In my last post, I wrote about how a Zionist student group in Israel called Im Tirtzu exposed the way a ‘progressive’ American foundation, the New Israel Fund (NIF), supported the Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provided 92% of the negative citations from Israeli sources in the Goldstone report.
Im Tirtzu held a demonstration in front of the home of the NIF President, former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan, and bought full-page ads in Israeli newspapers showing Chazan wearing a rhinoceros-like horn (the Hebrew word for ‘fund’ and ‘horn’ are the same, keren).
Here is the English version that ran in the Jerusalem Post:
NIF and friends are furious. NIF called it a “particularly despicable attack.” Rabbi Brant Rosen, a proud supporter of the anti-Zionist J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace, calls Im Tirtzu a “right-wing ultra-nationalist group” and describes the ad as having “anti-Semitic overtones”. J Street itself said the ad was “reminiscent of propaganda from the darkest days of recent Jewish experience.” Americans for Peace Now uses almost identical language, saying that the campaign is “reminiscent of dark times in our people’s history.” Even the center-left Ron Kampeas said
Call it keren, call it horn, this is an anti-Semitic ad. No getting around it. This makes Naomi Chazan looks like she eats babies for breakfast. For lunch. And dinner. And snacks.
Sorry, but all of these accusations of antisemitism strike me as remarkably stupid.
In deciding whether something is antisemitic, intention is relevant. After all, I have displayed antisemitic cartoons from Arab and Iranian newspapers in order to make a point about their regimes. Does this make me antisemitic?
Im Tirtzu doesn’t hate Jews. Their ad does not try to make the viewer hate Jews. The caricature doesn’t make Chazan look evil, like the well-known ones of Ariel Sharon eating babies; it makes her look like a fool, which is the point. Displaying an image that is “reminiscent” of “dark times” possibly serves to suggest that dark times are coming again. It certainly doesn’t suggest that Jews are beasts with horns.
So what are they so angry about?
In my opinion just that Im Tirtzu has effectively exposed the activities of the NIF, and has revealed the progressive community that supports it and its grantees to be ‘useful idiots‘ at best.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone who was irritated by Im Tirtzu’s ads does not desire the destruction of the Jewish state. Some of them, like Chazan herself, probably think that ending ‘the occupation’ is necessary for the survival of the state, and they view the actions of the NIF and the NGOs that it supports as helping to bring this about.
But even the moderate Left understands that the Goldstone report is poison — an attempt to delegitimize Israel and attenuate its power to defend itself. They understand that the Goldstone project is part of the war against Israel, no less so than Hamas’ rockets. And they are furious that they have been made fools of, that as a matter of fact their money or other support has gone to aid Israel’s enemies.
They won’t admit this, of course. They’ll stick by the NIF because — just like the Communists who continued to believe into the 1950’s that Stalin was a saint rather than a psychotic mass murderer — they’ll believe almost anything rather than admit to having been duped.
So they respond the usual way. They call Im Trtzu names like ‘neo-cons’, ‘ultra-conservatives’, ‘right-wing-ultra-nationalists’, ‘right-wing hooligans’, etc. They say that it is trying to “quell dissenting voices in Israeli society,” and suggest a potential for murderous violence. Here’s a particularly egregious example, from the absolutely inimitable Richard Silverstein:
A few months ago, a distinguished Hebrew University professor opened his apartment door to a bomb blast that could have killed him. The bomb was planted by Jack Teitel, according to Israeli authorities. If Teitel could, from his prison cell, he’d give a thumbs up to those who are maligning Naomi Hazan and NIF. Who knows, the next Jack Teitel may be lurking in the crowd outside her home.
Who knows? Maybe Yasser Arafat would give J Street a thumbs up from Hell, if he could. The possibilities of this kind of reasoning are limitless! Meanwhile, let’s see where the real antisemitism comes from: