The Jewish establishment has banned these four valiant Jews. Why?

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on 93 Comments

This is the story of a tragedy inside the Jewish community.

The four American Jews above are on a national campus tour. All in their 70s, they are veterans of the civil rights movement; they went south 50 years ago to help free our country from Jim Crow, risking their lives for equal rights.

But they have been banned from speaking at Hillel, the Jewish campus organization, because they have come out in favor of Palestinian human rights.

Last Wednesday they were to speak at Swarthmore Hillel, but the gangster who runs Hillel, former congressman Eric Fingerhut, hinted at legal action if the students dared to let them speak– so the students had to start a new Jewish group called Kehilah just to hear them.

Eric Fingerhut, the head of Hillel International. (Photo: Shahar Azran for Hillel)

Eric Fingerhut, the head of Hillel International. (Photo: Shahar Azran for Hillel)

The next night they spoke to an overflow crowd at Muhlenberg College, introduced by former Hillel president Caroline Dorn. Dorn had to quit Hillel in order to host them—and she also had to meet with the college provost even to get permission for the four to come on campus because the college administration was afraid of alienating Jewish students. “It was devastating,” she says. And last night they spoke to more than 100 at the University of Michigan. Again: barred from Hillel.

So these four travelers are freedom riders twice. First in their 20s in the civil rights movement, now in their 70s, sponsored by the Open Hillel movement.

“Why are they so afraid about what a bunch of old folks are going to say to you?” Mark Levy asked at Swarthmore.

Why? Because when I saw them at Swarthmore, three of them started to weep as they told their stories, even 50 years later. Why? Because they witnessed an American social revolution in which many people suffered, and they are extending that experience to Palestine.

Levy is the man on the left. A retired teacher in New York, he went south because he thought the best way to fight anti-semitism was to fight discrimination against all people.

Next to him is Larry Rubin. Rubin went south “automatically” from the Sholom Aleichem Club in Philadelphia 50 years ago because “I wanted to make my country better.” But in Belzoni Mississippi, a sheriff said to him, “We haven’t hanged us a Hebe in a long time” and the white people said he was trying to “destroy” the country. The same charge was hurled at him when he went to Palestine and witnessed the apartheid conditions there.

Next in line, Dorothy Zellner. Like Rubin, she worked for SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee. She went south because she believed Jews fought injustice in the garment industry, in the Spanish Civil war, in the Warsaw Ghetto, because the Talmud told them to:

“Who is honored? The one who honors all human beings.”

On Zellner’s left is the baby of the group, Ira Grupper. He grew up Orthodox in Brooklyn, and twice he broke down last week as he spoke. First when he said that he had named his daughter after his friend Vernon Dahmer, who was murdered in Mississippi for helping black people to vote. The second time when he told of his arrest with hundreds of other men at the Mississippi Fairgrounds, and every night as a form of humiliation and control the cops served the white prisoners their bologna sandwich and cup of milk first but every prisoner set the cup on the floor with the sandwich on top of it till the last black prisoner was served.

“Then all of us prisoners, black and white together, picked up our sandwiches as one, and that is what the civil rights movement means to me, and as a Jew I have to fight for the rights of all people and that includes Palestinians.”

You’d think that these four Jews would be hallowed by the Jewish community, that Grupper would be telling his stories at the 92d Street Y and the DC JCC and the Center for Jewish History in New York. No: they are pariahs, because they speak out for Palestine, and cross Hillel International’s red lines for accepted speech.

The night I saw them was tense. Joshua Wolfsun of Kehilah warned the crowd, you may disagree vehemently with what you are about to hear, but please try and listen resiliently and if you have to blow off steam, take a walk outside. A rabbi who sat near the back asked what was the difference between blind loyalty to Israel that the group was opposing and support for the Jewish people. An older man said equal rights and civil rights and peace are all great, but what do you owe the Jewish community?

Levy said the demand is something out of the Spanish Inquisition. “There’s a single definition of being Jewish: I have to be a Zionist, 110 percent uncritical of Israel, otherwise I can’t call myself a Jew. And I think there’s something wrong with that.”

Rubin said the thought control reminds him of Communist days, when friends said he should never criticize the Soviet Union because Russia was the savior of the working class, and criticism would hurt the movement.

“Now Israel is the savior of the Jewish community so don’t say anything. Israel is supposed to be a Jewish country–and they don’t want Jews to argue? This is not the way that Jews do business.”

Zellner said Israel is not a Jewish country, any more than the U.S. was a white country when 12 percent of the country was black. But she said the demands of Jewish nationalism have made Jews sick.

“What’s happening now in the Jewish community, the enforced loyalty to the state of Israel, has made us sick. We are a sick population, we are under such extreme tension. We have people storming out of seder meals, and we in Jews Say No, when we’re out on the street. I have seen normal people who you would not look at twice go from zero to 60 in a second and become raving maniacs. Calling us everything that you can possibly say. We are in a situation where people can’t ask the questions and they can’t talk. “

She said the young Jews in the room were the “prize” that the older Jews are fighting over, and the Fingerhuts will lose.

“You signal the end of the occupation. I am the oldest one here. I will tell you my age, I’m 77, and I am going to be live to the end of this occupation. You all have done the final blow. When hundred of J Street student went outside of Fingerhut’s office [to protest restrictions], this is the end, the ship is going down and it’s because of you guys..”

