Schulman: NY LGBT center labors under ‘stereotyped beliefs about punitive rich Jews’ who will pull out money if ‘anyone criticizes Israel’

Israel/Palestine
on 17 Comments

We mentioned that the leading intellectual Sarah Schulman was barred from presenting her book that is critical of Israel at the NY LGBT Center. From an interview with Saeed Jones of Buzzfeed, she describes a “weird kind of anti-Semitism” exhibited by the center’s executives– and also talks right of return:

SJ: Some argue that BDS’s stance on the Palestinian right of return is way too radical. Do you feel this is an accurate description of the group’s strategy? And, as a follow-up, do you personally feel that Israel should continue to exist as a Jewish State?

SS: I believe in equal rights for all human beings. If there is a Jewish Right of Return, there can also be a Palestinian Right of Return. I do not support different levels of rights based on religion.

SJ: The LGBT Center’s decision to bar you from discussing your book Israel/Palestine and the Queer International on its premises has, once again, sparked criticism from all directions. Why, if you had to speculate, does this keep happening?

SS: It’s hard to understand the logic of the LGBT Center. At the failed community meeting with their director, Glennda Tentone and her board, there were no Jews on staff, yet they kept telling us that this censorship would make the Center a ‘safe space” for Jews! It was bizarre, especially considering that Jews like myself, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Judith Butler, Joan Nestle etc were among the 1500 people who signed a petition for an open center. It seems that they hold cliched and stereotyped beliefs about punitive rich Jews who will pull out their Jew-money if anyone criticizes Israel, and it was this misguided prejudice that lead them to defensively ban any criticism of Israel. I know it sounds insane, but I honestly think that that is what happened. A weird kind of anti-semitism combined with a profound lack of intelligence and integrity.

SJ: Do you think the Center’s reluctance to engage in a critical discussion regarding queer politics in Israel/Palestine reflects a broader tendency in the LGBT community?

SS: Absolutely. The current board comes primarily from Corporate, not from the community.They primarily rely on foundation support and city contracts to run their service programs and don’t need or want community based organizations meeting there. It is no longer the center of gravity for the space. It’s a bureaucracy, tragically.

Myself, I would say that while this belief might seem insane, it is plainly the belief of many executives of political and cultural organizations, and it can neither be evaded or exploded till it is examined. The centrality of pro-Israel funders to leftwing cultural causes is a fact of establishment life; in the Democratic Party the percentage of money that comes from Jews is said to approach 2/3, and the assumption is that many of those givers care about Israel. Last year I wrote– apropos of Obama’s craven messaging on Israel to Jewish supporters– that perceptions of outsize Jewish power have existed since the Balfour Declaration in World War I, when British leaders (and German ones, too, unsuccessfully) courted Jews out of the belief that their financial support was crucial to victory. The Balfour scholar whose work I cited in that post, Jonathan Schneer, shares Schulman’s contention that this belief is an anti-Semitic fiction. That seems to me too facile a dismissal of a real element in our political culture, which empowered Jewish journalists have a duty to scrutinize. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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17 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    February 15, 2013, 11:35 am

    I’m not opposing your overall view. But since you write:
    “in the Democratic Party the percentage of money that comes from Jews is said to approach 2/3″ what does it say about “perceptions of outsize Jewish power”?

  2. FreddyV
    February 15, 2013, 11:41 am

    ‘ I know it sounds insane, but I honestly think that that is what happened. A weird kind of anti-semitism combined with a profound lack of intelligence and integrity.’

    This reminds me of the Israel map thing from The West Wing:

  3. pabelmont
    February 15, 2013, 12:32 pm

    “It seems that they hold cliched and stereotyped beliefs about punitive rich Jews who will pull out their Jew-money if anyone criticizes Israel, and it was this misguided prejudice that lead them to defensively ban any criticism of Israel.”

    Punitive? Yes. Cliched and stereotypical? yes. True? Probably.

    These views may well be “cliched and stereotypical” but that doesn’t make them false. The Board knows where its money is coming from. So does City Council. And you know how CC expressed its opinion of BDS. and who is passionate to defeat BDS except Zionists and those who depend on Zionists for bread-and-butter?

    Wouldn’t it be “a gas” if there were (in fact) no “Jew-money” (that is, as used above, no preponderance or even no very large chunk of money available for LGBT and City Council and other “liberals” or ‘progressives” coming from hard-right-wing-Zionists). No-one would dare test the waters, and it would be “true” because everyone would act “as if” it were true.

