Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Resignation from Campaign for Liberty Albuquerque

I am beating this horse long after it has expired, but I want a record of this letter on my blog. If you are "tired of people running to defend Israel all the time" as one of my correspondents complained, then skip this entry. I truly wish I did not have to write this Letter of Resignation. Unfortunately, the people in question could not admit that accusing Israel of stealing organs, and accusing American Jews of dual loyalty is not exactly calculated to win them friends and influence. So after a week of futile discussion, I sent them this:

Dear Members of Campaign for Liberty Albuquerque,

I have decided based on the e-mails that I have received in the past few weeks, e-mails which were also available on the world-wide web at the Albuquerque Campaign for Liberty Meet-Up, that I do not wish to be associated with Campaign for Liberty Albuquerque and will therefore be severing my relationship and support of Campaign for Liberty. I have stated my concerns to the membership of Campaign for Liberty, and have seen little evidence that they will be addressed. I have therefore decided to end my association with the group. This is entirely a personal decision based on my my experience that one or a few members of the group have an unreasonable attachment to attacking the state of Israel using some very old anti-Semitic accusations that will in the end deter the group from the goals originally stated.

I have said that ant-Semitic accusations have been sent out to the group through the official e-mail list. My concerns have been met with the statement that these e-mails are merely criticism of Israel and that I am advocating censorship and theocracy (?) by stating my concerns. Therefore, I do want to address the issue of anti-Semitism as opposed to criticism of Israel before I end my association.

Criticism of the State of Israel with respect to specific policies is not anti-Semitic, nor is criticism of the government of Israel or of specific politicians who develop and implement policy. All of this is behavior normal to polite and reasoned discourse. It is common to see such criticism within the newspapers published in Israel as well as in the United States. Neither is criticism of the role of the United States in providing support for or reaction against Israeli policy anti-Semitism. It is certainly not anti-Semitic to say--as I have said a great many times in many different forums--that the United States ought to withdraw all foreign aid, including aid to Israel.

However, the stuff that one individual put up on the Campaign for Liberty forum is not criticism of Israel. Rather it is the stuff of old European anti-Semitism as featured in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and predating that forgery, it goes back to the ancient and medieval periods in Europe. For example, the member in question accuses the State of Israel of stealing the organs of Palestinian corpses as a matter of policy. This is the blood libel. The only difference in this formulation, is that it is Israel that stand in by proxy for the Jewish people. The source of much of such accusations is the propaganda of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist terrorist organizations, and goes back to the alliance of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem with Nazi Germany. In the Arabic press, those sources do not differentiate between Israel and Jews, and indeed accuse the Jewish people as a whole of this updated version of the blood libel. In the English versions they simply replace the word for Jew with the word for Israel. In this new form of anti-Semitism, Israel stands in as a proxy for Jews. This kind of unreasoned accusation against the Jewish people as Jews has a long historical record; one that the member is likely ignorant of though he accepts it without question when the accusation supports his prejudices.

The statement that support of Israel is treason to the United States comes from an accusation of Jewish dual loyalty that goes back into European history to long before the United States existed. It was made by the Nazis and their ally the Grand Mufti. It is the same accusation made in the Dreyfuss Affair, and it was the reason that Jews in Russia were deprived of their rights and interred in the Pale of Settlement. In medieval times, it was the reason that Jews were kept in ghettos, and were forced outside the regular medieval hierarchy of peasant-landed gentry-noble-king. The accusation goes back further to the Christian Code of Justinian, and before that to the various conquerers of the ancient world. For those of you who read the Bible, this same notion goes back to Exodus:

"Now a new king arose in Egypt who did not know Joseph. He said to his people: Behold! The people of the sons of Israel are mightier and more numerous than we. Come let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and join themselves with those that hate us, and fight against us . . ." (Exodus 1:8-10)

Both accusations leveled on the e-mail list and at the forum are very old anti-Semitic tropes that have been recast as the same kind of blanket accusations against the Jewish State and its citizens. They are part of a larger effort to delegitimize the State of Israel, which is demonized by anti-Semites in the same way that they once demonized the Jewish people as a whole. The purpose of these accusations is to make the case that Israel should not exist and should be destroyed because it is the Jewish State. No other country has its very existence threatened in this way, even those that burn widows alive on the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands or those that stone women accused of adultery. Those are the predictable actions of real theocracies. Israel, which is imperfect as is any human institution, is not a theocracy. It is a democracy with a demonstrated record of law that supports the rights of its citizens. Oddly enough the states from which such accusations arise are theocracies, or wish to become one.

That this is not criticism of policy is obvious from the fact that no evidence is presented to the truth of these accusations, and that no reputable journalist has ever published any such story duly backed up with evidence in a well-referenced article, even in those publications that are generally critical of Israel.

Criticism of policy does not include blanket statements such as "support for Israel is treason to the United States", which automatically makes traitors of nearly every American Jew, regardless of his or her stance on specific issues. Legitimate critical concern about policy does not include "big lies" that are repeated over and over in order to get people to believe them. Criticism ends where reflexive blame of Israel for everything bad that happens in the world begins. That is not criticism it is demonization. And the very form that this demonization takes comes from the same untrue and sensational accusations made against Jews from time immemorial. It is a far greater insult than criticism to deny Israel the same right to self-defense as it routinely understood to be the right of every other country.

I do not wish to be associated with an organization that tolerates such behavior. There is a difference between censorship (of which I have been accused) and the censure of a statement that not only detracts from the purpose of the organization, that bespeaks a terrible prejudice, and that supports the notion of collective responsibility, but which is also entirely a lie.

