Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” has just been published.
American Jewish peace activists who have spent much of their lives fighting discrimination against ethnic minorities, have decided there is one form of discrimination they support: discrimination against Jews who reside in Judea-Samaria.
I am referring to the open letter about the Airbnb controversy that was issued on December 4 by the New Israel Fund, J Street, Americans for Peace Now, T’ruah, and Partners for Progressive Israel.
Airbnb announced that it will “ remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
If Airbnb had removed listings from all communities in that region, that would not be discriminatory. But that’s not what it did. Airbnb removed listings only from Israeli (read: Jewish) communities. Arab settlements were not affected.
To appreciate what Airbnb has done, consider the case of the city of Hevron. Some of its Palestinian Arab residents illegally occupy homes that were stolen from Jews during the 1929 pogrom. Deeds exist proving that. Such Palestinian settlements in Hebron are certainly part of “the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
And what about illegal Palestinian Arab settlements in Shechem, better known as Nablus? Until the 1930s, there was a large and thriving Jewish community there. Today there is not a single Jewish resident in Shechem. Wonder what ever happened to them? Arab pogromists drove them out and took their homes. Airbnb apparently has no problem with that.
And neither, it seems, do the New Israel Fund, J Street, et al. Not only did the Jewish leftwing Gang of Five defend Airbnb in their open letter, but they proceeded to formally delegitimize every Jewish community in Judea-Samaria.
Airbnb’s de-listings “will only occur in illegitimate West Bank settlements,” the Gang of Five asserted. “Airbnb objects to the settlements not because they are Jewish but because they usurp Palestinian land.”
The claim that every Jewish community in the territories is “illegitimate” and “usurps Palestinian land” is, of course, a vicious lie. It echoes the longtime Arab propaganda argument that Jews have no valid religious, historic, or legal connection to Judea and Samaria—the territories that have been the heart of the national Jewish homeland for 3,000 years.
In the view of these five groups, every inch of Judea and Samaria is “Palestinian land,” and any Jew who lives there is an “usurper” who deserves to be boycotted, treated as a pariah, and eventually driven out.
Obviously if Jewish leftwing groups choose to support anti-Jewish discrimination—by boycotting only Jewish settlements and not Arab ones—that is their right according the U.S. Constitution. And if these groups want to advocate that every inch of Judea and Samaria is “usurped Palestinian land,” that, too, is their right.
But that does not mean the organized American Jewish community has to treat such racist positions as legitimate.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization overwhelmingly rejected J Street’s application for membership several years ago. That was a wise move. Jewish umbrella groups that have relationships with the New Israel Fund and the other members of the Gang of Five should reconsider whether they want to maintain those relationships.
Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI), for example, is a member of the American Zionist Movement. It’s fair to ask whether PPI’s support for discrimination against Israeli Jews is consistent with the AZM’s declared mission is “ to strengthen the connection of American Jews with Israel; develop their appreciation of the centrality of Israel to Jewish life worldwide; deepen their understanding of Israeli society and the challenges it faces; encourage travel, long-term visits and Aliyah to Israel; and to facilitate dialogue, debate and collective action to further Zionism in the United States and abroad.”
Is advocating discrimination against Jews in Judea-Samaria consistent with the AZM’s mission statement?
Free speech is a sacred principle. I would never advocate that any point of view should be suppressed or prohibited. At the same time, Jewish umbrella organizations have no obligation to embrace those whose activities conflict with the umbrella group’s declared mission. Refraining from such an embrace would not impinge on the radicals’ right or ability to say what they want. It would simply mean not conferring Jewish communal legitimacy upon those who are now promoting discrimination against some Jews.