Category Archives: Anti-Semitism

MEPIN Thoughts for the Weekend

Replying to the following reporting.

Two media events struck me this weekend. The first was the lack of mainstream media reporting that Palestinian Authority President Abbas’ Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for shooting rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian population areas this Saturday. Isn’t this the government that President Biden just restored funding to?

The second story involves NPR and their reporting of the recent riots in Jerusalem. The story reported that right-wing Israelis were marching in Jerusalem, screaming death to Arabs, while attacking Palestinians leaving Damascus gate after Ramadan prayers. 

What was not reported was that this was in reaction to videos circulating on social media of those same Arabs attacking religious Jews in Jerusalem on previous nights. Of course, there is no justification for attacking anyone, and certainly not for screaming death to Arabs, but the situation was complex. This was classic reporting of facts out of context to advance an anti-Israel political viewpoint. It was an opinion disguised as news. 

Just to be clear, the only person interviewed by NPR in the report was a so-called Israeli activist who parroted the anti-Israel narrative. Unfortunately, nuance and balance are not on the agenda if they get in the way of progressive activism. 

Sorry professors, but BDS and double standards for Israel are anti-Semitism

Where are their voices for freedom of speech when their pro-Israel students and their speakers are screamed down in the name of racism, apartheid and colonialism?

The growing acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism by scores of nations, including the European Union, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and our own country, have made critics of Israel apoplectic. This is because the IHRA asserts that many forms of anti-Zionism rise to the threshold of anti-Semitism. This has driven both anti-Zionists and harsh critics of Israel to find ways to undermine the legitimacy of IHRA. The most recent attempt is to create new definitions of anti-Semitism that minimize or eliminate any association between anti-Semitism and delegitimizing Israel’s existence.

Recently, a group of 200 university professors has taken up the mantle against the IHRA with their Jerusalem Declaration of Anti-Semitism (JDA). It states that opposing Zionism or Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state doesn’t necessarily constitute anti-Semitism. It defines anti-Semitism as discrimination, prejudice or violence against individual Jews or Jewish institutions, but eliminates any association between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
It is as if they are living in a time warp, damning old-time anti-Semitism while ignoring the most recent and virulent strain of anti-Semitism emanating mainly from the hard left. That virus has mutated from the politically incorrect prejudice against the Jewish religion into the new anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jewish nation. As one of the signatories said, “The Israeli government and its supporters have a keen interest in blurring the distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism to paint any substantive, harsh criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians as anti-Semitic.”

Photo credit: Stand with US

According to the JDA definition of anti-Semitism, “hatred of Israel” is not anti-Semitism. Boycotting, demonizing and sanctioning Israel is not anti-Semitism. Mind you, this is not just BDS of products from the West Bank, but boycotting all of Israel because it does not have a right to exist, as their Palestinian supporters allege. Sorry professors, this is anti-Semitism in its most blatant form. One doesn’t even need the IHRA definition to know it.

Harsh critics of Israel are alarmed that the IHRA definition is gaining more legitimacy, adding more national governments, colleges, organizations, and local and state governments to the list of supporters. And they worry for a good reason. IHRA explicitly targets all forms of anti-Semitism—from old-time right-wing hatred of Jews to today’s progressive anti-Semitism. Right-wing anti-Semitism gets all the notoriety because it is often manifested as local violence against Jewish people or their property. Left-wing anti-Semitism is ubiquitous on college campuses among academics and pro-Palestinian students, and of more significant consequence, advocating policies that threaten an entire country’s safety. And being Jewish does not mean that someone who supports reprehensible anti-Jewish policies gets a pass.

Signers of the JDA twist themselves in knots claiming that anti-Israel actions don’t have much to do with anti-Semitism. Yet many of them are invested in Palestinian “rights” and disregard Palestinian society’s pervasive advocacy of hatred and violence, from their mosques to media to schools and government, which is blatantly anti-Semitic. When these professors next go to Ramallah, they should notice that the word “Jew” and “Israeli” are interchangeable. Palestinian calls for two states—one binational and the other Arab—are just fine with them, knowing that this would mean Israel’s demographic destruction.

Many of these professors who rightly claim love for the freedom of speech are mute about today’s campus environment, where pro-Israel students are demonized, intimidated and restrained from their First Amendment rights by Palestinian supporters. Protecting students who disagree with your perspective used to be a pillar of academic freedom, but too many professors are activists first, not academics. Silence makes one complicit in stigmatizing Zionist students and pro-Israel professors. This is the very definition of illiberalism. Where are their voices for freedom of speech when their pro-Israel students and their speakers are screamed down in the name of racism, apartheid and colonialism? Is that not anti-Semitism?

One signer of the JDA claimed the IHRA had reached a “point where Palestinian students feel threatened on campus.” This is Orwellian. A primary reason for the need for the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was the threats and intimidation to Jewish students on campus by Palestinians and their supporters. A 2015 Brandeis University poll of North American colleges’ Jewish students found “nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported having been exposed … during the past year to a least one anti-Semitic statement.” There is little evidence of any concerted intimidation against Palestinian students. Still, they and their progressive supporters are often the perpetrators of anti-Semitism against Jewish students who are pro-Israel.

True academic integrity should demand that many of these professors define themselves as pro-Palestinian or anti-Zionist and not hide behind the pro-peace, pro-Israel moniker. Who are some of the signatories? City University of New York professor and New York Times writer Peter Beinart wrote an article in July 2020 titled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” In response, the ADL’s deputy director said “such calls are themselves anti-Semitic, or at the very least, as in the case of Mr. Beinart, play into the hands of the anti-Semites.”

