Archive for the ‘Antisemitism’ Category

Ambassador Gutman to Jews: it’s your own fault!

Sunday, December 4th, 2011
Ambassador Howard Gutman explains Obama policy to stunned Smurfs

Ambassador Howard Gutman explains Obama policy to stunned Smurfs

Last week a conference was held in Brussels to develop a legal strategy to fight antisemitism :

Almost 100 people from 16 countries gathered in the capital of Europe to discuss means to confront growing anti-Semitism and its new forms, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel, particularly in some European countries where the issue of Jew-hatred appears to be more acute and where legal weapons do not yet exist.

One of the speakers was Howard Gutman, the (Jewish) Ambassador of the US to to Belgium. His remarks reportedly ‘stunned’ attendees, who heard him blame the Jews and Israel for antisemitism:

He said “there is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating.” “Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different. That hatred is of course pernicious and it must be combated…”

He sees growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.

Peace in the Middle East, he said would significantly reduce this form of anti-Semitism in Europe. “The  solution for this second type of problem – too often lumped under a general banner of anti-Semitism – is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East,” the ambassador declared.

In Gutman’s world, there are only two kinds of antisemites: those that also hate Muslims, gays, etc. — neo-Nazi xenophobes — and those who hate Jews and Israel because of the conflict with the  Palestinians.

Note that this is in keeping with the Obama Administration’s rule book: it is forbidden to say anything bad about Islam or Muslim culture. You cannot say that it is imbued with antisemitism, which it is, and which in fact makes antisemites out of many Muslims. So Muslim antisemitism must be in some way justified.

Gutman seems to think that Muslim antisemitism sprang full-grown from the head of the Israeli-Arab conflict, in 1967 or perhaps as as early as 1948. If this conflict could be solved, he suggests, then suddenly Muslim and left-wing antisemitism would vanish, leaving us only the neo-Nazis to worry about.

He ignores Muslim Jew-hatred which goes back to the Quran and other teachings of Mohammad, and which, like the Christian variety, was often expressed quite brutally, long before there was an Israel, and indeed before Zionism was a gleam in the eye of Theodore Herzl.

Yes, there were times and places where Jews could accept a second-class dhimmi status and live alongside Muslims relatively unmolested. But the antisemitic teachings were always there, ready to explode in violence if the Sultan owed money to Jewish merchants or simply decided that there were too many of them.

Pogroms were not rare in the land of Israel, even before Zionist immigration. For example, in 1834 — the First Aliyah began in 1881 — there was a murderous pogrom in Tzfat, which went on for 33 days:

The forgotten pogrom in Tzfat was a regular pogrom, a dreadful yet familiar experience to Jews in both the Islamic world and in Christian Europe. Like all pogroms it was an act of senseless brutality, where the victims were totally helpless. It had no political agenda or motive behind it. There was no ‘Zionist entity’ whose existence served as an excuse to murder civilians; it was motivated by pure greed. The Palestinian Arabs of the Eastern Galilee took advantage of a regional crisis, the war between Egypt and Turkey, to attack their Jewish neighbors and strip them of everything they had, clothes, property, houses, and the like. In the process people were beaten in the streets, many times to death, synagogues destroyed and holy books desecrated.

— Dvar Dea, The Forgotten Pogrom of Tzfat

Later, Arab hate made it impossible for them to live together peacefully with the Jewish immigrants. Despite the fact that Zionist development of the land made it capable of supporting more and more inhabitants — and more Arabs came to enjoy the benefits of it — the Arab world fought diplomatically, and the Palestinian Arabs violently, in anti-Jewish riots in the 1920’s and 1930’s, to keep Jews out.

The WWII period was particularly fruitful for cross-fertilization of the Muslim and European streams of hate, with the Palestinian Arab leader al-Husseini visiting Hitler and laying plans for his own hoped-for Holocaust in the Middle East.

After the war, many Nazis found refuge in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc. where their ideology was congenial.

