Alison Weir at Stanford
I've recently written an article about the upcoming day of national observance, "Education and Sharing Day."
The article reveals that the person being honored on this day taught that Jews and non-Jews are different species and that non-Jews were put on earth to serve Jews. My main source (there are also others) is Israel Shahak, an Israeli professor whose books were praised by Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Catholic News, Jewish Socialist, London Review of Books, and others.
Imagine if we had a national day honoring someone who said that Jews were only put on earth to serve non-Jews... there would be an uproar (and should be). Yet, the reverse has been going on for 36 years...
And adherents of this view have a great deal of power in Israel-Palestine, with direct impact on Palestinians.I hope people will disseiminate this information and that we can get this national day of observance changed. I'm going to contact my Congressional representatives now.
I hope others will join me in writing to their Congressional representatives (contact info is here) something like the following:
Dear Senator/ Congressperson:
A national day of observance called "Education and Sharing Day" was authorized by several joint Congressional resolutions to honor Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Since Schneerson espoused racist teachings, and was opposed to teaching such "secular" subjects as reading, math, history, and science, I request that you introduce a resolution asking that this national day of observance either be canceled or changed to honor someone whose teachings better represent the principles that most Americans believe in.
For more information see http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/07/why-is-the-us-honoring-a-racist-rabbi/
Below is the article:
Why is the US Honoring a Racist Rabbi?
If things proceed normally, President Barak Obama will soon proclaim April 11, 2014 “Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A.” Despite the innocuous name, this day honors the memory of a religious leader whose lesser-known teachings help fuel some of the most violent attacks against Palestinians by extremist Israeli settlers and soldiers.
The leader being honored on this day is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, charismatic head of a mystical/fundamentalist version of Judaism. Every year since 1978, a Presidential Proclamation, often accompanied by a Congressional Resolution (the 1990 one had 219 sponsors), has declared Schneerson’s birthday an official national day of observance.
Congress first passed a Resolution honoring Schneerson in 1975. Three years later a Joint Congressional Resolution called on President Jimmy Carter to proclaim “Education Day, U.S.A.” on the anniversary of Schneerson’s birth. The idea was to set aside a day to honor both education and the alleged educational work of Schneerson and the religious sect he headed up.
Carter, like Congress, dutifully obeyed the Schneerson-initiated resolution, as has every president since. And some individual states are now enacting their own observances of Schneerson’s birthday, with Minnesota and Alabama leading the way.
Schneerson and his movement are an extremely mixed bag.
Schneerson has been praised widely for a public persona and organization that emphasized “deep compassion and insight,” worked to bring many secular Jews “back” into the fold, created numerous schools around the world, and had offered, in the words of the Jewish Virtual Library, “social-service programs and humanitarian aid to all people, regardless of religious affiliation or background.”
However, there is also a less attractive underside often at odds with such public perceptions. And some of the more extreme parts of Schneerson’s teachings – such as that Jews are a completely different species than non-Jews, and that non-Jews exist only to serve Jews – have been largely hidden, it appears, even from many who consider themselves his followers.
As we will see, such views profoundly impact the lives of Palestinians living – and dying – under Israeli occupation and military invasions.
Who was Rabbi Schneerson?
Schneerson lived from 1902 to 1994 and oversaw the growth of what is now the largest Jewish organization in the world. The religious movement he led is known as “Chabad-Lubavitch,” (sometimes just called “Lubavitch” or “Chabad,” the name of its organizational arm). Schneerson was the seventh and final Lubavitcher “Rebbe” (sacred leader). He is often simply called “the Rebbe.”
Founded in the late 1700s and originally based in the Polish-Russian town of Lubavitch, it is the largest of about a dozen forms of “Hasidism,” a version of Orthodox Judaism connected to mysticism, characterized by devotion to a dynastic leader, and whose adherents often wear distinctive clothing. (Spellings of these terms can vary; Hasid is also written as Hassid, Chasid, etc.)
There is an extreme cult of personality focused on Schneerson himself. Some followers consider him the Messiah, and Schneerson himself reportedly sometimes implied this was true. Some Lubavitch educators consider him divine, making such claims as, “the Rebbe is actually ‘the essence and being [of God] … he is without limits, capable of effecting anything, all-knowing and a proper object of worshipful prostration.”
While many secular Jews and Jews from other denominations disagree with its actions and theology, Chabad-Lubavitch is generally acknowledged to be a powerful force in Jewish life today. According to a 1994 New York Times report, it is “one of the most influential and controversial forces in world Jewry.”
There are approximately 3,600 Chabad institutions in over 1,000 cities in 70 countries, and 200,000 adherents. Up to a million people attend Chabad services at least once a year. Numerous campuses have such centers and the Chabad website states that hundreds of thousands of children attend Chabad summer camps.
According to the Times, Schneerson “presided over a religious empire that reached from the back streets of Brooklyn to the main streets of Israel and by 1990 was taking in an estimated $100 million a year in contributions.
In the U.S., the Times reports, Schneerson’s “‘mitzvah tanks’ – converted campers that are rolling recruiting stations whose purpose is to draw Jews to the Lubavitch way – roamed streets from midtown Manhattan to Crown Heights. And the Lubavitchers’ Brooklyn-based publishing house claimed to be the world’s largest distributor of Jewish books.”
