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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘movement’

The Movement for Jewish Freedom

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Israel Thriving}

Those of us who care about the well-being of Israel are part of a movement.

We no longer generally think of it in such terms because Zionism fulfilled itself in 1948 and over the decades Jewish supporters of Israel have lost that sense of solidarity – that movement sensibility – that made the reestablishment of Israel possible to begin with.

What I am calling the “Movement for Jewish Freedom” is an attempt to reengage Zionism as a political movement grounded in solidarity with other groups who share common interests.

I imagine it as a subset of the movement for indigenous rights which, itself, is a subset of the international movement for the maintenance of liberal-democracies.

The Movement for Jewish Freedom is highly individualistic, fiercely idiosyncratic, and entirely non-partisan. It includes people as diverse from one another as Pamela Geller is from Alan Dershowitz.

Because the ideal of liberal-democracy is, by necessity, at the core of the Movement for Jewish Freedom it must oppose Islamic jurisprudence (al-Sharia). The reason for that is because al-Sharia is non-democratic and, according to its central precepts, must strip women, Gay people, and Infidels (kuffar) of their most basic civil liberties… often in a grotesquely violent manner.

Jewish Freedom Under the Umbrella of Liberal-Democracy 
and Indigenous Rights

Many people who come out of the progressive-wing of the movement will squirm at notions like the necessity to “maintain liberal-democracies throughout the world.” It will resonate as right-wing in a sort-of vaguely amorphous manner for many people. The word “neo-con” will quickly come to mind for some.

When I poke around the alleys and byways of the pro-Israel movement, however, I do not see much desire to impose liberal-democracy onto parts of the world that do not want it. This is a matter of culture. Some cultures are open to liberal-democracy and some are not. Liberal-democracy cannot be imposed upon cultures that do not want it, because then it would no longer be liberal democracy, now would it?.

Nonetheless, under the larger umbrella of liberal-democracy stands the movement for indigenous rights.

The movement for Jewish rights, in our ancestral homeland, is just one part of the much larger series of indigenous struggles throughout the world. The movement for the maintenance of liberal-democracy is key to indigenous rights because it is only through liberal-democratic systems that indigenous rights can be pursued as a matter of social justice. While the wheels of justice may grind slowly in the liberal-democratic West, at least they grind. In non-democratic systems, such as those bowing to Islamic law, submission is enforced through state violence. You get no discussion under these terms.

What you get are cracked skulls, wretched prisons, and torture.

A rising star within the Movement for Jewish Freedom, and a stalwart defender of indigenous rights, is Ryan Bellerose. Bellerose, a Métis from Canada – and the lone, sole American-style football playing, Native-American Zionist in the history of the universe – makes the point that Jewish people who care about the well-being of Israel would do well to embrace our own sense of indigeneity because we are, in fact, the only people on the planet with anything resembling a claim to indigenous status in that tiny part of the world.

Indeed, our ancestors lived and built and fought and made families in the Land of Israel for at least 3,500 years.

Our presence there well precedes the development of formal history. Thus to refer to the Arab invaders, who marched upon Judea and Samaria millennia later, as “indigenous” is to spit in the face of history.

I would submit to you that in order for the Movement for Jewish Freedom to advance toward its goal of Jewish autonomy on historically Jewish land – free from perpetual jihadi harassment and the constant screeching for genocide that so often comes out of the mosques – then we need to embrace our own sense as an indigenous people, among other indigenous people, fighting for rights of autonomy upon our own land.

As Bellerose has written, and I paraphrase, it is not merely a matter of standing on our tippy-toes, waving our hands in the air, and saying, “Hey! We’re indigenous, too!” Instead, we need to politically engage with other indigenous peoples in a direct manner.

This will be difficult for many pro-Jewish / pro-Israel advocates because we do not generally think of ourselves in such terms and because the Palestinian-Arabs have already claimed that slot. But they have done so in a demonstrably false manner and we need always be ready to point this out.