Others on this site are not as thrilled as I am by this movement. They say it’s fine for Jews to save the Jewish soul, but that’s not going to bring justice to Palestine. I say we need to change the Jewish community, because we hold the keys to changing U.S. policy. One thing we agree about, the Jewish community is reactionary when it comes to Palestinian rights; and these four Jews in their 70s are working with Jews in their teens and 20s to try and change that culture.

Dorothy Zellner said the Jewish establishment miscalculated, promising its loyalty to Israel, saying, “We are all in lockstep. But we’re not.” The young people are breaking those chains and the Fingerhuts and Foxmans are terrified of the change. And when the change happens American public opinion will break.

The young Jews issued a statement of their own yesterday. After the threats to Swarthmore and the resignation of Caroline Dorn, the Open Hillel movement issued a calm challenge to their elders:

Hillel is facing a choice – it can continue to spend valuable resources devoted to fighting its own students in an attempt to dictate what students can and cannot say about Israel/Palestine, or it can return to its mission of engaging Jewish students.

The vets will be at the University of Chicago on April 1st. We’ll announce additional stops on the midwest tour when we learn about them. And then they hit the South, April 15-18.

About Philip Weiss

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

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93 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    March 31, 2015, 10:52 am

    Phil, great report. Hope this gets a lot of play. My belief in Jewish unnecessarily-strong-uprightness (do I still believe this?) was based on exactly such people’s contributions in the 1960s. These FOUR are indeed “heroes of our time” (1960s)! And heroes again today.

    And it should be said, the OpenHillel breakaways are also heroes, willing to undergo some opposition while the great body of Jews on campuses re-think a lot of things and maybe try to escape the Stalinist thought-regimentation that the J-Establishment sees fit to seek to impose on them.

  2. eljay
    March 31, 2015, 10:56 am

    I have much respect for these four “freedom riders”. The world needs far more people like them – people who advocate for justice, accountability and equality – and far fewer Jewish and other supremacists.

    • Krauss
      March 31, 2015, 12:59 pm

      It’s critical to understand that the same tactics that is used against BDS is also used against Jews from within, so to speak.

      This is why these reports are so valuable, so that people understand that despite the best efforts of the Foxman’s of the world, the actual opinion on the ground is more diverse.

  3. Amar
    March 31, 2015, 11:03 am

    Not to take away from these 4 great people, but the split within Hillel over this was just as interesting.

  4. Kay24
    March 31, 2015, 11:07 am

    Whatever happened to being proud of your own people, for standing up for human rights, and being passionate about the plight of the downtrodden? After all, shouldn’t that be the outcome of what was a brutal history, and horrible crimes committed against your own people? Shouldn’t one make sure there will never be human rights abuses ever again against any people. Or is that suffering and history to be prevented only if it is your own, and your own people committing similar crimes are okay?

    Shame on those dismissing those who are speaking for voiceless people, especially when they are brave enough to bring focus on the criminals who happen to be your own people.

  5. just
    March 31, 2015, 11:24 am

    It’s always been true that folks in the American establishment rightly honor the brave Jewish Americans who stood shoulder to shoulder with others in the fight for civil rights. Some even exploit them and their legacy. Now the Jewish establishment bans them.

    It’s deeply disturbing that the “establishment” can’t see the extreme hypocrisy of their actions in this and many other issues. They will lose this “fight” to silence their voices.

    ““You signal the end of the occupation. I am the oldest one here. I will tell you my age, I’m 77, and I am going to be live to the end of this occupation. You all have done the final blow. When hundred of J Street student went outside of Fingerhut’s office [to protest restrictions], this is the end, the ship is going down and it’s because of you guys..”

    Others on this site are not as thrilled as I am by this movement. They say it’s fine for Jews to save the Jewish soul, but that’s not going to bring justice to Palestine. I say we need to change the Jewish community, because we hold the keys to changing U.S. policy”

    These brave people found the keys, and now everyone who wants one can get a copy.

    Kudos and thanks to these wonderful human beings who represent the best of the best. Kudos to Catherine Dorn, Open Hillel, and the many that believe in their message, too.

    Thanks, Phil.

    • CigarGod
      April 1, 2015, 10:50 am

      So, Graham bought 5 rugs for 5 bucks…in a country destroyed by us. Why does this remind me of carpet baggers of the south? Graham brags about buying stuff from desperate, starving people…trying to survive in an economy that we destroyed. Yep…that’s the D.C. bubble…

  6. yonah fredman
    March 31, 2015, 11:30 am

    The gangster who runs Hillel… worse or better or the same as the atrocity of netanyahu speaking before congress. The same. the language of agit prop.

    • Philip Weiss
      March 31, 2015, 11:55 am

      What word do you want me to use to capture the opprobrium of the speaking ban, Yonah?

      • yonah fredman
        March 31, 2015, 12:25 pm

        I bet you have a thesaurus on your desk, Phil. If not I bet you can google a better word. Bully, blind, pigheaded, dictatorial or that old standby McCarthyite are all sufficiently negative without gangster with its criminal connotations.

      • amigo
        March 31, 2015, 12:33 pm

        “What word do you want me to use to capture the opprobrium of the speaking ban, Yonah? – PhillipWeiss.

        Yonah only asks questions he never has an answer for.

      • yonah fredman
        March 31, 2015, 12:47 pm

        amigo- I would answer in a timely fashion, (in fact i already have answered in a timely fashion) except there is a time delay imposed by the blind bullying dictator moderator.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 31, 2015, 12:50 pm

        ;) oh sorry, i got side tracked listening to van cliburn playing Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor, Op 23 after following phil’s link. sometimes it’s just a matter of having a life yonah. the reason this got cleared and your others have not is because when i returned to moderating it was right on top. sometimes, it’s just that simple.

      • Mooser
        March 31, 2015, 12:48 pm

        “Yonah only asks questions he never has an answer for.”

        Well, that’s actually a good thing. What is so sad is that Yonah never even considers anybody elses answers could apply to him, too!

      • Mooser
        March 31, 2015, 12:54 pm

        “there is a time delay imposed by the blind bullying dictator moderator.”

        Blind? , Don’t you mean, “All-Seeing”?

      • Mooser
        March 31, 2015, 1:00 pm

        “;) oh sorry, i got side tracked listening to van cliburn playing Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor, Op 23”

        Perfect accompaniment for this!!! They got Bertha’s head off and up!

      • Annie Robbins
        March 31, 2015, 1:08 pm

        bertha! mooser, did you notice Bully, blind, pigheaded, dictatorial or that old standby McCarthyite

        however, we just know had phil used any of these descriptions yonah would be right there nipping at phil complaining about them too.

      • Mooser
        March 31, 2015, 1:21 pm

        “Bully, blind, pigheaded, dictatorial or that old standby McCarthyite “

        Yonah, of course, is “just too marvelous, too marvelous for words
        Like glorious, glamorous, and that old standby amorous!”

        See how assimilation works? You can send ’em to Hillel in a handbasket, but they still end up picking up phrases from that lascivious popular drek! Tchaikovsky, it’s not!

      • eGuard
        March 31, 2015, 2:00 pm

        yonah proposes adjectives. Those should be added then:

        The blind, pigheaded, dictatorial, McCarthyite gangster who runs Hillel…Eric Fingerhut

        A matter of style. Better leave them out.

      • JLewisDickerson
        March 31, 2015, 3:08 pm

        RE: “;) oh sorry, i got side tracked listening to van cliburn playing Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor, Op 23 after following phil’s link. sometimes it’s just a matter of having a life yonah. the reason this got cleared and your others have not is because when i returned to moderating it was right on top. sometimes, it’s just that simple.” [VIDEO INSERTED] ~ Annie Robbins

        MY COMMENT: I find this highly offensive! Not only that, it interferes with the practice of my religion because Tchaikovsky is/was a KNOWN HOMOSEXUAL and that’s against my religion!
        THIS WOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN IN MIKE PENCE’S INDIANA! NEVER! ! !

      • just
        March 31, 2015, 3:13 pm

        Speaking of Pence’s Indiana:

        “Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal pile on in support of controversial law they say includes the right to discriminate against LGBT Americans”

        http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/31/gop-2016-contenders-indiana-religious-freedom-law

        Just to remind folks, Pence did this once upon a time:

        “In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad. Graham noted that he “bought five rugs for five bucks” and Pence said the Shorja market “was just like any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime.”

        CNN’s John Roberts summed up Hagel’s dig at McCain: “I didn’t go to the Shorja market with 100 soldiers around me and helicopters overhead and snipers on the roof.””

        http://thinkprogress.org/security/2007/04/16/11942/hagel-iraq-shopping/

      • Mooser
        March 31, 2015, 3:40 pm

        “MY COMMENT: I find this highly offensive! “

        Hey I dig that long-hair schmaltz! In fact, I’m listening to a Suite myself, at the moment.

      • justicewillprevail
        March 31, 2015, 4:59 pm

        The gangster reference is to indicate the likeness of the ziolobby to the mafia – threats, malicious actions, smears and group behaviour designed to make outsiders of people who cross them. Seems fair.

        Of course you miss the irony of people who stood up for US civil rights being slimed and lowballed by those who claim to hold ‘western values’, and who are keen to deny any talk of civil rights in their precious theme park. The ugliness of their behaviour, and total disregard for the rights enshrined in their host country, is a sign of their degenerate, retrograde racist mindset. They don’t get how repugnant they are, and why they think they represent, or speak for, Jews outside of the mob, is a mystery. But they cling to it as if it is some sort of justification, as well as a stick to beat others with. They are self-elected spokespeople for no-one except themselves. Who would want to be in their insular, outdated nasty bigoted club, whatever culture you grew up with?

      • MRW
        March 31, 2015, 10:18 pm

        Ben Gurion called Ariel Sharon a gangster in private conversations, according to my mentor who ate lunch with Ben Gurion four times a week for a year.

      • JLewisDickerson
        March 31, 2015, 10:23 pm

        RE: “Hey I dig that long-hair schmaltz! In fact, I’m listening to a Suite myself, at the moment.” ~ Mooser

        MY REPLY: ‘Fly guys’ unite! ! ! Do it for Maynard G. Krebs.

      • JLewisDickerson
        March 31, 2015, 10:36 pm
      • just
        March 31, 2015, 11:29 pm

        MRW~ Ben- Gurion put it lightly wrt Sharon.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2015, 11:28 am

        I find this highly offensive! Not only that, it interferes with the practice of my religion because Tchaikovsky is/was a KNOWN HOMOSEXUAL and that’s against my religion!

        dickerson! not only that, i think cliburn was too! what’s happening to our world? it’s as if everything is crumbling around us. hetrosexuals breeders unite — or else the future of humanity will be threatened!

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 11:54 am

        ” it’s as if everything is crumbling around us.”

