48 thoughts on “Pro-Israel Think Tanks ‘Proselytize’ Among Muslim-American, Christian Leaders – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. This is very interesting, I didn’t know these programs existed. I gather from the tone of your post that you are opposed to them, although to me it would seem silly to reject any project that involves willing partners that builds understanding between the Jewish/Israeli and Muslim communities. If such a program exists in the reverse direction I would be equally in favor. This would be regardless of my disagreement with the political views of the participants.

  2. “Jewish supermacism, support for Israeli ultra-nationalism, denial of Palestinian rights, etc.”

    What’s your proof that Klein-Halevi still supports any of these beliefs?

    1. @ Fred: Didn’t you read the sentence in the post saying he’s now a slicker, more refined version of Kahanism. There are scores of “former Kahanists” whose views have only slightly moderated, but who are now in positions of enormous political or media influence. Jeffrey Goldberg is yet another example of this.

    2. Every single time I hear Klein Halevi on the radio, he makes a great show of sounding “reasonable” while defending Israel and bashing Palestinians…with finesse, of course.

  3. ” Wahajat Ali’s own Fear, Inc. report lists Berrie as one of the most generous donors in the Islamophobia industry ($3-million between 2001-2009). Major gifts went to MEMRI, the Investigative Center on Terrorism, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Reut Institute.”

    Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Reut Institute are part of the Islamophobia industry?
    That’s news.

    1. @ Fred: If you read closely, that’s not exactly what I said. First sentence talked about the Islamophobia industry and the 2nd noted specific gifts without making such a connection. But since you’ve raised the subject, Reut is clearly a rightist pro-Israel think tank engaged in hasbara. I’d have to more closely examine its output to determine whether that has included Islamophobic projects. But I wouldn’t be surprised. Nefesh B’Nefesh provides immigrant settlers to further the Greater Israel project. So it too plays an important role in maintaining the Occupation. I’d have to examine its programs in a more detailed fashion to determine whether that leaks into Islamophobia. But all pro-Occupation propaganda leans more and more toward incorporating elements of hatred toward Muslims as time goes on and Israel becomes a more racist, angry and violent country. So I don’t think that sentence is far off-base.

  4. I suspect that these zealots in conflating Judaism and Israel are half way aware that they are trying to sell a damaged bill of goods, But then one way of dealing with doubt and unbelief is to try and convince others. As Festinger wrote in a classic study “if more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must after all be correct.”

    1. 1. The term “hasbara” in this blog is used too broadly, seemingly referring to any effort by an individual or group to express an opinion and/or to explain and convince others, of an opinion different than yours. Is this not what dialogue and discussion is about in general? Its not as though every individual or organization works at a branch of the Israeli foreign ministry as a propaganda specialist. It seems to me that Richard and others here simply use it as a way of instantly and unjustifiably discrediting any claim or comment that in the vaguest way supports or argues for Israel. Any comment condemning Israel gets instant applause.
      2. Vigorously supporting the Palestinian cause is part of the liberal agenda in the West, which is fine. But are you not guilty of the same rhetorical and logical fallacies of which the right is generally accused– like over-generalization, confirmation bias, close mindedness, black and white thinking? Claims such as those made above, like about Nefesh BNefesh, or Jeffrey Goldberg, sound just plain bizarre. Basically anything or anybody associated with the Zionist project is guilty and is therefore illegitimate or not credible. Richard, I again ask you, if you are “pro-Israel”, who is the “pro” part?
      3. Of course Richard as the owner of this blog is free to write as he wishes. But there is an obsessive, one sided emphasis on Israel’s flaws, past, present and future. Nothing wrong with pointing out flaws, of course, (and there are many) but there no context. I could decide to write a blog about Switzerland or Norway or the US or any country, find each and every story about every dastardly deed ever done and then post them one by one, and make them look like horrible countries. So without context, or suggestions for improvement (that’s what constructive criticism is about), then it seems that the agenda of the blog is simply to deligitimize Israel, period. Or at least that’s how it looks. I can’t imagine any person who is at least mildly supportive of Israel not being horrified at the sweeping overgeneralizations and condemnations here.
      Richard, you accused me previously of moral blindness. I am aware that “in group” morality can indeed by tribal (as pointed out by Jonathan Haidt in his interesting work on conservative and liberal morality). But it looks like you have swung the other way so far that you can’t see the forest from the trees any more. In Israel there is a boisterous left and I consider them Zionist and patriotic even if I disagree with them.

