Global, Israel, Politics

SF Conference on Left-Wing Antisemitism Thrusts Jewish Right Into Spotlight

San Jose Mercury News reports:

Growing complaints about Israel-bashing plus Jews being increasingly compared to Nazis during political rallies has spurred the Anti-Defamation League to hold its first-ever conference on how people can protect themselves against anti-Semitism – from the liberal left.
Anti-Semitism is increasingly seen and heard at liberal events, organizers say, including anti-war rallies, labor meetings and even on college campuses. It’s making participation uncomfortable for Jews, who have historically been Democrats.
“We heard from so many people who feel ostracized and alone and don’t really know what to do with this problem,” said Jonathan Bernstein, director of the ADL regional office in San Francisco. People shouldn’t “have to pick between being Jewish and whatever worthwhile cause.”
Sunday’s conference in San Francisco focuses on the problem and teaches coping strategies. The event, which is expected to sell out, will offer talks ranging from “Emphasizing What’s Right in Israel” to “On the Spot Responses to Hurtful Language.”
However, while hateful speech is odious, some critics say groups like ADL are muffling debate by branding almost all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

See also: coverage in SF Chronicle and op-ed by Joel Beinin. And don’t miss Muzzle Watch, the best new jblog thus far this year, brought to you by the folks at Jewish Voice for Peace.

12 thoughts on “SF Conference on Left-Wing Antisemitism Thrusts Jewish Right Into Spotlight

  1. Are you seriously calling the ADL the Jewish Right because it dares to rule any criticism of Israel out of bounds? And are we supposed to take the kvetching of ANSWER, who banned Michael Lerner from the speaker’s dais at a rally for his Zionism, at face value?
    Could you please shift out of propagandist mode and deal with what is actually happening, whcih is the American Jewish center’s increasing discomfort with the left-wing’s anti-Zionism. Whle you may, in the moments you are channeling Jeremiah (rather than engaging in otherwise sensible analysis), feel that Israel’s destruction is warranted, it is perfectly understandable for the mainstream Jewish community to feel otherwise and act on it.
    And who exactly is getting muzzled here? Free speech is being met by free speech. There are plenty of responsible ways to criticize Israel that no one to the left of Morty Klein considers to be off-limits. If you choose to attack Israel or American Jews in another way, words have consequences.

  2. Is anyone preventing the IJV from forming? Is anyone telling Brian Klug he has no right to speak?
    Are you seriously telling me that in Britain, a place where Zionists are regularly censored on college campuses (see the whole controversy with the School of Oriental and Asian Studies from last year), Israel is boycotted by unions, Jews beaten up in the streets, and major newspapers disregarding all views on the conflict except for anti-Zionist ones that it is the pro-Palestinian voice that is muzzled? Give me a break. People on the left are forever confusing their failure to change policy with “muzzling”. IJV is an organization founded by people like Jacqueline Rose. That should tell you a lot.
    I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when the Establishment does not make enough room for liberal Zionists, and that Mort Klein acts like a rabid animal from time to time. This myopia is in part driving the polarizing atmosphere we see today, but this is not the same as censorship, and there is, for the most part, a welcome space so long as people support Israel’s right to exist. The Establishment eschews public criticism, even by left-wing Zionists, for a good reason; it is perpetually twisted by Israel’s enemies, and at some level, ethnic communities must speak as one if they are to be politically effective.
    And frankly, it is quite clear that most of the Jews who identify with these movements like the IJV are leftist first and Jews second, and disingenuously use the coincidence of their Jewish identity to score points for their causes. How many times have we seen any of these people speak on an issue facing the Jewish community besides Israel? Almost never, because Judaism is not really what motivates their activism.

  3. Heh. “Muzzle Watch” — watching those who exercise their fabulous power to stop certain people from talking. (As if.)
    So far, we have exactly one example of “muzzling”. Turns out an embassy didn’t want to host a controversial speaker ’cause it’s, like, a diplomatic venue which doesn’t do controversy, forcing said speaker to shift his talk to one of another billion available venues in New York. Muzzled!
    Talk about bombastic: this is the constant evocation of a never-named, always-in-the-shadows, “they’ll call me a nasty name! which stops me from speaking! help me!” bogeyman. Bombastic is, mind you, a very cool word…

