Tag Archives: antisemitism

Germany’s bridge to the Islamic world

Qantara – which is Arabic for “bridge” – is a website funded by the German Foreign Office; according to its own description, the site “represents the concerted effort of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Center for Political Education), Deutsche Welle, the Goethe Institut and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) to promote dialogue with the Islamic world.”

Unfortunately, I have repeatedly had the impression that Qantara’s idea of promoting dialogue with the Islamic world includes promoting the hatred for Israel that is so prevalent among Muslims. Given the site’s government backing and its prestigious partner organizations, it could be a very worthwhile project to study their coverage of Israel in detail. But a cursory examination of Qantara’s offerings on Israel seems to indicate a preponderance of articles that are hypercritical, if not outright hostile to the world’s only Jewish state. Occasionally, Qantara will even stoop to giving a platform to professional anti-Israel activists like Ben White – who fittingly started his career with a post explaining that he can “understand” why some people are Jew-haters. What is arguably even more worrisome is that at a time when antisemitism in Europe is widely seen as growing alarmingly, Qantara will publish a truly hair-raising piece downplaying antisemitism – and just to be on the safe side, this piece is of course authored by a Jew who feels that “Anti-Semitism has never made much etymological sense” and that it’s a bit unfair that “Jews have been getting exclusive use of the term for quite some time.” But in any case, Qantara’s Jewish antisemitism expert thinks it’s not quite appropriate to talk of antisemitism when an Islamist terrorist kills Jews in a kosher deli in Paris, because anything short of “systemic extermination by national decree” shouldn’t really be called antisemitism and it is also “no wonder some may see a Jewish person or site as an extension of the Israeli policy they detest.”

How would Qantara like an article arguing that it is ‘no wonder some may see a Muslim person or site as an extension of the Saudi/Iranian/ISIS policy they detest’?

Qantara’s recent offerings include a post that promotes BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel together with the BDS goal of the ultimate elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The post, presented as a review of a recently published book by veteran Israel-bashers Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, echoes a similar review (by a different author) previously published at the Electronic Intifada, which has long provided anti-Israel activists with variations on the Nazi motto “The Jews are our misfortune.” Nowadays, it is of course the Jewish state that is presented as mankind’s misfortune, and the Qantara post indeed urges the site’s readers to understand that anti-Israel “activism has now become a duty – at international level.”

When I saw that this post was authored by regular Qantara contributor Emran Feroz, I remembered that I had come across this name before. Indeed, it turns out that Feroz – who describes himself on his Twitter profile as an Austro-Afghan journalist and blogger – is an ardent admirer of Max Blumenthal. It is thus hardly a surprise that he happily announced his satisfaction that his Qantara post “made many Zionists angry.” Perhaps Feroz hopes to have as many Jew-hating fans as Blumenthal?

In any case, it seems that Feroz came to admire Blumenthal after “toiletgate”, i.e. the infamous incident last fall when Max Blumenthal visited Germany with his fellow anti-Israel activist David Sheen and they both chased the leader of the Left Party through the corridors of the German Parliament all the way to the toilet, demanding he explain his decision to cancel an event that had been organized for them by some Left Party members. Feroz apparently admired Blumenthal’s and Sheen’s disgraceful conduct, and tried very hard – and ultimately successfully – to meet Blumenthal and interview him about his exploits and his views on Israel. The result was published in the Electronic Intifada under the title “Germany made Palestinians ‘indirect victims of Holocaust,’ says author Max Blumenthal.” In his introductory remarks, Feroz claimed:

“Some German politicians have tried to muzzle debate about Israel by denouncing its critics as ‘anti-Semites.’ The American journalist Max Blumenthal — author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel — faced such a smear on a recent speaking tour in Germany.

A number of elected politicians alleged that a scheduled talk by Blumenthal and his colleague David Sheen in a Berlin theater would serve ‘to promote anti-Semitic prejudice.’ This was deeply ironic: both Blumenthal and Sheen are themselves Jewish. The politicians denouncing them failed to produce any evidence that they are hostile towards fellow Jews.”

Well, if Feroz wants evidence of Blumenthal’s antisemitism, he can find a link to some 60 pages of it here. And since he seems to know very little about antisemitism, he might also want to check out this short introduction to “Anti-Semitism 101.”

It is of course very regrettable that a government-funded site intended to serve as Germany’s “bridge” to the Islamic world employs a regular contributor who downplays antisemitism, admires professional anti-Israel activists and has started to publish on the sites that cater to these activists. In addition to his Electronic Intifada contribution, Feroz has also recently published a post at the hate site Mondoweiss that has been shown to promote antisemitic material.

But it would be wrong to think that this affects only the coverage of Israel. As I have often argued, anti-Israel attitudes tend to come as a package deal, combined with anti-American and generally anti-Western resentments and a host of pseudo-progressive poses. It is thus hardly surprising that Feroz responded to a complaint of the notorious Electronic Intifada contributor Rania Khalek about the German media coverage of Blumenthal’s “toiletgate” with his own complaint about how apparently unpleasant it is to be a writer in Germany. Naturally, Max Blumenthal was sympathetic to Feroz’s plight.

Qantara Feroz1

Qantara Feroz2

In addition to the already mentioned article promoting BDS and the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, another of Feroz’s recent contributions to Qantara illustrates his eagerness to promote material popular among the anti-Israel crowd. In late March, Max Blumenthal published a vicious attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and sure enough, two months later, Qantara published an article by Feroz that faithfully recycled many of Blumenthal’s smears. It is somewhat heartening to see that a Qantara reader who claims to be Muslim took the trouble to post a response in defense of Hirsi Ali. But among the anti-Israel activists Feroz admires and promotes, voices that are critical of Islam and urge wide-ranging reforms are generally viewed with hostility – which is only natural when leading activists openly favor Islamist and jihadist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

A particularly offensive paragraph in Feroz’s piece denouncing Hirsi Ali recycled some previously refuted lies that she “absolved” the right-wing Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik “of all blame;” and for good measure, Feroz also threw in a reference to the German-Jewish writer Henryk M. Broder, trying to implicate him somehow as not only a fan of the supposedly vicious and mendacious Hirsi Ali, but also as an inspiration for Breivik.  Qantara editors apparently liked that so much that they opted to illustrate the article with a picture of Broder, including a caption explaining that he is “one of the best known critics of Islam in Germany” and that he “was in the front row applauding Ayaan Hirsi Ali at an event held at the Axel Springer publishing house in Berlin in 2012.”

Qantara Broder

So unfortunately, it seems that some of the building blocks for Germany’s “bridge” to the Islamic world include the downplaying of antisemitism, the recycling of anti-Israel propaganda popular among activists devoted to eliminating the world’s only Jewish state, and even vilifying a German Jewish writer as a fan of supposedly vicious Islam critics and an inspiration to a mass-murdering Muslim-hating far-right extremist. One might wonder if Qantara has perhaps a rather low opinion of the Islamic world or if the site is just trying to cater to its basest instincts?

* * *

This is a very belated cross-post from my JPost blog.

