Category Archives: American Jewish Committee

San Francisco bus ads condemn Israeli apartheid: backlash begins

American Muslims for Palestine launched an ad campaign this week on San Francisco buses condemning Israeli apartheid. (See below.) Predictably, local branches of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council, immediately issued a statement in effect calling the ad hate speech for using the word ‘apartheid’. They have called on “all civic, ethnic and religious leaders who oppose bigoted lies and demonization to exercise their constitutional rights by condemning these inflammatory advertisements.”

Below is a line by line reading of their media statement.

First, it’s hard to know if the people who wrote this press release actually believe what they wrote. The points they make against the ad are so off the mark, and often offensive, it’s hard to believe anyone could write them sincerely. (I’m deleting the names on the release because I don’t think it’s fair to blame them. I think people at the top should be held accountable for such nonsense.) Continue reading

Holy Moley Batman—Palestinian textbooks don’t demonize Jews!

If you are quiet and can hear a loud cracking noise in the distance, that’s the sound of the Hasbaraniks losing one of their favorite stock charges against the “big, scary, bad” Palestinians. To quote Hillary Clinton when she was held captive to local interests and regularly said stuff she didn’t believe a U.S senator in NY, Palestinian textbooks don’t, “give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination.” This oft-heard charge about Palestinian textbooks filled with horrific portrayals of Jews has been a lynchpin component of the Israel-as-innocent-victim narrative which AIPAC and company promote everywhere from churches to Congress. All to keep the dollars and protection flowing. Continue reading

Ken Stern and the American Jewish Committee’s Integrity Problem, by Rebecca Vilkomerson

By Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace

Ken Stern, a specialist on anti-Semitism and extremism for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) authored an op-ed piece in the JTA a couple of weeks back entitled BDS Campaign may be Failing but its Effort to Delegitimize Israel Remains Dangerous that was filled with cherry-picked facts, twisted half-truths, and half-told tales.

My own attention was drawn to the article because Stern refers, as evidence of the moral corruption of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, to the fact that the American Free Press (AFP), a despicable anti-Semitic and racist website, ran an interview with me earlier this month.  The logic seemed to be that my consent to be interviewed, and the rather standard appreciation I expressed to the interviewer, was proof that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic at its core.

At first I gave Mr. Stern the benefit of the doubt—he couldn’t have known that the interviewer had approached me under false pretenses, that I was horrified and sickened to be featured without my consent on the AFP website, and that I had already been trying for days to get the interview removed, to no avail. But when I approached him with these facts, backed up by documentation, he told me, and later the JTA editors, that he would not remove that section of the article.

To be clear: for Mr. Stern and the AJC, scoring political points is apparently more important than their integrity or the simple truth.

Given my intimate knowledge of Stern’s approach to writing, a closer look at the column seemed worthwhile.

The first part of Stern’s thesis is that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is failing, and that the movement’s only actual success in the U.S. is the Olympia Co-op Israeli products boycott.

This is odd, since just in the last few months, the Methodist and Presbyterian churches have endorsed the boycott of settlement products.  The Friends Fiduciary Committee divested $900,000 from Caterpillar in the spring, and, as Stern notes,  MSCI, the leading indexer of socially responsible companies, delisted Caterpillar,  at least in part because of the way its equipment is used in the Occupied Territories .

His description of this decision as “meaningless” seems willfully inaccurate, given this decision marks the first time that a financial services company has recognized that a company’s activities in Palestine are an element of how it is judged as a socially responsible investment company.  Stern did not bother to add that as a result TIAA-CREF divested its Social Choice Funds of $72 million in Caterpillar stock, the largest divestment victory to date, one that TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Fergeson attributed at TIAA-CREF’s shareholder meeting in July at least in part to the work of divestment activists including Jewish Voice for Peace.

Stern claims that the comparison to BDS efforts to end apartheid in South Africa are specious, yet on August 22nd it was announced that South Africa has decided to label products made beyond the Green Line as “made in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” the first step toward state sanctions of those products.  As described in Ha’aretz, this decision is garnering a lot of attention in Israel, in recognition of the parallels with sanctions imposed on South Africa by Israel in 1987 at the end of the anti-apartheid struggle.

