33 thoughts on “Jewish Agency PR Flack Defends Hagee Gift to Im Tirzu – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. So many claims, so little fact-checking. Shame you post your views without bothering with mine.

    Incidentally, the original report was not Didi’s, but Walla’s:

    It noted all the facts without the erroneous claim that the Agency had given the donation. We are not upset at the donation being made. If Im Tirzu, or any of the hundreds of groups whose overseas funding we oversee, misused funds, we’ll deal with it in all the ways required by law and regulations.

    The “scoop” of Calcalist comes from their misreading of the financial forms to believe that we, the Agency, gave the money. Which is just ignorant. Calcalist’s reporter (Tomer) and his editor (Shaul) want a meeting with the Agency’s CFO to learn about the system – something they didn’t bother to do beforehand.

    On your FB page, I invited you to coffee to explain everything in detail. You don’t get to Israel much, do you?

    Here are some choice parts of my response to you on Facebook. (What’s in quotes is from you.)

    “I didn’t say Im Tirzu is evil.”

    Correction noted. I was basing myself on some comments you made about Im Tirzu: “thoroughly noxious, partisan & brutal entities,” “It is composed of ugly, racist hateful individuals who’ve smeared the reputations of perfectly good, decent people dedicated to Israeli democracy,” “a pro-settler brutish enterprise which demonizes Israeli democracy advociates like Naomi Hazan & attempts to harm Israeli universities.”

    My mistake.

    “The Calcalist story was a scoop because no one had previously publicized the Central FUnd for Israel gift to Im Tirzu.”

    Not according to the article itself. Their big scoop was that the money came through the UIA mechanism – which they thought meant that the Agency had made the donation.

    “Has anyone from Shatil or Givat Haviva or any other group you call “left-wing” ever engaged in such sustained smear campaigns?”

    I don’t know, but Bustan sure is hard at work on the very public, political battle over El-Arakib. Should we cut funding to them?

    “BTW, I’m sure Didi Remez who wrote the original story doesnt’ consider it old business. So you’ll pardon me if I trust his word over yrs. Esp. since you’re a self-interested flack as I mentioned.”

    I didn’t say the CUFI-Im Tirzu connection was old news. In fact, I emphatically said it was relevant. What I said was that Calcalist’s “scoop” about the Hagee-Im Tirzu ties were old news

    Are you going to ask Didi, or just talk about Didi? I’ll tell you this much. From what I know of Didi, he’d at least ask me for our positions before publishing this kind of stuff. He’s got more journalistic ethic than most journalists – and certainly more than you.

    “And as for calling you a flack, I’ve read yr reporting in the Post & I know a flack when I see one. When did you ever write anything w/o spin or animus against anyone in Israel or elsewhere that was progressive?”

    It is you, not me, who has to provide proof of my alleged misbehavior, and preferably before accusing me of it. Remember how that works?

    If you’re really hard-pressed to do the homework before screaming your head off at someone, just ask Didi, Amnon Rubinstein or David Landau if your epithets fit me.

    Incidentally, I’m at the Agency because of my expertise in Jewish identity issues, not because Sharansky likes or dislikes my politics. My point about progressives is not that my dad used to be one, but that, disagreements aside, I genuinely live in that world. My wife volunteered for years at Mesila, I was a Van Leer fellow in dialogue with Palestinian diplomatic cadets during college.

    And yeah, go back and read my writing. I’m the guy who killed the “Goldstone was a murderous judge” story in the Israeli media, even though I publicly disagreed with the report (http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=174820). I’m the guy who advocated for years in the JPost about the lack of religious freedom in Israel.

    Damn, Richard. I really expected better from an alleged progressive. I’m not used to this level of childishness from that world.

    “I never claimed Sharansky had anything to do w. the gifts.”

    Yes you did. In fact, you did worse. You insinuated:

    “Is it any accident that the Jewish Agency’s chair is Natan Sharansky, doyen of the Israeli right, and affiliated with the Likudist Shalem Center.”

    What’s the connection? Is it just an accident? Your readers will never know, but they’ll wonder… even though the donations started under Bielski’s chairmanship, and even though the chairman has nothing to do with them.

    You do not become innocent for putting a question mark on your libel. Especially when you could have just looked it up.

    And finally, “just for the hell of it,” you ask the question you were trying to avoid – your only effort at fact-checking in all this gleeful tirade:

    “So tell me just for the hell of it–are you claiming that Hagee’s gift never passed through any financial conduit of JA?”

