Tag Archives: Rania Khalek

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.”

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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.

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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.

Rania Khalek’s antisemitic anti-Zionism

Since I wrote about Rania Khalek and her “updates on Jewish evil” almost a year ago (belatedly cross-posted below because it is relevant to this new installment), her career as an anti-Israel activist has taken off: she is now an “associate editor” at Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada and writes regular posts for the site. Her most recent contributions include a piece entitled “Ta-Nehisi Coates sings of Zionism,” where she attacks the award-winning American writer for what she deems “one of his most glaring political lapses.” What bothers Khalek so much is that, in order to make the case that American Blacks should receive reparations for slavery and discrimination, “Coates presents German reparations to Israel as a successful and moral model, ignoring the horrors Israel inflicted and still inflicts on Palestinians and other people of the region using those funds.”

Before looking at Khalek’s new outburst of blatant bigotry, it is worthwhile noting that the title of her piece echoes a 2008 post by Ta-Nehisi Coates – “The Negro Sings Of Zionism” – where he described the “need for Barack Obama to assure us that he is, indeed, the best friend Israel could ever have” as “distasteful.” For whatever reason, anti-Israel activists discovered some six years later that they should take Coates to task for “[i]nvoking Malcolm X to justify Zionism” in this piece, and Coates duly apologized: “Yes it is [sad]. Penned as though the Palestinian people do not exist. Deeply wrong.” He added: “Apologies for pontificating on an actual struggle, as though it were a pet science project.”

Khalek is also picking up a story from 2014, when Ta-Nehisi Coates first made his by now famous “Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic. It is perhaps noteworthy that this piece opens with a quote from Deuteronomy 15: 12–15:

“And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.”

Perhaps prompted by the major awards Coates has received in the past two years, Rania Khalek apparently felt that it was finally time to air the longstanding resentment she seems to have nurtured ever since Coates and his Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg didn’t allow her to derail the discussion at an event she attended in 2014. She has opined on Twitter that “[i]t’s unfortunate that @tanehisicoates offers legitimacy to war crimes enthusiast & apartheid lover @JeffreyGoldberg” and has wondered how anyone can “take Coates seriously as an anti-racist while he allies w a former Kahanist Israeli prison guard who cheered the Iraq war.”

Luckily, Khalek now has the Electronic Intifada to showcase her bigotry. As far as she is concerned, Coates is guilty of “lauding Germany’s bankrolling of a racist, settler-colonial state as a model;” furthermore, Khalek feels that Coates “ignores the Nakba, erases Palestinian suffering and gives Germany a free pass for making Palestinians into secondary victims of its European genocide.”

Unsurprisingly, Khalek also claims that the “narrative” Coates advances “completely ignores the fact that while other Jews were resisting the Nazis, Zionists infamously made a deal with them, the notorious Transfer Agreement of 1933, to facilitate the transport of German Jews and their property to Palestine and which, as Joseph Massad points out, broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews.”

Yes, you read this correctly: Khalek is saying here that the evil Zionists should be condemned for trying to help Jews flee Nazi Germany instead of leaving them to their fate. In order to make her bigoted case, she linked to two Al Jazeera op-eds by notorious Columbia University professor Joseph Massad, who is listed as an Electronic Intifada contributor and whose writings on Israel are sometimes hard to distinguish from material posted on neo-Nazi sites like Stormfront. When Al Jazeera published one of the Massad articles Khalek links to back in 2013, Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted sarcastically: “Congratulations, al Jazeera: You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.”

Some of the reactions to Khalek’s piece are documented in this Israellycool post; it is particularly noteworthy that Ali Abunimah responded to criticism of Khalek’s piece by accusing critics of “defending Zionist-Nazi collaboration.” As Avi Mayer rightly pointed out, what Abunimah denounces as “collaboration” saved the lives of some 60,000 German Jews, and it is definitely hard to avoid the conclusion that Abunimah “would have preferred they be left to die.”

For more on the vile fantasies about “Zionist-Nazi collaboration” that are so popular among anti-Israel activists, see the following post that was originally published at my JPost blog in April 2015. But while this post focuses on Rania Khalek, it is important to note that Ali Abunimah fully supports her bigotry and that he is an ardent admirer of Massad, who uses his academic position to legitimate material that is promoted on neo-Nazi sites.

