Saturday evening, June 27, 2015 a severe thunder storm with flashes of lighting exploded over Pensacola sweeping roadways with torrents of rain making transit difficult. That didn’t deter a compact audience from venturing out in the squall to attend a showing of the documentary J Street Challenge. It was produced by the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) headed by Dr. Charles Jacobs. The viewing was followed by a Q&A with well informed and articulate panelists: Florida State Representative Mike Hill, North West Florida Talk show host, Mike Bates of 1330amWEBY, Rabbi Eric Tokajer spiritual leader of Brit Ahm Messianic Synagogue and executive Director of Messianic Times and Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review. The panelists were previously involved with spearheading a well attended major rally in Pensacola supporting Israel during the 2014 Operation Defensive Edge. They all have a common belief best expressed by Mike Bates that Israel is a decent country with deserving people who treat its citizens, whether Jewish, Arab Muslim, Christian, or Druze with full rights and respect. Bates has traveled to more than 26 counties and he found his first trip to Israel in the spring of 2014 a memorable and abiding experience. That belief resonated with the attentive audience who viewed the J Street Challenge documentary and posed thoughtful questions to the panel.
J Street Challenge Panel at Brit Ahm Synagogue, Saturday evening June 27, 2015
From left to Right: Rabbi Eric Tokajer, Mike Bates, Jerry Gordon and Florida Representative Mike Hill
J Street Challenge endeavors to expose the Orwellian messaging of “pro-peace, pro Israel”. All while actively seeking the establishment of a Palestinian state on the dangerous pre-1967 border that divides Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. A Palestinian State whose leader, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is serving in the 11th year of a four year elected term. A Palestinian Authority that is corrupt, violates the civil and human rights of its residents, harbors a genocidal threat to Israel from Hamas, the leading Palestinian party in both West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank is what Jews and many Christians traditionally consider the ancient lands of Judea and Samaria. A legacy conferred on the Jewish people Ha Shem.
J Street Challenge focuses the messages of its founders Jeremy Ben Ami and Daniel Levy presenting their misleading propaganda of “two states for two peoples”. Propaganda undermining the existence of the Jewish nation of Israel. J street preys on the liberal views of college age Jewish youths nurtured in the doctrine of Tikkun Olam “repairing the world”. This is articulated from the pulpits of the 600 members of the organization’s rabbinic cabinet. In the course of the documentary, prominent speakers, eviscerate the insidious intent of J Street’s founders to destroy the Jewish states through alliances with anti-Israel Jewish proponents of the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement and Washington lobbyists for the Islamic Regime in Iran. A Shi’ite Mahdist regime in Tehran using religiously sanctioned dissimilitude, taqiyyah, - lying for Allah- intent on achieving a nuclear breakout capable of delivering one bomb to wipe Israel off the map of the world.
Among those speakers prominent in the APT documentary are Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse, Boston University Professor Richard Landes, Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Carolyn Glick, and Dr. Charles Jacobs of APT. Former deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Lenny Ben David, revealed forensic analysis of the IRS tax filings of J Street. He noted the questionable funding by known enemies of Israeli both in the US and the Middle East. Jeremy Ben Ami is exposed by Ben David apologizing for why he hid major funding for J Street from George Soros, who is fervently anti-Israel. A J Street board member, Genevieve Lynch, also sits on the board of Iran’s chief lobbying arm in Washington, the National Iranian American Council. Ben David also raised the question of why a Filipino woman living in Hong Kong underwrites almost a third of J Street’s budget.
You may watch the J Street Challenge on-line, here.
Following the conclusion of the J Street Challenge viewing, the lights went on and the panel entertained questions from the audience who queued up at a microphone to pose them. Those questions were provocative, while the responses from the panel were comprehensive and informative. You can listen to that exchange, here.
There were several significant points in those exchanges.
The first questioner asked who were Jeremy Ben Ami and Daniel Levy. The panel explained that Ben Ami was the son of Itzhak, one of the five Palestinian Revisionist Jews who came to the US to recruit a Jewish Army to fight the Nazis during WWII. Instead they waged a campaign in the media, rallies and in Congress to prod the Roosevelt Administration to save the remnant of six million Jewish men, women murdered in Hitler’s final solution. Ben Ami’s father was an Irgunist -a member of right wing group engaged in the covert battle following WWII to oust the British from what ultimately became the State of Israel. Daniel Levy was involved in a Swiss Foreign Ministry funded program developing a faux Palestinian Arab Agreement with left wing Israel peace groups that was not sanctioned by the Israeli government.