      1. Jeff. I think Polls showed that 96% (or was it 94%) of Israelis supported the latest slaughter of Gazans. Does that mean your “boisterous left” is about 4%-6% or, does it mean that while almost every Israeli supports slaughtering Palestinians, the “Boisterous left” would prefer to do it in a more civilized manner?

        1. I cannot believe the irony of this term ‘boisterous left’. When I see what is going on at 972 mag for instance, and the way these admirable people are bullied by insane commentators… It makes me sick. There is nothing boisterous about the left in Israel. They are a (also physically) threatened and reviled minority. Nothing ‘boisterous’ about them.

          1. Rather than making unsubstantiated claims about the Israeli population’s positions based on feedbacks, you should consider what polls generally say about both the Palesitinians and Israelis. Here for example is a recent poll from a reputable source and it was a collaborative project.

            You can see that both the populations are roughly split between those that are in favor of a compromise and those who are opposed. Particularly see page 2 “The Whole Package”. It hardly paints a picture of a radical Israeli society. When referring to the Geneva initiative, a majority of Israelis favor it (in contrast to the Palestinians). I’m sure that Richard can dig up polls showing different results but I think this one seems credible, notwithstanding the electoral makeup of the current government.
            That’s why I’m puzzled by all the one-sided diatribes here, which seem to be more emotion-based rather than relying on facts.

          2. @ Jeff: It doesn’t matter what a “majority” of Israelis may say in a poll when they vote in a government & PM who reject their purported views. You may say you adore fairies & elves, but if you vote for a political party that favors killing them, I know what you really feel.

  5. “I could decide to write a blog about Switzerland or Norway … and make them look like horrible countries.”

    Come off it. You would have to flagrantly make things up to create the impression that they are robbing, oppressing and generally maltreating millions of people. In the case of Israel one doesn’t have to let one’s phantasy work. Those facts are there in plain sight.

    1. See what I mean? Context.
      So in order not be accused of “hasbara”, I won’t say that this conflict has been going on for almost 100 years and during that time both parties have been generally mistreating and killing each other.
      In order not be accused of hasbarah, I won’t say that both sides have failed (for many reasons) to take the required steps to end this state of affairs.
      In order not to be accused of hasbara, I won’t say that your statement oversimplifies by stating only one side of the equation, which implies that peace can be achieved by the actions of one side alone..
      In order not be accused of hasbara, I won’t say that there is scant evidence that ending the occupation would end the conflict. On the contrary, the evidence contradicts that assumption.
      Notwithstanding the above, I don’t agree with the current government policies.

      1. I don’t know how you can say scant evidence that ending the occupation would end the conflict other than if you mean that extremists on both sides would continue to try to have it all. But how about ending the occupation to give it a shot? When Palestinians have their own sovereign state it’s a good bet that the world will look different at least to Palestinians.

        I think there is scant evidence that Israeli’s would agree to giving up what they must in order to end the conflict.

  6. Hi Richard,

    Please note that I did not attend this trip nor have I ever set foot in the West Bank. Not sure where the article’s source received word that I did attend.

    Thank you.

      1. Richard,

        I am letting you know that Mohamed Uduman was NOT on the trip as well as I mentioned to you before in our e-mail exchange. As I explained to you earlier, I was at the airport to simply grab some coffee with a friend who was on the trip since I was moving that day. I took a picture of all of us at JFK and put it on my social media outlets and that was it. Mohamed Uduman walked out of the airport WITH me and I saw him get in his car and drive off. He most likely doesn’t even know about his name being entangled in all this.

        Thank you.

        1. @ Nihal Khan: THanks for correcting this information. Since you didn’t say earlier how you knew Uduman didn’t participate in MLI I had no way of verifying your information. Now that you have explained how you know in greater detail, I will correct this.

  7. You are factual untrue about two of the participants that you “call out” for going on the trip. It makes me wonder what you also think is fact? You should check your work more closely before publishing.

