Saturday, 19 November 2011

Yachad And Sephardis

Unfortunately, as long as Yachad still exist and spew out self-righteous "pro-Israel, pro-peace" commentary (that manages to demonise Israel and push peace further away by absolving Palestinians of blame for the stalemate), I cannot ignore them. 

Yachad were riled by a blogpost on the JC website, stating "you almost certainly will not find much love for Yachad in any Sephardi community", as 
"Jews from Middle Eastern descent, after living for years among Arabs, tend to know slightly more about the people Israel are dealing with. They understand the Arab ideologies which lead to persecution, violence and death of Jews. They understand Israel's need to protect itself."
It is undeniable that a Sephardi Jew who has experienced Arab persecution (or indirectly through relatives) would likely be more concerned about security needs than anything else. However there are always exceptions in everything so of course many Ashkenazis with no experience of Arab persecution still understand Israel's security concerns, and do not support Yachad; and there will also be Sephardis, whose very existence may only be due to their ancestors joining almost 1,000,000 Jews in fleeing for their lives, who still don't get it.

Yachad were defended in a post on their blog listing countries from where their Sephardi supporters have origins. I don't think anyone was in any doubt about the fans Yachad may have from these countries: Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood), Turkey (the lovely Erdogan, who after sending Israel a ship of terrorists initially let his people die rather than accept aid from Israel when hit by an earthquake), Iran (Ahmadinejad, who wants the whole of Israel "wiped off the map", not just the settlements).

What the blogpost fails to address is "Sephardi Spirit's" challenge: 
"let's see Yachad tackle the more thorny problems such as incitement against Jews in Palestinian school text-books, or the medieval-style antisemitism coming out of the mouths of Hamas leaders, and their point-blank refusal to accept the idea of a Jewish state in the region. Those are the real obstacles to peace... Yachad has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate any sort of commitment to fighting the delegitimisation of Israel."

Going back to my last post about Yachad, since I wrote it I've discovered more about Yachad's favourite news-source, 972 Magazine, who Yachad continuously endorse and defend. Richard Millet blogged last week about some of their writers; Larry Derfner, who was fired from Jerusalem Post for justifying the Eilat terror attack in August which killed 8 Israelis; Joseph Dana, who said that a third intifada would be "unproductive" (never mind the terrorism aspect), and made one of the most ridiculous claims I've ever heard, that "Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel". Yachad can hardly be accused of endorsing this claim, though, as they seem to ignore the existence of Hamas altogether.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Yachad's Search For Themselves

The left-wing, supposedly "pro-Israel, pro-peace" group Yachad have professed a disclaimer on their blog that "the views of the bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation", presumably hoping that with all the criticism they have had so far, at least they won't have to take responsibility for the content of their blog.
Regardless, the last two blog posts very accurately do reflect Yachad's confused, contradictory viewpoint. Which is fair enough, it's their blog. 
Darren Cohen starts off by mocking the "3 Ds", delegitimisation, double standards, and demonisation "that have become the archetypal regurgitation of many within the higher echelons of many Zionist institutions". Then, after acknowledging "the hypocrisy of much of the criticism and indeed hatred Israel receives", he compares the treatment of Israel by its enemies to Yachad's plight, applying the 3 Ds to Yachad, as though no criticism of them can be legitimate!
Cohen states that: 
"To safeguard the future of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State, it needs to act urgently to ensure that a viable two state solution is actualized and that the dream of peace can become a reality. This line of thought is now widely accepted by the mainstream and is nothing new. In spite of this, Hannah [Weisfeld] and the organisation she represents are still demonised as naïve at best and anti-Zionists at worse."  
Despite what Cohen may think, Yachad's critics are not anti-peace, or against the two state solution. We're just against what Yachad thinks is the right way to achieve this. Cohen has very shrewdly observed our concerns about Yachad - are they naive or are they anti-Zionist? It's hard to tell, and similar to the question we ask of a lot of Israel-bashers: are they ignorant, or are they antisemitic? There's another possibility, which I think applies to many Jewish critics of Israel - cowardice. Understandably many Jews are overcome by a need to fit in with society's majority to avoid being a target, and if that means having to be critical of Israel, so be it.
Cohen is offended by the accusation of 972 Magazine (who are strongly endorsed by Yachad) being pro-Hamas, "a slanderous and unsupported accusation", but he's obviously not done his research. 
On 972, Palestinian Aziz Abu Sarah wrote that Hamas’ “decision to reconcile with Fatah indicates their support of the PLO’s new approach [the bid for statehood]. Hamas has no better ideas to offer the Palestinian people on how to end the occupation. It had to make a choice between the status quo or actively working with Fatah and the other Palestinian factions on creating a Palestinian state.” Then he criticised that “The Israeli government ignored that Hamas had been giving clear signs of its willingness to accept to the two-state solution.” Israeli-American writer Mairav Zonszein, seemingly forgetting that Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organisation found it "perplexing" that they would condemn the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and wondered why they didn’t suggest instead that he should have been tried. (as though they privilege their own people with trials!) And it’s not only Hamas they support. Another writer, Roee Ruttenberg expressed support for last year’s flotilla, and the Turkish ‘charity’ who backed it, the IHH, who have links to terror.
Cohen then makes an extraordinarily absurd statement, that the double standards of Yachad’s critics were:
highlighted by the fact that a leading member of the American Zionist Organisation wrote a piece criticising Israel’s government for allowing the Gilad Shalit prison exchange and yet no one bat an eye lid. Apparently, it is unacceptable to criticise Israel for being too ‘right-wing’, but to criticise the government for a ‘left-wing’ deal that the vast majority of Israelis supported is deemed acceptable.
Gilad Shalit’s release was one of the most jubilant yet painful, emotionally charged events in Israel’s recent history. I have never in my life felt so torn in my emotions, so unbelievably relieved and happy that an Israeli soldier’s life was saved after five years of torture, but at the same time so grief-stricken for the families of terror victims who had to relive their horror all over again, sickened at the celebrations of terrorists with no remorse for their actions, and fearful for the future, for the safety of Israel’s citizens and soldiers, my family and friends in Israel, from Haifa to Jerusalem to Be’er Sheva. So I can understand those who were against the deal, even though, as I’ve explained, I supported it. I don’t look at it as a matter of politics, left or right wing; to me it was simply about taking the opportunity to save a life.
As for Yachad having “proven over and over again that it is a vociferous pro-Israel voice” and that “it is not acting to demonise or attack Israel”… where have they proven that? Because if I was ignorant of the conflict and got all my links from their Facebook and Twitter, I’d be worse than ignorant - I’d only know one half of the story.
Cohen’s second blog post again mentions the 3 DS, this time in describing how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is harmful and counterproductive.  Despite this, he commends boycotts as “non-violent resistance to oppression”. Yachad’s official line is that they do not support boycotts, but they were also very much opposed to Israel’s proposed anti-boycott law.
Yachad would do well to clear up their own confusion and contradictions, and save their critics the trouble.