Yearly Archives: 2009

Boston-area church cancels Noam Chomsky Gaza talk

Mondoweiss writes:

On Sunday, the last day of his 81st year, Noam Chomsky gave a speech on Gaza in Watertown, Mass., at the behest of Newton Dialogues on Peace and War. They raised alot of money for the Gaza Freedom March. I heard a rumor that the original venue for the speech, Eliot Church in Newton, had dropped the speech under pressure, saying that the speech was “controversial” and had not gone through the appropriate processes for church events. I emailed Newton Dialogues. Dave Ascher responded. If you read between the lines of his response below, it is clear that the Eliot Church came under pressure because of the political nature of the Chomsky speech.

As you read this, remember one thing: This suppression of free speech took place in the heart of abolitionist territory. 150 years ago, Boston-area churches helped lead the movement that forced politicians to come out against slavery. Those churches asserted that All [Americans] are created equal. That same principle is being defiled by scared Bostonians today. Why? Because of the Israel lobby, because of the construction of Jewish identity around Israel, because of fears of persecution that have caused an empowered group to overlook the persecution of others. Dave Ascher:

I have been asked to reply to your inquiry about the Chomsky/Gaza fundraiser that our group, Newton Dialogues on Peace and War, had planned to have in Newton this past Sunday. As an active member of the group, I have been one of the central figures involved in organizing the event and have been privy to virtually all the emails and phone conversations that went on involving the change of venue.
I can confirm that the venue was indeed changed and on fairly short notice. At the new venue we had a turnout of about 200 people, which was considerably more than the capacity of the new space and the event raised significantly more money for the Gaza Freedom March than we’d anticipated.
The change of venue was due in large part to a failure on our part, as the sponsors of the event, to communicate and coordinate our plans well enough with the original venue. This might not have been a reason for cancellation in itself, but there was also a set of circumstances (pastor on vacation, short notice, Thanksgiving holiday) that conspired to make things difficult to straighten out.
We have heard that the church received phone calls after our notices were sent out. We do not really know the substance of those calls nor whether they came from nervous parishioners who recalled the hysteria in Newton when Chomsky came to speak to a club at one of the high schools or from people who wanted to alert the relatively-inexperienced assistant pastor of the possibility of this event being different from the used book sale to raise money for the homeless or from people in the community who have attempted to disrupt other events in Newton over the past several years that included speakers who are critical of the Government of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians and its neighbors (like Lebanon).
After a lot of last minute phone calls and emails a venue was located at a church in neighboring Watertown, about 1-1/2 miles from the original venue. We were told that there were demonstrators from “The David Project” outside the church on Sunday morning, protesting the event, but nobody showed up in the evening to disrupt or demonstrate and all went smoothly.
We plan to re-schedule Chomsky to speak at the original venue, in the City of Newton, about Israel’s actions and policies toward the Palestinians as soon as we can arrange it after the New Year.

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Billboards calling for end to military aid back up in Albuquerque

Back in April, after gaining approval for text and design, anti-occupation activists in New Mexico signed a contract with Lamar Advertising to display 10 billboards (pictured at left) for 8 weeks. But after only 3 weeks, and a pressure campaign on Lamar that included personal threats, the billboards all came down. Billboard critics did not like the call for no military aid, and some said that the “Stop Killing Children” message, which referred to the death of some 300 children in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, was evocative of anti-Semitic blood libel myths. Yet, repeated efforts to alter the text and design to meet the changing standards of Lamar were unsuccessful.

The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalition working to “end to the ten year commitment of $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid pledged to Israel in 2007 by the Bush administration,” reports they have a new set of billboards (below) with a new company and slightly altered message. Seventy-five percent of US military aid to Israel is, by law, given to US arms manufacturers.

watch?v=BI57Z67PyBo

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Jewish institutional chickens coming home to roost

Decades of determined silence, or aiding and abetting both illegal settlement expansion and vicious attacks on dissenting critics of Israeli state policy have created a kind of “blowback” in the institutional Jewish world.