The African National Congress (ANC)  in South Africa began calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions internationally in protest of the apartheid regimes from as early as 1959.  While most people who remember BDS actions against South Africa are thinking of the 1980’s, right before Apartheid fell, the reality is that this decisive moment in the anti-apartheid struggle came after decades of hard organizing, with victories coming slowly. It is a mistake for BDS opponents to think that because the pace of victories is not yet akin to the 1980’s that the movement is failing. To the contrary, it seems to be progressing in the case of Palestine and Israel much faster than against South Africa.

The second part of Stern’s thesis is that the BDS movement seeks the end of Israel.  To look at just one example in his column, he attacks Kairos U.S.A, a Christian group that calls for solidarity with Palestinian non-violent campaigners, as well as Israelis and others who support them, for saying  that Jews do not have an exclusive or preeminent right to the Holy Land,” but rather a right  “to create a vibrant Jewish culture in historic Palestine.”

Let’s look at that statement more closely.  It seems that unless the Jewish people are acknowledged as having  the exclusive right to the land, then they are considered beyond the pale.  But what about the 20% of the Israeli population that is not Jewish? What about the over 5 million indigenous Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem  combined?  In Ken Stern’s world, are you anti-Israel and anti-Semitic if you don’t buy into a vision of an ethnocratic state where one people have more value and more rights than any other?

Last week, we saw the natural end result of this kind of thinking.  A gang of teenagers in the center of Jerusalem attempted to lynch some young Palestinians. Hundreds, including a policeman, watched and did nothing. One of the suspects, after he was arrested, said as far as he was concerned, that the victim could die, because, “he is an Arab.”

This is not the Israel that any of us can be proud of. The Israel that I was proud to be a part of when I lived there included the Israeli activists who put their very lives on the line to protest the policies being pursued in their names, who in the process created a glimpse of what the future of Israel and Palestine could look like if it were based on mutual support and cooperation, rather than fear and extremism.

Just as activists who support Palestinians who nonviolently fight against the Wall do not seek an end to Israel’s existence, the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa did not seek an end to South Africa’s existence. It sought freedom, dignity, and equality for all its citizens, regardless of race.

My own children hold Israeli citizenship. I would like them to have the option to live in an Israel that offers the same—freedom, dignity and equality, regardless of ethnicity or religion–the same values that I grew up with as an American.  That is not about the end of Israel, but a vision for justice that all of us can be proud to say we’ve played a role in encouraging.

—-Rebecca Vilkomerson, rebecca@jvp.org

Muzzling Roundup: Attacking Iran, Dershowitz v. MJ Rosenberg, Harvard One-State Conference

It’s been a few weeks of major Muzzling attempts on Israel/Palestine. Last week in Washington, DC, AIPAC held their annual conference, or shall we say chorus, where over half the US Congress and thousands of Likud supporters cheered on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertion that Iran’s potentially-maybe-would-be nuclear capacity is the same thing as Auschwitz, a move some keen observers see as making it that much harder for Netanyahu not to attack Iran. As Jon Stewart makes only too clear, American politicians do not – cannot? – oppose Netanyahu. (In this excellent essay, Peter Beinart lays out the history of Obama’s failure to stand up to Netanyahu, warning that the cost of this failure may be war with Iran.)

JVP activists were among the hundreds of activists who occupied AIPAC from within and without, reminding attendees and the media that AIPAC does not speak for Jews, and that many, many Jews, allies and others oppose the Israeli government’s planned war on Iran and policies of occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Though JVP’s truck ad was silenced, JVP’s voice came through loud & clear, both displayed on the outside wall of the Convention Center on the night of the AIPAC Gala and as JVP Board Member and general badass Liza Behrendt directly challenged AIPAC, StandWithUs, the David Project and Hillel for silencing young Jews on the issue of Israel/Palestine.

