Monday, November 9, 2009

Brandeis Students Disrupt Debate, Get Scolded. Audience Yawns.

Seems that upon brainstorming ways to "disrupt the Zionist narrative," Students Against Open Debate decided to tape onto their t-shirts loose-leaf paper scribbled with quotations about peace (since, you know, Zionists hate peace). After Richard Goldstone had his turn to speak to the mostly polite audience, and Dore Gold dared to start presenting his own views, the handful of activists stood up, removed their jackets and showed their righteous handwriting to the attendees sitting directly behind them.

After a quick rebuke by a moderator, they sat back down, undoubtedly satisfied that they've sufficiently promoted the ideal that people should act out disruptively when someone they disagree with is speaking.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brandeis Students Vs. Free Speech, Academic Freedom

Below is an email sent by Brandeis student Jonathan Sussman to the list serve of Students for a Democratic Society. The note suggests "seeding the audience" at upcoming debate between Richard Goldstone and Dore Goldwith people who would "disrupt" the civil exchange of ideas, possibly with "direct action."

Since MuzzleWatch's tag line purports that their mission is "Tracking efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy," they'll surely speak out about this particular effort to... well... "stifle open debate." Right? Right?? No silly, it's just an empty slogan meant to cover up their extremist, anti-Israel obsession.

From: "Jonathan M. Sussman" []
To: sds []
Subject: Goldstone Forum Action Planning - Wed. @ 10!
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:32:19 -0400 (EDT)

Hey! As many of you know, Brandeis will be hosting a forum next Thursday, 11/5, to discuss the Goldstone Report, a report from the United Nations which determined that Israel used excessive force in its occupation of Gaza. Believe it or not, this was poorly received within the Zionist community. Thus Brandeis is hosting a forum between the report's author, international jurist Richard Goldstone, and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold. Full details here:

Many of us are concerned that this forum is inherently slanted, as it contrasts 'nuetral' international opinion with a wildly pro-Zionist message, excluding voices from the Palestinian community. In light of this, activists across campus will be meeting this Wednesday, 10/28 @ 10 PM in the Village C Lounge to discuss a possible response. Possibilities include inviting Palestinian speakers to come participate, seeding the audience with people who can disrupt the Zionist narrative, protest, and direct action. Please come and help us coordinate a response!

Fuck the occupation,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hamas and Israel on MuzzleWatch's Scale of Justice -- and the Winner is...

... I wish it weren't so predictable, but yes, MuzzleWatch's Scale of Justice clearly tilts in favor of Hamas.


Let's take a peek at Rob Lipton's Sept. 24 post gleefully cheering the much maligned Goldstone Report. Here, with quotes directly from the MuzzleWatch post, is my feeble HTML attempt to visualize the trays of their scale:


"The war crimes committed by Hamas are deplorable ... but..."

"... placed within the context of a people trying to fight occupation"

Hamas, "like Jews or anyone else in the same situation, fight back"
"slaughter of civilians"
Hamas "dwarfed" by Israel
"governmental censorship efforts as well as government efforts to suppress dissent"

Clearly, there's a reason why I'm not a Web designer. I'm afraid my little illustration here doesn't do justice to just how stunning — and perhaps I should no longer be stunned, given the glimpses of MuzzleWatch's stance that I'm oh-so-slowly accumulating on this blog — the MuzzleWatch post is.

Here's the relevant excerpt in straight prose:
The recent release of the UN study headed by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone is a watershed of sorts in the diplomatic history of Israel. An ardent supporter/friend of Israel with family living in Israel, Goldstone’s report is sober yet scathing regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza. The report details not just the slaughter of civilians but the seemingly planned destruction of civilian infrastructure that could, in no way, be considered militarily related (unless the futile goal was to make the bombed civilians turn against Hamas). The report also unequivocally condemns Hamas for the war crime of firing on civilian populations in Israel, and likely for that reason, both Israel and Hamas were finally able to agree on one thing, their condemnation of the report.

