Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Passover celebration with Jews and Rev. Lee

Last month, at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee and the request of my editors, I agreed to attend a seder tonight that I would have a difficult time writing about. It was an interesting enough event -- black Christians and Jews sitting together to remember our delivery from slavery -- but it was one of innumerable seders happening all over town for 10 days.

The whole context of the Passover meal changed, of course, when an email from Jewish philanthropist Daphna Ziman began circulating a little less than two weeks ago.

You're probably familiar with the story now: Ziman, who had been attending the annual banquet for a historically black fraternity, where she was honored for her charitableness toward foster kids, wrote that the keynote speaker delivered an anti-Semitic diatribe worthy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." That speaker, the Rev. Eric P. Lee, local head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, vehemently denied Ziman's account of his speech and "unequivocally" denounced anti-Semitism.

"My entire reputation has been damaged," the Rev. Eric P. Lee told me Monday. "This has really taken its toll on me. I've taken the brunt, and it seems there is no question about whether Ms. Ziman inaccurately heard, and I was misinterpreted. It has just been really rough to me and my family."

In today's paper I have a 2,000-word follow up that doesn't answer the question of what Lee did or didn't say -- organizers say no recording was made and few people claim to have been paying attention -- but explains the email's seismic shocks and the cautious nature of community-leaders' reactions.
Ziman's e-mail soon moved across the globe, aided by dissemination on April 9 on StandWithUs' 50,000-member listserv. Jewish organizations in Los Angeles heard from folks in Chicago and New York and the South, from Israelis and Europeans. It got additional attention when the Los Angeles Times reported the "rift" a week after it began. Many who shared the e-mail added their own commentary.

"It's no secret: the black community is riddled with Jew-hatred," Robert J. Avrech, a screenwriter who is Orthodox, wrote when posting the e-mail to his well-trafficked blog, Seraphic Secret. "And with so many apologists for Jeremiah Wright on the left and in the Jewish community, well, Jew-hatred has found a comfortable home not just in the black community but in the Democratic party."

Larry Greenfield, California director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, added a similar sentiment in bolded letters when he forwarded Ziman's missive: "Anti Americanism, Anti Zionism, Anti Semitism mark today's left."

In responding to the incident, many community leaders have had to traverse a minefield.

The mayor, Councilman Bernard Parks and state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas had been present at the gala, but all left before Lee's address. In response to the controversy, Villaraigosa broadly condemned racism in any form and at any time. The AJCommittee and the ADL looked for a way to move forward regardless of what Lee had said.

"Unapologetic anti-Semitism has a much different feeling than this thing," said Amanda Susskind, the ADL's regional director, who has acted as a liaison between Ziman and Lee. "It doesn't mean that either side is right or wrong, or what he said or she said -- I wasn't there.... But I would say there is always room for more discussion, dialogue and sensitivity."
Also this week, Rob Eshman's column focuses on Four Questions raised by Lee's speech and its aftermath.

8 comments:

paul a'barge said...

I'm pretty sure that I read via Instapundit that Rev Lee fully apologized for his comments. So much for him being misquoted.

Brad A. Greenberg said...

Actually, Instapundit simply linked to a copy of Lee's apology, the same apology for "misunderstandings" that I posted here and referenced in this weeks article.

David Sucher said...

I don't know what to believe.

One thing that would appear to weight things toward Rev. Lee is that nowhere-- and I have been scouring the web for info -- is he accused of any sort of ongoing anti-Semitism.

And it's been my experience that bigots don't keep it a secret. So if Rev. Lee has harbored these sentiments for any time no one has noticed. It doesn't strike me as plausible that he would come up with such sentiments and then speak them for the first time at an event honoring a Jewish woman.

There is something in this story which does not make sense.

hans wilhelm said...

