Why is Stand With Us assaulting American Jews? I use the term “assault” both in its figurative and literal sense. In tactics that echo those of the Israeli right-wing advocacy group, Im Tirzu, Stand With Us members have engaged in verbal and physical confrontations with activists from Jewish Voice for Peace in San Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles and Seattle. I too have been verbally harrassed locally here in Seattle.
SWU appears to have appointed itself the watchdog of Zionist purity among the American Jewish community. It has singled out for special attention the fast-growing Jewish peace organization, Jewish Voice for Peace and attacked its activists both verbally and physically. At a San Francisco demonstration a few months ago, SWU activists on video were heard warning the JVP marchers that they would disrupt their family lives. Then a few weeks ago, at a JVP meeting in Berkeley, an Israeli-flag clad SWU leader Robin Dubner pepper-sprayed two JVP attendees in the face.
In Los Angeles, JVP is organizing a new chapter. The lead organizer, Estee Chandler, who is relatively new to Israeli-Arab peace organizing has already had an education it takes many of years to earn. An anonymous stalker left an ominous threatening flyer at her home displaying her picture, her employer, and names of child family members with the caption:
Treason & Incitement Against Jews
The above-named suspect is wanted in connection with…acts of fomenting hatred…against the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel as the lead Los Angeles area organizer for the notoriously anti-Jewish and anti-Israel…Jewish Voice for Peace.
In this…capacity, the subject proudly uses her own presumed Jewishness as a weapon against the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel while conspiring with other well known anti-Israel groups to assist in Israel’s destruction and to otherwise engender hatred and incite…violence against the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel.
Suspect has been know to…consort with known antisemites [sic] and take care of her nephew xxx and neices [sic] xxxx.
There are several Los Angeles right-wing Jews who I can think of who would engage in such despicable behavior. One who comes to mind and who has bragged in the past of her involvement in similar acts is Allyson Rowen Taylor, a former associate director of Stand With Us who describes herself as “a founding member” of that group. She and others have been known to haunt left wing circles in Los Angeles and publicly harrass Jews they see as traitors to their race and Arabs they see as fellow travelers with Muslim terrorists. I’ve written about her public outbursts several times earlier here. Once at a public screening of the film about Daniel Pearl’s widow, A Mighty Heart, at which she trashed CAIR. One of her earliest acts of online stalking involved asking Adam Horowitz provocatively, who worked then for American Friends Service Committee:
Why do you hate being a Jew, why are you in favor of murdering Jews?
Of course and to be clear, I can’t conclusively prove that Rowen Taylor is behind this threat against Estee Chandler and JVP. But the language of the flyer and the brazen provocativeness of the act are of a piece with her past behavior and those of some of her individual personal allies.
I’ve written here that a past leader of the Seattle chapter of Stand With Us, David Brumer, wrote in an e mail that I should be spanked for my views. The latest Stand With Us-related attack, came from Robert Wilkes, who describes himself as an “Advocate at Stand With Us.” The SWU website lists him as a member of its media committee. In last week’s edition of the JTNews he wrote:
Israelis have awakened with heavy hearts from their delusion. They understand the self-evident reality that they can do nothing by themselves to reach a formal peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians will not abide it short of annihilation of Israel as a Jewish state.
Those who think differently remain afflicted with the Oslo Syndrome. Many Americans do, and many of them are Jewish. They support pro-Palestinian groups and the BDS movement (boycott, divest and sanction), and seek to delegitimize Israel. They employ tropes such as “apartheid” and “Israeli-Nazi war machine” to create a smokescreen of twisted facts and history giving currency to Lenin’s adage, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Among them are Seattle blogger Richard Silverstein, Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun, Naim Ateek of Sabeel Institute, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, the International Solidarity Movement — the list goes on. They hyperbolically depict Israel as a Nazi state inflicting a Shoah on the Palestinians. Well meaning? I cannot assume otherwise. Deluded? Without doubt.
When my wife first read this, she may’ve presumed I wanted to ignore it. There is so much idiocy out there and so little time to rebut it all. But given that this was written in the community’s local Jewish media outlet I felt it was important to do so. I contacted the editor hoping and presuming he would allow me to reply. The answer wasn’t reassuring. So I contacted a federation board member, who clearly hoped she didn’t have to get involved. Then I contacted the newspaper’s board chair. He too passed the ball back to the editor. Finally, I offered a deadline for a reply and said I was willing to convene a beyt din if I didn’t have the opportunity to respond. That did the trick. My reply will be published in this week’s issue.
Needless to say, I affirm almost none of the views attributed to me above. In fact, those who read my comment rules know that I am very careful to prohibit almost all uses of Nazi-related terminology to describe Israel or its actions, by me or other commenters. That’s why Wilkes’ claims above are beyond ludicrous. Here is a portion of my reply to be published this week:
I have never written, nor do I believe Israel is a “Nazi war machine.” As a Zionist, I don’t believe in delegitimizing Israel. That’s just a slogan tossed around by extremists like him with no substance. Nor have I ever written or do I believe Israel “inflicted a Shoah on the Palestinians.”
As a teenager, I sat in my grandmother’s living room in Washington Heights asking about her family I never knew. She told me of her brothers and sisters who perished in the Holocaust. One heartbreakingly returned to Poland after emigrating here, telling her in disgust: “T’iz a genayvushe land!”
I once published an oral history of a Hungarian survivor of Auschwitz in the Los Angeles Times. I participated in, and was a technical advisor to Pierre Sauvage’s award-winning PBS documentary, Yiddish: Di Mameloshn.
Unlike Robert Wilkes, I don’t abuse the Holocaust to score political points. The memory of the six-million are too sacred for that.
Robert Wilkes doesn’t know me. If he’s bothered to read a single word I’ve written he hasn’t understood it. I’d prefer to think he hasn’t, and bases his calumnies about me on what others have told him.
But before I criticize the views of others I do due diligence and read what they’ve written. I quote their words and then critique them. Wilkes didn’t bother to do me that favor.
There is an odious, intolerant, violent process of demonization in this country that led to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It’s also played out in the furor over the so-called Ground Zero mosque. Listen to Glenn Beck on any given night and you’ll hear about Jewish bankers, or Nazi leftists, or jihadi Muslims or similar venom against the feared minority du jour.
That’s what Robert Wilkes represents. He wants to turn me into a cartoon, a demon, someone you can hate as he does.
We Jews have given the world so much learning, culture, music, language, ideas. Do we have to give the world hate as well? Is that our legacy?
Judaism values one’s good name above all else. Someone who lies about another’s beliefs commits a grave form of gossip called motzi shem ra. Robert Wilkes has stolen my good name and I won’t let him do it. I want my good name restored to me.
Estee Chandler wants her good name restored to her as well. For the love of God, when will the Jewish community stop giving a megaphone to these haters? When will it stop encouraging them and turn a blind eye when they commit the kinds of acts they did against Chandler? What will it take for us to realize that Stand With Us, at least in its current form as represented by many of the acts enumerated above, is a poison? Will it take someone getting shot? Or will Jewish leaders even then take the position that FoxNews did after Glenn Beck incited death threats against a 78 year old politics professor, saying that the network had no responsibility for any of the hate spewed against her?
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.