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Poor Michael Lerner’s Petunias

Posted By Steven Plaut On May 7, 2010 @ 12:02 am In FrontPage | 44 Comments

Michael Lerner’s home vandalized!

Lerner’s own organization’s website has the scare headline:  “A Right-Wing Zionist Threat: Vandals Strike Tikkun Editor’s Home.” Leftist bloggers have been even less restrained.  The Zionists are violent thugs and hoodlums, Judeofascists, vandalizing the home of Tikkun’s editor and and threatening him.  The “attack” on Lerner’s house in the upscale Berkeley Hills was a direct consequence of criticism from Alan Dershowitz–more proof that foolishly allowing non-leftists to exercise freedom of speech results in violence and hooliganism!

So just what exactly happened?

Lerner, a leading collaborator in leftists’ wars against the Jews, is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.  He calls himself “Rabbi,” although he never graduated from any rabbinic seminary and has no rabbinic ordination recognized by any branch of Judiasm. His Tikkun Magazine, publishes every Jewish anti-Israel crackpot and crank on the planet and many a non-Jewish anti-Semite.  In recent weeks, Lerner made the news for organizing a petition of anti-Israel leftists to support Judge Richard Goldstone and even offered to grant him an award.  Goldstone had headed the UN commission that smeared Israel for “war crimes” when it was forced to go to war against Hamas to stop its rocket attacks.  Since issuing his libelous report, Goldstone has been shunned by the Jewish communities all over the world, including in his own native South Africa, where some members of a synagogue where Goldstone’s grandson was having a Bar Mitzvah declared him persona non grata.

At that point, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, who considers Goldstone an anti Semite, denounced Lerner for his toadying to the jurist and denounced the petition circulated by Lerner as coming from “Rabbis for Hamas”:

“They have no shame and no credibility. They exploit their rabbinical status to support any conclusion that undercuts self defense Israeli actions without regard to the evidence and without regard to the truth.  Not surprisingly, the worst of these rabbis (and that’s saying a lot), Michael Lerner, after attempting to politicize the bar mitzvah by offering his anti-Israel synagogue for the event, has decided to honor Richard Goldstone with Tikkun Magazine‘s ‘Ethics Award.’ I guess all it takes to be honored by Tikkun is to pass Lerner’s litmus test of lying about Israel. That’s Lerner’s definition of ‘ethics.’”

A few days ago, some anonymous people, evidently Jewish students at the University of California at Berkeley, paid a visit to Lerner’s home up in Berkeley Hills.  (Just how Lerner came up with the cash to live with the capitalist class in one of the ritziest locations in the Bay Area is something about which his magazine readers might be wondering.)  The visitors taped up four stickers or leaflets around his home   Here is the Tikkun version of the story:

“They posted a printed bumper sticker saying ‘fight terror — support Israel’” next to a caricature of Judge Goldstone whose UN report on Israel’s human rights violations in its attack on Gaza last year has been denounced as anti-Semitic and pro-terror by right wingers in Israel and the U.S.  The caricature has Goldstone talking about his being kept from his grandson’s bar mitzvah, and the caricature of Rabbi Lerner responds by saying ‘any enemy of Israel is a friend of mine.’”

Lerner of course called in the cops.  You know – those civil servants whom he used to refer to as The Pigs when he was a leader of the Seattle Liberation Front (SLF), a 60s group which participated in numerous violent anti-war protests and riots along side the Black Student Union (BSU) and the ultra-violent  Weatherman terror group.  When the cops arrived they found a victimless non crime.  The leaflet hangers did not assault Lerner, and in fact never met or spoke with him.  They did  not so much as trample on the petunias in his yard.

But Lerner and his supporters are having trouble containing their rage.  The perps of the leaflet hangings are Zionist terrorists, thugs, vandals!  Some political observers in the Bay Area are expressing skepticism.  At least two local pro-Israel activists told me they suspect Lerner himself put up the leaflets in order to play martyr and get himself publicity.  Lerner has a track history of what might be called strategic misrepresentation when it comes to getting himself attention.  A few years back he got caught inventing pseudonymous imaginary letters to the editor printed in Tikkun Magazine agreeing with Lerner’s own writings there. (One wag claimed he should have signed them Ichael-May Erner-Lay.)

