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Israel Lobby Funds, Exploits Minorities to Shill for Israel

Over the past few days, two New York Jewish museums made some serious blunders in disinviting two different academic speakers from making presentations.  A few days ago, Prof. Judith Butler’s invitation to speak at a conference about Franz Kafka was rescinded after the Algemeiner and other Islamophobic Jewish groups began a BDS campaign to expel her from the premises.  It didn’t matter that Butler is a leading expert on Kafka in the academic world or that she wasn’t speaking at all about Israel.  The fact that Butler is a supporter of BDS and an anti-Zionist was enough to earn her the wrath of the Jewish far-right.

Then something even worse happened: the Museum of Jewish Heritage had invited John Judis, longtime editor at the New Republic who wrote the groundbreaking book about Harry Truman and the founding of Israel called Genesis, to speak about the subject of his book.  The work has received glowing reviews in both progressive and centrist publications which credit him with opening new avenues in understanding Pres. Truman’s eventual support for the creation of Israel.  This topic too was deemed too sensitive.  He too was disinvited.  The Jewish community can’t handle the least whisper of dissidence, even from those at its heart.

But the Museum didn’t even have ideological impurity as a reason for BDSing Judis.  He’s written for decades for the center-right New Republic.  He’s hardly taken any positions on the Israeli-Arab conflict.  He opposes BDS and is a liberal Zionist.  But apparently, just as Peter Beinart, a former New Republic colleague, stirred up a hornet’s nest by breaking from the Israel Lobby consensus, so Judis has betrayed the tribe and deserved excommunication.  This presumably will help sales of the book and bring thousands of new readers to it and the ideas it espouses.  Entirely counter-productive to the pro-Israel enterprise, one would think.

It’s all part of what I’ve called the closing of the American Jewish mind (to borrow a phrase from the neocon academic, Allan Bloom).  American Jewry is incresingly closing the wagons.  The circle of acceptable discourse grows narrower and narrower.  Pretty soon you’ll have Abe Foxman, David Harris and Howard Kohr sitting around a campfire singing the Likud’s golden oldie Hebrew folk songs.

Yesterday, I noted that a young African-American Hagee-style Christian Zionist, Chloe Valdary, took up the cudgels against Butler on Israel’s behalf in the pages of the Seth Klarfeld-funded Times of Israel (TOI).  There she began by calling this distinguished academic and Jewish activist a “vile anti-Semite.”  Apparently, Valdary isn’t aware that given our history, Jews are a bit sensitive about non-Jews determining for us who’s a good or bad Jew.  I as a Jew much prefer to make those decisions myself, rather than be spoonfed by someone with only the faintest awareness, let alone experience of real Jew-killing anti-Semitism.

There is also an elemental sense of identity-confusion in Valdary’s writing about Israel and Jews.  Though she’s a devout Christian evangelical, she keeps referring to herself in connection with Jews as “us.”  Glowing articles about her written by other pro-Israel authors (also in TOI) note that she observes some Jewish laws, holidays and rituals.  This confusion perfectly illustrates the growing conflation of Israeli ultra-nationalism with Christian Zionism.  Settlerism has so few friends that the Israeli right embraces them wherever it can find them; whether from the heart of a Christian messianic movement that sees Jews as useful props to bring the Second Coming; or from neo-Nazi movements which have been welcomed with open arms by Israeli far-right MKs into the halls of the Knesset.

Valdary began her campus pro-Israel activism by founding a group called Allies of Israel.  It is funded by CAMERA on Campus, the college affiliate of the Islamophobic Israel Lobby group.  Though its Facebook page seems to recognize that there is such a thing as “legitimate critique of Israeli policies,” you won’t find any acknowledgement of this in any public statement she’s made.  As far as she’s concerned, all criticism of Israel is “of the Devil.”

Valdary works for the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, which was founded by Dumisani Washington, a Christian Zionist preacher with a Stockton congregation.  His biography tips the hat to John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) as the inspiration for his pro-Israel efforts.  He credits the group with encouraging his “evangelical” hasbara efforts on Israel’s behalf among Black college students, which is presumably how he met Valdary.

Among other things, Valdary conflates Butler’s views with Nazism.  She begins by claiming that Butler has called Hamas “progressive.”  In fact, Butler said that Hamas’ mission as a social movement was progressive.  It has an extensive network of social services within Gaza that help virtually all its citizens in one way or another.  She has never endorsed the group’s military wing nor its past terror activities.  In fact, this is her real view of Hamas:

…”It has always seemed absurd to me that my comments were taken to mean that I support or endorse Hamas and Hezbollah! I have never taken a stand on either organization.”

