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author biography
Richard Silverstein runs Tikun Olam, (Kabbalistic term meaning “repair [or mend] the world”) a popular peace blog dedicated to a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. A progressive Zionist, Silverstein has been a proponent of Israeli-Arab peace since 1968, supporting a two state solution to the conflict.
He also maintains Israel Palestine Blogs, an aggregator of 50 peace blogs written by Israelis, Palestinians, American Jews, Arab Americans and Lebanese and the progressive discussion forum, Israel Palestine Forum.
He earned an MA in Hebrew Literature at UCLA and has served as a communal fundraiser at Jewish federations in New York and California, and Brandeis University.
His work is published by the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, American Conservative Magazine and he has been featured in The NY Times, Jewish Forward, Jewish Week and Seattle Post Intelligencer.

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15,000 Jews Say `No` to Palin at UN Rally on Iran
Filed under Social activism, Jewish diaspora, Opinion Editorials, Iran’s nukes, USA foreign policy, Iran, Lobby Groups, USA news, J Street – on Sunday, September 21, 2008 – By: Silverstein, Richard

J Street has just won its first political skirmish. Only a day or so ago it began a campaign to petition Malcolm Hoenlein and the Conference of Presidents against its decision to invite Sarah Palin to address a UN rally against Iran on the day the latter’s president addresses the world body.
Hillary Clinton, who had been scheduled to speak at the rally, dropped out when Hoenlein announced Palin’s participation. J Street then went on the attack against Hoenlein’s turning it into a partisan pep rally. While he must’ve been madder than a hornet’s nest, 15,000 protest messages did the trick and Palin was disinvited. Chalk one up for J Street and the good guys.
The Forward also reveals that some of the event’s local Jewish sponsors were specifically angry at Hoenlein for his efforts to turn the event into a partisan show:
Sources close to the issue said…that the flap had caused heated discussions among the rally organizers, with the New York-based groups expressing dismay about the decision to invite Palin.
Several left-leaning members of the Presidents Conference, which comprises 52 Jewish organizations, also criticized the decision to reach out to the Republican Party, which they claimed was made by Hoenlein…
John McCain too is mad as hell:
“Gov. Palin was pleased to accept an invitation to address this rally and show her resolve on this grave national security issue, regrettably that invitation has since been withdrawn under pressure from Democratic partisans,” McCain said in a statement.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Republicans, Democrats and independents alike to oppose Ahmadinejad’s goal of a nuclear armed Iran,” he said. “Sen. Obama’s campaign had the opportunity to join us. Sen. Obama chose politics rather than the national interest.”
I would’ve understood asking Hillary Clinton to address this crowd since she IS New York’s senior senator, she is no longer running for any office, and she has a historically close relationship with the Jewish community. But Hoenlein should’ve realized he was playing with fire when he invited Palin. How could he expect Clinton and Palin to speak from the same podium? It was simply a numbskull idea considering the awkwardness–though of course it would’ve burnished Palin’s foreign policy street cred no end (which is why Clinton wanted nothing to do with it).
Malcolm will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out other ways he can help John McCain and Sarah Palin get more Jewish votes. So much for a supposedly non-partisan Jewish communal leadership.
Hoenlein and Palin: Match Made in Iran
(Sep 18th, 2008) The Conference of Presidents leader, Malcolm Hoenlein got a little more than he bargained for when, after securing Hillary Clinton for his anti-Iran rally, timed to coincide with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN General Assembly, he also invited Sarah Palin. He began the day with New York’s senior senator as a star of his event. He ended the day Clintonless:
“Her attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event,” a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Philippe Reines, said on Wednesday. “Senator Clinton will therefore not be attending.”
Clinton’s “replacement” opposes almost every domestic priority of the American Jewish community. Hoenlein went from a rally that had no partisan political tension, to one that showcased Hoenlein’s allegiance to the Republican Party.
[Irony Alert] I do understand there may be one small glitch in Palin’s acceptance of the invitation to speak. She’s requested that she be introduced by David Brickner, the director of Jews for Jesus, who spoke before her at her Alaska church less than a month ago. I don’t think this will cause Abe Foxman any trouble though, since he claims he has no problem with Palin lapping up a Jews for Jesus exhortation to convert us.
And since Hoenlein came to the U.S. as a young Soviet Jewish émigré (which explains a good deal of his political hawkishness), he should be able to give Sarah a quick tutorial on Russia to fill in any weak spots in her knowledge.
This rally debacle also illustrates how politically out of touch the Israel lobby’s leadership is with the views of mainstream Jews. At best, 30% of them will vote for McCain-Palin in November. 70% will vote for the other guy. But Hoenlein is content to showcase his fealty to the 30% at an event that should showcase a united Jewish community.
Let there be no doubt, the Jewish leadership has hitched itself to the Bush-McCain bandwagon. It is in lockstep with the most bellicose approach to the Iranian nuclear impasse. Sarah Palin says there would be nothing wrong with Israel attacking Iran.
That’s what Malcolm Hoenlein wants to hear. He wants to say: “Jump” and hear a candidate say: “How high.” The Republicans are willing to give Israel a blank check. The Israel lobby knows that Barack Obama, while a friend to Israel and the Jewish people, is no fool and will not give Israel a blank check.
Keep in mind that yesterday, five past secretaries of state INCLUDING Henry Kissinger and James Baker called for unconditional negotiations between Iran and the U.S. “at the highest level.” That’s the two deans of the Republican foreign policy establishment rejecting the McCain-Palin approach to Iran out of hand. Yet, Malcolm Hoenlein knows something Kissinger doesn’t about those mad mullahs.
The Conference of President’s anti-Iran event has become a pep rally for “Jews for McCain-Palin.” It’s a shande. If you want to voice your displeasure, join J Street’s protest by demanding that Hoenlein and the Conference disinvite Palin.
One thing does reassure me though. After the rally, Sarah will get some quality time with all those foreign leaders gathering at the UN, who she’s never met before in her life. She’ll even get an autographed map of the Bering Straits from Ban Ki Moon showing the border between Russia and Alaska. If she’s very good, Secretary General Ban might shake her hand and tell her he comes from South Korea and show her it on a world map.
Then Sarah can tell him that the only map that matters for her is the map of heaven. All the rest is sin and deviltry.
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