Lobby boots Surasky from Jewish ‘Heroes’ Contest

Former journalist and radio talk-show host, Cecilie Surasky is deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace. The group is dedicated to achieving a lasting peace in Palestine based on justice and equal rights for both Israeli Jews and native Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

The Jewish Community Heroes contest is an annual event run by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). 331 persons were nominated for 2010 contest. Cecilie Surasky made the top ten most voted nominees. However, while celebrating Yom Kippur, JFNA officials pulled her name from the contest website. Her crime; well she is a ‘Self-Hating Israel-Threatening (S.H.I.T)‘ Jewish woman. Her organization JVP doesn’t believe in the existence of ‘Jews only’ Israel. It also supports Palestinian desire to have an independents state of their own; rights of return for Palestinian refugees expelled by European Jews in 1948-49 and supports Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“One of the core values of JFNA is to support Israel, and our Jewish heroes rules preclude us from accepting nominees whose aims run counter to our mission,” says Joe Berkofsky, a JFNA spokesperson.

Cecilie Surasky, who is also editor of Muzzle Watch, an online watchdog on Jewish Lobby’s activities – responded to JFNA allegations against her on October 7, 2011.

What does Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman have that I don’t have? Is it the beard? The religious authority? Or is it the record of advocating for the killing of Arab women, men and children?  Why does he get to stay on the Jewish Federation’s much promoted Jewish Heroes competition list, while I was unceremoniously deleted- without explanation- this morning, less than 24 hours after a story about my nomination appeared in Jewish Weekly, the Bay Area Jewish paper.

But something else is true here – groups like JVP are fully committed to nonviolence. Not so for Friedman and supporters of offensive Israeli militarism. And so when nonviolent Jewish activists are violently attacked by other Jews, (attacks on Palestinians are daily occurrences) whether in Anatot- or the Jewish Federation General Assembly – or in Congress – or at a community meeting –and communal Jewish professionals remain silent, this silence speaks volumes. The same can be true here. What does it say that nonviolent leftists are being shunned and banished?

When I look back on the wise and amazing work of JVP members over the decades- everything we said came true. We said the occupation must end, the settlements must stop, all citizens must be treated fairly- that otherwise there would be more bloodshed and that Israel would become a pariah. It doesn’t feel good to be right, not one bit. But the knee-jerk and policing response by much of the institutional Jewish world has already been shown to be wrong. And self-destructive.

Disappearing JVP’s/my nomination is the perfect metaphor for an older generation’s fearful attempt to disappear an entire generation. Their children and certainly grandchildren are increasingly embracing the values of equality, going to the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem to see for themselves the horror wrought by the illegal occupation and a dream built in many ways on the backs of Palestinians.

But we can’t be so easily disappeared with the click of a mouse. Not by a long-shot. And frankly-speaking as someone who cares deeply about a Jewish future– the Federation should be thankful for that.


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