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Letters the Week of June 13, 2011
Letter Writer Totally Misrepresented Fund
I was outraged at Leonard Getz's letter vilifying the New Israel Fund and attacking Joel Sweet, chair of JCRC's new Israel Action Committee. Joel has worked tirelessly to further Israel's interests, and NIF is proud that he is one of Philadelphia's leaders.
Contrary to Mr. Getz's specious claims, NIF works to realize the vision of Israel's founders of equality and justice for all, and is committed to Israel as the Jewish homeland and a vibrant democracy.
Over its 32 years, NIF has been invaluable in building Israel's civil society. We support hundreds of organizations, all legally registered with the government, which work to promote Jewish pluralism, social justice, civil rights and the protection of the environment.
Among these are organizations committed to ensuring the rights of Israel's Arab minority. Israeli Arabs justifiably measure their status relative to their country's majority, not in relation to those in surrounding non-democratic countries.
The Israeli government has characterized its Arab minority as suffering severe discrimination, a situation it has called urgent. More than 80 organizations, including Jewish federations, have joined NIF in the Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues to address a discrimination that threatens Israeli society, a discrimination inconsistent with basic Jewish values.
Posted on our website (www.nif.org), NIF's funding guidelines are transparent. Our position on the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement is clear: We oppose it and will fund no organization with such a program.
A vibrant civil society is vital for Israel's long-term security and its survival as a democracy. NIF will continue to support organizations working to strengthen Israel's democratic fabric and ensure justice for all.
We uphold the right of organizations to express their views about even the most sensitive issues. That is democracy.
New Israel Fund
All Praise for New Head of Israel Advocacy Unit
We write in support of Joel Sweet, a true Israel lover and one who is among the most dedicated and engaged in Israel advocacy in the Philadelphia community (Letters: "Head of Israel Advocacy Must Cut Ties to Fund," May 26).
Both of us abhor the actions of an organization to which he belongs, the New Israel Fund, which supports groups in Israel that seek to delegitimize it. We would sign any petition to exclude NIF from participating in Israel advocacy policy making.
But there are times -- and this is one -- when a distinction must be made between the individual and an organization.
We will continue private debates with Joel about the NIF, but we believe Philadelphia's Israel advocacy efforts will benefit significantly from his leadership, one in which we know he will be fair and open-minded, and which will lead to positive results for our community and for Israel.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Gary E. Erlbaum
It's Clear Palestinian State Will Have Jewish Minority
After all the reporting and commentary about President Barack Obama's and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position speeches that appeared in the May 26 Jewish Exponent, one pair of dots apparently has not been connected.
Both leaders seem to now agree that the 1967 borders are the starting point for negotiations, not the end point. It has also been the U.S. position for many years that any future Palestinian state will have to be contiguous.
It has also been the U.S. and Israeli positions that large Jewish settlements will not be uprooted. This means that some, but not all, of current settlements will be on the Israeli side of the future border.
Another outcome will be that the Palestinian state will have a Jewish minority (as current Israel has a substantial Arab minority).
When this becomes apparent, it will be interesting to hear the response from the Arab countries of the region and the "Palestinian Authority," including Hamas.
Perhaps this response will tell us where the "apartheid" and the "obstacles to peace" truly lie.