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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sol Adler’

Post-Scandal 92nd St Y, Time to Re-Set Jewish, Pro-Israel Values

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Throughout the spring The Jewish Press and other media have repeatedly covered various missteps by what had been an esteemed New York Jewish institution, the 92nd St Y.

But it was recently revealed that the man who was supposed to be running the show was instead running around with his assistant; that the assistant’s son-in-law was not only an ex-con but that he had been put in charge of procurement for the Y’s facilities; and that he has recently been accused of demanding kickbacks from Y vendors.

The Y’s board hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.  The probe found strong evidence of wrongdoing, according to the New York Daily News.

But perhaps the Y can now not only cleanse itself from the tawdriness of the current scandal, but recommit to pro-Israel as well as to Jewish values.  While the Board of the Y is engaged in the hiring process for a new executive director, it would be a welcome relief to many if it were also to commit itself to ensuring that Jewish communal dollars are not spent providing a platform to Israel’s most vociferous haters.

Because for some reason, even if only relatively recently, under the previous executive director’s (failure of) leadership, the Y has let down many former supporters. Its scheduling included some people who are not only not supportive of Israel, but who rank among Israel’s biggest celebrity enemies.

First there was the disastrous dalliance with Roger Waters, one of celebritydom’s most outspoken anti-Israel defamers.  The former Pink Floyd rocker’s many acts of hatred towards Israel were chronicled in several articles in The Jewish Press.  Those articles ran when Waters was scheduled to appear in April.  At the last minute, and in a shamelessly stealthy move, a last minute scheduling conflict on Waters’ part allowed the Y to slide out of its commitment.

And then, just a month later, Waters’ sidekick in the effort to bar the Israeli Philharmonic from performing at Carnegie Hall, Alice Walker, was invited into the Y to help promote her new book. Walker is such an overt fountain spewing Israel hatred that even the mainstream Anti-Defamation League has labeled her comparisons of Israelis with Nazis and justifying suicide bombers as shocking and anti-Semitic.

Throughout these episodes, all the efforts to contact the Y’s executive director, Sol Adler, were met with no response.

Now we know why.

The emergent pattern at the Y of  booking not only opponents of Israel, but also the absolute stonewalling by the executive director as well as the communications director, led to the creation of a recurring protest outside of the 92nd Street Y.

The protest is known as “Close Your Wallets,” and it calls upon members of the Jewish community to make their views known by, literally, “Closing their Wallets” to Jewish communal organizations which allow money raised from the Jewish community to be spent supporting haters of Israel. They call that “donor fraud.”

Every second Thursday of every month – the next one is scheduled for August 8 – pro-Israel members of the larger New York City Jewish community stand outside the 92nd Street Y and distribute literature and educate passersby about the donor fraud problem.

And while no one likes to kick a dog when it’s down, perhaps the revelation about such extreme wrong doing as has just been disclosed will set the stage for some widespread housecleaning at the Y.  Therein lies the silver lining to the dark cloud currently hanging over the Y.

“This is a great opportunity for the Y’s board of directors to take control and stop the promotion of speakers who favor the boycott of Israel,” Richard Allen who heads JCC Watch, the driving force in the efforts to prevent, and then to educate about the problem of donor fraud, told The Jewish Press.

“They need guidelines, so they know what should not be crossed,” Allen continued. “The former leadership was not open to having them, but now, when putting in place other guidelines, those responsible for the Y’s future should also make it clear that Jewish communal dollars must not be used to fund anti-Israel activities.”

Allen told The Jewish Press that the Close Your Wallets protests will continue on the second Thursday of every month, until the Jewish communal organizations set those guidelines.

The Y is currently being run by the deputy executive director Deputy Executive Director Henry Timms, until a new executive director is selected.

Israel Hater Waters Washed Out of NYC 92nd Street Y

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

So far no one is saying for sure how it happened or who made the final decision, but there are many supporters of Israel who are breathing a big sigh of relief that Roger Waters, former front man for the 1970′s rock band Pink Floyd, and currently best known for being a rabid hater of Israel, will not be performing at New York City’s 92nd Street Y on April 30th, as had been scheduled.

Waters is still a popular musician, particularly for the aging boomer crowd.  His one night appearance, “A Conversation with Rogers Waters” at the 92nd Street Y had been sold out for some time.  With a mere 900 seat capacity, however, the Kaufman Concert Hall is hardly the size of the mega-theaters Waters used to fill in his prime during his Pink Floyd days.

When news of Waters’ appearance at the 92nd Street Y first began circulating among Jews supportive of Israel, the man behind JCCWatch.org, Richard Allen, sent an email to Sol Adler, executive director of the Y.  Allen suggested perhaps Adler was not aware that Waters is a fanatical supporter of the economic warfare movement against Israel, known as BDS (Boycott of, Divestment From and Sanctions against Israel).  That email was sent on March 24, 2013.

Waters is not only a committed supporter of BDS, he bragged about having been instrumental in convincing Stevie Wonder to renege on his agreement to perform at a pro-Israel benefit in California that took place last year.  He also spoke at the United Nations on November 29, 2012, condemning Israel as an Apartheid state, and blaming Israel for denying the “Palestinian” people their “inalienable right” to “self-determination.”

