Having been an activist supporting Israel and opposing anti-Semitism on the campus of the University of California at Irvine for the past ten years, it has never ceased to amaze when confronting Jewish anti-Israel activists. As a gentile, I have learned that the Jewish community in America is quite fragmented even when it comes to life and death issues affecting them. But why is it that more than just a tiny fringe have identified themselves with the Palestinian cause?
Let me begin by mentioning some of the voices that I have encountered on and around UC Irvine who support the Palestinians and find little to nothing about Israel that they consider good.
Jewish Voice for Peace is arguably the worst offender as a Palestinian-supporting organization made up of Jews. To begin with, they are not shy about resorting to disruptions of pro-Israel events as Benjamin Netanyahu learned a few years ago in New Orleans. They have participated in disruptive events in concert with Students for Justice in Palestine, which I consider nothing less than a brown shirt organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Once at UCI, I listened as a trio of them advanced the idea that those supporting Israel had no right to feel comfortable on campus-this in response to complaints from Jewish students of intimidation. One of them, Matan Cohen (an Israeli), stated that pro-Israel speech was “useless discourse”.Lesson learned? JVP does not believe in free speech for those they disagree with.
J Street and its affiliate Campus J Street profess to be “pro-Israel-pro-peace”. That is a joke. This George Soros-funded group takes the pro-Palestinian side on virtually every dispute between the Palestinians and Israel. At least JVP is honest about where they stand. J Street is not. They align themselves with virulent enemies of Israel like Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour.
Of course, American academia has more than its share of those who actively speak and write against Israel, and a fair number are of Jewish background. I could list Mark LeVine and David Theo Goldberg of UC Irvine, Judith Butler of UC Berkeley, and Norman Finkelstein of nowhere (He was fired from DePaul University) just for starters. I have heard all of them speak and with the exception of Goldberg, and have interacted with all of them at various campus events, usually through q and a. LeVine erupted at me in front of this own students once when I referred to him as an “anti-Israel activist”. He told me I would “have a big problem” if I ever called him that again and called it “slanderous”. Yet that is precisely what he is, which is obvious. On another occasion, I told Butler that in 2001, a character named Mohamed al-Asi had appeared at UCI and told his audience that, “You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the Jew”, to which she replied that her own mother used to tell her that. Later, I wrote to her and sent her the videotape adding that al Asi had immediately preceded that statement by saying that, “We have a psychosis in the Jewish community that is unable to co-exist equally and brotherly with other human beings”. She never replied. (I doubt her mother ever told her that.)
Then there is Jeff Halper. This curious fellow is an anthropology professor, born in the US, but who immigrated to Israel. Hardly grateful to his adopted country, he travels the international lecture circuit trashing the Jewish state. When he appeared at UC Irvine, he told us that the Israelis had invented something called, “spectral dust”, a substance that when programmed with a target’s DNA, would seek out and find the target killing him. “Imagine if the Israelis gave that to US agencies,” Halper told his shocked audience. I told him to his face during q and a that it sounded like a crackpot theory.
I also need to mention the Neturei Karta fringe element of Judaism. One of their leaders, the New York-based Rabbi Ysroel Dovid Cohen, travels the world (including Iran) speaking out against Israel. Neturei Karta is opposed to the Jewish state of Israel on theological grounds that the time has not yet arrived for the creation of a Jewish state. So they line up with those who want to destroy the Jewish state, a bizarre way of thinking. (Cohen is a personal friend of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.) I have seen Cohen speak twice at UC Irvine. I consider him a dangerous misfit.
But why do people like these line up against Israel, advocating for the very people (Palestinians) who want to destroy the Jewish state by any means necessary? Given that the Palestinians do have valid (but not exclusive) claims on the Holy Land, is it a simple dedication to justice? They, of course, claim that it is. I am not so sure.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that it is part and parcel of the alliance between the Palestinian cause and the left. Indeed, the left has embraced the anti-Western ideology of post colonialism, and Israel though hardly in the West geographically, is considered part of that. Even though Israelis are themselves multi-ethnic, the mentality follows the idea that Israelis are part of the white vs brown concept. It is my opinion that many American Jews, historically liberal, have latched onto the Palestinian cause as part of their rebelliousness against “the establishment”.
Let me be clear as one who fights against anti-semitism actively: I am not suggesting or implying that American Jews in general or in any large numbers are anti-West, anti-American, or anti- Israel. While I don’t use the term, “self-hating Jews”, preferring to leave that to Jews themselves to argue about, I have often referred to some Jewish anti-Israel activists as “misfits”. Having seen and heard many of them in action, I will stand by that description. If the day ever arrives, God forbid, that a second Holocaust happens in the Holy Land, some American Jews will not only look foolish but will have blood on their hands for supporting the murderous Palestinians.