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Anti-Semitism: Why Does It Exist? And Why Does it Persist?

By Mark Weber | December 2013

Over the centuries, rage and hostility against Jews has repeatedly erupted in terrible violence. Again and again, Jews have been driven out of countries where they’d been living. Why does anti-Semitism exist? And why has furious hostility toward Jews broken out, again and again, in the most varied nations, eras and cultures? Closely related to this is the broader issue of relations between Jews and non-Jews – a subject that many writers and scholars have called “the Jewish question.”

All too often, discussions of anti-Semitism and the “Jewish question” have been distorted by prejudice, bigotry and lack of candor. But this important subject deserves careful, informed and honest consideration.

Prominent Jewish leaders claim to be puzzled by the persistence of anti-Jewish sentiment and behavior. Insisting that anti-Semitism is a baseless and unreasonable prejudice, they often compare it to a mysterious virus or disease.

Elie Wiesel is one of the best-known Jewish authors and community figures of our age. His memoir of wartime experiences, entitled Night, has been obligatory reading in many classrooms. He’s a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and for years has been a professor at Boston University. Wiesel is considered to be an authority on anti-Semitism, but he says that he’s puzzled by it. The source and endurance of anti-Semitism in history remains a mystery, he told an audience in Germany in April 2004. /1 In another address he described anti-Semitism as an “irrational disease.” Speaking at a conference in October 2002, Wiesel went on to say: “The world has changed in the last 2,000 years, and only anti-Semitism has remained … The only disease that has not found its cure is anti-Semitism.” /2

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is one of the world’s largest and most influential Jewish-Zionist organizations. It considers itself the foremost center for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, and educating the public about this dangerous phenomenon. In his 2003 book, Never Again?: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, ADL national director Abraham Foxman expressed grave concern about what he sees as rising hostility toward Jews: “I am convinced we currently face as great a threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s – if not a greater one.” /3 Remarkably, he too claimed to be perplexed about the reasons for the origin and durability of discord between Jews and non-Jews. “I think of anti-Semitism as a disease,” Foxman writes. “Anti-Semitism also resembles a disease in being fundamentally irrational … It’s a spiritual and psychological illness.” /4

Wiesel and Foxman, along with other prominent Jewish-Zionist leaders, are unable — or unwilling — to provide an explanation for the persistence of anti-Semitism. They believe, or claim to believe, that because it’s an entirely irrational and baseless “disease,” there’s no relation between what Jews do, and what non-Jews think of Jews. In their view, the strife and tension between Jews and non-Jews that has persisted over the centuries is not caused by, or is even related to, Jewish behavior.

Fortunately, a reasonable explanation for this enduring phenomenon has been provided by one of the most prominent and influential Jewish figures of modern history: Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement. He laid out his views in a book, written in German, entitled The Jewish State (Der Judenstaat). Published in 1896, this work is the basic manifesto of the Zionist movement. A year and a half later he convened the first international Zionist conference.

In his book Herzl explained that regardless of where they live, or their citizenship, Jews constitute not merely a religious community, but a nationality, a people. He used the German word, Volk. Wherever large numbers of Jews live among non-Jews, he said, conflict is not only likely, it’s inevitable. “The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in noticeable numbers,” he wrote. “Where it does not exist, it is brought in by arriving Jews … I believe I understand anti-Semitism, which is a very complex phenomenon. I consider this development as a Jew, without hate or fear.” /5

In his public and private writings, Herzl explained that anti-Semitism is not an aberration, but rather a natural response by non-Jews to alien Jewish behavior and attitudes. Anti-Jewish sentiment, he said, is not due to ignorance or bigotry, as so many have claimed. Instead, he concluded, the ancient and seemingly intractable conflict between Jews and non-Jews is entirely understandable, because Jews are a distinct and separate people, with interests that are different from, and which often conflict with, the interests of the people among whom they live.

