOA Staff
January 15, 2015
Special Reports

Supp. to ZOA’s Complaint: Disqualify HaTikvah Slate From WZC Election

New information reveals that, in addition to Partners for Progressive Israel – which boycotts certain Jewish Israeli businesses – and Ameinu – which lobbies U.S. and European governments to impose sanctions against Jewish Israeli leaders whom they politically disagree with, “HaTikvah Slate” includes additional groups that promote global BDS and engage in other anti-Israel anti-Jewish discrimination 

To:    Mr. Herzl Makov (HMakov@begincenter.org.il

cc:        Hiam Simon (hiam@ameinu.net)

Larry Lerner (lilerner3215@gmail.com)

Kenneth Bob (kennethbob@gmail.com)

Karen Rubinstein (krubinstein@azm.org

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz (vkurtz@nssbethel.org)

Susie Baumohl (sbaumohl@azm.org)

Howard Katzoff (hkatzoff@zoa.org)

Judge Abraham Gafni (gafni@law.villanova.edu)

Fern Braniss, WZO legal adviser (fernb@wzo.org.il)

Rabbi Elie Abadie (rabbi@ejsny.org)

David Bibi (davidbibi@gmail.com)

Lana Eliyahu (lana.eliyahu@gmail.com)

Date:   Jan. 12, 2015

Dear Mr. Makov:

The Zionist Organization of America (“ZOA”) is respectfully filing this supplement to ZOA’s complaint against the so-called “HaTikvah” slate to bring new information to the attention of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) Central Elections Board, regarding new additional members of the “HaTikvah” slate who discriminate against Israeli Jews in violation of the WZO Constitution.   Open Hillel and certain NIF-funded NGOs promote global BDS and the idea that Israel should not exist.

In addition, this supplement responds to Judge Abraham Gafni’s “timeliness” comments.

ZOA’s Complaint Against The “HaTikvah Slate” Is Timely:

Judge Gafni’s “untimeliness” argument has no merit. 

First, there are no time restriction rules regarding bringing complaints against slates.  Judge Gafni fails to cite any such restriction.  

Second, ZOA complied with the timetable set forth by AZM.   After ZOA representative Liz Berney asked AZM for the procedures to file a complaint, AZM did NOT say that the complaint was time-barred.  Instead AZM advised ZOA (in an email from AZM’s Executive Director on December 26, 2014, which Judge Gafni was copied on) that ZOA should file its complaint with AZM and WZO legal adviser Fern Braniss on Sunday December 28, 2014.  ZOA complied with this rapid 2-day deadline.   AZM should not be permitted to now contradict and renege on its own instructions and timetable, after ZOA fully and successfully complied with AZM’s instructions.

In addition, ZOA filed its complaint with the WZO Central Elections Board, immediately on the same day (Dec. 30, 2014) that Judge Gafni wrote to ZOA that he was not granting ZOA’s complaint (solely because PPI and Ameinu ran in previous elections) and advised that ZOA could now file with the WZO CEB.

Third, it was not possible to file a complaint against the “HaTikvah slate” earlier.   The “slate affiliate” names were due at the end of December 2014, thereby making it impossible to file objections earlier.   The AZM never provided any list of HaTikvah slate member organizations to ZOA until Friday December 26, 2014, just two days before ZOA filed its complaint on December 28, 2014.    Ms. Berney had to send four emails on Dec. 25, 2014 and Dec. 26, 2014, asking AZM which slate AZM was running on and who PPI’s slate partners were, and what the procedure was.  AZM’s Executive Director Karen Rubinstein responded on December 26, 2014 asking ZOA to file a complaint in 2 days and stating:

“To the best of my knowledge the HaTikvah slate is comprised of Ameinu, PPI, Habonim-Dror, Hashomer-Hatzair.   I do not know of others and will only know when the full list of affiliates is submitted.[1]

In fact, the list of organizations that AZM provided on December 26, 2014 was incomplete.   The ZOA still does not know the entire composition of the HaTikvah slate.  An article published 3 days ago (on January 9, 2015) discussed below, provided the names of additional organizations on the “HaTikvah slate.”  There may still be more surprises on the HaTikvah slate. 

Fourth, election objections/complaints are customarily filed after candidate and slate names are filed.  The election complaints are then adjudicated rapidly.  This is the procedure under New York State’s Election Law.   As noted above, it is impossible to file an objection earlier.

Fifth, AZM initially failed to inform ZOA about the availability of any complaint procedure, when Ms. Berney (the ZOA representative to the AEC) first learned that Partners for Progressive Israel was running in the World Zionist Congress election, at an AEC meeting during approximately the first week of December 2014, and asked what could be done.  Instead of advising of the existence of a complaint procedure, Judge Gafni and Ms. Rubinstein simply suggested that Ms. Berney should ask the WZO how a slate that supports BDS can run in a WZC election.  Ms. Berney then attended a speech by a WZO official to ask this question on December 6, 2014.  The WZO official informed Ms. Berney that there was some sort of court procedure and a WZO Zionist Supreme Court – but the WZO official knew nothing specific about the procedure.   ZOA was unable to reach anyone at WZO who knew anything further, and was busy completing its own slate.  At the next meeting of the AEC, in late December, Ms. Berney again asked AZM about the procedure.   It was after Ms. Berney sent four emails to AZM, that AZM finally (on Dec. 26, 2014) provided some slate partners’ identity and the slate name, and explained how and where ZOA could submit its complaint (in two days, which ZOA complied with.)