The new targets of the settlers’ linguistic paramilitary forces, aka the rightwing pro-Israel punditocracy and their followers, aren’t just the usual suspects like Jimmy Carter or Archbishop Tutu. They’re now mainstream, moderate, demonstrably Israel-loving institutional Jews. This is a moment of truth for many of these targets. Faced with new pressure from their right-wing flank, some will fold and adapt to a more McCarthyite environment, especially if loss of funding is threatened. Others will stand strong and even be radicalized.

So, who are the new targets of occupation-supporters like Caroline Glick (Whither American Jewry?) and Isi Liebler (Candidly Speaking: Marginalize the renegades) of the Jerusalem Post and Walter Bingham (Expose the Renegades) in Arutz Sheva? For starters, there’s former Jewish Council for Public Affairs director Hannah Rosenthal, whose principled concern for the Jewish community and  for Israel is undeniable. She is the newly appointed head of the US Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism:

Shortly after the announcement of Rosenthal’s nomination, conservative Jewish web sites began to attack her, some of them declaring that Obama appointed an anti-Israeli to fight anti-Semitism. Rumors brewed that she had accused Israel of systemically strengthening anti-Semitism. Bloggers argued that her appointment would cause Jews and Israelis to cast doubt on Obama and his relationship with Israel.

Then there’s the the popular San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, known for its diverse approach to programming, and the Jewish Federation in San Francisco, which (lightly) funds the Festival. Not used to getting hate mail from Jews, and being called anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli, the Federation has been under tremendous pressure to cave in to calls for excessively McCarthyite control over funding recipients; the Film Festival has already lost tens of thousands of dollars and half its board, with no sign of the campaign dying any time soon.

The Federation board wisely said no to an absurd proposal to bar partnerships with any individuals or groups who “defame Israel” (good luck defining that), but they did support a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America barring partnerships with groups that support Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.

(Presumably, Time’s Joe Klein, who recently came out in support of a suspension of aid as a way to get the Israelis to actually freeze settlements, could still speak at a Federation-supported venue. Jewish Voice for Peace, however, which promotes selective divestment and sanctions as a way to end Israel’s occupation, would continue to get no funds or support from the Federation. In fact, the Federation would be duty-bound to oppose JVP, according to the resolution. As more mainstream Jewish groups openly advocate against support for 501c3s that support extremist settlers, it’s not clear how this resolution will play out.) Of course, there is the unprecedented smear campaign against Richard Goldstone, including coordinated condemnation of his report in Conservative synagogues across America, and yet he has continued to hold strong and defend his work with tremendous integrity. And then, there are the ongoing attacks on the new moderate AIPAC alternative, J Street, which puts forth an agenda not entirely different from what Netanyahu himself at least says he wants – two states that preserve as they call it, “a Jewish democracy”. Finally, there is the very surprising Glenn Beck (pictured above) attack on the Anti-Defamation League for their new report “Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies,” which calls out Beck in particular in a wide-ranging condemnation of hate-mongers. Surprising because the ADL can typically be counted on to overlook hate-mongering and Holocaust-abuse in the service of a rightwing “pro-Israel” agenda, but in this case has done the right thing in identifying this truly scary trend for which Beck has become the figurehead. As MJ Rosenberg writes in his new column at Media Matters

:

Glenn Beck is, not surprisingly, in a state of rage about the ADL report. He defends himself by asking the ADL to “name the person who has been more friendly to Israel” (the predictable defense). This, of course, is utterly irrelevant.  The issue here is not Israel but the United States.  It is here where Beck spreads his hate, not Israel. And then Beck turns on the ADL itself.  Beck said that the Anti-Defamation League itself has “much to do with the plight of the Jewish people.”  I don’t know what plight Beck is referring to, perhaps the Holocaust which so often pops into his head and out of his mouth.  But, obviously, the ADL fought for the victims of the Holocaust, not its perpetrators.  The Holocaust was the product of professional hate mongers, the mob who listened to them, and politicians who came to power on their backs. That is precisely the combination the ADL is worried about now.