        Annie, you are so right! Did I tell you what my wife said when Gay marriage became legal in Washington? She told me that if I gave her any more trouble, she would dump me, and marry a man!

        All the old verities have disappeared, leaving me with vertigo and verdigris.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2015, 11:56 am

        LOL, i had to google “verdigris”.

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 12:14 pm

        What’s verdigris? It’s poison that’s what it is! You just swaller some of it once- you’ll see!

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 2:17 pm

        “not only that, i think cliburn was too!”

        I wouldn’t know, he never discussed it with me.

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 6:28 pm
      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2015, 6:33 pm

        ;)

      • Mooser
        April 6, 2015, 2:35 pm

        The Mentors! One of my faves! Love them. A NW band too, I think.

    • just
      March 31, 2015, 12:01 pm

      Would you object to the use of “omertà” to describe Fingerhut’s edict/tactics?

      “omertà
      NOUN
      (as practiced by the Mafia) a code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to authorities.”

      • Rusty Pipes
        March 31, 2015, 2:06 pm

        If “omerta” is a stretch, we can just stick to the penalities risked by anyone branded a “moser.”

      • Mooser
        March 31, 2015, 2:42 pm

        “If “omerta” is a stretch, we can just stick to the penalities risked by anyone branded a “moser.”

        Which has, if you will allow me to point it out, one “o”, not two. That is not where the name came from. It’s just not. No, really!

    • amigo
      March 31, 2015, 12:44 pm

      “The gangster who runs Hillel” .

      Why not indeed.Anyone who supports ethnic cleansing, land theft and war crimes fits the description of gangster. A co conspirator , iow.

      ” worse or better or the same as the atrocity of netanyahu speaking before congress”.Yonah.

      I agree Yonah. Atrocious is a much better word.

      Btw, the atrocity is in the making and will be along soon.

      • MHughes976
        March 31, 2015, 1:13 pm

        My idea of normal usage is that someone who prohibits speech is a censor, someone who looks very keenly into speech, with an eye to prohibition, is an inquisitor. Some who supports all those evil things is a propagandist for atrocity. Gangster suggests being in it for the money and perhaps having a rather swaggering style, as popularised by Al Capone.

    • Elliot
      April 1, 2015, 6:04 am

      I’ve run into Yonah’s comment wrt the use of “McCarthyism”. I really don’t know whether these charged words are just a convenient target or whether dropping them would make a difference. I love Phil’s style because it challenges the norms of the MSM which are just as “agit prop” – but they get to pretend that that’s normal just because they can.
      This stuff fells like the proverbial joke about trying to talk to a deaf man. You repeat what you have to say, each time increasing the volume of your voice. Finally, you are practically shouting but then the deaf man objects: stop shouting, I’m not deaf you know!” And you still don’t end up having the conversation you wanted to have.

      • yonah fredman
        April 1, 2015, 10:58 am

        Anyone who is not turned off by phil’s use of gangster in this context is already converted to the cause. Phil is preaching to the converted. He seeks to rile up his own troops and those converted choir members will steamroller the unconvinced. I realize that very few people who log onto this site are unconverted and so therefore there is no harm done.

        But despite the quality of the readership of this site, here is a suggestion for open hillel. the famous hillel sandwich, (not as famous as “if i am not for myself…”, but still part of the text of the passover seder, a famous jewish occasion) puts all the elements in one sandwich- the paschal lamb, the matza and the bitter herb. so too, hillel the organization should welcome all elements into their sandwich and even if BDS people are bitter herbs, they should still be included.

      • CigarGod
        April 1, 2015, 11:04 am

        Oh yeah, people fighting for liberation are bitters herbs. Appropriately ironic comment, dont you think, yonah…considering the coming holiday?

      • eljay
        April 1, 2015, 11:19 am

        || y.f.: Anyone who is not turned off by phil’s use of gangster in this context is already converted to the cause. ||

        Last Wednesday they were to speak at Swarthmore Hillel, but the gangster who runs Hillel, former congressman Eric Fingerhut …
        – Unacceptable.

        Last Wednesday they were to speak at Swarthmore Hillel, but the dictator who runs Hillel, former congressman Eric Fingerhut …
        – Acceptable.

        Interesting. Perhaps that’s because dictators are not known for acting in a criminal manner and, therefore, the word “dictator” has no “criminal connotations”. Putin and al-Assad will be happy to hear this. :-)

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2015, 11:47 am

        Last Wednesday they were to speak at Swarthmore Hillel, but the dictator who runs Hillel, former congressman Eric Fingerhut …
        – Acceptable.

        don’t forget:

        Last Wednesday they were to speak at Swarthmore Hillel, but the pigheaded who runs Hillel, former congressman Eric Fingerhut …
        – Acceptable.

        but my favorite PC (according to yonah):

        Last Wednesday they were to speak at Swarthmore Hillel, but the McCarthyite who runs Hillel, former congressman Eric Fingerhut …
        – Acceptable.

        speaking of props, this is totally OT but something i thought was so funny when i read it i made a note of it so i could use it myself. matt taibbi writing in rolling stone http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/after-netanyahu-speech-congress-is-officially-high-school-20150306#ixzz3TcP3kEsK about pelosi re natanyahu’s speech “somewhat south of enraptured”

        i think yonah should take a bow for successfully highjacking the thread, hence we’ve hardly discussed the topic. of course, he does it all the time with his picky lil complaints. but this time it really worked!!!

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 11:56 am

        Yonah, would “Stalinist” be okay for Fingerhut?

      • just
        April 1, 2015, 12:00 pm

        @ yonah:

        “Anyone who is not turned off by phil’s use of gangster in this context is already converted to the cause. Phil is preaching to the converted. He seeks to rile up his own troops and those converted choir members will steamroller the unconvinced. I realize that very few people who log onto this site are unconverted and so therefore there is no harm done.”

        Most folks here didn’t need a “conversion” to truth and justice, and Phil doesn’t “preach”. Nobody is using “steamroller” tactics except you and your fellow bludgeoneers for Israel first, Zionism forever.

        For your info, I’ve used the term “gangster” for many other ‘leaders’ and organizations.

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 12:28 pm

        “But despite the quality of the readership of this site….,”

        You mean the low-lifes who read this site are the kind of people who won’t leave a hot-plate unattended?

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 12:39 pm

        “even if BDS people are bitter herbs, they should still be included.”

        As something ornamental on a display plate, to be thrown out when the Holiday is over, but never actually eaten.

        So basically, Yonah, you want to include them as an exercise in hypocrisy. I’ll give you this, Yonah, as long as you have been here, your devotion to that principle has never lessened one iota. And it is quite apparent your faith in its efficacy is all-compassing.

      • Hostage
        April 1, 2015, 4:32 pm

        Anyone who is not turned off by phil’s use of gangster in this context is already converted to the cause.

        What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander. I just responded to a comment by JeffB, who claimed that Hillel chapters which support the Open Hillel campaign are somehow guilty of trademark infringement and fraud. http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/swarthmore-resigns-restrictions#comment-758493

        The article above mentions a letter from Fingerhut’s lawyer which also suggests that the Swarthmore Hillel was violating the law. Do you object to that language?

        I explained the fact that the Hillel brand was established by a Reform Rabbi in 1923, when the anti-Zionist Pittsburgh Platform was in effect and that in 1948 Hillel International specifically invited the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism to setup chapters on campus under the Hillel umbrella. The Word mark registration for the term “Hillel” at the USPTO specifically stipulates that one of the services or activities offered by the association is the promotion of discussions about human rights. If the directors at Hillel International suddenly want to exclude anti-Zionist Jews and say that the brand name prohibits the very thing it was registered to promote, then it’s their fiduciary responsibility to establish a new service mark for that, and to avoid bringing the existing mark and name into disrepute and destroying the goodwill it enjoys based upon its history of plurality.

        Otherwise, Hillel International is probably guilty of pulling the wool over the eyes of a lot of us and engaging in misapplication of the property rights others have assigned and entrusted to their care – plus fraudulent solicitation of charitable donations from members of the Jewish religion or community that it happens to disagree with.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2015, 4:42 pm

        yes!

      • justicewillprevail
        April 1, 2015, 6:16 pm

        Yonah baby, you are the one who sounds bitter, unable to convince anybody of your faux horror at the gangsterism of the lobby. And really, try as you do, you can’t match Phil’s eloquence with your clunky efforts at comparisons. But no, since you ask, we don’t want anything to do with your feeble sandwich, leave us out of your weird fantasies. Just try coming up with a coherent argument instead of blaming everyone for not recognising the scintillating rhetorical skills you are convinced you have. Apparently you have nothing to say about these heroic people and the despicable, and revealing, treatment by their ‘community’, but just want to attack the messenger. How predictable.

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 6:32 pm

        Yes, I’m very confused by Yonah’s “McCartyite” reference. Wasn’t Sen. Joseph McCarthy a man whose mission in life was to fight the Communists, and the Alinskyite Left? I would have thought “Tail Gunner Joe” would be a hero to Yonah.

      • Mooser
        April 1, 2015, 6:54 pm

        Splendid comment, Hostage.

        But it will be very hard for “JeffyB” and “Yonah” to understand why and how an organization like Hillel gains validity from plurality. They’re convinced all validity comes from exclusivity. And that exclusivity only generates the right to more exclusivity.
        The opposite idea, of gaining validity from inclusiveness or plurality, is going to be a tough hurdle.

      • Mooser
        April 3, 2015, 10:59 am

        “I explained the fact that the Hillel brand was established by a Reform Rabbi in 1923,”

        “Reform”? Get a rope! So see, Hillel has no validity anyway, being a fruit of the poisoned ivy and a product of Reform Judaism. So what’s all the fuss about?

  7. MHughes976
    March 31, 2015, 1:18 pm

    In praising these admirable people we should note that there is probably a much greater proportion of Jewish than of Christian people who are active in the cause of justice in the ME.

    • Rodneywatts
      March 31, 2015, 5:18 pm

      I just wonder which point you are trying to make, and on what evidence you base “there is probably a much greater proportion of Jewish than of Christian people who are active in the cause of justice in the ME”? Does it really matter? Surely the important thing is that all of us – Jew, Christian, Humanist, Moslem or whoever is concerned, should be working together or whereever to see Justice prevail.

      Of course there are circumstances where only members of particular communities can be effective by standing up and being counted – e.g. non zionist Jews or Christians countering their zionist opposites. I certainly recognise and applaud the outstanding contributions made by the above four, because there is a far greater proportion of zionists to be persuaded in the Jewish Kehilah than in the Christian Community.

      • MHughes976
        April 1, 2015, 12:19 pm

        I just meant that there is something about anti-Zionism that leads to moral tension with some, currently the majority it sadly seems, people who are Jewish – this tension is sometimes said to denote anti-Semiitism, as if we were disproportionately against Jews. However, anti-Z leads to many feelings of admiration and respect, rather disproportionately for people who are Jewish, I think.

