Coalition Votes Not To Toss Liberal Zionists

By Rebecca Spence

Published January 26, 2007, issue of January 26, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A coalition of pro-Israel organizations last week voted unanimously to retain the membership of a dovish Zionist student group accused of hosting Israel bashers on American campuses.

On January 19, the steering committee of the Israel on Campus Coalition, which seeks to bolster Israel’s image at colleges and at universities, roundly rejected a move by the Zionist Organization of America, a hawkish Jewish group, to unseat the Union of Progressive Zionists from the 31-member alliance. The coalition’s steering committee, which consists of eight groups, also rejected calls to establish a mechanism to monitor the programming of its member organizations and to revisit its membership criteria.

The ZOA demanded the ouster of the UPZ, a 60-campus network of student activists, if it continued to host members of Breaking the Silence, an organization of ex-Israeli soldiers who speak out against alleged Israeli military abuses in the Palestinian territories. A fierce debate followed the ZOA’s call, with one member organization, the American Jewish Congress, sending a letter of resignation to the ICC’s director over the progressive union’s activities.

But the AJCongress’s executive director, Neil Goldstein, told the Forward that his organization had not, in fact, left the coalition. He explained that the letter had been written by a staff member who lacked the authority to make such a decision, and that it was not signed by the director of the Western region, Gary Ratner, whose name was printed at the bottom of the document. Still, Goldstein said, the organization is weighing whether or not to remain in the coalition.

The ZOA has described Breaking the Silence as rabidly anti-Israel because of its outspoken criticism of Israeli policies and the Israeli military’s treatment of Palestinians. But, as liberals have pointed out, the ZOA has launched fierce attacks on positions of the Jewish state. During the lead-up to the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the ZOA hosted campus events to show solidarity with the Jewish settlers who refused to evacuate the territory.

Klein defended his organization’s campus events, saying that they were an expression of political opinion and that they did nothing to harm Israel’s image. By contrast, Klein said, speeches by members of the Breaking the Silence were peppered with falsehoods and denigrated the image of the Jewish state.

The acting president of the UPZ, Charney V. Bromberg, wrote a letter to the chairwoman of the coalition’s steering committee, insisting that the UPZ had “reviewed the origins and statements of Breaking the Silence before agreeing to lend our name and endorsement to their outreach program in the United States.”

Bromberg, who also serves as Meretz USA’s executive director, described the controversial group as being started by ex-Israeli soldiers, many of them Orthodox, who reported on what they had seen in the vicinity of Hebron, where extremist Jewish settlers often harass the city’s Palestinian inhabitants.

In a statement released by the coalition’s steering committee, the members wrote that the umbrella group “recommits itself to working collaboratively to promote a proactive, pro-Israel agenda on college campuses across North America, and to encouraging all member organizations to work with and respect all members of the coalition in the spirit of pluralism and cooperation that unites us, as indicated in the ICC membership criteria.”

Tammy Shapiro, executive director of the UPZ, lauded the committee’s decision. The vote, she said, “sends a message that even though some of these well-established older organizations wanted us removed, the younger organizations do have a voice.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.