Category Archives: EoZ

Meet BDS fan Haj Amin al-Husseini – the ‘Hitler of the Holy Land’

Half a year ago, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and the Harvard Law School Alliance for Israel held a conference entitled “War By Other Means – BDS, Israel and the Campus.” One of the speakers was Cornell Professor William Jacobson, whose presentation was on the history of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The presentation is now available at Legal Insurrection, and it is a must-read (or must-watch) because Jacobson shows that “BDS is a direct and provable continuation of the Arab anti-Jewish boycotts in the 1920s and 1930s and [the] subsequent Arab League Boycott, restructured through non-governmental entities to evade U.S. anti-boycott legislation and repackaged in the language of ‘social justice’ to appeal to Western liberals.”

When I read through Professor Jacobson’s presentation, I remembered that some time ago, I had come across an archived JTA article from September 24, 1929 that provides a perfect illustration of the conference theme that boycott campaigns should be understood as “war by other means.”

Published a month after the notorious Hebron massacre and the subsequent Arab violence, which left 133 Jews dead,  the article is entitled “‘My Hands Are Clean,’ Grand Mufti Asserts in Interview;” and as the title suggests, it describes an interview with Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had incited the violence with the pernicious (and still popular) libel that “the Zionists” were plotting to damage or destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in order to rebuild the Jewish Temple.

Shortly after the bloodbath he had incited, the man who would eventually become known as “Hitler’s Mufti” felt rather confident that the Jews would soon be forced to leave British Mandate Palestine. He asserted (rightly) that “it is untrue that the world is siding with the Jews” and then proceeded to explain:

“We are … assured of the solidarity of the entire Moslem world and have actually offers of armies to help us if necessary. Help is unnecessary. We will win through an economic boycott. The boycott in Moslem countries against Jewish industries is tight and daily growing tighter, until the industries will be broken and English friends, moved by pity, will remove the last remaining Jews [from British Mandate Palestine] on their battleships. Today there’s not a Jewish factory working in Palestine … (which happened to be entirely untrue) [and] as Jewish industry depends on the good will of the surrounding Moslem countries, the factories may as well remain closed. The Moslems will not buy.”         

While the mufti’s hopes of driving out the Jews with a successful economic boycott didn’t work out in his lifetime, he would surely be pleased to know that there are still people who haven’t given up on his lofty goal; and he would surely be no less pleased to see that in forums like the UN, it remains indeed often “untrue that the world is siding with the Jews.”

The mufti also said some other things that you can read any day at Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada and similar sites: he complained about “the aid of rich American Jews for the Palestine upbuilding” and claimed that this aid “made the Palestine Jews so arrogant, they thought they could start expelling is [us].” And just like Palestinian leaders nowadays, al-Husseini denied having incited the murderous violence.

Another remarkable parallel to today’s news is that al-Husseini was rumored to have become quite rich by misappropriating funds he had collected for repairs of the Dome of the Rock. The article’s description of him is intriguing:

“The Mufti spoke in French and granted the interview in the presence of Jamal Effendi Husseini in the palatial office buildings located in the galleries of the Mosque of Omar. The 31 year old Amin El Husseini, with blond beard, sparkling blue eyes, ingratiating smile and pleasant mundane manners, sat in silken robes on a luxurious divan and smoked cigarettes taken from a gold beaten box, holding a morning levee like a mediaeval Turkish Pasha. The hall and corridors were filled with servants, ushers and courtiers. When politely told that world opinion is holding him personally responsible and partially guilty for the savagery and unspeakable assaults, the Mufti smiled and with a sweeping gesture, showing delicate manicured hands, he declared: ‘My hands are clean, I declare before God.’”

As it happens, when I researched this post, I came across another fascinating article about al-Husseini from June 1948. At first, I was not sure if the site that featured it, i.e. Old Magazine Articles, could be trusted. The article is entitled “Hitler of the Holy Land” and the sub header describes the mufti as “a master of terrorism.” But I found out that a ’48 Magazine indeed existed – in fact, it was apparently a relatively expensive highbrow magazine – and the author of the article, David W.Nussbaum, wrote at least two (but likely four) other articles on the mufti elsewhere in the immediate postwar years. According to the information given about Nussbaum, he was a “former Washington correspondent of Life, magazine writer and Navy air veteran” who in early 1948 had “just returned from an extended survey of conditions in the Middle East.” His article on the “Hitler of the Holy Land” is absolutely fascinating (it can also be downloaded as a pdf if you click the blue button “Read article for free” just above the space for comments).

