You may have received an email a few weeks ago from our local Detroit Jewish Federation advertising an August 13th FedRadio podcast featuring ACLU attorney, Jay Kaplan. The title of the podcast episode was, "A Commitment to Justice." From the episode's description:
Jay Kaplan always knew he was going to become an attorney. He also always knew he wanted to do something to help people. “I knew that my niche was in the area of social justice,” he notes in his recent interview on the FedRadioDetroit podcast. “The whole trajectory of my career has been doing public interest law.” Jay also explains how his Jewish background gave him a foundation in tikkun olam and taught him to look out for the interest of others and make sure all people are being treated fairly.
There was a time when the ACLU could have made the claim that they were out to make sure all people were treated fairly. There was a time when the ACLU stood up for our First Amendment free speech rights. There was a time when "all people' included Jews.
But times have changed.
As Jonathan S. Tobin points out, the ACLU has forgotten its original mission and has jumped on the anti-Israel bandwagon.
It’s possible to draw line between support of the First Amendment and support of the right of extremists to endanger the public by engaging in speech that is the moral equivalent of crying “fire” in a crowded theater (as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote).
But now that the ACLU is no longer prepared to defend all sorts of dissidents, the choices it makes as to which causes it deems worthy of their efforts are highly instructive. And in the last month, the ACLU has signaled that its priorities are to defend the right to engage in discriminatory boycotts against Israel, as well as support of expressions of anti-Semitism.
That’s the obvious conclusion after the ACLU pulled out all the stops in its efforts to defeat a bill that would support the rights of states to ban entities or individuals that engage in boycotts of Israel and Israeli citizens from doing business with the government.
With anti-Israel advocacy being the gateway drug to anti-Semitism, this is bad news for Jews. As Tobin also points out, Israel-haters, just like Jew-haters, stretch or ignore the truth.
The ACLU claims this is a defense of the First Amendment. The Constitution protects the right of those who advocate for Israel’s destructions or for boycotts of it to express their opinions. But there is no constitutional right to engage in commercial conduct that discriminates against a class of persons or those associated with the only Jewish state on the planet. To the contrary, the states and the federal government are on firm constitutional ground to deem such discrimination illegal, as is the case when it comes to similar actions directed at African-Americans or other ethnic or religious groups.
But it’s just as telling as to what other kinds of speech the ACLU thinks is not only worthy of defense, but also laudable. When Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted an anti-Semitic trope about Jews buying Congress, her party’s leadership chastised her and forced her to apologize. But not the ACLU.
Jamil Dakwar, the head of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, chose that moment to tweet:
“The pressure on @IlhanMN to apologize is only the tip of the iceberg. The ultimate goal is to silence her and to boot her out of Congress for her courageous positions on foreign policy issues including her support to the BDS movement. Are you with Trump or @Ilhan. #IStandWithIlhan.
I know that the standard defense in this situation from Jews who defend the ACLU and other "progressive" Jew-haters is the old "We don't agree on every issue but . . ." In some cases I would accept that defense, but not when it comes to anti-Semitism. Then it becomes foolish and self-defeating. If you're only calling out anti-Semitism from the other side of the political aisle, you're not really calling it out.
Putting it simply, Elder of Ziyon says:
Accepting anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism is not a commitment to justice. It's a commitment to worsening the lives of your children and grandchildren.
What's even worse, and an even bigger problem, is the acceptance by some Jews of unrepentant pogromist, Al Sharpton.
You may have received the email (H/T Ed Kohl) from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs about the "Virtual March on Washington."
JCPA has signed on as a partner organization for the 2020 Virtual March on Washington. The goal of the March is to advocate for a collective vision of equity, justice, and equal opportunity for all. The March will highlight the priorities of the Black community and aims to bring diverse communities together to ensure underserved and marginalized communities are treated with dignity and respect.
Friday, August 28, 11 AM – 3 PM EDT
Convened by Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, the Commitment March will gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to restore and recommit to the dream Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. defined in 1963.
Has the JCPA forgotten Al Sharpton's role in the anti-Semtic incitement in Crown Heights which led to the murders of Yankel Rosenbaum, because he was obviously Jewish, and Anthony Graziosi, because he looked Jewish after the tragic car accident in which a young black child (Gavin Cato) was killed?
During the funeral of Gavin Cato on Aug. 26, Al Sharpton gave an anti-Semitic eulogy, which fueled the fires of hatred.
“The world will tell us he was killed by accident. Yes, it was a social accident. ... It’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. ... Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. ...
“All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no kaffe klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’. Pay for your deeds.”
Sharpton has not treated Jews with dignity and respect. We are "interlopers" and "diamond merchants."
Then there was Sharpton's role in the slaughter at Freddy's Fashion Mart.
Sharpton, in spite of never taking responsibility for his roles in the deaths of innocents, seemingly has had his slate wiped clean. He is accepted by the JCPA because their politics match - except for that part about inciting deadly anti-Jewish riots.
I might be mistaken, but it seems to me that the JCPA and Jewish Federation, in addition to a bunch of other progressive organizations, are more worried that people who hate Jews won't like them than they are about serving the Jewish community.