Tuvia Tenenbom’s forthcoming book is called Don’t Quote Me, but the reaction in the English speaking world has been “Don’t Tell Me.” Melanie Phillips in The Jerusalem Post reports on the difficulties Tenenbom is encountering—despite his record as a best-selling author—in finding an American publisher for what she describes as a “savage, disturbing, comical and important book about how Americans think.”
His new book, to be released in Germany in September, follows what has become Tenenbom’s modus operandi–he wanders the country for six months posing as a non-Jewish German. First it was Germany (I Sleep in Hitler’s Room), then Israel (Catch the Jew!), now the United States. One of the ugly truths Tenenbom unmasks in his new book (which he also laid bare in Catch the Jew!) is the role of Jewish leftists in spreading Jew-hatred (in the guise of “human rights”). Phillips is doubtless right in believing this is a major factor in his problem finding a publisher for Don’t Quote Me, given the large role Jews on the left have in the U.S. publishing world.
A taste of what English-language publishers don’t want readers to hear can be gleaned from a recent radio interview with Tenenbom by Ari Fleisher in Jerusalem. Tenenbom describes openly-voiced anti-Semitism, now familiar in Europe, coming to America, among the millennials especially and of course in the colleges. He even heard slogans of “Free Palestine” in Republican states like Montana. And as in Israel he found, except among the Orthodox, a substantial number of Jewish self-haters, harboring a passionate commitment “to point a finger at the rest of the Jews for how bad they are, occupiers, racists and whatever.…Look at a person. If everyone hates that person and wants to kill him and that person wants to kill himself, what’s going to happen?…If you want to die and I want to kill you and we meet in the same room, we’ll make a deal. Too many Jews are self-hating and in the outside world too many people hate the Jews and the only thing that’s changing is in America it’s happening now.”
It is not only Tenenbom’s findings that many Jews find uncomfortable to hear. They avoid recognizing that major Jewish organizations have collapsed just when they are most needed. The Anti-Defamation League, which one would expect to find in the forefront of the battle for Jews and Israel, is not merely missing in action, but in crucial areas ranged on the opposing side. There is no greater long term threat to the welfare of Jews in the United States than Muslim immigration. The threat is not only to Jews: as Kevin Williamson has pointed out “the plain conclusion to be drawn from the European experience is that if a Western country does not already have a large, poorly assimilated Muslim minority population, it would do well to not acquire one.” But Jews are the most severely and immediately threatened, for if there is one cultural trait Muslims—especially those from Syria– bring with them, it is hatred of Israel—and contempt for Jews. It does not take prophetic powers to realize that changing demographics mean a shift in the electoral landscape. The Democratic Party already shows dramatic signs of a shift against Israel. Universities, where Muslims combine with the left to demonize Israel, will become even more unwelcoming places for Jewish students. Yet eleven major Jewish organizations, the ADL in the forefront are urging acceptance of even more Syrian refugees than Obama proposed.
Where the ADL goes beyond even most Jewish moral strutters is in its indirect support for the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement against Israel. Yes, the ADL offers pro forma opposition to BDS (it is wary of getting too far ahead of its donor base), but where it counts—doing something that hurts the BDS movement—on the supposedly high moral ground of “freedom of speech” it takes the opposing side.
Expert in constitutional law Eugene Kontorovich has pointed out at length just how spurious this “freedom of speech” claim is. ADL is vigorously opposing current legislation by states (like South Carolina) that limit a state’s conducting business with companies that engage in discrimination on the basis of nationality (any nationality, Israel is not specifically mentioned). In practical terms, this means that if you boycott Israel, the state won’t do business with you. It can be viewed as a form of consumer protection, preventing taxpayers from unwittingly underwriting boycotts. There are already much tougher federal anti-boycott laws that enjoy broad support (and whose passage the ADL in better days had promoted). Free speech is in no way impeded: BDS proponents are free to call for boycotts and participate in them without penalty. The states–as they do all the time with their anti-discrimination restrictions on government contractors–are exercising their right to place conditions on those who do business with them.
The ZOA professes to be “concerned and perplexed” by the ADL’s behavior. Daniel Greenfield’s article on ADL, reprinted in last month’s Outpost, removes the perplexity (although not the concern). Greenfield reports that current chairman Jonathan Greenblatt “shows a pattern of being more comfortable with critics of Israel than its friends” viewing agreement on embracing Syrian Muslim migrants or gay and transgender rights—the issues close to his “progressive” heart– to be far more important than Israel.
Although ADL offers a specially hideous example, the problem goes far beyond it. Charles Jacobs, long active in the Boston Jewish community, has pointed out that most Jewish leaders there simply shut out the truth that the potent new anti-Semitism comes from a “Red-Green” alliance of leftists and radical Muslims. Writes Jacobs: “Almost every Jewish institution in Boston protects itself with physical barriers or security guards, yet our leaders, inhibited by political correctness, cannot bring themselves to speak about the threats that compel us to protect ourselves. How can they defend the community if they cannot admit the new anti-Semitism has turned our former ‘human rights’ allies into adversaries?…We need to face the fact that most of those who manage and control the major Jewish organizations seem more concerned with demonstrating personal moral virtue than responding to threats to our community.”
Yet rank and file Jews for the most part have been content so far to be led by those who enlarge rather than counter the threat. It is past time that they get beyond “Please, don’t tell me” and wake up—before it is too late–to the need for a new Jewish community leadership. There is no point in pumping ever more money into the already bloated salaries of officials in mainstream organizations who actively undermine Jewish interests. Jewish funds should go instead to strengthen organizations, and they are numerous, some of them small and relatively new , that have sprung up to fill the vacuum in guidance that has been left by established Jewish organizations.