ZOA official describes Geller as “an American and Jewish treasure”
As has been very widely reported, a planned talk by anti-Islam demagogue and Birther conspiracy-monger Pamela Geller at the Men’s Club of the Great Neck Synagogue in New York State has been cancelled; this is not because the synagogue has had a moment of moral clarity, but rather due to “security concerns“:
As the notoriety and media exposure of the planned program this Sunday have increased, so has the legal liability and potential security exposure of our institution and its member families. In an era of heightened security concerns it is irresponsible to jeopardize the safety of those who call Great Neck Synagogue home, especially our children, even at the risk of diverting attention from a potentially important voice in the ongoing debate. Accordingly, the Great Neck Synagogue Men’s Club will no longer be sponsoring the appearance of Pamela Geller this coming Sunday, and no event will be taking place in our facility.
Details of any actual threats are hard to come by – a puff-piece for Geller by Caroline Glick mentions only “a media campaign attacking her as a bigot” (a reference to a critical article by Rabbis Michael White and Jerome Davidson), while Geller writes that “Habeeb [Ahmed, Nassau County Commissioner on Human Rights] and his accomplices ordered their minions to strongarm the shul, make calls, and get the synagogue leaders to cancel a proud Jew scheduled to speak at their synagogue.”
But an association with Geller was always going to be toxic for any organisation that seeks to maintain a serious reputation: Geller supports the English Defence League, and she claims that Obama is a secret Muslim who has forged his birth certificate (she also famously promoted the claim that Obama’s father was Malcolm X, although she denies, with some irritation, the suggestion that she actually believes such a thing herself). Geller also trivalises the Holocaust, for example by throwing a “Nazi” accusation at Elena Kagan. Etc. etc. – the suggestion that she’s “a potentially important voice” in any serious discussion is laughable.
Naturally, Geller seeks to portray the venue’s decision to cancel as an attack on her free speech, even though the synagogue does not cite any evidence of threats – and Geller is hardly in a position to complain about “minions”, given her own history of rabble-rousing protests.
Statements of support for Geller have come in from Helen Freedman, Executive Director of Americans for a Safe Israel (“Those of us who understand the dangers inherent in this cowardice will work even harder with Pamela Geller and the others sounding the alarm”); Steve Goldberg, National Vice-Chair of the Zionist Organization of America (“Pamela can wear the fear and hatred of the Islamic fascists as a badge of honor. Her courage makes her an American and Jewish treasure”); and Orit Arfa, Executive Director of the Creative Zionist Coalition (“Why don’t the good imams and rabbis protest the very real and frightening civil rights abuses committed in the name of Islam and which Geller exposes so courageously?”).
Meanwhile, Geller has found alternative venues:
Two courageous and magnificent Rabbis have asked me to speak on Sunday. Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky of the Chabad, Great Neck and Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison, New Jersey have both invited me to speak at their synagogues on Sunday.
Geller’s talks are to be followed by a protest outside the Human Rights Commission office (which presumably will be closed for the weekend) to demand the dismissal of Habeeb Ahmed from his Commissioner post. Geller will be joined by Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom; one wonders whether the two men have patched things up since Bostom accused Spencer of plagiarism.
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