    My guess (I am not a receiver of big-funds from anybody, but I remember the stink way, way back when the Boston Symphony hired — and then fired — the Palestinians’ friend Vanessa Redgrave, the hiring done on artistic merit, the firing said by everyone to be the result of pressure from rich Jewish donors) is that there are a sufficiency of very rich Zionist donors and that they do exert pressure, perhaps directly, perhaps slyly.

    I don’t know how to test the “as if” except by funds-dependent folks taking BIG risks.

  4. hophmi
    February 15, 2013, 1:26 pm

    ” It seems that they hold cliched and stereotyped beliefs about punitive rich Jews who will pull out their Jew-money if anyone criticizes Israel, and it was this misguided prejudice that lead them to defensively ban any criticism of Israel. I know it sounds insane, but I honestly think that that is what happened.”

    LOL. If there were Jews on staff, you’d write that this was an example of tribal solidarity. There aren’t, so you write that it’s an act of antisemitism.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    February 15, 2013, 3:24 pm

    RE: “We mentioned that the leading intellectual Sarah Schulman was barred from presenting her book that is critical of Israel at the NY LGBT Center.” ~ Weiss

    PETITION: “Save New York’s LGBT Center! Don’t Let Wealthy Bigots Shut Down Free Speech ”
    TO READ/SIGN THE PETITION – link to ipetitions.com

    P.S. I have signed many ipetitions. There is no charge for signing one of their petitions. Yes, after you “sign” the petition, they do make a pitch for a voluntary contribution (as do many sites), but it is strictly voluntary. Usually I decline to make a contribution, but every once in a while I do make a small contribution.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    February 15, 2013, 3:46 pm

    RE: “Last year I wrote . . . that perceptions of outsize Jewish power have existed since the Balfour Declaration in World War I, when British leaders (and German ones, too, unsuccessfully) courted Jews out of the belief that their financial support was crucial to victory.” ~ Weiss

    FROM BELOW: “Lloyd George and Balfour believed their support for Zionism would advance British war aims. They thought American Jews would encourage their government to enter the war . . .”

    SEE: Jonathan Schneer’s “The Balfour Declaration,” reviewed by Eugene Rogan, Washington Post, 9/19/10

    [EXCERPTS] . . . Chaim Weizmann proved essential to securing support for Zionism among powerful members of the Cousinhood and leading British politicians. Born in Russia in 1874, he fled czarist anti-Semitism to study chemistry in Germany and Switzerland, and moved to England to take up a post in the University of Manchester in 1904. He became a British subject only in 1910.
    Schneer brilliantly captures Weizmann’s rise, in which he used social contacts with the influential Rothschild family and discussions with liberal newspaper editor C.P. Scott to secure meetings with Balfour in December 1914 and Minister of Munitions David Lloyd George in January 1915.
    Lloyd George and Balfour believed their support for Zionism would advance British war aims. They thought American Jews would encourage their government to enter the war, and Russian Jews would throw their weight behind the czar’s efforts to ensure Germany’s defeat and the creation of a Jewish national home under British sponsorship. Moreover, they believed that support for Jewish nationalism might advance Britain’s territorial ambitions in Palestine. Having secretly agreed with France in 1916 to place Palestine under an international administration, Balfour saw an opportunity to use Zionism to gain international support to place the Holy Lands under British rule instead. . .

    ENTIRE BOOK REVIEW – link to washingtonpost.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      February 15, 2013, 4:23 pm

      P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Woodrow Wilson]:

      [EXCERPTS] Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. . .
      . . . Narrowly re-elected in 1916, he had full control of American entry into World War I, and his second term centered on World War I and the subsequent peace treaty negotiations in Paris. He had based his re-election campaign around the slogan, “He kept us out of war”, but U.S. neutrality was challenged in early 1917 when the German Empire began unrestricted submarine warfare despite repeated strong warnings and tried to enlist Mexico as an ally. In April 1917, Wilson asked Congress to declare war. . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  7. ToivoS
    February 15, 2013, 5:40 pm

    Any one who relies on grants from public and private foundations are acutely aware that there is a significant Jewish influence. If only 25% of the donors (or peer reviewers in the case of public agencies) would reject a proposal for being too critical of Israel or be biased against an individual because of their unrelated public comments, then prudence demands that that 25% be respected.

    This will not change any time soon. The most we can do is expose this situation whenever we have the opportunity. Kudos to Sarah Schulman for doing so here. As someone who has relied on grants for much of my career I have tried to be very careful with respect to Israel. I was once warned, privately by a friend, that he thought I was stepping over the line. I heeded his advice.