In short, we need to stand with other indigenous peoples struggling for autonomy within liberal-democratic systems.

Our political opponents often seem comfortable with non-democratic forms of government. We, however, cannot afford to be. Nor, from any ethical perspective, would we want to be.

Some Varieties of Zionist Experience
The Movement for Jewish Freedom is diverse.

It includes Democrats and Republicans and those unregistered with any political party, such as myself. It includes hard-right conservatives and even a few hard-left progressives. (Difficult to imagine, I know.)

We are across-the-board, politically, ethnically, and across religious identities. Most activists in the movement naturally tend to be Jewish people, but some movement activists are not Jewish. Bellerose is clearly not Jewish and neither is another great friend and activist within the movement, Chloe Valdary.


But those who are friendly toward the movement come from all religious backgrounds. The most prominent of these, of course, are American Evangelical Christians who are earnest about Genesis 12:2 and 12:3, which reads:

And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

There are also, of course, plenty of Catholics who believe in Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel. Plenty of Hindus and Buddhists and Theosophists and Rastafarians and even the random Muslim, or two.

One of the reasons for pro-Israel diversity around the world is disapproval of the jihadi tendencies among some within the Muslim faith. Our friends and supporters often recognize that al-Sharia is not only non-democratic, but highly fascistic in its implementation, thereby creating at least some sympathy for the Jewish people in the Middle East.

Jews and Christians lived as second and third-class non-citizens under the imperial boot of Islamic rule for thirteen centuries until the demise of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. That, I think, was probably more than enough.

Furthermore, of course, al-Sharia is not some noxious, but irrelevant, relic from the past, but is the reality of life for hundreds of millions of people from North Africa to the Arab world, on the continent of Asia, all the way to Jakarta.

Throughout the world all sorts of people from all sorts of different faiths and backgrounds and politics recognize this and are potential allies because they, too, understand that there is something deeply sadistic about any religious legal tradition that advocates, for example, the chopping off of a hand and a foot, from opposite sides of the body, as a form of “justice.”

There are also ex-Muslims, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who oppose Qur’anic law, not to mention self-identified practicing Muslim reformers who acknowledge that Sharia seriously impinges upon the civil liberties of women, Gay people, and all “unbelievers.”

Those of us who actively promote the movement for Jewish rights or Jewish liberty or Jewish freedom (whatever you want to say) include academicians like Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm who edited The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, which, as an aside, includes a piece by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, of the AMCHA Initiative, entitled, “Interrogating the Academic Boycotters of Israel on American Campuses” that I well recommend.

The movement also includes prominent bloggers, such as the Elder of Ziyon, who – when he isn’t plotting with the other Elders to take over first the world and then the rest of the universe – can be found exposing media hypocrisy and the kind of general nonsense that usually swirls around coverage of the Long Arab War Against the Jews.

The movement includes prominent legal analysts, such as Eugene Kontorovich, and journalists, like the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh or Italian journalist Giulio Meotti, who is published in the Arutz Sheva and the Gatestone Institute, among numerous other venues.

It also includes artists and musicians, such as Matisyahu, and even much loved cartoonists, like Yaakov Kirschen, the creator of Dry Bones.

But, most importantly, it includes just regular Jews, and regular friends of regular Jews, who do not like the entirely unjust way that Israel is treated by the international community and who do not very much appreciate the kind of long-standing, Koranically-based, hatred and violence that gave us 9/11 and the recent destruction of the ancient city of Palmyra, by the Islamic State (IS), in Syria.

The Enemy

Diaspora Jews, particularly of the left-leaning variety and for perfectly understandable reasons, are deeply uncomfortable with even the notion of “enemy.”

No normal people want enemies. Normal people do not want war or to be forced into a position where they must take action against another people.

Unfortunately, the Jewish people, generation upon generation, century upon century, faced grinding hostility by both Europeans and Arab-Muslims. Thankfully, the Christian peoples have moved beyond institutionalized Jew Hatred and today some of our best friends on the planet come out of the western churches.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of the mosques.

