(Guest post by DrMike and Emunah)
Berkeley, the home of the Free Speech Movement, is a city known for its devotion to various liberal/radical causes. But those who preached against war and prejudice might well wonder what has happened when an otherwise liberal church has aligned itself with raw anti-Semitism.
The Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists brought the notorious anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon to town a few years ago and faced a community protest. A supporter of Atzmon showed up with a Hassan Nasrallah shirt and a Hamas flag. Nasrallah has called for the genocide of the Jewish people, saying “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide. (Daily Star, Oct. 23, 2002) Since when is incitement to genocide a Unitarian value? Atzmon delivered as expected- and people left his talk in tears, upset by his intolerance and hatred. Can't say that we didn't warn them.
Now one might think that after this fiasco that the BFUU had learned its lesson. Apparently, though, they have decided that promotion of anti-Semitism is one of their values. In the wake of the Greta Berlin controversy, in which the leader of the Free Gaza Movement was found to have repeatedly and deliberately promoted Holocaust denial and Nazi propaganda, Berlin found herself unwelcome not only across the internet but also in person. When the likes of Ali Abunimah, Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine--who promote vicious lies about Israel and compare Gazans to Jewish victims of the Nazis-- denounce you for anti-Semitism, you know you've gone way past the point of no return. So Berlin's speaking engagements to promote her book began to disappear. Enter the BFUU, which decided to host Berlin after a well-respected bookstore in Marin County cancelled her appearance. They weren't alone-- a Marin group called 14 Friends of Palestine, whose leader Jane Jewell has promoted a lame excuse that Berlin's computer was hacked and who also posts admiringly on Atzmon's website, came on board to co-sponsor the event. Jane stood gleefully in the BUU, selling t-shirts and absorbing the hate.
Not content to have only Berlin speak, the BFUU then invited two other charter members of the "not only do we hate Israel, we're not so keen on Jews" club--Alison Weir and Jeffrey Blankfort. And they had the unmitigated gall to title the evening "On Zionism and Anti-Semitism".
Though Berlin was visibly disappointed that there were fewer than 2 dozen people in attendance, we're happy to help spread her words, as well as Weir's and Blankfort's, to a wider audience. Because when confronted by Jew-hatred and lies, it's important to out, name and shame not only the perpetrators, but those who facilitate them.
On October 18 , the BFUU hosted Greta Berlin, Alison Weir and Jeff Blankfort in a talk on anti-Semitism and Zionism. This is the first part of our summary of the talk
The BFUU’s own Rev. Ben Myers began the talk with a sincere blessing for dialog and communication. Rev Myers led the room in song evoking Rabbi Nachman of Breslav’s teaching that the whole world is a narrow bridge. The main thing is to not to fear at all. He left the hall before the speakers began. It was a smart choice.
Greta’s handlers were very carefully not to let her speak about her most current outing as a card-carrying holocaust denier. Greta’s time was limited to discussing her book “Freedom Sailors”., the story of the first blockade-running flotilla to Gaza. She discussed the role of Texas Activist Riad Hamad in organizing the flotilla and his $25,000 donation of matching funds to help buy the boat. Its a generous amount of money for a middle school teacher to have at his disposal. She discussed how his suicide was inadvertently caught on camera, though she neglected to mention how he had clumsily taped his mouth and bound his hands together in an effort to implicate the “Zionists” in his death. She discussed readily lying on her press releases in an effort to mislead the Israelis. Greta’s world appears to be truth optional- facts be damned if they don't advance her ideology.
Even before the flotilla departed there was trouble. Then as now, infighting plagued the anti-Israeli activists. Greta declared:
“When the boats finally arrived on the 21st of August, nobody was talking to anybody else. Because we were mad at the Greeks. The Greeks hated the Americans. The Americans hated the Greeks. We had boat people vs. land people. If you get 2 activists in a room, you get 14 opinions. If you get 44 activists in a room, you get a war, I'm not kidding.”
After arrival in Gaza, Greta described how “ the Palestinians took care of us for 5 days. “.
Indeed they did. As Paul Larudee reported in his talk on the flotilla in Hayward, a while back:
“It was a huge celebration. It was just amazing After that it was Palestinian hospitality run amok. They put us in the best hotels. They still have nice hotels there... The prime Minister and his entire cabinet invited us to dinner near his home...it was right after the Olympics you remember so he gave us all medals that said “Free Gaza”...one honor after the other....” This was in what they allege is the world's largest outdoor prison, and an equivalent to Auschwitz
|Free Gaza and Ismail Haniyeh|
Greta is convinced of the success of her mission, saying "We made them 3 promises before we left."
#1 - We would return.
#2 - We would take out Palestinians. And
#3 We would make sure that the world would know.
"And we have done all 3 of those. Gaza has been put on the map because of the Free Gaza Movement. Viva Palestina, the Global March to Jerusalem, the Gaza Freedom March. None of those would have happened had it not been for Free Gaza. "
Shhh. Don't tell Greta- all of those high profile publicity stunts have been abject failures.
Later:: Alison Weir on anti-Semitism