Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jewish Battles in Seattle: Finkelstein/UW, the real 'Naqba,' & Initiative 97--'Divest from War & Occupation'

On Norman Finkelstein's UW appearance, the real naqba, and I-97, the Seattle initiative on divestiture from 'war and occupation.'

Raising questions

JTNews’ coverage of Norman Finkelstein’s May 8 University of Washington lecture (“A question of motives, not of legitimacy,” May 16) raises questions the Seattle Jewish community would do well to ponder. Why would a failed academic, a proud Hezbollah collaborator (“we are all Hezbollah today”), who is celebrated on neo-Nazi Web sites the world over, who was denied tenure last year at DePaul University for his decidedly unscholarly work, a polemicist who regularly resorts to malicious ad hominem attacks against Jewish personages such as Alan Dershowitz (“a moral pervert”) and Elie Wiesel (“the resident clown in the Holocaust circus”), and a rabid denouncer and demonizer of Israel (“I don’t see why Israel’s apologists would be offended by a comparison to the Gestapo…”) would be featured in a Jewish community newspaper, with barely a nod to his pariah-like status in the mainstream Jewish world. Your article regurgitates the main points of Finkelstein’s lecture without challengi ng the straw man argument he makes regarding Israel’s alleged breaches of international law (Finkelstein holds up the International Court of Justice as the supreme arbiter of world justice; never mind that the court’s very legitimacy is seriously in question). Finkelstein essentially gets a free pass, with no hint that he is persona non grata in respectable academic circles. Instead, Finkelstein is referred to as a “controversial professor” who challenges orthodox Western views regarding Israel “in the measured tones of an academic lecturer, which is precisely what he is.” No substantive context is provided nor is any question raised as to why Finkelstein was invited by the Graduate School and the Simpson Center of the UW during the week of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of modern Israel. We are informed that “Finkelstein”s appearance was coordinated in concert with commemorations of the ‘Nakba’ or ‘catastrophe,’ the term used by Arab and pro-Palestinian activists to describe Israel’s independence.” Coincidentally, just this week Finkelstein was barred from entering Israel, a ban the Jewish State rarely exercises. The Seattle Jewish community should be asking ourselves why he is welcomed and feted here, and why such a fringe voice beyond the pale of civil discourse is further legitimized in our Jewish newspaper.

David Brumer
Executive Committee StandWithUs Northwest

The obvious facts

I don’t have a problem with Prof. Finkelstein criticizing Israel’s policies regarding the occupied territories, the Security Wall, or the settlements lecture (“A question of motives, not of legitimacy,” May 16). These are legitimate topics of discussion and reasonable men can differ as to the wisdom or folly of these policies. But when he makes the accusation that Israel’s founding fathers engaged in anti-Arab “ethnic cleansing” during the 1948 War of Independence, he puts himself beyond the pale of reasonable men. This is as vile and nasty a lie as I have ever heard from the lumpen intellectuals that make up the let’s-hate-our-own-country wing of the Israeli Nihilist Left. How do I know it’s a lie? The obvious facts are these. Before the 1948 War of Independence, Jews and Arabs lived all over the territory of British Mandate Palestine and in many areas side-by-side. When the 1948 War of Independence was over and the dust had cleared, in the areas that the Jews controlled, h undreds of thousands of Arabs still lived — a good 1/3 of the total population. In the areas that the Arabs controlled, mainly East Jerusalem and the so-called West Bank, there wasn’t a single Jew left alive. In fact, the Arabs even destroyed the Jewish cemeteries so you can even say that there wasn’t a single Jew left alive in these areas or even dead! So who were the real ethnic cleansers in 1948, Prof. Finkelstein? Who? And what about the large and ancient Jewish communities of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen? Where are they now, Prof. Finkelstein, where are they now? Gone with the wind. Ethnic cleansing, anyone? For 60 years, Israel has had to earn its survival every day. It is surrounded by large and well-equipped Arab armies just waiting for it to show weakness in order to attack. And when that attack comes, if due to years of vicious internal and external anti-Israel propaganda the morale of the I.D.F. is weak and that of the average Israeli citizen even weaker, the Arabs will gain the ultimate victory they have fruitlessly sought for 60 years and millions of Jews will again be put to the sword. And then you will see, Prof. Finkelstein, then you will see what ethnic cleansing really means.

