Into the Valley of Death rode
the Israel Lobby – Part II

by G.S.   <george.salzman@umb.edu>    14 October 2007

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-10-14.htm

      The first response to my e-mail of 9 Oct,[1] led to an exchange with challenging implications. The correspondent, Keith Davies <lalric3@yahoo.com>, at one point wrote correctly, “Confession is the beginning of healing.” He then posed a question and ended, “If you can answer this question with intellectual honesty you will then understand the truth and what really needs to be recognized and then acted upon.” The challenge, aside from striving to be intellectually honest, is to understand the truth.

      Keith is, I believe, an honest person, as firmly convinced that he understands what is right and what is wrong as the everyday people Joe Bageant writes about in his essays, as for example in “Poor, White and Pissed: A Guide to the White Trash Planet for Urban Liberals” [2] Unlike Joe’s subjects whose literacy is minimal and whose economic conditions are marginal, Keith is, I imagine, a reasonably well-to-do literate Jewish American. I think he is urban and guess that he lives in a California city, from one of his remarks, but I do not know. What troubles me about this exchange is not that Keith is Jewish and has accepted as reality a particular – in my view very largely false – version of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but that what he has written suggests that Manual Garcia Jr.’s deep pessimism – hopefully transient – regarding the educability of our species might be justified.[3] Garcia, for whom I have great respect, wrote recently
 
      What I have come to realize from my entire 9/11 experience, and also from the tepid reception of my “physics explanation” articles (like New Orleans dikes) is that the public is basically irrational. It is ultimately pointless to worry about Bush and global warming and fascism and the rest, because they will always win. It has to be this way, because people are fully in the grip of fantasies they would rather die to preserve than become aware of factual reality. Those who do have some sense use it to manipulate the public mind for the benefit of the exploitative systems. We are doomed. When I began writing for a public audience, my naive technical idea was that if people understood the facts, they would move out of superstition, and we “all” could agree on the nature of “the problem” and then it would be almost obvious what actions to take to fix it. But, people live for their superstitions. We are no better than the caricatures of natives in 1930s jungle movies, hopping about in crazed deadly frenzy because of our “ju-ju”. . . As crazy a ju-ju as any of our fundamentalist religions (the non-fundamentalist ones are just clubs) . . . I could make a lot more money writing ju-ju channeling flak for some neo-con outfit — but I hate those kind of people. Still, they’ll win, because ju-ju is better than sex. Global warming?, no problem, buy coal-burning SUVs to extinction; loss of Constitutional rights?, no problem we’re beating Islamofascism; no health insurance?, no problem, ESPN [sports] on plasma TVs is getting cheaper; no education? no problem, it’s free from the Army; it all doesn’t make sense? no problem, embrace the ju-ju!

      We Jews are but a tiny fraction of the American population. Although our beliefs may concern us, in the larger scheme of things it is the beliefs held by non-Jewish Americans that is critical. If Garcia’s sense of futility is justified, then all the efforts to disseminate honest, informed thoughts and information in order to effect positive social change are hopeless. That would make me feel that much of my life is without meaning. I’m vain enough not to believe that, though of course there are times when I am discouraged. But this is an encouraging time because the (largely Jewish) Israel Lobby’s efforts to prevent open discussion of the issues involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict are beginning to be countered quite effectively.

      In apparent response to wide public criticism of his earlier decision [4] to disinvite Archbishop Desmond Tutu to an event at the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul, Minnesota, the president commendably acknowledged he had been wrong and reversed himself with a message published in the University Bulletin on 10 October 2007.[5] Excerpts follow:

Father Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas, has asked that the letter below be sent to St. Thomas students, faculty and staff:

Dear members of the St. Thomas community,

One of the strengths of a university is the opportunity that it provides to speak freely and to be open to other points of view on a wide variety of issues. And, I might add, to change our minds.

Therefore, I feel both humbled and proud to extend an invitation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at the University of St. Thomas.

