Thanks especially to Amir Terkel (and also Judith Kolokoff), I was the first news source outside Israel to report that Israel’s Los Angeles consul general, Ehud Danoch, smeared Brit Tzedek, Combatants for Peace, and Breaking the Silence, accusing their national tours of being “bankrolled by Palestinian groups.” Now, Brit Tzedek’s national leadership has answered the foreign ministry report with a letter of their own which I quote in full:
January 30, 2007
Consul General Ehud Danoch
Consul for Media and Pubic Affairs Gilad Millo
Consulate General of Israel
6380 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
We write to express profound dismay about a report transmitted by your office to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and to all of Israel’s representatives in North America condemning the tour sponsored by Brit Tzedek v’Shalom featuring representatives of the Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace. As covered by YNET and Maariv, your report also called for actions against these individuals, whose military service has turned them into conscientious objectors, to stop “their negative effect on Israel’s image.”
As a supporter of Israel, Brit Tzedek v’Shlaom celebrates Israel as a vibrant democracy, whose citizens have not only diverse opinions but the right to express them publicly. That groups like Combatants for Peace and Breaking the Silence speak out against the current government’s policy of occupation, or that they might hold minority positions, does not diminish the obligation of your government to acknowledge their right to be heard.
The Israelis in these groups have dutifully served to protect Israel and the principles for which it stands. It is from their firsthand military experience that they have come to the realization shared by many Israelis, Palestinians and Americans alike, that only a diplomatically-negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will bring real peace and security to Israel,.
Like Israelis, American Jews are also overwhelmingly pro-Israel and have a wide-range of views about how to ensure the future of the Jewish homeland.
We certainly share Combatants for Peace’s concerns about the negative impact of the occupation on Israel. Yet a primary goal in our hosting the Combatants for Peace tour is to stimulate discussion in Jewish communities across our nation of the many ways to connect to and work on behalf of Israel.
As you are already aware, we are sponsoring a presentation by Combatants for Peace in Los Angeles on January 31st at the Skirball Center. We would be honored to welcome you and would also be pleased to meet with you privately to discuss how the exchange of ideas presents opportunity to strengthen the American Jewish community’s support for Israel.
Marcia Freedman, President
Diane M. Cantor, Executive Director
In my opinion, the reply was entirely too polite considering the mendacity in the diplomatic report as quoted by Yediot. I don’t know how Brit Tzedek plans to pursue this matter. I hope they do. It deserves to be reported in JTA, the Forward and the Jewish Journal (L.A.’s Jewish paper) so that American Jews know about the mendacity of the L.A. foreign ministry staff. I have personally contacted editors at the Journal and Forward to inform them of the story in case they didn’t know. We’ll see what, if anything they say.
It’s instructive to hear what an Israeli refusenik himself has to say about this scandalous document. Amir Terkel, who conveyed the original Hebrew version of the story to me writes:
I can speak for many of the Israeli refuseniks who I met, and am one of myself, that this actually is not a deterrent, but more a confimation that the message is going out.