Non-Jewish souls ‘satanic’
While Chabad sometimes openly teaches that “the soul of the Jew is different than the soul of the non-Jew,” Schneerson’s specific teachings on this subject are largely unknown.
Quite likely very few Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, are aware of Schneerson’s teachings about the alleged deep differences between them – and about how these teachings are applied in the West Bank and Gaza.
Let us look at Schneerson’s words, as quoted by two respected Jewish professors, Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, in their book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (text available online here. This book, praised by Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and many others is essential reading for anyone who truly wishes to understand modern day Israel-Palestine. (Brackets in the quotes below are in the translations by Shahak and Mezvinsky.)
Some of Schneerson’s rarely reported teachings:
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of “let us differentiate” between totally different species.”
“This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world … The difference in the inner quality between Jews and non-Jews is “so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species.”
“An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.”
“As has been explained, an embryo is called a human being, because it has both body and soul. Thus, the difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish embryo can be understood.”
“…the general difference between Jews and non-Jews: A Jew was not created
as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews.”
“The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim.”
“The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews.”
Most people don’t know about this aspect of Schneerson’s teaching because, according to Shahak and Mezvinsky, such teachings are intentionally minimized, mistranslated, or hidden entirely.
For example, the quotes above were translated by the authors from a book of Schneerson’s recorded messages to followers that was published in Israel in 1965. Despite Schneerson’s global importance and the fact that his world headquarters is in the U.S., there has never been an English translation of this volume.
Shahak, an Israeli professor who was a survivor of the Nazi holocaust, writes that this lack of translation of an important work is not unusual, explaining that much critical information about Israel and some forms of Judaism is available only in Hebrew.
He and co-author Mezvinsky, who was a Connecticut Distinguished University Professor who taught at Central Connecticut State University, write, “The great majority of the books on Judaism and Israel, published in English especially, falsify their subject matter.”
According to Shahak and Mezvinsky, “Almost every moderately sophisticated Israeli Jew knows the facts about Israeli Jewish society that are described in this book. These facts, however, are unknown to most interested Jews and non-Jews outside Israel who do not know Hebrew and thus cannot read most of what Israeli Jews write about themselves in Hebrew.”
In Shahak’s earlier book, Jewish Religion, Jewish History, he provides a number of examples. In one, he describes a 1962 book published in Israel in a bilingual edition. The Hebrew text was on one page, with the English translation on the facing page.
Shahak describes one set of facing pages in which the Hebrew text of a major Jewish code of laws contained a command to exterminate Jewish infidels: “It is a duty to exterminate them with one’s own hands.” The English version on the facing page softened it to “It is a duty to take active measures to destroy them.’”
The Hebrew page then went on to name which “infidels” must be exterminated, adding “may the name of the wicked rot.” Among them was Jesus of Nazareth. The facing page with the English translation failed to tell any of this.
“Even more significant,” Shahak reports, “in spite of the wide circulation of this book among scholars in the English-speaking countries, not one of them has, as far as I know, protested against this glaring deception.”
Praised by Said, Chomsky, etc., Shahak is almost unknown today
This pattern of selective omission, it seems, applies to Shahak himself, whose work is largely unknown to Palestine activists today, even though he was considered a major figure in the struggle against Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and his work was praised by diverse writers.
While Shahak was alive, Noam Chomsky called him “an outstanding scholar,” and said he had “remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.”
Edward Said wrote, “Shahak is a very brave man who should be honored for his services to humanity … One of the most remarkable individuals in the contemporary Middle East.” Said wrote a forward for Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion.
Catholic New Times said: ‘This is a remarkable book …[It] deserves a wide readership, not only among Jews, but among Christians who seek a fuller understanding both of historical Judaism and of modern-day Israel.”
Jewish Socialist stated: “Anyone who wants to change the Jewish community so that it stops siding with the forces of reaction should read this book.”
The London Review of Books called Shahak’s book “remarkable, powerful, and provocative.”
Yet, very few Americans today know of Shahak’s work and the information it contains.
American tax money & Jewish Extremism in Palestine
If they did, it’s hard to believe that Americans would allow $8.5 million per day of their tax money to be given to Israel, where such teachings underlie a powerful minority that is disproportionately influential in governmental actions.
Nor is it likely that a fully informed American public would allow donations to religious institutions in Israel that teach supremacist, sometimes violent doctrines to be tax-deductible in the U.S.
One organization raised over $10 million tax-deductible dollars in the U.S. in 2011 alone – removing money from the U.S. economy and enabling illegal, aggressive Israeli settlements in Palestine. And some of this money went to benefit individuals convicted of murder – including the murderer of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The New York Times obituary on Schneerson reported that Schneerson was “a major political force in Israel, both in the Knesset and among the electorate,” but failed to describe the nature of his impact.
One of a sprinkling of writers willing to publicly discuss Shahak and Mezvinsky’s findings is Allan Brownfeld, who is less reticent. Brownfeld is editor of the American Council for Judaism’s periodical Issues and contributor to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
“Rabbi Schneerson always supported Israeli wars and opposed any retreat. In 1974 he strongly opposed the Israeli withdrawal from the Suez area. He promised Israel divine favors if it persisted in occupying the land.”
