From: Uri Horesh
Subject: Re: B'Tselem USA to Host Panel at J St Conference
Date: March 15, 2012 8:40:42 PM EDT
Dear Ms. Sussman,
The email you sent me (and, no doubt, thousands of other supporters) earlier today, should have angered me. Rather, it deeply saddened me. See, having grown up in an Israel full of racism, xenophobia and nationalist hatred, there have been very few organizations that have never – but never – failed to embody a sense of straightforward goodness. The two that instantly come to mind are Physicians for Human Rights and B'Tselem.
B'Tselem USA's sponsorship of J Street's upcoming conference, particularly with Ehud Olmert as its keynote speaker, is the first instance in my recollection of the organization's history that it has strayed from its righteous path.
B'Tselem has always set the bar high for everyone, no exceptions, when it comes to human rights. It has never played political games. Its supporters don't care that "J Street is better than AIPAC." "Better" isn't good enough, if it doesn't meet the stringent standards that B'Tselem itself has set for others to follow.
My friend Ali Abunimah has eloquently and meticulously demonstrated in his recent Electronic Intifada post that your participation in, let alone sponsorship of the J Street conference are not in line with the stellar record of B'Tselem.
Please admit that you have made an error in judgment, and withdraw your support from the conference.
Peace - سلام - שלום,
PS: I will be publishing this letter on my blog at http://tlvphl.blogspot.com and possibly elsewhere on the Web.
B'Tselem USA is proud to be a sponsor of J Street's third annual conference, Making History, in Washington later this month. J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans. The conference will feature former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israeli writer Amos Oz, a member of B'Tselem's Public Council, journalist Peter Beinart, a member of B'Tselem USA's Advisory Council and Anat Hoffman, the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.
On Monday, March 26, B'Tselem USA will present the panel, "Holding Israel to a Universal Standard or to a Higher Standard on Human Rights?" The panel will feature Zehava Gal'on, the founding Executive Director of B'Tselem, current member of Knesset and Chair of the Meretz Party, Iain Levine, the Deputy Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, and Alan Elsner, the Senior Director for Communications and Research at the Israel Project. Uri Zaki, Director of B'Tselem USA, will lead these prominent Israeli and American academics, practitioners and human rights experts in an analysis of the record of the media, various UN agencies, governments and international organizations regarding Israel and human rights, and discuss appropriate responses.
Israel receives a lot of international attention and criticism for its human rights record. Is this appropriate and fair? Is Israel being held to a higher standard than other countries? Should we as Jews demand more from Israel than we do from other countries? In fact, the international community is not a monolith of this matter. Some international actors are indeed using the language of human rights as a tool to advance an anti-Israel agenda. Others are applying the same universal standards to Israel as they do elsewhere. Still others have a special interest in Israel for understandable reasons, which results in disproportionate attention, both positive and negative. How do we, who care about Israel and care about human rights, navigate this complexity?
We invite you to join the conversation with J Street and B'Tselem USA this month. Sign up for J Street's national conference now, as space is limited.
We hope to see you there,
B’Tselem USA enriches American political and public discourse regarding human rights in the Occupied Territories, advocating the research of B’Tselem, the leading Israeli organization working to monitor, document and advocate the improvement of human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. B'Tselem USA provides accurate, reliable information to policy makers, key stakeholders, and the public at large about the reality on the ground. B’Tselem USA promotes the equal rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in freedom, security and dignity, affirming a universal commitment to human rights principles and strengthening Israel’s democratic foundation.