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ADL Campus guide describes how to block events about Palestine

The ADL claims to oppose injustice, but spends much of its huge budget defaming Palestinians and their allies who work for an end to Israel’s human rights abuses.
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | September 13, 2107

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has just launched a new initiative for college students called “ADL CAMPUS: Tools for Dealing with Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents on Campus.”

This resource contains much useful information about addressing anti-Semitism, endorses such valuable principles as freedom of speech and non-violence, and recommends that students talk to others who may hold different perspectives.

It also, however, contains some deeply problematic components for anyone who believes that human rights and justice should apply to all people without exception.

Unfortunately, the ADL does not share this belief. While it announces prominently, “We protect the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all,” in reality the ADL supports Israeli injustice against Palestinians.

Its recent campus resource exemplifies this, and distorts facts and words in order to do so.

First of all, ADL Campus conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Rather than meaning bigotry against Jewish people, the ADL’s use of the term anti-Semitism includes many forms of criticism of Israel. The Israeli government and certain of its partisans have been pushing this new, expanded definition in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Below, this article will look in more detail at what kinds of criticism of Israel the ADL considers unacceptable, and why its parameters will include virtually all speakers truly critical of Israeli oppression of Palestinians. First, however, let us turn to the ADL’s advice on blocking events championing Palestinian human rights (and undermining free speech and academic inquiry).

ADL strategies to prevent events about Palestine

ADL Campus provides an entire section on how to block events on Palestine. The section starts out by assuring students that they have tremendous resources on their campuses to help them in this: faculty, Hillel, Chabad, J Street U, Stand With Us, The David Project, off-campus organizations like ADL, the Israel Action Network, Israel on Campus Coalition, AIPAC, and “your local Israeli Consulate.”

It provides an array of “Proactive Strategies to Prevent Anti-Israel Activity” – “steps you can take year-round to prevent an anti-Israel event from taking place on your campus, and to be prepared if and when an anti-Israel event does take place.”

They are advised to join – and lead, when possible – student organizations so that they can use this position to advocate for Israel and prevent campus activism on Palestine. The guide advises students to:

“Run for student government. Write for the campus newspaper. Join committees and other student organizations. Holding leadership positions on campus provides a great opportunity to meet new people, build coalitions, and exchange views with your peers. With a seat at the table, you can more effectively speak out (or even vote) against anti-Israel actions, including divestment resolutions.”

This is not a new idea. In 2010 an AIPAC official (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) said that AIPAC was going to take over student governments in order to block resolutions on behalf of Palestinian rights:

More recently, pro-Israel students have been working to insert an Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism into student governments. This then blocks university funding for student groups wishing to bring speakers on Palestine.

ADL Campus expands further upon the value of building relationships with other students as a strategy to prevent Palestine activism:

“Build coalitions with other student groups. Take the time to understand the needs and priorities of other groups and learn how to be an ally to other communities. Attend their events and meetings.  Join advocacy efforts for issues you care about. Think about opportunities for co-sponsoring events with these groups.”

Another suggested strategy is to put on Israel-related events; again the document suggests resources students can tap into:

“Hillel, the Israeli consulate responsible for the region in which your campus is located, ADL and other organizations, on campus and off, can help provide you with speakers and ideas.”

What to do if an event about Palestine is scheduled

If, despite their efforts, a program on Palestine is scheduled for their campus, ADL Campus tells students what to do next: investigate the speaker by contacting Hillel, ADL, ICC (Israel on Campus), or other organizations. (Some of these groups compile witch-hunt-like dossiers on Palestinian rights speakers which often contain inaccurate information, grossly exaggerated ad hominem attacks and claims that they are “anti-Semitic.”)

If they find that the speaker has engaged in alleged “hate speech, including anti-Semitic comments [sic],” ADL Campus tells them to contact the administration about it. Given that the ADL labels numerous valid statements about Israel “anti-Semitic (see below),” this could apply to virtually all honest and committed speakers on Palestine, and is often used in attempts to impugn the speaker’s integrity and block his or her talk. Such misrepresentations sometimes cause academic departments and other organizations to back out of sponsoring a lecture.

If an event does go forward with speakers that don’t pass ADL muster, ADL Campus tells students they should consider “an active, organized effort.” It advises them to “send a small contingent of pro-Israel students to the event to question the speaker about their views. Prepare some questions in advance based on what you’ve learned about the speaker [sic] in your research.”

ADL Campus also tells students: “Share information with fellow students attending the event about the speakers and organizations they’re about to hear from. Prepare fact sheets [sic] in advance that highlight how extreme the views of the speaker really are. ADL and other organizations make it easy to access information on extreme speakers who frequently appear on campuses.”

In reality, such “fact sheets” typically misrepresent speakers’ statements and contain non-factual information about Israel-Palestine in general and about the speaker in particular.

The ADL “deciphers” anti-Semitism

ADL Campus contains an entire section and video that claim to help students decipher when something is anti-Semitic or contains “anti-Israel bias” (the latter seems to be anti-Semitism’s almost equally objectionable sister sin).

According to the ADL, you are anti-Semitic if you who fail to affirm Israel’s alleged “right to exist as a Jewish state.”


Palestinians forced out in 1948 by Israel’s founding war

Affirming such a “right” may seem benign. In reality, it means affirming Israel’s “right” to have created its state through the violent expulsion of the majority indigenous population and confiscation of their land, simply because they were not Jewish. It also means you believe Israel has the “right” to prohibit these families from returning to their homes because they are of the “wrong” ethnicity or religion (even though returning to one’s home is an internationally recognized human right.)

In actuality, saying that Israel has a “right to exist as a Jewish state” entails the morally untenable position that universal human rights do not apply to the residents and indigenous people Israel does not want in its ethnically preferential state.

ADL Campus also states that BDS (Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions), the international nonviolent movement that works to require Israel to adhere to international law and end its violations of human rights, is “anti-Semitic.”

In fact, the ADL head has just endorsed legislation that would make Americans who support boycotts targeting Israel criminals to be punished by fines of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. Once again, we see the ADL turning morality on its head. Those who stand up for justice and who oppose oppression and discrimination are not bigots or criminals, they are human rights champions.

While the ADL Campus video allows in theory that “people can support the Palestinian cause without being anti-Israel,” it censures what the ADL claims is “illegitimate criticism.” As the narrator’s voice intones that this consists of “false accusations,” the screen shows the words apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.


Screenshot from ADL Campus video

Far from being “false accusations” and “illegitimate criticism,” however, all three characterizations of Israel and its actions are based on factual conditions and have been argued for by diverse scholars, institutions, and human rights advocates (see links below*).

