42 thoughts on “Under Threat from Oakland Jewish Federation, Bay Area Jewish Center Withdraws from Peter Beinart Event – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The children’s art exhibit sponsored by MECA was cancelled at the behest of the J Federation of Oakland, probably I would guess at the behest of the “Koch” brothers, identified above. When I objected directly to the Federation for its actions, somebody emailed that one of the Palestinian works (by an 11 yr old) showed little Stars of David dropping from planes onto Gaza. He thought I would be sympathetic that this was an inflammatory piece to exhibit. Instead, I was awed by the imagery, a product of a budding artist. I wrote back that the picture strikes me as “promising” with regard to the artist and “apt” with respect to the meaning.

    I provide this story because it was one of several experiences that brought me into a full awareness of Zionism and Israeli policies and practices, and the work of AIPAC, ADL, SWU and other toady organizations in the US. It was, in short, one of the things that radicalized my view of the whole I/P thing. I hope that this cancellation will open the eyes of other Jews about Israel and Zionism.

  2. Incidentally, now I (and presumably others) know that the JCC’s are contaminated by right wing ideology up to their budgets.

  3. The JCC didn’t cancel the event. They just withdrew their sponsorship.

    The event could have gone on as scheduled without any change of venue. The venue was the Hillside Club, not the JCC.

    Beinart himself canceled the event.

    1. The formal cancellations and hosting hardly matter: It is sufficient to know that the ideology of a couple of donors can make policy for Jewish agencies ostensibly serving the interests of the entire Jewish community, etc.

      It is all one piece now. A handful of wealthy Jews make policies for Jewish cultural and family institutions and probably make law and policies in Israel as well. The civil freedoms that Jews fought for, for themselves and others, over many decades and in many places are easily thwarted and stifled by a couple of billionaires. These agencies are simply bought out.

      While I am bitter about these cancellations at the hands of extremist ideology, I am also a whole lot wiser as a result.

      1. But don’t you think accuracy is important?

        The JCC did not cancel the event even though this post says that it did.

        Initially, the headline made that claim as well, but it has since been altered.

        Within the body of the article, however, the incorrect information still stands.

        Max Blumenthal, who wrote the initial piece that this blog post is largely culled from, made the same mistake initially as well but has since made a correction and crossed out the erroneous information in the original.

        1. “Nit-picking” to divert from the issues or the main argument – one of Hasbara Central’s classic ploys.

          1. Saying something comes from “Hasbara Central” is also a classic ploy to dismiss anyone or any argument/statement one doesn’t feel like addressing.

            When someone posts something that is factually inaccurate they ought to be grateful for having it pointed out so the mistake can be corrected. No one who is concerned about maintaining journalistic integrity should have any problem apologizing and correcting the inaccurate info.

            Max Blumenthal did so – why not here? A lot of people use this site as a resource for truthful information – these blog posts are re-posted widely around the internet and the author of the blog is extremely respected and admired. It serves no one’s interests to have erroneous information posted under his name.

            If that’s “hasbara” then the definition of that term has been expanded so widely that it no longer has any meaning.

          2. I do appreciate being corrected when I’m wrong, but it is a little dance though isn’t it, Bob? Find an error, point out the unreliability of the rest of the information here? You do it more subtly than others admittedly & I’d rather yr lighter touch than the ham fisted approach of others, but it’s still a bit of gotcha.

          3. I would point out that I did not state or suggest that any of the other information of this post was inaccurate. There is no “gotcha” involved of any kind. I do not question anything about any other element of this article. And since you went ahead and made changes to reflect the corrected information, I would imagine you’d be somewhat appreciative of having the error pointed out in the respectful and straightforward manner in which I did so.

        2. There was one incorrect mention of the JCC cancelling in the 2nd fr last paragraph which I’ve corrected. But the fact is that when the JCC withdrew under political assault it in fact caused cancellation of the event.