Brownfeld reports that after Schneerson’s death, “[T]housands of his Israeli followers played an important role in the election victory of Binyamin Netanyahu. Among the religious settlers in the occupied territories, the Chabad Hassids constitute one of the most extreme groups. Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer of Palestinians, was one of them.”
Another such Chabad Hassid is Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg (also sometimes written as “Ginzburg” and “Ginsburgh”), who studied under Schneerson in Crown Heights and who heads up a major Chabad institution in the West Bank.
Ginsburg praised Goldstein, the murderer of 29 Palestinians while they were praying, and considers all non-Jews subhuman.
According to author Motti Inbari, Ginsburg “gives prominence to Halachic and Kabbalistic approaches that emphasize the distinction between Jew and non-Jew (Gentile), imposing a clear separation and hierarchy in this respect.”
In his book Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount: Who Will Build the Third Temple? Inbari states, “[Ginsburg] claims that while the Jews are the Chosen People and were created in God’s image, the Gentiles do not have this status and are effectively considered subhuman.”
Professor Inbari, an Israeli academic who now teaches in the U.S., writes that Ginsburg’s theological approach continues “certain perceptions that were popular in medieval times.”
“For example,” Inbari writes, “the commandment ‘You shall not murder’ does not apply to the killing of a Gentile, since ‘you shall not murder’ relates to the murder of a human, while for him the Gentiles do not constitute humans.”
Inbari reports, “Similarly, Ginzburg stated that, on the theoretical level, if a Jew requires a liver transplant to survive, it would be permissible to seize a Gentile and take their liver forcefully.”
While the mainstream American press almost never reports this kind of information, an April 26, 1996 article in Jewish Week by Lawrence Cohler reported on Ginsburg’s teachings, including their problematic roots in Jewish texts.
Cohler reported that a professor of Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Greenberg, “called for radically revising Jewish thinking about some Jewish texts on the grounds that scholars such as Rabbi Ginsburgh are far from aberrant in their use of them.”
Cohler quoted Greenberg’s concerns: “‘There’ll be a statement in Talmud… made in circumstances where it’s purely theoretical, because Jews then never had the power to do it,’ he explained. And now, he said, ‘It’s carried over into circumstances where Jews have a state and are empowered.’”
A rabbi associated with Ginsburg coauthored a notorious Israeli book, The King’s Torah, which claims that Jewish law at times permits the killing of non-Jewish infants. American donations to the Chabad school Ginsburg heads up, and that published the above book, are tax-deductible in the U.S. Ginsburg, who endorses the book, teaches classes throughout Israel, the U.S. and France.
Such extremism is opposed by the majority of Israelis, and major Jewish religious authorities condemn it, a Chief Rabbi, for example, stating: “’According to the Torah, every man is created in God’s image.”
Yet, such extremist views continue to exert a powerful influence.
Israeli military manuals echo extremist teachings: “kill even good civilians”
Israeli military manuals sometimes replicate extremist teachings. For example, a booklet authored by a Chief Chaplain stated, “In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah to kill even good civilians…” Such teachings by the IDF rabbinate were prominent during Israel’s 2008-9 attack on Gaza that killed 1,400 Gazans, approximately half of them civilians. (The Palestinian resistance killed nine Israelis during this “war.”)
Chicago writer Stephen Lendman has described these teachings, giving a number of examples.
Lendman writes, “In 2007, Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, called for the Israeli army to mass-murder Palestinians:
“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1000. And if they don’t stop after 1000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million.”
Lendman reports that some extremist Israeli rabbis teach that “the ten commandments don’t apply to non-Jews. So killing them in defending the homeland is acceptable, and according to the chairman of the Jewish Rabbinic Council:
“‘There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them…. A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.’”
Lendman writes, “Rabbi David Batsri called Arabs ‘a blight, a devil, a disaster…. donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t create them to walk on all fours. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean.’”
Another such rabbi is Manis Friedman, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi inspired by Schneerson who served as the simultaneous translator for a series of Schneerson’s talks. (Friedman is currently dean of a Jewish Studies institute in Minnesota.)
A 2009 article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports, “Like the best Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Manis Friedman has won the hearts of many unaffiliated Jews with his charismatic talks about love and God; it was Friedman who helped lead Bob Dylan into a relationship with Chabad.
“But Friedman, who today travels the country as a Chabad speaker, showed a less warm and cuddly side when he was asked how he thinks Jews should treat their Arab neighbors.”
In Moment magazine’s article, “Ask the Rabbis // How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?” Friedman answered:
“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.
“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”
Lendman reports, “Views like these aren’t exceptions. Though a minority, they proliferate throughout Israeli society…”
They also, Lendman notes, work to prevent peace in Israel-Palestine.
Shahak and Mezvinsky note that when the book containing Schneerson’s statements quoted above about Jews and non-Jews was published in Israel, he was allied to the Labor Party and his movement had been provided “many important benefits” from the Israeli government.
In the mid-1970s Schneerson decided that the Labor Party was too moderate and shifted his support to the more right-wing parties in power today. The authors report, “Ariel Sharon was the Rebbe’s favorite Israeli senior politician. Sharon in turn praised the Rebbe publicly and delivered a moving speech about him in the Knesset after the Rebbe’s death.”
Roots in Some Early Texts
Brownfeld decries the fact that few Americans are properly informed about the fundamentalist movement in Israel “and the theology upon which it is based.”