  8. JLewisDickerson
    March 31, 2015, 1:42 pm

    RE: “The Jewish establishment has banned these four valiant Jews. Why?”

    ANSWER: Because, like Spinoza once was, those four valiant Jews are heretics! ! !
    HERETICS!
    HERETICS!
    HERETICS!
    Not to mention that they empathize far too much with ‘the other(s)’.
    Also, they are far too intelligent for “their” (actually, ‘our’) own good.
    And don’t even get me started on Galileo!
    Don’t you dare! ! !

  9. Mooser
    March 31, 2015, 4:52 pm

    “I say we need to change the Jewish community, because we hold the keys to changing U.S. policy.”

    Well, you would know much better than I, but I do know one thing: Only we have the key to our own self-respect.

  10. JWalters
    March 31, 2015, 6:54 pm

    Ira Grupper’s story of the black and white prisoners is where I cried.

    The college campuses are key battlegrounds of ideas because that is their purpose. I sincerely hope this movement is building toward massive, simultaneous demonstrations on thousands of campuses across the country. That was the beginning of the end for the Vietnam war.

    I agree with Phil that Jewish American students can play a special role in destroying the apparent monolith and credibility of the Zionist lobby, and hence its pernicious influence.

    Is Fingerhut a gangster? Quite possibly. As a top-level operative he could be either a religion profiteer or a war profiteer. Both have been around forever. A link on this angle:
    http://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/03/the-real-villains-of-the-bergdahl-tale/#comment-170961

  11. MRW
    March 31, 2015, 10:26 pm

    Hats off to these four! Good for them. They’re ambassadors who actually did the work, and I suspect this fact alone will have a profound effect on the students listening to them. (BTW, historical point. It was Ella Baker–the forgotten kingpin the civil rights movement–who created and organized SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee as well as the Freedom Riders and two other major groups. She’s the real titan, not Martin Luther King. Just so ya’ know and don’t forget.)

  12. scott9854958
    April 1, 2015, 8:30 am

    “we hold the keys to changing U.S. policy”

    Why? Gentiles ran U.S. Mid-east policy right up until the 1980s, and they did great. Guys like George Ball understood that U.S. interests in the ME revolved around one thing, oil. Not ancient religious spats and colonial wars of conquest. Gentiles have to grow a spine, and sue anyone who accuses them of anti-Semitism right down to their dental fillings.

  13. just
    April 1, 2015, 8:40 am

    “Activists at Northeastern University in Boston say they have been silenced by their student government after it blocked a divestment referendum from appearing on an upcoming election ballot.”

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/divestment-referendum-blocked-northeastern

    ~and~

    “…The fading prospects of reaching a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pose a serious challenge to liberal Zionists’ core convictions. How can we support an Israel that occupies and oppresses Palestinians? How can we support a Jewish state whose democratic credentials (never as strong as many of us would like to believe) are increasingly in doubt? Must we abandon our Zionism for the sake of our liberalism?

    These are painful questions to consider, but they must not be avoided. Evasion and denial will only rob liberal Zionists of the ability to address the issues of the day. To ensure our relevance and maintain our integrity, we liberal Zionists must confront the political, ideological and moral challenges that the situation in Israel and Palestine presents us with.

    While some liberal Zionists may well respond to these challenges by forsaking either their liberalism or their Zionism (as many have no doubt already done), my own choice is to maintain my commitment to both liberalism and Zionism, while trying to minimize as much as possible the inherent and growing tension between them. …

    …I am well aware that in practice, Zionism has not been very humane, tolerant and liberal, especially when it comes to the Palestinians (both those within Israel’s borders and those in the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Historically and up to the present day, the implementation of Zionism — or more specifically a particular kind of Zionism — has entailed a great deal of violence (sometimes unavoidably) and the systematic denial of Palestinian rights. For a host of reasons, liberal Zionism has rarely, if ever, been ascendant in Israel, except perhaps during the tragically short-lived “golden years” of the Rabin government in the early 1990s.

    But this only makes liberal Zionism more necessary, not less. Liberal Zionism, in this sense, is not a description of the Israeli past or present. It is not about whitewashing Israel’s history or ignoring its present behavior. Instead, liberal Zionism is a vision of Israel’s future. It is fundamentally aspirational, not empirical. It is about what Israel should become, not what it is.

    This kind of liberal Zionism envisions an Israel that is a both a homeland for the Jewish people and a state for all its citizens. It aspires toward a state that does not discriminate between its citizens, or rule over non-citizens. A state that gives expression to Jewish values, culture, and identity, while recognizing and respecting the values, cultures, and identities of other groups within its midst. A state that does not allow the majority to trample over the rights of the minority, and that defends the rights of the individual against the demands of the group.

    Liberal Zionism holds out the possibility that Israel can become such a state, however long and difficult this transition will be. As long as there is a possibility for Israel to change — to become more just and peaceful — liberal Zionism will remain relevant, albeit critical and conflicted.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.650060?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Interesting.