  8. piotr
    February 15, 2013, 8:12 pm

    “The centrality of pro-Israel funders to leftwing cultural causes is a fact of establishment life; in the Democratic Party the percentage of money that comes from Jews is said to approach 2/3, and the assumption is that many of those givers care about Israel.”

    Does Mondoweiss count as a “leftwing cultural cause”?

    Anyway, part of the drama seems to be that most of the public does not care about Israel at all, this way or another. Sheldon Adelson allegedly spent 200,000,000 dollars on elections with only one scalp to show: a Zionist Jew who was a union supporter in her past. But among the people who do care I perceive a new trend.

    After all, Adelson and Sara Schulman both care. What changed in NY LGBT?

  9. piotr
    February 15, 2013, 8:20 pm

    “It seems that they hold cliched and stereotyped beliefs about punitive rich Jews who will pull out their Jew-money if anyone criticizes Israel, and it was this misguided prejudice that lead them to defensively ban any criticism of Israel.”

    What is it? Serious, tongue in cheek, satire? That it regularly happens that when something “anti-Israel” happens, say, exhibition of childrens’ art from Gaza or a congratulatory message about PA joining UN, some donors threaten to stop their good works, and it is not a cliched belief but a very reasonable conjecture that they are (i) rich (ii) Jewish (iii) punitive (iv) pulling out their money if anyone criticises Israel.

    I would doubt that these are “Jew money” because I have no idea what is it. Passover gelt? It is my belief that the cases of dropping pro-Palestinian activities from the schedule were not caused by a “mistaken belief” but by irate phone calls etc.

  10. yourstruly
    February 15, 2013, 9:00 pm

    donors to a human rights organization?

    by making their support contingent upon an organization’s track record in toeing their line on, say, israel/palestine?

    beware?

    they have their own agenda?

    compromising the organizations stated mission?

    justice for palestine?

    right on time?

  11. American
    February 15, 2013, 9:47 pm

    “It seems that they hold cliched and stereotyped beliefs about punitive rich Jews who will pull out their Jew-money if anyone criticizes Israel, and it was this misguided prejudice that lead them to defensively ban any criticism of Israel.”

    Hah..it seems to me Ms. Schulman is playing stupid. …and using the anti semite slur in unique way….calling people anti semites for being afraid to be attacked by the Zios?…that’s a ‘new’ use of anti semite…..LOL

    Does she think no one at the Center pays attention to politics or the news? That they didn’t see Mr. Israel Adelson’s antics in the election, they didn’t see the Hagel Israel and gay Republican group in the fight, they didn’t see the recent flap at Brooklyn and the threats to end their funding? They aren’t aware of the hundreds of times the Zios have attacked and threaten groups over Israel?….pleezze. ….give me a break.

    There’s nothing cliched and stereotyped about believing rich Jewish Zionist will pull out their money from something if it criticizes Israel…..we see it done/threatened all the time.

  12. American
    February 15, 2013, 10:05 pm

    Who thought up this ‘money threat’? ….the Buddhist in congress? Or maybe the Hispanics in congress are concened about anti semitism in Palestine? The zionist not only threaten with their own money, they use ‘ours’ to threaten people with.

    Congress To Release Aid To Palestinian Authority, With Strings Attached

    link to thedailybeast.com

    Sigal Samuel on Congress’s decision to make U.S. aid to the West Bank conditional on Palestinian efforts to stamp out anti-Semitism. >>>>

    ”How dare you hate me while I kill your children and steal your land.”…… gawd.

  13. David Doppler
    February 16, 2013, 12:14 am

    Okay, I’m pretty sure accusations of Anti-Semitism have gone too far, when the board of a LGBT nonprofit who bend to pressure from Zionists to prevent criticism of Israel from being presented on its premises are described as Anti-Semitic for assuming that such pressure means anything. The American Jewish community is divided on the way forward for Israel, and it would be the American way for everyone to air their differences in spirited debate focused on the issues. For non-Jews on both sides of these issues to be accused of Anti-Semitism for opening their mouths is unacceptable. How about we debate the issues, and everyone’s entitled to their viewpoint?

    • sardelapasti
      February 16, 2013, 4:38 pm

      Doppler – “it would be the American way for everyone to air their differences in spirited debate…”

      That would be the way in most places. It is, whoever, the uniquely American way to condition all cultural activity as well as the exercise of free speech to unfettered capitalism, leaving it at the mercy of “philanthropic” sharks, as is in this case.

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