The other day, I experienced violent anti-Semitism
for the first time in my adult life. It took place in front of Faneuil
Hall, the birthplace
of American independence and liberty. I was receiving a justice award
from the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and delivering a talk on "Civil
Liberties in the Age of Terrorism" from the podium of that historic
hall. When I left, award in hand, I was accosted by a group of screaming, angry young men and women carrying virulently anti-Israel
signs. The protest was denominated a peace event and was sponsored by
a group calling themselves by the vague name ACT-MA. Their website describes
them as promoting peace and justice and associated with larger solidarity
organizations, but there was nothing peaceful or just about this protest.
Although the signs they were carrying were not
anti-Semitic, the sign carriers were shouting epithets at me that crossed
the line from civility
to bigotry. "Dershowitz and Hitler, just the same, the only difference
is the name." The sin that, in the opinion of the screamers, warranted
this comparison between me and the man who murdered dozens of my family
members was my support for Israel. It was irrelevant to these chanters
that I also support a Palestinian state, the end of the Israeli occupation
and the dismantling of most of the settlements. They also shouted "Dershowitz
and Gibbels [sic], just the same, the only difference is the name" -
not even knowing how to pronounce the name of the anti-Semitic Nazi propagandist.
One sign carrier shouted that Jews who support Israel are worse than
Nazis. Another demanded that I be tortured and killed. It wasn't only
their words; it was the hatred in their eyes. If a dozen Boston police
were not protecting me, I have little doubt I would have been physically
attacked. Their eyes were ablaze with fanatical zeal.
The feminist writer Phyllis Chesler aptly described the hatred often
directed against Israel and supporters of the Jewish state by some young
people as eroticized. That is what I saw: passionate hatred, ecstatic
hatred, orgasmic hatred. It was beyond mere differences of opinion. When
I looked into their faces, I could imagine young Nazis in the 1930s in
Hitler's Germany. They had no doubt that they were right and that I was
pure evil for my support of the Jewish state, despite my public disagreement
with some of Israel's policies and despite my support for Palestinian
statehood. There was no place for nuance here. It was black and white,
good versus evil, and any Jew who supported Israel was pure evil, deserving
of torture, violence, and whatever fate Hitler and Goebbels deserved.
I do not believe that criticism of Israel, or even of Zionism, is tantamount
to anti-Semitism and I have so written over the years. But what happened
in front of Faneuil Hall went beyond criticism. To be sure, it was constitutionally
protected speech, just as the Nazi march through Skokie was constitutionally
protected speech. But the shouting was plainly calculated to intimidate.
An aura of violence was in the air, and had the police not been there,
I would not have been able to express any views counter to theirs.
As it turned out, I was not actually able to express any of my opinions,
even in response to their outrageous mischaracterization of my views
or their comparisons of me to the most evil men in the world. When I
turned to answer one of the bigoted chants, the police officer in charge
gently but firmly insisted that I walk directly to my car and not engage
them. It was an order, reasonably calculated to assure my safety, and
it was right. The officer got into my car with me and only got out a
few blocks away. The intimidation had succeeded. I was silenced, and
their horrible message went unanswered in the plaza near Faneuil Hall.
That is not the way the marketplace of ideas is
supposed to work. It is not the conception of liberty for which Sam
and John Adams spoke so
eloquently and controversially in and around Faneuil Hall more than two
hundred years ago. It was far more reminiscent of rallies conducted by
Nazi thugs in Berlin seventy years ago. I will not be silenced nor intimidated.
The shouters know that. Their goal is to silence and intimidate others, who do not get police protection
and do not have access to the media. Let the debate about Israel and
the Palestinians continue unabated. Let all views be heard. The shouters
in front of Faneuil Hall wanted no views but their own to be seen and
heard .They succeeded that day in front of Faneuil Hall, as they have
on some university campuses, but the marketplace of ideas is far too
vibrant to be shut down by a bunch of self-righteous thugs shouting ugly
and bigoted epithets.
The Bottom Line:
Notice How The Media Has Not Reported This Story. They Are Covering Up
For The Left Wing Anti-Semitic Hooligans Who Are Looking More Like
Storm Troopers Every Day. This Is A Threat To Our Democracy and must
Not Be Tolerated. The Media Is In Collusion With These Thugs. The Same
Thing Happened To Prof. Daniel Pipes And No One Reported It. The Truth
Spread The Word !