Today a good example of contemporary Muslim antisemitism can be found in the Hamas Covenant, which quotes the sayings of Mohammad as well as ideas from the European “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

If you read the Hamas Covenant, or pay attention to the statements of the PLO leadership (whose ideology comes from al-Husseini via Yasser Arafat), you can  see that no possible withdrawals or other concessions could possibly mollify them.They will have no Jewish state of any size in what they consider “Arab (or Muslim) land.”

Gutman has it backwards. Antisemitism is not a result of the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is its cause.

The view that the Jews cause antisemitism by their actions is an old one. A 1942 article in Der Stürmer by one Ernst Hiemer begins thus:

Anti-Semitism is as old as Jewry itself. The Jew was a liar, a swindler, an exploiter, a troublemaker, a poisoner of the blood, and a murderer from the beginning. The non-Jewish peoples thus responded to this people of criminals throughout history with contempt and rejection.

Although Gutman suggests that the solution “is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East,” the position of the Obama Administration that he represents is that the conflict continues because Israel refuses to meet Arab demands. For example, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressed this view last week.

Gutman, a Washington lawyer, raised at least $500,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008. He was appointed Ambassador in 2009 .

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Dr. James Petras, yet another antisemitic professor

Sunday, November 6th, 2011
Yet another academic antisemite, Dr. James Petras

Yet another academic antisemite, Dr. James Petras

Ever since this article by Jeffrey Goldberg, a controversy has raged about John Mearsheimer’s jacket blurb for the viciously antisemitic book “The Wandering Who?” by the vicious antisemite Gilad Atzmon.

Clearly, I am taking sides in the ridiculous debate, which, unfortunately, serves to promote the works of Atzmon and Mearsheimer. If you think that perhaps there is a way to defend Mearsheimer (Atzmon is far beyond defense), Alan Dershowitz cleans his clock here. Even Mearsheimer’s fans have trouble swallowing this.

I’m not going to repeat quotations from Atzmon’s book or attack Mearsheimer; the articles linked above do it more than adequately. I want to talk about one of Atzmon’s other supporters. Dershowitz mentions him in passing:

James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Binghamton University, called The Wandering Who? “a series of brilliant illuminations” and praised Atzmon’s “courage.”

Petras is a Marxist anti-Zionist who holds the most extreme anti-Israel positions. He also is a “Jewish (or Zionist) conspiracy” theorist of the highest order. His anti-Zionist extremism crosses the line into antisemitism, and his writing explicitly evokes traditional antisemitic themes, such as Jewish control of the US government and media and the disloyalty of Jewish Americans, as well as the distortion of Jewish religious concepts like ‘the chosen people’ and matrilinial descent for antisemitic purposes.

Petras is very prolific and I can only scratch the surface in a blog post. I’m sure a diligent search (which would need to be followed by a good hot shower) would expose even more ugliness.

Petras does not deny the Holocaust like Atzmon — he just thinks that it has been cynically exploited for financial and political purposes. In a 2006 article (“Modernity and Twentieth Century Holocausts: Empire-Building and Mass Murder“), Petras argues that

The claims by mainly, but not exclusively, Jewish scholars of the ‘uniqueness’ of the Jewish-Nazi victims flies in the face of vast historical data and in fact serves as a justification for continued large-scale monetary compensation (1) and for the exercise of colonial expansion in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East, using the same techniques as were practiced by their Nazi oppressors (practices of collective guilt, racially based legislation, legalized mass torture, and ethnic cleansing).

His argument appears to claim that writers about the Holocaust do not take into account other genocides and racially-based mass murders, and he provides a list of such. Of course whether or not the Holocaust was ‘unique’ in some sense is irrelevant to the question of whether its survivors deserve compensation. And the Holocaust is not used as a justification for the creation of the state of Israel, which anyway was not a case of ‘colonial expansion’ and does not use Nazi techniques. I am not sure why the fact that some scholars of the Holocaust have been Jewish needs to be mentioned here, either.

He continues, mixing vicious ahistorical slanders against Israel with traditional antisemitic interpretations of Judaic concepts, in order to support his view that Israel is a Nazi-like state:

The Israeli-Palestinian Holocaust (IPH) has all the substantive features of previously mentioned holocausts: long-term, large-scale use of state terror; dispossession of over 4 million Palestinians; forcing over 3 millions Palestinians in ghettos; racial ethnic segregation and separation in all spheres of justice, property ownership, transportation and geographical movement; citizen rights based on ‘blood ties’ (maternal lineage); legalized and quasi-legalized torture and systematic use of collective punishment; a highly militarized society given to perpetual military assaults on neighboring Palestinian communities and other Arab states; unilateral extra-territorial, extra-judicial assassinations; chronic and systematic rejection of international law; an ideology of permanent warfare and international paranoia (‘anti-Semitism’ is everywhere) and an ideology of ethnic superiority (the Chosen People’) .

Petras thinks that ‘Zionists’ in the US constitute a disloyal fifth column which is responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our economic crisis. In a 2010 article called “War with China?“, Petras wrote:

…In contrast to the disloyal role of ZPC [Zionist Power Configuration; viz. this article] which serves as a political-military instrument of Israel, the Chinese Diaspora serves as an economic ally of he Chinese state.  Overseas Chinese facilitate market opportunities for mainland business groups, engage in joint ventures inside and outside of China, but do not shape the foreign policy of the state in which they reside.  The Chinese Diaspora do not act as a “fifth column” against the national interest of their countries of residence, unlike American Zionists whose mass organization put all of their efforts into the singular goal of subordinating US policy to maximize Israel’s colonial policies.

…by the beginning of the new millennium all the political, military and ideological pieces were in place for the launching of a series of imperial-zionist driven wars, which would further sap the US economy, profoundly deepen its budget and trade deficits and open the way for the rise of new dynamic economic-market driven empires…

Under the direction of a highly militarized elite, including influential Zionist policymakers, Washington has moved inextricably into multi—trillion dollar wars of colonial occupation in the Middle East and South Asia, under the mistaken assumption that “shows of strength” will intimidate nationalist and independent states and buttress the US economic presence.  On the contrary, the wars have decreased US influence, increased local nationalist and pan-Moslem rejection especially in light of Zionized Washington’s unconditional backing of Israeli colonialism.  More than any other move to bolster the empire, the prolonged colonial wars have massively mis-directed economic resources which, theoretically, could have revitalized the US global economic presence and increased its competitive position via China, into non-productive military expenditures…

The US unconditional embrace of the racist colonial militarist state of Israel as its principal ally in buttering [sic] colonial wars in the Middle East, has in fact had the opposite effect:  alienating 1.5 billion Islamic peoples, eroding support among former allies (Turkey and Lebanon) and strengthening Zionists policy influentials advocating a ‘third military front’ – a war with Iran, with its two million person armed forces…

Over the long run, something will have to break; militarism and Zionist power will so bleed and isolate the United States that necessity will induce a forceful response

This last threat could be straight from a speech by Herr Hitler, couldn’t it?

In case any more evidence is needed that Petras is a Jewish-conspiracy theorist, here is a quotation from a 2002 article (“Israel and the U.S.: A unique relationship“):

…it is the lesser regional power which exacts a tribute from the Empire, a seeming unique or paradoxical outcome. The explanation for this paradox is found in the powerful and influential role of pro-Israeli Jews in strategic sectors of the U.S. economy, political parties, Congress and Executive Branch. The closest equivalent to past empires is that of influential white settlers in the colonies, who through their overseas linkages were able to secure subsidies and special trading relations.

The Israeli “colons” in the U.S. have invested and donated billions of dollars to Israel, in some cases diverting funds from union dues of low paid workers to purchase Israel bonds used to finance new colonial settlements in the occupied territories. In other cases Jewish fugitives from the U.S. justice system have been protected by the Israeli state, especially super rich financial swindlers like Mark [sic] Rich and even gangsters and murderers. Occasional official demands of extradition from the U.S. Justice Department have been pointedly ignored.