  4. Just a word on Beinin for the uninitiated: Far from a level-headed left-leaning Jew suffering persecution at the hands of the Likudnik establishment, dude is a rather extreme anti-Israel professor who uses his postiion of prestige and profile to indoctrinate young college kids (and, apparently, area high schoolers as well).
    I came to this conclusion having read his writings, but also having had several encounters with this little dude personally. One comes to mind in particular, in which I brought a leftist Israeli academic to Stanford to offer a lecture on gender in Israeli cinema. Beinin “allowed” the lecture, but informed us in no uncertain terms that such “Zionist propaganda” would not be welcome at Stanford in the future.
    [armchairpsychoanalysis] Dude has a particularly acute animosity toward Israel, which I suspect stems from personal estrangement form the “Zionist” wing of his immediate family[/armchairpsychoanalysis].
    “In 2005, Marin’s Rodef Sholom synagogue caved to the council and revoked my invitation, unless my talk could be accompanied by a rebuttal.” WOW. Just wow. So Rodef Shalom had the gall to suggest that an alternative viewpoint to yours be offered at this event? No wonder he pulled out. I mean, can we really expect Beinin to stand for such an injustice?
    “I had participated in the civil rights movement in America, picketing Woolworth’s stores that wouldn’t serve African Americans. Yet in Israel I discovered the same, stark racism.” Oh word? So you picketed outside those non-existent SuperSols that denied service to Arabs? Man I must have missed that protest.
    I’m still waiting for Beinin to retract his vile prediction that Israel would use the Iraq war as a pretext for the wholesale expulsion of the Palestinians:

  5. I have been silenced by mainstream Jews, in the sense of being denied a voice, respect, and a hearing in forums where the only criteria for NOT getting having a voice was one’s position on Israel.
    It’s ugly, and one of the results is that I support and affirm the voice of non Jews when they discuss muzzling. It’s even worse for them. At least I’m an Israeli Jew who served in the army, giving me a bit more backbone and legitimacy.

  6. crammed: an example of not wanting to hear you is when an event is scheduled and no one comes. an example of muzzling is when you are invited, and then disinvited because of outside pressure.
    is anyone really confused about those phone calls to campus administrators, newspaper editors and politicians, whispering suggestions about what to say and who do denounce? It’s one thing to justify it, as Abe Foxman does. But to deny it seems like a combination of willful ignorance and stupidity.

  7. JG, I was/am not addressing your situation directly because I don’t know you.
    However, if somebody can be convinced to ignore you, it would seem to me that they weren’t that interested in hearing from you in the first place.

  8. “somebody convinced to ignore you” just doesn’t take into account the ability one party to hold something over a second party to prevent a hearing for a third party.
    According to your logic, McCarthyist oppression in the US was possible only because not enough people wanted to adopt Communism. Well… sure, but that’s not the point. The point is that we have standards of decency that should preclude McCarthyist behavior. While free speech is a good antidote to speech, ad hominem attacks and threats from powerful sectors (who aren’t the gov’t) can be quite successful at countering speech by silencing it.
    Your argument implies that calling Jimmy Carter an anti-Semite, a liar and a bigot for expressing views that are commonplace in the Israeli press is just ‘countering speech with speech.’ But the massive verbal assault on a respected ex president is more than that: it’s a warning to anyone else of what they can expect if they express views counter to those of the pro-occupation lobby. We know that people DO want to hear Carter, but the chilling effect takes place anyway.

  9. JG, I give you credit for having an active imagination. But, I’d appreciate it if you would refrain from silly extrapolations. If you want to know what I think about Jimmy Carter being called an anti-Semite, I’m happy to tell you. You shouldn’t manufacture an opinion for me.
    As far as parties holding sway over what others say, that’s a matter of choice. If an organization receives support/funding, they are somewhat beholden to the source. C’est la vie. When conflicts arise, there’s a choice to be made between saying GFY or continuing to receive support/funding.

  10. honestly, f**k all these whiny goyim at their stupid rallies. I’m not going to another peace rally that marches behind a palestinian flag.

  11. Much of the ‘new anti-semitism’ comes from the lack of media attention to the Israeli (two-states solution) activists, and the US Jewry activists against the occupation.
    Membership in leftist blogs — which initially seemed chuck full of anti-semites — have proven to be chuck full of folk opposed to the occupation, NOT to the state of Israel.
    Were the US to give proper coverage to the Israeli activists, much of the anti-semitism would evaporate.

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