Sunday, June 24, 2012

Late is Not Never: JFed Cancels Anti-Muslim and Anti-Semitic Speaker

I saw the other day (while I was traveling to Chicago) that the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles was hosting a speech by notorious bigot Pamela Geller (sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America, which I'll return to in a moment). Geller's rabid hatred of Muslims has been noted by groups ranging from the Anti-Defamation League to the Southern Poverty Law Center. But beyond her hatred of all Muslims, Geller is also equally incensed by most Jews ("liberal Jews", which is another way of saying "most Jews"). She refers to us as "kapos" and "Nazis" who yearn for Israel's destruction and the genocide of Jews. She is a repulsive speaker and it was shocking to see her gaining a platform at a mainstream (albeit regional) Jewish organization.

Well, say goodbye to the platform. Little Green Footballs has informed us that the federation has canceled her speech (to Geller's spit-flecked rage). This is a victory for decency, yes, humanity, yes, religious equality, yes, and also the Jewish people -- not just because it shames the holy name to associate ourselves with such hate, but because Geller hates most Jews too. She is nothing more than a disgrace.

I haven't seen a statement from the LA Jewish Federation on their decision yet. I did visit their contact page to drop a note thanking them on making the right call, which I encourage you to do as well (you can also tweet them @JFedLA). The event was scheduled for today, and almost all the outraged coverage occurred yesterday, so this was very fast motion by the organization.

Meanwhile, let's talk about ZOA again. They weren't involved in the cancellation -- Geller thanks them for finding an alternate venue after the JFed cancellation -- and they were the one's who sponsored the event in the first place. ZOA, of course, has already revealed itself as an anti-Israel organization with its push for a one-state solution (which needless to say Geller supports), and its support of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic speakers alike is nothing new. But -- if only by age alone -- they maintain some clout in the Jewish community. It is an excellent thing that the LA JFed stood up to them, and their endorsement of Geller should render them as far beyond the pale of Jewish communal life as any other extremist, racist group.

UPDATE: Here is ZOA's statement on the cancellation. They pointedly do not blame "security threats" but rather acknowledge it was political pressure (they say by extremist Jewish and Muslim groups -- because we all know how beholden Jewish Federations are to JVP!) that caused the federation to back down. So more kudos to the Jewish Federation, and tally up another instance of ZOA being a disgrace to Jews and pro-Israeli Americans alike.

UPDATE x2: I've read accounts -- unconfirmed, but it seems plausible -- that the Jewish Federation did not invite Geller to speak. Rather, it was ZOA's doing, and they just reserved space at the Federation, which they could do since they were a member of a group. Once the Federation was informed of the nature of who was speaking, they cancelled the event.

Now, it's implausible that they weren't aware that Geller was coming -- the event was announced on their webpage, after all -- but it is possible that they did not know who she was beyond ZOA's white-washed biography. In any event, that would be much better than the alternative -- that the Federation knowingly was going to have someone like Geller speak, but caved under pressure.

UPDATE x3: JTA picks up the story. They weren't able to get a comment from the Jewish Federation prior to press time though.

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