Category Archives: BDS

It’s better not to ask questions

Here’s a lesson in democracy. In preparation for the upcoming November elections a group of local activists sent a questionnaire to the 85 candidates from their county running for seats in the state legislature. They hoped the information they’d receive would encourage debate and allow voters to make better decisions at the ballot box.

What did they get instead? They got slammed. Their survey was called “abhorrent and repulsive,” and the newspaper that brought the charges against them ignored their calls for a reasonable policy debate and did not allow them to respond with as little as a letter to the editor.

The candidate survey from Peace Action Montgomery came under attack for a single question in it, that – you guessed it – addressed the Israeli occupation.

Del. Benjamin Kramer (D-Montgomery), one of the candidates receiving the survey, issued a public letter calling the questionnaire “anti-Semitic” and promising to encourage fellow candidates to ignore it.

Anti-Semitic? You be the judge.

Question 5 is composed of only three sentences. The first two are statements of facts:

1. “In the past, the Maryland state legislature has exercised its power to order the state’s pension system to divest its holdings in companies that are complicit in illegal activities in other countries.”

2. “The World Court has ruled that Israel’s separation wall and settlements in the West Bank are illegal.”

Based on those facts, a legitimate policy question is asked:

“Would you support a similar divestment bill targeting companies that knowingly participate in these illegal activities in Israel?”

The question does not single out Jews. It does not even single out Israel. It does single out actions that break international law. What’s wrong with that?

Ask Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, who described the questionnaire by Peace Action Montgomery as “abhorrent and repulsive.” The JCRC holds its own set of candidate forums and distributes questionnaires to inform its members. But apparently others cannot do as much.

This whole controversy erupted on the front page of the local Washington Jewish Week (“Parsing the D-word”). 

Peace Action Montgomery was quoted in the D-article, but its letter to the editor following the publication of the slander was never printed. In that letter, Peace Action Montgomery called for an open, reasonable debate on the merits of BDS, pro and con. The group even invited the paper that slandered it to co-moderate the debate. But the Washington Jewish Week has chosen to ignore the invitation altogether. What are they so afraid of?

We print here what the Washington Jewish week would not publish:

“Parsing the D Word” (July 29) not only pointed out the controversy over using divestment as a strategy to encourage Israel to abide by international laws regarding human rights; it also included statements by an unidentified Jewish backer to MD Delegate, Jim Pettit, that slammed Peace Action Montgomery as “a façade” and questioned its legitimacy as an organization that truly promotes peace. In reality, anyone who took the time to review our activities would see that we have consistently opposed military interventions and U.S. funding of ALL military occupations, but particularly those in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, since they garner by far the largest chunk of U.S. taxpayer dollars. We also vehemently oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry and are offended at being defamed for our support for human rights, protection of civil rights and opposition to violations of the rule of law.



Our question to the Washington Jewish Week is why the published article neglected to point out that our letter in response to Delegate Kramer invited him to join us in a public debate on the issue of how best to advance a just resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, with Washington Jewish Week as a co-moderator of the event, along with a representative of another organization.



We have had no response to that invitation and so propose it again. We hope that Del. Kramer and/or Washington Jewish Week will accept this invitation for a much needed dialogue on this significant issue.


Israeli law to criminalize advocates of boycotts, inside or outside of Israel

My JVP colleague Sydney Levy just posted on our sister blog, TheOnlyDemocracy? This effort seems largely triggered by the Palestinian boycott of settlement goods which has already had a significant economic impact. Ynet reports:

The bill was initiated by the Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset and was endorsed by members of various factions, including Kadima party whip Dalia Itzik and Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tsachi Hanegbi.

by Sydney Levy | 

What is Israel’s reaction to the growing nonviolent movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions? Well criminalize it, of course!

We just learned new bill has been introduced in the Israeli Knesset by 25 Knesset members, that would criminalize all boycott activities or even boycott advocacy inside or outside Israel. You can find info about this in English here and with more detail in Hebrew here.

The proposed bill would target those that initiate, encourage, or provide assistance or information about boycotts against Israel.

Israeli citizens or residents of Israel could be sued by whoever was harmed by the boycott and would have to pay up to 30,000 shekels in restitution and an additional amount according to the harm established by the Israeli courts.
This provision would endanger the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, New Profile, Boycott from Within, among others.

