Lori Lowenthal MarcusLori Lowenthal Marcus is a journalist and recovered lawyer.
Here's how it works: Jews are trotted out to the public by organizations needing to rebut claims of anti-Semitism. The documented claims are erased by the rebuttal issued by a Jew. The organization then brandishes its anti-Semitism-free certification, and the Jewish certifier becomes ever more valuable to the organization.
The individual Jew or Jewish group issuing the certification is assuredly entitled to his or her or its opinion. The problem arises when that opinion is raised as a shield to thwart off legitimate claims of anti-Semitism directed towards the larger entity. Do the Jewish certifiers realize how much their value as spokespeople is enhanced by their religion? And do those hearing the certifications realize the labels stick unless other authorities peel them off?
The Philadelphia Free Library, a municipally funded institution, recently housed in its enormous lobby an editorial cartoon exhibit attacking the US Patriot Act. The exhibit was cleverly promoted as "US Patriot Art."
Most of the cartoons in the exhibit predictably depicted President Bush and his pals eviscerating the Bill of Rights and all good things American, but one cartoon stood out.
In this cartoon, a grinning Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says to President Bush: "You don't know how much we rejoice when we fire a missile on Palestine and children die." Put aside its viciousness and total baselessness, what does this cartoon have to do with the US Patriot Act? Sharon is the only foreign leader portrayed in any of the exhibit cartoons.
When asked why the Free Library chose to exhibit such a cartoon, the question was referred to a board member, Herman Mattleman. No surprise here, Mattleman is a Jewish lawyer.
Mattleman agreed the cartoon was offensive, agreed that Sharon was the only foreign leader depicted in the exhibit, admitted that the cartoon had nothing to do with the Patriot Act, and admitted that it was displayed in the Free Library lobby, where schoolchildren and other patrons gather for extended periods. But his bottom line was, "Who cares?" Mattleman was sneeringly unimpressed. He said, "Jews shouldn't waste their time on minor offenses." In other words, unless the trains are rattling down the tracks, it's a waste to sound the alarm.
So, a vicious and patently false portrayal of the Israeli Prime Minister is not worth more than an annoyed snort. And behind that snort hides the Jewishly-christened, squeaky clean players who made the grotesque decision to house the cartoon in its lobby.
On to an example on a national level.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency recently exposed the Ford Foundation as the source of multi-millions of dollars provided to non-governmental organizations that launched the foulest attacks on Israel and Jewry in recent history. Those NGOs relentlessly excoriated Israel as an apartheid, genocidal, colonialist monster during the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
Shortly after the exposes ran in the JTA, the Ford Foundation awarded a grant of $20 million to the New Israel Fund (sounds good, sounds Jewish), thereby building on what Ford called "the Ford Foundation's long term commitment to funding in Israel." The New Israel Fund Board Chair Peter Edelman announced that the grant would "ensure continuity for Ford's long-standing commitment in [Israel]." About those many millions of dollars lavished on the Durban hate-festers screaming for the destruction of the Israel apartheid state? Nary a word. Maybe the New Israel Fund thought it was chosen because Ford just realized virtually none of the hundreds of millions of Foundation dollars pumped into the Middle East over the past several years had gone to Jewish or Israeli ventures.
On an international level, close your eyes and conjure up those touching pictures of Adam Shapiro, holed up in the Mukata with his buddy, the long-suffering Yasser Arafat. On video and in pictures shown around the world, Shapiro cuddled up with what Israel claims is a thieving, murdering, corrupt and heartless bastard.
But the microphone and the cameras were placed in front of Adam, and his anti-Semitism-free certification bestowed upon Arafat the Imperial Margarine Crown of Innocence and Virtue. No surprise that the International Solidarity Movement placed front and center that Brooklyn-born boychick with the name of unmistakable origins.
Mattleman, the New Israel Fund, and Shapiro are entitled to their views and public positions. But why is it that Jews who support Israel are so loathe to publicly air their views? Why are we ashamed to stand up for ourselves, when so many of our own have no problem hoisting the microphone and wielding it against us? Anti-Semitism-free or shame-free: It's our choice.