Author Archives: DanielStrum

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

On the same day The New York Times–in a groundbreaking move for the grey lady–
published Ian Lustick’s op-ed on the impossibility of a two-state solution, the paper also revealed that it still has cold feet when it comes to news reporting on the U.S. relationship with Israel.

Days earlier, the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain reported that the “The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.” I expected the story to make headlines in America’s newspaper of record. After all, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the report, by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poltras and Ewen MacAskill, included a smoking gun, the actual “memorandum of understanding” between the NSA and Israel. And the story was promptly reported in The Washington Post , The Los Angeles Times and linked to in The Huffington Post. At The New York Times, however, silence reigned and now, thanks to the doggedness of a combination of NYT’s readers and its public editor, Margaret Sullivan, we now know why. It just wasn’t important enough: Continue reading

Chill the Champagne?

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

In a world with a surfeit of bad news, two recent victories for freedom of expression are worth celebrating. Both were cases in which apologists for the occupation sought — unsuccessfully! — to stifle criticism of Israeli policies.

The first ruling, which came down last month from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), threw out claims that three University of California campuses — Berkeley, Irvine and Santa Cruz — violated TItle VI of the Civil Rights Act by fostering antisemitic climates by allowing protests against Israeli policies to take place. As part of the ongoing “lawfare” campaign to silence pro-Palestinian speech, some Jewish UC students contended that the political speech expressed in these demonstrations created a “hostile” atmosphere and amounted to illegal harassment and intimidation. But encountering views contrary to one’s own, hardly constitutes harassment, the OCR concluded. As their letter closing the Berkeley complaint aptly stated, “In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance a reasonable student in higher education may experience.” That something so obvious would be contested through a series of formal complaints suggests that there is nothing “reasonable” about students cynically trying to silence political opponents. Continue reading

Buyer Beware

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

In the unusual category of GOOD news for discourse around Israel and Palestine, Patrick B. Pexton, ombuds for the Washington Post until last March, gave new owner Jeff Bezos some excellent advice in an open letter he published in the Washington City Paper: Fire Jennifer Rubin.

Rubin, as Muzzlewatch readers may recall, occupies a place in the crowded precinct of rabid Islamaphobes on the Zionist right. Here’s how Pexton puts it:

“Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor—who I like, admire, and respect—fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin. Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad. She doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. Her analysis of the conservative movement, which is a worthwhile and important beat that the Post should treat more seriously on its national pages, is shallow and predictable. Her columns, at best, are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward. Continue reading

A Boycott by Any Other Name

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

Just mention the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and, as readers of Muzzlewatch well know, certain folks who declare themselves Israel’s greatest supporters try to shut down the discussion. And nothing makes them more apoplectic than the piece of BDS that is sticky even for many who embrace the tactic generally: the academic and cultural boycott. To impede the free exchange of ideas among scholars and artists, the argument goes, violates a core value.

So how will Israel’s self-appointed defenders respond to a recent threat by some Israeli scientists to remove themselves from international scientific bodies, scholarly journals and conferences, and even opportunities for research grants? No, not a new lab-coat brigade joining the BDS campaign. These scientists propose withdrawing from $106 million of potential funding in the name of defending their state against European “scorn for Israel.” They mean to punish the European Union by refusing to cooperate with them. Continue reading

What’s in a Tweet?: Islamophobe Emerson Brings Frivolous Lawsuit

By Donna Nevel

The Players in the Defamation Suit

Steven Emerson, an anti-Muslim ideologue, is currently suing Cyrus McGoldrick, an American Muslim community organizer and human rights activist, over a tweet that McGoldrick sent to two friends.

First, there is Cyrus McGoldrick, who is an effective and respected advocate, writer, and public spokesperson on behalf of the rights of Muslims and all those facing discriminatory treatment or being targeted (by the state or by individual Islamophobes). When he sent the tweet, McGoldrick was employed at the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a highly-regarded Muslim advocacy organization whose mission, as stated on its website, is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”

Then there is Steven Emerson, a member of what the Center for American Progress has called “an Islamophobia network in America.” [1] Emerson has been notorious for opposing efforts to build mosques (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Boston, and Park51 in lower Manhattan) and for putting forth false and distorted information. Respected journalists have widely discredited Emerson, describing him as a “self-styled anti-terrorism expert,” “poison,” and “disgraced.” [2] The Muslim Public Affairs Council has identified Emerson as one of “America’s Top 25 Pseudo Experts on Islam.” [3] Continue reading

