Monday, April 11, 2016

Should UJA Federation, Which Holds an Annual 'Walk With Israel,' Sponsor an Evening With an Israel-Hater?

Perhaps I had better rephrase that: Why should the Jewish Organization that sponsors an annual 'Walk With Israel' sponsor such an evening?

Does it make any sense at all?

Would it sponsor an evening with, say, Noam Chomsky or Max Blumenthal?

Of course, the Canadian Jewish News puts a somewhat different spin on the issue, suggesting that finding a suitable speaker can be a "delicate task" because Jews (especially the right wing ones) are so doggone touchy and easily offended:
The directors of Toronto’s Koffler Centre of the Arts were astonished when their guest speaker for a May event, U.S. playwright Tony Kushner, was harshly criticized for his statements about Israel. Last month, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto went so far as to disassociate itself from the event. 
“We weren’t and we aren’t looking for any political discussion in regards to the issues that the UJA’s concerned with,” said Cathy Jonasson, executive director of the Koffler Centre. 
“The dialogue we’re interested in is primarily in the area of culture. When we stray into politics, we aren’t legitimate as a cultural organization.” 
The controversy in Toronto is not unique. Across the country, Jewish organizations have been forced to backtrack, disinvite and sometimes defend artists and speakers when charges are made that they are too divisive or their remarks put them beyond communal norms. 
Jewish organizations face the delicate task of finding prominent speakers who will not offend sponsors but are interesting enough to attract patrons...
Yeah, that is a big problem. ;)

Ms. Jonasson may not have been looking for any political discussion, but it was both foolish and short-sighted of her to think that Federation's sponsorship of a vocal Israel-basher, a man who is decidedly political, would not engender criticism.

They were "astonished," were they? I venture to say they weren't nearly as astonished as I was when I learned that the event had Federation's seal of approval.

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