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AJCongress Supports Accused Aipac Spy, Rosen and Proposition 8 Anti-Gay Proponent

After writing a post here about accused Aipac spy, Steve Rosen’s new publishing affiliations with far-right Jewish websites, I received an e mail from David Twersky, American Jewish Congress‘ public affairs director:

…The bait that trapped Steve and his colleague was a (false) piece of informati[o]n that Iranian death squads were targeting Israeli operatives in Iraqi Kurdistan.

It would be interesting to know what you would do if you received such information.

The assumptions behind this statement are quite interesting. First, that as a Jew my primary imperative would be to pass this information on to the Israeli government and so save Israeli lives. Second, that if I would not have done what Rosen did that I would be a bad Jew. Third, that as a U.S. citizen I owed a lesser obligation to my own country than to Israel.

I repeat something I’ve stated here before, I dislike the dual loyalty canard used by both anti-Semites and others to imply that American Jews cannot reconcile their loyalties to the U.S. and Israel. But I also find objectionable the sentiment of Twersky’s message.

This was my reply to him:

Glad to know of AJCongress’ support for Steve Rosen.

Steve Rosen has been around the block a time or two in DC circles. He should know what the limits are to his involvement in activities of this kind. The fact that he overstepped the limits (or so it’s alleged) indicates that he cared more for Israel’s interests than he cared for honoring the secrecy of the government documents he was given.

I know what I’d do in that situation & it wouldn’t be what he did. I’d follow the law. Now, if you want to argue that Jewish American citizens owe a greater debt to Israeli interests than U.S. interests I’d like to see you make that argument.

David Twersky has been a noted liberal Jewish journalist for several decades.  When I fundraised for the Orange County Jewish Federation I booked Twersky to speak for one of our events.  I’m sorry to see he’s now flacking for Jack Rosen’s AJCongress…and Steve Rosen.

On a slightly different note, the Forward reports that the AJCongress office is Los Angeles employs a Mormon Hispanic, Mark Paredes, who does outreach to the Latino community.  Paredes became virtually THE public face of the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in California, which outlawed same sex marriage.  70% of California Jews opposed Prop 8.  So how, in good conscience, can the AJCongress employ the Mormon, anti-gay face of Proposition 8?

A snap says the Congress–and if you can follow the garbled syntax and logic of this statement you win a medal:

Marc Stern, acting co-executive director of the AJCongress, said he was unaware that any employee had taken “what some considered an active public role in a completely different capacity.” Stern added that the organization asks its staff members not to become publicly identified with politics or controversial issues when there’s a possibility of roles becoming confused. He said, however, that he had not made this clear to Paredes, specifically in regard to referendums.

If you don’t make clear what the rules are to your employees, then how can you legitimately claim that you “ask them not to become publicly identity with politics?”  How do you allow a prominent employee to advocate a position that is anathema to 70% of the Jews in your state?

First, you have to be a Jewish group run by a neocon pal of George Bush.  That would be Jack Rosen.  Then you have to basically not give a crap what most Jews think.  Clearly, AJCongress doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing, as was made abundantly clear to me when I asked the local L.A. director whether local Jewish extremist, Rachel Neuwirth, was or was not a board member.  When told she was not I asked why she was claiming on her website and other places online that she was.  The answer–that they’d told her numerous times to stop and she hadn’t.  It reminded me of a Keystone Cops routine.

But the AJCongress director didn’t otherwise distance himself from her.  In fact, he was actually proud that they’d had a board member who advocated transferring the entire Palestinian population to Saudi Arabia and trying Israeli peace activists for crimes against the Jewish people (as she does on her website).

I noticed that within 24 hours she’d removed the claim of board membership from her bio and website.  Why did it take me to get them to police themselves and their ex-board members?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 24, 2008, 2:15 PM

    “American Jews cannot reconcile their loyalties to the U.S. and Israel”

    Richard-don’t you mean YOUR disloyalty to Israel?

