A couple of prominent social justice activists of the I stand with “good” Jews who do not support a Jewish state variety have been curiously quiet after the breaking news that Juan M. Thompson, a disgraced journalist, was arrested and charged with making some of the recent threats to Jewish centers and schools. After giving scathing critiques of Trump (who by certain accounts apparently single-handedly revived anti-Semitism as soon as he took the Oath of Office, despite all the evidence of an unsettling, much earlier, pre-Trump uptick ) for not doing enough to support the Jewish communities and find the perpetrators responsible for a recent slew of attacks on Jews in the U.S., these same activists were suddenly silent when one of the perpetrators of the Jew-hate crimes was found. Not a peep from Linda Sarsour or Naomi Dann, for instance, about the arrest of Juan M. Thompson.
Naomi Dann is an activist who has been a leader in the BDS movement for many years; she is currently on staff of Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP). Dann was interviewed by Juan M. Thompson and his pal and former colleague, Maz Hussain (who has also been tight-lipped about his Thompson connection) back in 2015 in a podcast episode titled “Benjamin Netanyahu’s Never-Ending Fear-Mongering” (part one in the podcast which ends around the 16:50 marker).
“… the anti-Semite goes after the invisible difference (‘the dangerous Jew, the vague Jew,’ in Drumont’s phrase). It inflames and excites the anti-Semite all the more that the imagined Jew is discreet, indiscernible at first glance, and therefore well positioned to carry out the worst and darkest intrigues. This is the story of the persecution of the Marranos in Spain and the tragic error of all Jews who, over the centuries, have chosen to believe that by becoming invisible, by making themselves small, by appearing more genteel than the gentiles, they would off persecution. The opposite happened.”
– Bernard-Henri Lévy, The Genius of Judaism
Thompson introduced Naomi Dann at the beginning of the conversation as an old friend from Vassar. The discussion between the three on the episode pretty much rehashed the standard Israel as the evil oppressor rhetoric floated by the I’m not anti-Semitic, I have a lot of Jewish friends (just not those “creepy” Zionists) progressive crowd. I caught wind of a weird vibe while listening to them speak about Netanyahu’s influence — his “hyperbolic” speech-making style that had those who “tow the line” for him standing and applauding the leader’s plans … the relief they expressed that leaders to the Left were provided with an escape-hatch from the dominating Zionist agenda he and his party were looking to impose on our government. And then enter groups like JVP who in Naomi’s words are subjects of a “witch hunt” but are in business to work the “moveable middle that we can radicalize on the [Israeli-Palestinian] issue.”
And speaking of radical agendas, JVP is also the group hosting Linda Sarsour and convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Yousef Odeh at their upcoming March conference. Odeh is a leader in the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) — founded in 1995 by Rashid Khalidi, the same anti-Israel academic who expressed dismay after Trump’s election that a certain type of Jew would be “infesting” our government, invoking the most cringeworthy anti-semitic, Zionist conspiracy tropes. Odeh, responsible for two bombing attacks, one of which killed two people in an Israeli supermarket is one of the organizers of the upcoming March 8th International Women’s Strike.
The Women’s March, with Linda Sarsour as one of the movement’s key national leaders, has indicated support for the platform that Odeh helped develop for the International Women’s Strike agenda. The Women’s March “stands in solidarity with the International Women’s Strike organizers” and have joined the strike as part of the U.S. coalition. To further connect-the-dots in this part of the progressive narrative, JVP member Rebecca Subar wrote an opinion piece, applauded by Naomi Dann, that shamelessly used the recent desecration of Jewish cemeteries as a jumping-off point for her to rail against Israel in the name of “solidarity” for what she believes constitutes “human rights.”
Subar praised Sarsour for the campaign she began that raised money to help repair one of the cemeteries — but apparently finds no “human rights” issue with the Women’s March and JVP openly giving voice and support to a woman who led fatal terrorist activities targeting Jews in Israel. Subar has also been quiet on Thompson’s arrest for his threats to Jewish centers and schools; perhaps her idea of “safety for all” does not include an “all” who were victims of an attacker who had been a part of the progressive inner-circle of “solidarity.” And no big surprise that JVP has signed up in “solidarity” to strike with the organizers of the Women’s Strike who include Odeh, a convicted terrorist …
or that the Women’s Strike, supported by all of these progressive “sisters” in “solidarity,” is explicit in its anti-Israel aims and pushes the ever-distorted Israel as the oppressor tale on its audience, and continues to pull the wool over the eyes of the under-informed by pointing the finger of blame at the wrong party for the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians. While the Women’s March held in January pretended at neutrality on the Arab-Israeli issue (and pulled a bait-and-switch on the Jewish women leaders in the end), the movement’s next move with the Women’s Strike is very clear regarding its positioning on the issue — and all women should be aware that if you support their efforts, you are also supporting their convoluted, extreme-left anti-Israel objectives. A listen to the interview on Netanyahu that Juan M. Thompson did with JVP leader Naomi Gann in 2015 gives you a pretty good idea of the anti-Israel agenda you’d be buying as part of the package if you sign up to strike with the women running this show.