Fifth, discriminatory boycotts and sanctions against Jews are such serious issues that they should be addressed regardless of when a complaint is filed.  Judge Gafni’s comments utterly fail to consider or address these important substantive matters.   It would be unjust to dismiss ZOA’s complaint on timeliness or other insignificant procedural grounds.   

Background:

ZOA’s initial complaint, joined in by the Hovei Zion slate, documented that Partners for Progressive Israel (PIP) – one of the main groups comprising the “HaTikvah slate” – boycotts and promotes boycotts (including on PIP’s website) of Jewish businesses that have any part of their business in eastern Jerusalem, Hebron, Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat, etc.  PPI’s boycott violates the anti-discrimination provisions of the WZO Constitution and New York State’s Human Rights Law. 

 ZOA’s complaint also documented that Ameinu (another major group comprising the “HaTikvah” slate) is lobbying U.S. and European governments to impose discriminatory severe sanctions (including financial asset freezes and visa restrictions / travel prohibitions) against Israeli Jewish leaders (including Israel’s housing minister) whom Ameinu disagrees with.  ZOA’s complaint documented that this too violates the WZO Constitution and NY Human Rights Law.   The WZO Constitution does not permit groups that engage in these sorts of discrimination to be members of the WZO or its constituent organizations.

ZOA’s complaint also documented that Ameinu’s top officials were officials of or closely involved with J Street, which de facto extensively promotes anti-Israel boycotts, both by bringing and featuring the leaders of the global BDS movement, including Mustafa Barghouti and Rebecca Vilkomerson at its national conferences and events at college campuses throughout the U.S., and by promoting BDS in J-Street’s video on its website. 

We have just learned that the HaTikvah slate is involved in even more anti-Israel, anti-Jewish discrimination than our initial complaint sets forth – and includes groups that promote global BDS against Israel and Israel’s annihilation.

On Friday January 9th, The Forward published an on-line article that reveals that in addition to Partners for Progressive Israel (PIP) and Ameinu, the “HaTikvah” slate includes:  “for the first time the presidents of J Street, the New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now and Open Hillel . . .”[2]  This information was not available to ZOA previously, because the full slate lists have not been published.  The publisher of The Forward is a director of Ameinu, and thus The Forward is apparently privy to the composition of “HaTikvah” slate earlier than ZOA or the general public.

 We thus respectfully ask the WZO Central Elections Board to also consider information regarding these new additions to the “HaTikvah slate.”  

Last week’s deadly pogrom at a French Jewish grocery underscore the importance of acting courageously to disqualify the “HaTikvah slate.”    The “HaTikvah slate” organizations’ boycott, divestment and sanctions activities (and other anti-Israel activities) strengthen the haters of Jews and Israel – with tragic consequences,

Allowing the HaTikvah slate organizations to run in the WZO election gives legitimacy and succor to the growing BDS movement whose goals are to delegitimize Israel and harm Israelis and Jews.   

(1)     New “HaTikvah Slate” Member “Open Hillel” Is A Vehicle For Promoting Global BDS: 

 The deceptively-named “Open Hillel” group was founded in 2012 to try to force Hillel International (the Jewish college campus organization) to host anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities and “to allow the creation of partnerships with SJP [the anti-Israel pro-BDS hate group, Students for Justice in Palestine].”[3]  

“Open Hillel” aims to abolish Hillel International’s anti-BDS standards, and end Hillel International’s refusal to host speakers that demand Israel’s annihilation.  Hillel International’s standards state that Hillel will not

 “partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice: Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders; Delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; Support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; or Exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility.”[4]  

“Open Hillel” demanded that Harvard Hillel should tear up International Hillel’s guidelines, and host a pro-BDS anti-Israel conference entitled “Jewish Voices Against Israel and the Occupation.”[5]

Last month, a former Open Hillel Steering Committee member, who also served as Open Hillel’s Campus Outreach Coordinator, Holly Bocerano, who admits that she supports divestment against Israel, declared that “Open Hillel” is so dishonest and malicious that even she could no longer associate herself with “Open Hillel.” 

