JTA reports: “Conservative blogger Pamela Geller is lashing out at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for what she says was its decision to cancel her Sunday appearance. Geller, a fiery critic of Muslims, liberals and mainstream Jewish organizations, took to her blog, Atlas Shrugs, to blast the L.A. federation, comparing modern-day Jewish leaders to those who did not do enough to protest the Nazis in the years leading up to the Holocaust.”
Zionists of America moved the event at the last minute to The Mark at 9320 Pico Blvd.
I arrived at 6505 Wilshire Blvd, the Jewish Federation building, at 10:40 a.m.
Over Saturday night, Muslims and Jewish leftists put pressure on Jay Sanderson, Jewish Federation president, to cancel the Pamela Geller appearance.
Around 7 a.m., Jay, from Israel, decided to cancel the event that had been booked weeks in advance and promoted on the Jewish Federation website JewishLA.org.
A crowd of about 40 people has gathered. They’re angry. Some have driven up from San Diego.
Orit Arfa walks up.
I notice Jonah Lowenfeld from the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, Lara Berman (formerly with StandWithUs and now with JN1, and Rick Rojas from the Los Angeles Times who did not bother to seek Pamela Geller out for a quote.
Above: Pamela Geller, Steve Goldberg, Orit Arfa and Robert Spencer.
Rabbi Hershel Rabbs Remer: “I like that she compared the Federation to the Jews in 1933 Germany.”
“You should give that video a much stronger title, such as Geller trashes the Jewish Federation, calls them the enemy, and says anyone that gives money to the UJF is giving to Hamas. That’s your headline! Of course, you will ignore my suggestion, because you prefer self-sabotaging your own career.”
Above: Jesse Rosenblum, President of the ZOA Orange County branch, who had an informational meeting for college students canceled by the JCC.
Below: Pamela Geller lectures.
On the sidewalk in Beverly Grove, the small group protesting Geller were not Muslims, but fellow Jews.
Lauren Steiner, Dorothy Reik and Linda Milazzo hadn’t planned on protesting outside. They had come to hear Geller speak, and were planning on confronting her with tough questions during the question-and-answer session.
The discourse quickly devolved into name-calling. Milazzo got into it with one of Geller’s supporters. She called him “paranoid.” He retorted that she and her cohorts were “disgusting.”
It ended with members of the Zionist organization taking away Milazzo’s sign, which said: “Pamela Geller’s hate speech is not welcome in Los Angeles.” Milazzo had used their paper and markers to make it, they said.
ZOA West’s director Orit Arfa emailed at 10:25 a.m. Sunday:
Unfortunately, with just a few hours notice, the Jewish Federation has backed down on its agreement to let us host Ms. Geller in its conference room. The topic of the talk is: “Islamic Jew Hatred as the Root Cause of Failure to Achieve Peace.” As tenants of the Jewish Federation, the ZOA has the privilege of using the conference room with advanced notice, which the ZOA has secured with the management weeks in advance.
While the Jewish Federation has expressed security concerns (which in and of itself bespeaks of the intimidation tactics of Muslim groups), we believe that the Jewish Federation has succumbed to political pressure by Muslim groups and extremist Jewish groups not to let a rational voice criticizing Islam and its war against Israel be heard on its premises. These Muslim and Jewish groups have blown up the blogosphere with lies about Ms. Geller and harsh criticism of the ZOA for hosting her at the Jewish Federation.
This backing down is exactly the type of appeasing behavior that Muslims groups seek, and it effectively shuts down free speech. Furthermore, it is inconsiderate to the people who signed up to hear Ms. Geller.
Please join the ZOA outside the Jewish Federation building from 11 am to protest this form of intellectual bullying that only serves the Islamic agenda of shutting down free speech and fostering animosity between Jews, who must stay united during these dangerous times of assaults against Israel and Jews the world over.
The Jewish Federation does not have to agree with Ms. Geller’s message, but we urge the Jewish Federation not to succumb to pressure and to act with honor, dignity, and courage by honoring to its advance agreement to let the ZOA host its event at the Jewish Federation building.
Free speech is a fundamental American and Jewish value!
If you’re in LA, come to the Jewish Federation at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard at 11AM. We will be protesting this craven capitulation of the Jewish Federation to Islamic supremacist Jew-haters.
In a jaw-dropping act of cowardice and submission, LA Federation is not allowing ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) to hold the event where I was scheduled to speak this morning.
Jewish leadership is on the trains and thinks we will go quietly. This is tragic. Imagine, without so much as firing a shot, they’re caving in to a Hamas front group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Hamas’s fundamental goal is the annihilation of Israel.
This mirrors Nazi Party Representatives attending a 1933 Berlin Jewish Community charity drive gathering — back on December 20, 1933, three thousand Jews attended the first official Jewish gathering in which uniformed Nazis participated. The mass meeting was arranged by the Berlin Jewish community to open the special campaign for winter relief. And we know how that worked out.
Is it any wonder that the American Jewish left has become a problem for Israel? Who are these people? What is their role? What is their mission? What’s the point of Jewish lay leadership if they submit before their executioners? Shame on our cowardly leadership for throwing one of our own under the bus. We expect that from kapos, not from proud Jews who should hold the freedom of speech as a fundamental Jewish value.
Joseph F. Cotto: The security and stability of Israel are integral to promoting a favorable American foreign policy in the Middle East. What do you think that the federal government can and should do to aid Israel?
Pamela Geller: Everything it can. Make aid to Egypt and other countries contingent upon their stopping belligerent actions against Israel AND ending antisemitic teaching in their countries. Israel is on the front lines of the global jihad. Stop pressing Israel to make more concessions to the “Palestinians.” Defund the UN, now largely driven largely by the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). The OIC is the largest international world body, comprised of 56 Muslim countries plus the “Palestinian” Authority. It is a would-be universal caliphate. It may look different from the caliphates of the past (the Ottomans, Fatimids, and Abbasids), but it already has significant power through the United Nations. The agenda is driven by the Sharia, Islamic supremacism and Islamic Jew-hatred.
Cotto: It is election season once again. How do you think that the foreign policy views of President Obama and Mitt Romney measure up in an increasingly challenging world for American interests?
Geller: An Obama re-election would be a disaster for America. He has worked against our interests internationally in every possible way.
Cotto: In the past, you have stated negative feelings about the fact that American Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party. Now it appears that this voter base might be beginning to erode. Why do you believe that most Jews have Democratic sympathies, and do you think this will continue during the years ahead?
Geller: The Democrat party has historically positioned itself as the party of the outcast and downtrodden; Jews, with a history of antisemitism elsewhere, have naturally gravitated to aiding those who have been discriminated against and hated without reason. But the Democrats have now betrayed Israel, and many Jews are realizing that.
Cotto: Now that our conversation is at its end, many readers are probably wondering about how you came to be such a force in political commentary. What in your life led to this point?
Geller: No one can set out to become a “force in political commentary” by means of some calculated plan. I stand out in today’s political landscape because I tell truths that most are afraid to enunciate. I have the courage of my convictions.
Orit Arfa, executive director of the ZOA Western Region, emails at 7:30 pm Sunday:
Dear ZOA supporters, friends, and frenemies,
There were many highlights and lowlights before, during and after the event with Jewish heroine Pamela Geller today.
Of course, the biggest lowlight was being told by the leadership of the Jewish Federation, only a few hours before the event, that they were unilaterally cancelling our pre-arranged talk with Pamela on “Islamic Jew Hatred as the Root Cause of Failure to Achieve Peace in the Middle East.”
As a Jewish professional, I worried about all the people who signed up, paid money, and were on their way to see us–how would I let them know? There was no way I was going to cancel the event. I was determined to find a new venue if the Federation didn’t change its mind.
Then, of course, as a Jew and lover of freedom, I was saddened that the Jewish Federation caved, as we suspect, to pressure of Muslim and left-wing Jewish groups to make us cancel Pamela, whom those groups love to hate. (It’s hard to find balanced coverage in the media, so I’ll refer you to Pamela’s blog for the backstory.) In all fairness, the Jewish Federation has not yet responded, but this is our strong suspicion based on its record.
