Three acts of censorship in New York demonstrate the desperate pass to which Zionism has brought the American Jewish community: we are walking away from our greatest treasure, literacy.
Two days ago I reported that the Museum of Jewish Heritage had spiked a panel featuring John Judis’s book on Truman and Israel because that book, which says that Truman was for the separation of church and state and took a dim view of Zionism but the lobby compelled him to act against his principles, is just too scary and controversial.
No doubt the school is fearful of alienating its donor base. No explanation has been given so far.
(I’ve called and emailed Paul Shaviv, the head of school, but he’s offered no explanation of the decision.)
Then there’s the news that Judith Butler was supposed to give a talk about Kafka at the Jewish Museum of NY on March 6 and withdrew after people began flipping out over her endorsement of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel). Again, donor pressure is cited.
Despite the event being non-political, critics contended that hosting someone who advocates against Israel at a museum that receives charitable contributions from the Jewish community crossed the line.
“The hosting of [BDS] advocate Judith Butler by The Jewish Museum is a slap in the face to every Jew,” Richard Allen, head of JCC Watch, told JNS.org.
The museum said in a statement, “[Butler] was chosen on the basis of her expertise on the subject matter to be discussed. While her political views were not a factor in her participation, the debates about her politics have become a distraction making it impossible to present the conversation about Kafka as intended.”
This is truly disgraceful. The Jewish community is in IQ freefall, and it’s happening before our eyes. The crazy uncles in our community are putting their feet down about who can come into the house, and other forbears are accepting the prohibitions out of some tribal impulse that recalls the self-destruction of the Shabbatai Tzvi collective delusion of the 1600s.
Young Jews are rising up against the censorship but it’s going to take a long time to turn this trend around. In the last year or so there have been stark acts of censorship by the 92d Street Y and Washington DC Jewish Community Center and Hillel International; and so many other Jewish institutions have red lines about who can’t speak that it boggles the mind. I’ve waited so long to see a production of David Zellnik’s magnificent play on Sharon and Herzl that he’s had to change the title once and surely will have to do so again because of the death of a main character.
It’s tragic, and embarrassing. The Jewish community is rebranding Jewish culture, from the brave civilization that gave us the greatest minds of the last 100 years, Einstein, Marx and Freud, as my mother used to brag to me, to a community that’s scared of Israel’s shadow. And p.s., it’s a very long shadow.