Another endorser of the JDA definition is the anti-Zionist Richard Falk. Former President Barack Obama’s representative to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, called his comments on Israel “deeply offensive,” condemning them in the “strongest terms.” She charged that Falk had a “one-sided and politicized view of Israel’s situation and the Palestinian Territories.” No wonder he signed a definition of anti-Semitism that minimized equating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred.

So kudos to those professors who fight against right-wing anti-Semitism; we should all join them. But shame on them for claiming that it’s not anti-Semitism to back the BDS movement, to deny the Jewish people a right to self-determination, to allow Israel to be judged by a double standard and to intimidate Jewish students on campus because they are pro-Israel.

Biden vs. Trump on Israel and anti-Semitism

{Previously published by the JNS}

A pro-Israel friend of mine told me that he wished AIPAC would publish an unbiased list comparing the policy differences between former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. President Donald Trump in regard to Israel. It was refreshing to hear in our current political climate someone who wanted to objectively analyze past actions and future policy positions of the candidates, as well as looking at their current foreign-policy advisers and associates.

In the minefield of American politics, trying to look at the facts in context and draw conclusions is almost impossible, as ad hominem attacks rule the day—unfortunately, many of them justified.

Trump haters see a president who is a narcissistic and racial divider, lacking intellectual depth and with a willful aversion to the truth. To others, Biden represents a person who has lost his cognitive abilities and is completely under the sway of the anti-Israel progressive wing of his party. Those progressives want to tear down America and create a Socialist republic that redistributes wealth; they call for reparations; and promote a victimhood mentality that allows Palestinians to remain as perpetual victims, while viewing Israel as a colonialist enterprise that should be sent to the scrapheap of racist regimes.

Now that I have your attention and have raised your blood pressure, let’s try, without contempt or bile, to compare what Trump and Biden have said and done concerning Israel and American Jews. The list is not exhaustive, but it should stimulate your intellectual curiosity and motivate you to Google for more answers. Bottom of Form

Critics of Trump claim that he is the icon of white supremacists who hate Jews, dog-whistling anti-Semitic tropes that only they can hear. Biden will often cite Trump’s divisive words in at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., that exhibited anti-Jewish vitriol as the best example. Some claim that those words were taken out of context.

Supporters of Trump will claim that he is the most pro-Israel President in history, sanctioning the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, cutting off funds to UNWRA for perpetuating a false narrative that descendants of Palestinian refugees are entitled to go into Israel, penalizing the Palestinian Authority for incentivizing terrorism, and acknowledging that Israel has international legal rights over the 1967 line, allowing it to extend sovereignty into the West Bank.

For clarity, Israel truly annexed the Golan Heights because it had a previous legitimate stakeholder, Syria, whereas Israel cannot technically annex anything in the West Bank because the last legal entity, the Ottoman Empire, does not exist anymore. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter memorializes Israel’s rights in the West Bank, so the proper term would be extending sovereignty, rather than annexation. The wisdom of exercising those rights is subject to a legitimate debate between Trump and Biden supporters.

Critics of Trump claim that his one-sided actions against the Palestinians have made a two states for two people’s resolution of the conflict almost impossible. An icon of J Street and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Peter Beinart, went so far as to write a New York Times opinion piece titled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” Critics claim that Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” Mideast plan grants Israel land in the West Bank, and would turn Israel into an apartheid and undemocratic state undeserving of American support. There is a new Democrat House letter demanding the end of funding for Israel in response to its “annexation.”

Trump supporters claim that Biden, despite Iranian transgressions of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, intends to rejoin that fatally flawed agreement, which endangers both U.S. and Israeli national security interests. Made under the Obama administration, it willfully ignored Iran’s increased human-rights abuses against its citizens, its missile development and its support of global terrorism (particularly against the Jewish state), while enriching the Islamic Republic with billions in sanctions relief.

Biden supporters claim that the JCPOA was a good, if imperfect, agreement that ended the ability of Iran to ever have a nuclear weapon. Critics claim that the deal is actually a pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon, legitimizing their possession to a terrorist regime that has called time and again for the annihilation of America and Israel, as they have to wait only a few years for the deal’s nuclear prohibitions to expire.

Biden supporters acclaim the Obama passage of UNSC Resolution 2334, which stated that Israel would be in flagrant violation of international law if it keeps possession of any land over the 67 Line, as advancing peace and a two-state solution because it forces Israel to negotiate based on the 1967 line, which is the Palestinian position. Critics claim this hurts Israel’s security by undermining UNSC Resolution 242, which recognized Israel’s 1967 defensive line as unacceptably vulnerable to its neighbors who have repeatedly launched wars against them, acknowledging that Israel can never go back to that indefensible position.

Biden supporters claim that he and President Barack Obama were very pro-Israel, as evidenced by the largest financial-aid package ever given to Israel, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) worth more than $30 billion during the course of 10 years. They also say that Biden was supportive of additional aid to help Israel with its anti-missile system. Critics say that the amount of the MOU was actually reduced as punishment for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu going to Congress against Obama’s wishes to fight against the Iran deal—the Obama administration’s prized foreign-policy legacy. Advocates of military aid to Israel point out that almost all the money given to Israel for defense spending goes to American contractors, thereby helping the U.S. economy, and that this is a two-way street, as Israeli soldiers are arguably doing our work for us, being our only reliable ally in a region of fickle dictatorships.