It’s tempting to sit back and say, “I told you so.” As Israel is learning all too well regarding increasing numbers of intransigent settlers  and religious fanatics who profess open contempt for their own country, you can’t help create a monster and then expect it not to try to devour you. But one hopes that all of the targets of these nasty charges will a) put into perspective the war of words versus the war of lives and homes being waged, for example, in Sheikh Jarakh in East Jerusalem right now and that b) they’ll resist efforts at intimidation precisely because Jews who love Israel should care about the rights of  Palestinian Israelis getting evicted from Sheikh Jarakh, as well as the rights of their peace-loving Jewish neighbors. There is only one logical conclusion after reading Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s moving and terrifying account of what’s happening in East Jerusalem:  justice for Palestinians is justice, and peace, for Jews. Supporting the ongoing evictions and terrorization of Palestinians is the last way in the world to show love of Israel.

-Cecilie Surasky

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Yes! San Francisco Jewish Federation does drive more into arms of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

As we wrote earlier, the board of San Francisco’s Jewish Federation was set to vote on an odious McCarthyite resolution presented by a splinter group of right-wing Federation critics:

The S.F. Jewish Federation will not support events or organizations that demonize or defame Israel. Nor will it support organizations that partner in their events with individuals or groups that call for boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against Israel.”

Hedging their bets, the board wisely rejected the above formulation, but then embraced another pernicious one. (There are substantive and thoughtful arguments against BDS, but you won’t find them below. Only cartoon-like propaganda. Aside from the thoroughly insincere reference to the conditions of Palestinians, as if, the resolution below also may mean a sudden end to a lot of Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Christian dialogue efforts. As BDS grows, progressive groups of all stripes may want to exercise their right to not use Federation-funded spaces anymore.)

The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties became one of the first Federations in America to formally endorse a resolution approved on November 9, 2009, by the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America strongly opposing the Boycott/Sanctions/Divestment (BDS) movement against Israel.

At its November 19, 2009 Board meeting, the Federation unanimously approved the resolution committing to “mobilize against the BDS movement’s undermining of Israel’s legitimacy” and pledged to work with partners to “employ an active strategy to counter such BDS tactics in the Bay Area.”

“Our Federation, by endorsing the national resolution warning of the dangers of  the BDS movement and pledging to address them with the utmost urgency, has made absolutely clear the depth of its commitment to Israel,” said Jennifer Gorovitz, Acting CEO of the San Francisco Federation.

The BDS tactic is to draw an odious and spurious comparison between Apartheid and the Jewish state. Common to most BDS calls are distortions, outright fabrications of facts, misrepresentations of international law, and a false assertion that the proffered action somehow will improve the condition of Palestinians. Almost all BDS activists embrace, in some form, an end to Israel as a Jewish state.

Continue reading

Goucher College’s free speech expert puts kibosh on “pro-Palestinian” Jews

More and more ridiculosity. Phil Weiss has the story on this latest dumb act of McCarthyism, aka Deploying Israeli-Exceptionalism While Claiming That It’s Everyone Else Who is Singling Out Israel.

After arrangements had already been made and approval granted, at the last minute, Goucher College president Sanford Ungar blocked the invitation made by Goucher Peace Studies students to two Jews: the US Campaign to End the Occupation’s Josh Reubner, and the Fast for Gaza’s Rabbi Brian Walt (photo to left), who is also the former head of Rabbis for Human Rights North America. Ungar reportedly had no problem with the invitation to the third panelist, Zahi Kahmis, originally from Nazareth. (Kahmis is a Goucher professor.) The students at Goucher are in an uproar and have filed official grievances regarding the violation of their rights.

In an interview with The Quindecim, Goucher President Sanford J. Ungar defended his decision, citing a history of anti-Israel speakers on campus, several of which have resulted in complaints from students, alumni, and parents. “We don’t want Goucher to end up on a list of schools with a reputation of bringing vehemently pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli speakers to campus,” said Ungar. “I don’t think it would be good for enrollment.”