Those that are neither citizens nor residents of Israel would lose the ability of entering Israel for at least ten years and would be forbidden from economic activity in Israel (holding an account in an Israeli bank, owning Israeli stocks, land, or any other good that requires registration.)
It is not clear whether this provision would apply also to entry into the West Bank, although Prof. Noam Chomsky’s denial of entry may be a sign of things to come.

A group in a foreign country would also be forbidden from economic activism in Israel. This would apply to the Palestinian Authority as well.
In the case of the PA, Israel would freeze transfer of money it owes and would use it to pay restitution to those harmed in Israel by the PA boycott of settlement goods.

SF and Boston: Jewish Charity Blacklists and the Israel Question

What do Jewish Voice for Peace, Madre, Amnesty International, New Israel Fund, American Friends Service Committee, Media Matters and Institute for Policy Studies all have in common?

There has been a growing backlash since the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation first announced the most restrictive funding guidelines in the country. The guidelines essentially ban recipients from giving voice to anyone who doesn’t toe the line (which the Federation ultimately determines) on Israel. No wonder the Bay Area Jewish intellectual class is in an uproar. As UC Hebrew and Comparative Literature professor Chana Kronfeld says, “All the major Israeli writers would probably be banned.”

The Open Letter to Jewish Communities in the Forward signed by Bay Area Jewish academics, rabbis  and other leaders, as well as coverage in Tablet, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the New York Times reveals the extent to which concern about ideological policing is now a concern not just for the left but for the Jewish center.

However, what is not generally known is that the Fed’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund has also quietly pulled a number of nonprofit organizations from their acceptable charities list in an apparent attempt to ensure ideological purity.

What are those groups? Using a bit of technical sleuthing (and a tip-off from a donor), we’ve been able to pinpoint thus far 6 nonprofits that have been pulled from the list: Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, the Institute for Policy Studies, Madre, Global Exchange, and the National Lawyers Guild. There is no reason to think there aren’t more – we will publicize those names as they become available. This means supporters of these groups who keep funds in the Endowment Fund can no longer designate them as recipients.

Even more interesting, one can still designate money to the Hebron Fund, FLAME, and extremist settler militia funder, the Central Fund of Israel.

The implications of this new battle that mirrors the war on human rights groups in Israel haven’t been lost on Boston activists who, within weeks of the announcement of the SF guidelines, launched their own Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies witch hunt. (See embedded PDF file/link below-all articles from Boston’s Jewish paper, the Jewish Advocate.) Even The David Project founder Charles Jacobs weighs in on these so-called enemies of Israel: The American Friends Service Committee • Democracy Now! • The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) • The Tides Foundation • Media Matters • The New Israel Fund • Brit Tzedek v’Shalom • Physicians for Social Responsibility • The Workmen’s Circle • Amnesty International

Meanwhile NGO Monitor’s Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a man who never met a human rights organization he didn’t hate, is speaking this week at the Annual Conference of the Association for Israel Studies, at the University of Toronto on “Delegitimizing Israel: Can Jewish Philanthropy Change the Tide?”

Proposed Jewish Charity Blacklist in Boston: Not Pro-Israel Enough?

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Boycotting Democracy at the Davis Coop

Boycott campaigns are always controversial, even at food cooperatives. So much so that it is advisable to have a policy for dealing with them. The Davis Food Coop has one, a wise move in California. So why aren’t they following their own policy?

Well, apparently there are boycotts and then there are boycotts.
The Davis Committee for Palestinian Rights (DCPR) believe they gathered enough signatures for a vote on a boycott of Israeli products. However, even as they collected signatures, the coop management has informed them that they will not be allowed a vote. The reason is that the vote is likely to be “controversial.” What’s more the coop board  raised the specter of federal anti-boycott rules. There is no evidence that the law, intended to apply to Arab States during the 1970′s oil embargo, would ever be applied to a Davis Food Coop. The office of the federal government that tracks violations of the law lists only Arab States, no other campaigns. Eventually, according to organizer Mikos Fabersunne, the coop backed away from that argument and emphasized in fairly blunt terms the threatened financial impact of the coop by people upset with the decision. Boycott opponents echoed this sentiment.
If the issue is indeed controversial, isn’t that all the more reason to follow one’s own rules?
The local organized Jewish community, namely the board co-President of Congregation Bet Haverim Karen Firestein, is opposed to the boycott and said in a written statement on the synagogue’s website , “If the Co-op becomes a political tool for those who want to commandeer it for ideological reasons, it will no longer be able to serve the entire Davis community. Long term members who do not want to be associated with the boycott’s message will have no choice but to resign from the Coop and patronize other markets.In other words, a boycott!