Jeffrey Weiser

Boycott the boycotters

Since it is now a core belief of academic “progressives” that Israel is the world’s most wicked country, and responsible for all the globe’s miseries except (perhaps) avian flu, it’s hardly surprising that the very day of that country’s 60th birthday should, in an act of depraved malevolence, have been marked at UW by the appearance, courtesy of the Simpson Center and the Graduate School, of two Israel-hating lecturers. We were treated to both Norman Finkelstein, the failed academic and beloved dream-Jew of all the world’s anti-Semites, and Yitzhak Laor, a second-tier poet who specializes in depicting Israel as the devil’s experiment station. Laor delivered the (once prestigious) John Danz Lecture. A few people at UW may remember that the Danz lectures were founded to deal with the subject of “the role of science in society and in understanding a rational universe.” Since the UW Graduate School long ago decided to disregard the intentions of the Danz family and bring an endless parade of distinctly non-scientific but very leftist lecturers — Edward Said, Angela Davis, Naomi Wolf — the appearance of Yitzhak Laor, who is less a scientist than any 12-year-old with a chemistry set, is no occasion for surprise. But Laor’s appearance raises another question. Since UW president Mark Emmert last year issued a ringing denunciation of the Nazi-style movement to boycott Israeli universities and scholars, how is it that the Graduate School (at the urging of the departments of Comparative Literature, English, and Near Eastern Languages) brings to campus, and at considerable expense, one of the promoters of that boycott? President Emmert showed a clear understanding that the boycott of Israel is anti-Semitic because it uses a double standard: if one thinks that Israeli policies toward Palestinian Arabs are objectionable, are they really worse than Russian actions in Chechnya, Chinese actions toward Tibetans, Turkish actions toward the Kurds? But where are the boycotts of Russia, China, and Turkey? What President Emmert now needs to do is to require the Graduate School (also the Simpson Center, etc.) to boycott the boycotters. Words of condemnation are not enough. If boycotters of Israel are not given a taste of their own medicine, [and] made to pay a price for anti-Semitic actions, the highly organized international assault on Israel, in which Laor and Finkelstein are devoted functionaries, will grow by the weakness it feeds on.
Edward Alexander
Professor Emeritus of English, UW

The real catastrophe
David Shayne
Special to JTNews

Norman Finkelstein’s claims on Israel misrepresent history
The last JTNews featured an article about Norman Finkelstein’s participation in local “Naqba” observances. While discussing his remarks at length, the article omitted pertinent facts about Finkelstein himself and the origin of “Naqba” day. Although described as an “academic lecturer,” Finkelstein is not tenured at any university, and was essentially forced out at De Paul University for numerous reasons, including inadequate academic diligence and the controversial conduct discussed below. Finkelstein’s views are typical of extremist and intrinsically anti-Israel factions that can be found on many American campuses. More disturbing is Finkelstein’s penchant for bizarre and outlandish conduct and writings. He has engaged in outrageous ad hominem attacks against individuals he personally disagrees with — for example, he has called the outspoken Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel a “clown,” “ridiculous,” and a “wimp.” He called Professor Alan Dershowitz a Nazi and apparently agr eed (or arranged?) to have his anti-Dershowitz comments published with a disgustingly offensive cartoon. He preserves these zany antics for posterity on his Web site, As for the Israel-Arab conflict, his views are likewise bizarre and detached from reality. For example, on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” radio program, he characterized the 1988 intifada as “non-violent” civil protest (the families of dozens of murdered Israeli soldiers and civilians, or the thousands injured during that time may disagree), and claimed that Israel was the only country in the world that “legalized torture.” Many citizens of places like Myanmar and Uganda would be surprised to learn that “fact.” Others of his views, as expressed in the JTNews, are no less controversial and outlandish.