          1. I do not think that is true. There was absolutely no reason why Beinart could not have gone ahead with the event as scheduled. He made the decision to cancel because he was uncomfortable with the remaining sponsors.

            One would think he would have been pleased to have this JCC group withdrawing its sponsorship considering the sorts of people they’ve had on its board as recently as last year.

            In fact, if Beinart had participated in an event sponsored by such an organization, I would think he would’ve gotten some flak for it in light of what’s been highlighted about their board members and supporters in your post.

          2. WOrnick was on the Oakland federation board, not the JCC board. But Wornick is a major figure in the entire Jewish East Bay community & known to the EBJCC. Beinart felt he needed the “cover” of a Jewish communal organization hostile toward full BDS in order to go forward. I believe he could’ve found such a group had he tried. But he wished not to cross the affiliated Jewish community & rile it up precisely when he could & should have.

          3. Richard,

            You should still correct the ‘move to a new venue’ part of the 2nd to last paragraph. The event was not to be at the JCC.

            Further, you should also correct the statement that the “After the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival cancelled its screening of the film, Rachel.”

            In fact the screenings went ahead, and Taube issued the quoted statement beforehand.

            Also the cancelled exhibit at the Oakland Museum of Children’s Art was last year, not two years ago.

            With all that said, I want to say that your ANALYSIS of the overall situation is correct and is not affected by these small factual corrections.

          4. Richard,

            I don’t know exactly, but I do know that the festival lost significant funding. However, the main response of Koret (i.e. Taube) and their allies was to use the incident to impose the SFJCF guidelines that prevented the Film Festival from having any association with JVP (among others) or individuals that call for any kind of economic response to the occupation. (!!) They also proposed a scheme to stack the festival’s board with members that favored their politics, although I’m not sure to what degree that succeeded. (http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/40703/proposal-to-quell-the-rachel-fires-expand-the-size-of-sfjff-board/)

            The festival’s ED Peter Stein left after last year’s festival. To say there has been a ‘chilling effect’ that will effect the festival’s programming in the future is an understatement.

        3. These corrections are valuable of course. However, the meaning of the article is not much altered by the corrections. The meaning is what a writer provides. That’s the really important stuff.

  4. RE: “Radical Islam, or, maybe all Islam is the problem. It’s a backward, misogynistic… We need to expose this to the western world and get people to realize that NOT ALL CULTURES ARE EQUAL. Islam, if allowed will spread and destroy all Western values. ” ~ Jonathan Wornick, board member of the Oakland Jewish federation

    FROM YNET NEWS – Rabbi Aviner: Women must not wear pants even when alone, by Neta Sela, 05/02/08
    One of Religious Zionism’s most prominent leaders defines trousers as a ‘self-prohibition,’ says women ‘must dress modestly also when alone and in the

    (EXCERPT) Women must not wear pants even when they are home alone, Rabbi Shlomi Aviner has ruled.  Aviner, Beit El’s rabbi and one of Religious Zionism’s most prominent leaders, was asked in a cellular Q&A session published in the “Small World” bulletin, “When a girl goes to relieve herself at night, is she allowed to say the ‘Asher Yatzar’ (‘he who formed’) prayer while wearing a short-sleeved shirt and trousers?”  The rabbi replied that it is permitted to say the prayer in such a case, but added that “in general, a woman must always wear modest clothes even when she is alone and in the dark, because the Holy one blessed be he is everywhere. And yes, trousers are a self-prohibition even when a woman is alone.” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3552461,00.htmlcles/0,7340,L-3552461,00.html

      1. RE: “Did you know this guy, Rabbi Aviner is also an accused sex abuser?” – R.S.

        REPLY: “[T]he Holy one blessed be he is everywhere.

        P.S. To answer seriously, no. I recall reading quite some time ago about allegations of sex abuse made against an extremist Rabbi in the West Bank, but I am terrible with names and had not connected the two. Perhaps Aviner’s prohibiting women from wearing pants has less to do with “modesty”, and more to do with making certain that a particular part of the female anatomy is more easily accessible to “the Holy one blessed be he” and/or his designee!