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Rania Khalek’s updates on Jewish evil

You may have never heard of Rania Khalek – a Lebanese-American “journalist” who thinks “objectivity is bullshit” and is apparently prone to anxiously counting how many Jews write about her favorite topics – but she is quite popular among anti-Israel activists. While Khalek is in no way original and keeps busy with simply amplifying the themes propagated by sites like Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada, she recently managed to provide a truly excellent example of the pervasive antisemitism that is a quasi-professional hazard for activists dedicated to demonizing the world’s only Jewish state as a monstrous evil that must be denounced in terms eerily reminiscent of the anti-Jewish bigotry of bygone times.

In an effort to promote the among anti-Israel activists popular claim that there was some sinister “Zionist collaboration with Nazi Germany,” Khalek recently posted a tweet linking to a clip of Max Blumenthal regaling an audience in Stuttgart, Germany, with his tall tales on this subject. As Nurit Baytch, who documented the resulting developments, put it so pithily, Khalek then tried “to link Zionism to anti-Semitism by linking to Holocaust denial site VHO.org, inadvertently laying bare the much more pervasive links between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

Khalek was apparently not much bothered that Nurit Baytch had caught her linking to a Holocaust denial site, but she did react when BuzzFeed’s Tom Gara took notice on Twitter.

RK tweets Holocaust denial site

Khalek deleted her tweet and responded to Gara that it had just been “an error,” insisting at the same time that the book she had recommended from the site was “completely factual.” In other words, Khalek is 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 look for a “completely factual” book on blacks.

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Of course, as I have noted in a previous post dealing with the same sordid subject, those truly interested in the alleged “collaboration” between Zionists and Nazi Germany could consult a serious scholarly study on this topic – though admittedly, Professor Nicosia’s book wouldn’t satisfy anti-Israel activists like Khalek, since Nicosia warns already in his introduction [pdf] that readers eager to “somehow equate Zionism with National Socialism, Zionists with Nazis, or to portray this relationship as a willing and collaborative one between moral and political equals” won’t find what they’re looking for.

So it looks like Rania Khalek and her ilk are reduced to relying on books that, for good reason, are promoted by Nazi-sympathizers and Jew-haters…

But Khalek provided yet another example of the antisemitism that inevitably infects the efforts to present Israel as the Jew among the nations. The idea that the Jews are to blame for what’s wrong with the world and especially for whatever evil you suffer from or hate most has formed the core resentment of Jew-hatred throughout the centuries. The Nazis succinctly summarized it in the slogan “The Jews are our misfortune.” Khaled presented her version of this pernicious and ancient meme updated for the 21st century at an event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley earlier this week. The preposterous title of her talk was “Palestine: A Laboratory of Global Repression,” and the advertisement highlighted just how monstrously evil the world’s only Jewish state is [my emphasis]:

“What Israel does to Palestinians doesn’t stay in Palestine. Israel uses Palestine as a laboratory to test, refine, and showcase weapons of domination and control. These weapons are then exported around the world for use on other marginalized populations, from the killing fields of Gaza to the teargassed streets of Ferguson. Zionism is an engine for ‘combat proven’ repression technology that sustains racism and inequality across the globe.

RK at UCBerkeley

Khalek later retweeted a number of tweets posted by admirers who had attended her presentation, including one that cited her asserting that Israel was “becoming [the] ‘repression engine’ of the globe, spreading tech to maintain white supremacy world-wide.”

If antisemitism wasn’t such a lethal and still all too vigorous hatred, one could almost be amused: One day Rania Khalek relies on a site run by white supremacists to demonize Israel, and the next day she demonizes Israel for “spreading tech to maintain white supremacy world-wide.”

But of course, whatever Khalek’s twists and turns, her message remains the same: the Jewish state is our misfortune. If it wasn’t for Israel, who would ‘sustain racism and inequality across the globe?’ And, as one of her fans tweeted from her talk: “Opposing Zionism [is] not just important for Palestinian self-determination, it’s important for [the] self-determination of all oppressed.” Naturally, without Zionism the Kurds would have a state, as would the Baloch and the Tibetans and the people of Western Sahara and maybe even Iran’s Ahwazis; without Zionism, nobody would be oppressed – in short, a world without the Jew of the nations would be a much better place: it would be Juden-Staat-rein and its nations would live happily ever after in peace and prosperity, just as they did before there was a Jewish state…