Anti-Jewish sentiment in the modern era, Herzl believed, arose from the “emancipation” of Jews in the 18th and 19th centuries, which freed them from the confined life of the ghetto and brought them into modern urban society and direct economic dealings with middle class non-Jews. Anti-Semitism, Herzl wrote, is “an understandable reaction to Jewish defects.” In his diary he wrote: “I find the anti-Semites are fully within their rights.” /6

Herzl maintained that Jews must stop pretending — both to themselves and to non-Jews — that they are like everyone else, and instead must frankly acknowledge that they are a distinct and separate people, with distinct and separate goals and interests. The only workable long-term solution, he said, is for Jews to recognize reality and live, finally, as a “normal” people in a separate state of their own. In a memo to the Tsar of Russia, Herzl wrote that Zionism is the “final solution of the Jewish question.” /7

Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, expressed a similar view. In his memoirs, he wrote: “Whenever the quantity of Jews in any country reaches the saturation point, that country reacts against them … [This] reaction … cannot be looked upon as anti-Semitism in the ordinary or vulgar sense of that word; it is a universal social and economic concomitant of Jewish immigration, and we cannot shake it off.” /8

Such candor is rare. Only occasionally do Jewish leaders today explain anti-Semitism as a reaction to the behavior of Jews. One of the wealthiest and most influential figures in today’s world is George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire financier. Generally he avoids highlighting his ties to the Jewish community, and only rarely attends purely Jewish gatherings. But in November 2003 he addressed a meeting in New York City of the “Jewish Funders Network.” When he was asked about anti-Semitism in Europe, Soros did not respond by saying that it is an irrational “disease.” Instead, he said that it is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States. “There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that,” he said. “If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish,” he went on. “I can’t see how one could confront it directly.” /9

Jewish community leaders reacted angrily to Soros’ remarks. Elan Steinberg, senior adviser at the World Jewish Congress (and former executive director of that influential organization), said: “Let’s understand things clearly: Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews; it’s caused by anti-Semites.” Abraham Foxman called Soros’ comments “absolutely obscene.” The ADL director went on to say: “He buys into the stereotype. It’s a simplistic, counterproductive, biased and bigoted perception of what’s out there. It’s blaming the victim for all of Israel’s and the Jewish people’s ills.” /10

Most people readily accept that positive feelings by non-Jews toward Jews have some basis in Jewish behavior. But Jewish leaders such as Foxman, Wiesel and Steinberg seem unwilling to accept that negative feelings toward Jews might similarly have a basis in Jewish behavior.

Along with all other social behavior over time, conflict between Jews and non-Jews has an evident and understandable basis in history and human nature. The historical record suggests that the persistence of anti-Semitism over the centuries is rooted in the unusual way that Jews relate to non-Jews.

Israeli and Jewish- Zionist leaders affirm that Jews constitute a “people” or a “nation” – that is, a distinct nationality group to which Jews everywhere are supposed to feel and express a primary loyalty. /11 Some American Jewish leaders have been explicit about this. Louis Brandeis, a US Supreme Court justice and a leading American Zionist, said: “Let us all recognize that we Jews are a distinctive nationality of which every Jew, whatever his country, his station or shade of belief, is necessarily a member.” /10 Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and of the World Jewish Congress, told a rally in New York in June 1938: “I am not an American citizen of the Jewish faith. I am a Jew … Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race, and we are a race.” /13 In keeping with this outlook, Israeli leaders also say that the Zionist state represents not just its own Jewish citizens, but Jews everywhere. /14

While affirming — usually only among themselves – that Jews are members of a separate nationality to which they should feel and express a prime loyalty, Zionists simultaneously insist that Jews must be welcomed as full and equal citizens in whatever country they may wish to live. While Zionist Jews in the US such as Abraham Foxman speak of the “Jewish people” as a distinct nationality, they also claim that Jews are Americans like everyone else, and insist that Jews, including Zionist Jews, must be granted all the rights of US citizens, with no social, legal or institutional obstacles to Jewish power and influence in American life. In short, Jewish-Zionist leaders and organizations (such as the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee) demand full citizen rights for Zionist Jews not only in “their country,” Israel, but everywhere.

