Elie Wiesel Mocked at J Street Conference

Michael Goldfarb reports:

The "independent" blogger panel at J Street's conference can only be described as clownish. The panel consisted mostly of crackpots and self-described anti-Zionists and "one-staters" .....Though J Street tried to distance itself from the panel by describing it as an "unofficial" and "independent" event, the bloggers used one of the rooms otherwise reserved for conference events, a podium in the front had a J Street placard on it, and a J Street banner hung on the back wall of the room. Ben-Ami came in to "check up" on the panel, and a J Street flack ejected someone from the room at the behest of one of the panelists. If this wasn't an official event, I don't know what official means.

At the event, Helena Cobban....said that blogging had "changed international relations" because now the world could get real-time reaction from the people "underneath U.S. and Israeli bombs."

Another panelist, Max Blumenthal, attacked Ben-Ami for having "capitulated" in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg last week. Most of the media at the conference were pleased with Ben-Ami's interview with Goldberg -- it was proof, they said, that J Street was indeed a reasonable organization. But that was not the view among the average conference participant. There was "a lot to be troubled with in this interview," Blumenthal said. Ben-Ami had "prostrated himself before this 'serious man.'"

Blumenthal really doesn't like Goldberg. He called him the "Chief Rabbi of a one man island," and then, with respect to Ben-Ami, asked, "if you can't stand up to Goldberg, how can you stand up to Netanyahu?" Blumenthal was upset that Ben-Ami had, under pressure from Goldberg, denounced Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, authors of The Israel Lobby, as anti-Semites. Among the rank and file at the J Street conference, Walt and Mearsheimer are revered. Matt Duss, another panel participant who writes for John Podesta's Center for American Progress, said "the idea of attacking [Walt and Mearsheimer] as anti-Semites is outrageous."

Blumenthal went on to trash Elie Wiesel for speaking this past weekend at the Christians United for Israel conference in San Antonio. After mocking Pastor John Hagee, the founder of CUFI, Blumenthal said "the last time Elie Wiesel trusted someone so much it was Bernie Madoff." Wiesel admitted earlier this year that he lost "everything" he had in Madoff's ponzi scheme. The audience erupted with laughter at Blumenthal's tasteless joke.

Finally, we heard from the proprietor of the blog GazaMom.com, a hijab clad  woman who said she doesn't consider Mahmoud Abbas to be the legitimate president of the Palestinian Authority. Does she support Hamas? Who knows. "Whenever I hear two-state solution, I shake my head," she said, "I'm a one-stater." Again the room erupted with applause. Philip Weiss, another blogger participating in the panel, looked around and said "there are many Zionists in this room, there are also some non-Zionists and anti-Zionists." I would say that's a pretty good description of the J Street conference as a whole.
 Read the rest of Michael Goldfarbs exploits at J-Street here.  

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