Why can’t the coop board members, if they feel such a significant portion of the membership is opposed, simply hold a vote? Similar resolutions were defeated overwhelmingly at the Ann Arbor People’s Food Coop, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and my own Philadelphia neighborhood’s Weavers’ Way. The coop board’s justification that anything besides food quality is hard to enforce rings similarly. As much as I would like to believe my fair trade coffee or my locally grown beet tastes better than the alternative, coops are about much more than the flavor of the food. Citing dubious legal precedent and attempting to stifle controversy prematurely seemed geared to inflame the situation further. There is nothing inherently antisemitic about boycotts, as evidenced by the Firestein threatening one herself. In contrast to the notion that he is singling out Israel, organizer Fabersunne supports it as a tactic against China, Sudan, and Burma, the latter two already being on the United States’ sanctions list.  As for the other group opposed to the boycott, the Davis Interfaith Peace Coalition, their only Google search result was an event to say how great Israel was, suggesting they are hardly advancing Peace and Justice in the Middle East. It seems they were explicitly founded to counter the BDS movement.

Congregation Bet Haverim itself had a brush with controversy when it had a speaker from the Council on American Islamic Relations in 2007, in which the audience had several outbursts and one attendee had to be asked to leave. This briefly led to a ban on “controversial events,” which seems to have been lifted as the syngagogue recently hosted a panel in which anti Occupation activists (who were not present) such as Jewish American Anna Baltzer were accused of being antisemitic. The synagogue also cancelled an April 2009 talk by David Wesley on “Jews, Arabs and Government Officials: Power Relations Inside Israel.” But the past controversy and the existence of the group “Jewish Peace Alternatives,” suggests the synagogue has a broader range of views that is being represented by its Board Co-President. And if it wants to attract unaffiliated members, I would suggest that stifling votes is not the way to do it.

Meanwhile, the DCPR activists are planning future boycott actions at neighborhood supermarkets, and the BDS movement shows no sign of dying out. Nor does the effort to stifle it. Congregation Bet Haverim actually adopted a similar position to  the San Francisco Jewish Federation, banning speakers who oppose Israel as a Jewish or Democratic state. In practice, this has meant a much wider category of speaker cannot get synagogue endorsements. According to member Sarah Pattison, the local group Jewish Peace Alternatives decided to “err on the side of caution” and did not even bother to ask if they could sponsor Breaking the Silence, though there is no evidence that these Israeli Soldiers are against the Jewish State. Here in Philadelphia, the local Hillel has passed a similar policy, and then gone on to strategize in the local Jewish press about how speakers such as Hanan Ashrawi might have their lectures “challenged from the inside” at schools with a small Jewish population.

It seems likely that this a coordinated strategy on the part of Israel’s defenders, and will be fought out locality by locality. But the overall futility of trying to demonize this nonviolent tactic seems to me clearly unlikely to be ethical or effective. Longtime coop and synagogue member Gene Borack put it best when he stated his belief in “populist democracy, that people who have all the information will make the best decisions for themselves and their families.” I can’t think of a better summary of the mission of Muzzlewatch (and our sister blog The Only Democracy?) Thanks to the hard work of the BDS activists, the information is getting out there. Now when will people really be able to make those decisions, in Davis or elsewhere?
-Jesse Bacon

Fact Check- 3 case studies in the distortion of reality and “extremizing” peace advocates

As Republican pollster (and Israeli Hasbara guru) Frank Luntz knows all too well, the relationship between reality and language is increasingly tenuous. Words are how he carefully works to shape political outcomes. But it’s also true that the rather wide space between reality and language, especially on the issue of Israel-Palestine, is where the blogosphere can make a real difference.

Here are three examples of deliberate and not so deliberate blurring of messages and how people and peace groups are routinely “extremized”, as Naomi Klein says.

CASE 1) Though I have some real disagreements with Moshe Yaroni’s post in Zeek on the Reut Institute analysis (Yaroni didn’t have the whole report at the time), he has many insightful points including his analysis of how nuanced approaches to divesting from the occupation find little reward. As one example, he looks at my group, Jewish Voice for Peace, and our campaign on Caterpillar and work with church groups on selective divestment from companies that profit from the occupation:

The response was a campaign of disinformation that cast these efforts in precisely the opposite light. Opponents of any sort of organized action against the Occupation simply said this was a boycott of Israel, ignoring completely that it was only the settlement project and the Occupation that were targeted. The strategy worked, and the Methodists and Presbyterians as well as JVP were cast as anti-Israel and as opponents of the state itself, not merely the Occupation. Anyone looking at the groups’ work on the issue would have known this to be false. Unfortunately, most believed what their opponents said.

