February 24, 2011
Ambassador Dennis Ross
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20500
Dear Ambassador Ross:
You have devoted your career to helping Israel find peace with her neighbors. In high-level positions in administrations of both parties, you have been a leading presence in the peace process for over two decades. Because you possess such a detailed knowledge of the conflict and the attempts to resolve it, you are capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, helpful criticism and destructive activism.
It is thus with some surprise that I learned you would be speaking at this year’s J Street conference. Speaking, that is, before a group that has worked diligently over the past three years to become a voice for weakening the U.S.-Israel alliance, for pressuring Israel to accept policies that Israeli voters have rejected as dangerous, and perhaps most important, for giving Jewish support to a global campaign of delegitimization directed against Israel and Zionism.
J Street has spent much of the last two years opposing sanctions on Iran while demanding that Israel refuse to consider military self-defense; it has partnered with leaders of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement; its inability to draw distinctions between Hamas and the IDF during the Gaza War was so striking that the president of the Union for Reform Judaism called the group “morally deficient” and “appallingly naïve.” And, more recently, the group was exposed as having dissembled for years about its sources of funding (much of it foreign) and about its support for the Goldstone Report. Rep. Gary Ackerman recently ended his relationship with the group in exasperation, writing that J Street is “so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”
The conference at which you will be speaking is titled “Giving Voice to Our Values.” J Street’s values are most clearly articulated by the speakers it has selected for its conference. These include:
- Maen Areikat of the PLO, who denies there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accuses Israel of “state terrorism.”
- Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who said that Israel has “a full-fledged Apartheid system” that is “much worse than what prevailed in South Africa,” and that Israel has been “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians since 1948.
- Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, a correspondent for MBC TV, who says that Hamas should not be “lumped in” with other terrorist groups because “once Palestine is liberated then [Hamas] will cease to use violence.”
- Edina Lekovic, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was a managing editor of a magazine that praised Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter.”
- Imam Feisal Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque leader, who refuses to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
- James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, who has compared Israelis to Nazis and accused the IDF of “genocide” and a “Holocaust.” Only three months ago he wrote that “In a real sense, the plight of the Palestinians is to the Arabs, what the Holocaust is to Jews worldwide.”
- Lawrence Wilkerson, a former State Department official, who has repeatedly accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of “working for Israel” and being “card-carrying members of the Likud Party,” and asked whether “their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel.”
- Daniel Levy, one of Richard Goldstone’s leading advocates in Washington.
- Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, who says that “the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa” and that Israel’s policy toward Gaza is a “siege.”
- Naomi Chazan, a leader of the New Israel Fund and a conference honoree. Her organization funds NGO’s that accuse Israel of war crimes and Apartheid, provided the bulk of the accusations contained in the Goldstone Report, support the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, and seek the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
- Rebecca Vilkomerson, who runs the BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace. She has said, “Just as in Apartheid South Africa’s day, Israel’s society seems to be turning more bluntly racist and repressive.” She says her organization “speaks out for Goldstone, and we speak out for BDS campaigners.”
- Debra Delee, president and CEO of the NGO Americans for Peace Now, who commented on the Turkish flotilla attack on IDF soldiers, “The root of this disaster lies not in the actions of the flotilla’s participants.”
- Oded Na’aman, a founder of Breaking the Silence, which accuses IDF soldiers of war crimes. He says the IDF “is guilty of a wide range of abuses” including “allowing Jewish settlers to poison Palestinian wells” and evacuating entire blocks of Palestinian towns and then demolishing them. Palestinian terrorism, he says, is merely a “perceived threat.”
- Daniel Seidemann, founder of the NGO “Terrestrial Jerusalem,” who claims that the Old City of Jerusalem is being turned into an “Evangelical settler theme park” and compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin wall.
- Michael Sfard, a lawyer for several radical NGO’s, who routinely demonizes Israel, accuses it of “Apartheid,” and promotes war crimes allegations against it. He testified as a paid witness on behalf of the PLO in a lawsuit brought in U.S. Federal Court by victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. He is best known as a leading advocate of “lawfare” – prosecuting Israeli soldiers and officials in European war-crimes trials.
Will you challenge those who seek to brand nearly every Israeli security measure a war crime? Will you take on the inventors and proponents of so many false claims about Israel? Will you repudiate the Goldstone Report?
The pro-Israel community – and the American people – have great respect for Israel because of her consistent willingness to seek peace with her neighbors, even as those neighbors have used the peace process as a means to continue to fight. The American people not only understand and sympathize with Israel’s security challenges, but they refuse to be taken in by cynical and fraudulent accusations that aim to make it impossible for Israel to exercise her right to self-defense. Not only do they refuse to be fooled, they admire the Jewish State for the way it has created a vibrant and prosperous democracy while being subjected to constant terrorism, hatred, and incitement.
There are few moments when someone with your experience and credibility is invited into the anti-Israel echo chamber and provided an opportunity to dispel myths, combat falsehoods, deliver much-needed moral clarity – and state clearly that the United States stands with Israel. I trust that you will seize this moment to explain why the Jewish State is not just one of our closest allies, but a country that fully deserves the admiration and moral support of all Americans.
Executive Director, Emergency Committee for Israel