In addition to these efforts to convince others that Israel must be shunned for committing “human rights violations,” Waters also was a leader of the effort to get Carnegie Hall to cancel the scheduled appearance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in October of 2012.  Given his role in attempting to prevent the Israeli Philharmonic from giving a purely musical performance, it should be difficult for Waters’ supporters to complain about efforts to prevent Waters from appearance at the 92nd Street Y, where he was going to talk about his Israel-hatred.

The Y holds itself out as a center for Jewish life that offers learning opportunities, multigenerational holiday celebrations, and “talks on a broad range of Jewish topics encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own special meaning in Jewish tradition and find joy in Jewish life and culture.”

92nd Street Y Concert of Roger Waters, huge promoter of economic boycott of Israel, has been cancelled.

92nd Street Y Concert of Roger Waters, huge promoter of economic boycott of Israel, has been cancelled.

The Jewish Press ran a story on March 25 about Waters’ scheduled appearance at the 92nd Street Y, noting that the Y had begun nearly 140 years earlier as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, and how ironic it was that it was going to host one of the biggest haters of Israel west of the Middle East.

And then things became a little strange at the 92nd Street Y website.

On March 26th, the Waters event at the Y was listed on the website as “postponed.”  Then, sometime during the first days of Passover, all mention of the Waters concert was removed from the Y’s website, including from its calendar listing.  However, curious callers to the box office were told that the concert was going on as planned.  By late in the evening of March 28, the event once again was listed on the website.

On March 29, the box office staff told curious callers that they should keep their tickets and they would be called with information about a new date, but later that same day a new date for the Waters’ concert – June 19th – was posted on a British website.

The turmoil continued for the 92nd Street Y management, scheduling office, and webmaster, as the public outcry continued, reaching a crescendo on April 3.

Emails were sent to Adler at the Y and to John Ruskay, the chair of New York City’s United Jewish Appeal – Federation, asking how they could provide a forum at the Y to someone with such a visceral hatred for Israel, someone who has publicly stated his commitment to do everything within his power to destroy Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens from terrorism.

The NYC United Jewish Appeal-Federation provides more than $800,000 to the 92nd St Y.  JCCWatch’s Richard Allen told The Jewish Press that “it is unforgivable for someone who recently said ‘total BDS is the way to go,’ someone who is a clear cut enemy of Israel, to be given a platform at an institution paid for, in part, using Federation resources.”

Lionel Leventhal, a Manhattan healthcare private equity fund manager, explained to The Jewish Press why he sent an email to Federation’s Ruskay and Adler from the Y, asking them to explain, or better yet just undo, the disastrous decision to host Waters at the Y.

“How is it possible,” Leventhal asked, “that Israel, the only country in the region in which artists are given the total right of self-expression is the one being targeted for abuse…by an artist?!”

Leventhal was particularly incensed because he grew up in Manhattan, and has attended cultural events at the 92nd St Y for more than 40 years. While declining to categorize himself as a particular kind of Jew – “I’m just really proud to be Jewish,” he said, there were three things that he found particularly irksome about the Waters’ gig.

“First, Waters is engaged in an organized effort to misinform artists,” Leventhal explained.

“Second, Waters has his facts upside down – he is completely mischaracterizing Israel,” he continued, “and third, the 92nd Street Y is a center for education, a center for all things Jewish, to host someone like Waters is completely antithetical to the mission of the institution.”

Craig Dershowitz is another New Yorker in high dudgeon that the 92nd Street Y booked an Israel vilifier to appear at its venue.  Dershowitz is a graffiti artist whose organization, Artists 4 Israel, promotes positive information about Israel. Dershowitz was a bit less temperate than Leventhal or Allen in his suppositions regarding the role the Y and the NYC Federation played in this drama.

“The UJA, like so many other Jewish organizations, are not only simply consorting with the enemy, they are now justifying and even promoting what is in this case, at least, the metaphorical slaughter of our people.”

Dershowitz offered less benign explanations for the Waters event to have been scheduled in the first place.  While Allen believed that the Y leadership simply did not know about Waters’ Israel hatred, and Leventhal seemed pretty sure it was an error, Dershowitz had this to say:

“Either the Y did no due diligence, which is pathetic; or, because as an institution it is becoming more and more irrelevant the management decided to go for something controversial to draw attention to the venue; or, the leadership simply thought Waters was awesome, but then so was black and white television when it first came out, which reveals how irrelevant the Y is to contemporary arts and culture.”

Repeated phone calls by The Jewish Press to the 92nd Street Y media relations director over the course of the past week were not returned, but callers to the box office were told the event was cancelled because Waters has a “scheduling conflict.”

An article in the Jewish Daily Forward suggests the Y cancelled the event because of “heat” and quotes an April 3 statement issued by JCCWatch, but then reveals it has not received any official explanation for the cancellation.

A British Pink Floyd fan site, “Brain Dead,” seems to suggest that the event was cancelled because “certain parts of the Jewish community were not happy with the event, due to Roger’s views on Israel,” but then it links back to the Forward article which doesn’t contain any independent basis upon which to determine who was responsible for cancelling the event.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel-hater-waters-washed-out-of-nyc-92nd-street-y/2013/04/04/

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