Another questioner asked about the pre-1967 border and what the map showed. The panel pointed out the 1967 June War re-unified Jerusalem and that the 1949 Armistice line ran right through the capital of Israel. When the Administration took Israel to task for announcing construction inside Jerusalem they were criticizing tenders for building in areas inside the reunified capital and in Area C reserved for Jewish construction in the 1993 Oslo Agreement recognized by the Palestinian Authority. The panel drew attention to the displacement of roughly 600 to 700,000 Palestinian Arabs in the 1948-1949 War for Independence they became permanent resident in UNWRA refugee camps. UNWRA Camps that now have more than 6 million residents. All while 800 to 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab lands after the War for Independence, the majority of who were resettled in Israel at no cost to either the UN or the US. The panel noted that the US still underwrites fully one third of the cost of the UNWRA Arab refugee camps, while the Saudis and Emirates put up less than 5 percent of the annual cost, proving their Muslim brothers don’t support the Palestinians.
Mike Hill answered the question of what the West Bank meant. He originally thought it meant some area on the Mediterranean Coast. However, he learned that it really encompassed Judea and Samaria occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan for 19 years after the 1948-1949 War for Independence. Gaza was occupied by Egypt until the 1967 War. Israel’s occupies these disputed territories under UN resolution 242, which guaranteed Israel’s right to conclude secure borders. Hill suggested that the Palestinians already had a state with the majority of the population in Jordan. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 demonstrating the folly of the J Street argument that exchanging land for peace will bring security. That didn’t work out as expected. Arabs in Gaza began shooting at withdrawing IDF troops who moved out 9,000 Jewish settlers that had established a flourish greenhouse business. The rampaging Arabs destroyed and wrecked those greenhouses and destroyed synagogues . What followed was the beginning of rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as terrorizing southern Israel . Later as exemplified by the 2014 Operation Defensive Edge, Iranian supplied rockets launched by Hamas reached well beyond central Israel. One of those Hamas rockets landed near Ben Gurion airport; the Administration’s reaction in Washington was to close down for two days US airline flights in and out of Israel. To emphasize the rocket threat even as questions were answered, Rabbi Tokajer read the list of rockets fired at Israeli towns over the period from June 3 to 23, 2015.
A questioner approached the microphone and asked a thought provoking question regarding the recent Vatican announcement recognizing a Palestine State, the 136th such recognition by members of the UN. The Vatican only has observer status at the UN. The panel replied that the Vatican had prior to the founding of the State of Israel promoted internationalization of Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital; allegedly protect the interests of all three faiths. The panel questioned whether Pope Francis exercised his moral authority properly recognizing a questionable Palestinian State. That led to an exposition by Mike Bates about the realities concerning Muslims claims of control over Jerusalem. He noted the legend of the Prophet Mohammed’s dream of a night ride on the human headed horse to “the farthest Mosque” where he meets Jesus and rises to heaven to meet Abraham and other Jewish prophets all deemed Muslim. Bates pointed out that nowhere in the Qur’an is Jerusalem mentioned. Moreover, Muslims did not occupy Jerusalem until The Rash dun Caliphate conquest and submission to Caliph Umar bin –Khattab in 637 C.E. Caliph bin Khattab initiated the construction of what ultimately become the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and established a Dhimma or pct for governance of subjugated peoples of the book, Christians, Jews and others. Muslims claim any conquered land as a possession in perpetuity under a trust from their god Allah. Jews have lived in Jerusalem for more than 3,000 years.
The second question dealt with whether there were Zionist groups opposing J Street. Rabbi Tokajer referred her to Z Street and the controversy over litigation with the IRS denying the group’s views under the First Amendment. The panel reviewed the five year history from the Z Street’s founding through litigation in Federal Courts in Philadelphia and Washington, DC resulting a favorable ruling on June 19, 2015 giving Z Street rights of discovery. This allows the pro-Israel group to find out why the IRS had discriminated against them having referred its application for tax exempt status to a “special processing unit” in Washington. .
Another questioner thanked Mike Hill for his role in the Florida House during the 2014 session that resulted in protecting Floridians against Foreign Laws being applied in State Courts, and in particular, Sharia Islamic law. Hill noted that Michigan law appeared to accommodate Sharia and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg considers international law in many instances an improvement over our Constitution. Hill noted the recent enactment of a model anti-BDS law signed by Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina on June 4, 2015. Hill said that he would work with other legislators to introduce similar legislation in the upcoming Session. The panel noted of the defeat of both J Street and Americans for Peace Now when Congress passed an anti-BDS amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority Act signed into law by President Obama on June 29, 2015. Both J Street and Americans for Peace Now had opposed the Amendment arguing it shouldn’t apply to products made or grown in the ‘disputed territories’ on the West Bank.
The panel was critical of the actions by the Obama Administration isolating Israel insisting on reaching a draconian peace agreement with the Palestinians who filed war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands. As evidence of that complicity, panelists pointed out President Obama’s June 2009 Muslim outreach speech at Al Azhar University in Cairo and support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. The panel concluded by saying that J Street had been emboldened through Obama’s alignment with the Muslim ummah and pursuit of peace through appeasement.
The consensus of the audience who turned out that stormy Saturday evening was the J Street Challenge documentary and the Q&A panel discussions were most informative. They considered it worth the price of entry, a contribution to assist in the development of such documentaries by Americans for Peace and Tolerance.