    Thanks for asking. No, I’m claiming the following. In order to enable contributions to charities and Israeli civil society from abroad, the Federations, the UIA and the Agency provide a special program of financial oversight. This program is trusted by the American authorities, so that when we say the money arrived at its destination and is used for its intended purpose, they believe us and the donor back home can receive the tax benefits of his or her donation.

    That system of financial oversight is a service, not a “conduit.” One difference: it has 0 overhead. A “conduit” in banking terms usually involves fees. And it’s a publicly available service, so all this “discovering” on Calcalist’s part merely speaks to the ignorance of the reporter.

    Incidentally, the reporter and his editor have asked to meet with our CFO to learn about the system. Shame they asked after publishing the errors, not before. But so it goes in journalism, right?

    As for politics, according to internal Agency regulations – and American law – we cannot allow our service to be used in funding election campaigns, specific candidates or political parties. But we can help civil society from a broad spectrum of Zionist perspectives to advance their vision of Israel.

    Hagee, for his part, uses the service for gifts for which Israel should be deeply grateful. The Im Tirzu gift isn’t just tiny in the hundreds of millions of dollars overseen in some form by the Agency each year – it’s small even in Hagee’s own Israel portfolio, which included last year a $750,000 gift to Barzilai Hospital, among others. Ironically, Im Tirzu’s latest target, Ben Gurion University, also received money from Hagee.

    Richard, this has been an opportunity for me to learn about you. It’s our first direct encounter. So far I’ve been called nasty names, been ordered by you to fend off your vicious accusations (in free debate, the burden of proof lies in the other direction, remember?) and couldn’t even get you to acknowledge the original point: Please take the time to talk to us before writing bad things about us.

    It seems as though you’ve been so worked up about my “PR calculations” that you couldn’t just acknowledge that you’ve jumped to conclusions, and accused without offering an opportunity for defense.

    1. On your FB page, I invited you to coffee to explain everything in detail. You don’t get to Israel much, do you?

      You did not. And why would you lie like that? Are you now going to go to my Facebook Wall & add such an invitation? And why would I want to have coffee with someone who would lie as you’ve just done? 2nd as for yr sly intimation that I’m somehow treif because I don’t get to Israel much, that’s low too. My background speaks for itself & I’ll allow no one like you to make any insinuations about it. If I had funding like you do I could travel where I liked. Unfortunately, I have 3 young children & a limited income. My employer doesn’t pay for me to visit Israel or anywhere else as yours may do.

      Incidentally, the original report was not Didi’s, but Walla’s

      YOU are the one who claimed the original article appeared at Didi’s blog and you linked to his blog on my Facebook Wall.

      The rest of your comment is merely copying & pasting yr msg fr. my Wall. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly relevant to anything but it does give further evidence of how the mind of an Israeli apparachik works.

      Bustan sure is hard at work on the very public, political battle over El-Arakib. Should we cut funding to them?

      Here again is a perfect example of yr “flackism.” Bustan is fighting on behalf of Bedouin families who’ve lost their homes and their razed village due to the base cruelty of the State of Israel. Are you seriously claiming that a campaign on behalf of these displaced indigenous Israelis is the same as the odious bullying behavior of Im Tirzu? Are you honestly?

      There’s another disturbing contradiction in yr account of the Agency’s funding rules. YOu claim JA funds groups furthering the cause of Zionism, yet you also fund groups which patently do not support such an agenda like Bustan. You can’t have it both ways. Bustan is clearly not a “Zionist” group so how do you fund it? Many of the groups Shatil supports do not have a Zionist agenda either.

  2. The coffee invitation is way up on your FB page. Shame you missed it, maybe you would have been more polite:

    “Next time, you’re welcome to contact me to fact-check. Or, if you’re in Israel and would like a detailed explanation of how designated giving works, let’s get coffee.”

    Then you say, “The rest of your comment is merely copying & pasting yr msg fr. my Wall. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly relevant to anything but it does give further evidence of how the mind of an Israeli apparachik works.”

    Not terribly relevant?

    The complicated fine line between civil society advocacy and political campaigning – we are allowed to help fund the first, not the second – is irrelevant to the truth of your accusations?

    Or whether we even decided on the funding? Or whether Sharansky or the Agency’s alleged political views had anything to do with it?

