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An open letter to Philip Chester that the AJN declined to publish

July 12, 2011 – 11:25 pm39 Comments

By Nathan Cherny

Dear Philip

From my office in Jerusalem I make it a habit of touching base with the community where I grew up, nurtured by the Zionist values of my family home and my involvement in Habonim. Through the advent of the internet I peruse the Jewish News each week and generally pleasure at the vibrancy and pluralism of Jewish life of the community I left behind.

As you point out in your op-ed about the New Israel Fund, my life and the lives of so many other youth movement graduates of Australia are the beneficiaries of the work and support of the Jewish Agency. My skin still tingles when I sing Hatikvah, I savor the JNF parks where I celebrate and share a love of Israel with my nuclear and extended family here in Israel.

It is out of my love for Israel that I, and many others like me, am so committed to the pursuit of justice and the protection of democratic values in Israel through support of the vital work of the New Israel Fund.

I care that Israel be secure, safe and just and as a lover of Israel, I am not afraid of internal dissent or criticism. I am not afraid of organizations that criticize the JNF for its failure to recognize the rights of Israel’s Bedouin citizens, or when it uses its resources to build in the West Bank or when it obliterates all traces and memory of Palestinian villages destroyed in the war of Independence and the six-Day War. Personally, I side with the Supreme Court of the State of Israel when I speak out against the JNF’s refusal to allow Israeli Arabs to buy property in Jewish towns and neighborhoods.

I care deeply about my adopted country and it shames me to see the plight of the Arab population of the mixed city of Lod,12 kilometers from my home. The neglect caused by the refusal to grant building permits for the Arab population leaving them no option but to build what is a shanty town by the railroad tracks (where several children are killed by trains each year). I am distressed by the discrepancy of educational resources afforded the Arab minority in Israel. I am appalled by the neglect of their needs for opportunity, housing, childcare, parks and playgrounds.

Its not only your so called anti Zionists, like the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, who think that the settlement of Jews and eviction of Arab families in East Jerusalem is imprudent; Teddy Kollek also rejected that approach, despite it being “legal”. He recognized the dangerous asymmetry that allowed Jewish property claims from the wartime periods but that precluded recognition of Arab claims based on similar titles in Jewish Neighborhoods. These concerns are the basis of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement’s agenda. Do you also want to question Teddy Kollek’s Zionist credentials?

When you label Adalah as an organization which is “an anathema to the core principles of Zionism” you give no credit for the work that they do to protect and promote the rights of Arab citizens in order to counter the very real discrimination and neglect that this population encounters.  This indisputable reality has been acknowledged and even documented by the State (see Or Commission Report) and successive Israeli governments.

As a Zionist, I care about living up to the promise of equality that is a central part of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. I am not afraid of that dialogue and, indeed, I see it as a Zionist imperative.

There is whole world of mindful, constructively introspective Zionists who are quite comfortable in discussing problem issues associated with the touchstones that you seem to regard as the “sacred cows of Zionism”.  Suggesting that unquestioning loyalty to these sacred cows, such as the JNF, the Jewish Agency, the lyrics of Hatikva or a united Jerusalem are a litmus test for ones Zionist commitment is audacious and facile. Constructive introspection, pursuit of justice, promotion of democracy, open vibrant dialogue, and transparency: these are among things that make Israel stronger. These are the core values of the Zionist vision of the New Israel Fund, of which I am a proud supporter.

I refuse to believe that Zionism in Australia has atrophied to a siege mentality unable to see the important place of these issues within the spectrum of Zionist endeavor. The New Israel Fund, which proudly champions the promotion of justice and civil society in Israel does not need your “hechsher” to assert its Zionist credentials.

I respect that you have a different Zionist perspective than I. Indeed, we have known one other since your days leading Betar (The revisionist Zionist youth movement) in Melbourne, and we have always had different perspectives. If there are projects that you, or likeminded supporters of Israel, don’t feel comfortable with, that is your prerogative, and you can have the opportunity to selectively support other NIF projects that do wholeheartedly support, or you can chose to support Israel in other ways. In the broad social agenda of the New Israel Fund that includes environmental concerns, Ethiopian immigrant education, battered women, religious freedom, reducing violence and corruption in Israeli society, promoting affordable housing, and so much more, I am sure that there is much you and other concerned Zionists, could want to support and be proud to be a part of.

I am sure that there will be a great many Australian Zionists and friends of Israel who will celebrate in the opportunity to be a part of this new way to support Israel that focuses on issues of social justice and I would hope that the umbrella organization of Australian Zionists that you lead will have the wisdom to be inclusive.

With regards,

Nathan

This letter was in response to Philip Chester, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, questioning the Zionist credentials of the NIF in the AJN.

