Category Archives: StandWithUs

Nazism, Zionism, and the Arab World: Countering myths

Holocaust survivor Annette Herskovits has written an important article— Nazism, Zionism, and the Arab World: Countering the myths spread by pro-Israel ideologues.

She describes the tactics and goals of pro-Israel campus watchdogs and the harm wrought by their unabashed falsification of history and of current realities in Palestine/Israel.

Conquerors have always justified seizing another people’s land on “moral” grounds, to ward off the world’s disapproval as well as the burden of a bad conscience. And while the world’s support for the creation of Israel was fueled in large part by the plight of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust–the fact remains that the taking of land already occupied by Palestinians in order to create a refuge was (and still is) justified using false histories and slogans like “A land with no people for people with no land.”

The process of removing Palestinians from their land—which goes on to this day– requires a literally never-ending production of moral justification, and pro-Israel zealots are only too happy to oblige.

Most damaging? People like Alan Dershowitz paint Arabs and Muslims as heirs to Nazism, bent on exterminating the Jews. The sparse history of Arab collaboration with the Nazis—nothing like what took place in most European countries—is used to “explain” Arab hostility to Israel and obscure Israel’s crimes.

This “nazification” of Arabs and Muslims has been debunked by historian Gilbert Achcar in his book, “The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.” Campus Watch then launched a smear campaign against Achcar.

From Herskovits’ article:

About hasbara:

Propaganda produced by Israel and the American Jewish establishment inverts reality. This is crude stuff, manifestly false to anyone who would look up information published by a multitude of respected media and human rights organizations. But omissions and outright lies are probably a deliberate tactic: deny, deny … confuse, confuse… Like Israel’s building of “facts on the ground” (settlements, roads, etc.), it gains time; the hope is that Israeli power will eventually be so entrenched in the land of “Greater Israel” that nobody will remember Palestinians ever lived there.

About pro-Israel zealotry:

As someone whose mother and father were murdered in Auschwitz, and who herself survived the Nazis’ barbarous nationalism thanks to the courage of a group of Catholics, Protestants, Communists, and Jews, I find the idea that defending the “Jewish state” supersedes all other human obligations both immoral and senseless. Nothing, not even the Holocaust, justifies Israel’s treatment of Palestinians or the continuing efforts of pro-Israel zealots to show Arabs and Muslims as less than human.

Annette Herskovits, a holocaust survivor and the daughter of holocaust victims, holds a PhD from Stanford University and is the author of Language and Spatial Cognition (Cambridge University Press, 1987, 2009). She has written more than a dozen published articles on Palestine/Israel and is a Palestinian rights activist.

StandWithUs comic book portrays activist Palestinians (and allies) as vermin, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda

Well, the pictures really speak for themselves.

StandWithUs has a new supremacist celebration of militant Jewish nationalism and masculinity children’s comic book featuring Captain Israel, who I think we can all agree looks mighty fine in a sparkly silver body suit with matching rhinestone belt and shamelessly appropriated Jewish religious symbols. StandWithUs is on the openly racist end of the mainstream Jewish institutional world. And they’ve given us a new version of an old story-the New Zionist Man (To understand this propaganda in its proper historical context, see below for explanatory text about early Zionism,  Jewish masculinity and Orientalism.)

But it gets better. Perfect, shining Captain Israel needs a diseased, less than human “other” to give him his all-man mojo. Episode 2 will feature Captain Israel’s undoubtedly victorious epic battle against “the venomous” Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement. (See image below.)

I wondered what it was about the evil serpent-the colors of the Palestinian flag- that looked so familiar to me?  Where on earth did they get the inspiration to portray the Palestinian and international human rights groups that support the BDS movement as a big, fanged, serpent? As vermin? (And then I remembered I had seen it in different (Genesis inspired) anti-Semitic propaganda about ‘conniving’ Jews, and thought, why not just call them all  “cockroaches” and get it over with? )

A comic book for children, this is really beyond muzzling.  This is about preparing for eradication.

Let’s see how long we have to wait before they get called out by the mainstream Jewish organizations they partner with. Paging Abe Foxman and The Anti-Defamation League. Paging David Harris of the AJC. Paging the Jewish Federations of North America. These people, StandWithUs, call themselves educators. They are educating your children. Our children. As history has shown, and as we Jews know too well, this kind of dehumanization-comparing people to vermin- should never, ever be acceptable.

Anti-Semitic propaganda below:

Left: French Jewish Captain Alan Dreyfus portrayed as a snake, skewered with a dagger saying “traitor”. His case, in which he was wrongly condemned and imprisoned for espionage, inspired then journalist Theodor Herzl to work towards the creation of a Jewish State because he felt it was the only solution to chronic European anti-Semitism.


The poster above?

This vivid poster from the September 1930 Reichstag election summarizes Nazi ideology in a single image. A Nazi sword kills a snake, the blade passing through a red Star of David. The red words coming from the snake are: usury, Versailles, unemployment, war guilt lie, Marxism, Bolshevism, lies and betrayal, inflation, Locarno, Dawes Pact, Young Plan, corruption, Barmat, Kutistker, Sklarek [the last three Jews involved in major financial scandals], prostitution, terror, civil war. Courtesy of Dr. Robert D. Brooks.

And for a little background on early Zionism to give you some tools for appreciating what a throwback  Captain Israel really is. From Raz Yosef of Tel Aviv University’s book, Beyond Flesh:

Zionism was not only a political and ideological program but also a sexual one. The liberation of Jews and creation of a new nation were closely intertwined with a longing for the redemption and normalization of the Jewish male body. That body had to be rescued from anti-Semitic, scientific-medical discourse associating it with disease, madness, degeneracy, sexual perversity, and femininity even with homosexuality. The Zionist movement was intent on transforming the very nature of European Jewish masculinity as it had existed in the diaspora. Zionist/Israeli films expressed this desire through visual and narrative tropes, enforcing the image of the hypermasculine, colonialist-explorer and militaristic nation-builder, an image dependent on the homophobic repudiation of the “feminine” within men.

The creation of a new heterosexual Jewish man was further intertwined with attitudes on the breeding of children, bodily hygiene, racial improvement, and Orientalist perspectives which associated the East, and especially Eastern bodies, with unsanitary practices, plagues, disease, and sexual perversity. By stigmatizing Israels Eastern populations as agents of death and degeneration, Zionism created internal biologized enemies, against whom the Zionist society had to defend itself. In the name of securing the life and reproduction of the new Ashkenazi Jewry, Israeli society discriminated against both its internal enemies, the Palestinians, and its own citizens, the Mizrahim (Oriental Jews).

Left: from Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer.

Ali Abunimah “exposed” as smooth sophisticate by bigots

StandWithUs again attempts to take someone down, in this case Palestinian American author Ali Abunimah. As one might expect from such a hateful crew, they don’t do a very good job.

Abunimah responds to their dossier,

The StandWithUs dossier is a mishmash of biographical information about me, much of it taken from my own writing, but wildly distorted and wrapped in hostility. Its main purpose it to advise anti-Palestinian activists how to “expose” me. Parts of it are quite complimentary though: “When Ali Abunimah comes to your campus, be prepared for a sophisticated, smooth advocate of radical Palestinian positions.” It warns that my “calmness, highbrow style and constant references to international law and human rights cannot conceal [my] intense hostility about the very founding of Israel… .”

Abunimah notes the absurdity of their counter strategy, confronting him with questions about his own work! I have seen Abunimah speak countless times when I lived in Chicago, and I can testify that reciting the same questions he gets every time will not phase this “smooth sophisticate.”

The document points to the bankruptcy of the “anti-delegitimization” stategy. It requires bullying, ignorant attempts to suggest something sinister about people who stubbornly refuse to be caricatured. And with the existence of the internet, the absurdity leaks out, Abunimah can easily make them look ridiculous on his blog by, proudly for me, reposting the video  from Muzzlewatch of StandWithUs members shouting slurs at Jewish Voice for Peace and our allies. Such a contrast between StandWithUs’s bigotry and Abunimah’s forceful, thoughtful advocacy is all that is required for “delegimiatzation,” nothing sneaky is required.

–Jesse Bacon

The BDS Movement: Now with Plasma TV’s.

Sue Fisckoff writes in the JTA about the off season preparations of Team Israel, aka Hillel, the Jewish student organization. The article highlights the very real panic the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement has caused and its automatic equation with anti-Semitism in the minds of some.

Amanda Boris is nervous about what she’ll face when classes resume at the University of Wisconsin later this month. “There’s an uncomfortable amount of anti-Semitism on my campus,” said the incoming senior.

We begin with some descriptions of actual anti-Semitism, namely an ad denying the Holocaust and anonymous internet posts, which sound bad if not exactly a groundswell of hatred. But within a sentence, we move to an unnamed professor charged with “making openly false statements about Israel.” No examples are given, but the professor whoever she or he is, is now in league with neo-Nazis and people who believe Jews had it coming. Whatever the real threats this student faces are now conflated with political views that differ from hers, and it sounds like Hillel’s trainings on Israel advocacy are doing nothing to sharpen that distinction. The article does not give any other examples of the titular “anti-Israel” sentiment “on the lesson plan,” implying in the classroom.