Stanford professor Palumbo-Liu promotes site publishing antisemitic conspiracy theories

Earlier today, I wrote about “BDS solidarity with murderous hatred” at my new Times of Israel (TOI) blog. This post highlights an article written by Stanford professor David Palumbo-Liu in the Huffington Post, where he supports a recent BDS initiative to show solidarity with Palestinians despite (or because of?) the current wave of Palestinian terror attacks; he also seemed to endorse baseless accusations that Israel is threatening Al-Aqsa – which, as I’ve pointed out previously, is a lethal libel first promoted by the man who became notorious as Hitler’s mufti. (See also Jeffrey Goldberg’s similar post on “The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada.”)

I noted in my TOI post on BDS that Palumbo-Liu is supporting his views with links that lead to sites devoted to the demonization of Israel, and I argued that “[j]ust as readers who got their news about Jews from Der Stürmer would have found it hard to doubt that ‘the Jews are our misfortune,’ readers who get their news about Israel from the sites cited by Palumbo-Liu will find it hard to doubt that ‘the Jewish state is our misfortune.’”

Among the sites cited by Palumbo-Liu was one I was not familiar with, but when I checked it, I immediately noticed an article promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories, and it quickly turned out that the site features several writers specializing in this field.

Shockingly, Palumbo-Liu – who claims to take antisemitism very seriously – has allowed this site to cross-post his Huffington Post column [archived here], which I noticed only now when I saw that he is promoting the cross-post on Twitter.

Crosspost on Intifada

The Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University apparently likes to be featured on a site that publishes articles explicitly relying on insights garnered from contributors to David Duke’s website. This screenshot of the archived page of the relevant article as it currently appears provides a striking visual illustration: you have the approving reference to “an article on David Duke’s website,” while Palumbo-Liu’s article is featured in the side bar. [as marked in red]

Palumbo Liu and David Duke

From Palumbo-Liu’s article on the site, you could also continue on to another post featured among the recent entries in the sidebar, which promotes a video entitled “They are killing our children.” This post is an excellent example of the 21st century version of the medieval blood libel.

Palumbo Liu and blood libel

The 13-year old Palestinian “killed” in this video had just stabbed and critically injured a 13-year old Israeli Jewish boy; in the meantime, the young terrorist was released from hospital into police custody, while his victim remains hospitalized due to the serious injuries he suffered.

Apparently, Palumbo-Liu didn’t really mean it when he wrote in a Salon article that “Anti-Semitism must be challenged swiftly and decisively by each and every one of us.”

Quite the contrary: as documented here, Palumbo-Liu actually lends his prestige as a Stanford professor to sites and causes that promote antisemitism.

Manal Tamimi: screaming hate on Twitter

Manal Tamimi is one of the women representing the Tamimi clan’s “cause” alongside Bassem Tamimi’s wife Nariman both at home and abroad. The New York Times Magazine cover story (2013) on the Tamimis describes Manal Tamimi as part of the Tamimi media team: she is married to Bilal Tamimi, who is in charge of filming the protests in Nabi Saleh and publicizing the footage on YouTube as well as through Tamimi Press and other channels, while Manal “supplements the effort with a steady outpouring of tweets (@screamingtamimi).”

Below a sample of Manal Tamimi’s recent “outpouring of tweets” without further comment except when needed for context. These tweets should also be read in the context of the recent declaration by Amnesty International’s Country Specialist – Israel/OPT/State of Palestine Edith Garwood that her organization is supporting not only Bassem Tamimi, but that it has “adopted his village of Nabi Saleh as a community-at-risk” and that “AI groups globally work on behalf of the village long term including here in the U.S.” Indeed, already in November 2013, AI published a glowing tribute to the “tiny village with a big voice” that concludes with AI official Saleh Hijazi declaring:

“We need to tell the Israeli authorities: enough. You are no longer facing a tiny village on a small hill. You now have the entire Amnesty movement to reckon with.”

Presumably, then, Manal Tamimi can feel supported by “the entire Amnesty movement.”

MTamimi 3rd intifada

MTamimi 3rd intifada2

MTamimi Delete Israel

MTamimi Go Gaza go

MTamimi Molotov cocktail

MTamimi Zionist bus on fire

MTamimi RT ZioNazi Netanyahu

MTamimi ZioNazis

MTamimi Gods chosen psychos

MTamimi vampire zionists Yom Kippur

[“Kebore” i.e. Yom Kippur]

MTamimi resistance existenceMTamimi Pal lions

MTamimi Hey thieves

MTamimi humanity

The children likely escaped death because one of the terrorists was injured by “friendly fire” and rushed to a local hospital by his accomplices.

MTamimi supports murders

This and the following tweets refer to the lethal stabbing attack targeting a couple with two children returning from prayers at the Western Wall.

MTamimi blood libel

MTamimi Not innocent civilians

MTamimi eye for eye

MTamimi martyrs

MTamimi supports murders2

MTamimi response to Netanyahu

This is apparently a response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, October 1, 2015, where he said:
“I am prepared to immediately, immediately, resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever.”


Manal Tamimi doubles down on Twitter and Facebook

After my post was apparently brought to Manal Tamimi’s attention, she responded on Facebook and Twitter reaffirming her views.

MTamimi FB response

MTamimi response to me

Later on, she also posted additional tweets expressing her hatred for Israel and her support of terrorist attacks and a “Third Intifada”.

MTamimi ZioNazi PetahTikvaMTamimi ran over settler

Does Amnesty International support Bassem Tamimi’s quest to start a “Third Intifada”?

NYT Mag cover IntifadaIn a recent post published by The Algemeiner (reproduced below slightly revised), I focused on Amnesty International’s support for Bassem Tamimi, arguing that “[s]upporting Bassem Tamimi inevitably means supporting his openly declared ambition to start a ‘third intifada.’”

Given the fact that the perpetrator of tonight’s lethal terror attack in Jerusalem proclaimed in a Facebook post written a day before his attack that “[the] third intifada is here,” it seems worthwhile highlighting once again that Bassem Tamimi has consistently emphasized that he regards all forms of “resistance” as legitimate, and that his own (current) preference for protests and rock-throwing is a choice prompted by purely pragmatic considerations. It is therefore not at all surprising to see the reactions of Bassem Tamimi’s family members and close collaborators to tonight’s terror attack.

Bassem Tamimi’s wife Nariman shared a post praising the perpetrator as a “martyr” whose memory should be honored by only posting pictures of him alive and not any showing him shot after the attack. Meanwhile, Bassem and Nariman Tamimi’s relative and collaborator Manal Tamimi – who is, according to the New York Times Magazine, part of the “homegrown” Tamimi “media team” representing the Tamimis on Twitter – posted a series of tweets that left no doubt how the Tamimis feel about this and previous terror attacks; some other recent tweets illustrate their seething hatred for Israel and their deep-seated antisemitism.

Below screenshots of some of Manal Tamimi’s recent tweets and a slightly revised version of my article from The Algemeiner.

