J Street, in a mid-November email appeal, quoted an unnamed "top EU diplomat" in its tirade against an Israeli government call for bids for new homes in a nearly 30 year-old Jerusalem neighborhood, Givat Hamatos, where Ethiopian Jewish and Russian immigrants live.
What's worse than J Street's vitriol against the construction of Jewish homes, is that the name of the EU functionary was left off of J Street's rant, probably intentionally, because he is an anti-Israel extremist who earlier this year gave outright support for terrorists. According to Israel's Foreign Ministry, he stated that Palestinian Arabs affiliated with blacklisted groups remain eligible to participate in projects funded by the EU.
J Street is the controversial Washington, D.C., based Jewish pressure group that, judging by its actions, seems to have been created specifically, and almost exclusively, to lobby for an independent Palestinian state. J Street maintains, as a central theme, that Jews do not have a right to live wherever they choose and must be transferred out of their homes and neighborhoods in wide swaths of Judea-Samaria where Israeli citizens have lived for nearly fifty years.
The EU bureaucrat who opposes Jewish homes in Givat Hamatos in southern Jerusalem, and who was quoted by J Street, is a German named Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.
Von Burgsdorff previously was the head of the EU's delegation to South Sudan and in a May 8, 2020 JTA article, he was identified as heading the "EU mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
The Times of Israel news website reported on May 7, 2020 that an Israeli Foreign Ministry official stated that the letter by "von Burgsdorff, constituted a 'violation of all our agreements with the European Union'."
The Times also reported that explicitly due to von Burgsdorff's letter, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz harshly rebuked the EU saying “we demand that the EU immediately end all support, financial or otherwise, for any entities that support terrorism whether directly or indirectly.”
Debra Shushan, J Street's Director of Government Affairs, signed the email that was titled "BREAKING: Outrageous steps by Netanyahu to expand settlements." In the email, J Street made the wild claim that "this week the Netanyahu government announced it will begin the tender process for the major new settlement of Givat Hamatos -- a move which a top EU diplomat branded a “de facto annexation attempt.” Construction in Givat Hamatos is part of a deliberate settlement movement strategy to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from the West Bank Palestinian city of Bethlehem."
The reason why J Street's Shushan left out von Burgsdorff's name should be clear: he has been widely discredited as a supporter of anti-Israel terrorism.
Another issue with J Street's email that must be confronted is the use of a place named "East Jerusalem" when no such place has ever actually existed in history. The name "East Jerusalem" is an artificial construct that supporters of the Arab cause use in their propaganda in order to make it appear as if that part of the city is an intrinsically Arab area that Jews are illegally entering. In reality, there are Jewish neighborhoods throughout the eastern, western, northern, and southern parts of Jerusalem.
It's a shameful thing when Jewish organizations choose to use such geographically inaccurate, and politically loaded, language. At the time anti-Israel extremists created the name "East Jerusalem" it was for one reason: they sought to rip Israel's capital apart in order to defeat Israel. "East Jerusalem" does not actually exist and what they are really saying is that Jerusalem's Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods are not part of Israel or part of Israeli Jerusalem itself. The original and oldest parts of Jerusalem are what they falsely label "East Jerusalem."
J Street needs to be honest with Americans. If it opposes Jews living in certain places because they are Jews then why obfuscate on this? If they want to quote an extremist diplomat, J Street should at least name that diplomat and not hide his identity due to the fact that he has been accused of supporting terrorists.
The political climate of the Middle East has changed remarkably in the last several years and J Street doesn't seem to like it at all. The United Arab Emirates has two synagogues and yet if J Street would get their way, synagogues in Judea and Samaria would be dismantled and the Jews in these neighborhoods would be forced from their homes.
Haven't we had enough of Jews being told where they can and cannot live? What was gained by the Israeli government destroying Jewish homes and synagogues in Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005 to hand over Israeli held land in the name of a “peace” that never came about? The Judean Hills, since the times of antiquity considered to be the heart of the Land of Israel, should, especially, be an area where Jewish families feel secure in the idea that their homes will never be destroyed.
Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s U.S. division; Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education and is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War Two Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Herut's website is www.herutna.org]