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Emma Thompson in 2012 Thomson and three dozen other artists joined the BDS movement by publishing a letter protesting the Habima theater group’s participation in last year’s Shakespeare festival in England.

Last week I responded to former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters’ abhorrent statements comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. My dispute with Waters was picked up by several media outlets, especially my accusation that any man who can compare victims to their murderers is bereft of decency, heart, and soul.

Waters responded to me, via an interview with The Guardian: “If Rabbi Boteach can make a case for the Israel government’s policies, I look forward to hearing it.” As soon as I read that I challenged Waters to a public debate. And since he claims that Israel’s evil is “so crushingly obvious,” surely he should avail himself of the opportunity to win an easy debate. I await his response.

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I anticipated my response to Waters to be but one of many condemning his remarks, particularly among Rabbis and Jewish leaders. And while representatives of The Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Holocaust Educational Trust, and the Community Security Trust in Britain did issue robust statements of condemnation, the fact is that vitriolic, hate-filled statements such as Waters’ require a far more united and unflinching retort from the Jewish community as a whole.

The fight for Israel is the great Jewish battle of our time. The Jewish state is now the focal point for the fight for Jewish survival. It is the locus for all the irrational hatred felt for Jewry and in defending Israel we defend the future of our people and Jewish life itself. To fail to stand up for Israel is to suffer a privation of Jewish pride. It is the a priori demonstration of Jewish spinelessness and embarrassment.

I have heard many Rabbis tell me that they don’t wish to dirty their hands by getting involved in political matters. Let lay leaders defend Israel. To them I offer the message of this week’s Torah reading, Shemot, where we discover the quintessential quality of Moses’ leadership. Moses might have been just another uppity Egyptian Aristocrat until the day he chanced upon an Israelite slave being beaten. The Bible relates, “And he looked this way and that way and saw there was no man. Then he smote the Egyptian.” When Moses saw there was none but him to address this moral outrage, he sacrificed his cushy position in Egyptian society and acted to fight injustice. At that moment he became instantly unpopular in Egyptian society but he also become an audacious leader. It should be noted that the great liberator and lawgiver could not give a public speech. He was a stutterer whose mouthpiece was his brother Aaron. But then, real leadership does not involve having the best mouth but rather the most courageous heart. Real leadership is not found in our immortal soul but in our moral courage.

Does a Rabbi have any higher responsibility than defending Jewish life? Is there any greater concentration of Jewish life today than in Israel? Does a Rabbi have any more important duty that rebutting the God-awful slander that Jews in the Middle East are murderers who live with corrupt values?

Emma Thompson is currently starring in the film Saving Mr. Banks about Walt Disney’s attempts to secure the rights to Mary Poppins from author P.L. Travers. In 2012 Thomson and three dozen other artists joined the BDS movement by publishing a letter protesting an Israeli theater group’s participation in last year’s Shakespeare festival in England: “We notice with dismay and regret that Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London has invited Israel’s National Theatre, Habima, to perform The Merchant of Venice in its Globe to Globe festival this coming May.”

Yet, the six-week long festival also hosted China’s National Theater, but their participation was met without protest from Thompson and the other artists, even though China regularly jails innocent political dissidents like Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate, and his wife, Liu Xia, who is under house arrest for three years and has been held incommunicado even though she has never even been charged.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. DO you need help rabbi? One man alone cannot do this battle? I have fought UCI anti Semitism, the MSU and CAIR single handedly for years, but without community support I was just some crazy Jewish housewife.

  2. When you see these talented entertainers in arenas other than their forte, they come across as shallow, and incredibly ignorant. If they were tinkers, tailors, or candlestick makers, no one would care what they think. No one should care what these entertainers think either, acting, singing, are just jobs with no special qualifications except the ability to pretend to be what they aren't, day after day.

  3. Actors should just act, nobody is interested in their opinion. An Anti-Semite is just an anti-Semite. I personally will not see any performance of this low-lives.
    That's where I draw a line as a Holocaust survivor. Where are Jewish"leaders"?
    Bunch of cowards, shande. They should all be fired.
    So many of American Jews want to run away from Judaism, like Judenrath in Europe WWII.
    I despise Europe because their earth is soaked with Jewish blood. I do not travel there for over 40 years.They killed, stole and humiliated us. Why should I care what they think?
    The Germans are the only ones who repented.

  4. I often do not agree with Rabbi Boteach, however in this case I agree strongly.
    I suggest that we form a boycott of all projects that ms. thompson is involved with no matter who else might be in on the project with her. I along with my family will no longer go to any movie that she is in.

