As a follow-up to my article on the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe, I wanted to share with you this EU study that was purposely kept from the public, exposing anti-Semitism within Palestinian textbooks. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU continues to invest millions in funding the Palestinian Authority’s educational system without demanding that it stop “indoctrinating its children to hate and kill.”
“The report includes dozens of examples of encouragement of violence and demonization of Israel and Jews. The report says the textbooks present “ambivalent – sometimes hostile – attitudes towards Jews and the characteristics they attribute to the Jewish people… Frequent use of negative attributions in relation to the Jewish people… suggest a conscious perpetuation of anti-Jewish prejudice, especially when embedded in the current political context.”
At the time, the head of EU foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, was a harsh critic of Israel. This is just one of a voluminous number of reports documenting Palestinian incitement and anti-Semitism within their school system. A small sample of links is included.
As an IMPACT-Se study of the K-12 curriculum earlier in the year stated, “Textbooks remain openly antisemitic and continue to encourage violence, jihad, and martyrdom while peace is still not taught as preferable or even possible.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.