Nathan Cherny is an Australian oleh living in Israel. He is professor of Humanistic Medicine and Chief of Palliative Care at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He is a former member of Habonim in Melbourne. He holds no official office in the New Israel Fund.

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39 Comments »

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Me’ah ahuz!

    Will the local patriots now stand up to the attacks on the very foundational principles of democratic association in Israel, or is the idea of democracy now irrelevant in defense of Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shlema?

  • Zeddy Lawrence says:

    Please note that the headline claiming that the AJN “refused” to publish this piece is completely misleading.

    In point of fact, as I explained to Nathan, there wasn’t space for his column in this week’s issue and it was too long for the letters page.

    Indeed, this week’s letters page includes a number of letters responding to Philip Chester’s piece, including one from Robin Margo. Further, we have also accepted another opinion piece responding to Philip Chester which will be published in the coming weeks.

    It is quite bizarre that the right wing accuses us of being pro-NIF and the left wing accuses us of being anti-NIF. In reality, we have always endeavoured to present a balanced perspective on the issue. Readers will remember some weeks ago we had a full page op ed from Robin Margo, not to mention we also ran an interview with Naomi Chazan when she was in the country.

    Sorry to disappoint those of you who want to buy into this ridiculous notion that we employ some kind of Stalinist censorship policy, but it’s simply nonsense.

    The only reason letters or columns will not be published is if there isn’t space, they are considered anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist, they’re offensive to any other group in society, or if they just won’t be of any interest to our readers.

    That’s not censorship, that’s the newspaper business … and the law.

    All that aside, best wishes to all Galus readers,

    Zeddy Lawrence
    National Editor
    The Australian Jewish News

    [Eds: We’ll take your word for it. The headline has now been changed]

  • Ittay says:

    Message from Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the NIF

    As everyone who pays us the slightest bit of attention knows, we at the New Israel Fund firmly oppose the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. We think it’s a counterproductive and inflammatory strategy, imposing collective punishment on all Israelis.

    But it should come as no surprise that we are disappointed and angered by yesterday’s Knesset passage of “the boycott bill,” which criminalizes freedom of speech and provides for huge civil damages against any Israeli who expresses support for any kind of boycott, including those narrowly targeted to settlement goods. As our new International Council co-chair Talia Sassoon makes clear in her Ha’aretz op-ed, this is the worst case of the tyranny of the majority.

    In a democracy, unpopular opinions must not be illegal, or even expensive.

    Many if not most Israelis oppose the settlement enterprise, and for good reasons. Criminalizing actors who refuse to perform in Ariel, or NGOs that support holding settlers economically accountable by not buying their goods or services, is appalling. We ourselves will not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.

    Our friends at Peace Now and at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel worked with NIF/SHATIL’s Center for Policy Change to defeat this bill. This time, we fell short, although ACRI is already at the High Court this morning filing a petition against the law.

    But with many more anti-democratic bills waiting for Knesset action, your voice must be heard. Stand with the many Israelis who are defending democracy.

    Pay attention. Let your friends and families know what is really going on in Israel. Contact the Israeli Embassy and let the Ambassador know that you are alarmed about the erosion of basic freedom at the hands of this government. (Yuval Rotem’s email is ambassadorsec@canberra.mfa.gov.il)

    And continue your support for the New Israel Fund, one of the strongest voices fighting, against difficult odds, for democracy, equality and justice in Israel.

    Sincerely,

    Daniel Sokatch

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The question also is, are the ‘establishment’ going to just roll over and defend the indefensible, something that they would never countenance in this country. Or is the excuse going to be, well, the Knesset has voted like this so we have nothing to say?

    Bradley Burstein writes: “This is the one. Don’t let what we like to call the relative calm here,fool you. When the Knesset passed the boycott law Monday night, itchanged the history of the state of Israel.

    In real time, a tipping point of great magnitude can sound a lot likenothing at all. But if the Boycott Law makes it past challenges filed by human rights and pro-peace organizations in Israel’s High Court of Justice, then anything goes, beginning with democracy itself.

    Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak and 10 other cabinet ministers already know this. That’s why they failed to show up for the vote.

    They stayed away because they know that this is the stain that may prove indelible. The Boycott Law is the litmus test for Israeli democracy, the threshold test for Israeli fascism. It’s a test of moderates everywhere who care about the future of this place.