And beyond AIPAC, the campaign to silence the indomitable, indispensible MJ Rosenberg (whose analysis of Netanyahu, Obama and AIPAC is the only glimmer of light we’ve seen) continues. The Emergency Committee for Israel (a truer McCarthyite organization there never was) published an attack in the NYTimes against MJ’s employer, Media Matters, as well as the Center for American Progress, two organizations with close ties to the Democratic Party. The ad quotes Alan Dershowitz’s critique of Media Matters and CAP, and Dershowitz didn’t like that – and in his articles and interviews opposing the ECI’s use of his words, Dersh has been very clear that he won’t stop until Media Matters fires MJ or the White House fires Media Matters. MJ is the latest target of this chief muzzler, or “heresy hunter from Harvard,” as Jeremiah Haber calls Dershowitz, whose targets have included Richard Goldstone, Norm Finkelstein, Shlomo Sand, Anat Matar, Rachel Giora – at least MJ is in good company. JJ Goldberg of the Forward defends MJ here and MJ’s latest column is as smart, impassioned, insightful and indispensible as ever, proving, once again, how much we need his thinking, his intuition, his guts, and his voice. May he only get stronger and louder.

And last, the March 3 & 4 One State Conference at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government was a success even before it took place, before an array of fascinating, bold thinkers,  including JVP Advisory Board member Sarah Schulman and Rabbinical Council co-founder Brant Rosen, aired nuanced, thoughtful and difficult ideas to a sold out crowd.

This conference was a success simply because it happened. No less a powerful figure than Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown tried to get it shut down, while the ADL led the charge among dominant Jewish organizations in demanding that Harvard denounce the conference and the legitimacy of discussing a one-state solution. More than 4,000 “students, alumni and friends” of Harvard signed a petition calling for the university to effectively prevent the conference by denying it funding and facilities. The AJC called it a “non-starter”.

The condemnation of the conference took the same forms, calling the discussion of a one state solution anti-Semitic, and worse: organizers are “soft eliminationists” (Jeffrey Goldberg) who seek Israel’s “elimination (ADL) through a “Final Solution” that will lead to the “extermination” and “annihilation” of Israel (FrontPage Magazine). As the ADL put it in a letter to Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust, “there can never be any legitimate discussion” about a one-state solution. Yet do they lob the same critique at Knesset members calling for one state – one Jewish supremacist state, that is – or the state legislatures of Florida and South Carolina, which recently passed resolutions supporting one state, meaning the state of Israel in the greater land of Israel?

No, on the topic of a viable solution for Israel/Palestine, these muzzlers reserve their muzzling for perceived leftists. What they’re doing is trying to make it impossible for anyone but speakers they’ve vetted and chosen to speak about Israel’s future. Palestinians need not apply – and nor should anyone who thinks there’s more to the story than “why the Palestinians have inflicted so much unnecessary suffering on themselves, as the ADL’s New England Regional Director put it.

Harvard hosted the conference in spite of the attacks, yet it did something else, too. Dean David Ellwood of the Kennedy School issued a statement regarding the conference, saying “We would never take a position on specific policy solutions to achieving peace in this region, and certainly would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.” Does “the Jewish State of Israel” ring any bells? That’s the new language / negotiation precondition imposed by Netanyahu in 2007. Never before did Israel demand official recognition as “the Jewish state;” this demand flummoxed diplomats and threw a wrench in potential negotiations with Palestinians. Israel as the “Jewish state”: what impact would this declaration have on discrimination against Palestinian citizens? Or civil rights for Jewish Israelis, who also suffer from ultra-orthodox domination? On negotiations over the Palestinian right of return? In short, Dean Ellwood’s use of that language is a victory for Netanyahu and a loss for democracy, equality, civil rights and justice. Congratulations, ADL. Congratulations, Harvard.

The railroading of Richard Falk

Professor Richard Falk is a distinguished academic expert on international law with some 40 books under his belt and a lifetime of learning and teaching that has taken him on a journey through some of the best universities in the United States. Naturally, he was not on the radar of what Jewish feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin calls the “Pro-Israel Mafia” until he was appointed to several high level UN Palestine-related posts including the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

In these positions as a human rights watchdog he has proven himself perfectly willing to strongly criticize Israeli human rights policies. In 2007, he famously compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza with Nazi treatment of Jews- warning of a possible impending “collective tragedy” in an article than will only be judged in retrospect as either provocatively alarmist or prophetic, but certainly was morally sincere and rationally-driven.

Naturally, however, this is not allowed.

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“Anti-Zionists” scare volunteer soldier

I subscribe to the American Jewish Committee’s newsletter, and it’s an itneresting window into their psychology. As readers of this blog know, involving oneself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict invariably provokes strong reaction. My perception is that you are at much greater risk of your job if you are seen as “taking the side” of Palestinians, say if you are a respected journalist.