When I read Daphna's version of the event I was amazed. It just shows me how far we still have to evolve before we can give peace a true chance. Unbeknownst to her Daphna has shown us a classic example of how the universal law of correspondence works, which says that “anything that upsets me in another person is something that is in me and that I have not accepted in me”. The other person only mirrors back to me what I still have to recognize, transcend, evolve and love. When we carefully examine the description of Daphna’s experience we see that both parties (Daphna as well as Rev. E. Lee) are deeply steeped in “tribal identity” which is one of the most powerful tool that the ego uses to create disharmony and war with others. When we cling so strongly to tribal identity we operate from the lowest level of consciousness. The word tribe goes beyond the old Jewish interpretation of the word tribe, but applies to any group like country, race, religion, color, region, age group, sexual orientation, etc . Therefore it is also often called “cavemen mentality” as it either leads to “my tribe is better than yours or at least it is more special” or to extreme victimhood (see how both parties loudly claim victimhood in this experience!).

It is one thing to honor, respect, appreciate and even celebrate the environment or people we grew up in or we like to associate with. But it is something quite different if we find our main identity in our “tribe” because the true essence of every human being is much, much larger than any limiting tribe can ever be. And if we want to evolve it is much wiser to transcend and identify with this True Larger Essence in us (which binds us together with every other human being on this earth on totally equal basis).

If we truly want peace (not just justification or justice for our own particular tribe) we have to transcend and think larger and bigger. For instance, tribal identity is what has brought war to Europe for thousands of years. But finally countries like France, Italy, Germany and many others transcended their small limiting identity and the United Europe was formed. That can only happen when people are willing to grow and expand their own identity further than their immediate family and tribe. Albert Einstein put it so perfectly when he said: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness with which we created them.” All the wars, hatred of other people, borders, separations etc. etc. are a result of narrow tribal thinking and identification (Albert Einstein repeatedly said: that patriotism and nationalism are the infantilism of mankind). Sooner or later we all have to transcend this consciousness and then we will be able to solve the many sad problems of this world. But it is important not to wait for the other person (or other tribe) to change first. Once we recognize that only a change of consciousness is the answer to all our problems WE are the ones who have to make the change first – even if it hurts or doesn’t seem to be fair.

If we fail to change first we can easily fall into the same trap as Daphna did when she used the second universal law of projection which says that whatever we don’t love in ourselves we project onto others (like a movie image onto a screen). She projected her own tribal identity on Obama and feared that he would also use his own tribal identity if we became President. As far as I know AIPAC has grilled Obama as much as Hillary and has not confirmed Daphna’s fears.

I am sure that Daphna is a wonderful leader in the community and has done great charity work and truly deserves to be honored for her engagement. But her perspective on the event shows us how much more we all have to transcend before true change can happen.

Thanks again for your email. It is a magnificent example of how the universal laws work in our lives. But once we become aware of them we can then respond to the situations instead of emotionally react – like Daphna and Rev. Lee did at this event.
Sincerely
Hans Wilhelm

hans wilhelm said...

When I read Daphna's version of the event I was amazed. It just shows me how far we still have to evolve before we can give peace a true chance. Unbeknownst to her Daphna has shown us a classic example of how the universal law of correspondence works, which says that “anything that upsets me in another person is something that is in me and that I have not accepted in me”. The other person only mirrors back to me what I still have to recognize, transcend, evolve and love. When we carefully examine the description of Daphna’s experience we see that both parties (Daphna as well as Rev. E. Lee) are deeply steeped in “tribal identity” which is one of the most powerful tool that the ego uses to create disharmony and war with others. When we cling so strongly to tribal identity we operate from the lowest level of consciousness. The word tribe goes beyond the old Jewish interpretation of the word tribe, but applies to any group like country, race, religion, color, region, age group, sexual orientation, etc . Therefore it is also often called “cavemen mentality” as it either leads to “my tribe is better than yours or at least it is more special” or to extreme victimhood (see how both parties loudly claim victimhood in this experience!).

It is one thing to honor, respect, appreciate and even celebrate the environment or people we grew up in or we like to associate with. But it is something quite different if we find our main identity in our “tribe” because the true essence of every human being is much, much larger than any limiting tribe can ever be. And if we want to evolve it is much wiser to transcend and identify with this True Larger Essence in us (which binds us together with every other human being on this earth on totally equal basis).