          1. RE: “You are very bad!!” ~ David

            MY REPLY: Thanks immensely! “Practice makes perfect.” Consequently, I just keep getting badder and badder!

    1. P.S. RE: “Radical Islam, or, maybe all Islam is the problem. It’s a backward, misogynistic, hateful, anti-democratic, ant-semetic [sic], and corrupt. We need to expose this to the western world and get people to realize that NOT ALL CULTURES ARE EQUAL…” ~ Jonathan Wornick, board member of the Oakland Jewish federation

      ALSO SEE: “The First Word: A day in Jerusalem”, By Yehudah Mirsky, Jerusalem Post, 05/07/09 

      (excerpt) Nobody who has lived in Jerusalem in recent years needs any educating about the sword from without. A week ago Thursday I discovered the terror within. It coils through Jerusalem’s streets, and us… 
      …As I came out of the plaza, right across the street from city hall, I saw four men jump, stomp and kick the daylights out of several others (Lord knows why) and run off.
      I called for the police and waited for them to arrive as people ran out of the surrounding pubs to help the crushed victims, whose blood ran down the sidewalk. 
      First ambulances came – some of the EMTs were haredim, and some were women. Then came the police, and I reported to them what I’d seen. After the police left, some young haredim came up to me, hungry for details: Did you see fists? Did you see a knife? 
      I told them how earlier in the day their comrades had nearly done the same to me.
      “There was action at the demo? We missed it?”… 
      …When I finally got home, at about 2:30 in the morning, my wife was, luckily for me, awake. I told her something that I had been thinking and scared to say for a long while: that the Jerusalem of my dreams, the Jerusalem where heaven and earth kiss, the Jerusalem of my father’s childhood, is finally dead. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710892040&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

      1. P.S. Between yesterday (when I posted the above Mirsky excerpt in a comment at Mondoweiss) and today, the entire 05/07/09 commentary by Yehudah Mirsky has been “disappeared” from the Jerusalem Post website. Israel really shares our values, NOT!
        Nonetheless, I am truly flattered.

        ANOTHER INTERESTING COMMENTARY BY MIRSKY: The Russian wave, By Yehudah Mirsky, Jerusalem Post, 05/07/09

        (excerpts)…behind the Iron Curtain lay not millions of Natan Sharanskys and Ida Nudels yearning for Zion, but millions of men and women, rightly suspicious of all ideologies, whom decades of Soviet policy had alienated from Jewish tradition and history, and who simply sought better lives and opportunities…
        …Soviet Jewish dissidents and refuseniks had generally been either democratic political activists who made common cause with non-Jewish dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, or cultural activists focusing on the preservation and transmission of Jewish ideas; there were also some religiously inspired figures, like Yosef Mendelevich. None prepared the Israeli and Jewish public for the peculiar mix of attitudes that characterizes the later immigrants, and is personified in Israel’s current foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.M
        As Ze’ev Khanin documents in the Israel Affairs collection, early attempts at creating a centrist, wide-tent Russian political party (Yisrael Ba’aliya) foundered as the immigrants went either Left or, more often, Right. Today, three-quarters of Israel’s Russians are either with the Likud or with Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Their rightward orientation springs from a well-founded suspicion of state institutions, reinforced in many cases by their having been directed on arrival to peripheral development towns. Perhaps as a consequence, they have tended to look for strong leaders, which may explain how many ended up voting for Ehud Barak in 1999, while his military decorations still glistened.
        IN PERHAPS the most interesting article in the journal, Julia Lerner observes that Lieberman is a paradigmatically “post-Soviet” figure of the sort increasingly familiar in the FSU: ethno-national, authoritarian, committed less to ideology than to “the rational management of a national collective and its elements based on ethnic and cultural hierarchies, and accompanied by a taken-for-granted distinction between ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized.’”…

        ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=222766

        1. P.S. RE: “Between yesterday (when I posted the above Mirsky excerpt in a comment at Mondoweiss) and today, the entire 05/07/09 commentary by Yehudah Mirsky has been ‘disappeared’ from the Jerusalem Post website.” ~ me, above

          CORRECTION: After reviewing my browser history for the last few days, it does not appear that I checked the link that I had for the article when I posted the excerpt yesterday at Mondoweiss (as is my customary practice). Consequently, since I copied the link several years ago when I originally excerpted the article, it is not really surprising that the old link is no longer good. I finally managed to find the article using Google and it now has a different http. Self-flattery be gone!
          NEW LINK – http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=141545

  5. Beinart advocates for Zionism+, created in actuality by Cyrus the Great, eh? He argues that there are two segments of Israel. A democratic portion (majority of Israel) and a non-democratic portion (settlements in West Bank, spectre of Gaza). When he speaks of Israel, he does not speak to it as a land of people in it (or a nation), but an idea that needs to capture land to take shape. He is not referring to Palestinians in the non-democratic portions. He prefers the two-state solution.

    So allow me to change my moniker and play the devil’s advocate for a second. If Israel’s plan since 1948 and before was to capture land for what is basically a foreign financed colony exclusive of the indigenous people, then that is not Zionism+. Cyrus the Great created one land, autonomous so that people could pray how they wanted, tolerant so they could do it together – AND he got a Temple built.

    If I wanted to do what Israel’s founders/planners did/are doing, I would have ceased fighting 20 or so years ago to start building inroads so that by now we would be building skyscrapers for new businesses in what is commonly acknowledged as the “Jewish” part of the Middle East. You see, the graciousness of technology and innovation becomes a useful tool for the party causing grievance. The 43 years before that were ample time for settling in.

    Yet Israel was not gracious and arms remains Israel’s number one export besides pain, terror, grief, horror, hatred, violence, and trouble stopping any of the above while they insist they are the world’s love child. Humanity has never seen such psychological abuse.

    And I am pretty sure that this “idea” of Israel already exists all throughout the world in the form of Jewish people. And the land exists too in the form of the whole state of Palestine. But Swiss-cheese Israel sits alone.

    1. Good on you, Persian Advocate. Your analogy to Cyrus is apt.

      Beinart is a hypocritical jerk about whom I have already written, but this blog will no longer publish my comments. Let’s see if this one passes.

      1. Thanks, Richard. Here’s what I wrote:

        Here is an interesting interview with Peter Beinart that appears in Haaretz this weekend (first link). I have already expressed my opinion of Beinart’s views in a letter that was published recently in NYTX following his article in the NYT (second link). From my own perspective, Beinart is dead wrong about the idea of saving liberal Zionism and working for a two-state solution. And his solidarity with J Street in this venture is, in my opinion, misplaced. J Street is merely AIPAC light, and is only a diversion from AIPAC’s neoconservative positions.



        1. Agreed, Gene. Olmert spoke at J-Street and there were many reports of them refusing to join hands with Palestinians over the same cause. Controlled opposition is more I like it. Controlling the boundaries of any debate is a main pillar of the playbook.

  6. Yet another example of the mainstream Jewish community insisting on Zionism as an intrinsic component of a Jewish identity – to the extent of excommunication absent this criterion.

    I find this interesting in view of the recent furor over Ali Abunimah, et.al.’s condemnation of Gilad Atmon for essentially stating the obvious: The mainstream Jewish community equates Zionism with Judaism. While numerous Arab authors flocked to Gilad’s defense, Jewish voices supporting him were notably absent.

