Ayman Odeh vs Malcolm Hoenlein

Many of you might have heard about the incident where a meeting that had been set between Joint List Chair, MK Ayman Odeh and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (COPJ) fell through at the last minute. The issue was that Ayman was unaware, prior to his arrival, that the COPJ offices were in the same place as those of the Jewish Agency. Ayman

Not surprisingly, Ayman had a problem holding a meeting in the offices of the Jewish Agency, which has done so much to help in the dispossession of Palestinians over the years, and continues to do so to this day.

I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days. But for now, the full story of what happened here (and there is already a good deal of misinformation out there) was reported by Lisa Goldman at +972 Magazine. I have been able to corroborate Lisa’s story with people who were there. It differs in important ways from the story COPJ Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein put out almost immediately. Crucially, it also reflects the hubristic attitude of the so-called “mainstream Jewish community.”

Hoenlein says that Ayman’s problem was that the Jewish Agency is a “Zionist” organization. This is, of course, absurd. Ayman has been meeting with a variety of Jewish groups during his trip to the United States, and most of them are Zionist groups. Indeed, COPJ itself, far from encouraging the “open discussion” that Hoenlein claims, has barred J Street, a very distinctly Zionist group, form its table because, by COPJ’s standards, J Street is not “Zionist enough.” Yet Ayman was prepared to meet with COPJ.

As Josh Nathan Kazis wrote in The Forward, “The cancellation…highlighted the ideological distance between even the most moderate Israeli Arab politicians and the American Jewish mainstream.”

As a Jew, This Makes Me Angry

An edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog.

A protester from Code Pink outside the National Leadership Assembly for Israel.

A protester from Code Pink outside the National Leadership Assembly for Israel.

On Monday, I attended the National Leadership Assembly for Israel. The gathering was more than a little disquieting.

The names in attendance were big ones. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, House Speaker John Boehner, Former Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, current Chairman Ed Royce, Senator Ben Cardin, Ambassador Dennis Stephens of Canada, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer as well as leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (COPJ), AIPAC, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and others all spoke. One of the most troubling aspects of it was that they mostly all had the same thing to say.

Some speakers went farther than others. Paul De Vries, the evangelical preacher and president of the New York Divinity School, called Hamas “evil” and said that ISIS was Hamas’ “twin.” While most statements were not that stark, every speaker placed full blame for all the casualties in Gaza on Hamas. Israel was defended completely uncritically, with not a hint from anyone that maybe, just maybe, the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian children might mean that Israel is not quite taking enough care to avoid harming civilians. Continue reading

Israel Lobby Galvanises Support for Gaza War

My report for IPS News on the National Leadership Assembly for Israel, which I attended on Monday. A standing room only gathering of pro-Israel activists coming together to voice their unconditional and uncritical support for Israel’s war in Gaza.