Trump supporters say that if you want to look at where Biden is going on Israel, you only have to look at the head of his foreign-policy transition team, Avril Haines. She signed a J Street letter critical of Israel advocating for a more “balanced” position in the Democratic Convention Platform, treating Israel and Palestinians equally, and would not be “silent on the rights of Palestinians, on Israeli actions that undermine those rights and the prospects for a two-state solution.”

Biden supporters say that if you want to know who Joe is, just look at his statements at AIPAC conventions over the last 30 years, and the pro-Israel letters and legislation that he has signed onto. In 2016, he said, “Israel will always exist strong and capable as the ultimate guarantor of security for Jewish people around the world. That is the abiding moral obligation we have.” Biden supporters claim that Trump crossed the line when he claimed that Jews who vote Democratic are disloyal. Biden responded, “Mr. President, these comments are insulting and inexcusable … . It may not be beneath you, but it is beneath the office you hold.”

Trump supporters claim that the charge that he is anti-Semitic is ludicrous, as his grandchildren and daughter are Orthodox Jews. His executive action protecting Jewish students on college campuses from harassment and intimidation for expressing their pro-Israeli advocacy is now protected under the Civil Rights Act and applauded by pro-Israel supporters, but condemned as a violation of free speech by progressives who support Biden. According to AMCHA—an organization that battles campus anti-Semitism—the Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition equating anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism has seen a 300 percent increase in challenging that definition, something that has been incorporated into the Trump strategy to fight anti-Semitism.

In America today, getting anyone to appreciate or respect different policies and opinions is a lost cause. The visceral reaction to Trump is palpable, and his rhetoric does him no favors. For others, Biden is no different from the progressive anti-Israel “Squad” in Congress, and his articulation problems do him no favors. Biden’s much-anticipated choice of a vice-presidential candidate will be venerated on the left and excoriated on the right.

American Jews vote overwhelmingly Democrat, and for many, Trump’s divisive actions have made this an easy choice. For a minority of American Jews, Biden may be a good man, but has lost his way on Israel and would be a dangerous choice for its long-term security. His stated policy to rejoin the Iran deal poses a serious threat to Israel, and his views on the Palestinians and international law are naive at best, and dangerous at worst.

America will survive Trump or Biden. But for the minority of American Jews who have Israel as one of their top-five policy issues in voting for a president, would  Biden or Trump be a better choice to enhance U.S.-Israeli relations? Or would one of them actually endanger Israel by his policy decisions?

Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network. He regularly briefs members of the U.S. Senate, House and their foreign-policy advisers. He is a columnist for “The Jerusalem Post” and a contributor to i24TV, “The Hill,” JTA and “The Forward.”

A Year of Weaponized Words, Antisemitism, and Revisionist History

{Previously Published in The Jerusalem Post}

Another misused word directed at Israel is the charge of apartheid. Anyone opening up a real dictionary would see that the true meaning of the word has nothing to do with anything in Israel. 

A year ago I didn’t know that “it’s all about the Benjamins” was an antisemitic slur. I could never have predicted that a self-identified group of “Justice Democrats” who would call themselves “the Squad,” would become a virtual seminar in antisemitic rhetoric, and the voice of an intolerant intersectional movement that disparages anyone who crosses them as a racist, Islamophobic or a bigot.

The appropriation and distortion of words like concentration camps, apartheid, Nazi and martyr is bad enough coming from the Squad, but over the last year, the words have been weaponized and have become part of mainstream discourse, exemplified by the antisemite UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, some mainstream media outlets, Palestinian leadership and on college campuses where it flourishes in academia and in “social justice” movements.

Words are mightier than the sword, and in the history of Jew hatred, they have led to Inquisitions, Crusades, pogroms, discrimination, delegitimization, expulsions and the Holocaust.

This has been a big year for the misappropriation of the word martyr, whose meaning was twisted by PA President Mahmoud Abbas after the US Congress withdrew American taxpayer funds under the Taylor Force Law for those we call terrorists in a “Pay to Slay” scheme, but are called glorious martyrs by the Palestinian Authority. This month, Abbas said “We reject [the] designation of our martyrs as terrorists… they are ‘the most sacred thing we have.’” In what sick universe are suicide bombers, kidnappers and killers of children martyrs?

One member of the Squad opened their Orwellian vocabulary to misappropriate the word massacre to describe Israeli soldiers killing terrorists who were targeting Israeli civilians along the Gaza border, as a “massacre of protesters.”

Another misused word directed at Israel is the charge of apartheid. Anyone opening up a real dictionary would see that the true meaning of the word has nothing to do with anything in Israel, but since the term is so heinous, it has been appropriated as a tool to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.

This year has been a big year for the term “dual loyalty.” Minnesota Justice Democrat Ilhan Omar charged Jewish legislators with dual loyalty, by “hav[ing] allegiance… to a foreign country [Israel].”

Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey, who will be challenged by a Justice Democrat next year, confronted Omar’s antisemitic smear, reminding her “throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence.”

US President Donald Trump also inappropriately used words evoking dual loyalty this summer, when he charged Jews who vote Democrat as being disloyal to Israel. As a supporter of Israel, he should have been more sensitive to those dangerous words with a history of too many antisemitic associations.

However, the most egregious abuse of words this summer was by the Squad’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Justice Democrat from New York, who shamelessly appropriated the words “never again” and “concentration camps” to advance her agenda against American immigration policy.

“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are,” said AOC.