Once Valdary’s “established” that Butler views Hamas as progressive, she can proceed to claim that Butler views Hitler as progressive as well.  Another lie.

She does so using this incredibly bizarre analogy which criticizes the Jewish Museum’s original defense of Butler’s appearance (before it disinvited her):

The museum claimed that her politics were “not a factor” but that “debates about her politics have become a distraction.” By that standard, a Jewish culinary center should be perfectly comfortable with inviting a pseudo-intellectual who viewed Hitler as “progressive” but who was simultaneously skilled in whipping up various flavors of ice cream. His politics would not matter.

She does this as well in the YouTube video I’ve featured above.  There she juxtaposes ominous words about the anti-Semitic nature of the BDS movement with shots of Nazi boycotts of German Jews.  The clear message is that the success of BDS would lead to another Holocaust.  It shouldn’t surprise you that the video was produced and hosted by an Islamophobic group founded by Charles Jacobs.  He also founded the David Project, which led a decade-long acrimonious campaign against the Roxbury mosque.

Other elements of Valdary’s biography also shouldn’t surprise us.  She’s been willingly exploited by a number of far-right Israel lobby groups for their own political purposes.  Her first trip to Israel was funded by Aipac, which regularly takes American minority campus leaders on Israel junkets where they read from the pro-Israel hymn book.  Her second trip was funded by CAMERA on Campus as well.

Valdary is the Ayan Hirsi Ali of the American Jewish right.  She’s a convenient foil that the Israel Lobby can use to rebut the raging popularity of BDS and other human rights activism among minority students on U.S. college campuses.  She wraps herself in the mantle of Old School civil rights giants like Martin Luther King, who endorsed Israel before the 1967 war as a beacon of democracy.  Certainly, if King were alive today he wouldn’t be caught dead holding the views he held fifty years ago.  But these hoary old sentiments are convenient for Valdary to hang her pro-Israel hat on.

For this reason, in a tweet last night I wrote that Valdary was a “Negro” who was acting like an “Uncle Tom” in betraying progressive values regarding Israel.  The entire far-right Twittersphere erupted in fireworks of righteous indignation.  Pro-Israel tweeps who’ve never said or written a word about civil rights or social justice for American minorities were heaving with righteous indignation.  They refuse to understand that there’s nothing racist about those two terms.  On the contrary, Uncle Tom was a literary character created by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to represent African-Americans who betrayed their own through collaboration with the white master.  Similarly, “Negro” was meant to convey how much of a betrayal Valdary’s views are towards a real civil right and social justice agenda.

The progressive activist community has coined terms like greenwashing to highlight exploitation of the environment for political gain.  Pinkwashing highlights exploitation of sexual preference to promote Israel’s interests.  Chloe Valdary is part of a phenomenon that may be called “blackwashing” since she and the Lobby are exploiting race and color on Israel’s behalf.

For my trouble, hasbara tweeps labelled my parents as “Kapos in Europe” whose “family would have gladly sacrificed Jews to #nazis during holocaust for a few coins…”  The fact that this was a perfect example of Jew-hatred seemed lost on the tweep.  And I was called a “pedophile” (not for the first time).  Twitter of course, cares nothing about such abuse and filing a complaint about it is useless.

They are like wolves baying for blood or sharks who smell blood in the water.  But there’s no prey and no blood, only the rather pathetic attempts by the Israel Lobby to exploit the disempowered for their own interests.

One of those shreying “racist” was none other than StandWithUs’ token Arab gay Jew, Hen Mazzig.  He is yet another example of the Israel Lobby gladly embracing gays for the sake of taking the pro-Israel message into the heart of yet another oppressed minority community.    Lest anyone think I’m exploiting homophobic impulses, Mazzig himself used the terms above to describe himself in publicly promoting his talk hosted by my synagogue (see above link).  In fact, his boss, Rob Jacobs blamed me for “outing” Mazzig when in fact he’d already outed himself repeatedly in public settings. In fact, his SWU website bio notes that he was an “out” IDF soldier.  After I pointed that out to him he stopped threatening me with a lawsuit.

The problem isn’t that gays (or African-Americans or any minority) support Israel.  It’s that Israel Lobby groups exploit gays in order to make inroads on Israel’s behalf in the gay community.  The goal is to diminish any sympathy that such groups might have with Palestinians, another minority suffering under the injustice and oppression of Israeli Occupation.