Rather, the focus is on the BDS movement, which is predicted to be “better organized, more prevalent and more vitriolic” this school year. The first two seem quite likely, but no evidence of the latter is given. Instead, anti Divestment students are warned that their foes have…better technology!

Whereas past years might have involved handfuls of anti-Israel students passing out photocopied flyers, last year saw a high-tech traveling exhibit of Israel’s separation barrier, complete with an embedded plasma TV showing anti-Israeli images.

Now we come to the heart of the matter, divestment resolutions on campus.

Only one of those proposed resolutions passed, in a non-binding student body vote at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. But every time such a bill is put forward, activists say, the charged atmosphere leaves lasting wounds.

Actually, Berkeley passed one too, and it was vetoed by a campus President. And what are those lasting wounds? Seeing Jews who disagree with you.

When the student government at the University of California, San Diego voted on a divestment bill in April, Hillel campus director Keri Copans noted some Jewish students standing across the room with the pro-divestment crowd, even as most Jewish students stood with her in opposing the bill.

The article does not actually interview any of these strange creatures, these Jews for BDS, But their very existence is painful,and Copans feels bad for them.

‘Divestment bills come and go, but these are Jewish students,’ she said. ‘I want them to have positive Jewish experiences, and that’s not what they get by being glared at across the room.’

However much pain is being felt, it seems clear that Hillel has NOT drawn the lesson that truly representing all Jewish students means allowing for a range of positions on Israel. Instead, students with differing views or who just don’t want to engage in this debate are compared to a piece of defective furniture.

‘For the average student, Israel is a problem — and they don’t want more problems,’ said Michael Faber, longtime Hillel executive director at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. ‘It makes that leg of their Jewish identity wobbly.’

Wayne Firestone, the Hillel executive, said: ‘We want the students to be prepared, not paralyzed with fear.

We are in the identity-building business, and the Israel issue is one we are standing up for.’

Free advice, Michael and Wayne: lay off the carpentry metaphors, stick to the actual anti-Semitsim your students face, and stand up for them and their values, not the “Israel issue.”

PS The article also interviews StandWithUs as a “pro-Israel” organization, last seen on Muzzlewatch making Jewish Voice for Peace members feel highly unsafe with slurs and threats on their family members.

–Jesse Bacon

Stand With Us/SF Voices for Israel shout Pigs for Palestine, threaten activists in San Francisco

[Video of threats and taunts embedded above.]  On June 6th, 2010, peace activists including members of Bay Area Women in Black and Jewish Voice for Peace held a silent vigil outside the main entrance to the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation’s annual “Israel in the Gardens” celebration. The peace activists called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territories and an end to the siege on Gaza. Their silent, dignified march was greeted by members of StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel and other affiliates who called them “kapos” (concentration camp prisoners who carried out Nazi orders on other prisoners) and suggested that Israel should “sink the next flotilla with you on it.”  One man made repeated explicit threats against the peace activists and their families and used a camera to take pictures. No one from StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel intervened. Rather, they kept up their vicious and abusive chants which included, according to multiple witnesses:

“Nazi, Nazi, Nazi!” – this done as a group chant
“You’re all being identified, every last one of you…we will find out where you live. We’re going to make your lives difficult..we will disrupt your families…”, all on above video.
“Sink the flotilla—and you on it!”
“Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists.”
One man yelled (to someone who may have looked heat exhausted) “I hope you stroke out, old man!”
“Ugly bitches” said to older women.
“You’re not a Jew! you gave up your Jewishness!”
“Witches in black! Bitches in black!” (hard to tell which one it was, or whether they alternated the chant)
“You fucking…!”
“Bin Laden loves you! you support terrorism!”
“Is there a coroner in the house? Women in Black are dead!”
“Is there a doctor in the house? Women in Black are sick!”
“End the occupation of our sidewalk.”
“Remember 9/11, they were dancing in the streets.”
“Asshole!”
“Anti-Semite!”
“Bigot!”
“Sharmuta!” this was chanted for a while (means “slut” or “whore” in Arabic and which was particularly shocking for Arabic speakers to hear)
“Commit suicide!”
“Anti-women, anti-gay, why support Hamas today!”
They were also lesbian-baiting, even though they were chanting “Anti-women, anti-gay, why support Hamas today?” One guy yelled “lesbian” at me and my friend (correctly assessing our sexual identity) and maybe the same guy yelled at someone else, “When’s the last time you dated a man?”

One guy kept saying “you’re looking at real people now (meaning Stand with Israel folks); you are not people.”

