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Anna Baltzer, Jewish defamer of Israel

 
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In 1505, a Moravian Jew named Joseph Pfefferkorn renounced his faith and undertook a campaign to get the Talmud banned by claiming it blasphemed Christianity. Pfefferkorn was unschooled and a criminal, but that didn’t stop the Dominicans in Cologne, who at the time were eager to cast aspersions on the Jews, from employing him. They recognized the value of a Jew accusing other Jews.

The practice of finding Jews to bear false witness against other Jews has been repeated in many venues. Today, in America, some mainline Protestant churches have eagerly adopted this practice in an effort to demonize Israel. In November, the Wyoming Presbyterian church in Millburn, N,J., invited Jewish anti-Israel activist Anna Baltzer to speak and present her slide show alleging Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

Baltzer is an acolyte of the International Solidarity Movement, a cult-like group that recruits naïve Westerners to interfere with Israeli anti-terror operations. Its founders have spoken approvingly of suicide bombings. Baltzer boasts a busy schedule of speaking engagements at churches, universities, and even an appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Her message consists mostly of rehashed accusations against Israel made by Palestinian speakers. But Baltzer uses her Jewish heritage to accrue credibility before predominantly non-Jewish audiences who often fail to see through her deception.

In her appearance at the Presbyterian church, Baltzer told the audience that they were responsible for alleged Israeli transgressions on the west bank because “if the Israeli government does it, in fact it’s really U.S. taxpayers doing it.” Settlers carry U.S.-made weapons, she said. Her attempt to conflate the privately owned small arms of Israeli citizens with American support for Israel’s national defense is typical of her deceptiveness.

Baltzer’s core message is to delegitimize Israel.

She foists upon her audience absurd claims, like her assertion that the Arab armies that invaded the Jewish state the day after its founding were merely reacting to Israel’s expulsion of 350,000 Palestinians from their homes. Aside from sanitizing the stated Arab intention to eliminate Israel, she also misrepresents the impetus behind Palestinian flight. Noted historian Efraim Karsh demolished the myth of Palestinian expulsion. His book, “Fabricating Israeli History,” documents how most Palestinians’ flight was stoked by their own leadership and that relatively few were compelled by Jewish forces.

Baltzer analogizes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with South African apartheid, contending that the reason there is no Palestinian Nelson Mandela is that Palestinians are not allowed to organize because Israel jails potential leaders. In reality, most Palestinians sitting in Israeli jails are tied to terrorist acts against Israelis. Moreover, Palestinians have their own governing institutions. In her zeal, Baltzer can’t even get Mandela’s story right. In fact, the famed South African leader spent much of his adult life sitting in a South African jail.

Despite her accolades as a peace activist, Baltzer is an apologist for Hamas, whose founding charter invokes Islamic doctrine to sanctify killing Jews. The most Baltzer can admit to is that Hamas is “more aggressive” than the secular Palestinian group, Fatah. Proclaiming that it has agreed to a long-term ceasefire if Israel will withdraw to its recognized borders, Baltzer ignores Hamas’ repeated affirmation it will never accept Israel’s right to exist.

Baltzer mocks Israel’s attempts to protect its population and reveals a contempt for the lives of Palestinians too. She decries Israel’s decision to build the “Wall,” rhetorically asking, “Does segregation bring peace?” The facts are clear. In the year prior to the decision to build the security barrier, 452 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, mostly in suicide bombings. Since the building of the barrier, that figure has gone down by more than 90 percent, and in 2009 there were no successful suicide bombings in Israel.

Baltzer promotes blood libels against Israel. In her talk at the Wyoming Church an attendee challenged her as to why she published on her blog for months a false story spread by one of her colleagues accusing Israeli soldiers of shooting several Palestinian children in front of their mother. Baltzer retorted that she removed the story prior to her appearance on the Daily Show in October upon learning it was false. She added that although this case turned out not to be true, “I don’t think it’s hateful to hold a nation accountable for targeting civilians.” So while admitting one story was a lie, she continues to promote another unsubstantiated accusation.

Baltzer urges on the Palestinians to further intifadas. This ultimately reflects back on the churches, like the Wyoming Presbyterian Church, that invite her to speak. According to a community newspaper’s account of the event, when an audience member questioned why the church repeatedly invited speakers with an anti-Israel message and none to present the other side, a church member responded, “[A]ny time you want to put together such a meeting, the minister reports to us.” The interim pastor, Lou Kilgore added, “I’ll make the same offer,” but indicated since he’s temporary, you’ll have to hurry.

Pastor Kilgore’s response reveals the depth of the problem. While providing a platform for Baltzer’s anti-Israel advocacy, the church leaders absolve themselves of the responsibility to provide a balanced educational perspective. They leave it up to the Jewish community to supply a speaker to rebut the anti-Israel speakers. When it comes to incitement against Jews, how little has changed.

Steven Stotsky is a senior research analyst with the Committee for Accuracy in. Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
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Stay tuned for the return of comments

HARRY posted 07 Feb 2010 at 06:47 AM

On January 1, letter writer, Janice Rubin, wrote “Can the naïveté of some of our fellow Jews possibly be due to their insular environment? I can’t imagine why else they would believe that right-wing Christians are friends of the Jews because they support the State of Israel. With friends like that, Jews don’t need enemies.” 
True, Jews don’t need enemies.  We, Israel and world Jewry, have more than enough enemies.  We also can’t afford to reject friends.  Jews are certainly not an insular, narrow-minded people.  It is important for us to recognize our friends and our enemies.  As I see it, the Christian-right, the right-wing Christians, are our friends.  It is the Christian-left, the mainline Christians who are our enemy.  One example, it is the mainline Christians who led the campaign for major investors to divest from companies doing business with Israel. 
Another example:  Read the Feb. 5 article by Steven Stosky, Anna Baltzer, Jewish defamer of Israel.  Who sponsors villains like Anna Baltzer?  Steve Stosky says, “The practice of finding Jews to bear false witness against other Jews has been repeated in many venues. Today, in America, some mainline Protestant churches have eagerly adopted this practice in an effort to demonize Israel.”  The Christian-left are active enemies of Israel. 
Janice Rubin is concerned about the Christian “underlying attitude toward Jews”.  Christianity is a proselytizing religion.  This includes right-wing and left-wing Christians.  Today, we Jews have the freedom to convert or not to convert.  In good and bad times, most Jews have chosen not to convert.  I know that Pastor Hagee, a Christian right leader rejects the “replacement theology” of the need for Jews to convert. 
My liberal and conservative Christian friends have never tried to convert me.  They show no concern whether I burn in hell or not. 
I have more practical concerns.  Who are the true friends and supporters of Israel?  Who are enemies of Israel in speech and action?  My choices are simple.  The right-wing Christians actively support Israel in speech, action, and financially. 
Harry Lerman,
Paramus, NJ
201 262 8098

Paul posted 22 Jun 2012 at 04:33 AM

“Baltzer’s core message is to delegitimize Israel.”

After listiening to several presentations by Anna Baltzer, I have to say that her core message is not to delegitimize Israel, but garner support for those people, Jewish and Gentile, Israeli and non-Israeli, who would ask Israel to live up to high standards of Jewish teaching, morality and ethics.  Her message is that non-violent oppression and violent oppression lead to desperation and violence; that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.  Her message is that she has seen injustice toward Palestinians and it is not helpful to solving any problems facing Israel

This is hardly a pernicious, hateful, “self-loathing” or even controversial message.  By demonizing Ms. Baltzer you permit yourself to dismiss her.  By focusing on her mistakes, you allow yourself to dismiss the truths she imparts.  By claiming she “incites against Jews” you mischaracterize her motives and efforts.  The same could be said of many Old Testament prophets—such as Jeremiah.  But. of course, that is merely to miss the message because it is unpleasant. 

It is sad that you would demonize and stifle one who points out that Israeli policies are not productive of a lasting peace.  Mubarak was never going to live forever.  Sooner or later, Egypt would clamor for democracy.  Democracy is not evil; not even in Muslim countries.  How has the time been spent since Sadat was murdered?  Are Israelis and Egyptians more friendly?  More sympathetic to one another?  More understanding of one another?  What foundation has been laid for a lasting peace?  How about Jordan?  How about Saudi Arabia?  How about Turkey?

Is it not possible that Israel could do more to foster better relations?  Is it not possible that some Israeli policies towards Palestinians are inhumane, unjust, and lead to violence?  Is it not possible that more just and humane policies could foster better relations with Turkey? Egypt? Perhaps even Iran? 

“While providing a platform for Baltzer’s anti-Israel advocacy, the church leaders absolve themselves of the responsibility to provide a balanced educational perspective.”

Do you really believe that Americans and their churches and the media do not provide a balanced educational perspective on Israel?  How often is there anything critical of Israeli policies towards Palestinians shown on American television?  But for a few timid pieces on Sixty Minutes, there is nothing on American television critical of Israeli policies towards Palestinians.  Americans are not being incited to hate Jews or Israel by anyone of serious stature in America.  Anti-semites and Holocaust-deniers are routinely and vigorously denounced (and justifiably so!).  Please do not let hysteria and paranoia blind you to all constructive criticism.  You do yourself and your cause a great disservice.

 

Tzitz, tefillin, and the halachic process

Recent weeks have seen much discussion about the permissibility of women wearing tefillin.

Although I do not question the sincerity of the parties involved, and maintain high regard for the individuals involved, I see this as an opportunity to reflect on the unique mitzvah of tefillin and on maintaining the integrity of the halachic process. In addition to the specific halachic question involved, this controversy also raises the broader question of how halachah functions, and I would like to provide some perspective on both of these issues.

 

 

Ask the right questions

With the arrival and maturation of my generation, the Millenials, the question “Who is a Jew?” is rather passé.

Forget the halachic dimensions to this endlessly debatable topic. Forget all the moralizing arguments over the issue. Forget the demographically induced paranoia, the post-Holocaust hand-wringing, the Israeli legal maneuvering (not to mention the pandering that comes with it), and the denominational infighting. And — for heaven’s sake! — forget the Pew study.

The fact is that “Who is a Jew?” is the wrong question. To maintain our relevance — to regain it, really — the question we must ask today is “Why be Jewish?”

 

 

Holy water

Two weeks ago I visited a place in Israel that I had never seen before.

Shafdan, as the place is called, is a high-tech water reclamation plant just a few kilometers outside of Rishon Letzion. It looked a little like Area 51 in Nevada and it smelled a bit like the New Jersey Meadowlands. But what is happening there is amazing.

In the simplest of terms, Shafdan takes more than 90 percent of waste water — that’s water from kitchen and bathroom sinks, showers, drains, and toilets — from a large region in northwestern Israel. Shafdan repurifies the water, and then it can be reused.

 

 

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Passover reflections

Freedom is a tricky entity.

It can open avenues of positive imagination and creativity because a free people’s potential belongs ultimately to them and need not answer to a master who may limit that potential.

This is why the Haggadah must open with questions. Indeed, the Talmud tells us that if a person celebrates Pesach alone, he must ask himself the questions that lead into the story of the Exodus. The right to question, the ability to challenge authority, is the sign that a person ultimately is free. As long as an authority can say, “Keep that unacceptable idea to yourself,” you are not free. Therefore our Festival of Freedom must start with questions, which are always in some way subversive.

 

 

Why be Jewish? I’ll answer the question myself

In March I wrote in the Jewish Standard about the challenges posed to the organized Jewish community by my generation, the much- (if not, over-) discussed Millennials (“So, really, why be Jewish?”).

We need to refocus ourselves, I said, by turning away from questions like “Who is a Jew?” The key Jewish question of our time is this: Why be Jewish? “With the arrival and maturation of my generation, the Millennials, the question, ‘Who is a Jew?’ is rather passé,” I wrote. “The fact is that ‘Who is a Jew?’ is the wrong question. To maintain our relevance—to regain it, really—the question we must ask today is ‘Why be Jewish?’”

 

 

Hudson County is welcome to the federation

I read Joshua Einstein’s op-ed piece in last week’s Jewish Standard with great interest (“Hudson County needs a federation”).

He’s made a great case for creating a formal connection between Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and the Hudson County Jewish community. His argument makes sense. Northern Hudson County has been in our coverage area for many years, so we already have connections there. We now provide services to southern Hudson, including those services Einstein mentions, and more. So it all seems like a natural fit.

 

 
 
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