The poetry session, featuring three artists – Kevin Coval, Tracy Soren and Josh Healey, scheduled as part of the “Culture as a Tool for Change” track, was canceled. Apparently, the event was nixed following a reminder by a conservative blogger that Healey, a Jewish activist and poet, compared Guantanamo prison to Auschwitz.
J-Street’s Ben-Ami issued the following explanation: “As a matter of principle, J Street respects the dissenting voice that poetry can represent in society and politics. We acknowledge that expression and language are used differently in the arts and artistic expression when compared to their use in political argumentation. Nevertheless, 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.”