The sad truth is that the Israel Lobby exploits race as a tool in the propaganda war for Israel.  Instead of making a geschrei about my language, they should examine the abuse of ethnicity by the Lobby and its minions.  Charles Jacobs and Seth Klarman (who is a major funder of Jacob’s Islamophobic efforts) don’t care a jot for African-American civil rights.  They care about the threat of Islam and about maintaining Jewish superiority in the Land of Israel.   They’ll use anybody in that effort, even willing accomplices like Chloe Valdary.

The truth of the matter is that Valdary doesn’t embrace Israel because of any notions of civil rights or empowering Black folk.  She embraces Israel theologically as a precursor to Jesus’ Return.  She is an ordinary run of the mill Christian evangelical Islamophobe.  She sees Muslims as the enemy of Christianity, as Nazis,  and likely future Jew-killers.  She is an ally of Israel because the enemy of her enemy is her friend.  It’s really that simple.  Everything else is window-dressing.

There is very little difference between Chloe Valdary and Pam Geller.  Valdary’s ideas are a tad more sophisticated, but not much more than that.  Yet Geller has been denounced with Good Housekeeping anti-Semitism seals of approval from the ADL and Southern Poverty Law Center. Valdary is insulated from such criticism because she has her own Israel Lobby seal of approval.

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{ 21 comments… add one }

  • Oui February 23, 2014, 6:05 AM

    Awfully shallow presentation in video by Chloé Valdary, wasteful propaganda especially checking out the series of YouTube videos by apeacet. Single denominator is partner in Islamophobia of America.

    Americans for Peace and Tolerance is headed by Dr. Charles Jacobs, named by the Forward as one of America’s top 50 Jewish leaders. Jacobs has founded and led several highly successful organizations characterized by groundbreaking ideas and initiatives. In 1989, Jacobs co-founded the Boston branch of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

    In 1993, together with Muslim and Christian Africans, Jacobs founded the American Anti-Slavery Group, dedicated to bringing international attention to the enslavement of black Africans in Sudan. For his efforts, Jacobs was presented with the Boston Freedom Award by Coretta Scott King and the Mayor of Boston.

    In 2002, in response to the sudden emergence of a new global antisemitism, he co-founded with Avi Goldwasswer, “The David Project,” which promotes a fair and honest discussion of the Middle East conflict and trains college students to advocate for Israel on American campuses.

    ‘Who lost the campuses to anti-Israel propaganda?’ by Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser

  • LAURIE Null February 23, 2014, 11:16 AM

    Examining someone’s heart and determining their motives, is a very dangerous profession, Mr. Silverstein. May God, the only One that has the ability and authority to do this, grant YOU a heart of repentance.

  • Camille February 23, 2014, 1:39 PM

    There is very little difference between Chloe Valdary and Pam Geller. Valdary’s ideas are a tad more sophisticated, but not much more than that. Yet Geller has been denounced with Good Housekeeping anti-Semitism seals of approval from the ADL and Southern Poverty Law Center. Valdary is insulated from such criticism because she has her own Israel Lobby seal of approval.
    Did you mean to say Islamophoby was a common link between Geller and Valdary rather? otherwise I do not understand.

    • Richard Silverstein February 23, 2014, 2:54 PM

      Yes of course that’s what I meant. Perhaps you’re not familiar with Geller’s brand of Islamophobia.

      • Camille February 25, 2014, 6:07 PM

        yes, very familiar. alas familiar with her posters on public transportation in major population centres in USA. I find she is not enough outed.

        • Richard Silverstein February 26, 2014, 1:32 AM

          @ Camille: I’ve written about Geller pretty extensively as have sites like Loonwatch.

  • David K from Philly February 23, 2014, 8:38 PM

    Dear Mr. Silverstein,

    I’ve read your blog and can’t say that I agree with most of it. I’d love to debate with you our differences of opinion. But, we both know that would be fruitless endeavor.

    I suspect your politics are long standing and deeply embedded within your personally. And, I understand that it may seem distressing that people would see your views – and the views of those who support you – as abhorrent. Despite that, we are all mostly sane people here and it would be unwise for either side to completely reject the other’s perspective as detached from reality.

