Temple Micah of Washington D.C.: Don't give Israel boycotters a forum
Temple Micah of Washington D.C.: Don't give Israel boycotters a forum

Shamefully, in a few weeks, on Friday, June 29, Temple Micah, a Washington D.C. temple, intends to host a program by the New Israel Fund, an organization which openly supports a boycott of the State of Israel. 

Former NIF President Naomi Chazan will speak following Shabbat services.

A synagogue should not be open to an organization that unashamedly supports a boycott of Israel - The New Israel Fund continues to openly advocate a boycott of Israel, actively opposes the IDF and has funded the defense of families of Hamas terrorists in the Israeli Supreme Court.

This radical, extremist anti-Israel organization, misnamed the New Israel Fund, has been called an “anti-Zionist organization” by the Likud and is opposed across the Israeli political spectrum.

Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote on Facebook “The New Israel Fund is a foreign organization that receives funding from foreign governments and elements hostile to Israel, such as from the fund of George Soros. The ultimate objective of the fund is to erase Israel’s Jewish character and turn it into a state of all its citizens (a term used in Israel for non-Jewish, ed.), alongside a Palestinian nation-state that is free of Jews on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital. For decades the fund has funded anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian organizations, including those who slander IDF soldiers such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem and those who fight for Palestinian terrorists such as Adalah."  

"I do not know any Western democracy, especially the United States, which over time was prepared to tolerate hostile activity funded by foreign countries, as has been happening here in Israel with the fund for decades. Therefore, I asked coalition chairman Dudi Amsalem to lead the process of establishing a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the activities of the New Israel Fund, which endangers the security and future of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Let us say it loud and clear: An organization which harms Israel has no place in a synagogue. An organization which boycotts Israel must not be given the stage in any temple.

In 2014 Chazan explained her position on the boycott to an audience of supporters in the U.S. (Partners for Progressive Israel):

“Because of the ambiguity, in practical terms, boycotting Israel is only going to get the majority of Israelis riled in the wrong direction. It is not an effective move, politically... That is not true of targeted measures against settlements and against businesses and economic activities that relate to the Occupation... I think that is the right direction to go. I think it’s very, very important. Many of us have not bought settlement products for 46 years, knowingly. We check, when we go to the supermarket, where products are made. And we do not buy. That message conveys to Israelis that there is a price to Occupation, and you’re paying it with your pocket, and that’s why it’s effective, and that again is strengthening the connection between economic measures and perhaps bolstering a willingness to entertain agreements that perhaps there was no rush to do in the past, because it’s beginning to hurt.”

Do you get it?  Chazan promotes a boycott of the post 1967 areas (including, say, the Western Wall) as an effective means for pressuring Israel. Chazan does not denounce the general boycott of Israel, but explains that promoting a full boycott is simply a tactical error: “It is not an effective move, politically.”

Israelis across the board, including centrist MK Yair Lapid says that the boycott “is not about policies, or about the settlements, or about the peace process.”

Vladimir Lenin called those who work against their own people’s best interests in support of their enemies “useful idiots,” and throughout history there has never been a shortage of people or groups from within the Jewish community who harm Jews. The most effective stick for beating Israel over the head is often a Jewish stick.

There must be a red line drawn against extremist organizations that advocate any form of a boycott of Israel, whether from extreme anti-Zionist Neturei Karta or the New Israel Fund.

Rabbi Zemel of Temple Micah is a life-long passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel, and he must tell his congregants that there are limits. The New Israel Fund has the right to its position, but Temple Micah must not provide it with a forum because it is a boycotter of Israel.

We ask the trustees and board members of Temple Micah to say no, we will not allow our temple to be used for advocating a boycott of the State of Israel. It is not too late.

Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications, is a leading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents. His clients have included former President Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR agency, and author of For Immediate Release.