Did Berkeley Jewish Community Silence Peter Beinart? Nonsense.
Jewish Voice for Peace advocates boycott, divestment, and sanctions. JVP calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and its replacement by a unitary state that will absorb four generations of Arab “refugees.” Dr. Penny Rosenwasser, the named JVP moderator of the Beinart event, is well known for her strong and passionate anti-Zionist advocacy.
Blumenthal presents none of this history. Instead, he focuses on an alleged member of the Jewish Federation Board, Jonathan Wornick, as the initial source of the pressure on the Jewish Community Center to withdraw its support for the Beinart event.
Again, Blumenthal is getting bad information. Wornick has not been a Federation board member for the last two years.
By way of disclosure, I have met Wornick twice. I am on his Facebook page, as I am on hundreds of others. Wornick did put a notice about the Beinart lecture up on Facebook. This, for the hyperbolically inclined Blumenthal, was “the beginning of the pressure.” However, Wornick was just another voice of outrage amid a popular groundswell, within a community where many have become tired of their institutions sponsoring events that threaten the existence of the Jewish state.
Someone in Germany hacked into Wornick’s Facebook account, and some of Wornick’s pages appear in Blumenthal’s column. Where Blumenthal got this material is an issue, for most certainly Wornick and Blumenthal have not “friended” each other.
With a large dose of spin and manipulation of context, Blumenthal transformed Wornick into some sort of crazy racist, the very prototype of the Zionist leader that Beinart warned us against. This is a Wornick that perhaps Blumenthal’s “source” will recognize, though no one remotely familiar with Wornick will take this portrayal seriously.
No one, especially if they carry an anti-Zionist message, needs the imprimatur of the JCC or the Jewish Federation to speak in Berkeley. There are plenty of groups, on- and off-campus, which would welcome Beinart’s discredited narrative. As Blumenthal’s correction revealed, Beinart pulled out not because of the JCC, the Federation, or even its phantom board member Jonathan Wornick, but because -- in Beinart’s own words -- even he did not want to be sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace.