May 8, 2006 4:26 pm


A couple of years ago Michael Lerner and I participated in a Front Page symposium called Anti-Semitism - the New Call of the Left. Since then we have been sending each other the stuff we write. We disagree but that is not a reason not to exchange ideas.

Today, I received his report on Saturday's rally. It starts thus:

As you’ll recall, I went to D.C. with significant skepticism, in part because the anti-war movement has not yet articulated a positive vision of what it is for (and hence can advance a distinctly anti-Semitic tone to the way it articulates its criticisms of Israel). Though my concerns were validated in the experience, I came away very positive about the whole thing, reminded once again that the sponsoring groups and their worldviews have very little to do with the reason most people come and the spirit that they generate.

In other words, he admits that the folks he befriends are anti-semitic but, except for that, they are great especially anti-Semitic airhead Cindy whom he invited to his services:

I was so moved by that part of the event that I asked Sheehan’s schedulers to arrange for Cindy to talk at my own Rosh Hashanah services I’ll be conducting at the University of San Francisco on October 4th. These are the days of repentance (from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur) and certainly one appropriate target for repentance is the ways that we the American public have been complicit in this war. We start by remembering what has actually transpired (Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Remembrance) so I think it appropriate to remember what has been happening in Iraq, and I found Cindy Sheehan to be a fine interpreter of that experience (far different than the image I had gotten from the media—and realized how much, even with all my awareness of the media distortions, my impression of her had been mauled by media representations that made her seem far more simplistic and one-dimensional than she actually is).

Its all so tragic and familiar. Jews who supported Nazis and Communists on similar basis. During the Vietnam War Jews failed to recognize the danger Hanoi's victory would pose to Israel and philosophy professor Michael Wyschogrod accused them of lacking"the most instinctual reflexes that come into play when the vital interests of a group are threatened." If that happened, he went on it meant that Jews"no longer identify as Jews on this visceral level" and that posed a danger which extended"far beyond any individual issue."

Luckily, the same cannot be said today about the Jewish community as a whole. The past had taught them a thing of two. Unfortunately, it taught Michael Lerner and his followers nothing. They repeat the same mistake over and over and over. Forgetting the all important basis of morality:"If I am not for myself? Who will be for me?"

Shame on him.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Really? George Bush killed Casey Sheehan? Mind explaining how? And when? I didn't know George Bush had training in explosives. Or to use your favorite locution: evidence?

The reason you find my comments unmeriting a response is because you're incapable of coming up with a cogent answer to them. But then, a person given to fabrications of the "George Bush is the murderer of Casey Sheehan" variety will tend to have that problem.

The truly squalid and base persons, by the way, are the Iraqi "insurgents"--and their apologists. Feel free to wear the latter shoe if you find that it fits. I reckon it does.

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Take a look at Galloway's website, entry for Sept 24.

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

To be more specific:

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006


Re the blouse: evidence?

E. Simon - 10/7/2005

I guess I'm interested in why conspiracy theories that place a tiny nation of a few million in control of the most powerful nation in the world, bear such striking resemblance to the classic charges of Jewish financial control of the world (which was used by the Nazis [and others] for causing WWII) and are alive and well - with no pretense of distinguishing between Jewish, and Israeli, mind you - throughout the Middle East. Check out the cartoons on sometime. Then check out the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The rhetorical tropes are basically indistinguishable from each other.

E. Simon - 10/7/2005

Of course Israel, 80% of whose population is Jewish, is _never_ scapegoated the way Jews were and sometimes are scapegoated.

Irfan Khawaja - 10/5/2005

The preceding post refers to the Oct 2 entry here:

Irfan Khawaja - 10/5/2005

Hey, I thought my comments up there were "not worth responding to." But I guess they were worth responding to on your personal blog, right--removed from the possibility of criticism or scrutiny? So much for intellectual integrity--or courage. Good going. Just don't pretend that the guy you called a "glib dope" didn't notice.

Wilson Kolb - 10/4/2005

Is criticism of Israel and the neocons automatically antisemitic?

Are Israel and Jews one in the same? If so, should Jews in America be seen as having divided loyalties? This is what can be implied from your comments.

I should add that I would emphatically answer "no" to all three questions.

Lee Kaplan - 10/3/2005

AT SFSU Cindy Sheehan blamed Israel (Jews) for the War in Iraq and claimed all oif ISrael is occupied Palestine.
She also complained about the Jewish "neocons" in the Bsuh administration.
So we shouldn't all feel left out, sher also said America is not worth fighting for and that the terrorists who killed her son are "freedom fighters."