The colonized Empire has gone out of its way to cover up its subservience to its supposed ally, but in fact hegemonic power.

What makes all this possible? Why, the Jewish control of the media, of course. In a 2008 interview, he says,

…it’s one of the great tragedies that we have a minority that represents less than 2% of North American’s population but has such power in the communications media

…it’s not just economic [power], they’re organized, they’re present in all the communications media, they’re well situated in Congress, they have officials in the presidency, in the Executive branch; it’s not simply a matter of Jewish millionaires but that it’s all configured in important posts in the media, in the Congress, in the Executive branch, in all local governments, towns, dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, academics, all united in a crusade, all for Israel. When Israel says “we’re going to attack Iran,” these activists, respectable Jews, are the first to support it. Not all, because there are plenty of Jews who aren’t interested in Israel nor the politics of the communal organizations, but those who are active and present have definitely taken the most bellicose positions. They support a government that tortures and imprisons thousands of Palestinians.

I’m reminded when the Jews speak of the complicity of the Germans, what are they themselves if not complicit with the great and savage crimes of the State of Israel? What difference is there between German complicity and that of the professors and doctors?

Whew. Even a Zionist conspirator like me wasn’t aware of the power of Jewish dentists (possibly because most of the dentists in Fresno are Armenian).

There’s one thing that one should ask and that is why the North American public doesn’t react against the manipulations of this minority. It’s because the Jews control the communications media and present Obama’s speeches in favor of Jerusalem and Israel as though they were something normal, just another speech. And there’s no commentary when Israel says that it’s going to hurl bombs at Iran. No editorial whatsoever criticizing Israel.

No editorial criticizing Israel? Does he read the NY Times, TIME Magazine, or any of the editorials masquerading  as news stories written by the AP? Does he listen to NPR or watch CNN? He certainly must listen to the Pacifica network (after all, he got his doctorate at Berkeley)! How did he miss all this?

You may wonder why I care about one more Israel-hating and antisemitic professor. Here’s why: I am an alumnus of Harpur College, which later grew into ‘Binghamton University’ (slogan: “Bold. Brilliant. Binghamton.” — I didn’t make this up), which granted Petras its Bartle chair in Sociology. I even met Dr. Glenn G. Bartle, after whom it’s named, when I went there in 1960.

I have no idea of what Dr. Bartle, a nice man who died in 1977, would have thought about James Petras. I like to imagine that he would turn over in his grave at the way the university that his little college became besmirched his name.

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JCPA adopts craven resolution on Title VI

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Anti-Israel demonstration at UC Santa Cruz

Anti-Israel demonstration at UC Santa Cruz

Last week I wrote about a resolution of the Jewish Federation-funded Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA) regarding the use of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect pro-Israel Jewish students from campus harassment.

The draft resolution reportedly included the following:

Lawsuits and threats of legal action should not be used to censor anti-Israel events, statements, and speakers in order to ‘protect’ Jewish students … but rather for cases which evidence a systematic climate of fear and intimidation coupled with a failure of the university administration to respond with reasonable corrective measures.

At this moment, the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating three such complaints, including one filed by Dr. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin which argues that precisely such a ‘systematic climate’ does exist at the University of California Santa Cruz campus. The complaint documents the harassment experienced by the students in and out of the classroom, and the non-response of the faculty and administration.

Objections to Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint are couched in terms of free speech and academic freedom, so the suggestion — coming as it does from a group that styles itself “the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community” — that such complaints may be filed in order to ‘censor’ free speech is especially damaging.

Attorney Susan Tuchman of the Zionist Organization of America wrote,

If the JCPA adopts the draft resolution, it would send an alarming and demoralizing message to Jewish students: that they, unlike other victims of harassment and intimidation, should hesitate before seeking to enforce their legal right to a school environment that is physically and emotionally safe and conducive to learning, or else risk criticism and a lack of support from their own Jewish communal leaders. And it would send a dangerous and destructive message to OCR: that the agency made the wrong decision in issuing the Title VI policy protecting Jewish students, because even the Jewish community is not united behind it. At the least, the Resolution could encourage government officials to take Title VI complaints by Jewish students less seriously, because Jewish communal leaders themselves are so wary of this legal remedy.