  7. RE: “Radical Islam, or, maybe all Islam is the problem. It’s a backward, misogynistic, hateful, anti-democratic, ant-semetic [sic], and corrupt. We need to expose this to the western world and get people to realize that NOT ALL CULTURES ARE EQUAL…” ~ Jonathan Wornick, board member of the Oakland Jewish federation

    FROM YNET NEWS (ISRAEL): “Jerusalem: Orthodox riot in protest of chastity squad arrest”, by Neta Sela, 08/26/08
    Haredim burn garbage cans, block streets in protest of arrest of community member suspected of torching store that sells MP4 player. ‘Safeguarding Torah considered a crime in this country of Sodom and Gomorrha,’ they say 

    (excerpt) Ultra-Orthodox Jews rioted in Jerusalem on Monday in protest of the recent arrest of Shmuel Weisfish, a member of the haredi community’s chastity squad who was allegedly involved in the torching of a store selling MP4 players in violation of a ruling of the Orthodox Court of Justice.  Demonstrators set garbage cans on fire on Shmuel Hanavi, Dvora Hanevia, Hanevi’im and Shivtei Yisrael streets in the capital… 
    . . . Haredim recently distributed pashkevilim (informative ads or posters often plastered in the Jerusalem’s religious neighborhoods) against stores selling MP4 devices, saying “a terrible plague is upon us, claiming victims every day… these sinful devices were banned by all the great rabbis, but are still common in the haredi world… their devilish distributors want nothing more than to drive the people of Israel to sin through movies and other abominations. . . “

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3587654,00.html

  8. RE: “Radical Islam, or, maybe all Islam is the problem. It’s a backward, misogynistic… We need to expose this to the western world and get people to realize that NOT ALL CULTURES ARE EQUAL. Islam, if allowed will spread and destroy all Western values. ” ~ Jonathan Wornick, board member of the Oakland Jewish federation

    SEE: ‘Modesty patrol’ suspected of spilling acid on teenage girl, By Neta Sela, Ynet News, 06/05/08
    Religious tensions at boiling point in Beitar Illite as 14-year-old girl attacked by member of town’s ‘modesty guard’ 
    (excerpts) A 14-year-old girl from Beitar Illite was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem after an unknown person spilled acid on her face, legs and stomach, causing light burn wounds.  The act has been attributed to a representative of the so-called ‘modesty guard’ in this town where religious and secular residents are increasingly at bitter odds.
    MDA received the call just before midnight on Wednesday and paramedic Dror Eini who arrived on the scene to treat the girl also managed to calm her down enough so she could explain what had happened.
    Eini told Ynet that “the modesty guards have been threatening her for quite some time.” According to the paramedic the focus of the threats has largely been the victim’s 18-year-old sister and some suspect the attacker mistook the younger girl’s identity for that of her older sister’s…
    …An ultra-Orthodox teen from Beitar Illite who is in contact with the girl’s family spoke with her sister who described the incident. According to the boy, the attacker stopped the girl and first asked her for directions. Then, after confirming her surname, he spilled a bottle of acid on her…
    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3552461,00.html

  9. RE: “Radical Islam, or, maybe all Islam is the problem. It’s a backward, misogynistic… We need to expose this to the western world and get people to realize that NOT ALL CULTURES ARE EQUAL. Islam, if allowed will spread and destroy all Western values. ” ~ Jonathan Wornick, board member of the Oakland Jewish federation

    SEE: Ultra-Orthodox ‘Modesty Guard’ suspected of beating Jerusalem woman, By Haaretz Staff, 08/09/08

    A group of men who police suspect were hired by an ultra-Orthodox gang recently broke into a Jerusalem woman’s home and beat her because they deemed her immodest. 
    The so-called “Modesty Guard” is suspected of being behind the incident.
    The gang has been known to unleash extortion, mercenaries, violence and surveillance on less religious Jews they deem sacrilegious. They claim to do it all in the name of God. 
    The incident may be one of a string of signs of rising ultra-Orthodox violence. Last year, five Haredi Jews assaulted a woman and an Israel Defense Forces soldier because they sat next to one another on a Jerusalem bus…

    SOURCE – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009580.html

    1. These are the people who should be imprisioned and denied the very basic means of life. As they deny freedom to others, they should have none.

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