In an article entitled “Standing Athwart Lies: Why I Left Open Hillel,” Ms. Bocerano explained that: 

“The people who claim that Open Hillel’s main objective is to garner support for the BDS movement may not realize just how right they are.”[6]   

Ms. Bocerano also explained that Open Hillel’s leaders voted to form an “anti-normalization” campaign committee.  She wrote:  “The anti-normalization campaign strives to end joint discussions and programs between Jews and Palestinians unless they subscribe to the BDS movement.”[7]

Bocerano also explained that Open Hillel’s anti-normalization committee’s only “experts” on BDS were both from Students for Justice in Palestine.   Bocerano added:  “By presenting the topic from only this [pro-BDS] ideological standpoint, the committee actually indoctrinated people to hate Israel, rather offering a balance of views – from which people could decide for themselves what to believe.”[8]

Former “Open Hillel” Steering Committee member Bocerano also explained in a subsequent interview that “Open Hillel” is focused on promoting BDS while denying a platform to pro-Israel speakers:

“Many people involved with Open Hillel do not want open dialogue.  They just want a platform for BDS. . . . While they [Open Hillel] chastise Hillel for not wanting to give a platform for BDS, they [Open Hillel] reject some of the Jewish community’s most illustrious speakers, like Dr. [Elie] Wiesel.”[9]

Open Hillel’s own propaganda – which tries to couch everything in the guise of “pluralism” – also reveals the group’s real agenda.  “Open Hillel” states that “anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism,” that many Jews “find boycotts to be an effective non-violent tool for achieving social change,” and that students should be exposed to anti-Zionist viewpoints within Hillel’s doors (as if Jewish students are not exposed to Israel bashing enough on campus).[10]    One must wonder how a group that believes in “anti-Zionism” and anti-Israel “boycotts as an effective tool” has the gall to run for election in a Zionist Congress. 

Open Hillel’s recent conference in fact featured the world’s leading pro-BDS, anti-Israel propagandists, including Rashid Khalidi, global BDS movement leader Rebecca Vilkomerson, and Judith Butler,[11] as well as BDS/anti-normalization “experts” from Students for Justice in Palestine.[12]

As former “Open Hillel” Steering Committee member Holly Bocerano aptly summed it up:

“Open Hillel has become a vessel for the BDS agenda.”[13]

As noted above, “Open Hillel” was formed to partner with SJP – Students for Justice in Palestine.  SJP is an anti-Israel hate group with chapters at about 100 U.S. college campuses, which is at the forefront of the global BDS campaign to destroy Israel economically and to delegitimize Israel.  The Anti-Defamation League’s compendium of anti-Israel hate groups explains that Students for Justice in Palestine “campaign[s] for boycott and divestment against corporations that deal with Israel, and organize[s] various Palestine Awareness Week events that accuse Israel of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide.”[14]   

An extreme anti-Israel group, American Muslims for Palestine, coordinates SJP’s highly organized boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel on college campuses throughout the United States.[15]  SJP’s discriminatory anti-Semitic activities have also included “repeated calls for the destruction of Israel,” defacing the statue of a Jewish university donor, posting anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda posters, disrupting Israel speakers and pro-Israel events, sending Jewish students eviction notices, physically attacking Jewish students, and using bullying tactics to silence pro-Israel views on campus.[16] 

The “HaTikvah slate” is thus even worse than ZOA’s original complaint sets forth. “Open Hillel” promotes BDS against all of Israel’s Jewish residents – a clear violation of the WZO anti-discrimination provisions.   “Open Hillel” also openly promotes anti-Zionism, thereby violating the foundations of the WZO.  See WZO Constitution, Article 2, Sections 1 and 2.

(2)     “HaTikvah Slate’s J Street and J Street President (Jeremy Ben Ami) Promote Global BDS And Engage In Other Extreme Anti-Israel Activities: 

ZOA’s initial complaint noted that Ameinu’s 3 top officials were all J-Street officials or closely involved with J-Street, and that a 2009 Ameinu director’s report stated that J-Street would be part of the next HaTikvah slate.   ZOA’s initial complain also documented some of J-Street’s pro-BDS activities, including promoting BDS on the J-Street “Our Voices” video on J-Street’s website and featuring and honoring top global BDS leaders at J-Street’s National Conventions and campus events throughout the country. 

The previously cited Forward article has now confirmed J-Street’s inclusion in the “HaTikvah slate.”    Apparently, the “HaTikvah slate” will also include J Street’s President Jeremy Ben-Ami.  

With respect to J-Street, we reference our initial complaint, and also wish to add further information, now that J Street’s presence on the “HaTikvah slate” has been confirmed.  