Our enemies include virtually every single Arab government and much (if not most) of their religious leadership.

Our enemies do not include Muslims, in general, but merely those who would subject the rest of us to the mercies of Islamic law.

Furthermore, much of the western-left, almost the entirety of the United Nations, the European Union and the Obama administration, have proven themselves consistently hostile to the well-being of the Jewish people through being consistently hostile to the well-being of the Jewish State.

This hostility is justified on the grounds that Israel is a racist, colonialist, imperialist, apartheid state that has pushed the innocent indigenous population off of their land, while refusing to allow them autonomy in a state of their own on that land.

And that is the “Palestinian Narrative” in a concise form.

In truth, Palestinian-Arab nationalism emerged out of the larger Arab nation as a weapon. At the very core of “Palestinian” identity is the cruel goal of eliminating the Jewish State of Israel. It is their very reason to be as an allegedly distinct people. Hostility toward Israel, and towards Jews, is the glue that binds them and allows them to claim a distinct ethnicity, of sorts.


Because Israel is the Dhimmi that Got Away and the Arabs don’t like it.

Jewish sovereignty on the land of our ancestors is understood not only as a terrible humiliation to the entire Arab nation, but as a direct violation of the will of Allah. Thus Jihad is both obligatory and sacred.

The very existence of Israel flies in the face of Qur’anic imperatives to maintain and expand Dar al-Islam at the expense of all non-Muslims. The dhimmi is supposed to be humiliated upon paying the Jizya – they had to crawl – but it is Israeli Jews who have humiliated their former social superiors, through surviving and thriving in freedom from dhimmitude within the State of Israel.

Meanwhile almost the entire Muslim world wallows in poverty and ignorance, violence and genocide against Zoroastrians and Christians and Yazidis and the Ba’hai, and the constant intra-Muslim warfare between Shia and Sunni… and almost all of this they blame on the West or on the insidious, international “Zionist conspiracy.”

The Arabs, “Palestinian” or otherwise, are not the victims of the Jews.

On the contrary, it is the Jewish minority in the Middle East who have been constantly persecuted by the great Muslim majority in that part of the world from the early 7th century until the present. It is not merely the Palestinian-Arabs, but virtually the entire Arab and Muslim worlds that are perpetually endeavoring to squeeze the Jews out of Israel, by any means necessary. These means include war and violence and intifada, lawfare, international diplomatic aggressions, the movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel (BDS), heritage theft and attempts at heritage obliteration, cognitive warfare (pdf) and Pallywood.

We can break down the contemporary phases of the Long Arab War Against the Jews as follows:

Phase 1, 1920 – 1947: Riots and Massacres

Phase 2, November 1947 – April 1948: The Civil War in Palestine

Phase 3, 1948 – 1973: Conventional Warfare

Phase 4, 1964 – Present: The Terror War

Phase 5, 1975 – Present: The Delegitimization Effort

There is a possibility that we can eventually overcome this perpetual hostility, but it will not come from Israeli concessions because those concessions are always pocketed by the Palestinian-Arabs and then used as the starting point for demands on further concessions.

Instead, we need solidarity among ourselves and among our allies within a political framework that benefits both.

Michael Lumish

Jewish Lawyers Declare “Lawfare” On BDS Movement

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Answering the call of Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, a panel of legal experts gathered in the UN’s General Assembly to discuss how they were tackling the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Addressing the surge of anti-Israel activity on university campuses perpetuated by fellow students and faculty, Rabbi Dr. Mark Goldfeder, an attorney and senior lecturer at Emory Law School, said that it is critical to understand when the line is crossed from “protected free speech” to “unprotected speech that is legally actionable.” Goldfeder said not all speech is protected and explained the standard comes from the case Davis v. Monroe.

“It’s pretty simple, harassment can take many forms and can be verbal or written; if it is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in, or benefit from an educational program, that speech is not protected.”

