I’m terribly sorry to hear about the four years of tsouris UCLA Hillel Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller has been made to suffer by pro-Israel provocateur, Rachel Neuwirth. Several years ago, during a campus talk by Alan Dershowitz he approached some Muslim demonstrators and invited them to come hear Palestinian scholar Sari Nusseibeh speak at a later date. Neuwirth must’ve felt provoked by Seidler-Feller’s “consorting with the enemy” so she sidled over and taunted him as a “kapo.”
What happened next depends on who you believe. According to Seidler Feller, he became enraged and got into an argument with Neuwirth. According to the latter, he screamed, punched and kicked her (and she only called him a kapo AFTER the physical attack).
When I was a graduate student at UCLA, Chaim was the Hillel rabbi and I worked closely with him on various projects including the weekly Westwood Minyan. He was and is a deeply passionate man with a good heart. He has mentored thousands of Jewish college students like me in his 30 years of service. His views on the Israel-Palestine conflict are clearly dovish and anathema to Neuwirth. I never in all the time I knew him saw him get angry at anyone. But then again no one ever called him a kapo in my presence.
I don’t countenance physical violence in any form or for any reason. If Seidler-Feller lost control of himself and did any of the things Neuwirth claims, I do not countenance it. But do any of us know how we would truly react if someone pushed one of our most vulnerable buttons? You’d like to think that you would keep your head while all around you lose theirs. But can you be sure?
As for Neuwirth. She has a coterie of Jew-baiters she hangs out with. She’s somehow got hold of the mailing list for an Israeli academic listserv called Alef and sends harassing, abusive e-mails to all the members. After telling her once to “take a hike,” and reporting her e mails to SBCGlobal’s abuse department, I now have them automatically deep-sixed by my spam filter. But before I did that, I kept these two juicy little numbers by her meant to shame two of the list’s members:
“Listen, if you still send things to the Alef list, could you ask them if D. (a regular anti-Semite on the list) is really a transgendered neo-nazi, and whether she had a female circumcision to show her solidarity with Muslim women?”
Or this semi-coherent ramble:
Are you proud of alef member, Mr. T., record? Check this law-life record in the attached
alef = Arafatistan Lovers Encouraging Fanaticism/Nazism.
Calling Seidler-Feller a “kapo” and Alef members “Nazis”–do I detect a theme? She and her minions regularly send out party favors like this to those Jews they wish to bait as she did Seidler-Feller. Now tell me, do you believe that such a despicable human being wouldn’t have provoked Chaim Seidler-Feller by first calling him a kapo?
Given the passages you’ve just read, can this woman viewed as a reliable informant about anything:
Neuwirth told The Journal that she is “neither left nor right” when it comes to Israel, she is just concerned with “reality.”
A member of the Alef list (a respected academic who I’ve known personally) just wrote to me reporting that Neuwirth used to telephone his home “regularly” and “curse” him and tell his wife that she should leave him. The calls were so incessant that he no longer picks up the phone when she calls.
It’s interesting that the pro-Israel right has tarred and feathered Chaim as an abuser. But what about the abuse that she not only heaped on him, but heaps on countless other Jews whom she hounds regularly?
It’s quite a racket she’s got going. She has nothing to lose. She’s a “freelance journalist” (writing for such august publications as Frontpagemagazine) and “real estate broker.” Can’t get fired from those jobs. She provokes him with an obscene taunt. He falls for it. But unlike her, Seidler Feller has something to lose. He loses his temper. And almost loses his career along with his reputation. Naturally, she has him by the shorthairs and squeezes him for everything he’s worth. She gets an abject apology which fully conforms to the “facts” as she sees them. She even gets what she proudly notes as:
a “substantial amount of money” in restitution, to be paid by Seidler-Feller and Hillel.
The Forward’s story about the affair notes another perspective than the one Seidler-Feller has been forced to affirm in his apology:
Seidler-Feller has had many defenders in the Los Angeles area, most of whom have claimed that Neuwirth and her allies were using the incident to oust Seidler-Feller as retribution for his dovish views on Middle Eastern politics. Lawyers for Seidler-Feller initially said he was provoked to assault Neuwirth after she called him a kapo.
The Jewish Journal also quotes an eyewitness who disputes Neuwirth’s claim of physical abuse:
“He [Jeffrey Levine] testified that the rabbi was talking to one of the protesters outside of Royce Hall, that Ms. Neuwirth interrupted and was shouting at the rabbi, that Ms. Neuwirth stuck her fingers directly in the rabbi’s face, and the rabbi removed those fingers, which appeared to be attacking him, and calmly walked away,” Etra said.
Levine did not see Seidler-Feller kick, hit or grab Neuwirth, Etra said. As to the allegations that the rabbi lost his temper, “That did not happen,” Etra said.
