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Israel Affairs Committee

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The mission of the Beth El Synagogue Israel Affairs Committee is to provide education about the thriving economy in Israel, the various accomplishments of Israel and to address threats to the existence and security of the State of Israel.  We do not have a political agenda, and our programming strives to avoid being labeled as pro-Democratic or pro-Republican, or left or right wing.  Rather, we are pro-Israel Zionists.

To see our upcoming events, go to the calendar page and select “Israel Affairs Committee”” under the event category menu.

The Israel Affairs Committee welcomes new members and invites you to join us and share your knowledge and thoughts on future programming.  Please contact Rita Millner at rrmillner@gmail.com.




A note from Rita Millner (09/01/2020):

The Israel Affairs Committee mission is to provide education about the thriving economy in Israel, the various accomplishments of Israel, to address threats to the existence and security of the State of Israel and to deal with matters of antisemitism.  Our programming will avoid being labeled as pro-Democrat or pro-Republican or left or right wing.  We are pro-Israel Zionists.

The Beth El website (see below) contains information on the State of Israel and on overt antisemitism. There is an unfortunate, and appearingly growing, connection between the two.

In the past, speaker’s topics varied. Sometimes, we presented a timely and relevant movie and discussion.

To periodically receive links and emails to interesting Israel related information, please contact me. I have most of your emails, but my list is not comprehensive.

In this time of the Covid virus, programming may be done via Zoom and supplemented by periodic mailings. Prospective Committee members and programming ideas are welcome.




A note from Rita Millner (07/01/2020):

In the last month, I have been watching more virtual programming than ever. With an HDMI cable we tethered a computer to our TV (and switched input/source to HDMI-3). This may be old hat to many of you, but is reproducible magic for me. Seminars (and old digital photos) now feel like we are present. All I do is register to attend a program, look at my calendar, follow emailed reminder instructions, and I am in a meeting. Programs are commonly communicated via the same Zoom which links to Beth El programming, so you’re on your way. I hope my assuming others were at my level of tethering literacy doesn’t insult anyone.

The programming I watched (and may rewatch) is from the last few weeks, and is now on websites. I am particularly, but not exclusively, referencing the AJC website. AJC.ORG is an interesting and phenomenal source of information on the most important issues facing the Jewish people and the world, including the rise of antisemitism and others forms of hate in the era of coronavirus, the US presidential election, Israel’s quest for peace and security, and the future of the transatlantic relationship.

You can still “attend” this programming from Global Forum 2020 at ajc.org, by clicking on “watch the videos of all sessions from AJC Virtual Global Forum.” Donations to support AJC’s ability to influence and communicate events are appreciated.

POTENTIAL WEST BANK ANNEXATION:

AJC’s approach to potential application of sovereignty by Israel in portions of the West Bank is found by searching on We’ll Defend Annexation If Needed – But Here’s The Thing | AJC.  It was published in The Times of Israel. If the new Israeli government unilaterally applies sovereignty to a portion of the West Bank, AJC will do what it has always done: explain Israel to the wider world. But as Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer, writes in The Times of Israel, there likely will be repercussions, regardless of how well Israel and AJC explain the decision. “It is not for the ardent friends and supporters of Israel, comfortable in our homes thousands of miles away, to tell the democratically elected Israeli government what to do,” Isaacson writes. “We will never abandon the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state in our people’s native land, and we will never forsake our brethren.” As Israel’s advocates, AJC will always share in the joy of the Jewish state’s successes and share concerns when there is danger ahead.

Another favorite source of excellent work and information comes from CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis). Many  Israel Affairs program attendees (I believe and hope) have made past donations to CAMERA. Last month CAMERA had a fine webinar of a current and important project led by Steve Stotsky. The recording is available by searching on CAMERA Briefing: Anti-Israel Indoctrination in School Curricula.

I look forward to seeing you all at Beth El Synagogue gatherings. Until then, thank you for reading my column, and stay well.

Rita Millner



A note from Rita Millner (06/01/2020):

Israel’s Good News Newsletter:  I’ve previously referenced this upbeat, varied, and clearly written newsletter which arrives twice a month. To receive a free subscription, email your request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com and provide your name.