Hitler of the Holy Land

In the almost two decades that had passed since the 1929 interview, the mufti had apparently lost his “pleasant mundane manners;” Nussbaum described him as “a man who has spent a lifetime fleeing justice” and who, “in his struggle for power, counts no man as a friend.” In Nussbaum’s view, the mufti was a crucial and cunning leader who ensured that the Arab conflict with the Jews would not be settled peaceably. Reportedly, al-Husseini told him: “What you see unsheathed in Palestine is the sword of Islam. Whenever they are beset, the Arabs will inevitably unsheathe it.” Asked if the Arabs had enough arms and men to win a war, the mufti responded: “Consequences do not disturb the Arab as they do the Westerner. The Jews do not reckon with this factor. If he is attacked, the Arab fights back regardless of the consequences. The fighting in Palestine has been inevitable since the first Jew set foot there.”

But Nussbaum believed that it was the mufti who worked hard to make war “inevitable”:

“War in Palestine is the goal that the Mufti set himself in the summer of 1946 [when he fled France], and it is the goal that is now being achieved. […] While he tightened his grip on Palestine, the Mufti waged a shrewd campaign within the Arab states. In Egypt, he made effective use of the extremist right-wing Moslem Brotherhood, which, supported by students, staged well-timed demonstrations in Cairo, shouting for revenge against the Jews. Fire-breathing statements began filling the Lebanon papers. In the lobbies of the Arab League conferences, the Mufti hammered away at the idea of jihad – the holy war.”

So it seems Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas knew what he was doing when he repeatedly paid homage to al-Husseini, praising him for having “sponsored the struggle from the beginning.”

But importantly, the “struggle” al-Husseini “sponsored … from the beginning” was not really about Palestine, but rather about Arab-Muslim rule. When Nussbaum asked him if he was looking forward to “an early return to his homeland,” al-Husseini “ruminated for a few moments and then said, ‘Palestine is not my home; it is only one of them. Cairo is home and so is Syria. Whenever I am among my own people, I am home.’”

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A version of this post was first published last Dezember at EoZ.

 

The depth of Arab misery has nothing to do with Israel

“Any Arab who can will be out of here.”

Several recent articles provide a wealth of data that indicate how truly miserable conditions in many Arab countries are, and how grim the outlook for much of the Arab world is — and no, it’s not Israel’s fault. The most shocking data are from Syria (though the situation in Yemen is probably similarly dire). A recent NYT article outlines the devastation wrought by five years of war in Syria:

“Let’s take a look at the numbers. (While the following statistics are estimates, they will, if anything, get worse with the continuing matrix of wars in Syria.) More than 80 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line. Nearly 70 percent of Syrians live in extreme poverty, meaning they cannot secure basic needs, according to a 2016 report. That number has most likely grown since then. The unemployment rate is close to 58 percent, with a significant number of those employed working as smugglers, fighters or elsewhere in the war economy. Life expectancy has dropped by 20 years since the beginning of the uprising in 2011. About half of children no longer attend school — a lost generation. The country has become a public health disaster. Diseases formerly under control, like typhoid, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A and cholera, are once again endemic. And polio — previously eradicated in Syria — has been reintroduced, probably by fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Upward of 500,000 are dead from the war, and an untold number of Syrians have died indirectly from the conflict […] With more than two million injured, about 11.5 percent of the prewar population have become casualties. And close to half the population of Syria is either internally or externally displaced. A 2015 survey conducted by the United Nations refugee agency looking at Syrian refugees in Greece found that a large number of adults — 86 percent — had secondary or university education. Most of them were under 35. If true, this indicates that Syria is losing the very people it will most need if there is to be any hope of rebuilding in the future.”

But the future also doesn’t look rosy for the rest of the Arab world. MEMRI recently summarized some of the relevant findings of the latest UN Arab Human Development Report (AHDR), which focuses on “challenges and opportunities facing youth in the Arab region.” Needless to say, the comprehensive UN report is carefully “balanced,” which is to say it tries hard to package all the bad news with some slightly better news or upbeat talk about opportunities that are waiting to be seized.

As the MEMRI summary notes:

“While we would have wished otherwise, in reviewing the report we find that the critics of the ‘Arab Spring’ were more realistic in their assessment of the events of 2011 than those who were inclined to see bright stars in the sky. […] Arab youth today remain mired in poverty; they are politically marginalized and voiceless, economically disenfranchised, and socially prone to radicalization and violence. Theirs is a fragile and often volatile existence.”

“The [UN] report highlights the fact that in the last decade the region has experienced ‘the most rapid increase in war and violent conflict’ compared with other regions of the world. The Arab world also has ‘the dubious distinction’ of comprising the largest number of failed states showcasing a high scale of ‘fragility and failure’ in addition to being the source of the largest number of refugees and displaced people. While the report would not predict the level of conflict in the region, it does project that number of people living in conflict areas will increase from 250 million in 2010 to over 305 million in 2020.”

If you check out the report itself, there are plenty of findings that indicate how dire the situation in many Arab countries is and how little chance there is for rapid improvement – indeed, further decline seems more likely:

“the region still scores lower than the world average on the HDI [Human Development Index] and already lags three of the world’s six regions, namely, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. By the year 2050, the region is projected to rank fifth, only a little ahead of sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Evidence shows that the prospects of young people in the region are, now more than ever, jeopardized by poverty, economic stagnation, governance failure and exclusion, all compounded by the violence and fragility of the body politic.”

