Beyond the pale: NYC Jewish community center cancels workshop on Palestinian nonviolent movements

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 14 Comments
Young, Jewish and Proud’s “Go & Learn: BDS Education in Jewish Communities” event taking place outside the 14th Street Y. (Photo: Young, Jewish and Proud)

Catching up on news from the long weekend. On Saturday, Young, Jewish and Proud sent out a press release saying the 14th Street Y, a Jewish community space in New York City, had cancelled a room they reserved for an educational event on BDS.

From the press release:

Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff

With less than two full days until a Jewish educational workshop on Palestinian nonviolent movements planned for May 27th at 3pm, the 14th Street Y, a Jewish community space, has pulled the plug. In a phone call made to Liza Behrendt of Young, Jewish, and Proud (YJP) on Friday night, Executive Director Steven Hazan Arnoff cancelled the event and refused to reschedule, although YJP had signed a contract and rented space months before.  Event organizers have chosen to move forward with the event and plan to meet as scheduled, in front of the 14th Street Y.

Arnoff cited concerns of high attendance as the Y’s reason for cancellation, although the rented space holds 75 and only 40 have RSVP’d. . .

“What is the 14th Street Y afraid of?”  asked Behrendt. “We want to sit together, eat blintzes, and share our thoughts on what it means to be Jewish and grapple with Palestinian nonviolent movements.”  Organizers had encouraged BDS opponents to attend and take part in conversation.

The 14th Street Y’s last minute cancellation is emblematic of a larger trend of silencing discussion on Palestinian nonviolent movements within the Jewish community. In March, YJP organizers were excluded from Tribefest, a youth conference of the Jewish Federations of North America.  Last year Brandeis University Hillel excluded a campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.  Before that, a Boston-area synagogue cancelled a talk by J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.  Jewish institutions nationwide have instituted guidelines that silence discussion of the BDS movement and intimidate Jewish leaders who wish to engage publicly with criticism of Israel. 

The event was part of the new JVP initiative Go & Learn: BDS Education in Jewish Communities, and similar events have taken place in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Despite the cancellation the event did happen . . . on the sidewalk in front of the 14th Street Y. A perfect metaphor for a Jewish communal leadership that refuses to acknowledge the conversation knocking at its door.

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14 Responses

  1. seafoid
    May 29, 2012, 4:02 pm

    YJP let down by OJS

    Old Jewish and Scared

  2. OlegR
    May 29, 2012, 4:35 pm

    The boycotters complain that they are being boycotted.

    • thankgodimatheist
      May 30, 2012, 6:51 am

      “The boycotters complain that they are being boycotted.”

      Stupid comment. No equivalency. The boycotters are boycotting the occupation. A just movement. The boycotted are boycotting non-violent resistance. A vile action.

      • OlegR
        May 30, 2012, 7:15 pm

        Thank you for your valuable opinion.

      • Cliff
        May 30, 2012, 9:29 pm

        Thank you for your lame equivocation, OlegR.

        TGIA nailed it.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    May 29, 2012, 4:57 pm

    RE: “Beyond the pale: NYC Jewish community center cancels workshop on Palestinian nonviolent movements”

    SPEAKING OF BEING “BEYOND THE PALE”: Nakba porn kingpin Michael Lucas bullies LGBT center against Anti-Apartheid Party, by Max Blumental, Mondoweiss, 2/24/11

    (excerpt) Wealthy gay porn producer Michael Lucas has successfully pressured New York City’s LGBT Center to renege on its agreement to host a “Party to End Apartheid” on Israeli Apartheid Week. Lucas threatened to boycott the center and pressure its donors to pull their money out. He called the event an “anti-Semitic” affair held by a “hate group.” It seems that money talks, because I doubt that a progressive institution like the LGBT Center would have otherwise responded to an open bigot like Lucas who has used ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages as sets for sex scenes.
    Lucas, who leads gay tours to Israel to promote the country’s supposedly tolerant gay culture, has celebrated fellow porn producer Charles Merrill’s public burning of a Qu’ran, calling it an act of “artistic bravery.” Last year, he joined the Islamophobic bandwagon in calling the Cordoba Initiative’s plan to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero part of a covert plot to install Shariah law in the United States — he described the proposed center as a “monument to Muslim terrorism.” A laundry list of racist statements by Lucas would be so long it is impossible to compile (for more, see here); it is enough to note that his political views are defined by crude resentment of Muslims, the fetishization of an Israel that does not exist, and little else.
    What is more remarkable about Lucas is the way in which he has fused extreme Zionism with homoeroticism in his films. His most widely promoted film, “Men of Israel,” contains a sex scene inside a Palestinian village that was ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias in 1947-48. Lucas describes the scene here (NSFW), deceptively stating that the village was “deserted centuries ago”:

