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    I’m helping to launch a new, millennial-run Israel advocacy watchdog group

    I’m helping to launch a new, millennial-run Israel advocacy watchdog group

    Our new non-profit, founded and organized by members of an up-and-coming generation of passionate Jewish activists, will counter ill-informed “efforts by anti-Zionists to separate Judaism and Zionism”
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    Against the backdrop of a rising tide of anti-Semitic incidents across the country and the failure of many mainstream Jewish organizations to condemn anti-Semitism emanating from the left, communities of color, or Islamists, I’ve joined a group of Jewish-American millennials in founding a brand-new non-profit organization called HaShevet.

    It is my honor to serve on HaShevet’s founding board of directors with a cadre of brilliant, ambitious, and passionate Jewish leaders.

    HaShevet is not a part of or affiliated with the Legal Insurrection Foundation.

    [Our new logo, which derives its design from one of the meanings of the Hebrew word ‘hashevet’: ‘the stick’.]

    On Monday, June 30, we published our first press release, announcing HaShevet’s launch and explaining our mission. JNS reported on our project:

    Amid dissatisfaction with mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations, a new alliance of young Jewish American leaders was launched on Monday: HaShevet (Hebrew for “The Tribe,” which is also a nickname for the Jewish faith and people).

    The organization seeks to “represent a diversity of political opinions and professional backgrounds” and “come together, united in our dedication to promote moral clarity within the Jewish advocacy sector, strengthen and mobilize young Jewish professionals to publicly oppose all forms of anti-Semitism (including anti-Zionism), and take up the mantle of Jewish community leadership to safeguard the future of the Jewish people,” said the organization in an announcement.

    We believe so strongly in our mission that all of us on the founding board are volunteers, working on this project in our spare time:

    Its board of directors includes chairman Bryan Leib, former national director of Americans Against Antisemitism; vice chairman and president Nachman Mostofsky, executive director of Chovevei Zion; secretary Kayla Gubov, a political strategist; treasurer Joel Griffith, Heritage Foundation research fellow; Emma Enig, Republican Jewish Coalition national grassroots coordinator; Samantha Rose Mandeles, Legal Insurrection senior researcher and outreach director; Jennifer Taer, a writer and researcher for the website of investigative correspondent and conservative activist Sara Carter; Rabbi Yitzchok Tendler, co-founder of Young Jewish Conservatives; and Joseph Tipograph, a pro-Israel lawyer.

    In its statement, HaShevet said it is “driven by an unwavering imperative: the preservation, in safety and security, of the State of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora in North America. We are unabashed Zionists. Our Zionism is inspired by the courage and energy of the Jewish State and our unwavering belief in its legitimacy and enduring value to the world of nations.”

    …HaShevet said it was formed out of being “dismayed at the diminishing effectiveness of mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations in North America,” as “strident and divisive fringe voices are taking advantage of a trend toward groupthink, hypocrisy, and virtue signaling within the mainstream establishment,” resulting in “Zionism is losing the culture war, as it increasingly becomes relegated to a narrow portion of the American political spectrum.”

    The Jerusalem Post covered HaShevet’s launch as well, noting:

    The group also highlighted the rise in support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on American university campuses, accusations of dual loyalties leveled at American Jews and the perpetuation of antisemitic and hateful content on social media website.
    Similarly, the group also referenced the internal disputes within the American Jewish community, including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and between Jewish organizations, such as those on the political Left, including If Not Now, Jewish Voices for Peace, and J Street, and those on political Right, such as the Zionist Organization of America.

    You can see HaShevet’s full press release here or below.

    Today, HaShevet was quoted in another JNS piece; we have strongly criticized Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt for working with the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has a history of vicious anti-Jewish statements:

    Bryan Leib, chairman of HaShevet, a new alliance of young Jewish American leaders that was formed amid dissatisfaction with mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations such as the ADL, echoed Klein as it pertains to Greenblatt and Sharpton, though questioned the Facebook boycott.

    “We are committed to dialogue that unites communities rather than divides, like Reverend Al Sharpton has done for decades. It is hypocritical for the Anti-Defamation League’s head to work with someone who has long defamed Jews—and put on Congressional Record for references to ‘Bloodsucking Jews’ and ‘Jew Bastards’—without apologizing,” said Leib. “Surely, Mr. Greenblatt can find more a suitable partner in policing hate speech than someone whose rhetoric once fueled a targeted, lethal attack on Brooklyn’s Jewish community.”

    Happily, responses to our fledgling enterprise have been overwhelmingly positive; my fellow board members have reported numerous inquiries from other Jewish young professionals from all over the country looking to get involved. Each of my fellow board members are equally excited—not least about the opportunity we’ve created to build strong relationships with each other. In an e-mail to me at LIF, Chairman Leib enthused, “I’m incredibly honored to serve as our organization’s first chairman. We have a smart, dedicated, and passionate board to advance our mission!” President and Vice Chair Nachman Mostofsky similarly expressed the importance of “working with young Jewish leaders from all walks of life and ideals, as long as they are founded in the precepts of Judaism.”

    For my part, one of the best aspects about working on this project so far is the emphasis we’ve placed on preserving Jewish values—not only by defending those values within Jewish organizational circles, but also by consciously modeling them in our own lives. As the legendary Rabbi Hillel instructed, we are committed to loving our neighbors (and HaShevet colleagues) as ourselves, to performing acts of gemilut hasadim (‘loving kindness’ in Hebrew) for each other, and to beginning our tikkun olam (‘repairing the world’) work by working to improve ourselves.

    I can’t wait to see where HaShevet takes us!

    (For more information, check out HaShevet’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. And stay tuned; I’ll continue to write about HaShevet’s development and progress.)


    Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.


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    tom_swift | July 5, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    will counter ill-informed “efforts by anti-Zionists to separate Judaism and Zionism”

    This is only “ill-informed” if Judaism and Zionism are synonyms. Which they are not. “Zionism” can reference a hill in Jerusalem, or it can refer to a movement founded in 1897, or perhaps it’s some arcane thing unknown to the goyem at large, including me. But “Judaism” is obviously a bit larger and older than any of these.

    Now if, for modern political reasons, someone wants to make them synonyms, inseparable objects like, say, Great Britain and India (and we all know how well that worked out), or France and Algeria, or some such product of wishful thinking, then it’s not clear that contrary efforts are at all ill-informed.

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