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Friday, May 7, 2010

broken heart.jpg haymarket.jpg jcrc-logo-color.jpg

As if the Boston CJP/JCRC follies over their on again-off again support for Israel weren't bizarre enough (see here, here and here), we now have a story of unrequited love. In its inexcusable funding practices (via a CJP Donor Advised Fund grant to the virulently anti-Israel organization, The Haymarket Peoples' Fund) in 2007, the door was opened for cooperation between the two groups.

In its eternal quest to champion LGBT rights (indeed a laudable endeavor) Nancy Kaufman's JCRC decided to co-sponsor an event with Spontaneous Celebrations, a Jamaica Plain "Progressive" organization:

Being Gay in Iran: Human Rights and the Revolution
Monday, May 11th, 2010

Spontaneous Celebrations
54 Danforth Street
Jamaica Plain

Members of the LGBT community in Iran face discrimination on a daily basis. Under the current regime, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Please join us for a discussion on the status of gay rights in Iran in light of ensuing Revolution, featuring Sohrab Ahmari and Yehuda Ya'akov.

gays iran.jpg

Let's recap what happened in this odd series of missteps:

  • CJP gives money to an Israel-hating group called The Haymarket Peoples' Fund

  • The HPF in turn funds a group called Spontaneous Celebrations

  • JCRC Schedules an event with Spontaneous Celebrations on LGBT rights in Iran

  • Someone in authority at Spontaneous Celebrations discovers that the JCRC is co-sponsoring the event

  • Spontaneous Celebrations quickly cancels the event

And here, in an elucidating email, is the reason why the Haymarket crowd canceled:

"Dear Community Supporters,

Thank you for all the concerns that you expressed to us at Spontaneous Celebrations about the JCRC's event that was scheduled to take place in our building on May 10th. We are writing to let you know that once we heard all of your concerns, we decided to cancel the event. As you may know, our space is available to rent for events, lectures, parties, etc. When our building manager fielded the call about the "Gay Rights in Iran" event, the person did not identify themselves as being with the JCRC and he had no reason to think the event in any way conflicted with the values at Spontaneous. Once we received your emails, we gained a fuller understanding of the nature of the event. We are committed to creating a queer friendly, anti-racist space at Spontaneous that can be used by the community to organize for social change through arts. Thank you for speaking clearly about your need to have such a space.

In Solidarity,

Jen Kiok and Bashier Kayou

Co-Directors
Spontaneous Celebrations
617.524.6373 www.spontaneouscelebrations.org"

"Uniting and empowering people for social change through the arts"

Obviously, "In Solidarity" doesn't include the preeminent Jewish action group in New England [And the very definition of "mainstream." -MS]. Apparently, the Progressive folk at Spontaneous Celebrations are big on LGBT rights except when a certain Jewish group is involved even though that Jewish group advertises itself as Progressive 24/7.

Or, perhaps, Spontaneous and Haymarket, as supporters of "fair play for Iran", had to make a choice between criticizing one of the most fascistic, gay-killing regimes in history (but one that despises the U.S. and Israel, thereby imbuing it with some kind of seal of approval ) or working alongside a Jewish group. Once the JCRC participation had been outed by the members, the event had to be trashed. A no-brainer for the no-brainers. So-called "Progressive" groups have been in the forefront of apologizing for Iran for years.

Of course, the bottom line is that the JCRC has no business doing business with groups like The Haymarket Peoples' Fund, whose constituent members desire Israel's disappearance.

If the "values" of a group like Spontaneous Celebrations translate to hate for a Jewish organization, even if that organization shares its broad, political and social goals, then that group displays real perversity.

This absurd example should serve as an alarm bell for the community to insist that our Jewish charitable institutions develop strict mission guidelines when it comes to awarding cash grants in addition to rules of association. Humiliated, the JCRC must now start living its own mission statement:

"To Strengthen Israel and overseas partnerships: Securing the Jewish future through advocacy, person-to-person relationships and high-impact programs."