Further, the report goes on to describe Israeli governmental censorship efforts as well as government efforts to suppress dissent within Palestinian Israeli populations (obvious Muzzlewatch concerns) . Perhaps most importantly, the report goes into detail describing the effects of the occupation in the West Bank as well as the siege of Gaza. This contextualization is particularly damning and frequently completely missing from mainstream analysis. The fact that such a high profile report seamlessly includes this context is refreshing from the point of view of those working to stop the occupation, and conversely, quite galling for those who seek to keep the status quo.

The war crimes committed by Hamas, are deplorable and also described in the report, but they are also placed within the context of a people trying to fight occupation. Israel’s actions are allowed no such context. Israeli maximalist existentialist fears, whether heartfelt delusion or cold eyed cynicism, are simply not treated. Thus most of the responsibility, as it should be, is placed on the shoulders of Israel, whose firepower, and the resulting death toll, utterly dwarfed that of Hamas. (One is left to conclude, logically, that a government seeking to protect the citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon, as it should, would do so by ending the illegal siege of Gaza, not by making life even more intolerable for people who would, like Jews or anyone else in the same situation, fight back.)
After one compulsory word ("deplorable") of criticism of Hamas, a group that unhesitatingly claims "credit" for attacking civilians on buses, cafes, pizza shops, dance clubs, and malls, the author wastes no time with his key follow up word: "but..."

And then, what certainly looks like a justification for the anti-Semitic group's murderous attacks. Hamas is just fighting against the occupation (what jaw dropping ignorance of Hamas's admitted goals!), and just doing what anyone else would do. And after this apologia, the author looks back toward Israel and adds, "there is no way to explain away Israeli actions."

Yes, I'm stunned. I knew MuzzleWatch is anti-Israel and soft on Hamas. But seeing these stances so closely juxtaposed so as to make apparent their relative views of the parties... wow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Censorship of Holocaust Facts Ignored by MuzzleWatch

The evidence continues to pile up that MuzzleWatch isn't really interested in muzzling, and it's parent organization Jewish Voice isn't really interested in peace.

The groups' raison d'être is much more narrow. It is attacking Israel while minimizing Palestinian responsibility for the ongoing conflict.

Here's the latest example of MuzzleWatch ignoring censorship that doesn't fit in with their anti-Israel message. The Jerusalem Post reports that

The publicly funded Multicultural Center's (Werkstatt der Kulturen) decision to remove educational panels of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler, from a planned exhibit, sparked outrage on Thursday among a district mayor, the curator of the exhibit, and the Berlin Jewish community.

The curator, Karl Rössler, told The Jerusalem Post that it is a "scandal" that the director of the Werkstatt, Philippa Ebéné, sought to censor the exhibit

Predictably, there hasn't been a peep from MuzzleWatch.

I can't help but wonder, though: Since MuzzleWatch and its ilk like to argue that critique is actually "muzzling," perhaps they'll say that the Berlin Jewish community's "outrage" over the exhibit's censorship is itself censorship. Now wouldn't that be as convoluted as an MC Escher drawing...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MuzzleWatch: Muzzling Understandable if Targeting Pro-Israel Speaker

Maybe they don't see the hypocrisy; or maybe they just don't care.

Either way, MuzzleWatch continues to provide evidence exposing the fact that its real interest isn't free speech, but rather to promote a narrow view of the Arab-Israeli conflict while attacking opposing views.

The byproduct of the discord that comes from being an anti-Israel organization while pretending to be a free speech defender seems to be — it's hard to think of a nicer word to describe it — hypocrisy.

Take the following statement, which was expressed by "a member of JVP’s Advisory Board" and approvingly relayed by MuzzleWatch not once, but twice in the past few days:

"The fact that the vast majority of people in the crowd at the Castro Theatre would not let the Voice of Israel representative speak his mind without interruption ..."

... is another example of muzzling? Is condemnable? Is unfortunate?

Nope. It's understandable, or even commendable. Here's how the JVP leader (Jewish Voice for Peace is the parent organization of MuzzleWatch) justified what is apparently, in their view, the good kind of muzzling:

“The fact that the vast majority of people in the crowd at the Castro Theatre would not let the Voice of Israel representative speak his mind without interruption reflects growing frustration with the use of pubic slander, character assassination, cancellation of speakers, firing of faculty and demand for resignations by the so-called defenders of Israel. Since when are people with views that differ from AIPAC, for instance, invited into mainstream circles to speak for five minutes before a pro-Israel speech or film? The representative of Voice of Israel was not there to dialogue. Only to chastise. The crowd refused to be chastised.