“Overall, the quality of education is poor. Standardized international tests in education such as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment show Arab countries scoring well below the average.”

“The rise of women in Arab countries is inseparably and causally linked to the future human development of the Arab region. The pervasive disempowerment of women in Arab countries is grounded in cultural, social, economic and political factors. As the 2005 and 2009 AHDRs observed, the seeds of discrimination are embedded in cultural beliefs and traditions in childraising, education, religious structures, the media and family relations.”

Among the particularly noteworthy figures in the report is the following, which shows that the overwhelming majority of Arabs consider religion, i.e. mostly Islam, as “an important part” of their daily life:

Arab development religion

This is also an interesting finding in the context of the ongoing mass migration to very secular Europe – a migration that is most warmly welcomed by liberals who don’t think much of their own religious fellow citizens and look down on religious Americans. The importance of religion for Arabs is also noteworthy in the context of another finding in the UN report:

“It is mainly because of its high levels of social and religious intolerance that the region stands out among countries at similar levels of development around the world. Tolerance is a core value in pluralistic societies and a cornerstone of more democratic systems. […] This wide regional deficit and lack of progress on values of tolerance are worrying for the future of democracy in the region.”

While Israel has so far managed to remain “a villa in the jungle” – as Ehud Barak once put it famously – it is clearly bad news that the region looks set to remain mired in conflict and that so many fundamental factors are likely to impede social progress and economic development. A year ago, a still very relevant article in The New York Jewish Week outlined the resulting problems for Israel as explained by veteran political analyst Ehud Yaari. The article begins with an anecdote:

“Ehud Yaari characterizes his friend Bernard Lewis, the eminent scholar of the Middle East [who turned 100 last May], as possessing ‘this ability to see into the future.’ Over a recent dinner in Israel, Yaari asked Lewis what he thought the Middle East would look like in fifty years. Without hesitating, Lewis leaned over the table and said decisively, ‘Any Arab who can will be out of here.’”

Unfortunately, many of those who can’t escape the hopelessness of the Arab Middle East may end up fueling sectarian conflict and bloodshed. And for frustrated young Palestinians, it is obviously tempting to commit terror attacks. In a very interesting piece published in early January 2017, Yaari writes about Israel’s efforts to curb the wave of attacks that started in fall 2015, and it turns out that the motivations of the mostly young perpetrators clearly reflect the deep discontent and frustration as well as the religious fervor described in the UN report on the Arab world:

“most of the attackers came from the fringes of West Bank society: young people struggling with social marginalization, who had experienced repeated setbacks in their private lives or faced insurmountable personal or financial hardship. The collective profile of the assailants identified most as frustrated individuals who felt that their lives had reached a dead end, to the point that many sought salvation through martyrdom. Many of those captured during assaults told interrogators that they believed that death for the sake of jihad would reward them with the recognition they failed to obtain in life.”

Regarding the motivations of the surprisingly high number of female assailants, Yaari writes:

“Investigations showed that almost all of these women—including a 72-year-old grandmother from Hebron—were seeking to escape family hardships, such as pregnancies out of wedlock, arranged marriages, violence within the family, and so forth. Quite often it seemed that these women were seeking death or arrest in order to break away from their environment. In more than one instance, a young woman would wave a kitchen knife or scissors far from the Israeli soldiers, not posing any real threat, knowing that she would be immediately taken into custody.”

For some more on Palestinian frustration and discontent, you can check out this recent lament on “A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule,” and this curse of “Israel, Hamas and Fatah” – the latter by a Palestinian who was “born and raised as a proud refugee from the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza.” As much as the Palestinians may see themselves as part of the Arab world, it is definitely uniquely Palestinian to be “born and raised as a proud refugee” in a Palestinian city among Palestinians.

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This is an edited version of a post first published in January at EoZ.

Remember “Global Mufti” Qaradawi when comparing Jewish and Muslim refugees

Nobody can know how the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust would feel about the now so fashionable use of their despair and suffering for the benefit of today’s mostly Muslim refugees. I have repeatedly tried to explain why I think the comparison is inappropriate; but even though more influential writers have also adamantly opposed this facile “lesson of history,” it only seems to become more popular. One notable example for this trend is the Twitter account St. Louis Manifest: set up for the recent International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it quickly gained almost 74,000 followers by combining the commemoration of the Jewish refugees on board the St. Louis, who were denied entry to the US and later killed by the Nazis, with the message #RefugeesWelcome. In the same spirit, columnist Peter Beinart decreed on Twitter that it was completely unacceptable for Jewish organizations to commemorate the Holocaust without forcefully rejecting the Trump administration’s recent “Muslim ban” (which isn’t really a “Muslim ban”).

beinart-holocaust-muslim-ban

In a probably futile attempt to make the virtue-signalers think twice, Lee Smith argued in Tablet that if today’s Syrian refugees are the “new Jews,” we should urgently figure out who are the new Nazis. According to Smith, it is Iran and “its crack troops, the Quds Force,” as well as Iranian proxies like Hezbollah and Assad ally Russia “that hunted Sunni Arabs like animals and slaughtered them or sent them running for their lives. These are the Nazis. That’s who sent the Syrians running for their lives like Jews fleeing Hitler.”

