When Jewish Voice for Peace first introduced its Webinar, scheduled for Tuesday, December 15, at 8 PM, titled “Dismantling Anti-Semitism, Winning Justice,” featuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Peter Beinart, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, and Dr. Barbara Ransby, security analyst Ari Krauss tweeted: “Since when does Rashida Tlaib get to talk about how to dismantle anti-Semitism?” and Harry Khachatrian, who writes for the Daily Wire, tweeted: “Were Louis Farrakhan and Richard Spencer unavailable?”
Were Louis Farrakhan and Richard Spencer unavailable https://t.co/VWD4t7T5F5
— Harry Khachatrian (@Harry1T6) November 20, 2020
The concept is fantastic: Jewish Voice for Peace, easily the most virulent anti-Zionist organization in North America save for The Daily Stormer, inviting a Palestinian Congresswoman, a guy who supports ending the Jewish State (and the only Jew on the slate), a guy who was booted from CNN for advocating for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” and an academic who sees BDS as a means of Black liberation, to debate under the following stipulation:
“Anti-Semitism is used to manufacture division and fear. While anyone can fuel it, anti-Semitism always benefits the politicians who rely on division and fear for their power. We will explore how to fight back against anti-Semitism and against those that seek to wield charges of anti-Semitism to undermine progressive movements for justice.”
A good friend of mine said many years ago that the first participant in a debate to spring a comparison to the Holocaust should lose on a technicality – a principle I try to follow to the best of my rhetorical ability. But in this case, I’m making an exception.
This JVP webinar with these four participants is a leftist Wannsee Conference. And coming as it does on the eve of a Democrat taking over the White House, one can’t help worrying that this Monty Python sketch might not at some point become US foreign policy.
Look at the language of the intro above: this webinar is not about exposing anti-Semitism in the streets of Brooklyn, on university campuses, or in US cities from coast to coast.
These two men and two women who have distinguished themselves as enemies of Israel (the NY Times would probably use “critics” or “harsh critics,” but a critic’s purpose is to improve things — these folks are out to annihilate the Jewish State), will debate the ways in which pro-Israel groups employ the accusation of anti-Semitism to point out individuals and groups who hide behind being ant-Zionist, but in reality, are targeting Jews.
Furthermore it will attempt to further the false claim that one can be anti-Israel, yet not anti-Semitic.
The British Labour party has been the most recent large group to adopt the idea that when you go after the Jewish State you go after Jews.
Now, before I copy and paste the appropriate segment from the working definition of anti-Semitism issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), I feel obliged to state the obvious: the State of Israel has committed its share of errors over the past 72 years, including some idiotic legislation and moronic moves. Criticizing any one of these is not only acceptable, it is welcome, as part of the exchange of ideas among civilized people.
But vilifying Israel and demanding its destruction is not a criticism, and it is not civilized.
IHRA compiled contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere, which include:
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
All four participants in the Dec. 15 webinar have committed some or all of the above anti-Semitic acts, including Peter Beinart, who has just been rolling down a slippery slope of rabid anti-Zionism, abandoning every connection to the body politic of the Jewish mainstream, while declaring in a NY Times op-ed that he no longer believes in a Jewish state. But the overall theme of said webinar is bone-chilling, suggesting that pro-Israeli groups are weaponizing the accusation of anti-Semitism to thwart legitimate attacks on the Jewish State – such as the BDS.
On August 15, 2019, Israel announced that Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were denied entry into the country because, as then Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely put it, Israel did not “allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter.” But then, on August 16, Israel granted Tlaib’s request to visit her family in Judea and Samaria on humanitarian grounds, provided she did not make political statements during the visit. Tlaib then rejected the opportunity to visit her family “under these oppressive conditions,” kind of revealing that all she was looking for was an opportunity to vilify Israel and if she can’t then what’s the point in visiting. Israel’s Interior Ministry stated that Tlaib had originally agreed to abide by the restrictions, and accused her of making a “provocative request aimed at bashing the State of Israel.”
And that’s the entire purpose of the JVP webinar – we all know it. But the notion of devoting so much energy to attacking Israel, as well as attacking the recent peace treaties between Israel and three Arab states, has to look curious to any normal American, Democrat or Republican, who is cognizant of America’s priorities. With a pandemic that has killed more than a quarter-million Americans; with close to 100 thousand Corona patients crowding American hospitals beyond their capacity; and with an economy that’s crashing before our eyes, harming Americans of color worse than anyone else – should the American left devote its energies to vilifying Israel? Do they hate the Jewish State so much that the real concerns of their supposed constituents appear trivial in comparison?
Another good friend of mine said that every Monty Python sketch bears in it the foundation for a catastrophe. This one certainly does.