Monday, May 03, 2010

Rabbi Michael Lerner's House Vandalized by Right-Wing Thugs

In an email, I've just received word that the house of Rabbi Michael Lerner, of Tikkun magainze, has been vandalized by right-wing thugs:
Berkeley police today confirmed that the attack on Rabbi Lerner's home late Sunday June [sic] 2nd or early morning Sunday July [sic] 3rd was in fact a crime and was being investigated.

The attackers used a powerful form of glue to attach posters to his door and around the property of his home attacking Lerner personally, and attacking liberals and progressives as being supporters of terrorism and "Islamo-fascism." They posted a printed bumper sticker saying "fight terror--support Israel" next to a carcature of Judge Goldstone whose UN report on Israel's human rights violations in its attack on Gaza last year has been denounced as anti-Semitic and pro-terror by right wingers in Israel and the U.S.. The caricature has Goldstone talking about his being kept from his grandson's bar mitzvah, and the caricature of Rabbi Lerner responds by saying "any enemy of Israel is a friend of mine."

This is indeed a hate crime, and should be vigorously pursued with the perpetrators caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law. The Jewish community has no place for retrograde thugs who attack people due to having dissident political views. I may have my differences with Rabbi Lerner, but he is a Jew, and thus an attack on him threatens me as well.

Unfortunately, the end of the email alert concludes with the following suggestion: "What can you do? Let people know that this kind of thing is happening in the Jewish world to people who critique Israeli policies."

We are quite fortunate that this sort of thing, by and large, is not happening to "people who critique Israeli policies". The explosion of violent anti-Semitic incidents has by and large not been focused on Israel's critics. Actually, I take that back: for many of the victims may well have criticized Israel on numerous occasions -- I reject the notion that the average Jew is in that nebulous class of people who purportedly are "unable to critique Israeli policies". But it is true to say that when Jews are targeted for violence, it is not typically because they critique Israel. Insofar as I fear being targeted for anti-Semitic treatment or violence, it is not my criticisms of Israel that worry me. There are, of course, extremists who do undertake such violence for that reason -- Rabbi Lerner's attackers being one, the pipe bomb targeting Ze'ev Sternhell was another. But I do not feel besieged, and I do not accede to the notion that, as someone who has criticized Israeli policies in the past and plans to do so in the future, I should feel besieged as a result.


QueenTimely said...

I just read the Tikkun news release about the vicious attack on Michael Lerner's home and searched for more news. No surprise to find that is was a fellow DSA'er who had posted the only report I could find at this early hour of 1:00 am Italy time on 4 May. Thanks for reporting it. I can say that, in Australia where I usually live, that Jews who criticise Israel are often dismissed as self-haters by the broader Jewish community. Ask Antony Loewnstein of My Israel Question fame -- even though I do have my differences with him. Anyway, good to read you.

M said...

It is funny how left-wingers and Israel-haters act like they are the only ones who ever criticize the Israeli government. I know a lot of Jews that criticized the Israeli government when they were expelling Jews from their homes in Gaza, and I know a lot of Jews that criticized Netanyahu's settlement freeze.

People like Lerner don't criticize Israel in good faith. They just like to shit on Israeli Jews.

QueenTimely said...

We are not the only ones who criticise Israel, indeed. We are the only ones who are personally berated and terrorised for doing so. And, for the record, I am a Zionist.

Anonymous said...

Michael Lerner promotes violent terrorist attacks on Jews by Islamofascists. Non-violent Berkeley protesters hang signs near his home.

Who here is the real thug? The real vandal? The real barbarian?

PG said...


According to California law, a "real vandal" is one "who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own:
(1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
(2) Damages.
(3) Destroys."

So unless Rabbi Lerner has himself done any damage to property not his own, he isn't a vandal. Note that the California statute does not define vandalism to include advocacy for taking others' property.

Why do you feel the need to misuse a word that has a specific legal meaning in order to say, "guy who says stuff with which I disagree"?

joe said...

Hey anon, substance-free polemics are out in full force today.

N. Friedman said...

I do not support those who take thuggish actions, whether for or against my point of view.

It is worth reading what Professor Dershowitz has to say on this affair. He is evidently not all that impressed with Tikkun's explanation. He writes, among other things:

Although Lerner regards this as a hate crime, the local authorities have apparently explained to him that he cannot achieve the martyrdom status of the victim of a hate crime because his Jewish attackers were not attacking him for his religion, but rather for his politics. On a scale of one to ten, having a few posters glued to your house ranks at about a one for seriousness. Lerner went to the press and is trying to use it to silence my criticism of him.

If Dershowitz is correct, we are dealing more with grandstanding than a serious attack.

M said...

With "Zionists" like you, who needs anti-Zionists?

joe said...

Hmm, if only hate crimes were restricted to the categories Dershowitz thinks they should be. But I see one can be targeted based on political belief (it pretty much has to be once we accept that religious belief can be the basis of targeting for a hate crime, as any religion professor can tell you there is no clear delineation of what is and isn't a religious tenet or practice).

That said, even if political belief were not enough, it's perfectly conceivable that the burglars are like M here and see Lerner as a traitor or--what does Netanyahu like to call Jews with whom he disagrees?--ah yes, a "self-hating Jew." In that case, if they targeted Lerner for stepping out of line with how they believe Jews should speak/act. Which still gets you to hate crime.

Logic FTW.

Lerner went to the press and is trying to use it to silence my criticism of him.

Now taking bets on whether Alan Dershowitz is an epic troll or just has no sense of irony.

joe said...

With "Zionists" like you, who needs anti-Zionists?

Oh, zing!

I think M's rapier wit deserves a blog of its own. If maintaining said blog happens to mean M had less time on his/her hands to comment on blogs I personally read, well, that shouldn't stop the greater good.

Anonymous said...

The REAL vandal and criminal is "Rabbi" Lerner for supporting Arab terror against Jews. And he is no rabbi.

PG said...

Anonymous seems to misuse the word "real" to mean "like," the way other people misuse the word "literally" when they actually mean "figuratively."

joe said...

But most "literally" people I know are actually aware they mean "figuratively."

I'm not so sure about Anonymous.