  • Richard Silverstein November 24, 2008, 3:45 PM

    @Barnaby Yeh: Oh, so your view of Zionism and Jewish identity calls for you to betray your country if a U.S. government official offers you secret documents which might possibly save the lives of unknown Israelis? Is that the game you’re playing? That my loyalty to my own country means disloyalty to Israel?

    Nah, I’m not playing that game. I am loyal to my country while I am also a Zionist. Israel, in my view, does not demand betrayal of my country. Anyone in Israel or here in the U.S. that sees things differently is betraying both this country and a tolerant, diverse & balanced interpretation of Zionism.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 24, 2008, 6:49 PM

    @Richard

    Zionism was predicated on the idea that Jews would settle the Land of Israel. Israel’s nation anthem says “A Jewish soul still yearns.” You are hostile towards settlers and you yourself don’t live in Israel! How are you a “Zionist?”
    If you could only be a Jew OR an American, which would you choose? I think those of you who identify with the left have apparently conveniently solved their identity crisis’s! Tel Aviv University was built on a Muslim village-how is that “tolerant, diverse & balanced?”

  • Richard Silverstein November 25, 2008, 12:27 AM

    @Barnaby Yeh: Are you really claiming that the 8-9 million Jews who’ve chosen to live in the Diaspora cannot be Zionists? Do you realize how counter-productive such a notion is to Zionism itself? Zionism doesn’t only need Jews to settle in Israel. It needs Jews to support Israel in the Diaspora as well.

    And when I say I’m a Zionist, that doesn’t mean I’m not a Diasporist as well. In other words, Jewish identity is a balance bet. these 2 poles. I entirely reject the notion that a Jew must be one or the other but cannot be both.

    Being Jewish is not an “either/or” proposition; it is an “and also” proposition.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 25, 2008, 6:54 AM

    @Richard

    “Are you really claiming that the 8-9 million Jews who’ve chosen to live in the Diaspora cannot be Zionists?”
    -I am claiming that they can be armchair Zionists not Zionists. Zionism is the settlement by Jews of the Land of Israel.

    “Do you realize how counter-productive such a notion is to Zionism itself?”
    -No. Your notion is counter-productive to Zionism.

    “these 2 poles.”
    -You mean bi-polar? Is that why so many Jews in the diaspora have an identity crisis?

    “I entirely reject the notion that a Jew must be one or the other but cannot be both.”
    -Sounds like you choose whatever truth is comfortable to you!

  • Richard Silverstein November 25, 2008, 5:41 PM

    @Barnaby Yeh: Yr definition of Zionism is simply WRONG. Any Jew can be a Zionist as long as they support the State of Israel & believe it plays a major role in Jewish life. That is the definition of Zionism. Zionism SUPPORTS the settlement of Jews in Israel, but to say that Zionism IS the settlement of Jews in the land reduces the movement to a shell of what it actually is.

    Diaspora Zionists are not “armchair” Zionists. They are Zionists plain & simply & I resent you claiming that a Diaspora Zionist is less a Zionist than one who settles the land. I simply refuse to recognize or concede yr mangling of Zionism as I know it. You’re welcome to yr own definition. But it outmoded, doctrinaire, & increasingly irrelevant either to the Jewish Diaspora or Israel itself.

    No, the identity crisis is actually Israel’s. Will it be a Jewish supremacist society or a democratic one honoring all citizens regardless of ethnicity & religion. That’s a massive identity crisis. Any identity crisis we have is minor in comparison.

    you choose whatever truth is comfortable to you!

    No, unlike you I see Judaism and Zionism as a continuum, not as a black and white unidimensional entities. Zionism has ALWAYS allowed for & even encouraged the existence of a ZIonist Diaspora. You cannot erase or dismiss this history as hard as you may try.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 26, 2008, 2:54 AM

    @Richard

    “Yr definition of Zionism is simply WRONG.”
    -I don’t agree. Anyhow, the proof is in the pudding: the Jewish population in Israel has surpassed that the USA. Assimilation is a major problem that people there are looking away from.