ADL campus also decrees that statements comparing Israel to Nazis are “anti-Semitic” (reflecting the international redefinition of the term mentioned above). However, Israeli leaders themselves at times have referred to one another this way, beginning with Ben Gurion, who compared both Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky and future Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Hitler (Begin returned the epithet). An article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is headlined: Calling your political rival a Nazi is a time-hallowed tradition in Israel.

And while such comparisons are exaggerated and imprecise, some years ago there was an uproar in Israel when an Israeli military officer suggested that studying how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto could be useful in finding strategies to use in seizing “a densely populated refugee camp, or take over the casbah in Nablus.” Author Melvin Goodman, describing the cruel situation in Gaza, concludes:  “Perhaps the comparison with the Warsaw Ghetto is not completely far-fetched after all.”

ADL helps mislead people, then calls them “anti-Semitic”

In one case, the ADL’s characterization of some statements about Israel as “anti-Semitic” may be legitimate. The ADL accuses individuals of being “anti-Semitic”– i.e. bigots – if they suggest that all Jewish people are responsible for the actions of Israel.

Such a conflation is erroneous and should be corrected. However, it is important to understand that the state of Israel itself and its strongest partisans, including the ADL, actively work to conflate Judaism and Jewish identity with Israel. This intentional conflation has gone on for decades. A century ago Supreme Court Justice and Zionist leader Louis Brandeis was known for specifically working to conflate Zionism with being Jewish at a time when most Jewish people were not Zionists.


Israeli flag featuring the “Star of David” Jewish identity symbol

Israel specifically calls itself “the Jewish state” and often claims to represent Jews worldwide, a claim specifically rejected by certain Jewish individuals and organizations.

The Israeli flag, which adorns tanks, helicopter gunships, and fighter jets that periodically attack Gaza civilians, consists of a star of David, thus working to symbolically conflate Israel and its actions with Judaism and Jews. Israelis regularly call the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. “the Jewish lobby.”

In addition, virtually every mainstream national Jewish institution in the U.S. publicly supports Israel, numerous synagogues and schools across the country exhibit the Israeli flag and affirm their attachment to Israel, and Jewish Community Relations Councils and Jewish Federations advocate for Israel in cities throughout the country.

The ADL’s 2015 Annual Report itself conflates Israel and “the Jewish people,” stating: “Since the founding purpose of ADL is to protect the Jewish people, our work on behalf of and in support of the State of Israel is a significant way of fulfilling that mission.” The ADL Campus video itself uses an image of a menorah, a religious symbol, to represent Israel.


Graphic featuring the menorah used in ADL Campus video

If some people critical of human rights abuses or other actions by the government of Israel or certain Israel partisans connect all Jews to Israel’s actions, this intentional conflation is part of the problem, not the solution. Those taken in by it are mistaken, not necessarily prejudiced.

ADL: Advocate for Israel

For many years the ADL has been held in high regard by many Americans who believe its purpose is to oppose bigotry and assist those being treated unfairly, and who are unaware of the ADL’s work to defame human rights defenders and maintain Israel’s power over Palestinians, one of the world’s most oppressed populations.

Through its own well-funded efforts combined with the support of media figures who may also be pro-Israel, the ADL has attained considerable power. Its frequent reports on alleged anti-Semitism are cited regularly as though they are the work of an objective, official, accountable entity.

In reality, the ADL is a non-governmental organization without public accountability whose work is non-transparent, lacks objective review, and which has a publicly stated goal of advocating for a foreign country—a nation whose system is antithetical to the principles held by most Americans, and whose actions are frequently harmful to the United States.

With its $142 million assets, the ADL crows that it helps “shape laws locally and nationally, and develop groundbreaking model legislation,” thus exerting influence from the highest levels of the U.S. government down to American campuses.

ADL Campus is its latest effort to maintain US taxpayers’ $10 million+ per day to Israel, and thus maintain Israel’s hegemony over Palestinians and others in the region.

Opposing bigotry, prejudice, and racism are noble actions that benefit everyone. Sadly, that’s not what the ADL is about.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.  

* According to the ADL, statements suggesting that Israeli actions and/or policies have constituted apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing are “false claims” and therefore constitute “anti-Israel bias,” a phrase that the ADL seems to suggest is tantamount to anti-Semitism. In reality, however, there is considerable evidence that such statements are accurate; at minimum, they are valid criticisms worthy of investigation. Below are a few of the many resources available on these topics:

Apartheid

Genocide

Ethnic Cleansing

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli-Canadian Thought Police Take Aim…. At Me

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By Prof. Tony Hall | American Herald Tribune | September 21, 2016

In recent days I discovered that the Canadian branch of the Israeli-US-based Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith is reporting that I am “well known for using academic credentials to deny the Holocaust.” On August 29, Daniel Leons-Marder mirrored the Canadian B’nai Brith report under the title, Facebook Allows “Kill All Jews” Post on Wall of Canadian Professor. In an item Leons-Marder claims has been shared 11,000 times, he asserted “B’nai Brith Canada reported the image, which was ruled acceptable [by Facebook] within two hours, when it was alerted to it having been posted on the Facebook page of Canadian Academic Professor Anthony Hall, who is a holocaust denier.”

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The B’nai Brith’s Aug. 29 announcement starts with a bald statement that “Police have launched an investigation into an antisemitic Facebook post that was exposed by B’nai Brith Canada last Friday.” The earlier August 26 statement emphasized the role of Facebook, introducing me in the controversy as being “well known for using [my] academic credentials to deny the Holocaust and promote 9/11 conspiracy theories.”

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Under the headline, “Killing Jews Is Now an Acceptable Message, Facebook Says,” the B’nai Brith announced,

“Antisemitism in all forms is rampant on social media, but this is the clearest, most obvious kind of antisemitism one could possibly create,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith CEO. “The classification of this as antisemitic cannot be challenged, and the fact that this promotes violence towards Jews is beyond dispute. Regardless, Facebook has deemed it acceptable despite its ‘community standards’ containing clear provisions against hate speech. The Jewish community deserves no less protection or respect than any other when it comes to hate speech and threats of violence.”

“Every year, upon publication of our Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, a contingent of detractors accuses us of saying the sky is falling, and that antisemitism does not exist in Canada,” said Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “Content like this is proof positive that not only antisemitism of a genocidal nature exists in Canada, but the systems that are supposed to protect us from racist hate speech don’t consider hatred of Jews to be problematic.”

B’nai Brith has reported the post to Lethbridge Police Services.

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The Canadian B’nai Brith’s post, together with those of others that have mirrored B’nai Brith’s announcement, constitute the first time I have seen myself described in print as a ‘holocaust denier.” What is the definition used by the thought police to decide who is or is not a “holocaust denier? Are there many holocausts or only one? Who owns the term, “holocaust?” If there are exclusive rights, how were they obtained?

In the eyes of the B’nai Brith, is a “holocaust denier” anyone who disagrees with any element, large or small, of its favored historical interpretation? Is the B’nai Brith naturally hostile to anyone that retains independent, evidence-based perspectives on some of the most fraught issues of historical interpretation in contemporary times?

What is behind the creation of the original post that set the controversy in motion? Who created it and why? Is this whole episode an engineered crisis? Is one of its purposes to fend off the criticisms of those that accuse the B’nai Brith and related Zionist agencies of claiming “the sky is falling” with their Orwellian system of Annual Audits of Antisemitic Incidents. Please see below the map published to present cartographic interpretations by the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.

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As shall be explained below, the B’nai Brith has failed to perform due diligence in its handling of this matter. Its officers did not even attempt back up their provocative characterizations of me with even a shred of genuine evidence. The organization opted instead to exploit for its own political agenda the shock value inherent in the vile contents of an item allegedly posted, apparently very briefly, on my FB page. The item is said to have been posted by Glen Davidson. I did not ever see it on my FB page. I did not invite nor did I even have any knowledge of it until recently.

In its material the B’nai Brith describe the post as a “depiction of a White man assaulting an Orthodox Jew accompanied by a lengthy, violent anti-Semitic screed beside the photograph.” Here is the post, which I first saw sometime early in September as part of a smear piece published about me at “Aussie Dave’s” Israellycool.

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To reiterate and to be absolutely clear, I did not post this social media item myself. I did not create it or solicit it. I do not approve of its contents. In fact I of course strongly condemn the message conveyed in both the image and the text. Due diligence demands, however, that I look further into this matter.

The B’nai Brith in Action

My initial research into the item’s content is leading me to the opinion that the image probably emerges from some sort of staged situation, one that seems to include the application of photo shop techniques. The most basic questions that must now be pressed concern the source of the atrocious text. From whence does it originate? Certainly I did not write it. Glen Davidson did not write it. Who did write it and why? Not once yet have I seen this deeper question posed by those who are exploiting the vile item to dramatize a real or concocted dispute with Facebook.

Quite possibly by design, the miniscule, densely compressed text is very difficult to read especially on small digital devices. Could this attribute be because the text was conceived not as a means of winning adherents but rather as a justification for political actions like the B’nai Brith’s current hate speech campaign highlighting my academic position at the University of Lethbridge?

I first saw the item among a number of screen shots all dedicated to “Aussie Dave’s” nomination of me as “Anti-Zionist-Not-Anti-Semite of the Day.”

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I remember being particular interested in the part of the post that mentioned Ryan Bellerose, a Metis man and convert to Judaism who has recently been hired as the B’nai Brith’s new Western Canadian representative. Most of my attention zeroed in on Aussie Dave’s suggestion to his readers that they communications to the president of my University, Dr. Mike Mahon. I also took note of a screen shot of an item on U of L letterhead where Dr. Mahon responds to  “JP.” Who is “JP”?

I can trace one thread of this matter’s origins to a recorded telephone call I listened to a year ago. Its source was Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. In August of 2015 Ms. Hohmann telephoned the manager of a community venue in downtown Edmonton Alberta. Ms. Hohmann aim on behalf of her employer was to shut down a book promotion event. At the time Dr. Barrett along with his wife, two sons a dog and me were touring Alberta to call attention to an edited text entitled We Are Not Charlie Hebdo. Dr. Barrett edited the volume to which I had contributed an article.

The venue’s manager, Richard Awid, taped Ms. Hohmann’s intervention and subsequently played it back for me. Here is how I described this part of the episode in an article entitled “B’nai Brith Moves to Quash Free Speech in Canada,”

Mr. Awid was somewhat dumbfounded that a small event at his community hall, “one of 100 such venues in Edmonton,” would elicit such an intense response from a very powerful organization in Toronto. He played back to me on his answering machine a recorded message he received at about 9 am on August 12 from Amanda Hohmann. Ms. Hohmann explained that she had received “a few complaints” about “Mr.” Kevin Barrett on the B’nai Brith’s “anti-hate hotline.” (1-416-633-6224; 1-800-892-2624)

Ms. Hohmann asserted that

“Mr. Barrett is a known anti-semite conspiracy theorist, a Holocaust Denier, and 9/11 Denier and all sorts of other things.”

Ms. Hohmann made no effort whatsoever to give background proof of her allegations or to identify the sources of the supposed “complaints.” Nevertheless she proposed to Mr. Awid that he should “cancel the event and let Mr. Barrett know he is not welcome in Edmonton.”

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In this telephone call the B’nai Brith’s “human rights” director tried to defame a colleague offering absolutely no proof whatsoever to provide evidentiary backing for her directive from Toronto that Dr. Barrett should not be welcome in Alberta’s capital. I believe the Western world currently supports many Amanda Hohmanns paid very well to target and slander regularly individuals like Dr. Kevin Barrett.

Are the protagonists in these ugly witch hunts ever held accountable for the excesses? Are there any constraints on the increasingly severe incursions of the Zionist thought police? What remedies are or are not available for the likes of Dr. Barrett who is a Muslim man. Along with the rest of the omma, Dr. Barrett and his family are regularly subjected to heavy doses of “hate speech” and sometimes worse?

When Richard Awid, a Muslim himself, did not adhere to Ms. Hohmann’s instructions, the B’nai Brith was able to send in a representative of the “hate speech” unit of the Edmonton police. The officer monitored the first part of the event and then left after informing Dr. Barrett that our presentation deemed was not to be hate speech by the police force he represented. I recall wondering at the time, does that bizarre episode foreshadow an era when all university classes will be policed by officials answerable to agencies like the B’nai Brith? Is that where this is leading?

The B’nai Brith has been front and center in Canada’s increasingly notorious record of aggressively policing citizens for supposed thought crimes and speech crimes. The B’nai Brith’s assault on free speech in Canada includes among its objects for criminalization Doug Collins, Malcolm Ross, Jim Keegstra, Ernst Zundel, Terry Tremaine, David Ahenakew and, most recently, Arthur Topham.

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The case against Arthur Topham and his Radical Press is still ongoing. By following at a distance the tawdry prosecution of the self-employed reporter, publisher, editor and carpenter in Quesnel British Columbia, I was made aware of a very significant text published in 1941. Theodore Kaufman’s Germany Must Perish outlines an extremely ruthless strategy of genocidal destruction of a whole people. Has this classic description of genocidal intent and methodology been ever given prominence in a school curriculum in Canada?

My reading of an Internet copy of the text, one that became integral to the proceedings of the Topham trial, caused me to reflect on how one-sided the whole discourse on genocide is becoming. The suffering of one group is highlighted and elevated above all others while the suffering and assaults imposed on other groups is often downplayed, ignored or even denigrated. I had no idea before the B’nai Brith-instigated prosecution of Arthur Topham that there was such a detailed plan to annihilate the entire German people.

I only recently have become fully aware of the extent of the murder, rape and pillage of several millions of Germans after 1945 in American prisoner war camps and in orgies of Soviet-instigated ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. Where are the museums to promote public education about these crimes against humanity? Where is the museum to commemorate the horrendous intergenerational genocide of perhaps a hundred million Indigenous peoples in the Holocaust of the Americas since 1492? Will future You Tubers make videos to ask elderly members of today’s generation what they did or didn’t do about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians now underway in order to clear the way for Greater Israel?

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Thought Police Wreaking Havoc on Campus

The B’nai Brith is becoming especially aggressive in campaigns to have individuals fired from their work for expounding historical interpretations it does not like. The B’nai Brith boasted menacingly on September 15 of having destroyed the career of Nikolas Balakas, a long-serving lab technician at York University’s Department of Astronomy and Physics. The announcement that Canada’s most ruthless thought police agency had succeeded in its campaign to get York University to fire its employee was written by Aidan Fishman. Mr. Fishman is Campus Advocacy Coordinator of B’nai Brith Canada.

After counting coup on Mr. Balaras’s dismissal, Mr. Fishman concludes with the following plea that the University of Lethbridge should follow York University’s example. The B’nai Brith official wrote,

“Unfortunately not every administration is prepared to act with such decisiveness [as that of York University], as the ongoing saga surrounding Professor Anthony Hall at Lethbridge University shows. I hope that the administration in Lethbridge can use the excellent example set by York University on this matter, and take appropriate steps to ensure that their students are not similarly subjected to hatred and antisemitism on campus.”

Who is the real author of this “ongoing saga?” Where is the proof as of today that University of Lethbridge students are being subjected “to hatred and anti-Semitism on campus.” I have not once seen this kind of language appear in 26 years of teaching evaluations. Where is there any accountability for floating this kind of vicious agenda of smear? The intrusion into this matter of a B’nai Brith official described as Campus Advocacy Coordinator is, as far as I know, setting precedents at my school. What is the nature of the “advocacy” Mr. Fishman is “coordinating”?

The effort of B’nai Brith’s “campus coordinator” and possibly others of his group to inject themselves into the internal governance of the University of Lethbridge brings to mind a similar controversy brewing at Oberlin College. Oberlin College is a renowned Liberal Arts school in Ohio whose origins long predate the American Civil War. There Dr. Joy Karega has been suspended with pay from her teaching position as a result of a controversy also involving Facebook posts. I have written a lengthy open latter on the matter to Oberlin President, Dr. Marvin Krislov. The text, which has been mirrored on other web sites, was first published at American Herald Tribune.

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In my effort to reach out to President Krislov, Dr. Karega and the other students and faculty involved in what has definitely become a fiasco for the Oberlin community, I proposed in my open letter that we all work together to mount a joint academic conference. I proposed that my own Liberal Education program at the University of Lethbridge ally itself with the embattled Liberal Arts College in Ohio to organize an event aimed at bringing thoughtful academic commentary to address a mounting crisis in higher education in North America.

I hereby invite Aiden Fishman to join this initiative and thereby embark on a constructive course rather than the trajectory of negativity implicit in his present preoccupation with hate talk and advocacy for division. Of course Mr. Fishman is far from alone in the type of “advocacy” in which he is engaged. There is a barrage of interventions currently underway from organizations like the AMCHA Initiative, the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Campus Outreach, Hillel, the American Jewish Congress, David Horowitz’s FrontPage and Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch to mention only a few. As currently on full public display at Oberlin College, these well-funded and deeply staffed interventions invariably wreak havoc on the principles of academic freedom and civil academic discourse on campus?

I suggested the following title for the event.

Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories:

A Rational or Irrational Phrase in Academic Discourse?

In my research research into the Joy Karega/Oberlin debacle I became aware of the concerted campaign in 2014 to destroy the career of Prof. William I. Robinson. Dr. Robinson is Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Like Dr. Joy Karega, Dr. Steven Salaita, Dr. Hatem Bazian, Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Dr. Richard Falk, me and many others, Dr. Robinson includes in the curriculum some focus on the plight of Palestinian people.

Caption: Prof. Richard Falk, Former UN Rapporteur and Princeton University Professor of International Law, Speaks on the Issue of Academic Freedom at the University of California at Santa Barbara

The sociologist refused to back down from incorporating in his teaching critical perspectives on the harsh treatment of Palestinians especially in Gaza and the so-called Occupied Territories. Amidst proliferating Jewish settlements and the constant repressions of the Israeli police state, many Palestinians continue to eke out marginal existences on the heavily militarized lands set aside for them by the United Nations in Resolution 181. Resolution 181, an international instrument calling for partition of Palestine and UN trusteeship over Jerusalem, constitutes the primary law at the roots of the Israeli entity in its present form.

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Prof. Robinson has written of his ordeal in August of 2014 on Truthout. In an article entitled “Repression Escalates on US Campuses,” the sociologist explains,

The persecution to which I was subjected involved a litany of harassment, slander, defamation of character and all kinds of threats against the university by outside forces if I was not dismissed, as well as hate mail and death threats from unknown sources. More insidiously, it involved a shameful collaboration between a number of university officials and outside forces from the Israel lobby as the university administration stood by silently, making a mockery of academic freedom.

The disciplinary procedure initiated against me by UCSB officials involved a host of irregularities, violations of the university’s own procedures, breaches of confidentiality, denial of due process, conflicts of interest, failure of disclosure, improper political surveillance, abuses of power and position, unwarranted interference in curriculum and teaching and so on. As I would discover during the course of the ordeal, individuals inside the university and in positions of authority had linked up with agents of the lobby outside the university in setting out to prosecute me.

Will the same toolbox of wrecking instruments deployed at the University of California be shipped in from the United States and unpacked at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada? Will the administration of my own school continue to uphold the University of Lethbridge’s good reputation as an institution of higher education where the vital principles of academic freedom and civil academic discourse are expressed and defended?

On several occasions I have publicly lauded the U of L for creating an environment of academic freedom. I made this observation, for instance, at the University of Lethbridge’s book event when in 2011 my volume, Earth into Property, was launched. In this 900+ page peer-reviewed academic text published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, I incorporate analysis that the B’nai Brith flippantly trivializes as “9/11 conspiracy theories.”

Deeply corrupt agencies like the B’nai Brith have a lot to lose when the basic facts about what really happened on 9/11–who did what to whom—become the common knowledge of the general public. That day may be approaching far faster than those hiding behind the tired old memes about “conspiracy theories” anticipate.

How much longer can the evidence of 9/11 be concealed behind the ruthless kind of ad hominem attacks that have become the well known-specialty of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in all its many constituent parts? How much longer will the public tolerate the hate propaganda and professional assaults that are obliterating the fundamental integrity of so many of our most important institutions?