When AOC uses the words “concentration camps” to describe border detention facilities, you have to be tone deaf or a Holocaust denying revisionist historian not to understand that to almost every person in the United States since the end of World War Two, the words “concentration camp” are identified with the Holocaust and genocidal death camps. Her goal was not to have a legitimate policy debate, but to demonize opponents with incendiary language.

Whatever one thinks about the conditions of detention facilities for illegal aliens and their children, it is a travesty to liken them to the Nazi concentration camps where people were used as slave labor, starved, beaten, raped, dehumanized and degraded – both Jews and other persecuted minorities – led like sheep to slaughter in an organized mass extermination. She and those who defend her use of the term concentration camps in this context insult the memory of those who were rounded up, deliberately treated as vermin and massacred in the Holocaust.

SOMETIMES, THE most dangerous words are the ones that are left out, distorting the context of a story. CAMERA reported that The New York Times and The Washington Post choose to inaccurately describe the organization that sponsored Omar and Tlaib’s trip to the disputed territories. The organization Miftah has a long history of antisemitic associations, but a Times editorial referred to it as “a Palestinian organization… that promotes ‘global awareness and knowledge of Palestinian realities.’” The Washington Post said Miftah is “headed by Palestinian lawmaker and longtime peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi.”

So how could anybody take issue with a nonprofit run by a peacemaker, sponsoring a fact-finding trip to the Middle East?

New York Times columnist Bari Weiss wrote other words that the Times editorial board and The Washington Post refused to include, that Miftah is “an organization that has proudly praised female suicide bombers, and pushed the medieval blood libel,” which is alive and well in Ms. Tlaib’s Palestinian Arab society.

Even the term antisemitism is selectively used. For the Squad and its ilk, antisemitism is the realm of the Right. No one can deny that Jew hatred from the Right has a long history, and its contemporary white supremacist followers have committed despicable hate filled violence to this day.

However, the words that are left out, a form of political revisionism, is that on today’s college campus, antisemitism comes primarily from the Left. In Europe, according to a recent survey by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, Muslim and left-wing antisemitism was more prevalent especially against young European Jews.

Words matter.

With three months before the 2020 presidential year, we already have had more than our share of trivializing the Holocaust, weaponized words and mainstreaming of antisemitism through a media that is so fearful of not being politically correct that it seems to have lost its moral compass.

Let’s hold our presidential candidates, politicians, clergy, media and even our friends accountable for what they say and write.

The writer is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network. He regularly briefs members of the Senate, House and their foreign policy advisors. He is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, and a contributor to i24TV, The Hill, JTA and The Forward.


{Previously published in The Jerusalem Post}

I was particularly struck by the profound concern and fear expressed by the high school-parents group, who shared with me a number of troubling incidents.

I recently gave a series of talks on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), anti-Zionism, and antisemitism. I first spoke at a leading synagogue in Manhattan, then to a group of parents of high school and college students with children applying or already in college, and then to students at a local high school.

At the high school, I was confronted after my lecture by one of the teachers. He first told me, disingenuously, that he was “right-wing” on Israel. Then he proceeded to tell me that Israel ethnically wiped out all of the Palestinians, and Jews have no right to be there just because a few thousand years ago they lived there. Fortunately the majority of students were engaged and asked important questions. One young man couldn’t understand why it is antisemitic to be against Israel.

I was particularly struck by the profound concern and fear expressed by the high school-parents group, who shared with me a number of troubling incidents.

An Israel club was denied permission to form at a high school with a large Jewish population. Another parent told me that her son, who was attending one of New York’s most prestigious private schools, was given as an example during a writing exercise, of someone representing Israel’s supposedly egregious human rights abuses in Gaza. Other high school parents told me that when visiting prospective campuses, they were horrified to see the presence of BDS and an intimidating environment for Jewish students on campus.

I remember watching a UCLA non-Jewish college student, Lauren Rogers. She told her harrowing story about intimidation and administrative indifference after she was forced to defend herself before a university judicial committee. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) charged Rogers with bias because she did not to vote to divest from Israel while on the UCLA student council. Her crime was visiting Israel with AJC’s educational program. This is BDS in action. A hostile climate toward Jewish students goes hand-in-hand with the level of SJP activity on campus.

There are plenty of safe spaces for every ethnic group on today’s college campus, with administrators bending over backwards to thwart every alleged micro-aggression there is – unless you are a Jewish student.

Prof. Deborah Lipstadt has said that people know antisemitism when they see it.

Let’s do an instructive exercise. Imagine what would have happened to a white male Congressman if he said everything Rep. Ilhan Omar said about Jews and Israel. He would definitely not have been treated with kid gloves. If he had, there would have been an uproar, with rallies in Washington. And all the cable news talking heads would be beside themselves with righteous indignation against right-wing antisemitism.

Fighting antisemitism would be politically correct for the moment, a weapon for political gain.

Let’s be clear, repeated antisemitic statements – ranging from dual loyalty to Jewish power to Jewish money to legitimizing a debate over Israel’s right to exist – are antisemitism.

Clouding the debate on antisemitism are the moral-equivalence arguments used by groups like J Street, which are blind to left-wing and Islamic antisemitism, and use a double standard for bigots from the Right than they do from the Left.

Illustrating the point, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said, “[We] made clear to lawmakers our concern that the timing of the resolution could be seen as singling out and focusing special condemnation on a Muslim woman of color, Rep. Ilhan Omar – implying that her insensitive comments somehow posed a greater threat than the torrent of hatred that the white-nationalist Right continues to level against Jews, Muslims, people of color and other vulnerable minorities.”