    This is the one. This is where the slope turns nowhere but down.”

    http://tiny.cc/tla36

  • Gedalia says:

    Nathan

    You are entitled to your views, which I happen to think are a destructive force when it comes to building a Jewish nation (which in the current circumstances must be secure and protective of its identity). This aside, you have not addressed the point of Philip Chester’s article. That is, the ZFA have every right to do their homework and ask questions of an organisation that wants to be within the fold of their membership. That is all that the ZFA is doing – attempting to get clarity so that it can be satisfied that a potential member is not counter-productive to its ideals and objectives. The ZFA have good reason to undertake this due diligence, and they have asked some very good questions. IE – Adalah may deliver a lot of social benefits to the Arab population, which is commendable. But do the leaders of the organisation support the existance of a Jewish State?

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    Re Zeddy
    Zeddy is complete correcct. the letter was not refused but rather it was decined becuse it was too long for a letter. I asked the editors of the blog to correct this and this has indeed been done.

    Nathan

    Re Gedalia
    Democracy is not only about “majority rules” it also must protect against the tyranny of the majority over the minority. There is an issue of balance that is critical.

    For example, in order to support Adalla in its mission of protecting the legal rights of Arab citizens I don t need to precondition my readiness to lend support on singing Hatikva, supporting the JNF the sochnut or even the very notion of Israel as a Jewish State.

    I don’t support them FOR those views that differ with mine BUT I do not withhold support for their work to protect, through their applauded work within the legal system, minority rights that have been unfairly and inappropriately trampled BECAUSE they have views that are not “Zionist”. Is rael has to live and work with Jewish non or anti-Zionist and also with its Arab population (who will probably never be Zionists)

    The “red lines” which Philip and others are concerned about exist, but they are drawn at a different place.

    As for delegitmization: what potentially delegitimizes Israel is discrimination, discriminatory statutes, cruelty and the promotion of the occupation.

    Re BDS, for instance. I will not countenance BDS activity that challenges Israel’s right to exist. However, choosing not to deal economically in ways which support the disputed “administered territories” or which promote the conflation between “The State of Israel” and the “administered Territories” is an absolutely justifiable form of political expression and one which, I believe, serves Israel’s best interest.

    I, like the attorney general, expect the Supreme Court to uphold that right, despite the recent legislation.

    I say these things proudly and unapologetically as a Zionist who has committed my life to being here.

    So when Philip asks of the NIF, “If they are Zionists”… I hope you can understand why I take offense at the very implication that this is in question.

    Nathan

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I was holding off for Nathan to respond, and I am glad he has. But I offer a different perspective, which at least liberal Zionist like him can deal with…and this is in response to the implication from Gedaliah

    The question, more accurately, and realistically, is what are the conditions that inhibit Adalah and other Palestinian Israelis (correct terminology) from a) feeling they are part of the state? b) why the concept of a Jewish state is regarded with suspicion? c) why should the rights of a foreign Jew (like you or me) should be superior to their own birthright or that of their cousins who left in 48 or 67?

    (I accept that you are using the words nation and state synonymously)

    This history of the ‘Jewish state’ is that it has not been able to fulfill its democratic ideals towards its minority population, the vast majority of whom by all accounts are just people, not terrorists, just people. Without fundamental constitutional reforms, Israeli will not be able to expect or demand loyalty to a ‘Jewish’ state (whatever that means- the debate is interminable, yet often offensive to those who do not fill political-religious criteria) which a priori, is a state which cannot guarantee minorities absolute and full equality, in theory or in practice. Demanding loyalty oaths is not on.

    If Israel cannot accept the principle of full and equal multiculturalism (or biculturalism), and democracy, as member of the elite group of countries in the world which are assertively democratic and open societies, then we need organisations like Adalah to protect in every legal way possible the rights of the Palestinian community in Israel given that it is unlikely that Israel will change from being ‘a Jewish state’.

    I say these things not as a Zionist, but as a critical friend of Israel who believes that there is a better and inclusive path to be taken. At the moment, it is under threat from within, and it threatens the liberty of people like Nathan, a Zionist or someone like myself, who takes a position that states and religion/ethnicity don’t turn out healthily and that there needs to be fundamental change.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Gedaliah – there is no organisation which has done as much for Palestinian civil rights as Adalah. Their work to oppose discrimantion against Israel’s 20% Palestinian minority has been vindicated many times when discriminatory legislation and policies have been overruled by the courts.

    You refer to the views of Adalah leadership. I assume you are referring to people involved in Adalah who support a binational state or a right of return for refugees. NIF does not support those political positions or provide funding to groups which advocate for those outcomes. But those are views held by many Israeli civil rights activists. Excluding dissenting views is not democracy. Democracy is not well served by silent minorities.

    Saying you accept that but that you don’t see a need for anyone who is a Zionist to support those organisations is pretty much lip service support for democracy. To function effectively operations need financial support.

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    I concur with Mandi

  • Tzioni says:

    Haven’t you guys read the detailed research of NGO Monitor about Adalah and NIF?