The American Jewish Committee though is not interested in such victims of the conflict, and certainly has not spoken out against the economic blockade of Gaza or people like Abdallah Abu Rahmah who are imprisoned for the “crime” of organizing peaceful protests.

So who does the AJC defend instead? An Irish woman who volunteered for the israeli Army. Ben Cohen writes in the Huffington Post,

It’s very rare that you come across someone deserving of the title “hero” – or “heroine,” for that matter – but I just did.

Cliona Campbell is a 19-year old student from Cork, in Ireland. She is something of a prodigy; in 2008, she was a finalist in the Young Journalist of the Year competition run by British broadcaster Sky News. Last year, she won the essay-writing competition run by the law faculty at University College in Cork, one of the more prestigious institutions of higher education in Europe. She has, it would seem, everything going for her.

Except that right now, Cliona lives in fear. She’s become an object of vilification in parts of the Irish press. Grown men have walked to up to her in the street and abused her. Browsing in a clothes store, the security guard recognized her and showered her with insults. Threats have been emailed to her.

And all this because Cliona spent a couple of months in Israel as a volunteer for the IDF.

The article then goes on to complain about how the “pro-Hamas” International Solidarity Movement volunteers are treated like “Anne Frank,”(a reference to Rachel Corrie who unlike Cliona Campbell was killed while volunteering in the Gaza Strip)  and how people accused Israel of “murder” in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which occurred while this woman did her volunteer shift.

While I don’t think anyone should be threatened for their views, I find Ben Cohen’s outrage a bit much, given that this women did not simply visit to “see for herself,” she volunteered in an occupying army. In contrast, International Solidarity Movement volunteers do not in fact “volunteer for Hamas. From the group’s website,

The ISM is not affiliated with any one political party. The movement is open to all individuals and groups who choose nonviolent direct-action and other forms of unarmed resistance as a method for confronting and challenging the Israeli occupation.

Ben Cohen’s hero has an answer for me.

But why the army? Because over the years, I had seen the Israelis suffer incessant rocket attacks from terrorists and, when they eventually retaliated, be castigated when the same terrorists placed their own civilian people in the line of fire as ‘human shields.’”

I will leave it to the mountain of human rights reports that debunk Campbell’s mischaracterization of who is responsible for Palestinian civilian deaths and document the Israeli army’s use of human shields. But I disagree that her one month volunteer gig did anything to make such rocket attacks on Israeli civilians less likely, only a just solution can do that. I would note that the “vilification in parts of the Irish Press” seems to consist of one letter to the editor calling her brainwashed. And I am fascinated by Ben Cohen’s claims regarding the Israeli Defense Forces.

This keen observation captures the essence of that much maligned word, “Zionism.” If Zionism is about Jewish empowerment – in other words, engineering a state of affairs in which Jews exercise control over their security and destiny – then the IDF is the most tangible expression of that principle. For someone who is intellectually sympathetic to the fate of Jews without sovereignty, the IDF becomes a compelling story.

Cohen does not even try to claim that the people who bullied Cliona Campbell were motivated by anti-Semitism; the term does not appear in the article. But in the very title, he slanders an entire political philosophy anti-Zionism as being the force motivating the accosting thugs and hateful emailers and engages in McCarthyist guilt by association.

What is it about the nature of the Palestinian solidarity movement that enables a defenseless young woman to become an object of hatred? And how have those anti-Zionists who sit in the media and the academy, who would doubtless throw up their hands in horror at being associated with such thuggish behavior, contributed to the atmosphere of loathing which increasingly surrounds those who publicly support Israel? Are they in any way culpable for those spiteful individuals who email this pretty redhead to tell her that she “looks rough?”

Um, no, unnamed anti-Zionist intellectuals are not responsible for random sexist emails . And none of this is remotely as bad a violation of Ireland’s “democratic norms” as is Israel’s imprisonment of unarmed activists like Abdallah Abu Rahmah. Or how about the treatment of member of Knesset Haneen Zoabi? So deep is Cohen’s sense of victimization that he must search the world to find a fellow victim, and he must equate opposition to the Israeli Army as tantamount to opposing Jewish self-determination. I believe Jewish self-determination is much more threatened by declining democracy here in the United States and in Israel than a badly behaved Irish security guard. Why doesn’t Cohen speak out against that?

