Cohen(s): More on Leonard; a bit on Steven M.

Cohen(s): More on Leonard; a bit on Steven M.

J.J. Goldberg of The Forward debunks some myths about Leonard Cohen having written a virulently anti-Israel poem in the early 1970s:

“The brief poem ends with the words, ‘And you and I/Can only cry and wonder/Must Jewish people/Build our Dachaus too?’ The poem appears to have been circulating on the Internet for at least two years, provoking furious debates on numerous Web sites and chat groups.

“The British pro-boycott group has posted the poem on its Web site, together with a brief statement signed by Cohen, saying he had written the poem in the 1970s and that the word ‘Shomrim’ referred to the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist youth group, which ‘supported a binational state in Palestine/Israel when I was close to them.’

“In fact, however, Cohen did not write the poem at all, according to Shipp [Cohen’s spokesperson]. She emphasized, too, that the trip to Israel had not yet been scheduled, so any discussion of reconsidering his plans was ‘premature’.”And Leonard Cohen volunteered as a worker in Israel in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

On the same day that Leonard Cohen was in concert at New York’s Radio City, Meretz USA was holding its semi-annual board meeting and hosting Steven M. Cohen — as opposed to Steven P. Cohen (an analyst with the Israel Policy Forum). Steven M. Cohen is probably the foremost sociological researcher today on American-Jewish life.

The main business of the board meeting was a thoughtful discussion of Meretz USA’s purpose and future in light of the disappointing results of Israel’s national election in February. This is a discussion which will continue for some time, but it’s had a useful beginning.

Prof. Cohen’s research findings pose a challenge to all American-Zionist organizations, in noting that “spirituality” is displacing “ethnic” solidarity as the primary basis for Jewish identity in the United States among the community’s most Jewishly-engaged young people.

By | 2009-05-22T16:35:00-04:00 May 22nd, 2009|Blog|4 Comments


  1. Anonymous May 26, 2009 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Ralph,

    As Netahnyahu visits the US and fails to support two states, as Israel builds more settlements and starves Gaza, and as Israel threatens to ban Nakba commemorations and implement a loyalty oath for citizenship, it is good to see that Meretz USA remains in the forefront of the progressive struggle for freedom and human rights, putting forth an alternative vision, by focusing its energy on critiquing the call for Leonard Cohen to boycott Israel.

    As always, with a cacaphony of news coming from the region, you’ve managed to hone in and pinpoint the vital actions progressives should prioritize for peace and justice.

    Thanks always to you and to Meretz-USA for your vital analysis and calls to action and for ensuring that Meretz remains a vital, vibrant party, that addresses the crucial issues of the day.


  2. Anonymous May 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    If smugness could bring peace, you’d be Gandhi and Mandela rolled into one. I read your comments from time to time, and I’m never sure what contribution you’re trying to make, aside from pursuing what seems like some kind of vendetta. If Meretz USA is so hopeless, why do you bother coming to its blog so often?

  3. Anonymous June 5, 2009 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Dear Bill,

    Thanks for your question. I post comments on this blog to point out the hypocrisy and moral failures of Meretz.

    Unknowing people of good will may assume that Meretz stands for human rights, equal rights, peace, etc.. But in reality, as shown by Meretz’s support for the war on Gaza, support for the bantustanization proposed in the Geneva Accords and as revealed by many of the reactionary posts on this blog, Meretz is not a progresive force. It’s good to remind or make readers aware of that.


  4. Ralph Seliger June 7, 2009 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Ted’s contention is entirely untrue. Meretz USA completely opposed the war in Gaza. The Meretz party in Israel opposed a ground invasion from the beginning and called for a cease-fire within the first few days.

    Similarly, the Geneva Accord is the opposite of a plan for “Bantustans.” Why else would so many prominent Palestinians support it? Look at the Website at

    If Ted were susceptible to reason, he’d acknowledge his errors or at least state what his real agenda is in constantly sniping at our work for a 2 state peace agreement between Israel and the Paletinians and on behalf of equal rights for Arab citizens of Israel.

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