http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archiv...cu/index.shtml[The following is a lengthy report on an event held at Workmen's Circle, Boston on Tuesday evening, "The Gaza Blockade -- Is It Good for the Jews?" Workmen's Circle is the leftist "secular" Jewish organization which has crossed our path here multiple times before. I'm happy to note the discussion concerning Solomonia you will see below, most likely engendered by Hillel Stavis's postings here, for whom the expulsion of the Workmen's Circle from the mainstream Jewish Community (and the cutting off of any CJP funding) has been a particular interest. You'll begin to understand, if you don't already, why it is so outrageous for this group to get Jewish organizational funding as you read and also understand that Alice Rothchild -- a Workmen's Circle official -- is one Boston's most vile anti-Zionist activists.
This is written by Dov Shazeer, who attended the event.]
I attended the Workmen's Circle event entitled "The Gaza Blockade - Is it Good for the Jews".
There was a three person panel, each of whom were allotted 12 minutes for an initial presentation. The moderator stated that after the presentations and until 9:30pm there would be a period for questions and comments.
There were 40 - 50 people in attendance. The room was L-shaped, double wide in the front. There were about 15 rows.
All three panelists held official positions with Workmen's Circle. Alice Rothchild was introduced as an official of Workmen's Circle and an expert on Gaza. The other two, Mitchell Silver and Mike Felsen, were introduced as J Street members and officials.
I did not take notes. I had come to hear a view on Gaza which I expected to be different from mine and to find out about the Workmen's Circle offerings on Yiddish; since I speak Yiddish to two of my grandsons. I did not expect to hear what I did hear; I did not expect to be writing this. So here is a caveat. Where there are quotation marks I am paraphrasing to the best of my recollection. Also none of the panelists used the word "evil". I use the word "evil" to represent descriptive adjectives, nouns, phrases, and sentences which the panelists did utter which accused Israelis and Israel of the very worst actions.
ALICE ROTHCHILD PRESENTATION
It was a slide show of several dozen slides. There was a history which noted only Israeli evils; Israel invaded at this time and at that time, Israel destroyed this, Israel destroyed that. Israel used Gaza for cheap labor, Israel controls everything in Gaza. Many statistics and from every imaginable U.N. agency as well as "peace groups" about the terrible humanitarian situation. Many pictures and stories of people's suffering; she's been to Gaza and has seen it.
I don't believe she said the word Hamas once (I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure). Not a single mention of suicide bombings, not a single mention of rocket attacks. The 2nd or 3rd slide from the end was a graphic with a photo with perhaps a masked Palestinian; Alison (that's what they call her) said something like "there are militants in Gaza, but we need to present the other side as well, not just about militants". That was the shortest slide in her presentation; I estimate that it was shown for less than 5 seconds.
Alison stated several times that there are people in Gaza getting rich off of the tunnels and that this is somehow evil; I couldn't understand why it was evil but I assume she doesn't approve of capitalists.
One slide was a photo on which Alison commented that someone told her that Gaza was an "open air prison". Alison made a big deal that she disagreed with that statement. I expected her to say it was not as bad as all that. She said, and I paraphrase throughout because I did not take notes "in a prison, the guards at least have a responsibility to take care of the prisoners, the Israelis take no responsibility for their horrendous actions". Then she went on with her explanations that Israel is very, very evil.
MITCHELL SILVER PRESENTATION
Mitchell is of note because he is the only person on the panel who mentioned violence against Israelis. He did it twice as follows. In the context of the recent flotilla he said that while Israel killed 9 people and wounded many, a mere two Israelis got beaten up and that this was unfair. This single phrase was amidst a descriptive recounting all of Israel's sins regarding the flotilla raid. In the context of Operation Cast Lead, again the description of the 1,450 Palestinians killed and 5,300 wounded, Mitchell said something like "there were rockets and a mere 6 Israelis were killed". Again he said something about that being unfair.
Mitchell started off by explaining that while Alison's task was to explain the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Mike Felson's task was to explain the Workmen's Circle position paper regarding, I believe the flotilla (or it could have been the Gaza blockade), he was given no specific task, so he could sound off/philosophize to his heart's content.
Mitchell was the most revealing in terms of the goals of J Street and the Workmen's circle vis-a-vis Israel, and the most interesting of the panelists. Alison stayed true to her advertised role as the "expert" on Gaza, while Mike Felson, who largely I couldn't figure out what he was trying to get across or what he was saying, stuck to explaining the position paper of the Workmen's circle. By the way, no one actually addressed the topic "Is it good for the Jews" which was supposed to be the reason for the panel discussion, other than Mitchell saying that it depends on your point of view; evil Israel thinks it is good, but he thinks it isn't.
Mitchell's presentation I would say was divided into three parts.
I. THE REASON FOR JEWS TO EXIST
He started off by informing us what is the reason for the existence of the Jewish people. Mitchell stated that he could think of three possible reasons. The first was "wacko-bizarro", the second was "paranoid-delusional", and the third was what he believed was the actual reason for the existence of Jews. I'll briefly state his theory.
I'm paraphrasing and am not hitting the actual adjectives he used. The whacko-bizarro reason was to perform these weird rituals from thousands of years ago and to believe in a weird God (he didn't use the word weird but synonyms for weird/wacky).
The paranoid-delusional reason was to avoid extermination. Mitchell had two objections to this. First of all is this really a reason for Jews to exist and to have Israel? He felt this is absurd. Secondly he objected because it was paranoid. There is no threat against the Jewish people or Israel; rather Israel is evil. Mitchell made the point that young Jews say that they feel no threat against them; everything is hunky-dory; that young Jews ask what reason do they have to be Jewish. This is the point at which Mitchell brought in the Beinart article and the real reason for Jews to exist.
The real reason for Jews to exist is to be ethical, to help the community, to be nice to people, to improve the world. He stated a bunch of reasons which I consider to be so vague that they made no impression on me.
COMMENT: I could feel the audience approval and identification with the air of superiority and condescension in Mitchell's body language and tone of voice; the "we're much more educated and sophisticated than the primitive Jews who are wacko-bizarro and paranoid-delusional."
II. SOLOMONIA - COMBINED JEWISH CHARITIES (CJP) - BARRY SCHRAGE
Mitchell perhaps runs Workmen's Circle, because he spent the 2nd part of his presentation obsessing over a Conservative Jewish website called Solomonia. He devoted more time to Solomonia and the CJP and Barry Schrage then to the other two topics. Apparently Solomonia posted an opinion that Workmen's Circle is so anti-Israel that they should not be considered as part of the Jewish community; or something like that.
Mitchell stated that "divergent views" must be allowed in the Jewish community and that it is of utmost importance that Workmen's Circle have "a seat at the table". At one point he said that Workmen's Circle should "lead" the Jewish agenda (he didn't use this exact word) vis-a-vis USA-Israel.