This is a guest post by AKUS
I hesitated to write this comment to Lerman’s latest article for the reason provided by my old sparring partner, Pretzelberg which was probably reflected in the few comments, most poking fun at Lerman’s pretentions and the Guardian’s advertising system that the article … I suppose I must reluctantly use the word … inspired:
14 Nov 2009, 2:04PM
As for main thrust of the article? Sounds like an internal issue, and this outsider will be keeping his nose out of it.
Why indeed would Lerman want to publish his musings about an internal matter such as “community leadership” of the Jewish community in a blog that has nothing to do that community?
“I confess that I drifted into these musings while thinking more concretely and prosaically about the weaknesses Jewish communal leaders displayed in their responses to revelations about the anti-Semitic past of Michal Kaminski, the Tories’ new best friend in Europe.”
Thus spoke Tony Lerman.
As an American-Israeli, or vice versa, I have little interest in the Kaminski episode other than the fact that it reinforces some of my opinions about Britain’s sad moral and political decline, but I have been musing over the purpose of Lerman’s article. The more I mused, the more I was amused at its self serving character, and (see below) some inadvertent humor inserted by the Guardian’s advertising robot.
This article is Lerman’s attempt to use a public forum to vent his spleen against the Jewish community that caused him to “leave” his last job. It may be the one forum other than other blogs open to him.
Lerman’s appointment in early 2006 as Director (for the second time) of a Jewish community think-tank, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) precipitated the resignation of four IJPR directors and of one of its honorary patrons, the Conservative peer Lord Kalms. This was because Lerman had questioned the viability of Israel as a Jewish State. In 2008 Lerman “left” the Directorship of the IJPR and he is now futilely trying to strike back at mainstream Jewish leadership, using the Kaminski affair as a crutch to justify himself:
“The Board of Deputies, which caved to Jewish Leadership Council pressure not to press the Tories over Kaminski …”
Actually, it is clear that Lerman, this would-be community leader, “left” due to his views about Israel which are abhorrent to the very community which he apparently aspires to lead and to some of its representatives, who form, whether he likes it or not, the Board of Deputies. Although the IJPR appears to be a rather minor think tank with little influence, Lerman tried to use that platform to advance his personal anti-Israeli agenda, couched largely as the infamous “one-state solution” in opposition to the views of the Jewish community and its leaders. The “one state solution” is really nothing more than a cover for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish homeland and state. It is a view totally abhorrent to the vast majority of world Jewry. It is especially abhorrent, I believe, to the British Jewish Community, which, via the Balfour Declaration, made the Zionist concept of a Jewish homeland a reality and whose representative, Chaim Weitzman, was the Jewish State’s first president.
In fact, as a result of his departure, Lerman seems to have transferred his “as-a-Jew” hatred of Israel that he pours out in endless articles on CiF to the leaders of the British Jewish community. On May 22nd, 2009, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research put out a pointed press release regarding his replacement:
The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has announced a change of direction with a key new appointment.
David Graham, who has worked on demographic surveys for the Board of Deputies, will be the new director of social and demographic research. He will be supported by a new advisory board, chaired by Professor Steve Miller, an expert on research into Jewish communities.
The changes mark a return to a more local agenda for the think-tank, which, under its former executive director Tony Lerman, who stepped down last year, had shifted its focus from domestic social research to Europe.
JPR chairman, Harold Paisner, highlighted “an important shift in direction which will see us working in a new and highly collaborative fashion with Jewish communal organisations, including the research team at the Board of Deputies.
Note the “change in direction” and particularly Paisner’s comment that the IJPR will collaborate with a group that Lerman no doubt regards as his personal nemesis – the research team at the Board of Deputies – the very Board that he attacks in this article.
The last thing Jewish leaders should do, in Lerman’s view of the world, is defend Israel:
“The defence of Israel seems to induce a moral blindness that is itself portrayed as the absolute in moral righteousness”.
Thus, in an article supposedly laying out the criteria for what he thinks are the appropriate qualities for a Jewish community leader, the one thing they must not do is defend Israel against the endless and daily attacks launched against it in the media and elsewhere – the Goldstone report being the other example he uses.
So Lerman, a rejected minor community leader – formerly a madrich (youth leader) of the Zionist Youth Movement, Habonim, serving as director of the IJPR – turns to the only “community” that will now accept him – the antisemites and Israel-bashers of “Comment is Free”. On this blog, that has nothing to do with the Jewish community, he attacks those he blames for his “leaving”, rather than understanding and dealing with the reasons precipitating this. There, unread by the community he aspires to influence, he lays out the chief criterion for Jewish leadership – “thou shalt not defend Israel” – and, by inference, his claim to provide the true path to Jewish morality.
Somewhere that self-righteous approach has its echoes – to a sort of Bolshevik view of the world, where a small advanced and right-thinking elite such as Lerman will lead the blind masses to – well, I almost said, to the Promised Land, but I suppose in this case, to anywhere but the Promised Land.
That’s where the humor comes in.
It was provided inadvertently by the Guardian, which uses a system to generate advertisements that are presumably triggered off key words in the article to which they are attached. Commentator SantaMoniker, apparently tuning in before tuning out to go and catch some waves, noted the following ad, which apparently somehow connected Lerman, leadership, and Habonim to come up with a plug for Lerman’s former Zionist youth movement, which presumably stands for all that he now objects to!!
Habonim Dror Camp Moshava
Creative Jewish camping in a Kibbutz-like atmosphere
But, just before heading for the surf, our friend SantaMoniker noted the next iteration:
Free Belize Fact Sheet
For people considering Retiring, Visiting, or Living in Belize
Belize: English-speaking Caribbean With a Tiny Price Tag
The intent of the ad was that the fact sheet is free, and advertises a cheap place to retire (at the expense, no doubt, of a suitably impoverished former slave native population).
But perhaps the system connected Lerman’s desire to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state with the idea that British Jews should make aliyah to Belize in order to liberate its oppressed people and provides a link to a fact sheet that will explain how to – free Belize!!
According to Wikipedia,
“The earliest reference to African slaves in the British settlement [Belize] appeared in a 1724 Spanish missionary’s account, which stated that the British recently had been importing them from Jamaica, Bermuda, and other Central American British Colonies. A century later, the total slave population numbered about 2,300 …. After 1838, the masters of the settlement continued to control the country for over a century by denying access to land and by limiting freedmen’s economic freedom.
And according to infoplease,
“Belize became independent on Sept. 21, 1981. But Guatemala, which had made claims on the territory since the 1800s, refused to recognize it. British troops remained in the country to defend it. Although the dispute between Guatemala and Great Britain remained unresolved, Guatemala recognized Belize’s sovereignty in Sept. 1991. Guatemala, however, still claims more than half of Belize’s territory”
Mr. Lerman – the oppressed people of Belize await your leadership!!
By the way – as I write this, his column has triggered:
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And I’m still amused …)