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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
ZOA Concerned: New Reform Judaism Head Rabbi Richard Jacobs Sits On Extremist, Soros-Funded J Street And New Israel Fund Boards

ZOA Concerned: New Reform Judaism Head Rabbi Richard Jacobs Sits On
Extremist, Soros-Funded J Street And New Israel Fund Boards

March 28, 2011
Contact: Morton A. Klein
Phone: 212-481-1500

Will these extremist groups influence Reform policy?

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern at the
appointment of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as head of the Union for Reform Judaism
(URJ). Included among our concerns is the fact that Rabbi Jacobs is a member
of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, the extremist, George Soros-funded
lobby group that takes positions to the left of the Israeli Labor and
far-left Meretz parties, recently opposed sanctions on Iran, and urged
President Barack Obama not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution
condemning as “illegal” Jewish homes and communities in Judea, Samaria and
eastern Jerusalem. Jacobs is also a long-time board member and advocate of
the New Israel Fund (NIF), which is a leading promoter and funder of
organizations that advocate boycotting, divesting from, and imposing
sanctions upon, Israel (BDS) as well as other groups involved in
delegitimizing Israel and mounting ‘lawfare’ suits against Israeli political
and military officials, causing these officials to not visit certain
European countries. The ZOA is concerned by Rabbi Jacobs’ close association
with J Street and NIF and thus at the prospect of the Reform movement
becoming a captive of the beliefs and actions of both organizations. We hope
the Reform movement, under Jacob’s leadership, will not become an unnamed
arm and political ally of these organizations.

We are not alone in our concerns. Commentary magazine’s Alana Goodman
recently wrote, “Jacobs involvement with J Street and the New Israel Fund is
a troubling sign,” adding “The Reform movement has always leaned toward the
political left, but its decision to tap Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its new
leader signals that it might be shifting its focus toward a slightly
different form of political activism.”

The ZOA notes that while also politically leftwing, Jacob’s predecessor,
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who steps down next year, has in contrast, criticized J
Street for having “misread the issues and misjudged the views of American
Jews.” Yoffie condemned J Street because it “has spoken out sharply against
Israel’s actions in Gaza … I know a mistake when I see one, and this time J
Street got it very wrong.” Yoffie criticized J Street’s “conclusion … that
Israel made a mistake in attacking Hamas and that the United States and
others must press for an immediate cease-fire … A second J Street statement
was worse by far. It could find no moral difference between the actions of
Hamas and other Palestinian militants … and the long-delayed response of
Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its
battered citizens in the south … These words are deeply distressing because
they are morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment
and also appallingly naïve.” Yoffie then pointed out that “that most
politicians on the left support the offensive, as do more than 80% of all
Israelis, according to polling data.” Yoffie also strongly condemned the
Palestinian Authority’s promotion of hatred and violence against Jews and
Israel in their media, schools and speeches.

In contrast, Rabbi Jacobs not only proudly sits on J Street’s board, but has
also proudly participated in demonstrations of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity
Movement, which urges an end to Israel “occupation” and the liquidation or
fundamental change of organizations that contribute to the “dispossession of
Arabs,” including the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund and the Israel
Lands Authority. Rabbi Jacobs also publicly agrees with leftwing, harsh
critic of Israeli security actions Peter Beinart’s assertions that Israel is
becoming undemocratic, theocratic and ill-treating its Arab minority. (The
debate between ZOA’s Mort Klein and Peter Beinart on last year’s Gaza
flotilla incident can be seen here). Rabbi Jacobs has also attended rallies
vigorously supporting the Islamist Imam Feisal Rauf and his efforts to build
a mosque adjacent to New York’s Ground Zero site, ignoring Rauf’s terrible
record of refusing to condemn Hamas, a terrorist organization which has
murdered hundreds of Israelis and whose Charter calls for murder of Jews and
Israel’s destruction; his calling U.S. policies an “accessory” to Al-Qaeda's
9/11 horror and stating that “in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is
made in the USA”; and his writing that “Israel will become one more Arab
country, in our lifetime, with a Jewish minority.” Jacobs appeared on CNN in
favor of Imam Rauf’s Ground Zero mosque.

J Street has taken positions to the extreme left of the Israeli political
spectrum. Only this week, Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon described J
Street as a pro-Palestinian organization. Similarly, Otniel Schneller of
Israel’s left-wing Kadima party has said the question of J Street’s
positions on various issues call into question its claims to be pro-Israel
and justify Knesset hearings into the organization. Unlike even leading
Israeli far leftists like former Meretz head, Yossi Sarid, J Street opposed
imposing strong sanctions on Iran for most of the past two years. It refused
to support Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza operation, saying nothing about Israel’s
right and duty to defend its citizens under attack from Gaza, while
referring only to the “humanitarian crisis” and the “crisis in Gaza” and
declaring that “ultimately there must be a political rather than military
solution to this conflict.” Israel’s Gaza operation was only launched after
eight years and 8,000 rocket attacks upon Israeli civilians by Hamas and
other terrorist groups, attempting to murder Jews and making their lives

J Street supports negotiating with the extremist, Nazi-like Hamas, whose
Charter openly calls for the murder of Jews. J Street has criticized Israel
on numerous occasions when the country was under one-sided pressure to make
one-sided concessions. It has also provided a platform for proponents of BDS
at its conferences such as Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of
the extreme left Jewish Voice for Peace.

