Shunned

Portrait of Alice Rothchild by Robert Shetterly, from the Americans Who Tell The Truth collection, 2018.
Vienna lawyer tells human rights activist, “Please tell Dr. Rothchild and her friends not to come to our synagogue. These people are not welcome here.”

By Alice Rothchild | Mondoweiss | Oct 22, 2018

When I see oppression and injustice and inhumanity, I am compelled to call it out and I will advocate whatever nonviolent means of resistance I have at my disposal. Ironically, my voice is often welcomed in churches and mosques. I hope someday to be welcomed in synagogues too. It would be nice to come home.

The email was concerning; it arrived in my personal inbox and that of Just World Books. And in the emails to Robert Shetterly (who painted my portrait as part of his Americans Who Tell the Truth project), and to an activist in the Boston area who had organized a presentation for me. The author stated he was, “the only Jewish criminal attorney at law in Vienna and member of the Executive board of Austria’s oldest, main and central synagogue, the famous Vienna “‘Stadttempel.’” He described the local Jewish community as small but wealthy and flourishing. He ended the first paragraph with: “But as the only child of Holocaust survivors I do not forget our history.”

The attorney expressed concern that my books and “the far left“ Jewish Voice for Peace, of which I am a member, are advocating for the boycott of Israel and that, “Boycott is a form of violence.” He noted that since January 2018 BDS supporters have been banned from entering Israel.

He reminded me that, “the Holocaust began with the boycott of Jewish shops, Jewish lawyers, Jewish doctors and Jewish institutions. Boycott of Jews was the beginning of the worst mass murder in history, the Shoah,” and that much of his family did not survive, “At that time your government refused to issue visas for Jews from Europe. You should remember this anti-Jewish policy of your homeland, of the United States of America during the Second World War.”

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