      1. Mohamed Uduman was never on the trip. You are so smug. He probably doesn’t even care enough about your opinion to correct you. People shouldn’t be hating on things that they know little about. People should be working together to end this horrible situation.

        1. @ Lisa: No, Lisa. Not smug. That would be you who think you know ever so much about ever so little. As for how much I know about MLI & Hartman…I’ll put my knowledge up against yours any day. So you think Muslims should collaborate with those who are killing Palestinian Muslims?? That’s an interesting perspective. Have you told other Muslims you believe this? Or are you not even Muslim?

          1. @ Lisa: Nihal Khan published a photo of himself and others who were traveling to Israel to join MLI. My informant didn’t know who in the picture was in MLI & who wasn’t. S/he assumed they all were attending. Nihal has now offered information verifying who attended & who didn’t. The only “fault” in my work was my source not being able to distinguish that. Now we know & my work has no errors in it.

            You still haven’t answered the question of what you think about Muslims collaborating with pro-Israel think tanks & how this collaboration is going to help the Palestinian cause.

          2. “So you think Muslims should collaborate with those who are killing Palestinian Muslims?? ”

            So in your view non-coercive communication and dialogue is “collaboration”?
            That sounds like Hamas’s reaction to the various non-governmental dialogue groups that exist in Israel (for example between high school students, etc). They say talking to the enemy legitimizes him and thus participants are traitors. Is that how you feel? How do you expect the situation to ever improve if you are against constructive dialogue?
            This reminds me of the old attitude by the American orthodox establishment regarding non-orthodox institutions. Boycott them, don’t talk to them or meet with them, don’t even walk into their synagogues.
            Obviously they were burying their heads in the sand and that approach was a dismal failure (besides being morally wrong).
            I am actually more in favor of such dialogue than that of official bodies, since it builds trust at a grass roots level.

          3. @ Jeff: I’m invoking a comment rule here. You may not publish more than 3 comments per day here so as not to monopolize the comment threads and my time in monitoring them & replying to them.

            As to “non-coercive communication & dialogue:” what you’re really referring to is hasbara or “bought” speech. When the Hartman Institute pays for the MLI & Muslim participants get all expenses paid trips to Israel that’s not exactly “independent” speech. It’s no less tendentious than the hundreds of millions Sheldon Adelson devotes to pro-Israel & GOP politics.

            I strenuously object to your false claim that my views represent those of Hamas. That is grounds of banning. Hamas is not the sponsor or leader of the BDS movement nor has it taken any position on MLI

            As for constructive dialouge: this is real constructive dialogue…Israeli negotiators telling Palestinian negotiators they’re prepared to return to 67 borders & share Jerusalem. That’s the only dialogue that means anything to me. The rest is purely for show.

            As for “trust at the grassroots” if you think there is any on the part of Palestinians you’re sadly mistaken.

          4. @ Fred: Glad to see you get all your news from Jerusalem Post, which explains yr prejudices. First of all, BDS doesn’t imply that a Palestinian may not use an Israeli doctor to save a child’s life. Second, Gaza is under siege & Israel controls who gets medical help & from where they get it. Israel doesn’t permit Palestinians to select where they get medical care & from whom. If Haniya had a choice he would certainly not send his daughter to an Israeli doctor. But alas, he has none. If you would support ending the siege & allowing Haniya to choose his medical provider I’m sure you’d see what his preferred one would be.

  8. It is good that you do not intend saying these things because you would just be violating the truth. Your underhand attempt by “not saying it” to picture the situation as a conflict between approximately equal parties, with rights and wrongs equally divided on both sides, is of course quite unconvincing. This is one of those conflicts in history where it is abundantly clear who is the bully and who are the bullied.

    Israel has been handed the solution to the conflict on a platter with the Arab Peace Initiative. The PLO agrees with it. Hamas might and if it doesn’t it provides Israel with an opportunity to isolate it.
    Last time I looked it appeared that those who proposed it are willing to tinker with it in a direction agreeable to Israel.