    . . . we went to an abandoned village just north of Jerusalem. It was a beautiful ancient township that had been deserted centuries ago. . . . .however, that did not stop our guys from mounting each other and trying to repopulate it. Biology may not be the lesson of the day but these men shot their seeds all over the village. . .


    P.S. PETITION: “Save New York’s LGBT Center! Don’t Let Wealthy Bigots Shut Down Free Speech ”

  4. German Lefty
    May 29, 2012, 5:02 pm

    “eat blintzes”

    A further Yiddish word I learnt. In the eastern part of Germany, pancakes are called “Plinsen”, too.

    YJP, keep up the good work!

    • Daniel Rich
      May 29, 2012, 7:18 pm

      @ German Lefty

      side note; is that why you ate [‘Ik bin ein Burrrliner’] JFK?

      • tokyobk
        May 29, 2012, 8:40 pm

        a jelly donut, why not!

      • German Lefty
        May 30, 2012, 3:32 pm

        “is that why you ate [‘Ik bin ein Burrrliner’] JFK?”

        German terms for pancakes and jelly donuts vary from region to region. It’s complicated.

        most of West Germany:
        Berliner = jelly donut; Pfannkuchen = pancake

        most of East Germany:
        Pfannkuchen = jelly donut; Eierkuchen = pancake

        Saxony (East Germany):
        Pfannkuchen = jelly donut; Plinse = pancake

        Thuringia (East Germany):
        Kräppel = jelly donut; Eierkuchen = pancake

  5. pabelmont
    May 29, 2012, 5:32 pm

    They won’t hear talk about Palestinian non-violence, but they constantly decry Palestinian violence (and, I imagine, greatly exaggerate the amount of such violence). They want to live with their wicked dreams, to justify Israeli violence.

  6. Daniel Rich
    May 29, 2012, 7:11 pm

    I would like to argue that the [US] Jewish community at large [minus the exceptions] should start to worry about all those stories being printed about the unprecedented influence attributed to said various [US] Jewish communities.

    Example 1: The prospects for agreement are not likely to improve before that meeting, however, mainly because of an inflexible US diplomatic posture that reflects President Barack Obama’s need to bow to the demands of Israel and the US Congress on Iran policy. Link @

    Example 2: The American media are frightened to death of CAMERA, which wields inordinate influence on news coverage in this country – a situation mirrored at the governmental level, where the Israel lobby [AIPAC – DR] exercises a virtual veto over US policy in the Middle East. Link @

    Example 3: CAMERA [Committee for Accuracy in Media] Link @

    Example 4: DEBKA Files “Vladimir Putin, after taking stock of the early days of his third presidency, concludes that Moscow’s handling of the al-Houla massacre and Syria’s ongoing collapse into civil war will go down as a Russian foreign policy failure. He personally comes out of it as the patron of a bloodthirsty tyrant. He has quietly ordered the Russian arms ship Professor Katsman to leave the Syrian port before unloading its cargo. Putin is now taxed with determining his next steps on Syria.” Putin told us personally! Link @

  7. dbroncos
    May 29, 2012, 8:47 pm

    “Despite the cancellation the event did happen . . . on the sidewalk in front of the 14th Street Y. A perfect metaphor for a Jewish communal leadership that refuses to acknowledge the conversation knocking at its door.”

    Yes. Thanks, Adam.

  8. Les
    May 30, 2012, 10:19 am

    The young who are the future versus the old past. Thanks for all that you do. We will surely be seeing more of you and less of the old.

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