I have wrestled with what is the right thing to do in this situation, and I have concluded that I made the wrong decision earlier this year not to invite the archbishop. Although well-intentioned, I did not have all of the facts and points of view, but now I do.

St. Thomas will extend an invitation to Archbishop Tutu.

I ... look forward to a candid discussion about how a civil and democratic society can pursue reasoned debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other emotionally charged issues.

I sincerely hope Archbishop Tutu will accept our invitation. I continue to have nothing but the utmost respect for his witness of faith, for his humanitarian accomplishments and especially for his leadership in helping to end apartheid in South Africa.

      His earlier action was taken after a fairly limited attempt to gather reliable information. As Matt Snyders reported in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune,[4] the vice president for university and government relations said that the input officials received from “the Jewish community” was confined to Julie Swiler, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and a few rabbis teaching within St. Thomas’s Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. In his article, Matt Snyders included the following: “I think there’s a consensus in the Jewish community that his [Tutu’s] words were offensive,” Swiler reiterates. Snyder’s article continues:

That was news to Marv Davidov, an adjunct professor within the Justice and Peace Studies program.

“As a Jew who experienced real anti-Semitism as a child, I’m deeply disturbed that a man like Tutu could be labeled anti-Semitic and silenced like this,” he says. “I deeply resent the Israeli lobby trying to silence any criticism of its policy. It does a great disservice to Israel and to all Jews.”

The controversy didn't end there. Incensed at the administration’s decision, Professor Cris Toffolo—chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program at the time—sent Tutu a letter on May 24 informing him of the administration's decision. She also indicated her disagreement with the move and warned Tutu that he might be in for a smear campaign.

University brass caught wind of the letter, and on August 1, Tom Rochon, executive vice president of academic affairs, sent a letter of his own to Toffolo informing her that St. Thomas administrators had decided to revoke her position as chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program.

Asked about the reasoning behind the demotion, Rochon and Hennes decline to comment. Toffolo herself is hesitant to offer any statements about it due to the sensitivity of her situation, though she did confirm that her letter to Tutu was the catalyst for her demotion.

“This is pure bullshit,” says Davidov. “As far as fighting for civil rights, I consider Tutu to be my brother. And I consider Cris Toffolo to be my sister . . . [W]hy are St. Thomas officials refusing to let Tutu, an apostle of nonviolence, speak [here]?”

Davidov and other professors maintain that the situation at St. Thomas is emblematic of a larger issue.

“What happened at the University of St. Thomas is not an isolated event,” says Toffolo. “Until we have an honest debate about U.S. policy related to Israel, and about Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, the spiral of violence will continue.”

      “OK”, you may say, challenging my optimism. “It’s gratifying that Tutu will be able to speak at St. Francis University next Spring, but after all, he’s a world famous Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. So the Israel Lobby didn’t succeed in silencing his voice at this one upcoming occasion. But overall it’s been very effective in preventing consideration of the Israel-Palestine conflict in any venue where criticism of Israel’s policy might emerge. What basis is there for feeling encouraged? Consider a few of the Israel Lobby’s achievements. The play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” was cancelled in the East Village in New York City before it even opened.[6] It’s performance in Canada was also cancelled.[7] The Lobby’s campaign against Norman G. Finkelstein’s tenure at DePaul University succeeded.[8] The University of Michigan Press is waffling on whether to cut its distribution tie with Pluto Press because of Prof. Joel Kovel's book Overcoming Zionism.[9] The Lobby’s effective control of nearly every U.S. Senator and Representative regarding unquestioned support for Israeli policy remains essentially intact; Israel continues to be a sacred cow in American politics, as argued strongly by professors Mearsheimer and Walt.[10]

      That’s true, and in fact the examples you just mentioned are but a small sample of the many actions the Israel Lobby has carried out to its satisfaction. Nevertheless I am encouraged now because I think we are seeing, for the first time, a growing determined and forceful opposition, a refusal to be silenced by the empty, false charges that we are either Anti-Semites or, those of us who are Jewish, self-hating Jews. Of course there are true Anti-Semites, but we stand apart from them. Hating Jews (or any group of human beings) has never solved a human social problem in a socially humane manner. Hatred and fear are the tools of demagogues, people lusting for power: dictators, tyrants, and many politicians.

      It’s encouraging to see the relatively new group, Jewish Voice for Peace,[11] which began only in 1996, becoming a heavy hitter in the fight for truth. It’s not a group I belong to, because although nominally Jewish, I prefer to speak not with a ‘Jewish’ voice but with a ‘human’ voice inclusive of all ethnic groups within our species. But I welcome them as comrades in the struggle for truth to prevail. Just as I welcome the current efforts of Jimmy Carter despite all his terrible actions as president (e.g. backing the Shah of Iran). Just as I welcome the work of Mearsheimer and Walt despite my disagreement with their ‘tail wagging the dog’ thesis and my opposition to their ideology – they support the American empire, which I despise. The point is that there are many and diverse American voices beginning to speak out forcefully in opposition to unconditional U.S. backing for Israel, and these voices are gaining considerable traction even in corporate media. They are beginning to turn the tide, which had formerly been massively in support of Israeli policy, whatever it did.

      Interestingly, when I went to Google to see how old Jewish Voice for Peace is, for the first time in my experience a cautionary note appeared at the top of the page saying, “Offensive Search Results www.google.com/explanation We're disturbed about these results as well. Please read our note here.” The explanation,[12] is explicit in referring to the notorious Anti-Defamation League as follows: “p.s. You may be interested in some additional information the Anti-Defamation League has posted about this issue at http://www.adl.org/rumors/google_search_rumors.asp. In addition, we call your attention to Google's search results on this topic.” This supposed postscript can hardly be an afterthought. It strongly suggests that the Anti-Defamation League, of which Abraham Henry Foxman is the National Director, was a prime complainer — maybe the only one, since it’s the only organization singled out for mention — seeking to have Google remove or make less prominent some of its search results. The ‘search results’ link in this paragraph gets an old but also possibly revealing page that begins:


Google Search Ranking of Hate Sites Not Intentional
Update April 22, 2004
UPDATE: ADL Praises Google for Responding to Concerns About Rankings of Hate Sites
An e-mail campaign suggests that Google intentionally lists a hate site as the first item that comes up when searching under “Jew” or “Jews.”
It appears that the ADL may have been responsible for an e-mail campaign three and a half years ago in an attempt to have Google give less prominence to anti-Jewish hate sites, possibly by removing them. This would not be surprising.

      When we note that only a short time ago Foxman’s ADL reversed itself in a conflict with Boston-area Jews after he first fired, then rehired a local ADL subordinate for saying that indeed the Armenian people had suffered a holocaust at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915, and that now he sent a message to the president of St. Francis asking him to reverse himself by reinviting Tutu, it seems pretty evident that Foxman is beginning to sense that he’s ‘on the ropes’, and he’d better try to salvage the ADL position by backing off a bit. Let Foxman follow the principle stated by my first angry correspondent, “Confession is the beginning of healing”, cited at the start of this note, by confessing that it was wrong of the (primarily Jewish) Israel Lobby to have campaigned for DePaul University to deny tenure to Norman G. Finkelstein and thus been responsible not only for damaging Finkelstein’s chances for a decent livelihood in his profession, but also for the ‘collateral damage’ to Mehrene E. Larudee, an assistant professor of international studies at DePaul, who had supported tenure for Finkelstein, and hence was denied tenure this spring.[8] I would be delighted to see Foxman confess and would welcome ‘the beginning of healing’, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for him to ‘fess up’ to the despicable role the Lobby has been playing. It will be a tenacious struggle, I think. But I remain encouraged. Here is my exchange with Keith Davies, part of the stimulus for this essay.


