Beware of Groups Who Demean Their Own People op-ed in The Durham Herald Sun

January 2nd, 2016 by Mike Ross

• By Michael Ross and Robert Gutman Guest columnists

The recent op-ed from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), “Jews should resist racism from North Carolina to Palestine,” is part of its long-standing effort to de-legitimize Israel. Other efforts have focused on undermining Israel’s intellectual and property holdings and to carry out disruptive street protests against Israeli artistic performances.
The current effort is more insidious and dangerous. They seek to conflate justifiable concerns about the status of people of color here in the United States with the treatment of Palestinians at the hands of allegedly racist Israelis. The authors wish to persuade champions in the social justice movement here in America to join them in their efforts to weaken Israel. These good folks should beware invitations to align with a group that seeks to undermine its own family.
The opinion piece starts with the very reasonable assertions with which we agree: All of us, Jews and gentiles alike, should treat every human being, regardless of group identifiers, with the greatest respect.
But, alas, it then quickly drifts into defamation of groups with which they disagree. They scold American society with hyperbolic claims of pervasive racism and repeatedly use pejorative terms such as “white supremacist.” They demonize anyone who views our society in other than narrowly racial terms and claim there is a ubiquitous “white supremacist right” which targets blacks, immigrants and those who appear Muslim or Arab.

Their deliberate distortions can only lead to an unhealthy splintering of our society’s cohesion. The editorial is a blatant effort to poison the relations between US blacks and their fellow citizens. We must always remember and need to reaffirm that we share so much more in common than that which divides us. Our country, though not perfect, has been able to achieve and provide remarkable benefits for ourselves and humanity, when it is united.

The article ignores the plain fact that the Palestinian fatalities are the consequence of deliberate and planned Arab assaults with knives, guns and stones, and the consequent Israeli defensive response. These attacks come not from spontaneous or random acts, but from the incitement by Arab political and spiritual leaders who publicly urge youths to kill and who give inspirational and instructional lessons on-line about where and how to attack civilians on the street. Palestinian leaders are continuing to promulgate the lie that Jews are threatening to defile al-?aram al-Šar?f, also known to Jews as the Temple Mount. As in the past this serves to incite deadly attacks against Jews.
Of great concern is the appetite of the authors to try to enrage U.S. blacks against Israeli society in general. This will fail. The largest numbers of visitors from America are Christian and at least 30 percent are groups from black churches. These visitors see the truth.
The op-ed doubles down on their efforts to enhance racial animosity by misleading their readers in stating: “58 Palestinians have been killed …by racist violence.” This serves to create the false notion that the responses of the Israel Defense Force to deliberate knife attacks are actually the result of color testing of the skin of the assailants. “Those of us who have visited Israel frequently know how well the communities of different color interact in that country.”
If helping the Palestinians is really the authors’ prime motivation, why not insist that the Palestinians accept the Two-State Solution along the parameters they have been repeatedly offered but repeatedly declined? Imagine if the Palestinians were to say “yes” to a deal, accept Israel as the Jewish State, and truly commit to an end of the conflict. Their opportunities for peace and prosperity would be endless. Should not that be the goal of a true Jewish Voice for Peace?
Michael Ross is the chairman and Robert Gutman the vice-chairman of Voice for Israel of the Triangle.

October 3rd, 2017 by Mike Ross

Pastors Confuse Free-Speech, Anti-Boycott Law

By Stanley Robboy

The Durham Herald-Sun
September 29, 2017

The North Carolina Presbyterian pastors, J. Mark Davidson and Ron Shive disappoint me by their misguided “facts” expressed in their recent Herald-Sun op-ed.

Davidson, who leads a congregation in Chapel Hill, has long been critical of Israel. Five years ago, he was national chairman of Campaign to End the Occupation and led a campaign in which his church placed ads in the Chapel Hill buses calling for the USA to end its military aid to Israel.

These pastors now object to the Israel Anti-Boycott Law, HB 161, now in effect in our state. They are wrong on both of their concerns. They do not understand what is meant by constitutionally protected free speech nor does the bill conflict with international law.

The bill says nothing about an individual’s right to free speech. Davidson and Shive can freely continue expressing their opinions as may I. The bill only regulates what companies can do, i.e., “commercial conduct” (complying with or supporting illegal foreign boycotts). Our courts have affirmed multiple times that Congress has broad authority to put limits on international business conduct.

Speech, incidentally, may also lead to unintended and entirely negative consequences. The Presbyterian Church USA, of which Davidson is a prominent committee chair (Peace Discernment Team among others), participated in a call for a boycott of the company, SodaStream. The ultimate result? The company ultimately was forced to move its facilities, and some 500 Palestinians working there lost their jobs. Have the boycotters ever offered to help the employees they wished to protect, but seriously hurt?

The pastors confuse what “illegal” means under international law. In part, it deals with who occupied the land. Palestine has never been a recognized state. The people of Israel first inhabited the region several thousands of years ago, being forced into exile initially after the first temple was sacked in 586 BC and later the second temple destroyed. The name Palestine is not Arab, but rather the one Roman Emperor Hadrian gave to erase the name “Judea” after he defeated the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 AD. The Ottomans during their 400-year rule (1517-1918) had different names for the area (Holy land and Southern Syria). Even the Hamas Minister of the Interior and National Security, Fathi Hammad, considers the Palestinians’ origins to be from elsewhere (Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula), but not the land of Israel.

I puzzle why the pastors continue to focus on Israel and ignore the plight of their own faith. Christians are being persecuted everywhere throughout the Middle East, that is, except in Israel, where they maintain protected religious rights. Arab Muslims sit as elected members of the Israeli Knesset (Congress). The Institute for Contemporary Affairs lists more than 40 conflict and occupation situations worldwide, e.g., Afghanistan, Western Sahara, East Congo, Northern Cyprus, and the Crimea, just to mention a few. Where are Davidson and Shive in these situations? Not in one instance has the international community called any of these “occupations.”

The good pastors state “Countries thrive where free speech and collective action are protected.” To me, that defines Israel. And despite that Davidson and Shive call for a boycott, today’s news is that Israeli exports rose more than 6 percent this year. If only our country’s economy might so prosper.

I agree a problem does exist, and the recipients are the Palestinian people. The problem lies with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian’s own leaders. How can a leadership shoot thousands of missiles (a goodly number went off course and landed among the Gazan populace, killing many) with the intention indiscriminately to kill men, women and children? Where else would a leadership build tunnels of terror, and store munitions in their children’s schools, strikingly violating International law? Why are terrorists given salaries for killing and we in the U.S. give the foreign aid used for these rewards? Maybe we should so pay those in our own prisons, although our citizens would assuredly find this unpopular. And perhaps most perplexing of all, why do members of the Palestinian high command prefer and go to Israel for medical treatment?

Please Pastors Davidson and Shive, answer these questions.