Category Archives: Publishing

Los Angeles Jewish Journal editor tells CAMERA to “butt out”

CAMERA TRIES TO SHUT DOWN SABEEL CONFERENCE IN PASADENA, CA

Almost 15 years ago, on the invitation of my uncle, I went on a Jewish Federation major donor mission to Israel with Stanley Hirsh, an interesting macher who made his fortune in the schmatta (textile) industry and who served as the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.

We visited the site for a new maternal-child welfare clinic, named, as I recall, after Stanley and his wife Anita, who had donated $1 million dollars for its construction. What was unusual was that the clinic was to primarily serve Arab Israelis, who comprise some 20% of Israel’s population, but who, to put it lightly, get short shrift when it comes to public services or opportunities. The Jewish Federation staffer on the trip told me that he could not raise one additional dollar for the clinic because donors didn’t want their funds to go to non-Jews, but the Hirsch’s were proud of their contribution and pressed forward with the project.

It would make sense to me if Stanley Hirsh, who has since died, was responsible in some way for hiring Rob Eshman, the current editor of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. I certainly don’t agree with Eshman all the time, but I respect him because he’s smart, thoughtful, and most important, independent. The Journal does not simply reprint “those crap Federation press releases,” as one Jewish paper editor once told me. Eshman cares about what happens in the Middle East, but he doesn’t buy the hysteria generated by so many Jewish advocacy groups whose formula for fundraising success is anti-Semitism! anti-Semitism, and more anti-Semitism!

It’s gotta take a lot of chutzpah to do what he did last week. The Palestinian Christian liberation theology group Sabeel is holding one of its conferences in nearby Pasadena February 15-16, and once again, as in Boston, pro-occupation groups are doing everything they can to demonize not just the people of Sabeel, but any church that offers support.

In response, Eshman wrote in an editorial called Butt Out:

I’m always leery when Jewish groups ride in from out of town to try to save us from the bad guys. We have plenty of sharp-eyed Jewish defense groups locally who can tussle on our behalf. It’s just a bit condescending to think we rubes, out in America’s second-largest Jewish city, don’t know how and when to fight. Or whom.

For the past couple of weeks, the Boston-based pro-Israel media watchdog group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) has been riling up rabbis, congregants and any Jew with an e-mail address to pressure the All-Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena to cancel the appearance of a prominent Palestinian activist, the Rev. Naim Ateek.

While Eshman is not a fan of Sabeel director Ateek’s use of liberation theology language or his advocacy for divestment, he knows a non-violent advocate when he sees one, and unlike CAMERA, supports the right of a man (who, incidentally supports a two-state solution) to speak.

But Ateek isn’t the only potential casualty of CAMERA ‘s tactics. Its also Jewish-Christian relations in the city:

“CAMERA is trying to paint All Saints as an anti-Semitic organzation that is against the State of Israel,” the Rev. Ed Bacon, leader of All Saints, told me. “That is far from the truth. What we are trying to do is teach people to be sophisticated about how they talk about these issues. I’m not sympathetic with Sabeel to the exclusion of the right of the state of Israel to exist.”

Perhaps it is no surprise that CAMERA, and The David Project found widespread support for their witch-hunt among institutional Jewry in their own backyard in Boston during the last Sabeel conference. (Sabeel organizers had the audacity to use the A word (apartheid- the very same word used with some frequency by the staff of Israel’s Ha’aretz, according to their lead political correspondent.) It is a relief, indeed, if their campaign is dismissed by local Jewish groups in Los Angeles.

Eshman concludes:

Meanwhile, I, for one, want to hear what the man has to say. I believe Israel is strong enough to withstand the rhetoric of a 70-year-old cleric dedicated to nonviolent coexistence.

If it’s not, even CAMERA can’t save us.

Indeed.

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Sacramento Jewish Federation newspaper on the defensive for barring Jewish author

Apparently, it’s now OK for Jewish institutions to ban other Jews.

As we reported earlier, the editors of Sacramento’s Jewish newspaper, the now ironically named The Jewish Voice, a project of the Sacramento Jewish Federation, refused to run a simple book reading notice for Dr. Alice Rothchild’s book  “Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience,” on the grounds that it would not support their mission to “enrich those of the Jewish community who support and identify with Israel.”
Dr. Alice Rothchild Book cover

Unhappy supporters of the Federation apparently hit them with a number of complaint letters. So many that the editors felt it necessary to write a defensive, if not entirely meaningless response on the front page of the latest edition. Of course, supporters are invited to ask them: have you read the book? Do you know anything about Dr. Alice Rothchild? On what grounds do you base your assertions?

The folks at Jewish Currents actually read the book and found a nuanced, compassionate portrait of Israeli and Palestinian heroes (download the pdf review here). Few can say they are more engaged in working towards a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians than Alice Rothchild.