Lil Mike’s blog quotes Yigal Arens (that’s Moshe’s son, but with decidedly more progressive views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than his father) on Neuwirth:
“Neuwirth…has a compulsive obsession with those whose position on Israel and Israeli policies she disputes. She has made it her life’s mission to hound such people and groups and has by now become a constant disruptive presence at all meetings, demonstrations, etc., that support Palestinian rights in Los Angeles. She is not to be reasoned with.”
I knew Yigal back in the 1980s when we were both grad students and involved with the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement.
You’ll find another creepy L.A. Jewish character pop out of the woodwork in this incident who you’ve read about here. Remember Allyson Rowen Taylor, the former AJCongress assistant director who wrote an e mail to a Jewish AFSC staffer asking why he supported the murder of Jews? Yup, she turns up in this story too. Is it any wonder?
I’m pleased to say that when The Forward confronted Rowen Taylor about the behavior I described she fessed up and said she’d been a bad girl. But she’d been sorely provoked, you see, because it pained her that Adam Horowitz was such a bad Jew.
Anyway, Rowen Taylor was apparently there supporting her comrade in arms, Neuwirth (two peas in a pod?). Here’s her story:
Allyson Rowen Taylor, who is a regular in Los Angeles pro-Israel circles, told the Forward that, as she was walking out of the event with Rowen Taylor, Seidler-Feller “lunged at me. He was literally spitting in my face.”
…[She] now works for Stand With Us, a pro-Israel campus organization in the area. She said that, after all that has happened, “it was hard for me to sit at a table with him and discuss campus issues.”
I don’t think there’s any chance that Seidler-Feller would sit down at a table with her either. And if he didn’t, I’d understand completely. How could you sit down with a fellow Jew who you know in your heart thinks your a kapo and murderer of your fellow Jews?
As Neuwirth was once a board member of the very same AJCongress that Rowen Taylor worked for, it seems they were one big happy Jew-baiting family. I just wonder how the Congress could’ve ever countenanced a board member who would call a fellow Jew a kapo.
UPDATE: In an earlier version of this post I reported that Neuwirth was a current AJCongress board member. On calling Gary Ratner, regional director, he informed me that she is no longer a board member. He is aware that she lists herself as a current board member at every site where she publishes her “analysis.” He has asked her “countless” times to correct this information. She doesn’t seem to mind “hitching a ride” at the expense of the reputation of the AJCongress. Nor does she mind playing fast and loose with the facts when it suits her.
I have spoken to you a few times, you are a really nice person.
Allyson Taylor is also a very nice person, and I met her, and read her contributions on a forum.
I have told you and her that defending the old school Judaism and Zionism has become a lost battle.
A good house cleaning is needed.
When our house is clean meaning Enlightened, free of classical myths, we have to go out, and gently pressure Muslims and Christians to join our Enlightened movement for a little peace utopia.
Richard Silverstein says
She may take in stray kittens & help old ladies cross the street for all I care. But anyone who tells a fellow Jew that they’re for murdering other Jews is ipso facto, not a nice person in my book.
allyson rowen taylor says
While I thought the article was a bit tongue in cheeck and over the top, my only objecton is being called “creepy”. I gues my love for the Jewish People, our indiginous homeland and the right for self determination makes me “creepy”. So, in order to not be creepy I should stand by while lies of blood libel, and money mongers, and all the other things like water rights, and mediacal care and open air prisons just happened becasue Jews are “creepy”. Yes, I help old ladies cross the street, I am allergic to stray kitties, but I put my beloved son on the fronlines to support the right of Jews to live without fear from suicide murderers. I support democracy, and unless you can show me an Arab country that is on par with Israel in terms of womens right, civil rights, legal rights, free speech, gay and lesbian rights, and the right to convert with out a fatwa of death, I will then take you seriously. But now, I enjoy your site like reading “the Onion” or even better “MAD” magazine.
Keep up the good work, this business of Jews hating Jews is exhausting, and your blog is a welcome relief from CAIR, MPAC, JPLO, and JATO, KKK, White Aryan Movement, and the antics of Maher Hathout and Salam al Marayati. I am sure your buddies like EWmman Rosenthal, JOel Benin, Mark LeVine, and Linda TUback support your blog, good, you can have them.
Treason Watch says
Dickie SIlverman is just one more clueless leftist idiot who hates Israel and looks forward to a new Shoah of Jews.
Richard Silverstein says
I am surprised you were able to write a comment here without pulling a “Horowitz” and accusing me of supporting the murder of my fellow Jews. I commend you for that.