    I invite you to try and be willing to see the perspective of those who oppose you. I won’t make a veiled attempt to get you to “switch sides” on the issues of Israel and Judaism. Indeed, there will be no veil and that is exactly what I hope to do. I understand that it can be difficult rejecting a deeply rooted ideology – not to mention a deeply rooted social circle complete with intimate relationships and friends. But, it is the measure of a man to face one’s fears and there are certainly welcoming arms on the other side of that seeming abyss.

    For the record, I am Jewish. My grandparents are/were Jewish. My grandfather lost six brothers in the Shoah. My mother’s family is from Israel and I am American. Yes, I am staunchly pro-Israel.

    That said, I’d happily hold your hand and sponsor you should you choose to change your beliefs and views and begin earning trust and building relationships among positive pro-Zionist Jews like myself.

    Should you choose to make that transition, feel free to contact me here and, once we’ve established a sincere reciprocal relationship, we can communicate more directly.

    Best Regards,
    David K from Philly

    • Richard Silverstein February 25, 2014, 1:53 AM

      @ David K from Philly: Yours is an offer I CAN refuse. I don’t really understand why people presume that they can invite themselves into someone’s life in order to convert them to their own particular ideology. When or where did I ever give the impression that I needed fixing or englightening??

      I don’t need to “switch sides” concerning Israel or Judaism. I know which side I’m on and am quite content with it.

      • David K from Philly February 25, 2014, 9:52 AM

        Hi Richard,

        Thanks for the reply. It’s no so much an offer as it is a simply a welcome mat. A more passive thing. Of course, you’re free to accept or reject it and I certainly wouldn’t try to deny you that right.

        I would call it a “conversion”. Indeed, as a Jew myself, the notion of being “converted” to anything isn’t particularly appealing given the historical context of such things. Also, I don’t think we fundamentally believe in different things. I think we both want what’s best of Jews and the world. Tikkun olam, indeed.

        I don’t expect anyone to change who they fundamentally are. I’m not even sure that’s possible. But, I know most people are certainly capable of changing directions.

        As you know, tikkun olam translates as “repair the world” or “mend the world”. Well… we are both part of that world and certainly not precluded from being “repaired” or “mended”. I can tell you I’ve personally worked hard at such thing. It’s an ongoing process and it is very difficult.

        I supposed I should say why I’m doing this. The reason is simple: I love other Jews. I do. It sounds mushy but it’s true. And I love other Jews unconditionally. Cynicism be damned.

        That said, I’m very personally concerned about the state of Judaism and Jews in the world today. I’m sure you won’t disagree that we’re very fractured right now. There are many Jewish factions with claims to superior morality and righteousness. Most claim superior politics, too.

        I’m not a Republican (and, I’m sure you’re not, as well), but we can both look at the Republican party in the U.S. and see how fractured they are. It’s a big part of what’s destroying their party. That’s a contemporary example of what I’m talking about. But, there are plenty of historical example of divisions leading to destruction.

        As Jews, we need to be better than that. We need to be united. There’s only roughly ~16 million of us in the world and I don’t believe a sustained division can last. Something’s gotta give.

        In any case, I hope you take the time to read and reflect on what I’ve written. I know you’re a smart, sane and accomplished man. I am, as well.

        Best,
        David K from Philly

        • Richard Silverstein February 25, 2014, 12:18 PM

          Why do we need to be “united?” Unity glossses over real differences. If we are united it is at the expense of dissent and non-conformity, which is the lifeblood of any community. And no, I don’t need “converting” to yours or any other religion or ideology.

          You are welcome to read & contribute as a commenter. But do drop the Jewish evangelism. It’s really off-putting.

          • David K from Philly February 25, 2014, 2:13 PM

            Hi Richard,

            Unity doesn’t mean homogeneity nor does it preclude dissent. I’m not sure if you’re married/partnered or not. But, think of it this way: when a couple forms an intimate bond – whether through marriage or partnership – they are united. But, are they the same person? Do they share the same DNA? Of course not. They usually have different – even conflicting – goals. But, they find a way to make it work because they’re interested promoting a healthy, larger relationship.

            When conflict arises in that relationship, is there dissent? Sometimes, yes, there is. Sometimes there’s anger and hurt feelings. Sometimes the two even need time apart. But, if they are both fully committed to making the relationship work, they find a way to move past those differences and become better people. They compromise. They become aware of each other’s boundaries. They promise to not cross those boundaries and they keep that promise as best they can.

            I don’t know what the lifeblood of a community is, exactly … except, perhaps, the people within it.