The article devotes considerable discussion to the International Court of Justice Opinion regarding Israel’s barrier wall. Setting aside the fact that the opinion was merely advisory, and that many ICJ judges came from countries hostile to Israel, the opinion is flawed at many levels. Roslyn Higgins, a renowned international legal scholar and one of the judges, wrote a separate opinion, wherein, although she concurred in the final result, she scathingly criticized the poor reasoning of the opinion and its obvious anti-Israel bias. (The opinion was authored by Shi Jiuyong, a former representative of communist China — the same country that conquered and occupied Tibet). In yet another misrepresentation, Finkelstein remarked on Goodman’s radio show that the ICJ opinion superceded UN Security Council Resolution 242. (The UN Security Council passed Res. 242 immediately after the Six Day War. It calls on Israel to withdraw from some of the territory it captured, while at the same time calling on the Arab States to recognize Israel within secure borders, (but it does not reference a Palestinian Arab state)). Any international legal scholar knows such a statement is nonsense; the ICJ does not trump or bind the UN Security Council, and certainly not in an advisory opinion! His accusation that Israel committed “ethnic cleansing” in 1948 is likewise biased and wrong. The term “ethnic cleansing” is a Serbian euphemism to describe their mini-genocide against Bosnian Muslims during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Israel’s war of independence bears no similarity. In 1947, Arabs launched a naked war of aggression without any legal or moral justification while the Jews defended themselves and fought for their very lives‭. To be sure, ‬It was an ugly war fought between poorly trained civilians‭, with human rights abuses occurring on both sides. The conflict caused large numbers of Jewish and Arab refugees, not just in Palestine but in other countries as well. Finkelstein blames the Jews alone, and ignores the numerous Arab war crimes, which include starting the war to begin with. So much for academic objectivity. Which brings u s to “Naqba” day itself. The very concept, (“Naqba” is Arabic for “disaster” or “catastrophe,” and refers to Israel’s founding in 1948), is a classic example of Orwellian double-speak. The Arabs started an unjustified war. They lost. So of course it was a “Naqba” for them. But it was a “Naqba” also for the Jews who suffered. Entire villages were destroyed, and thousands of civilians and soldiers, some of whom had survived the recent Nazi Holocaust, were killed or wounded. Jews lost access to their holiest sites and most ancient habitations, which fell under Arab control. By way of example, World War II resulted in a “naqba” for the peoples of Russia and Germany (among other nations). But is there any doubt that only Hitler and his Nazis were morally responsible for the suffering of the German people? Wars cause suffering, and people who start them cannot later pretend to be innocent victims. Finkelstein’s strong anti-Israel bias and inaccurate and bizarre pronouncements undermi ne his credibility. Finkelstein distorts the historical record. The “Naqba” is a distortion of the historical record. Both should be exposed for what they truly are.

The Real Nakba - Shlomo Avineri

When the Palestinians mark what they call the "Nakba" (catastrophe) on May 15, they would do well to consider that their real failure did not occur in 1948: It had already happened earlier, and it continues to happen now. The real Nakba occurs before our eyes - and theirs - every day, at every hour, and Hamas' violent coup in Gaza is only the most recent example of it.
While Palestinians may see themselves, with much justification, as the victims of the Zionist movement's successful establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the reasons for their historical failure should be sought elsewhere: in the inability of the Palestinian national movement to create the political and social institutional framework that is the necessary foundation for nation-building. The history of national movements teaches us that national consciousness, strong as it may be, is not enough: Movements that could not create the ins titutional system vital for their success failed.
It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of the Palestinian national movement, as quite a few members of the Zionist camp did in the past; it is an error that many continue to make today. But it was Haim Arlosoroff - then a young man in his early 20s - who as early as 1921 recognized that what the Zionist movement faced was not a series of violent events, but a national movement. The Palestinian national movement, however, has been accompanied by a long string of failures, which have been rooted in its inability to form frameworks of consensus and solidarity; these failures weakened and fragmented it, and it seems that this is a problem the Palestinians have not been able to overcome to this day. The first and sharpest expression of this failure came in the years 1936-1939, during the Palestinian uprising against British rule. This rebellion failed not only because it was brutally suppressed by the British colonial authorities or because the Haganah (pre-state underground) forces were able to defend the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine).

