Monday, September 30, 2013

TOI Promotes an Anti-Israel Activist

Mike L.

{Cross-posted at the Times of Israel.}

In a recent piece by Times of Israel writer, Talia Lavin, she promotes David Harris-Gershon's forthcoming book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

Harris-Gershon is a frequent contributor to the left-leaning American political blog Daily Kos - as was I - and to Michael Lerner's Tikkun Magazine.  His wife was injured in a Jihadi attack at Hebrew University in 2002, which left two other people dead.  His book is a personal memoir of the soul-searching that he went through following this attack and his efforts to understand what it would take for a young Arab man to commit such violence against perfectly innocent Jewish people sitting in a university cafeteria.

Lavin writes:
After the couple left Israel in 2003 after spending three years living in Jerusalem, Harris-Gershon began suffering symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including crippling anxiety attacks. The book delves deeply into his recovery process, including the traditional and innovative forms of therapy he tries.
As a former member of Daily Kos, and as a supporter of Israel, I know Harris-Gershon as someone who specializes in criticism of the Jewish State.  Although I have yet to read his book, I have read Harris-Gershon enough to tell him that, despite his personal trauma and the injury to his wife, neither the Jewish people, nor the State of Israel, are to blame for it.

Harris-Gershon, after much study and soul-searching, concluded that the Jihadi sought to kill him, his wife, and all those around them at Hebrew University in 2002, because the Jewish State of Israel oppresses the innocent Arab population.  Harris-Gershon accepts the post-colonial notion that the Jews of the Middle East are engaged in a vicious, imperial, and racist endeavor to persecute and oppress the "indigenous" Arab population.  It is precisely because of this colonial and racist endeavor that he feels the need to purchase presents for the children of the terrorist who sought to murder himself and his wife.

I, for one, find this exceedingly sad and it seems clear to me that Talia Lavin, and the Times of Israel, have made an unfortunate mistake in promoting this man's work.  The Jewish people are so often our own worst enemies and this is very definitely one of those cases, as any pro-Israel Jew on Daily Kos - to the extent that there are any left - would readily agree.  Even those who strenuously disagree with my politics, and who are familiar with Harris-Gershon's writings, would acknowledge that the man has a toxic voice; a voice that is poisonous to the Jewish people and to the Jewish State of Israel.

It is the insidious voice of spreading hatred toward Israel, and thus hatred toward the Jewish people, as an alleged matter of social justice and human rights.

Harris-Gershon has the appreciation of Philip Weiss, the editor of the anti-Semitic journal, Mondoweiss.  Weiss praises Harris-Gershon for coming out in favor of BDS, the international effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction, the Jewish people of the Middle East.  Outside of political Islam in its more violent expressions, the BDS movement is the foremost expression of hostility toward Jews in the world today.  It is the foremost expression of the effort to demonize and delegitimize the country of our family and our ancestors.

And, yet, Harris-Gershon favors that movement.  He writes: an American Jew invested deeply in Israel's success and survival -- which in turn drives my investment in stopping one of the greatest moral challenges of my generation: the occupation -- I have no choice but to formally endorse and embrace BDS.
What Harris-Gershon seems to have figured out, following anti-Israel Jews like Noam Chomsky and  Peter Beinart and Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappé, to name just a few, is that there is considerable appeal, and thus a considerable market, within the western left for stories of Jewish / Israel apostasy.  It's a simple moral tale and it runs something like this:
I grew up believing in the virtue of the Jewish State of Israel.  The Jews of the Middle East, having come through World War II and the Holocaust and the War of Independence, represented a Light Unto the Nations.  But now I see that my dreams and illusions were ill-founded and that, in fact, Israel is a colonial aggressor state and the Palestinians are living under occupation and persecution by my own people. In order to save my Jewish friends and family in Israel I must denounce that country before the world.
What is perhaps most galling about this delusion among people such as Beinart and Harris-Gershon is that they honestly believe that blaming the Jews for the conflict takes courage.  Furthermore, they even believe that blaming the Jews for Arab bigotry and hatred toward Jews is in the venerable tradition of social justice and human rights.

It isn't.

The irony, of course, is that it is precisely the kind of hatred that Harris-Gershon spreads toward Israel that got his wife injured in the first place.  By distorting the truth, and laying all the blame for the conflict at Jewish feet, Harris-Gershon helps assure future Jihadi attacks against the Jewish people. I consider the man to be a tragic figure who is probably beyond redemption, but what I mainly do not understand is why TOI's Talia Lavin did not, in her piece about the man and his book, alert her readership to the fact that Harris-Gershon supports the BDS?

This was an error of the sort that needs to be acknowledged.


  1. Norman, I intend to publish this piece around 8 PM pacific time at the TOI, which is around dawn in Jerusalem.

    Do me a favor, if you will, and republish your comment there, as well.

    I appreciate it very much.

