PBS host Tavis Smiley interviewed Phyllis Bennis this evening on his show. Bennis is both Jewish and a renown critic of the State of Israel. Expecting her to quickly agree with his line of reasoning, Smiley pejoratively asked Bennis about how “Jewish money” was shaping the upcoming American election. To her credit, Bennis responded that it is inappropriate to suggest that all Jews share the same political point of view. It’s not fair to suggest that there is an organized effort, a Jewish cabal if you will that is trying to influence this election. Smiley retorted that Romney’s biggest supporter, referring to casino mogul Sheldon Adelson though, is in fact a “Jew.” I just sent the following email to Smiley:
Mr. Smiley, I had a professor in college who taught Holocaust studies. I distinctly remember him telling us that anyone who refers to Jewish people in the singular, “Jew,” is an anti-Semite. In your “conversation” tonight with Phyllis Bennis, your referred to “Jewish money” and identified Sheldon Adelson by his faith, not his politics or business interests. This left of center Jew who happens to be a member of J-Street and does not support the Netanyahu government of Israel has come to the regrettable conclusion that you Mr. Smiley are an anti-Semite. The tone, tenor and vocabulary you invoked in the above discussion expose a sense of hostility, not towards Republican Jews, not towards Jewish supporters of Israel, but towards all Jews in general. How regrettable that someone who no doubt wants to be thought of an enlightened progressive should turn out to harbor the same kind of delusional, ignorant fantasies about the Jewish people that is ironically not at all dissimilar from the fictitious publication, the “Elders of Zion” that was intentionally written and published to promote hate for Jewish people.
I will not be watching your show again and will advise my local PBS station that so long as they continue to carry your show, I will not continue as a financial supporter.