Debbie Hall

Open Letter to Robert Kraft and Ron Lauder

Good evening, morning, or afternoon, gentlemen.  I write to you to express how overwhelmed the majority of the Jewish American community is right now.  I write to you because you are champions of the Jewish community and you have both committed to fighting the scourge of antisemitism that has descended upon the United States as we’ve never seen.  Your dedication to our community and your love for Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael is beautiful.  I write to you just days after the publication of the White House’s “US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism” (hereinafter the Strategy) that was both offensive and concerning.

As you are both well aware, we are under attack.  We are under attack on several fronts.  We, Jewish Americans, are under attack by the very obvious and predictable extreme right who hoist swastikas alongside flags featuring their favorite candidates, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, with condemnation by neither candidate.  We, Jewish Americans, are under attack by the extreme left, who attempt to disguise their antisemitism by demonizing Israel and any Jew who supports Israel – the same Israel that is a foundational part of our faith and the same Israel that the majority of American Jews support because we recognize Israel as being critical to the safety of Jews in the diaspora, as well as to the safety of half the world’s Jews who live there.  We are under attack by Islamists who have largely partnered with the extreme left in their attacks on us and in English refer to us as Zionists, but in Arabic refer to us as Yahud (Jews).

I’m going to focus on the left/Islamist front right now, because that’s the more pressing antisemitism we need to address.  I’d also like to differentiate at this time between liberal and left or leftist.  Left or leftist is generally Marxist at its foundation.  Liberal or liberalism is what most Democrats are – pro-democracy, rational, and center left.  Liberals win general elections.  Leftists don’t.  Leftists despise liberals.  As a liberal Democrat, I’m very happy to be despised by the left.

The left are organized in their attacks on us and they’ve been organizing for the past quarter century.  They have established non-governmental non-profits to attack us such as the Democratic Socialists of America, MPower Change, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, Students for Justice in Palestine, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, Foundation for Middle East Peace, and others. Mpower Change is currently running a campaign to discourage tech companies from doing business with Israel and specifically targeting Amazon.

The left have set up periodicals, including within our own Jewish community, to sow the seeds of anti-Zionism (which IS antisemitism) such as Jewish Currents, Jacobin, Mint Press, and Mondoweiss.

The left have infiltrated academia, including Jewish-focused academics as I’ve written about previously, to promote revisionist history and a revisionist present-day reality of the Arab/Israeli conflict, depicting Jews as settler colonists and white Europeans when we are as Middle Eastern as any ethnically Arab or Persian person.

The left have infiltrated human rights organizations as Mr. Bernstein recognized a decade ago when he called out the organization he founded, Human Rights Watch, for showing extreme bias against Israel.

These organizations are well funded, usually by the New Israel Fund, Open Society Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and their focus is not marketing campaigns alone, with all due respect to Mr. Kraft.  Their focus is on changing US policy toward Israel and they do this by mainly targeting young people.  They have thousands of paid community organizers who organize young people, teach a false narrative, and find and promote candidates for office at every level of government.  Justice Democrats in particular is focused on, in their own words, a “hostile takeover of the Democratic party.”  They are connected to Brand New Congress.  They run far left candidates against more centrist Democrats in safe blue districts to install enough of their people in Congress to change policy on Israel, among other things.  This is how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got into Congress.  This is how Cori Bush got into Congress.  This is how Ilhan Omar got into Congress.  This is how Rashida Tlaib got into Congress.  This is Jamaal Bowman got into Congress.  Former Bernie Sanders’s staffers founded Justice Democrats and they are closely aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America.  We see their influence in the Biden administration.

Speaking of the Biden administration, the White House’s Strategy featured the word Zionist or Zionism exactly zero times, despite the fact that the antisemites on the left have branded combatting Zionism as their raison d’etre.  It mentioned Judaism seven times, which is the exact same number that Islamophobia was mentioned.  It started with, “…to combat antisemitism and all other forms of hate,” which of course “All Lives Mattered” Jews.  One of the partners in crafting this Strategy was the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and a designated terrorist group in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.  The same CAIR that is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial where leaders of that charity were found guilty in 2008 on 108 counts for providing material support to Hamas.  CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the North American Islamic Trust, were all unindicted co-conspirators for which Federal Judge Jorge Solis found the US presented ample evidence “to establish the association” of these three organizations with Hamas.  The same CAIR that stands by their San Francisco Executive Director, Zahra Billoo, who claimed Zionist organizations are behind Islamophobia, police brutality in the US, and border control in a public speech.  Jonathan Greenblatt, Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Billoo’s speech “…vile, antisemitic, conspiracy-laden garbage attacking the mainstream US Jewish community.”  Of course, CAIR attacked him for that statement.  How on earth did the Biden administration decide to include CAIR as part of a taskforce to combat antisemitism?  Because the far left influenced him to do so.