Subject: Re: Into the Valley of Death rode the Israel Lobby [— Part I]
From: Keith Davies <lalric3@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2007 06:56:01 -0700 (PDT)
To: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>

I would love you to explain about the Arab lobby or would you deny this exists at all?
It seems that an Israel Lobby is evil and the Arab Lobby is virtuous, your logic would just deny that an Arab lobby does not exist![sic]
Keith Davies


Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2007 10:13:59 -0500
CC: Irving Wesley Hall <irvinghall@notinkansas.us>

Dear Keith Davies,
      I don’t know whether you are Jewish. I am. I believe that the entire world is so fucked up that we are all imperiled, whether we are called Jews or Gentiles, Blacks or Whites, Indians or Americans, and I am doing my best to understand the basic sources of the threat to humanity and the biosphere. At the moment I’m working on a longer essay which is not yet completed, and is in draft form only. Part of that draft reads:


      If knowledge of historical truth is for the sole purpose of satisfying the intellectual desire to understand the reality of our lives, then it is no more nor less legitimate than any other investigation undertaken in response to human curiosity. If it goes no further than to provide enlightenment, then I would say it is of no social importance, or more accurately of negative social value. To be of positive value the knowledge must serve to shape actions. If we see our goal as merely to understand historic truth, we are adopting a passive role as objects of history. I contend that we ought to think of ourselves as subjects of history, not just as people on whom history acts. We are both objects of and shapers – even if only passively – of history. It is up to us not to be passive but to actively take part in building the world we want. To do that intelligently we need to be informed of historical truth.

Could there be another holocaust in America?
A wakeup call to my fellow American Jews

      Yes. I believe it is well within the realm of possibility, especially if the surging social and economic inequalities are not substantially eliminated. However, this wakeup call is intended not only for American Jews but for all privileged people, of which group Jews constitute but a miniscule part. In other words, what I want to argue is that in order for American Jews to try to safeguard ourselves against the possibility of an American Judeocide, our effort must be generalized to embrace the entire American middle and wealthy classes. My understanding of historical truth, for what it is worth, points to the need, in order for us to be secure, for a basic solution to the global problems of raging inequalities and unbearable suffering. Achieving our security is possible only within a framework where all people are secure. Of course Jews alone cannot resolve these terrible injustices, but I think we can play a role, along with all other privileged peoples.


      If you want to do more than simply pose our different views in terms of ‘Jews vs. Palestinians’, it might help if you took a look at the draft paper from which the above excerpt comes. It is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-09-12.htm . If you care to offer criticisms I will welcome them, but I have no intention of getting into a trivialization of the sort your note would lead to if I answered your question and assertion in its own terms. If your intent is not to simply troll, I'll respond again.
Sincerely,
George
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2007 08:41:44 -0700 (PDT)

George

As all intellectual wafflers and haters of “The Israel case” you cannot even answer a simple question?

The world is so “fucked up” as you call it because people like you cannot face reality or understand the Jewish principle of “the evil inclination”.

We have people today in the Middle East acting and behaving just like the Nazis but they have a religious twist to their ideology, yet you wish to undertand their anger and their grievances. The people I am refering to are not Zionists as you would obvioulsy like to argue.

Let me help you understand since you do need a little help. Be proud of your Jewishness and respect others who respect you and are different. There is nothing wrong with being different. However those that say they wish to kill you because you are a Jew, an American, a gay person or an Israeli; understand them too and recognize that they are evil.

The rest is just for a better word - BULLSHIT.
Keith Davies


Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2007 11:45:13 -0500
To: Irving Wesley Hall <irvinghall@notinkansas.us>
CC: Keith Davies <lalric3@yahoo.com>

Hi Irving,
     Keith was just a troll, not really interested in knowing anything that might challenge his benighted view of the world. I don’t know who sent him my mailing, since he’s not on my list, but I’m glad my stuff is getting around. Incidentally, Moises’ upcoming conference ought to be an opportunity for some informed discussions. Although Moises, a Mexican-born Israeli-American, is a firm Zionist, he’s been very receptive to the presence of contesting views at the meeting. I look forward to getting your book.
George


From: Keith Davies <lalric3@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2007 19:16:19 -0700 (PDT)

George
As usual you never answer a question just insult the messenger, this is typical of the left. It is gratifying to know that you cannot make any argument against what is obvious.