What makes this more notable than usual is that Sanford Ungar, Goucher’s president, and a former journalist and All Things Considered host, actually teaches a course this semester called, natch, Free Speech, in which Ungar promises to “examine constraints on free speech in our daily lives, and the debate in this country over what it means to be patriotic and whether patriotism requires us to, or prohibits us from, saying certain things.”

It will be really interesting to see exactly what conclusions Ungar plans on drawing from this sequence of events and his role in them.

-Cecilie Surasky

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The JNF clarifies…

We reported on the controversy around the invitation of Effie Eitam to speak on campuses. It turns out that Mr. Eitam’s tour was sponsored, among others, by the Jewish National Fund.

Asked about Mr. Eitam’s racist remarks, a JNF leader did not even bat an eye. Mr. Eitam, so it turns, ‘speaks the truth’:

Eitam, known for controversial political views, made headlines in 2006 when he called for the expulsion of Arabs from the West Bank and the Knesset. “We will have to expel most of the Judea and Samaria Arabs from here. We cannot live with all these Arabs. We will have… to remove the Israeli Arabs from the political system,” Eitam said during a memorial service for a soldier killed in fighting with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.

Eric Lankin, chief of institutional advancement and education at JNF, said the organization was not concerned those statements would compromise his effectiveness as an advocate for Israel. “What really unites all of our speakers is that they speak the truth,” he said. “We had no specific concerns because we depend on the will of the Israel voters” who elected him to office.

Criticism of the events, he said, had nothing to do with Eitam but the broader challenge of anti-Israeli rhetoric and activities on college campuses.

– Sydney Levy

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Hillel’s troubles

Hillel has trouble deciding whom to bring to speak at its campus events. It seems that trying to define one-self as pro-Israel is not as simple as one might think.

But for a pro-Israel organization, what are the boundaries? How critical can a speaker be of the Jewish state and still be consistent with Hillel’s mission?

Rabbi Howard Alpert, executive director of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, insisted that the lines are well-defined.

“While Hillel wants to promote dialogue among Jewish students who have different perspectives on Israel, we are unabashedly supportive of Israel.”

This quote refers to the controversy caused by Hillel-Philadelphia’s decision not to host a talk by Jeff Halper, the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. We would not want a Hillel audience to hear about the Palestinian house demolitions and house evictions taking place in Jerusalem this very month. That is out of bounds for Hillel. For the rest of you, please go here: http://enddemolitionsnow.org/.

Boycotting Halper is only half of the controversy, however. That very same week, Hillel-Philaldelphia invited to speak none other than Effi Eitam, a retired brigadier general and former Knesset member, notorious because of his racist statements. Eitam has called Palestinian citizens of Israel a “ticking bomb” and “a cancer”, and has stated on Israeli Army Radio that,

‘we cannot be with all these Arabs, we’ll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from political system.’

Eitam denied ever calling for violence against Palestinians. Apparently the expulsions he recommends do not qualify as violence, but as a picnic in the park.

None of this worries Hillel.

The Jewish Exponent explains why:

Eitam is now an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on infrastructure and energy issues, and has been chosen by the Jewish National Fund to represent Israel on American campuses. Alpert explained that while he encouraged students to challenge Eitam, “we are not going to reject spokespersons chosen by the government.”

JNF is an American organization that is not part of the Israeli government, but Alpert said that Eitam was representing Netanyahu’s government because of his current positi

Now you know how Hillel interprets its pro-Israel mandate. Any racist qualifies, as long as it gets the seal of approval from the Israeli government.

Given this standard, maybe Hillel should do a speaking tour for Yitzchak Shapira, the rabbi that wrote a long treatise stating that according to Jewish law it is permitted to kill non-Jews, and even babies. After all, Shapira’s yeshiva enjoys Israeli government’s funding. Hmmm… does this make him pro-Israel?