Writing at The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead and Nicholas M. Gallagher make a similar argument:

“The refugee question is not the only uncomfortable parallel between the 1930s and our own time. The real problem in the 1930s wasn’t the lack of compassion for Jewish and other refugees; it was the feckless appeasement of Adolf Hitler and the unwillingness to confront him that empowered the Nazi persecution of the Jews and created hundreds of thousands of refugees. So today the true villain of the Syria story—aside from Syria, Russia, and Iran—is the feckless Obama foreign policy that allowed a cyst to metastasize into a cancer, just as Britain, France, and America once allowed Hitler to grow into the master of Europe.

The Obama officials and cheerleaders now guilt-tripping the country over ‘heartlessness’ toward Syria refugees are giving hypocrisy a bad name. Bad foreign policy is the cause of the heartbreak in Syria today, not bad immigration policy. The world does not need lectures from Susan Rice and Samantha Power on what we should do about Syrian refugees; the best way to deal with refugee flows is to prevent them from happening. The Holocaust was not caused by the Reed-Johnson Act [which sharply curtailed immigration since 1924]; it was caused by Nazi hatred, enabled by naive liberal illusions about the ‘arc of history’ that prevented the West from mobilizing against Hitler when he was weak and [could have been] easily defeated.”

But current controversies about Muslim immigration are of course not just about Syrian refugees, and arguably, everyone who is eager to cite “lessons” of the 1930s and 1940s should be confronted with the fact that the murderous Jew-hatred of this time remains not only fairly popular in the Muslim world, but is further fortified by ancient Islamic enmity to Jews. While there is plenty of evidence for these unfortunate facts, the perhaps best example is the popular Muslim leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It is crucial to understand how enormously influential Qaradawi is: A 2009 book entitled “The Global Mufti” asserts that “Qaradawi is unquestionably the most important Sunni religious figure in the world today,” and a Huffington Post/World Post list of Arab “thought leaders” ranks the now ninety-year old cleric as number three for 2016.

According to the Huffington Post, Qaradawi is best known for his program “Sharia and Life,” which is broadcast on Al Jazeera and has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide; he has also published more than 120 books, and helped found the popular website IslamOnline, for which he has long served as “chief religious scholar.”

Interestingly, even the Huffington Post notes in its short biography on Qaradawi that due to some “controversial” views, he was refused entry to the UK (2008) and France (2012). One could add that also his US visa was revoked already in 1999, and he has even become controversial in the Arab world because many regard him “as the religious voice giving power to people in Arab countries to rise against their oppressive rulers.” Along with many Muslim Brotherhood members, an Egyptian court sentenced Qaradawi (in absentia) to death in 2015; Georgetown professor Abdullah Al-Arian denounced the sentence in his Al Jazeera column and praised Qaradawi as “possibly the most prominent religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world.”

Westerners who are eager to use the victims of the Holocaust for today’s political debates should be familiar with some of the relevant views of this highly influential Muslim scholar, who – as Al-Arian illustrates – has also well-placed admirers in the West.

In a speech broadcast on Al Jazeera TV on January 30, 2009, Qaradawi declared:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

qaradawi-hitler

 So apparently, Qaradawi would prefer to see Muslims not as the new Jews, but rather as the new Nazis.

A few weeks before Qaradawi expressed his hope that Muslims would follow in Hitler’s footsteps, he also prayed in a Friday sermon that was aired by Al Jazeera TV:

“Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them. […] oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”

These kind of fervent prayers calling on Allah to kill all the Jews are not uncommon – here is a selection: a Palestinian preacher (2010); a Hamas imam (2011); a Spanish imam (2014); an Italian preacher (2014); an imam in Berlin (2014); a Qatari sheikh (2014); a Palestinian sheikh (2016).

As far as Qaradawi is concerned, he had freely promoted his intense Jew-hatred already for years. In 2003, he published a book (in Arabic) explaining his “rulings” on Palestine; the book was translated to English in 2007. In this book Qaradawi warns Muslims not to be friends with “Jews, in general, and Israelis, in particular;” he describes Jews as “devourers of Riba (usury) and ill-gotten money” and as “true examples of miserliness and stinginess;” he also claims that Jews “have killed Prophet Zakariyya and Prophet Yahya and wove conspiracies against Jesus Christ.”