Update: Spontaneous Celebrations was contacted today. They confirmed that the event was canceled. They stated that the reason for the cancellation was due to JCRC's participation and that it represented "cover" for pro-Israel activities. When confronted with the evidence of Iranian torture and murder of gays and lesbians, Spontaneous Celebrations said, "We really don't know what's happening there."

JCRC commented on the cancellation: "The venue did not work out."

Such integrity...such honesty.

[Crossposted from JStreetJive.]

[Update: Some interesting comments in the thread at Universal Hub. -MS]



3 Comments

Yet another open letter to Nancy Kaufman (JCRC) and Barry Shrage (CJP)

Dear Nancy and Barry,

First of all, greetings from the capital of the Jewish people, where I live, and on whose behalf you do your work, at least in part -- or so you claim to do.

Second, as you could already guess, if I am writing to you, it probably means that something is not right. This time, a whole lot is seriously wrong. In fact, a whole lot has been wrong for the longest time, but now the chickens are coming home to roost in full bloom.

I'll bring up the issues in chronological order.

1. First, the CJP.

I'll quote my e-mail (in part), which I wrote to Barry a couple months ago:

---------------

Greetings from Jerusalem, Barry! ... I just read a few pieces by our mutual friend Hillel Stavis on Solomonia.com ... :

"Guess Who's Dining at CJP's Trough?" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/03/guess-whos-dining-at-cjps-trough-hillel/index.shtml )

"What We Should Expect From CJP [Hillel]" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/03/what-we-should-expect-from-cjp-hillel/index.shtml )

"Combined Jewish Philanthropies: Worse Than Originally Suspected... [Hillel]" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/03/combined-jewish-philanthropies-worse-tha/index.shtml )

The picture is looking more grim, gloomy and odious with every posting ... Something must be done -- and quick. ... I left the following comment after the second article:
Admitting that one made a mistake takes some guts. Trying to justify such a mistake after the fact by asserting that one's actions or policies were "sound" is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction of a ... coward.

Weak people cannot admit having done something wrong, because they think this would make them look worse. This is also related to machismo, designed to conceal internal weaknesses - unless we're talking about a total moron of a redneck.

What such people fail to realize is that their clinging to such mistakes [instead] makes them look far worse, whereas admitting an error - if this indeed was an error rather than a concealed intention - would restore their good name, [since] we all make mistakes as part of being human.

Now I wonder whether the choice of these despicable grant recipients was an intentional one, or a mistake ...

I would also suggest that you read all the comments after both pieces, as they are quite illustrative of how people feel about this issue.

Therefore, Barry, I would like to ask YOU this:

Was the choice of the evil recipients of CJP grants an intentional one, or was it a mistake? And if it was a mistake, why wasn't it admitted and corrected ASAP? And if it was NOT a mistake, what the hell is CJP doing by giving money to these unsavory Israel-hating and bashing organizations?

You may want to ask your "representative" who was mentioned in the second piece, but remained unnamed, as to his/her motive(s). And maybe you might want to consider conducting some "courage in accountability" training for your employees, lest they make the esteemed CJP look real bad.

This situation is both sad and disgraceful. I hope that you will take appropriate steps to remedy the shameful situation. The whole Boston Jewish community is looking at how you will handle this one, Barry. Please be brave and honest and do the right thing. Thank you.

Cheers,
Seva

---------------

You responded, Barry, characterizing the above pieces by Hillel Stavis as "... filled with misconceptions and distortions ..." and adding "We're working on a response that I can be comfortable with." However, from what what published by the Boston Jewish Advocate (and I don't know of any other official response from you; if you had one, please let me know where I could find it), you didn't really address the substantive issues involved.