MTamimi supports murders3

MTamimi supports murders

MTamimi supports murders2

MTamimi ZioNazis

MTamimi blood libel

* * *

How would you like your children being taught about human rights by a veteran Palestinian activist who has pushed his own children for years to confront and provoke IDF soldiers in order to film the encounters? An activist who is only too happy to promote any dramatic footage he might get showing his own children terrified and crying if they successfully provoked a reaction? An activist who then celebrates the outpouring of global sympathy with his supporters by gloating that it is child’s play to “shatter the myth of the Zionist army”? An activist who counts among his family members convicted murderers and terrorists, who endorses the promotion of the Hamas-affiliated Al Qassam Brigades on his daughter’s Facebook page, while his wife, the girl’s mother, glorifies the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria massacre in Jerusalem?

If you object to having third-graders in a US school being taught about human rights by an activist like Bassem Tamimi, Amnesty International will rush to his defense, protesting that he faces an “undeserved backlash.”

Indeed, Amnesty International is a co-sponsor of Bassem Tamimi’s month-long US speaking tour that included his visit at the Beverly J. Martin Elementary School in Ithaca, New York. Apparently, Amnesty International is not bothered by the fact that the responsible Superintendent of Schools of the Ithaca (NY) City School District has acknowledged that the event with Tamimi was inappropriate.

But what is clearly much worse is that Amnesty International is apparently neither bothered by Bassem Tamimi’s cynical exploitation of his children, nor by his openly stated determination to end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state or his thinly veiled support for terrorism.

Amnesty might prefer not to have it spelled out, but promoting Bassem Tamimi as a “human rights defender” committed to non-violence is utterly disingenuous. Supporting Bassem Tamimi inevitably means supporting his openly declared ambition to start a “third intifada.” Tamimi likes to invoke the Palestinian “right to resist,” and he has made clear that this includes “armed resistance.” While Tamimi often explains in interviews that the “armed resistance” that made the second intifada (2000-2005) so bloody is in his view unlikely to lead to success, he also usually refuses to condemn terrorism, and he and other members of his clan reportedly resent “being asked to forswear bloodshed.” Indeed, those Tamimi family members who have shed the blood of Israeli Jews – including the unrepentant mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem – “remain much-loved” in Tamimi’s village of Nabi Saleh.

Moreover, there is obviously nothing “non-violent” about the throwing of stones and rocks that Bassem Tamimi promotes so passionately as “part” of Palestinian “culture” and as an integral feature of an “authentic” popular struggle. So far, 15 Israelis – including three Arabs mistaken for Jews – have been killed by Palestinian rock throwers.

In this context it is also important to understand that the goal Bassem Tamimi pursues is not the peaceful co-existence of the Jewish State of Israel and an Arab-Muslim Palestinian state. In various interviews published on sites that oppose Israel’s existence as a Jewish state – such as the “hate-siteMondoweiss and The Electronic Intifada (from where an interview conducted by the notorious Max Blumenthal was even cross-posted on the website of the Al-Qassam Brigades), Bassem Tamimi has indicated that he is a determined proponent of the so-called “one-state-solution” that would replace the world’s only Jewish state with yet another Arab-Muslim majority state.

While Bassem Tamimi’s frequently stated views illustrate how preposterous it is for Amnesty International and other groups to promote him as a “human rights activist” worthy of everyone’s support and admiration, I have documented in considerable detail that the publicly accessible Facebook activity of Bassem Tamimi and his family – who are important participants in and supporters of his activism – provide plenty of additional evidence that the Tamimis are quite open about their disdain for non-violence. There are “Likes” for pages and posts promoting Hamas and the jihadist Al-Qassam Brigades; several notorious terrorists who together killed more than 50 Israeli civilians – including many children – and wounded hundreds more are celebrated as admirable “rebels;” and perhaps most disturbingly, there is relentless pressure put on the Tamimi children to provoke the IDF in order to achieve either “victory or martyrdom.”

It seems that as long as you send out your own and other people’s children to “shatter the myth of the Zionist army,” lip-service to human rights and the ability to manipulate the media are all it takes to get Amnesty’s unwavering support. And if Bassem Tamimi succeeds in his quest to start a third intifada by urging his own children and other youngsters to provoke clashes with the IDF, Amnesty will no doubt repeat its accusations that Israeli security forces are showing “a callous disregard for human life” – all the while supporting Palestinian parents who tell their children it is their “duty” to “resist” and that they are expected to achieve either “victory or martyrdom.”

Anticipating Islam’s conquest of Europe and America at Al-Aqsa

Any European who would oppose Muslim immigration by arguing that the current waves of desperate people hoping to find safety and prosperity north of the Alps will pave the way for a hostile attempt to conquer Europe for Islam would certainly be denounced as an “Islamophobe.” But what do you call it when a preacher at the Al-Aqsa mosque – which is usually described as Islam’s “third-holiest” place – passionately announces that “soon, we will trample them [Europe’s Christians and Jews] underfoot, Allah willing”?

Europe will fall to Islam

In an address delivered some two weeks ago at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Ayed argued according to a translation provided by MEMRI that in Europe, “all the hearts are infused with hatred toward Muslims.” According to the Sheikh,

“Europe has become old and decrepit, and needs human reinforcement. […] they have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in their midst. We will give them fertility! We will breed children with them, because we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you. Take the refugees! We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming Caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you.”

If this sounds “Islamophobic,” the politically correct thing is of course to simply ignore this story – and this is just what most of the mainstream media seem to have done. It almost goes without saying that this is not the first time that politically inconvenient stories from the Muslim world have been ignored. Frequently these are stories that would show deeply ingrained Muslim Jew-hatred; however, the arguably very belated revelations in a recent New York Times report about the shocking “tolerance” adopted by the US military regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children by its Afghan allies also provide a more general indication of how eagerly western institutions apply double standards that downplay or ignore profound evils in Muslim societies.

Personally, I would agree that the above cited remarks by the Al-Aqsa preacher are not necessarily newsworthy. After all, one can find fanatics who come up with deranged rants in every creed. But since Muslims claim the Al-Aqsa mosque as Islam’s “third holiest” site, one should assume that the Islamic Waqf – which was left in charge of the whole Temple Mount after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War 1967 – would ensure that crackpots don’t get a platform in this supposedly so important mosque.

Unfortunately, however, the hate-filled rant envisioning a Muslim conquest of Europe was by no means a unique incident. Over the past year, MEMRI has documented several similar “sermons,” and one can only speculate how many go undocumented and what is preached in local mosques all over the Muslim world.

On July 24, Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik declared in an address at the Al-Aqsa mosque that the “Caliphate” promised by Allah “will be the number one country in the world.”

“It will fight the U.S. and will bring it down. [The Caliphate] will eliminate the West in its entirety. […] Allah promised that there would be an Islamic state, and that we would prepare for the West whatever strength and steeds of war we can, in order to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Islam and of Allah, until we become those who command and Islam rules [the world].”

Similar remarks were made by two other persons speaking at the mosque in early July.

