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Jewish rights activist threatened

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish Defense Organization distributed threatening fliers targeting a pro-Palestinian Jewish activist.

The fliers focused on Adam Shapiro, an activist and documentary filmmaker, who spoke Tuesday at the New York Society for Ethical Culture about the conflict in Gaza. They were distributed in the vicinity of the talk and posted in the window of Revolution Books, one of the sponsoring organizations.

Shapiro claimed that the fliers "named me as a traitor, an enemy, as a self-hating Jew, all that kind of stuff, a Nazi, said I needed to be eliminated, and gave out my home address."

As the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, Shapiro has long drawn fire from critics who accuse him of being an apologist for Palestinian terrorism. He has written that Palestinian "resistance" should be both violent and non-violent, and that "Nonviolent resistance is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation."

In a 2002 interview with CNN, Shapiro said the quote was taken out of context.

Mordechai Levy, the national director of the JDO, alleged that the fliers did not call for Shapiro’s "elimination" but confirmed that they included his home address. A copy of the flier, which Levy provided to JTA, contained the line, "These enemies of the Jews will pay very soon for their act of treachery!!!"

Levy openly acknowledged the JDO’s intentions for Shapiro and other public figures they have blacklisted such as Norman Finkelstein. We’re "getting them evicted from their houses, fired from their jobs and run out of the Jewish community," he said.

Shapiro also claimed that his family received threats from the JDO while he was in the West Bank in 2002. Yet despite the additional police presence at Tuesday’s talk, Shapiro said he’s been exposed to more perilous situations. "I can’t say I ignore [the threats] totally but to put it in perspective, I’ve been in very dangerous situations both as an activist and a filmmaker," including in Iraq and Darfur.

Levy said that the fliers were distributed by high school and college volunteers from Brooklyn and Queens, some of the JDO’s purported 5,000 members across the United States.

Shapiro thought that the JDO and other groups felt the liberty to threaten him because of the vocal support New York politicians like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson had given to Israel.

"Public officials are specificallly on one side of this issue that has divided public opinion," he said. "I think that lends an air of sort of sanctioning one side versus the other and so anyone who acts on that side feels like they … have official endorsement of what they want to do."

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