J-Street’s BDS and anti-Israel activities on college campuses, at conferences[17], in Congress and elsewhere are so extreme that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations recently overwhelmingly voted to prevent J Street from becoming a member of the Conference of Presidents.[18]  Leading liberal political figures (including prominent liberal Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, recently retired U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman, and left-wing Knesset members) have publicly disassociated themselves from J Street, due to J Street’s support for BDS and other anti-Israel activity.[19]  

In an article subtitled “J Street’s ‘Big Tent’ is open only to one side – the anti-Israel and BDS-supporting hard left of its own position; pro-Israel centrists are censored,” liberal Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz stated:

“J Street  . . . calls itself pro-Israel and pro peace but . . . always seems to be taking positions that are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. . . . [I]t is imperative that J Street’s hypocrisy be exposed. . . . J Street invites BDS supporters and those who oppose Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people to speak at its events . . . J Street only wants people to hear views [of] the anti-Israel hard left . . . . It categorically refuses to allow its members to hear views that are more centrist and more pro-Israel, such as my own.”[20]

J Street’s anti-Israel pro-BDS events on American campuses throughout the country demonize, defame and delegitimize Israel and the IDF.   Professor Alan Dershowitz further states that J Street has “made a generation of Jews ashamed to be pro-Israel.”   

In addition to featuring, honoring and bringing the leaders of the BDS movement and “courtroom Intifada”/lawfare movements to conferences and college campuses, documented in ZOA’s initial complaint, J-Street U (J Street’s campus division) brings to campuses speakers and events by the anti-Israel NGO “Breaking the Silence” (BtS), which falsely accuses the IDF of war crimes and brutal treatment of Palestinian Arabs.  (At these one-sided J-Street U sponsored BtS events, students who served in the IDF and experienced the IDF’s humane treatment of Palestinian Arabs are forbidden from speaking out to correct the false BtS presentation.)  J Street U also honors and promotes the NIF-funded Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement (“SJSM”),[21] which opposes the idea of Israel as a Jewish homeland, collaborates with the anti-Israel global BDS movement, defames Israel as a “fascist state,” and talks about victories over “cowardly Zionists who are perpetrating an apartheid state and ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem,” and urges liquidation of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund.[22]  At a J Street U sponsored campus event, the Sheikh Jarrah’s founder declared “Jerusalem is a symbol of evil.”  J Street U also presents the NIF-funded B’Tselem, which provided false information defaming Israel in the Goldstone report, whose chair Oren Yiftachel, calls for “effective sanctions” against Israel, and supported the Palestinian “right of return” (which means the destruction of the Jewish state), and whose CEO Jessica Montell promotes calling Israel an “apartheid state.”[23]  

J-Street also spends millions of dollars to defeat pro-Israel Congresspersons and to elect anti-Israel Congresspersons[24]; lobbies the UN Security Council for anti-Israel UN resolutions; lobbies the U.S. Administration to support anti-Israel UN resolutions; promoted the false Goldstone report against Israel – including by arranging meetings between Goldstone and members of Congress[25]; and makes repeated false accusations against Israel and the IDF.[26] 

J Street also works closely with an apparent agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).   NIAC director Genevieve Lynch is a significant donor to J Street.[27]  J Street features top NIAC leaders at J Street’s conference, who condemn anyone who does not simply “trust” Iran as “fundamentally racist.”[28]   J-Street also lobbies Congress for Iran (and against sanctions or any other action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons).  Former Congressman Alan West (a pro-Israel African American Congressman who J Street campaigned against and raised money to defeat) reported that J Street was a pro-Palestinian organization that told the Congressman that he should just “believe in Iran.”[29]

J Street’s leader also has financial and contractual ties to Qatar – the largest funder of Hamas.   J Street founder and President Jeremy Ben-Ami also served as the Senior Vice President of Fenton Communications while “incubating” J Street.[30]   In 2009, the wife of Qatar’s ruling sheik and her Qatari foundation paid Fenton Communications $390,000 to lead a sophisticated 18-month PR “public opinion awareness campaign” called the “Al Fakhoora Project,” to malign Israel on U.S. college campuses.  The anti-Israel campaign included training spokespersons, monitoring social networking and mainstream media outlets and blogs, developing press materials, training students to produce anti-Israel propaganda, and political “outreach.”[31]

J Street’s leader also founded, advises, and is involved with a whole inter-connected web of pro-BDS, anti-Israel organizations, in addition to J-Street.   Ben Ami co-owns Ben Or Consulting, which J Street pays to advise it, and which also created, consults for and coordinates activities of extreme anti-Israel NGOs operating in Israel, which invent and disseminate false accusations against Israel and the IDF, in order to delegitimize Israel and promote anti-Israel boycotts and sanctions.[32] 

A Jerusalem Post article summed it up:  “J Street is an anti-Israel, pro-Iranian and pro-Palestinian lobby run by American Jews.”[33]

When the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations resoundingly defeated J Street’s bid for membership, the Jerusalem Post article praised this as a hopeful sign that must be expanded upon:

 “The fact that J Street failed to muster not only the two-thirds majority necessary to become a member, it failed to win even a simple majority of the votes, is a major triumph for the community and a cause for hope that the battle for Zionism in America has been joined. . . .

J Street’s . . . goal is to destroy.  The tools it employs are demoralization and deceit. . . .

Israel is the most extraordinary collective achievement of the Jewish people in thousands of years.  It is the embodiment of the dreams, faith, blood, sweat and tears of the Jewish people today and throughout time in both spiritual and physical terms. 

