It seems that a few west coast Jewish organizations need to keep their staff members on leashes. Otherwise, they take dumps on the steps of local Jewish peace activists who they despise. I refer to a new story at Muzzlewatch, where Cecilie Surasky reports that a Jewish friend working for American Friends Service Committee was sent harassing e mails at home by the assistant director of the American Jewish Congress’ regional office:
Our friend Adam Horowitz over at the American Friends Service Committee got quite a start yesterday when he recognized the name of…the then [AJC] West Coast assistant director…[who] sent him this message at his home email address in April:
Date: Apr 5, 2006 3:09 PM
Subject: why do you hate being a Jew, why are you in favor of murdering Jews?
…Adam, who is the very definition of a mensch, googled the email address because he was so disturbed about getting it at home, and found that it belonged to none other than Allyson Rowen Taylor of the American Jewish Congress.
First thing to ask: since when does working for AFSC qualify you as being “in favor of murdering Jews?” Only someone utterlly befuddled and deluded by ideology could even begin to think such vile thoughts.
Sharp boy, Adam. He connected her name with this report in The Forward by Rebecca Spence. She’s been covering the American Jewish Congress’ so-called resignation from a campus Israel coalition because one of the members, Union of Progressive Zionists, hosted a tour of Israeli refuseniks. When the AJC national director discovered that his western regional office had resigned from the coalition, the former thought better of it. He rescinded the resignation, blaming the regional office’s assistant director, none other than Allyson Rowen Taylor, who’d conveniently left the organization some time earlier, for releasing it without proper authorization. Spence then wrote another report revealing the national director had had to eat crow and apologize to Rowen Taylor and admit that she’d written the letter WITH the approval of the regional director.
Rowen Taylor was in high moral dudgeon when she wrote this:
In an e-mail letter…Taylor wrote [to AJC national leaders] that the accusation that she “signed a letter for [her director] without his knowledge is rubbish, and an outright lie.” She demanded a public apology, saying she would seek legal counsel otherwise.
Taylor said she left AJCongress when it shifted its focus toward international affairs and away from campus advocacy. She is now associate director of Stand With Us, a pro-Israel advocacy organization active on California campuses. “I want the record clear and my name clear, because we do amazing work,” she said.
Not so fast, Allyson. You may’ve been cleared of writing that letter. But you’ve just been nailed for smearing a fellow Jew. Imagine the chutzpah of sending an anonymous harassing e mail to a Mideast peace activist AT HIS HOME. Have Jewish communal organizations forgotten the concept of derech eretz (“common decency”)? Or are hijinks like this now part of the job description for being a Jewish communal worker? And to Neil Goldstein (national director) and Gary Ratner (regional director), I challenge you to repudiate such odious behavior. I say all this as someone who’s served several Jewish federations and filled other Jewish communal positions.
Based on Allyson’s sordid behavior how many of you are willing to credit her opinion that Stand With Us is anything other than a out and out pro-Israel propaganda mill? One can only wonder about the precise nature of the “amazing work” she’s doing there. And does it include smearing even more Jewish peace activists?
The communications director of a Jewish peace group also reported to me last week that a staffer for another Jewish organization (noted for its role in the Israel lobby) used an assumed name and false pretext to send an e mail querying whether the peace group would demonstrate against a local conference planned by the Jewish organization. The Jewish organization staffer pretended to be a friend of the peace group wishing to participate if anything public was planned. When the communications director told me about this shenanigan (which didn’t surpirse me in the least considering the group’s reputation for such borderline behavior) and that she suspected it was from someone affiliated with said organization, I suggested that she examine the e mail message header for identifying characterisitics. Sure enough, she was able to compare the IP address of the fake e mail with official e mails she’d received from the organization. Guess what? They matched.
While this person was a little craftier than Allyson in not using a traceable e mail address, he wasn’t smart enough. He sent the e mail from the organization’s own computers. When confronted, the Jewish organization’s director professed to be shocked and claimed he had no idea such things went on. He told the communications director that he wanted to meet with her to explain what happened. No meeting has taken place yet. Do you think one ever will?
Do I begin to see a pattern here? Do we need a Jewish organizational code of ethics telling communal workers this crap is NOT KOSHER or should we be offering leashes to all directors of local Jewish organizations??