    But right from the start Israel tried to distance itself from it under all kinds of pretexts such as for instance that SC Res. 242 requires negotiations. I am glad that some parliamentarians in the British House of Commons made clear that the Palestinians’ right to a state does not depend on negotiations and an agreement with Israel that Israel can for ever postpone. So said the sponsor of the motion, Grahame Morris:

    “Let us make no mistake about this: to make our recognition of Palestine dependent on Israel’s agreement would be to grant Israel a veto over Palestinian self-determination…Recognition is not an Israeli bargaining chip; it is a Palestinian right “.

    Quite so.

    1. “This is one of those conflicts in history where it is abundantly clear who is the bully and who are the bullied”

      I again refer to Steven Pinker’s book on violence, and his brilliant observations, based on psychological research, regarding conflicts involving oppressors and victims. Basically both sides in interpersonal conflict as well as ethnic conflicts “weave” the narrative to claim to be the victim, depending on how you tell the story, and in particular, when the story begins.
      Take for example the events surround the Gaza disengagement. The Palestinian victim narrative, as I understand it, could be summarized as follows:

      “The Jews visited upon us a Naqba in 1948 and since then they have continued to oppress us. Sharon withdrew from Gaza as a ploy and Israel has turned Gaza into a outdoor prison because of its blockade, and they continue to oppress our brothers in the West Bank as well. Therefore resistance is a natural right.”

      The Israeli “victim” narrative:

      “The whole world keeps tell us that the occupation is the source of all the regions problems. So we tried and withdrew completely from Gaza down to the last soldier and settlement. Instead of building a peaceful society the Palestinians squandered the opportunity, and turned Gaza into an Islamist territory that terrorizes its own citizens and lobs rockets on Israeli civilians. Thus the blockade is only self-defense to prevent the import of weapon related materials. ”

      There is truth to both sides and there are also self-serving omissions. Both tell the story in a certain context.
      I don’t automatically rule out the stronger side of a conflict as being a victim, as you do. On 9-11, was the US a victim, or an oppressor?

      BTW I agree with the British vote. Just as the UN voted the Jewish State into existence without the Arab’s agreement, they may do so for the Palestinians. I hope that this wave of support for the Palestinians gets Netanyahu to take his head out of the sand and do something serious. In my view, the parties are incapable of coming to agreement on their own, and it can only be imposed from the outside on both parties. I don’t know if there is international will to do this. The American and Europeans would have to deliver Israel and the Arab world and Europeans would have to force it on the Palestinians (including giving up the right of return).

      1. Jeff. I would suggest there is no such thing as a “vcitim’s narrative” for the oppressor. When the oppressor (Israel) is constantly bombing, dispossessing, imprisoning, Humiliating and killing the oppressed, there is NOTHING that grants the oppressor, the right to claim victim status. As for the Palestinian rockets, they are not even pinpricks to the Israeli machete “response”. I am reminded of Sharons Force 101 policy of killing Arabs at night and then, when they would respond, Israel would “retaliate” with massive force.

        Finally, the Israeli Jews claiming Palestinian “Terror” as their excuse to keep Paledstinians under their kjackboots is rather like the rapist claiming the actions of the woman forced him to rape. Any other country that acted like Israel does, would not have a single partner or friend, but Israel has managed to buy off enough politicians (with the donors own money) to be safe even if it opens death camps.

        1. Who “started” it? Who “responded” and who “retaliated”?
          It all depends when you start telling the story.
          Was 9-11 “aggression” or “retaliation”? What about the US invasion of Iraq? (First and second time)

  9. And further more:

    “In order not be accused of hasbara, I won’t say that there is scant evidence that ending the occupation would end the conflict. On the contrary, the evidence contradicts that assumption.”

    If this refers to Gaza it is so much hogwash. The occupation was never ended there and the Gazans were economically sabotaged right from the start. See the testimony of former World Bank President James Wolfensohn:


  10. All this talk of “narratives” and “contexts” is mainly an attempt to obscure the truth (yes TRUTH – see Tarski’s rehabilitation of a common sense notion of truth). But if you insist on talking in terms of narratives there is such a thing as a meta-narrative entertained by most of those who are not party to the conflict.That meta-narrative coincides largely with the Palestinian account as you give it.