            I’m glad you don’t need converting but that’s really not what I’m asking. Nor am I evangelizing. It would be impossible for me to do either because we are both part of the same religion and share many of the same ideologies. We both celebrate the same holidays, memorialize our loved ones in the same way, appreciate similar cultural art and aesthetics, are proud of our shared heritage, and perhaps even enjoy many of the same unique culinary delicacies. I have lox and bagels each Sunday morning ;) And you’re welcome to come over sometime.

            Put simply, I can’t convert or evangelize you – we already believe the same things. We just choose to express it somewhat differently.

            If it seems off-putting, I don’t intend it to be. I believe in a positive pro-Jewish and pro-Israel perspective. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to fight. Not anymore. We both know it’s fruitless and pointless. It only serves to make us feel better about ourselves. And, while the people, places and things change, the arguments on all sides are always remain the same. We’ve both heard them all before… ad nauseum.

            So, that’s what I do. Faced with constant negativity, hostility and ossified ideologies… I remain steadfast yet flexible with a positive perspective, direction and attitude. A harbor in the tempest, if you will.

            You are skeptical. You’re probably even cynical. I’m sure those who know you – especially those who share your perspective – don’t think so. I’m sure you have people who love you and believe you’re a good person – despite what those on the other “side” says.

            But, think about it for a moment. Seriously. What if…? What if the goals we both share could be accomplished in a positive, agreeable way?

            We’re both very smart people with the credentials to boot. We could be the people who come out of nowhere and make the seemingly impossible – possible.

            In this world of polemic hate and rigid dichotomies … we could do what’s never been tried before. Promote love and positive momentum… even among those who completely disagree.

            Best,
            David K from Philly

  • Thomas February 24, 2014, 10:23 AM

    You’r writing is soo smart its easily to be misunderstood. So I was glad I read the whole thing before concluding what was the message.

    My personal belief is that the critisism I have against Israel is the politics of the growth into Palestinian territory. It has nothing to do with the religions people have, only human rights. Not that I can really see a great solution as there is so much hatred in the middle east towards the Jewish people.

    Ive been wondering why the republicans has been “pro-Israel” when the message clearly has been christian oriented and not very represented by jewish religion, which is clearly just making everyhting messy.

  • Brian Cohen February 24, 2014, 10:50 AM

    “Blackwashing”?

    So in your book any negro who supports Israel is a licker of white Jew-boots. In fact, anybody who supports Israel is a zio-lackey, right? Meaning 70% of Americans who support Israel are all zio-washed, right?

    Man, you really stretch yourself thin.

    • Deïr Yassin February 24, 2014, 12:28 PM

      Brian Cohen, the racist settler who squats both Palestinian land and Ma’an News’ comment section is still using the word ‘Negro’ : the Deep South in the West Bank 50 years later…

  • strangefriend February 24, 2014, 3:10 PM

    A good counter to Ms. Valdary’s video is David Sheen’s videos about Israel trying to deport African refugees http://www.youtube.com/user/bluepilgrimage/videos . He is currently touring the US http://www.davidsheen.com/tour/.
    Actually, in the novel, Uncle Tom was whipped to death while protecting two escaping slaves. It was the stageplays, which played very loose with the story that made “Uncle Tom” another word for sellout.

    • Richard Silverstein February 24, 2014, 8:45 PM

      @ strangefriend: Thanks for correcting my misimpression of the Uncle Tom character and reminding us of someone who truly champions Africans.

    • Shoshana February 24, 2014, 9:05 PM

      African ‘refugees’. Really? How do Eritreans and Sudanese ‘asylum seekers’ fall under the rubric of ‘refugees’?
      I’m dying to know.

      • Richard Silverstein February 25, 2014, 1:45 AM

        @ Shoshana: We’ve been over that ground before here. Review my African refugee posts & the comment threads & you’ll find the discussions related to it & perhaps (though it’s doubtful) be educated.

      • strangefriend February 25, 2014, 9:07 AM

        Under US Law, if someone can prove they would be arrested, thrown in prison, tortured or killed, they qualify for refugee status http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum

        • Richard Silverstein February 25, 2014, 4:54 PM

          @ strangefriend: And indeed many of the deportees have been detained in their Muslim homelands out of suspicion of their traveling to Israel.

  • ToivoS February 24, 2014, 7:11 PM

    OT, but curious to hear Richard’s take on the new book by Rafael Epstein on Zygier prisoner x story.

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