Yet, even the wording of your letter betrays something I found quite disturbing: "We're working on a response that I can be comfortable with." But never mind the stylistics -- from what is officially published by the CJP about donor-advised funds, it is my understanding that it is the CJP that has the final say about where the funds go, which makes it all the more deplorable that some of the money went for overtly anti-Israel causes. I will not go into details here, as those are available in the three articles referenced above.

------------------------------

2. Second, the JCRC.

I've just read Hillel Stavis' recent piece about the letter from Nancy Kaufman to Daniel Sokach of the NIF:

"The Groveling Point: JCRC Bows to the New Israel Fund [Hillel]" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/04/the-groveling-point-jcrc-bows-to-the-new/index.shtml ) with the text of the letter here ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/images/2010/04/jcrctonif.shtml )

This letter nearly made me throw up in disgust. Here is why:

It betrays (or reaffirms) your admiration with the New Israel Fund and its President and CEO. And while the NIF admittedly does a precious few worthwhile and decent things, most of its work undermines the legitimacy, stability and safety of the State of Israel. In this case, the NIF serves as a foreign agent of influence, skewing (as well as skewering) the internal democratic processes of the State of Israel. Lobbying governments is allowed -- this is what various groups do: there is the AIPAC, there is the Saudi oil lobby, and other Arab lobbies, etc.

However, directly interfering in the affairs of a foreign country is not considered acceptable -- unless, of course, that country is an enemy state, in which case almost anything goes. However, Israel is NOT an enemy of the USA, but arguably its staunchest ally. Treating it like the NIF does is beyond all norms of acceptable behavior. Supporting the NIF, therefore, carries with it the burden of being its accomplice.

Nancy, do you really think that Mr. Dukach and others at the NIF know better what's best for Israel? Do YOU, Nancy, know best what's good for us? In that letter, you talk much about "civility" -- however, you are only concerned with only one way civility should work -- when it benefits you and your goals and ideology, forgetting that civility is a two-way street. Such accusation of intolerance of dissenting opinions has been leveled against the NIF by more people, groups and organizations than I care to recount.

Naomi Chazan has finally gotten her own just rewards. Yes, some of the criticism leveled at her in Israel found its expression in somewhat juvenile and sometimes even uncivilized ways. But much, if not most of the population of Israel has come out against her actions and beliefs. She is forgetting that democracy is NOT a suicide pact. You seem to be equally forgetful and equally self-righteous as well as indignant when the criticism is leveled at your actions and your beliefs.

Here is an excellent piece, among many other good articles, too numerous to mention here, legitimately criticizing the NIF, which gives a very succinct summary of the organization, ironically and bitterly referred to by many as the "No Israel Fund": "Of What Use is the New Israel Fund?" ( http://www.fringegroups.com/2010/04/of-what-use-is-new-israel-fund.html )

Just to refresh your memory, lest you think that all is rosy at the NIF, here is some fresh news: "Leftist Israeli-American Lawyer Loses Law License" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/04/leftist-israeli-american-lawyer-loses-la/index.shtml ) (followed by a strong but nonetheless valid comment), which may not appear directly linked to the NIF, but it is: "NIF 2004 Fellow Shamai Leibowitz: Support For Divestment and Single-State Solution" ( http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article.php?id=667 ) and "NIF Fellowship promotes the Agendas of ICAHD and ISM" ( http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article.php?id=665 )

And now we have this latest indignity: "CJP Booted From Venue They Helped Fund! Boston's JCRC: Please, Please Humiliate Me! [Hillel]" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/05/cjp-booted-from-venue-they-helped-fund-b/index.shtml ) -- this one really drives the nail in the coffin of any delusions there might have been about who our friends and enemies are. In fact, it drives the point home so clearly that I need not add another word here.

An old Russian saying states, "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are" -- loosely translated into English as "We are known by the company we keep". You may want to think again as to what kind of legacy you would prefer to leave -- associating with unsavory characters and organizations is probably not what people want to be remembered by.