Read my articole at Front Page Magazine titled SFSU Hosts a Terrorist
in whihc Cindy defended Lynne Stewart,
a notorious anti-Semite. Governemtn tapes of Stewart have her asking an Al Qaeda operative why all these lawyers who are Jews and are defending the likes of her and Cindy Sheehan don'tunderstand that they will be killed also if Al Qaeda wins.

Cindy is told exactly what to say by Palestinian professionalflacks and their allies in International Answer.
It'seasy to see in her rhetoric which avoids sounding anti-Semtiic when in the national media spotlight, but does so in private.

Diana - 10/2/2005

The person who murdered Cindy Sheehan's son is George Bush. He's the man who sent Casey Sheehan on a fool's errand to Iraq.

The rest of your comments don't merit response.

Your base attacks on the sincerity of Cindy Sheehan's grief over her son's death are morally squalid.

Wilson Kolb - 10/1/2005

Smart comment, John G. I don't see any evidence that Sheehan is an antisemite, because that requires intent. She's a grieving, angry woman who is frustrated by what she's seen. There's quite a dance that's demanded of people these days lest they be accused of antisemitism, and frankly I think it does EVERYONE no good.

Fact is you've had a huge Likud influence on American policy, with the neocons being the transmission mechanism. It's a reasonable to ask whether the Iraq War hasn't primarily served Israel's interests rather than our own. I think it's playing with fire to define that question as antisemitic.

One way or the other pertinent questions eventually get asked in this country, so the question now is who will be allowed to ask that question and when. If it's suppressed in the mainstream channels, you're going to see it asked elsewhere and then maybe you will see real antisemitism associated with it.

Lest you now think of me as some sort of fifth column antisemite myself, all I can tell you is that it's not the case. I'm posting as someone who wishes Israel well for a variety of reasons, and who is absolutely not antisemitic.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/1/2005

Yes, even if Galloway is the "champion of Iraqi insurgency", as you called him, he's not for terrorists, if that's what you meant
to accuse him in. He's just against
illegal, protested by the great majority of the world American occupation of Iraq and imposed by the latter puppet quasi-democratic regime, which Iraqis have the divine and internationally acknowledged right to fight against.
But I know, I know: such a struggle is only legitimate and legal, when
it happens to target the countries, whom this country casts as unfriendly or "evil". Then only terrorists and murderers turn into freedom fighters overnight (can we recall
Afhganistan in 80s and some other hot spots of the recent world?) from the light hand of CIA and American official propaganda...

Irfan Khawaja - 10/1/2005

I was joking, too. Wise up.

Irfan Khawaja - 10/1/2005

It didn't say it made them identical, did I? It simply makes Sheehan guilty of making common cause with Galloway--which is culpability enough. It's possible to protest the way without making common cause with such a person. A person making a moral argument takes care not to make common cause with immoral people. Sheehan violated that precept.

The culpability is particularly flagrant when you brazenly exploit the grief you've suffered over the death of your son--and then, without batting an eye, make common cause with a guy explicitly on the side of his murderers. Such behavior provokes the obvious question: So what is Sheehan on, anyway? Her son's? Or their murderers? If she's so fond of her son, how can she be so cavalier about his murderers? If she's so cavalier about the murderers, how fond of the son can she be?

We might ask the same questions of Rabbi Lerner at this point.

Of course, that's more or less what I said in the entry I linked to. Your "so what?" suggests that you have a pretty limited attention span. You seem better at asking rhetorical questions than at processing real-live answers.

But you wanted evidence of the Sheehan-Galloway collaboration, and I gave it to you. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Diana - 10/1/2005

So what? There were Communists at the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Did that make Martin Luther King a communist? Because communists and liberals worked together in the civil rights movement, did that make them identical, even though they had a "common cause"?

diana - 10/1/2005


It's a joke.

A lot of women's clothing is now produced in Vietnam.

It's my way of pointing out the ludicrousness of Ms. Klinghoffer's point that the North Vietnamese victory had a bad effect on Israel.

In fact, it had no effect on Israel, and the US and Vietnam could have had a productive trading relationship without all that death and destruction.

Lighten up.

Steven Plaut - 10/1/2005

in which Ward Churchill is an Indian.

Max - 10/1/2005

Do you check under your bed to make sure that Hitler isn't hiding there?

Todd - 9/30/2005

She is a lot of things - misguided, obsessed, dillusional, in love with her own hyper nuanced, Cindy-from-the-Brady-Bunch-baby-talk voice - but antisemitic? Proof?