    As for Bustan, I’ll have to check their financial request. If it’s for integration of the Beduin minority into Israeli society, or some such laudable cause, then it’s clearly within our mission of advancing Israeli society generally. If not, should we begin to reexamine the funding?

    In suggesting sight unseen that funding Bustan isn’t within our purview, you again show deep ignorance about what we are and what we do.

    That offer for coffee and a briefing on our work still stands.

    It would also be nice to receive an apology for the brutal accusations you’ve leveled at me, which – I can’t help noticing – you have yet to back up or retract. Ask Didi Remez why some honest, heartfelt progressives don’t consider me an enemy. My good name is as valuable to me as yours is to you.

    1. My mistake on the coffee issue. Now I see it. I didn’t read your posting carefully enough & I apologize for accusing you of lying about it. But no, you & I aren’t going to be sharing coffee anytime soon regardless of your invitation. Anything you need to tell me about JA you can do so here or via e mail.

      If it’s for integration of the Beduin minority into Israeli society, or some such laudable cause, then it’s clearly within our mission of advancing Israeli society generally. If not, should we begin to reexamine the funding?

      Now this is interesting. You justified yr participation in funneling Hagee’s money to Im Tirzu by saying that the JA’s job was to support groups with a “Zionist” agenda. But in Bustan’s case you’ve defined yr mission differently as “advancing Israeli society generally.” Are you saying that for Jewish groups you have one definition but for non-Jewish, non-Zionist groups you have a diff definition? That’s what it seems like to me.

      If JA’s funding mission is to support Zionist endeavors, then Bustan violates your guidelines. And I dare you to bust them. If you do, please send me the press release as I’d like to be the first to report it.

  3. i do apologize for getting involved in your argument but just a quick question to Richard.

    I’ve been reading your blog for the last 3 months, and i noted that you present yourself as a Zionist, i also noted that you support progressive groups like bustan and shtil.

    from reading your last statement to Haviv Gur( where you state “If JA’s funding mission is to support Zionist endeavors, then Bustan violates your guidelines.”) one can understand that Bustan doesn’t support a Zionist agenda,since you support Bustan’s agenda wouldn’t you say you are supporting a non Zionist agenda ?

  4. First of all, money is given to a program, not an organization. If the monies went somewhere other than the program, or the program was not what it claimed to be, then the organization is in violation of (among other things) their contract.

    So support for either Im Tirzu or Bustan does not imply agreement with ideology, only with the specific program being supported.

    Second, “Zionist” is not necessary what Richard Silverstein believes it to be. Many members of the agency’s Board of Governors (not to mention Herzl himself in Altneuland) believe that empowerment of minorities is part and parcel of Zionism. Without seeing the paperwork, I can only conclude that Bustan submitted a funding request for a program that fulfills that deeply Zionist purpose.


    “It will take that same global force of commitment to finally confront the challenge of transforming Israel’s social and geographic periphery. The gross disparity of social, economic and educational advantage today threatens to cripple Israeli society. These gaps which have been pervasive for decades are growing. This is an issue that can no longer languish in the wings. When every third child in Israel is living in disadvantage we’ve hit the wall. That’s not the Israel that its founders envisioned. That’s not the Israel that we have all worked so hard to build. Israel in the 21st century will in every way reflect our collective best efforts to create truly transformative impact for at-risk youth and communities. The Jewish Agency for Israel is leading that change.

    “Equal opportunity for Israel’s at-risk youth

    “Transforming Israel’s social and geographic periphery

    “Women’s health and equal opportunity initiatives

    “Equal opportunity for minority populations

    “Advancing support for elderly and needy immigrants”

    1. Herzl’s attitudes towards the Arabs and the general concept of minority rights advanced in Altenueland and indeed in the Jewish State; is highly patronising and consdescending. I don’t think it is appropriate to use that as some sort of progressive basis with which to comparte mordern Liberal or even Leftist values. And this is even before we get into his troublesome comments about what to do with the Palestinian poplation in Palestine.

      1. @Haviv Gur
        The goals as you outlined are clearly commendable. The question is, what was the program for which im Tirtzu received their JA-channeled funding?

        1. Excellent, to-the-point question, Meni. The request was for educational programs on Israeli college campuses.

          As we told Calcalist quite openly (though apparently not openly enough to gain the attention of our detractors):

          We will check if the money was used as per the contract and the stipulations of our internal regulations and Israeli and American law. We will do this not just with Im Tirzu, but with well over 400 organizations that receive funding under our oversight. If the funds were not in keeping with these, to which Im Tirzu and every other grantee have a contractual and general legal obligation, we have all the legal prerogatives (and obligations) at our disposal.