So let me get this straight: If a crowd refuses to let anti-Israel vitriol pass without critique, they are, as per the raison d'etre of MuzzleWatch, smeared as muzzlers. But if a crowd refuses to let a supporter of Israel speak in peace — check out the video below to see what happened — they are celebrated as noble resisters who "refuse to be chastised"!

Got it.

(This, by the way, is hardly the only instance of blatant hypocrisy by MuzzleWatch. For another telling example, click here.)

Here's the video of the speaker being muzz... err... shouted down... I mean... chastised... no, no. Here's the video of the speaker being the justified-target-of-good-aka-anti-Israel-frustration-as-opposed-to-bad-aka-pro-Israel-frustration:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hate and The Daily Planet

I got a note today in my inbox about Berekeley, California's small-time local newspaper The Daily Planet.

In a nutshell, the note calls for people to read and sign a petition calling on the newspaper's publisher to "display integrity and responsibility to ensure that their pages are devoid of irresponsible misstatements of facts whose sole malicious intent is to besmirch Jews at large, the State of Israel, and individual citizens who decry the Daily Planet’s practices."

The petition also links to a website that can help you decide whether there is indeed something rotten with the newspaper. Although a few of the points raised on that website fail to move me as much as they move the site's editor, much of it is extremely damning. There is, for example, the following passage quoted from the Daily Planet that blames the Jews for antisemitism:

One should ask why anti-Semitism has persisted throughout the centuries. Let us go back to 539 BC, when Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, went to Babylonia and liberated Jews. One can ask why Jews were enslaved by Babylonians. Also, one can ask why Jews had problem with Egyptians, with Jesus, with Europeans, and in modern times with Germans? The answer, among other things, is their racist attitude that they are the 'Chosen People.' Because of this attitude, they do wrong to other people to the point that others turn against them, namely, become anti-Semite if you will.
I checked, and yes, the Daily Planet did indeed publish this on Aug. 8, 2006. I don't want to boost their google ranking by linking to it, but if you really want to read it at the source, go to berkeleydailyplanet (dot) com (slash) issue/2006-08-08/article/24823?headline=Commentary-Zionist-Crimes-in-Lebanon&status=301.

Below is the relevant portion of the email I received, which includes a link to the petition. It introduces

a new online petition statement decrying the weekly inclusion of extreme anti-Israel screeds in the Berkeley Daily Planet. As you may already be well aware, the Berkeley Daily Planet (which is supposed to be a locally focused community newspaper) has turned itself into an open sewer for bashing Israel in any form, Zionists and Zionism in all its guises and sometimes Jews quite nakedly.

The statement now being circulated under the auspices of the Israel Action Committee of East Bay claims:


We abhor the deliberate and willful publication of anti-Semitic and other hateful rhetoric and screeds by the Berkeley Daily Planet.

We stand with the free speech rights of those who would criticize the Berkeley Daily Planet for its obsessive and one-sided campaign against the State of Israel.

We join these people in insisting that the publisher and editor of the Daily Planet display integrity and responsibility to ensure that their pages are devoid of irresponsible misstatements of facts whose sole malicious intent is to besmirch Jews at large, the State of Israel, and individual citizens who decry the Daily Planet’s practices.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Black is White, and Israel's Cellcom Commercial is Racist

"They — those on the other side, the ones we are at war with — are actually exactly like us. They don't all want to hurt us."

You'd think that message would be welcome, even if it's in an advertisement meant to sell products. Or maybe especially in an ad, since it reaches so many people and, if the ad agency's consumer research is any good, reaches more than just their TV screens.

But in some quarters, the message isn't welcome. Because the message is in... Hebrew.

I'm breaking from the usual topic of this blog because I just can't help myself. The scandal caused by the ad is so contrived, and so absurd, I just can't help myself.

First, the commercial:

And now, the scandal. Reuters reports:
A television advert for an Israeli cellphone firm showing soldiers playing soccer over the West Bank barrier has sparked cries of bad taste and prompted Arab lawmakers on Sunday to demand it be taken off air. ...