  2. Well then by his own reasoning he got what he deserves. David is mistaken though in a crucial point. We don't celebrate all the deaths of our enemies but neither do we mourn them. It's all there in Torah for Harris-Gershon to read should he so choose to do so. Sorry you got blown up David. Pity you have not a speck of decency for the babies and children all around you who were shredded and shot and burned to death not for the 'crime' of their government or country but for the 'crime' of their own mere existence.

    1. His nickname among the former dkos Jews is "Useful Idiot."

      I'll reserve my sympathy for Tamar Fogel.

  3. Yer gonna have to disinfect that post Mike. Diane Gee commented. Ptui ptui ptui!

    1. Isn't that the woman who called for Israel to be nuked?

      I believe it is.

      In fact, I believe she said something along the lines of "shoving a goddamn nuke up Israel's ass."

      Yes, as I recall, that's the lady.

  4. You stopped short of where I would. This guy is no mere, tragic, naive figure. Rather, he is a conscious enabler of antisemitism who purposely sets blazing fires of rabid Jew-hatred at places like Daily Kos, because he's learned it's brought way more positive than negative attention (what's that tell you about the state of today's 'left,' btw?) to him and his efforts to advance a writing career.

    Being a cynical enabler of antisemitism for one's own personal gain puts one amongst pretty fucking low company, I'd say.

    As little as I think of Beinart, he's standing at Mount Shasta-level heights in comparison to David Harris-Gershon.

    Have to wait until I get home to check your TOI post, but thanks for doing it.

    1. The question is, do I want to continue doing it?

      I mean, it wouldn't be a particularly difficult task to go back through his material and pull out a bunch of egregious quotations in order to make it clear to the TOI editorial staff that maybe this is not the guy that they really want to promote.

      But why is this left to me?

      Where are all those other pro-Israel dkos Jews? Why don't they stand up?

      Y'know, Doodad pointed out that Diane Gee commented under this piece at TOI. She's at dkos, as well, and they could have strenuously informed the management over there that this is someone who quite literally called for the nuclear annihilation of the Jewish state and, yet, they couldn't even bring themselves to stand up against that.

      I mean, someone like that remains a member in good standing while someone like PaulinBerkeley gets the boot.

      But it's not about that one particular blog, or about these people, in general, but about the state of the left as a whole.

      In a nutshell the problem is this:

      The western left enables and justifies genocidal Arab anti-Jewish racism even as western left Jews enable the left, itself.

      Progressive-left Jews support people who act in direct opposition to Jewish well-being.

      What other people on the planet behave this way?

    2. They actually got her banned there once, if I recall, but of course she was allowed back, right before pretty much every pro-Israel Jew ended up being banned or pushed off the site.

      Antisemitism pays, clearly, in the estimation of that site's management. Perhaps they picked up on that right around the same time David Harris-Gershon did...

      Anyway, I'll have to check this out Friday. My phone doesn't load TOI comments, unfortunately.


      Btw, totally 100% o/t, but I've FINALLY found the first pumpkin ale I can stand. After years of searching. I'm at Harvest Moon Brewing in New Brunswick, NJ (home of the main campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), an above-average brewpub for New Jersey. Their pumpkin ale is pretty damned good! Not great, but at least it's not overwhelmingly spiced and cloyingly sweet, like every other pumpkin brew I've tried. A very pleasant surprise!

    3. Do you know that she has threatened to sue me for libel twice?

      I kid you not.

    4. By the way, Jay, the thing that everyone seems to forget about Beinart is that he favored the Iraq War during the Bush II administration, while he was kid editor for the New Republic.

      When you and I were speaking out against that war and marching against that war, he was on the other side.

      And speaking of the New Republic, am I wrong, is that joint done?

      I mean, it was one of the great little journals of the twentieth century - a tradition that I have considerable affection for - but I feel reasonably certain that it is now just toast.

      Marty Peretz made aliyah and, now, the project is basically over.

      If you get a chance, you should check out the movie Shattered Glass which centers on TNR and how it grapples with a dishonest journalist.

      Terrific film, actually.

    5. Great point, Mike. I forgot that, myself.

      (that's seemingly all forgiven amongst certain quarters of the 'left,' now that he's concentrated his fire on Israel, eh?)

      Will certainly have to look up that film, thanks...

  5. Superb work, keep exposing them!

    1. Thank you Mr. Mikereport Guy,

      I will do my best.

  6. "Most Jews are baffled by the reaction of leftist commentators to events in the Middle East. There is relatively little outcry when Syrians butcher Syrians, no outcry when Iraqis murder Iraqis, whereas any Palestinian finger grazed by an Israeli bullet invites immediate outbursts of wholehearted indignation. The cognitive dissonance of leftist elites has reached such proportions, that many Jews have decided that perhaps anti-Semitism plays a role in generalized hostility towards Israel...."

    Gee, ya figure?

    Good article tho,7340,L-4436106,00.html

    1. I remember a few years ago there was a story about an IDF soldier who shot an Arab in the toe somewhere in Israel and the complete outrage that poured forth out of the progressive-left venues.

      I couldn't believe it.