While it’s true that the Jewish Voice has the right to accept or reject press releases, their line of reasoning here is almost beyond comprehension, and further evidence again of why so many groups that insist they are pro-Israel are actually profoundly destructive, helping to make sure there is never a lasting peace in the region.
Here’s the defense from the front page of The Jewish Voice:

Sacramento federation

Here’s the original email:

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

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

Thanks.
Elissa

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

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 dysfunction 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 drug experience erectile disfunction. Such disease is best solved with occupational 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 objectionable 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks.
Elissa

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

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

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

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Michigan resumes distribution of Kovel book, Overcoming Zionism

Inside Higher Education reported that the University of Michigan Press announced that it would resume distribution of Bard professor Joel Kovel’s book, Overcoming Zionism, but will re-examine its relationship with the book’s left-wing publisher Pluto Press:

In a statement released by the university, the press Executive Board (a faculty body) said that while it “has deep reservations about Overcoming Zionism, it would be a blow against free speech to remove the book from distribution on that basis. We conclude that we should not fail to honor our distribution agreement based on our reservations about the content of a single book.”

The statement continued: “Such a course raises both First Amendment issues and concerns about the appearance of censorship. As members of the university community dedicated to academic freedom and open debate among differing views, the Executive Board stands firmly for freedom of expression, and against even the appearance of censorship. In this instance, both legal and value considerations lead us to the decision to resume distribution of the book.”

At the same time, the board tried to distance itself from the book and its publisher. “Had the manuscript gone through the standard review process used by the University of Michigan Press, the board would not have recommended publication. But the arrangement with Pluto Press is for distribution only; the UM Press never intended to review individually every title published by Pluto (or any other press for which it holds distribution rights). By resuming distribution, the board in no way endorses the content of the book.”

In addition, the board announced that Pluto’s decision to publish Overcoming Zionism “brings into question the viability of UM Press’s distribution agreement with Pluto Press. The board intends to look into these matters and decide, later this fall, whether the distribution contract with Pluto Press should be continued.”

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Cambridge U. Press Agrees to Destroy Book on Terrorism in Response to Libel Claim

So reports the Chronicle of Higher Education:

ALMS FOR LIBEL: Cambridge University Press announced last week that it would pulp all unsold copies of the 2006 book Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World, in response to a libel claim filed in Britain by Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker. The book suggests that businesses and charities associated with Mr. Mahfouz financed terrorism in Sudan and elsewhere during the 1990s.

“Cambridge University Press now accepts that the entire bin Mahfouz family categorically and unreservedly condemns terrorism in all its manifestations,” a lawyer for Mr. Mahfouz declared in a London court hearing.

More stunning, they’ve asked some 200 libraries to pull copies from their shelves.

Right-wing anti-terrorist crusader Rachel Erhenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy (ACD) which “monitors and exposes the enemies of freedom and their modus operandi” writes:

Bin Mahfouz never sued the authors, J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, both U.S. citizens, who had provided their publisher with all the sources to back their allegations that bin Mahfouz, his family and his former bank, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, funded Hamas and al Qaeda. Yet Cambridge University Press still caved – and even asked the authors to join its apology to bin Mahfouz. (They rightly refused.)

Since March 2002, bin Mahfouz has sued or threatened suit in England at least 36 times against those who’ve linked him to terrorism, including many American authors and publications. Everyone settled with bin Mahfouz – except me.

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Mapping the occupation: Ravensburger puzzle map responds to pressure, disappears Palestinian Occupied Territories

Battles over maps that demarcate different boundaries and place-names for the same piece of land aren’t a proxy battle for flesh and blood conflict. They constitute a real war over who gets to fix “reality”, who gets the final claim to determine not just borders but the existence of towns, villages, roads, and the lives they represent. Erasure of an entire history, ethnic or religious identity, or a political claim, can happen with the stroke of the cartographer’s pen.

There is a great deal of discussion about maps circulated in the Palestinian Territories and throughout the Arab world that identify Israel as “Palestine” or the whole area as “Occupied Palestine.” Less is known in the US about the debates over maps made in Israel.

As Eyal Wiezman wrote in the Politics of verticality:

From 1967 to the present day, Israeli technocrats, ideologues and generals have been drawing maps of the West Bank. Map-making became a national obsession. Whatever the nature of Palestinian spatiality, it was subordinated to Israeli cartography. Whatever was un-named ceased to exist. Scores of scattered buildings and small villages disappeared from the map, and were never connected to basic services.

The issue hit the front pages of Israeli newspapers late last year when leftist Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir proposed putting the green line, the 1967 armistice line that has become the defacto border, onto maps.

Last December, Gershom Gorenberg, the author of the highly recommended The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, wrote that in 1980…

…maps showing the Green Line were impossible to find in Israel. (The diplomat said his maps came from the CIA.) The Israeli government’s cartography service had a monopoly on the map market. You could get topo maps showing the location of every picnic table and archeological site in the country, but not the boundary between Israel and occupied territory. Maps showed only the post-1967 lines dividing Israeli-controlled land from neighboring Arab countries. In official cartography, occupied Hebron and Nablus looked like part of Israel. The practice tended to obscure political developments. As a journalist, I often covered settlement in the West Bank — but when a new community was established, sometimes I wasn’t sure whether it was in Israel proper or in land conquered in the June 1967 Six-Day war.