Since the ad went out last week -- as Palestinians marked the fifth anniversary of a World Court ruling that Israel's walls and fences in the West Bank were illegal -- some Israelis have taken to blogs and social networking sites to voice dismay. ...

A Hebrew-language Facebook group called "I too got nauseous watching the new Cellcom ad" had signed up 218 members. They demanded "take this racist commercial off the air immediately."
Et cetera, et cetera.

Now I understand that most Palestinians don't like the barrier, whatever their reasons may be. I also understand that most Israelis are thankful that it prevents suicide bombers from making the short walk into Israeli cities so that they can kill kids on buses and in cafes.

So? In the end, the message is that we're all human. It is the opposite of demonization. In fact, I'd contribute a fair sum toward getting ads like this to air in the West Bank, Gaza, and across the Arab world...

(transition with foggy, wavy lines and wind chimes)

Some Lebanese soldiers are patrolling the border with Israel. They're invited by some Hezbollah gunmen to join them for some Turkish coffee. Once in the bunker, the soldiers and the gunmen start loudly singing The Beatles. Somehow, from across Hezbollah two-way radio, we hear faceless Israelis join in the singing. The Lebanese soldiers are initially startled by the sound, but when the figure out what's happening, they gleefully continue the song, taking the harmony part. The voice over says: "We all like good music and good times. Buy Pepsi!

(transition with foggy, wavy lines and wind chimes)

Okay, it's a shitty commercial. Hezbollah fighters probably don't sing The Beatles. But racist? Worthy of uproar? Worthy of a news article?? Give me a break. And give me an address where I can contribute to getting my version of the commercial aired. (Or at least a better version of one with the same message.)

Because I'd be heartened if that's what kids in the Arab world are taught about the faceless enemy. It sure beats this:

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Censorship" Loses Its Meaning

From CAMERA Snapshots:

bowen censorship.jpg

Some anti-Israel commentators, hoping to ward off criticism, charge those who scrutinize their claims as being guilty of censorship, intimidation, or otherwise stifling debate.

The thinly-veiled subtext is that criticizing someone is the same as censoring them. (See, e.g., CAMERA's Op-Ed "Asserting Mideast facts isn't the same as censorship.")

But why bother to thinly veil or to imply? One journalist recently did away with those formalities.

About the BBC Trust's ruling that Mideast editor Jeremy Bowen violated the BBC's ethical guidelines, a Guardian journalist wrote, simply:

"Criticising Bowen could affect his reporting of the region, which surely amounts to a form of censorship itself."

And that is how inane the "censorship" argument looks when stripped down to its essence and expressed in straightforward language.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unsubtle Censorship

In my last post, I offered the opinion that stacking the deck, as much as it may conceal certain points of view, can't be categorized as actually censoring those points of view.

This, on the other hand, is a story about a man who called for true censorship.

A leading candidate to be the next director general of UNESCO — the acronym is worth spelling out here: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — has called for burning Israeli books.

As the BBC recounts,

Opponents of Mr Hosny's candidature have cited his response to a question in parliament in May 2008 from an opposition MP about whether Israeli books were held by the new library in Alexandria.

He said: "Burn these books; if there are any there, I will myself burn them in front of you."

Hosny, perhaps concerned that wanting to burn books might not be the ideal qualification for heading the UN's culture and education center that acts as a "clearinghouse ... for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge," has recently apologized for his remarks. (He apparently hasn't apologized for saying that "Israeli culture is an inhumane culture; it is an aggressive, racist, pretentious culture based on one simple principle: steal what does not belong to in order to then claim its appropriation.")

Apology notwithstanding, book burning is, of course, censorship of the worst kind. To read MuzzleWatch's critique of Hosny's remarks, click here. (No really... click it. Otherwise the joke doesn't make sense.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Subtle Censorship?

I blogged earlier about UCSB professor William I. Robinson, who sent his students an email essentially saying the Israelis are the same as the Nazis. MuzzleWatch, if you recall, urged its readers to express support for the professor.

Here's a bit more on that.

A group at UCSB organized a panel to support Robinson, whose adherence to the school's ethics code is apparently being investigated by the school's Academic Senate. All of the panelists were united in opposing any investigation of the professor.