One of my readers just pointed me to Rowen Taylor’s page of Amazon reviews. Pretty interesting to get inside the mind of such a pro-Israel intellectual (I use the term advisedly) vigilante. Just as a teaser, she writes this about Jimmy Carter and his new book:
This is a work of a man who clarly [sic] is in cahoots with the radical Islamofacists…
Leila A. says
Wow, Richard, this stuff you and Cecile are reporting is pretty icky. But it actually gives me a sort of bitter hope. These kinds of emails – anonymous no less – can only be the work of profoundly insecure people. I think these guys know that they are on the wrong side of history, and they are acting like morons in response. They know that the times and the attitudes are changing, and they don’t have any better way to try to fight that change.
Too bad that good people are getting harassed…but then again, Arab and Arab-American peace activists have been seeing this sort of thing, and much worse, for years now.
I just think that any movement using such petty measures is fundamentally impotent.
Not meaning to nitpick, but I think to stress the “at home” angle is a little old-school and difficult to comprehend — to what email address would it have been preferable for such a message to be sent? The email was vile, no question, but it was delivered to an email address on a server, not to someone’s home mailbox. Harrassing or nasty emails are no more or less welcome when sent to someone’s aol address, earthlink address, corporate address, etc. There is no such thing as a “home” email address.
Jeanne Capozzoli says
Thanks for exposing those who vilify critics of the Israeli occupation. And thank you for the news that Israeli refusniks have a Break the Silence Tour in the US. All of this is encouraging as I have long believed that the occupation is so terribly dangerous and damaging for both Israel and the US as well as the Palestinians. Yet it is very difficult for a non Jews to criticize Israel. So I can only hope that American Jews and Israelis will lead this country to a foreign policy in the Middle East which repudiates the occupation and settlements.
Richard Silverstein says
Perhaps I didn’t make myself sufficiently clear but here’s my thinking. These are two Jewish professionals. They either don’t know ea. other at all or only know ea. other in a professional context. IF they have exchanged any communication at all, it’s been through their work & via e mail sent fr. one work computer/email address to another.
That means that Rowen Taylor would’ve needed to find Horowitz’s home e mail address. It’s a much more intrusive form of communication than sending it to a work e mail. It’s an invasion of privacy and harassment.
Let me tell you a little story. I once wrote a letter to the editor of the JTNews here in Seattle criticizing AIPAC for paying mere lip service to the Road Map, while opposing many of its provisions. Before I knew it, there not only was a long letter fr. the group’s co-presidents (including someone I’d thought of as a friend) in the paper denouncing me for being deluded; but an AIPAC staffer had researched my home address and sent me a press release there. I found that offensive. I never asked to receive anything from AIPAC. I don’t want them sending me anything anywhere, but especially not at home.
The problem is that no one in that AIPAC office thought twice about pulling such shenanigans. When I worked at Jewish federations I would never send someone a personal communication in any form unless I knew them or knew they wanted to receive it. Presuming that you have the right to invade someone’s personal space in this manner is the height of chutzpah.
I don’t know about you. Maybe if you were a Jewish communal professional you wouldn’t mind another Jewish professional looking up your home e mail and sending you an unsolicited harassing e mail accusing you of wanting Jews murdered. As for me, I see it differently.
We’re gonna have to disagree on this one as well. If you work you have a work e mail. You also prob. have a personal home e mail address. You accept that the world’s gonna come to you via yr work e mail. Not so, your personal e mail. That’s usually meant for a more limited & personal audience.
I’m not talking about technical issues of which servers are used. I’m talking about where you are likely receive &/or read the communication. She had to go out of her way to secure his personal e mail. She could’ve easily, if she’d wanted, sent it to his work e mail since two professionals working on Mideast affairs would know ea. other’s work mail addresses & perhaps e mail addresses as well. But a peronal e mail address wouldn’t have been readily available to her. That denotes a measure of connivance which bothers me.
I absolutely agree with Leila that these folks are deeply insecure.
I have progressed from hating them and being a little afraid of being caught in their cross-hairs, to feeling sorry for them.
In addition to what you say, Leila, about they are recognizing they are on the wrong side of history, I think many of these people are terribly confused and hurting. I am not in any way making a justification for their behavior – toward Jews – even less am I justifying their behavior toward Palestinians – but I think the Influence peddlars, the policy wonks, the Dershowtiz’s have so perverted history, that some people lose all rationality. We criticize Israel so we must want them dead. Their whole self is tied up in Israel, they don’t know what it means to be a Jew, except to have somebody ‘persecute’ them, the next Holocaust is round the corner…It must be a terrible, pathological existence.
I do think they are getting shriller and more hysterical as they realize they are an idea whose time has gone.
Victor Vega says
Came across your blog through Ur-Shalim at Global Voices…
Just added your superb site to my blogroll in the “Amerikka and the Okkident” category…
Hope you don’t mind!