Government maps still dominate the market, and still don’t show the Green Line. Neither do schoolbooks. But this week, Education Minister Yuli Tamir issued instructions to show the border line in new textbooks. Tamir, a founder of the Peace Now movement, represents the center-left Labor Party in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s crazy-quilt coalition. Right-wing pols immediately accused her of politicizing the classroom. Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition Likud said it would call for a parliamentary vote of no confidence. A group of rightist rabbis said Tamir had “declared war against God” by suggesting a division of the homeland divinely granted to the Jews. None of the rightists, naturally, find any trace of politicized education in the practice of hiding from children the borders of their own country. In a curious way, though, they have a case: In Israel — and not just in Israel — facts are political. Denial is the consensus position.

(The outrage against Tamir’s pronounceent was immediate and harsh.The Knesset’s Education Committee rejected her proposal, though their decision was non-binding.)

Gorenberg went on:

For nearly 40 years, Israel has treated its own border the way Victorians treated sex: It shapes society, but explicitly portraying it violates respectable conventions. Those who do so are seen as daring, not quite part of polite society. Bright children know the border exists from adult conversations, know it will be terribly important when they come of age, and are not quite sure what it looks like. My daughter, child of an impolite father, asked her high school geography teacher why the Green Line was missing from a map he handed out, and left him wordless.

The politics of denial go beyond that. Golda Meir famously declared that there was no such thing as a Palestinian nation that was distinct in any way from other Arabs. In 1970s Israel, it was daring to disagree with her. When I began working as a journalist in the 1980s, some left-leaning reporters at my paper used the word “Palestinians” — and some right-leaning editors replaced it with “Arabs.” The original Oslo Accord of 1993 made no mention of a Palestinian state as the necessary outcome of a peace process; the idea was too radical for then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to present to the public.

Ravensburger, a German toy maker (and an excellent one at that) inadvertently stepped right into all of this last year when they produced a globe that was to simply be a fun, educational toy.

The Jerusalem Post reported in November 2006

Pro-Israel advocacy groups campaign around the globe against the use of the word Palestine, since no such country exists, but it turns out that globes being sold in Israel bear the term.

Billed as an educational toy that teaches young children geography, the widely sold “Ravensburger Puzzle Ball Classic Globe” includes both Israel and Palestine. Although the product has been on the market formore than two years, all of those contacted by The Jerusalem Post, from toy store owners to the Israeli distributor to the German manufacturer, reacted with surprise when informed of the imaginative geography.

“The first time I learned about this issue was when [the Post] told me,”said Hermann Bruns, an export manager for the manufacturer in Ravensburg, Germany. He said the design for the map was bought from a Chinese company, and that Ravensburger was only responsible for repackaging it.

Demands to change the design have been quick to follow discovery of the error, with those involved in distribution and sales of the globe in Israel saying they have appealed directly to Ravensburger.

“I was very, very angry when I found out about this,” said Meir Klughaft, CEO of Saheknu, which imports the puzzle globe. “I personally asked [Ravensburger] to change the product, and to remove the word Palestine and leave only Israel. They promised me in a letter that they would.”

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Does Amazon have it out for Carter’s book?

CarterAlmost 17,000 people think so. That’s how many signatures have been collected so far on this petition stating that Amazon has taken the unusual step of “running [a] complete, 20-paragraph, 1,636-word text of a review unabashedly hostile to Carter’s viewpoint” at the top of the sales page for Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The petition says

Accordingly, if you do not, by Jan. 22, remove the Goldberg review, move it to the more appropriate “See all Editorial Reviews” page, or restore a semblance of balance by giving comparable space and prominence to a more positive evaluation of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, we the undersigned pledge to:

1. Stop shopping at Amazon.com;

2. Completely close our accounts on your service; and

3. Encourage our friends, family, and associates to do likewise.

These charges about unfair treatment may be true, but I have to admit I still need to be convinced. I’m not a big Amazon user, but my colleague Mitchell Plitnick is. He randomly selected Bill Clinton’s memoir, and found a negative review (thought it wasn’t 1,636 words) on the page. Plus, given the fact that Muzzlewatch promotes free and open debate, it doesn’t make sense to encourage people to quit Amazon for posting a positive review and following it up with a negative one. (Yeah, the negative review is longer-but in the world of the web, that just means less people will read it.)

Interestingly, they now start with a rather sycophantic and certainly unusual Amazon interview with President Carter. Maybe the petition and letter campaign got through. And maybe Bill O’Reilly will start demanding that he get a soft-touch interview above his book reviews too.

One thing is certain, if this is part of Amazon’s plan to slow down sales of Carter’s book, they’ve done a terrible job. This hour, it’s #25.

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