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.