Israel is something that every Jew should celebrate and be thankful [for] not only on Yom Ha’atzma’ut, but every day of the year. . . .

It is J Street’s purpose to hide this truth from the American Jewish community.  So it is the task of American Jews to build on the decision of the Conference of Presidents and ensure . . . that J Street goes down in time as the great failure it deserves to be.” 

Hopefully, the WZO’s Central Election Board will courageously build on the decision of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.   J Street promotes BDS and hatred of Israel; it thus violates the WZO Constitution and the J Street/”HaTikvah” slate should not be a member of the World Zionist Congress. 

(3)     Americans for Peace Now Openly Supports Boycotts Against Certain Jewish Businesses

Americans for Peace Now (“APN”) – another new member of the “HaTikvah” slate – supports boycotts and “targeted divestment” against Jewish businesses in eastern Jerusalem, Efrat, Hebron, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, etc. – anywhere over the so-called “green line” (the point at which fighting stopped when seven Arab nations invaded Israel in 1948-1949).[34]   Americans for Peace now President Debra DeLee – who is apparently on the “HaTikvah” slate – also personally and on behalf of APN promoted boycotting Soda Stream and other Jewish businesses that have a location over the green line.[35] 

APN attempts to justify its boycott of Jewish businesses by arguing that the areas beyond the green line are “not part of Israel.”[36]   However, whether traditional Jewish areas such as eastern Jerusalem[37], Hebron, Efrat, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, etc. are “part of Israel” is entirely beside the point.  The point is that APN’s “targeted boycott and divestment” (like Partners for Progressive Israel’s “targeted boycott”) solely targets businesses of Israeli Jews.    (No businesses owned by Israeli Arabs operating in the same areas are boycotted.)  This is anti-Semitic discrimination. 

Americans for Peace Now’s discriminatory boycott of Jewish businesses – like Partners for Progressive Israel’s discriminatory boycott – violates the WZO Constitution, New York State’s Human Rights Law, and one of the foundational reasons why Herzl founded the World Zionist Congress – namely, to stop the cry “Don’t buy from Jews!”   Accordingly, Peace Now and the HaTikvah slate should be disqualified from the World Zionist Congress election.

(4)     The New Israel Fund Financially Supports Targeted BDS Against Israeli Jews, Was A Key Funder That Established Global BDS, And Continues to Financially Support Organizations That Are Essential To the Global BDS Movement

Another new player that is part of the “HaTikvah slate,” the New Israel Fund (“NIF”) currently states that its official position is that it opposes “global BDS” but “will not exclude support for” organizations that support targeted boycotts of Jewish businesses located over the green line.[38]   In other words, NIF admittedly still supports boycotts of Jewish Israeli businesses in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.   A recent prior official NIF position statement declared that NIF would support organizations “if their support for BDS is incidental or subsidiary to their significant programs” – in other words, NIF was willing to support NGOs whose activities included global BDS.[39]

In fact, NIF spent a fortune “erecting the BDS infrastructure” – including providing generous annual 6-figure direct grants to the “Coalition for Women for Peace” which boycotts “all things Israeli, and [] established a well-oiled database called ‘Who Profits’ that targets Israeli enterprises, large and small.”[40]  In addition to direct grants, NIF served (or serves) as a “go between” so that the boycott Coalition” donors could receive tax deductions for their contributions to the BDS cause – even after NIF asserted in 2011 that NIF was no longer funding “Coalition for Women for Peace.”[41]

In addition, NIF continues to finance NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that promote BDS – both directly and indirectly.  For instance, the NIF-funded Adalah organization’s “Adalah-NY and friends” participated in a “Global BDS Day of Action” with a pro-BDS “flash mob” at Grand Central Station.[42]   Adalah’s current Facebook page also brags about “the amazing things we achieved together in 2014 – BDSmovement.net,” and declares “Tell the New York City Council: Don’t Tour Apartheid Israel.”[43]   Another example: five NIF grantees signed and sent to the Norwegian Government pension fund a letter urging divestment from Israel.[44]

In 2012, NIF granted $109,615 to “Breaking the Silence”; $255,477 to B’Tselem; $209,161 to Adalah; over $900,000 to the “Association for Civil Rights in Israel” (ACRI); over $50,000 to Yesh Din (founded by J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami); $168,800 to Binkom; $ 66,500 to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI); $216,500 to Physicians for Human Rights; and millions to similar NGOs.[45]   The same groups are listed as current NIF grantees.[46]

These NGOs contributed the (since discredited) falsehoods comprising the infamous Goldstone report, which accused Israel of “war crimes” during the 2009 Gaza war and recommended indicting Israel in the International Criminal Court.[47]   The Goldstone report cited B’Tselem more than 56 times; Adalah 38 times; and Breaking the Silence 27 times.[48]   The BDS movement continues to utilize the falsehoods provided by the NIF-funded NGOs for the Goldstone report to delegitimize Israel and promote global BDS.   The false accusations in the Goldstone Report have been “the most powerful weapon” in the anti-Israel arsenal.[49]  The “US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel” has a web page entitled “Sections of Goldstone Report Very Useful for BDS and related campaigns.”   This BDS movement web page highlights Israel’s alleged crimes, falsely reported to Goldstone by the NIF-funded NGOs, so that BDS promoters can cite Israel’s supposed transgressions.[50]