What other lies and deceptions are being fed to the public on a regular basis? What is the level of public confidence these days in the trustworthiness of society’s key institutions including government, media, police and agencies of higher education? Who can say public confidence in these entities is high?

What is the appropriate role for universities in addressing issues of officialdom’s fraud and malfeasance especially in situations that have large implications for public policy? If even tenured university faculty can be intimidated into shying away from the professional responsibility to distinguish truth from falsehood, but especially in situations that threaten power’s imperatives, who will perform this vital function? Politicians? Talking heads on TV? Who will speak truth to the unaccountable power that the B’nai Brith in its current reckless demeanor so abundantly epitomizes?

Ritual Defamation in the Social Media Circus

To return to the Facebook post that lies at the root of this controversy, I have already publicly condemned the contents of the offending item in the September 16 edition of False Flag Weekly News. I currently co-host this regular broadcast along with one of its founding partners, Dr. Kevin Barrett.

I noticed a reference to my public condemnation of the item in question in the comments section of the B’nai Brith’s own web post of August 29. A commenter going by the name of Andrew Blair observes,

It is important to realize that Professor Hall publicly condemns that image and text. Go to False Flag Weekly, at minute 36, to see and hear his denunciation.When I put on my “fairness” glasses and look at that image I see Tony Hall in the headlock, and the arms locking his head are the image and the text. Does anyone else see that, or are my “fairness” glasses defective?

“Andrew Blair’s” question certainly resonates with me. The B’nai Brith’s description of the image in its news announcements refers to “a White man assaulting an Orthodox Jew.” Is the Orthodox Jew not a White man too? What is there to say that the aggressor in this image is not Cherokee or Mohawk or Palestinian for that matter?

What are the politics of the B’nai Brith’s choice of words in its racialized approach to its public announcement highlighting this inflammatory image? What effect is being sought? Did the image emerge from a real or staged situation? If it was the former, what was the event? Where did it happen? Who took the photograph? Have the investigators in the B’nai Brith-police-hate-crime-complex explored such matters.

Is the B’nai Brith’s emphasis on “police investigations” itself a staged tactic of sorts? Is it meant to dramatize the main story line aimed ultimately at seizing control of strategic instruments of Internet communication. The subplot, which is certainly intended to harm me personally and professionally, is that crazed and genocidal anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists– even “holocaust deniers”— are running around loose with full Internet access even in Lethbridge Alberta?

My own best assessment is that the offending social media item seems likely to have been produced by photo shop juxtapositions of different images. The “White man’s” head and the “Orthodox Jew’s” crushed glasses both look like inserts. The white wing of the victim’s crushed and displaced glasses seems to have been drawn in. There are signs of graphic tinkering in the relationship between the huge muscular arm in the forefront and the squeezed face of the suffering victim.

The reversal of Talmudic-style contempt for the Other (the Goy) cries out the pictured message of Jewish victimhood. The provocative power of the image is reinforced by the B’nai Brith’s very racialized description. In my recent research I have discovered that this image and other images very much like—images that often feature the same racist “White man”— show up on many Internet posts, even one I found translated into German.

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Ben Garisson fa323

Where the picture provides the main message, the text provides the “evidence” of the antisemitism that the B’nai Brith and its allied agencies are simultaneously engaged in inventing, cultivating, spotlighting and publicly combating. What justification would there be for the existence of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith without the métier of antisemitism? The primary essence of the B’nai B’rith entities is to advance the agendas of the Israeli entity in the Diaspora, in other words in Canada, USA, Britain, France. Australia, and many other countries.

The text in the offending item is perhaps the most appalling excerpt of gutter prose I have ever seen. Its contents are so reprehensible that they demand careful consideration. Like an illegal drug planted by corrupt police on a targeted individual, the reprehensible social media item has been metaphorically put on my digital front door step and then advertised by the B’nai Brith to advance its own political agenda. I am left with little alternative but to respond as decently and as conscientiously to a crime in progress.

The author, it is claimed by the item’s creator, is Ben “Tel Aviv Terror” Garrison. This Garrison person has many nicknames. He is made to exclaim,

“There was never a Holocaust, but there should have been and, rest assured, there WILL be, as you serpentine kikes richly deserve one. I will not rest until every single filthy. Parasitic kike is rounded up and slaughtered like the vermin they are. The White man has had more than enough of International Jewry and we are fully prepared to smite the parasite for the millionth time. The greedy, hook nosed kikes know that there days are numbered and, unlike in the past, they now have nowhere to run. This time, there will be no kikes left alive to spead around the planet like cockroaches. We will get them ALL into the oven and their putrid memory will finally be erased from the planet once and for all. Like all parasites the Jew will continue to reproduce until every last one has been wiped out. This is why it is crucial that all kikes are ruthlessly and mercilesslt butchered for the good of us all. KILL ALL JEWS NOW! EVERY LAST ONE!” Ben “Tel Aviv Terror” Garrison

What kind of demented mind would come up with such a macabre celebration of envisaged mass murder? What would be the motivation to pen such a blatant incitement to hate and slaughter of a specific people?

My research into the offending item’s origins quickly led me to the many Internet profiles and posts of Ben Garrison. Ben Garrison is apparently a real person who lives in Montana. It turns out that this Ben Garrison, the sole named individual in the miniature text of the offending Facebook post, is also the aggressor in the photo shopped image. Adorned with dark glasses and a cowboy hat, Garrison is pictured as (in the words of B’nai Brith) as “the White man assaulting an Orthodox Jew.”

Ben Garrison

The real life Ben Garrison is often described as a libertarian political satirist. He is a prolific cartoonist whose cartoon and personal images lie at the center of an increasingly contentious media circus. Significantly Facebook figures centrally in the many-faceted narrative of Ben Garrison. Perhaps his Facebook connection is a major reason why B’nai Brith and related agencies chose Garrison’s Internet personae as poster boy for its hate speech campaign of fund raising and ritual defamation.

Holocaust Studies experts at Tel-Aviv University are among the most outspoken proponents of the view that Ben Garrison is indeed the kind of bigoted psychopath who would in real life utter provocations to the genocide of Jews. These Israeli academicians would probably argue it is entirely in character for Ben Garrison to have actually declared with sincerity, “Kill All Jews.” The hypothesis that Ben Garrison’s racist screed should be taken at face value is implicit in the wording and headlines of the posts by B’nai Brith, Daniel Leons-Marder’s Everyday Antisemitism and the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.

The smear campaign’s architects and engineers are attempting a controlled demolition of my reputation in their quest to harness Facebook more fully to their own agendas. These architects and engineers count among their allies the creators and authors at Encyclopedia dramatica, Of Ben Garrison the encyclopedia’s drama experts report, “Scholars from Tel-Aviv University’s Center for Holocaust Studies have ominously described him [Ben Garrison] as the most racist man in the universe, and the biggest existential threat to the Jews since Hitler.”

