Since revealing on these pages the viewpoints of David N. Myers, the new CEO of the New York based, The Center for Jewish History controversy has ensued. The leadership of CJH has advised what a brilliant academic he is, and in private messages from staff at CJH we have been told that David Myers has the right to free speech. In an op-ed in The Forward, Professors David Ellenson and Jonathan D. Sarna advised that Mr. Myers is “not a radical.”
Allow us to further clarify our position:
We are confident Mr. Myers is a great academic, and we agree he has the right to free speech. We however further reiterate that someone with viewpoints that are so extreme must not hold any position of Jewish leadership. We appreciate CJH confirming he is a leader of the New Israel Fund – and for that reason alone he must be fired.
Some further factoids:
We were unaware when writing our initial op-ed that Mr. Myers is an Academic Advisory Board Member for Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) which the Anti-Defamation League has named one of the ten most influential and active Anti-Israel organizations. Myers condemned a report issued by UC Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion about Jewish students coming under siege on campus by Anti-Israel forces, claiming rather in an open letter that the ADL was a “well-known rightwing group”, which “..has become known for accusing critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic and denouncing Palestinian rights supporters, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.”
This week, JVP is all over the press for urging a boycott of Birthright Israel.
Simone Zimmerman, the founder of If Not Now, When was fired by Bernie Sanders during his Presidential campaign for posting a profanity-laced comment critical of the Israeli government. Zimmerman wrote on Facebook, “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole. F— you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent even a fraction of the Jews in this world, for your consistent fear-mongering, for pushing Israel in word and deed, farther and farther away from the international community, and most importantly, for trying to derail a potentially historic diplomatic deal with Iran and thus trying to distract the world from the fact that you sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people this summer.”
Myers responded with an impassioned defense of Ms. Zimmerman, detailing her as “the future of American Jewry”, a “beneficiary of the best Jewish education our community offers” someone with a “deep and abiding connection to Judaism and Israel.” He noted that “..she is not willing to do what many American Jews do: Remain silently complicit as Israel’s occupation continues to trample on the rights of Palestinians and push the Jewish state closer to the brink of destruction. Marshaling all of her passion and intelligence, she is guiding and agitating her generation toward a position of moral leadership. No wonder the establishment attacks her. They see the same cracks in the old edifice that she does, but lash out in the hope of forestalling any further damage to their position. But soon, if not now, Zimmerman’s time will come.”
In The Forward, the center denied he “was a member of the academic advisory board of the far-left group Jewish Voice for Peace”, yet haven’t said when he left the organization or why his name remains in their propaganda. This must at the very least be explained.
Its worth further examining Mr. Myers’ fundraising appeal for If Not Now, When, an organization that according to Haaretz holds “…sit-ins in the lobbies of buildings housing Jewish groups” to protest their not loud enough condemnation of Israel’s West Bank “occupation.” Their members have been arrested while holding sit-ins at the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel International, AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization and the Jewish Federation for not being vocal against enough Israel.
Multiple commentators, including those in Bloomberg News and Commentary detail that
If Not Now When is neutral when it comes to Zionism, as well as on its position on BDS.
As Jonathan Tobin wrote in Commentary, “… If Not Now, When are doing something very different than just debating what Israel should do: they seek to delegitimize and isolate the Jewish state. Those who seek to rupture ties between Israel and U.S. Jews in the name of a spurious notion of morality detached from reality are not promoting Jewish values. At best, they are useful idiots serving the cause of hate. At worst, they are an anti-Zionist fifth column assisting the war on the Jewish state that deserves to be vigorously opposed by all those who care about Israel and Jewish rights, whether on the right or the left.”
As Daniel Gordis has noted, “It is quite possible, even leaders on the left have noted, that If Not Now is one of several organizations masquerading as pro-Israel groups who wish to end the occupation, when what they really wish to end is Israel. That would explain the peculiar statement on If Not Now’s website: “We do not take a unified stance on BDS, Zionism or the question of statehood.”
The future of American Jewry is not – and must not – be Simone Zimmerman and people like her who stand against the Jewish State. The Center for Jewish History must not allow Mr. Myers radical support for extremist organizations to re-define Jewish history, regardless of how strong a historian he is.
He must be fired.