Photo Credit: Chabad of Great Neck
Great Neck Synagogue cancelled Pamela Geller's talk, but Chabad of Great neck and Cong. Beth-El of Edison, NJ will host her

The Jewish Press reported late Wednesday evening that, despite repeated assurances to the contrary, the Great Neck Synagogue at which Pamela Geller was supposed to speak this coming Sunday, cancelled her talk.

“There’s a war on free speech, which is exactly what my talk was going to be about.  The synagogue board ‘was unable to bear the burden of the extraordinary pressure’ placed on them,” Geller said, quoting from the statement released by the Great Neck Synagogue executive committee.

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But, to paraphrase a kitchy cliche, when one shul door slams shut, two others open wide.  And that’s just what happened.

Geller’s supporters rallied behind her and expressed dismay over the shuttering of Geller’s talk.  The Great Neck Synagogue pulled out at the last minute due to what has been described as the intimidating and relentless tactics engaged in by certain leftist Jews, notably Rabbi Jerome Davidson and Rabbi Michael White, the vice president of a local mosque, Habeeb Ahmed, and a Long Island Interfaith group.

Geller’s detractors said her talks about Islam and the Islamic political ideology of Sharia constitute hate speech.  Several opponents of her talk at Great Neck Synagogue accused Geller of being an extremist.  They called her a Nazi.

But less than a day after Great Neck Synagogue cancelled on her, two other shuls invited her in.

So, in the end, the intimidation against her led to an amplification of Geller’s message, not a diminution.

This Sunday, Pamela Geller will speak at the Chabad of Great Neck at 10:00 a.m.  Rabbi Yosef Geisinsky came forward almost immediately and offered Geller the opportunity to give the same talk in the same town at the same time as originally scheduled.

According to a local Long Island newspaper, The Island, “The event will be moderated to prevent hate speech and Geisinsky said he anticipated that Geller would stick to discussions of freedom of speech and terrorism.  ‘Our moderator will be able to moderate. If Ms. Geller will go into any areas that don’t go in our direction, we will be able to stop it,’ Geisinsky said.”

When Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a vocal and well-known pro-Israel Great Neck resident was asked whether the Chabad event could be publicized, or if it still needed the synagogue’s board’s approval, Wiesenfeld answered, “Geisinsky has one boss – it’s G-d.”

On Sunday evening at 7:00, Geller will speak at the invitation of Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison, New Jersey.  Geller’s topic will be “The Imposition of Sharia in America,” the same topic she had been scheduled to speak on at the Great Neck Synagogue.

Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg

Rabbi Rosenberg said providing Geller with a platform was “a matter of principle.”  During this past presidential election season, Rosenberg spearheaded the Rabbis for Romney initiative. Congregation Beth-El, is a Conservative egalitarian shul.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com

33 COMMENTS

  1. "According to a local Long Island newspaper, The Island, “The event will be moderated to prevent hate speech and Geisinsky said he anticipated that Geller would stick to discussions of freedom of speech and terrorism. ‘Our moderator will be able to moderate. If Ms. Geller will go into any areas that don’t go in our direction, we will be able to stop it,’ Geisinsky said.”

    At least they understand that Geller is a potential problem…and that they're willing to censor her, if necessary to prevent embarrassment.

  2. the word <interfaith> in the phrase Long Island Interfaith Group should be in quotes. People who operate an "interfaith" group that opposes public speech about the dangers of a fascist intolerance are not interested in any "faith" other than their own belief in themselves.

  3. Why would any synagogue open its doors to a woman who has called the method of kosher slaughter "torturous" to the animal, who promotes people who try to ban it, who publicly adheres to the ideology of a notorious atheist hedonist who saw nothing wrong with seducing the spouses of her followers, and who doesn't appear to follow any other Jewish teaching?

    There are plenty of experts on Islam who aren't doing any of these things. Here one sided attitude is no help to our side.

    Would we have invited Trotsky to speak about Stalinism?

  4. I don't think Geller ever even realized that the slaughter method she was railing against is essentially identical to shechita. Odd brain short-out there. She described it in such horror–look at how terrible Muslims are!–and I'm thinking, "Yes, Pam, that's how you get a kosher steak."

  5. This is remarkably uninformed, not because there isn't an anti-zionist flavor in Chabad, but because you lump all Lubovich together in a mass, whereas in reality there are variant opinions within Chabad, many supporters of Israel in its ranks, some of whom are my relatives. What you refer to is Chabad leadership from Dov Ber to present with a diminishing essence of anti-zionism today. Ideas, opinions and attitudes are always in a state of flux, and stances from 70 years ago may not reflect current reality. Your statement resembles, in style, the condemnatory pronouncements of the subject of this article.

  6. Trotsky was banished at the time Stalin was purging Jews from leadership of the Communist Party. They both had become atheists, agreed about basic tenets of socialism, and differed to the extent that Stalin was a bureaucrat who wanted to rule Russia as a socialist dictator, while Trotsky was an intellectual who believed in international socialism and the proletariat ruling through a workers party without borders. Trotsky was assassinated while in exile in Mexico on orders from Papa Joe, so yes, I would rather hear Trotsky speaking on Stalinism than Stalin speaking on Trotskyism. But then, they were both atheists…

  7. Tim Upham Timmy is one of those that believe attacking Jews is "free speech," while Jews fighting back are "racists" and "islamophobes."

    Good for you Pamela. If the timmy's of the world had their way, the ovens of Auschwitz would be reignited!

  8. one of those that believe attacking Jews is "free speech," while Jews fighting back are "racists" and "islamophobes."

    Good for you Pamela. If the censors of the world had their way, the ovens of Auschwitz would be reignited!

  9. I have no problem listening to or reading virtually anyone's opinions, but in my view Ms. Geller's statements about Islam are highly inacurrate. I do not think her message strengthens general support for Israel. The people who agree with her support Israel and even though I do not like their message, I am happy they support Israel. But the whole point of Israel advocacy is to convince the unconvinced that Israel is worth supporting Trying to base such advocacy on inaccurate statements and fallacious arguments is most likely going to have either no affect or the reverse affect. If you want to bring in a strong Israel advocate who makes a great deal of sense, invite someone such as Dr. Daniel Pipes. Of course, many left wingers complain about him as well, but in his case it is the anti-Israeli folks who have to make ridiculous statements in order to oppose him. It's always better to put your opponents in the position of appearing ridiculous than looking ridiculous yourself.

  10. "Im sad you think censorship is a good idea."

    I'm sorry, but it won't be me potentially censoring Ms. Geller… It'll be the minder that the synagogue that invited her is admitting to finding necessary. If your concern is censorship, perhaps you ought to take it up with them.

    (I just wouldn't've invited her in the first place, but that's me…)

    "Perhaps others might have prevented your comment if they had the power and inclination."

    Some news and other online outlets do (Almost all of 'em have the power to do so.)… As with Pamela Geller and her minder at the synagogue, their house, their rules…

  11. Hi Friends.
    > The Israeli ambassador and the Minister of the Diaspora would like our National Hymn, HaTikva to become.
    > the most popular video on You Tube by April 16, 2013, the 65th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day.
    >
    > Please view the Video clip, at the website listed below, and then forward it to all your contacts.
    > The object is to place this video among the top five clips.
    > The Arabs, living in Palestine are trying to have this video removed from You Tube.
    > Thank you,

    > http://youtu.be/BDxpVasvNPM

    Hi Friends.
    > The Israeli ambassador and the Minister of the Diaspora would like our National Hymn, HaTikva to become.
    > the most popular video on You Tube by April 16, 2013, the 65th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day.
    >
    > Please view the Video clip, at the website listed below, and then forward it to all your contacts.
    > The object is to place this video among the top five clips.
    > The Arabs, living in Palestine are trying to have this video removed from You Tube.
    > Thank you,

    > http://youtu.be/BDxpVasvNPM

  12. Can't wait to meet you tomorrow, Pamela. They think they can shut you up by intimidation and bullying. They have not paid attention last 2,000 years…
    As far as the Jews that condemn you, remember even in the concentration caps there were "volunteers".. They don't realize how many new supporters you just got. Be strong, be save.

  13. Like other critics of Pamela, your can only throw insults because her message is true. So instead of trying to refute her with facts, smear tactics and censorship are used. It is a disgrace that some of the pressure was from men who refer to themselves as Rabbi. Actually, even moderately conservative voices, as from the ZOA, are not welcome in many synagogues and this is a reason why so many people are tuning out organized religion.

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