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Omar Barghouti asks Jewish Federation to a debate on BDS


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Omar Barghouti got a “No thank you” response from the San Francisco area Jewish Community Relations Council head Rabbi Doug Kahn, the key author of recent McCarthyite Federation funding guidelines, but he did finally get his BDS debate– with well-known peacenik Rabbi Arthur Waskow–on Democracy Now. Meanwhile, here’s Barghouti’s Open Letter from Kabobfest:

by Omar Barghouti, a leader of the international movement to boycott Israel

Open Letter to Rabbi Doug Kahn

Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council

It has recently come to my attention that pending the advice of a working group of which you were a member, the Jewish Community Federation has chosen to itself boycott groups advocating a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) program targeting Israel. As one of the founding members of the global BDS campaign, I cannot but note the irony of your use of boycott as a tool to suppress views that support the boycott against Israel. I can only conclude that you do approve of the efficacy and appropriateness of boycotts, as a non-violent form of activism and a catalyst for change, but condemn them when the change they set out to achieve is related to ending Israel’s occupation as well as its grave violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

For years, Palestinian civil society has been advocating the tool of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, as a means of challenging Israel’s impunity and redressing the wrongs done to the Palestinian people by the violent and oppressive Israeli policies and actions. Wouldn’t you agree, given you in-principle embrace of boycotts, that this effective, non-violent form of struggle is far superior, morally speaking, to the “tactics” of white phosphorous, Walls, siege, forced displacement and apartheid?

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San Francisco Jewish Federation officially excommunicates large swath of Jewish population

The San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish Federation has made it official.

Here in one of the most cosmopolitan, diversity-friendly and culture-loving places on earth, there is a new litmus test for Jewish identity and it has absolutely nothing to do with religious practice, cultural expression, personal history or the values you embrace. Membership in the Jewish community has been officially reduced to one and only one question- do you UNCONDITIONALLY love Israel?

Do you love Israel so much that you are willing to stand by and do nothing as it destroys itself and everyone it controls by repeatedly violating international law, sending its youngest citizens to enforce the 43-year occupation of another people,  imprisoning them, killing them with impunity, denying them the right to health and education and work and claiming it’s all in the name of security while taking more Palestinian land and water and trees each day.

In other words, are you willing to love Israel to death?

If the answer is YES, you’re in! If the answer is NO, and you have the chutzpah to embrace the principled, creative, peaceful methods of Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Gandhi as a way to pressure Israel to  help provide true democracy for all Israelis and Palestinians, then you’re out!

Prompted by the controversy over the showing of the film Rachel at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the federation just announced this stunning set of McCarthyite policy guidelines which seek to sever any public ties that ANY Bay area grantees -including progressive synagogues and arts and educational organizations-  have with groups that support Boycotts, Divestment or Sanctions in whole or part, or who “delegitimize Israel” (according to who exactly? The judges who hold the Federation purse strings, that’s who).

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“If everything is anti-Semitism, then there is no anti-Semitism at all.”

The (Israeli) Alternative Information Center’s Michael Warschawski has this to say on the use, and the empyting of all meaning, of the charge of anti-Semitism:

An Outrageous and Pathetic Weapon Against BDS: Stop Instrumentalizing Anti-Semitism!

Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney .

Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney .

Every time the State of Israel is confronted with substantial international criticism for its political behavior and its violations of basic international standards, it counter-attacks by using the infamous tool of accusations of anti-Semitism. One remembers the campaign on anti-Semitism launched by Ariel Sharon and his friends throughout the world, Jews and non-Jews, after the murder of Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza in September 2000, in order to create a diversion (in the very words of Roger Cukierman, then chairman of the French Jewish umbrella organization—CRIF) and to transform the victim into a victimizer and the victimizer into a victim: for more than two years, western media “exposed” the anti-Semitism of the critics of Israel instead of denouncing the massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza and the West Bank.Sixty five years after the end of WWII, the ashes of the victims of Nazi genocide have not yet disappeared from the sky of Poland, and the accusation of anti-Semitism remains connected to one of the bloodiest crimes of the twentieth century; as French journalist, Daniel Mermet, one of the targets of this campaign, pointed at, “no accusation can be worse, and even after you are proved not guilty of charge, the bad smell of such an accusation will be with you forever.”