    1. I would say the meta-narrative of governments such as those of France, Germany and the UK are as close to “objective” as possible. I’m intentionally leaving out the US which could be accused of being unduly influenced by the Israeli lobby. No such lobby exists in these other countries. In fact they have a sizable Muslim population to which they are accountable.
      Those countries adopt a narrative that incorporates both sides and is fair minded in my view.
      We’re getting too far off topic. My original intent was to be in favor of dialogue, and to argue against brushing it off as hasbara.

      1. “No such lobby exists in these other countries”
        The new envoyee from Hasbara Central doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but then hasbara is more about just talking….
        Concerning France where I live, there is a very strong pro-Israel lobby, also in inner government circles. The “pro-Arab” politics of Charles de Gaulle is long gone. The Minister of Interior, Valls-With-Israel who declared on a Jewish communautarian radio a couple of years ago that he is “eternally linked to the Jewish community and to the State of Isreal” is present at no matter what pro-Israel meeting, and François Hollande who had the guts to declare Israel “une grande démocratie” during his campaign was filmed in November 2013 at a private dinner party with Bibi in Israel declaring that although “he doesn’t sing very well, he’s always ready to sing a love song for the State of Israel AND its leaders” (video on the net).

        1. Yes indeed. Jeff doesn’t know what he is talking about when he asserts there is no pro-Israel lobby in those countries. Here is a documentary of Britain’s Channel 4 about the lobby’s role in British politics. Like in the US money plays a major role here as well. The difference with the US, I think, is that no major broadcaster would dare to undertake such a program:


  11. I am not talking about the meta-narratives kept up by those governments. There is a vast discrepancy between those and what many ordinary people in those countries think – let alone between the government line and the opinion of most well informed outside observers. During the Gaza slaughter the only thing Cameron dared to say was that “Israel had the right to defend itself”. Meanwhile, many a parliamentarian was inundated with emails from people who couldn’t bear this mealy mouthed comment on what was obvious slaughter. The Israel lobby is not as powerful in these countries as it is in the US but nevertheless quite active. There is also always the fear to get out of step with the mighty partner on the other side of the Atlantic.

    We can expect more from the smaller countries. Sweden is an obvious example.

    1. @ Fred: This is boring Fred. That story is 3 wks old. You’re not telling me or anyone here anything new. But my response to you is that when you’ve lost 2,100 dead in a war started by your enemy, who then wants to attend lectures at your university, see how you feel about seeing them there.

      Not to mention that Haaretz, for whom Hass works is not a publication that shows any special sensitivity to the Palestinian cause. So some Palestinians might have reason to see it as an interloper.

      You’re also neglecting to mention that there were Palestinians who disagreed with Hass being turned away.

  12. Your comment restriction is noted. You’re doing me a favor, too, by limiting how much time I burn…
    I did not intend to imply that your views represent Hamas. I was pointing out that your seeming vehement opposition to cultural dialogue is extreme, and, as far as I know, not the position of the Palestinian Authority. In contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is an offshoot) is opposed to all cultural contact and dialogue with Israelis.

    The final outcome of peace between the sides may very will consist of your parameters, but I think anybody with two eyes in his head knows what would happen if Israel were to simply pick up and leave the West Bank, even with an agreement, in the current climate and balance of power within Palestinian areas . Can you think of any sane Israeli leader, in any political party, who would do that? There is a bottomless chasm of distrust between the two sides, which makes each side unwilling to make any concession. Its the classic security dilemma in game theory. Basically each side is worried (justifiably) of being f-ked over by the other side. So rationally they won’t make concessions to each other. That is why I said previously (in another comment) that only an externally imposed solution can break the deadlock. In this scenario, the costs and rewards to both sides will force them into agreement.

    1. @ Jeff:

      your seeming vehement opposition to cultural dialogue

      You’ve illustrated the point precisely. Only Israelis want what you call “cultural dialogue,” because it isn’t threatening & doesn’t require much. What is necessary is political dialogue, by which I mean a negotiation in which both sides give what must be given, especially the Israelis who’ve offered nothing so far: 1967 borders, shared Jerusalem & Right of Return.

      Until Israel is prepared to do the right thing, “cultural dialogue” is like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig no matter what you put on it.

