Many Israellycool readers are already familiar with Bethany “Benny” Koval who became a minor anti-Israel celebrity back in January when her school accused her of bullying other classmates online as part of her Israel-hating campaign.
She even had the “honor” of getting advice “Hamas lawyer,” and famous Jewish Jew-hater, Stanley Cohen as a result.
Local New Jersey newspapers are now running an article about the backlash Koval has felt since her case went viral, headlined, “Fair Lawn teen at center of tweets uproar tells of retribution.”
Before we get into this let us make one thing clear: we do not support the extra-legal actions taken by the individuals referenced in the article. Even when dealing with hate speech, it is the responsibility and duty of local authorities, not private citizens, to decide when and how to intervene. Haters and bigots have a right to their opinions just as we have a right to say what we want about them. We don’t respond to opponents by trying to silence them or worse, threatening them with violence, those immoral actions are the hallmark of the morally bankrupt BDS movement, not us.
Now that we have made that clear, let’s return to the matter at hand.
One of Koval’s main talking points at the time was that she was “an Israeli Jew herself.” She has since stopped calling herself Israeli, but continues to say she’s Jewish:
However, according to this latest article, she is neither:
“Koval’s family is not religious. Her father is a non-practicing Catholic. Her mother, who was raised Jewish, converted to Catholicism but also is not religious. Although she has described herself as an Israeli Jew in the past, Koval said her connections to Israel are uncertain and came from genealogical research she had done on her mother’s family.
For the record, the genealogical research she had done, was a search on ancestry.com that led her to think she has Israeli roots since Cohen is the most popular last name in Israel.
So here we have someone who is not Jewish, nor Israeli, but claiming she is both in order to guard herself against accusations of Jew-hatred. In short, she is another Schivone Jew – a non-Jew who uses alleged Jewish ancestry as a shield against accusations of antisemitism. She defends this by saying that since her mother was born Jewish, according to Halakha, she is technically Jewish as well. (more on this below)
And that she is merely “embracing” her roots:
But the only reason she has latched onto her Jewish roots is not to “embrace” them but rather to demonize them. Claiming to be a non-observant Jew gives her all the “perks” of being Jewish, namely pretending that as a Jew one can’t be antisemitic, while not having any of the responsibilities of actually living as a religious Jew or being responsible for the rest of the Jewish people. Does this sound like any group you know?
Right on cue, Northern New Jersey’s local paper of record decides to let Jewish Voice for Palestine chime in to comment on how ‘Israel tears apart Jewish families.’
It’s not uncommon for Jewish families to feel tension or even be torn apart because of disagreement over Israel, said Naomi Dann, spokeswoman for the activist group Jewish Voice for Peace. It’s reflective of a “growing generational gap in perspectives on Israel,” she said.
Debra Koval was surprised and pained over it.
“It was a shock to my system that they would cut us off because my child has a point of view,” she said.
Given that Koval spends most of her free time demonizing the Jewish State and its people, it is no wonder that some relatives who aren’t filled with hatred would want nothing to do with her. Since some of her family, unlike Koval herself, actually are Jewish and live in Israel one would think they might have a problem with her calling their country a “terrorist force” and that the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) is not only not a terrorist group, but “not extreme” at all. It seems that some of her relatives fighting not to be on the receiving end of Hamas knives and rockets took issue with this “point of view” and decided they don’t want to be associated with a family member who supports those trying to murder them. Those heartless fools.
But I guess in the Koval family, supporting those trying to murder your relatives, the ones who actually are Jewish and Israeli, is merely one point of view among many. Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong? Surely both stabber and victim have legitimate points of view, right? One wants to murder a Jew and one is a Jew who wants not to be murdered. See, just two different points of view.
One last thing: this latest story paints the picture of Koval as a victim of retribution. This is undoubtedly true to an extent. Even teenagers with hateful views don’t deserve to have someone egg their house or be physically threatened. However, much of the backlash was a legitimate airing of grievances. I’m sure that if a student said hateful things about black people or the LGBT community they would also lose friends as a result, but only a truly twisted mind would blame the friend rather than the hater. We expect people to distance themselves from those with hateful views. That isn’t retribution, but her friends standing on moral principle.
Many readers have pointed out that since Koval’s mother was Jewish, despite her conversion to Catholicism, she remains a Jew in the eyes of Halakha as does her daughter. This is of course technically true. But the fact remains that she was raised by two effectively non-Jewish parents (through self-identification) and she, as a “non-observant Jew” seems to happily reject all Halakha except that which suits her purpose. No one is more happy to see people reconnect with their Jewish roots than I am, but despite what Koval claims, that is not what she is doing and it isn’t because she refuses to be a Zionist cheerleader. As the old saying goes “two Jews, three opinions.” No one expects every Jew to agree, not on religious matters or on politics. However, all Jews are responsible for one another. Koval has not “embraced” her Jewish roots in order to better engage with them or explore her mother’s rejected heritage, but to further reject it herself. Does anyone think for a second that Koval’s Jewish ancestry would have any meaning to her had she not already embraced a twisted hatred of Israel? Of course not. There is no interest in Hebrew culture, Jewish religion or the nation of Israel, only using her rejected family line as a means to guard herself against accusations of Jew-hatred.
Koval is entitled to her opinions (she is also entitled not to be the subject of physical intimidation or attacks on her home, so any supporters of Israel who may be involved in such acts should rethink their actions immediately as they are immoral, illegal and counter to our values). What she is not entitled to do is use our heritage as shield while she maligns our people without being called out for doing so. She can, and I imagine will, continue to preach her anti-Israel message and we will continue to call her out for being a Schivone Jew whose main purpose is to kasher hatred of Israel for non-Jews.