(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/03/71P-R4dHUXL.SY355.jpg)When you don’t have any points to make or facts to argue, the laziest approach is to shriek McCarthyism.
That’s what Deborah Lipstadt and David Ellenson have decided to do in a Forward piece trying to defend anti-Israel figures like Karen Adler and the New Israel Fund’s support for anti-Israel programming.
Rather than actually launch a defense, Lipstadt and Ellenson spend six paragraphs rehashing the myth of McCarthy, a bedtime story that every good lefty reading The Forward knows the way a religious Jew knows his prayers.
Rather than address the issues involving the New Israel Fund, Lipstadt and Ellenson drag out this tired chestnut. “The shameless attacks compel us to ask of Torossian and Geller, as Welch did of McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency?”
The fifties called, they want their cliches back. Also their decency.
David Ellenson, a Reform clergyman, has a daughter who serves as the associate director for leadership development with the New Israel Fund, a pertinent fact that neither he nor the Forward choose to disclose to readers.
Deborah Lipstadt has become a notorious backer of left-wing groups that damage Israel’s security such as the Israel Policy Forum. She claims to be a historian, but rather than launching a fact-based defense, her piece hyperventilates in a fact-free fashion.
“Ronn Torossian and Pam Geller have attacked Karen Adler, Alisa Doctoroff, Edith Everett, and Carol Zabar — among the most prominent leaders of our community — as supporters of the BDS campaign against Israel who seek to undermine the Jewish state. Torossian did so in a New York Post opinion piece and Geller’s group has sponsored bus ads repeating the charge…”
These leaders of our community have a long track record of acting on behalf of the Jewish people in all the places where we live. For decades they have shown their love for and defense of the State of Israel. They have been unsurpassed in their generosity – both with their means and their time – to so many vital causes in our community and beyond. Most of all, they have been exemplars of concern for civility in our Jewish community.”
Here’s an example of Karen Adler’s civility, as quoted by Pamela Geller.
Karen R. Adler is the President of the Jewish Communal Fund – She signed an open letter to Bill De Blasio: “the needs and concerns of many of your constituents–U.S. Jews like us among them–are not aligned with those of AIPAC, and that no, your job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding when they call you to do so. AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us.”
This sounds incredibly pro-Israel and civil.
Lipstadt and Ellenson mention Ronn’s New York Post piece, yet they refuse to address simple facts from it such as this.
And the NIF’s Web site and annual report show support for BDS. Indeed, the site proclaims that NIF will “not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from [West Bank] settlements.”
The Scarlett Johansson-SodaStream debacle centered on this exact issue. The actress came under BDS-led fire for representing the Israeli carbonated-beverage company SodaStream, which dared to employ Palestinians in a West Bank settlement. The BDSers got the anti-hunger group Oxfam, which she served as global ambassador, to complain; she responded by dropping Oxfam.
Just last month, top NIF officials signed a petition calling on European countries to boycott products from the settlements, to restrict the entry of settlers and to restrict academic cooperation with Israeli institutions.
Well, some leaders of the JCRC and UJA are also donors to the New Israel Fund, including UJA President Alisa Doctoroff and JCRC board member Karen Adler.
Doctoroff, Adler and other NIF supporters have every right to their views, but their support for a group that boycotts Israel should have no place in a parade to support the Jewish state.
These are specific facts and Lipstadt and Ellenson have no response except to self-righteously sputter cliches about McCarthyism.
And yet isn’t boycotting people based on where they live and their religion a far more relevant example of the same?
“Why are Torossian and Geller engaged in this unrelenting campaign? What is their “sin”? They are supporters of The New Israel Fund,” Lipstadt and Ellenson whine.
“There have been repeated attempts to demonize the New Israel Fund (NIF) for several years. The NIF is an organization that works ceaselessly to promote the progressive values of equality and democracy in Israel. The NIF seeks a Jewish State which protects the human rights of all its citizens – and for this our friends are censured?”
The NIF funds groups that support boycotts of Jews because of where they live. Yes your friends are censured for that.
Furthermore the NIF funds BDS in general as NGO Monitor showed. It funds groups and people that accuse Israel of being an Apartheid state. Its man came out to testify against victims of terrorism.
Lipstadt and Ellenson complain from a privileged position about their friends being criticized. What about the victims of their friends? What about those who suffer because of the NIF?
Instead of addressing any of these issues, Lipstadt and Ellenson who began the piece with a McCarthyist smear and denounced Geller and Torrosian’s “gutter” attacks while refusing to debate them, get up on their mangy high horse.
“These attacks on these outstanding Jewish leaders reflect a disturbing new development in contemporary Jewish life. Rather than disagree civilly and engage in polite and constructive debate there is name-calling and defamation. This is character assassination of the worst kind. Our community should not tolerate it. The true enemies of the Jewish people are those who engage in such vilification.”
The true enemies of the Jewish people are those who attack the Jewish people. Not those who attack Lipstadt and Ellenson’s pals who the Jewish people, last time I checked did not appoint to be anything.
You can’t engage in character assassination and then claim that vilification should not be tolerated. It’s cynical and dishonest. And that’s what Lipstadt and Ellenson’s piece is.
But the mangy high horse isn’t done yet.
“The Talmud teaches that the Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed because of sinat chinam, ceaseless and unwarranted hatred that Jews needlessly displayed towards other Jews.”
I realize Ellenson isn’t an actual Rabbi, but the First Temple was destroyed because of idolatry, immorality and murder. The Second Temple was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam, which was code for a failure of Jewish unity in the face of the Roman Empire.
If Lipstadt and Ellenson had been living back then, they would be defending the outstanding communal leadership of Tiberius Alexander, the second-in-command for Titus’ attack on Jerusalem.
It would behoove those people who agree with them to turn to them and say: “This is not how Jews behave. Your smear tactics are doing more to undermine the unity of the Jewish people and weaken the State of Israel than any deed that those whom you charge with perfidy have performed. It is time for you to stop.”
So it’s okay for Lipstadt and Ellenson’s pals to attack Israel, to attack Jews who support Israel, to support an organization that funds the boycotts of Jews based on where they live.
But it’s not okay to criticize them.
My humble suggestion is that Lipstadt and Ellenson stop claiming to be Jews and instead found the First Church of Organizationalism whose mission will be to worship “outstanding left-wing Jewish leaders” who hate Israel. The first commandment of FCO will to bar any criticism of these leaders no matter what they do. Every week they’ll gather to throw stones at a pillar representing McCarthyism and then have a rubber chicken dinner.
That way Jews can have our religion and the Organization-worshipers can have their religion.
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