ALLOWING DEFENDERS of an antisemite to change the narrative by transforming an antisemite into a victim, simply because she is considered part of a minority or persecuted group, is unhealthy for our democracy. And by the way, if a Jewish person said the same things Ilhan Omar said, they too would be antisemitic. Antisemitism is not about being a Semite, it is about what you say about Jews and Israel.

Falsely claiming, as Elizabeth Warren did, that “branding criticism of Israel as automatically antisemitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse,” is not only blatantly untrue, but dangerous for our melting-pot society.

Bashing Israeli policies is a national sport for Israelis, as well as for American Jews, making a mockery of those who claim all defenders of Israel cry antisemitism for every criticism of Israeli policy. However, claiming Israel has no right to exist because it is a colonialist, apartheid, human-rights abuser crosses a line from legitimate criticism into antisemitism.

Boycotting all of Israel and having a double standard that you don’t apply to other nations is antisemitism. BDS is an antisemitic movement. Representatives Omar and Rashida Tlaib support BDS.

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Denial of Israel’s right to exist is antisemitism.”

And as the late Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking antisemitism.”

French President Macron said, “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of antisemitism, behind the negation of Israel’s existence, what is hiding is hatred of Jews.”

In the Arab world, Israelis are simply called Jews.

Are you listening congresswomen?

A strong predictor for antisemitism on a college campus is the presence of BDS. The international definition of antisemitism adopted by the US, UK, Germany and many other countries, says delegitimizing, demonizing and having double standards targeting Israel are antisemitism.

Unfortunately, on our college campuses, supporters of Israel are told that they are not welcome to be part of the social justice movement, as it is completely incompatible with Zionism, a racist ideology. Israel is an oppressor and so it must be dehumanized.

BDS is the sword against the oppressor, so we must stand with the most victimized people on earth, the Palestinians. Ask a BDS supporter why Palestinians could have turned down having their own state five times over the last 70 years, and you will be screamed down on today’s college campus. BDS advocates claim it is their First Amendment right to scream so loud and so long to silence you, because any opinion other than theirs is evil by definition, especially the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

Just ask Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, who was chased off the stage at the University of Chicago last year by SJP. His great offense was saying that we need to reconcile with our Israeli neighbors.

BDS is not about two states for two peoples. It is about the demographic destruction of Israel through the right of return, ending the colonization of Arab land (Dar el Islam).

Did you know that the Palestinian BDS national committee based in Ramallah coordinates BDS worldwide, and that it includes designated terrorist organizations?

Jonathan Schanzer, a former US Treasury official and a contributing expert for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, explained during congressional testimony last year that former employees of Hamas-linked charities now work for the American Muslims for Palestine. It is the key sponsor for Students for Justice in Palestine, creating a toxic environment for Jewish students through talk of apartheid walls, intimidation of speakers, divestment resolutions, academic indifference, and professors refusing to write recommendations for students studying in Israel.

BDS is an antisemitic movement by its words and actions. Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib support BDS.

Antisemitism, now you know it when you see it.

The writer is the director of Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN), and a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post and i24TV.


{Previously published in The Jerusalem Post}

After Pittsburgh, it seems that the pendulum has swung and Jews fear that America has changed.

For years I have given talks at universities, professional organizations, churches, and synagogues, and would recite FBI statistics of American hate crimes. Almost all audiences were shocked to learn that in regard to religiously motivated hate crimes, including the most recent 2016 statistics, Jews were targeted more than twice as often as Muslims, and three times as often as blacks. My aim was not to frighten, but rather to educate Americans who seem to believe that due to the lack of reporting on antisemitism – Islamophobia is the predominant threat.

After Pittsburgh, it seems that the pendulum has swung and Jews fear that America has changed. Jewish communal institutions are wondering if they will now have to be armed to the teeth as they are in Europe. But is this simply an overreaction?

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre, the media has focused on a report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which cite a 57% increase in antisemitic incidents which news organizations have blamed on US President Donald Trump. But are we dealing with fact or fiction?

According to Adam Kirsch in The Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Tobin in the New York Post, this figure is misleading, as the 57% rise was due to threats from a single mentally disturbed Israeli teenager who threatened countless Jewish institutions. Until he was identified as the culprit, the media overwhelmingly blamed white supremacists.

When one removes this disproportionate factor, “antisemitic assaults actually decreased by almost half” in 2017. One act of hate is one too many, but it seems the statistic has been used to advance an agenda that sees right wing hatred of Jews as the only form of antisemitism in America. Far too many use the tragic events to score political points even before the dead were buried. We should fight Nazi right wing antisemitism with all our strength, but it isn’t the most dangerous form of antisemitism in the US, and certainly not in the world.

Despite the fact that around 10-14% of Americans harbor antisemitic views, my impression of my fellow Americans hasn’t changed; they are overwhelmingly tolerant and accepting of Jews of all walks of life.

It is wonderful that so many Jews and gentiles came together for the AJC’s #ShowUpShabbat to show solidarity against antisemitism and hatred against anyone, but America even after the Pittsburgh massacre is still the safest place for a Jew living in the Diaspora anytime in the last 2000 years. Assimilation and intermarriage are far greater threats to Jews in the US than antisemitism.

We first need to understand contemporary antisemitism in all its forms, and not allow Pittsburgh to completely define today’s antisemitic challenges. We need to ask; does everyone stand against all forms of antisemitism, or only against the sickness from the neo-Nazi radical right?

WHAT IS antisemitism in 2018?