He notes that Jewish Americans, in particular, are often unaware of the “narrow ethnocentrism which is promoted by the movement’s leading rabbis, or of the traditional Jewish sources they are able to call upon in drawing clear distinctions between the moral obligations owed to Jews and non-Jews.”
Teachings that Jews are superior and gentiles inferior were contained in some of the earliest Hassidic texts, including its classic text, “Tanya,” still taught today.
Brownfeld quotes statements by “the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism,” Rabbi Kook the Elder, and states that these were derived from earlier texts. [Kook, incidentally, was also an early Zionist, who helped push for the Balfour Declaration in England before moving to Palestine. He was the uncle of Hillel Kook, an agent who went by the name “Peter Bergson” and created front groups in the U.S. for a violent Zionist guerilla group that operated in 1930s and '40s Palestine.]
Brownfeld quotes Kook: “The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews—all of them in all different levels—is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”
Brownfeld explains that Kook’s teaching, which he says is followed by leaders of the settler movement in the occupied West Bank, “is based upon the Lurianic Cabbala, the school of Jewish mysticism that dominated Judaism from the late 16th to the early 19th century.”
Shahak and Mezvinsky state, “One of the basic tenets of the Lurianic Cabbala is the absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of Jews; the existence of non-Jews was subsidiary.”
Again, Shahak and Mezvinsky report that this aspect is often covered up in English-language discussions. Scholarly authors of books about Jewish mysticism and the Lurianic Cabbala, they write, have frequently “willfully omitted reference to such ideas.”
Shahak and Mezvinsky write that it is essential to understand these beliefs in order to understand the current situation in the West Bank, where many of the most militant West Bank settlers are motivated by religious ideologies in which every non-Jew is seen as “the earthly embodiment” of Satan, and according to the Halacha (Jewish law), the term ‘human beings’ refers solely to Jews.”
Israeli author and former chief of Israeli military intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi touches on this in his 1988 book Israel’s Fateful Hour.
Harkabi writes that while such extremist beliefs are not “widely dominant,” the reality is that “nationalistic religious extremists are by no means a lunatic fringe; many are respected men whose words are widely heeded.”
He reports that the campus rabbi of a major Israeli university published an article in the student newspaper entitled “The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah,” in which he implied that those who have a quarrel with Jews “ought to be destroyed, children and all.” Harkabi writes that a book by another rabbi “explained that the killing of a non-Jew is not considered murder.”
Brownfeld writes, “Although messianic fundamentalists constitute a relatively small portion of the Israeli population [most Israeli settlers are motivated by the subsidized lifestyle US tax money to Israel provides], their political influence has been growing. If they have contempt for non-Jews, their hatred for Jews who oppose their views is even greater.”
Brownfeld cites the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had started to make peace with the Palestinians, writing that it was just one “in a long line of murders of Jews who followed a path different from that ordained by rabbinic authorities.” Brownfeld reports that Shahak and Mezvinsky “cite case after case, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century.”
The authors report, “It was usual in some Hasidic circles until the last quarter of the nineteenth century to attack and often to murder Jews who had reform religious tendencies…”
They quote a long article by Israeli writer Rami Rosen, “History of a Denial,” published by Ha’aretz Magazine in 1996. This article, which cannot be found online, at least in English, is also cited in the book Brother Against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, by Israeli professor Ehud Sprinzak.
In his Ha’aretz article Rosen reported: “A check of main facts of the [Jewish] historiography of the last 1500 years shows that the picture is different from the one previously shown to us. It includes massacres of Christians; mock repetitions of the crucifixion of Jesus that usually took place on Purim; cruel murders within the family; liquidation of informers, often done for religious reasons by secret rabbinical courts, which issued a sentence of ‘pursuer’ and appointed secret executioners; assassinations of adulterous women in synagogues and/or the cutting of their noses by command of the rabbis.”
While Rosen’s article may seem shocking, in reality, it simply shows that members of the Jewish population, like members of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and diverse other populations, have at times committed atrocities, sometimes allegedly in the name of their religion. The difference, as Shahak and Mezvinsky point out, is that such information is largely covered up in the U.S. Such cover-ups, however, don’t make facts go away. They merely bury them, where they smolder and at times eventually lead to exaggerated perceptions.
U.S. media rarely report that some extremist Israeli settlers are intensely hostile to Christians, and in one instance threatened peace activists who came to the West Bank to participate in nonviolent demonstrations, “We killed Jesus and we’ll kill you, too.” There is also a record of official hostility. For example, a few years ago an Israeli mayor ordered all New Testaments to be rounded up and burned.
While Schneerson is honored on national “Education” days, the reality is that the elementary schools he created often failed to teach children “basic reading, writing, spelling, math, science and history,” according to a graduate.
In his article “National Education Day and the Education I Never Had,” Chaim Levin reports on his experience at the Chabad school “Oholei Torah” (Educational Institute Oholei Menachem) in Crown Heights, New York – the site of Chabad’s world headquarters:
“I have profound respect for the late Rebbe and his legacy. However, I remember very clearly those talks that [Schneerson] gave – the ones we studied every year in elementary school about the unimportance of ‘secular’ (non-religious, formal) education, and the great importance of only studying limmudei kodesh (holy studies). As a result of this attitude, thousands of students were not taught anything other than the Bible throughout our years attending Chabad institutions.”
