Whose word is it, anyway?

Alan KaufmanHere is a story about how we are allowing our enemies to define us:

PALO ALTO, Calif. — An Israeli-American artist contends that a San Francisco gallery that displayed his paintings dropped plans to publish a catalog of his work after he proposed that the cover title of the collection refer to Zionism.

The artist, Alan Kaufman, said several of his Jewish-themed paintings were rotated on-and-off the walls at the Himmelberger Gallery near Union Square beginning in July. Some of Mr. Kaufman’s works bear the names of figures from the Hebrew Bible, while others listed in a contract with the gallery have titles such as “Anti-Semitism,” “Battle for Israel,” and “Flight of Israel’s Foes.” One canvas is named after an Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, Sderot, and depicts a figure crouched under a Jewish star as missiles fly overhead.

Mr. Kaufman said he and the gallery’s owner, David Himmelberger, were working closely on a catalog of the art as well as plans to exhibit it at other sites, when Mr. Himmelberger expressed discomfort with using the word “Zionist” in the catalog’s title and with essays that included references to Zionism…

Mr. Kaufman said the disagreement erupted on October 8 at a meeting with Mr. Himmelberger to discuss the layout and contents of the 24-page catalog. “He had a printout of the catalog with ‘Visionary Expressionism: A Zionist Art’ in front of him. He pointed to the word, ‘Zionism,’ and said, ‘I can’t do that,” Mr. Kaufman told The New York Sun. “I said, ‘What exactly is the problem? You know what my paintings are about.'”

“He said, ‘I don’t stand for that. … We don’t want to advocate any kind of platform here,'” Mr. Kaufman said. — NY Sun

One is hard-pressed to imagine what Himmelberger thinks Zionism is, since he is obviously not uncomfortable displaying Zionist art, painted by a Zionist (the American-born Kaufman is the child of a Holocaust survivor, served in the IDF, and does not try to hide his pro-Israel point of view). But calling it by its name, apparently, is taboo — or at least very bad for business.

San Francisco, of course, is a center of the radical left, and today antisemitism and anti-Zionism permeate the media and the campuses. So it’s not unlikely that the gallery owner really had very little idea of what Zionism actually is, and what it isn’t — for him, the word probably is synonymous with ‘fascism’ or ‘racism’. This is certainly what he would hear, for example, on Pacifica Radio’s KPFA.

Kaufman and some others are doing their best to reclaim the word:

Kaufman; David Twersky, a longtime editor and publicist for Jewish groups; David Rosenberg, co-author with Harold Bloom of “The Book of J”; Israeli writer Etgar Keret; and Polly Zavadivker, a Judaic studies scholar, hope to turn the episode into a cause celébre that will redeem Zionism as a concept and as a term.

“Zionism is the Civil Rights Movement of the Jewish People,” the five proclaim in a statement. “It is the answered prayer to two thousand years of ceaseless persecution at the hands of unpredictable host nations.” — The Jewish Week

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