Monday, June 13, 2011

Fighting Self-Hating Jews

Ari Bussel

A local activist in Orange County has been fighting a large organization. The organization is Jewish and it supports an initiative to send students, Jewish and others, to Israel. Thus far, the idea is fantastic. For instance, the program “Birthright,” started by philanthropist Bronfman and now an official endeavor of the Israeli government, sends young Jews to Israel to get to know the country. They return after a short stay, an all-expense paid trip, turned into Israel’s best ambassadors.

They, who never saw the Jewish state, experience it first hand—from its modern façade to its Biblical roots. They get to know this tiny country, a beautiful petite lady, and its over seven million inhabitants. They experience the Dead Sea, considered one of the wonders of the world, cover themselves in black mud and float in water that does not let them drown. They ascend onto Masada and hear about determination and conviction turned into action, and thirstily they absorb the most marvelous scenery down below.

Then onto Jerusalem where they discover all major religions coexisting, like a miracle, in this eternal capital of the Jewish people.

They visit the main power-center of Israel, where the executive, legislative and judicial branches reside, and discover that minorities are well represented there—Muslim Arabs in the Supreme Court, in the Knesset and in the Government and another non-Jewish minority, the Druze in the Knesset and in the Government.

They see their peers in uniforms, green, white or grey, a mandatory draft that precedes life in society. College waits until after the obligatory service.

A plethora of immigrants, all assimilated, surround them everywhere they go, as they experience the wonder of children who do not distinguish one another by skin color.

Out and about to enjoy the nightlife, safe and secure in their surroundings.

Until terror hits. Until the country is attacked. Until they are presented with the hatred threatening to swallow up the tiny Jewish State.

Israel is surrounded by enemies just a short drive from Israeli towns and cities. They amass tens of thousands of rockets to use at will. They cultivate terror, fueled non-stop by incitement against the Jews and Israel’s very existence. They call for Israel’s annihilation and the world claps and dances in joy, drawn to an ancient promise to exterminate the Jews.

Thus, when a local non-profit called the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) sends students to Israel “and Palestine,” and arranges for the students to meet members of the Palestinian Authority who are Hamas-affiliated or Muslim Brotherhood influenced, one must wonder why.

Impressionable young minds, motivated and eager to discover why this tiny country is constantly on the front pages, are exposed to a very clever and deceptive enemy.

One that speaks two languages; one for the West and another to the Arabs. They claim, “we condemn murders” then send their people to commit homicide bombings, calling for a “holy war” against the “Zionist Occupiers.”

A mother swears her son was under her supervision the whole night, after finishing a delicious dinner she made, and goes to proclaim no “Palestinian” (Muslim Arab) will ever murder a child. Her anguish showing, horrified of the very thought, she looks around at the children playing in the street – “it is against our nature she says” and blames the Zionists of murdering their own to blame her people.

Her son, it turned out from his own admission, was “out and about” on that Friday night. He did exactly what she proclaimed on TV no Muslim Arab will ever do: her own flesh and blood who was under her supervision the whole night. Now, one has to evaluate the effectiveness of such education and the credence we give to interviews made for international audiences.

In English they say, “we want peace, two states living side by side,” but in Arabic in the most captivating music videos they sing, “we will return, soon, very soon, to our cities” and name every Israeli city as theirs. There is no place for Israel on their maps, in their hearts or their discourse.

Israel for them must cease to exist, and this they teach their children. They train for hatred and war in a way no fake-sweetness will disguise the bitterness of the pill. They burn Israeli products and plan for the day they will burn all Israelis. In fact, many of their young people are ready to embark on death missions.

Recently 18 and 19 year olds entered a home on a Shabbat eve and butchered two parents and three of their kids, the youngest just three month old. One child not at home survived, and two others were spared as the perpetrators rushed to leave. When caught they explained without remorse: “They were Jews. They deserved to die.” Cold, plain, simple, trained assassins doing what they had been taught.

These are Israel’s “Peace” partners. The people the OTI are exposing to students from the University of California Irvine (UCI) and other California state-subsidized universities. Jewish groups help finance this project, and Jews support and facilitate the activities of OTI.

Controversy is in no short supply in Orange County’s UCI. Thus, exactly six months ago, the Jewish Federation invited Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora especially for this purpose. The invitation stated:

“Due to our ongoing efforts to provide a pro-Israel voice at UCI, and working in conjunction with the Israeli consulate, Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs will come to UC Irvine later today as a guest of the Olive Tree Initiative.

“As you know, there has been controversy regarding the Olive Tree Initiative of late, and we are proud to have another high level government official from Israel address our community and students.”

I wonder if the “other high level government official” meant the unfortunate speech of Israeli Ambassador to the USA at UCI when members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) stood up and shouted false claims against Israel.

It was fascinating to watch this masterful performance. Nothing new, except for the Jewish community that bused its people for the event. They were astonished when hit with the hatred and sophistication of the MSU.

It was a wakeup call, a call for action! Rushing to do something, the Jews of Orange County decided the best plan of action was appeasement. Oh, the folly of the politically correct and naive.

Alas, imagine the cooperation and coordination between the Jewish community—acting quickly lest it lose its support base—and the Israeli Consulate. Rather than go on the attack, exposing the lies and true intentions of Muslims trying to silence free speech and their hatred to the West, not only for Israel, the Federation and Consulate chose to appease the OTI instead.

