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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Wiesenfeld’

Klinghoffer Jews: Proud, Terrorist-Humanizing and Meek

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Peter Gelb has generated a drama worthy of an important new opera about the American Jewish community. And here, in The Jewish Press, is an exclusive of the cast and the story line.

Gelb is the managing director of the Metropolitan Opera. It was Gelb’s decision to stage John Adams’ opera about the terrorist murder of a disabled, elderly American man, Leon Klinghoffer. The Arab terrorists shot Klinghoffer in the head and in the chest and had him and his wheelchair thrown overboard as evidence of their unyielding position to swap innocent lives for convicted terrorist Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.

Klinghoffer was selected for the sacrificial murder because he was a Jew. Not an Israeli, but a Jew.

John Adams, along with Alice Goodman (born a Reform Jew, now an anti-Semitic Anglican minister), who wrote the heinous librettos, in their own words, set out to “humanize” the terrorists. That is the goal of the opera.

For the past six months, a stalwart collection of grass roots activists, largely based in the New York City area, have been working to inform a critical mass of Americans that it was a grotesquely offensive decision to stage the Klinghoffer opera (falsely titled: the “Death of Klinghoffer” – he didn’t just die, just as Daniel Pearl did not just die – each was murdered because, as Jews, they were powerful propaganda tools).

Should a dramatist decide to write an opera about the sturm und drang on the streets of New York regarding the Klinghoffer opera, there would be three distinct types being cast.

PROUD KLINGHOFFER JEWS

The first type to be cast would be what we’ll call the Proud Klinghoffer Jews, PKJ. This is a new group of actors/activists on the scene. These are the ones who have been forged in the crucible created by years of passive Jewish leadership and streetwise but unwieldy passion. It has been unleashed by the staging of what many consider an inciteful (not insightful), anti-Semitic, philo-terrorist opera at a time of rising anti-Semitism and global terrorism. There would be starring roles amongst these singers.

One, certainly, would be Richard Allen, the fifty-something New York businessman who – completely against type – has emerged as the ultimate grass roots Jewish, effective pro-Israel activist. Allen is not a grandstander; he prefers to remain in the background, dishing out credit to his fellow activists the way most ringleaders dish out criticism. Instead of claiming credit, Allen gets the job done. The man is the ultimate terrier – he puts his teeth in the calves of organizations whose acts harm Israel, and does not let up until he has accomplished more than anyone thought possible.

Another player – probably a baritone would be cast – is Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. Wiesenfeld is a businessman but also a seasoned political operator, having worked in the D’Amato, Koch and Pataki administrations. More of an “insider” than Allen, Wiesenfeld sits on the board of the City University of New York (where he’s made waves of his own as a principled pro-Israel Jewish New Yorker). It is Wiesenfeld who is usually the master of ceremonies at the larger, more effective and unequivocally pro-Israel Jewish rallies in New York.

And a newcomer to the stage: Leonard J. Weiss. The ultimate White Knight who, very publicly, bolted from what had been his beloved Metropolitan Opera. Weiss, recognizing the stench of moral decay, chose to very publicly redirect the money he had been donating to the Met to assist in helping his new comrades create a public astringent, hoping to cleanse the rot.

And Weiss has led the way for other Jews to stand up against this desecration of art. Eugene Grant, a real estate developer, announced that he was suspending his $5 million gift to the Met.

‘Voice of American Jewry’: Israel Guilty of Arab Teen’s Murder

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) claims on its site and its Facebook page that it “is the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community.” While that may be news to many American Jews, even more of them will be loathe to accept that description after reviewing the JCPA’s latest press release.

The public statement, “JCPA Mourns Palestinian Teenager, Calls for an End to Violence,” was posted on its website just after mid-day on Wednesday, July 2, less than 12 hours after news that an Arab teenage boy had been found dead in Jerusalem.

And yet, although JCPA President Rabbi Steven Gutow noted in the statement that, “the circumstances of his death remain uncertain,” the same sentence then takes a sharp turn and places the blame squarely on Israel: “it appears that Mohammed was not a party to nor instigator of the tragic events of recent days and weeks. But he now has paid the ultimate price regardless.”

So although no one yet knows for certain how the teenager died or who was responsible, the JCPA publicly drew a target on the back of the Jewish State. Not content to simply act as judge and jury, the JCPA proceeded to send out the statement to its members across the country, inviting everyone to embrace its judgment – that Israel or individual Israelis are responsible for the abu Khaider’s murder, and pronouncing the murder a revenge attack.

