Sunday, March 13, 2016

LA Jewish Federation "Stand Down" Another Opinion

Yesterday, I posted this article on the statement of Jay Sanderson of the LA Jewish Federation criticizing the efforts of Israel and other entities to defend Jewish students on US campuses who are being attacked for their support for the Jewish state.

The interview of Sanderson by Ha'aretz newspaper (Israel) was sent to me by my friend and colleague, JJ Surbeck, the outgoing  head of Training and Education About the Middle East, based in San Diego.  Here is his own take on Sanderson's comments.
"Israel should not be involved in US college campuses". Really? Even by the usual anti-Israel standards of Ha’aretz, this article is simply appalling. Here we have no less an official of the American Jewish community than the President and CEO of the Jewish Federation in Los Angeles telling Israel to buzz off from US campuses, allegedly because they’re making things “worse” there. Never mind that he does not bother to explain how he and the Federation system have made things better over the years, especially better than Israel could have. It doesn’t occur to him that it is precisely the complete failure of the traditional approach by the Federation system and other Jewish groups like Hillel that has brought the Israeli government to want to take a more direct and active part in facing the problem. Amazingly, he repeats the old Hillel mantra that no one should “rock the boat”, and Israel should trust the Federation and others to do things in a "more nuanced" way. The more nuanced way he advocates has resulted only in a steady worsening of the situation over the last 30 years, to the point that today Jewish students feel physically threatened on a number of campuses. That’s progress? More nuance is needed?

Being delusional is one thing, especially at this level, but telling Israel that he knows better how to handle the problem than they do is downright laughable. It is time to wake up to the reality that Israel and the Jewish people are facing nasty anti-semites tolerated for too long on too many campuses, and fighting them requires strong tactics, not “nuanced” ones, to respond in kind. Tragically, by advocating a quiet approach, he fails to understand that it results only in leaving campus student bodies exposed to the lies vigorously propagated by the Palestinians and their supporters. With no response on the same scale, they will automatically buy and accept the Palestinian narrative… and go on with their lives carrying the anti-Israel biases they absorbed while in college. And Israel should accept this worsening situation year after year and trust the Federation to do what it takes to reverse it?

With friends like these, Israel has really no other choice than to bypass them… and work closely with the few groups who are really doing what it takes to fight back effectively. This Federation CEO dismisses them dirisively as “organizations that yell and scream”, but here he shows in fact his ignorance on two counts. For one thing, no, there is no need to yell and scream, and it hardly ever happens that way. That is the favorite intimidation tactic used by the Palestinians, not by Jewish and pro-Israel students. Resolutely confronting Palestinians yellers and facing them does not equate yell and scream as they do. Second, it takes some nerve for a Federation leader to show such disdain for several groups that have done remarkable work, especially The AMCHA Initiative and StandWithUs, the kind of work that no one at any Federation can boast of having accomplished anywhere in the country. Chutz[ah and arrogance mixed into one is what we have here.

So if there is one thing this CEO would be well inspired to do, it is to pipe down, get off his high horse, and show a little more humility, commensurate with his complete lack of achievements in this field. And yes, welcome Israel’s efforts to fight this battle instead of adding another layer of inter-Jewish factionalism on this side of the battlefield.

J.J. Surbeck

Well stated.

History teaches us that you don't surrender to those who want to exterminate you.


Squid said...

These are two excellent pieces Gary. It takes intestinal fortitude to face down the MSA/SJP at the anti-Israel expose's at UCI and other California Universities. I recall the Director of StandWithUs questioning Malik Ali and he was stopped in his tracks. I recall a very brave community leader who organized a multi-day rally to counter the MSU/UCI anti-Israel/anti-Semitic screed at the annual hate-fest, put on by the MSU. The MSU was stunned by this action. I remember how the MSU shut down the Israeli Ambassador at UCI and the Israel supporters had video taped the victory lap that the MSU had after the shut-down. This video was used to help convict the MSU members of violation of free speech and UCI kicked them off campus for six months. These are the brave protectors of Israel and the Jewish community.
I did see the ex-Director of the Orange County Jewish Federation at a couple of the hate-fests. This Director stayed for a short time, talked to his lieutenant about something, did nothing else and left. He did not confront the hate speech against Zionists, Jews and Israel. His stand-down, in my opinion, was a lack of intestinal fortitude and selling out of Jews, everywhere.


Gary Fouse said...

Thanks, Squid.

You and I have seen the same things at these events. It has been disgusting not only to see and hear the Jew hatred on our campus, but to have to deal with people who should be standing with us, but who do not.