J Street U’s Hanukkah Message for Ambassador Ron Dermer

Brooke Davies Image
Brooke Davies
on December 14, 2016

Last night, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, received an award from the Center for Security Policy, a group whose main focus, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “has been on demonizing Islam and Muslims under the guise of national security.” The Anti-Defamation League has said that the group’s founder, Frank Gaffney, advances “myriad conspiracy theories and anti-Muslim extremism.”

Dermer’s acceptance of this award is just the latest sign that he is completely out of touch with the values and concerns of the vast majority of American Jews, who oppose rising Islamophobia and discrimination in our country, and worry about the future of the two-state solution.

We’ve seen it in his defense of Steve Bannon, President-elect Trump’s senior strategist, who has been denounced by American Jewish groups for peddling bigotry, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. We’ve seen it in his refusal to acknowledge our concerns or answer our questions about the effects of ongoing settlement expansion and home demolitions in the West Bank, like the proposed demolition of the village of Susya, which could move forward as early as this week. And we’ve seen it in Dermer’s refusal to meet with the pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy American Jews of J Street and J Street U, even as he has plenty of time for Islamophobic extremists.

That’s why J Street U decided we needed to take action to help the Ambassador get a sense of the values and concerns that he has been ignoring. Last year, he had the Israeli embassy send out Hanukkah gift baskets filled with products made over the Green Line, in settlements. This year, we’ve decided to send him our own Hanukkah basket, filled with items that represent our principles of justice, tolerance and equality, and which convey our hopes and concerns for Israel’s future.

J Street U's Hanukkah Gift Basket for Ambassador Ron Dermer

J Street U’s Hanukkah Gift Basket for Ambassador Ron Dermer

The contents of this basket include:

  • A menorah
  • Hanukkah gelt
  • Hanukkah candles, made in Tzfat, Israel
  • Dates from Jericho in the West Bank, gifted to us by Palestinians investing in the city of Rawabi
  • Two “coexist” stickers highlighting the need to support coexistence and peace
  • A map of Israel that includes the Green Line
  • The book The Unmaking of Israel, by the Israeli-American author Gershom Gorenberg, which details the threat that the settlement movement and right-wing extremism poses to Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state
  • The book Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, by Eboo Patel, an American-Muslim expert and advocate on behalf of interfaith and Jewish-Muslim relations and coexistence
  • The Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center’s fact sheets on the Center for Security Policy, an Islamophobic hate group from whom Ambassador Dermer has chosen to accept an award yesterday (Tuesday, December 13), and its founder, Frank Gaffney
  • A Jewish text study on the danger of hate speech, put together by T’ruah

We hope the Ambassador will enjoy these gifts – and use them to gain a better understanding of American Jews and our values, and the ways in which his actions have consistently failed to live up to them.  

Learn more about J Street U

Learn more about J Street U - the student organizing arm of J Street, the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans.