There are pro-Israel and pro-Jewish groups that I appreciate, like the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and there are fake pro-Israel / pro-Jewish groups like J-Street that I despise.
Stand With Us (SWU) is both genuinely pro-Israel and pro-Jewish and I've generally appreciated their middle-of-the-road, bland stance because like milk it goes down easier for non-Jews and for Jews who don't really give a shit.
If Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a racist anti-Zionist organization and J-Street is really about supporting Democrats and the ZOA is about supporting Israel while taking off the gloves - my preferred stance - SWU is about reasonableness.
They do not want to offend anyone. They have no particular desire to upset Muslims. They want to extend a warm hand of friendship to Christians and to everyone else who will do likewise. I find this potentially admirable and hopefully useful in terms of Jewish outreach.
So, although I find SWU impassionate, I also acknowledge their potential utility precisely because they are middle-of-the-road.
What I failed to understand, however, was just why SWU refused to help with the Reem's controversy? As anyone who reads my material knows there have been a few tiny "protests" - if that word is even appropriate - for a couple of aging Jews with signs joining hands with a single friendly non-Jew.
What amazed me at the time was the turn-out that Reem Assil was able to get through her anti-Zionist connections to confront us in front of her vile, genocidally-inclined, establishment. In the last "protest" there were many more of them than there were of us. I thought that it was pretty impressive that such a small number of Jewish people could create such an intense backlash!
The mural of Rasmea Odeh is the equivalent of a mural celebrating the lynching of black people.
It would be as if she put up a mural celebrating the 2009 New Year's Eve shooting of Oscar Grant on the BART platform that looks down upon Reem's.
What it says to cognizant Jewish people stopping in for a snack - coming or going from the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland - is "we want you dead."
Is it not obvious that celebrating the murderer of two Jewish college students is the same as calling for the murder of Jewish people, in general?
What I failed to understand, however, is why the local SWU refused to stand with us.
I received an email not so long ago from a prominent member who sought to explain to me why SWU is weak.
What I was told is this:
1) there are few Jewish people willing to protest anything anti-Jewish to begin with.
2) they have a policy against any such activities on the Sabbath.
3) there are significant public relations concerns for the organization if people behave badly.
4) if they tell unknown people when this is going to be the other side will catch wind, as well.
Make of it what you will.
I received this response from the SWU NW chapter:
Our Bay Area director is aware of your position, Michael. There is nothing further that my region will do on this matter. Please do not post derogatory comments on our Facebook page, as it does nothing to help our cause. We are working hard to support Israel here in our region. Thank you.