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"Israel's Jewish Defamers" Conference

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    Right-wing media watch dog group s conference on Israel s Jewish Defamers. The CAMERA people are losing and they know it. www.muzzlewatch.com Philip Weiss
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2008
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      Right-wing media watch dog group's conference on "Israel's Jewish
      Defamers." "The CAMERA people are losing and they know it."
      www.muzzlewatch.com


      Philip Weiss and Tony Karon both chime in and Ben Harris at the Jewish
      Telegraphic Agency provides excellent coverage, while I offer my own
      personal observation below.

      We told you about the CAMERA Israel's Defamers conference.

      Enemy number one? The respected Israeli paper Ha'aretz. Harris reports:

      In her opening remarks, [CAMERA director Andrea] Levin insisted
      that it is not criticism that is at issue, but defamation, which, when
      coming from Jews, is afforded added potency. She singled out Israel's
      Ha'aretz newspaper, one of the country's most respected news sources
      and — through its English-language edition and Web site — a chief
      source of media perspective on Israel abroad. Levin accused the paper
      of printing outright lies and failing to issue corrections, even when
      the mistakes are pointed out.

      David Landau, Ha'aretz's editor-in-chief, refused — "as a matter
      of policy and principle" — to respond to the substance of Levin's
      criticisms because they came from CAMERA, an organization that he
      dismissed as "Mcarthyite."

      "I advise your readers to relate to CAMERA's tendentious
      statements and comments with the same measure of skepticism," Landau
      said, "and to read Ha'aretz.com and draw their own conclusions as to
      the veracity of our reporting and the contribution of our op-ed
      columns to honest and caring debate within Israel and the Jewish world."

      Weiss observed:

      The most important statement Levin made was that she gets the
      brushoff from Amos Schocken, the Haaretz publisher, but with the
      American media, "there is an unwritten contract between them and us."
      (Verbatim transcript to come later, when I have a little time…) An
      unwritten contract: to be fair to Israel, to print CAMERA members'
      letters, to pick up the phone.

      Isn't that amazing and scandalous? Levin is explaining why there
      is a free debate in Israel and not here. Because of the lobby and its
      "unwritten contract." Because U.S. support is crucial to Israel's
      existence. And so Americans, who supposedly so love the Middle East
      democracy that they support it out of the goodness of their hearts,
      must not read the news from Israel.

      Enemy number 2? Rabbi Michael Lerner. Harris continues:

      The real heat at the conference came later, with a tour de force
      from celebrated author Cynthia Ozick, whose presentation, "Reflections
      on Apostasy," vilified Jews who appear to identify with the enemies of
      the Jewish people. Ozick reserved particular vitriol for Rabbi Michael
      Lerner, editor of the left-wing journal Tikkun and a frequent critic
      of Israel.

      After ridiculing him as a "garrulous mime," questioning the
      validity of his rabbinical ordination, and slapping him with a flurry
      of unflattering adjectives — chaotic, disorganized,
      self-contradictory, puerile, and unbearably long-winded, to name but a
      few — Ozick accused the yarmulke-wearing rabbi of providing Jewish
      sanction to some of Israel's most implacable foes.

      "Only imagine Karl Marx davening and you will comprehend the
      dazzlement of Rabbi Lerner's current achievement," Ozick said.

      Lerner is "one of a growing band of ambitious, self-touting Jews
      whose hostility to the State of Israel more and more takes on the
      character of the spite that kills," she said. "The noise they make
      they call a silencing. The debate they attract they call a censoring."

      And who is losing? Philip Weiss, who went and discovered a largely
      older and in many ways sympathetic crowd of familiar Jews who still
      saw the world was against them, wrote:

      The CAMERA people are losing and they know it. Near the end
      Cynthia Ozick was asked how we should go about delegitimizing the
      delegitimizers of the Jewish state and she sighed and said, "It's
      hopeless." Alvin Rosenfeld, the author of the disgraceful report on
      Jewish anti-Semitism put out by the American Jewish Committee, was
      mildly more optimistic. He said exactly what I say: "We are in a
      furious intellectual struggle. There is a war of ideas going on… it
      won't end quickly…. It is steady work." And it is "serious and
      worrisome" inasmuch as these ideas may now "enter the mainstream." Amen.

