One would think that after several recent public relations disasters when Jewish or Jewish-connected organizations honor people who support political and economic warfare against the State of Israel, that Jewish groups would stop doing this.
But one would be wrong.
First there was Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School which presented a human rights award to one of the world’s leading defamers and delegitimizers of Israel, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
Then there was the 92nd Street Y which came very close to providing a public platform from which leading BDS advocate Roger Waters would spew his venom against Israel. Luckily for the 92nd Street Y, Waters had to change the date of the appearance, and the Y took that opportunity to slip out of the noose it had created for itself.
Then there was the incredible fiasco of the State of Israel itself inviting a long-time critic of the Jewish State, scientist Stephen Hawking, to a major scientific conference in Israel. A little due diligence would have revealed that Hawking was already on record as embracing a hostile narrative against Israel. But no, Israel invited Hawking to give a talk at the President’s Conference. Hawking rebuffed the Jewish State, backing out of his commitment because he wanted to support the academic boycott against Israel. And Hawking and, especially, those who make the demonization of Israel their life’s work, were thrilled to chalk up a victory in the BDS war against the Jewish State.
Now we learn that the American fundraising arm of a wonderful Israeli institution – Soroka Medical Center – is poised to honor yet another soldier in the delegitimization war against Israel.
On June 18 at the Harvard Club in New York City, the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center will hold its annual gala. The Statesman for Health Award is being given to a man who helped the virulently anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace support the boycott of Ariel Cultural Center. Mandy Patinkin not only supported the Ariel boycott, he allowed his name to be used to recruit other celebrities to vilify the cultural center in the Jewish town of Ariel. Some statesman.
Patinkin has done more than simply sign a letter of support for artists boycotting a cultural center in Israel, he has also assisted in a fundraiser for Jewish Voice for Peace, and has long been a national board member of Americans for Peace Now. Just last year, at a conference in Israel he talked about having had his eyes opened while on a tour of Hebron with his good friends from Breaking the Silence, an organization committed to demonizing the Israel Defense Forces as a military force of terror, bent on acquiring territory, and not a defensive, ethical military.
Patinkin, unlike some with whom he associates, is not an Israel hater. He simply believes that Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are the nub of the problem and if Jews would just get the heck out of the area, peace would break out.
Patinkin said he supports Israel in a variety of ways, but says the “settlements ignite the situation” between Israelis and Palestinians. For Israel to build a new theater “in an illegal settlement” was adding fuel to the fire.
It is hard to listen to Patinkin and imagine anything other than that he has a warm, loving soul and just wants everyone to get along. But he’s a big boy now, one with an audience who listens to him. And with that following comes a responsibility.
The same is true for the American Friends of Soroka.
It is not enough to find a sweet Jewish man with a beautiful voice, one whose star is on the ascent because of his role in a huge television series hit. If the American Friends of Soroka wanted to honor someone, it would have been nice if they found someone who loves all of Israel, someone who doesn’t encourage economic warfare against any of it.
And now Jews are left with the choice of not going to a fundraiser for a wonderful, non-political medical center in Israel, or going and watching as an American Jew who encourages the economic boycott of a Jewish town is given an award. It’s a tough choice that Jews should not make other Jews make.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. 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
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