Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

When an Israeli Terror Victim is Thrown Out of a Jewish Community Center

November 15, 2012 6:17 pm 18 comments

Manhattan Jewish Community Center in New York's Upper West Side. Photo: Wikipedia.

So here is a story that may make you shudder–one that has been relayed to me by three individuals, all confirming the validity of the following details.

This past Saturday night, thirty five year old Jacob Kimchy (full disclosure: a friend, and Algemeiner blogger) and his new bride Alecia attended a viewing of A Bottle in the Gaza Sea at the Other Israel Film Festival hosted by the Manhattan Jewish Community Center in New York’s Upper West Side. The film about an “email friendship between Israeli and Palestinian youths,” was described by Variety as “An Internet-age Romeo & Juliet tale in which the tragedy is more political than personal.” According to fashion executive and former editor of Manhattan Movie Magazine, Steven Elihu, who was in the audience as well, the film represents the Arab narrative 65-70% of the time, and the Israeli side for 30-35% of the film’s duration.

Following the viewing, the event moderator Isaac Zablocki, executive director of The Film Festival and program director of the Israel Film Center of the JCC, introduced a Swedish journalist named Caterin Ormestad as a Gaza expert who was supposed to engage in a question and answer session with the audience of about 200.

Ormestad opened by saying that she was impressed that so many people had showed up because, if the event would have been in Tel Aviv, no one would have come because Israelis don’t care about Gaza. (Whilst this quote is not exact, it has been corroborated by several people as the intent of her message.) Throughout the course of her talk she referred to an “Israeli occupation of Gaza,” and blamed Israel for a supposed lack of pencils in Gaza schools.

About two minutes into her presentation, Jacob stood up to interject. He described what happened next in a Facebook post written in Hebrew the following day, with others confirming its accuracy. The translation is from Google with my edits:

“I opened by asking how it could be that on a Saturday night at a Jewish Center in Manhattan, a Swedish girl is welcomed to bad-mouth Israel. I added that Israel helps many people from Gaza and no other country would tolerate a massive assault like the one from Gaza which fires missiles at civilians (in Israel) almost every day. I added that Israel protects the same people who took to the streets with flowers and candy after the 9/11 terror attacks and who send their children to explode in the name of Allah. Oh yeah, I also added that my father was killed by people with this ideology. My words created quite a stir in the room. A number of people supported me and some asked me to stop. Immediately security guards approached me and asked that I leave the room.”

Kimchy, whose father was killed in the May 7, 2002, suicide bombing at the Sheffield Club in Rishon LeZion, resisted the efforts of the security personnel to forcibly remove him from the room and left of his own accord shortly afterwards. In the ensuing discussion, others that interrupted were not ejected from the auditorium.

In a subsequent email exchange with Jacob’s wife Alecia, the Manhattan Jewish Community Center’s Executive Director Joy Levitt justified the incident in the following terms:

“We have shown hundreds of films and welcomed thousands of people from many countries and backgrounds to the JCC for this signature event. While much divides our audiences, what unites them is their strong views and passionate opinions about the issues that are portrayed on the screen.

To bring such passion together requires that we hear one another’s opinions, however strongly we may object to them. By your own admission, your husband was unwilling to let the speaker finish her talk. I appreciate how hard it is to listen to opinions with which we disagree; nevertheless it is a fundamental position of this festival.”

But here is the point. Surely it is one thing to allow for the presentation of variant opinions, and quite another to provide a platform for the libeling of the Jewish state at a Jewish community center financially supported by Jewish donors.

Ormestad’s words at the JCC were accusatory towards Israelis and were factually incorrect. She also comes with a significant history of anti-Israel activism and was a columnist for Aftonbladet, Sweden’s notoriously anti-Israel newspaper, which published the infamous 2009 story accusing IDF soldiers of trafficking in the body parts of Palestinians.

Accompanying her that night was fellow Other Israel Film Festival presenter Mohammed Bakri, whose 2002 film Jenin, Jenin promotes the myth that Israeli soldiers perpetrated a massacre in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. According to Israeli Supreme Court Judge Dalia Dorner the “film includes lies.”

Also escorting Ormestad was Haaretz Journalist Gidon Levy whose recent sham of an article falsely entitled “Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,” was later withdrawn amidst great embarrassment and apology. Even former Haaretz editor Hanoch Marmari blasted his lack of journalistic integrity.

Other panelists and presenters at the OIFF represent organizations that have peddled similar false accusations against Israel, and the JCC’s embrace of anti-Israel activists has been well documented by others before me.

