How the Quakers Turned against the Jews

Nov. 13 2017

Established during World War I for pacifists seeking an alternative to serving in the military, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) quickly became a leading organization for helping refugees around the world. Now it is a major advocate for boycotts of Israel. Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander Joffe explain how it changed its focus:

[AFSC’s] Quaker theology has . . . gone from emphasis on the “inner light” that guides individual conscience to something like old-fashioned Christian supersessionism, according to which Jews deserve to be hated [because they rejected Jesus and thus lost their claim to be God’s chosen people]. The result is that the organization is now effectively captive to progressive Israel-hatred. . . .

The shift began when the AFSC was invited by the United Nations to run Palestinian refugee relief in Gaza in late 1948. Quakers had been in the Holy Land for over a century, running schools and hospitals for local Christians. But the refugee program was a turning point. Relief workers had never encountered refugees who did not want to be taught new skills or to be resettled elsewhere, only to be maintained at someone else’s expense until Israel disappeared. . . . The Gaza experience—where in fact the AFSC excelled at providing relief and creating infrastructure, despite resistance from the refugees themselves—was enough to convince the leadership to get out of the relief business altogether.

At the same time, a faction of the organization’s leadership advocated a radical pacifist, and anti-American, agenda, aimed at nuclear disarmament and elevating the status of the Soviet Union and Communist China. . . . Support for Saddam Hussein and North Korea quickly followed. . . . After 1967, the AFSC escalated its involvement [in the Israel-Palestinian conflict], beginning with quasi-theological criticism of Israel, acting as the PLO’s legal representatives in Jerusalem during the 1970s, and conducting “interfaith” events at which American Jews were shamed for supporting Israel. . . . These policies are reflected in the educational curriculum of Quaker schools across the country, but most of all in the AFSC’s leading role in the BDS movement. . . .

Many Jewish parents are attracted to Quaker schools, which seek to instill values mistakenly believed to be analogous to those of Judaism, especially since the Quakers and their schools have enshrined “social justice” as a guiding principle. This is misleading. . . . Jewish parents must decide whether Jewish values and Quaker values, as they exist today, are really the same.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Quakers

 

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war