If we truly want peace (not just justification or justice for our own particular tribe) we have to transcend and think larger and bigger. For instance, tribal identity is what has brought war to Europe for thousands of years. But finally countries like France, Italy, Germany and many others transcended their small limiting identity and the United Europe was formed. That can only happen when people are willing to grow and expand their own identity further than their immediate family and tribe. Albert Einstein put it so perfectly when he said: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness with which we created them.” All the wars, hatred of other people, borders, separations etc. etc. are a result of narrow tribal thinking and identification (Albert Einstein repeatedly said: that patriotism and nationalism are the infantilism of mankind). Sooner or later we all have to transcend this consciousness and then we will be able to solve the many sad problems of this world. But it is important not to wait for the other person (or other tribe) to change first. Once we recognize that only a change of consciousness is the answer to all our problems WE are the ones who have to make the change first – even if it hurts or doesn’t seem to be fair.

If we fail to change first we can easily fall into the same trap as Daphna did when she used the second universal law of projection which says that whatever we don’t love in ourselves we project onto others (like a movie image onto a screen). She projected her own tribal identity on Obama and feared that he would also use his own tribal identity if we became President. As far as I know AIPAC has grilled Obama as much as Hillary and has not confirmed Daphna’s fears.

I am sure that Daphna is a wonderful leader in the community and has done great charity work and truly deserves to be honored for her engagement. But her perspective on the event shows us how much more we all have to transcend before true change can happen.

Thanks again for your email. It is a magnificent example of how the universal laws work in our lives. But once we become aware of them we can then respond to the situations instead of emotionally react – like Daphna and Rev. Lee did at this event.
Sincerely
Hans Wilhelm

Anonymous said...

In another email, Daphna accuses the media of covering up the fact that Barack Obama was really born "Barry Dunham". I just don't understand how another emotional email from her is given so much credibility. Read it for yourself, it is full of wild conspiracy theories. But somehow this email is credbile? I find this whole thing quite incredible actually.

http://www.wilshireandwashington.com/2008/03/hwd-clinton-bun.html

Anonymous said...

Please, folks -- do your homework. This is a transparent whisper campaign. If you just google on "Daphna Ziman", you'll find she's a total Clinton partisan, and one of her top-tier fundraisers in California. What Ziman is doing is simply the 21st-century version of The Big Lie. And, in a grotesque irony, she's using our understandably hair-trigger response to antisemitism to propagate it without challenging it.

Ziman has done this before, circulating bogus "questions" about Obama in typical smear-campaign style. To my mind, she has demonstrated herself to be a liar.

Lastly, even if Rev. Lee were a flaming antisemite, what does that have to do with Obama? Well, they're both black. That's about it. Has our discourse really descended to that level?

Anonymous said...

Why white american jews are so ignorant of closet antisemites? I am not a rich jew, a golden cow that everyone wants to milk, so none of these antisemites around me have to pull a mask of friendlinest or be quiet to avoid accusation of being antisemite(beside they don't know I am coming from a family of Jewish faith - I don't practice Judaism.) What I heard just for the past five years from Blacks, from Catholics, from atheist, from Chinese, from Malaisian, from Philippinos, from Italians, from democrats, from republicans, from white Americans and etc. made me so sick that I felt terrified and depressed.
There is no ethnic group, no nation, no religious group that has been so openly persecuted for over 3000 years as people of Jewish faith. Todays Jews are fragmented and successful Aschkenazi who themselves evolved jews and probably have nothing genetically or culturally to do with original Jews, are the one who dominate all aspects of Jewish life and trying to convince others that they are the TRUE, REAL JEWS and their interpretation of Jewish teachings is the only JUDAISM. Thus, brainwashing world, and themselves too, that the typical Jews is a very rich white person pulling strings on the political stage, controlling Hollywood and World Bank. The Truth is that Germans are the one who masterfully pulling world financial and political strings and keeping flames of antisemitism alive and manipulating Arab world.

Aschkenazim have to overcome their blind additiction to any political party (descendants of Nazis and other antisemites are in both.)
Non-Jews love to have fat Jewish cows on their boards and committees because as one so called "buddist" jew-hater told me "they are our big donors." Aschkenazi get over your show-offs and starving egos! help people of Jewish faith: invest into education and standard of living for Jews. Get over your UTOPIA - at the end it will hurt you. How many Muslim or Catholics, or other Christians you know that contribute financially or otherwise - exclude Pastor Hagee- to any Jewish organization or cause.
Wake up from your ignorance. Reality is not what is played in front of you to play you, but what is going behind your back.