JSPAN Policy in Support of Israel

On March 13, 2007 the JSPAN Board of Directors voted in support of the following resolution: The Jewish Social Policy Action Network supports both the government and citizens of Israel in their goal of security for the Jewish State of Israel.

Jewish Disengagement

In the November 19 issue of the Jerusalem Post, Naomi Chazan, Israeli sociologist and former member of the Kenesset, states that there is a "new crisis in American Jewry which has more to do with Israel than the formal leadership cares to acknowledge." Many young Jews are increasingly finding themselves "discouraged from voicing their opinions," particularly as those ideas concern Israel-related issues.

Policy Center on Israel

JSPAN Endorses Debate and Dialogue on Issues Affecting Israel As a strong supporter of a safe and secure Israel, JSPAN believes that advocacy for Israel is enhanced by vigorous debate within the Israeli and American Jewish communities, provided it occurs within a context of mutual respect. We endorse the principles articulated by Martin Raffel, Associate Executive Director of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, and recommend his thoughtful article on this subject.

Diversity Strengthens Israel Advocacy

October 24, 2003 By: Martin J. Raffel Martin J RaffelOne often hears the view expressed that Jewish political diversity and inclusiveness are incompatible with a coherent, effective Israel advocacy agenda. If only we could emulate the Palestinians, the argument goes – represent one perspective, present one message.

The Best Way To Keep Israel a Jewish State

"In the aftermath of the war in Lebanon, it's essential for Jews - in the United States and Israel - to pay attention to the needs of Israeli Arabs. It may be the best way to keep Israel a Jewish state." In the August/September, 2007 issue of Moment Magazine, Nathan Guttman, a reporter for The Forward, argues for a serious engagement on the part of the American Jewish community with the issue of Israel's Arab citizens. Mr. Guttman suggests that most American Jews have very little knowledge about the Arab community of Israel, which represents 20% of its citizenry. "Ignoring Israel's Arab population has been the prevailing approach for the better part of the past 60 years."

Comments on the British Academic call for a Boycott of Israel

Responses pour forth to the 158-99 vote by the University and College Union to circulate a motion to all its branches to discuss calls from Palestinian trade unions for a "comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions." Within Britain, the move was immediately condemned by the Russell group of research-led universities, the National Union of Students and various organizations. In a hard-hitting statement, the Russell group "rejected outright" the boycott call.

A Letter to a Colleague

The American Jewish Committee recently stirred up an emotional debate across the organized Jewish community when it featured on its Web site an essay titled "'Progressive' Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism" by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, an English professor and director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University. Rosenfeld's essay claims that public criticism of Israel is detrimental, even comparing it to the prelude to the Holocaust.

It’s Time to Stop Making Israel a Wedge Issue in American Politics

We have just come through perhaps the most expensive, partisan and divisive election campaign in American history. Increasingly sophisticated polling and persuasion techniques allow candidates, parties and shadow 527 groups to target their appeals with precision. In 2006, the divide and conquer strategies have been applied in ways that portend long-term harm to Israel and its special relationship with the United States. For the first time, we witnessed a coordinated effort to make support for Israel a wedge issue. In a series of ads in Jewish newspapers around the country, the Republican Jewish Coalition argued that Jews should align themselves with the Republican Party because “the Democratic Party is changing. And the far left, anti-Israel segment is gaining control.” Democrats and their support groups naturally responded by citing the traditional support of the Democratic Party for Israel, and argued on the basis of issues such as abortion rights, stem cell research and an increase in the minimum wage that Jews would not have to compromise their values in voting for Democrats. There you have it. Will support for Israel now join gay marriage, faith based initiatives and the right to bear arms as the newest abyss separating Republicans from Democrats? We hope not.

M.J. Rosenberg: Getting Out of the Box

This piece was originally printed at the Israel Policy Forum It becomes clearer every day that Prime Minister Olmert needs to take some dramatic action to reverse Israel’s current predicament. The Lebanon war is over, for now, but Israeli soldiers remain in Hezbollah’s hands. The tenuous cease-fire is holding but Hezbollah remains an armed force with the ability to hit Israeli cities when it chooses. In Gaza, progress toward a unity government has stalled with no interlocutor apparently able to convince Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept agreements previously negotiated by Israel and the PLO. With Palestinian living conditions deteriorating rapidly, it would not take much to spark a Palestinian civil war and reignite the intifada. There is, of course, a vocal minority in Israel that prefers that Israel not have a viable Palestinian negotiating partner. These people worry that because successful negotiations inevitably lead to mutual compromise, it is best when the Arab side is represented by its most extreme elements. Then the “no partner” mantra can be employed and everything will stay the same. But most Israelis and Palestinians do not cherish the staus quo. According to the polls, some 70% of Israelis want to see the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians toward the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.

Time to Try Something Else

by MJ Rosenberg Note: This story comes from the Israel Policy Forum If there is one trait that distinguishes great leaders from those who miss the mark, it is the ability to change course when a particular policy has failed. Franklin D. Roosevelt, consistently ranked by historians as one of America's three most successful Presidents (with Washington and Lincoln), put it like this: "Take a method and try it. If it fails, try another. But by all means, try something." A corollary to FDR's view was the adage often cited by Albert Einstein which held that "insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." One wonders, then, what either of these men would make of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it is playing out today. Actually, one does not have to wonder. One can say with certitude that either would recommend a course correction and, even more likely, would encourage both sides – not to mention the United States – to consider a drastic overhaul of policies that produce little but suffering.
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