The NIF-funded groups have continued their anti-Israel attacks, which provide the grist for the BDS Movement.  “NGO Monitor research shows [that] members of the NIF NGO network, including Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and others use their budgets to bombard the UN, the European Union, journalists, academics and others with false allegations of [Israeli] ‘wars crimes’ and ‘apartheid.’”[51]   Organizations such as Adalah also advocate the dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state.[52] 

The BDS Movement uses these NGO’s anti-Israel allegations as justifications to promote global BDS.   For instance, the BDS Movement’s webpage utilizes an Adalah press release to target Israeli-Jewish-owned companies Africa Israel and Danya Cebus, for boycotts and divestment.[53]   According to the Adalah press release posted on the BDS Movement website, Danya Cebus’s “crime” was planning to build apartments in the Gilo Jewish section of Jerusalem – which Adalah and the “BDS Movement” call “occupied East Jerusalem.” 

Similarly, “London BDS” posts a NIF-funded B’Tselem video on London BDS’s website entitled “Why you should boycott Ahava – Dispossession & Exploitation: Israel’s policy in the Jordan Valley & northern Dead Sea.”[54]

NIF’s activities have been so problematic that Birthright Israel cut ties with the New Israel Fund a few weeks ago.[55]  Hopefully, the WZO will build on this important step.

In sum, NIF has been and continues to be instrumental in supporting the discriminatory global BDS movement against Israel, and thus violates the WZO’s Constitution and membership requirements.

“HaTikvah Slate” Leader Theodore Bikel Also Promotes Discriminatory Cultural and Artistic Boycotts Against Jews Living Over the “Green Line”

The Forward article (which revealed additional organizations in the “HaTikvah slate”) also disclosed that Partners for Progressive Israel’s Chairman Theodore Bikel will head the “HaTikvah slate.”  In addition to promoting boycotts of Jewish businesses in eastern Jerusalem, Hebron, Efrat, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, etc. on PIP’s website, Mr. Bikel states that he is in “full support” of the artistic and cultural boycott of these areas, including the boycott of the Ariel Center for the Performing Arts.[56]    This boycott hurts real people – Israeli-Jewish artists and other citizens who are trying to support their families, and strengthens the BDS movement’s boycott of Israeli Jewish musicians and artists throughout the world.

Concluding Remarks:

Boycotts and sanctions against Jewish Israeli businesses, individuals and cultural endeavors are among the most serious dangers facing the Jewish people today.  

The excuse that the “HaTikvah slate” ran in the 2006 and 2010 WZO elections cannot justify allowing the HaTikvah slate to participate in the2015 World Congress – particularly when the “HaTikvah slate” now includes four new groups that demonstrably support anti-Jewish-Israeli boycotts – Open Hillel, J-Street, Americans for Peace Now and NIF.   

These new groups’ activities also make the HaTikvah slate name even more misleading.  Voters are likely to think that “HaTikvah” refers to the 2000-year-old Jewish hope beautifully expressed in Israel’s national anthem to return to Jerusalem and historic Israel.   Voters are highly unlikely to suspect that “HaTikvah” refers to groups whose “hope” is to boycott and sanction Israeli Jews. 

The HaTikvah slate is essentially saying that – at a minimum – the 700,000 Jews living in historic Jewish lands over the Green line, and the Arabs who work with or for them, should not be permitted to make a living to support their families.   Some of the HaTikvah slate members (including Open Hillel, the NIF-supported groups and J Street via its website video and activities) go further, and would prevent every Israeli Jew from earning a livelihood.   Discriminatory targeting of Israeli Jews cannot be tolerated in the halls of the WZO, especially in a dangerous era when Jewish grocery stores are targeted for murderous attack.  

If the “HaTikvah slate” is permitted to participate in the World Zionist Congress, the Zionist Congress will deteriorate into a sickening, embarrassing, contentious, unproductive travesty.   The “HaTikvah slate” is likely to introduce one anti-Israel anti-Jewish resolution after another.   The World Zionist Congress will turn into a battle over whether to boycott Jews and Israel.   This should not be allowed to occur.   

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations understood J Street’s dangerous agenda – including J Street’s de facto support of BDS – when the Conference overwhelmingly rejected J Street.  Birthright Israel understood NIF’s support of BDS when Birthright cut ties with NIF.  We pray that the WZO will likewise carefully examine and understand the HaTikvah slate’s positions and activities, and courageously disqualify these discriminatory groups from the World Zionist Congress. 

