Talking to a wall is not dialog: trying to talk to the American Jewish World

Centennial-logoBY ED FELIEN

On Wednesday, Aug. 27, Mordecai Specktor published an editorial in the American Jewish World that accused me of anti-Semitism.  I wrote a response and told him, “I have always published Jewish Community Relations Council responses to my editorials regarding the actions of the Israeli government in the past 10 years even when their responses were completely extraneous to the points I discussed in my article, and I expect the American Jewish World to publish my response in its entirety in their next publication.”
He refused to publish this response:

Anti-Semitism makes a comeback

You begin your history of anti-Semitism in Minnesota by mentioning the 1938 gubernatorial campaign.   You neglect to inform your readers that the campaign was between the left-wing Farmer-Laborite candidate Elmer Benson and the “Boy Wonder” Republican candidate, Harold Stassen.  It was Stassen’s campaign that published crude caricatures of Jews re-writing school textbooks according to instructions from Moscow.  You owe it to your readers to provide context for your history.
You say, “Perhaps Felien thinks that Philistines is similar to Palestinians, so go for it.”  Actually, most people who have studied the matter do believe that the name Palestinians is an early variant of Philistines.
In a television program I said Israel is dominated by Ashkenazi, or Europeanized Jews.  You say that actually Sephardic Jews are the majority.  I quite agree, but they did not create the modern state of Israel.  They are not in control of the government or the economy.  Of the 120 seats in the Knesset, Sephardic Jews probably hold only six.
My “screed,” as you call it, was seven verses from the Torah.  How can the Torah be anti-Semitic?  In the verses the prophets call on the Israelites to slay their enemies—men, women and children—without mercy.  I agree that I am arguing that this “barbaric and Jewish supremacist ideology underpins Zionism.”  But I am not saying this ideology underpins Judaism, nor, for that matter, the legitimacy of the state of Israel.
You say, “Felien would have his readers believe that the present state of Israeli-Palestinian relations goes back to biblical times.”  Are you saying that Israel does not lay its claim to Judea based on the Torah?  Are you saying there is no political party that claims biblical justification for the state of Israel?  Wikipedia:  “Religious Jews believe that ‘Eretz Yisrael’ (the Land of Israel) was promised to the ancient Israelites by God and the right of the Jews to the land is permanent and inalienable.”  Do you really believe that The Jewish Home, Shas and United Torah Judaism political parties are not basing their political ideology on the biblical verses I cited?  These religious Zionists control 30 seats, one-fourth of the members of the Knesset.
Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, a legal center for Arab rights in Israel, said in The New York Times, “Calls to ‘Kill all Arabs!’ used to be confined to extremist groups but today, you hear it everywhere.  In the past when people said racist things, we found that many officials denounced that. This time we found silence.  There is tolerance of this extremist rhetoric by the present government, including by Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, who recently made a very unacceptable comment that there is a moral gap between Jews and Arabs.”  To believe another group is morally inferior to your own is racist, and, since Arabs (like Jews) are Semites, it is anti-Semitic.
And what about Avigdor Lieberman, foreign minister in the Israeli government and the head of the Russian settler party that is driving Palestinians out of the West Bank?  He wants an Israel without Arabs, or, if they stay, they must sign a loyalty oath to a Jewish state.  He is a Semite-hating Semite.
Look in the mirror, my friend.  It just might be that you are the anti-Semite.
Mr. Specktor refused to publish my response.  He wrote the following:
“I don’t buy Ed’s semantic ploy about the Arabs being Semites, so I’m an anti-Semite. The commonly understood meaning of anti-Semitism is ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’ Google it.”
If you Google Semite, this is what you get from Wikipedia: “Today, the word ‘Semite’ may be used to refer to any member of any of a number of peoples of ancient Southwestern Asia descent including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews (Jews), Arabs, and their descendants.”
Specktor continues: “Generally, there’s nothing edifying in Ed’s response. I don’t think it merits publication in the AJW. We don’t need to provide Ed with a platform for his malign and tendentious Torah commentary, and his ill-informed views on Middle East affairs.”
Rather than discuss the points in my article, Specktor simply insults me and calls me names.  It reminds me of the old sketch from “Saturday Night Live” when Dan Ackroyd began his rebuttal to Jane Curtin by saying, “Jane, you ignorant slut!”
And, “Ed seems to be impervious to the facts and reasoned arguments.”
No, Mr. Specktor, it seems to me it is you and the JCRC who are impervious.  You prove it by refusing to discuss the ideas and by resorting to insults and slander.  Once again, Mr. Specktor, look in the mirror, you might just see a portrait of intolerance.


One Comment:

  1. You are hardly the expert on Jews, Israel or Palestine.
    Leave it to a white guy to tell us about our own heritage, traditions and beliefs.
    Stomp your feet all you want… it is not for you to determine whether you are a bigot or not… it is for those of us you offend to decide. So deny all you want… we know you’re an anti-Semite.

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