Here's what one Nobel Prize-winning UCSB professor said of this uniformity of opinions:

“It’s unfortunate that the constitution of the panel was one-sided,” [Walter] Kohn said. “I was wondering how four highly intelligent people who knew that they all had very similar viewpoints didn’t feel embarrassed to be up there without anyone from the other side of the argument.”

According to another observer,

All four panelists at the rally — sorry, “forum” — asserted that academic freedom requires the testing of ideas through dialog and intellectual exploration, yet there was little room for dialog or honest exploration on Thursday night. All four speakers agreed that academic freedom requires critical analysis of complex situations, but their talks were, for the most part, highly polemical. It is telling that they never once challenged or disagreed with one another on any point.

Valid points. But do I think this contrived, one-sided forum constitutes subtle censorship, as my headline might suggest? Not really. It is what it is: A one-sided panel meant not to challenge the audience by forcing them to weigh varying opinions, but to sway the audience to a particular point of view. It's certainly not academic freedom at its finest, but I'm sure all sides of all controversies sometimes do this.

I can only wonder, though, if this forum is the type of thing that MuzzleWatch, with their oversized and overactive "Muzzle" stamp, would label as a form of censorship if the panelists were all of the opposite point of view.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The True Story of Man Discovers MuzzleWatch

The man described in the title of this post isn't me. It's Jon Haber, of Divest This!, who this past weekend shared his story on the Solominia blog.

An excerpt follows, but be sure to read the whole well-written piece here.

In my curiosity to discover how such a demonstrably false thesis (that discussion of Israel, the subject of perpetual high-volume attack on campus after campus, was somehow fearfully repressed) could be taken as gospel, I stumbled on a new Website/blog dedicated to perpetuating this accusation, a site called Muzzlewatch. And because my curiosity had gotten the better of me, I chose to do something I had not done in over a decade: participate in online debate on the site's comment section.

It's not that debate can't be fun (anyone else out there remember the Wild West days of Usenet?), but on highly trafficked sites with active forums, I've generally discovered that it takes about 25 comments before debate tends to "gravitate towards the meme" (i.e., degenerate to the lowest common denominator, normally a stale, un-listening slinging of accusations broken down along party lines). Still, the desire to get to the bottom of this conundrum overwhelmed me and in I jumped.

The first thing that needed to be pointed out (and still does) is that Muzzlewatch is a project of an organization called Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that (among other things) became very agitated when a different group of politically organized Boston citizens began criticizing the construction of a huge mosque in the region. To show their disapproval, JVP signed onto a lawsuit by the mosque as a friend of the court which attacked the Boston activists (as well as local media) for the scrutiny they were giving the mosque project. So my first question was why a group dedicated to using state power (i.e., the courts) to stifle public discourse about which JVP disagreed had chosen to project its own censorship agenda onto its critics.

It would be a while before the creators of Muzzlewatch got around to responding to my questions (and only then because I refused to stop asking them). In the meantime, I had several weeks to discover what Muzzlewatch had in mind when they claimed their point of view was routinely stifled or censored.

The thing was, in posting after posting (sometimes several a day), the creators of the Muzzlewatch site never managed to provide a single actual example of their opinion being shut down in the way they had tried to shut down debate about the Boston mosque.

Friday, May 1, 2009

MuzzleWatch's Holocaust Hypocrisy

It's right there on the front page of the MuzzleWatch website, for all to see. One post "shames" someone who dared to point out the fact that a Palestinian leader was closely allied with the Nazis. And another, posted just a few days later, rushes to the defense of someone who distributed images suggesting that the Israelis are the same as the Nazis.

No rhyme. No reason. Just plain old hypocrisy.

Below is an image (click it to enlarge) from MuzzleWatch's April 26 posting. It attacks Alan Dershowitz because he referenced the very real collaboration and mutual admiration between Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini and the Nazis. Thus, they protest, Dershowitz made a "shameful association of Palestinians with Nazis."

(It is indeed shameful that there was an association of Palestinians with Nazis; but it was Husseini who opted for that association, not Dershowitz. But I digress.)

Now look at the the April 30 posting by MuzzleWatch. In that entry, they urge their readers to "express support for Sociology and Global Studies Professor William I. Robinson."