Only Hillel knows. Its idea of morality bends with the rhythm of the political currents in Israel. Had Eitam wanted to do his tour three years ago, Hillel would have probably refused, since at the time Israel’s Attorney General was threatening to press charges against Eitam because of anti-Arab statements.

But now that Eitam is an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what is Hillel to do?

Here’s Hillel’s description of Eitam at another talk, this time in Buffalo, NY:

Effie Eitam is an Israeli War Hero, a devout Jew and an unabashed supporter of the right of the Jewish people to their own homeland. He is a former leader of the National Religious Party and more recently the Ahi party, which became a part of Likud in 2009.

His bio goes on and on about how wonderful this man is. The closest you will get to any mention of his racism is this:

He presents a refreshingly different and candid insight into the problems and opportunities facing Israel.

Oy, Hillel!

– Sydney Levy

There are a lot of benefits of a wholesome lifestyle. But can medicines help us? In fact, it is not so easy to find trusted web-site. Choosing the best treatment version for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the merits and demerits of the existing treatment methodologies. Diflucan (fluconazole), the first of a new group of synthetic antifungal agents, is existing as a powder for oral suspension. Viagra which is used to treat erectile malfunction and similar states when erection is of low quality. Cialis is a medicine prescribed to treat a lot of complaints. What do you know about buy cialis online cheap? Our article focuses on the treatment of erectile disfunction and buy cialis cheap. Generally, both men and women suffer from sexual dysfunctions. What are the symptoms of sexual disorders? In fact, a scientific reviews found that up to three quarters of men on such drug experience erectile malfunction. Such disease is best solved with professional help, commonly through counseling with a certified physician. Your sex therapist can help find the treatment that is better for you and your partner. The most common undesirable side effects of such medications like Cialis is dizziness. This is not a complete list of potential side effects and others may occur. Even if this medicament is not for use in women, this medicine is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby.

UK: hospital censorship controversy, new report on UK’s Israel Lobby

Dr. Miri Weingarten of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel was booted from not one but two scheduled talks at UK-based hospitals. The British Medical Journal reports:

The Jewish Chronicle criticised the Zionist Central Council for attempting to stifle free speech rather than attending the lectures and challenging the speaker. Its editorial concluded: “The sound of shot feet resonates throughout north-west England” (Jewish Chronicle, 30 Oct, p 30).

Karen Solomon of the Zionist Central Council said, “Miri Weingarten is known in Israeli circles as anti-Israel. Originally we had no intention of stopping the meeting, but we believe that anything political should not be held on NHS premises.”

Asad Khan, a consultant physician at Fairfield General Hospital and organiser of Ms Weingarten’s lecture tour, said, “The whole idea that PHRI [Physicians for Human Rights-Israel] is antisemitic or even anti-Israel is ludicrous, given that the organisation is overwhelmingly comprised of Jewish Israelis, of whom Miri is one. This was a medical meeting by invitation only in a hospital and was no business of the general public.”

Also in the UK, Channel 4 has a new investigative documentary on the role the pro-Israel lobby plays in funding the Tories.

At least half of the shadow cabinet are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), according to a Dispatches programme being screened on Channel 4. The programme-makers describe the CFI as “beyond doubt the most well- connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups”.

Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby claims that donations to the Conservative party “from all CFI members and their businesses add up to well over £10m over the last eight years”. CFI has disputed the figure and called the film “deeply flawed”.

The program also delves into other unsurprising-for-American facts like the connection between at least one influential billionaire donor and West Bank interests, and the conflict of interest with media outlets.