Some highlights further described in the April 19 edition of Israel’s Good News:

  • Three Israeli treatments have saved lives of critically ill coronavirus patients.
  • Israel has given coronavirus training to PA medics from Gaza.
  • Three Israeli innovative solutions for the ventilator shortage.
  • Investment in Israeli startups continues despite the pandemic.
  • Opportunities to enjoy Israeli culture and entertainment on-line.
  • A different Passover as Israelis sang with their neighbors from their balconies.

Also, you might want to check out www.IsraelActive.com

​As we stay at home, AJC continues to engage in global and domestic advocacy efforts and provide you with insightful, engaging and important programming.  You can access a schedule of future events and links to recordings of past events at www.ajc.org/advocacyanywhere .

Conspiracy theories fill a voidWe all are exposed to presentations of the US and world news and are not surprised that anti-Semites are thriving in this time of Covid19. Disappointed yes. Surprised no.Let’s continue to physically sequester from each other and do what we can to prevent growth of this pandemic in order to not lose many members of our communities.

Wishing you all well.

Rita Millner

 



A note from Rita Millner (04/24/2020):

Israel’s Good News Newsletter:  I’ve previously referenced this upbeat, varied, and clearly written newsletter which arrives twice a month. To receive a free subscription, email your request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com and provide your name.

Some highlights further described in the April 19 edition of Israel’s Good News:

  • Three Israeli treatments have saved lives of critically ill coronavirus patients.
  • Israel has given coronavirus training to PA medics from Gaza.
  • Three Israeli innovative solutions for the ventilator shortage.
  • Investment in Israeli startups continues despite the pandemic.
  • Opportunities to enjoy Israeli culture and entertainment on-line.
  • A different Passover as Israelis sang with their neighbors from their balconies.

Also, you might want to check out www.IsraelActive.com.

​As we stay at home, AJC continues to engage in global and domestic advocacy efforts and provide you with insightful, engaging and important programming.  You can access a schedule of future events and links to recordings of past events at www.ajc.org/advocacyanywhere .

Conspiracy theories fill a voidWe all are exposed to presentations of the US and world news and are not surprised that anti-Semites are thriving in this time of Covid19. Disappointed yes. Surprised no.

Let’s continue to physically sequester from each other and do what we can to prevent growth of this pandemic in order to not lose many members of our communities.

Wishing you all well.

Rita Millner




A note from Rita Millner (03/28/2020):

While many of us are self isolating to keep a low peak curve on Covid-19 activity, we have the opportunity for some great learning experiences.

Last month’s Israel Affairs column began with Natan Sharansky identifying “3 D’s” to determine when anti-Israel criticism crosses over into anti-Semitism: demonization, delegitimization and when Israel is held to a double standard.  On April 1 we all had an opportunity to hear him talk on  Coronavirus and Israeli Democracy: Crisis and Opportunity in a joint presentation with the  Jewish Council on Public Affairs.  Natan Sharansky is an Israeli politician, human rights activist and author who, as a refusenik in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, spent nine years in Soviet prisons.  He served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency from June ­­­­­2009 to August 2018.  He currently serves as the Chairman of the Institute of the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. You can follow Jewish Counsel for Public Affairs on Facebook and be notified of online programs.

The Forward recently had several webinar panels discussing timely and interesting topics. During one discussion, Forward Editor-in-Chief Jodi Rudoren moderated the exploration of ways in which racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred play out in the political landscape. Register online to sign up for additional programs from the Forward.  Future subscription will eventually be suggested/requested.

AJC Advocacy Anywhere once again did outstanding programming. Some of it was geared toward members at a specified financial commitment level. Examples:

  • Steve Bayme presented a sweeping overview of the modern day history of Israel-Diaspora relations.
  • “Standing with the Asian American Community:” Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) and Haipei Shue, President of United Chinese Americans joined AJC for a discussion on rising racism and xenophobia targeted at Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, and what AJC can do to help.
  • David Harris on the Soviet Jewry Movement (Part 1)
  • Italy and the Coronavirus Featuring: His Excellency Armando Varricchio, Ambassador of Italy to the United States, and David Harris, AJC CEO
  • Israel-diaspora relations during this time of Israel forming a new government while the coronavirus is attacking the population.