J Street repeatedly and openly lied about receiving funds from anti-Israel
billionaire George Soros but, in reality, received $750,000 from him in the
past three years. Soros has blamed the U.S. and Israel for the rise of
anti-Semitism in Europe; claimed the U.S. removed Saddam Hussein for the
sake of “oil and Israel”; advocated negotiations with Hamas; has said that
the Nazis, Israel, Arab terrorists, and America after September 11 are all
cases of “victims turning perpetrators” and openly said “I am not a
Zionist.” Soros has spoken of his goal of bursting the “bubble of American
supremacy.” Soros also wrote that, “these ten months [of the Nazi occupation
in 1944] were the happiest times of my life” – a strange sentence, when
hundreds of thousands of his fellow Hungarian Jews, along with millions of
other Jews, were being murdered. Soros has also been a massive contributor
to Human Rights Watch, to which he pledged $100 million last month and which
international law authority Professor Anne Bayefsky has described thus,
“Human Rights Watch defended the U.N.’s ‘anti-racism’ Durban Declaration
despite its blatant discrimination against Israel and cast its lot with
those who have painted the defenders of Jewish self-determination as
racists. HRW supported the U.N.’s Goldstone report.” J Street has funded
some of Israel’s harshest Congressional critics, including a number of those
who were among the small minority (54 House Members) who signed the January
2010 letter, which ignored Hamas’s call for a genocide of the Jews and
demanded Israel lift security measures protecting Israelis. J Street has
also been found to have been significantly funded by pro-Saudi activists,
Arab-American leaders, Muslim activists and State Department anti-Israel

J Street’s urging of President Obama not to veto the U.N. Security Council
resolution condemning Jewish construction as “illegal” led liberal
Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) to cut ties with J Street, saying, “I’ve
come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I
wish to be associated … The decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab
effort to condemn Israel in the U.N. Security Council is not the choice of a
concerned friend trying to help. It is rather the befuddled choice of an
organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that
its brains have fallen out … [Mahmoud Abbas has refused to make] unilateral
gestures of good faith … But astonishingly, it is Israel that J-Street would
put in the stocks in the public square.”

J Street’s Educational Fund has also cosponsored a congressional mission to
Israel with the Churches for Peace in the Middle East, an organization whose
affiliates support the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign against

Regarding Rabbi Jacobs’ involvement with the New Israel Fund, it is relevant
that, on the New Israel Fund’s website, the group admits that while it
opposes ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS), “as a strategy or
tactic … we will not reduce or eliminate our funding for grantees that
differ with us on a tactical matter. NIF will not fund BDS activities nor
support organizations for which BDS is a substantial element of their
activities, but will support organizations that conform to our grant
requirements if their support for BDS is incidental or subsidiary to their
significant programs.” NIF has also funded groups like Adalah, granted
$510,150 by NIF in 2008, which the previous year drafted a “Democratic
Constitution” calling for the erasure of Israel’s Jewish character. It is
troubling that Rabbi Jacobs has announced that, “I’m very proud of almost 20
years of work with NIF.”

While we are heartened by Rabbi Jacobs’ statement that ‘the connection to
Israel is a vital part of Jewish life’ and while we strongly praise Rabbi
Jacobs’ work to help victims of war, famine and massacres in places like
Chad, Darfur and Haiti, we wonder if he has also taken a similar interest in
the 10,000 Jews of Gaza and northern Samaria, whose lives were turned upside
down and made miserable after being forcibly uprooted from their homes and
had their thriving communities, established with Israeli government
permission and support, dismantled. To this day, a large number of these
Jews are unemployed, dislocated, living in temporary housing and continue to
suffer from their uprooting. There has been a dramatic increase in the
psychological problems, divorce and drug use among this population. We would
hope that Rabbi Jacobs would utilize his extraordinary energies and truly
impressive humanitarian concerns to involve himself with the organizations
that are working to alleviate the plight of these Jewish people.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are concerned that the
Union for Reform Judaism has selected as its leader someone who has strong
associations with the extremist groups J Street and the New Israel Fund. We
hope that our fears about his association with these groups will be proven
wrong, that Rabbi Jacobs will unequivocally take a strong stand against
those who delegitimize Israel and seek to pressure Israel into dangerous
concessions and policies, and that his alliances with these groups will not
be a factor in URJ policy decisions.”

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