McCarthyist Blacklisting of Jews Who Support Justice for Both Israelis and Palestinians
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:32:11 PM EST
Berkeley, California is famous for Free Speech issues, so it is especially shocking that the East Bay Jewish Community Center (JCC) withdrew its sponsorship of a speech by Peter Beinart, a Daily Beast political writer. Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism has now cancelled his appearance.

JCC announced last Friday it was withdrawing sponsorship after it found out that the person slated to introduce Beinart was Penny Rosenwasser, a founding board member of Jewish Voice for Peace. Originally, the Bay Area chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace was co-sponsoring the April 17 speech by Beinart along with the JCC and KPFA Radio, a Pacifica Radio affiliate in the Bay area.

Beinart is an associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York and a senior fellow at The New America Foundation. He was formerly an editor of The New Republic. In a review of Beinart’s book in the New York Times, Roger Cohen calls it an “important new book that rejects the manipulation of Jewish victimhood in the name of Israel’s domination of the Palestinians” and suggests it is a timely discussion “for the future of Israel." Kirkus Reviews adds: "An elegant, deeply honest look at the failure of Jewish liberalism in forging Israel as a democratic state… Straight talk by a clear-thinking intellectual with his heart in the right place."

In a statement released by the JCC they wrote they “do not support the activist platform of an organization on which the moderator serves as a board member, and it is for this reason we are withdrawing our sponsorship.”

They then added:

===“We believe everyone should rightly have their say and participate in debate and decisions about how to best support democracy in Israel. However, we will not sponsor a speaking platform for a representative of an organization that calls for withdrawal of economic support for Israel.”

How exactly does that work? A free and open debate does not include a political blacklist of groups and individuals.

President Bill Clinton praised the Beinart book, saying:

"Peter Beinart has written a deeply important book for anyone who cares about Israel, its security, its democracy, and its prospects for a just and lasting peace. Beinart explains the roots of the current political and religious debates within Israel, raises the tough questions that can’t be avoided, and offers a new way forward to achieve Zionism’s founding ideals, both in Israel and among the diaspora Jews in the United States and elsewhere.

The way this controversy developed was a perfect media ambush storm aimed at embarrassing Beinart either way. If he spoke, Beinart, Rosenwasser, Jewish Voices for Peace, and the BDS movement could be marginalized and attacked. If Beinart withdrew, (as he did), Rosenwasser, Jewish Voices for Peace, and the BDS movement could be marginalized and attacked. It is a win-win strategy designed to suppress dissent and expand what can be legitimately labeled as antisemitism.

This incident is part of a larger campaign to silence an open debate on college campuses and inside the US Jewish community over Middle East issues. This right-wing ideological project seeks to shift the boundaries for the question of when it is appropriate to condemn supporters of Palestinian rights for stepping over the line into antisemitism. Apparently the goal is to make it possible to condemn as antisemites all Jews who support both Israeli and Palestinian rights.

The political blacklist forced on the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay by funders--and the recent silencing of staffer Ken Stern of the American Jewish Committee for defending an open discussion on college campuses--is part of this campaign. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are both real issues that need attention in the United States. To use the real issue of antisemitism to push a right-wing foreign policy agenda is despicable.

As a journalist, I interviewed Penny Rosenwasser for an article in the New Internationalist on combatting conspiracist antisemitism on the Political Left.  Here is her first response from the full interview posted online as a supplement to the article: “ Both Jewish Israeli people and the Palestinian people have a right to land, resources, dignity, security, peace, and most important…justice.” So what line is Rosenwasser crossing? Is agitating for peace evidence of being an enemy of Israel?

