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Green Jews campaign against party’s Israel divestment resolution
|| 2/24/2006 || 9:16 pm || Comments Off on Green Jews campaign against party’s Israel divestment resolution || ||

I am quoted in the JTA:

“I am concerned by the anti-Semitic undertones of the proposal,”Nikolas Schiller, an officer of the Washington branch, said after listening to Clement’s presentation. “I agree with the more global aspects” of an alternative that would take a range of nations to task.

It’s a rather crappy article though…”branch”….ummm….a branch grows on a tree and a party is the place to be….
read the rest of the article:

Green Jews campaign against party’s Israel divestment resolution

By Ron Kampeas
February 23, 2006

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (JTA) — Audrey Clement biked across
night-darkened bridges and through driving winter rain to make her
point: Her party — the Green Party — made a fundamental mistake in a
resolution calling for divestment from Israel.

She waited patiently for the DC-Statehood-Green Party to wade
through its monthly agenda items of procedural items, reports on
efforts to revive schools and libraries in afflicted areas of
Washington and a lengthy discussion on making the Web site
accessible to all members.

Then she rose and launched her critique of a resolution that calls
for total divestment from Israel for its alleged abuses of
Palestinians: “What I am addressing is what I believe is subliminal
anti-Semitism,” she said.

Clement appealed to the Washington branch at the Feb. 2 meeting
because her Virginia branch of the party had ignored her request for
a hearing.

Her appearance — and a debate now raging throughout the party’s rank and
file — was the result of a hard-driven campaign by Gary
Acheatel, a banker in Portland, Ore., launched not long after the
Green Party passed the resolution in November.

Acheatel said the resolution was the final straw in what he said was
Israel’s diminishing profile on the left. He joined the Greens and
started contacting the delegates who voted against Resolution 190
losing a lopsided 55-7 vote.

Acheatel said one national Jewish group rebuffed him because the
Greens are on the fringe of American political life. The party has
diminished substantially in status since Ralph Nader’s run for the
presidency in 2000. They were not a factor in the last elections,
and the party currently has slightly more than 300,000 registered
voters.

“I don’t believe the Greens to be so inconsequential,” Acheatel
countered. “Its candidates are invited to debates and merit coverage
in the mainstream press. This enables the party to exercise an influence
beyond its numbers.”

Acheatel contacted Lorna Salzman, a veteran Green Party activist
from New York City and they launched the “Let 190 Go” campaign,
headquartered on the Web at www.advocatesforisrael.org. It has made some inroads.

In addition to Clement’s appearance in Washington, a number of
Jewish veterans of the party are appealing for the resolution to be
rescinded, including former candidates such as Stanley Aronowitz of
New York, and Marakay Rogers, a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.

“The credibility of the U.S. Green Party has been badly damaged;
resignations from the party are occurring and letters are coming in
to the media committee expressing anger and disappointment with
the party,” Aronowitz and Rogers wrote in a letter to the party’s
national committee. “We will continue to lose prospective members
and we need to take these criticisms seriously.”

Acheatel said he has an additional goal: empowering Jews on the
left, who Acheatel believes are not as versed in combating
anti-Israel activism as their peers on the right.

“This is a perfect avenue for Jewish advocacy on the left to gain
the taste of victory,” Acheatel told JTA.

On that score, Acheatel’s campaign has scored a considerable
success, enlisting a number of synagogues and progressive Jewish
groups. The San Francisco-based Tikkun Community and the
Progressive Jewish Alliance have each made appeals to the party.

National Jewish groups are playing a role too. The Jewish Council
for Public Affairs organized a conference call on the issue for
about 15 Jewish community relations councils, and the
Anti-Defamation League distributed material to Green Party delegates.

Much of the debate’s focus is on how the resolution singles out
Israel, while ignoring human rights abuses in a number of other
countries, including many in the Middle East.

“I am concerned by the anti-Semitic undertones of the proposal,”
Nikolas Schiller, an officer of the Washington branch, said after
listening to Clement’s presentation. “I agree with the more global
aspects” of an alternative that would take a range of nations to task.

Other chapter members favored keeping the resolution as is, saying
singling out Israel did not by itself constitute anti-Semitism. The
meeting concluded with a decision to discuss it further.

A statement accompanying the resolution takes other recent
divestment proposals a step further by calling for the “serious
consideration of a single secular, democratic state as the national
home of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

It is that call that has sparked the most acrimonious debate.

“I don’t support Israeli aggression but I do support its right to
exist as an independent state,” Salzman said in an exchange with
Ron Francis, the co-chairman of the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party,
a major backer of the disinvestments issue. “If you don’t, then come
out and say it straight, don’t beat around the bush.”

Francis had referred, in the exchange, to his state party’s
statement supporting “a secular, democratic governing entity for all
people in the geographic region of historic Palestine (today
referred to by some people as Israel, the West Bank and Gaza).”

Other considerations drive the debate. Some Green Party activists
resented the passing of the national resolution without debate at
the local level — a hallmark of the party that grass-roots members
cherish.

At the Washington chapter meeting, members berated the national
delegate for failing to raise the matter with them before she voted
for the resolution.

Others say the party is betraying its feminist component by singling
out Israel while ignoring the repression of women’s rights by the
Palestinians and other Arab nations.

“Israel is a proxy for a larger issue, and that issue is women’s
rights in the Middle East,” said Clement, 56, a computer programmer
from Arlington, Va. “I see these states trampling the rights of
women as absolutely as they trample Israel.”

Finally, some opponents of the resolution question the paradox of
singling out the region’s strongest proponent of environmental
protections.

“Resolution 190 violates the environmental bent of the Green Party,”
said Jason Rosenwach, an American University student who attended the
Washington branch meeting.

Rosenwach told the meeting that Israel has the region’s most
aggressive green policies, including a commitment to plant more
trees than it uses.

The U.S. party also ignored the international green movement’s
tradition of consulting the relevant regional branch before
committing to a policy.

“We are very disappointed that our sister party in the U.S. did not
consult with the Israel Green Party before passing this resolution,”
Peer Visner, the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv and the chairman of
Israel’s Green Party, said in a statement. He called the resolution
a “breach in trust.”



Post Title: Green Jews campaign against party’s Israel divestment resolution
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