Brian Lurie Takes Aim at Occupation

New Israel Fund Chief Admits Being 'Rebel' at Heart

Rebel With a Cause: Rabbi Brian Lurie says the New Israel Fund is anchored in Jewish values.
haaretz
Rebel With a Cause: Rabbi Brian Lurie says the New Israel Fund is anchored in Jewish values.

By Chemi Shalev (Haaretz)

Published August 04, 2012.
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New Israel Fund CEO Daniel J. Sokatch sits on the Task Force’s executive committee, together with well-known Jewish leaders such as the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ Malcolm Hoenlein.

When I asked Hoenlein about his participation, he said “Brian promised me that the Task Force would not in any way serve a political agenda, and he has kept his word.”

Says Lurie: “For me, the simple proof test of how you have a Jewish state is how you treat your minority. Every Jew in every Diaspora community has said, at one time or another: We want to be equal. That’s our history of 2,000 years. And now that we have a state, we don’t do the same thing? I know that Israel is a Jewish state and that there are certain limitations, but the situation can be far better than it is right now. The Middle East is our neighborhood. We’ve got to live with Arabs, and we’ve got to start at home.”

But you know that the complaints about NIF-funded organizations such as Adalah [the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel] are not about their work for improving the conditions of Israeli Arabs, but about the fact that they support organizations such as BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions ) or participate in forums that describe Israel as an “apartheid state.”

Lurie: “Excuse me? Support BDS? I even got NGO Monitor to back off of that. If you sat down with [Adalah founder and general director] Hassan Jabareen, he would tell you: ‘We do not support BDS. Period.’ And 98 percent of what Hassan does is work on trying to make Israeli Arabs equal. That’s the energy of the organization. Now let’s say the 2 percent or the 5 percent that you are now talking about is problematic for me. I’m not going to say it’s a black or white situation. But I have assurances from Jabareen, not only on BDS but even on Israel being ‘a state for all its citizens’ - which is something you do hear from them. Even on that he said: ‘I’m not going to push on it.’ Although I must say that I honestly can’t blame any Israeli Arab for endorsing ‘a state for all its citizens.’ I can’t fault them. I would tell them that I believe that Israel has to be a Jewish state, but I respect them, just like I understand a Supreme Court Justice who does not sing ‘Hatikva.’”


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