Why would a rabbi circulate an article by an anti-Semite suggesting that the assassination of a pro-Israel professor might be justified? Because the “rabbi” is himself an Israel-basher who has climbed into bed with Hezbollah supporters, advocates of divestment from Israel and other Jew-haters.
I’m describing, of course, Rabbi Michael Lerner, whose magazine Tikkun is quickly becoming the most virulently anti-Israel screed ever published under Jewish auspices.
Let’s look at Lerner’s most recent offense against decency and the Jewish people.
Last month, the notorious Norman Finkelstein — a strong supporter of Hezbollah and an opponent of justice for Holocaust survivors — published a call to arms entitled, “Should Alan Dershowitz Target Himself for Assassination?” As the title of the article suggests, Finkelstein puts forward in his article what he believes to be a justification for my assassination as a war criminal, based on my support for Israel.
Nor was this the only obscenity in the article. Not by a long shot. Finkelstein’s piece was accompanied by a cartoon drawn by Latuff, a frequent accomplice of Finkelstein. The cartoon portrayed me as masturbating in rapturous joy while viewing images of dead Lebanese civilians on a TV set labeled “Israel peep show,” with a Jewish Star of David prominently featured.
I found out recently that Michael Lerner, founder and editor of Tikkun magazine, has been circulating the Finkelstein article from his Tikkun email account and under the Tikkun letterhead. Lerner apparently didn’t have the stomach to attach the cartoon, despite the fact that the inspiration for the disgusting cartoon comes directly from what Finkelstein writes in the article circulated by Lerner. The article accuses me of being a “moral pervert” who “missed the climactic scene of his little peep show.”
The obscene cartoon merely illustrated Finkelstein’s obscene verbal image. Finkelstein also claims, quite absurdly, that I “sanction mass murder” and “the extermination of the Lebanese people.” (I’m surprised he hasn’t accused me of kicking puppy dogs, scowling at little children and parking in handicapped spaces.)
Yet this disgusting article was circulated by a rabbi who purports to devote himself “to peace, justice, nonviolence, generosity, caring, love and compassion.”
This is a rabbi who claims to observe the Jewish commandments against evil words (lashon hara) and bearing false witness. This is a man who ardently opposes Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas terrorists, but apparently has no qualms about the assassination of pro-Israel academics.
That’s a rather peculiar definition of “peace, justice, and nonviolence” Lerner is employing.
Nor was the article circulated to demonstrate how far the enemies of Israel and decency will go. It was circulated approvingly by the rabbi, who, in effect, endorsed its despicable content.
This is not the first time that Lerner has served as a megaphone for Finkelstein’s hate speech. He published an article-length version of one of Finkelstein’s screeds in Tikkun, complete with Finkelstein’s hateful thesis: “Alongside Israel [American Jewish elites] are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism in the world today … They need to be stopped.” (Finkelstein had previously called American Jews “parasites.”)
In the book from which the article was excerpted, Finkelstein invoked some of the most crass anti-Semitic caricatures found in contemporary America: “Should people like Abraham Foxman, Edgar Bronfman and Rabbi Israel Singer [who are prominent Jewish leaders] get a free ride because they resemble stereotypes straight out of Der Sturmer?”
Can you imagine a professor issuing a similar description of a woman or a Muslim, or describing the pope according to an anti-Catholic stereotype? Can you imagine Tikkun publishing an author who falsely described Lerner as resembling a stereotype “straight out of Der Sturmer?” But Lerner publishes an author who used that anti-Semitic image to characterize other rabbis.
Lerner tried to weasel out of what he had done by saying that he forwarded the Finkelstein article because I had called him “an anti-Semitic rabbi” in one of my books. (What I actually wrote is that “even a rabbi can support anti-Semitic actions” — as Lerner did when he supported divestment from Israel and only Israel — which is quite different from calling him “an anti-Semitic rabbi,” but never mind.)
Lerner would be better situated to defend against those charges if he didn’t so eagerly associate with anti-Semites and publish Jew-hating rants.
Through his nefarious association with Norman Finkelstein, who is a genuine Jew-hater, Michael Lerner has forever disqualified himself from being taken seriously on matters of Jewish concern, the Jewish community or Israel.
Everyone is now on notice that an association with Michael Lerner is tantamount to an association with Norman Finkelstein, and that support for Tikkun is support for the enemies of Israel.
Alan Dershowitz is a Harvard Law School professor whose most recent book is “What Israel Means to Me.” This article appeared previously in The Jerusalem Post.