    One has to question where the good work and the viscious anti-Israelism begins and ends…

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Thanks Tzioni – I certainly have.

    NGO Monitor is a highly political organisation that has a very clear agenda. It sets out facts in its research but the real impact of its work is its interpretation, the way it presents facts and the inferences it draws which are not objective research but commentary and have a clear bias, as its its prerogative.

    People inclined to accept the NGO Monitor’s interpretation will do. But for those who are unsure I would suggest reading material on NIF’s site which challenges some of the conclusions NGO Monitor draws and provides the alternative perspepctive.

    http://www.nif.org/

    NIF grantees works in a challenging and rapidly changing environment. Boundaries are not always clear. There is trade off involved and it’s not easy. Sometimes NIF makes mistakes. It has the maturity and processes in place to review its decisions, and has withdrawn funding from a number of organisations that have ceased to comply with funding guidelines.

    NGO Monitor has been very political in its response to that and has taken a ‘point scoring’ approach rather than accepting the good faith involved. Fair to say it’s easier to be a monitor than to make hard decisions in a very difficult environment.

  • Wolf says:

    Nathan Cherny,

    I really hope you’re right, I hope that the NIF has Israel’s best interests at heart, along with of course humanitarian interests.

    However, I have read a little of Naomi Chazzan’s ideas and it seems they are all based on one single premise. That is, the Palestinians will peacefully and wholeheartedly accept a two state solution.

    I do not however believe that the Palestinians will accept a two state solution in the near future, regardless of how it may benefit both parties. In fact I believe that the Palestinians and their leadership as unfortunately become more fanatical over the past decade or so, and will only accept one state, a muslim Palestinian state.

    I would prefer to see reality for what it is and acknowledge that there currently is no solution to this complex issue, rather than delude myself into a false solution that won’t be accepted be the other party.

  • Leon says:

    I could be wrong but I have a vague recollection of reading in the AJN a year or two ago that Nathan’s wife is an employee of NIF. I don’t know if that is still the case but isn’t it a little disingenuous of Nathan to effectively accuse Phillip Chester of allowing his personal political beliefs to interfere with his role as President of the ZFA without disclosing that his wife is or was employed by NIF?

    At the end of the day – the issue (not just with Nathan but with NIF in general) is about transparency. It seems to me that if the NIF simply clarified once and for all whether certain organisation still receive NIF funding, then the public (and the ZFA) could decide themselves (without speculation) whether to support their activities.

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    Leon
    That is correct and it is a matter of public record and it is well know to Philip and Ilana.

    Nancy is the deputy director of development in the Israel office of the NIF.

    My opinions and commitments are my own.

    My support for NIF, which extends back to my aliya in 1994 far predated my even meeting my wife in 2002 or her subsequent employment by the NIF since 2005.

    There is no issue of transparency here.

    Nathan

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Leon for a full list of present NIF grantees see here:
    http://www.nif.org/issue-areas/grantees

    Which organisation do you believe stil receives funding and is not listed here?

    I am an (honorary) officer of NIF Australia and happy to look into any specific query you have about grantees.

  • frosh says:

    Leon,

    Can you see the irony of someone writing under a pseudonym (or at least not disclosing their identity) demanding a higher level of transparency?

  • Michael says:

    Zeddy Lawrence writes:

    “Sorry to disappoint those of you who want to buy into this ridiculous notion that we employ *some kind of Stalinist censorship policy*, but it’s simply nonsense.

    The only reason letters or columns will not be published is if there isn’t space, they are considered anti-Semitic or *anti-Zionist*, they’re offensive to any other group in society, or if they just won’t be of any interest to our readers.”

    If who considers it anti-Zionist, o editor of the AJN? Why are such opinions excluded? Because they come from the incorrect ideology? Are you saying that censoring Zionists is Stalinist, but censoring anti-Zionists isn’t, because you disapprove of anti-Zionists?

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    The AJN are entitled to decide what they consider worthy of publication.
    If you don’t like it, I suggest you do one of the following (in descending order of difficulty):

    1) Buy the AJN from its owner and change their policy.

    2) Start your own publication

    3) Read/patronise other publications that better match your values

  • Michael says:

    Frosh: I agree they have the legal right to do what they want. And morally I would defend their freedom of speech to take extremely appalling positions. That is entirely separate from the question of what Mr Lawrence considers Stalinism. If censoring views one disapproves of constitutes Stalinism, it seems to me Mr Lawrence is having a hard time looking honestly in the mirror.

    More generally, it seems to me AJN runs a very narrow range of right-wing Zionists in its op ed pages. It has also used its pages to criticise deemed enemies, such as IAJV, without offering any right of reply. Well ok, but why not be honest and say the Australian Jewish News will henceforth be called the Australian Jewish Right Wing Unswerving Loyalty to Every Israeli Government Action News. They have every right to take that position. But that hardly constitutes grounds to complain when I point it out.

