Monthly Archives: October 2007

“Zionist 5″ censored by high-end San Francisco art gallery

Oy Bay reports about a group of artists that calls itself the Zionist 5.

Himmelberger Gallery, a well-known art gallery located in San Francisco’s tony Union Square, has decided to cancel plans to publish an art catalogue of one of its represented artists, noted author Alan Kaufman, who is under contract to the gallery. The decision is due to use of the word Zionism in the catalogue’s title ‘Visionary Expressionism: A Zionist Art.” Kaufman said in response:

For myself, I want to say that to see oneself and ones colleagues censored for expression of a Zionist perspective is one of the most shocking experiences I’ve ever had as an artist, or writer. But what made it especially hard was to see my fellow writers, David Twersky, David Rosenberg, Etgar Keret, Polly Zavadivker, also censored. It was then that I understood that this was not merely censorship of me: this was censorship of an entire community, of my people, the Jewish People; of my colleagues, my fellow writers and artists. This drove home to me like nothing else that I must never accept such censorship from anyone, under any circumstances. I must stand up proudly as a Zionist and express myself freely, without shame or reservation.

The gallery objects to the expressly Zionist focus of several essay contributions to the catalogue by well-known authors and journalists, including David Twersky, contributing editor of the New York Sun and senior adviser, International Affairs for American Jewish Congress; noted scholar David Rosenberg, author (with Harold Bloom) of The Book of J and most recently of Abraham: The First Historical Biography; Etgar Keret, widely acknowledged as Israel’s most popular young writer, and whose books include The Nimrod Flip-Out and The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be G-d ; and Polly Zavadivker, a young scholar completing graduate studies in Hebrew and Judaics at New York University and currently working as a grants officer at the Jewish Federation in Oakland, California. Kaufman, whose critically acclaimed books include the memoir Jew Boy and the novel Matches has an essay and an interview, conducted by Zavadivker, in the catalogue.

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“Israel’s Jewish Defamers.” CAMERA goes after Ha’aretz and Progressive Jews at NYC conference

CAMERA asks recipients to “share this invitation with people committed to fair and factual reporting about Israel and the Middle East,” which obviously means Muzzlewatch readers.

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They used to call Jewish critics of Israeli human rights violations self-haters. Now the new term is “Israel’s Defamers.” It works. It rhymes with self-haters. And it allows a notoriously right wing Jewish media watchdog group, CAMERA, to demonize and blacklist an entirely different group of Jews, those who speak the radical notion that Israel must treat Palestinians as full human beings if it ever, ever wants to see peace or security.

CAMERA chief gadfly and keynoter Andrea Levin will have plenty to talk about when she takes on the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, which provides often remarkable coverage of life under occupation. Recently, their chief Palestinian affairs writer Danny Rubinstein caused a big stir in the UK when he refused to back off from using the word “apartheid” to describe the situation in Israel and the territories.

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Sacramento Jewish Federation says no to Alice Rothchild’s Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience

Yesterday, the editor of Sacramento’s Jewish paper told promoters of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) member Dr. Alice Rothchild’s important new book, “Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience,” that they would not let readers know about her book tour in the area.

They said that although they and JVP support “the same goal of peace in the Middle East,” the book readings do not support their mission to “enrich those of the Jewish commnity [sic] who support and identify with Israel.”

To be absolutely clear, the Jewish Federation runs the paper, and as a private nonprofit organization, they have the right to choose what they’ll print. The really, really sad thing here is their narrow and ultimately self-destructive interpretation of what it means to enrich a Jewish community that supports or identifies with Israel.

JVP has plenty of members who have lived and worked in Israel, are Israeli, or have family members there. More of us have been to Israel than your average American Jew. Many of us identify with, raise money for, and work on behalf of the many extraordinary Israeli human rights groups like Ta’ayush, B’tselem, Gush Shalom, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Rabbis for Human Rights, Bustan, Machsom Watch, New Profile and so many more.

Alice Rothchild’s book offers a thoughtful, nuanced and critical first-hand perspective that deserves to be heard. Period. It’s embarrassing that the Federation doesn’t agree.

But in the Jewish Federation’s world, that entire aspect of Israel simply does not exist- and worse- must be kept hidden from American Jews. This attitude is precisely why Israeli paper Ha’aretz chief political columnist Akiva Eldar told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that America’s Israel Lobby is a barrier to peace.