What happened is that the Palestinians were unable to establish institutions that would be acceptable to all parts of Arab society in the country, and when internal disputes arose over the nature of the struggle, the rebellion evolved into an intra-Palestinian civil war. More Palestinians died at the hands of rival armed Palestinian militias than were killed in clashes with the British army or with the Haganah. Within Palestinian s o ciety there is tendency to suppress the memory of this violent struggle, which took place between the militias associated with the Husseinis and those tied to the Nashashibis. But this suppression only deepens the failure and makes it more difficult to draw lessons from it. A similar failure came in 1948: Although most of Palestinian society was opposed to the plan for the partition of Palestine adopted by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, the Palestinians proved unable to create a unified military and political apparatus for confronting the Yishuv. The Arab Higher Committee was never more than a group of traditional dignitaries, and it did not oversee an effective system comparable to the Yishuv's "state-in-the-making." The violent Palestinian resistance to the partition plan consisted of attacks by armed militias in the Jerusalem area, in the Galilee and around Jaf fa , militias that operated without centralized coordination and guidance. The Palestinian defeat was to a large extent the result of an inability to establish a central military command. The leaders of the militias - Abdel Qader al-Husseini, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, Hassan Salameh - never answered to any central authority, and if the Yishuv referred to the militias as "gangs," the term had propagandist value, of course , but it also contained a great deal of truth.
Critical movements
Anyone familiar with the history of the Yishuv may comment, and accurately, that the Jews had their own splinter groups that refused to accept the authority of the majority, which called itself "the organized Yis huv ." This is true, of course - but at the critical moments it was David Ben-Gurion who made the fateful decisions, thus ensuring the unity of command and of political legitimacy. The Altalena affair [a violent 1948 confrontation between the newly formed Israel Defense Forces and the Irgun, one of the pre-state militias] was the watershed moment in this matter, and so the fledgling state guaranteed what German sociologist Max Weber has called the defining feature of state sovereignty: the existence of a monopoly based on the legitimate use of force. The same did not happen within the Arab community in Palestine in 1948. The consequences were swift in coming: not only a failed struggle with the Yishuv, but an inability to extract from the defeat even a remnant of national authority. Had the Arab community possessed a leadership with broad legitimacy, it presumably would have been able to create a Palestinian national entity in those parts of Palestine that remained under Arab control. But even when an "all-Palestine government" was established in Gaza, headed by the mufti, it was an Egyptian puppet government, which could never impose its authority on the West Bank, then under Jordanian control, and it soon disappeared.
Palestinian history might have been different if the Palestinians had had institutions and an organizational system capable of confronting the Egyptian occupation in Gaza and the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank, and which might have tried to extricate a Palestinian state even out of the clutches of the 1948 defeat. When confronting this series of failures, the Palestinians tend to att ribute them to their own weakness and to the difficult conditions that prevailed after the military defeat to Israel. In some ways this is true, but it is irrelevant: National movements are not built under convenient conditions; they must always face enemies, foreign rulers, occupation. We need not go very far to compare the Palestinian failure with the success of the Algerian national movement, which confronted an occupying regime far stronger and crueler than the Zionist movement, and yet managed to create an organizational, diplomatic and military system that not only successfully confronted the French, but was able - not without problems - to create the foundation for an independent Algerian state.
The de facto shattering of the Palestinian Authority following the Hamas coup in Gaza is the extension of this failure. Even now the Palestinians are inclined to blame Israel, the Americans, the international community; but the real, essential responsibility ultimately lies with the Palestinians themselves. Elections were held, Hamas won, Fatah lost - and both groups have been unable to sustain a framework whose legitimacy is accepted by both sides. Fatah and Hamas, after all, are not just two parties operating within a democratic consensus: They are also armed militias, and their electoral strength is to a large extent rooted in their military power. All pan-Arabic attempts to unite them, such as the Mecca agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia last year, have failed in the face of this reality, which shows that ultimately power in Palestinian society grows (as Mao Tse-tung once said in a different context) out of the barrel of a gun. Hamas' violent military coup in Gaza against what was supposed to be the locus of Palestinian legitimacy is only a repetition, under different conditions, of the Palestinian gang wars of 1938-9. The fact that there is no model of an Arab democratic state to follow also does n ot help.
To be clear: These words are not written in order to question the legitimacy of the Palestinian movement or the Palestinians' right to a state. They are meant to point out a profound internal social failure, one the Palestinians avoid confronting and which many Israelis ignore, since so much of the Israeli discourse on the Palestinian issue is conducted from the narrow perspective of security concerns. Moreover, parts of the Israeli left, rightfully troubled by the ongoing occupation, avoid holding the Palestinians responsible in any way for their situation, out of reasons of political correctness. Such a patronizing approach is not helpful to the Palestinians.
What is now happening in Gaza is the real Palestinian Nakba: the tendency to blame outside factors only blurs matters. Clearly, Palestinian society is in distress, and much of it is owing to 40 years of occupation. But this is a too-easy excuse: In the years after 1945, it would have been easy for the Yishuv to blame British rule, the Arab opposition, and the trauma of the Holocaust, and to wallow in the mire of self-righteousness as a way of explaining why a Jewish state could not be established under such difficult circumstances.
But the framework of the Zionist movement, as established by Herzl, with its elected institutions, its multi-party pluralism anchored in a basic solidarity, and the formulation of national authority despite the instances of dissent and splintering - all these provided an organizational and institutional foundation that made it possible to marshal the human and econ omic resources necessary for coping with the harsh reality that followed the UN partition resolution. The fate of the Palestinians now lies in the balance, and it is in their own hands. Those who look at their history will have trouble imagining Fatah and Hamas settling their dispute by creating a joint, legitimate framework. Perhaps Egypt or Saudi Arabia can foster the signing of some piece of paper or another, like the Mecca agreement.
What matters, however, is not a piece of paper but an effective organizational and institutional framework and a commitment to shouldering the burden of a common legitimacy, which is necessary for constructing a nation. Such a framework must encompass the disarming of militias and entrusting one national authority with a monopoly on the use of force. Without this, there will also be no chance of an agreement with Israel, which is vital for the establishment of a Palestinian state. These things should be said clearly, as difficult as they may be: If the Palestinians do not find a way to extricate themselves from their harsh historical reality, they ultimately will not have a state. It will be bad for them, and bad for Israel.

