Take Action – See the Request Below
On April 20 a vicious, anti-Semitic letter was published in the Santa Fe Reporter. This letter by Lena Griffith needs no analysis for the readers of this blog. The response letters by five rabbis, the ADL, the Federation, and other concerned citizens outlining the many errors and hate speech of the letter easily explain the problems of the thinking of Griffith. Those letters are printed below.
Of course, we all know there are Jew haters in New Mexico. The bigger question is how the editor of the Reporter could possibly have thought this letter was anything other than hate speech, and why she didn’t reject it out-of-hand. What could have caused such a colossal error in judgment? Even an “alternative” newspaper which prides itself on the outrageous should have had some sense of propriety and civility. As Rabbi Levertov points out succinctly in his printed letter to the editor, if such a letter had been sent substituting the word “Jew” with “gays,” “women,” or “blacks” it would have been immediately recognized for the hate speech it is. Does the editor and her staff need sensitivity training on such topics?
Bravo to Jeff Haas and the members of Santa Fe for Justice in Palestine for having the guts to put up a billboard on private property despite continually being vandalized by Santa Fe Zionists. If only more Jews were willing to put tribalism aside and stand up for the human rights and suffering of Palestinians, crimes done in the Jewish name.
Yes, Jews suffered under WWII Nazis, but with almost continual attacks, theft, unjust imprisonments, sanctions, water cutoffs, medical denial, etc. for almost 70 years, now Jewish Zionists and Jewish Israelis are the new Nazis.
The world is bearing witness to Israeli crimes, and global hatred for Jews is increasing.
This time, Jews are doing it to themselves.
It would behoove all of us to send letters (not necessarily for print) so the editor, Julie Ann Grimm, knows the depth of the community’s displeasure at her having printed the Griffith letter in the first place. Here’s how to do it (from the Reporter website):
Mail letters to PO Box 2306, Santa Fe, NM 87504, deliver to 132 E. Marcy St., or email them to email@example.com . Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.
Printed Responses in the April 27, 2016 SF Reporter:
A number of people wrote into the Reporter excoriating Griffith for her hate speech. Yasher koach to them, including five of our Rabbis, Dan Pava, Suki Halevi from the ADL, and Zach Benjamin and his colleagues from the Federation. The editor of the Reporter, Julie Ann Grimm, stated that she would print all of the letters received, but may not have space in this edition for them, so she would continue to print them in next week’s edition.
Need More Compassion
As a young adult in the Jewish community, I was shocked and saddened by Lena Griffith’s letter comparing Zionist Jews to Hitler and the Nazis. I have myself struggled with my own stance on the matter at hand. I value all lives, Palestinians included. I can’t act as if I know the hardships occuring in Israel and the surrounding areas. That being said, I do not agree with Ms. Griffith in her comparison. I think if we all had a little more compassion for everyone around us, life might be a little happier, for everyone needs it so much.
Four Rabbis Weigh In
Lena Griffith’s letter accused today’s Jews of not putting tribalism aside and alleviating the suffering of Palestinians. In fact, Jewish communities worldwide, including in Santa Fe, work with Israelis and Palestinians together, such as through organizations like Creativity For Peace. We work for peace because we know that vilification achieves nothing but more distrust.
In a classic example of Holocaust revisionism, she says that “Jews suffered under WWII Nazis.” This is an outrageous understatement. Millions of European Jews were systematically slaughtered to create a state purged entirely of Jews. They did not just “suffer.” It was official governmental policy to wipe them all out. To compare that to current Israeli policy is a disgraceful slander that demonstrates a total ignorance of history and of current Middle East politics.
Informed and balanced debate is always welcome, but it is outrageous to clearly imply that Jews worldwide and in Israel want Palestinians to be murdered, as she does by stating that “Jewish Zionists and Jewish Israelis are the new Nazis.” The predominant reason for the increase in global hatred of Jews that she mentions is because of ignorant and outrageous accusations such as those she made. The majority of Jews want and work for peace, and the majority of Israelis want and work for a two-state solution where both sides live together in peace. Letters like hers grossly oversimplify the issues involved and create division and hatred, and therefore make our work—the work of peace—much harder.