The goal of such schools, Levin writes, was to produce “schluchim,” missionaries who would promote Chabad all over the world.
Meanwhile, he notes, “Failure to provide basic formal education cripples children within Chabad communities. We cannot ignore the harm done…” Levin writes, “Until this day, Oholei Torah and many other Chabad schools — particularly schools for boys and a few for girls in Crown Heights and in some other places — do not provide basic formal education.”
Education and Sharing Day 2014
In his 2000 article, Brownfeld writes that Shahak and Mezvinsky’s book should be “a wake-up call “to Americans, particularly Jewish supporters of Israel.”
Fourteen years later, however, very few people are aware of these books and their powerful information, and U.S. tax money continues to flow to Israel. The main author, Israel Shahak, is now dead, as is Edward Said; Noam Chomsky rarely, if ever, mentions him; and Shahak’s co-author, Norton Mezvinsky (uncle of Chelsea Clinton’s husband), is a member of a Lubavitch congregation in New York.
In many ways, little seems to have changed since 1994, when Congressmen Charles Schumer, Newt Gingrich, and others introduced legislation to bestow on Schneerson the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed both Houses by unanimous consent, honoring Schneerson for his “outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality, and acts of charity.”
And in two weeks, Americans will be officially called on to observe a day that honors Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the Lubavitcher movement.
That is, unless masses of people contact their Congressional representatives to demand a whole new direction: a “National Education and Sharing Day” that honors an individual who values education, and who believes that all people – in the words of the Declaration of Independence – are created equal.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. Her book, Against Our Better Judgment: How the U.S. was used to create Israel, contains additional information on Rabbi Kook’s family connection to American front groups for Israeli terrorists. (Kook was unusual in his support for political Zionism; most Jewish religious leaders at the time considered the movement heretical). Weir is NOT the British historian.)
"...not everyone is afraid, and not every voice can be silenced..."
CounterPunch, March 16, 2001
A British writer named Alison Weir is receiving threats and harrassment from Israel partisans who have her mixed up with me. I hope others will help me spread the word that she is NOT the one they wish to hurt.
She is the author of apparently excellent books about British history, and she should be allowed to continue her life and her work without being attacked by pro-Israel fanatics who can't even get their target straight.
Below is her email to me:
I write to appeal to you to make your disclaimer more prominent on your websites. You can see, on my website www.alisonweir.org.uk, that I have very prominent disclaimers on the Home and Contact pages, and today I have had to make them even more prominent. I still receive emails from people who think I am you, and today I received one that was so obscene and threatening that I have reported it to the police.
It is clear from emails from readers that some have stopped buying my books because they think they are written by you, and various worrying incidents during US book tours have made me feel that it is unsafe to visit the States, and - a nervous traveller to begin with - I have stopped touring. All this because of a name - but it should not be impacting on my career, and I shouldn't have to keep defending myself against complaints that have nothing to do with me.
Everyone should have the right to the free expression of their views, but please could you work with me to make it absolutely clear that we are not one and the same person.
I have copied in my literary agent and my US publishers so that they are aware of this situation.
I have now emailed some of David Horowitz's websites that attack me asking them to always tells readers that I am NOT THE British historian. I'll let you know if I hear anything back from them.
The Horowitz-connected website, DiscoverTheNetworks, has now added this information.
Yesterday I also wrote several other such sites, including the ADL, but none of them have yet replied and none, so far, seem to have added the clarification requested.
I was the fourth speaker on the fourth panel. Below is what I said:
Hello, I’m Alison Weir, president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. Thank you. There are full citations in my book [ Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the United States was used to create Israel ] for everything that I'll be saying, and some of it will be quite surprising. So I want you to look at the citations if you would like.
For most of my life, I knew very little about Israel-Palestine. I was deeply aware of the Nazi holocaust, sympathetic to Israel, and had seen the movie Exodus.
But then in fall of 2000 the departure of my youngest child for college coincided with the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada with its images of children throwing stones against tanks, and I finally began to pay attention to a distant part of the world that I had thought had little to do with me and my family.
When I paid attention, I noticed how one-side the news coverage seemed to be, providing far more information from and about Israelis than Palestinians.
Growing curious, I looked into what the internet had to offer and discovered a wealth of information directly from the region from Palestinians, Israelis, and others that revealed a far darker reality than our media were reporting – a reality in which Israel’s massively powerful military, it appeared, was using extreme violence against a population that was largely unarmed, killing many and injuring multitudes.
The strategy, I read in a report by an Israeli academic, was to keep deaths below the level that would trigger world outrage, while maiming as many as possible; a common practice was for Israeli snipers to target knees and eyes. In the first month alone over 7,000 Palestinians were injured, including numerous children.
I noticed little of this was being reported by one of my main news sources, NPR’s Linda Gradstein, and I began to notice a pattern of media filtration that continues through to today, in which some facts are repeated and some never reported.
While we are repeatedly told that rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel, we seem never to be told that over 10 years of largely home-made rocket fire has killed a total of 29 Israelis – nor do we learn that during this same period Israeli forces have killed 4,000 Gazans.
We tend to hear, often in detail, about Israeli children who have been tragically killed. We hear far less often about the Palestinian children who were killed first, and in far larger numbers. It is my view that all of these deaths are tragic.