The head of an American organization’s office in Israel feared the visiting minister would walk into a trap. He implored local activists to be present and protect the Minister from a repeat performance of Ambassador Oren’s visit. While he was correct in his prediction, note that the local Consulate was instrumental in facilitating this event, so the Minister’s top advisers were comfortable with the planned visit. Everything else was dismissed as false alarms.

Whose responsibility is it to know what is happening on the ground? Who is in charge of informing the Minister (and likewise the Ambassador) what to expect? Who safeguards the interests of the Jewish State if not the Israeli Consulate?

Thus, when the Federation touts the event under the auspices of the Consulate, all roads point to the Consulate. It was their responsibility, the umbrella they raised over the event, its organizers and participants. At the end of the day, the Israeli Consulate must explain why it supports the OTI.

Is it common for Israeli ministers to rush to the USA and talk to local groups? How many Israeli ministers in recent years have come to talk with the OTI, Americans for Peace Now, Amenu, Meretz and other center-left to extreme-left Jewish (or those masquerading as Jewish) organizations? Those who are familiar with the non-stop stream of Israeli visitors to California immediately understand the uniqueness of this event and the grave implications of the Consulate’s involvement.

The Minister returned to his office and very busy schedule. I do not know if he forgot about the visit, but I am quite convinced he is not supporting the OTI. I sat with one of his top deputies just a few weeks ago in Jerusalem, and supporting OTI or similar activities is counter to their work. For him it was an excursion, a short respite of regular business, then back to Israel.

I cannot explain the Consulate’s lack of thinking or inclusiveness. Neither is new. I can, however, attest to the effects of their actions.

The Minister’s footprints, the very fact he was here, was detrimental. For the past six months, the OTI has been expanding its reach to other campuses, most recently to UCLA and the Greater Los Angeles area. They have been utilizing—appropriately from their perspective albeit quite misleading—that special meeting with the Minister to further their sphere of influence.

A local activist that has been working to expose the OTI and stop funding and support by the Federation and Hillel (a Jewish group, of course), asked for a meeting with the President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Will the Federation here aid and abate as well, or will it stand firm and focus its resources solely at what has proven successful, like Birthright “Taglit” (Discovery) program?

The President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said in no uncertain terms: I would not have met you, had one of our major donors (also seated at the meeting) not forced my hand! He was reluctant otherwise to do or commit to anything.

He did, however, give an excellent suggestion: You must find, he told the activist, someone like the major donor sitting here, down in Orange County. Smart, Jay Sanderson, you touched right on the control button: Only major donors can affect change. If local activists, those on the front line, want to achieve anything, they need to reach the major donors. What is right is irrelevant unless it is backed up with major funding.

Incidentally, the major donor who arranged the meeting pledged, but did not yet consummate this year’s pledge. To the President of the Federation, you have taught a very important lesson: MONEY TALKS, and apparently only money. Thankfully, while you may not be reading this, some of your major donors regularly do.

The donors, like those at the helm, are isolated from what is happening on the ground. The echoes may reach their offices, but there are so many gatekeepers and opinion shapers, paid consultants and advisers, that those at the top are protected from the ugly truth.

Besides, who really wants to get one’s hands dirty? Why fight when one can live the good life in ignorance and bliss? Problems at UCI? All exaggerated. MSU planting fear in Jewish students on campus? Preposterous! Go find another major donor to annoy for I am too busy running the Federation!

Whose job is it to know what is happening on the ground? If the Consulate as a matter of policy does not attend events not strictly pro-Israel from fancy to ultra-special, should it not, at the very least, be responsible for amassing information, intelligence, and be aware of what is happening? Should it not know who is active, what is being said and what to expect? At the very least this information must be transferred to the home office (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or disseminated to local activists, to engage in preemptive action.

Blinded by the spotlight and paparazzi, the very important “public servants” working at the Consulate think—mistakenly—they are stars. For someone who does not attend anti-Israel events, a regular occurrence in Los Angeles, why would they orchestrate and facilitate such a high-ranking ministerial visit to California?

Would the Minister likewise attend an event by any other group, possibly more center-right or one that actually has ISRAEL’S WELFARE AT ITS HEART?

Jewish people are a very special breed. They fight for their enemies, call for boycotts, divest and sanction their own country, malign Israel’s activities and wishes to live peacefully, then enable those very activities that will bring about Israel’s downfall.

Those at the helm like the President of the Federation, the Consul General, the President of a certain University in Israel and others forget their true masters. They neglect the small point, that they were elected or appointed to represent and to serve. They are not “above” the people—they represent the people. They are responsible TO the people.

They mistakenly think they are modern-day gods sitting upon Mt. Olympus. Time to wear a disguise and go among your people. What a wonderful expedition that would be: discover, study, listen and feel. You may be astonished to learn how disconnected you are, how counterintuitive and harmfully counterproductive your actions are.

The People are sending a message: Get ready to leave your too-comfortable surroundings, walk among your people. You are vitally needed to protect Israel and the Jewish people. We on the ground cannot do it alone.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

© “Postcards from America — Postcards from Israel,” June, 2011


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