It is important to mourn the loss of a teenager’s life whether it is a member of your own family or a stranger, and true leaders take the opportunity to model that behavior. Many of Israel’s top leadership immediately condemned the murder of abu Khaider, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barakat and several Knesset members. Even, and most incredibly, the Yifrach family, the family of Eyal Yifrach – one of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered and buried just yesterday – condemned the killing. That statement was unequivocal:

There is no differentiating between blood and blood, murder is murder, whatever the nationality or age. There’s no justification, no forgiveness, and no redemption for any murder.

It may be, when the investigation is complete, that Israelis were responsible and that it was an act of revenge for the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar. And if that is the case, the guilty must be condemned and punished. The murder of innocents is always tragic, whether the guilty are our friends or the victims are our family.

But until the investigation is complete, no one can – and no one should – say why Mohammed abu Khaider was killed, or by whom.

And yet, the JCPA rushed to put out a public statement less than 24 hours after the death was discovered. And in that statement the JCPA presented itself as judge, jury and sound system with a verdict of guilt for Israel.

Why the rush? It took the JCPA 3 days to condemn the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers. Perhaps that was due to an abundance of caution – one would not want to falsely accuse anyone. If so, why the different standard here?

Perhaps the JCPA’s goal was to present themselves as the “good Jews,” the ones who not only condemn the murder of an Arab but who rush blindly forward with its finger pointed at the “bad Jews,” the Israeli Jews, the ugly, violent Israeli Jews who would do such a thing, and to heck with truth and facts and evidence.

Because if the goal was to help to reduce violence, to help shepherd the masses poised to strike back to a path towards calm, the JCPA statement will only achieve the opposite. The statement will fuel the fire of hatred by anti-Semites who readily believe Israelis should be punished for Mohammad’s death, whether or not Israelis are guilty. And look, here’s an official Jewish coalition, officially blaming Israel! It will also inflame anger towards those whom JCPA claims to represent by supporters of Israel who believe that the Jewish State is entitled to the presumption of innocence at least until strong evidence is produced pointing in the opposite direction.

Angry NYC Ultra-Liberal Jews Told to Stuff It

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, ads will appear in numerous New York City area Jewish media, castigating a list of 58 angry New York Jews.

Why? Because those angry Jews publicly admonished newly-elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for daring to appear at a pro-Israel event, declaring his support for the sponsoring organization and for Israel.

The pushback is coming from a small, quickly mobilized group of business and other professional New York residents who want it known that “AIPAC, like the JCRCs and the Federations are the backbone of the American Jewish community and they represent mainstream American Jewry. Mainstream Jewry expects and appreciates support for Israel from its elected officials.”

What is going on?

DE BLASIO TOLD AIPAC HIS DOOR IS OPEN

In an unscheduled appearance at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee event on Jan. 23, to which the media were most decidedly not invited, Mayor de Blasio gave a fairly run-of-the-mill pro-Israel speech. No biggie pretty much anywhere in North America, and certainly not in New York City.

As Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, one of the New Yorkers who took out the ad told The Jewish Press, the mayor gave a solid, pro-Israel speech. But “these myopic, progressive New York Jews are so foolish, they don’t care that AIPAC supported Rabin and Barak when they were each prime minister.  Whatever government is democratically elected, that’s who AIPAC supports. But no, these people have to put their own selfish, progressive interests ahead of everything.

“When you start attacking the mainstays of the Jewish community, when AIPAC is unacceptable, that reveals a pathological selfishness,” Wiesenfeld growled.

For some reason, a gaggle of the “tolerant” progressive New York Jewish crowd, responded – shall we say, intolerantly – to what they saw as a possible betrayal of their progressive values by the most “progressive” of White politicians to make it to the top rung of city politics.

The public dressing-down of de Blasio came in the form of a letter which was sent out on the cheap electronically, then became viral, and ended up (for free) on the pages of the progressives’ darling Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

The angry epistle took de Blasio to task for foolishly telling a mid-town AIPAC crowd that New York City Hall’s doors will remain open to them.  According to the public letter, de Blasio told the AIPAC crowd, “When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily, ’cause that’s my job.”

But this group of angry New York Jews had some news for Mayor de Blasio. They told him that AIPAC does not speak for them. They told him that his job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding or be at its call.

“AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us,” they explained.

For the few sentient Jews who do not know, perhaps it needs to be explained that AIPAC’s positions always reflect the positions held by whatever Israeli government is in office.  When the far left is in power, AIPAC’s positions mirror those of the far left. When the center or far right are in power, AIPAC supports the positions of the leadership of those factions.

To say it more plainly, the Angry 58s reject Israel’s democratic process and shun the most centrist pro-Israel organization there is. They reject their mayor’s recognition and support for that democratic process and publicly humiliate him for daring to say so.

WHO ARE THE ANGRY 58?

In the Angry 58 signatories are many whose names don’t raise an eyebrow. For example, it was no surprise to see Peter Beinart’s name, or Eve Ensler, or Lotty Cottin Pogrebin (and her husband, Bertrand – who knew there was one?) Same dull nods for Anne Roiphe and Gloria Steinem. Of course, the only surprise seeing the name Rebecca Vilkomerson – she heads the extremist Jewish Voice for Peace, staunch promoters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and ardent opponents of AIPAC – was to learn that she is a New Yorker.

Brooklyn College BDS Event: Just One Example of ‘Hostile Environment’?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Tonight’s anti-Israel event sponsored and endorsed by the Brooklyn College political science department will take place on that school’s campus, but it now appears certain that the atmosphere of intimidation and distrust generated by that academic department did not begin, and will not end, with this event.

The BDS program tonight will be a one-sided session in which two leaders of the economic and political warfare movement known as BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from, and Sanctions against Israel), will promote that effort as a force for good.

Brooklyn College’s chapter of the anti-Israel organization Students for Justice in Palestine is the organization that brought the event to campus, but despite the disingenuous claim by the head of the BC political science department Paisley Currah, his department is not only co-sponsoring the event, it has endorsed it.

The school’s administration has steadfastly supported the event by describing it as the right of the students and the political science department’s exercise of “academic freedom.”  Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Gould, defined that concept in a letter she sent to the school community.  It is unclear how tonight’s one-sided event fits her definition.  She wrote,

As an institution of higher education, it is incumbent upon us to uphold the tenets of academic freedom and allow our students and faculty to engage in dialogue and debate on topics they may choose, even those with which members of our campus and broader community may vehemently disagree. As your president, I consistently have demonstrated my commitment to these principles so that our college community may consider complex issues and points of view across the political and cultural spectrum.

The head of the undergraduate student government rejected the administration’s understanding of the term.  Abraham Esses explained in an open letter to the BC community, that just as “the right to free speech, academic freedom rights are not unbounded; the department has basically yelled “fire” on campus, and locked the doors to their department after doing so. By doing so, it has failed to accomplish one of the main benefits of academic freedom rights, that is, the approach of all ideas and issues with an open mind. Such a failure constitutes a gross abuse of such rights.”

In an entry in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Currah rejects the notion that two sides to a story needs be presented in order to satisfy the rigors of academic freedom.  His view is that “debates have their place, but thoroughly understanding an argument requires sustained and concentrated attention.”  And just to be clear about where he and his department stands, Currah encouraged other academics to fight against full picture presentations, writing that “it’s important to argue against mandates that both sides (or all sides) of an issue be represented simultaneously.”

The anti-Israel event has been a magnet for commentary beyond the school community as well.  One practically needs a score card to keep all the players and their positions straight.

There are three main positions: first, that the event can take place on campus and the political science department’s sponsorship and endorsement is fine; second, that the event is permissible and can take place on campus but there should not be an endorsement of or sponsorship by an academic department; and third, the event should not take place on this publicly funded university at all.

In the first category we find the BDS event co-sponsors, endorsers and the school administration, as well as the broader BDS world.  Add New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to this group, as well as the New York Times, and of course the ubiquitous circus act Max Blumenthal.

The second category’s supporters reject the overt participation of and endorsement by the BC political science department.  In their view that endorsement and sponsorship creates an inappropriate and perhaps hostile environment for BC students who support the existence of Israel.  In this category are the BC student government leadership and thousands of students who signed an on-line petition, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, and the Anti-Defamation League. Also in this group is the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which  issued this strongly worded statement last week:

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York strongly condemns the decision of Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department to lend its name and imprimatur to an event featuring individuals who espouse extremist and hostile views. While we vigorously defend academic freedom, we believe that these freedoms do not extend to faculty and academic bodies exploiting their association with the university to enhance their biased and hateful agenda. At the very least, academic integrity requires a balanced forum representing diverse views. Since that is not the case, we call upon the Political Science Department to remove its name from this one-sided propaganda event.

Pro-Israel student activist Chloé Simone Valdary is also in this category, but she is calling upon the students and the larger community to speak out against tonight’s event in a cri de coeur, here.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/brooklyn-college-bds-event-just-one-example-of-hostile-environment/2013/02/07/

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