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    Michael
    In fairness, with regard to the coverage of issues related to the New Israel Fund, the AJN has given vent to opinions on both sides of the fence and the editorial board produced a very balanced and open-minded editorial prior to the launch of NIF-Australia.

    Even in this weeks issue the paper has given coverage to the outrage at the very problematic so called anti-boycott” law passed this week that is already under challenge in the Supreme Court.

    Nathan

  • Michael says:

    Nathan: Yes, you’re right. They feature discussion of a measure opposed by Kadima. How impressive (and the article is from Jpost!). Even the ADL opposes the law. Perhaps they couldn’t find a Jew here who opposes it. Or didn’t think it worth looking.

    The whole discussion is whether NIFA is good for the Jews, how Zionist it is. It’s nice they’re keeping an open mind and are willing to discuss it. The moral content of that discussion is nil.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    NGO Monitor’s techniques are McCarthyite.

    There are too many documented examples of its approach at smearing and distortion to let its work be taken seriously by any person concerning with transparency issues (see the Wikipedia entry, which has a long list)

    However, it is well-funded by private donors who support its agenda, as is their right. But it has nothing of the standing of other NGO monitor organisations. It is a one-issue lobby that critically, has little to say about the smoke and mirrors that surround the considerable support which the settler movement gets though its NGOs in Israel or abroad.

    Its motivation is to defend a right-wing Israeli agenda, that’s all. It’s international advisory board is a who’s who of the right, including that sterling defender of human rights around the world, particularly in Latin America Elliot Abrams (heavy sarcasm intended).

    The organisation has no concern with the work of NGOs in other countries, work which saves millions of lives yet it has a strange obsession with what it stupidly names as “the new secular religion of human rights.” Of course, the “new secular religion” is what has been responsible for rescuing millions of people from dire circumstances. Perhaps they would rather there were no human rights.

    NGO Monitor is also not funded by foundations in the normal sense of the word, that is, foundations with a particular focus on the promotion of human rights, transparency and so on. In the US, it is easy to set up a private tax-deductible foundation, and it is impossible to find out anything other than names of some of the Monitor’s private funders. We don’t know who is on the board of such foundations, or the constitution and orientation of such foundations. One expects at least the presence of specialists in international aid etc. Last year it got about $USD 2.8 million from its mysterious donors.

    See http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/bring-on-the-transparency-1.3326

  • R B says:

    There is a phrase in Hebrew, “The way to hell is paved with good intentions”.

    That is exactly what the NIF does. The NIF promotes noble values like civil rights and equality, all the way to converting Israel from a Jewish nation state to a bi-national state, with or without a “Judenrein” Palestinian state next to it.

    How such a state will look like? Like Lebanon, with the Jews in the role of the Christians. Most of Lebanese Christian families who lived there before the civil war broke out in 1975, do not live there any more. Same happened with the Christians of the West Bank towns, after Israel handed them to the Palestinian Authority during the 1990s. The Middle East is not tolerant towards non-Muslim groups.

    Dear Liberal-Zionist/non-Zionist Jewish leftists, is that what you want? Six million Jews, half of the Jewish people – as refugees? It is very easy to live safely in Australia, and preach the Israelis to adapt “humanist” and “progressive” policies (as you consider them), while in the place where they live, they pose a real threat to their existence.

    Most Israeli do not hold a passport of a Western country, that will enable them to settle in a safer place in case this happens. They are safe and will be safe on that part of the world only in their own nation-state.

    Larry – it is very easy to blame anyone who does not share your views as “McCarthist”, but the NGO monitor revealed facts that the NIF preferred to ignore and could not deny, regarding its funding of organisations which reject Israel’s right to exist.

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    RB
    Rest assured that many Isaelis share these views and that man of them, ike myself, would see themselves as centerists

    I live comfortably with the hope that Israel will live up to the promises of democracy, civility and equality for all of its citizens.

    As for my fears; among them is the fear that the majority of people in terroitories contolled by Israel, will not be Jews. This is what will happen if we do not encourage the development of a Palestinian State along side of Israel….. so I guess we share the same fear.

    Nathan

  • Sol Salbe says:

    I don’t know if anybody has noticed it but Zeddy Lawrence says that Anti-Zionist letters are not acceptable in his newspaper. It does not affect me personally (I’m neither a Zionist not an anti-Zionist) but it does affect at least one organisation affiliated to the JCCV. Does that mean that an organisation can be deemed to be part of the organised Jewish community but because it does not endorse Zionism it is banned from contributing to community discourse through the AJN? All I can say is thank goodness for GA.