Lerner’s whining about being the victim of “Rightwing Zionist violence” is also a bit beyond hilarious.  Lerner himself has a long track record of organizing and participating in violence.  While he was in Seattle, Washington state attorney (and later Senator) Slade Gorton described the tactics of Lerner’s Liberation Front as “totally indistinguishable from fascism and Nazism.”   Lerner himself was one of the so-called “Seattle Seven,” charged in a federal trial with “conspiracy to incite a riot.”  He spent several months in prison.

In those days Lerner’s two passions, by his own admission, were LSD and Marxism.  Later he moved more into goofy pseudo-Jewish liberation theology and hatred of Israel.  He considers the rebirth of international anti-Semitism to be the fault of the Jews themselves for being so cussedly evil and racist.

He launched the bizarre magazine he called Tikkun in 1986 and has devoted it to radical politics, bashing Israel, and denouncing America, along with a monthly dollop of New Age touchy-feely recreational “compassion” and peace posturing.

Around the same time that he launched his magazine Lerner started telling people that he was an Orthodox Rabbi.  In fact he is neither a Rabbi nor Orthodox.   He says he was “ordained” when three hippy “rabbis,” one of whom claims in fact to be a Buddhist, put their hands on his head and proclaimed him rabbi.  A few years back I emailed him an inquiry as to whether he would submit to a small quiz of his knowledge of the Bible and the Talmud; he indignantly refused.  He claims his rabbinic status is recognized because he is a member of the California Board of Rabbis.  But membership in the Board does not mean anyone has acknowledged one’s rabbinic credentials as bona fide; it just means one pays annual dues.

While insisting that all he wants is peace and justice in the Middle East, Lerner’s prescription for achieving this is essentially the same as that of the Hamas.  He demands that Israel return to its 1949 borders, forego all forms of self-defense, and allow itself to be drowned by an influx of  Palestinian “refugees.”  Lerner has never seen an act of Arab terrorism that he does not rationalize, nor an act of Jewish self-defense he is willing to justify.  Lerner recently hosted Alice Walker on Yom Kippur, who devoted her talk to denouncing Israel for raping Arab women.

Besides Israel bashing, Lerner may be best known for sharing his “politics of meaning” (his nonsense term for disguising leftist politics under a thin veneer of theology) with a credulous Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady.  After 9-11 he demanded that Americans “feel the pain” of the al-Qaeda terrorists.  While claiming to be a rabbi he has also issued calls to “Smash the Synagogue.”   When Professor Edward Alexander from the University of Washington wrote an expose of Lerner, the latter sent threatening letters to numerous Jewish newspapers and magazines, warning they would be sued by him if they printed the piece.  Professor Alexander has described Lerner as “a kipah (skullcap)-wearing, rotund beard-plucker of vaguely ‘rabbinic’ appearance who could always be relied on to blame Israel and not the Arabs for the absence of peace, and to liken Israeli defense against Palestinian Arab violence to medieval Christian mobs . . . organizing pogroms against the whole Jewish community.”

A few years back Lerner demanded that all Jews devote their traditional Passover Seder to bemoaning the oppression of the Palestinians by the Zionist “Pharaoh.”  The same Palestinians used the occasion that year to murder 29 people at a Seder in Netanya, Israel.   He has long supported sanctions and boycotts against Israel to force it to capitulate to the Arabs.  He considers Arab terrorists to be the “New Maccabis,” and his writings are routinely carried by the publications and distribution lists of Islamic fundamentalists – the sorts of people who support car bombs in Times Square.

This is the man victimized by the merciless violent “terrorist vandalism attack” by Rightwing Zionist thugs against his home in Berkeley that spared even his petunias.


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