A collective gasp of disbelief could be heard some weeks back in the Bay Area progressive community when it was discovered that the ADL was putting on a conference – by and for progressives – on anti-Semitism on the left.
I say discovered because nowhere on the registration page did it actually say who was organizing the event. The only contact information was a gmail address. Also conspicuous was the fact that of the 50 or so co-sponsors, the Bay Area’s most prominent progressive Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, Tikkun and Progressive Jewish Alliance were nowhere to be seen. AIPAC and BlueStar PR, however, were.
Was this really a conference to address anti-Semitism on the left? Or was it a blatant ADL ploy to silence dissent by appropriating the “progressive” label and calling all criticism of Israel anti-Semitic?
The truth probably is somewhere in between. In fact, many excellent, thoughtful people did participate, and we think anti-Semitism on the left is a real issue that needs to be addressed. (So, by the way, is Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. We’re waiting for the ADL to put on that conference.) But a quick glance at the program left no doubt that there would be ample discussion about things like fighting divestment and “emphasizing what’s right in Israel” from BlueStarPR, the folks who have perfected the art of promoting Israel by simply dissing the entire Middle East.
What was remarkable about this conference was that virtually none of the media outlets were buying just the ADL’s take on the “new anti-Semitism”. Check out these more thoughtful stories on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
And this archive of a 1 hour show on San Francisco’s KALW that we did with Rabbi Jane Litman, the rabbi the ADL brought in to organize the conference. After the conference, we were contacted by even more reporters from both the Jewish and corporate press.
This San Jose Mercury News article is notable not only for delving into the complexities of the issue, but for mentioning Muzzlewatch. In fact, it mentions the story we reported earlier about Professor Joel Beinin being booted at the last minute from a Harker School speaking engagement due to pressure from a parents group, with some kind of involvement by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley (though they have not responded to a request for a statement), that was no doubt, fulfilling its mission as a “protector of Israel.”
(Here at Muzzlewatch, we reject the term “pro-Israel” because many of the groups who proudly use that moniker are blindly marching Israel down the path of self-destruction. Further, it insinuates that if you care about Israelis, you don’t care about Palestinians. At Muzzlewatch, and Jewish Voice for Peace, we take the sadly radical position that you can and should care equally about both. We’re pro-humanity.)
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