This characterization runs counter to the dominant view that Garrison is “the Internet’s most trolled cartoonist.” According to a Breitbart article entitled “Ben Garrison: How the Internet Made a Fake White Supremacist”,

Montana-based artist Ben Garrison isn’t a violent Neo-Nazi, or even a white nationalist. He’s a polite, accomplished cartoonist, with no history of overt or covert racism. His true political leanings are libertarian, anti-elitist, and anti-globalist. Garrison is, in fact, the victim of one of the most extraordinary and longest-running smear campaigns on the internet.

For a mixture of amusement and spite, in a trolling spree that has lasted over six years, thousands of online pranksters and real neo-Nazis have been remixing his cartoons into racist caricatures. Most Ben Garrison cartoons attack the government, corporations, and political movements.

However, almost immediately after one is published, it is remixed into a new version that attacks Jews, African-Americans, or other minorities. These are rapidly disseminated in troll communities and sometimes become more widely-shared than the originals.

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Garrison cartoon 2db39

If Breitbart has it right and Tel-Aviv’s Center for Holocaust Studies has it wrong, then the real Ben Garrison could not have written the disgusting text that goes along with the offensive image of the cartoonist putting his victim in a headlock. If Ben Garrison is not to be understood as the kind of person who could have come up with the wording replicated and publicized by Amanda Hohmann, Daniel Leons-Marder,and B’nai Brith’s CEO, Michael Mostyn, then these individuals are involved in a telling case of false flag deception.

Given the nature of their dubious employment in what Norman Finkelstein has labeled the “Holocaust Industry,” I find it difficult to believe that these individuals as well as their bosses, underlings and associates were not aware of the controversy swirling around Ben Garrison. After all, I was able to discovered the basic outlines of the Garrison controversy in a few google searches after viewing the posts featuring Mostyn’s, Hohmann’s and Leons-Marder’s comments. Is this group merely incompetent? Are its members part of a concerted agenda to change the public policies of many agencies, including those of the Canadian government, Facebook and the University of Lethbridge, through calculated misrepresentations, frauds and incitements?

In an Internet post entitled “Ben Garrison on Trolls” the Montana cartoonist is said to speak for himself. Interestingly, Garrison’s observations begin with his reference to the very same Facebook reference to “community standards” that supposedly initiated the B’nai Brith’s slander of me.

“This page wasn’t removed. We reviewed the page you reported for harassment. Since it did not violate our community standards, we did not remove it. Thanks for your report.”

This is the message [writes Ben Garrison] I received after reporting a hate page on Facebook. Near the top of the hate page was a statement that encouraged the extermination of all Jews. Along with that statement was a photo of my face and the name Ben Garrison. Trolls had stolen my artwork and photos from my blog, my cartoon site as well as my fine art site and had concocted an entire page devoted to spewing libelous hate. The troll entity called the page ‘Ben Garrison Cartoons—the Official Site.’  The trolls had stamped the name ‘Ben Garrison’ onto as many hateful images as possible throughout the page. How does one stop such blatant libel? Where do these trolls come from? Is it even possible to track them down? Why do they do such terrible things? Why me?

As I found out, it’s not just me. Many others have suffered the same outrageous indignity. It appears that trolls are no longer content merely talk to each other on sordid sites such as ‘4chan’ or ‘Stormfront.’ They want to go mainstream.  Therefore, social media are a natural target for them. Do they really believe the vitriolic memes they are shoveling, or are they merely playing an elaborate prank? It doesn’t matter. Their memes of hate must not go mainstream. Facebook must wake up and block the hate before it gets established. Hate speech is not free speech. Hate speech is blind, one-dimensional blackness. It is not reasoned debate.  It loudly shouts for the murder of human beings and Facebook is providing them a megaphone for that purpose.

In my view the largest weight of available evidence points to the conclusion that Ben Garrison did not write the “Kill All Jews” commentary. If Ben Garrison did not write the planted text, then who did?

Could the B’nai Brith’s highlighted social media item have been produced by a Zionist group, agency or individual? Why might partisans of Israel do such a thing? Could it be to provide the ammunition for smear campaigns directed against individuals and groups that criticize Israel? Could it be to create incidents to justify appeals for money such as those accompanying the B’nai Brith’s slanderous posts aimed at damaging the reputation of the University of Lethbridge and my tenured academic role in it as a 26-year member of the Arts and Science Faculty?

Worse, much worse, can be envisaged. Could it be that the production and planting of the of the Ben Garrison post as well as others like it might be deployed to provide “evidence” in thought crime and speech crime litigation, the ultimate specialty and raison d’etre of the B’nai Brith?  It is easy to imagine how such an outlandish and extravagant expression of hostility as that said to come from Garrison could be rendered useful to Crown prosecutors serving the Zionist masters.

Regardless of its source, there is no doubt that the Ben Garrison post could conceivably be exploited as a tailor made item to assist Crown prosecutors serving the agenda of B’nai Brith and related agencies. Such an item could definitely be deployed in a litigious assault on designated targets in order to establish webs of connection linking alleged hate speech with genocidal intent as well as the semantic nuke in the Zionist arsenal of weaponized words.

The conspiracy to advance the public perception that the engineered phrase, “holocaust denial,” has any internal and external coherence as an outlawed category of forbidden thought and speech runs absolutely contrary to the intellectual viability of the academy as well as the health of society more generally. The basic premise of the world’s most fraught term creates a false dichotomy that is coming to epitomize the decline of evidence-based rationality beneath the ascent of a new kind of orthodoxy combining both religious and secular elements.

Those that want to entrench and enforce an outlawed realm of forbidden thought and articulation brandish the weaponized term like an ideological sniper on steroids. They have no interest in providing definitions of where orthodoxy ends and where denial begins. As I am discovering by raising even a simple call for “open debate” on the main platform of Zionism’s unaccountable power, there are harsh new authoritarian forces that need to be called to account if we are even to slow down the police state incursions in our post-911 world.

The new configurations of authority are extending to important agencies like the Royal Canadian Legion, Jasper National Park, and the Alberta Society of Fiddlers. Those overseeing these important institutions are made to feel empowered to impose arbitrary sanctions and punishments against an individual who dared to question enshrined orthodoxy.

The message is made clear that the vibrance of art and culture, the wellbeing of veterans as well as the need to protect some of Alberta’s most majestic Alpine environments have become secondary commitments. The treatment in Jasper National Park of violinist Monika Schaefer signals the end of our free and democratic society. Our right and need to express independent thought, the starting point of collective self-determination, has has been sacrificed in order to enforce supine obedience to the sanctification of an historical interpretation that must not be held subjected to sceptical scrutiny and reconsideration.

