EMET Responds to Erroneous Reporting On Palestinian Terrorist Release Initiative

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JTA and Washington Jewish Week

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Washington Jewish Week recently published an article by reporter Ron Kampeas on the subject of the upcoming peace process talks proposed by Secretary Kerry. That article inappropriately conflated a recent visit to Washington by Israeli settler leader Dani Dayan with EMET’s recent efforts in support of Representative Matt Salmon’s letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on the subject of the release of Palestinian prisoners with American blood on their hands, as though these two seperate issues were a joint effort to “undermine the peace process.” The article also incorrectly labeled EMET a “conservative lobby”, rather than as the non-partisan educational organization it is. We at EMET felt compelled to set the record straight. Below is the “Letter to the Editor” written in reply:

Dear Editor,

It is with much disappointment that we read the Ron Kampeas piece, entitled, “As peace talks kick off, right wing intensifies efforts to influence outcome”.

To begin with, the title creates conspiratorial overtones which are not supported by the actual reporting within the article. Instead, a series of unconnected meetings and initiatives from a wide variety of organizations are lumped together into a single report as though plotted out in advance by a non-existent “right wing” cabal.  A responsible Jewish journalist with any sense of professionalism ought to be sensitive to the supreme inappropriateness of writing stories implying conspiracies by Jewish organizations, and of trying to connect dots where there are absolutely no connections.

Additionally the article refers to the Endowment for Middle East Truth as a conservative “lobby”, which is factually incorrect. EMET is a 501(c) educational organization. 501(c) organizations are barred from spending a “substantial” amount of their efforts on lobbying.  EMET’s primary focus is to provide educational seminars on a variety of Middle East-related topics of interest, which we do on a monthly basis.  We reserve a minimal amount of our energies for direct lobbying. We educate in the issues so as to insure that our policymakers do not get a slanted, skewed perspective of what is going on in Israel and the Middle East.

EMET’s support for Rep. Matt Salmon’s letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding Palestinian terrorists who have maimed or murdered Americans is part and parcel of an effort that began well before the current peace talk proposals. EMET previously worked with Representatives Joe Walsh and Howard Berman on a bipartisan letter with 52 congressional signatories which raised the exact same points regarding Palestinian terrorists released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal.  This prisoner release had nothing what-so-ever to do with the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Indeed, EMET founder and President Sarah Stern’s interest in this issue predates even EMET’s founding, as she previously worked on the establishment of the Office for Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism through the passage of the Koby Mandell act.

For EMET, the issue of American victims of Palestinian terrorism is about seeking justice, not preventing peace. Quite the opposite, since we firmly believe that only by seeking justice can true peace be established. Freed terrorists with American blood on their hands being championed as conquering heroes by the Palestinian Authority, while morally appalling, is a symptom of the culture of incitement to violence which is the actual source of “sabotage” to the peace process. Pointing that reality out is not anti-peace, it is pro-truth, which we hope you’ll agree is neither right nor left wing.

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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