February 2010

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The Upside of Hell

By H. Scott Prosterman

I'm told by a fellow traveler that the upside of hell is knowing that all of
your friends will be there.  I can hardly wait.  Such was the feeling I had
when I saw my name among many more important people on the Masada 2000
website.  They are an ultra-right Zionist organization, bent on destroying
the reputations and careers of any Jew who dares to utter or publish a
criticism of Israel.  They call this the Self Hating and/or Israel
Threatening (SHIT) List.  And there are over 8,800 names.  Does that
illustrate anything about how many Jews actually support Israel, but readily
voice objection to Israel's behavior and policies toward the Palestinians?

             I was alerted to their presence (and my inclusion) in an e-mail
I received from a psychiatrist in NYC, who is also among their "sweepstakes
finalists."  He reminded me that these people "have the capacity and intent
to destroy your career or business."  I replied that I already know that,
and that these people have been saying nasty things about me, and
discouraging other Jews from doing business with me for over 30 years.  As
an undergrad, I had this silly Messianic complex that I could help Jews
better understand the actual history of conflict in the Middle East, and
help solve this epic problem.  So I devoted my academic career to the area,
took a M.A. at Michigan, and have done some editorial work and commentary in
the field.  My personal reward was being publically called out as SHIT by
community leaders and rabbis, and suffering some social and business
consequences.  But usually when one door closes, a better one opens, right?

             A funny thing is that some people on this list do not like one
another.  The leftist community in America knows as well as any how
"familiarity breeds contempt."  Even progressive, leftist Jews have the
capacity to cannibalize one another, but not nearly as badly as our right
wing brethren and sistern.  Most of the people on this list are some of the
coolest, most interesting, and accomplished people on the planet.  The list
includes Woody Allen, Noam Chomsky, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Harold Pinter,
Professor Joel Beinin, and Reuven Kaminer, one of my favorite leftist
Israeli Jews, and a gracious host. I'm almost embarrassed to be included.
It includes many great scholars from the full spectrum of academia, along
with actors, musicians, union leaders, rabbis, attorneys, journalists,
community activists, teachers of anything and everything and bloggers.  One
of my friends said, "It looks like a list of most of the smart Jews in
America."  And all I said was . . .

             My entry says, "This Berkeley, California Jew feels, "It is not
a Jewish thing to expropriate land, pirate water and farming resources,
close schools and cut people off from their families or jobs.. . The growing
Israeli shame ultimately led to the evacuation of Gaza. And there's still a
long way to go... Israel has a right to exist, but not to brutalize the
Palestinians..."  Like I should be so ashamed for saying that.  I'm guilty,
guilty, guilty.

             It would be great for us all to get together for a party.  Since
the Jews of SF & the East Bay make up such a sizeable portion of the SHIT
list, we should actually do that. They've already done us a small favor by
giving us each other's e-mail addresses on the website, so let's get in
touch ya'll and have a big PARTY. Maybe make it a fundraiser for a worthy
cause.  We'll even include the people we don't like.

H. Scott Prosterman


(510) 395-2856