J Street Uses A Pro-Terrorist EU Bureaucrat To Malign Jewish Neighborhoods

J Street, in a mid-November email appeal, quoted an unnamed “top EU diplomat” in its tirade against an Israeli government call for bids for new homes in a nearly 30 year-old Jerusalem neighborhood where Ethiopian Jewish and Russian immigrants live. What’s more than J Street’s vitriol against the construction of Jewish homes is that the name of the EU functionary was intentionally left off of J Street’s rant because he is an anti-Israel extremist who earlier this year gave outright support for terrorists according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry when he stated that Palestinian Arabs affiliated with blacklisted groups remain eligible to participate in projects funded by the EU.

J Street is the controversial Washington, D.C., based Jewish pressure group that was created specifically, and almost exclusively, to lobby for an independent Palestinian state. J Street maintains, as a central theme of its propaganda, that Jews do not have a right to live wherever they choose and must be transferred out of their homes and neighborhoods in wide swaths of Judea-Samaria where Israeli citizens have lived for nearly fifty years.

The EU bureaucrat who opposes Jewish homes in Givat Hamatos, and was quoted by J Street, is a German named Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.

von Burgsdorff previously was the head of the EU’s delegation to South Sudan and in a May 8, 2020 JTA article [https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/eu-may-fund-palestinian-supporters-of-terrorist-group-official-assures-aid-recipients] he was identified as heading the “EU mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

The Times of Israel news website reported on May 7, 2020 [https://www.timesofisrael.com/foreign-ministry-rebukes-eu-ambassador-over-support-for-terrorism/] that an Israeli Foreign Ministry official stated that the letter by “von Burgsdorff, constituted a ‘violation of all our agreements with the European Union’.”

The Times also reported that explicitly due to von Burgsdorff’s letter, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz harshly rebuked the EU saying “we demand that the EU immediately end all support, financial or otherwise, for any entities that support terrorism whether directly or indirectly.”
Debra Shushan, J Street’s Director of Government Affairs signed the email that was titled “BREAKING: Outrageous steps by Netanyahu to expand settlements.” In the email J Street made the wild claim that “this week the Netanyahu government announced it will begin the tender process for the major new settlement of Givat Hamatos — a move which a top EU diplomat branded a “de facto annexation attempt.” Construction in Givat Hamatos is part of a deliberate settlement movement strategy to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from the West Bank Palestinian city of Bethlehem.”

The reason why J Street’s Shushan left out von Burgsdorff’s name should be clear: he has been widely discredited as a supporter of anti-Israel terrorism.

Another issue with J Street’s email that must be confronted is the use of a place named “East Jerusalem” when no such place has ever actually existed in history. The name “East Jerusalem” is an artificial construct that supporters of the Arab cause use in their propaganda in order to make it appear as if that part of the city is an intrinsically Arab area that Jews are illegally entering. In reality, there are Jewish neighborhoods throughout the eastern, western, northern, and southern parts of Jerusalem. It’s a shameful thing when Jewish organizations choose to use such geographically inaccurate, and politically loaded, language. At the time anti-Israel extremists created the name “East Jerusalem” it was for one reason: they sought to rip Israel’s capital apart in order to defeat Israel. “East Jerusalem” does not actually exist and what they are really saying is that Jerusalem’s Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods are not part of Israel or part of Israeli Jerusalem itself. The original and oldest parts of Jerusalem are what they falsely label “East Jerusalem.”

J Street needs to be honest with Americans. If it opposes Jews living in certain places because they are Jews then why obfuscate on this? If they want to quote an extremist diplomat J Street should at least name that diplomat and not hide his identity due to the fact that he has been accused of supporting terrorists.

The political climate of the Middle East has changed remarkably in the last several years and J Street doesn’t seem to like it at all. The United Arab Emirates has two synagogues and yet if J Street would get their way, synagogues in Judea and Samaria would be dismantled and the Jews in these neighborhoods would be forced from their homes. Haven’t we had enough of Jews being told where they can and cannot live? What was gained by the Israeli government destroying Jewish homes and synagogues in Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005 to hand over Israeli held land in the name of a “peace” that never came about? The Judean Hills, since the times of antiquity considered to be the heart of the Land of Israel, should, especially, be an area where Jewish families feel secure in the idea that their homes will never be destroyed.

Who cares about Jewish unity?

There are four important aspects to the government’s decisions on Sunday relating to egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall and the conversion bill. The first is that by and large, the headlines of the stories distort rather than explain what the government decided.

The second is the nature of the American Jewish community’s response to the government’s moves.