————– Forwarded Message: ————–
From: “Elissa Provance”
Subject: RE: Press Release for Nov and Dec Jewish Voice
Date: Tue, 9 Oct :14:56 +0000

Sarah and Ellen, while our organizations support the same goal of peace in the Middle East, The Jewish Voice is a community newspaper that is owned and operated by the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region whose mission is, in part, to enrich those of the Jewish commnity who support and identify with Israel. We do not believe the event below supports this mission.

Thanks.
Elissa

Elissa Provance
Editor, The Jewish Voice
Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region
2351 Wyda Way
Sacramento, CA 95825

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Amazing! End of Tutu smear! St Thomas reverses position and invites Tutu!

So much good news to report for a change.
We had a back and forth with folks at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about the false Tutu quote after they used it in a release. Well, these guys are good and went to the source, the Zionist Organization of America, and finally put to bed this terrible smear against Tutu.

They also broke the story that Abe Foxman came out in support of Tutu speaking. (We’re in the piece as well.)  The extreme rightwing ZOA still insists Tutu is an anti-Semite.
Mitchell Plitnick and I wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Minneapolis/St Paul Star Tribune today suggesting that silencing Tutu and silencing debate is not the best way to be a friend to Jews.
Best of all — and the timing is no coincidence — this afternoon, the University of St Thomas announced a reversal of their decision.

I’ll leave you with a link to Tony Karon’s piece, My Favorite ‘Anti-Semite’, which I’ve been wanting to highlight since he write it about Archbishop Tutu when the story broke. Karon, a Time.com senior editor, is Jewish and a former anti-apartheid activist from south Africa.

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Oct 12, U of Chicago, Academic Freedom Forum with Tariq Ali, Tony Judt, Noam Chomsky and others

Tikun Olam writes: An extraordinary conference will take place at the University of Chicago on October 12th called In Defense of Academic Freedom. Several distinguished academics and public intellectuals will examine the threats to academic freedom posed by recent controversial tenure decisions and other campus developments which have stifled the free exchange of ideas. The conference will explore these issues in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict since some of the most contentious issues revolve around it.
academicfreedomposter.jpg

DePaul Academic Freedom Committee, Verso Books and
Discord Journal invite you to this public symposium.


Recent tenure denials at DePaul University and evidence of outside interference with academic selection have prompted leading scholars across the nation to speak out in defense of academic freedom. The first panel will feature:

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The time lag between US and Israel measured in years, not hours

Amy Goodman asked Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s top political columnist Akiva Eldar how “the so-called “Israel lobby” in the United States is perceived in Israel.” In an interview aired yesterday:

They are a very important instrument in order to pursue Israel’s policy, but I’m afraid that they’re a little bit behind the Israeli government and the Israeli people. We are in a different mode, which I think takes time for the American Jewish organizations to digest, the fact that we don’t want to keep those territories. And probably the Israeli propaganda was so efficient that it’s very hard now to change the mode and to convince them that it’s a different era now. It’s a different government. We have seventy out of 120 members of the Knesset who support a two-state solution based on the ’67 lines. And, you know, if for forty years, you tell the Jewish community that Israel cannot afford to give up the territories, they are important for Israel’s security, just overnight to tell, “Sorry, we were wrong. Now, we don’t need those territories,” it’s probably –

And while the Zionism litmus test gets employed in increasingly crude ways here in the US, Gershon Baskin of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information writes in Foreign Policy in Focus :

The majority of Israelis, like me, can no longer use the term “Zionist” to define what we believe in. “Zionism” has been hijacked by the movement of settlers who have built hundreds of settlements in the West Bank and are the primary obstacle to making peace with our Palestinian neighbors on the basis of the two-states-for-two-people solution. As I’ve argued in The Jerusalem Post, we need a new definition. We need a neo-Zionism.

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Can an entire publishing company dissapear from the US? Howard Zinn has an open letter about Pluto

You don’t have to be a fan of Joel Kovel’s new book, Overcoming Zionism, to appreciate the threat to academic freedom and publishing posed by the possible cancellation of the University of Michigan’s publishing relationship with UK’s Pluto Press. Without UofM,the Press would lose its only US-based distributor. Historian Howard Zinn asks folks to write to the publishers and includes contact information.

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U of St Thomas letter about Tutu from president to students

As Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Tutu, two Nobel Laureates and two of our greatest humanitarians (who have both been called anti-Semites) urge warring parties to talk to each other while in Darfur at this very moment, it’s a good time to revisit this 2005 quote from Daniel Okrent, then public editor of the New York Times:

During my research, representatives of If Americans Knew expressed the belief that unless the paper assigned equal numbers of Muslim and Jewish reporters to cover the conflict, Jewish reporters should be kept off the beat.