      Anyone with 2 eyes in his head knows the IDF is one of the most powerful armies in the world & if Israel left the West Bank today the world wouldn’t come to an end & Israelis wouldn’t die. And if Israel wants extra protection, international monitors could be placed within Palestine’s borders to guarantee security. That is, if there’s a 2 state solution. If a one state solution, then things would have to be handled differently.

      Can you think of any sane Israeli leader, in any political party, who would do that?

      No, I can’t think of any “sane Israeli leader” period on this question. They’re all pathologically incapable of agreeing to the compromises necessary for peace. Which is why we will eventually have a huge catastrophe in which Israel massacres thousands more Palestinians, the world steps in via the UN or NATO, & a solution is imposed a la Kosovo. That’s what Israel’s in for. After imposition of the international settlement Israel & the Palestinians will face war crimes trials too. All because of the “insanity” you so eloquently (& unintentionally) noted.

      There is a bottomless chasm of distrust between the two sides, which makes each side unwilling to make any concession.

      False. A bottomless chasm of distrust which makes ISRAEL unwilling to concede. The Palestinians have made clear they’re will to make reasonable concessions that honor their 3 basic conditions outline above here.

      1. “False. A bottomless chasm of distrust which makes ISRAEL unwilling to concede. The Palestinians have made clear they’re will to make reasonable concessions that honor their 3 basic conditions outline above here.”

        You know that in any peace deal the Palestinians will have to give up the demand of right of return to present day Israel. Even the Geneva initiative spells this out. Neither side has accepted this proposal, even though it gives the Palestinians everything else they demand. Is the Geneva initiative too “pro-Israel” in your view?

        1. @ Jeff: False. No Palestinian would give up such a right, nor should they. If they are directly related to Palestinians expelled in the Nakba they have an absolute right either to return to live inside Israel if they wish or receive compensation if they don’t.

          In fact, at various points in the past Israel has accepted the return of 100,000 refugees. The Geneva Initiative estimated that 400,000 would wish to return (& included a provision for the return of 25,000). Considering 1-million Russian Jews made aliyah in a short period of time, Israel should not have a problem absorbing these newcomers.

          Your denial of the Right of Return only exacerbates the conflict & guarantees more will die.

          1. Well at least I’m clear now on what your position is. Who’s to say a million Palestinian descendents wouldn’t want to come to Israel?
            The demand is unfortunately completely unrealistic, even to the framers of the Geneva initiative, which leaves Israel and other countries with the sole discretion in terms of numbers. The only absolute right granted to refugees is to go to the new Palestinian state or get compensation.
            Israel’s fractious Knesset makes Israel difficult to govern as it is due to the coalition system, I imagine with another 5-10 or more Arab MKs would turn the Arab parties into the largest voting block– you’re essentially looking at a bi-national state. So are you saying that Israel should agree to a Palestinian state and to turn itself into a bi-national one? Do I understand you correctly?

          2. @ Jeff: I think I’ll take demographic information amassed by the Geneva Initiative rather than your ill founded fear that there may be 1-million returnees. But even if there were, Israel absorbed 1 million Russian Jews in a matter of a few yrs. A new multi-ethnic democratic Israel could do that with very little disruption.

            As for whether the “demand” is “unrealistic,” again that’s not up to you to decide. It’s up to Palestinians to determine how important this principle is. If Israel wants peace it will have to cede the issue. The world as well will not let Israel backtrack. The Right of Return is inviolable & becomes more so with each new Israeli atrocity.

            BTW, the Geneva Initiative is a dead letter because it was only one of numerous peace plans offered & refused by Israel’s leaders. So as for “absolute rights” granted by Geneva, that’s a dead letter. Your ‘pals’ in the Israeli elite had their chance & miffed it.

            It’s up to neither you nor me to say how Israel should govern itself. I don’t choose between 2 states or one. If Israel continues its rejectionism IT will be choosing ONE.

            As for an increase of Palestinian voters, there is nothing wrong with democracy. It won’t harm Jews & certainly not Palestinians. It would enrich Israeli democracy immeasurably for Jewish politicians to be forced to forge coalitions with Palestinian parties. IT would also be good for the Palestinians to be forced to forge such alliances with Jewish parties. It would radically transform Israeli society & politics for the better.

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