William I. Robinson is the UCSB professor who, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, "sent [an email] message -- titled 'parallel images of Nazis and Israelis' -- to the 80 students in his sociology of globalization class."

That grotesque image meant to suggest that Israel's operation against Hamas in Gaza was no different than the Nazi genocide against Europe's Jews. In case his students didn't understand, the professor told them: "Gaza is Israel's Warsaw -- a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide."

(The genocide is soooo slow motion, that it's actually moving in reverse rather than forward. Palestinian population growth, after all, is booming. But I digress.)

Here's a bit of what MuzzleWatch has to say on the Robinson affair (click the image to enlarge):

Got it? If you refer to Haj Amin al Husseini's Nazi links, then you deserve shame.If you tell your class that Israelis are doing to the Palestinians just what the Nazis did to the Jews, genocide and all, then you deserve support. (A link!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MuzzleWatch Protests Darfur Protesters

I'll leave it to BlueTruth to tell the story. But I do want to relay this quote from their analysis, because the observation perfectly captures JVP's reliance on ad hominem attacks:

And of course, in JVP-world, ANY group that supports the Jewish people's right to self-determination is a scary-right wing group — in the same way that if you are standing at the North Pole, every direction that you look is south.

I wonder how MuzzleWatch would read if you stripped from their posts the numerous attempts to slur groups they disagree with as "right wing." Would there be anything left?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

British Theater Caves In to Anti-Zionist Pressure, "Muzzles" Israel Celebration

Forgive me for borrowing from the MuzzleWatch crowd's language for the headline. I wanted to see how it feels to use "caves," "Zionist," "pressure" and "muzzle" in the same sentence. (I admit, the bombastic self-righteous outrage feels kind of good!)

Anyhow, here's the story: Ynet reports today that

London's Bloomsbury Theatre decided Tuesday to cancel a planned Independence Day show organized by the Zionist Federation of Britain and Ireland.

The Bloomsbury was set to host a show celebrating Israel's 61st Independence Day, including a set preformed by a military choir, but announced it would be cancelling it as a result of appeals by various groups campaigning for the rights of Palestinians filed following the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

According to a report by the Guardian, the event has been moved to a new, undisclosed venue. "A number of groups had contacted the Bloomsbury to protest the show," said a theatre spokeswoman. "Obviously, we couldn't have them perform here."


And will MuzzleWatch protest this shameful censorship? Obviously not.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two Statements of the Day

Is it so wrong to have a "statement of the day" when I thus far post less than once a week? I hope not, because I have today not one, but two statements of the day.

The first is the longer of the two. It's full of 3+ syllable words, and perhaps will require more than one reading. (It reads more naturally in its original context.)

This is Melanie Phillips' reference to

the foaming fury amongst the Israel-bashers, whose edifice of lies is maintained by casting critics who dare to call this by its proper name as a supremely manipulative lobby merely peddling their own paranoid propaganda -- and whose nefarious power is supposedly proved in turn by their very protests.

In other words, it's a reference to the well-practiced technique, utilized by Israel's opponents, of trying to stifle debate by accusing others of stifling debate.

The process is all too common: It begins with a statement or column or book that lies about or unfairly demonizes or delegitimizes Israel. People express that this statement lies about Israel (or perhaps that the book demonizes... or whatever other combination of the above you'd prefer). Inevitably, Israel's most dogmatic critics scream out against the lobby that tries to squash criticism. How dare they try to squash criticism!? How dare they speak out?! How dare they speak??

Oh wait... who's trying to muzzle whom?

Statement number two is shorter. There are no 3 syllable words. It's more funny than it is piercing. But then, maybe it's equally piercing. Tia, a reader from the West Coast (Jewish Voice for Peace's home turf) brings to my attention this pithy statement, used to describe JVPers:

Proud to be ashamed to be Jewish.

Perfect. Just perfect.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Some Lobby Sarcasm

A blogger at Jewlicious lightens the mood by mocking claims that the lobby stifles free speech:

You see how CAMERA stifles free speech right there, by pointing out that a university professor who had no trouble publishing an op-ed critical of Israel used a false quote to impress upon his readers how evil Israelis really are. Talk about the effectiveness of the “Israel Lobby.” It only took five years for those powerful, wily Jews to get an egregious quote to be removed from a newspaper with some stature. Yes, those stifling Jewish voices at CAMERA are really punishing Israel’s critics!

