In a Facebook discussion with one Scott Hirsch on 2 May, Packer declared, “Someone should do that pulsa denura thing to that city. All of humanity would benefit.”
This could be considered a form of incitement to violence: such a death curse was publicly pronounced outside the official residence of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just weeks before he was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in November 1995.
In the current US context, where campus shootings are an omnipresent threat, such calls should not be taken lightly.
Packer’s fury is connected to a unanimous April vote by the Durham city council to prohibit “military-style training” programs for its police force in foreign countries, including Israel.
Local and national activists with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) pushed hard for the vote to protect communities of color in Durham and to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by Palestinians subjected to military policing and wanton killings by Israeli forces.
Packer is also rightly angry about the recent appearance of what Durham’s The Herald-Sun described as “white nationalist stickers and anti-Semitic posters.”
It was not, however, until Hirsch mentioned Durham’s recent police resolution that Packer called for the pulsa denura.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and Jewish Voice for Peace oppose racism and bigotry in all their forms, including anti-Semitism.
Packer, a supporter of the late racist leader Meir Kahane, has gained notoriety in recent years for making “Rachel Corrie pancakes,” for showing a striking degree of sympathy for white racists and for taking Stephen Miller around the occupied West Bank a decade ago, years before Miller became a top adviser to President Donald Trump. Miller is now one of the principal proponents of Trump’s racist immigration policies separating children from their parents.
Packer knew Miller at the time that Miller palled around with white supremacist Richard Spencer discussing their shared anti-immigration ideas.
Yet in Packer’s view, “Stephen Miller is not just my friend, he’s not just our friend, he is us.”
Packer added, “He is part of that new proud generation, no longer relegated to the fringe. His appointment is spectacular news for the Jewish people and he should be blessed with everything to do great things.”
In the aftermath of the Durham decision, there has been a right-wing effort to suggest that Jewish activists who support BDS are somehow not Jewish.
Rather than applaud Jewish Voice for Peace’s commitment to Palestinian freedom and equal rights, the communal publication JNS has gone out of its way to cast aspersions at the group.
“They are a problematic element within the community, particularly because they portray themselves as a Jewish organization and use that to provide cover for groups that are engaged in far more nefarious and odious types of rhetoric,” Yona Schiffmiller of NGO Monitor told JNS.
NGO Monitor is a far-right Israeli group that specializes in smearing human rights defenders.
The JNS article implied that two Jewish women, both employed at Durham-area synagogues and the local Jewish Federation, were unfit for their jobs because they support BDS campaigns for Palestinian equal rights.
The naming of the two activists in the article, along with details of their employment, looks like an attempt to build pressure to get them fired, and thus deter others from speaking out against collusion with Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Jews in Durham were among activists participating in the civil rights struggle. There should be little surprise that this commitment to equality continues today.
Nevertheless, JNS writer Eliana Rudee asserts that the “employment of anti-Israel activists by local Jewish Federations, and particularly by synagogue education departments, is raising eyebrows about the low level of standards maintained during the hiring and vetting of professionals – or worse, that the federations and synagogues themselves are comfortable with BDS activists teaching at local Hebrew schools.”
In other words, Jewish professionals who support equal rights for Palestinians – and actually taking nonviolent action to secure such rights – are to be regarded as unfit to teach Jewish children.
This is an effort to enforce ideological discipline at a moment when American Jews, especially the younger generation, are more than ever rejecting and protesting the communal establishment’s staunch support of Israel’s violent and discriminatory actions against Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the racism and incitement of bigots such as Ben Packer passes without comment or condemnation.
- Ben Packer
- Duke University
- US-Israel police cooperation
- police militarization
- Yitzhak Rabin
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- pulsa denura
- Durham City Council
- Meir Kahane
- Rachel Corrie
- Stephen Miller
- Donald Trump
- Richard Spencer
- Yona Schiffmiller
- NGO Monitor
- Eliana Rudee
- Jewish Federation