          In other words, we’re there to catch the cheaters. If a grantee cheats – a committee of finance people and lawyers overseen by our politically and religiously diverse Board makes the determination – we’ll hang ’em out to dry.

          There’s a reason you get tax benefits if you give through us – the IRS believes what we report back. Incidentally, it works exactly the same with NIF grantees.

          But that only answers the question: What if Im Tirzu didn’t use the money as they claimed they would – for educational programming on Israeli college campuses?

          The other question you might be asking: What if they used it for said programming, but said programming is “immoral,” “provocative” or otherwise not to my liking?

          In that case, I can’t help you. We won’t shut down either the left or the right just because there’s disagreement. We will if someone breaks the rules – for example by supporting a specific political party. But not for having a vision of Israel someone else finds disgusting.

          1. The request was for educational programs on Israeli college campuses.

            “Educational programs” on Israeli college campuses which endorsed boycotting those schools which allowed “anti-ZIonist” scholars to teach there, no doubt. What kind of educational programs could Im Tirzu have organized on college campuses? I’d dare Gur to give us a detailed description of precisely which programs they funded & what the content of them was.

            Keep in mind that Gur is a PR flack. He tells us quite vaguely what the JA rules are & what it can & may do if a group breaks the rules, but in the end he has no power to do any of this. Power rests with Natan Sharansky & the Likudist clique that rules the roost there. And Im Tirzu is an extension of the government, it’s Youth Wing if you like. So the idea that Im Tirzu will be censured or found to have broken rules is laughable & for him even to imply that this is a possibility is patently ridiculous.

            we’re there to catch the cheaters.

            I’m fascinated by this obsession with following rules & procedures which is entirely divorced from any ethical dimension. Im Tirzu gang-bangs a former Israeli MK & caricatures her as if she were a Der Shturmer Jude, they advocate sacking an entire academic dept at Ben Gurion Univ.–all that’s glatt kosher in the JA universe. But if they break any rule then the book will be thrown at them. Of course, this is nonsense since they will never be found to have broken a rule.

            What if they used it for said programming, but said programming is “immoral,” “provocative” or otherwise not to my liking?

            In that case, I can’t help you.

            What will it take for Gur to find Im Tirzu so unpalabtable that it will dump the group? A shooting? A death threat? Physical intimidation? The notion that JA has no interest moral issues concerning the actions of its grantees is also telling. It tells us that both Gur and JA epitomize a Zionism that is morality-neutral and values-neutral. Oh yes, the value is promoting Zionism and that is the end in itself. Not morality, not values, just Zionism divorced fr. all that. Do we need any other explanation of why the establishment Zionist movement is totally bankrupt?

          2. @Haviv Gur
            Thank you. It would help if you could characterize more precisely the nature of the educational programs for which Im Tirtzu received their JA-channeled funding, but I understand that this may demand a further check through JA paperwork.
            I will tell you what suspicion I have about this issue.
            If the money was used, say, for student seminars on the meaning of Zionism, then the funding is certainly legitimate, even if I, or Richard, or you for that matter, disagreed with the message of those seminars. However, if the money was used for financing the Im Tirtzu reports on “left-wing bias” in the Israeli academe, then the funding is problematic. Not because critique of such a bias is forbidden (it is not), nor even because advocating academic decision-making on political grounds is destructive for the academe (it is), but mostly because activity of the said kind is not education; it is research. And for research, rather different criteria of evaluation should apply. Otherwise, those who fund research under the guise of education will all too often find themselves funding junk.
            In fact, control over the results of research activities is easier than over the results of educational activities, as the products of research are more easily accessible. But those results should be controlled by experts in the relevant field, and distinction for these purposes between research and education should be maintained. My suspicion is that in this case it was not. (Of course, if the money was used for the PR campaign promoting the report, then the problem would be much greater.)
            Finally, I wholly agree that the JA should not be criticized for every aspect of the activity of those organizations, for which it channels funding. I have to note, however, that the same applies to the NIF, which means that Im Tirtzu’s earlier campaign against the NIF was pointless. But that’s Im Tirtzu’s fault, not the JA’s.