Responding to comments made by Omar Barghouti, a leader of the BDS movement who told Columbia Law School students in 2014, “Either smarter people have abandoned Zionism or the IQ of Zionism has gone down because they haven’t come up with one smart tactic to fight BDS,” Goldfeder declared: “Challenging Jews to ‘lawfare’ is kind of our national sport. On behalf of the panel, challenge accepted!”

Carly Gammill, American Center for Law and Justice senior litigation counsel, said, “We have seen time and time again, [BDS] are very aggressive and proactive, and there are opportunities and ways for us now to be aggressive and take back the territory.”

Gammill urged taking advantage of the laws that are already are on the books, and advised university students to be aware of the policies and governing rules on campus so that they can determine if the rules are being violated. She also warned of the necessity to know the “recording laws” of the jurisdiction, so that one can record an event or conversation without being on the wrong side of the law. (Federal law and many states permit recording if one party to the conversation consents, while other states require the consent of all parties.)

Elizabeth Berney, ZOA in-house counsel, said the ZOA fought a six-year battle to have Jewish students included among the groups protected from harassment under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “These are very important tools, because if a university violates these harassment requirements, they can lose federal funding.” She said federal criminal remedies and regular civil remedies such as defamation suits can also be sought.

Justice Elyakim Rubenstein of the Supreme Court of Israel advised it necessary to know the facts and history of Israel and not be sucked into the BDS narrative but rather address the narrative of truth. Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s legal counsel, stated, “BDS traffics in distortions, omissions, and outright falsehoods and it can feel overwhelming when someone is spouting UN security resolutions and legal lingo that one is not familiar with, where if you did a little digging you would see they’re misusing these words.” Herzberg encouraged referencing the website NGOmonitor.org as a resource to become familiar with the facts and legal terminology that is often bandied about.

Herzberg also said it’s imperative to track where BDS funding is coming from and said the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is reportedly increasing their contributions where BDS funding is dropping off. “Banks are cutting off banking to BDS organizations due to their potential links to terror groups, aside that they are engaging in discrimination of national origin and religious discrimination,” she said.

Gabe Groisman, a City Council member from Bal Harbour, Florida, told how Bal Harbour passed the first anti-BDS ordinance in the country: “Our law requires any agreement with our municipality to include a representation that the contracting party is not involved in, and will not be involved in, the boycott or divestment of any authorized trading partner of the United States, including Israel.” He said this caused the local church of the United Church of Christ to sit down with him when they wanted to redevelop, and they ultimately decided to withdraw two million dollars from their parent church’s national fund.

At least 30 states in the U.S. have passed anti-BDS legislation and the resulting impact has been seen internationally. Herzberg related how when the state of Illinois announced it would not be able to execute government contracts with a particular Danish bank that listed an Israeli company for boycott, the Danish bank removed the Israeli company from its blacklist. Herzberg concluded, “These are great developments, and we should continue to push for them and follow the money, follow the money.”

The panel urged students not to be afraid and reach out to the ENDbds.com hotline if they are ever in trouble or being targeted by a school administration and need a lawyer. Goldfeder said the bullying of students and professors, whether they be Jewish or non-Jewish, has come to an end. “It won’t happen anymore, because we’re not going to let it.”

And World Jewish Congress chairman Ronald Lauder promised to read every e-mail sent to campus@WorldJewishCongress.org from anyone on campus who feels that they are alone in facing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments.

Repeatedly advising that anyone being targeted by the BDS movement not be cowed, Goldfeder said, “Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of ACLJ, has won so many Supreme Court cases it’s not even fun anymore; he is on your team, and so many other people are here on your team… don’t be afraid because you’re not alone. Bottom line, whether it is local, state, or federal law, whether it is a public or private university, we have this and we’re going to win.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League said, “Whether or not we at ADL will adopt every approach, I applaud those groups who use the law and legislation to fight de-legitimization, celebrate individuals that opt for education and programming to beat back BDS, and we should honor those who use naming and shaming to expose the enemies of peace.”

Devora Mandell

Why the BDS Movement is Destroying a Future Palestinian State

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

From the moment Israel declared its independence, one of the main Arab tactics has been to exploit the Jews’ Achilles heel – their highly developed culture, which respects and values life, and their support for human rights.

Of Arab origin, I have long known about the Arab stereotype of the West and Israel — that they are weak because they care about the lives of their own people and they are eager to respect the human rights of their enemies. Golda Meir is reported to have said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”

Until now, Israel has conformed to that Arab stereotype — such as with “knocks on the roof” in Gaza to warn residents to leave buildings being used for military purposes before they are targeted — but in conversations with Zionists, it seems that this attitude is changing. While Jews will always value life, their determination to minimize enemy casualties and to respect their human rights at almost all costs might be unraveling, and it is the Palestinians who are likely to pay the price.

During the War of Independence, the Arab side ensured that not a single Jew was left on the Arab side of the 1949 armistice lines, but a large number of Arabs were allowed by Jews to remain on the Israeli side. Today those Arabs constitute 20% of the Israeli population.

Israel’s respect for the human rights of Arabs living in Israel has been used by Arabs against Israel. The idea of any Jews on the Arab side is demonized and any “normalization” with Jews is aggressively discouraged

By contrast, Arabs living in Israel have consistently elected Arab parliamentarians, even anti-Zionist ones who openly support Palestinian terrorists. If Israel expels those politicians from the Knesset — as there is a proposed law to do — it is accused by the West of being undemocratic, but if it does not expel them it is seen by Arabs as weak.

During the Six-Day War of June 1967 — a defensive war in which Israel repelled attacking Arab armies that included Jordan and Egypt — Israel moved into large swaths of Arab land, including the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and Gaza. Israel immediately offered to give land back in exchange for recognition and peace. Less than three months later, on September 1, 1967, the answer came back in the form of the famous “Three Nos” of the Khartoum Conference: No peace with Israel, no recognition no negotiations.

Israel could have played by Arab rules and deported all Arabs in the land it occupied, but it did not. Precisely because Israel respected the human rights of Arabs, and despite its own self-interest, Israel gave the Palestinians a platform from which to seek the destruction of Israel.

Today’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement continues to apply the same hypocritical double standards in a transparent effort to make Israel extinct. Its leaders have stated in no uncertain terms that they are not interested in a two-state solution. They want a single Arab state to replace Israel. They are counting on the assumption that sooner or later, Israel will be forced to annex the West Bank and give Israeli citizenship to all its residents. After this, the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state would be just a matter of time.

The dominant sentiment on the Zionist side today is that the solution most Jews since the 1940s have accepted as ethical — the two-state solution — is simply not working. The vast majority of Zionists blame this on the unrelenting Arab refusal to accept such a solution and on the fact that when, in what negotiations have taken place, the Palestinians never suggested so much as a reasonable counter-offer. Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, supposedly the most moderate leader of the Palestinians, has never accepted a two-state solution unless it included a Palestinian “right of return,” which would result in a fully Arab state next to a majority Arab state — yet another way of making the Jewish state extinct.

With Israel’s back to the wall, it will sooner or later have to choose between giving up the Jewish state and lowering its human rights standards for the Palestinians. It seems increasingly clear that Israelis will not choose the first. In their place, I wouldn’t either. One sign is a proposed law that would deport the families of terrorists. Another is a proposed law that would expel Knesset members who openly support terrorists.

American human rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz has repeatedly warned that the BDS movement is destroying the prospect for a negotiated two-state solution, by making Palestinian leaders believe that they do not need to make any compromises. Dershowitz has not ventured what would happen if the BDS movement continues on its current track. He has just made the general and obvious prediction that it would lead to “more wars, more death and more suffering.”