An answer comes from inside Israel since this controversy is already garnering international attention. In criticizing Rosenwasser and Jewish Voice for Peace a blogger based in Jerusalem wrote that “Peter Beinart may be the darling of the radical-liberal-academic Left, but the established Jewish community to which he is trying to appeal appears to be fed up with him.” The blogger, calling himself “Carl in Jerusalem” castigated Rosenwasser by citing a portion of her interview for the New Internationalist:

===Rosenwasser: I was at a peace demonstration recently and I saw someone with a sign that had a Nazi swastika inside a Jewish Star of David. It breaks my heart what the Israeli government and army and settlers are doing to Palestinians. Some of these things are similar to what was done to Jews by the Nazis-but it's not on the same scale as the Nazi genocide. And this is an example of how some people blur the distinction between the Jewish people and the policies of the Israeli government. So I try to make it a teaching moment, and I went up to the person and pointed this out and explained that it doesn't help anyone or anything to have those types of hyperbolic signs."

Carl in Jerusalem then posted: “Moderator? Sounds like an advocate to me.”

Yes, an advocate for peace and justice in the Middle East. That clearly makes Rosenwasser what exactly? I have known Penny Rosenwasser for over 30 years. Both of us advocate a peaceful solution in which Israelis and Palestinians have land, resources, dignity, security, peace, and justice. Should all of us who agree be silenced by a political blacklist? How about President Clinton?

President Bill Clinton praised the Beinart book, saying:

==="Peter Beinart has written a deeply important book for anyone who cares about Israel, its security, its democracy, and its prospects for a just and lasting peace. Beinart explains the roots of the current political and religious debates within Israel, raises the tough questions that can’t be avoided, and offers a new way forward to achieve Zionism’s founding ideals, both in Israel and among the diaspora Jews in the United States and elsewhere."

Apparently Bill Clinton would not be an appropriate moderator for the cancelled East Bay event. After all, Clinton is an advocate of “Israel, its security, its democracy, and its prospects for a just and lasting peace” who has called for raising “the tough questions that can’t be avoided” in the “current political and religious debates within Israel.”

An honest version of this much-needed discussion will not take place in the United States as long as the political blacklist against BDS is accepted within the Jewish community here.

The entire press release from Jewish Voice for Peace is posted below.

===

Jewish Voice for Peace

East Bay won’t get to hear Daily Beast writer Peter Beinart on the “Crisis of Zionism” thanks to McCarthyite atmosphere in Jewish institutional world:

Event moderator deemed too controversial because of affiliation with Jewish peace group.

[Oakland, March 27, 2012] The national organization Jewish Voice for Peace is profoundly disappointed by the sudden cancellation of the upcoming Berkeley talk on “the Crisis of Zionism” by Daily Beast political writer Peter Beinart. Beinart withdrew yesterday following the Friday announcement by the East Bay Jewish Community Center that they were withdrawing sponsorship, they said, after realizing that Dr. Penny Rosenwasser, the agreed-upon moderator of the talk, was a founding board member of Jewish Voice for Peace. The Bay Area chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace and the East Bay Jewish Community Center had been the planned co-sponsors of the April 17 talk organized by local Pacifica affiliate KPFA Radio.

While many Bay Area supporters of Jewish Voice for Peace have been or are also supporters of the East Bay JCC, we recognize that withdrawing sponsorship at this late date is likely one more result of an increasingly McCarthyite atmosphere in the Jewish institutional world. In the Bay Area especially, more and more, Jewish institutions are required to police speakers and events based on the narrow requirements of a handful of influential funders.

Dr. Penny Rosenwasser, author of several books including Voices from a 'Promised Land': Palestinian & Israeli Peace Activists Speak Their Hearts" and co-instructor of San Francisco City College course “Anti-Semitism/Anti-Arabism” said:

It’s exactly this guilt by association accusation that I think is one of the most destructive aspects of these kinds of guidelines. They try to keep disparate Jewish groups from joining together to present events that allow us to examine huge ethical and social justice issues. I’m proud to be an active Jewish Voice for Peace member, I’m proud of our advocacy for human rights and justice for all the peoples of the Middle East: including Israelis, including Palestinians. 

In 2010, an ad in the Jewish Daily Forward warned about new, vaguely written funding guidelines instituted by the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation which said that the Federation would not fund groups that “advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel… including through participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” nor would they support programming that is co-sponsored or co-presented by such organizations.