    Contortions and dreams by Dov Waxman, ‘Professor of Political Science, Co-Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development and his areas of study include, International Relations, Middle East Politics, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Israeli Politics and Society, Jewish Politics, Diaspora Politics, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy’

    http://nuweb.neu.edu/cssh/polisci/spotlight/dov-waxman/

  14. eljay
    April 1, 2015, 9:10 am

    This kind of liberal Zionism envisions an Israel that is a both a homeland for the Jewish people and a state for all its citizens. It aspires toward a state that does not discriminate between its citizens, or rule over non-citizens. A state that gives expression to Jewish values, culture, and identity, while recognizing and respecting the values, cultures, and identities of other groups within its midst. A state that does not allow the majority to trample over the rights of the minority, and that defends the rights of the individual against the demands of the group.

    Israel as a “Jewish State” – even a “liberal Zionist” version of one – is still a supremacist construct, with special/different rules or laws for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

    “Jewish State” could be a non-supremacist “Jewish and democratic” construct if Jewish were made its bureaucratic nationality, a nationality applicable to – and which guaranteed the equality of – all citizens of, immigrants to and ex-pats [sic] and refugees from the geographic region comprising the state.

    But since that would end Jewish supremacism in “Jewish State”, Zio-supremacists would never agree to it.

    • MHughes976
      April 1, 2015, 12:11 pm

      I too think that they will never agree. It is certain that they do not agree at the moment, since no 2ss proposal is on the negotiating table over Israel’s signature. If Israel, has a duty, absolute, immediate and pressing – to make a liberal 2ss possible but is failing to perform this duty does it not become a morally illegitimate state unworthy to form one element of the 2ss?

      • eljay
        April 1, 2015, 12:53 pm

        || MHughes976: … If Israel, has a duty, absolute, immediate and pressing – to make a liberal 2ss possible but is failing to perform this duty does it not become a morally illegitimate state unworthy to form one element of the 2ss? ||

        Israel is a legitimate state within the Partition borders that defined it and which it accepted as its boundaries. On that basis alone, it is “worthy” – it has the “legitimacy” required – to form one element in a two-state solution.

        Beyond that, it’s a matter of:
        – enforcement (of its obligations and of international laws, etc.);
        – accountability (for past and on-going (war) crimes); and
        – reform (from supremacist “Jewish State” to secular and democratic Israeli state).

        IMHO. :-)

      • MHughes976
        April 2, 2015, 12:00 pm

        What I’m looking for, I suppose, eljay, is some way to show the liberal Zionists the irrationality of their indefinite patience, as it seems to be, while the legal and lawful Israel emerges from the shell that the real and powerful Israel has constructed. I don’t classify you as a liberal Zionist but perhaps I can put the question to you – Can the real Israel be regarded as a lawful thing because it is the true, lawful Israel plus an extension when it is clear, surely, that the extension cancels the lawfulness? If confronted with a real liberal Zionist I would perhaps ask ‘is indefinitely extended patience not really indulgence and complicity?’

      • eljay
        April 2, 2015, 12:45 pm

        || MHughes976: What I’m looking for, I suppose, eljay, is some way to show the liberal Zionists the irrationality of their indefinite patience, as it seems to be, while the legal and lawful Israel emerges from the shell that the real and powerful Israel has constructed. ||

        Best of luck with that. Like all Zio-supremacists, liberal Zionists believe in and support the core premise of Israel as a supremacist “Jewish State”. So what they see today, IMO, is an Israel that is essentially legal and lawful but just a bit “misguided” – nothing that a little time and TLC can’t fix.

        || Can the real Israel be regarded as a lawful thing because it is the true, lawful Israel plus an extension when it is clear, surely, that the extension cancels the lawfulness? ||

        IMO:
        – The existence of Israel as a secular and democratic Israeli state within its (Partition) borders is lawful.
        – It’s behaviour (supremacism, aggression, colonialism, expansionism, etc.) is unlawful, but that does not cancel out the lawfulness of its existence.

        (If it did, many – most? – other countries in the world would be equally unlawful.)

        I hope I was able to better address your points this time around. :-)

      • eljay
        April 2, 2015, 3:34 pm

        || eljay: – It’s behaviour … ||

        Correction: Its behaviour …

        Please, RoHa, don’t hurt ‘im!

      • RoHa
        April 2, 2015, 8:37 pm

        eljay, blame it on auto-correct software.

      • RoHa
        April 2, 2015, 8:47 pm

        I’m a bit confused here. MHughes started by introducing the concept of “morally illegitimate”, but the discussion with eljay seemed to shift to the merely lawful.

        I don’t know what is required for a state to be legitimate in the strictly legal sense. (Though I bet Hostage does.) Nor do I quite see why a state has to be morally legitimate in order to be able to carry out its duties.

        Could you two spell this out in a bit more detail, please? It is an interesting topic.

      • eljay
        April 3, 2015, 8:33 am

        || RoHa: I’m a bit confused here. MHughes started by introducing the concept of “morally illegitimate”, but the discussion with eljay seemed to shift to the merely lawful. … Could you two spell this out in a bit more detail, please? It is an interesting topic. ||

        I’ll let MHughes976 go first, since I don’t really know what else to say or how I can more clearly address his – or your – questions.