These organizations are also prolific tweeters.  Amnesty International bully tweets about Israel several times a day.  Ken Roth, former Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, also bully tweets about Israel daily.  Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur for the UN for whom a petition for her removal has been circulating, also bully tweets about both Israel and the campaign for her removal.  Sadly, today’s incredibly lazy journalism community measures public sentiment using Twitter as a barometer, which is how we see so much anti-Israel bias in today’s mainstream reporting.  Twitter is a bastion of extremism from both the far left and far right polarities, the latter of which was only recently allowed a voice when Elon Musk took over.  The rational center, which is most of the country, has virtually no voice on Twitter.

The publication of the Strategy left many Jews feeling completely demoralized, defeated, and hopeless.  When organizations we respect praised the strategy, we felt gaslit.  When If Not Now, Palestine Legal, and Jews for Racial & Economic Justice praised the Strategy, it confirmed what we knew.  The Strategy does not bode well for Jewish Americans who know the majority of antisemitism we’re dealing with is coming from the left.  The fact that the White House did not adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and the fact that it even mentioned the anti-Israel Nexus definition, were deal breakers for most of us.  It left us knowing that this administration would do absolutely nothing to combat antisemitism coming from the left, despite a single sentence that mentioned Title IX and support for Israel.

We cannot combat the leftist antisemites the way we are doing things now.  They outnumber us, they out-fund us, and they out-maneuver us.  They also have a 25-year head start.  We have to do exactly what they’re doing.  We have to have organizations that aren’t just correcting the lies with facts, but we have to have organizations that can appeal to the ideological sense of justice that most young people possess and we have to organize to influence US policy.  We have to appeal to people on an emotional level and guilt or sympathy for what we endured from the Holocaust doesn’t work in 2023.

The Democratic Party that I grew up in supported Israel.  Support for Israel has always been a liberal cause.  Israel is a free and secular country surrounded by religious fanatic enemies.  The Jews did not steal anyone’s land.  There was no mass expulsion of Arabs to form Israel.  There is no apartheid in Israel.  But these are lies that are believed by much of today’s American youth precisely because these groups have been so busy doing what they do.  We have to mimic their model if we are going to successfully combat this scourge of disinformation steeped in antisemitism.  For example, the only reason Israel is called “apartheid” is precisely because Israel entered into the Oslo accords to seek peace by giving Palestinians self-rule in the West Bank.  Those self-ruled territories are seen by the uninformed as apartheid outposts to separate Arabs from Jews and ruled over by Israel when they’re not.  Every time Israel does anything to promote peace with Palestinians, Israel seems to pay a price.  Look at Temple Mount.  Despite Temple Mount being the holiest site to Jews, at the end of the Six-Day war, in an effort to promote peace, Moshe Dayan allowed the Jordanian Waqf to maintain oversight of the site.  Today, if Jews gather on Temple Mount, they’re accused of “storming” al Aqsa.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I call on you good gentlemen, to please hear me and please reach out to me in care of the Blogs at Times of Israel, or Mr. Kraft, Rotem knows how to reach me.  There are many additional things we can do and because you’ve dedicated yourselves to this cause, I implore you to understand that we have to operate exactly like those who would see us tossed into the sea.  We have to educate, but more importantly influence American youth.  We have to promote pro-Israel Democrats for political office from City Council to federal positions.  We have to stop being patrons to universities, and especially Jewish studies departments, that use our money to promote antisemitism and revisionist reality regarding Israel.  CUNY should never see another dime of money from the Jewish community.  Brandeis and Harvard should not see another endowment funded by a Jewish patron until things change.  College of Charleston’s Jewish Studies department should never get another dollar earned by someone Jewish until they rid their department of their antisemitic Jewish professors.

We have to defeat the BDS movement.  The boycott of South African apartheid had a very clear goal – extinguishing apartheid in South Africa.  Since Israel isn’t apartheid, nor is it occupying Gaza or the West Bank illegally, since it’s involved in a war that was declared by the Palestinians, and since Palestinians have deemed all of Israel as “occupied,” the only clear goal of the BDS movement is to dismantle Israel.  Some naïve people don’t realize this and only think that if Israel takes some action like completely removing all Jews from the West Bank, the BDS goal would be realized.  I previously explained exactly why that would not fulfill the goal of the BDS movement.  However, more and more young Americans are starting to view Israel’s very existence as illegitimate and a “land grab by white people to persecute brown people,” because that’s what they’re being fed a constant diet of.  And what would’ve been unheard of 20 years ago because the idea is so very antisemitic, the dismantling of the sovereign country of Israel, is spilling over from the far left into the mainstream in the US.  Your efforts and your passion are so incredibly appreciated.  We need your help to embark on additional efforts to combat this monster that is causing so many Jews like me to feel anxious, defeated, and very afraid for our future in this country.  Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you.

About the Author
Debbie Hall is a writer and activist living in the diaspora.
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