The third important aspect of the story is what the government’s decisions tell us about how the government perceive Israel’s relations with the American Jewish community.

Finally, the aftershocks of the decisions tell us something important about the prospects for Jewish unity today.

To the first issue. From the headlines in the newspapers, it is easy to assume that the government just struck a blow at egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall plaza and changed for the worse the status of non-Orthodox conversions in Israel. But neither is the case.

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As far as the Western Wall is concerned, the government decision doesn’t harm the egalitarian prayers at the holy site. For the past several years, egalitarian prayer services have been taking place regularly at Robinson’s Arch along the southern wall of the Temple Mount Plaza, just outside the archeological park.

The area, easily accessible from the Dung Gate, is easier to reach by car and foot than the regular Western Wall complex.

In January 2016, after protracted negotiations with progressive American Jewish groups, the government agreed to connect the Robinson’s Arch complex to the Western Wall complex. The government also agreed that management responsibility for the egalitarian prayer area would be transferred from the ultra-Orthodox-controlled Western Wall Foundation, to a new body that would include representatives of Reform and Conservative Judaism as well.

On Sunday, the government reversed that decision.

People have every right to be angry about the government’s move. It just reneged on its agreement, and that isn’t right.

Substantively, though, the government didn’t change the status quo. It just chose not to change it.

While wrong, it doesn’t justify the vitriol being leveled at the government by American Jewish leaders threatening to rethink their support for Israel.

As for the conversion law, the government’s decision on Sunday should make the members of the American Jewish community angry, but not for the reasons they claim. The draft conversion law the government just approved doesn’t change the status of converts who were converted by non-Orthodox religious courts outside of Israel.

Twenty years ago, the Neeman Commission decided, with the agreement of the Reform and Conservative movements, that people who converted in Reform or Conservative conversions outside of Israel would receive citizenship if they chose to make aliya under the Law of Return. They would not, however, be registered as Jews for the purpose of marriage, divorce or burial by the state rabbinate.

This would remain the case under the proposed law.

The people who are harmed by the conversion law are the more than half a million Israeli citizens from the former Soviet Union who made aliya under the Law of Return because they have Jewish lineage, but are not halachicly Jewish because their mothers are not halachically Jewish.

As Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat and noted conversion expert, explains, “According to great halachic authorities like the former chief rabbi of Israel Rav Ben-Tzion Uziel, although [these Israeli citizens] are not formally Jewish and must undergo a formal conversion, ‘it is incumbent upon the Religious Court to convert them because they have Jewish seed (zera Yisrael).’” Riskin adds, “Of course, we must always encourage observance of the commandments, but the bottom line must be to love and embrace them; they are living in Israel and their children will be going to the IDF.”

Uziel’s ruling informs the conversion policies of religious-Zionist rabbis and conversion courts, but it is rejected by the ultra-Orthodox religious authorities who today exercise absolute control over state conversions.

When the Neeman Commission reached its accord with the Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Jewish authorities in 1997, the Orthodox authorities included both ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist, or Modern Orthodox, rabbinic authorities.

As a result, the assumption of the commission members was that the state conversions would be conducted in an atmosphere that reflected a plurality of views represented in the Orthodox Jewish world, including the view of Rav Uziel, which informs the judgment of religious-Zionist rabbinic authorities.

This assumption ceased to be correct however in 2004.

That year, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition began unraveling. Sharon’s decision to adopt the policy of the Left and unilaterally withdraw from Gaza while destroying the Israeli communities in Gaza and northern Samaria and forcibly expelling their 10,000 residents tore his party and government apart. Sharon fired the ministers from the National Religious Party and the National Union.

To survive in office, Sharon had to retain the support of the ultra-Orthodox parties. To this end, he acceded to their demand to kick religious-Zionist rabbis out of the state rabbinate and replace them with ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Sharon’s move gave the ultra-Orthodox total control over all state conversions.

Since then, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have used their absolute to cancel the conversions performed by the most senior rabbis in the religious-Zionist community. Some of the converts affected have been Jews for decades and raised Jewish children.

Their Judaism and that of their children was retroactively denied by the rabbinate.

The ultra-Orthodox rabbinic courts subject half a million Israeli citizens who made aliya under the Law of Return to humiliating and drawn-out conversion processes even though many of them have lived their entire lives as Jews in Israel.

Rather than be given consideration as Rav Uziel and the national-religious religious authorities prescribe, they are treated as though they never had any relationship with the Jewish people of which they have always considered themselves members.

Due to the progressive American Jewish groups’ enthusiastic support for the withdrawal from Gaza and the destruction of the Israeli communities in Gaza and northern Samaria, they did not object to Sharon’s move.