There are a lot of benefits of a wholesome lifestyle. But can medicines help us? In fact, it is not so easy to find trusted web-site. Choosing the best treatment option for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the merits and demerits of the existing treatment methodologies. Diflucan (fluconazole), the first of a new group of synthetic antifungal agents, is existing as a powder for oral suspension. Viagra which is used to treat erectile disfunction and similar states when erection is of low quality. Cialis is a medicine prescribed to treat a lot of complaints. What do you know about buy cialis online cheap? Our article focuses on the treatment of erectile dysfunction and buy cialis cheap. Generally, both men and women suffer from sexual dysfunctions. What are the symptoms of sexual disorders? In fact, a scientific reviews found that up to three quarters of men on such preparation experience erectile dysfunction. Such disease is best solved with professional help, commonly through counseling with a certified physician. Your sex therapist can help find the treatment that is better for you and your partner. The most common undesirable side effects of such medications like Cialis is dizziness. This is not a complete list of potential side effects and others may occur. Even if this medicament is not for use in women, this medicine is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby.

Will the Jewish Federation of San Francisco drive more people into the arms of BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanction)? Judith Butler, Ronnie Gilbert and Aurora Levins Morales respond

Here is an embarrassingly McCarthyite response to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s decision to a) screen the film Rachel by Jewish-Israeli filmmaker Simone Bitton, b) invite Cindy Corrie to speak and c) ask Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the American Friends Service Committee to co-sponsor (as they have for many years).

A full-page ad complete with billowing Israeli flag and blue skies appeared this week in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish newspaper, J, urging the SF Jewish Federation to pass this resolution at their November 19, 2009 board meeting:

“The S.F. Jewish Federation will not support events or organizations that demonize or defame Israel. Nor will it support organizations that partner in their events with individuals or groups that call for boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against Israel.”

Exemplifying the disproportionate role that big money plays in the institutional Jewish world, the first signer in a list of 36 is real estate investor Sanford Diller, know for his record-breaking $35 million donation to The University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). He is also a funder of well-known Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes, the Taube/Diller distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Diller signed a prior letter in the J which he and another real estate investor, Israel 21C chair Zvi Alon, and the Hoover Institute’s Abraham Sofaer, claimed the right to determine who, essentially, is Jewish and who is not.

This is a remarkable resolution which may very well pass, even though clearly none of its authors have stopped to consider its implications. The resolution would bar Jewish Federation funding recipients from partnering not just with groups, but with individuals, who support any form of boycotts, divestment or sanctions.

Given its vague wording, if the Jewish Community Center or a campus Hillel invites anyone from Adrienne Rich to Joe Klein to Howard Zinn or Naomi Klein, or any number of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis to speak, they will lose Federation funding. It means the Jewish Film Festival can’t show any more Yes Men or Udi Aloni films. And it certainly will categorically bar countless Palestinians from ever setting foot on the stage of a Bay Area Jewish institution, lest that institution lose its funding.

In July, the ($400 million) Koret-Taube foundations wrote this error-riddled missive critical of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival:

It is partnering with Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee, two virulently anti-Israel, anti-Semitic groups that support boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Both are closely associated with the International Solidarity Movement and other groups that aid and abet terror against the Jewish State. These groups cross the line for inclusion in the Jewish community. ”

In a different statement, billionaire investor Warren Hellman also said the Federation would pressure the film festival to adopt new policies regarding co-presenters and guests.

So far the festival has lost 5 board members and tens of thousands of dollars in funding.

Emblematic of how the battle lines are being drawn, 3 major Jewish thinkers and artists have responded to these efforts. Judith Butler is a true academic rock star, one of the world’s sharpest thinkers on gender, power and identity. A grand dame of political folk music, Ronnie Gilbert is something of an expert on McCarthyism: she was blacklisted, along with Pete Seeger, when they were part of the bestselling singing group, The Weavers. And finally, Aurora Levins Morales, who is Latina and Jewish, is one of the most artful and wise voices anywhere on plural identities in the Jewish world. They also happen to be on the Advisory Board of Jewish Voice for Peace (sponsors of Muzzlewatch), the Jewish group that is the primary target of these efforts to ban Jews (and Quakers) from the community.

Jewish Voice for Peace advisory board members respond to efforts by the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and others to police acceptable forms of Jewish identity and cultural expression.