Islam will rule earth

In March, another preacher addressing worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque on two different occasions recalled Islam’s history of conquest and declared:

“today, the religion and ideology of Muhammad – including Islam’s men of Truth, the men of the Caliphate and of jihad – are laying siege to America, despite its nuclear arsenal. They are laying siege to Europe and to the fabricated democracy, the great lie.”

“America will be trampled by the hooves of the horses of the Caliph of the Muslims, Allah willing. This is the promise of Allah.”

In February, Palestinian political researcher Ahmad Al-Khatwani (Abu Hamza) urged his fellow Muslims at Al-Aqsa to treat “Islam in a political manner, on the basis of the Islamic creed in its political sense.” He explained:

“If the Muslims accept Islam as a political and ideological foundation and guide, they will be able to confront America and its war on the Muslims, and they will be able to vanquish it with ease. We pray that Allah will enable the Muslims to wage war on America and against its true terrorism. May He grant victory to the Muslims, and may they raid America on its own land and the land of heresy everywhere.”

In January, a cleric speaking at the Al-Aqsa mosque praised the terror attacks in Paris as “defense of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Last November, a Palestinian publicly prayed in the Al-Aqsa mosque:

“Oh Allah, annihilate America and its coalition. Oh Allah, enable us to cut off their heads. Oh Allah, help our brothers, the mujahideen in the land of Iraq and Syria.”

Annihilate America

These “sermons” seem to indicate – and encourage – support for the savagery of the Islamic State terror group.

In addition, there are plenty of examples showing incitement of Jew-hatred in the vilest and most primitive terms imaginable.

Jews are evil

The video clips show that most of these rants are not formal sermons with worshipers listening attentively. It seems more like a Muslim version of Speakers’ Corner, where anyone – any man, that is – who feels like delivering a hate-filled rant against the Jews and the West can do so at Islam’s “third holiest” site. Men and young boys mull around, some stop to listen; but in general, the reaction of the audience shows that no one regards it as unusual to come to a supposedly very sacred place of worship and hear non-Muslims demonized and Islam exalted as destined for the bloody subjugation of the non-Muslim world.

So it seems that Muslims are quite flexible when it comes to perceived violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa. As the recent violence has shown once again, the mere idea that non-Muslims might dare to even just think about a prayer while visiting the Temple Mount easily enrages Muslims, whereas they apparently don’t mind at all when self-styled “defenders” of Islam use the Al-Aqsa mosque to stockpile rocks, debris and incendiary devices to attack police and visitors. Likewise, nobody seems to have a problem with fanatics bellowing out hate-filled rants at Al-Aqsa on a fairly regular basis.

To be sure, there are a few individual Muslims who have sharply criticized Muslim conduct at Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount, notably the well-known writer Qanta Ahmed who has repeatedly published heart-felt calls for tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Last December, a Jordanian preacher even explicitly suggested that a part of the Temple Mount platform “where there are trees” should “be allocated for the prayer of the Israelites.”

But those lone voices are drowned out by overwhelming support for Muslim hypocrisy and supremacism. As I have argued previously, the Temple Mount has become a symbol of Muslim fanaticism, and those who most like to invoke the platitudes about Islam as a religion of peace are perhaps most cowed by the constantly repeated threats of Muslim violence. The well-practiced reflex of deferring to threats of Muslim rage was starkly illustrated when the UN Security Council (UNSC) published a warning about the recent violence avoiding any mention of the historic Jewish ties to the Temple Mount by referring to the compound only with the Arabic term “Haram al-Sharif,” and demanding that “Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocation.”

As documented above, the reality ignored by the UNSC is that Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif are absolutely free to indulge in violence, threats and provocation.

While Israel may have little choice but to constantly try to appease the always simmering Muslim rage about as yet unfulfilled dreams of Islam’s global domination, Arab leaders and media try their best to pour fuel on the flames. Particularly noteworthy is perhaps that Al Jazeera chose to promote incitement even in English: there is little doubt that the news network knows (or could know) about the vile rants that are regularly delivered at Islam’s “third holiest” place; yet, it featured a contemptible “analysis” explaining “Why Israel wants a religious war over Al-Aqsa.”

This is quite plainly what psychologists call projection: since the days of the Palestinian leader who later became notorious as “Hitler’s mufti” – who is still considered a Palestinian hero – Arab and Muslim leaders, as well as activists like Ali Abunimah, have fabricated Jewish or “Zionist” threats to “Al-Aqsa” (increasingly understood not only as the mosque, but the entire Temple Mount compound) to incite often lethal violence.

It should not be overlooked that this incitement also serves as an important tool to prop up Muslim “solidarity.” The powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was established in 1969/70 after the guards employed by the Islamic Waqf failed to prevent a mentally ill Australian Christian tourist from entering the mosque to set a fire there. At the OIC website, there is no hint of the negligence of the Islamic Waqf guards; instead, the implication is that the “criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque” happened because Jerusalem is “occupied.” Palestinian media regularly repeat the libel that the Australian was a “Jewish terrorist;” most recently it was featured in TV programs and media commentaries marking the anniversary of the arson towards the end of August. Similarly, the previously cited Al Jazeera screed also implies that the 1969 arson happened because “Jews wanted to take the Noble Sanctuary.”

It is thus hardly surprising that the OIC currently plans once again “to hold an emergency meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States to discuss the Israeli violations in the occupied city of Al-Quds and ways to stop the Israeli aggressions on Al-Aqsa Mosque.” In addition, the OIC secretary general recently sent a letter to the heads of major international organizations voicing “his strong condemnation of the Israeli attacks on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque” and warning “that burning parts of the mosque, attacking worshipers inside it by occupation forces, and arresting those stationed in its courtyards are crimes, aimed at freedom of worship.”

In the same letter, the OIC insists without the slightest sign of embarrassment that Jews and Christians should be denied freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.

This shameless hypocrisy is perhaps inevitable as long as freedom of worship for Muslims at Al-Aqsa includes the freedom to indulge in vile fantasies of Islam’s coming conquest of the non-Muslim world.

* * *

Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

The not so progressive Palestinian cause

It seems that most people who support “pro-Palestinian” activism on campus would regard themselves as politically progressive. But there is arguably a lot about the “Palestinian cause” that is not at all progressive. The first problem is that most “pro-Palestinian” activism could be more appropriately described as anti-Israel activism that all too often denounces the world’s only Jewish state in terms that echo the Nazi slogan “The Jews are our misfortune.” Moreover, progressives who champion the “Palestinian cause” are apparently either indifferent to or ignorant of the well-documented reactionary and extremist views that are mainstream among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian public opinion has long been regularly monitored by institutes like the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) and the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC). The surveys conducted by these institutes often include topical issues relevant mainly for domestic Palestinian politics, but many polls offer fascinating glimpses of Palestinian attitudes that are ignored in the media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though they go a long way to explain the intractability of the conflict.