–Jesse Bacon

Not The Onion, not The Colbert Report: It’s the “Jew Flu”

Really… where to start?  From Martin Buber to Daniel Boyarin to Naomi Klein to Yeshayahu Leibowitz…. Uzi Silber writes in Ha’aretz that they’ve all got an incurable disease, “the Jew flu”, which generates “a malignant emotional and moral identification with people committed to (one’s) annihilation,” …kind of like ‘abused children.’

It’s funny, because it’s so ridiculous, especially as he tries to explain how people who happily identify as Jews are literally diseased for no other reason than their opposition to Israeli policy.

But mostly, it’s sad. Even heart-breaking. Why? Because it is precisely the people that Leibowitz et al stand in opposition to (and their friends) who seem most absolutely, ferociously, and effectively committed to Jewish annihilation.   And sad because people like Silber might just figure that out when it’s already too late.

The Jew Flu: The strange illness of Jewish anti-Semitism
Diagnosis

The 1930s Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson asked “Is there another People on Earth so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape, robbery committed by their enemies fill their hearts with admiration and awe?”

This is Jew Flu – the virus of Jewish Anti-Semitism, and its Jewish Anti- and Post-Zionist mutations, afflicting a small but inordinately loud minority of Hebrews.

Its modern symptoms are a rejection of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state and a dismissal of its right to defend itself militarily, while embracing the goals of its nihilistic Arab enemies. Those infected with the virus wildly inflate Israeli sins real or imagined, while excusing or rationalizing Palestinian anti-semitism and outrages against Jews.

Those afflicted with Jew Flu often view the notion of Peoplehood as an artifice, which implies a rejection of Jewish national self-determination and acceptance of the 90-year-old Palestinian Arab contention that Jews are not a nation but merely members of a religion, and as such don’t merit a national home of their own.

Is Jew Flu a bona-fide illness? Michael Welner, a psychiatrist at New York University, suggests that Jewish Anti-Semitism is akin to a personality disorder, enabling a person to “derive some psychological benefit from this pathological thinking.”

What causes Jew Flu? Harvard psychiatrist Kenneth Levin argues for twin culprits: so-called ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, where “population segments under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of their besiegers however bigoted and outrageous”, as well as “the psychodynamics of abused children who blame themselves for their situation and believe they could mollify their tormenters if they were ‘good’.”

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Goldstone, Human Rights Watch, New Profile et al. The Israeli govt. assault on human rights.

The proxy war between Israel and its critics is growing more intense, more desperate, more anti-democratic, more comically absurd.

Just a few weeks ago, and with a straight face, professional defender-of-Israeli-human-rights-violations Hillel Neuer of UN Watch happily compared Naomi Klein to Goebbels and said she was “today’s leading opponent of Israel in the Western world.”

The Goldstone Report goes further than Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust deniers by stripping the Jews not only of the ability and the need but of the right to defend themselves. If a country can be pummeled by thousands of rockets and still not be justified in protecting its inhabitants, then at issue is not the methods by which that country survives but whether it can survive at all. But more insidiously, the report does not only hamstring Israel; it portrays the Jews as the deliberate murderers of innocents–as Nazis. And a Nazi state not only lacks the need and right to defend itself; it must rather be destroyed.

Yglesias points out, “the Goldstone Report just doesn’t say anything remotely like this.”

But these uncommonly vicious, nasty and unintentionally campy attacks are no coincidence.

In The Nation, Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss have a very important article detailing the range of human rights groups that are being targeted by Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

“For the first time the Israeli government is taking an active role in the smearing of human rights groups,” says Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch workers had long been a target of Gerald Steinberg’s NGO Monitor, which seeks to gut the international law enforcement infrastructure because they believe it is a threat to the Israeli status quo- which of course it is. (They call journalists, diplomats and human rights workers part of the ‘axis of evil.’)  Steinberg has been busily scanning the internet to build extensive dossiers on anyone who has worked in the Middle East division at HRW, and is also part of the campaign to defund human rights groups in Israel that get EU funds. But there’s more:

The Israeli government has also sought to quash domestic dissent. In April it targeted the anti-militarism organization New Profile, seizing computers and detaining activists. In July, when a group of Israeli veterans called Breaking the Silence released dozens of anonymous soldiers’ testimonies from the Gaza assault describing indifference to civilian targets, the Israeli government went, well, ballistic. It threatened to cut off the financial support the group receives from the Dutch, Spanish and British governments and warned those governments that their support was illegal. Israel indicated that it would look into foreign support that Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Machsom Watch receive as well.

Ron Dermer, a Netanyahu adviser who was raised in Florida, struck a fearsome tone: “We are going to dedicate time and manpower to combating these groups. We are not going to be sitting ducks in a pond for the human rights groups to shoot at us with impunity.”

Meanwhile, Isi Leibler, writing in the Jerusalem Post, ominously wants to “exorcise the [Jewish] renegades from our midst,” through some form of excommunication.

In Toronto, Jews were at the forefront of a campaign to boycott Israeli films at a film festival because the anniversary of Tel Aviv – ‘built on the destroyed villages of Palestinians’ – was being celebrated; two Israeli women who evaded national service are conducting a North American campus tour under the auspices of ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ to persuade students to intensify their role in the “resistance movement”; in San Francisco the local Jewish Federation is providing funds for a film festival which promotes the vilest anti-Israel films; radical Rabbi Michael Lerner invited a woman who justifies suicide bombings to address his synagogue on Yom Kippur; and so on.

IM EIN ani li mi li? If we are not for ourselves, who will be? We are engaged in a battle against fiendish enemies committed to our destruction. The Israeli government must now take steps to neutralize the impact of renegade Jews who present themselves as legitimate alternative Jewish viewpoints. Such an initiative by a country which provides genuine democratic rights to all its citizens, including Arabs, could hardly be categorized as eradicating freedom of expression. It would rather represent a highly overdue effort to exorcise such odious groups from the mainstream and expose them as unrepresentative fringe groups with no standing.

The heightened discourse of nastiness is matched on the ground by what many observers believe is an  intentional effort by Netanyahu to trigger a third intifada.

Cecilie Surasky

Anne Bayefsky is an anti-Semite and a hypocrite, attacks on Goldstone cross the line

In the embedded video (after 25 second ad, go to 6:10), The Hudson Institute’s wacky Anne Bayefsky couldn’t be clearer. She spells out her strategy of turning Israel into a perpetual victim to divert world attention from the serious charges in the Goldstone report, the UN’s human rights investigation of Gaza:

I think that the world of human rights has developed a weapon, I call it the ‘human rights weapon’. It’s one which inverts victim and perpetrator. It’s one which is designed to deflect attention from the human rights abuses by those who violate human rights. It is intended to circle the wagons, to invoke mass hysteria which suggest to people that they are under threat, which is in fact, imaginary. And to develop excuses for hatred and for terrorism. It’s a tried and trued formula after all isn’t it? To create imaginary enemies, to exaggerate what is a kernel of truth and to divert attention from the real violations in our midst.

Oops, she’s actually referring here to what she calls “the phenomenon that surrounds the rise of allegations of Islamophobia,” not, amazingly to the rise in allegations of anti-Semitism against all critics of Israel.

She and her friends at the American Jewish Committee’s UN Watch and NGO Monitor are some of the world’s top practitioners of this technique. They do everything they can to weaken and destroy the international human rights infrastructure so that Israel is never held accountable for its illegal occupation, siege of Gaza and more. And, just as she describes above, they do it through elevating the anti-Semitism threat level to HYSTERICAL RED! everywhere, all the time.

(Let’s be clear: The UN Human Rights Council unfairly targets Israel for opprobrium- that’s simply a fact. But the mission of these groups isn’t to restore balance; it’s to make sure Israel is never held accountable for its ongoing illegal behavior, which, it should be obvious to anyone, makes them the worst kinds of “friends” Israel could have. And their preferred method of achieving this goal is to use charges of anti-Semitism to vilify good human rights workers and institutions, peace activists, and from what I’ve seen with my own eyes, Islam and nearly all of its adherents.)

But back to Bayefsky’s talk from the video. “Imaginary enemy” #1 of the Jewish people? According to Bayefsky, in “UN report a 21st century blood libel, scholar says in Geneva,” it is none other than world-respected-jurist, friend-of-Israel, Hebrew University-board-of-governors-member Richard Goldstone.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone exploited his Judaism to endanger the State of Israel, the Hudson Institute’s Anne Bayefsky charged on Tuesday, slamming the chief author of the controversial UN report on the IDF incursion into Gaza in January.

“Richard, how does it feel to have used your Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of the people of Israel and to find yourself in the company of human rights abusers everywhere?” Bayefsky asked.

She was one of the few pro-Israel speakers to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which spent the entire day debating the report commissioned by the council, a draft copy of which was released two weeks ago.

Bayefsky compared the Goldstone Report to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“The Goldstone mission will go down in history as the 21st century’s equivalent,” said Bayefsky, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute in New York and an outspoken critic of the UN’s stance on Israel.

“At its core, the Goldstone Report repeats the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people – the allegation of bloodthirsty Jews intent on butchering the innocent,” she said.

With this report, the UN has rendered the right of the Jewish people to self-defense a “crime against humanity,” she continued.

Someone has to finally call this kind of viciousness what it is and stop putting up with it- she’s an anti-Semite. The peculiarly epic charges she wields against Goldstone are clearly reserved for that most evil entity, in Bayefsky’s eyes, another Jew willing to take a clear-eyed look at Israel’s undeniable human rights violations. That level of demonization, in the context of a continued rise in violent religious zealotry, means she is literally willing to sacrifice him.

But he’s also a proxy. She hates Jews like Goldstone, but also Jews like Philip Weiss, Jews like Naomi Klein, Jews like Sara Roy, Jews like Norman Finkelstein.

She makes my family less safe because she cheapens the charges of anti-Semitism, which in itself is a form of Jewish hatred and contempt. And she makes my Muslim and Palestinian friends less safe because the only way she can make her case it to demonize them.

I first encountered Bayefsky at the UN’s Durban Review Conference in Geneva, where she put together a panel of all-stars like Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz (who actually called Goldstone “some Jew” while on the panel) and (a clearly not entirely there) Jon Voight, only too willing to serve their purpose of demonizing and dehumanizing Palestinians, and all other Muslims for good measure. One Palestinian friend who was also there called it, “the worst two hours” of his life.  I could barely believe that people displaying this kind of outrageous racism- at an anti-racism conference no less-could be taken seriously.

No one should take her seriously now, except as a dangerous bigot, willing to sacrifice not just Palestinians and Muslims, but now at least one Jew named Goldstone, by all accounts a good and decent man, to achieve her objectives of making sure that Israel remains above the law.

It’s entirely likely that Goldstone, who cares deeply about Israel, and who also condemned Hamas for their well-documented war crimes, understands the danger (to Israel) of wanting it to be above the law. If only Bayefsky and her friends did.

Bernard Avishai on Obama’s Jews: why tolerate old-guard leadership?

October’s Harpers has an excellent piece by The Hebrew Republic author Bernard Avishai who reminds us of the complex, varied and yes, enlightened Jewish world that is rendered invisible by major institutional Jewry. The ascendancy of a post-race Obama marks a massive generational and cultural power shift in the US. Avishai suggests it might also mark a similar ousting of the old guard among Jews.

Obama’s Jews
By Bernard Avishai

Last May, as he claimed the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama was ahead among Jewish voters 2 to 1. Yet, according to cable-and-blog wisdom, that was a serious problem for him. Jews—you know, “the demographic”—had voted 3 or more to 1 for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. Jews are only about 2 percent of the population, but they make up almost 4 percent of actual voters. There are, famously, almost half a million Jewish voters in southern Florida alone. If, say, 100,000 defected to McCain, Obama would likely lose the state, even if the chads don’t hang this time. Jews are also nearly 5 percent of the Pennsylvania electorate, which Kerry carried by only 2.5 percent.

After the 1968 election, when Jews voted almost 5 to 1 for Humphrey over Nixon, the late Milton Himmelfarb groused in Commentary that Jews earned like Episcopalians and voted like Puerto Ricans. Are Jews finally growing aloof from the Democratic nominee—come to think of it, like Puerto Ricans—because he is African American? Will his fate hinge, as CNN’s Jack Cafferty suggested, on “a few old Jews in Century Village”? As Obama himself joked at a February meeting with Jews in Cleveland (Ohio is another shaky “battleground”), doesn’t every Jewish family have an uncle skeptical of the schwartzer?

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