By Judith Butler, Ronnie Gilbert and Aurora Levins Morales

The San Francisco Jewish Community Federation ran an ad entitled “Setting the Record Straight“ in the October 16 edition of j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. The next week, j. printed another op-ed entitled “To heal post-‘Rachel’ rift, Federation needs a new policy.” As members of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Advisory Board, we must respond to both of these statements.

Like the Federation, we value the contributions of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival over the past 29 years. JVP has been proud to support the Festival by co-presenting several films in recent years. The Festival has been an important cultural force in the Bay Area Jewish community precisely because of its commitment to presenting a wide variety of ideas and perspectives and its willingness to explore controversial issues. As such, it is critical that the Festival’s programming choices not be subject to undue pressure from funders.

We are therefore dismayed that the Federation is attempting to put constraints on the Festival’s choice of speakers and co-presenters, in order to stop them from choosing Jewish Voice for Peace and the pacifist Quaker group, the American Friends Service Committee, as co-presenters in the future.

Furthermore, in the October 23 j. op-ed, three individuals set themselves up as a Jewish community version of the House Un-American Activities Committee, demanding a blacklist for alleged “anti-Israel” organizations.

Jewish Voice for Peace is an organization of Jews working for peace, security, justice, and human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. We believe that ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is the only way to achieve a just peace and is in the best interests of Israelis and Jews everywhere. These beliefs are shared by thousands of Bay Area Jews, and hundreds of thousands of Jews across the U.S and around the globe. It is unacceptable for the Federation, an organization that claims to promote “mutual respect and accommodation of diversity within Jewish life,” to attempt to shut out our organization and the large and growing segment of the Bay Area Jewish community that JVP represents.

Netanyahu has thumbed his nose at Obama’s request for a settlement freeze, and his foreign minister, a West Bank settler, refuses to participate in the peace process. It is not realistic to expect this government to make any meaningful moves toward peace without outside pressure. The boycott/divestment/sanctions movement (BDS) encompasses a variety of tactics and targets, and people of good will do disagree about their use. We at JVP are not of one mind about this movement. But we all agree that boycott/divestment/sanctions is a non-violent approach to applying pressure on the Israeli government. And we believe that no one should be demonized for using nonviolent forms of protest in the effort to change policy, especially policy as deadly serious as this.

For too long, our community institutions such as the Federation have remained silent in the face of ever-growing Israeli settlement expansion, human rights abuses and other policies which have created major obstacles to peace.  For too long, their “support for Israel” has in practice meant tacit support for policies that undermine the cause of peace and security, endangering both Israelis and Palestinians.

JVP’s 90,000 supporters include countless individuals of all ages who play vital roles in upholding and strengthening a diverse and dynamic Jewish community through their participation in religious life, culture, academia and politics. And our numbers are growing.  We reject this attempt to isolate and silence the growing number of U.S. Jews who see our work as an important expression of Jewish values.  We invite members of the Jewish community who believe in full equality for all people to join us.  We urge all those who disagree with our beliefs or our tactics to recognize that ethical debate is part of our tradition, and to embrace the full breadth and diversity of Jewish identity, thinking and expression. Finally, we invite all Jews, whether or not you agree with us, to defend freedom of expression in our community as an essential part of any lasting solution.

Judith Butler is Professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ronnie Gilbert is an American folk singer and writer, and was a member of the singing group the Weavers with Pete Seeger. The Weavers were blacklisted in the 50s.

Aurora Levins Morales is a poet, essayist, community historian and activist.