Your supposed “love” for the “Jewish People” does not make you creepy. But your hate for many of your fellow Jews does. You love the “Jewish People” in theory. But you do not love Jews. In fact, you hate many Jews. Any Jew who hates as many of her fellow Jews as you do does not have the right to say she “loves the Jewish People.” A Jew who truly loved her fellow Jews would, even if she disagreed with them, find a way to include those Jews she disagrees with within her love for her fellow Jews. You do not.
You support democracy in the same way George Bush or Ehud Olmert do. When the democracy suits you, you support it. When it doesn’t (Lebanon, Hamas) then you don’t. That’s not “supporting democracy.” That’s supporting what’s in your perceived interest & ignoring the rest.
And when you can argue with your fellow Jews without believing them to be pure evil then I can take you seriously.
Steffi Schamess says
To Allyson Rowen Taylor: Re: Love and hate…Like many “left-wing” Jews I know, I care deeply about Israel and want to see it continue to exist, although within its pre-1967 borders. If I did not care, I wouldn’t be reading blogs, following the news in Haaretz daily, etc. It is because I care that I am critical of the policies of its current government, (and previous ones as well) in regard to the treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and the ongoing building of settlements on the West Bank. Criticism of specific policies is not to be confused with “hate” — and certainly not to be conflated with “hatred” of all Jews. And “love” is not to be confused with jingoistic patriotism. I have no doubt that you love Israel, and you are entitled to loving it however you do, but your “love” is not the only way one can be a Jew who cares about Judaism and Israel.
Having offered what I hope is a reasoned comment, I can’t help but end with a more truthful expression of how your comments make me feel: Please, Allyson, (and others like you), spare me your black and white view of the world. I’m seventy years old and I’ve lived much too long to believe that love and hate are labels that can be applied as simplistically as you have done, or that any complicated conflict can be resolved when the parties to it are so reductionistic in their discourse. And one more thing — try to proof read your comments before posting them.
Richard Silverstein says
This must be the kind of “love of the Jewish People” that Allyson was referring to. You see, she doesn’t need to accuse me of favoring killing my fellow Jews when she can have her anonymous allies do it for her. I’d sure like to unmask Treason Watch since he or she is too chicken shit to use a real name. In case any other progressive bloggers read this pls. check your troll IP addresses and let me know if you’ve received comments from this IP and ISP: 18.104.22.168 bezeqint.net. For sure the comment originates in Israel.
UPDATE: Treason Watch must somehow have gained access to the Alef list and discovered my post there.
Gary Ratner says
I was called and asked if Rachel Neuwirth was a member of the AJCongress board. She was but is no longer and should not use any association with AJCongress in her writings. However, this attack on her is completely unwarranted and wrong. Please note that she won a lawsuit against Rabbi Seidler Feller and he has made a public apology for attacking her and paid her a substantial amount of money for injuries caused by the attack.
How can the writer of this article accuse her of anything but being a victim of a “Rabbi” who had to undergo anger management. It is Seider-Feller that should and has fessed up to his hostility to fellow Jews. Whatever Rachel’s views are she is entitled to and if one believes in freedom of expression, I dont understand how one can attack her.
As for Allyson Rowen Taylor, she is a dedicated fighter and advocate for Israel and the Jewish people. Maybe in the heat of an argument she may have said some words she regrets, but that does not take away from all the good she has done. She did not physically attack any person. Also, she has a son who put his life on the line by serving in the IDF and can personally attest from his accounts as to the real reality in Judea and Samaria. How many of those who made comments against her say that they had children serving in the IDF??
I personally have tried to work with Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller asking him to co-sponsor some speakers in spite of our differences, but he did not even have the courtesy of a response. So who is trying to work together on behalf of the Jewish people. Not the Rabbi.
His most recent comments about the movie “Obsession” in the New York times on Feb 26th are shocking in their naivete.
THE JEWISH TRASH: RICHARD SEILVERSTEIN says
IT SEEM RICHARD SILVERSTEIN IS BORED. HIS ARTICLE REFLECTS SQUARELY ON HIS LOST AND SLIMY MINDSET.
IN FACT, THE JEW ‘BAITER’ AS DESCRIBED IN DICK SILVERSTEIN’S EM SOUR GRAPED AND DISTORTED ARTICLE ABOVE IS A REFLECTION THAT APPLIES TO HIM AND HIS ILK. ALL ADJECTIVES ARE PERFECTLY APPLICABLE TO SILVERSTEIN’S MIND SET.
THIS CAN ONLY COME OUT OF A SICK MIND SUCH AS RICHARD SILVERSTEIN POSSES.– TRULY ROTTEN.
THIS “RABBI’, DICKIE AND STEFFI SCHAMESS ARE SHAMELESS AND MADE OUT OF THE SAME CLOTH, SHEMATES, in Yiddish, dirty rags!