Signs said: “JVP, Proud to be ashamed to be Jewish.”
and “Don’t fuck with the Jews”.

An 88-year-old woman reported being told, “You’re halfway in your grave already’.
“Jihad!” chanted repeatedly at Muslim peace activists.

They also had signs that read, “JVP cons the world”, etc.

One woman waved the end of the large stick of her Israeli flag in a very threatening manner, as if to hit one of us (it happened to me several times as i walked by her), directed especially to those of us who carried signs identifying ourselves as Jews.

At an earlier demonstration last week at the consulate, there was a huge sign on the Stand with Us side (which Stand with Us later condemned). On one side it said “Until Gaza is destroyed, the job is not complete.” On the other, it said “God is great. It’s Islam that sucks.”
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Jewish institutional chickens coming home to roost

Decades of determined silence, or aiding and abetting both illegal settlement expansion and vicious attacks on dissenting critics of Israeli state policy have created a kind of “blowback” in the institutional Jewish world.

The new targets of the settlers’ linguistic paramilitary forces, aka the rightwing pro-Israel punditocracy and their followers, aren’t just the usual suspects like Jimmy Carter or Archbishop Tutu. They’re now mainstream, moderate, demonstrably Israel-loving institutional Jews. This is a moment of truth for many of these targets. Faced with new pressure from their right-wing flank, some will fold and adapt to a more McCarthyite environment, especially if loss of funding is threatened. Others will stand strong and even be radicalized.

So, who are the new targets of occupation-supporters like Caroline Glick (Whither American Jewry?) and Isi Liebler (Candidly Speaking: Marginalize the renegades) of the Jerusalem Post and Walter Bingham (Expose the Renegades) in Arutz Sheva? For starters, there’s former Jewish Council for Public Affairs director Hannah Rosenthal, whose principled concern for the Jewish community and  for Israel is undeniable. She is the newly appointed head of the US Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism:

Shortly after the announcement of Rosenthal’s nomination, conservative Jewish web sites began to attack her, some of them declaring that Obama appointed an anti-Israeli to fight anti-Semitism. Rumors brewed that she had accused Israel of systemically strengthening anti-Semitism. Bloggers argued that her appointment would cause Jews and Israelis to cast doubt on Obama and his relationship with Israel.

Then there’s the the popular San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, known for its diverse approach to programming, and the Jewish Federation in San Francisco, which (lightly) funds the Festival. Not used to getting hate mail from Jews, and being called anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli, the Federation has been under tremendous pressure to cave in to calls for excessively McCarthyite control over funding recipients; the Film Festival has already lost tens of thousands of dollars and half its board, with no sign of the campaign dying any time soon.

The Federation board wisely said no to an absurd proposal to bar partnerships with any individuals or groups who “defame Israel” (good luck defining that), but they did support a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America barring partnerships with groups that support Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.

(Presumably, Time’s Joe Klein, who recently came out in support of a suspension of aid as a way to get the Israelis to actually freeze settlements, could still speak at a Federation-supported venue. Jewish Voice for Peace, however, which promotes selective divestment and sanctions as a way to end Israel’s occupation, would continue to get no funds or support from the Federation. In fact, the Federation would be duty-bound to oppose JVP, according to the resolution. As more mainstream Jewish groups openly advocate against support for 501c3s that support extremist settlers, it’s not clear how this resolution will play out.) Of course, there is the unprecedented smear campaign against Richard Goldstone, including coordinated condemnation of his report in Conservative synagogues across America, and yet he has continued to hold strong and defend his work with tremendous integrity. And then, there are the ongoing attacks on the new moderate AIPAC alternative, J Street, which puts forth an agenda not entirely different from what Netanyahu himself at least says he wants – two states that preserve as they call it, “a Jewish democracy”. Finally, there is the very surprising Glenn Beck (pictured above) attack on the Anti-Defamation League for their new report “Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies,” which calls out Beck in particular in a wide-ranging condemnation of hate-mongers. Surprising because the ADL can typically be counted on to overlook hate-mongering and Holocaust-abuse in the service of a rightwing “pro-Israel” agenda, but in this case has done the right thing in identifying this truly scary trend for which Beck has become the figurehead. As MJ Rosenberg writes in his new column at Media Matters

:

Glenn Beck is, not surprisingly, in a state of rage about the ADL report. He defends himself by asking the ADL to “name the person who has been more friendly to Israel” (the predictable defense). This, of course, is utterly irrelevant.  The issue here is not Israel but the United States.  It is here where Beck spreads his hate, not Israel. And then Beck turns on the ADL itself.  Beck said that the Anti-Defamation League itself has “much to do with the plight of the Jewish people.”  I don’t know what plight Beck is referring to, perhaps the Holocaust which so often pops into his head and out of his mouth.  But, obviously, the ADL fought for the victims of the Holocaust, not its perpetrators.  The Holocaust was the product of professional hate mongers, the mob who listened to them, and politicians who came to power on their backs. That is precisely the combination the ADL is worried about now.