You can read the rest of the post here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

J Street Chutzpa

A new video by J Street — "the anti-Israel pro-Israel lobby" (okay, that's not their motto, though maybe it should be)— calls for the Jewish community to "speak out against" Israel's controversial new Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. The video make its point by referencing a couple of Jewish leaders who expressing concern about Lieberman.

Putting aside the questions about Lieberman and his views, I have to say it took a lot of chutzpa on the part of J Street to quote Eric Yoffie, leader of the reform movement, in the video.

After all, this is the same Yoffie who described J Street's position against Israel's recent Gaza operation against Hamas as "a mistake" and "very wrong," not to mention "deeply distressing because they are morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naïve."

Yoffie protested specifically that J Street

could find no moral difference between the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militants, who have launched more than 5,000 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians in the past three years, and the long-delayed response of Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its battered citizens in the south.

You certainly won't find those quotes in J Street's video:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Do MuzzleWatch and Ahmadinejad Have in Common?

Okay, the Iranian president and Jewish Voice for Peace's MuzzleWatch certainly have their differences. Jewish Voice for Peace hasn't denied the Holocaust. Nor is MuzzleWatch founder Cecilie Surasky known to have felt a mesmerizing aura around her head.

And MuzzleWatch hasn't called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" (or "erased from the pages of history" or whatever deplorable translation you prefer). At least, it hasn't said this in so many words.

In fact, JVP/MuzzleWatch is coy on whether it hopes to see the Jewish state, alone among all nations states, wiped out. In answer to the question "Are you Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist or something else?," JVP asserts that, though its members "hold a wide variety of views on many issues involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict," it "support[s] a solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis that will also preserve the right of the Israeli people to self-determination." (Real Jewish self-determination? Self-determination as "protected minorities" (i.e. dhimmis) in a majority Muslim state? That's not specified.)

Sometimes, though, MuzzleWatch leaders provide a hint about what solution they're rooting for. The aformentioned Cecile Suraky, for example is rooting for an end to Zionism. Literally. "Three cheers" to the Los Angeles Times, says Surasky, for publishing an Op-Ed that not only says Israel is worse than apartheid South Africa, but also explicitly calls for an end to Jewish self-determination. (This is little different than requesting discrimination against the Jewish nation.)

Three cheers to the LA Times, says Suraky, for allowing true debate by publishing this anti-Zionist piece and an opposing Op-Ed by Judea Pearl. Except, she makes sure to note in her blog post, she isn't really cheer for Pearl's peace, which she calls "corrosive," "closed" and "rigid."

Well then, three cheers for calling for the elimination of the Jewish state! That's something even Ahmadinejad and his hypnotized minions can clap for.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Muzzling Ignored By MuzzleWatch

From JTA:
At the University of California, Irvine, pro-Israel students have accused the administration of being unresponsive to acts of physical harassment and intimidation. The Zionist Organization of America offered complaints on their behalf to the U.S. Department of Education.
Once again, it seems that while people who express pro-Israel opinions are accused by MuzzleWatch of "muzzling," those who "physically harass and intimidate" Jews are simply ignored.

On campus, who is it that really has to worry about having their views suppressed? This guy, or the people he rails against?

And what of this? Who's muzzling whom? Who's intimidating whom? (And, to bring it back to the title of this blog, who is silent about this type of behavior?):

What MuzzleWatch Apparently Can't See

I've seen nothing on the MuzzleWatch website about this. According to a British tabloid, the director of "Channel 4" has received death threats after broadcasting a documentary about homosexuality in the Muslim world.

And the director isn't the only one:
Indian film maker Parvez Sharma – who spent six years making the programme – revealed: “I have had death threats on my blog after making this film. Some countries have even banned it.

“I’ve been called an apostate because Muslims think I have insulted Islam but I think it will open up a debate.”
That's what I'd call muzzling. Not the free speech exercised by those who peacefully express their opposition to overblown anti-Israel rhetoric.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jewish Voice for What?