And now, by mischaracterizing the government- backed conversion bill as a slap in the face to Reform and Conservative converts, they miss the real reason they should be fighting the legislation.

They should be fighting the bill because a large majority of the members of their communities are intermarrying. The children of many of those marriages who want to make aliya will be subjected to the same humiliating conversion processes undertaken by the ultra-Orthodox state rabbinic courts as the half a million Israelis who are not registered as Jews with the Chief Rabbinate face.

The fact that this doesn’t seem to be a concern for them indicates two things. First, their anger over the proposed law is not substantive. The contents of the bill – from their perspective – do not change the status of their converts. They have been living at peace with that status, which they agreed to, for 20 years.

At the same time, the American Jewish leaders who threaten not to speak to or host Israeli politicians who support the bill, ignore the fact that the current law would doom the children of their intermarried community members to second-class status in Israel if they try to convert halachically in the framework of aliya, rather than ensuring that they are treated with the love and respect their deserve.

Along these lines, and in relation to the Israeli citizens from the former Soviet Union, Rabbi Riskin notes, “The entire fabric of Israeli society would be torn asunder if a division were made between Israelis and halachic Jews. The religious courts must do their utmost to expose them to basic Shabbat, festivals and kashrut observance, but the most important goal must be to bring them into the Covenant with the Jewish people. After all they have gone through because of their ‘Jewishness’ under the Communist regime, it behooves us to incorporate them within our Jewish collective as part of the miracle of the ingathering of the exiles.”

So both in the case of the government’s decision regarding the Western Wall and in relation to its decision regarding the draft conversion law, American Jewish leaders are reacting with fury unhinged from the substance of the decisions themselves.

They cry foul to perceived, but largely imaginary, slights while ignoring the real problem with the conversions bill.

This then brings us to the government, and what apparently motivated it to take action that so provoked the American Jewish leadership.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, vice president of the Conservative Rabbinic Assembly, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of preferring momentary political advantage to the interests of the Jewish people. In her words, “The prime minister will do what he sees as beneficial for the next five minutes of his political life… There’s no possible way that the prime minister and his officials can argue they’re acting in the best interests of the State of Israel. They are betraying the citizens of the State of Israel in order to keep themselves in power for the next five minutes.”

While nasty, her criticism is not without foundation.

But what was Netanyahu’s alternative? If the American Jewish community flies off the handle and declares war against the government, threatening to blackball the elected leaders of the Jewish state when they adopt measures that while impolite have little substantive effect on their positions, then why should Israel take their views into account? If everything that the government does is terrible, then dialogue is reduced to recrimination. Sitting with progressive Jewish leaders from America means being subjected to a lecture about how terrible Israel is by people who do not live here and are not interested in having a serious discussion about what is actually on the table.

The fact that they are not interested in having that sort of discussion, and that they have no interest in making Israel their home, is demonstrated by their indifference to the real implications of the draft conversion law. Leaders truly invested in the future of both their communities and of their communities’ ties with Israel would be appalled by the retention of monopoly control over conversions by rabbinic authorities who refuse to recognize the difference between children of intermarriage and non-Jews with no relation to Judaism and the Jewish people.

They would insist that religious-Zionist rabbis be reinstated in the state rabbinate, and work avidly to ensure that conversions once approved cannot be overturned.

The real problem here is that while everyone involved speaks of the need for Jewish unity, no one involved in the conversation seems to be motivated to work toward that goal.

Jewish unity isn’t achieved by mutual recrimination.

And it isn’t achieved by one-upmanship. It is achieved through compromise based on mutual respect and love for fellow Jews. Absent that, nothing good will come from negotiations or laws or agreements. Absent that, nothing good will come at all.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

J Street’s Dead End

At the end of 2017, the far-left Jewish advocacy group J Street will celebrate its 10th anniversary. At its inception, J Street promised to be the first political movement “to explicitly promote American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” However, the organization’s pursuit of this goal was an abject and damning failure.

Circumstances couldn’t have been more amenable toward J Street’s lofty goal. Within 14 months of J Street’s inception, Barack Obama swept to power in elections that also left both houses of Congress controlled by Democrats.

As president, Obama’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was groundbreaking in many ways, deviating from the positions and tone of his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. J Street backed this shift with political cover, campaign donations, and organizational unanimity, providing a convenient panacea to American Jewish community outrage over Obama’s maneuvers.

The fledgling J Street found itself at the top table with veteran Jewish and pro-Israel organizations at the White House, with almost unprecedented access during Obama’s two terms.