Rabbi Neil Amswych, Temple Beth Shalom;
Rabbi Martin Levy, Congregation Beit Tika;
Rabbi Ron Wittenstein, Kol BeRamah;
Rabbi Malka Drucker, HaMakom
Shame on the Reporter for allowing a racist, bigoted letter to be published in the paper.
“Blacks are the new Nazis” is not protected under Freedom of Speech. Neither should “Jews are the new Nazis” be. Spewing hate is not “dialog.” Let’s promote tolerance and peace, in a time the world needs it so much.
Happy Passover to all.
Rabbi Berel Levertov
Santa Fe Jewish Center, Chabad
Ms. Griffith needs to study her history better. Long before Israel gained its independence, the Palestinians were shooting, blowing up and killing Jews! Before Israel’s war of independence, the Palestinian leadership told their people to leave Israel because the Jews would be wiped out and driven into the sea and that they could then return and have all the spoils. So many of them left and were not allowed to return. I’m not saying the Israelis are totally right in what they do now, but look fairly at how this whole issue has simmered.
There is much more to this story than there is space. Please research your history better. The Palestinians are not as innocent as you may think, and I’m talking about the leadership.
Everyone seems to blame all Jews for Israel’s misdeeds.
The Anti-Defamation League (“ADL”) is a 103-year-old civil rights agency dedicated to stopping the defamation of the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment to all. We were shocked and dismayed to read the letter published on April 20, which expresses virulent anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry in the context of a protest against Israel. Political protest is protected by the First Amendment, and in the United States, even hate speech is constitutionally protected. For this reason, it is imperative to call out and condemn bigotry of all kinds when freedom of speech is used to advocate for hate.
The letter holds all Jewish people responsible for alleged “crimes done in the Jewish name,” describes “Jewish Zionists” and “Jewish Israelis” as “Nazis,” and implies that “Jews” are responsible for an increase in “global hatred for Jews.” Such unabashed bigotry is not a political protest against Israel. … These are all hateful expressions of unbridled anti-Semitism.
Legitimate criticism of Israel or any country is fair; hate speech against Jews or any group of people is dangerous. To use political protest as a vehicle for bigotry, anti-Semitism and hate undermines the efforts of all who support peace in the Middle East.
Regional Director, ADL New Mexico
Not Vigorous Debate
The Jewish community of New Mexico is deeply disturbed by Lena Griffith’s letter to the editor. While we welcome vigorous and respectful debate on Israel, her words amount to unfettered anti-Semitism—a vicious prejudice that has no place in our state. Studies, including one released by Pew Research last year, have confirmed that over half of hate crimes against a single religion committed in North America and Europe are perpetrated against Jewish communities. To say that “this time, the Jews are doing it to themselves,” is to address all Jews, not just those in the Israeli government or those living in disputed territories with whose politics Ms. Griffith may disagree. To equate Naziism with Judaism is an outrageous affront to civil discourse and a shameful display of hate speech. The Jewish Federation of New Mexico condemns Ms. Griffith’s hateful statements in the strongest possible terms and calls on the Santa Fe Reporter to condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms.
Zachary Benjamin, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of New Mexico
Sabra Minkus, President, Jewish Federation of New Mexico
Marvin Gottlieb, President-Elect, Jewish Federation of New Mexico
Ready to Back it Up
Yes, there are problems in Israel and Palestine, and I have seen the sign on Old Pecos Trail. I am, however, astounded that the Reporter chose to print a letter that essentially blames the world’s 14.2 million Jews themselves for being increasingly hated. Frankly, the letter was ill-informed and insulting to the vast majority of Jews in the United States, and around the world, and I believe it comes close to hate speech that no other people in pluralistic Santa Fe would tolerate. We Jews are proud to be a tribal people that has maintained its moral compass and given Western civilization many of its most treasured attributes.
Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people who for over two thousand years suffered aplenty at the hands of people who blamed them for anything and everything. In 1948, the Palestinians could have also chosen to establish a state. Israel is not perfect, but it is light-years beyond much of the world and particularly its Middle Eastern neighbors who have absolutely no track record to talk about human rights.
Last week, at the Passover Seder, we again read that in every generation, Jews must face the challenge of the anti-Semites and choose to live our lives. Thanks for the timely reminder that these words continue to ring true. I will now make sizable contributions to Israeli (aka Jewish and Zionist) causes to celebrate. LeChaim!