    “reduces the movement to a shell of what it actually is.”
    -Zionism has become reduced to a shell BECAUSE people don’t move here! Much of the controversy has to do with population blocks. There aren’t enough Jews!

    “I resent you claiming that a Diaspora Zionist is less a Zionist than one who settles the land.”
    -Well, you can be resentful but that is simply the truth! Apparently you don’t know what we go through here on a daily basis.

    “increasingly irrelevant either to the Jewish Diaspora”
    -The Jewish Diaspora is becoming increasingly irrelevant. You can write a capital “D” now-it’s becoming a “d” gradually!

    “No, the identity crisis is actually Israel’s.”
    In the past 10 years I have seen countless Jewish kids from USA and other places who have serious issues-mostly self-esteem and lack of Jewish knowledge. Because their parents (people who are your age) refuse to address this, they continue on in the darkness.

    “Will it be a Jewish supremacist society or a democratic one”
    -This is an issue that all the Jews face: Hellenism. For 2,000 years Jews desired to return to their ancient homeland. In the Amidah, it says to “return our judges as they were at the beginning.” This is a reference to Torah judges-NOT democracy. Those who founded the State Of Israel were not religious-neither in knowledge or practice-they were Hellenized Jews-just like most Jews in the world-including Richard. The fact that Judaism has been buried in another philosophy is an indication that what is going on is actually occupation. The Jewish mind is being occupied by a foreign philosophy. It is actually more series than an identity crisis-it’s identity theft!

  • Richard Silverstein November 26, 2008, 11:50 PM

    @Barnaby Yeh:

    the Jewish population in Israel has surpassed that the USA.

    The Jewish population of the U.S. is not declining, nor is it’s influence in world Jewry. And if the Jewish population of Israel is rising it is largely because of Haredi Jews who have large families. This in turn will turn Israel away from its secular-democratic roots & further distance Israel from the Diaspora.

    The fact that you see the Diaspora as irrelevant to Israel indicates how far you, and Zionists like you have come from the original tenets of Zionism. It also indicates the increasing isolation of Israel fr. world Jewry & the world in general. This is a big problem for you & for Israel, though you will deny it forcefully.

    Those who founded the State Of Israel were not religious-neither in knowledge or practice-they were Hellenized Jews

    Now, you’re starting to sound like the settlers who use precisely this sort of terminology to attempt to smear secular Jews. I am not a Hellenized Jew. I know just as much as you about my tradition & I won’t have you or anyone like you diminish my knowledge or my connection to my tradition. You are on very thin ice in terms of violating my comment rules.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 28, 2008, 2:51 AM

    @Richard
    “The Jewish population of the U.S. is not declining, nor is it’s influence in world Jewry.”
    -on the contrary:
    Jerusalem Post: US Jewish population shrinking, aging survey
    Oct. 9, 2002
    By MELISSA RADLER
    NEWYORK The Jewish population in the US has shrunk by
    more than 5 percent in the past decade and aged by
    four years, according to the results of the largest
    study of American Jewry ever conducted.
    The 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey
    (NJPS), a portion of which was released yesterday by
    the United Jewish Communities, found a total US Jewish
    population of 5.2 million, compared to 5.5 million in
    1990. The median age of American Jews increased over
    the past decade to 41 from 37, and Jewish families
    were found to have had an average of just 1.8 children
    below the replacement level of 2.1.

    And if the Jewish population of Israel is rising it is largely because of Haredi Jews
    -This is correct:
    Jerusalem Post: Birthrate up for Jews, down for Muslims
    Judy Siegel-Itzkovich , THE JERUSALEM POST
    Nov. 6, 2007
    The highest rates are in haredi towns such as Modi’in Illit (Kiryat Sefer) and Betar Illit, with an average of
    eight children per woman, and in Beduin towns such as Tel Sheva (6.8), Rahat and Arara. The least fertile
    cities were Ariel (1.7), Kiryat Yam, Tirat Carmel, Kiryat Bialik and Upper Nazareth.

