Jewish Federations drop JVP leader from ‘Heroes’ ballot without explanation

Israel/Palestine
on 17 Comments

The Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella organization that brings together 157 local and regional Jewish federations and hundreds of other Jewish organizations in the U.S. and Canada, runs an annual contest to choose “Jewish Community Heroes.” It slogan: “We honor those making strides to repair the world.” Until Sept. 27 anyone could nominate candidates, and through Nov. 10 anyone – Jew or not – can vote at the contest website; in fact, you can vote as often as once a day, for any number of candidates. That process produces a list of 20 finalists, 10 professionals (people who work for community organizations) and 10 volunteers. From that group five judges appointed by the organization will select the winner and four other finalists. The winner gets $25,000, the other finalists $1,000 each.

This year supporters of Jewish Voice for Peace nominated both Rebecca Vilkomerson, the group’s director, and Cecilie Surasky, its deputy director and editor of its important MuzzleWatch site, for the contest. Some of their admirers were carrying on a low-key campaign on behalf of Surasky in particular, and she was doing fairly well – in recent days she’d been number 10 in the professional category.

But on Thursday the JWeekly, a paper aimed at the Bay Area Jewish community, published an article profiling six candidates from northern California, including, in addition to Surasky, a student senator at University of California at Berkeley who helped block last year’s divestment resolution and a professor at UC Santa Cruz who has gained a measure of celebrity by claiming that an anti-Israel climate on UC campuses threatens the rights and safety of Jewish students. 

The article didn’t especially demonize Surasky, but it included the observation that she “is the most controversial local nominee, given that many in the Jewish community view Jewish Voice for Peace, the Oakland-based organization, as fundamentally hostile to Israel.”

The very next day, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Surasky’s name abruptly disappeared from the contest’s “leaderboard.” When you go to the pages that once displayed brief profile of her and of Vilkomerson, you get a message saying “Oops. The page you are looking for cannot be found.” In an eloquent commentary on her banishment, Surasky says she received no explanation.

The contest rules, however, include this provision: “Nominees are not eligible if they were nominated for a cause that runs directly counter to the ideals of The Jewish Federations of North America.” Apparently the federations have suddenly concluded that JVP’s ideals run counter to theirs. To that extent,unfortunately, they have a point.

On the other hand, as Surasky notes, one of the remaining candidates is a rabbi from St. Paul, MN, who wrote, in a published response to the question “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?,”

The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle)…. I don’t believe in Western morality. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.

This spiritual leader currently ranks no. 4 in the professionals category. Evidently the federations see no conflict between their values and his. Again, sad to say, they’re probably right.  

One note of interest to Mondoweiss readers: journalist Max Blumenthal remains on the nominee list, and anyone willing to provide an e-mail address and ZIP code can vote for him every day. As of this writing he has only 75 votes. What do you bet he’ll be deleted once this post appears?

About Henry Norr

Other posts by .


Posted In:

17 Responses

  1. Citizen
    October 8, 2011, 8:10 pm

    Huh, some group. Is there a Gentile Federations Of North America? In USA, Canada, or Israel? If so, do they believe in Torah over Western values too? Or is it the reverse? Is that the organization all those Republicans belong to, the ones that keep blurting out “Judeo-Christian” values, and tell us our Founding Fathers based their new country on same? Here I thought most of those old fellows in white wigs were Deists, and all of them were saturated with secularized Enlightenment values from Europe.

    What values were the Nuremberg Trials based on?

    • Potsherd2
      October 8, 2011, 10:43 pm

      They should rename the organization Zionist Federations of North America.

  2. mikeo
    October 8, 2011, 8:31 pm

    If this is what belonging to the mainstream Jewish community in America is about, censorship and collective guilt trips. Then I can see why so many young’uns are opting out.

  3. Bill in Maryland
    October 8, 2011, 9:07 pm

    Thank you Henry. I think you are right about the conflict between JVP’s and the Jewish Federation’s ideals. Not knowing about the campaign for Surasky, I had nominated Rebecca Vilkomerson. On October 7th I received this unsigned e-mail from the “Heroes” folks:

    I am writing to inform you that Rebecca Vilkomerson, a person you nominated for the Jewish Community Heroes campaign has been removed from the active list of nominee profiles. It is our standing policy to let all nominators know when a profile they submitted does not meet the qualifications.

    In this case, the nominee was removed because the nomination was based on the nominee’s efforts for Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization whose support for the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement against Israel runs directly counter to the mission of The Jewish Federations of North America. It would be inappropriate for JFNA to permit an organization which supports the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement to participate in our Jewish Community Heroes program.

    • Chaos4700
      October 9, 2011, 12:57 am

      So the only “heroes” that are allowed are the ones who help ethnically cleanse the West Bank. That’s cute.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    October 8, 2011, 9:41 pm

    RE: “journalist Max Blumenthal remains on the nominee list, and anyone willing to provide an e-mail address and ZIP code can vote for him every day.” ~ Norr

    MY COMMENT: I just voted for Max, and will continue to do so each and every day until his page is “disappeared”!