Aboushi Gains Some Yardage

By Marilyn Neimark

When the usual suspects– David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine and Debbie Schlussel’s blog –went ballistic over the NFL’s NY Jets draft of Brooklyn born, Palestinian American Oday Aboushi, it looked poised to go viral as more mainstream venues, such as yahoo sports and Major League Baseball’s new media coordinator Jonathan Mael joined in the attack. It was no surprise that The Nation’s David Zirin, The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah, and Youssef Mounayer in The Daily Beast rushed to Aboushi’s defense. But the expected left-right shout-down didn’t materialize. The Yahoo story: “Could Oday Aboushi Jeopardize His NFL Career with Anti Israel….”, was taken down almost as quickly as it went up and Jonathan Mael’s mea culpa for his “beyond inappropriate” tweets attacking Abashi was reported in and endorsed by the NY Daily News. Even the ADL weighed in, pointing out in their press release that “Being pro-Palestinian does not mean you’re an anti-Semite or an extremist. The record simply does not show that Aboushi has crossed that line.” Continue reading

Hold the Pickle

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

Unlike hamburgers, which are either kosher or not, some boycotts are apparently more kosher than others.

The state of Israel and its supporters in the US have launched a full court press against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) — even though they’ve often dismissed the campaign as inconsequential and ineffective. Go figure. Such fruitless efforts have inspired legislation in the Knesset, passed in the spring, that allows targets of BDS to sue its advocates without having to prove that they sustained any harm. And here in the U.S., Malcolm Hoenlein head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, recently announced plans for a major offensive against the BDS movement on college campuses. This drive will be joining a multi-million dollar anti-BDS effort from the Israel Action Network.

But at the end of June, when McDonald’s Israel franchise turned down an invitation to open a branch at a mall under construction in the West Bank’s sprawling Jewish settlement, Ariel, settlers immediately called for a boycott of the chain. Continue reading

In Honor of Nelson Mandela

By Marilyn Neimark and Donna Nevel

JVP joins with people and communities across the globe in expressing our admiration, love, and gratitude for Nelson Mandela, a giant in the struggle for justice and an inspiration to us all.

Had Muzzlewatch existed 23 years ago when Mandela, newly released from prison, made a thrilling visit to New York, the shameful response of the “official” Jewish community would have been the lead story here for days. While 750,000 New Yorkers of all sorts poured into the streets to cheer this courageous hero, the Jewish establishment sat out the festivities. Why? Muzzlewatch readers need no hints: This world leader who sat in jail for 27 years for fighting apartheid was not an acceptable Zionist.

His visit coincided with the moment we were co-founding the NY-based organization, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), and we were disgusted that the Jewish establishment announced that they were withholding their welcome of him to our city unless he satisfied them on his support for Israel. It was a stark demonstration of the way rightleaning Israel politics were skewing Jewish participation in progressive causes here — which is part of why we formed JFREJ. We decided that our inaugural event should be a symbolic welcome of Mandela from the substantial wing of the Jewish community that was happy and grateful to embrace him. Continue reading

Who’s the Hypocrite?

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

The rush to denounce the renowned British physicist, Stephen Hawking, for withdrawing from the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference in order to protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, should have run its course in early May, flaring up as these things do, and then simmering down until Israel’s purported defenders stir up the next flap. But a cartoon in the Forward by Eli Valley reignited the frenzy.

Valley was responding to the hypocrisy he observed in right-wing Zionist charges that Hawking was a hypocrite. Their criticisms followed the usual script familiar to readers of Muzzlewatch (accusations of smug self-righteousness, the usual fulminations of Alan Dershowitz). Continue reading

San Francisco bus ads condemn Israeli apartheid: backlash begins

American Muslims for Palestine launched an ad campaign this week on San Francisco buses condemning Israeli apartheid. (See below.) Predictably, local branches of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council, immediately issued a statement in effect calling the ad hate speech for using the word ‘apartheid’. They have called on “all civic, ethnic and religious leaders who oppose bigoted lies and demonization to exercise their constitutional rights by condemning these inflammatory advertisements.”

Below is a line by line reading of their media statement.

First, it’s hard to know if the people who wrote this press release actually believe what they wrote. The points they make against the ad are so off the mark, and often offensive, it’s hard to believe anyone could write them sincerely. (I’m deleting the names on the release because I don’t think it’s fair to blame them. I think people at the top should be held accountable for such nonsense.) Continue reading