Balancing Act

My home town of Fresno, California has a tiny Jewish community. The metropolitan area of about a million people, in almost the geographical center of the state, has only about 1000 Jewish families. There are three congregations: a Reform temple with several hundred members, a much smaller Conservative shul, and a Chabad house.

I haven’t been to the US since moving back to Israel more than five years ago. But I keep in touch. So recently I noticed an announcement on the Facebook page of the Reform congregation for a talk by a Rabbi John Rosove on the subject “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, an American Zionist Perspective.” I thought that was interesting, since I, too, am a Zionist and (you can tell by my accent) will always be an American.

Rabbi Rosove went to Berkeley (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and Hebrew Union College, and is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel in Hollywood. Investigating further, I found that the talk would be about “… the destructive impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinians, Israelis and the future of Israel’s democracy.” And I noted that Rabbi Rosove is a national co-chair of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet, and is associated with several “Reform Zionism” groups.

This is not my kind of Zionism – it demands a suicidal “two-state solution,” and wrongly analogizes our conflict with the Palestinians to the American civil rights struggle, two things that couldn’t be more different.

A word or two about J Street. It would like you think that it has a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” platform, but ever since its beginnings in 2007, it has advocated against Israel’s interests. J Street lobbied against sanctions on Iran and for the nuclear deal, refused to denounce the Goldstone Report that falsely accused Israel of war crimes, lobbied against a congressional letter criticizing Palestinian incitement, invited numerous anti-Israel speakers and BDS supporters to its national conventions, called for the US to support an anti-Israel Security Council resolution in 2014 and applauded the Obama Administration’s abstention on one in 2016. More recently, it criticized Israel’s use of force to protect its border with Gaza, and on and on and on. One would think that maybe it isn’t “pro-Israel” at all.

But nothing is more telling than the sources of J Street’s money. One of the biggest contributors to anti-Israel organizations is George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. It pledged $750,000 to J Street for its first three years. J Street lied about it until an investigative reporter exposed the facts. J Street also got contributions from sources linked to Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as a Turkish film producer, and even stranger places. Of course much of its funding does come from Jewish “useful idiots.”

Let’s assume that Rabbi Rosove is one of these. His talk is being held at Clovis Community College, next door to Fresno, and is free. But who paid Rosove’s expenses? The announcement for the talk indicates that it is sponsored by GV Wire, a local progressive news website. GV Wire is a very slick production, with a professional staff including Bill McEwen, a former Fresno Bee columnist and editorial page editor.

The “GV” in GV Wire stands for Granville Homes, one of the biggest real estate developers and homebuilders in the Fresno area. And Granville Homes is owned by the Assemi family, who came to California from Iran just before the revolution. Among the founders of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, the Assemis are among the biggest philanthropists in the Central Valley of California. Granville has done some projects in the downtown area which have improved parts of town that many people thought were lost forever. They donate large amounts to numerous causes and organizations, especially “progressive” ones.

The publisher of GV Wire is Darius Assemi, Granville’s President and CEO. He is deeply involved in local politics, and is probably one of the most powerful people in the area. And of course, he’s no friend of Israel. He’s described Israel’s shooting terrorists climbing its border fence as a “massacre.”

So why would he bring a self-described “Zionist” speaker to the area (even if he’s as much a Zionist as I am Queen of England)?

The explanation is the reaction to Assemi’s previous speaker, Alison Weir, who appeared on September 18 (her presentation can be viewed here). Weir is viciously anti-Israel and antisemitic, to the point that even pro-BDS groups like Jewish Voice for Peace have disavowed her. Her position is that the Israel/Jewish lobby dominates the US government, causing it to act against American interests in order to help Israel oppress, exploit, and murder Palestinians, which it does in the most sadistic way possible. She asserts that US media, controlled by Jewish interests, is biased in favor of Israel, and that any criticism of Israel is derailed by accusations of antisemitism. She is a low-key, persuasive speaker, and if you don’t recognize the lies, lack of context, and distortions, she will convince you.

Weir was originally invited by the college, which canceled the event following complaints by the ADL and other Jewish organizations.

But Assemi thought that she should be heard, so he had GV Wire sponsor the event and rent the hall, absolving the college of responsibility. ADL and the others protested again, but rather than cancel the event, Assemi decided to also invite “a speaker who will explain the deadly realities in this region from the Jewish perspective.” Balance. That would be Rabbi Rosove.

So now we will get a “Jewish perspective” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Jew who says he is a Zionist, but represents an organization that is actually anti-Zionist, and is even supported financially by Israel’s enemies. And a Jewish house of worship is advertising it.

Welcome to the highest level of useful idiocy!

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One Response to Balancing Act

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    It is difficult sometimes to believe that it has come to this, that a so-called defender of Israel should actually espouse the position of its enemies.
    It seems that there is now a special burden placed on American Jews who are sympathetic to Israel. Attack awaits them on all sides even from within the Jewish community.
    As for J Street as this piece points out it is an enemy disguised as a friend.

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