  5. What a brilliant woman. Just became even a bigger fan. Hypocritical Israel, and zionists – have no problem shouting for immigration of western countries, but continuously, and violently claim "Isreal is for Jews only." Hypocrites. Despots.

  6. I am shocked to hear Pink Floyd songs being song on Israel radio broadcasts. Don't you need they get a commission when they songs are aired on Israeli radio and yet they curse Israel (for stupidity in not baning their music and use Jewish media members to boycott Pink Floyd.Let the mullas play pink Floyd songs from the mosques and see how much support and income the arabs will give to stink Floyd.

  7. George Harsanyi typo. Doesn't really matter, though. Hahaha in fact, I think "Isreal" is a more proper spelling because "is it real"? It's not even a real country; it's just an imperialist satellite puppet. Without USA, Israel doesn't exist… HAHAHA so thank you for pointing out that typo! Hahaha brilliant. Just brilliant…

  8. why do you lot push immigration on other countries, and scold us for being "racist," yet you implement a vicious and barbarous apartheid system? Why is it ok for "Israel for jews," but not "France for the French," and "Germany for the Germans"? Why do you have the right to dictate policies of other countries regarding your own immigration, but you refuse to do the same for Israel?

  9. Emma Thompson = Vanessa Redgrave's equally stupid, Jew-baiting Fascist sister…

    She wants a boycott? Fine. We can boycott her films and let Disney know our displeasure in hiring anti-Semites the likes of her. She's already a has-been, let's take her out of circulation for good.

  10. Go join your Uncle Adolf sometime soon, Greb. Or better yet, if you hate Israel so much, kindly move to an Islamic entity. They love anal retentives with the name of Greb – and you'd fit in there just fine, Nazi girlieboy…
    .

  11. Harry Greb Zero tolerance for self-hating s. Like you.

    Too bad you're weren't in Benghazi last September…that is whom you deserve to be with, Nazi girlieboy – not Jews because you forfeited your birthright when you chose to Sieg Heil, stupid.

  12. Harry Greb By the way, , if you don't consider Israel (and do learn how to spell as your ignorance comes across loud and clear) a Jewish state, and consider it to be Illegal, then you need to get the hell of that Objiway and Chippewa land you're living on. They deserve THEIR homes back from a self-hating dreck who honestly needs to go home – to Poland, Russia, or whatever stinking dump your family crawled out of to come here.

    If Israel is NOT Jewish land – then Michigan is NOT your home, Greb – stop being a gutless hypocrite and leave.

  13. Amen. And when they open up their big mouths, their art seems to lose its luster…I was a big fan of Pink Floyd until I heard what Waters said. With all the imagery against fascism and bigotry, I thought they knew which way was up. And good for Gil. Nobody ever sings praises of the people who really keep civilization going…sanitation workers should get more respect than celebrities who spew sewage.

  14. Harry Greb gave himself away. At first, you might have thought he was simply empathetic to the plight of the poor Palestinians, but in the end, he showed himself as little more than an anti-Semite who has no empathy for anybody, including the rightful owners of Amerca's lands. How can you laugh at that situation, Harry? To have massacred women and children. To have destroyed their food supplies. To force them into conversion under the threat of violence. You're proud of that victory? You're proud to be the descendant of rapists and butcherers of good people? We came here with the concept of "total war" and had they known our true motives, they would have fought harder and they would have formed more alliances against us. We stole the land through deceit, lies, and genocide….that's something no man should be proud of.

  15. Perhaps people should boycott the current films of those who advocate boycotting Israel. For example, people could boycott the new film of Emma Thomson, “Savings Mr. Banks.” Would she like her own films boycotted because people disagree with her politics?

  16. That "Saving Mister Banks" movie looked good, and I don't usually go to movies…and might have considering going to this one, but NOT with a Jew-hater like Emma Communazi Thompson in it.

  17. Unfortunately stardom does not infer intelligence or even less so wisdom. These people have a ready-made platform for their childish and little thought-out views. They do not hesitate to jump on the bandwagon of any popular and stylish au courant movement. They do not think these things through carefully. They are like the petition signers at the mall. Jews and Judaism are the people and religion everybody loves to hat now and forever.. The "stars" are by definition childish and unthinking automatons. What really causes me dismay is the fact that nobody Jewish, gentile or in between stands up for us. Any truly intelligent person would look at the bds movement, and realize it is flawed, evil and counterproductive.

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