On Monday, the JCPA board adopted a modified form of the resolution, which includes this:

It is not in the Jewish community’s best interest to invoke Title VI to promote a “politically correct” environment in which legitimate debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is squelched and academic freedom is undermined, because use of the remedy in such circumstances could undermine its long-term effectiveness.  It may also be in conflict with basic values of tolerance and ideological moderation important to many contemporary college students, thereby potentially alienating both Jewish and non-Jewish students from the rest of the Jewish community and significantly harming the Jewish student community on campus. [my emphasis]

If anything, the mention of ‘political correctness’ and ‘squelching’ debate is more damaging than the originally reported evocation of ‘censorship’.

But worse, the argument reeks of cowardice: “don’t make too much noise, because it will only increase antisemitism.” Isn’t this the same argument that was used against those who tried to get  Roosevelt to take action to rescue Jews during WWII? Should American Jews give up their rights as Americans in order not to ‘alienate’ the majority?

To add insult to injury, the JCPA then issued a misleading press release which calls for “campus leaders to do more to combat anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity” and deemphasizes the highly negative slant toward Title VI taken by their ‘statement’ (they’ve stopped calling it a ‘resolution’).

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said  “We are taught that there is a time to break down and a time to build up.  And there is a time to foster dialogue just as there is a time to go to court.” Certainly in the case of the University of California, Santa Cruz, fostering dialogue hasn’t worked.

So why is Gutow’s JCPA is doing its best to reduce the probability of prevailing in court as well?

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God help Britain

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I’ve written more than once about the relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. But a recent piece in the UK Guardian (circulation 279,000 in January 2011) surprised even me.

A creature named Deborah Orr writes a weekly column in that newspaper, which refers to her as “one of Britain’s leading social and political commentators.” God help Britain, then.

Orr rarely if ever writes about Israel – indeed, going back to January of this year I can find no other mention of the subject. So she is not one of the multitude of professional Israel-bashers, which makes it worse.

Here is the whole ugly thing:

It’s quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs. The deal is widely viewed as a victory for Hamas, the radical Islamist group that gained power in Gaza after years of frustration at the intractability of the “peace process”. Conversely, it is being seen by some as a sign of weakness in Israel’s rightwing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. Netanyahu argues that he acted because he values Shalit’s life so greatly.

Yet who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? Likewise, Hamas wished to use their human bargaining chip to gain release for as many Palestinians as they could. They don’t have much to bargain with.

At the same time, however, there is something abject in their eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours. [my emphasis]

What Orr has done is standard procedure for those who meld hating the Jewish State with hating Jews. She takes bare facts and imputes to them the worst possible motives, in this case entirely inverting the truth.

The truth of the Shalit affair is this: Hamas snatched a young soldier and held him underground, incommunicado, for more than five years, in order to use him to extort the release of convicted terrorists, including the most vicious murderers of innocents.

Due to the confluence of an effective public relations campaign waged by Shalit’s parents, which touched the hearts of Israelis whose sons and daughters are conscripted into the IDF, and political factors affecting both the Netanyahu government and Hamas, a deal was made. It is highly disadvantageous to Israel, freeing dangerous and unrepentant criminals, destroying the deterrent effect of imprisonment, boosting the political fortune and morale of Hamas, and causing pain and fear to the bereaved families of the terrorists’ victims. There has already been a surge of terror attacks – stabbings and arson – as the Arabs mark their triumph.

Nevertheless there was a overwhelming feeling of joy in Israel, that the state cared enough about one soldier – everyone’s son – to take the risks and accept the humiliation that the deal implied.

It is this feeling that Orr renders as a belief that “the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence…”!

She implies that the reason this deal is viewed as a victory for Hamas and a defeat for the Netanyahu government is not because, in objective, strategic terms, it was both of those, but rather because the world is “inured … to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are worth more than Palestinian lives.”