Major Jewish-Zionist organizations, and, more broadly, the organized Jewish community, also promote “pluralism,” “tolerance” and “diversity” in the United States and other countries. They believe this is useful for Jews. “America’s pluralistic society is at the heart of Jewish security,” wrote Abraham Foxmam. “In the long run,” the ADL director went to explain, “what has made American Jewish life a uniquely positive experience in Diaspora history and which has enabled us to be such important allies for the State of Israel, is the health of a pluralistic, tolerant and inclusive American society.” /15

For some time, the ADL has promoted the slogan “Diversity is Our Strength.” In keeping with this motto, which it claims to have invented, the ADL has devoted effort and resources to persuading Americans –especially younger Americans — to welcome and embrace ever more social, cultural and racial “diversity.” /16

This campaign has been very successful. American politicians and educators, and virtually the entire US mass media, promote “diversity,” “multiculturalism” and “pluralism,” and portray those who do not embrace these objectives as hateful and ignorant. At the same time, influential Jewish-Zionist organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) insist that the US must recognize and defend Israel as a specifically Jewish ethnic-religious state. /17 Pluralism and diversity, it seems, are only for non-Jews. What’s good for Jews in their own homeland, Jewish-Zionist leaders seem to say, is not pluralism and diversity, but a tribalistic nationalism.

What Jews think is important because the Jewish community has the power to realize its goals. In a remarkable address in May 2013, Vice President Joe Biden said that the “immense” and “outsized” Jewish role in the US mass media and cultural life has been the single most important factor in shaping American attitudes over the past century, and in driving major cultural- political changes. “I bet you 85 percent of those [social- political] changes, whether it’s in Hollywood or social media, are a consequence of Jewish leaders in the industry. The influence is immense,” he said. “Jewish heritage has shaped who we are – all of us, us, me – as much or more than any other factor in the last 223 years. And that’s a fact,” he added. /18

Biden is not alone in acknowledging this clout. “It makes no sense at all to try to deny the reality of Jewish power and prominence in popular culture,” wrote Michael Medved, a well-known Jewish author and film critic in 1996. /19 Joel Stein, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote in 2008: “As a proud Jew, I want America to know about our accomplishment. Yes, we control Hollywood … I don’t care if Americans think we’re running the news media, Hollywood, Wall Street or the government. I just care that we get to keep running them.” /20

Even though Jews have more influence and power in US political and cultural life than any other ethnic or religious group, Jewish groups are uncomfortable when non- Jews point this out. In fact, says Foxman and the ADL, one sure sign that someone is an anti-Semite is if he agrees with the statement that “Jews have too much power in our country today.” /21 For Foxman, apparently, there can never be “too much” Jewish influence and power.

Anti-Semitism is not a mysterious “disease.” As Herzl and Weizmann suggested, and as history shows, what is often called anti-Semitism is the natural and understandable attitude of people toward a minority with particularist loyalties that wields greatly disproportionate power for its own interests, rather than for the common good.
Source Notes

1. “Wiesel Calls for ‘Manifesto’ on Anti-Semitism.” The Jewish Federations of North America. April 30, 2004.
( http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=64683 )
2. “A Call to Conscience: Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel Opens ADL Conference on Global Anti-Semitism.” Anti-Defamation League. October 31, 2002
( http://archive.adl.org/Anti_semitism/conference/as_conf.asp )
3. Abraham H. Foxman. Never Again?: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism. (HarperCollins, 2003), p. 4.
4. Abraham H. Foxman. Never Again? (2003), pp. 42, 43.
5. Th. Herzl, Der Judenstaat. ( http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/Der_Judenstaat ; http://www.zionismus.info/judenstaat/02.htm )
6. Kevin MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents (Praeger,1998), pp. 45, 48. Ref. cited: R. Kornberg, Theodore Herzl (1993), p. 183.
7. Memo of Nov. 22, 1899. R. Patai, ed., The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl (New York: 1960), Vol. 3, p. 888. Also cited in: M. Weber, “Zionism and the Third Reich,” The Journal of Historical Review, July-August 1993, p. 29. ( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n4p29_Weber.html )
8. Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error (1949), p. 90. Quoted in: Albert S. Lindemann, The Jew Accused (Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 277.
9. Uriel Heilman, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). “In Rare Jewish Appearance, George Soros Says Jews and Israel Cause Anti- Semitism.” Nov. 10, 2003
( http://www.jta.org/2003/11/10/archive/in-rare-jewish-appearance-george-soros-says-jews-and-israel-cause-anti-semitism )
10. U. Heilman, JTA. “In Rare Jewish Appearance, George Soros Says Jews and Israel Cause Anti-Semitism.” Nov. 10, 2003.
11. Abraham H. Foxman. Never Again? (2003), pp. 18, 4.
12. Louis D. Brandeis, “The Jewish Problem and How to Solve It.” Speech of April 25, 1915. ( http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/personality/sources_document11.html / http://www.law.louisville.edu/library/collections/brandeis/node/234 )
13. “Dr. Wise Urges Jews to Declare Selves as Such,” New York Herald Tribune, June 13, 1938, p. 12.
14. Israel even claims to speak on behalf of Jews who lived and died before the state was established. “Holocaust Victims Given Posthumous Citizenship by Israel,” The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1985.
( http://articles.latimes.com/1985-05-09/news/mn-6754_1_posthumous-citizenship )
See also: M. Weber , “West Germany’s Holocaust Payoff to Israel and World Jewry,” Summer 1988.
( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v08/v08p243_Weber.html )
15. Foxman letter of Nov. 11, 2005. Published in The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 18, 2005.
( http://archive.adl.org/media_watch/newspapers/20051111-JPost.htm )
16. ADL On the Frontline (New York), Summer 1997, p. 8. This issue of the ADL bulletin also noted with some pride that President Clinton, in his Feb. 1997 “State of the Union” address, had given an unexpected boost to what it called the “ADL tag line.” In that address, Clinton said: “My fellow Americans, we must never, ever believe that our diversity is a weakness. It is our greatest strength.”
17. Note the address by US ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro, Sept. 6, 2011. See also: M. Weber, “Behind the Campaign For War Against Iran.” April 2013.
( http://www.ihr.org/other/behindwarcampaign )
18. Jennifer Epstein, “Biden: ‘Jewish heritage is American heritage’,” Politico, May 21, 2013.
( http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/05/biden-jewish-heritage-is-american-heritage-164525.html ); Daniel Halper, “Biden Talks of ‘Outsized Influence’ of Jews: ‘The Influence Is Immense’,” The Weekly Standard, May 22, 2013.
( http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/biden-talks-outsized-influence-jews-influence-immense_728765.html )
19. M. Medved, “Is Hollywood Too Jewish?,” Moment, Vol. 21, No. 4 (1996), p. 37.
20. J. Stein, “How Jewish Is Hollywood?,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 19, 2008.
( http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-stein19-2008dec19,0,4676183.column ).
21. Abraham H. Foxman. Never Again? (2003), p. 14.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Israel Lobby Threatens Church Groups With Congressional Investigation Over Call for Restricting U.S. Military Aid

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | October 18, 2012

A coalition of U.S. church groups recently made public a letter which called upon the U.S. government to condition future military aid to Israel on its fulfillment of obligations under U.S. law.  The statement was intended to express criticism of Israel’s use of U.S. weapons like cluster bombs in violation of our law and noted that U.S. military assistance provided Israel a buffer against undertaking any actions to advance a just and lasting peace.  For example, its settlement policy, refusal to return to 1967 borders, and refusal to share Jerusalem, all directly contradict international law and stated U.S. policy.

Though these church groups have been critical of Israeli policy in the past, threatening to lobby for withholding military aid would really cut the Israel lobby to the quick,  as it’s a position held by a number of anti-Zionist groups that are much farther to the left.  The fact that mainline Christian denominations, who generally support liberal Zionist positions, would be moving in a more critical direction has to be deeply concerning to the lobby.

Though they refuse to consider or acknowledge it, such a development indicates a growing alienation of American churches from Israel and the draconian positions advanced by its government.  The churches are willing to lose their interfaith dialogue with the Jewish community over such an issue, which indicates how seriously they take their opposition to the Netanyahu regime.