However, as Mark Gardner and Dave Rich noted in their review (full pdf text), the “most striking part of the book” is Qaradawi’s discussion of a notorious hadith [i.e. records “of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad” which are viewed “as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to the authority of the Qurʾān”] that also appears prominently in the Hamas Charter and reads:

“The last day will not come unless you fight Jews. A Jew will hide himself behind stones and trees and stones and trees will say, O servant of Allah [or O Muslim] there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.””

Qaradawi describes this hadith as “one of the miracles of our Prophet” and elaborates:

“[W]e believe that the battle between us and the Jews is coming. Such a battle is not driven by nationalistic causes or patriotic belonging; it is rather driven by religious incentives. This battle is not going to happen between Arabs and Zionists, or between Jews and Palestinians, or between Jews or anybody else. It is between Muslims and Jews as is clearly stated in the hadith. This battle will occur between the collective body of Muslims and the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews. (p. 77).”

Another notable admirer of this hadith is Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Palestinian Authority Mufti, who was appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and who is the highest religious official in the Palestinian Authority. As documented by Palestinian Media Watch: “At an event celebrating the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah [in January 2012], he cited the Hadith (Islamic tradition attributed to Muhammad) saying that the Hour of Resurrection will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”
Here is the video:

Gardner and Rich argue that Qaradawi “personifies the combination of theological anti-Judaism, modern European antisemitism and conflict-driven Judeophobia that make up contemporary Islamist attitudes to Jews.” But given the fact that Qaradawi has long been recognized as “possibly the most prominent religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world” – to quote Georgetown professor Abdullah Al-Arian – it is by no means clear that only “Islamists” would share his views on Jews. And indeed, there is plenty of evidence that antisemitism is not only rampant in the Arab and Muslim world, but also prevalent in Muslim communities in the West.

I would have thought that if we want to draw “lessons” from the Holocaust, one of the most important would be to never again ignore incitement to murderous Jew-hatred. But the recent International Holocaust Remembrance Day was just one of many occasions to realize that I’m apparently wrong.

A previous version of this post was published at EoZ, and in Polish at Listy z naszego sadu.

 

So progressive: alt-left anti-Israel activists find common ground with the alt-right

In the aftermath of the US election, proudly progressive Israel-haters have been happy to tell everyone who’d listen that they have been right all along – alt-right, to be precise. About a week after the election, Ali Abunimah informed his Electronic Intifada readers that Trump might be “bringing ‘white Zionism’ to the White House.”

aa-white-supremacy-zionism3

In order to explain what “white Zionism” is supposed to be, Abunimah cited the – in my view well-deserved – criticism of Steve Bannon’s leadership role at Breitbart, which has been denounced for regularly publishing “materials designed to stoke fears about African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and other groups, and to explicitly normalize white nationalist and white supremacist beliefs.” Abunimah then declared triumphantly: “This so-called alt-right ideology has been described by one of its key promoters as a form of ‘white Zionism.’”

Well, to Ali Abunimah it must have seemed like a golden opportunity: when half of America was in shock about Trump’s unexpected election victory and appalled by the prospect of an empowered alt-right, why not seize the moment and come up with a spin that might convince all these people that Zionism was just as bad and despicable???

But Abunimah was by no means the only one to demonize Zionism as the Jewish version of white supremacism: at the hate site Mondoweiss, Phillip Weiss accused renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah E. Lipstadt of “advocating a double standard” if she was denouncing “white nationalism as a white supremacist ideology” without condemning “Jewish nationalism” in the same terms.

A more recent post at Mondoweiss gloats about the widely reported failure of Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University to respond to alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s claim that Jews refused to assimilate and thus remained “a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future,” and that he just wants the same for whites. As Mondoweiss contributor Jonathan Ofir concludes, “Spencer masterfully put Rosenberg in a checkmate” by exposing “how Zionism and white-supremacy in fact dovetail.”

It’s good to know that alt-left anti-Israel activists would feel so elated to have their demonization of Zionism validated by the ‘masterful’ leader of the alt-right… The intellectual depth displayed here reminds me of Rania Khalek’s excuse when she was caught linking to a Holocaust denial site and then claimed it had just been “an error,” insisting at the same time that the book she had recommended from the site was “completely factual.” As I wrote at the time, Khalek was apparently convinced that a site devoted to minimizing Nazi crimes and defending people “not believing in the existence of gas chambers” can be trusted to feature a “completely factual” book that presents Zionist Jews as Nazi collaborators – which is obviously an idea that deserves as much ridicule and contempt as the notion that a white supremacist site would be a good place to find a “completely factual” book on blacks.

What anti-Israel activists who feel that the alt-right’s supposed affinity for Zionism validates their own “anti-Zionism” really tell us is that their view of Zionism has little to do with realities in the world’s only Jewish state.