If this Arab-BDS tactic continues, Israel may well move to the right of its current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and elect a government for which respect of Palestinian human rights is a lower priority. Such a government would be far less reluctant than Netanyahu in expanding settlements across the West Bank and in responding with overwhelming force to terrorist attacks, thereby making the lives of Palestinians much more difficult and seriously harming dreams of Palestinian statehood.

The advocates of BDS seem to rely on the belief that Israel would never do that, but they are wrong for several reasons:

  • The Jews of Israel will not willingly commit suicide. So far, every time they refused to adopt anti-human-rights approaches, those decisions were not fatal to Israel. A one-state solution with equal rights for all would however be fatal to Israel, and most Jews of Israel will not go along with it.
  • Israel can see how the rest of the Middle East has engaged with impunity in ethnic cleansing, from the ethnic cleansing of Jews to the ethnic cleansing of the Christians, and all the other groups in between. They also see that the West takes no serious action against it.
  • Israelis know that the Arabs have been mistreating the Palestinians for almost 70 years, so Arab states will not risk losing further wars against Israel for the sake of Palestinians, whom they anyway despise (assuming that the divided Arabs could even manage to form a viable coalition against Israel).
  • One of the factors currently holding back Israel’s right wing is the risk of losing Western support. However, with the growing BDS movement, Israel may well feel that it has lost the support of the West anyway and that there is nothing left to lose.

For almost 70 years, the Arabs have played a very dangerous game, counting on Jewish scruples to turn every defeat into a partial victory. Whereas throughout history those who lose wars — especially wars they themselves started — are forced to live by the rules of the winner, the Arabs have refused to live by Israel’s rules and they even consistently rejected middle-of-the-road two-state solutions that would have been reasonable for both sides. One can only hope that they, like Egypt and Jordan, will soon decide to live in peace with a neighbor which turned out to be far better in the way it treats Palestinians than the Palestinians’ own “Arab brothers” — not all that bad, after all. One can only hope that Palestinian leaders will start promoting a culture of peace rather than a culture of hate.

Fred Maroun

Isfahan Demonstration for Women’s Rights Becomes Anti-Government Protest

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

A demonstration for women’s rights taking place in the Iranian city of Isfahan is transforming into a protest against the regime, a source reported to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, lecturer and researcher at Bar Ilan University Wednesday night.

“Approximately ten thousand people are protesting the fact that people probably working for the regime are throwing acid in the faces of women and girls who do not dress according to the stringent rules of the fanatics,” Kedar wrote in a post on his Facebook page. “The demonstration is in area ‘Bridge 33.’

“The source emphasized that the demonstrators are calling to topple the Supreme Leader, [Ayatollah] Ali Khamenei.

“In other words, a demonstration about women’s rights has turned into a protest against the regime. The source did not mention the reaction of the government, but I assume that severe action will be taken,” Kedar wrote.

“Will the demonstration in Isfahan spread to other Iranian cities,” he questioned. “Time will tell.”

In 2009, Iran saw mass demonstrations across the country protesting what was largely believed to be a rigged re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Foreign journalists were banned, phone networks were cut and internet connections were spotty at best as the government sought to control the growing unrest.

Basij militia and police officers wielded batons and fired tear gas canisters at protesters, but the measures did little to quell the demonstrations. The government followed up with arrests, layoffs, convictions and hangings. Eventually the protests stopped but instead moved underground and became a full-scale anti-government operation.

Hana Levi Julian

Aging Rocker’s Failed Anti-Israel Crusade

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Back in 1976, when the burgeoning punk movement began transforming the rock’n’roll landscapes of London and New York, a young punk rocker named John Lydon scrawled the words “I Hate…” on his Pink Floyd t-shirt.

With this one stroke, Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, demarcated the past from the future: eschewing the lengthy and ponderous compositions of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, Rotten and his mates set about delivering sharp, angry tunes in a compact three-minute format.

Almost 40 years later, popular music has undergone numerous other transformations, but Rotten (who now calls himself Lydon again) and Waters have remained polar opposites. And as Israelis know better than most, that’s true both inside and outside the recording studio.