When you can’t face reality you argue how your reality (illusion) fits your mold of how one should think. Jews in reverence to them are the most tolerant people in the world, however sometimes they are too tolerant and go overboard to tolerate evil and lies for the sake of “peace.” Their Arab adversaries keep lieing and murdering; saying one thing in English for your ears and another in Arabic- the truth. Jews bury their heads in the sand and make believe that we should all get along because we just should. While it is right that we all get along and respect peoples’ differences this is just not REALITY in the world today. I bet you would agree that Hitler was not to be negotiated with, if you agree with this statement why would you think that Arafat, Ahmedinjad, Asad, Nasrallah are any different? The all say “Death to Israel, Death to America,” or “Death to the Jews”. These are also quotes from the mosques in their domains, so it is not just political as you may like to espouse.

My view of the of the world is irrelevant but the world is what it is, based on exact circumstances. I would be very receptive to contesting views but so far you have not been able to come up with any views other than the world is “fucked up” and I am a “troll”.

Then you follow up by denying that history is important and put history aside so we can move forward with Kumba Yah, that the action of making peace is the only course of action when war is unfortunate but the correct action. If the allies had gone to war in the early 1930s against Hitler then 6 million Jews would be alive today, instead we appeased Hitler and we know what happened.

Today Iran threatens to wipe Israel off the map and the left act just like the appeasers of the 1930s. Hitler was regarded the same way as Ahmadinjad. He even looks like Hitler in that he is skinny and little crazy looking. We must talk and understand them. They are misunderstood. Rubbish!

You must of learnt this at Berkeley or Columbia. God help us with these intellectuals! Sorry should not have used God as you probably do not believe in such a concept.

Confession is the beginning of healing. There will be no peace till the Arabs confess their wrong and apologize for their transgressions. I can assure you the Jews will reciprocate and there then would be peace. If all Jews would apologize to the Arabs and say let us have peace, can you honestly say that the Arabs would lay down their arms allow Jews to live in their own homeland (Granted at the same time period that Arabs were receiving their lands from the Imperial powers) not threatened by war? If you can answer this question with intellectual honesty you will then understand the truth and what really needs to be recognized and then acted upon.

Keith Davies


Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 06:16:16 -0500

Dear Keith,
      I owe you an apology for having concluded, incorrectly, that you were a troll. I came to that view after I tried to respond quite at length, but in my terms, to your initial very brief note, which I saw (and see) as being not just simple but simplistic. Your second note, also quite brief, was, I thought, somewhat condescending when you wrote, “Let me help you understand since you do need a little help.” Having decided that you were not interested in doing more than baiting me, since you obviously had neither read anything of mine beyond my message to my list on the 9th or responded to what I wrote in my initial reply to you, I did not intend to write you again, as my note to Irving Hall indicated. However, someone whose only interest was in baiting me (a troll) for the shear joy of irritating me would not have written such a reply as your third note.
      I still do not intend to answer you in your terms unless you make an effort to understand where I’m coming from by reading some of what I’ve written. What you’ve said so far indicates to me that our understandings of history are very different from each other. My ‘kid’ brother (he’s 77, I’m 82) and I went through almost five years in an exchange during which he repeated over and over an entire litany of myths about Israel while essentially refusing to read anything that could challenge his beliefs. Prior to that exchange I was in near total ignorance of the entire middle east situation and knew really nothing about Zionism. We were raised in a secular Jewish family in New York City and are both athiests. Lawrence thinks of himself as a liberal Jew, which I imagine is your self image too. During that long, painful exchange I read a fair amount about the history. In my final letter to Lawrence I enumerated the readings I undertook in response to his unwavering insistence that whatever had happened it was invariably due to ‘the Arabs’. You can see my ‘study list’ in the posting to my website at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-05-29.htm .
      You have made assumptions about me based on almost zero information, e.g. “As all intellectual wafflers and haters of “The Israel case” you cannot even answer a simple question?” The technique of framing loaded questions is not something you invented. Why do you assume I believe everything said by what you term ‘the Arab Lobby𔄩 (a term I never heard before)? I’m going to ask you a straightforward question that you may not wish to answer. Which of the books and articles listed in the posting linked to just above have you read? In any case, please understand that I have already expended a lot of time and effort and, unless you are prepared to do a lot more than seems your inclination, our exchange is finished.
      Actually, there are several questions I think you ought to put to yourself. If what I’ve written is just bullshit, as you asserted, and truth is on ‘your side’, why is there such a great effort to prevent discussion of the issues surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict? Who is seeking to prevent the publication and distribution of books, to have professors hounded out of their jobs, to prevent even a congressional resolution simply acknowledging that there was an Armenian holocaust carried out by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915, to bar performance of the play Rachel Corrie? Why are you not confident that if discussion is allowed the truth will eventually prevail? Are you afraid of the truth? Are you afraid to read Peter Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life?
      So, except for reiterating that I apologize for saying you were only a troll, I am done with this exchange, unless you get serious about opening your mind by starting to do some reading that challenges your current beliefs. I have no copyright on ‘the truth’, but neither do you.
Sincerely,
George


Subject: Intent to publish our exchange, and one minor correction
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 10:56:19 -0500

Hi Keith,
      I will prepare a mailiing to my list that includes our entire exchange. I think this will be of interest, judging from the apparent interest stirred by my Tuesday mailing (the one to which you and vatious others responded). There were some typos in your e-mails, which I will correct (or have already corrected) . . . if you chose to make pre-publication corrections please do so at your early convenience.
Very sincerely,
George


Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 18:04:29 -0500

Dear Keith,
      Although I haven’t had any response from you to the message I sent your earlier, I will post our exchange as I have it, with such minor corrections of typos as I spot. If you send corrections and/or further statements subsequently, I can add them to the posted item. Today has been a very busy time, as others got involved in the issue. Also, the Jewish Lobby just lost in its effort to prevent Bishop Tutu from appearing in Minneapolis, as an announcement from the Jewish Voice for Peace announced a short time ago in an e-mail that started: “We have just learned that the president of the University of St. Thomas acknowledged he made the wrong decision and invited Archbishop Tutu to campus!”
Sincerely,
George


Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 16:13:51 -0700 (PDT)

George:
“the Jewish Lobby”
Why do you ridicule your own people? Do you get great nachus from the fact that Jews fail to win a protest?

How pathetic a person you are? When Israel won the 6 day war and the Yom Kippur war they did not dance in joy at their victory but you seem to enjoy when your people lose.

I hope your liberal friends and self hating Jews enjoy our exchange
Keith


NOTES
[1] My 9 October e-mail is posted as “Into the Valley of Death rode the Israel Lobby — Part I” at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-10-09.htm with one or two very minor changes.

[2] Joe Bageant’s <bageantjb@netscape.net> essay “Poor, white and pissed: A Guide to the White Trash Planet for Urban Liberals” is at http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2005/02/poor_white_and_.html .

[3] Manuel Garcia, Jr. <mango@idiom.com>. The excerpt is from his essay “You Are Now Entering a Black Hole: 911 Emergency! Calling Robert Fisk!” at http://www.counterpunch.org/garcia08272007.html .

4] The decision to disinvite Archbishop Desmond Tutu was reported in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune on 3 October 2007, at http://articles.citypages.com/2007-10-03/news/banning-desmond-tutu/ in an article by Matt Snyders <msnyders@citypages.com> that I think was carefully and accurately written.