          3. It’s actually an open and shut case. According to Im Tirzu’s reports, most of its money (366,000 NIS) went to salaries, its activities budget – which presumably includes education – went down from 103,000 in 2008 to 23,000 in 2009, and its hasbara and PR budget went down from 328,000 in 2008 to 113,000 in 2009.

            So it would seem that as soon as you gave them the money, they started pigging out (they only spent 43,000 on salaries in 2008). I don’t know if it’s a breach of contract, but taking the funds you’re funneling to them and then drastically reducing their activities budget sure looks suspicious.

  5. I don’t want to speak for Haviv (he seems to be able to do a good job of that) but it seems like his question of how often you get to Israel wasn’t a question about your financial resources, it was a question about your individual investment in Israel. Your cavalier statements about the Jewish Agency and Hagee’s money (which spends as well as Jewish money) make it seem like you aren’t invested at all.

    1. Why is it that Disapora Jews critical of Israel are routinely challenged on their connection to the country, whereas Israel’s Diaspora supporters are not? I attended a Yom Hazikaron ceremony at my local Reform Synagogue, where pretty much every regular attendee is British to their bones and only a handful of people have any practical connection to Israel whatsoever. A few people have been on holiday there, yes, but they don’t have any intention of making aliyah. They’re as English as I am, but apparently their right to speak about Israel is safeguarded by their habit of dropping loose change into the JNF tzedekeh tin. If you’re a Jew who doesn’t support Israel unconditionally, you don’t have that right. You have to live in the country or at least have strong familial connections to the place before you’re allowed to say anything at all. Why the double standard?

      1. you are absolutely right.
        Personally i think that those who are not willing to risk their lives, shouldn’t preach for a solution because they will not be the ones paying the price.
        when it comes to donations, i think that in the name of saving us righteousness associated with the donations i would simply say thank you but not thanks.

        1. Ronen, the issue of whether or not I or anyone in the Diaspora has a right to sepak out on these issues is settled law as far as this blog is concerned. If you want to negate the Golah & diss our contribution you’ll do it elsehwere. That is not a subject up for discussion since the entire mission of this blog & my purpose in writing it contradicts yr statement. So don’t go there. I have no interest in entertaining such bull fr. you or any other classical Zionist.

          1. Richard, you’re quite quick to criticize and very sensitive to criticism yourself.

            My concern about your not being in Israel is two-fold. (1) I can’t get you coffee in Seattle. (2) How well do you actually know Israel? Forget “right to speak” – everybody has the right to say any damn thing they want. But is what you’re saying supported by reality, which is more complex and multi-dimensional than you might imagine?

            Think, if you will, of the right-wing blogosphere. Notice any self-perpetuating truths there? Notice how facts tend to be reaffirmed through repetition, even if sometimes (often?) they aren’t actually true? It’s an echo chamber.

            So there is a valid question here: How much is your understanding of Israel and Israelis shaped by an echo chamber with relatively little access to the ground.

            For example, you would not continue to call me a “flack” (which doesn’t actually mean anything) if you were living here and had met me or knew my work. You keep repeating your views about my politics without knowing a damn thing about them, and you insist on the moderate politics of people you haven’t actually met.

            Could you be missing something here?

          2. How well do you actually know Israel?

            All you have to do is read my About page to see what my bona fides are regarding Israel & my right to claim to know what is going one there & commenting upon it. If you have any further questions on my qualifications after reading that you may ask away. But this is silly since if you were writing a blog about the U.S. and were American I wouldn’t have any right to ask what your qualifications were to write such a blog just as you have no right to question my qualifications to write this blog. I am Jewish, I am a Zionist (though not the kind of which you approve). I have studied, read, written, & spoken publicly about this conflict for decades. Ergo, I am a legitimate figure in this debate. I won’t justify or explain myself further.

            And quite astonishingly what you miss is that someone who may’ve lived his whole or most of his life in a society may actually be blinded to the needs & demands which would allow such a society to find peace & justice. I would argue that it is oh so many Israelis who are blinded to what those needs are & that outside perspectives will be required to bring peace since Israel (& the Palestinians) has proven incapable of doing so. No doubt this will make you uncomfortable even resentful. But finally when peace comes it will come through outside intervention. The type & nature of that intervention remains to be seen. But since you can’t do it, others will have to do it for you. There are times when this is necessary in world history. It is a last resrot. But when the choice is between regional catastrophe and a secure regional order, the latter comes first.

          3. “I have studied, read, written, & spoken publicly about this conflict for decades.”