Let’s look first at what Spencer means by “White Zionism”. This is how he put it at an alt-right gathering in 2013:

“For us ‘immigration’ is a proxy for race. In that way, immigration can be good or bad: it can be a conquest (as it seems now) . . . or a European in-gathering, something like White Zionism. It all depends on the immigrants. And we should open our minds to the positive possibilities of mass immigration from the White world.”

More recently, Spencer told the notorious alt-right gathering in Washington D.C. something very similar as he told Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University:

“The Jews exist precisely because they were apart, precisely because they had, maybe you could say, a bit of paranoia about trying to stay away — please don’t quote paranoia,” Spencer said.”

Right, let’s not quote “paranoia” – it’s perhaps not the best word to describe the results of more than a thousand years of antisemitism…

But in any case, others at the gathering agreed that the Jews provided an excellent example for white nationalists. As one participant put it:

“The opposition to intermarriage. The creation of their own state. The recreation of their language. This is the greatest triumph of racial idealism in history.”

So let’s start with intermarriage (and leave aside that I’m writing this as a naturalized non-Jewish Israeli citizen who “intermarried” with a Jew). While the alt-right hopes to be able to mainstream their ideas under President Trump, they presumably know that Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism and married a Jew. So if white nationalists want to emulate Jews, they’ve surely developed some ideas about how non-Whites can convert to being white? And another interesting question: what language do white nationalists plan to recreate?

Anyway, to clarify things a bit more, I thought white nationalists might find it useful to contemplate this image before praising Israel for any supposed “greatest triumph of racial idealism in history”…

idf-diversity

Mhm, you think this is how white nationalists would want their army to look? And, incidentally, how do you think white nationalists would feel if they knew the story of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who was found guilty of sexual offenses and sentenced to a lengthy prison term by a well-respected Christian Arab judge? If white nationalists see Israel as their example, maybe we should expect that they’ll have well-respected Black Muslim judges in their state?

I could go on, but I agree with Gilead Ini’s recent remark on Twitter: taking the alt-right’s professed admiration for the world’s only Jewish state seriously, and trying to show how insincere and uninformed it is, may not make more sense than countering other libels by  “arguing that Zionism isn’t Nazism or that Jews don’t drink blood.”

But the alt-left’s eagerness to embrace the alt-right’s fantasy of Israel as a validation of campaigns aimed at eliminating the world’s only Jewish state shows how alike both fringes are: the alt-right wants a white state without Jews, the alt-left wants a world without a Jewish state – and if their respective visions were to come true, the alt-right couldn’t care less about the fate of Jews in the diaspora, while the alt-left couldn’t care less about the fate of Jews in Israel.

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A previous version of this post was published at EoZ.

Max Blumenthal triggers a wave of buyer’s remorse

For the past few years, Max Blumenthal has worked hard to establish himself as a leading anti-Israel activist who is rightly celebrated wherever there are Jew-haters. But while Blumenthal’s “pro-Palestinian” fans could see nothing wrong with his “journalism” as long as it served to demonize Israel, they have come to reject the exact same kind of “journalism” as deeply offensive hackery when Blumenthal turned his attention to Syria. Since many people were hoping that Syria’s truly heroic rescuers known as “White Helmets” would get this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Blumenthal apparently felt an irresistible urge to show off his journalistic brilliance by exposing the Syria Campaign – a group supporting the White Helmets – as an evil tool of the West. Not deceived by “the lofty rhetoric about solidarity and the images of heroic rescuers rushing in to save lives,” Blumenthal triumphantly discovered “an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change.”

So brilliant and so obvious at the same time, isn’t it: given Bashar al-Assad’s benevolent rule, no Syrian could possibly want “regime change”…

The backlash against Blumenthal and his closest allies – notably Ali Abunimah and some of his Electronic Intifada writers – was quick and furious. Admittedly, it was a rather enjoyable spectacle, because a lot of the harsh criticism now voiced by disappointed fans (who want to see Israel gone as much as the likes of Blumenthal) could have been quoted from posts I and other critics of his screeds have written: suddenly people were ready to denounce “Max’s fact-free delusions” and his “smear pieces;” my personal favorite was perhaps when Blumenthal’s gonzo journalism was mocked in a tweet ridiculing how he usually concocts the “evidence” to indict his targets: “This NGO took money from a fund whose director once ate lunch in the same restaurant as an employee of an Islamophobe.” (Another delightful parody of Blumenthal’s “journalism” is here). Incidentally, this is also an excellent description of the modus operandi regularly followed by Ali Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada crew.

Abunimah was quick to complain that this was a “coordinated smear campaign that’s been going on for months,” and naturally, he had no doubt about the sinister forces behind it all: it was, of course, an “Israel-lobby inspired smear campaign.” Stalwart Abunimah fans like the perpetually “Angry Arab” agreed: it just couldn’t be a “coincidence that the campaign is being directed against some of the bravest voices against Israel in the US.”