First to lash out in anger was (typically) Abe Foxman followed by one of Israel’s leading hasbara outfits, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.  It appears to be taking the lead in “handling” the BDS efforts of a number of the Christian denominations.  As such, it’s a key player in Israel’s campaign against so-called “delegitimization.”  Those guys at JCPA play hardball.  Not content merely to criticize the churches, they lashed out at the “anti-Judaism” elements within their ranks.  They used terms like “vicious anti-Zionism,” “relentless attacks on the Jewish state,” and “delegitimizers of Israel” to up the ante and level of vitriol.  They also threatened to call out the Congressional dogs through mounting investigations of the groups themselves:

“JCPA is considering as a response asking Congress to investigate delegitimizers of Israel and to issue a resolution against their efforts.”

I’m not sure what this is supposed to gain the lobby.  Do they think that parishioners will be mortified to find their particular denomination is called out by name in a Congressional resolution?  Should these groups then call on their particular Congressional allies to respond tit for tat?

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , | 4 Comments

Google, Facebook to help Israeli colonists combat “cyberhate”?

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | May 13, 2012

In a May 10 press release, the staunchly pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it “will convene a new working group on cyberhate that will bring together Internet industry leaders and others to probe the roots of the problem and develop new solutions to address it head-on.”

According to the ADL statement, the establishment of a “Anti-Cyberhate Working Group” was approved by the Task Force on Internet Hate at a May 7 meeting held at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society in Palo Alto, California. The task force was created by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA).

“Internet hate continues to have a global impact on civil society and a transparent process to respond to it will lead to reviewability and consistency,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “We welcome the commitments of Google and Facebook to participate in this dialogue to combat online hate speech, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. Working alongside the Internet’s leaders will allow for the development of industry standards that balance effectiveness with respect for the right to free speech.”

The ICCA Task Force is co-chaired by Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, who is charged with countering antisemitism. A member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, Edelstein lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, which he sees as part of “Greater Israel.” As far as the Israeli minister is concerned, however, those who dare to nonviolently oppose Israel’s ongoing colonization of Palestinian land are motivated only by hate. According a report on Edelstein’s anti-Arab racism, he told delegates at a 2009 international conference on “combating antisemitism”:

We must repeat again and again these basic facts – TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL, ISRAELI PROFESSORS and ISRAELI businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism! Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same. [Ed: Upper case letters in the transcript]

If this is what is meant by “cyberhate,” perhaps the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement should consider targeting Google and Facebook for their apparent willingness to collaborate in the defense of the Israeli occupation.

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Foxman & Friends: ADL Head Lambastes NYC High School Trip to Israel/Palestine for Insufficient Hasbara

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | April 7, 2012

The Anti-Defamation League‘s Abe Foxman is annoyed that a group of seventeen high school students and six faculty members from New York City’s prestigious Friends Seminary recently visited Israel and Palestine (which he terms the “West Bank region”), but didn’t spend nearly enough time being force-fed ADL-approved hasbara.

Writing in The Jerusalem Post in late March, Foxman expressed his clear frustration that “the participants will be spending most of their time in the West Bank meeting with Palestinians,” during which time students “will have overnight stays with Palestinian families” and “will be developing oral histories of those families.” While Foxman states that “[t]here is, of course, nothing intrinsically wrong in doing these things,” he worries that “because of the intensely personal nature of the home visits in the West Bank, which will expose the group only to a Palestinian perspective, these visits should be balanced by similar experiences with Israelis within Israel,” including “meeting with Israeli families” and “visiting important venues like the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.”

Foxman is irked about what he calls the school’s “distorted, anti-Israel version of historical and current events in the Middle East” and worries that its administrators and students won’t “recognize how easily what seems like criticisms of Israel can veer into anti-Semitism.”

What Foxman deftly omitted from his criticism of the Friends trip is that, at the time his piece was published, students had already visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, explored a number of synagogues, St. Anne’s Church and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, spent time at The Israel Museum, where they met with the director of a program that conducts workshops in which Palestinian and Israeli children create art together, and visited the Jordan River Valley with Mira Edelstein of the Tel-Aviv-based organization EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME). The day after Foxman’s piece appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the group traveled to Jaffa where they met with Dr. Edward Rettig, Director of the Israel/Middle East Office of the American Jewish Committee as well as a representative of The Abraham Fund Initiatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to “promote coexistence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.”

