Coded anti-Semitism in Newt’s use of Saul Alinsky?

Gal Beckerman at the Forward posits that Newt Gingrich’s use of “food stamp President” holds racist overtones and that “Saul Alinsky radical” is pregnant with antisemitism. Newt seems to think the average American knows who Alinsky is and that conservatives know to hate him.

Is it true or not true? (Not the part about Obama being a leftist radical, we all know that’s not true. I mean Beckerman’s charge of antisemitism.)

Mobius is for the #Occupation

The enemies of my enemies are my enemies.

The enemies of my enemies are my enemies.

As many know, Mobius, activist and founder of this blog, is known for his outspoken views ending on the Occupation and more recently for his leadership in Jewish slice of the the #Occupy movement (among his prodigious other accomplishments).

In a somewhat surreal turn of events, earlier this week as police evicted Sieradski and the rest of #occupy wall street from Zucotti Park, the Electronic Intifada denounced him for  being a tool of the Zionist PR machine. Got that?  They associated him with his twitter and real-life debate partner, William Daroff, who proudly clams that title.  Clearly, having posed together for a photo makes them philosophical bunk mates. Confused yet? It gets better.

Those who believe that Mobius was against the occupation are apparently incorrect, according to Adam Greenhouse and Electronic Intifada.  Huh?

Not only this, but he is, or was, and now is again- FOR the #Occupation.  Of course- and apparently Electronic Intifada is as well. But not THAT occupation.  And  Mobius is not entitled to be thus as he hasn’t been nearly outspoken enough about his views. Which E.I. is against because, well, he’s so clearly in bed with the rightwing Zionists. And Muppets.

Which they’re for- no wait, against.. Okay, I’m confused. Blame the Jews!

Stranger still, Electronic Initifada did this in the context of announcing the delivery of a message of Palestinian solidarity with the #Occupy movement in NYC.  They announce solidarity, denounce Sieradski for being an anarchist statist capitalist communist jew sellout.

And btw, since we’re off the topic, the Muppets also deserve a state of their own too. Who doesn’t anymore (except Kurds, Boriquenas and American Indians)?  Personally, I believe the @Muppets should be free to live everywhere.  As long as its not in my backyard because my 6th cousins are moving in as soon as UNESCO declares their right to return to my #basement.  I also wish to denounce those who would deny them the right to both have the state of #Muppestine and the right to denounce such states on principle!  Really, this totally made sense when explained by the Electric Meyhem.

Somewhere I hear Bill Murray turning to Harold Ramis and saying, “Wait, I thought you said the Occupation was baaaaad.”  DOWN! with the evil #occupiers of the anti-zionist non-entity!  No wait- FREE Palestine! End the #Occupation! Muppets!  No, wait, we support the occupiers just not the #occupation!  Reverse that.  We are with the 6 million!  Wherever we stand, it is in opposition to the opposition of the opposition of the occupation, except when we’re not.  And then we are.

At least the Palestinian Solidarity movement got its support of #occupy straight on one point, and that was… failing to make a clear point. Nice work and way to muddy the waters for the enemies of progress.  Thanks for the giggles!  But not really.

Glenn Beck impunes Israeli protestors for seeking social justice

After making “social justice” his sworn enemy in America, Glenn Beck is now turning to help the Jews purge these “Marxist code words” from the land of his Lord and Savior too. Beck on Israel’s largest citizen mobilization in a generation: “They are a group of Leftists that want to take down Netanyahu’s government and receive housing and food for free.”

American-funded tabloid Yisrael Hayom reported that Beck’s rally to restore courage in Jerusalem will feature American right-wing heavyweights:

Among others taking part in the event will be actors John Voigt and Chuck Norris, Senators Joe Lieberman, Orrin Hatch and Jim DeMint, and two Republican presidential nomination candidates. Also arriving will be a group of Congressmen including Eric Cantor, the highest ranking Jewish member of the House of Representatives.

(Translation here.)

Meanwhile, J Street commissioned a new poll revealing that Beck has barely 10% approval among American Jews (PDF).

Dear Tom Friedman, the Tea Party and Hezbollah are not the same thing

This guestpost is by RhetoricWatch. Though operating under a pseudonym here, RhetoricWatch is a professional in the field of Jewish journalism.

Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: The Tea Party is not a terrorist organization.

I don’t agree with its ideas, tactics or policy suggestions, and I’m worried about its seemingly rising influence in this country, which seems anti-intellectual, simplistic and detached from reality. Moreover, its rhetoric–which at times seems nativist and racist–is feeding a current of hatred and fear in this country that troubles me.

But none of this makes the Tea party comparable to Hezbollah. Not even close.

Which is why these couple sentences from Tom Friedman’s recent article on Norway–buried near the bottom of the page–surprised me:

Alas, that is the Tea Party… If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.

Remember, Friedman is referring to the same Hezbollah that has launched many deadly attacks on Israel, that calls for Israel’s destruction as a state, that advocates extremist Muslim rule in the Middle East and that openly praised the killing of 200 US Marines in 1983. The Tea Party’s rhetoric may be bad, but it’s nowhere near that bad.

It surprises me all the more that it’s Friedman writing this. Friedman, who made a name for himself covering the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Friedman, who writes about Israel and its terrorist enemies frequently and who focuses his columns on trying to avoid the extreme positions that some in Israel and the Middle East take. He should know better.

It’s not even a good analogy. Unlike the Tea Party, which is (as Friedman noted) a faction within the Republican party – and a small one at that – Hezbollah is a major political party in Lebanon. It is a faction in the ruling coalition, but it has representation in parliament and seats in the cabinet. Oh, and it’s also a violent terrorist organization – if I forgot to mention that before.

A better analogy, I think, would be to Yisrael Beiteinu, a hard-right – and nonviolent – political party. It is also independent, unlike the Tea Party, but like the Tea Party it advocates anti-democratic and counterproductive policy in Israel – combined with extremist rhetoric.

One major and consistent complaint that the left in the US has had against the Tea Party is that it cheapens tragic events like the Holocaust by making outlandish comparisons. This is a valid concern, and one worth caring about. But if we’re going to harshly criticize right-wing pundits for such comparisons, we need to call out left-wing pundits for bad comparisons as well.

Tom Friedman can and should criticize the Tea Party. He shouldn’t compare it to Hezbollah.

A Clergy Report on Working Conditions at Hyatt Hotels

Guess what?

This report, the result of direct conversations with Hyatt workers across the U.S., details a broader practice by Hyatt that we find contrary to the religious traditions we uphold.

There is no real shocker here. However, the broader problem, the war on the working class, is wonderfully and bitterly laid out here by J.J. Goldberg at the Forward.
If you don’t think that its a war, you’re not paying attention.

Tony Kushner: Latest Victim of Jewish McCarthyism

Briefly: Playwright and cultural icon Tony Kushner was kicked off the list of honorees and John Jay College because Jeffrey Weisenfeld is Captain McWitchHunt. Fascinating. Here’s hoping someone throws water on JW so that he melts into a steaming puddle of vindictive intolerance. (h/t MondoWeiss )

Tony Kushner
c/o Heat & Light Co., Inc.
cc: President Jeremy Travis

The faculty and students of John Jay College of Criminal Justice
899 Tenth Avenue New York, NY, 10019

May 4, 2011

To Chairperson Benno Schmidt and the Board of Trustees:

At the May 2 public meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees, which was broadcast on CUNY television and radio, Trustee Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld delivered a grotesque caricature of my political beliefs regarding the state of Israel, concocted out of three carefully cropped, contextless quotes taken from interviews I’ve given, the mention of my name on the blog of someone with whom I have no connection whatsoever, and the fact that I serve on the advisory board of a political organization with which Mr. Weisenfeld strongly disagrees. As far as I’m able to conclude from the podcast of this meeting, Mr. Weisenfeld spoke for about four minutes, the first half of which was a devoted to a recounting of the politics of former President of Ireland and UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson that was as false as his description of mine.

Ms. Robinson, however, was not on public trial; I was, apparently, and at the conclusion of Mr. Weisenfeld’s vicious attack on me, eight members voted to approve all the honorary degree candidates, including me, and four voted to oppose the slate if my name remained on it. Lacking the requisite nine votes to approve the entire slate, the Board, in what sounds on the podcast like a scramble to dispense with the whole business, tabled my nomination, approved the other candidates, and adjourned. Not a word was spoken in my defense. More »

The real reason the right keeps doing things that encourage the ongoing situation

And now we know. The real reason that we are not permitted to change any policy in a way that might discourage violence. I feel at ease, now that I know. It’s because its all part of our mission as the suffering servant of Isaiah.