Sincerely,

Morton Klein, Zionist Organization of America National President

Dr. Michael Goldblatt, Zionist Organization of America Chairman

Elizabeth Berney, Esq., Zionist Organization of America Director of Special Projects


[1]    Email from Karen J. Rubinstein to Liz Berney sent Friday Dec. 26, 2014, 9:02 a.m, with   copies sent to AZM’s Susie Baumohl and Judge Gafni, Howard Katzoff, Morton Klein, and the WZO’s Fern Braniss.   All emphasis in quotes is added.

[2]    “The Zionist Election You Can Participate In-If Your Elbows Are Sharp,” The Forward, Jan. 9, 2015 (Issue of Jan. 1, 2015), on line at http://forward.com/articles/212347/the-zionist-election-you-can-participate-in-if-y/#ixzz3OWtzMYGF

[3]   “’Open Hillel’ Is A Much Bigger Problem Than You Think,”  The Tower Magazine, Nov. 2014, http://www.thetower.org/article/open-hillel-is-a-much-bigger-problem-than-you-think/.   The article also explains that “Open Hillel” began by condemning Harvard Hillel for cancelling a “Jewish Voices Against the Israeli Occupation” event cosponsored by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, Harvard’s Students for Justice in Palestine group.  

[4]     http://www.hillel.org/jewish/hillel-israel/hillel-israel-guidelines

[5]     http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/national/open-hillel-launches-first-conference

[6]   Ms. Bocerano’s article is at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/standing-athwart-lies-why-i-left-open-hillel/.  See also “An Insider’s Account of Open Hillel,” by Jonathan Marks, Dec. 9, 2014, Commentary, https://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/12/08/an-insiders-account-of-open-hillel/

[7]   http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/standing-athwart-lies-why-i-left-open-hillel/See also http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/insider-exposes-open-hillel-pro-bds-organization

[8]   http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/standing-athwart-lies-why-i-left-open-hillel/See also http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/insider-exposes-open-hillel-pro-bds-organization

[9]   http://newvoices.org/2014/12/18/interview-with-open-hillel-defector-holly-bicerano/

[10]   http://www.openhillel.org/ten_reasons.php

[11]    Anti-Israel propagandist Rashid Khalidi was the featured (and only) speaker at the “Open Hillel” conference’s opening plenary session on the first full day of the conference, October 12, 2014.  http://www.openhillel.org/TentativePublicScheduleforOpenHillelConference.pdf.   Rashid Khalidi’s is a longstanding promoter of BDS against Israel.  For instance, Khalidi promoted global BDS activity on a feature video presented at the recent PennBDS conference to promote BDS.  See http://vimeo.com/38228483.  Judith Butler and Rashid Khalidi are the first two names listed on the global BDS Movement’s web page promoting BDS and condemning those opposed to BDS.  See http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/judith-butler-rashid-khalidi-and-over-150-other-scholars-condemn-censorship-intimidation-of-israel-critics-11798.  The text of Ms. Butler’s recent speech promoting the BDS movement against Israel at Brooklyn College is reprinted at http://www.thenation.com/article/172752/judith-butlers-remarks-brooklyn-college-bds

[12]   See http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/insider-exposes-open-hillel-pro-bds-organization

[14]     See ADL’s Report on SJP at http://www.adl.org/israel-international/anti-israel-activity/c/students-justice-palestine.html

[15]   Id.

[16]   “Pro-Palestinian students bring hate, intimidation to campus, critics say,”  June 9, 2014, FoxNews.com, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/09/pro-palestinian-students-bring-hate-intimidation-to-campus-critics-say/

[17]   See also “J Street-NIF Conference: A Platform for ‘Lawfare’ and BDS,” NGO Monitor, Feb. 24, 2011, at http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/j_street_nif_conference_a_platform_for_lawfare_and_bds

[18]    See “Conference of Presidents had good reasons to reject J Street’s bid, at http://www.heritagefl.com/story/2014/05/16/opinions/counterpoint-conference-of-presidents-had-good-reasons-to-reject-j-streets-bid/2702.html.  See also http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Column-One-A-sad-Independence-Day-351739 (noting that that the overwhelming defeat of J Street at the Conference of Presidents was a great victory for Zionism).

[19]   Names of some of the Congresspersons who asked to have themselves removed from the J Street conference host committee, after initially signing up and then becoming aware of J-Street’s activities, and Congressman Ackerman’s statement about J-Street, are reprinted at http://www.jstreetexposed.com

[20]   Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, “J Street’s Hypocrisy must be exposed,” Haaretz, March 29, 2014, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.582518. 

[21]   See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuM90j6tRBo (sheikh Jarrah activist Sara Benninga honored at J Street’s “Giving Voice to Our Values”).

[22]   See http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/Groups-that-demonize-Israel-put-themselves-outside-the-tent

[23]   See http://www.jstreetexposed.com/j-street-s-anti-israel-positions.htmland “Further Reading” articles cited therein.