There are those who have piped up about Thompson. And their words have been as revealing as others’ silence. The Southern Poverty Law Center took to Twitter to comment on the arrest of Thompson. Rather than condemning his actions and applauding that one of the perpetrators of the recent attacks on the Jewish community had been caught, their initial reaction was instead to try to hush up the very mention of anti-Semitism as a motive, tweeting that “Thompson’s motivation seems to have been to implicate a former girlfriend in the JCC threats, not necessarily anti-Semitism.” SPLC later deleted this tweet, trying to explain it away by saying that they had mentioned the perpetrator’s “own alleged excuse” for making the threats. It is very telling that they chose not to mention that their first-response favored the attacker’s version of events, rather than his victims’ — and that they chose not to offer an apology but instead excused their initial knee-jerk apologia. They also chose to pointedly note (clearly with an intention to underplay the significance of Thompson’s crime, and not out of sincere concern for the Jewish community) in a subsequent tweet that “The person or persons responsible for the majority of the JCC threats is still at large.”
Among others who jumped on the personal vendetta, not anti-Semitic attack motive angle of the story in their first reporting was The Forward, a Jewish publication that many seem to have noticed appears to be leaning so far left as of late that they will no doubt soon topple completely over into the progressive-speak echo chamber. Josh Nathan-Kazis’ coverage of the Thompson case is also quick to minimize the significance of his specific crime targeting Jews, noting that “Thompson appears to have been responsible for only a small fraction of them.” Even worse, Nathan-Kazis goes onto say that Thompson’s motive for threatening Jewish institutions, i.e., that he “intended to frame the woman he was stalking, and, in other cases, to make it look like this woman was trying to frame him,” actually “makes sense if you’re crazy.” In other words, Thompson was not a Jew-hater … just a “crazy” stalker involved in a “bizarre” set of events.
And how does The Forward go on to explain how Thompson’s crime fits in with “the nationwide wave of bomb threats”? Well, apparently the nature of his crime falls into the pay no attention to the man behind the curtain category. His motive cannot be determined to be anti-Semitic; he “just used the apparently anti-Semitic attacks of others to further his own scheme of harassment.”
It’s pretty clear the convenient but unconscionable side-step The Forward is choosing to make in their coverage. It seems that willful ignorance for the sake of broader acceptance is a powerful force for them to reckon with. And sometimes when the details don’t fit the narrative you want to tell, the story line can take stranger twists … as in the case of a series of tweets by Forward’s fellow, Tayla Zax — which suggest that Thompson’s crime was really all Trump’s fault in the end. Zax goes so far to evade the obvious that she even posits that Trump’s sexism may have spurred Thompson’s “actions.” Is Zax making the case misogyny was the motive behind Thompson’s crime? Who knows? That certainly may have played a role. But this would have us believe that it was insignificant that the Jewish community was the target of his crime — however convoluted his motives may have been. It would have us pretend that he could have chosen just any group. Except that he didn’t.
What all these people must know on some level but refuse to say is this: Juan Thompson’s motives may have been to exact revenge — or any number of other motivations may have factored in. But …his method was to dehumanize Jews, inciting terror in a community without a care to how his actions affected the Jewish people … his targets were obviously so less than human to him; Jews were clearly only a prop in a sick scheme. The fact that he so callously and cruelly used the Jewish community in this way is the most telling sign of the anti-Semitic nature of his crime. And here’s the part in the plot a lot of people seem to skip right past: Trump doesn’t “win” if you call out those who act on hate on your own side of the aisle … but if you don’t call it out, hate wins. And innocent targets of that hate? Well, they lose.
“This anti-Zionism is not mere criticism of Israel as a nation state, or of the nationalist ideology that inspired its creation. It is an adaptive group libel that in its range of rhetorical charges and physical targets reveals itself to be a fundamentally anti- Semitic creation in anti-racist guise. It has ourished in our supposedly post-anti- Semitic age, until mainstream Jewish communities (and their sympathisers) are condemned as reactionaries and apologists for oppression.”
“‘The Zionists are our Misfortune’: On the (not so) new Antisemitism,” Mark Gardner
Rather than try to actually do something to address Jew-hate in one of its iterations, some people seem to prefer red herrings that lead us further away from addressing the roots of such bigotry … and thus we miss opportunities to be preventative instead of always reactionary to the harm this hate can cause. They do this at their peril … but sadly at so many others’, too. The question is: how many in “the moveable middle” will march further into the radical drama that requires that certain type of “willing suspension of disbelief” … that makes believe those sinister anti-Semites only exist on the other side the aisle?