How many are now being held, including some Canadians, in dark European dungeons for questioning any aspect of the unrelenting vilification of Germany as home of the most the most evil society of monsters ever to walk the face of the earth? Will we ever be able to liberate ourselves from the spell that is causing us to become so blind and unresponsive to the holocausts we ourselves are imposing on the natural world and also on the besieged worldwide community of our Muslim brothers and sisters?

What are the chances that the nuclear holocaust currently being promoted by our governors can be held back when those most intent on making war not peace are so firmly in charge? Is there a connection between the decline of the anti-war movement and the rise of the militarized police state currently deploying false flag-induced fears to constrain our ability to think, speak and act in conformity with the imperatives of survival? What we most require at this moment is simple affirmations of life’s beauty and integrity. Instead we are delivered coercive dictates demanding we deny what our reason and research tells us to be true.

How did we the academics, but especially we the historians, allow it to happen that a whole category of the European past has been declared off bounds to unfettered discussion and critical investigative scholarship? By allowing this development to proceed, a very sweeping and consequential precedent is being set.

How did we the citizens allow the principle to develop that government can declare that whole subject areas of research and publication have been so perfectly interpreted, so correctly dealt with in every detail, that no revision and modification of existing conclusions can be allowed. What is the role of the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith in enforcing the ruthless bulldozing aside of the most basic foundations of freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and adherence to rigorous standards of scientific inquiry.

The B’nai Brith and Ben Garrison, the poster boy for the Zionist organization’s hate speech campaign, are exactly on the same page when it comes to Facebook. Both Ben Garrison and the B’nai Brith seek to constrain free speech on the Internet more tightly. Is this convergence of agendas a coincidence or are more calculated deceptions at play here? To publicize his desire that Facebook be more proactive in censoring the Internet, Garrison produced the following cartoon.

Ben Garisson Cartoon 61739

Facebook and Israel; Ben Garrison and the B’nai Brith

My FFWN co-host, Dr. Kevin Barrett, has evaluated the evidence surrounding the Garrison post and concluded it was “very likely produced by B’nai Brith itself, or other Zionist extremists of like mind, as a PR operation. No wonder they are “monitoring” the police to make sure they behave themselves.

Presenting his own version of the B’nai Brith’s highlighted image, Dr. Barrett continues

The absurd rant with its lurid references to “greedy hook-nosed kikes” and so on does not pass the smell test. Whoever created this image obviously did not do so with the intention of convincing the public to take action against Jews and/or Zionists. On the contrary, it appears to have been designed for the opposite purpose: To convince the public that crazed, foul-mouthed, murderous anti-Semites are a clear and present danger.

Virtually every time a swastika is spray painted on a synagogue, the culprit turns out to be a “self-hating” Jewish Zionist trying to conjure up the specter of an “anti-Semitic threat.” Would an investigation of the provenance of this image find something similar?

Dr. Barrett observes that“the manufactured incident smearing Tony Hall may be part of a coordinated program, orchestrated from Tel Aviv, to try to stop the rise of the ever-increasing virtual army of pro-Palestine social media users.”

As highlighted in Telesur, the government of Israel and Facebook have been represented at the highest level in a series of meetings aimed at conspiring to hold back the growing flood of social media posts subjecting Israel’s maltreatment of the Palestinians to sceptical public scrutiny.

fb telesur 7fd31

This recent development well demonstrates the specious nature of B’nai Brith’s characterization of Facebook as some kind of rogue agency unwilling to act immediately to pre-empt an existential threat emanating from Lethbridge. More likely the B’nai Brith’s alarmist posts in late August of 2016 were, in part at least, a ploy to divert attention from the reality that social media, but especially Facebook, is more and more being harnessed to Zionist goals and agendas.

Was the B’nai Brith’s deployment of the racist side of Ben Garrison’s dual public personae calculated to serve the double purpose of both smearing me and my school as well as leading interested parties to a surprising “libertarian” voice for the suppression of Internet freedom? What should be done about Internet trolls such as those at the B’nai Brith that have shown themselves to be unrelenting in planting lies and innuendo with the aim of silencing criticism of Israel?


Dr. Hall is editor in chief of American Herald Tribune. He is currently Professor of Globalization Studies at University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada. He has been a teacher in the Canadian university system since 1982. Dr. Hall, has recently finished a big two-volume publishing project at McGill-Queen’s University Press entitled “The Bowl with One Spoon”.

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The state of American pro-justice activism

By Dr. Sarah Marusek | MEMO | December 22, 2013 

As the New Year approaches and we step back to reflect upon 2013, it becomes increasingly obvious that cracks are emerging in Israel’s most special relationship.

While the occupation of Washington continues uncontested, more and more Americans are carving out other spaces of resistance that challenge the hegemony of the Zionist narrative and confront Israeli occupation and apartheid. These efforts are starting to rupture the deeply entrenched political and ideological frameworks that enable the US government to spend vast public resources to help Israel oppress the Palestinian people, without any public backlash.

There is still an extremely long way to go, but there is no doubt that Zionists in the US and Israel are beginning to see that the writing is indeed on the wall.

Last week, members of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions by a margin of two to one. While largely a symbolic move, the decision generated widespread media coverage debating the issue from both sides, with mainstream newspapers like the New York Times calling it a “milestone achievement” for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

The newspaper quoted a leading Israeli scholar who said: “It’s almost like a family betrayal… It’s very grave and very saddening that this [has happened], particularly so in the US.”

In response, Brandeis University and Penn State University at Harrisburg have withdrawn their membership of the ASA. Last month Brandeis also suspended its relationship with Al-Quds University after the Palestinian university’s condemnation of a student rally deemed offensive to Israelis was, well, not quite condemnatory enough. Subsequently, a group of Brandeis faculty involved in the partnership issued a report in favour of Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh’s handling of the matter and the university’s ethics board has recommended that it should resume the academic partnership.

Only days after the ASA endorsement, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association announced that it was following suit. Last April, the Asian American Association was the first to respond positively to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

But it is not only American professors who are mobilising increasingly in solidarity with Palestinians struggling for equal rights and justice. The number of American students who are taking an active stand against occupation and apartheid is also on the rise.

Although students continue to face harsh punishments for standing up for Palestinian rights, as I have previously reported for MEMO here and here, Al Jazeera English noted earlier this month: “A sort of backlash to the backlash is gaining momentum. Over the past couple years there has been an upsurge in pro-Palestinian human rights activism on college campuses across the US.”

For example, despite being targeted by the California State Assembly, which passed a resolution in August 2012 equating criticism of Israel with “hate speech”, students in California have continued to organise events critical of Israeli rights abuses and campaigns in support of BDS.

