She Waz Robbed!!!!

The Internet (or, at least the 4/1,000,000,000th of it controlled by the self-proclaimed “Jewish Voice for Peace”) is in a tizzy over the latest slight to their Dear Leader.

Backstory: The Jewish Federations of North America recently began an online project called Jewish Community Heroes.While I was only aware of it in the context of general improvement in the Web 2.0 campaigning I’ve seen within the Jewish community lately (the subject of an upcoming posting), apparently this month+ long campaign lets people nominate “heroes” in their community (both professional and voluntary) and lets other people vote on each nominee with a panel of judges making the final choices of Heroes who will receive cash prizes.

To most of us, this campaign seems a nice way to celebrate both the values of the community and people who share those values.For Jewish Voice for Peace, however, the “open” part of a Web 2.0 campaign means just one thing: an opening.

You see, Jewish Voice for Peace (or JVP – an organization we have seen before) is committed first and foremost to being the Jewish face of the BDS movement.The trouble is, the Jewish Community (notably the Jewish Federations), in addition to running the Heroes campaign, have unanimously decided that BDS advocates are one of the few groups of people who have placed themselves outside of the “big tent.”

Now to most of us, the obvious answer is for JVP to continue to feel free to do what it wants (including advocating for BDS, for a cutoff of US aid to Israel, for interrupting Israelis at speaking events, and other things the wider community finds noxious) with an understand that in doing so they represent themselves and not the Jewish community as a whole.Ah, but you see JVP desperately wants to claim they represent more than a small minority.And thus they endlessly rail against Jewish organizations which they claim conspire to exclude them.

And so, when the Heroes campaign based on assumptions of good will among participants opened, someone threw the hat of Cecile Surasky, the West Coast leader of JVP, into the ring.And since online politics is one of the few areas where Israel’s foes do better work than its friends (another angle on that aforementioned upcoming posting), ballot stuffing was inevitable and up shot Surasky in the polls.

Once the inclusion of someone whose every waking moment is spent campaigning for everything the Federation (sponsor of the contest) is against became known, Surasky nomination (and associated Web entry) was pulled.This led to inevitable screams of censorship and repression, highlighting the “irony” of the Fed taking this action on Yom Kippur (implying that this was yet another sin against JVP that the community had to atone for).

Now I tried to express my sympathies with Cecile on the Muzzlewatch page where her complaint was aired.But then I remembered they shut down their comments section years ago once critics started asking too many questions that Cecile and her JVP friends couldn’t answer.

Then I thought about joining JVP in order to express my concerns as a member (worth it, I thought, even though their $60 membership fee represents three months of my allowance).But, unfortunately, in addition to that fee new members are asked to sign a loyalty oath declaring their adherence to JVP principles (including support of BDS).And while it may be fun to fantasize about joining their organization and then do my own thing while pretending to speak in their name (i.e., serving up a little sauce for the gander), my respect for other people’s civic space prevents me from going this far in the real world.

Unfortunately, this type of respect for others is not shared by Surasky and friends who continue to demand access to other people’s organizations and platforms while greedily protecting their own civic spaces at all costs.Which is why I’d like to announce my own contest that anyone (including members of JVP) are free to join.

Announcing the first annual Divest This BDS Bozos ™ competition, a month long quest to find the most ridiculous, hypocritical and/or downright clownish BDS campaign and/or campaigner on the planet. I’ll assume Cecile wants in, and I’m even happy to use the profile provided in her Heroes campaign (with suitable clarifications) as a first nominee.Anyone else interested in submitting your own BDS Bozo can send it to me at divestthis[at]aol[dot]com or post your nominee in the comments section.First prize will be a donation to the Jewish National Fund in the name of the winner.

Game on!

Out and About

Well, I’ve been blogging lately, although doing so at other sites. Since the topics are loosely related to divestment, I thought it best to link to them, rather than repost them here.

Apparently, our old friends at Muzzlewatch have decided that they are ready to take their message to the people! Given that a large part of that message is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement supported by Muzzlewatch’s “parent company” Jewish Voice for Peace, I have fun with this newly-discovered populism here.

Meanwhile, the rump of the Gaza Freedom March crew in Boston decided they desperately needed to make themselves seem relevant, given the various fiascos they are still trying to cover up (including stranding thousands of activists in Cairo due to incompetent planning and helping seal the Egyptian-Gaza border even tighter than before they decided to visit and trigger a murderous riot). So what did they do? Why picket the Israeli Consulate of course! A run down and analysis of that event appears here and here.

Muzzlewatch Gets Miffed

Sorry, but I’m going to have to take a day off from exposing the Hampshire divestniks for what they are in order to respond to this hilarious posting from my old friends at Muzzlwatch.

Given that Muzzlewatch, a blog ostensibly created to remove barriers to conversation about the Middle East, no longer tolerates two-way dialog (after shutting down their comments section when the kitchen got too hot), this reply will have to suffice as a rejoinder to Cecilie Surasky’s (the Muzzlewatch/Jewish Voice for Peace point person) hysterical response to a recent decision by the San Francisco Jewish Federation to stop underwriting the demonization of Israel.

The irony-challenged Ms. Surasky has to perform some pretty heavy contortions in order to fit the San Francisco story into a JVP narrative, so allow me to untangle the tale.

As regular readers know, infiltration is a theme I come back to again and again in my anti-divestment writing. Whenever BDS has posted a brief-lived “success” (such as with the Presbyterian Church or the British Teacher’s Union), it’s been because a small group of single-issue partisans have been willing to join an organization and use any means necessary (moral blackmail, parliamentary maneuvering, etc.) to tie an institution’s “brand” to the BDS propaganda message of “Israel = Apartheid,” regardless of the damage it might cause a church or other group in the process.

While many institutions have managed to avoid this type of manipulation, several have not. And the most recent victim was the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival which was hijacked and turned into a propaganda fest where the victimhood of Rachel Corrrie was trumpeted in film and lecture, while supporters of Israel were booed and jeered.

Unsurprisingly, this caused mayhem within the Film Festival organization and opened up enormous rifts within the San Francisco Jewish community. Once Israel’s detractors (including Jewish Voices for Peace) got what they wanted (tying their message to a respected Jewish institution), they were – as usual – not the least bit concerned with the wreckages their reckless activities caused. But once the organized Jewish community (in the form of the local Federation) decided to respond to the matter, there was the same Jewish Voice for Peace using their Muzzlewatch mouthpiece to scream “foul!”

Now consider for a moment the argument being made in Surasky’s piece. JVP is at the forefront of the US boycott, sanctions and divestment movement, which has attached itself at the hip to the goals of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). In other words, their fondest dream is to see Israeli academics shunned by their international colleagues, their papers refused entry into journals, their invitations to conferences revoked, their students refused entry to US and European graduate programs.

Yet while JVP works tirelessly to see Israeli academics and artists censored, they also run Muzzlewatch which exists to accuse anyone of challenging JVP orthodoxy of censorship. In the case of San Francisco, Surasky’s problem is not that the Federation is dragging anyone into court to get them to shut up (as JVP did in Boston). Nor are they hiding from criticism for their decisions (as Muzzlewatch did when they shut down their comments section). Rather, she is furious that the Federation has decided that defamers of Israel no longer have an automatic right to the community’s money.

Normally, the wannabe censors of Muzzlewatch simply hurl their accusations of censorship at those who have the temerity to use their own free speech rights to criticize the political positions of Jewish Voice for Peace. But in this case, their rage rises to the highest pitch I’ve ever seen because another organization that does not share JVP’s opinions refuses to write them checks, and refuses to tolerate a local Jewish film festival being subverted in order to accuse the Jewish state of murder.

At first I thought Surasky’s piece could never sustain the hilarity it achieved when the author was comparing its heroes (Judith Butler the “true academic rock star,” Ronnie Gilbert the former Weaver, and Aurora Levins Morales – both Latina and Jewish!) with the top-hat wearing, moustache-twirling, evil-doers of the Federation. But then she got to the threat (once again: Bogga! Bogga! Bogga!).

For you see it is we (meaning the SF Federation and other supporters of Israel) that are driving good and decent people into the arms of the boycott movement (not the tireless efforts of Jewish Voice for Peace who have been pushing BDS for close to a decade). And if we don’t reconsider and start those checks coming again, we will only have ourselves to blame when JVP keeps doing what it was planning to do anyway.

It’s been a couple of weeks since Halloween, but I can’t help but conjure up the image of one of those ten year olds who decided to costume up by wearing their parents or grandparents clothes. (In this case, I’ve got an image stuck in my head of Surasky and her JVP colleagues dressed in oversize trenchcoats and fedoras, with beards drawn on their face in marker, pretending to be scary gangsters.) “You mind your place Mister Federation Fatcat,” comes the real voice of Jewish Voice for Peace “or you’ll be wearing concrete golashes!”

Fortunately this site still accepts comments, so any Muzzlewatchers are more than free to let me know if I missed anything.