A small number of wealthy machers can use their economic clout to try to determine Jewish morality, but in the end they will fail, and they will have no one to blame but themselves. This McCarthyite behavior is exactly what radicalizes Jews, young and old alike, and send us screaming into the arms of the comparatively more thoughtful, moral and nuanced promoters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
When institutional Jewry’s so-called leaders stand so brazenly against the entire human rights world, as they have time and time again; when they plug their ears while singing “nah nah nah nah” as more and more land and lives are taken; when they fight every mild effort to get Israel to stop its settlement expansion and repression of Palestinians and, increasingly, Israeli human rights activists, what exactly do they expect?
That good, decent, compassionate people who care deeply about equality and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis, will shut up and go away? No, we will escalate our nonviolent methods.
You, Jewish leaders, have left us no choice. You started the BDS movement. Only you can stop it. Trying to ban free speech and free thought; trying to ignore Israel’s continued egregious violations of human rights and its march towards the right; trying to fight any and all forms of criticism and truth-telling only sends more people to the other side. When will you understand that? Instead, consider choosing to build a world in which both Palestinians and Israelis have the same rights and opportunities. That would be, without doubt, good for the Jews.
-Cecilie Surasky
Jewish Voice for Peace, Muzzlewatch
cecilie@jvp.org


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Isi Leibler explains what he meant…

Here’s isi Leibler, now in Haaretz, all shocked that people are upset by his call to exorcise and excommunicate Jews that disagree with him. This is how he reports in Haaretz what he had previously said:

I observed that self loathing Jews are not a new phenomenon in Jewish history. During the Middle Ages, Jewish apostates were exploited by the church to promote the most obscene libels against their kinsman. That paved the way for subsequent pogroms and massacres. I noted that during that period, such renegades were excommunicated. To suggest as did Burston and Strenger that I seek to reintroduce “excommunication” to deal with “doves” or critics of Israeli policy is an unconscionable misrepresentation of what I wrote.

And this is how he said it in the Jerusalem Post:

The exploitation of Judge Goldstone’s Jewish background by our enemies intensifies our obligation to confront the enemy within – renegade Jews – including Israelis who stand at the vanguard of global efforts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. Such odious Jews can be traced back to apostates during the Middle Ages who fabricated blood libels and vile distortions of Jewish religious practice for Christian anti-Semites to incite hatred which culminated in massacres. It was in response to these renegades that the herem (excommunication) was introduced.

Sorry if you got us all confused, Mr. Leibler. This renegade Jew still reads the original paragraph as a call to excommunicate Judge Goldstone and other Jews that do not agree with your point of view.

Let’s try again, this time going forward, from the J Post to Haaretz.

Here’s Leibler in the Jerusalem Post:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is currently riding a wave after his superb United Nations address. He should summon a global Jewish solidarity conference encompassing Jewish leaders, opinion makers, philanthropists and activists similar to that organized in 1989 under the auspices of then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir and then defense minister Yitzhak Rabin in order to demonstrate the unity of the Jewish people.

At a time when we desperately seek allies, in addition to encouraging millions of Jews in the Diaspora who remain committed to Israel to become more actively engaged in our struggle, such a gathering would also provide an opportunity to exorcise the renegades from our midst.

And here is his ‘clarification’ in Haaretz:

I have no doubt that had Rabin been alive, he too would have endeavored to “exorcise” (Thesaurus “disentangle” or “remove”) from the mainstream, those Israelis and Jews who actively seek to demonize the state, defame the IDF, lobby foreign governments against Israel or oppose a Jewish democratic state.

Isn’t nice and clever? Let me give you synonyms of ‘exorcise’ even as I talk about ‘demonizing’ the state. Very nice juxtaposition, Mr. Leibler.

Even with this neat clarification, some questions remain: Disentangle from where? Remove to where?

Lastly, this is how Mr. Leibler describes J Street (who by the way, should also be excommunicated, exorcised, disentangled, and removed):

J Street whose principal objective was to persuade their president to exercise “tough love” on Israel because they decided that the Jewish state needed to be treated like a parent who treats a drug addicted child.

If only that description of J Street were true!

Now, if Mr. Leibler does not believe that Israel should be treated like is a drug addicted child, he should — under risk of excommunication and exorcism — join the call to suspend, or at least condition, the 3 billion dollars a year that Israel receives, no strings attached. That’s quite a drug right there.

– Sydney Levy, renegade Jew

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