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.