After several months of researching such information, I finally decided I needed to go and see for myself if things were truly as bad as I was beginning to believe.
I quit my job as a small town weekly newspaper editor and traveled over to the region as a freelance reporter, traveling throughout the West Bank and Gaza in February & March 2001 – long before rocket fire from Gaza – and took photographs of what I saw.
When I returned, I began an organization to tell Americans the facts on this issue.
I also began to study it intensely. I was especially curious about the U.S. connection, reading book after book by respected authors and scholars.
I was completely unprepared for what I found.
I discovered an extraordinarily powerful and pervasive special interest lobby of which I had previously been almost entirely unaware.
Even more surprising, I discovered that this was just the latest incarnation of a movement that has been active in the U.S. for over a century. A movement called “political Zionism” – its adherents are called Zionists – that has profoundly impacted my nation and others, and yet that many Americans do not even know exists.
I discovered that political Zionism, a movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine, had begun in the late 1800s, and that by the early 1890s there were organizations promoting this ideology in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.
By the 1910s the number of Zionists in the U.S. approached 20,000 and included lawyers, professors, and businessmen - and was becoming a movement to which, as one historian put it, “Congressmen, particularly in the eastern cities, began to listen.”
By 1918 there were 200,000 Zionists in the U.S., and in 1948 there were nearly a million.
While politicians from both parties increasingly saw Zionists as potential voters and donors to curry or at least placate, the U.S. state department opposed Zionism, believing it was counter to both U.S. interests and principles.
President Taft’s Secretary of State Philander Knox stated in 1912 that Zionism involved “matters primarily related to the interests of countries other than our own.”
A U.S. commission that studied the situation in Palestine in 1919 concluded, “the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish commonwealth should be given up.”
In 1947 American statesman Dean Acheson stated that supporting Zionist objectives would “imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that a Zionist proposal “would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East,” and predicted, “the Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the United States] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations....”
Such reports and memos go on and on...
During this time, however, Zionists were working strenuously – and ultimately successfully – to combat such wise recommendations.
They employed a wide variety of strategems – from open public advocacy to various covert activities. Their initiatives targeted every sector of the American population – including Jewish Americans, the large majority of whom for many decades were either non-Zionist or actively anti-Zionist, and who still today most likely are misinformed on what is being done allegedly in their name.
In 1943 a Zionist organization, in the words of its leader, launched “a political and public relations offensive to capture the support of Congressmen, clergy, editors, professors, business and labor.” A directive ordered: “In every community an American Christian Palestine Committee must be immediately organized.”
An annual report crowed: “We reach into every department of American life.”
When Britain failed to accede to Zionist demands, an American rabbi named Baruch Korff fomented a plan to drop incendiary bombs on London that was only prevented when a young American aviator divulged it to the Paris Police. 25 years later Korff, his terrorist past expunged from the public memory, became close to President Richard Nixon, influencing his Middle East polices. Nixon jocularly called him “my rabbi.”
Perhaps my most surprising discovery of so many surprising findings involves an extremely well-known and highly regarded Supreme Court Justice – Louis Brandeis.
According to a 1978 article in the respected scholarly journal American Jewish Historical Quarterly, by Dr. Sarah Schmidt, an Israeli professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a book by Peter Grose, former editor of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times, and associate at the JFK School of Government Harvard, Louis Brandeis was a leader of “an elitist secret society called the Parushim, the Hebrew word for ‘Pharisees’ and ‘separate.’”*
According to Schmidt and Grose, this society promoted Zionism throughout the U.S. Its initiates underwent a solemn induction ceremony in which the inductee was told:
“You are about to take a step which will bind you to a single cause for all your life...... until our purpose shall be accomplished, you will be fellow of a brotherhood whose bond you will regard as greater than any other in your life–dearer than that of family, of school, of nation.”
Grose writes “The members set about meeting people of influence here and there, casually, on a friendly basis. They planted suggestions for action to further the Zionist cause ...”
“As early as November 1915,” Grose writes, a leader of the Parushim went around suggesting that the British might gain some benefit from a formal declaration in support of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.”
Brandeis directed Zionist activities secretly from his Supreme Court chambers through his loyal lieutenants – one of whom eventually became a Supreme Court Justice himself, another particularly influential one: Felix Frankfurter.
A number of authors report that Brandeis was a close friend of President Woodrow Wilson and used this access to advocate for the Zionist cause, at times serving as a conduit between British Zionists and the president.
In fact, some Zionist leaders bragged, and British officials, rightly or wrongly, believed that Zionists had played a significant role in the U.S. decision to enter World War I.
Numerous individuals, both Jewish and Christian, attempted to oppose Zionist endeavors.
One was Dorothy Thompson. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, Thompson was “one of the most famous journalists of the 20th Century.”
She had graced the cover of Time magazine, had been profiled by America’s top magazines, and was so well-known that a Hollywood movie featuring Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracey and a Broadway play starring Lauren Bacall, were based on her.
Thompson had been the first journalist to be expelled by Adolph Hitler and had raised the alarm against the Nazis long ahead of most other journalists. She had originally supported Zionism, but then had visited the region in person. She began to speak about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that Israel had violently forced out in its founding war to create a Jewish state on land that was already inhabited, and narrated a documentary about their plight.
Thompson was viciously attacked in an orchestrated campaign of what she termed “career assassination and character assassination.” She wrote: “It has been boundless, going into my personal life.”