Take for example the coverage of last summer’s war: while the media resolutely focused on the suffering and devastation in Gaza, Palestinians overwhelmingly felt victorious and credited Hamas for this supposed “victory.” In the immediate aftermath of the war, a whopping 79% of Palestinian saw Hamas as the winner, and even though none of Hamas’ demands were met, 59% believed that the war’s “achievements” justified “the human and material losses sustained by the Gaza Strip.” At the same time, 80% supported “the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel” – supposedly as a means to end “the siege and blockade,” i.e. the restrictions imposed only because of the launching of rockets and terror attacks from Gaza. Perhaps most shockingly, a clear majority of 57% endorsed “launching rockets from populated areas in the Gaza Strip,” thereby accepting that Gaza residents would be endangered in Israeli strikes against the rocket launchers.

To be sure, these numbers soon changed to reflect somewhat diminished enthusiasm, and the survey results showed interesting differences between Gaza and the West Bank. Nevertheless, Hamas, which had used Gaza’s civilian neighborhoods to launch its rockets and had spent enormous resources to build a sophisticated tunnel network that made war all but inevitable, would have handily won Palestinian elections in the aftermath of a war that brought so much death and destruction to Gaza. Indeed, when Hamas won student council elections in the West Bank this spring, many argued that this result reflected broader political trends, and a Hamas official promptly concluded that this was a victory won by “the Al-Qassam Brigades’ rockets.”

Far from criticizing this militaristic and nationalistic fervor, leading anti-Israel activists like Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal tend to echo and justify it. Abunimah has even gone so far as to object to criticism of summary public executions of accused collaborators by Hamas during the war. Similarly, the fascist genocidal Hamas charter that envisages a society dedicated to “jihad” and the religiously sanctioned killing of all Jews is usually politely ignored by activists.

Indeed, by now it is widely considered as distasteful and ‘right-wing’ to take note of the well-documented daily incitement in Palestinian media and public life. A related New York Times article openly acknowledged a few years ago that the paper of record preferred to ignore this subject. However, the deplorable results of this incitement are reflected in surveys of Muslim opinion conducted by the respected Pew Research Center.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Pew monitored Muslim public opinion about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for a decade, and the survey results document that throughout this decade, Palestinians remained bin Laden’s most ardent admirers.

1 Pal confidence in binLaden

These results are arguably all the more shocking in view of the fact that survey participants were asked if they had “confidence” in bin Laden “to do the right thing in world affairs.” In 2003, bin Laden actually inspired more “confidence” in Palestinians than their iconic strongman Yassir Arafat.

2 binLaden vs Arafat

As Palestinian enthusiasm for the al-Qaeda leader indicates, support for terrorism among Palestinians is widespread even if the target is not Israel. Among the Muslim populations surveyed by Pew, Palestinians have long been the strongest supporters of suicide bombings targeting civilians “in order to defend Islam from its enemies.”

3 Pal support suicide bombing

While the latest Pew results show a fairly dramatic decline in Palestinian support for suicide bombings against civilians between 2013 and 2014, al-Qaeda still received the highest “favorable” rating among Palestinians, though Pew noted that “[Palestinian] support is down nine percentage points since 2013.”

4 Pal fav on alQaeda 2014

So by now, “only” one out of every four Palestinians has a “favorable” view of al-Qaeda.

It is noteworthy that the last two charts illustrate a marked difference between the views of Israel’s Muslims and the Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank, even though Palestinians usually insist that all Israeli Arabs are Palestinians.

Given the proclivity for extremism in the Palestinian territories, it is hardly surprising that most Palestinians insist that “the rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the state of Israel exists.” However, this is of course a view that is widely shared in the Muslim Middle East.

Since the “rights and needs of the Palestinian people” are usually understood to include a state of their own, it is remarkable how rarely it is debated what kind of state Palestinians envisage. Perhaps the first noteworthy point of the Palestinian draft constitution is that it arguably undermines Palestinian claims of a distinct identity: Article 2 defines Palestine as “part of the Arab homeland” and identifies the “Palestinian people” as “part of the Arab and Islamic nations.” Article 7 stipulates that the “principles of the Islamic shari’a are a main source for legislation,” while the “followers of the monotheistic religions” are merely granted the right to “have their personal status and religious affairs organized according to their shari’as and religious denominations within the framework of [positive] law, while preserving the unity and independence of the Palestinian people.”

The overwhelming majority of Palestinians are Muslims; according to current estimates, Christians comprise only 1-2% of the Arab population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. As documented in a Pew survey from 2013 that included almost 40 000 Muslims in 39 countries, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were often among the Muslim populations with the most extremist views about the role of Islam in society: 89% of Palestinians want Sharia law; 66% endorse the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another religion; 76% support mutilation as a punishment for theft, and a shocking 84% want adulterers stoned to death.

“Justice” may be one of the central slogans of the supposedly progressive BDS movement, but in view of the medieval sharia “justice” Palestinians want, it is apparently a demand focused strictly on Israel. “Equality” is another goal BDS professes to pursue, but again, there is probably a highly selective interpretation, because Palestinians are definitely not keen on equality for women, let alone for gays. Like the vast majority of Muslim populations everywhere, 89% of Palestinian Muslims regard homosexuality as morally wrong; only 1% is prepared to see it as morally acceptable. When it comes to so-called “honor killings”, less than half (about 45%) of Palestinian Muslims reject these murders as never justified. And like in most Muslim societies, the vast majority of Palestinians – 87% – insists that a wife must always obey her husband. Only 33% of Palestinian Muslims believe a wife should have the right to divorce her husband, and only 43% think that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights. Finally, the other main BDS slogan – freedom – also seems to be a demand that isn’t necessarily meant to apply to the state Palestinians supposedly want:  when asked if they prefer democracy or a strong leader, just 55% of Palestinian Muslims chose democracy, while 40 % preferred a strong leader;  when asked how much political influence religious leaders should have, 29% wanted religious leaders to have a lot of political influence, and another 43% wanted religious leaders to have at least some political influence.

In view of this strong support for political influence by religious leaders – and in view of the BDS goal to see Israel replaced by a Palestinian Muslim majority state – it is arguably important to be aware of the kind of political influence exerted by Palestinian religious leaders in recent years. Unfortunately, Palestinian religious leaders have a long record of denying the historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem; this includes of course the denial of the existence of the Temple.  In a recently published Reuters report, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem insisted that the Temple Mount in its entirety should be considered as the Al Aqsa (mosque) compound and that “Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa [i.e. anywhere on the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest place] is not so much an insult as it is an aggression.” The same Grand Mufti can be seen in this video clip from 2012, where he is announced as a speaker whose words “are necessary because [of] our war with the descendants of apes and pigs” (i.e. Jews); the Grand Mufti obliges by reciting the notorious Islamic sanctioning of the killing of all Jews that is also cited in the Hamas charter.

6 Jerusalem Mufti kill Jews

Another very recent incident involved Sheikh Khaled al-Mughrabi, a religious teacher who used one of his regular classes at the Al Aqsa mosque to teach his students every antisemitic calumny he could possibly think of, including the blood libel – which he presented as a justification for the Holocaust – as well as claims like “Jews worship Satan, plotted the 9/11 attacks, and control the Freemasons who sacrifice their wives and children in secret ceremonies.” After the Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a protest letter to Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Sheikh doubled down and defended his antisemitic tirade in his next class. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, he also echoed the among anti-Israel activists popular complaint that their “criticism” of Israel and Zionism is unfairly condemned as antisemitism: “If you give advice to a Jew, he immediately says: ‘You’re inciting to racism, you’re an Antisemite.’ Immediately. It has become a cliché for them, a permanent sentence,[…] which they stick on every person who gives them advice.”

Only bigots would deny that al-Mughrabi’s rant was antisemitic, but all he really did was talking about Jews in the same way anti-Israel activists talk about the Jewish state: just as al-Mughrabi associated Jews with every evil he could think of, anti-Israel activists consistently associate Israel with every evil they can think of. As far as anti-Israel activists are concerned, there’s very little you cannot say as long as you substitute “Zionists” for Jews. Inevitably, the goal of demonizing the world’s only Jewish state as an evil that must be opposed and eliminated requires a simplistic black-and-white narrative that features the Palestinians only as victims who deserve uncritical support in their heroic struggle against the evil forces of Zionism.


First published on my JPost blog.

The UN and HRW’s list of shame

Last week, I wrote at my JPost blog about efforts at the UN to blacklist the IDF – together with savage terror groups like the Islamic State – as an entity that regularly harms children. The post is reproduced below, but since Human Rights Watch (HRW) is now so energetically pushing for Israel’s inclusion in this “list of shame,” I felt it is worthwhile to add this update as a reminder of the organization’s shameful bias against Israel.

HRW’s persistent negative focus on Israel is well documented, and I have written about the organization’s double standards and the animosity against Israel that is openly displayed by HRW executive director Ken Roth. As I have noted in my previous posts, HRW always stands ready to condemn Israel as soon as the Israeli army moves to defend the country’s citizens against the attacks of terror groups. HRW would perhaps claim that its latest effort is even-handed, since it apparently also recommended the inclusion of Hamas in the UN’s blacklist. But this of course means that HRW sees no difference between Israel and Hamas when it comes to harming children.

Yet, HRW’s own examples of how Hamas has harmed children explain why Palestinian children are sometimes inadvertently harmed by the IDF. According to HRW, “Palestinian armed groups” are guilty of

  • “The repeated launching of rockets from densely populated areas in Gaza, placing children and other civilians living there at risk of retaliatory attacks; and
  • The use of at least three empty schools in Gaza to store weapons, two of which may have been used for launching rockets or mortars.”

One should not overlook that HRW describes Israeli attacks on rocket launching sites as “retaliatory attacks” – which is of course just another not so subtle attempt to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend its citizens.

Among the Palestinian violations that HRW prefers not to mention is the longstanding training and recruitment of child soldiers. And of course HRW also prefers to ignore the fact that Palestinians have repeatedly celebrated terror attacks that killed Israeli teens.

It is also revealing to see who gets blamed by HRW for strikes that result in civilian deaths when Israel is not involved. Here is one telling example from a recent media report on the war in Yemen [my emphasis]:

“On March 31, Human Rights Watch said a diary factory in the western port city of Hodeida came under attack by Saudi airstrikes, killing 31 workers. The rights group blamed Houthis forces for putting civilians at risk, saying that the factory is about 100 metres from a military airbase controlled by Houthis.”

Finally, it should be noted that two international law experts have recently stated that after examining Israel’s targeting methods and its application of the law of armed conflict (LOAC),

“we concluded that IDF positions on targeting law largely track those of the United States military. Moreover, even when they differ, the Israeli approach remains within the ambit of generally acceptable State practice. […] While there are certainly Israeli legal positions that may be contentious, we found that their approach to targeting is consistent with the law and, in many cases, worthy of emulation.”

* * *

How low can the UN sink?

The United Nations (UN) has a long and sordid record of singling out the world’s only Jewish state for hypocritical censure and condemnation.  Most recently, Israel was the only country to be condemned as “a violator of health rights;” unsurprisingly, the supporting “evidence” included antisemitic claims by the Syrian regime, which accused Israel of “continu[ing]  to experiment on Syrian and Arab prisoners with medicines and drugs and to inject them with pathogenic viruses.” That is of course the same regime that mercilessly bombs and kills its own population, while Israel has so far treated some 1600 injured Syrians.

But the UN’s next move against Israel is already being planned: according to a Y-Net report, the “UN secretary-general’s envoy for Children and Armed Conflict recommended this week to include the IDF on a blacklist of countries and organizations accused of regularly causing harm to children. The blacklist includes terror organizations like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and Taliban, as well as African countries such as the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and others.”

As the report notes, the UN is “facing heavy pressure from the Palestinians, their supporters and human rights organizations to include the Israeli army on the list.” However, few people know that this kind of “pressure” is in part generated by the UN itself, which sustains “a whole network of anti-Israel institutions ” that were built up in the wake of the infamous “Zionism is Racism”-resolution of 1975. Even though the resolution was repealed in 1991, this “network of extremely well-funded UN structures and offices” continues to exist to this day.

Needless to say, those who love the Nazi-slogan “Die Juden sind unser Unglück” in its 21st-century version “The Jewish State is our misfortune” are excited about the prospect to have the IDF equated with terror organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) – and as was only to be expected, Max Blumenthal tweeted the Y-Net report adding the hashtag JSIL, which he popularized to associate Israel with the terror group Islamic State (once known as ISIL, i.e. Islamic State in the Levant) as “Jewish State in the Levant” (JSIL).

MB on UN blacklisting IDF

If the UN will once again please Jew-haters everywhere with yet another bigoted condemnation that puts the IDF on the same level as savage terror groups like IS remains to be seen. But in the unlikely case that the UN actually cares about the welfare of Palestinian children, Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, could highlight the longstanding abuse of Palestinian children as child-soldiers – indeed, campaigning against this kind of child abuse is supposedly an important part of her work. While all Palestinian factions have used children to fight, nowadays mostly Hamas and other Gaza terror groups openly boast of providing military training to children; one of the most recent examples is a “graduation ceremony” in a Gaza kindergarten.

Gaza kindergarten terror show

In addition, the UN might note the fact that Hamas employed children to dig its extensive tunnel network – which they hoped to use to kill Israelis, including children – and that at least 160 children died working on the tunnels.

And perhaps the UN’s Special Representative Leila Zerrougui could take note of regular TV programs that indoctrinate kids to hate and “shoot the Jews” – ‘all of them’? Perhaps it would also be appropriate to address the very high percentage of forced underage marriages in Gaza? Or the heartbreaking mistreatment of children with disabilities that seems quite common in Palestinian society?

But perhaps the UN will somehow find it more appealing to demonize the IDF that has to fight an enemy that openly celebrates the killing of Israeli children – for Hamas, they are just “prey” to be killed and hidden ‘under the rock.’

Delegitimizing Israel at Southampton University [updated]

Update: When this post was first published on my JPost blog in February (and cross-posted at Harry’s Place), the conference that is criticized here was scheduled to take place two months later, in mid-April. However, it soon became apparent that there was a lot of opposition, and Southampton University eventually decided to cancel the event “due to concerns that the safety of staff, students and visitors could not be guaranteed.” Legal challenges by the conference organizers against the cancellation were rejected in court. A summary and commentary on the controversy can be found here.