Abunimah reacted with a torrent of tweets hurling abuse against his critics – and his bullying ultimately paid off: a blog post under the title “Palestinians decry Western Assad apologists” named only Max Blumenthal and linked to a statement signed by about 120 “Palestinian signatories” that denounced unnamed “Allies We’re Not Proud Of.” The statement declared that the signatories “are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria” and decried the “tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle,” vowing that the signatories would “no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis.”

An Al Jazeera article on the controversy also avoided naming names, though the author forcefully condemned activists who regard the “Palestinian cause” merely as a convenient “platform … to vent their selective anti-imperialist outrage.” Interestingly, this article painted a rather dramatic picture of the controversy:

“The Palestine solidarity movement is facing an unprecedented internal crisis, brought about not by the conflict with Israel but by the war in Syria. The latter has caused divisions that are arguably deeper and more damaging than those over how to realise Palestinian rights and aspirations. While the effects of Palestinian political infighting have remained largely domestic, the fissures over Syria have taken on a global dimension, and created unparalleled hostility among supporters of the Palestinian cause.”

There was indeed quite a bit of “hostility” on social media, some of it helpfully documented by Ali Abunimah himself. One telling example is archived here: Abunimah complained that the “Syrian American Medical Assoc. launches incitement campaign against me/others, claims we’re paid by Assad/Russia.” And apparently, Abunimah didn’t like getting a taste of his own medicine: “This level of incitement – comparing us to Hitler – is getting to dangerous levels.” Abunimah also took offense when his dear friend Max Blumenthal got the Max Blumenthal treatment from erstwhile fans.

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Clearly, Abunimah feels that Nazi smears should only be reserved for Israel.

The controversy also revealed a few interesting tidbits showing “pro-Palestinian” stars like Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek in a rather unflattering light. If Blumenthal really “went to Gaza &burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint,” the boundless admiration he has expressed for Hamas perhaps also reflects some rather unhealthy psychological dispositions: the more brutal the bully, the more admiration Blumenthal will feel – which may well help to explain why Blumenthal has so much contempt for Israel and the US, and so much respect for Hamas, Assad, Russia and Iran.

mb-cries-at-hamas-checkpoint1

But while I couldn’t find confirmation for the delightful insider rumor about Hamas reducing Blumenthal to tears, I did manage to find evidence for the accusation that Electronic Intifada “associate editor” Rania Khalek is a plagiarist: if you check out this 2008 post on “6 ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons That’ll Make You Wish You Were Dead” and scroll to the comments, you will find one posted on August 4th, 2011, which says: “This article has recently been plagiarized by someone named Rania Khalek for a website called Alternet. It’s not even subtle. […] The title of the stolen article is ‘6 Creepy New Weapons the Police and Military Use To Subdue Unarmed People’ and it was published August 1st 2011.” Sure enough, there is such an Alternet article by Khalek, which is marked as “updated” at the beginning and adorned with an “EDITOR’S NOTE” at the end stating: “This article has been corrected since its original publication for more accurate attribution to original sources.” Isn’t this a delicate way to put it…

Khalek’s author archive at Alternet shows that her regular contributions at the site ended a few months later in January 2012, but resumed again after three years in January 2015 – and amazingly enough, the plagiarized piece was promptly recycled under the exact same title, without the “editor’s note” and without any hint that it had been published years earlier. I suppose that’s Alternet quality journalism …

Last but not least, the disappointment expressed by erstwhile Blumenthal fans offered many more revealing glimpses at how truly pathetic many supporters of the “Palestinian cause” are. One heartbroken Blumenthal fan lamented: “I regret writing a review of @MaxBlumenthal’s Gaza book for @MuftahOrg http://muftah.org/a-review-of-max-blumenthals-the-51-day-war-ruin-and-resistance-in-gaza/ … I see that he’s fallen as low as Rania Khalek.” Check out the linked review posted on July 29, 2015, and you’ll find the highest praise for the “fearless integrity that fuels Blumenthal’s reporting.” You’ll also find that this review is illustrated with an image of the aftermath of a deadly “explosion … at a public garden near Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 28, 2014.” It’s hard to think of a better illustration for a review praising Blumenthal, because Israel had immediately said that the carnage was caused by Hamas rockets, and even Amnesty International ultimately conceded in the spring of 2015 that “the projectile was a Palestinian rocket.” Ignoring this fact is really a good example of Blumenthal-style “integrity”.

So here’s a lesson for erstwhile Blumenthal fan Joey Husseini Ayoub and the likes of him: if you hail a hack like Blumenthal who glorifies an Islamist terror group like Hamas for his “fearless integrity,” you just look utterly pathetic when you denounce him for serving as an apologist for Syria’s Assad: Hamas and Assad have pretty much the same concern for the people under their rule. Just as the current carnage in Syria is due to Assad’s determination to hold on to power, all the wars in Gaza in the last decade are due to Hamas’ cynical efforts to polish their credentials as the “Islamic Resistance Movement.”