Before long, her column and radio programs, her speaking engagements, and her fame were all gone. Today, she has largely been erased from history.
In the coming decades, other Americans were similarly written out of history, forced out of office, their lives and careers destroyed; history was distorted, re-written, erased; bigotry promoted, supremacy disguised, facts replaced by fraud.
Very few people know this history. The excellent books that document it are largely out of print, their facts and very existence virtually unknown to the vast majority of Americans. Instead, false theories have been promulgated, mendacious analyses promoted, chosen authors celebrated, others assigned to oblivion.
George Orwell once wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Perhaps by rediscovering the past, we’ll gain control of the present, and make a better future for all our children.
* Citations for all the above statements in my talk and additional information can be found in my book, Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the United States was used to create Israel.]
I showed a number of slides during my talk. These will be available on the video of the Summit to be uploaded at http://natsummit.org/ when our videographer has had time to produce this.
For a documentary that is currently being made about Dorothy Thompson, see http://thesilencing.org/
My Modest Proposal to the Anti-Defamation League (....Foxman's salary is even higher than I thought. The latest info is that it's about $740K, not including $50K benefits.)
From the Independent Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), a must-read source of daily news...
Monday [September 30, 2013] Israeli soldiers invaded different parts of the occupied West Bank, violently broke into several homes and kidnapped at least five Palestinians, including one
... Such a pattern is discouraging... it weights the diplomatic process hopelessly in favor of the materially stronger side that has taken full advantage of the failure to resolve the conflict by grabbing more and more land and resources; it makes it virtually impossible to imagine a just and sustainable peace emerging out of such a process at this stage; it plays a cruel game in which the weaker side is almost certain to be made to seem unreasonable because it will not accept what the stronger side is prepared to offer, which is insultingly little; and it allows the stronger side to use the process and time interval of the negotiations as an opportunity to consolidate its unlawful claims, benefitting from the diversion of attention...
I became curious about the organization "Aish" when I stumled across it while researching my piece on the Weider History Group's censorship, and awhile ago I subscribed to the Aish feed. Today I was amazed to read an article that I found openly supremacist; yet, the author and his editors probably feel he is being wonderfully tolerant and sensitive. In many ways I find it a very sad piece. Below is the article from the Aish website. This was proudly announced in its daily feed. (By the way, I imagine many – perhaps most – Jewish Americans find the attitudes it displays offensive):
Updated on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 06:54AM by [Alison Weir
The latest favorite means that Israel partisans use to try to attack me is by making false claims about my two articles on Israeli organ trafficking. The best way to refute their claims I feel is to suggest that people read for themselves what I have written on this topic, so I'll post these below, including their numerous footnotes. As people will see, my information is largely from mainstream sources, including the Israeli media. (These articles represent perhaps about 1 or 2 percent of my writings on the topic of Israel-Palestine). I've also written a few follow-up commentaries on this topic, which I'll also post. In addition, I discuss this at length in the below extended video interview...
Another professor is also attempting to prevent students and others from learning facts he dislikes.
However, while Greenbaum (and perhaps others) have succeeded in pressuring the South Dakota World Affairs Council to drop its sponsorship of my presentation, and they all assumed that this would cancel the event, in reality it is going forward at the same time and location -- but now under different sponsorship. Read more here.
It is sad to see a former professor who demonstrates such disregard for free academic inquiry and who attempts to censor information. For too long the bullying of such people has prevented Americans from learning the facts on Israel-Palestine. Fortunately, their control is eroding.
Apparently, Dr. Murray Haar, chairperson of the Religion, Philosophy, and Classics Departments at Augustana College in South Dakota, is trying to pressure colleges to cancel my upcoming lectures on Israel, Palestine, and America. He is also, it appears, trying to pressure the media not to cover them. It's so sad to see academics without academic principles...
At my recent presentation in Colorado Springs, an Israel partisan distributed a flyer entitled "A Critique of Alison Weir's Book, Against Our Better Judgment (16 September, 2013)"... when I read the flyer it was clear that its anonymous author had not read my book... When I spoke to the man disseminating the flyer, he admitted that he, also, had not read my book.
Updated on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 04:19AM by [Alison Weir
UN General Assembly Resolution 181, the Partition Plan, was a recommendation that was to go to the Security Council. The resolution requested that the Security Council take it up. This never happened, and the partition plan has no force of law. Israeli propagandists, however, perpetrated the myth that the UN created Israel, and this interpretation was then been repeated by numerous others...
...""[Summers] seems to have played a major role in transmuting Harvard from a renowned university to an aggressive hedge fund, policies that subsequently brought my beloved alma mater to the very brink of bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis"... When he was president of Harvard, Summers told students and faculty that calls for the University to divest from Israel and a Harvard student group’s fundraising activities were “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent.”