Antisemitism is hatred of Jews. Despite the tragedy of Pittsburgh, the worst incident of antisemitic violence in America to date, it is dwarfed in magnitude by hatred of Jews throughout the world, which is found in almost every Islamic society. Classic European antisemitism as well as anti-Zionism are alive and well in almost every Muslim capital in the world, yet Jews in America choose to ignore it.

In the 21st Century, antisemitism’s most virulent form is the hatred of the Jew among nations, Israel. It is a pandemic that infects European elites, the majority of Muslim nations, the racist Louis Farrakhan who is supported by the leaders of the Women’s March on Washington, and even by some fringe Jews like Jewish Voice for Peace, which acts as a cover for antisemites who are accused of antisemitism.

In the US it is most evident on colleges campuses where Jewish students are intimidated for supporting Israel and receive little support from university administrations. There are no safe spaces for Jewish students, and they seem to be treated differently than other targets of hateful speech and acts because they are Zionists.

According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, contemporary antisemitism began at the UN 2001 Durban Conference that united “radical Islamists with human rights NGO’s, the right wing and the left wing against a common enemy, the State of Israel.”

As the Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents, Malcolm Hoenlein said, “I hate Israel instead of I hate Jews does not cover up the fact that both mean the same thing.”

The founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein said that antisemitism is “deeply ingrained and institutionalized” in Arab nations in modern times,” while Harvard professor Ruth Wisse said, “antisemitism  and anti- Zionism has been the cornerstone of pan-Arab politics since the Second World War.” According to Josef Joffe of Newsweek, antisemitism in the Arab world is “as much part of the Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah…in the Arab world, Jew hatred remains culturally endemic.”

SO THE QUESTION we must ask is, who is in more danger from 21st century antisemitism, American or Israeli Jews?

To an objective observer, the Jews of Israel are in far more danger, due to a combination of diplomatic antisemitism of the UN that is singlehandedly trying to destroy the state of Israel by demonization and delegitimization, to the physical threats of annihilation from Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

The claim that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism doesn’t hold water. This is the antisemitism which Jewish students face on college campuses from pro-Palestinian organizations. The US State Department’s definition of antisemitism makes it clear that if you claim the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor, apply a double standard requiring certain Israeli behavior which is not demanded of other nations, use symbols like Jews drinking the blood of Palestinian children, or draw comparisons of Israel to Nazis – that is antisemitism.

Both the far right and left give succor to dehumanizing Jews. The progressive media darling Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the Women’s March said, we must “dehumanize the oppressor (Israel).” Yet too many mainstream politicians and organizations have no qualms about being associated with her. She says feminists cannot be Zionists, yet few question why she is silent about misogyny in the Muslim world. Political correctness regarding antisemitism must end in the US.

We need to fight antisemitism everywhere, in America, in Europe, at the UN and South America. But there are seven million Jews living in Israel that are truly in the crosshairs of antisemites. They are Iranians, Syrians, and Palestinians, whose words and actions have been the very definition of hatred of Jews.

You cannot be against antisemitism if you are only against right wing antisemitism, or if you only care about it if it occurs in the US. Let’s stand together and fight all forms of antisemitism and stop using it for a political advantage.

The writer is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network. Dr. Mandel regularly briefs members of the Senate, House, and their foreign policy advisors. He is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post, and a contributor to i24TV, The Hill, and The Forward.

The State of Anti-Semitism on Campus

A disturbing report was published this week on the rise of anti-Semitic activity at American universities  in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. The report was the first time a quantitative account of the prevalence of anti-Semitism on college campuses was produced. It correlated the presence of anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activity, as strong predictors of hostility to Jewish students.

Learn more in Dr. Mandel’s latest vlog:


Rationalizing Palestinian Terrorism and Anti-Israel NGO’s

Today’s Vlog deals with two issues, European government support for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) whose goal is to Boycott and Delegitimize Israel, and the rationalizations used to explain the “Knife Intifada”.

Thanks to the great work of NGO Monitor, European taxpayers and American supporters of Israel now have some transparency into the odious agenda of many NGO’s that hide behind the false façade of purely humanitarian work.

Anti-Semitism on US College Campuses, Educating Pro-Israel Americans and Marking the Shoah

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post.)

Last week I was privileged to speak to two very different audiences about the Middle East and Israel.

Last week I was privileged to speak to two very different audiences about the Middle East and Israel.

Though the talks had the same title, “Understanding the Middle East: Iran, the Sunni-Shi’ite War, the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict, Anti-Semitism and the Delegitimization of Israel,” the reasons I was invited, and the questions I received were profoundly different.

The first talk was at Purchase College in Westchester County, New York. I had been invited as part of my college speaking tour on the Middle East which brought me to many universities in the Northeast, i.e. Harvard, Cornell, Brown, SUNY Oneonta SUNY Binghamton and more. The first scheduled speaking date was postponed because of a snowstorm. Coincidentally, a week before the rescheduled talk, the campus was defaced with anti-Semitic and racist graffiti including swastikas and a noose.

There is a rash of anti-Semitism now sweeping college campuses. I know this because my organization, Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN), is continually being asked to sign letters to college presidents throughout the country responding to the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents, insisting that universities maintain a safe environment for Jewish students.

I was told that even before this anti-Semitic incident, the topic of my speech had created a controversy on campus, especially among a growing anti-Israel movement, and that I should be prepared to receive a hostile reception. The anti-Israel group did ask some provocative questions during my talk, but to their credit they choose not to interrupt the talk or intimidate Jewish students as other anti-Israel groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine have done. Perhaps the police presence had something to do with it.