But I suppose there’s really nothing more “pro-Palestinian” than to quickly forget how Hamas threw opponents from high-rises in Gaza, tortured them and dragged their bodies through the streets, or executed them ISIS-style on public squares – a spectacle that was actually defended by Ali Abunimah. Maybe Max Blumenthal recalled atrocities like these when he burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint: it must be really scary to be at the mercy of people who treat their own like this – even if you’re a “journalist” who came to glorify those brutal bullies.

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This is an updated version of a post first published at Elder of Ziyon.

Manal Tamimi: Still proud to showcase her hate on Twitter

When I first documented Manal Tamimi’s hate-filled views under the title “Screaming hate on Twitter” a year ago, Manal Tamimi reacted with defiant pride. As I documented in an update to this post, she responded on Facebook and Twitter reaffirming her views, and promptly continued posting additional tweets expressing her hatred for Israel and her support for terrorist attacks and a “Third Intifada”. More recently, presumably in response to my Tablet piece marking the 15th anniversary of the Sbarro bombing, she took the trouble to leave a comment on my site, thanking me (again) “4 taking all this time 2 follow me on Twitter & FB and taking time 2 write this article about me” and encouraging me to “keep [up] the good work by keeping following me so you will be updated.”

So I should really say: dear Manal, you are very welcome. In fact, it is me who should thank you for taking all this time to provide us with such a revealing glimpse of your ardent support for terror and your equally ardent Jew-hatred.

But courtesies aside, I’ll admit that I was not just being polite when I followed Manal Tamimi’s encouragement and put together a slide show featuring about 40 of her tweets (see the YouTube clip at the end of this post). There are several reasons why her tweets are important. First, it should be recalled that Ben Ehrenreich’s tribute to the Tamimis, which was featured as a New York Times Magazine cover story three years ago, presented her as a member of the “homegrown media team” that runs the PR efforts of Tamimi Press, noting that Manal Tamimi had taken it upon herself to supplement these efforts “with a steady outpouring of tweets (@screamingtamimi).” So it seems fair to conclude that the views she expresses are not just her own, but reflect the outlook of her fellow “activists” in Nabi Saleh. Indeed, if one considers the publicly available social media posts of other prominent Tamimi clan members (also documented in this EoZ video), it is clear that Manal Tamimi’s output on Twitter is quite representative of the hatred and extremism they all regularly exhibit – so far apparently without jeopardizing the support they’ve enjoyed for years from Amnesty International.

Moreover, given the fact that the prevalence of similar attitudes has been documented in Palestinian opinion surveys for almost two decades, it would be wrong to see Manal Tamimi’s tweets just as a reflection of what the Tamimis stand for. So-called “pro-Palestinian” activists often demand that more attention should be paid to Palestinian voices, and the outspoken Manal Tamimi should definitely count as a Palestinian voice that can tell you all you always wanted to know — but were rightly afraid to ask — about Palestinian “resistance.”

However, it would perhaps be unfair not to note that in her recent comment on my website, Manal Tamimi claimed to know the difference “between zionists & jew,” and she asserted: “I have a very good jew friends who come 2 my house where I cook meals and eat , laugh and enjoy our time together.”

When you view her tweets in the slide show, you can decide for yourself how well Manal Tamimi knows the difference “between Zionists & jew.” But given her reference to “very good jew friends who come 2 my house,” one should perhaps recall how she responded last fall, when veteran Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin criticized her on Twitter for calling a teenage terrorist “habibi” (a common Arabic term of endearment). But Manal Tamimi saw no reason to feel embarrassed and responded: “@gershonbaskin shame on me ???? Shame on me ???? And why is that Mr Gershon,” reminding Baskin later on: “uve been in my house & my children welcome u despite u r jew, do u remember?”

Some four weeks after this exchange with Baskin, Manal Tamimi posted a cartoon showing a Nazi figure beating a hideous creature marked as a Jew. As you can see, there is an almost identical image that identifies the creature as a “Jew Rat.”

mtamimi-jew-rat

The comment Manal Tamimi added to the image – “Hhhhhhh palestinian and zionists” – equated Palestinians with the Nazi figure, which was a somewhat surprising departure from her usual habit of denouncing Israelis as Nazis or “zioNazists”. When an obviously well-meaning Twitter user warned her in Arabic* that she had posted “a picture of Nazism” even though “the Palestinians are more honorable than the Nazis, they are defending their land and their freedom,” Manal Tamimi confidently declared: “The important thing is the idea, we the Palestinians are the ones who are going to teach Israel a lesson, we are going to hurt them and we will achieve victory over them as well.”

Perhaps she just meant to say something like “Sieg Heil”?

*Translations from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutros; since the Tamimis sometimes delete posts that attract widespread public criticism, the post is archived here.

First published at Elder of Ziyon.