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  • The 'Jewish tent' just became even smaller

    The defunding of an Israel program with a progressive, human rights framework is an affront to all progressive Jews around the world. By Rebecca Arian Last week, the Jewish Agency announced it would be cutting funding to Achvat Amim (“Solidarity of Nations”), a program offering participants the opportunity to live in Israel and volunteer with organizations dedicated to fostering human rights and coexistence. The Jewish Agency’s decision resulted from participants’ protest activity in Palestinian areas in the West Bank earlier this year. This move is just one of countless examples of mainstream Jewish institutions setting the parameters of the Jewish tent,…

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  • What happens when teaching diaspora Jews about occupation gets 'too political'

    An item on Israel's top news program falsely accused a volunteer program that allows young diaspora Jews to directly engage with the occupation, of sending its members to clash with IDF soldiers, causing it to lose its main source of funding. Now one of 'Achvat Amim's organizers is speaking out: 'I hadn't experienced being lied about and mischaracterized in public in such an extreme way before.' Karen Isaacs was on her way to her sister's wedding in Toronto when Israel's most-watched news program ran a primetime item accusing her and her partner Daniel of sending diaspora Jews into violent confrontations with IDF soldiers in the West Bank. Channel…

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  • For Arab citizens, 'Jewish and democratic' means demographic war

    While much of the world justly focuses on land theft in the occupied territories, we must not forget that Israel uses the pretense of 'Jewish and democratic' to actively dispossess its own Arab citizens. Israeli citizens who may be feeling doubtful about the efficiency of their country's institutions should take a hard look at the Jewish Agency's Settlement Division. [tmwinpost] According to Haaretz, the division has set forth a new plan to establish Jewish towns adjacent to Arab communities in the Negev Desert and the Galilee, in such a way that would hamper the development of the latter. The Settlement Division,…

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  • The lie at the heart of the Jewish American consensus

    By choosing to engage on specific issues of Israeli policy while ignoring the fate of Palestinians, the Jewish American establishment has effectively sided with perpetuating the occupation. For years, the Jewish American establishment has been able to convince the world, and itself, that it does not directly meddle in internal Israeli affairs — a declaration most commonly used to justify not commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But if anyone still has any faith in that notion, the volatile events of the past week should put it to bed. [tmwinpost] The outcry from across the Jewish American political spectrum was nearly universal. Prime Minister Netanyahu…

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  • Ayman Odeh has a dream, but not all American Jews like it

    The leader of the Joint List got a rude awakening on his first official visit to the U.S. after being falsely accused of refusing to meet the leaders of a major Jewish organization in New York. 'I have actually found that Jewish Americans are more progressive than Jewish Israelis. But the problem is with the leaders of the community. They want to tell me how to behave and what to think.' NEW YORK — "I believe in talking to everyone," said Joint List leader Ayman Odeh. "In the Knesset, I speak with everyone." He added, with a half smile, "Except…

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  • How the Jewish Agency is throwing Ethiopian immigrants onto the street

    By Yossi Dahan (Translated from Hebrew by Shaked Spier) The Jewish Agency for Israel states on its website that its work concentrates on four fields: aliyah (the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to Israel), social action and giving, Israeli experience, and bringing Israel and Jewish communities abroad together. Let us focus on the Jewish Agency’s social giving. [tmwinpost] In a meeting of the parliamentary control panel on June 15th, one of the biggest Israeli real estate scandals in recent years was exposed (as described in The Marker). Control of publicly owned real estate assets, owned by the Jewish National…

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  • How a Jewish Agency fellow becomes a one-state activist

    When Gila Hashkes arrived at UC Berkeley as a Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, she felt like she was jumping into the heart of pro-Palestinian activism. Her job was to organize Jewish students on campus, strengthen their connection to Israel and give them tools to justify its policies. But after a year-long journey of digging deeper into the conflict, being pushed by both her Jewish and Palestinian peers and glimpsing the ‘mentality of fear’ that grips the American Jewish community, she had an awakening of sorts, moved back to Jerusalem and now works for equal rights for all. Tom Pessah sits…

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  • Jewish Agency plans most exorbitant 'pro-Israel' campaign ever

    A new initiative to market Israel to American Jews is expected to cost up to $300 million annually, three times the Birthright budget. But a cheaper project for both Americans and Israelis that could bolster Israel's image much more effectively is not on the table: Ending the occupation.  The Jewish Agency is reportedly developing its priciest campaign ever to connect Jews and Israel and it's going to cost a lot of money. The budget is expected to reach $300 million per year in the next five years, The Forward reported. The massive operation is expected to launch in 2014 and…

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  • The slandering of Gaza flotilla activist Greta Berlin

    A lie of omission is as good a lie as any other.  It's amazing how blatantly, how shamelessly a Jewish Agency official named Avi Mayer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Jerusalem Post, Canada's National Post and I don't know how many other "pro-Israel" entities have slandered Greta Berlin, a prominent spokeswoman of the Free Gaza Movement, as an advocate of the worst, sickest kind of anti-Semitism. They've deliberately left out Berlin's explanation for a tweet she sent out a few days ago, and without her explanation, one is indeed left to conclude that she's a crazed Jew-hater. A lot of people,…

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  • WATCH: ELAL, Israel's national airline, now part of state PR efforts

    You know a country is in serious trouble when it decides to have its national airline's pilots and flight attendants doing its Hasbara (PR) work for them. El Al "Ambassadors" will now be "at the forefront of Israeli diplomacy in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Los Angeles and Toronto," as part of a joint initiative with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Foreign Ministry and Stand With US. The latter group is an American organization which is considered "pro-Israel" but certainly does not represent me and what I think the countries' interest are. According to the Israel consulate website in New York: Each…

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  • Israel reenacts 'Zionist triumph' of 1948 Palestine partition plan

    Today, exactly 64 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 to end the British Mandate in Palestine and partition the territory, giving international legitimacy to the establishment of a Jewish nation-state somewhere in Palestine, as well as the notion of two states for two distinct nationalist identities, one Jewish and one Arab, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration. In honor of this anniversary, the World Zionist Organization decided to hold a celebratory "reenactment" of the day today at 1:30pm in front of the Jewish Agency building in central Jerusalem, in order to "recreate the joy…

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  • Costs, not ideology, driving North American Jews to move to Israel

    North American Jews who are moving to Israel are increasingly doing so for economic reasons - however, it is being packaged as Zionism Ironically, while people around the country are pitching tents to protest the high rent prices and general cost of living in Israel, a plane full of North Americans just immigrated to Israel due to what they claim is the pull of cheaper education and health (oh and Zionism as well, of course). In an article entitled "For the sake of a Jewish education" (Hebrew), Ynet is reporting that 250 new immigrants moved through Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN), an American…

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  • Update: Corrections to "Jewish Agency" article and response

    After publishing an article yesterday entitled "Jewish Agency to approve convert's eligibility to immigrate to Israel," I received the following email from Haviv Rettig Gur, director of communications for the Jewish Agency, which was also posted as a comment on my blog by "Yoav." Leaving aside the personal insults and tone of the email, it did make an important correction regarding the Jewish Agency's source of  funding and a few other arguments I am happy to share and to address, in the spirit of open dialogue and transparency. It also confirmed my main argument - that the move does not in…

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