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Israeli Diplomat Discusses Palestinian Statehood at JCRC Event

Eliav Benjamin, the Counselor for Political Affairs at of the Embassy of Israel, gave a briefing regarding the upcoming vote on the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN on September 13th. This event, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council, took place at the DC Jewish Community Center.

The Jewish community was fortunate to have Mr. Benjamin, who has extensive diplomatic experience, come to speak about Israel’s stance on the unilateral declaration and the state’s struggle to maintain peace in a rapidly changing Middle East.  Prior to being posted in DC, he served as the Policy Advisor to the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as the Deputy Head of Mission in Shanghai.

Mr. Benjamin spoke about the possibility that the Palestinian Authority will receive non-member state status, similar to that of the Vatican, even without the consent of the UN Security Council (the United States may veto a motion to recognize Palestinian statehood through the Security Council, which is required for approval for official statehood).

With this upgrade in status, Arab leaders would have even greater leverage in harassing Israel through various motions in the UN, which is already employed disproportionately to attack the Jewish state (for example: during the height of the genocide in Darfur, the UN General Assembly failed to condemn Sudan once, but passed 22 resolutions condemning Israel). Israel is already frequently targeted by unbalanced UN resolutions regarding human rights violations, and this would be expected to increase. Additionally, pressing human rights violations, such as the situation of political prisoners in Iran, would likely be further ignored because of limited time and resources at the UN. The upgrade in status would not solve the Arab refugee problem.

Mr. Benjamin repeatedly stated that Israel is making every attempt to bring the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table. He stated that Israel knows how to walk away from settlements and pay a difficult price for peace, as was represented historically by the 2005 disengagement from all settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. The Palestinian Authority also understands this fact. Unfortunately, its leaders currently refuse to return to negotiations without nearly impossible preconditions.

He also reiterated that it is important to differentiate between support for independent Palestinian statehood—a position the Israeli government, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, also supports—and support for this particular unilateral resolution. Bypassing joint negotiations with Israel would not create a stable state; it would mainly only allow Arab leaders to have more power to bash Israel through UN forums.

Mr. Benjamin also spoke about security measures Israel is taking, including drills by the Israel Defense Forces, given the changing situation in the Middle East. For example, after the recent terrorist attack near the southern city of Eilat, Israel has stepped up security measures near the Egyptian border. Although he noted Palestinian security forces were cooperating with the IDF, he noted that history has proven that the Jewish people must rely first and foremost on themselves for defense.

In closing, he noted that Israel has been engaging in multiple humanitarian missions throughout the world—Israel built the first field hospital in Haiti after their earthquake, and it was one of the few countries to assist Japan during the tsunami disaster. He reiterated that in this situation the world’s pressure should not be on Israel but rather on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table in order to claim what Israel believes they deserve – their own independent state—through direct negotiations.

If you are interested in getting involved, consider signing the petition against a unilaterally declared Palestine, available here.

JCRC's Middle East Forum

Come to a special briefing by the Embassy of Israel with the Counselor for Political Affairs Eliav Benjamin, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about today’s realities in the Middle East, the strategic implications of the upcoming UN vote about a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, and current prospects for peace.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 13, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: DC JCC, 1529 16th Street NW

RSVP here for this event.  Although the event is free, a suggested donation of $5 is appreciated.

About the speaker: Benjamin has held several positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the past decade. Before Joining the Ministry, Benjamin worked as Coordinator for Project Otzma.  Holding a BA Degree in Middle Eastern Affairs & Islamic Studies, from Tel-Aviv University, Benjamin is also a member in a number of Government Steering Committees.

The event is also co-sponsored by Adas Israel Congregation, Anti-Defamation League, CAMERA, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Temple Sinai, and Tifereth Israel.

JCRC's Day on the Hill – Register NOW

There is only a limited time remaining to register for the Jewish Community Relations Council‘s Day on Capitol Hill.  This event will allow local Jews to meet with their Senators and Representatives and hear expert panels on issues relevant to the Jewish community. Topics include: protecting health and human services, defending a strong US-Israel relationship, the Iranian nuclear threat, and more.