Back in 2010, Lydon rounded on critics of his decision to play a gig in Tel Aviv by telling them, “I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they [the Palestinians] are treated.”

By contrast, Waters, outwardly, a much more refined and eloquent fellow, has firmly hitched himself to the movement pressing for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Waters’s support for BDS is thought to be the reason that his scheduled appearance at the 92nd Sreet Y in New York City was canceled back in April, while more recently he tussled with the Simon Wiesenthal Center over an accusation of anti-Semitism that stemmed from a feature of his live show, in which a Star of David is projected onto a flying inflatable pig.

In his response to the Wiesenthal Center, Waters denied he was an anti-Semite, coming out with the standard response that hating Zionism and hating Jews are completely distinct. But a subsequent letter written in August to “My Colleagues in Rock’n’Roll” – his legendary pomposity remains unaltered – is certain to revive the charge. This time, it’s hard to see how Waters can wriggle around it.

The letter begins by citing another British musician, the violinist Nigel Kennedy, who slammed Israeli “apartheid” during a recent concert that was recorded by the BBC. “Nothing unusual there you might think,” Waters wrote, “[but] then one Baroness Deech, (nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement.”

Why did Waters think it necessary to point out the maiden name of Baroness Ruth Deech, a noted academic and lawyer? The answer is obvious: before she was Deech, a name that resonates with English respectability, she was Fraenkel, a name that sounds positively, well, Jewish. And much as she might try to hide her origins, the intrepid Waters is determined to out her, along with her nefarious Jewish –sorry, I mean, Zionist – agenda.

Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of the ugliest, most primitive kind. Appropriately, Waters’s letter appeared first on the website of the Electronic Intifada, a U.S.-based outfit that has emerged as one of the prime organizing platforms of the BDS movement.

The Waters letter ends as follows: “Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

In case it’s not clear, in the BDS movement, such elaborate formulations are code for “until such time as the state of Israel, which was born in a state of original sin, is finally eliminated.”

Here’s the rub, though: ten years ago, when the BDS movement was a relatively new phenomenon, statements like these would have set off a minor panic in the Jewish world. These days, we’re far more sanguine, and we’ve learned that Israel can survive and flourish no matter how many graying prog-rockers like Waters dedicate their lives to removing the world’s only Jewish state from the map.

As unpalatable as this may be for Waters’s digestion, the plain truth is that the BDS movement has failed. Its original aim was to replicate the massive outcry against South African apartheid during the 1980s, when songs like “Free Nelson Mandela” and “(I Ain’t Gonna Play) Sun City” ruled the airwaves. Instead, it has remained a fringe movement, a minor irritant that has had precious little impact on Israel’s economic life and garners media attention only when someone like Waters decides to shoot his mouth off.

Ben Cohen

Roger Waters Open Letter Calls on Musicians to Boycott Israel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

British rocker Roger Waters published an open letter calling on fellow musicians to join a boycott of Israel.

“I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” Waters wrote in the letter dated Aug. 18. The letter was previously drafted in July.

The former Pink Floyd front man said he was inspired to release the letter after British violinist Nigel Kennedy at a recent promenade concert at the Albert Hall in London called Israel an apartheid state. The BBC said it would remove his remarks in rebroadcasts of the concert.

Waters, who has been active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement for at least seven years, referred to the boycott of apartheid South Africa, saying that first a trickle of artists refused to play there, leading to a “flood.”

He singled out Stevie Wonder’s canceling of a performance for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces as a recent success story. Wonder quit his participation in the December fundraiser at the last minute under pressure from many corners.

“Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights,” Waters wrote.

Waters recently came under fire for using at in his concerts a huge inflated balloon in the shape of a wild boar with a prominently visible Star of David, as well as a hammer and sickle, crosses and a dollar sign, among other symbols. It is a gimmick he has used for several years.