What is obscene here is Orr’s taking a situation in which Israeli Jews have been victimized — first by terrorist murders, then by Shalit’s captivity, and finally by having the murderers freed — and turning it into yet another false accusation of Jewish racism.

Note also her use of the concept of “the chosen,” a staple of antisemitic  discourse, which falsely claims that it is a principle of Judaism that Jews are superior to non-Jews.

It’s interesting that Orr, who usually writes about popular culture and likely cares about understanding how the public thinks and feels, didn’t notice how objectionable her piece really is. Or maybe she is in sync with her audience.

Everyone knows that the Guardian’s point of view is radically anti-Israel. But this piece more than crosses the line and should have been rejected by the editor. Perhaps he or she didn’t notice that either.

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JCPA sticks its nose into harassment controversy

Sunday, October 16th, 2011
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

The Jewish Daily Forward reports that

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs [JCPA], American Jewry’s primary umbrella group for addressing domestic issues, will vote at its upcoming board meeting on a resolution that, in its current draft, cautions Jewish groups to guard against suppressing free speech and to invoke civil rights laws only after exhausting other measures.

“Lawsuits and threats of legal action should not be used to censor anti-Israel events, statements, and speakers in order to ‘protect’ Jewish students,” the draft resolution warns, “but rather for cases which evidence a systematic climate of fear and intimidation coupled with a failure of the university administration to respond with reasonable corrective measures.”

The draft’s nuanced construction reflects serious concern over the possibility that some Jewish groups and individuals may be inappropriately exploiting recent changes in the government’s interpretation of federal civil rights laws, according to communal officials involved in the issue. They cite in particular Title VI of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects individuals from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in education programs and activities that receive federal funding. [my emphasis]

I am wondering why we need this resolution. The proposition boldfaced above is self-evident. Of course it is critical to distinguish between protected speech and antisemitic harassment. In order to prevail in such a lawsuit, a complaint would have to meet the requirements of Title VI.

For example, a complaint filed by Prof. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin in 2009, now being investigated by US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights [OCR], claims that

Professors, academic departments and residential colleges at [The University of California, Santa Cruz] promote and encourage anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views and behavior, much of which is based on either misleading information or outright falsehoods. In addition, rhetoric heard in UCSC classrooms and at numerous events sponsored and funded by academic and administrative units on campus goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel.  The rhetoric – which demonizes Israel, compares contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, calls  for the dismantling of the Jewish State, and holds Israel to an impossible double standard – crosses the line into anti-Semitism according to the standards employed by our own government. …

The impact of the academic and university-sponsored Israel-bashing on students has been enormous.  There are students who have felt emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated, to the point that they are reluctant or afraid to express a view that is not anti-Israel.  …

Since at least 2001, faculty members and students have brought these and similar problems to the attention of numerous UCSC administrators and faculty.  To date, the administration and faculty have largely ignored the problems.  In some cases, administrators and faculty have publicly denied that there are problems and even repudiated those who have had the courage to raise them. [my emphasis]

The complaint documents in detail Rossman-Benjamin’s contention that 1) a pervasive atmosphere hostile to Jewish students exists, 2) it is harmful to the students, and 3) the university has not taken appropriate action. This is exactly what is required by Title VI as it is now interpreted.

According to the Forward article, the resolution was prompted by a dispute over whether Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint was legitimate (see AAUP letter here and Rossman-Benjamin’s response here). It’s clear that the arguments against it will focus on the issue of limitation of free speech vs. the ‘pervasive atmosphere,’ etc. that is created not only by the preponderance of anti-Israel speech, but the behavior of the speakers, faculty, other students and administration.

Note that accusations of ‘censorship’ and limitations on speech were also the arguments used by the Muslim students who were recently convicted of disrupting a speech by Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine. And in Oakland, California, protests against an exhibition, at a private museum, of drawings supposedly made by Gaza children depicting abuse by Israeli soldiers were attacked as ‘censorship’.