Hillel of Westchester, and the Westchester pro-Israel community, responded to the display of anti-Semitism by publicizing my talk to the local Jewish community and rallying support for the students by coming out in large numbers. Purchase College is not known as a hotbed of political activism, but nowadays anti-Israel activists of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement are targeting almost every college, and the anti-Israel activity often turns into simple, ugly anti-Semitism.

The State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism says that if you deny the Jewish State of Israel the right to exist, or hold it to a standard not asked of any other nations, that is anti-Semitism. Advocates of BDS against Israel fit that definition when they have nothing to say about the current major violators of human rights around the world, denying basic rights to women, committing mass genocides, and abrogating the rule of law to punish their political opponents.

Later in the week I was invited to speak at a non-denominational Protestant Church of primarily African American New Yorkers. I cannot remember a more engaged audience, eager to learn what is really going on in the Middle East. What impressed me most was that they were totally aware of the way many mainstream media outlets editorialize the news, as they report it in their supposedly non-editorial pages, fitted to their own opinions. I only wish the Progressive readers of The New York Times were as astute as this audience. They were passionate about Israel, frustrated with the administration’s pressure on Israel and its readiness to capitulate to the Iranians. Members of the audience asked me how they could become active in advocating for Israel.

Both groups, college kids under attack for their pro-Israel activism and church groups willing to advocate for Israel, present challenges and opportunities for the pro-Israel American Jewish community.

America is a Christian majority nation. There are many Christians in America, both Protestant and Catholic, who would like to support Israel based not only on religious teachings but because they see in Israel a liberal humane nation and a strategic asset to America. But pro-Israel groups, both Jewish and Gentile, liberal and conservative, need to work to coordinate their resources to educate religious communities. If pro-Israel advocates fail to connect with America’s churches of all denominations, the vacuum will be filled by anti-Israel groups who have already hoodwinked some denominations into joining forces with those groups pushing for BDS, convincing them that Israel is the schoolyard bully, picking on an innocent underdog.

On the college campus, our kids are besieged by a growing plague of anti-Zionism in the name of political correctness and anti-colonialism.

As Phyllis Chesler, a leading voice of the feminist movement, says, the “new anti-Semitism” is nearly inseparable from anti-Zionism. According to a recent survey by Trinity College, the majority of secular and religious Jewish students on American college have experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism during their college careers.

We must support our college students and provide them with an environment that isn’t poisoned by anti-Semitism. That means fighting the BDS movement, not rationalizing it, legitimizing it, and providing Jewish forums to demonize the Jewish state. Are you listening, New Israel Fund and J Street? As Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations said, “It is the BDS movement that is the 21st century form of 20th century anti-Semitism…

it is attacking the collective Jew, Israel, rather than the individual Jew that we saw 70 years ago.”

Which brings me to the third speech. I will be speaking to a Shoah commemoration in New York, where there will be many young Jewish adults in attendance. They are our future, and the following is what I will say to them.

Anti-Semitism in the 21st century has changed its face from the racial and religious anti-Semitism directed at the individual Jew in the 20th century, to focusing on the Jew among nations, Israel. You may hear someone claim that they are not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist. Don’t believe it.

Israel is our ultimate victory over the Nazis, with its ground-breaking medical and scientific discoveries, a vibrant free society, the only liberal democracy in a region filled with unstable, brutal, repressive, corrupt regimes. As American Jews, we should be honored and proud to support Israel as the miracle that rose out of the ashes of humanity’s darkest hour.

Today, Holocaust deniers proliferate, and challenge the very fact of the unspeakable horrors of the Shoah.

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani reinstated an annual conference of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. In the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas wrote his PhD thesis supporting Holocaust denial. Yet the most anti-Semitic nations in the world sit in the leading bodies of the United Nations, even controlling the human rights council.

While we look back and try to honor the memories of those six million who were slaughtered, we must also look forward, and use all of our strength to defend endangered Jewish communities, whether in Europe, South America or Israel.

We need to be less reactive and more on the offense in our response. This includes empowering non-Jewish pro-Israel Americans with the information and knowledge to effectively advocate for the Jewish state. Over 70 percent of Americans are sympathetic to Israel, but their knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. It makes them vulnerable to the distortions, lies and anti-Semitism of anti-Israel movements.

Supporting Israel is not a political act; it is our moral obligation to those who cherish life and the continuity of Jewish civilization.

May Holocaust Remembrance Day and its heroes be a day that our children and grandchildren honor and embrace as a new voice of conscious.

Honoring the survivors of the Shoah still with us and the memory of those who are not, requires that we give of ourselves whatever it takes, to never be ashamed to be a Jew and to be justly proud of the Jewish homeland.

The author is the director of MEPIN (Middle East Political and Information Network), a Middle East research analysis read by members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset, journalists and organizational leaders. He regularly briefs members of Congress on issues related to the Middle East.

Is the United Nations anti-Semitic?

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

States that support terror overwhelmingly control the UN. They mouth the words of moderation, but defend nations that give sanctuary to terrorists.

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In our world of cultural relativism, calling someone anti-Semitic is usually dismissed as beyond the pale. The usual retort is that legitimate criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. At the UN, it goes much further. Israel is a nation designated for special treatment, much like South Africa was years ago. Critics use the template of apartheid South Africa for the Jewish state. Because apartheid is beyond the pale of civilized norms, they argue, Israel deserves special treatment. This allows the UN to bypass any legitimate defense of Israel and Zionism. No one can defend apartheid, so it must be destroyed.