Gotcher money quote right here:

There is an untold, sad reason for Israel’s ability to offer such help. For the Jewish State, terrorism has always been an involuntary master of speed, precision and caring. There is an amazing quantity of research, inventions and new techniques for helping the disabled and the paralyzed return to normal life after terrorist destruction.

Now we know. It’s for the good of the world. The right wants Israel to continue to be attacked by terrorists so that we can lovingly give of ourselves our scientific inventions that save everyone else. What a bunch of loving people! Generously sacrificing us for the benefit of the world!
*sarcasm off*

Jon Stewart on Pete King’s endorsement of some terrorists, not others

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia?
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Glenn Beck apologizes (sorta) but I’m not impressed.

After the ADL gets pissy with him Glenn Beck apologizes (sorta) for his rude comparison of Reform Jews to Islamic extremists but I have to say — I’m not impressed.

First of all, let’s just set aside for a moment the ridiculousness of mentioning Islamic extremists in every other breath – really, I have to say (I never thought I’d defend Beck in any way whatsoever) that really, his comments weren’t about Reform Jews being terrorists. While his comments were completely inane, his point was that Reform Jews are primarily a political organization rather than a religious one. How many ways this is a stupid comment leaves me gasping, but it’s not what most people seem to have taken it as – i.e. a claim that Reform Jews are terrorists.

However, the level of stupidity remains pretty high: More »

Glenn Beck: Reformed Rabbis = Radical Islam because of the Nazis

First listen to this clip:

(Source: Glen Beck via Media Matters)

I will not twist Mr. Beck’s brilliance to say anything besides what he said:

“Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the reform Judaism, it is more about politics. I’m not saying that they’re the same on … and they’re going to take it at that, but — stand in line.”

I will not take it “that way”…I will take it at face value. My religious experience is all about politics. Nothing to do with God, Israel (people and land) or Torah. Nope, nothing what-so-ever. More »

Oy, Texas

So some of us have been waiting to see our favourite recent addition to the Texas rabbi-ing scene* (yeah, such a thing exists) on the Daily Show for a week now. Seems there’s something happening in Egypt that kept bumping the segment?

John Oliver was in Texas to investigate a clash between the Christians and Jews, Republican style:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Jewish Speaker of Texas State House

Happy Yom Chechecheche folks!

*Link is an excuse for the hover text only.

The Other Israel Film Festival represents me

I’m usually blase about most Jewish institutions, readers of this blog will know, but I am enthusiastic boosters of those that “get” it. And nothing could have boiled my blood so quickly as when I read of the attempt to paint the JCC in Manhattan as enabling destructive talk about Israel.

Richard Allen, a member of the JCC, is peddling small-minded paranoia in calling the Other Israel Film Festival a participant in the boycott, divestment and sanctions  (“BDS”) movement and has called on the board to McCarthyize their community.

Allen is joined by  Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who told the paper, “At this time when Israel’s very life may be at stake it’s especially important not to patronize anyone who doesn’t stand with the State of Israel. … Stop claiming you are a Jewish community center, because there is no place there for centrist people.”

This is preposterous. The hysteria behind such a claim would be funny if the merits of this case weren’t downright offensive. Liberal-minded members of the community need to put this laughable accusation where it belongs: the garbage bin. The JCC in Manhattan, under the leadership of Rabbi Joy Levitt, is one of — if not the — most pluralistic institutions in the New York Jewish community. It hosts thoughtful, intelligent, quality programs satisfying so much of the communal spectrum.

On the same night, the welcoming rooms of that building hosted a Shabbat dinner of the Other Israel Film Festival (no event of which Mr. Allen ever attended) and the annual dinner of CAMERA. At the OIFF dinner, two Israeli Arab TV stars spoke eloquently against efforts like Mr. Allen’s — from the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel contacted all the filmmakers, producers and actors flying in from Israel to boycott the Other Israel Film Festival. Panelist Mira Awad, Arab pop singer-songwriter, answered the question about why she still came, and she did so with inspirational personal authority:

More »

JFSJ delivers 10,000 signatures to Fox News to fire Glenn Beck

Simon Greer of JFSJ outside Fox News HQ

This morning Simon Greer, head of Jewish FundS for Justice, delivered 10,000 signatures and a giant pink slip to Fox News’ corporate headquarters in New York calling for Glenn Beck to be fired. Beck reneged on a pledge against twisting Holocaust history to his political ends, which was originally personally signed and sent to Greer after JFSJ brought fourteen representatives of Jewish organizations to meet with Beck’s superiours..