Israel-advocacy groups take aim at divestment initiative
Leyna Krow • Assistant Editor, JTNews
Posted: May 30, 2008

Deborah Portnoff Rettman

Israel-advocacy organization StandWithUs Northwest is fighting the legality of a ballot initiative (I-97), which, if it passes, would bar the City of Seattle from investing employee pension funds in certain corporations that do business with Israel. I-97, spearheaded by a group called Seattle Divest from War and Occupation, links divestment from Israel with divestment from companies involved in the war in Iraq, such as Halliburton. It stipulates that city employee retirement funds ought not to be invested in corporations involved in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories — including the Golan Heights. The initiative also states that, in the event that Israel were to attack Iran without U.N. authorization, the city would be required to divest from Israeli government bonds. “I know a lot of groups out there are starting to think seriously about the ways they invest their money, and we’d like the city of Seattle to do the same. That’s basically what this is about,” said Judith Kolokoff, spokesperson for I-97. “There are plenty of places to invest, not just in companies that support wars.” Kolokoff was quick to point out that the initiative specifically targets American and Israeli companies that profit from Israel’s “occupied and besieged territories.” The initiative specifically includes the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. While the ownership of the Golan is disputed with Syria, the land itself is not occupied. The measure would not require the city to divest from Israeli businesses entirely. However, Rob Jacobs, the regional director for StandWithUs Northwest, feels that the initiative paints an inaccurate picture of the situation in Israel by lumping it together with Iraq. “They’re trying to vilify Israel and put it in the same camp with Iraq, and it doesn’t deserve to be there,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs worries that since I-97 pairs divestment from Israel with divestment from Iraq, voters may be signing the petition out of concern over the war, without taking into consideration the impact it would have on Israel. Several supporters of StandWithUs who approached signature gatherers for the measure were told the initiative only had to do with Iraq, Jacobs said. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the American Jewish Committee and the Washington Israel Business Council joined StandWithUs Northwest at a hearing at King County Superior Court on May 15 to challenge the initiative over what they considered flawed and imprecise language within the initiative. They asked the judge to revise the initiative summary to more clearly reflect its emphasis on companies that do business with Israel, as well as those involved in the Iraq war. More than 70 members of the local Jewish community, including students from both Northwest Yeshiva High School and the Seattle Hebrew Academy, attended the hearing to show their concern over I-97. Ultimately, Judge Steven Gonzalez, who presided over the hearing, agreed that the original title of the initiative was misleading, and wrote a revised version. However, he said he did not feel it was so misleading as to necessitate invalidating the signatures that had already been collected. At the time of the hearing, Seattle Divest from War and Occupation had collected around 10 percent of the required 18,000 signatures. Jacobs said his suit had not requested that the already-collected signatures be dropped. According to Ron Leibsohn, community services chair for the Jewish Federation, this month’s court appearance was only the first in several legal steps the organizations plan to take in an attempt to stop I-97 from making it to the ballot. If the initiative cannot be blocked through legal channels, StandWithUs Northwest and the Jewish Federation intend to take their fight to the street. They have already begun fundraising efforts to cover future legal costs and an opposition campaign. “There’s a lot of support for Israel in this community and we want to pull everyone together on this,” Leibsohn said. Kolokoff, who is Jewish, said she was not surprised by the reaction of StandWithUs Northwest and other Israel-advocacy groups to the initiative. “A lot of people feel to raise any question about Israel is tantamount to a crime,” she said. “We want to make it clear that this initiative is not about Israel, it’s about war and occupation and we’re targeting companies, not countries.” Kolokoff remains optimistic that Seattle Divest from War and Occupation will get the signatures they need for I-97 to appear on the ballot. If they succeed, I-97 will be the first initiative of its kind to do so in a major U.S. city. In 2005, a similar motion focusing exclusively on companies that do business with Israel failed to pass through the city council of Somerville, Mass. Officials from the city retirement office did not return calls by press time concerning th e economic impact and administrative ramifications the initiative would have on either employee pension funds or the companies from which those funds would be divested, were it to pass. Still, it’s the spirit behind the initiative, rather than its practical implications that is truly worrisome to local Israel advocates. Leibsohn said he feels it is important to stop the initiative from reaching the ballot not out of concern for the economic impact it could have on Israel, but because of the message Seattle’s divestment would send to the rest of the country. “We wouldn’t want this to pass in Seattle and then spread to other communities,” he said. “That’s why we think it’s important to stop it here.”

