Haaretz reports that the Israeli rightist Jerusalem Post has dumped Naomi Chazan’s column in that newspaper. The editor refused to elaborate when asked. Clearly, this is connected to Im Tirtzu’s campaign of vilification against Chazan and New Israel Fund, which I’ve covered extensively here. The only progressive commentators left there are Gershom Baskin and Larry Derfner. I know it’s tough to tell a fellow journalist to harm their own livelihood, but the honorable thing for both of them to do would be to resign as well. How can a progressive columnist continue to publish at a newspaper that falls prey to the most scurrilous, disgusting calumny? I urge you to contact David Horovitz, the editor, and tell him what an ass he and his paper are (well, use more polite words–you know what I mean).
The Haaretz report also unmasks the radical right-wing pro-settler agenda of Im Tirtzu:
Im Tirtzu is trying to cast itself as a centrist movement…however, a Haaretz probe found that the influential forces behind the movement make no secret of their rightist political loyalties. Financially, Im Tirtzu is supported by a foundation that has contributed to radical right-wing organizations such as the Women in Green; Pastor John Hagee, the head of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) which contributed to Im Tirtzu, has been implicated in the past by a number of anti-Semitic statements.
Ideologically, the movement’s chairman Ronen Shoval used to be spokesman of the “Orange Cell,” a student chapter at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that fought against the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and supported the settlement project. Shoval was even honored for his efforts with a citation from the evicted settlement block of Gush Katif.
The main channel for donations to Im Tirtzu is the Central Fund of Israel. In addition to Women in Green and Im Tirtzu, it supports Honenu, an organization sponsoring legal defense to radical right-wing activists in trouble with the law. Honenu boasts of financially supporting the families of the Bat Ayin underground, convicted for trying to bomb a girls’ school in East Jerusalem in 2002; of Ami Popper, who shot four Palestinian laborers during the first intifada; Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox man who stabbed participants in a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem in 2005; and Haggai Amir, brother of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir. Im Tirtzu’s Web site asks donations to be sent through the American foundation.
Shoval maintained yesterday that the American foundation’s services were used for technical reasons only. “We’re a small organization, and a small organizations needs a tax break for the donations it gets,” he said yesterday. “CFI is an organization that sends money to scores, if not hundreds, of Israeli organizations, left and right. Donations to it are tax deductible, and this is the only reason why we work with them. I am not familiar with their activities and I haven’t studied their organization in depth.”
Honenu, the group mentioned above, also attempts to get Jewish terrorist prisoners freed from prison including Yigal Amir, killer of Yitzhak Rabin.
Shoval is lying about CFI. It supports NO left-wing Israeli groups. None. It is an Orthodox pro-settler funder and only supports explicitly Orthodox or settler organizations. Jay Marcus, president of CFI lives in Efrat, a settlement. I challenge Shoval to point to a single organization legitimately characterized as left wing that CFI has ever supported. I’d challenge him to point to any Israeli Orthodox progressive groups CFI has supported. There are such groups, but none on CFI’s grantee list.
I find this defense of Im Tirtzu’s acceptance of funding from Christian Zionist firebrand John Hagee to be disingenuous in the extreme:
…We’re not financially well-off enough to say no to money, even if the source doesn’t perfectly match my personal world view.”
The source perfectly matches his world view on the only issues that matter: hatred of Palestinians and affirmation of the God-given right of the Jewish people to maintain control of Greater Israel. As for Hagee’s anti-Semitism, well, that’s not Shoval’s problem since he doesn’t live here and have to hear it and read it regularly in the media.
Of course non-profits have the option of turning down a gift from a source with which they disagree. Would Im Tirtzu accept donations from Palestinians? Or a neo-Nazi group? Of course not.
And more disingenuousness:
“Im Tirtzu is not a right-wing movement, I don’t see myself as a right-wing person, and it’s important for me this is said.”
It may be said, but that doesn’t mean it will be believed. Why should he be when Haaretz notes:
Shoval himself published a large number of articles, all carrying explicitly rightist views.
Such as this Haaretz op-ed proclaiming the inviolability of settlements as an inherent part of the State of Israel:
The root of the problem…is the prevalent conception of the political, state and defense establishment, which says you can defend Gush Dan without the protective wall of Judea and Samaria.”
Shoval called Ariel Sharon “the worst prime minister” because he evacuated the Gaza settlements. Yet this charlatan wants readers to see his organization in the same Zionist context as Likud, Kadima or Labor. You ain’t foolin’ anyone, Shoval. We can see right through ya. When I read steaming horse manure like this I’m reminded of the hilarious line from Hester Street: “You can’t piss on my back and make me think it’s rain.”
I’m guessing that Im Tirtzu is merely a launching pad for a political career for the Shoval lad. He’ll probably be on Likud’s new party list for the coming election. And he’ll be a bright new voice.
The Australian Reform Movement, the Union for Progressive Judaism, also rescinded an invitation to Chazan to speak there. The amount of distortion in the following shameful passage is astonishing:
According to ZCV [Zionist Council of Victoria] President Dr. Danny Lamm, news of the report…on Im Tirtzu’s Web site, had generated angry responses throughout the Melbourne Jewish community and the decision was made to withdraw Chazan’s invite.
“The activities of the NIF are anathema to Zionist groups such as ours, and frankly, we’re just not interested in having anything to with it,” Dr. Lamm told the Post by telephone from Melbourne on Tuesday.
“It’s not new to me, or many of us, that the NIF has supported groups that have damaged Israel and will continue to do damage to Israel, but others were surprised by this,” he added.
Lamm made it clear that the Zionist Council of Victoria represented all branches of Jewish political and religious affiliation, “from Likud to Meretz” and that they would “never bar anybody from the left just as they wouldn’t bar anyone from the right.
But the sort of stuff the NIF supports is so far removed from the community here,” Lamm added, saying “it was decided that Chazan’s public appearances be canceled.”
What I find so astonishing is that Lamm would believe that it was NIF that was extremist and not his own views. NIF is really a liberal Zionist group plain and simple. It’s views are glatt kosher as far as doctrinal Zionism is concerned. So for Lamm to contend that his group includes Meretz, but NIF is somehow farther out there to the left is simply unbelievable. The man doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Yet another example of the Diapsora Jewry have to be holier than the [Zionist] pope.
Actually, the Australians may’ve done Chazan a favor because at the rate the Shin Bet is going in criminalizing human rights work in Israel, they might not have allowed her back into the country on her return, deeming her to be a subversive security risk. And who would the Shin Bet rely on to form this opinion? Ronen Shoval and his friends at Im Tirtzu, of course.
UPDATE: I’m so tickled with the letter Sol Salbe features in the first comment below that I just had to note the irony that Australian Zionists have imposed their own academic/political boycott on Israelis of whom they don’t approve. So what the BDS movement couldn’t achieve (yet) Australian Zionists HAVE. Mazel tov.