[5] The decision to reinvite Archbishop Desmond Tutu by the president of St. Francis University is, in its entirety, in the university Bulletin on 10 October 2007, at http://www.stthomas.edu/bulletin/news/200741/Wednesday/Dease10_10_07.cfm .

[6] Theater, Ideology and the Censorship of “My Name is Rachel Corrie”, by Walter A. Davis is at http://pwgd.org/gs/?p=12 .

[7] 'Corrie' canceled in Canada, allegedly because it could produce “a negative reaction” in Toronto’s Jewish community http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/jan2007/rach-j04.shtml .

[8] The Chronicle of Higher Education 6 September 2007 report on the tenure denials is available at http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=1225 .
The campaign, involving fraud, to prevent Norman G. Finkelstein from gaining tenure at DePaul University is discussed in essays at: http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-08.htm ; http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-09.htm ; http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-12.htm ; http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-18.htm ; http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-22.htm .

[9] To see Professor Howard Zinn’s letter asking people to write to the University of Michigan Press, go to the website of the Committee for the Open Discussion of Zionism, at http://www.codz.org/send-letter.html .

[10] On the Lobby’s political force see for example some excerpts from the Mearsheimer-Walt research paper at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-05-09L2.doc .

[11] The Jewish Voice for Peace site is at http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/ . An excellent opinion piece by Mitchell Plitnick and Cecilie Surasky of this group was published in the principal Minneapolis/St. Paul daily newspaper on 10 October 2007 at http://www.startribune.com/562/story/1474498.html . A short post by Surasky to the group’s Muzzle Watch project website at http://www.muzzlewatch.org/ on the same day is informative and has links to comments on the ADL and the Zionist Organization of America websites. Her recommendation of Tony Karon’s piece, at http://tonykaron.com/2007/10/03/my-favorite-anti-semite/ , is well worth reading. Another article worth reading is from The Black Commentator, on 11 October 2007, by Bill Fletcher, Jr., available at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9037.shtml .

[12] The full text of Google’s explanation, which follows, is at http://www.google.com/explanation.html .

An explanation of our search results.

If you recently used Google to search for the word “Jew,” you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google. We’d like to explain why you’re seeing these results when you conduct this search.

A site’s ranking in Google’s search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted. A search for “Jew” brings up one such unexpected result.

If you use Google to search for “Judaism,” “Jewish” or “Jewish people,” the results are informative and relevant. So why is a search for “Jew” different? One reason is that the word “Jew” is often used in an anti-Semitic context. Jewish organizations are more likely to use the word “Jewish” when talking about members of their faith. The word has become somewhat charged linguistically, as noted on websites devoted to Jewish topics such as these:

  http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/vol01/vol01.174
  http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/jonah081500.asp

Someone searching for information on Jewish people would be more likely to enter terms like “Judaism,” “Jewish people,” or “Jews” than the single word “Jew.” In fact, prior to this incident, the word “Jew” only appeared about once in every 10 million search queries. Now it’s likely that the great majority of searches on Google for “Jew” are by people who have heard about this issue and want to see the results for themselves.

The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results. Individual citizens and public interest groups do periodically urge us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Although Google reserves the right to address such requests individually, Google views the comprehensiveness of our search results as an extremely important priority. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it. We will, however, remove pages from our results if we believe the page (or its site) violates our Webmaster Guidelines, if we believe we are required to do so by law, or at the request of the webmaster who is responsible for the page.

We apologize for the upsetting nature of the experience you had using Google and appreciate your taking the time to inform us about it.

Sincerely,
The Google Team

p.s. You may be interested in some additional information the Anti-Defamation League has posted about this issue at http://www.adl.org/rumors/google_search_rumors.asp. In addition, we call your attention to Google's search results [http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=anti-semitism] on this topic.


All comments and criticisms are welcome.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

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Last update of this page: 14 October 2007