I wanted to give a final heads-up about the J Street conference and the independent blogger session we’ll be hosting on Monday, October 26th at the Grand Hyatt in DC. The latest addition to our panel is the godfather of progressive Jewish blogging, Dan Sieradski, founder of Jewschool. The current lineup is:
Phil Weiss (Mondoweiss)
Jerry Haber (Magnes Zionist)
Richard Silverstein (Tikun Olam)
Dan Sieradski (formerly of Jewschool)
Helena Cobban (Just World News)
Max Blumenthal (Daily Beast)
Laila el Haddad (Gaza Mom)
Matt Duss (Think Progress)
Joseph Dana (Ibn Ezra)
Jesse Hochheiser (Across the Border)
I wanted to make a pitch for more support to cover my expenses in attending the conference. It’s going to cost about $1,000 to go. You, my readers have responded generously to my appeals over the past weeks for funds in support of my attending the conference and in support of the Iran-Israel conference we’ll be hosting here in Seattle in December. I have raised $1,200 from readers. Total expenses for both events will exceed $6,000. So please respond as generously as you can if you believe in this critical form of blogger activism. You can make a gift via Paypal (see button above) or you can send your gift directly to me (send me an e mail and I’ll provide my mail address).
On a related subject, apparently the right-wing Jewish thug-“jounalists” like Michael Goldfarb, Noah Pollak, James Kirchick and Gabriel Schoenfeld have been parsing the J Street program with a fine tooth comb looking for anything they can use against J Street. They’ve hit a form of paydirt in settling on a cultural program offered by the Washington JCC and poet, Josh Healy. Healy was part of the cultural programming to be offered at the conference by Theater J, the drama group sponsored by the JCC (which was one of the few Jewish institutions to perform Caryl Churchill’s controversial Seven Jewish Children).
Here is Healy’s offense:
In one poem, Healey wonders whether “the chosen people” have been “chosen to recreate our own history, merely reversing the roles with the script now reading that we’re the ones writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza?”
Also, Healey talks in a video about showing solidarity with those protesting other causes, saying that for his friends, “Anne Frank is Matthew Shepard” and “Guantanamo is Auschwitz.”
J Streets brave, principled response?
“As J Street is critical of the use and abuse of Holocaust imagery and metaphors by politicians and pundits on the right, it would be inappropriate for us to feature poets at our conference whose poetry has used such imagery in the past and might also be offensive to some conference participants,” said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami.
To be candid, I don’t trust JTA to convey the context of Josh Healy’s work properly. So I’m not going to respond to the charges against Healy except to say that based on the few passages quoted here he appears to have overdramatized the correlations between present day injustice and the Holocaust. But again, my experience holds that in these types of incidents in which people who are inveterate liars and partisan ideologues attempt to smear a Jewish enemy, lots of claims are made which later turn out to have involved distortion and inaccuracies.
Ironically, J Street spoke out strongly in favor of Theater J when it came under attack for performing Seven Jewish Children. Clearly, nowadays the Jewish lobby group does not feel it has such a luxury with the Jewthugs breathing down their necks. It’s a shame.
I would encourage Healy to hold his poetry reading at the Grand Hyatt as a form of J Street Fringe Festival. Maybe J Street can’t handle this. But why not do it anyway independently of the group? Rent a room at the Hyatt and put on an impromptu poetry reading. Given the controversy, scores if not hundreds would come to hear what the fuss has been all about.
Frankly, I can’t understand why Goldfarb hasn’t levelled his sights at one of the bloggers participating in our program. There must be three words one of us has written at one time or another which could be jerked out of context and made to appear entirely more sinister than it really is. If we could only get attacked by one of these jerks we’d get attendance in the hundreds. So Michael, what are you waiting for? But seriously, I don’t want to burn bridges with J Street who, despite asking us to host our program independently of them, have allowed us to do a lunch program during the conference. And hey, who knows, maybe we’re Goldfarb’s “October Surprise” he’s holding back for Thursday’s news deadline.
H/t to Muzzlewatch.
Noah Pollak says
Hey, Richard, would you please post a link to where I or Jamie have done what you accuse us of doing? Or is this another example in your legendary fastidiousness and attention to detail? Great job, you obviously have been paying zero attention.
Richard Silverstein says
You have consistently smeared J St. in yr reporting for Commentary. That’s why I included you in that list. I don’t mind you criticizing J St. I do it myself fr. a different political angle. But what I DO mind is using smears, lies & distortions in yr attack. When I attack J St. I am specific about what I’m criticizing. I don’t grandstand or sloganeer like all of your smearmeisters do against J St.
Rachel Barenblat says
I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to the conference, but as of yesterday, I am indeed coming! I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people — maybe especially including those on this panel. 🙂 I’ll be the pregnant one in the rainbow kippah.
When/where is the blogger session happening?
Healey’s poetry on close inspection seems quite hateful and offensive – and that certainly does not help the ‘peace movement’. Be that as it may, freedom of speech is freedom of speech and everyone’s opinion should be heard, as long as it does not promote any violence.
The real purpose of ‘Jstreet” is in question. In trying to learn more about them, I sent them a letter with several questions that I sincerely hope they will attempt to answer. Here is the letter:
Comments posted on the “Jstreet.org” website on October 20, 2009
The life story of Muhammad, the founder of Islam and the author of the Koran, is nowhere to be found in the American main stream media. Jewish-Americans and Christian-Americans alike are ignorant of the facts.
How can peace be achieved with a people and a belief system that most of us do not understand? Islam is a radical belief system that forbids anyone from telling the truth about its founder.
What is the real story behind the claim that Muhammad flew in a dream on a unicorn to Jerusalem? And, perhaps more importantly, why should we take that seriously enough to sacrifice the lives of thousands of innocents? Why should world wars revolve around this issue?
Who was in Israel first? Was it the Jews or the Arabs? Is there no place for the Arabs that migrated to Palestine in the rest of the Arab world? Do the Palestinians really want peace – or are they just an excuse for Muslim pursuit of entire world domination?
Please tell us your position on this very important matter.
You got dissed by J Street who said, “they only gave you a room”
Richard Silverstein says
Poor Allyson Rowen Taylor, one the major smearmeisters of the Jewish pro-Israel right. To what do we owe this slumming honor? You must’ve missed my post about this story from last night, Allyson. Go & read it & then we can talk. J Street isn’t “dissing” me. In fact, they’re honoring us by giving us that room. I don’t want to be an official part of the J Street program since I actually don’t always agree with everything they do or say (nor do they agree with everything I do or say).
But nice try, Allyson. I hear Jimmy Carter’s coming out w. another book on Israel-Palestine for you to review at Amazon, where you last called him an “Islamofacsist.” Maybe you ought to scurry over there quick and serve yr role as the Uber Zionist thought police.
How many hours you anticipate the blog conference will last?
Richard Silverstein says
The entire conference will last 3 days. Our session will last officially till 1:30 but we’ll prob. run later.
I can’t seem to figure out when/where the blogger panel will be happening. Can anyone help me out?