Wilson Kolb - 9/30/2005

I don't see anything antisemitic about either one of those quotes. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Bush also want a two-state solution? And the invasion of Iraq can fairly be interpreted as something done more for Israel's interests than our own interests. You might disagree with both of the statements but I don't think they're antisemitic.

Wilson Kolb - 9/30/2005

I don't see anything antisemitic about either one of those quotes. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Bush also want a two-state solution? And the invasion of Iraq can fairly be interpreted as something done more for Israel's interests than our own interests. You might disagree with both of the statements but I don't think they're antisemitic.

not so self-righteous I'm blind - 9/30/2005

You have got to be kidding me. Speaking the truth about Israel's Gestapo tactics against the Palestinians and the centrality of our mindless support for Israel to the Muslim world's hatred of the US is "anti-semitic?" I have no problem with Jews--I just can't abide the actions of Israel's government. An eye for an eye is atavistic tribal justice, and means Israel and Israelis who support the state are absolutely no better than the suicide bombers. And, um, last I checked, Bush relied heavily on people who advanced the PNAC agenda in his justification of his war of choice. Just coincidentally, several of them have very close ties ($$) to Israel.

inmypajamas - 9/30/2005

Pretty easy to find Cindy's remarks:

Aug. 8, Veterans for Peace Convention - ""You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism."

She liked that so much, she repeated it again a few days later. Aug. 14, Crawford, TX - "You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine..."

Aug. 16 letter to ABC's Nightline:
"My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel..."
"...Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agenda..."

She denied writing this, saying that someone must be changing her emails (?!), but ABC says it is from her.

You'll find that most people who make these types of references are pretty reliably anti-Semitic. Did you get a gander at the anti-Israel prop at the D.C. march? They obviously felt right at home at her anti-war rally.

Should we now discuss "occupied New Orleans"?

Diana - 9/30/2005

Can you supply evidence, or do you just specialize in making wild charges?

diana - 9/30/2005

I was wondering the same thing.

My guess is that Judith's blouse was made in Vietnam.

Wilson Kolb - 9/30/2005

What evidence do you have to support the accusation that Cindy Sheehan is an anti-semite? Mind you, I have some real doubts about her statements lately, but antisemitism is not something that comes to mind here.

Do you define all opposition to the Iraq War as antisemitism, or do you have a specific charge against Sheehan?

David Michael Sucher - 9/30/2005

"During the Vietnam War Jews failed to recognize the danger Hanoi's victory would pose to Israel.."

Uh..what does this mean? Especially in light that Hanoi did in fact how this North Vietnamese victory impacted Israel? Pray tell.

Raging Bee - 9/30/2005

"During the Vietnam War Jews failed to recognize the danger Hanoi's victory would pose to Israel..."

And what danger was that, exactly?

Martin Kimel - 9/30/2005

Lerner has long sided with anti-Semites and said moronic things. There's nothing new here.

Bleepless - 9/30/2005

Lerner seems to think that there are no people who will not respond wonderfully to a greeeeeat, big universalist huggy-wug. Remember the belief held by little old ladies and Mchael Lerner: deep down, we are all alike. We all want the same thing: a better life for our children.

Diana - 9/30/2005

"she has made common cause with George Galloway,"

? Cite evidence.

Diana - 9/30/2005

"-Semitic airhead Cindy"

That's a serious charge.

Cite evidence.

tajjunkie - 9/30/2005

The same problem in Israel. There are Jews, Israelis and Arabs populating one country. 2 of 3 are against the Jews. Hence the problem there--one country can't speak with 3 voices.

Irfan Khawaja - 9/29/2005

Rosh Hashanah is the "day of remembrance." Oddly, Michael Lerner seems to have forgotten that Cindy Sheehan's supposed moral credibility arises from two facts: a) her son died at the hands of the Iraqi insurgency, and b) she has made common cause with George Galloway, an explicit champion of the Iraqi insurgency.

We are thus being invited to take seriously a woman who exploits the memory of her deceased son as she praises the man who openly champions the son's murderers. This evidence of Sheehan's immorality strikes me as much clearer than her supposed anti-Semitism, and is worth stressing the more loudly for it.

When Lerner says he is "moved" by this exercise in moral incoherence, it is either because he is culpably ignorant, or intends to endorse the incoherence in the full knowledge of its incoherence. A strange predicament to be in on Rosh Hashanah, no? Stranger still for his attempt to get on a moral high horse about it.

I've gone out of my way in the past to host some Tikkun events at my old institution, The College of NJ, and I've cited Lerner in a friendly spirit in a few papers I've written. I know better now. Never again.