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April 9, 2010

The Antisemites Are at Their Keyboards

That Jerry Muller could not find much antisemitism during the recent financial crisis is probably a result of where he was looking (“Antisemitism and This Recession: The Dog That Didn’t Bark,” April 2).

Consistent with today’s trend, the central address for antisemites often begins with the letters “www.” The Internet offered no shortage of antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming Jews and Israel for the global financial meltdown, the crisis on Wall Street and the Bernard Madoff scandal. Worse, these hate-filled screeds were not relegated to the darkest, seediest corners of the Web, but rather flooded the comments sections of mainstream sites such as Yahoo! Finance and The Palm Beach Post.

The antisemites were there, they simply revived, revamped and retooled their ancient hate for the digital age.

Robert G. Sugarman
National Chair
Anti-Defamation League
New York, N.Y.

Beyond the Pale Today, But Not Tomorrow

Your March 26 editorial “Drawing a Line in the Bay” on the new Israel-related funding guidelines adopted by San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation gets it right in one respect: “Telling a potential grantee that his or her work violates the guidelines does more than withhold resources; it withholds an imprimatur, saying in effect that the work is outside the boundaries of Jewish acceptability. That it’s treyf.”

Silencing of opinions that the organized Jewish community, in line with the Israeli government, consider to be beyond the pale of acceptability has been part of our communal life for decades. Back in the 1970s, when I was a young member of the Knesset advocating for recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organziation and negotiations leading to a two-state solution, I was labeled a self-hating Jew and an anti-Zionist by the center-right in Israel, including the Labor-led government in power at the time. When I came on speaking tours to the United States, there were precious few institutions that dared invite me to speak — but there were enough that had established their independence somehow, and broke the silence and kept their funding. Had the mechanisms of who and how to silence been written down as established community guidelines, would that have been possible?

However well-meaning and conciliatory the San Francisco federation’s funding guidelines are meant to be, over time they will encourage blacklisting and self-censorship, and they will unnecessarily encourage greater communal divisiveness. They should be rescinded. A good try, maybe, but unsuccessful.

Marcia Freedman
Berkeley, Calif.

Working Within the U.N.

Jack Rosen March 19 opinion article is titled “We Can’t Afford to Give Up on the United Nations.”

The members of the Caucus of Jewish NGOs at the U.N. have been operating under that principle since 1981.

We have scored some notable victories, including the repeal of the Zionism-equals-racism libel, and the movement of the U.N. from condoning to condemning and combating terrorism. We have also helped with the creation of a Holocaust education outreach program.

When our members concerned with human rights advocated the creation of a Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights, we supported safeguards that would have prevented the new council from being dominated by a coalition of human rights violators. Unfortunately, in the rush to adopt a mandate for the council, the General Assembly abandoned those safeguards and in March 2006 adopted a flawed mandate. As a result, the council has turned out to be worse than the commission it replaced.

A review of the council’s work is scheduled for 2011. A big question is whether the U.N. secretary-general and the high commissioner for human rights will strongly support efforts to install safeguards needed to prevent in the future the election to the council of gross violators of human rights.

Harris O. Schoenberg
U.N. Reform Advocates
New York, N.Y.


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