In November 2012, the student council at the University of California at Irvine voted unanimously in favour of the college pulling its investments from Israeli companies. This year, student councils at the Universities of California at Berkeley, Riverside and San Diego also voted to divest.

Challenging the hegemony of Christian Zionism, US churches are also proving to be spaces of resistance against occupation and apartheid. In May 2012, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church decided to call for an explicit boycott of all Israeli companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories. The following July, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to boycott all products from Israeli settlements and in May of this year, the United Church of Canada launched a campaign to support a boycott of all products produced in the settlements.

A small space of resistance even emerged in Hollywood this year, when the 86th Academy Awards nominated Five Broken Cameras for an Oscar. The celebrated film offers a first-hand account of Palestinians’ nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Bil’in, in the West Bank.

At the same time, more and more American Jews are becoming disenchanted with an apartheid state that refuses to end its occupation of Palestine and continues to build illegal settlements, all the while claiming that it is acting on behalf of Jewish people around the world. Two recent developments, in particular, stand out.

Earlier this month, the Hillel chapter at Philadelphia’s Swarthmore College sent shockwaves throughout the Zionist community when it declared in an open letter that it would not comply with its parent organisation’s policy of censoring speech critical of Israel. Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, is the largest Jewish student organisation in the world and a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. With an annual budget of tens of millions of dollars, every year Hillel organises travel to Israel for thousands of students and participation in various training programmes in the US; it also coordinates national tours for pro-Zionist speakers to speak on college campuses.

The Swarthmore letter is worth quoting at length: “Across the country, Hillels’ suppression of the freedom to speak and believe things that are not narrowly pro-Zionist are the direct result of Hillel International’s Israel Guidelines. Right after stating in their ‘Political Pluralism’ section that they object to excluding ‘students for their beliefs and expressions’, they declare that they ‘will not partner with, house, or host’ – in other words, they will exclude – groups and speakers that espouse certain beliefs about Israel. These contraband beliefs include denying the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and supporting boycotting, divesting, or sanctions against Israel. They also ban those who ‘delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel.’ No further explanation is provided to clarify these guidelines, but their ambiguity has done nothing to ease the stifling effect they have on individual Hillels’ freedoms of speech, belief, and association.”

The letter continues: “Therefore, we choose to depart from the Israel guidelines of Hillel International. We believe these guidelines, and the actions that have stemmed from them, are antithetical to the Jewish values that the name ‘Hillel’ should invoke. We seek to reclaim this name. We seek to turn Hillel – at Swarthmore, in the Greater Philadelphia region, nationally, and internationally – into a place that has a reputation for constructive discourse and free speech.”

The letter concludes that Swarthmore Hillel declares itself to be an Open Hillel. “All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist. We are an institution that seeks to foster spirited debate, constructive dialogue, and a safe space for all, in keeping with the Jewish tradition.”

The Open Hillel movement was launched in November of last year after the Hillel chapter at Harvard University refused to host an organisation supportive of the BDS movement. However, Swarthmore Hillel is the first chapter to actually declare itself to be an Open Hillel.

Responding to this declaration, Hillel International President Eric D. Fingerhut insisted that no organisation that welcomes “anti-Zionists” would be permitted to use the Hillel name.

The second development worth noting is the audience response to a “community discussion” last week that was organised by the 92nd Street Y in New York City on the question of “What it means to be pro-Israel in America”. Founded in 1874, the 92nd Street Y is a well-known cultural and religious institution in Manhattan that served initially as a Jewish association for men. Today the organisation is guided by Jewish principles, but serves people of all races and faiths.

As Haaretz blogged, “based on the course of the debate, ‘being pro-Israel in America’ means ideological chasms, professional rivalries, frayed nerves, inflamed tempers, one of the participants storming out in a huff and then exchanging barbs and insults on the internet with the moderator.”

The participant who stormed out was John Podhoretz, editor of the right-wing Commentary magazine and a former presidential speechwriter. He left after being booed by the audience when he attacked Jeremy Ben Ami from J Street, the liberal Zionist lobby in Washington, for contextualising the ASA decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions by pointing out critically, “Israel’s own policy of continuing occupation” and its ill treatment of Palestinians. Shortly after Podhoretz left the event, he blogged that the audience was “hostile”.

A tiny but vocal group of far right supporters of Israel has also been holding monthly rallies outside the 92nd Street Y to protest against its hosting of “Israel-haters working to destroy the Jewish State”.

In fact, Israel’s problem with Americans Jews may be even worse than we know. In October, a report commissioned by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs found that 30 per cent of American rabbis who were surveyed said that they are afraid to reveal their true opinions about Israel, with the majority of these rabbis supporting more progressive views than they feel they are able to express. The survey also found that these progressive-leaning rabbis are experiencing a much greater fear of reprisal and censure than those rabbis who hold more hawkish views.

In what may be regarded as a sad irony, there are so many American Jews who oppose Israel these days, that some in the US solidarity movement have started rightfully to critique the over privileging of Jewish voices in the struggle for equal rights for Palestinians. After all, our inspiration has always been the resilience and courage of Palestinians themselves.

In any case, the growing resilience of Palestine solidarity activists, not only in the US but also around the world, coupled with the rising disenchantment among American and international Jewry, is definitely creating fear and desperation in Israel.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that more than 100 Israeli leaders gathered with Jewish-American counterparts in Jerusalem last month “with a daunting mission: to save Jewish life in North America.” AP pointed out that Israeli leaders are increasingly aware that they “cannot ignore the alienation that many Americans feel over perceived religious intolerance, Israel’s construction of West Bank settlements and the continued control over millions of Palestinians.”

The wire service described how participants at the meeting, which was organised by the Israeli prime minister’s office, spent two days brainstorming ways to bring young “unaffiliated Jews back to their roots”. Adding that the gathering was part of a campaign “to strengthen Jewish identity among young Jews and solidify their connection to Israel”, AP noted that some 120 representatives from Jewish organisations around the world, mostly from North America, and a number of Israeli government ministries pledged to formulate a plan by next year “to address assimilation”.

In addition to spending $125 million on bringing Jews around the world to Israel, the government has also formed a task force to reverse the disenchantment trend.

Other efforts that illustrate the growing sense of desperation in Tel Aviv include a related initiative of the prime minister’s office to establish covert units at Israeli universities to engage in online public diplomacy, or hasbara. As Haaretz reported in August, “A diplomacy group will be set up at each university and structured in a semi-military fashion.” Those students who head each group are to receive full government scholarships while other students are paid stipends.

When a government has to pay its own youth secretly to counter the increasingly negative image of its country abroad, pro-justice activists can take courage in the struggle in the year to come. Despite it being a long road ahead, it really does look like the beginning of the end.

December 22, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The state of American pro-justice activism