The Forward ad, signed by 73 rabbis, professors and other Jewish leaders in the Bay Area, warned that these guidelines, which were preceded by similar ones implemented by the highly influential Koret/Taube Foundation, would “…curtail freedom of speech and artistic expression by declaring certain opinions and organizations out of bounds. This policy does grave damage to the vibrancy of the American Jewish community. The language that describes excluded organizations is vague and open-ended—those that “advocate for or endorse undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a democratic Jewish state.”

Jewish Voice for Peace’s current Advisory Board members include luminaries such as Tony Kushner, Adrienne Rich, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Eve Ensler. JVP actively supports nonviolent efforts to pressure Israel to be accountable to international law through the We Divest campaign which demands that retirement giant TIAA-CREF divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Because of this, we presume that our Advisory Board members would also be ineligible as participants in a talk sponsored by the East Bay JCC, other Bay Area JCCs, and other Federation and Koret/Taube grantees. 

Liberal mainstays like the New Israel Fund and Meretz USA are also targets of similar campaigns to keep them out of New York’s Israel Day parade. Ironically, Peter Beinart’s recent op-ed in the NYT calling for boycott of goods made in the settlements, which he calls Zionist BDS, raises the specter that eventually he too may be boycotted by Jewish institutions due to the pressure by a handful of funding sources. 

This dynamic of policing by funders, especially acute during times of economic difficulty, has already had a destructive impact on Jewish institutions that would otherwise be committed to open dialogue.

Just last week, the Jewish Federations of North America rescinded authorization for our youth-led wing, Young Jewish & Proud (YJP), to operate an exhibition table at Tribefest, the Jewish Federations’ annual youth gathering. In response, YJP circulated an open letter to JFNA’s CEO and President Jerry Silverman urging him to rethink his locking of the gates:

It is disheartening to see an increasing number of Jewish institutions, including those serving Jewish young people, like Hillel, and the Jewish Federations of North America, implement polices that explicitly cut off honest conversation and critical thinking.

…To our Jewish communal institutions and leaders we say: End your polices of exclusion. Let the next generation of young Jews Go & Learn. 

To create space for open dialogue and education about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) In Jewish communities, YJP has initiated “Go & Learn: BDS Education in Jewish communities”. Go & Learn events are spaces for Jews no matter their perspectives on BDS to learn and discuss the issues. Go & Learn events are taking place this spring across the United States including in the Bay Area, Chicago, Boston, Olympia, Philadelphia and in New York City at the 14th Street Y.

With offices in New York, Seattle, and Oakland, and over 30 chapters nationwide, Jewish Voice for Peace is the country’s largest Jewish organization dedicated to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians built on democracy, human rights and equality.




Display:
The blackout of information coming from Palestinian voices has been a huge success for the rightwingers in Israel, so this is merely an extension of that exercise.

I wonder if NPR's new policy towards "truthful" rather than "he said-she said" reporting will include more details of the settlement injustices, etc.?



by trog69 on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 03:58:04 PM EST

...I hope this issue gets wider exposure.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:58:35 PM EST
It is a very troubling turn of events.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 12:12:18 PM EST
Parent


I have always viewed with horror the way Palestinians were painted and wondered aloud how Europe could be spot-on in seeing  the Palestinian cause to the absolute opposite of the picture painted in the U.S.  Altho' not Jewish, this Liberal Mainline Protestant  joined Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)a couple of years ago to help its voice continue to be vocal for the rights of Palestinians & ultimate peace for these who have always been occupied. Yes, the news of rockets lobbed from Gaza or street actions which sounded more like what Iraq or Afghanistan do  is not to be taken lightly but as acts of defiance  for a people who do not control their own destiny. Three generations have now existed as auslanders, with their individual & collective psyches affected. The BDS approach to TIAA-CREF for seeking help against Catepillar  in its investment actions touched me greatly since I had chosen its "Social Choice" for my retirement long ago, an effective vote against such suppliers of warfare equipment. TIAA's dance in Annual Meeting change of place(s) to avoid the heat the of protestors was hardly attractive, both physically & symbolically.