Nevertheless, Foxman criticizes Friends for “taking high school kids to the Middle East and devising such a pro-Palestinian schedule,” especially because “Israel is America’s main ally in the region, a number of the students are Jewish, and balance is one of the school’s valued and oft-stated educational goals.”

It is unsurprising that Foxman’s disingenuous yearning for “balance” is driven by his desire to see the “impressionable high school students” exposed to Israeli narratives that reinforce the eternal victimhood of not only Israel but all Jews worldwide and which equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Learning about the personal experiences of Palestinians and experiencing the infrastructure, discrimination and oppression of the occupation does not fit with Foxman’s agenda.

This past November, an ADL sponsored “group of senior Latino and Latin American journalists, editors and producers completed an eight-day mission to Israel” in an effort “to counter what it sees as Latinos’ less favorable attitudes toward Israel.” The Jerusalem Post reported that “Stops on the tour included the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, Sderot, Nazareth, Safed, Lake Kinneret and the Golan.”

What balance!

These Latino journalists, who hailed from the United States, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela, went to multiple areas under Israeli occupation and probably met with numerous local colonists in their illegal settlements on stolen land! Imagine how “intensely personal” these “visits in the West Bank” were for the journalists. One has to assume that, due to Foxman’s apparent commitment to a “balanced” narrative presenting “similar experiences” of both Israelis and Palestinians, when visiting Christian holy sites on the ADL’s dime and with their own guides, the Latino journalists were able to spend ample time speaking with Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim. Oh, wait, that didn’t happen? Shocking!

In early 2004, the ADL took “[s]enior law enforcement personnel from across America, including “sixteen police chiefs and FBI terrorism task force representatives,” to Israel to meet “with their Israeli counterparts and learned how to better predict, prevent and respond to terrorism.” By Foxman’s standards of “balance,” the officials must have been told about the rampant Israeli arrests of Palestinian children and toddlers, who suffer abusemental, physical and sexual – and who are tortured during and traumatized by their imprisonment.  They surely learned about Israel’s use of administrative detention to hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial, a direct violation of universal human rights and international law.

Did the group visit Palestinian communities victimized by housing demolitions, a particularly vindictive form of collective punishment favored by the Israeli government, examine the illegality of Israel’s Apartheid Annexation Wall and U.S.-supplied weaponry, or study the implications of surveillance state built upon domestic spying and racial profiling? Of course not.

University of Florida student Virlany Taboada was sent to Israel in 2010 by the ADL and “visited key sites related to Israel’s history,” “learned the country’s significance to the Jewish people,” and heard “different perspectives… from a variety of people while in Israel including military and a family that the group had a Shabbat dinner with one night.” Balance! No wonder that upon her return, Taboada said,

“For people who say that the Holocaust didn’t exist or that God doesn’t exist, you know the moment you go to the Jewish home and see a Jewish city that something happened. You know something took place that has completely transformed the way Israel is and the way people talk about it and I think that is what I saw there — that there is something special and something unique that you can’t find in a lot of places.

That “special” and “unique something” is actually called Apartheid, Virlany.

In fact, the ADL’s annual Campus Leader Study Mission is so nauseatingly balanced, the non-propaganda just drips from the following description of last year’s trip:

Each year, the ADL brings leaders from colleges across the country to Israel. In August, 17 campus leaders joined the latest of these annual trips.

The eight-day trip, designed for students who have never visited the country, included visits to the Dead Sea, the Golan Heights, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Jordan River and Christian and Jewish holy sites.

Students also learned about Israel’s diverse culture. They had Shabbat dinner with a family in Jerusalem and met with members of the Druze community as well as Ethiopian immigrants. They met Israeli Defense Force soldiers, students, and young citizens at the forefront of the summer’s tent city protests.

The mission also sought to further the students’ understanding about the conflict by bringing speakers with varying opinions such as a West Bank settler and a Palestinian journalist.

Whoa, one whole Palestinian journalist, eh? What perspective. Assuredly, Foxman didn’t raise any qualms about “balance” when AIPAC brought over 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to Israel in a move that was assailed by Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi as a “propaganda tour” designed to whitewash and obfuscate “the discrimination and occupation that the state of Israel imposes on the Palestinian people in its midst.
”

But Foxman is right: how are New York students supposed to internalize hasbara when they’re actually meeting with Palestinians in Palestine and staying in their homes under Israeli occupation?  And all without a visit to Yad Vashem?  I mean, when exactly was the emotional blackmail supposed to occur?  And how are they supposed to suck face with IDF soldiers if they’re busy learning Palestinian oral histories?