I was inspired, though, by the tremendous support that we received from the community who shared their outrage at such treatment by the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, where we enjoy our tenancy and which has provided a wonderful space for us to do our work, where we have a free exchange of ideas with Jewish community professionals. Those people who stayed with us to the end did now cower and stood up for us. Thank you on behalf of the ZOA, the Jewish people, and people of integrity.
And, of course, we are so grateful to the local Jewish hero, Marvin Markowitz, who, at the last minute, opened up a space for us to hold the talk, a fabulous events hall called The Mark on Pico, just near Factor’s Famous Deli, which he also owns, and which I encourage all of you patronize (best omelets and coffee!). He was not afraid of what the intellectual bigots would think or say and he acted with courage and honor.
Steve Goldberg, ZOA National Vice Chairman and LA Chapter Chair, it is an honor to work with you. Your strength and courage inspire me every day. Thank you for your dedication to the ZOA and to truth.
Paul Schnee, our local President, you were there every step of the way.
And Pamela–thank you for being such a strong, fearless woman and for not being afraid of speaking the truth about Islam’s war against Israel and the Jews, for suffering all the hatred and lies that you suffer, and for not giving up. You are an inspiration to us all.
But my biggest highlight came at the end of the event, when my sister dropped into the Mark with her kids for pizza (we treated everyone to lunch). I light up every time I see them. They are so sweet, so kind, so beautiful. I look at them, and sometimes I want to cry when I think about all the Jewish children who were massacred because they were Jewish children–innocent goodness who never got a chance to realize their potential, unlike my nieces and nephews who are privileged to grow up in a great country that protects individual rights. And I think how, unlike their counterparts in the Middle East who are given guns to play with when they are in kindergarten, my nieces and nephews grow up on Jewish values of love, noble aspiration, and doing real good in the world.
I look into their blue eyes, and when they say, “I love you, Dodah,” I want to hug them for eternity and do whatever I can to protect them (watch out when I’m a mama!). And I think how hateful jihadists, like Nazis before them, make kids their targets because they are Jews!
I, along with the ZOA, am not fighting against anyone–not against other Jews, not even against Muslims. I’m fighting FOR something: the right for Jews to live freely and happily in America, Israel, and wherever they so choose. I’m fighting for those kids–those amazing, beautiful, adorable, loving kids–whom I want to grow up without fear. And self-defense can never come from appeasement and fear of criticism because then you are never truly alive, you are never truly free, you are never truly living without fear.
They call us haters–but read between the lines of what the Muslim Brotherhood backed groups say (CAIR, ICNA, etc). They don’t really act to thwart Islamic terrorists. They don’t really care if Jews are massacred. They’ll say Palestinians have no choice in their fake fight against the “The Occupation.” They have a choice. We ALL have choices. That’s how God created us. But they pose as civil rights activists.
If you are pro-civil rights, then the only rational choice you have is to be pro-Israel, the only country that respects individual rights in the Middle East.
And I’m sad when I think I can’t rely on my Jewish leadership to do whatever it takes to protect me and fellow Jews because they are concerned about its image, about being called names like “right-wing” and “extremist.” They didn’t care that they inconvenienced me, their tenants, and all the people–Jews and non-Jews alike–who came to hear Pamela. They were concerned instead of how hosting Pamela would look in the eyes of others.
I never wanted to be a crusader. I never imagined that I would have to fight for Jewish lives. I thought when I moved to Israel years ago (and then came back), I’d be able to pursue dreams that had nothing to do with war and peace. But the Islamists killed and harmed innocent people I knew and loved, in heartless cold blood, blowing their bodies to bits. And instead of fighting back, we gave into their demands. But I have to defend what I love. You have to defend what you love.
We hope the Jewish Federation will behave with more courage in the future. It would be nice if they apologized, but we won’t hold our breath. However, please share with them your disappointment and shock at this treatment. You don’t have to agree with what we say, but you should support integrity and free speech.
Please take the time to write a note to the leadership of the Jewish Federation. We ask you to refrain from name-calling and insulting letters. We’d like them to see rationally the error of their ways and hopefully we can achieve fruitful dialogue through this episode.