Did She or Didn’t She?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Over the past two days, while the army was shooting into the crowds in Egypt and half of Beirut was lifted by a huge car bomb, and many other awful things were happening, The Jewish Press readership has been dealing with mostly the question of the possibility that a Reform Rabbi named Angela Buchdahl could have attained her high position without the benefit of a Jewish conversion.

It started with an article in The Forward (Angela Buchdahl, First Asian-American Rabbi, Vies for Role at Central Synagogue), that basically suggested Buchdahl was not Jewish according to Jewish law:

But she also engaged Judaism at a time when the Reform movement itself was undergoing dramatic change. Eleven years after Buchdahl’s birth, in a move still hotly debated in all streams of Judaism, including within Reform Judaism itself, the Reform movement overturned more than 2,000 years of tradition that recognized only those whose mother was Jewish as Jews from birth. Others, including those with just a Jewish father, were required to undergo a process of conversion, though this process varied among Judaism’s different streams.

Starting in 1983, as intermarriage advanced steadily among its members, Reform Judaism conferred a “presumption of Jewish descent” on those with one Jewish parent, whether it was a father or a mother. The one condition to this recognition was that it be established “through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith,” according to the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

In many ways, Buchdahl represents the flowering of this revolution in Judaism, and symbolizes a kind of coming of age of its children.

This was coupled with an article in Hadassah Magazine:

Profile: Angela Buchdahl

Though Buchdahl’s mother did not convert, she wanted her children to find a home in the Jewish community. Her father instilled Jewish pride in his children and gave them a Jewish vocabulary, says Buchdahl, but it was her mother who imparted a sense of spiritual yearning and wonder. Her mother’s Buddhism informs her Judaism, she says, noting that Jewish and Korean cultures overlap in their approach to life, their emphasis on giving back and their drive to succeed and to be educated.

So yours truly, enchanted by the concept of the non-Jewish Rabbi, charged ahead. I still believe all the points I was making were right, namely that the Reform  doctrine of patrilineal descent and the “presumption of Judaism” in the case of a the offspring of a non-Jewish woman married to a Jew were on the money.

Except that it turns out Buchdahl may have converted to Judaism after all.

Thanks, first, to our reader Vicky Glikin of Deerfield, Illinois, who wrote:

It is highly unfortunate that your facts and the very premise for this article are plain wrong. Rabbi/Cantor Buchdahl underwent an Orthodox conversion, a fact that you would have easily discovered had you actually been trying to write an intelligent work of journalism.

So I went looking for the misrepresented conversion, and found the following line in the Times (Defining Judaism, a Rabbi of Many Firsts), hidden among long, familiar paragraphs like this one:

Her first reaction was to think about a formal conversion to Judaism, but a second impulse quickly followed: Why should she convert to prove something, when she had been a Jew her entire life? In traditional Jewish law, a Jew is defined through the mother’s line. But over roughly the last 40 years, the Reform movement in Judaism accepted descent through the father’s line as legitimate for Jewish identification, so if a child has a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother who affiliates as a Jew (the mother need not convert if she is involved in synagogue life), the child does not need to undergo a conversion to become a Jew.

But then, the Times revealed: “Eventually, at 21, she did undergo a conversion ceremony, but she prefers to think of it as a reaffirmation ceremony.”

Another clue was in something David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, wrote in his letter today (Hebrew Union Pres. Pulls Fast One in Non-Jewish Rabbi Debate):  “you assume an article that was written in another newspaper and upon which your author draws for his piece reveals all the facts about her life. ”

Meaning, Ellenson may have known Buchdahl had converted in an Orthodox ceremony, but to concede this would mean that he agrees that it takes an Orthodox conversion to turn even the child of a Jewish father into a real Jew — as shown by the very poster child of patrilineal descent, the subject of our attention these past two days.

I still find the entire affair more than a little bizarre: why should someone who did convert in an Orthodox ceremony be sending out all the signals that they didn’t and that they’re proud they didn’t. Perhaps we’ll find out in the next chapter of this very strange story.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/did-she-or-didnt-she/2013/08/16/

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