      Tony Karon weighed in on the whole question of the decline of support
      for Jewish nationalism.

      One reader (thanks, Sasha!) pointed out this glum editorial by
      arch-Zionist and neocon Daniel Pipes, warning that even if it
      overcomes all the mortal threats that neocons like to see all around
      Israel, that won't help it cope with what he calls Israel's ultimate
      challenge — "a Jewish population increasingly disenchanted with, even
      embarrassed by, the country's founding ideology, Zionism, the Jewish
      national movement." (Actually, Daniel, I'd call it the Jewish
      nationalist movement, but let's not quibble here.)

      It's worth quoting at lenght from Pipes' piece:

      "Worse for Israel, Jewish nationalism has lost the near-automatic
      support it once had among secular Jews, many of whom find this
      nineteenth-century ideology out of date. Some accept arguments that a
      Jewish state represents racism or ethnic supremacism, others find
      universalist and multi-cultural alternatives compelling. Consider some
      signs of the changes underway:

      * Young Israelis are avoiding the military in record numbers,
      with 26 percent of enlistment-age Jewish males and 43 percent of
      females not drafted in 2006. An alarmed Israel Defense Forces has
      requested legislation to deny state-provided benefits to Jewish
      Israelis who do not serve.
      * Israel's Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has up-ended the
      work of the Jewish National Fund, one of the pioneer Zionist
      institutions (founded in 1901) by determining that its role of
      acquiring land specifically for Jews cannot continue in the future
      with state assistance.
      * Prominent Israeli historians focus on showing how Israel was
      conceived in sin and has been a force for evil. Israel's ministry of
      education has approved school books for third-grade Arab students that
      present the creation of Israel in 1948 as a `catastrophe' (Arabic: nakba).
      * Avraham Burg, scion of a leading Zionist household and
      himself a prominent Labor Party figure, has published a book comparing
      Israel with 1930s Germany.
      * A 2004 poll found only 17 percent of American Jews call
      themselves `Zionist.' "

      On a personal note, I (Cecilie) was moved by Philip Weiss's report
      that the attendees, largely older NY Jews, fearful, felt like his
      people. Some of them literally could have been my people.

      The truth is that I could never have enough compassion for my elderly
      relative who still lives with the trauma of barely surviving the 900
      day siege of Leningrad, who watched her uncle starve to death in front
      of her, (actually, well over 1 million people starved to death in
      front of her), whose parents sent her there for safety but who
      disappeared forever into the inferno of war and gas chambers. That she
      is alive is a miracle. And that she thinks I'm one of Israel's
      defamers for drawing attention to what the Israeli government is doing
      that is simply wrong on every level, is understandable. What I do
      makes her feel less safe. If there is no mythical fortress Israel,
      then what could ever save us?

      We are a traumatized people. Many of our elders are deeply
      traumatized, still. I didn't see my father express any emotion at all
      about what happened to his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandmother
      until he was 80 years old and completely lost all composure in one
      moment. Most of my life, he has brushed off the topic by deflecting
      the conversation.

      I have compassion for the elders like those who attend CAMERA
      conferences - feeling reaffirmed in their sense that the world is
      against them. It is virtually impossible for them to open their eyes
      and ears to all the ways that groups like CAMERA are actually
      diminishing any possibility of a future that is safe for Jews in
      Israel. They are too scared, too damaged.

      I do not have that same compassion for our so-called Jewish leaders
      who "lead" with demonization and fear. And who insist that the way to
      support and love the Jews is to insure that all of us be protected
      from reality, and to insist that we enable unspeakable acts that
      ultimately and ironically, make all of us less safe.

      *********************************************************************

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