            But, Richard, you didn’t speak to my point. I didn’t ask if you know about the conflict, I asked if your knowledge might not be warped by the echo chamber in which you live. Most people live in echo chambers. That’s why democracies tend to be healthier than other systems of government – because (among other things) people are occasionally forced to break out of their ideological circles.

            I ask this because throughout our fight, you’ve rushed to judgment, shown a penchant for rather brutal namecalling, and drawn conclusions about me that you can’t back up.

            An example that serves as a microcosm of my point: up above, you call me “one of the interchangeable set which vent their noxiousness under the tutelage of queen bee neocon ranter-editor, Caroline Glick.”

            Which is funny, because in five years at the Post, I have never seen Caroline Glick in the building once, nor have I ever met her professionally.

            Leading me to wonder: How could you not know that I, and my generation generally at the JPost, are the students of David Horovitz and have nothing whatsoever to do – not even occasional contact – with Glick? If you had ever met any of us, you might be aware of that. (As always, ask Didi Remez if you don’t believe me.)

            Or take my “progressive credentials.” I’ve really got ’em. I was a student of Aviezer Ravitsky, an activist on foreign workers’ children and issues of religious freedom, and a participant in dialogue programs in places like Van Leer. I know and respect the Dajani brothers of Jerusalem, whom I meet occasionally because we attend similar conferences. And my dad’s RHR board membership – it’s from last year, not from the 1970s. My occasional criticism of the left is not a stranger’s criticism. If you had ever met me, you might know these things.

            Now project those kinds of basic errors across an entire nation, and maybe you’re missing some important aspects of this conflict. Even if you know all the facts, might you not be missing the people, the cultural impulses? Could I understand you, or your urge to blog, or your deep emotional ties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from your resume?

            From my narrow experience of you, and your vicious treatment of me these past days, I can only conclude that either you are a nasty, abusive human being who rushes to judgment without so much as an apology. Or, perhaps, that you live in an echo chamber that lets you get away with these kinds of assumptions.

            Neither is very healthy.

          4. I asked if your knowledge might not be warped by the echo chamber in which you live.

            No more than your knowledge is warped by the echo chamber in which you live. And I’ve got news for you, Israel is far more of an echo chamber than the U.S. on this issue. And the fact that Israel is a partial democracy tends to reinforce the echo chamber.

            I don’t live in an echo chamber & don’t form my opinions in one. I form my opinions based on years of study, research, writing & speaking. I engage with those who agree & disagree w. me. And I engage w. those who disagree w. me far more than you do. If you disagree, I’ll send you the links to what folks write about me at Rotter where a colleague posts many of my scoops.

            I have never seen Caroline Glick in the building once, nor have I ever met her professionally.

            Well, you’ll have to pardon me for believing that the title assistant managing editor meant that she actually served as an editor & actually supervised reporters. If the title is a fiction then I stand corrected. It would be far more honest if JPost gave her a title that didn’t imply she had an editorial role she doesn’t appear to have.

            the students of David Horovitz

            I concede that I don’t know the inside baseball of the JPost since I don’t read it as intensively as Haaretz or Ynet. But David Horovitz, while certainly better than Glick, isn’t God’s answer to Israel’s journalistic prayers either. And there are those who publish at Jerusalem Report with whom I have strong disagreements as well.

            Didi has told me that he is a friend of yours. I’m prepared to concede that based on what I know of Didi (& I don’t know him personally obviously since we’ve never met face to face) you must be a mensch because Didi is. But even menschen make mistakes or associate themselves with projects that are misguided. The Jerusalem Post produces some of the most noxious journalism coming out of Israel (& there is a lot of it). I have read some of yr work & strongly disagreed w. it. That’s why I made the crack I did about you being a member of the right-wing reporter complement at the Post.

            The Jewish Agency willingly accepts millions from a Christian extremist who is no friend of Israel or the Jews. The Agency is also run by a Likudist political figure I despise. Those are to me strong personal convictions I maintain. SO I should’ve perhaps kept my critique on a more fact-based dispassionate level instead of taking it a notch higher as I did.

            maybe you’re missing some important aspects of this conflict.

            Now you’re taking it a notch higher & that isn’t justified either. I’m not missing any important aspects of this conflict. Not at all. If your claim is that I need to hear more of Natan Sharansky, Im Tirzu, or Aryeh Green to understand Israel better, no thanks, I’m not buying.