Tune in to upcoming and audio podcasts by CAMERA staff and other experts on Israel Issues.

Powerful speakers and interactive programs come to your home via the generosity of hard working and effective organizations supporting the Jewish community.  Some are free and some require a level of membership or subscription. We have more time than usual now.

These are unsettling times. I wish you all health and a happy Pesach.
Rita Millner




Antisemitism and Israel

Natan Sharansky, an Israeli leader and former Soviet “refusenik” identifies “3 D’s” to determine when anti-Israel criticism crosses over into anti-Semitism: demonization, delegitimization and when Israel is held to a double standard.  (ADL)

 

A person doesn’t have to believe in the divine promise of Israel.  Judaism’s ancient roots make it both nation and faith.  One can believe in the historic necessity of a Jewish nation for those who have faced annihilation and oppression in nearly every part of the world throughout every part of their long history.  To argue against Jews’ nationalism — which is to say, to argue against the ability of Jews to defend themselves in their own state — is substantively anti-Jewish.  (Citation source unknown, but this made sense to me)

 

We’ve all heard of a lack of timely awareness of the 1930s growth in activity which frightened and harmed Jews in various parts of the world.  Following is 2020 activity:

On February 22, 2020  bomb threats were made against 18 Jewish communities centers in New York.  A spokesperson for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the threats are believed to be part of a wider series made against JCC’s nationally.

February 23, 2020:  The AJC Transatlantic Institute condemned today’s antisemitic Aalst carnival parade which was allowed to occur unhindered by Belgian authorities. AJC urged Belgian and European Union leaders to condemn the costumes and called on the EU to investigate Belgium.

Doubling down on last year’s giant antisemitic puppets, today’s march featured costumes of black-clad orthodox Jews as man-sized bugs, complete with papier-mâché insect shells and legs which invoked the Nazi-era dehumanization of Jews as vermin. In the weeks leading up to the march, the organizers had reportedly sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” with over-sized noses to strap on, mock side locks, and traditional black hats worn by orthodox Jews.

“In this shameful moment, the world’s eyes are on Belgium.  As the Flemish and federal Belgian authorities refused to prevent this grotesque public display of antisemitic hate – and in some cases even outright supported it – the European Union should immediately launch an investigation,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute.  “The European Commission ought to consider an Article 7 procedure as the Belgian authorities did nothing to prevent the outright antisemitic costumes, which clearly violate the EU’s founding values, built on the lessons of the Holocaust and World War II.  As the host of the EU institutions, Belgium has a particular responsibility to respect human dignity and human rights, including the rights of minorities,” Schwammenthal said.

 

The New York Times, Feb 17, 2020:

‘Most Visible Jews’ Fear Being Targets as Anti-Semitism Rises:

More than half of the hate crimes in New York City last year were attacks on Jewish people.  Orthodox Jews are particularly at risk.

Although synagogues of all denominations have been subject to threats or vandalism, community leaders say the risk of street violence is greater for Orthodox Jews who wear religious clothing like yarmulkes; black suits and hats; and wigs or other hair coverings in their daily lives.

“We know there are over one million Jews in New York City alone, and a couple hundred thousand of those are Orthodox,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, using a term that encompasses Modern Orthodox as well as Hasidic Jews. “They are being singled out in disproportionate numbers to their percentage of the population.”

Jewish people were the victims in more than half of the 428 hate crimes in New York City last year, with many of the crimes committed in heavily Orthodox neighborhoods, according to the Police Department.  Community leaders said most of the victims in the Monsey and Jersey City attacks were Orthodox.

 

I focus on the Jewish targeted hate crimes which are peaking.  Where does it stop?


December 19, 2019

The following is taken from a recent AJC Dispatch. You can sign up for your own weekly email Dispatch at ajc.org/dispatch and forward them to your friends! Information about AJC is in a holder on the table outside the Synagogue office.