    “you see the Diaspora as irrelevant to Israel”
    -This is not the case-Jews living outside of Israel are highly relevant. I am claiming that they are making themselves irrelevant by assimilating.

    “Israel fr. world Jewry & the world in general”
    -Perhaps this is correct, but Jews have always been outsiders, as it says “here is a nation that dwells in isolation.” Jews have been on the outside for about 4,000 years, largely because Jews cling to a different set of values than other peoples of the world.

    “Now, you’re starting to sound like the settlers…”
    -All Jews living in Israel are “settlers.” This is a fact. The future for Jews (and non-Jews) in Israel will be determined by expansion into controversial land areas.
    -I understood this to be a liberal “pluralistic” forum. I am trying to express a well-rounded view of the situation. Honesty is my only excuse.

  • Richard Silverstein November 28, 2008, 9:58 PM

    @Barnaby Yeh: Actually, let’s lv. aside numbers & all that other stuff. I’ll make a flat out statement. Israel is becoming less & less important in the context of world Jewry. And the longer it fights the Arabs & engages in bloody mayhem the less world Jewry cares about Israel. Every time a settler goon writes “Mohammed pig” on a mosque wall another Diaspora Jew says: “I’m not going to have anything to do with Israel. A pox on both their houses.” At some pt., Israel could become entirely irrelevant or, has v’halilah, cease to exist.

    I am claiming that they are making themselves irrelevant by assimilating.

    No, being the outmoded Zionist that you are you believe that merely by existing in the Diaspora that Jews are assimilating. Ergo, the only place that Jews will not assimilate is Israel. The utter fallacy of this statement is that Israel does not make Jews Jews. In fact, many Israelis represent the basest forms of Jewish thought & belief.

    The future for Jews (and non-Jews) in Israel will be determined by expansion into controversial land areas

    Ah, I didn’t know you were a settler symp. That puts things into pretty good context for my readers. Thanks for letting us know yr true colors.

    I am trying to express a well-rounded view of the situation.

    Well-rounded? Hardly. Your views are quite conventional, unsurprising & backward thinking in both a Jewish & Zionist context. I wouldn’t disagree that this is a “liberal pluralistic forum.” But yr views surely are not.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 29, 2008, 8:34 AM

    @Richard

    “Israel is becoming less & less important in the context of world Jewry.”
    -The latest and largest census of North American Jewry produced figures that were so astoundingly negative that they “lost the data.” Being that Israel is the center of Torah study and that the population and wealth is increasing, I am not sure how your statement is correct or even relevant.

    “Every time a settler goon writes “Mohammed pig””
    -This kind of juvenile behavior is certainly not becoming of Jews. However, the Arabs are not innocent either. Mohammad himself tried to convert Jews to Islam unsuccessfully. What about Samir Kuntar who was convicted in an Israeli court for murder of an Israeli policeman, Eliyahu Shahar, 31 year-old Danny Haran, and Haran’s 4-year-old daughter, Einat Haran? He was also convicted of indirectly causing the death of two-year-old Yael Haran by suffocation, as her mother, Smadar, tried to quiet her crying while hiding from Kuntar. You present Israelis as being the only guilty party.

    “Israel does not make Jews Jews”
    -I agree. But what does make Jews Jews, Richard? Also, isn’t America is making Jews Christians!

    “many Israelis represent the basest forms of Jewish thought & belief.”
    -If someone wrote this on your website, you would call them an anti-Semite. This is a sweeping categorical accusation. Israel took in Jewish refugees from Europe-who tried to annihilate World Jewry-whose “though and belief” you have inculcated and now advocate (the Enlightenment). Don’t forget that the USA turned away Jews from the SS St. Louis in 1939-several hundred of who were later murdered. Is that not a “base” action?

    “expansion into controversial land areas”-I said this
    -It has nothing to do with sympathy. It is not political. It is about crowdedness, which is something Jews there don’t understand. I did fundraising for Jewish groups for 10 years. I realize most Jews there no little about the daily life here. Many of the people living in the territories are not religious! Over 200,000 are US citizens!