            Could I understand you, or your urge to blog, or your deep emotional ties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from your resume?

            Not from my resume perhaps, but fr. my blog definitely. In fact, that’s what a good blog is. It’s a record of someone’s deepest personal and political convictions. I hope my own blog meets that standard.

            What you don’t seem to understand is that there is a very high stakes game being played out in Israeli internal politics. Peoples’ livelihoods & the nation’s well being, it’s very existence are at stake. And I’m not talking about Iran or Hamas or Syria or anything like that. I’m talking about what I see as a will to self-destruction.

            With things like that in the balance I don’t feel I have the luxury to talk about cups of coffee and glad-handing & giving a little & getting a little in return. I have a much more urgent sense of impending doom than you do regarding Israel. Not that I believe it is in imminent danger of destruction or collapse. But it is on that road. So if I have gone into territory you feel is unwarranted, I can only explain it by the deep sense of personal urgency I feel about israel’s fate & an impatience with those who are fiddling while Rome (or Jerusalem in this case) burns.

  6. Please note that Christians United for Israel’s Executive Director, David Brog, an American with Israeli citizenship, is a first cousin of Ehud Barak.
    Barak was born Ehud Brog and changed his name when he joined the IDF.
    David Brog has split his legal career between Israel and the US.
    I have never seen this connection mentioned in articles and posting about the “good” Rev. Hagee.

      1. Sorry for the delay in responding. I have not looked at your blog since last weekend.
        I got the information directly from David Brog himself 10 years ago.
        Just before the dot com bust in March 2000, I met with David to discuss working with me and my partner on a political news website for which we were seeking venture capital funding.
        David attended the presentation we made to a venture capitalist just outside Philadelphia.
        I paid for his hotel room and may have a copy of the receipt.
        We did not get the funding and David went to work at AOL.
        Was he bragging or just trying to impress me? I don’t know. I would assume he also told others.

        1. Based on what you’ve told me and an article in the Atlanta Jewish newspaper which claims that Brog meets w. Barak “every time” the latter is in D.C., I think the Ynet article is wrong and Brog IS Barak’s first cousin, and not a “distant cousin” as Ynet claimed. Color Daily has told me that during a dinner meeting at which Brog shared much of his life story, he said that Barak was his “first cousin.”

          I don’t know about you but I’m not in the habit of visiting distant cousins every time I’m in their hometown.

  7. I think its great that you choose to attend yom zikharon services at your synagogue.

    I don’t think that makes it okay for you to suggest(or demand?) that Israelis take physical risks that you wouldn’t be willing to take yourself. Donations to the JNF, attendance at Yom Zikharon services and Jewish last names don’t make claims of moral authority by diaspora jews any less absurd than somewhat similar (although materially different) claims of moral authority made by Hizbollah and Hamas.

    What is Silverstein’s investment?

    Does Silverstein’s lack of investment make all of his claims invalid? Of course not. But it should give us perspective. At the end of the day, these claims of moral superiorty are claims made by a blogger with no real investment in Israel.

    1. What is Silverstein’s investment?

      Does Silverstein’s lack of investment

      OK, here & now I’m making a new comment rule. Absolutely no shlilat ha-galut, the classical Zionist negation of the Diaspora. No spitting on Diaspora Jews, no minimizing their ideas or participation in the debate over Israel. It is hereby not permitted. As far as I’m concerned this is settled law. My entire blog rebuts the notion & I simply won’t entertain any further diminishment of my “investment” in this issue. I have more than paid my dues on that score & anyone who doubts it needs only read my About pg. to learn about my background. And if that background isn’t enough of an investment for you or anyone else you can take a hike. I don’t owe you or any other person an explanation or defense of my qualifications. And I won’t offer one.

    2. I don’t know what physical risks you have in mind. If you live in Israel, you take every day a greater risk to be killed or injured in a traffic accident than a risk to be killed or injured in a terror attack or a military operation of a foreign entity. And it has been all the same, in this regard, during the past 25 years. So give everyone a break.

      1. @Meni
        When I said “risk”, I wasn’t referring simply to foreign invasion or terror – I would include economic disturbances, environmental degradation and many other non-loss-of-life problems as well on this list.

        I am not trying to silence Diaspora jews or spit on them. Or anyone else. I believe in free exchange of ideas.

        do you believe that Diaspora Jews have a greater entitlement to tell Israel what to do than Non-Israeli gentiles (Like, Danish Christians, for example?)

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