WHEN: September 15, 10:00 a.m. to approximately 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: House and Senate Offices

For the full agenda, click here.

Those interested must register by September 1. To do so, click here. Cost is $20

Kosher lunch will be provided.

 

Jobs, Internships, and Housing (oh my!)

Be sure to check our Bulletin Board for more job and housing postings.  Also, stay tuned for the new GTJ job site.

Contact stephen@gatherdc.org if you are interested in any of these positions.

AIPAC (Hiring 2 full time positions)

  • Campus Outreach Director.  The Campus Outreach Director works to develop relationships with and mobilize student leaders and pro-Israel political activists at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Christ Centered Campuses and Hispanic Serving Institutions.
  • National Field Organizer. Identifies, engages, trains and coordinates pro-Israel political activists on major college campuses, integrating them into the national pro-Israel political movement.

JCRC (Seeks two interns)

  • Details to be posted soon.

Moishe House Montgomery County (Room available)

  • Want to live in a fun group house with 4 cute ladies, a bonfire pit and a hammock? Vacancy beginning in September or October!

Sixth & I Synagogue (Multiple positions)

  • Full time and part time event coordinators/planners.

  • If your idea of a night out is to interview a source or cover a news event. If the idea of getting beaten on a story makes you so sick to your stomach that it motivates you to never let it happen. We’re looking for you.


 

 

How to fight the proposed San Francisco circumcision ban

I mentioned in the past that I have some philosophical questions about the practice of circumcision, but I also mentioned that I’m adamantly opposed to the San Francisco measure to ban circumcision because:

1) It has links to anti-Semitism (see our post here).

2) It’s a harmless — maybe even salubrious — procedure that leaves no obvious mark on the child and in no way impairs the child’s future life.  Therefore, there’s no reason to proscribe this religious act.

So if you want to take action against the San Francisco, then see the following JCRC blurb about what you can do:

Fight the proposed San Francisco circumcision ban

A blatant attack on the fundamental, centuries old Jewish ritual of circumcision is taking place in San Francisco. The proponents of this ban, fueled by anti-Semitism, are offering this extreme measure that would criminalize circumcision. A political action committee has been formed, the Committee for Parental Choice and Religious Freedom, that is sponsored by the JCRC of San Francisco. Make a donation to this effort at www.stopcircban.com. While this assault  on religious freedom and Judaism is taking place in San Francisco, it is up to the entire American Jewish community to provide the resources to help.

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (July 21, Newsletter)

JCRC asks for your help with fighting anti-Semitism

In case you haven’t been following the Yale controversy, first see these GTJ blog posts:  News story,  Mitzvah Maker Alvin Rosenfeld responds, and an article in the Washington Post from a GWU professor.

….

Letter from JCRC’s Arielle Farber

Dear Friends,

Yale University has announced that the well-respected Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism is scheduled to be closed down.  The Center was the first university-based center in North America dedicated to the study of anti-Semitism, and as George Washington University’s Professor Walter Reich, a member of the international academic board of advisers of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, stated in a Washington Post Op-Ed, “The quality and output of the Yale Institute have been superb and wide-ranging.”

While we understand that Yale has concerns that the Center has not met certain academic standards set by the university, we are asking the administration to reverse what seems to be a hasty decision and to instead provide the Center with a grace period to improve and achieve the goal of meeting those standards.

Yale’s own distinguished Law School alumnus Professor Alan Dershowitz, added in an op-ed in the Hudson New York, “The precipitous decision to close YIISA, made without even a semblance of due process and transparency, could not have come at a worse time. Nor could it have sent a worse message.”  At a time of increased global anti-Semitism, the closure of this Center will send a dangerous message that combating anti-Semitism should no longer be an academic priority, or perhaps even a national priority.  For more information about global anti-Semitism, please see the website of the ADL and the website of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Please take a moment to use our automated system to send an email to the President and Provost of Yale University urging them to reconsider the decision to close down this important Center.  Click here to Act Now!

Thank you,

Arielle Farber
Director of Israel & International Affairs