But that’s not all.

Foxman attacks not only the “imbalanced structure of the trip” but also one of its chaperones, a history teacher at Friends, who he describes as having “well-known anti-Israel views, which he promotes at the school” and who “he presents the students a completely biased and one-sided version of events in the Middle East.”  Here, the ADL chief seems to be taking his cues from the eminent liar, warmonger, plagiarist, tortureadvocate, and outspoken terrorist supporter Alan Dershowitz, who recently also took to the pages of The Jerusalem Post to declare Friends Seminary a haven for anti-Semitism and condemn the same teacher as “rabidly anti-Israel… who propagandizes his students against Israel in the classroom, and who has a picture of Anne Frank wearing a Palestinian headdress on his website.”

“In his World History class, when he devotes one day to Israel, his two primary sources have been reported to be a speech by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a paper by the American Friends Service Committee,” reveals Foxman, adding that the AFSC “has a long history of one-sided advocacy against the State of Israel.” Readers are supposed to gasp with horror at this. But Foxman’s selective and sensationalistic suggestion is not supported by facts and deliberately seeks to elicit shrieks of shock and condemnation.

The speech assigned to students is not just “a speech by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat,” it is the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, written by renowned poet Mahmoud Darwish.  Students are also assigned to read both the 1917 Balfour Declaration and Israeli’s own 1948 Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, that a Friends school would include a paper by the American Friends Service Committee is hardly newsworthy.

Foxman also misunderstands the “oral history” component of the Friends trip.  The project consists not of Friends students doing oral histories of Palestinian families, but rather sharing their own oral histories about Friends Seminary and Meetinghouse in Manhattan with Palestinian students from the Ramallah Friends school who developed oral histories of their own families.

The fact that the picture of Anne Frank in a kaffiyeh – used to spooky effect by Dershowitz – was actually this photograph of New York City street art posted on Flickr by someone else and merely “liked” by the history teacher in question hardly merits any attention, but perhaps demonstrates just how absurd these charges are.

Perhaps most telling is the inconvenient fact which Foxman and Dershowitz both deliberately leave out of their libelous descriptions of the Friends history teacher: he’s Jewish.

While Foxman claims to have spoken to “a number of parents” who seem to question the “balanced” nature of Middle East curricula at Friends, Joel Cohen, a current Friends parent, responded to both Foxman and Dershowitz’s attack on the school.  In a letter written to and published by The Jerusalem Post the day after Foxman’s article appeared, Cohen condemns the “unjustified and unsupported attack on a New York private school, Friends Seminary, that Alan Dershowitz began last month,” stating that “Foxman, like Dershowitz, criticizes this respected school, its administration and faculty based on assertions he fails to support.” Cohen writes that Foxman “cites no evidence for his accusation about the history teacher, much like Dershowitz failed to offer when he began the attacks against Friends and this teacher. Like Dershowitz, Foxman also fails to provide evidence that he in fact knows anything meaningful about the Friends visit.” An even more detailed rebuttal of Dershowitz’s claims was posted on the Friends Seminary Facebook page in late February.

But the best counter to the attacks on Friends and its faculty lies with the students themselves. During the trip to Israel and Palestine, the students kept an incredible, publicly-accessible blog, entitled “Friends Visiting Friends in the Middle East.” It features posts written by the students themselves about their experiences and feelings.

Reading through the posts (written by the students themselves about their experiences and feelings during the trip), understanding the trip’s itinerary and looking at the gorgeous pictures, one can easily see why Foxman and friends are terrified of Friends students traveling to Israel and Palestine without the requisite hasbara pit stops.  Truth and knowledge are directly anathema to Zionism’s stranglehold on emotional blackmail, ethnocratic exclusivity, and perennially exploited victimization.