  • Wolf says:

    Sol Salbe.
    “thank goodness for GA”, here here. This website has much more interesting, thought provoking and relevant articles than a certain other Jewish community newspaper in this country. Furthermore, the comments provide an outlet for actual intellectual dialogue about these pertinent community issues.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone here, but the quality of that certain other written paper seems to have just gone down and down.

    Furthermore, that certain other paper doesn’t seem to publish many topical or contentious community issues. If, however it does touch on a contentious issue, then it generally doesn’t go very in depth.

  • In this and other publications, as well as email exchanges with Nathan Cherney (like others under NIF’s wing, he has been afraid to meet me), I have noted the consistent use of the language of a true believer, who refuses to consider the possibility of error. His intense defence of NIF is religious in nature, including the absolute rejection of any criticism or evidence of wrong-doing. When NGO Monitor showed that Rachel Liel, the CEO of the NIF’s Israel office, was misinformed (probably by another branch of NIF), and wrongly insisted that her organisation had stopped funding CWP in 2008, a notorious leader of the BDS campaigns, Nathan emailed me demanding that I apologize for knowingly publishing false claims. After CWP revealed the truth – that NIF had continued this funding through May 2011 (they said it was a “clerical error”) — Nathan never apologized or admitted wrong doing. I do not claim psychological talents, but apparently this was too painful for him. Similarly, his intense defence of the ongoing support provided by NIF for Adalah and for groups that attack the JNF is ideological and religious. Apparently, facts will not lead him to change his mind.

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    Mr Steinberg is well aware that the donor directed transfer of $100 that he is referring to was a clerical error.

    There is nothing to apologise for.

    I concur with the previous comments on this thread regarding the integrity of Mr Steinberg and the oraganizitaion that he leads.

    Nathan

  • R B says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Lod is a town, which suffers of many problems due to long years of bad management and corruption. Both Jews and Arabs suffer. Many Jews left it along the years, and moved to Modi’in.

    Re the Arabs of that town – I suggest you read this: http://www.nrg.co.il/app/index.php?do=blog&encr_id=79974780b5e0d394fddbd1a00f4f21d3&id=2281

    Re the poor state of Arab towns and villages in Israel – unfortunately, corruption of local councils is widespread there, much more than among Jewish councils. Many of the Arab councils do not charge rates at all(!), do not have any planning (anyone can build whatever he wants wherever he wants), neglect their infrastructure, and managed on the base of “Hamulot” (extended families), which often struggle with each other. Given that, it is not surprising that most of these towns are in bad condition.

    Ron

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    Ron
    For many years now Lod has had a Jewish administrator rather than a mayor.

    The administrator, appointed to be run the town cleanly and efficiently has not addressed these issues which continue to fester.

    Nathan

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Dear Natan, I can glad that Mr Steinberg leads an oraganizitaion and not an organization!

    Please note, I have had to remove URLs to get this to post to Galus, but I do have the originals.

    Quite an expose on Steinberg’s antics and information warfare technique is at this site, where Didi Remez refers to ‘NGO Monitor’s intellectual dishonesty’.

    Interestingly,in terms of cyber warfare and propaganda, Steinberg has an academic associate based in Melbourne now working in cyber-hasbarah, Andre Oboler , a ‘social media strategist’, campaigning internationally through the Cyber Internet Engagement Project (http://www.internetengagement.com.au). The AJN has called Oboler the “Zionist Federation of Australia’s…cyber-warrior.” Obeler echoes antipathy to the NIF as seen in his posts on Galus (look on Google).

    While some of the work seems rightly concerned with contemptuous online anti-Semitism, other activity seems straight out of an official hasbarah line (and particularly a right-wing line), to conduct informational warfare against all critics (such as the site created by Obeler during the first Gaza flotilla crisis).

    Given Philip Chester’s views about the NIF, as that classic expression goes, I think there’s “something nasty in the woodshed”. Who else has been set in the sights of the “CIEP” on behalf of the Zionist Federation of Australia, in Australia, when it has an alliance partisans like Oboler and Steinberg?

    Steinberg’s own department at Bar Ilan has not been free of controversy, where a progressive, kippah-wearing opponent of the occupation was denied promotion and the reasons why kept mysterious and non-transparent .

    Perhaps that academic’s views of Steinberg’s scholarship did not win him support in his bid for a cushy chair (unfortunately, I have been unable to find Steinberg’s original piece of writing)–

    “Anyone who finished reading Gerald Steinberg’s article criticizing CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency] for supporting the publication of the book “Palestinian Refugee Repatriation: Global Perspective” (Routledge 2006), must wonder if Steinberg learned anything from that book.

