NEW YORK — Policymakers and the media are urged to refrain from articulating “Jwsh lbby” aloud, or with vowels.
Citing conspiracy theorists’ proclivity for deranged fantasies about a “Zionist Occupation Government,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said thousands of years of persecution – culminating in the Holocaust – add potential for Jews’ own references to the “lbby” to yield baseless accusations of self-hatred, he said, “and that would be gay.”
Foxman said his anti-hate speech group wants an international shift in tone. “The Jewish community,” said Mr. Foxman, “has for too long naively trusted humanity to responsibly articulate aloud the presence or actions of Washington-based policy advocates who advance the work of the whole and free state of Israel. Never again will we permit their work’s reputation to be sullied by the agents of hatred and bigotry.”
In a Friday afternoon press release Associated Press Deputy Standards Editor David Minthorn expressed “delight” to modify the Associated Press Stylebook to include a complying stipulation. The email advisory said Mr. Minthorn and his fellow editors were were still ironing out details but that new guidelines for reporting on Washington-based lobbyist groups would maximize clarity while respecting the religious and political convictions of all parties:
The Associated Press is committed to its wide, diverse readership. The full written articulation of the phrase previously represented by “Jwsh lbby” evoked multiple traumatic incidents: from Auschwitz’s gas chambers — burnt offerings so that the only possible Judaic sanctuary against an intolerant world could be born into it — to the possibility that the two words might be overheard out of context, whispered at a loud party, and presumed to represent the machinations of plotting genocidaires.
Following Senate Republicans’ blocking of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel Thursday, Mr. Foxman, a 72-year-old Soviet émigré, issued a follow-up plea to up the Anti-Defamation League’s statement last month criticizing Mr. Hagel for using the term “J***** l****.” On January 7 Mr. Foxman wrote that Mr. Hagel’s use of the slur was “hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.” In December the national director had written to Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin claiming that Mr. Hagel’s “record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling.”
Joining Mr. Foxman was William Kristol, Emergency Committee for Israel board member. Mr. Kristol said, “[W]hat [Chuck Hagel] said was extremely narrow-minded. Israel’s friends are not simply Jews but numerous Christian groups who believe in the necessity that the Jewish people return to and remain in Israel so that Jesus can return to earth, cleanse its surface of his unholy enemies, causing every single living Jew to worship the Christian deity. If he thinks worshiping Jesus is a practice representing those of the mainstream Jewish community, he is the wrong choice for Defense Department leadership and the wrong choice for America.” Mr. Kristol clarified that he himself does not worship Jesus, and that he is himself Jewish, but that Mr. Hagel’s comments made Israel look as though it were “alone in a sea of hate.”
An Israeli reporter on the call, Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev, pressed Mr. Foxman as to whether the term “*sr**l* l*bby,” written with vowels, would be acceptable under the ADL’s new guidelines. “Absolutely not,” replied Mr. Foxman, saying that he recognized a reasonable exception to that rule for the purposes of inquiring as to its appropriate sensitivity. He added that the “Israeli” term “implies that advocating for an Israel nation-state — made whole once more despite the anti-Semites’ occupying Gaza and West Bank — is somehow a foreign, and thus nefarious, interest.” ADL leadership say they anticipate that in time the original pronunciation of the ethnic slur used by Mr. Hagel will be as lost to memory as that of vernacular Latin.