Seattle City Attorney Joins the Seattle Jewish Community to Oppose I-97
Friends,Great news! Yesterday afternoon, we received the City of Seattle's Answer to our Complaint in StandWithUs v. Divest from War Campaign. The City, a defendant in the case, sided with us against the supporters of I-97!
Click here to download the City's Answer.For those who are just learning about Initiative 97, I-97 was filed and is supported by a coalition of pro-Palestinian and anti-war groups. It would have the City of Seattle divest from Israel if Israel ever attacked Iran to destroy Iran's nuclear weapon program and would have the City divest from companies that sell products to Israel for use in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.The City of Seattle filed a cross-claim against the other defendants in the case, the supporters of I-97, arguing that I-97 would require that the City make investment decisions in place of the Seattle Employees Retirement Board. The Retirement Board, the City states, is the only body legally authorized to make such decisions.

The City continues, arguing that "investment of the city retirement system funds can only be made . . . through the board otherwise responsible for management of the pension system's funds and not through voter initiative." [Emphasis added].The voters do not have the power to force the intentionally independent investment managers to play politics with the current and retired Seattle employees' retirement fund.The City seeks "[d]eclaratory judgment that I-97 is beyond the scope of the local initiative power . . . because the power to invest city retirement funds and to establish investment policy is exclusively vested by state law in the city's . . . retirement system's board."The City's Answer closes with the following: "Cross-Claimant City of Seattle prays that the court . . . [d]eclare that I-97 in its entirety is invalid because it is beyond the scope of the local initiative power and is therefore null and void as a City of Seattle initiative." [Emphasis added].
While this is tremendous news and reason to be optimistic, the City's support for our position does not mean that the court will agree. We have not won yet. There are legal costs to cover and we still have to prepare to run a campaign against I-97 this November. We don't have the luxury of waiting to see what the court will do.
Again, it's important to note that our opposition to I-97 is part of a joint community effort that, in addition to the plaintiffs, StandWithUs and the Washington-Israel Business Council, also includes the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and the American Jewish Committee. Other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and individuals have already indicated that they would like to join the suit as additional plaintiffs.
As I said in my last email on this issue, our joint effort to fight I-97 is one of the best examples of positive collaboration that I have seen and I am proud of our Seattle Jewish community's response. You should be proud, too.
All of these organizations will need both your volunteer and financial support.
You can help by donating money to cover our portion of the costs of the current legal challenge and the political groundwork that we must prepare now if we are to fight a strong campaign against the initiative if it does end up on the ballot.
If you are able to help financially, please contact me, Rob Jacobs, at 206.204.6070 or by emailing me at You can also donate directly over the web at
Also, let us know now if you'd be willing to staff phone banks, "door knob" and in other ways contribute time to help defeat the initiative if the sponsors win in court and then collect the necessary signatures. Again, if you are willing to volunteer, please let us know at
And while Initiative 97 is currently a focus of our attention, our community is facing an ongoing public relations attack on Israel on many fronts - in our high schools, on our college and university campuses, in the churches, in civic organizations and in the press. Initiative 97 is just one battle. Long after it goes away, we'll still need your efforts and financial support to fight for fair and balanced treatment of Israel in our community.
We're countering bias and misinformation by bringing speakers to our local schools and educating our students about Israel. We're teaching our educators and community leaders about the situation in the Middle East and about Israel as a country, not just a conflict. We're responding to bias in the media.
StandWithUs Northwest has been doing vital work here in our community to support Israel. We cannot do it alone. Please support our efforts.
Thank you!
Rob Jacobs

Regional DirectorStandWithUs Northwest
4616 NE 25th Avenue, #347
Seattle, WA 98105
206.204.0676 (office and fax)

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