Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Last Sunday in San Francisco, the Anti-Defamation League sponsored "Finding Our Voice," a conference designed to help Jews recognize and confront the "new anti-Semitism."

For me; writes Joel Beinin (Stanford University professor and Mideast peace activist) , it was ironic. Ten days before, my own voice was silenced by fellow Jews.

Apparently, his talk to a group of students in a private school in San Jose was cancelled in the last minute because of the opposition of "a certain community of parents," influenced by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley.

In his article in the SanFransico Chronicle , Beinin (who is raised as a Zionist) writes:

I have long advocated equal rights for the Palestinians, as I do for all people. I criticize Israeli policies. I seem to have crossed the council's line of acceptable discourse. Because I am a Jew, it is not so easy to smear me as guilty of this "new anti-Semitism." Instead, hosts like the Harker School, and others, are intimidated, and open dialogue on Israel is censored.

Beinin draws attention to his Jewish upbringing and the belief that "being Jewish meant being actively committed to social justice". A belief that motivated him to go to move to Israel in the pursuit of that dream. Yet much of what I saw there called this into question., he writes.

His stark criticism however is directed at the method of smear campaign adopted by some Jewish American communities:
Organizations claiming to represent American Jews engage in a systematic campaign of defamation, censorship and hate-mongering to silence criticism of Israeli policies. They hollow the ethical core out of the Jewish tradition, acting instead as if the highest purpose of being Jewish is to defend Israel, right or wrong.


Even former U.S. presidents are not immune. Jimmy Carter has been the target of a smear campaign since the release of his latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Carter's most vociferous critics have not challenged him on the issues. Rather, they discredit him with personal attacks, even insinuating that the man who has achieved more than any other American president in Arab/Israeli peacemaking is anti-Semitic.

Why discredit, defame and silence those with opposing viewpoints? Beininn believes that "it is because the Zionist lobby knows it cannot win based on facts. He suggests that everlasting peace in the middle east can only be achieved an open debate and the freedom to discuss uncomfortable facts and explore the full range of policy options.

(thank you Dr. V for the link)


Saa said...

Do you think Europe and US will ever honestly want the peace in Middle East? Do you think they want Israel and Palestine will find solution and become friends. Never the West is in favor of that, just think who will sell the weapons to to Israelis and Arabic countries then, and who will sit in UNO and cry for peace...its all drama, they will never do any serious peace talks, if any leader from both Israel or Palestine will really want the peace...he will soon disappear from the world's picture by other super powers.

West needs the business to keep control on the world and Middle East crises is lucrative business for West.

naj said...


Unfortunately I do not disagree with you. But I don't think it is the "governments" of these countries that create the chaos, that muddy the waters for their own gain. It is a certain group of profit oriented "business" owners, capitalists, dealers, who hold the real power in these so called democracies.

But I think we need to lay aside our cynicism, if we are to be the agent of change in this world. I think we should say "this order CAN change, and MUST change".

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Hi Naj, Homie, Behem,

Have you read: “Wrestling with Zion” a book published in 2003- edited by Tony Kushner and Alisa Salomon?

It has magnificent essays by (among others- I’m only mentioning my personal favorites) Joel Beinin, Seth Ackerman, Michael Staub, Phyllis Bennis and Marc Ellis.

Rarely have I read something so sharp and witty.

About America.

About Israel.

About the Middle-East.

Or about any other subject for that matter.

The fact that this book was published precisely at the apex of the jingoistic Mechugas of the “War on Terror/Ayy-raq/Ayy-rabz” makes it prophetically powerful.

A shining example of what resolute contrarianism and uninhibited brains can produce.

Sophia said...

Hi Naj,
I read the piece by Beinin. The ADL is routinely silencing people from speaking against Israel and this is particularly happening in the US more than in any other country. They know they are loosing ground in public opinion and they are becoming hysteric. There is no stopping to this logic which will not help them make friends, on the contrary, the more they silence and the more people will see the true face of zionism...

naj said...

Hi Sophia, good to see you here :)

I agree with you, and this is when one should let the nature (and history) take its due course.

We have a saying in Persian "the sun doesn't remain behind the clouds for good" ... flawed logic will have to face itself in a mirror.

And that goes for ALL dictatorships on the earth.

Monte said...

Hi friends: I came across a couple of related pieces. It does seem a movement is afoot to insist that people serve their causes best by telling the truth about them!
Best wishes,

Monte said...

Oops, sorry, let me try the links again:
Jews Plead for Fairness Toward Palestinians
From Dissent Comes Peace

Monte said...

Naj - How do I find your post about accidental war?