I can only understand the JCPA resolution as an attempt to sandbag Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint. I can imagine that if hearings are held, it will be used as evidence that “even the Jewish community” doesn’t support it.

If Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint is shot down, it will be a green light for continued harassment of Jewish students on all UC campuses. If JCPA approves this resolution at its board meeting on October 24, it will be handing ammunition to those who want to kill it.

Incidentally, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin will be speaking in Fresno on October 23.


What is the JCPA and who decided that it is “American Jewry’s primary umbrella group for addressing domestic issues?” (The following is adapted from my two previous posts on the subject in January and March of this year):

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA, not to be confused with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) calls itself “the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community.” It is affiliated with the JFNA, formerly the UJC and before that the UJA, the umbrella organization of the Jewish Federations in the US and Canada.

Confused yet? What’s important to know is that the Jewish Federations raise large sums of money. Some of it is spent for charitable purposes in local communities (despite what Helen Thomas thinks, there are poor Jews) and some of it goes to support the Jewish Agency in Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee, which helps Jews in difficult situations around the world.

These agencies in part paid for the rescue of Jews in Europe after WWII, Jews from Arab countries, Soviet Jews, Ethiopian Jews, etc.

Today I’m afraid that there is beginning to be a loss of focus: JFNA has some highly paid corporate officers, and the agencies that it supports are also less than efficient (the Jewish Agency is famous as a home for tired Israeli politicians).

What about the JCPA, which gets most of its funds from JFNA?

The CEO (since 2005) and President (since 2009) of JCPA is Rabbi Steve Gutow. A Reconstructionist Rabbi, Gutow is also “founding Executive Director” (although he does not hold the position now) of the National Jewish Democratic Council, whose mission is frankly partisan.

I’ve been a member of the board of our local Jewish Federation for some time, have served as its treasurer for the last four years, and I had heard very little about the JCPA until recently, when I received several press releases (for example, this one). I didn’t find them particularly helpful, and I asked myself who appointed JCPA to speak for the Jewish community — and why we were paying them to do so. Certainly my organization wasn’t consulted!

Here’s an example of why this may not be a good idea. JCPA has created an “Israel Action Network” intended to combat attacks on the legitimacy of the Jewish state, which has been allocated $6 million for three years from the Jewish Federations. Its director, Martin Raffel, has become embroiled in a controversy about which “Zionists of the Left” belong in the “big tent” and should be considered “allies.”

What about those ‘Zionists’ of the Left called J Street? Raffel wants to include them, because — while they do support boycotting some parts of Israel, they are opposed to boycotting all of it:

But what to think about Zionists on the political left who have demonstrated consistent concern for Israel’s security, support Israel’s inalienable right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, and consider Israel to be the eternal home of the Jewish people — but have decided to express their opposition to specific policies of the Israeli government by refraining from participating in events taking place in the West Bank or purchasing goods produced there? I vigorously would argue that such actions are counter-productive in advancing the cause of peace based on two states that they espouse, a goal that we share. But this is not sufficient cause to place them outside the tent.

– Statement of Martin Raffel in JCPA press release

Of course I strongly disagree. An attack on Jewish presence beyond the Green Line is an attack on the legitimacy of Israel as expressed by the League of Nations Mandate. It is a rejection of UNSC resolution 242, which calls for “secure and recognized boundaries,” which are clearly not the 1949 armistice lines. It is an attempt to punish law-abiding Israeli citizens and to support the racist Arab position about who may live where. It is more than just counter-productive, it’s anti-Zionist.

Not only did Raffel accept J Street into his tent, he decided that a right-leaning Zionist group called “Z Street” belonged outside with the camels, probably because it is unabashedly opposed to withdrawing from the territories.

Here in the US we don’t have a Chief Rabbinate, and there are Jews of all political persuasions. It requires a certain amount of arrogance to call yourself “the representative voice of the organized Jewish community” or “American Jewry’s primary umbrella group for addressing domestic issues” as the Forward’s reporter was told.

Unfortunately, the outside world might believe that you really do speak for American Jews and act accordingly.

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