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J Street nixes poetry session over speaker’s remarks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — J Street canceled a poetry session at its upcoming conference after the revelation of controversial remarks by one of the scheduled participants.

Monday’s decision comes a few days after some conservative Web sites critical of J Street posted examples of the work of Josh Healey, a scheduled speaker at the poetry session.

In one poem, Healey wonders whether "the chosen people" have been "chosen to recreate our own history, merely reversing the roles with the script now reading that we’re the ones writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza?"

Also, Healey talks in a video about showing solidarity with those protesting other causes, saying that for his friends, "Anne Frank is Matthew Shepard" and "Guantanamo is Auschwitz."

"As J Street is critical of the use and abuse of Holocaust imagery and metaphors by politicians and pundits on the right, it would be inappropriate for us to feature poets at our conference whose poetry has used such imagery in the past and might also be offensive to some conference participants," said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami.

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