* * *

In an article on “Europe’s New Anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks argued a few years ago that it was important to realize that throughout history, assaults on Jewish life always needed “justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age.” For our own time, this means according to Sacks that “any assault on Jewish life – on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state – must be cast in the language of human rights,” which is reflected in “the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Against the backdrop of deadly terrorist attacks on Jews in several European capitals in recent months, some of Europe’s political leaders – most notably French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – have passionately denounced antisemitism and pledged to fight it. Yet, the problem identified by Rabbi Sacks remains, and in the wake of the most recent attacks in Copenhagen, a Wall Street Journal editorial rightly noted that “[e]lite hostility to Israel amplifies street-level anti-Semitism.”

Unfortunately it seems that such elite hostility to Israel will be showcased at a conference scheduled for April at the University of Southampton. The official announcement describes the conference as “a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine.” The conference is supposedly “unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel;” however, as students of antisemitism will know, there is nothing “unique” about singling out the world’s only Jewish state for delegitimization.

The conference has been initiated and organized by University of Southampton professor Oren Ben Dor, and his views on the conference’s subject are no secret: the intensity of his animus against Israel is nicely illustrated in a fundraising letter for the conference, where the Nahariya-born (former) Israeli claims to have grown up “in Palestine.”

Ben Dor SouthamptonU1

Ben Dor’s fundraising letter notes explicitly that the “conference is fully hosted, and supported by the University of Southampton. The university enables us to use its hospitality services, event organisation, marketing network and financial administration for the organisation, delivery, recording of the conference. It is a remarkable achievement in itself that such a conference will be help [sic] in UK academia.”

Indeed, it is remarkable that, almost seven decades after Israel’s establishment, the University of Southampton is holding a three-day conference devoted to searching for ways to use international law to deny the world’s only Jewish state the right to exist. But arguably, Professor Ben Dor’s record of “academic” activism against Israel is hardly less remarkable: it seems that roughly half of the publications listed on his official university page are either reviews of the writings of anti-Israel propagandists (e.g. Ali Abunimah, Jonathan Cook), or contributions to various “One State” conferences and other supposedly “pro-Palestinian” events focused on the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. On his official page outlining his research, Ben Dor emphasizes that his academic work “relates” to his “political activity regarding Palestine, the gist of which is a call for justice and peace in Palestine (in that order).” Ben Dor’s writings leave little doubt that as far as he is concerned, “justice” requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state; indeed, Ben Dor has even asserted that it was time to “legitimate” the “voice” of Hamas, because “understanding this voice as an ethical cry to the world to not allow Israel the right to persist in its racist self-definition is a much better way of articulating the moral message.”

This brazen attempt to not only ignore but even whitewash the genocidal antisemitism and fascism of the Hamas Charter is unfortunately not the only indication that Ben Dor has no hesitation to embrace open anti-Jewish bigotry. The “numerous articles in Counterpunch” that he highlights on his official university page also include a passionate protest against what Ben Dor calls “the constant attempts to silence Gilad Atzmon.” According to Ben Dor,

“It would be an understatement to say that debating Gilad’s voice is supremely important. No thinking person could fail to be stimulated by the deep connections Gilad makes.”

In case you haven’t heard of Gilad Atzmon, you could find out more about him on the neo-Nazi Internet forum Stormfront, where members broadly agree with Ben Dor’s view that his “voice is supremely important” – indeed, Atzmon’s writings are regarded as so important there that they are often shared and posted on the site.

Ben Dor Atzmon Stormfront

Alternatively, you could have Ben Dor’s view about the importance of Atzmon’s voice confirmed by former Klan leader and avowed white supremacist David Duke, who has praised him as “perhaps the bravest and clearest thinking person of Jewish descent in the world.”

Ben Dor Atzmon DDuke

The admiration is mutual – this is what Atzmon said in an interview last year:

“The left is devastated by David Duke for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly ‘racist’ Gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows [sic] more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple: he is a proud white man.”

One could fill pages upon pages to document Atzmon’s well-deserved popularity among Jew-haters, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. So Ben Dor was wrong to complain that Atzmon is being silenced: he gets plenty of publicity at all the sites frequented by bigots looking for their daily dose of stories about Jewish cunning and evil. And Ben Dor himself has repeatedly done his part to promote Atzmon and his odious views, including even hosting him at Southampton University. Why not also invite Duke if the “supremely important” Atzmon recommends him so enthusiastically as an expert on “Jewish identity”?

To what extent Ben Dor actually agrees with Atzmon’s “gutter anti-Semitism” is hard to ascertain given that he likes to write in a style that reflects his fascination with the now utterly disgraced German philosopher Martin Heidegger; but there can be little doubt that Ben Dor shares Atzmon’s conviction that Israel is an absolute evil that cannot be allowed to exist. While Atzmon has expressed the view that even Nazi Germany was less evil than Israel, Ben Dor has repeatedly described Israel as utterly immoral and has denounced the Jewish state as “a terrorist state like no other” and demanded that “the herrenvolk (master race) nature of its democracy” must be openly debated.

Ben Dor certainly knows that it is generally regarded as antisemitic to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and to argue that the world’s only Jewish state is too evil to exist. Yet, it seems that this is what Ben Dor is arguing in his political writings, and given his own emphasis on the connection between his academic work and his “political activity regarding Palestine,” the planned publication of the proceedings of his conference at the University of Southampton may turn out to be of interest not only for anti-Israel activists in and out of the Ivory Tower, but also for researchers studying 21st-century antisemitism and the ‘elite hostility to Israel’ that provides ostensibly new justifications for the oldest hatred.

* * *

Update 2: The CST’s Mark Gardner argues in a related post that Ben Dor’s views put him “firmly in the same ball park as Atzmon.” Gardner also quotes from a video-taped speech where Ben Dor asserts “that there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the Holocaust” – which, as I already suggested above, seems to echo the preposterous notion of Jewish “self-destruction” developed by Heidegger in his “Black Notebooks.”

The Palestine Project’s flood libel

When something bad happens, antisemites have always known whom to blame. So it was little wonder that, when Gaza was flooded after heavy rainfalls last month, the Palestinians would blame Israel and “the Jews” for maliciously opening entirely imaginary dams – and it was hardly surprising that some major media outlets didn’t hesitate to publish this story without even a minimum of fact-checking. While some of the worst offenders ultimately withdrew the story and AFP even dedicated a separate report to “dispelling the myth about Israeli ‘dams’,” professional anti-Israel propagandists were only too happy to spread what quickly became known as the “flood libel.”

Veteran anti-Israel activists Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal both tweeted a link to a post featured on a website run by “The Palestine Project,” which rejected Israeli statements that there are no dams that could be opened to flood Gaza as a “myth.”

AA MB link Holocaust denier 911 trutherSince both Abunimah and Blumenthal like to claim that they can be trusted to provide accurate and factual information, one should expect that they noticed that the post they linked to was prominently identified as a previously published post from another blog, and that they checked out the provided link to the original.

This link leads to a much longer piece entitled “No Dams in the Negev? Anatomy of a Hasbara Swarm” published in January 2014 on a blog by a certain Richard Edmondson who proudly displays his 9/11 conspiracy theories in a banner at the blog’s side bar.

MB links to Holocaust denier 911 trutherA quick look at the blog’s “About” page reveals that Edmondson has the reputation of being a Holocaust denier, and just a few additional seconds of searching illustrate how he got this reputation: even though he claims not to be a Holocaust denier, he undermined his case by cross-posting an unabashedly antisemitic article from Iran’s Press TV on the “Holocaust of Lies: US Mainstream Media.” Unsurprisingly, Edmondson considers the Iranian regime’s antisemitic propaganda outlet “a model of responsible journalism.”

A few additional minutes of browsing through the blog’s offerings reveal a cesspool of anti-Jewish bigotry, including a post suggesting that the deadly attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris in January was a “false flag” operation designed to motivate French Jews to immigrate to Israel; there is also warm praise for a fellow Jew-hater who often cross-posts Edmondson’s vile output under the label “Jewish Matters,” and a quick Google search shows Edmondson featured as a “columnist” on Veterans Today, another website where antisemitic conspiracy theories are popular.

The promotion of Edmondson’s post by “The Palestine Project” and prominent activists like Abunimah and Blumenthal is just another example illustrating an argument I have often made: “pro-Palestinian” antisemitism is not a bug, but a feature, because when your agenda is demonizing the world’s only Jewish state as too evil to be allowed to exist, you will inevitably end up using exactly the same methods and themes as those who have demonized Jews throughout the centuries.

* * *

First published at my JPost blog on 03/10/2015.

The successful demonization of Israel

The recent release of a new study by the London-based think tank Chatham House brought Israel-haters some widely cheered news, because the study includes the finding [pdf; p.12] that 35 percent of the British public feel “especially unfavorable” towards Israel. Writing at his Electronic Intifada blog, Ali Abunimah noted with great satisfaction that the Chatham House study showed that “Israel ranks as one of the world’s most unfavorably viewed countries among the UK public” and he concluded triumphantly that “these numbers indicate […] that the vast sums Israel has spent on propaganda or hasbara have made no dent in its unpopularity, while its continued occupation and repeated massacres in Gaza continue to affect public perceptions.” Linking to a post from 2013, Abunimah also pointed out that “results from the Chatham House survey confirm trends seen in other polls across the world, showing that Israel is consisently [sic] among the world’s most negatively viewed countries.”

While Abunimah’s last point is correct, both his blog post and a tweet that was popular among Israel-haters were wrong in asserting that only North Korea was seen more unfavorable than Israel.

Celebrating Israel demonizationApparently, Israel-haters all work from the same cherry-picked talking points and can’t be bothered to check them – because if they had checked the relevant table in the study, they would have realized that Russia was entitled to their “gold medal” as the country that was seen as “especially unfavorable” by a majority (56%) of the British public. But it would have been really awkward for Abunimah to crow about Russia’s propaganda efforts not paying off, since some of his best friends – like Max Blumenthal, for example, or Electronic Intifada contributor Rania Khalek – are popular guests on Putin’s well-financed mouthpiece RT. The channel has also featured various Holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists, and neo-Nazis, and it reportedly provides a nice source of income for British politician George Galloway, who has been honored for his devotion to the Palestinian “cause” by Hamas leader Haniyeh and who supplements his salary as Member of Parliament with appearances on RT as well as Iranian and Lebanese TV.

While there is no reason to downplay the truly dedicated efforts of Abunimah and his ilk to do their part in order to ensure that the world’s only Jewish state is among the world’s least favorably viewed countries, the negative image of Israel that is once again reflected in the Chatham House study has long been promoted by a wide array of opinion shapers. As the Simon Wiesenthal Center put it in reaction to a 2003 poll that showed a majority of Europeans viewing Israel as the foremost threat to world peace, this result indicated “that Europeans have bought into the vilification and demonization campaign directed against the State of Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media.” However, other polls show that this is not only a European problem. World-wide polls conducted by the BBC for 2012 and 2013 ranked Israel as a country seen to have a mainly negative influence along with North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.

This is actually somewhat unfair to North Korea, Pakistan and Iran – at least if you form your world view on the basis of reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW). A recent post by blogger Elder of Ziyon provides a stark illustration of the pervasive demonization of Israel in a chart that tracks how often countries are mentioned in the new HRW 2015 “World Report.” According to this chart, only Syria – a country where in recent years not only hundreds of thousands have been killed, wounded or displaced, but where also more than 10 000 people have been systematically tortured to death – is mentioned more often than Israel.

EoZ HRW biasAnyone who needs some additional illustration of HRW’s preposterous bias should note that when the organization’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson recently learned that the US Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. was exhibiting some of the gruesome evidence of systematic torture in Syrian jails, she immediately demanded that the museum “should also show pics of death and destruction in #Gaza.”

In an exchange with Jeffrey Goldberg, Whitson later protested that she had neither intended to equate the recent war between Hamas and Israel with the Holocaust nor to suggest that Israel was guilty of genocide in Gaza; instead, she claimed she had just “urged showing of images of #Gaza destruction.”

Of course, one can hardly argue that images of the destruction in Gaza from the last war have been ignored by the media. Indeed, one recent example that would perhaps have pleased Whitson was a Sky News program on Holocaust Memorial Day that featured images of this destruction while the interviewer questioned the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis about possible connections between Israel’s actions and the rise of antisemitism in Europe. Contrary to countless misleading media reports, Sky News did not apologize for suggesting a connection between Israel’s actions and rising antisemitism and merely acknowledged “that the particular circumstances of the use of the pictures from Gaza was unfortunate.”

Opinion shapers in the media and in NGOs like HRW have obviously a large part in the public’s long-documented negative view of the world’s only Jewish state. As Matti Friedman put it so well in a recent presentation:

“How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 per cent of the world’s surface become the focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylised symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks.”

Friedman has previously explored the problematic media coverage of Israel in several superb articles; in this presentation, he argues that “the minute state inhabited by a persecuted minority in the Middle East is in fact [seen as] a symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism.”

“The West today is preoccupied with a feeling of guilt about the use of power. That’s why the Jews, in their state, are now held up in the press and elsewhere as the prime example of the abuse of power. That’s why for so many the global villain, as portrayed in newspapers and on TV, is none other than the Jewish soldier, or the Jewish settler. This is not because the Jewish settler or soldier is responsible for more harm than anyone else on earth – no sane person would make that claim. It is rather because these are the heirs to the Jewish banker or Jewish commissar of the past. It is because when moral failure raises its head in the Western imagination, the head tends to wear a skullcap.”

Millions nodded along when the Nazis asserted that “the Jews are our misfortune.” Millions nowadays nod along when the media and NGOs suggest that the Jewish state is the world’s misfortune.

* * *

First published on my JPost blog 02/12/2015; also published on the Polish blog Listy z naszego sadu.