The massacre in Gaza, a year ago, provoked a world-wide outrage, bigger even than in 2000-2002. The U.N. was forced to appoint an inquiry commission, and its report—the Goldstone report—is devastating for Israel. Moreover, for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, an international campaign calling for sanctions against Israel for its innumerous violations of international law, has been successful in drawing huge public attention and initiating a great number of mobilizations and initiatives around the world.

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$7 million muzzling shocker- Canadian government cuts off funds for church group it calls anti-Semitic

Despite a 35-year collaboration, the Canadian church group KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, “one of Canada’s most respected and important charitable organizations,” was stunned when their likely routine 7 million dollar request for the human rights program was denied by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). But they were even more surprised when they discovered why: although the group’s board had made public their opposition to sanctions and boycotts against Israel 2 years earlier, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a speech he gave this week in Israel charged the group with being anti-Semitic for “taking a leadership role in the boycott.” Kenney, speaking at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, said they were “defunding” groups as part of their new “zero-tolerance” approach to anti-Semitism.  (Read the full text of his speech here. )

In his speech, Kenney included in a list of acts of anti-Semitism, like the spray-painting of swastikas on a Canadian Holocaust memorial, the spray-painting of the phrase “Stop the Israeli genocide in Gaza”.

Anti-human rights/Israel lobby group NGO Monitor built an extensive dossier on KAIROS– which represents Canada’s Mennonites, the Anglican, United and Catholic Churches and does work in some of the poorest regions of the world.

Kairos came under fire for co-sponsoring, along with 50 other groups, an international Sabeel conference in 2005 on morally responsible investment. (Sabeel is “an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians,” and Jewish Voice for Peace frequently co-sponsors Sabeel conferences here in the United States.)

In this comprehensive and thoughtful 2008 strategy paper on using “economic advocacy measures… to advance peace between Palestinians and Israelis, ” KAIROS said:

KAIROS affirms the desire of the Israeli people for a secure homeland, recognizing the long, terrible and continuing history of anti-Semitism, and the vital role of Israel to Jewish people around the world. KAIROS also recognizes the great suffering of the Palestinian people, many of whom live as refugees in surrounding countries, and others who have lived under Occupation for 40 years, and affirms their right to a secure and viable homeland. KAIROS calls for an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories and for two secure states based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

They also explicitly rejected “sanctions against Israel” and “a boycott of products from Israel.” But in line with the universal recognition of the illegality of settlements, they did also advocate for things like:

limiting the geographical applicability of Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to within the 1967 borders of the State of Israel; and

enforcing a certification of origin for goods coming from settlements in the Occupied Palestinians Territories;   

and, almost identical to the Presbyterian Church USA’s strategy:

That where KAIROS members opt to pursue shareholder action respecting Canadian companies doing business in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories (that are contributing directly or indirectly to violence, occupation or other human rights abuses in the region), shareholder action shall move through several stages, from dialogue with senior company management to filing shareholder proposals and, as a last resort, divestment. 

So, after so much thoughtful and sensitive delving into ways to responsibly use economic pressure and investment, what did they get for their troubles? Charges of anti-Semitism.
(At Jewish Voice for Peace, where we have devised a similarly nuanced approach to economic pressure that works for us, choosing to focus on companies that profit from the occupation, or groups that fund settlements, we’ve seen from day one how pro-occupation groups purposefully and immediately ignore the facts, and raise the urgent flag of anti-Semitism as a strategy to kill virtually any resistance activity that goes beyond nicely asking the Israeli government to stop violating international law. Ironically, as they deny more and more people the right to boycott settlement goods only, they leave them with no choice but to boycott all Israeli products. )

A KAIROS official responded in The Star:

“It’s a horrible charge to make, and to do it with so little thought cheapens the reality of anti-Semitism in the world and diminishes the very careful attention that it deserves,” said United Church spokesperson Bruce Gregersen. “We’re quite disappointed in the government on this.

“The policies of KAIROS have all been approved by the collective board of KAIROS, so in a sense what Mr. Kenney is doing is accusing Canadian churches of being anti-Semitic and I think that’s really unfortunate,”

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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