    Did Steinberg review the book’s 14 articles spread on 338 pages? Did he write anything about the conference at Exeter University which resulted in the publication of this book? Does he know anything about the editor and his academic credentials? Does he mention the identity of the contributors, all prominent academics and practitioners, or does he refer to the excellent reputation of the publisher? The answer to these questions is obviously NO.

    I participated in this conference and contributed a chapter to the book and find myself obliged to raise these questions for the benefit of readers of the Canadian Jewish News so that they realize Steinberg’s article is neither accurate nor reliable.

    It is clear that Gerald Steinberg is not interested in treating the book and CIDA fairly. He wants to lead the readers of his article to his own political conclusions. He argues erroneously that by discussing lessons from repatriation experiences globally that CIDA and the book encourage terror and the destruction of Israel. This is not a legitimate argument, but unfortunately it is often used by persons belonging to same political stripes as Steinberg.

    Steinberg’s methods are not new, nor surprising. He presents himself as an objective commentator and the protector of academic freedom and research. He coordinated, on behalf of Bar Ilan University, a world-wide campaign against the academic boycott of that institution. However, my first hand experience shows that he and others who share his political views inside Bar Ilan University, act against the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression. By using McCarthy era-like methods, they try to discredit, boycott and act against those who publicly express different political views.

    Steinberg’s article is an example of these kind of McCarthy-era tactics.”

    Perhaps I am being pinged as I blog.

  • Geoff says:

    Nathan writes in his letter “Re BDS, for instance. I will not countenance BDS activity that challenges Israel’s right to exist.”

    This makes me want to ask whether Nathan (or NIF) would, even if not countenancing BDS activity, still provide funding to an organisation whose platform includes BDS support, irrespective of the social good they otherwise do(this sort of argument could be used for other issues, but let’s stick to BDS).

    Anyone knowing about how organisations provide funding will be aware that if person X stipulates that he/she will donate to NIF but not to specific grantee Y, with whom they differ (e.g. perceived to be damaging to JNF), that request of X will be honoured, but money can then be transferred from the big pot to fund Y.

    It reinforces the need to have an accurate and current listing of all funded organisations, their proposed use of funding, and their prior track record for use of funding (ideally an independent review).

  • Eigthman says:

    [Eds: Comment removed due to use of threats against other commenters. See our commenting policy.]

  • Eigthman says:

    It seems the editorial phalanx of this publication seeking ever knew and inventive ways to muzzle views they find disagreeable now embraces a new form of suppression and smear.

    Informing Nathan Cherny what his behaviour has historically meant in other countries in wartime and that his comeuppance is at hand by the instruments of state through the prospect of changing political and legal fortunes in Israel is a ‘personal threat’ – or even wishing these upon him. How sobering. What a long bow is now drawn.

    No doubt references made to Islamic Taqiyya upsets the prevailing delusions held and any pretext is used to exercise ideological and political censorship and suppression. Totalitarianism knows no ‘left or right’ its just the narrative and excuses that are different.

    I also suppose that generally predicting that Israel will eventually vomit out ‘left wing Zionism’ (that includes the Chernys there) in a blood letting not seen since the Golden Calf or Altelena incidents is my ‘personal threat’ against every one of those protagonists as well?

    How I must have touched a nerve?

    To the Editors. Truth is the most powerful force in nature. Nothing you do here can arrest its ineluctable march. Suppressing my comments under such specious pretenses only confirms your decadence. (I suppose another ‘personal threat’?).

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    Mr “Eigthman”
    If you have doubts about my Zionist credibility or the contribution that I make to the well being of Israel and its citizens you may consider verifying them.

    I will give you a brief list of referees who I am sure will attest to my contributions:

    ISRAEL
    Mr B Netanyahu: Prime Minister
    Mr Mark Regev: Spokesman for Mr Netanyahu
    Dr Boaz Lev, deputy director of the Ministry of Health
    Prof Avi Reches: Chief of the Ethics committee of the Israel Medical association
    Rabbi Shlomo Amar: Chief Rabbi

    AUSTRALIA
    Mr Philip Chester: president of ZFA
    Ms Jane Rapke: State Zionist Council of Victoria
    Mr Sam Tatarka: President State Zionist Council of Victoria

    Further, if you have opinions and you want to be taken in any way seriously, pseudonyms from Japanese cartoon characters of the 1960s are not the way to go. I, an many others, have little regard for persons expressing hostile and ill informed opinions as they hide behind a veil of anonymity.

    Finally, if you want be a Zionist, your vitriol and insinuations towards me (and my wife!?) is not the way to do it; you only undermine your own credibility.

