If you want to read an exercise in passive aggressive, moral obfuscation, read the statement on the Jewish Voice Peace website about the physical attack on Leonard Petlakh at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night.
Typical of JVP's moralistic stance on Middle East Peace in which they defend only the rights of those who are victims of the Jewish right to self-defense, JVP nods its hypocritical head toward peace while casting blame on the Jews for bad behavior. Beating Leonard was deplorable. But bad Jewish behavior made someone do it.
1. "JVP members held signs and handed out flyers expressing the view that honoring the IDF only a few weeks after Israel's attack on Gaza has ended contradicts our values as Jewish New Yorkers."
Which values? Some Jews have the right to protection and self-defense but others don't? And JVP gets to determine which ones, according to their Jewish values? And was it the IDF being honored or the specific project of supporting wounded soldiers? I was at the game. "Friends of the IDF" was mentioned once. Which clearly was not enough, but too much for JVP.
During this summer's war in Israel, several friends--Zionists and Israelis who live in Israel and vote in elections and support the two-state solution by voting for the left-wing parties that support territorial compromise, had sons, who also vote for those same political parties, defending Israel's borders by fighting in Gaza. One lost an eye in the ground invasion. While JVP leaders were drawing protest posters with Sharpies in Brooklyn, other Jews, with other Jewish values, were both defending their right to live as Jews and taking the daily risk of working for peace, on the ground, in Israel and Palestine. One such price of citizenship is service in the IDF, a people's army, with soldiers who vote across the political spectrum.
2. "We were there as part of a large coalition of organizations who were all committed to non-violently protesting this event."
Which organizations? Name them. What are their views? What are their values? Does speech approximate violence when basketball fans are called "murderers?"
3. This is the most egregious. "The police had us behind a barricade on the sidewalk, while many people aggressively waving Israeli flags were in front of Barclays yelling at us and making rude gestures."
Was Leonard Petlakh aggressively waving an Israeli flag and making rude gestures? Is the claim here that because somehow, somewhere Jews were behaving aggressively that the later violence which victimized Leonard and his family was justified? Is this part of the Jewish values construct that JVP deploys? "If it happened, you must have deserved it" they seem to be implying.
Here's more: "Before we left, a police official said to us, 'Thanks for making our job easier.' I don't think he would have said that if someone from the protest had attacked someone."
So you organize a protest, you build a broad coalition as your allies, one of your allies assaults a man, breaking his nose, causing a wound requiring 8 stitches to mend, and you imply, strongly, it was deserved. What you don't say, in your deplorable deploring, is "JVP will fully cooperate with the NYPD in finding the identity of the attacker and see that he or she is brought to justice. We are a Jewish Voice for Peace and believe that anyone who disturbs the peace by using violence on innocent people should be brought to justice."
The reason that statement does not exist on the JVP website is that JVP doesn't believe it. Their Jewish values extend only to those they determine to be the true victims of hate and violence and this, in their weird calculation, does not extend to innocent Jews.
Here's another one: "However, while a small group of us were leaving the area, a group 3 (sic) young men with Israeli flags harassed us and said that we 'need Israeli dick.'"
Vile. Disgusting. But did Leonard say that to the person who hit him? I don't understand the relevance.
Again, this summer in Tel Aviv, while attending a peace rally to protest the war in Gaza, I saw a few feet from where I was standing, a right wing demonstrator assault an Israeli police officer. The assailant was grabbed violently, wrestled to the ground, and hauled away. Instantly, police on horseback and others in riot gear, pushed the right wingers two blocks further from the peaceful protest so that the left wing rally could continue. My point? People do and say horrible things in political conflict. Our job, as people of conscience, is to condemn the evil talk and the violent actions--without muddying the waters through doublespeak.
Finally: "We reaffirm our steadfast opposition to all forms of bigotry, violence and hate, including anti-semitism, anti-arab hate, and misogyny."
I'd correct the spelling to "anti-Semitism" and "anti-Arab." Capitalizing letters is both correct grammar in this instance as well as a justified expression of pride for both Jews and Arabs to claim the right to national self-determination.
Which brings me to my last point.
Does JVP support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state? Or is that only a quaint idea debated over drip coffee in a Brooklyn roasting joint?
Meanwhile, what did Bob Dylan say on "Infidels" about "the man of peace?" Sometimes he's actually the Adversary.
I remain unconvinced of JVPs righteousness.
What would would have been so wrong about deploring the attack on Leonard Petlakh, wishing him a fast recovery, and encouraging authorities to find the perpetrator?
What would have been wrong is that it would have gone against JVPs main Jewish value: to undermine the right of Israel to exist.