      • MHughes976
        April 3, 2015, 5:54 pm

        Well, I’ll do my best. The following has been through a rewrite but is still too long.
        By ‘lawfulness’ I suppose I mean ‘moral legitimacy conferred by legal process’ in this case the UN partition resolution, whose own legitimacy I would in fact question but didn’t want to debate at this point.
        If lawfulness was actually conferred on Israel ‘within these bounds, thus far and no further’ it was conferred on something that has never existed as a distinct political entity: no one has ever claimed to act specifically on its behalf. Is the conferment still meaningful? The only real Israel is one ‘going beyond those bounds’, always existing by contravening the original legal act in its crucial respect. Can something owing its existence to breaking a law still claim a right to exist under that very law? There’s something about sawing off the branch on which you sit.
        All that may seem a bit abstract but we do have the very practical problem of the liberal Zionists and their inexhaustible patience when they say ‘Thus far and no further’ (a form of the essential liberal imperative to respect the rights of others) yet no one takes a blind bit of notice and the settlements and acquisitions march on. That patience is a very important form of support in practice for exactly what it seems to oppose in theory, constantly dulling and deflecting whatever opposition there might be.
        It seems to me that ‘thus far and no further’ is an imperative defined by its urgency: to repeat it in your second breath it is to subvert it. Which seems to me to imply that your second word must, if you are sincere in your liberalism the first time, be more harsh than your first: that is to say that even the permission to go ‘thus far’ must now be called into question and any law permitting ‘thus far’ (like the UN resolution) can no longer regarded as decisive.

      • RoHa
        April 3, 2015, 8:21 pm

        Thanks. That does clarify your point a great deal.

      • eljay
        April 3, 2015, 9:16 pm

        Yes, thank you, it does. :-)

      • Mooser
        April 5, 2015, 4:19 pm

        “Israel is a legitimate state within the Partition borders that defined it and which it accepted as its boundaries.”

        And they were supposed to accept some kind of democratic framework for their politics, too, if I recall. But never mind. Yup, Israel should live within the borders it declared, but never accepted as operative or even workable. Very encouraging, that, to anti-Zionists. The Israelis are as much as admitting that if they were required to live within their own declared borders, they couldn’t exist.

      • Mooser
        April 6, 2015, 2:49 pm

        “What I’m looking for, I suppose, eljay, is some way to show the liberal Zionists the irrationality of their indefinite patience,”

        Yes! Thank you, that’s bothered me for a long, long time. It’s as if they feel disaster could never overtake us And we will never lose control over circumstances. A sublime confidence in their own power over events.

  15. RockyMissouri
    April 1, 2015, 11:20 am

    This is what COURAGE looks like. Humans standing up for their fellow man, and doing the right thing, because ..to do anything else is UNCONSCIONABLE.

    • eljay
      April 1, 2015, 1:11 pm

      || RockyMissouri @ April 1, 2015, 11:20 am ||

      I agree. And it says a lot about Zio-supremacists that:
      – this sort of behaviour offends them; and
      – they choose to defend injustice and immorality when Jews are the perpetrators (when Jews do things unto others that they would not have others do unto them).

  16. afkleinman
    April 1, 2015, 12:54 pm

    Thanks for this really thoughtful and engaging piece on the Open Hillel speaking tour!

    This line caught me a bit off guard:
    So these four travelers are freedom riders twice. First in their 20s in the civil rights movement, now in their 70s, sponsored by the Open Hillel movement

    I understand your analogy, but non of the four veterans were freedom riders. I think calling them freedom riders does a great dis-service to the memory and incredibly courageous work of the men and women who road an integrated bus across state lines and faced grave violence every step along the way. I also think, in a way, it minimizes the incredible work the four did as SNCC organizers. The only thing meaningful enough to mention is the freedom rides…
    Also, it’s upsetting to think of their current tour as analogous to the freedom rides. The opposition in this case is very different. While probably racist and certainly oppressive, they are not facing physical violence or state sponsored terrorism.

  17. just
    April 2, 2015, 1:16 pm

    Great news:

    “NEW YORK (JTA) – The Hillel chapter at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, said it will no longer abide by Hillel International’s restrictions on Israel-related issues.
    The announcement that the Guilford Hillel had joined the so-called Open Hillel movement came in a Facebook posting on Wednesday night.

    “At Guilford’s Hillel, we have a wide range of Jewish voices. We have Zionists, anti-Zionists and everything in between,” the announcement said. “On our campus, it is an imperative that Hillel be a place that is for all Jewish students, irrespective of their political ideology. As an open Hillel, we believe that Jewish students should be supported in expressing their Jewish identity and values in the way that is most meaningful to them. … To be an open Hillel is to welcome all perspectives on Israel-Palestine.””

    http://www.jta.org/2015/04/02/news-opinion/united-states/guilford-colleges-hillel-declares-itself-open

  18. John Salisbury
    April 2, 2015, 4:54 pm

    Sending our love and respect to these special 4 from down here in The Antipodes.

  19. lonely rico
    April 3, 2015, 5:29 pm

    For those who read French, there’s a good article in the April 2, 2015 issue of Le Devoir –
    « Cri du coeur d’une juive dissidente » by Ronit Yarosky.

    http://www.ledevoir.com/international/actualites-internationales/436122/election-de-benjamin-netanyahou-cri-du-coeur-d-une-juive-dissidente

    « Je ne peux plus honteusement regarder ailleurs, alors que les droits de la personne sont bafoués, génération après génération. Je ne vais pas me boucher les oreilles quand vous dites « c’est eux qui se sont donné ce sort », lorsque vous blâmez la victime pour les crimes et la dégénérescence morale de ses auteurs. Je n’ai certainement pas toutes les réponses. Mais je sais que ce chemin ne peut que nous conduire vers les plus sombres ténèbres. »

    “I can no longer shamefully look away, while human rights are suppressed, generation after generation. I will not block my ears when you blame the victims for the crimes and moral degeneracy of the perpetrators. I do not have all the answers, but I know that this way leads to deeper darkness.” [my translation]

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