[24]   The Washington Free Beacon’s analysis of over 50 candidates endorsed by J-Street revealed “a sizable delegation of lawmakers who have expressed hostility towards the Jewish state.”  The Beacon described J-Street’s perverse strategy as follows:  “The self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” liberal advocacy group J Street is soliciting funds for Congressional candidates who are openly hostile to Israel while simultaneously targeting for defeat explicitly pro-Israel lawmakers who do not agree with its radical Middle East agenda.”  Adam Kredo, The Anti-Israel Lobby: “Pro-Israel, Pro Peace” J-Street Backs Congressmen Who Do Not Support Israel (May 23, 2012)See also, J-Street-PAC Oct. 24 2012 report to the Federal Elections Commission of close-to-the election Independent J-Street expenditures to defeat key pro-Israel Congressmen Joe Walsh and Allen West, at http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/  (This is just one day’s report; J-Street filed numerous others.)  See also discussion of other key Congressional races where J Street defeated pro-Israel candidates and elected anti-Israel candidates, at http://www.jstreetexposed.com/funding-anti-israel-legislators.html

[25]   See Washington times report, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/30/jewish-group-pays-pr-firm-co-owned-by-president/?page=3

[26]    http://www.jstreetexposed.com; See also http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Column-One-A-sad-Independence-Day-351739

[27]   See J-Street 2008 501(c)(4) Form 990 Information Tax Return, http://www.politico.com/static/PPM152_100924_j_st.html (includes donor information).

[28]   “Trouble on J Street,” by James Kirchick, at http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/the-plank/trouble-j-street

[29]   http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/154247#.U09EHFVdU3c

[30]    See Jeremy Ben Ami’s linkedIn profile, at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jeremy-ben-ami/3/a76/9b0

[31]    See Left-Wing Lobbyists Orchestrate Gaza Campaign, at http://www.newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/AlFakhoora-Gaza-blockade/2010/06/18/id/362396/; and Fenton’s Foreign Agents’ Registration Act filing, at http://www.fara.gov/docs/5945-Exhibit-AB-20100610-6.pdf.

[32]   See http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/ben_or_consulting_j_street_ben_ami_and_ngo_connectionsSee also Jewish Group Pays PR Firm Co-owned by Its President: J Street ‘Self-Dealing’ Seen as ‘Very Messy,’  The Washington Times​, Dec. 30, 2010, at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/30/jewish-group-pays-pr-firm-co-owned-by-president/?page=1#ixzz2z6Ofgfbj

[33]    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Column-One-A-sad-Independence-Day-351739

[35]   http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/191768/love-israel-oppose-bds-reject-sodastream/

[36]   See the articles referenced in the previous footnote.

[37]   Eastern Jerusalem was the Jewish “old city” since ancient times, and had a majority Jewish population since at least 1840 (with the exception of 1948-1967 when Jordan illegally occupied the area).  Eastern Jerusalem was legally annexed by Israel in 1967.  See, e.g., http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=4&x_article=2577

[38]   http://www.nif.org/about/selected-policies

[39]   http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/11/the-new-israel-fund-dipping-its-toe-into-the-bds-swamp-updated/66699/

[40]   See “Financing Mideast Flames—Confronting BDS and the New Israel Fund,” by Edwin Black, Feb. 28, 2014, The Huffington Post, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edwin-black/financing-mideast-flamesc_b_4874795.html

[41]   Id.

[42]   http://www.bdsmovement.net/tag/adalah-ny

[43]   https://www.facebook.com/AdalahNY  (Adalah postings on Dec. 30, 2014 and Jan. 6, 2015)

[44]   http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/new_israel_fund

[45]   See Id. (Edwin Black article) and http://www.nif.org/component/content/article?id=1102:2012-grantees-listing.

[46]   http://www.nif.org/41-grantmaking/1101-grantees-index-page

[47]   “The New Israel Fund – Civil Rights or Political Warfare,” Evelyn Gordon reply, at https://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/04/04/the-new-israel-fund-civil-rights-or-political-warfare-an-exchange/

[48]  http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/new_israel_fund

[49] http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/book_review_by_gerald_m_steinberg_philip_weiss_adam_horowitz_and_lizzy_ratner_eds_the_goldstone_report

[50]  http://www.usacbi.org/2009/12/sections-of-goldstone-report-very-useful-for-bds-and-related-campaigns/

[51]   http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Birthright-Israel-cuts-ties-with-New-Israel-Fund-383088See also NGO Monitor’s individual reports on these organizations’ activities.

[52]   http://www.jta.org/2008/07/23/news-opinion/united-states/questions-about-new-israel-fund-grantees (quoting Malcolm Hoenlein stating that funds should not be provided to organizations that seek to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state).

[53]   http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/levievs-africa-israel-continues-settlement-building-contradicting-2010-pledge-9148.

[54]   http://londonbds.org/tag/btselem/

[55]   http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Birthright-Israel-cuts-ties-with-New-Israel-Fund-383088

[56]   http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/legitimizing-an-obstacle-to-peace-1.312897