DICKIE AND STEFFI, TAKE A SHOWER, YOU STINK!
Richard Silverstein says
Gary, that was me you spoke to yesterday. I was trying to be so careful not to impugn the AJCongress (nor you as regional director) along with Neuwirth herself. And now you’ve almost made me regret my conservatism. You are wrong. She did not “win a lawsuit” against him. The suit never went to trial. There was a settlement that undoubtedly Seidler Feller was pressured into agreeing to in order to regain his career and whatever was left of his tattered reputation after Neuwirth savaged it so unjustly.
This is precisely the problem both with Neuwirth and those like this AJCongress official who only aid & abet her strange personality. Of course she is a victim. Just like the Jewish people and Israel are victims. Always the victim. Always aggrieved. Always beset upon on all sides by aggressors.
Gimme a break. She is no more a victim than I am. She provoked the altercation she had with Seidler Feller just as she goads Jewish peace activists here in the States and Israel. The evidence is there for you to see in plain sight yet you continue to defend this bully and abuser (yes, I deliberately use these terms since you and she have done such a “good” job of making the same outrageous accusation against Seidler Feller).
Excuse me, if he was hostile he was hostile to someone who accused him of being a “kapo” (& Neuwirth herself freely admits she taunted him with this epithet), that is someone who helped murder his fellow Jews during the Holocaust. If you were halfway intellectually honest you’d admit that you’d react the same way if the shoe was on the other foot & you were tarnished with the same abuse.
It seems that the tone you’ve adopted here is entirely different than the phone conversation we had yesterday in which you told me that you and the AJCongress were glad to be rid of Neuwirth. That you told her a “million times” to remove the reference to being a board member of the AJCongress from the multiple websites where it now appears. No outrage in your comment today on that score. What changed your opinion? Or has it changed? Yesterday, I respected you because you seemed to be distancing yourself from the outrages perpetrated by Neuwirth and Rowen Taylor. But today you embrace them once more. It makes one question your judgment as regional director of the AJCongress.
Boy, that’s different than the last statement you made to me about her in which you as much as said you found her to be a loose cannon and were happy she left your organization. You sure changed your tune in your public statements.
As for whether she is a “dedicated fighter for Israel” or a verbal bully, I’ll let my readers be the judge after they read my exposes on her outrageous behavior in my other posts about her. She is not an “advocate for Israel and the Jewish people.” She is an advocate for a narrow form of ideological nationalism that represents the far right end of the Israeli political spectrum.
Nah, she doesn’t regret anything she said to Adam Horowitz. She only “regrets” that I exposed her hate and that she was forced to eat her words when The Forward reporter “called her” on it. Besides, she like Neuwirth is a serial bully who’s spread her hate all over the internet. Just do a Google search on her name or go to her Amazon.com profile & find many more similar outrageous statements that she’s made. How can she possibly apologize for all of them?
The fact that a senior AJCongress staffer can say that someone who accuses Jimmy Carter of “being in cahoots with Islamofascism” indicate either your depraved indifference to the truth of that of your national organization if it endorses your views. Someone should ask Neil Goldstein, your national director, whether he feels that Allyson Rowen Taylor represented the best of AJCongress when she made that statement (at a time, btw, when she WAS employed by AJCongress).
There are thousands of Israelis who have served in the Occupied Territories who share an entirely different perspective on the brutal Israeli Occupation. Rowen Taylor has no monopoly on the truth merely because her son served in the IDF.
If we follow your logic then the only people who can criticize the U.S. war in Iraq are those whose children have served there. How many people consider this a valid argument?
Who were the speakers you were trying to foist upon him? I’ll bet they were of the ilk of Nona Darwish, Tawfiq Hamad and Walid Shoebat or other far-right Israeli and Arab cranks who represent little more than themselves and a thin slice of other malcontents.
Those who read the NYT article will recognize Obsession as a piece of agitprop filmmaking designed to elicit sympathy for a far-right political viewpoint on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Seidler Feller is by no means alone in his judgment of this piece of political propaganda. I’m guessing from your defense that the AJCongress must be part of the national campus campaign to distribute this film widely on college campuses. If so, for shame. You’d do better to promote West Bank Story, an Israeli American film which posits a far more positive & hopeful view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Richard Silverstein says
JEWISH TRASH is the direct descendant of people like Rachel Neuwirth and Allyson Rowen Taylor. Birds of a feather flock together.
Dick Greene says
Steffi Schamess, For me your comment was right on. Who are the haters, those who question the justice, and wisdom, of some Israeli actions, or those who accuse the questioners of hatred?
I came across your comment looking for your poetry in connection with your upcoming reading at Smith. Unfortunately I didn’t find any of your poems, but i was pleased at and want to commend you for both the voice of reason and the, justified, anger in your comment.