The Good News Stories of 2019
A Geostrategic Breakthrough For Israel
As democratic neighbors who share the Mediterranean coastline, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus have forged an unprecedented alliance. While Israel has long been considered part of the Middle East and Greece and Cyprus have long belonged to Europe, a new way of looking at their shared region emerged last week. The Eastern Mediterranean was at the heart of a geostrategic breakthrough for Israel years in the making: Congress passed bipartisan legislation to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus and establish a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation with Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. The package also authorizes Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Greece and increased International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and Cyprus. The swift passage of this legislation, coupled with the recent adoption of the Working Definition of Antisemitism by both Greece and Cyprus, shows how integral AJC is to the trilateral Eastern Mediterranean alliance, and how important this relationship is for Israel and the Jewish people.
Countries Take Crucial Step in Combating Antisemitism
Imagine trying to stop, report, – or even call out blatant antisemitism – and being turned away by police or local government officials. In order to protect Jews from rising antisemitism, it’s essential that nations, especially those in Europe, adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which provides law enforcement with a clear and compact description of antisemitism in its various forms. The Definition sends a message that governments understand the threat, which is the obvious first step in addressing it. AJC was involved in the original drafting of the definition 14 years ago. Over the past year, 10 countries, thanks to AJC’s advocacy, adopted the IHRA Working Definition: Luxembourg, Hungary, Canada, France, Greece, Cyprus, Moldova, Czech Republic, Hungary, and North Macedonia. AJC also launched its Translate Hate campaign, which helps people understand what fits the definition and why.
Senate Launches Antisemitism Task Force, House Task Force Nearly Doubles
With antisemitism rising in the U.S., according to a landmark survey conducted by AJC earlier this year, the issue has reached the highest levels of government, including in the Senate where Republicans and Democrats have set aside their discord to address the troubling trend. Shortly after her trip to Israel with AJC Project Interchange, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) teamed up with U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) to launch the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism. The mission of the task force is to collaborate with law enforcement, federal agencies, state and local government, educators, advocates, clergy, and other stakeholders to take on the disturbing rise of antisemitism. Since February, the same task force in the House of Representatives has grown from 110 members of Congress to 175. AJC encouraged the formation of the task force in 2014 and has backed its efforts since its creation.
Countries Ban Hezbollah
Hezbollah, the anti-Israel, antisemitic terror organization founded by Iran, has, for its entire 34-year existence, been allowed to operate, raise funds, and recruit freely throughout most of Europe and Latin America, despite carrying out major terror attacks in both locations. But that firewall was significantly breached in 2019: first, the UK and Argentina blacklisted Hezbollah activity, then Paraguay announced a ban of the group’s military wing, and Guatemala’s incoming president promised to take action as well – and just last week, the Bundestag made the unprecedented move to ban all Hezbollah activity on German soil – currently more than 1,000 Hezbollah operatives call Germany home. Ahead of this year’s AJC Diplomatic Marathon at the UN General Assembly, AJC and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) produced a fact-based analysis to make the case that calling Hezbollah what it is – a hybrid terrorist group – would serve to strengthen Lebanon, protect the West, and promote stability across the Middle East.

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COLLEGE STUDENTS OR INTERESTED OTHERS:

If you want to receive (at no cost) Know Your Rights: A student’s Guide to Pro-Israel Activism, please email rrmillner@gmail.com your request for this comprehensive AJC publication.

Links of Interest

Click here for “The Six Day War, Causes and Consequences”, by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
Click here for the New York Times article “Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear.
Click here for the CNN World article “How the Iron Dome Blocks Rockets from Gaza, Protects Israelis.”
Click here for Elder of Ziyon – Israel News: EoZ Posters for “Apartheid Week.”
Click here for IDF “combat cameraman” deployed to combat propaganda.
Click here for Door Breech Weapon.
Click here for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summarizes the good, the bad and the beautiful.
Click here for Ambassador Nikki Haley discusses standing up for Israel at the United Nations.
Click here for Senator Charles Schumer addresses the critical threats facing Israel.
Click here for Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay calls for two-state solution, but stresses both sides must take steps to rebuild trust.
Click here for AJC Statement on Gaza Violence.
Click here for Evangelical Support of Israel Topic from October 28, 2018 program.