In one entry, a Friends student named Eliza wrote about her conflicted feelings:

When I reflect on the experiences of this trip, the criticisms of it, and the larger conflicts within this region, I have found it really easy to lose sight of the human element in all of this. When I think about my host mother and the way she treated me with love and warmth despite my personal religion and political views, I find it a little bit easier to see the human side and I am incredibly grateful and thankful for that. I am more appreciative that I feel I am coming away from this experience with more of a human connection absent of all politics.

Jacob, who is in his senior year at Friends, wrote the following after spending time with Palestinian students and his host family in Ramallah:

I was amazed at how much these students like me, and also fascinated by the cultural differences… I never want to forget my experiences here, nor do I want to forget the lessons that I drew from them even though we are from different cultures and hold different beliefs. We are the same where it matters most: we both want peace, we both want to laugh, we both value passion, and we both enjoy a good felafel.

Another senior, Will, described painting messages on the separation wall as “one of the most ‘Friends’-like experiences I’ve ever had,” elaborating

We were all painting messages of hope and peace, and beyond that I was moved by how much we were supporting each other, both metaphorical and literally: Not only did we cheer each other on and applaud each other’s handiwork, but I actually lifted Rose up on my shoulders so she could find space to write. I also wrote my own message; after much internal debate, I decided to write the phrase that kept coming to my head: “WE ARE FRIENDS.” And walking away in the sunlight, with empty spray-paints cans in hand and classmates at my side, I really felt that these words were true.

Shortly after arriving in Israel and traveling to the West Bank, Rose summarized her feelings about what she had experienced so far:

We’re simply not staying here long enough.  It’s a relief.  A dream come true.

It is no surprise that experiences like those described by the inspiring and courageous students of Friends Seminary and which humanize Palestinians represent a dangerous threat to the hegemony of narrative so desperately promoted by career Zionist apologists like Foxman and Dershowitz.

For them, Rose’s “dream come true” is an absolute nightmare.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

White House Correspondents Association refuses table to Helen Thomas at upcoming dinner – on 50th anniversary of allowing women journalists to attend, a breakthrough accomplished by Helen

By Alison Weir – March 27, 2012

I just sent the following message to the president of the White House Correspondents Association about their decision to refuse to allow Helen Thomas to purchase a table at their upcoming dinner. I hope others will contact them about this, also. (202-266-7453 phone; 202-266-7454 fax)

Dear Caren Bohan,

I hope you will reconsider your decision not to allow Helen Thomas to purchase a table at this year’s White House Correspondents Association’s Dinner. As you are aware, this will be the 50th anniversary of women journalists being allowed to attend this dinner – a breakthrough created by Helen Thomas.

Thomas wrote to your organization with a small, extremely appropriate request: “As the first woman president to preside over the WHCA, and one of a few women who were instrumental in successfully convincing President Kennedy to boycott the dinner, it is very important to me to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this monumental feat with my family and close friends this year.”

I have read that Secretary of the WHCA Julie Mason explained your denial of a table to Ms. Thomas’ because “it would be ‘logistically impossible’ to allow every past WHCA president to get their own table.”

However, as you and she are no doubt aware, this is not a request based on Thomas’ position as a past president of the WHCA; it is a request based on her unique, historical contribution.

In addition to breaking numerous barriers to women journalists, Thomas spent decades providing profoundly important reporting. It is for this reason that so many organizations honored her though the years with a multitude of awards, scholarships in her name, and honorary degrees — many of which have now been taken away through the vengeful, mean-spirited campaign waged against her by such Israel apologists as Ari Fleischer and Abraham Foxman (please see The Manufactured Controversy Over Former Senior White House Correspondent Helen Thomas.)

I feel there is little doubt that if Thomas had not offended Israel partisans, your organization would be particularly celebrating her at the upcoming dinner, not denying her small request.

Given Ms. Thomas’ age and health, this may be your organization’s last chance to honor her in person. Please reconsider your timid, highly inappropriate refusal to allow her to purchase a table – a truly minimal request.

Sincerely,
Alison Weir
President, Council for the National Interest
Executive Director, If Americans Knew

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Comments Off on White House Correspondents Association refuses table to Helen Thomas at upcoming dinner – on 50th anniversary of allowing women journalists to attend, a breakthrough accomplished by Helen