Differing opinions aside, it is shocking to me that a Jewish organization that is responsible for Jewish communal funds is providing a platform to those that have initiated, and continue to perpetuate, modern blood libels against the collective Jew, the state of Israel. It is these accusations that serve as fuel to the raging fire of global anti-Jewish hatred, and swell the ranks of terror organizations around the world.

This is not about politics, this is about humanity. It is not about opinions, it is about facts. Every current and future donor to this sorry institution carries his or her support of its activity as a badge of shame.

The author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at


  • Do you know that the largest mosque in Gaza was a synagogue less than a hundred years ago? Did you know that a hundred and fifty years ago, most of Gaza’s population were Jews and Christians? The Jewish population in Gaza ended with the disorders of 1928. The last Christian murdered three years ago after Hamas came to power.
    This information is for people who think and are not afraid to ask hard questions.
    To understand the present we need to learn about the past.
    I made a short presentation on two UN organizations dealing with refugees. UNHCR organization caring for refugees from around the world.
    And UNRWA organization who is caring for Arab refugees who fought against the Jewish state – Israel.

    Here is also a page of the changes made to UNRWA’s refugee definition in recent years

    Please read this short article and visit all the links to get more information..

  • Gábor Fränkl

    Simple as hell. JCC at large, as a whole and collective has blood on their filthy bloodsucking hands. There is no other way to put it. Its incitement to actual and tangible acts of racist hate crimes is obvious. They must be handled as a matter of urgency! I arrived ehre after reading Prof. Phyllis Chesler’s take on this in her column over at A7. Never allow racist bigots to get away with their crimes I say!

    Gábor Fränkl
    Budapest, Hungary
    for the moment…

  • Gábor Fränkl

    Simple as hell. JCC at large, as a whole and collective has blood on their filthy bloodsucking hands. There is no other way to put it. Its incitement to actual and tangible acts of racist hate crimes is obvious. They ust be handled as a mater of urgency! I arrived ehre after reading Prof. Phyllis Chesler’s take on this in her column over at A7. Never allow racist bigots to get away with their crimes I say!

    Gábor Fränkl
    Budapest, Hungary
    for the moment…

  • It is time to organize a boycott of the JCC & all its activities. Our slogan should be “Put the JEWISH back into the Jewish Community Council!” Zablocki is a vicious Israel hater. When I attended a screening of a blatantly anti-Israel film that he programmed several years ago & voiced my objections during the Q&A afterwards, he stated that his objective was to “bring me out out of my comfort zone.” We should put him out of HIS comfort zone & into the unemployment office!

  • Should I be surprised? When I was in college at UCLA, the Los Angeles Jewish Free Loan Association gave many interest-free loans to all kinds of people (non-Jewish) but they would not give a loan to my friend, the Israeli student. She had people to co-sign, but they would not help her.

  • Lawrence Kulak

    The Manhattan JCC is a homosexual and homosexualist endowed institution that is built diagnolly across from several Gay bars on Amsterdam Avenue. They teach classes there such as “how to be gay and Jewish” and other blaspheming subjects. Many of the clientele are Jewish and so are many of the security guards aome of whom I am sure could not wait to get their hands on Mr. Kimchi. The one time I went to inspect the Center’s state of the art swimming pool, I felt that I would be afraid to swim after viewing the looks of some of the perverse characters in the water. This place is a huge abomination that is propped up by liberal leaning so call Orthodox Upper West Side Rabbis and certain other “kabbalistic” Rabbis who do not need any mention. It seems like the Yetzer Harah for a shmaltzy atmosphere has caused several a Rabbi to succumb to having their functions there even though all the wall of the place have heard blasphemy over and over again. The physical fitness facilities are probably open on shabbos as well because in the eyes of such people it is a “sin” to deprive “other” types of people the chance to use the facilities whenever they want. Congratulations Dovid Efune for exposing this nefarious place. But would you really expect such a place not to sympathize with the Jew hating Arabs of Gaza?

  • The Manhattan Jewish C.C. and its P.C. members (= the 21st Century’s revision of Love they neighbor even though he hates me and wants to eliminate me) are on a suicidal path.

  • Apparently the administrators of the Jewish Community Center have lost the capacity to feel ashamed.
    The main patrons of the center probably could not care less that a terror victim was tossed out. So the only response by the Jewish community should be to abandon this place and start their own. Let Levy and his Swedish anti-semite honey speak to empty halls or fellow jew haters.