    “yr true colors.”
    -My colors are blue and white. Yours?

    “Your views are quite conventional…”
    The same could be said about yours by reading your blog’s responses.

  • Richard Silverstein November 29, 2008, 1:07 PM

    @Barnaby Yeh: Pls. read my comment rules & stay on topic. THe thread is about Steve Rosen and AJ Congress. I don’t know how you got to Samir Kuntar, but it’s WAY off topic. Stay on topic.

    America is NOT making Jews Christians. America has a thriving Jewish life and culture. The fact that you’ve given up on it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to join you.

    I document the baseness of Jewish belief whether those beliefs are proferred by American or Israeli Jews. Pointing out that there are Israelis whose views of Judaism are base is NOT anti-Semitic. If you think it is, that’s yr problem not mine. Perhaps I should’ve used the word “some” rather than “many.” But the fact is that there are tens of thousands of Israeli Jews (& American Jews for that matter) whose views of Judaism are twisted & perverted & nursed by hate and blood vengeance.

    The Holocaust has nothing to do with this & again is a non sequitur on yr part.

    Your colors are not blue and white, they are ORANGE.

    My views are far fr. conventional. If they were conventional then I’d have a lot more readers adoring me like Charles Johnson and David Abitbol.

  • Barnaby Yeh November 29, 2008, 3:24 PM

    “I don’t know how you got to Samir Kuntar…”
    -You discussed the issue of settlers and Islam. Is that on-topic? I am following the stream of our discussion.

    “The fact that you’ve given up…”
    -If Diaspora Jews will survive, it will be because:
    1-They come back to observance and have more kids.
    2-They come to Israel.
    Either way, that is a win-win situation.

    “I document the baseness of Jewish belief”
    -Do you think Jewish belief is base? What about the idea of Tikun Olam? Perhaps you should elaborate on this statement.

    “The Holocaust has nothing to do with this & again is a non sequitur on yr part.”
    -It is relevant. Israel would never perpetrate what the US government did with the SS St. Louis. Making USA the hero and bad-mouthing Israel does hold water in this case.

    “they are ORANGE.”
    -My cellphone company is Orange. My passport says “State Of Israel.”

    “My views are far fr. conventional.”
    -The Reform and Conservative friends I had in college had sentiments that were similar to yours. They didn’t expound as much as you do but the jist was the same.

  • Richard Silverstein November 29, 2008, 9:43 PM

    @Barnaby Yeh: Just stay on topic. This is not a discussion about Samir Kuntar, the SS St. Louis or the Holocaust. I’ve written posts on all these subjects & that’s where any thoughts you have on these subjects belong.

    I didn’t say ALL Jewish belief is base. I am a strongly identified Jew. Why would I even say or believe such a thing? I said the beliefs of SOME Israeli (& Diaspora) Jews are base. You know what I mean & who I’m referring to. If you choose to misinterpret my words that’s again yr own issue, not mine.

    As for your colors, your ideology is ORANGE.

    You don’t have a very clear idea of my views if you claim that your friends had sentiments similar to mine (though I guess that depends on who you friends were & what their real beliefs were–as opposed to the caricature that you present). Further, among Jewish blogs there are only a handful which share my outlook while there are scores if not several hundred which are truly conventional & traditionalist in their outlook on Jewish identity and the I-P conflict.

  • B.BarNavi December 4, 2008, 7:45 PM

    To my dear doppelganger:

    Please STFU.

    Thank you.

  • B.BarNavi December 4, 2008, 7:53 PM

    Also, anyone who thinks America is a bastion of Hellenism and Eretz Yisroel a bulwark of Das Torah should go to a suburb of Tel Aviv. You know, the places where Jew-Bu’s thrive. Then they should go to Boro Park, or Williamsburg, or Crown Heights, or Ocean Parkway, or Deal, or Great Neck…

    Q. E. D.