In a comment string underneath Ami Isseroff's recent piece condemning the petty and cowardly attack on Rabbi Michael Lerner's home by a vandal, anonymous readers have sought to further attack Rabbi Lerner and justify the vandalism.
[This post: http://proisraelbaybloggers.blogspot.com/2010/05/decent-people-must-condemn-attack-on.html ]
There is no way of defending the vandalism - an act which goes against every shred of decency which we expect from our side, and reflects a mind twisted and bent by stupidity and hatred.
This is something that San Francisco Voice for Israel, Stand With Us, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Northern California Board of Rabbis, and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay have all made clear by their condemnations.
Such personal, targeted, and vindictive acts of vandalism have no place in the discourse.
This is NOT a defense of Rabbi Lerner - his opinions are repulsive to many righteous and well-informed people - but a furious criticism of a petty and cowardly crime.
An anonymous commenter drew attention to an article by Rabbi Lerner, writing:
"Look, lerner got PUNKED for real by alice walker on Yom Kippur last year!!!
lerner's stupidity back fires on him by his own admission on beyt tikkun's website: http://www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/20090929072148570"
Evidently the dunce did not read the article himself. Or, if he did, he does not read well.
I Was Disturbed by Alice Walker's Yom Kippur presentation
Rabbi Lerner on Alice Walker's Talk at Yom Kippur.
Quote from the article:
“I was shocked and disappointed that Alice Walker, whose book The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize, would give a talk so lacking in nuance and filled more with attitude than facts or analysis.”
As you see, Rabbi Lerner finds Alice Walker’s stated opinions to be objectionable – because those opinions were misinformed. He also states that they were not supported by deduction or sound interpretation.
“I had framed her talk by presenting my own brief summary of the history which had led Israeli and Palestinians into this 120 year old conflict, explaining how both sides bore responsibility for the conflict, even though Israel's far greater power in the past sixty years has given Israel far greater moral responsibility to take definitive action to end the Occupation, end the human rights abuses, and provide reparations to the Palestinian people--as part of a peace agreement that would provide security for both Israel and Palestine. ”
These are Rabbi Lerner’s own words.
And yes, an argument can be made that as Israel dominates the process, there is a greater responsibility to take initiatives and work towards a just and equitable solution.
I myself cannot see how this contradicts Israel’s right to exist in peace and security within defined borders, not in a state of constant war or conflict with her neighbors. Nor does it say that Israel cannot be both a Jewish state, and a safe haven for Jews from all over the world.
“Instead of picking up on that attempt at even-handedness, Ms. Walker's first comments dismissed the history as largely irrelevant.”
Rabbi Lerner means that without an understanding of the conflict, both in cause and in detail, one cannot understand either the side’s motivations or ideals. A logical conclusion, one would think – but he indicates that Ms. Walker refuses to do so.
“Ms. Walker's claims about human rights abuses by Israel are largely substantiated by independent investigations.The Goldstone report to the U.N. only reconfirms what we should already have learned from the meticulous documentation of ongoing crimes of occupation that can be read from B'tselem: The Israeli Human Rights ORganization.”
Here one can definitely disagree with Lerner. Especially as there are many flaws in the Goldstone Report, particularly in its uncritical acceptance of incorrect data, skewed evidence, and outright lies. As he should have noted.
That it was commissioned by the United Nations argues further against accepting the report – the UN has a long history of bias, clear and evident to anyone for decades. B’tselem is absolutely untrustworthy.
“However, there are at the moment no credible reports of Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian women, as Ms. Walker alleges.”
In other words, she lied – and Rabbi Lerner calls her on that. He subsequently rips the allegation apart in several ways.
He then goes on to say:
“I was particularly disturbed that Alice Walker's presentation was so unconvincing and missed the opportunity to speak to our hearts, in large part because it felt contaminated by anger and a lack of compassion for the Jewish people and for Israelis.”
An accusation of blatant bias by Ms. Walker, bias which Rabbi Lerner exposes in detail. And he recognizes that her ideology is informed by anger – anger which, as he has shown, is not backed up by accurate knowledge, clear thinking, or even exposure to facts.
In Alice Walker, Israel-hatred and anti-Semitism have merged; they now represent not even two different faces, but the same side of a coin.
If for no other reason than this, Ms. Walker must be rightly recognized as a vicious bigot - not rabbi Lerner's conclusion, but it need not even be spelled out; it is quite evident.
“I now regret having had Alice Walker as a speaker. I personally experienced some of her remarks as offensive to me and her manner of talking to us dismissive and put-downish and her perception of the Jewish people seemed largely ignorant of the tradition of Jews that we represent and that has been growing worldwide. So I want to apologize to our community for subjecting you to this talk. ”
This is Rabbi Lerner's personal vidui.
He apologizes, and he wishes to atone and be forgiven for having provided a forum for a woman who told lies about Israel, spread hatred, and, as he has shown, didn’t know what she was talking about.
Alice Walker substituted the rhetoric of ignorant hate for any examination of the facts.
This is extremely common - Lerner himself is guilty of that failing - but occurs on both sides of this issue. If we are to win this battle for the minds of America and the approval of history, we ourselves cannot not err in this fashion.
The commenter who defended the personal targeting of rabbi Lerner's house displays precisely the same moral weaknesses and unethical sensibilities as Ms. Walker did in her lies and unfounded accusations, as she continues to do on her blog, in her writing, and at many speaking engagements. She is an intellectual phony, but he (the commenter) is an intellectual failure. And the vandal he defends is, plain and simple, a criminal.
The rest of the Rabbi Lerner's piece is the poofle expected from that source. A lecture, almost a harangue, containing much moralistic cotton-wool, and a bucket load of new-age horse manure.