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    They should rename that JCC the Chaim Rumkowsky Memorial Center. They should also consider hosting Nazi speeches because after all, fair is fair and there’s no right or wrong, just competing narratives.

  • Esther Sarah Evans

    I keep getting the message that I am sending a duplicate comment, which is not true.
    It appears that I have been censored just on the basis of my name.

  • Esther Sarah Evans

    Yashar Koach, Mr. Efune, on this article, which really needs to appear also in the media read by the very impressionables – young or just naive.

  • Jewish filmmakers bending over backward to “kosher” the Muslim and Arab narrative? Throughout history there have always been some Jews who sought fame and fortune at the expense of one or more of Judaism, Jews, the Jewish People and Israel. These “artistes” are morally much worse than concentration camp kapos, who arguably had little practical choice! Ceaseless leftist and left-liberal “agitprop” against Israel is morally reprehensible “inter alia” because it is likely to lead to the death of a significant number of Jews. It is also antisemitic to the extent that it persistently targets Jews and/or Israel and persistently applies to Jews/and or Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other Peoples and countries in the same or similar circumstances. By contrast, why not make some movies about those brave Jews who stubbornly lived in Israel in each and every year since the ethnogenesis of the Jewish People there in the 6th century BCE? Indigenous to the Middle East and aboriginal to Eretz Israel, Jews have been victimized by Muslims and Arabs since the 7th century CE foundations of Islam. Of all extant Peoples, the Jewish People has the strongest claim to be aboriginal to Eretz Israel. Make no mistake! There will never be peace there until Muslims and Arabs are prepared to accept the permanence and legitimacy of Israel as “the” Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People “in a part” of its aboriginal homeland. How close are we to this peaceful partition outcome? Nowhere close, simply because most Muslims and Arabs still refuse to accept that: (1) the Jews are “a People” within the context of the political and legal doctrines of aboriginal rights and the self-determination of Peoples; (2) the Jewish People is aboriginal to Eretz Israel; (3) at least some Jews have always lived in Eretz Israel without a break since the 6th century BCE birth of the Jewish People there; and (d) Jews are now once again the majority of the population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Go to to read an October 2011 posting entitled “Jewish Aboriginal Rights to Israel.” That essay also offers some legal advice about how to juridically reconcile the self-determination rights of the newly self-identified Palestinian People with the aboriginal, treaty and self-determination rights of the very ancient Jewish People.

  • Caterin Ormestad,

  • Let some other organization present the arab and/or anti-Israel side. this is not for a JCC to do. If you are going to show both sides let the moderation be fair and not biased against your own people and not by avowed anti-Israeli/antio-Semites

  • With this type of anti-Jewish activity (in the guise of Anti-Zionist or anti_Israel) the Jewish community in the United States is as aignorant as dog droppings in a park.
    By kissing the nether regions of anti-Semites – yes, they are what I just said – one is creating a strong anti-Jewish campaign not only in the USA but in the rest of the world. We in Australia also have Jewish anti-Semites who have brown tongues. I feel sorry for you people as, eventually, the Moslems and their friends will put you in the fire.

    Wake up.

  • Gideon Levy, Joy Levitt and MJCC are all far left Jews who believe there are two sides to every story even if that story is Auschwitz…They believe Jews should respect Muhammad who was a sociopath who had 900 unarmed Jews decapitated at Quaraza…Get the picture: at the end of the day there is no difference between HAmas and Hezbollah and Levy and Levitt when it comes to Israel…

  • richard martin

    Only a Jewish community center would sponsor anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speaker s and show anti-Isrlae propaganda films. Israel and the people of Israel can defend themselves. But if Israel falls it will not be due to the Islamic jiahdists but to those Jews who not only turn their backs on Israel but work to promote the very people who actively try to annihilate Israel. It is very difficult to find one Arab in any Arab nation who will speak for Israel or at the very least, affirm the identity of the Jewish people and history with Israel. Yet, go to any Jewish community center like the Manhattan Jewish Community and you will find scores of Jews who stand with Abbas, the PLO, Fatah and even Islamic rocket launchers. Only Jews have such a Fifth Column within its people.

  • Caterin Ormestad is Gideon Levy’s live-in girlfriend for the past 6 years.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Israel Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Food Israel New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of the famed Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, created by, features the youngsters trying a variety of exotic dishes from other countries as well, such as Hawaiian poi, Colombian pork belly and Russian borscht. The Israeli delicacies served include schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and the baba ganoush salad. “If someone […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →