Monthly Archives: May 2007

Roundup, tips from readers

Smear campaign or academic debate? LA attorney Frank J. Menetrez tries to make sense of substance of Dershowitz, Finkelstein charges and counter-charges.

More on Jewish left debates over anti-Semitism: Anti-war and Palestinian rights activists Matthew Richman, history PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, writes this response to “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Anti-Semitism Part of All of Our Movements,” on his blog here.

Ynet reports “Majority of Oxford Union students say pro-Israel lobby stifling debate.”

Nathan Guttman writes in the Forward, “A prominent liberal think tank is launching a new e-mail newsletter following claims that the main daily digest put out by the Jewish community advances a right-wing agenda.”

Jimmy Carter spoke at UC Berkeley last night. Watch it here.

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Major League Muzzling part 2: Bishara through the looking glass

Events are now continuing apace– Palestinian Israeli Azmi Bishara has now quit the Knesset and the police have released allegations that he has been engaged in treasonous activity against the state of Israel by providing information to Hezbollah and that he has taken money in service to a foreign state.

There is some comment in Israel, very little, regarding whether Knesset/political immunity should count for something and that any actions taken towards Knesset members go through proper judicial and political channels and not be directed by Shin Bet, but such “minor” issues are hardly noticed.

The charges certainly seem fantastical: that he gave targeting information to Hezbollah, suggested tactics, and took money for his efforts. At present Bishara says it’s completely about his politics, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that’s the case, but it’s also troubling that his own party Balad has remained silent. It’s possible their silence reflects the same intimidation, or it could reflect that something else is going on.
Today, Bishara publicly rejected the allegations in the Los Angeles Times. (as did Hezbollah) He has also very explicitly said that such charges are meant to muzzle not just him, but all Palestinian Israelis who want equal rights.

During my years in the Knesset, the attorney general indicted me for voicing my political opinions (the charges were dropped), lobbied to have my parliamentary immunity revoked and sought unsuccessfully to disqualify my political party from participating in elections — all because I believe Israel should be a state for all its citizens and because I have spoken out against Israeli military occupation. Last year, Cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman — an immigrant from Moldova — declared that Palestinian citizens of Israel “have no place here,” that we should “take our bundles and get lost.” After I met with a leader of the Palestinian Authority from Hamas, Lieberman called for my execution.The Israeli authorities are trying to intimidate not just me but all Palestinian citizens of Israel. But we will not be intimidated. We will not bow to permanent servitude in the land of our ancestors or to being severed from our natural connections to the Arab world. Our community leaders joined together recently to issue a blueprint for a state free of ethnic and religious discrimination in all spheres. If we turn back from our path to freedom now, we will consign future generations to the discrimination we have faced for six decades.

Americans know from their own history of institutional discrimination the tactics that have been used against civil rights leaders. These include telephone bugging, police surveillance, political delegitimization and criminalization of dissent through false accusations. Israel is continuing to use these tactics at a time when the world no longer tolerates such practices as compatible with democracy.

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Zeek: Shaul Magid and Paul Bagdanor on Zionism, Anti-Semitism and Dissent

[Editor's note: Apologies for the noticeable absence of new posts over the past few days. We've been at our sold-out conference, meeting and strategizing with fellow travelers from across the country. But we're back now.]

The April edition of Zeek magazine has an interesting back and forth between Shaul Maggid and Paul Bagnador about the American Jewish Committee’s infamous Alvin Rosenfeld report, “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism.” As we’ve written before, the booklet generated significant backlash by Jews who understood it more as a form of blacklisting, than a substantive piece of scholarship.

Professor Shaul Magid, who is, interestingly, a colleague of Rosenfeld’s at Indiana University, poses the question: Why Must Jews Support a Jewish State? He surveys some of the more egregious examples of polarized ultra-Orthodox theological thinking on the topic: those who think Jews caused the Holocaust because we didn’t move to Eretz Israel fast enough, and those who think we caused it because only “God has the covenantal right to reestablish Israel as part of the Messianic era.”

But I found more compelling his quote-by-quote deconstruction of Rosenfeld’s essay, a shoddy piece of scholarship. Magid takes the time to go back to the original source to provide not only context, but attribution.

Rosenfeld’s first “progressive” Jew under investigation is Jaqueline Rose, author of The Question of Zion (Princeton University Press, 2005). Rosenfeld quotes Rose as saying “In sum, Israel on its present course ‘is bad for the Jews’ …” If we turn to page 154 (Rosenfeld’s citation) we indeed find those words “bad for the Jews” in reference to Israel, but these words are not Rose’s. Rose is quoting Avner Azulay, retired IDF army general and Director of the Rich Foundation in Tel Aviv. In fact, on page 134, Rose quotes Azulay more extensively. Azulay writes, “What is happening in Israel is bad for the Jewish people in the long term. It seems to be coming true that what is happening in Israel is damaging to Jews.”

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