I just came across this in an old box of papers. I passed it out during a Fourth of July parade in Marin County, California over ten years ago – I believe it was in 2002. (Scroll down for a more readable image.)
and a more readable image:
Since I wrote my two articles on Israeli organ trafficking (here and here), the subject periodically pops up again in the news (though it's minimally covered, if at all, by mainstream US news sources). Following are two of the most recent incidents of Israeli organ trafficking (for previous updates on this topic go here):
￼ ... Friday evening [June 14, 2013] Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian farmer was shot by Israeli army fire, as he worked in his land in Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza. ￼ ... - Palestinian prisoners held at Israel’s Ashkelon prison have been assaulted by special Israeli units ransacking their wards several times last week, a lawyer said Saturday. ￼ ... Israeli soldiers invaded on Friday at dawn [June 14, 2013] various districts in the occupied West Bank, searched homes and kidnapped seven Palestinians in Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus and Jenin. ￼ …- Israel is moving forward with plans for more than 1,000 new homes in two West Bank settlements, a watchdog said on Thursday in a move denounced by the Palestinians as an "abortion" of US peace... efforts. ￼ ￼ ... - [Thursday June 13 2013] a number of extremist Israel settlers carried out another Price Tag attack, this time targeting a Christian Cemetery in Jaffa, and spray-painted “Price Tag”, and “Revenge” on tombstones. ￼ ...- [Thursday morning June 13 2013] Israeli military vehicles, stationed across the border with Gaza, opened fire at Palestinian farmers and homes in Abasan Al-Kabeera town, east of the southern West Bank district of Khan Younis. ￼ ... -On Wednesday [June 12 2013] an Israeli military court decided to imprison elected Palestinian Legislator, Abdul-Jabbar Foqaha, under arbitrary Administrative Detention, without charges, for six months. ￼ ... On Tuesday 11th June, an Israeli intelligence officer forced a Palestinian from Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, to drink a bottle of alcohol under threat of gun. ￼ ...- Israeli forces on Wednesday morning demolished a house and a sheep barn in Bartaa al-Sharqiya, a village near the separation wall in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, a local council member said. ￼ ... a Palestinian man was shot by Israeli army fire, when Israeli soldiers attacked a funeral procession of a child in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. ￼ ... [Monday late at night June 10] Israeli soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian child and his father, from the Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem... ￼ … The Israeli Government passed Sunday [June 9 2013] the "Anti-Terror Bill", authorizing harsher punishment against individuals suspected or convicted of aiding armed groups in the country, and anywhere in the world. ￼ ... Human rights activist Jawad Abu Eysheh, 39, was arrested Friday 7th June following a complaint he made four months ago about a settler attack. ￼ ….infant suffocated after inhaling gas fired by Israeli soldiers invading Kufur Qaddoum, village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. ￼ ...Baraa' Abd al Rahman Badawi is an 11 year old Palestinian boy who lives in Gaza City with his mother, Dima Badawi. On 7 January 2009, at approximately 18:30, during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, codenamed 'Operation Cast Lead', Baraa's father, Abd al Rahman Badawi, and… ￼ ...the remains of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israelis in fighting during the war of 1948 which led to the creation of the state of Israel have been found in a mass grave in Tel Aviv's Jaffa district. ￼ ... On Wednesday 29th May, Israeli occupation forces arrested seven Palestinians, including two children, after raiding their houses in the occupied Jerusalem and Nablus. ￼ ….when an armed Israeli man attacked the Hapoalim Bank in Beersheba, on Monday May 20, stated that the Israeli Police shot and cuffed him, after instantly profiling him as the assailant. ￼ …Thursday at dawn, May 30 2012, dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the As-Sa’diyya neighborhood, in the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, and the nearby towns of Al-Ezariyya and Abu Dis, broke into and searched Palestinian homes, and kidnapped 29 residents, including children. ￼ ...A group of extremist Israeli settlers burnt, on Wednesday evening, several Palestinian olive trees and farmlands planted with wheat, in an area located between the villages of Far’ata and Jeet, east of the northern West Bank of Qalqilia. ￼ ….Settlers torched at least nine Palestinian vehicles and vandalized property in the occupied West Bank overnight Tuesday, locals said.
Attempting to un-censor my letter to the editor, College of Charleston's campus newspaper, "CisternYard"
Updated on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 08:18AM by [Alison Weir
Updated on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 09:05AM by [Alison Weir
Updated on Monday, May 13, 2013 at 03:34PM by [Alison Weir
...the two articles on my talk by the CofC student newspaper, one before my lecture and one after, exemplify the deeply faulty reporting frequently found in articles concerning Israel. In addition to numerous inaccuracies, they violated some of the basic principles of journalism. The newspaper’s editor in chief, who calls Israel her "second home," wrote both articles. The first article consisted of accusations by Israel-partisans claiming that I was “anti-Semitic” and labeling my talk – in advance – “hate speech.” The editor repeated inaccurate claims about me without investigating their veracity, and failed to include my very public rebuttals of these falsehoods. While the story included interviews defending the event in the name of academic freedom and free speech, it did not include any defense of me or response to the terrible accusations about me. And in violation of the most basic tenet of fair reporting, the editor never attempted to contact me to respond to the claims...
Below is my latest article, "American media distortion on Palestine," Middle East Media Monitor, London, 01 May 2013 ...exposing and overcoming pro-Israel power over information in the US about Israel-Palestine may, I believe, be the most important activity that those seeking justice and peace in the Middle East can undertake...
...today's version of Christian Zionism was largely invented in the 19th century; adherents of political Zionism, a movement to create a Jewish state, were a major factor in how and why it grew. The precursor to today's pro-Israel lobbying groups, the "American Zionist Emergency Council" (AZEC), played a significant role in creating Christian support for Zionism...