American Jews seem to have a large blind spot for Israel who can do nothing wroong even when their action has been horrendous. Beinart's book is not unlike another:Rabbi Michael Lerner's Embracing Israel/Palestine, in sounding a clarion call for Inclusion with Peace which would end The Occupation. A Fourth generation of Palestinians as a Displaced People would be indeed an albatross to become a Badge of Courage for Palestinian Justice....justice that would allow Israeli justice also to prevail.

by achbird65 on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:04:52 PM EST



WWW Talk To Action


A Talk to Action Anthology on Neo-Confederacy, Nullification and Secession (Updated)
Over the past year, a number of posts have addressed the growing Neo-Confederate movement, the advocacy of nullification of federal laws, and even the......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Two Years Ago Today, the 'Least Credible History Book in Print' was Published
This post is an updated version of my post from this same date last year, which, not surprisingly, was titled "One Year Ago Today,......
By Chris Rodda (1 comment)
Geocentrist Creationists Seek To Become The Center Of Attention
There are days when fundamentalist zealots do something so off the wall that I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I do......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
A Full Quiver of Bad Advice
Mike Huckabee mailed out an open invitation to all Texas pastors inviting them to attend the Texas Renewal Project.  The first 1,000 to respond......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)
Opus Dei Priest's Secessionist Roadmap to Theocracy
Fr. C.J. ("John") McCloskey is in many ways the  American face of the secretive Catholic organization, Opus Dei.  He is a former Wall Streeter,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Don't Be April Fooled by Far-Right Activists Dressed Up as Democratic Candidates
This is cross-posted from The Huffington Post. It expands and updates previous posts about the Neo-Confederate theocrats Michael Peroutka and Pastor David Whitney. Maryland......
By jhutson (0 comments)
Dangerous Defiance: Md. Official Ignores Court Ruling On Sectarian Prayer
I'm not a lawyer, but let me give you a little free legal advice anyway: It's never a good idea to defy a federal......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors'
Austin Ruse doesn't understand why people were so upset when he said on a national radio program that university leaders "should all be taken......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Justice For All: The Supreme Court And The Role Of The Justices' Religious Beliefs
Today's Washington Post has an interesting story about how the personal religious beliefs of members of the Supreme Court might affect their decisions.The question......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
RINO Says His Dino Proves Noah's Flood -- Wha Wha What?
Michael Peroutka, the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in 2004 and co-founder of the theocratic Institute on the Constitution, made news recently when......
By jhutson (0 comments)
Franklin Graham Slams Obama and Supports Putin in Battle Over Gay Rights
With a column vigorously supporting Vladimir Putin's anti-gay crusade in Russia, Evangelist Franklin Graham finds himself edging closer to inheriting the mantle of Fred......
By Bill Berkowitz (3 comments)
Neo-Confederate Democrats: Oxymorons?
“Many of you may be thinking that I have lost my mind,” Republican Del. Don Dwyer wrote in a March 2013 email and Facebook......
By jhutson (2 comments)
The Catholic Right Star & the Porn Star -- UPDATED
A Duke University freshman best known by her stage name Belle Knox has been much in the news. She was even interviewed by Piers......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Baptists and Bullets in Texas Politics
One thing regional Baptist GOP candidates share in common is a deep affection for gun rights.  The endorsements of pro-gun positions takes precedence over......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
The Battling Noahs & The Titanic Film Comeback of Noah & His Ark
Who would have imagined that in 2014, Noah, yes the Noah of the Biblical story of Noah and his Ark, would be garnering so......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)

America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (1 comment)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (0 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)
Jerry Falwell's Fundamentalist Liberty University Still Getting Hundreds of Millions in Federal Aid
In 2010, Liberty University got more federal funding than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In a 2011 Talk To Action story, contributor Bill Berkowitz covered the new trend in which right-wing evangelical colleges and......
Bruce Wilson (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else © 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.