Originally published 22 February 2000
in general release
View the search results page that proves that Cherna Moskowitz owns the domain name "ehudbarak.net."
on the move again -- the same forces that hectored and delegitimized Yitzhak
Rabin, until a man in their midst assumed it was permissible to assassinate
Israel's prime minister. Now, five years later, the target of right-wing
wrath is Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other government officials involved
in peace-making. In Israel the press talks worriedly of another assassination.
But in the US, where many of the most extreme groups have their support systems,
the Jewish community is mute.
I'd venture to say the far right, distressed
by the progress of negotiations with the Palestinians, has begun threatening
violence again, because last time such behavior was cost free. No one pointed
a finger at -- much less ostracized -- the organizations which supported
the vicious delegitimization of the Rabin government. They, in effect, made
it permissible to kill a prime minister at a peace rally. Have we, in the
years since, made it impermissible to do it again?
The news reports
from Israel talk of warnings from security agencies, the tightening of protection
around targeted officials. The reports tell, too, of scarcely veiled warnings
from rightist circles, intimidation clearly aimed at short-circuiting both
the peace process and Israel's democratic process.
Unlike five years
ago, the current Israeli reports are discussing the crescendo of anti-democratic
rightist rage in the context of its potential for anti-government violence.
But in this country, the Jewish community appears dangerously indifferent
to the unabashedly violent rhetoric of some rightist Jewish groups. I say
"appears" because, for a community so acutely attuned to hate speech, such
indifference cannot be confused with ignorance.
Our coalition has
encountered chilling expressions of violence in the course of tracking the
statements and activities of Irving Moskowitz and the organizations he supports.
One of Moskowitz's beneficiaries, the Zionist Organization of America, last
week had a large ad in the Jewish Journal here in Los Angeles. The ad sought
to inflame anti-peace sentiment with a shrill attack on an inconsequential
figure of speech used by President Clinton's national security adviser.
Moskowitz, noted for funding some of the most provocative settler groups
and purchases of Palestinian property, recently posted on his "Our Jerusalem"
Web site an explicit incitement to violently oppose the Barak government.
Signed by Gary M. Cooperberg, the article mocks a recent settler demonstration
as too tame, then concludes: "Our [Israeli] government apparently only enters
into negotiations as a reaction to violence. There must be a lesson here
somewhere as to how an honest patriotic Jewish organization can influence
the democratic process in Israel " Clearly, the interest of this political
coterie is not to participate and test its ideas in the democratic process.
even more frightening show of contempt for democracy appeared last winter
on another Web site, this one owned by Moskowitz's wife, Cherna Moskowitz.
The site featured an assassination "game," which encouraged visitors to blow
up, with the click of a mouse, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former
Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and other pro-peace Israeli officials. "Hunt
down the Judenrat and stop them from handing Israel over to the PLO Nazis,"
said the opening screen. At the conclusion of the game, the screen reads,
"Thanks for helping save the Jewish people from its enemies. Total Judenrat
eliminated: [whatever number of heads the player has blown up]."
the Israeli paper Yediot Aharonot exposed this Moskowitz site, the hosting
company removed it. But our coalition downloaded a copy of the "game" and
posted it on our Web site, www.stopmoskowitz.org.
material, don't you think? Cherna Moskowitz apparently felt so immune to
criticism, she registered the site domain as "ehudbarak.net." And last February
few news organizations picked up on our news release about the violent site.
stunning obliviousness calls sadly to mind the unheeded warnings of Israel's
former consul general in New York, Colette Avital. Beginning in early 1995
Avital repeatedly called Jewish leaders' attention to the increasing violence
of the rightist foes of peace. Our coalition's research shows that her concerns
didn't get serious public attention until after the assassination of Rabin.
as it is, so far, the right-wing clamor seems aimed at discrediting Barak
and destroying his government's peace project, not killing him. But unless
mainstream Jewish organizations vigorously oppose -- and expose -- the inciters
as outside the bounds of tolerable political discourse, their mob emotion
will soon enough progress to demand assassination.
The author is
coordinator of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem,
a Jewish-Latino-labor organization working to stop Irving Moskowitz's activities
in the Los Angeles County city of Hawaiian Gardens, where Moskowitz's bingo
and businesses generate funds for his anti-peace activities in Israel.