    P.S. WELL NOW, LOOKIE HERE (a wee bit of psychological projection, methinks):
    Facebook page – Max Blumenthal: Twisted Sociopath
    # of likes: 1 (one)
    Link – link to facebook.com

    P.P.S. SPEAKING OF SOCIOPATHS, MEET MY NEW ICON/AVATAR!
    RAYMOND DAVIS: GUNS, CARS, AND BAGELSlink to newyorker.com

  5. Dan Crowther
    October 8, 2011, 9:43 pm

    So JWeekly is backing right wingers, huh? Bastards. Somebody is going to hvae to put some pressure on JQuarterly, JDaily, JHourly and JNow! to get behind JVP! I know Im gonna vote for Max every minute on JBook – right on my Jphone!

  6. POA
    October 8, 2011, 10:26 pm

    “The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle)…. I don’t believe in Western morality”

    I love it when these pieces of shit reveal themselves unabashedly.

    • Hostage
      October 9, 2011, 9:00 am

      I love it when these pieces of shit reveal themselves unabashedly.

      The statement that you cited satisfies the legal criteria for a true threat and incitement to commit genocide. There is no immunity from extradition for religious leaders under the terms of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – and the US is a state party.

      That’s probably why Abe Foxman said “I am not shocked that there would be a rabbi who would have these views, but I am shocked that Moment would give up all editorial discretion and good sense to publish this as representative of Chabad.”

      Haaretz reported that Shmarya Rosenberg, a blogger and critic of Chabad who lives a few blocks from Friedman in Minnesota, says that the comment in Moment is not an aberration from his experiences with Friedman and many other Chabad rabbis.

  7. American
    October 8, 2011, 10:54 pm

    “It would be inappropriate for JFNA to permit an organization which supports the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement to participate in our Jewish Community Heroes program”

    So is this the main stream Jewish community we were talking about the other day?

    I think I will nominate Phil…..and Mooser.

    • Jeff D
      October 9, 2011, 1:40 am

      There are apparently (at least) two “mainstreams”: the lavishly-funded, politically-connected, belligerent über-Zionists who “worship themselves and a piece of land”, and the believers in G-d who work for justice and peace. As I recall, Jeremiah had a few choice words for the first group.

  8. James
    October 9, 2011, 12:45 am

    ….”many in the Jewish community view Jewish Voice for Peace, the Oakland-based organization, as fundamentally hostile to Israel.”

    do these same folks ever view anything that israel does as hostile to israel’s own best long term interests? do they view the rabbi who is still on the list as favourable to israel?

    it seems to me that some of these folks have a very hostile attitude towards peace, especially the rabbi who is still on the list… this really says something about this umbrella organization and anyone who belongs to it…

  9. Shmuel
    October 9, 2011, 3:31 am

    I’m surprised Surasky’s nomination made it through in the first place. I’m sure lessons will be learned for next year.

    From Surasky’s remarks:
    My family has a tradition of Hasidic rabbis who didn’t look or likely think that differently from Rabbi Friedman.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. As much as Hasidic fashions have changed over the past century, Hasidic thought – especially in the case of Lubavitch – has undergone even greater change. Even sects that claim to be non- or anti-Zionist have been deeply influenced by Zionism and its ideology of power and violence. I find it highly unlikely that any reputable Hasidic rabbi a hundred or even fifty years ago would have endorsed the kind of genocidal filth that Friedman likes to call “Jewish morality”.

  10. justicewillprevail
    October 9, 2011, 6:21 am

    When you can’t counter their arguments, when you don’t believe in open and honest debate and diversity of opinion, why then, just remove that person, make them a non-person, as if you deny their existence.

    • Jeff D
      October 9, 2011, 9:07 am

      I seem to recall the Soviets using that treatment on Jews who didn’t care for hte way they’d been treated in the USSR. I find it deeply ironic that one of the most famous such, to Americans anyway, is an official in the current Israeli government and apparently fully endorses anti-Palestinian racism. Double standards, much?

  11. split
    October 9, 2011, 5:17 pm

    “together 157 local and regional Jewish federations and hundreds of other Jewish organizations in the U.S”
    ———————————–
    Not to mention a holocaust institutions, shoah museums and monuments with a offices in every US city and town with a personel of an activists and “survivors” financed by a tax deductible donations, governmant subsidies, grants and security paid by additional taxes to replace the gap stolen from six-pack-joe who just lost his job and house.

  12. pabelmont
    October 10, 2011, 6:42 pm

    This could have been wonderful. A real democratic experiebnce (as opposed to the rigged elections Americans have conme to know, where big money winnows out the candidates EVEN BEFORE THE PRIMARIES).

    We could ahve seen the JVP candidates up there along with the UV-Berkeley anti-BDS folks, and seen how the chips fell. Maybe one or ther other would have won. How nice!

    But no. Pre-election ballot stuffing (simplification? cleaning?) removes JVP candidates. How very American!

Leave a Reply