I do not believe that Ron Paul sanctions such notions, and I do not think he knows of this cancer eating away at the heart of the organizations that support him.There is a great difference between the principled libertarian stance that opposes the confiscation of money from the citizens of the United States for purposes other than those outlined in the Constitution, as opposed to casting all blame on Israel for all problems created by foreign aid to multiple countries by way of the decisions made by the Congress and tolerated by Americans. There is a difference between imagining how an interventionist foreign policy might create conditions for the 9-11 murder of American civilians, and excusing the murderers by blaming the victims. However, so long as such behavior is tolerated on forums dedicated to Dr. Paul's presidential campaign, I believe that he will not have a snowball's chance in hell of even getting into the debates, let alone getting his name on the general election ballot. He will inevitably be inaccurately tarred with the same brush that accurately describes some of his supporters.

For these reasons, I choose not to put my time and effort into a group that has, with the exception of a few individuals, acquiesced to the statement of an ideology marked by the demonization of Israel, and has tolerated anti-Semitism by proxy through that demonization. I cannot imagine supporting a candidate for president whose followers support such statements. Accordingly, in order to protect my name from association with these ideas tolerated on the New Mexico Campaign for Liberty, I have made my stance clear on my web-log, and I am informing my other friends and associates in the various liberty organizations of my decision and the reasons for it by including them in the address lines of this e-mail. I have also sent an inquiry to the national Campaign for Liberty asking whether they, as a matter of policy, support such statements in order to determine whether to further support the organization at the level. I have also sent such a question to the Ron Paul people, for the same reason.

Elisheva Levin

Questions? Concerns? Complaints? Comments are open.


Will said...

I have seen some of this behavior crop up among members as well. Fortunately, here in Nebraska Campaign for Liberty the leadership is wise enough not to fall into that ideological pitfall.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Will,

Thanks for stopping by. I would expect that Nebraskans would be less likely to accept such non-sense simply because they are Midwesterners. As a Midwesterner born and bred, and even as I spend more of my time in rural New Mexico, I find that the people of the heartland are much more likely to take a common-sense view of these matters, and also to treat people with courtesy and respect. This is the opposite of the smears usually made against flyover country by the Obama crowd and his sycophantic press. This same common sense and respect for individuals is less common on the coast and its enclaves in the heartland. But that's another blog . . .

Good luck to you and C4L Nebraska with your work. I am still waiting for C4L national leadership to reply to my question and then we shall see what we shall see.

Susan Ryan said...

I'm sorry to see this happening in this campaign, Elisheva. You explained the causes (and obvious effect) well, and I appreciate it. Many of us are looking at various avenues while striving to get our country back on track.
You've put so much energy into this, and it's a real shame that these folks lost you because reason and reality couldn't override foolishness.

Allen Cogbill said...

Nicely stated, Elisheva. During the 2008 campaign I signed up for a Ron Paul meet-up group in Santa Fe, primarily because one day they had a [small] rally in Los Alamos in which I participated. Anyway, I ended up on their e-mail list. Within about a month garbage similar to what you have described began being emitted by one or two members of the e-mail list. The first time it happened, I regarded it as an aberration, but after the 3rd time or so, I unsubscribed from the list.

There are, as you point out, nuts on all sides. Three years ago our congregation had some sort of fund-raising dinner that my wife and I attended. At one point the lady sitting across from me expressed her opinion that the single biggest danger to Jews in the U.S. were evangelical Christians. I was truly astonished at this statement, as it seems clear to me that there are far more serious dangers. I think most evangelical Christians are at least a little nutty, but for the most part [physically] harmless. The last folks to burn Jews at the stake in the Americas were Catholics in Mexico, I believe, and really not that long ago. Penn Gillette, a devout atheist, has stated that in his experience, (U.S.) Christians are incredibly tolerant of others. He should know, as he makes fun of them all the time. On the other hand, he has said that he won't make jokes about Muslims, "because I have a family." Here, he is not joking.

Anyway, later I learned that this lady sincerely believed that George W. Bush had the Twin Towers blown up in order to grab more power. How George's Administration managed to keep this a secret when they could keep nothing else a secret didn't seem to bother her.

Of course, the ratio of nuts to reasonable people is probably at least a factor of 2 higher in Santa Fe than elsewhere.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Allen, Hello, again!

I am of two minds about fundamentalist/evangelical Christians. Many of those that I know are reasonable people, but there is this small group of them that are Dominionists. The Dominionists seem to want to establish the United States as a Christian theocracy according to their interpretation of the Bible. They have openly discussed hanging gays and witches, among other things. I don't like them and I do not believe they can be allies in the struggle for freedom, however, they are small in number and seem to be less dangerous than other forces.

But I think you are right where your average conservative Christian is concerned. They are not a threat and don't seem to be concerned with setting up a theocracy.

BTW: I think the Objectivists have really gone the wrong way with this--at least at their official organizations led by Leonard Piekoff. He believes that the greatest threat to liberty is the Fundamentalist Christian vote. I disagree.

Daniel said...

Of course it comes down all the way from Ron Paul. Or Lew Rockwell. Or Paul Craig Roberts. Or Pat Buchanan. Or the rest of the gang.

Ron Paul supports interfering in only one country's domestic policy. Israel's.

He only goes on TV and makes videos to bash one country, over and over again. Israel.

Compare Ron Paul's reaction to the Russian invasion of Georgia and Israeli forces entering Gaza. Ron Paul defended Russia, but attacked Israel, compared Gaza to a concentration camp, and called Hamas a legitimate government.


The sort of thing you encountered is there, because it's part of the spectrum of views at the top. The things that Ron Paul doesn't say in public, his supporters do.