I find this profoundly offensive, but not nearly as repellent as a calumny that has popped up in my e-mail with lamentable frequency – the charge that The Times is anti-Semitic. Even if you stipulate that The Times’s reporters and editors favor the Palestinian cause (something I am not remotely prepared to do), this is an astonishing debasement. If reporting that is sympathetic to Palestinians, or antipathetic to Israelis, is anti-Semitism, what is real anti-Semitism? What word do you have left for conscious discrimination, or open hatred, or acts of intentional, ethnically motivated violence?

The Times may be – is – imperfect. It is not anti-Semitic. Calling it that defames the accuser far more than it does the accused.

Amen to that.

Meanwhile, someone just sent us this letter that seems to vindicate what we at Jewish Voice for Peace have been saying all along. This was not a case of Jewish groups threatening a boycott or demanding Tutu’s ouster. It was an act of self-censorship, intended to demonstrate support for Jews. In the end, it was the worst thing St Thomas could do, feeding the fire of anti-Semitism, because it promotes the idea that “the Jews demanded” the cancellation of Tutu’s talk. Of course, the fact that right-wing Jewish groups and leaders, claiming they speak for all of us, do often demand such forms of censorship ( as we document regularly here) also creates an atmosphere of intimidation for everyone. Did fear and intimidation play a role? We may never know.

Father Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas, has asked that the letter below be sent to St. Thomas students, faculty and staff:

Dear members of the St. Thomas community,

I am writing to you today to explain the University of St. Thomas’ decision not to co-sponsor an April 2008 PeaceJam conference for high school students.

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Tutu: Anatomy of a smear, the appalling double-standards of the thought police

All roads lead to Minnesota today. First, we wrote recently about the country’s first Muslim Congressman, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, who got publicly whacked at the knees by the ADL’s Abe Foxman for comparing 9/11 to the burning of the Reichstag, Bush to Hitler. (In a despicable move, after hours of negotiations with Ellison, the ADL still released a press release excoriating him. The ADL apparently owns the trademark to “Hitler” and even “Reichstag”)

Now in Salon, best-selling author Glenn Greenwald documents in detail the appalling frequency of right-wing attacks on liberal groups, using, yes, words like Holocaust, Nazi, Gestapo and Hitler. The juicy part? The almost daily barrage of Nazi language is coming from many Fox News personalities. And who appears frequently at ADL events and got the highest award possible from the Simon Wiesenthal Center? Fox News owner, Rupert Murdoch. (Meanwhile Ted Turner of CNN got an Abe Foxman letter for comparing Murdoch to Hitler.) Gee, think there’s anything political here?

Now – the disgusting anatomy of a smear against Tutu, who, as we reported, was banned from Minnesota’s U. of St Thomas because of criticism of Israeli human rights violations.
My colleague Mitchell Plitnick has written about this and the reprehensible charges of anti-Semitism in his blog, The Third Way.

(As I was finishing this, I also got an email alert on an article of the same name by Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam, about the same story. Let’s hope others pick this up and we can put an end to this disgusting lie about Archbishop Tutu. Digg these articles, Stumble them, Reddit- whatever you can.)

First: the lie, the Zionist Organization of America, and its circulation in the right-wing echo chamber

In defending the decision to bar Tutu from speaking, Doug Hennes of St Thomas said:

“But he’s compared the state of Israel to Hitler and our feeling was that making moral equivalencies like that are hurtful to some members of the Jewish community.”

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The New Republic defends Rep. Moran from attacks from fellow Democrats

We wrote earlier about the 16 Democrats who wrote an angry letter to Rep James Moran for comments he made in a recent interview in Tikkun Magazine about AIPAC and the war. They came down harshly and accused Moran of using anti-Semitic stereotypes. This was not Moran’s first foray into dangerous waters. Several years ago, he infamously said “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.”


TNR senior editor John Judis, who, like many others including Jewish Voice for Peace, condemned the prior statement as “false and reprehensible,” takes the time this time around to examine the actual claims made by US Rep. James Moran in THE GROUPS WHO CRIED ANTI-SEMITISM.

…in this case, it is Moran’s critics who are making reckless charges. And although the controversy may remain confined to the Beltway, it’s no small matter when a politician is accused of anti-Semitism. This kind of charge, if wielded without caution, makes it more difficult for politicians and policy-makers to have a frank and open discussion about American foreign policy in the Middle East.

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