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Progressive: Critic of Israel Threatened Before Talk in NY

Matthew Rothschild | The Progressive

ISM co-founder Adam Shapiro

ISM co-founder Adam Shapiro

Adam Shapiro has enemies.

Especially in the Jewish Defense Organization, the militant Zionist group that broke with the Jewish Defense League back in the 1980s.

The group’s website calls Shapiro a “maggot” and a “self-hating Jew” and “a Jew intent on destroying Israel.”

Shapiro, a human rights activist, is one of the co-founders of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that practices nonviolent civil disobedience against Israeli actions in Gaza and on the West Bank.

Hours before Shapiro spoke at a town hall meeting in New York on January 13, he received a threat from the Jewish Defense Organization. Also speaking at the town hall meeting were Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, the actor Vanessa Redgrave, Peter Weiss of the Center for Constitutional Rights, playwright and actor Naila Said (daughter of the great Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said), and Alan Goodman, a writer for Revolution newspaper.

The Jewish Defense Organization pasted leaflets on the window of Revolution Books, which was sponsoring the event.

The leaflet called Shapiro a “traitor to Israel, the Jews, and America.” It said he was a “Jewish John Walker Lindh” and condemned him for going to Ramallah to show solidarity with Yasser Arafat when the PLO leader was surrounded by Israeli tanks in 2002.

Shapiro, the leaflet said, “has made numerous statements of hate to both Israel and America.”

The leaflet also heaped abuse on Alan Goodman, who recently picked the Holocaust museum, according to the Jewish Defense Organization.

“These enemies to the Jews will pay very soon for their act of treachery,” the leaflet said. And it gave out Shapiro’s home address in Brooklyn, as well his parents’ address.

“I wasn’t too alarmed from a physical safety point of view,” says Shapiro, “but I was concerned that people would come to the event and disrupt it.”

That didn’t happen.

“There didn’t seem to be any disturbances outside or inside,” he says. But he recalls seeing a lot of police officers there.

Shapiro was pleased with the event. “There was a big crowd, about 500 people.

“If their goal was to intimidate us or to rally people to oppose the event, then they totally failed.”

Joseph Goodman, a spokesperson for the Jewish Defense Organization, says the leaflet was part of “Operation Crush Terror,” which, he says, is aimed at “self-hating Jews.”

He denies that the leaflet constituted a death threat. “No, it’s not,” he says. “The idea is to make sure no one rents a meeting place or an apartment to them. We want to run them out of their homes and get them fired from their jobs. We are going after them.”

When I told Goodman that I saw a press release from the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East condemning the threat against Shapiro, he said: “Do you think they’re freaked out?”