Non-democratic states overwhelmingly control the UN. They often mouth the words of moderation, but defend nations that give sanctuary to terrorists. How else can one explain that some of the most odious nations on earth are elected to the UN Human Rights Council? In fact, Israel’s judge and jury at the UN are often nations that enable terrorism and anti-Semitism.

To accurately judge the United Nations, we need a definition. If Israel is treated and judged completely differently than other nations and held to a standard not applied to any other member nation, then that should be considered anti-Semitism.

The Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (ICCA), composed of 140 parliamentarians from 40 countries, affirmed the definition of anti-Semitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). It states, “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is anti-Semitism.

As Abe Foxman of the ADL said, “anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism if Zionism is the only nationalism being opposed.” When criticism of Israel devolves into demonization and delegitimization of its right to exist as a Jewish state, you have anti-Semitism. If Zionism is described conspiratorially as scheming to take over the world, you are dealing with anti-Semitism.

Robert Wistrich, of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, said, “The deplorable combination of discrimination, delegitimization and double standards at the United Nations has in recent decades been a lethal source of globalized anti-Semitism.”

Defenders of the UN claim it was created in the wake of the Holocaust, and that the organization annually commemorates the world’s most heinous genocide against the Jews. That is commendable, but historical revisionism has universalized the Holocaust, and its special characteristics pertaining to Jews have been watered down until the Holocaust has become merely one among many genocides throughout the ages.

A 2014 ADL poll revealed “the most anti-Semitic region in the world is the Middle East and North Africa, with 74 percent harboring anti-Semitic views.” The Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza had a 93% anti-Semitic rating.

If the double standard of treating Israel profoundly differently than other UN members is anti-Semitism, consider the following:


The UN Human Rights

Council Israel is the only nation in the world that has a standing agenda item against it at every session of the UNHRC. Not North Korea, not China, not Pakistan, not Syria, not Sudan, not Iran. The Council never has mentioned the word “Hamas.”

From 2006 through 2013, Israel has been subjected to 45 condemnation resolutions. No other nation in the world comes close.

Special Rapporteur on Palestine John Dugard said in 2006, “Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid.” In explaining Palestinian violence, UN “expert” Dugard sees moral equivalence with the partisans who fought the Nazis! Mr. Dugard is also a judge on the UN’s International Court of Justice.

UN General Assembly Resolutions

From 1947 to 1991, there were about 300 anti-Israel General Assembly resolutions against Israel. In 2012, there were 22 GA resolutions specifically against Israel, while there were only four for the rest of the world combined.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency

The Palestinian refugee organization UNWRA changed the definition of “refugee” to create a unique status for Palestinians. While other refugees lose refugee status in the following generation, only Palestinians remain refugees forever. This allows UNWRA to receive 50 percent of the UN’s money for all the refugees in the world. Instead of having only 30,000 original Palestinian refugees (if they were counted as every other refugee in the world is), we now have over 5,000,000 Palestinian Arabs refugees – courtesy of the UN.

UN Security Council

The real power of the UN lies in the Security Council. Israel is the only member state that has not – and cannot – serve on the Security Council. From 1948 to 2010, there were 77 resolutions directly aimed at Israel. No other nation on earth even comes close to this record of infamy.

Israel’s Exclusion from Regional Groups

Israel is the only UN member excluded from membership in its own regional group in the Middle East and Asia.

The UN’s Durban Conference

The three UN Durban Conferences on Racism have found racism in only one of the 192 nations of the UN: Israel. One of the flyers distributed at the first Durban conference pictured Hitler asking the question, “What would have happened if I had won?”

Ignoring and not acting against the worst nations in the world.

Anne Bayefsky, a Senior Fellow with the Hudson Institute, said: “There has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of the 1.3 billion people in China…. Every year, UN bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violation by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation. This is… demonization of the Jewish state.”

UN Special Rapporteurs Richard Falk (2008-2014) and Makarim Wibisono (2014-2020)

Richard Falk is a notorious anti-Semite, infamous 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Boston Marathon bombing apologist.

His successor, Makarim Wibisono, according to UN Watch, has accused Israel of “unconscionable use of force against the Palestinians,” and of having a “policy of retribution against the entire Palestinian nation.” Wibisono described Israel as showing “ruthless contempt for the lives of the innocent.” His home country has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Navi Pillay is the UN official who questioned the legality of the killing of Osama bin Laden, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the anti-Zionist Durban conferences. According to Pillay, “The Israeli occupation of Palestine led to large-scale violations of international law.”

Is anti-Zionism at the UN anti-Semitism? You decide.

Here is how United States can fight anti-Semitism at the UN while advancing American foreign policy interests: The US pays for 22% of the UN’s annual $5 billion budget. Congress should legislate support for only humanitarian efforts at the UN. Don’t support or defer to an institution that glorifies anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

End financial support for UNWRA until it adopts the definition of “refugee” which applies everywhere else. This would end a root cause of the conflict, as it would reduce from 5,000,000 to 30,000 the number of Palestinian Arab Refugees.

Find democratic coalition partners to support American national security priorities and protect America’s allies.

As the leader of the free world, the US should speak out unapologetically in the UN. Fighting institutionalized anti-Semitism hiding behind the cloak of anti-Zionism would be a great start.

Soon there may be a new Islamic caliphate of al-Qaida in the Levant. So who will be elected to the UN Human Rights Council first, Israel or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?

The author is the founder and director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.