Hating Israel at the Center for Jewish History
When even medieval blood libels aren’t too much for the anti-Israel Left.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
The Center for Jewish History claims to hold “the largest repository of Jewish historical documentation outside of Israel.” But now the Center has fallen into the hands of an anti-Israel activist who attacked efforts to fight campus anti-Semitism and defended a hate group promoting anti-Semitic speakers.
It’s hard to find a group opposed to the Jewish State that David N. Myers, the new head of the Center, hasn’t endorsed, participated in or been a part of.
Why would JVP be concerned about accusations of anti-Semitism? Not only is the BDS hate group violently opposed to the Jewish State, but it sponsored talks by Alison Weir, who had claimed that Jews drank Christian blood and engaged in the ritual murder of Christian children during the Middle Ages.
Weir promoted her anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on the radio show of a white supremacist and Holocaust denier. An article on her personal blog claims that, "The Zionists who created Israel and still run it are descended from the Khazars." Despite that, JVP continued hosting Weir. It cheered on Rasmea Odeh, a terrorist convicted of playing a role in the murder of two Jewish college students. When Miko Peled tweeted, "Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves", JVP initially disavowed him before apologizing for its reaction. This followed the same pattern of behavior that took place with Weir.
Instead of opposing anti-Semitism in his role as an instructor, David N. Myers was one of the toxic figures at UCLA who undermined Jewish students under siege by anti-Semitic bigots.
When the UC Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion released a report warning about campus intolerance by the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish left, Myers joined other anti-Israel leftists in attacking the report. An open letter, signed by Myers, bizarrely claimed that the ADL was, which advocates for Muslim and transgender rights, was a “well-known rightwing group”.
The letter claimed that the “ADL has become known for accusing critics of Israel of being anti-semitic and denouncing Palestinian rights supporters, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.”
Instead of being an ally for Jewish students faced with anti-Semitism, David N. Myers was an ally of the bigots and opposed efforts to adopt the State Department definition of anti-Semitism.
The Center for Jewish History’s tragic decision rewarded an anti-Israel activist, who stood against Jewish students and with a BDS hate group linked to gutter anti-Semitism of the worst kind, by gifting him the leadership of an institution whose work encompasses that of the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, YIVO and the Yeshiva University Museum.
There is hardly an organization in the anti-Israel network where Myers hasn’t left his fingerprints.
David N. Myers vocally advocated for If Not Now: an anti-Israel hate group linked to JVP and J Street which harasses Jewish charities in a stealth BDS campaign. He’s on the advisory council of J Street, he has been listed on the Academic Council of Open Hillel and has been linked to Peace Now.
While officially claiming to oppose BDS, Myers wrote several years ago, “If President Obama does not apply the requisite pressure by the end of this year, then a boycott of Israel’s settlements and commercial activity in the West Bank may have to be the necessary next step.”
He also claimed that, “Many advocates of BDS are decent people seeking a long overdue measure of justice for the Palestinians.”
David N. Myers also sits on the board of the New Israel Fund which funds BDS promoting hate groups.
And yet David N. Myers has been nothing if not consistent. After the Hezbollah attack on Israel in ’06, he blamed Israel. Myers claimed that “Israelis and many Jews around the world” had reacted with “tribal rage”. The anti-Israel activist insisted that, “Israel's military response in Gaza has been disproportionately harsh”. He conceded that, “Israel is not solely to blame for the escalating violence”, but that that it has to be the most “responsible party.”
After the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in ’14, Myers ranted that, “it is no longer enough to claim the right to self-defense and then cast blame on the other side for instigating the war. Basic human decency won’t permit it.” His version of “basic human decency” did permit him to insist that Israel lift the blockade on Hamas in Gaza and encourage a unity Hamas government.
Some might seek to distinguish between Myers’ academic work and his anti-Israel activism. The David N. Myers who endorses the Iran nuclear sellout and defends hate groups is doing so in his free time. And this Jekyll and Hyde hobby does not in any way affect his scholarship. So there is no reason for Myers not to preside over the Center for Jewish History in his capacity as an historian.
Does it really matter if your plumber is a member of the KKK or if your accountant is a Communist?
But anti-Zionism is the crux of Myers’ scholarship. His last book promoted Simon Rawidowicz’s insistence that Israel must take all the Arab Muslims even if it is destroyed by them. The topic is an excuse for Myers to engage in historical revisionism and accuse Israel of being founded in sin.
A “scholarly” piece by Myers inquires, “Can there be a principled anti-Zionism?” His answer is unsurprising.
Myers’ latest work focuses on Satmar Chassidic Jews. Why? In his search for a “principled anti-Zionism”, he frequently references Satmar anti-Zionism. A three chapter work by Myers informs readers that Satmar “has frequently engaged in combative struggle against its foes, especially Zionism.”
It’s not hard to spot the dark thread running through David N Myers’ “scholarship”. And it infects his topics, no matter how diverse, poisoning his exegesis of Jewish history with a tainted agenda.
When announcing Myers' controversial appointment, Jonathan D. Sarna, Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis, glibly praised the "breadth" of Myers’ "scholarly work, which embraces all of the different institutions within the Center" and claimed that he is "the very embodiment of what the Center should be".
What exactly does Dr. Sarna believe the Center should be?
David N. Myers’ “scholarly work” throbs with efforts to revive and legitimize anti-Zionist discourse as a weapon for the anti-Israel left in its hateful war against the Jewish State.
After his selection, Myers announced that he wants to provide perspective on the role of Israel in Jewish history. “We’re the guardians of a two thousand year history, and the history of the State of Israel is obviously a much briefer history,” he noted dismissively. "I would not want to reduce the entirety of Jewish history to the seventy-year period of Israel’s existence."
Jewish history stretches much further back than two thousand years. And Israel, in its various incarnations has existed for many times more than seventy years.
David N. Myers isn’t that ignorant. He knows exactly what he’s saying.
Beginning Jewish history two thousand years ago severs the existence of the preceding kingdoms of Israel from Jewish history. Moshe, Joshua, King David, King Solomon, Ezra and the Maccabees never existed. Jewish history begins with exile and if Myers has his way, it will end there.
There was never an Israel and once the State of Israel is destroyed, there will never be an Israel.
Myers proposes, “What one of my favorite thinkers, Shimon Rawidowicz, called ‘shutafut’.” That’s his little joke on a Jewish laity that fails to understand the agendas of its foes. Myers emphasizes Rawidowicz as part of the push away from Israel and what he calls, “statist Zionism”. In Myers’ interpretation, Rawidowicz was using ‘shutafut’ to deemphasize the centrality of Israel.
David N. Myers no more left his anti-Israel politics at the door of the Center than he did at UCLA.
The American Jewish Historical Society press release boasts that Myers, “has obtained significant outside financial support”. It’s not hard to read between the lines.
The Center for Jewish History had long suffered from financial problems. Not to mention mysterious resignations, controversies and chaos. The Center’s problems can be traced back to YIVO, which is the tail that wags the Center dog. YIVO is also among the more leftward of the constituent organizations.
But what price can be put on Jewish history, on the lives of the men and women who lived, struggled and died on the hard road of the Jewish journey. What price can be put on their hope and their faith?
And what price can be placed on normalizing the anti-Israel extremism of the radical left?
That is what the supporters and constituent organizations of the Center for Jewish History must decide.