It’s tempting to sit back and say, “I told you so.” As Israel is learning all too well regarding increasing numbers of intransigent settlers  and religious fanatics who profess open contempt for their own country, you can’t help create a monster and then expect it not to try to devour you. But one hopes that all of the targets of these nasty charges will a) put into perspective the war of words versus the war of lives and homes being waged, for example, in Sheikh Jarakh in East Jerusalem right now and that b) they’ll resist efforts at intimidation precisely because Jews who love Israel should care about the rights of  Palestinian Israelis getting evicted from Sheikh Jarakh, as well as the rights of their peace-loving Jewish neighbors. There is only one logical conclusion after reading Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s moving and terrifying account of what’s happening in East Jerusalem:  justice for Palestinians is justice, and peace, for Jews. Supporting the ongoing evictions and terrorization of Palestinians is the last way in the world to show love of Israel.

-Cecilie Surasky

Australia: Jewish prof calls Israel advocates “overseas provocateurs”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports this interesting story featuring open conflict between Australian Jewish academics and pro-Israel advocates. It’s also interesting to note that the far-right US-based StandWithUs group is literally exporting its strategy and resources to Australia:

Jewish academics are blasting the hiring of a coordinator for Israel advocacy for Australian college campuses.

Joel Burnie, 23, was jointly appointed earlier this month as the inaugural student campus coordinator by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the U.S.-based campus advocacy organization StandWithUs.

Mark Baker, the director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne, slammed the appointment in an article in this week’s Australian Jewish News, saying it would “doom Jewish academics and students to isolation and defeat.”

“There’s no need to widen the war and bring in proxy mercenaries to torpedo the battle with watchdogs and overseas provocateurs,” Baker wrote.

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of AIJAC, blasted Baker’s comments as “misdirected, misconceived and misleading,” according to the Jewish News.

He also denied rumors that AIJAC, a sister organization of the American Jewish Committee, had been sifting through recordings of university lectures for hints of anti-Israel or anti-Jewish bias.

Burnie, who was the Australian Union of Jewish Students president in 2007, denied he was employed as a campus watchdog, saying his role was to promote Israeli culture and Israeli speakers that come to Australia, as well as to further dialogue about Israel on campus.

Stunning moment at screening of Jolie film about Daniel Pearl

At Thursday’s Paramount Vantage Los Angeles screening of “A Mighty Heart,” which including an interfaith panel discussion with representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU) as well as Plan B co-producer Dede Gardner and Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak,

a Jewish activist decried the leanings of several of the participants, likening CAIR’s involvement to “David Duke co-sponsoring ‘Schindler’s List.’”

“The only reason they like this film is because it’s about a dead Jew,” said Allyson Rowen-Taylor, who has been involved in orgs such as the American Jewish Congress and Stand With Us. The activist found out about the event from a friend who’s a member of the Academy and immediately expressed her outrage to Judea Pearl, father of the late journo Daniel Pearl.

We’ve written about Allison Rowen Taylor, before. While still a high ranking staffer for the American Jewish Congress, she sent an “anonymous” email to the personal account of a Jewish staffer for the Quaker human rights group American Friends Service Committee, demanding to know, “why do you hate being a Jew, why are you in favor of murdering Jews?” (She later served as associate director of Stand With Us, “a pro-Israel advocacy organization active on California campuses,” though it is unclear from her remarks if she has also left there and why.)

Had Taylor suggested that the only reason Jews liked a movie was because it was about a dead Muslim, it’s likely she would simply have been shuffled out the door or ignored, instead of given a platform.

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Interesting tidbits.

Generational change is scary. Very scary.

New Voices has a wrap-up of the recent unsuccessful attempts by the Zionist Organization of America and StandWithUs to have the Union of Progressive Zionists kicked out of the Israel on Campus Coalition for sponsoring a tour of Israeli soldiers (Breaking the Silence) critical of and traumatized by their military service in the West Bank.

Shapiro remained undaunted. I think the outcome sends a message that even though these well-established, older, better-funded organizations were advocating our removal, the ICC chose to listen to the voice of youth. I hope this is a sign of changing times where there will be no such thing as a Jewish thought police and the voice of Jewish youth will be regarded as important.

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