It seems odd to speak out against an organization named "Jewish Voice for Peace." After all, I'm Jewish. I have a voice. I'm for peace.

But despite its self-righteous name, and its occasional use of cautious, moderate rhetoric, JVP, the organization behind MuzzleWatch, is not much different than the number of other reflexively pro-Palestinian and harshly anti-Israel extremist groups that exist to demonize the Jewish state.

Here are some telling tidbits:

Jewish Voice for Peace signed a "friend of the court" brief supporting a law suit by the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) that was meant to silence — yes, "muzzle" — the David Project and media organizations looking into a controversial land deal between the ISB and the city of Boston. (The lawsuit was eventually dropped.)

Also indicative of JVP's extremism is its booklist, which recommends, among works by other fringe anti-Israel activists, four books by Norman Finkelstein, a man who recently told the Iranians that Israel is a "satanic state" from "the boils of hell," which, by the way, "is committing a holocaust."

So extreme they are, that their newsletters feature essays by Ali Abunimeh, a co-founder of the Israel-bashing site Electronic Intifada, and Ran HaCohen, an activist who's so dogmatically entrenched against his country that he casts lifelong peace activists like Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua as war-hungry jingoists because they dared to think Israel had a right to respond to acts of war by Hezbollah. He even takes Yehoshua Sobol to task for asserting that Hezbollah is opposed to Israel's right to exist, though this is something openly and repeatedly admitted by the antisemitic (or "antiJudaic") terrorist organization.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dishonesty About Bill Moyers

MuzzleWatch apparently believes it's impossible for criticism of Israel to go too far or to be wrong. By extension, then, it's always wrong for people to take issue with anti-Israel statements. Here's one example of how MuzzleWatch dishonestly tries to convince their readers that the above is true.

Their Jan. 27 post about a controversial episode of PBS's "Bill Moyers' Journal" insinuates that Moyers was criticized — the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman and others took issue with his broadcast — only because he drew a false parallel between Hamas's indiscriminate rocket attacks, which target civilians, and Israel's response, which targets militants but sometimes hits civilians. To Moyers, these both amount to "terrorism."

Frankly, that assertion alone is pretty disagreeable, and it would be quite reasonable for Foxman et al. to voice strong disagreement with Moyers' opinion.

Still, MuzzleWatch would have you believe that this expression of opinion alone led the public to charge Moyers with antisemitism. Calling someone antisemitic because he is wrong and morally confused? Well, that might not be quite as reasonable. The nefarious "Israel lobby," MuzzleWatch suggests, is trying to "muzzle" Moyers!

But MuzzleWatch is hiding something from its readers. A big something.

The back-and-forth between Foxman and Moyers makes perfectly clear that references to antisemitic statements focus not on the host's moral equivalence of Hamas and Israel, but on this shocking assertion he made on the air:
What we are seeing in Gaza is the latest battle in the oldest family quarrel on record. Open your Bible: the sons of the patriarch Abraham become Arab and Jew. Go to the Book of Deuteronomy. When the ancient Israelites entered Canaan their leaders urged violence against its inhabitants. The very Moses who had brought down the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” now proclaimed, “You must destroy completely all the places where the nations have served their gods. You must tear down their altars, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred poles, set fire to the carved images of their gods, and wipe out their name from that place.”

So God-soaked violence became genetically coded. A radical stream of Islam now seeks to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. Israel misses no opportunity to humiliate the Palestinians with checkpoints, concrete walls, routine insults, and the onslaught in Gaza.
Wow. Jews (and Muslims) are violent by birth, Moyers seems to be saying. It's in their genes.

Now the references to antisemitism make sense.

Moyers himself eventually acknowledged that people found his "genetically coded" statement to be offensive, and argued, however unconvincingly, that he made a bad word choice and didn't mean to say what he said:
Some of you were offended by my comment that "god-soaked violence" has become "genetically coded." Those words were obviously not sufficiently precise, I was not talking about a specific people but of the violence in the DNA of the human race, as the Bible itself so strongly attests.
The MuzzleWatch post, though, doesn't acknowledge that Moyers made this offensive comment. If Moyers is willing to admit that the "genetically coded" statement drew fire, why isn't MuzzleWatch? Why do they feel the need to mislead?