Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2007 / 14 Shevat, 5767

Who Will Speak for the Jews?

By Jonathan Tobin



Printer Friendly Version

Email this article



Effort to ban Israel's internal critics pits free speech against crisis of delegitimization


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was one of those American Jewish dust-ups that play out along predictable lines and concluded with a predictable outcome.


The left outrages the right, and the right responds in knee-jerk fashion by calling for banning the left from something that most people had never heard of. In the end, the left emerges with their right to speak triumphantly undiminished while the right skulks away muttering.


Seen that movie already? So have we all. Ad nauseam.


But sometimes, even these boring ideological struggles are worth looking into. And the more you think seriously about the underlying issues, the less comfortable you may be with the stereotypical outcome.


In one recent case, the role of the right was played by the Zionist Organization of America, and its outspoken and controversial leader Morton Klein.


Klein who has often been portrayed by rival groups and press critics as something of a bully and an enforcer of a pro-Israel standard that few support, was the perfect antagonist for the left-wing Union of Progressive Zionists as they battled recently over whether or not the UPZ should be allowed to remain part of something called the Israel on Campus Coalition.


The coalition is a group of 31 groups that says it seeks to advance a pro-Israel agenda on American college campuses, and is funded by Hillel and the Shusterman Foundation. Founded in 2002, its purpose was to make it possible for students to hear Israel's side of the story at a time when anti-Zionist propaganda was drowning out the truth about the Palestinians' terrorism and rejection of peace.


The controversy arose when the UPZ chose to sponsor a speaking tour of Israeli critics of their country's policy in the territories on the coalition's dime. Their program, titled "Breaking the Silence," repeats a view that is often heard on the extreme left of the Israeli political spectrum, and speaks of the nation's measures of self-defense as illegitimate and illegal. The speakers are Israeli veterans who believe that the Israel Defense Force counterterrorism mission is, as practiced, dehumanizing and immoral.


And even though it seems to complement the well-publicized views of anti-Israel groups, there shouldn't be any question of their right to be heard — both at home and in this country — wherever people wish to listen to their message.

THE DOG IN THE MANGER
But when Klein, of all people, spoke up as their principle accuser when he petitioned the coalition's governing board to expel the UPZ for promoting an anti-Israel agenda, the reaction from other groups was eminently predictable. A committee that deliberated on the subject unanimously refused last week to contemplate banning the leftists. Nor was it prepared to revisit the coalition's membership criteria or mission statement.


It's no surprise that they wouldn't listen to Klein, who has been playing the proverbial dog in the Jewish organizational manger since the signing of the Oslo peace accords. The fact that he was right aabout that issue hasn't improved his popularity. In recent years, ZOA's highly critical attitude toward the Israeli governments led by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert has effectively marginalized it again. As such, the chances that most other groups would join ZOA to do something that could be labeled as censorship were slim and none.


But in this case, was he really in the wrong?


The premise of the UPZ and its supporters is that their goal is to educate students about the diversity of Israeli opinion. In an environment in which anti-Zionism is the norm, they reason that putting forward a leftist critique of Israel from an Israeli frame of reference is the best way to reinforce support for it.


They say that getting students to support Israel's extreme left-wingers, who criticize the country from within, is far preferable to having them become activists on behalf of groups that oppose its existence in principle.


Since the playing field of academia is so skewed, seen this way, banning sponsorship of "Breaking the Silence" would be hamstringing the pro-Israel community's best way of getting through to young people who will not listen to anything that doesn't originate on the left.


But perhaps the question we should also be asking is: What exactly is the difference between a Jewish group bringing in Israeli extremists who bash Israel, and an Arab group bringing in a Palestinian to do the same thing?


And if Jewish-Arab dialogue on campus, or anywhere else, is defined as Jews and Arabs agreeing that Israel is awful, then aren't such exchanges doing more mischief than good?


Moreover, is it appropriate for a coalition that was created expressly for promoting Israel's defense at a time when the press and campus radicals were undermining it with disinformation and out-of-context stories, to pay to bring in speakers who, echo the same distortions the group was founded to oppose?


It is all well and good for Klein's critics to say the right shouldn't be allowed to decide who is pro-Israel enough to speak. But where are supporters of Israel, no matter where they stand on the political spectrum, prepared to draw the line? If groups that are partners in this coalition, like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, are okay with being effectively made co-sponsors of presentations that defame Israel, how can they complain when others do the same thing?


And if they agree there is a campaign to delegitimize Zionism that has seemingly won over mainstream opinion in Western Europe and established a foothold in this country principally on college campuses, how can they be unwilling to take a stand against those who question the Jewish state's right of self-defense, even if they are Israelis?

WHAT TAKES GUTS?
This is not a question of it being okay to say something in Tel Aviv, but not okay to say it at a place like the University of Pennsylvania. Rather, it's matter of those who purport to represent the community being willing to say their purpose is to bring the truth about the war against Israel, and not to sponsor those — however sincere they might be — who fan the flames of anti-Zionist propaganda.


Perhaps things would have gone differently if a group or a leader less controversial than ZOA and the pugnacious Klein were to voice these concerns. But that is the fault of the other groups, not Klein. The questions he raised deserve more of an answer than he received.


These days, Israel-bashing in academia requires no courage, even if it's done by Jews who say they love Israel. What takes guts is to walk onto a campus and say that Israel is in the right.


Rather than acquiescing to a frame of reference that sees Jewish rights as inherently illegitimate and Israeli self-defense as morally indistinguishable from terrorism, what campus coalitions ought to be doing is finding the courage to challenge this notion altogether.


And if it can't agree to do that, then frankly, who needs it?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

Jonathan Tobin Archives




© 2005, Jonathan Tobin