When Beck then ran a series called “The Puppet Master,” charging Jewish mega-philanthropist George Soros with complicity with killing other Jews during the Holocaust (despite the fact that he was a child at the time). The ADL’s Abe Foxman stepped in to condemn the language: “For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say, there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, that’s horrific.  It’s totally off limits and over the top.” (Then of course Foxman demurred and backtracked because Beck says nice things about Israel.) Of course, this was all an excuse to demonize Soros as one of the largest funders of progressive causes in America and around the world. Which is, obviously, Beck’s real target: social justice.

At today’s impromptu press conference outside the offices of News Corp., Greer and company brought the 10,000 names and unveiled Beck’s top ten most disturbing quotes of 2010 (below). Video of the press conference to come. More »

Missing the point on Abu Rahmah’s death

Palestinians are hurt frequently in unarmed protests, even killed. But it took Israeli Jewish activists to get one tragic death any Western attention or the IDF’s admission of fault.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a 36-year-old kindergarten teacher from the West Bank village of Bil’in, died after inhaling tear gas shot by IDF soldiers trying to disperse a weekly protest. Her brother was killed two years ago after being hit by a tear gas canister to the chest. The family’s account and that of dozens of witnesses were quickly dismissed by the IDF through off-the-record tips to sympathetic blogs, and without a formal investigation.

Dogged Israeli activists have forced right-wing blogger, news media and the IDF to walk back misinformation aimed to exonerate the IDF, like whether Abu Rahmah even attended the protest, whether she participated, and (incredulously) whether she died quietly of cancer. The activists chronicling their work through the portal +972 Magazine deserve the bulk of the credit for being at the protest, debunking the rumors started by the IDF, and taking on the right-wing conspiracy machine.

Since the earliest vouchings of IDF’s innocence have proved hollow, the Israel-can-do-no-wrong voices have switched to a new line: “the Israelis killed her, so what?” Christian Zionist magazine Israel Today opined, “The point is that even if Abu Rahma died from inhaling tear gas, it is a non-story.”

Quite the contrary. Even while losing the proxy war on Abu Rahmah’s death, Israel boosters seem to miss the greater points: More »

Turn Around, or Too Little Too Late?

Today the Fox published an oped in the JTA calling on us to fight anti-Muslim bigotry. I don’t know if this is an honest change of heart, or just too little too late in the wake of his opposition to the Cordoba House.

Reading the statement, I could not help thinking that the distinction he wants to make between “good” Islam and “bad” Islam parallels the common distinction between Jews and Zionists, a distinction which is often read as disingenuous and antisemitic.

So, will the ADL go back to its mission fighting bigotry rather than acting as a shill for Israel (see the flap over the Armenian Genocide), or is the Fox still trying to play both sides?

How can you sing when my children are drowning?

My rabbi made a bold move during his d’var Torah on the first day of Rosh Hashanah services this year.  After a brief word on Park 51 earlier in the service, in which he condemned the bigoted opposition in the strongest terms I could have imagined, I wasn’t expecting too much more fire and brimstone, especially on Israel-Palestine.  And he looked sort of nervous to me – who wouldn’t, facing such a large crowd (this is Rosh Hashanah, mind you, so we’re talking every Jew in town) that was by and large far more conservative than you.  Yet he called for an end to the Gaza blockade and asked congregants to write a letter to Netanyahu’s office urging him to fully engage in the peace talks and bring home results.  Strong stuff.

Nine years after the attacks of 9/11, I want to stop and think about framing.  How we frame conflicts, both in our mind and externally, has a lot to do with more concrete things like foreign policy, or the nature of the domestic discourse on an issue.  9/11 was an attack on the core of Americanism, and not only because of the physical spectacle of the WTC being leveled by a bunch of reclusive angry dudes.  It represents the clash of two worldviews – an American constitutionalist perspective in which personal freedom is of the highest importance, and a religious fundamentalist one (which religion it is is completely irrelevant) in which those who think wrong, believe wrong, act wrong, are to be punished by those who know better.  It’s disgusting no matter who it comes from.

