As a left of center liberal who proudly stands up for most Jewish and Israeli causes, I was disgusted and ashamed when I heard from my friend Orit Arfa, Executive Director of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Western Region, that the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, canceled the planned event of the ZOA at Federation headquarters, 3 hours before it was supposed to start.
The ZOA a right wing organization if you will, scheduled an event on Sunday with controversial Jewish blogger Pamela Geller on the subject of “Islamic Jew Hatred as the Root Cause of Failure to Achieve Peace in the Middle East.” Sunday’s event, was planned a month in advance and was even posted on the Federation website. At 7:30am Steve Goldberg (National VP of ZOA) was notified by the leaders of the Federation including Federation head Jay Sanderson , that the event was cancelled. According to Goldberg, “the Federation cancelled the event because they were afraid of Muslim protesters”.
The event was quickly moved to a different location and over 40 people still attended. However many more people who planned to go weren’t notified of the last minute change missed Geller’s speech. Now, the Federation , which I stopped supporting long ago (think highly inflated salaries of the execs, not servicing the poor or the Israeli or Russian communities with anything but lip service, blah , blah, blah,) belongs to the whole Jewish community both left and right and center and every Jew in between.
Does the Federation have the right to censor different Jewish groups that are part of the mainstream? Will they cancel a speaker from Peace Now or Democrats for Israel? Who decides? Should I give Jay Sanderson a copy of my blogs beforehand so he can censor them too? Who appointed him the King? Oh ya, he gets over $500,000 a year to be king of the Jews, I digress.
Do I support the goals of ZOA? No
Do I support the views of Pamela Geller? No
Do the Muslims or Arabs cancel speeches because they may upset Jews? No
These people have a right to be heard, no matter how much we may or may not disagree with it. The people in our community need to hear all opinions and to draw their own conclusions.
The Federation said they were concerned for public safety. The Federation building is well protected with armed guards, cameras, metal detectors as well as the LAPD. When I worked at the Israeli Consulate a threat to my life was faxed in to the Consulate during the Gaza War. Was I scared? Did I shake in my boots? Did I stop working? No!!! Because if we give in to threats, then the terrorists will have won. Period!! That’s why life goes on in Israel -we don’t give into terror.
Will the Federation start evicting different groups from 6505, because certain people may not like their viewpoints on certain issues. Maybe we should send a list of these organizations to the Islamic Council on Public Affairs to see if they meet their approval.
When I had my radio show last year we had such anti-Israeli guests like Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, Greta Berlin and others who the Jewish Community finds offensive. Did I or the station censor my show or my guests? No! Why because we are all intelligent enough to make up our own minds, and everyone deserves to be heard. I value everyone’s opinion, even if I may disagree with it. Although I disagree with her and the ZOA on some issues, Orit Arfa is a friend of mine just as Greta Berlin and Knesset Member Tibi are facebook friends of mine. We agree to disagree. Period!
Jay Sanderson and the Jewish Federation owe the entire Jewish community an apology for quivering and shaking in their boots to threats, for censoring an interesting speaker and for underestimating the intelligence of the Jewish community.