    All the best

    Nathan Cherny
    Norman Levan Chair of Humanistic Medicine
    Director, Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Service
    Dept Medical Oncology
    Shaare Zedek Medical Center
    Jerusalem, ISRAEL

  • Eigthman says:

    My word I am devastated by that ‘reply!

    ‘Your wife’? What are you talking about and who cares about her?

    Facts are always ‘ill-informed’ when they are used against you.

    What you practise is not Zionism and I’m sure Marshall Petain could count on many more votaries than you. Argument by ‘recommendation’ is the least impressive and the last resort of the bereft.

    I am not impressed by numbers or office holders. I suppose in 1500 because 99.999% of the people in the world thought the world was flat, that made it so?

    You and your supporters are engaged in a criminal, bankrupt and treasonous exercise. As I said in my last post, now censored because of its truthfulness;

    They vote in Hamas, destroy the infrastructure left there, send 10,000 rockets into Israel and then demand medical treatment from Israel – and you give it to them!! And then you say I am without credibility? – You and the wilfully delusional weak minded, complicit fools are deranged!!

    The PA that refuses to rescind for Israel’s destruction in its protocols, perpetuates Jewish vilification in its schools on a scale and vitriol greater than that of the 3rd Reich, demands control of an area that must first be made Judenrein, that with the left hand blabbers ‘peace’ for Western consumption, but with the right screams jihad over its airwaves, internet and newspapers; that consumes Western and other aid at unprecedented amounts but produces nothing but terrorism, propaganda, oppression and street dancing when one of their children succeeds as a bomb delivery mule or a strike is made in the West.

    I am well aware of the economic situation in the liberated territories. Daytime TV, fast food and plumbing do not interest these people. This road has been travelled down before many times. How often the patient revives on the operating table only to then sink into death. The 9/11 bombers were engineers not peasants from the backwaters.

    They laugh at you. They laugh rightly – you are a mockery of the idea of Jewish self-determination and statehood. They are rightly contemptuous of Jewish weakness and the moral bankruptcy that feels it must apologise for exercising their rights.

    And at every point of arab malfeasance, intransgience, terror, lying, people like you scratch your arses, (where you keep your brains), and say, ‘where did WE go wrong this time’?, ‘What more can we give them’? ‘It must be our fault – because we are always at fault’. The more they refuse, the more terror they commit, the more Jews like you bend over.

    Margaret Thatcher said the only trouble with socialism is that it always runs out of everybody else’s money. That’s how it is with leftists. They always run out of spending the blood of others.

    Oh it is THIS one that will yield us salvation! We must negotiate with Fayed, the saviour, HE is different, HE is the rational one, the ‘pragmatic’ one. OH I see how wrong we were. Oh the ‘palestinians’ will be given 10,000 opportunities in order to keep alive the delusions and fictions of the deranged.

    Benjamin Franklin said that the expectation of a different result from a fact that has been proven by repetitive outcomes is a sign of madness. And that is what you and your ilk are, mad. And you find ever more inventive ways of prolonging and sustaining the fictions that support that madness.

    Or we get someone like Shimon Peres who says ‘enough’ a blanket excuse of the blind to keep going in the same stupid direction but which is only a signal to the other side of capitulation.

    Yes it is enough. Enough of the lies, the delusions, the self-mockery, the weakness, the wilful moral and intellectual corruption. That is the legacy of your ilk and God willing you will be made to play that game out at your own expense in ‘democratic’ and ‘pluralistic’ Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and other arab points of the compass – not in Israel.

    The leftist swill that has been driving the self-definitional and intellectual agenda from the beginning is coming to an end. It is going to be spat out in a revolution of self-realisation.

    You are liars and your arguments are based upon lies. This leftist reverie is going to come a violent and unpleasant end of its own making.

    Anonymity does not make the truth any less compelling. The utter revolt you people stir up in me excludes any possibility of verbal restraint and thus gravitates against genteel debate.

    Besides, the motives for defrocking is bound up with exercising some sort of retaliation. That is what is really on the minds of opponents who are faced with unpleasant truths before which their slogans and lies are sterile. That is the way of fascism.

  • Reality Check says:

    In all these comments from different people Nathan Cherny is the only one who I am convinced is a Zionist and has thoughtfully and intelligently considered all aspects of the arguments. There are so many people these days, especially those outside of Israel, who by being right wing and aggressive think they are doing Israel a favour. Israel is being run by the right wing and is encouraging vigilants who could committ atrocities. Remember what happened to PM Rabin. It can happen again but on a much larger scale, similar to what happened in Norway. Nothing can be taken for granted, especially when extreme right wing elements start losing touch with reality.

  • Reality Check says:

    And Eigthman, you sure you don’t mean Apeman, because you sure sound like one.

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