In that bin Laden most likely knew what the U.S.’ response to 9/11 would be (“We have raced to Afghanistan and Iraq, and more recently to Yemen and Somalia; we have created a swollen national security apparatus; and we are so absorbed in our own fury and so oblivious to our enemy’s intentions that we inflate the building of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan into a national debate and watch, helpless, while a minister in Florida outrages even our friends in the Islamic world by threatening to burn copies of the Koran,” says Ted Koppel), he made a masterful calculation in goading us into it.  But I can’t help but think that he also gave us the greatest opportunity ever to definitively rise above the war-on-terror paradigm.  It’s not too late to change course and stop trampling on the mangled remains of the constitutional freedoms (see above links, courtesy of Koppel) bin Laden sought to demonstrate the inferiority of, an effort for which we’ve done far more than he ever could have.  This would take a reframing at the national level, something Obama did a bit of in his Cairo speech, but, more importantly, it would also take people of conscience standing up to bigotry at every level.  Park 51 is the starkest example we’ve seen so far that this society has yet to move past the paralyzing ethos of American vs. un-American.  Or, in simpler terms, a lot of people in this country are still racist.

And so, G()d’s children are still drowning.  And until we end the war on terror abroad and the war on Islam at home, and until we, as my rabbi urged, truly walk in the other’s shoes and know their pain as we do our own, the water rises higher.  May the memories of the 3000 innocents who died on 9/11, and the thousands more who have died since in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and more, not be forgotten.

Update: this has been cross-posted to the New Voices blog.

Police Recommend Pressing Charges Against Anat Hoffman; Rabinowitz Decides Who Is Kosher Enough to Carry a Sefer Torah

This just in from Women of the Wall, in reference to Hoffman’s arrest in July:

This week brought with it more attempts to vilify Women of the Wall and protect the Western Wall as accessible for ultra-Orthodox prayer exclusively. The Jerusalem Police recommended this week that the Ministry of Justice press charges against Anat Hoffman for the felony of “gravely obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties”, in regards to her July arrest while holding a Torah at the Western Wall. The sentence for such a conviction is up to 3 years in prison. Members and supporters of Women of the Wall in Israel and abroad stand behind Hoffman, and have been busy sending hundreds of letters and pictures of women holding the Torah to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Head of the Opposition Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the holy places. In these letters, women from all over the world ask Israeli leaders, “How is it that as Jewish women, we are free in Berlin, in Rome, and in Chicago, while in Jerusalem it is illegal and profane for us to read from the Torah?” Supporters are encouraged to continue to send letters and pictures from the website,, conveying a clear message to Israel’s leaders that Women of the Wall will not be intimidated or silenced.

In response to Women of the Wall’s twenty year battle to read Torah on the women’s side of the Western Wall, Rabbi Rabinowitz issued a new regulation, giving him sole and complete control over who is permitted to enter the Western Wall Plaza with a Torah. This new dictatorial procedure extends the blockade against entering to the holy site with a Torah to not only women, but also men who might be determined unfit to carry a Torah by the extremist Rabinowitz. Adv. Nira Azriel is preparing a statement on behalf of Women of the Wall to the authorities regarding the unreasonable strictness of the new regulations, which promise to worsen conditions for women even further.

Prop 8 overturned, OU gets irrational

Around the country, yesterday, many cheered and many booed as Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker declared Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, as unconstitutional and in contradiction of the due process clause.

While a seeming majority of US Jews are clearly supportive of overturning the ballot proposition, known in many circles in California as “Prop H8,” the Orthodox Union made this bizarre statement, according to the JTA:

“In addition to our religious values — which we do not seek to impose on anyone — we fear legal recognition of same-sex ‘marriage’ poses a grave threat to the fundamental civil right of religious freedom.

“Forcing a choice between faith and the law benefits no one,” it added, concluding that the OU looked forward to the appeals process.

In what world does the OU live? Apparently one where they will be forced by US law to officiate at same-sex marriages? Yes, that’s right, here in America practices and beliefs are forced upon religious organizations all the time. That’s why every synagogue has to have a nativity scene or a giant set of Ten Commandment plaques…

The full statement, which can be read here, goes on to say:

Already, in states with same-sex civil unions and similar laws, religious institutions, including churches, social service providers and youth groups have been penalized by authorities for their beliefs. Forcing a choice between faith and the law benefits no one.

We look forward to the appeals process which will bring these critical issues to America’s highest courts.

Oh! Now I get it! They are against being told what to do or believe because it impedes the religious freedoms of a sliver of a tiny minority population in the US (which I really don’t understand how their freedoms are impeded at all)… What they are NOT against is taking away the constitutional rights of at least 10% of the US population who have been relegated to second-class citizen status and forced to stand by as the sacred institution of marriage is maintained for adulterers and wife-beaters… Good ol’ fashioned sense and reasoning from the OU.