------------------------------

3. General observations.

I will bet my last shekel that you, Nancy and Barry, and most of your employees at the JCRC and CJP, as well as all those at the NIF and J Street and other nominally Jewish "liberal progressive" organizations -- that almost all of you voted for Barack Hussain Obama. As it happens, I tend to share the view of another liberal Jew (and I mean liberal in its classical sense, as in Classical Liberal as opposed to "liberal progressive"), whose words and opinions matter much more: Elie Wiesel, Warrior of Jerusalem! ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/04/elie-wiesel-warrior-of-jerusalem/index.shtml )

Also see Jeff Jacoby's excellent piece, "Obama's pointless fight with Israel" ( http://www.jeffjacoby.com/7090/obamas-pointless-fight-with-israel ) and the well-reasoned The Repercussions of Obama's War of Words on Israel [by Hillel Stavis] ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/04/the-repercussions-of-obamas-war-of-words/index.shtml )

Suffice it to say that Obama's words and actions have united most Israelis -- Left, Right and Center -- in opposition to his and his government's policies. How do you, Nancy and Barry, feel about Obama's stance vis-à-vis Israel? Do you sleep well at night? How do you, admirers of Haaretz and all things "liberal progressive", feel about "The Haaretz spy scandal" by Caroline Glick ( http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=173305 )? Do you know that the Israeli readers of Haaretz, who naturally tend to be on the left side of the Israeli political spectrum, have been canceling their subscriptions in droves?

Do you know that the 78% support of American Jews that Obama enjoyed during the elections has apparently dropped to 42%, and that 46% of American Jews wouldn't vote for him now? (See "Israel Matzav: Jews wake up? Only 42% would vote for Obama in 2012" at http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2010/04/jews-wake-up-only-42-would-vote-for.html ).

You seem to "ascribe to the views of J-Street and Israel Policy Forum who fully support Obama’s attack on Israel as being 'pro-Israel' or unless you support Obama’s outreach to Muslims which distorts history and reality and seeks to replace Israel with Muslim countries in a special relationship with the US or unless you are fully in support of replacing “Global War on Terror” with “Overseas Contingency Operation", removing “Islamic extremism” from National Security Strategy Document and treating terrorists as criminals, rather than enemy combatants." ( http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/2494460/posts?page=4 )

Incidentally, why is it that all the known traitors -- both in Israel and the U.S. -- have come from the Left? How come there has not been a single traitor from the Right? Why does the Left aid and abet our enemies? Here is one explanation:

"Barry Rubin: Why Many Western Intellectuals Hate Their Own Countries, Want to Change a Successful System, and Idealize Third World Tyrannies" ( http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/04/barry-rubin-why-many-western-intellectua/index.shtml )

A number of Ph.D. dissertations, articles and books have been written about the disturbing and unhealthy phenomena. Alas, most of the American Jewish establishment is infected with this type of mental virus.

At least American Jewry at large has mostly figured it out, as the latest poll figures seem to indicate. Would you be brave end strong enough to admit that you were wrong? To admit that we the "right-wingers" (most of whom are Classical Liberals, btw) were not mere "alarmists" or "extremists", but that we simply knew better and could think ahead better?

I have barely begun scratching the surface of the huge systemic problem the American Jewish community is facing, and it already took me this many words. I would suggest to you at this point is that you either stick to your old slogan from the time of previous Israeli administrations (which were apparently more to your liking than the current one), when you loudly and publicly proclaimed that "Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel" -- which is not a very analytical approach, but a safe one nonetheless; or that you start becoming more "fair and balanced" -- which is a much more difficult act to perform.

Otherwise, I would humbly suggest that you stop meddling in the affairs of our little but nonetheless independent and proud country. And the very last thing I will ask you here is that you also stop aiding and abetting our enemies, lest your names go down in infamy.

Scratching my head in Jerusalem,
Seva

There's certainly a civil rights issue here; it's outright religious discrimination against Jews.

I would like to see a certain prominent Harvard professor and lawyer of OJ Simpson press this issue and take these fools to court.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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