It wasn’t merely a spectator: J Street saw itself as a vital part of the administration’s strategy and policy on Israel and the peace process. It prided itself on the puppeteer role it played in defending the White House or pushing its policy platform.

“We were the blocking-back, clearing space for the quarterback to do what we wanted him to do,” said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, in 2011. He added, Obama “hasn’t been able to push as aggressively as we would like,” and J Street has “switched from being out front and clearing the way, to pushing him to do something more.”

Something more turned out to be a lot less.

During the full eight years of the Obama administration, which set as one of its foreign policy goals a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never sat in the same room for more than a few hours in total.

While Netanyahu constantly repeated that he was willing to meet with the Palestinian leader at any place at any time, with no preconditions, Abbas made a series of impossible preconditions that pushed meaningful negotiations further and further away. J Street ended up blaming Netanyahu for Abbas’s intransigence.

Mutual distrust between the parties may not have been greater in a generation, and it could be argued that peace is as far away as it has been since the Oslo Peace Process began. J Street’s continued criticism of the Israeli government created a pseudo-Zionist political shield on the Jewish community’s left flank that the Obama administration used to blame Israel for actions largely caused by Palestinian obstinacy.

For eight years J Street supported Obama’s destructive policies toward Israel like the unilateral settlement freeze, nuclear détente with Iran, and his allowance for international condemnation of Israeli communities in the West Bank.

As a group that prided itself on its ability to make its voice heard in the American administration’s halls of power, J Street’s inability to influence must take a very heavy responsibility for the remission of the peace process.

Moreover, in its unrelenting vision of itself as chartering new territory, it lost many ideological allies.

At the end of 2008, when Israel decided to defend itself against incessant rocket attacks from the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip, J Street attacked Israel’s defensive actions. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, called J Street’s reaction to Israeli policy “morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naïve.”

In 2009, J Street initially tried to facilitate meetings between Richard Goldstone, lead author of a slanderous report on Israel’s war on terror in Gaza, and members of Congress.

In 2011, when it appeared to advocate for the U.S. not to veto a deeply problematic UN resolution condemning Israel, supporters like Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York cut ties with the organization.

J Street also placed itself out of mainstream pro-Israel circles when it invited prominent activists in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to its conferences and claimed that George Soros had not funded the organization until it became a matter of public record that he had in fact provided significant donations, especially during its formative years.

All of these hits have left the reputations of J Street and its combative president battered and bruised.

However, the latest election results have delivered the knock-out punch.

If perhaps the only selling point J Street could offer its potential donors in recent years has been largely unfettered (if squandered and ineffective) access to the White House, this will now be completely removed from the equation by the victory of Donald Trump and continued Republican control of both houses of Congress.

J Street has now become an organization vilified by former friends, distanced from the Left in Israel, and distrusted by many more. It may reconstitute itself in some constellation or another, but its heyday has past.

Originally Published in the Hill

J Street Attacks Trump for Being…Pro-Israel

We have reached a point in the US Presidential elections where absurd is the norm.  In an attempt to sway Jewish voters from leaving Hillary and moving to Trump, J Street, that nefarious anti-Israel organization that pretends to eb pro-Israel attacks Trump for being pro-Settlement which they claim is actually anti-Israel.  Yes, their absurdity knows no bounds.

Check out the ad below:

Break the BDS


J Street’s New Mission: Destroy Regavim and Israel at all Costs

It has been revealed that Jeremy Ben-Ami head of J-Street, the anti-Israel organization based in America, sent an email out to the group’s supporters notifying them that he is personally applying pressure to the Obama administration in order to force the government to remove Regavim’s 501(3)(c) status in order to cripple the group’s fundraising power in the USA.

This threat is serious, but what is more serious are the implications of Ben Ami’s actions. Regavim’s goal has always been to pressure the government to enforce the already determined law or ruling by the Knesset or Supreme Court. By J-Street going after Regavim in such a public and base way, Ben Ami is essentially denying the legitimacy of Israel’s own governing institutions.

Taking down a group like Regavim will not only harm the Israeli right, but all corners of Israeli society as Israel’s government will be rendered ineffective.


Ben Ami’s tirade against organizations like Regavim who he claims uses US donations to destroy the “Arab village at Susiya” is ironic, since it is in fact J-Street itself that uses donations to prop up and create illegal facts on the ground in contravention of Israel’s own sovereign laws.

With the stakes high and during the presidential election, Ben Ami is rolling the dice to see if Hillary and Obama would risk alienating moderate Jewish Democrats precisely when they need them the most.  Yet, that could be Ben Ami’s core strategy.  J-Street has always sought tocreate fissures and divisions in the American Jewish community.

So far he is succeeding.