How to most effectively advocate for Israel on campus

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman.

On 31 October – over three weeks ago – I was invited to debate  the topic of “What is the best way to advocate for Israel on campus?” with Dan Sheldon, the Campaigns Director of the UK’s Union of Jewish Students.

I won the toss and spoke first. I sat down to listed to Dan Sheldon’s speech. I was expecting a reasoned response. What I was not expecting was what happened. I counted twelve falsehoods and/or defamations about me.

Eventually an apology was forthcoming, after the JC published an editorial calling for one and some 140 people signed a petition calling for the same thing.

The JC on Friday (p5) had an article by Jessica Elgot headed “Hoffman Gets UJS Apology”. It included the text of the apology which is on the UJS website under the somewhat odd heading “Dan Sheldon’s reflections on this week’s events”.

The text of the JC article follows. (It was not published online so cannot be linked to or seen by those who do not or cannot buy the paper copy of the JC).

UJS Campaigns Director Dan Sheldon has apologised for linking Zionist Federation co-vice-chair Jonathan Hoffman with the English Defence League. Mr Sheldon clashed with Mr Hoffman during a heated debate hosted by Leeds JSoc two weeks ago, over UJS’s “Liberation” campaign. Mr Sheldon claimed that Mr Hoffman was “happy to demonstrate side-by-side with members of the EDL Jewish Division” during counter-protests at the Ahava store in Covent Garden.

In emails seen by the JC, Mr Hoffman contacted the police in August 2010, stating he “did not welcome the EDL” who had been at the past two demonstrations outside Ahava. He requested a separate “third pen” for EDL supporters, but the police refused to provide this. On a JC blog Mr Hoffman said: “My record of fighting the far right is impeccable: witness my activism against Irving and Griffin when they were invited to the Oxford Union Society in 2007. Mostly the smears are from enemies of Israel and so they are in some sense a badge of honour … but for them to be repeated by those in positions of responsibility in the Jewish community is completely beyond the pale.” The full text of Mr Sheldon’s speech has been removed from the UJS website and Mr Sheldon has posted an apology which says: “I stated that Jonathan Hoffman was ‘happy to demonstrate, side by side, with members of the EDL’s Jewish Division’.

Jonathan has since voiced his clear opposition to the EDL. Therefore, I would like to offer a full apology to Jonathan for any hurt caused by my remarks.”

The wording of this apology was not agreed to by me. I had sent a draft of an apology to UJS but it was ignored.

The apology (“…. since voiced…”) makes it sound like I only voiced my opposition to the EDL after the debate on 31 October. That is demonstrably false and Dan Sheldon could have found that out if only he had done a modicum of research and not swallowed uncritically such defamations by the enemies of Israel.

For example I put out a clear statement in August 2010:

…..there was some crossover between the BNP and the EDL and that the EDL sometimes intimidated Muslims and that both these are reprehensible.

And there was not just one instance of defamation in Sheldon’s speech. There were twelve. Just one of them was that I “wear crash helmets to peaceful pro-Israel demonstrations”.  I racked my brain about that one, since I do not even own a crash helmet. Then I remembered. During Gilad Shalit’s captivity the ZF used to organise vigils at the Red Cross office in London. I remembered that I had cycled to the last one, on a Barclays Cycle Hire bicycle. And guess what …. I wore a cycle helmet and since there was nowhere to leave it safely at the vigil, I wore it.

That inadequate apology for such a smear sums up the standard of research on me carried for this speech. The “research” consisted of trawling the rankest depths of the internet and recycling age-old smears. And Dan Sheldon even had the chutzpah to preface this sordid attack by stressing how important it is “that we treat each other fairly, with the courtesy we’d extend to friends or family.” 

And the salvo of defamations was followed by a plea that:

“We must then aspire to the highest standards ourselves: honesty, politeness and willingness to listen as well as talk. The Chief Rabbi has called this the lost ‘culture of civility’, and I believe we need to get it back.”

Aside: Mr Sheldon told the audience, “This is a man who has called for a boycott of the Guardian”, as if such a proposal was a source of shame!

Well, I am happy to acknowledge that one as being true – and to say that the idea that this detracts from my credentials as an Israel Advocate is ludicrous.

Although the video and transcript of Dan Sheldon’s speech have now been removed from the UJS website they are still available elsewhere so, in the interest of balance, I post my speech below:

What is the best way to advocate for Israel on campus?

In asking this question we are in the realm of the social sciences.

In the physical sciences we can conduct experiments. Finding the best breaking system for an express train, or finding the best treatment for tetanus, are both possible through experiments. In the social sciences the nearest we can get to experimentation is to set up a focus group. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a focus group on Israel advocacy on campus. So one has to look at the evidence.

What I will argue is that the evidence suggests that campuses are a centre – if not the centre –  of the monstrous and remarkable inversion of reality whereby Israel has become a pariah state because of its determination to defend itself. (Of course they are ably assisted by some parts of the Press in particular The Guardian, Channel 4 and the BBC). I argue that by its failure to take on the delegitimisers on campus full-square, UJS has allowed them to gain much more traction.

The Reut Institute is a national security think-tank in Israel. In a report published last year it said that London was the ‘hub-of-hubs’ of the delegitimisation network. Much of the delegitimisation activity takes place on university premises. I know because a small group of us go to hostile meetings and we have been to many on London campuses. We hand out leaflets, make a fuss and then blog what happens at the meetings, on the basis that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. (Some community leaders say “don’t give it the oxygen of publicity” but in my view that is a totally misguided line to take).

We have been to Israel-bashing meetings at Goldsmiths, LSE, UCL, Imperial College and SOAS. Only a week ago tonight we were at a meeting at SOAS to discuss boycotting Israel. Steve Hedley – Bob Crow’s right-hand man at the RMT trade union – told me at that meeting that I was one of the ‘Chosen People” (this phrase used in an abusive manner is a favourite of antisemites: of course the phrase “Chosen People” in the Bible clearly means chosen for responsibilities and not chosen for privilege). Then he referred to “your friends in the media” (the trope that Jews “control the media” is beloved of antisemites – it appears of course in that well-known antisemitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”).

But it’s not just London campuses where delegitimisation meetings under the auspices of Palestine Societies are taking place. It’s happening at most British Universities. I can give you plenty of examples.

Here’s one that’s coming up. This time next week Norman Finkelstein will be speaking on this campus in Leeds. The following day he moves to Manchester, on Wednesday to Nottingham, on Thursday to Birmingham and on Friday to Logan Hall, London. Norman Finkelstein is what I call a ‘renegade Jew’ –the phrase ‘self-hater’ – while probably true – is not one I use. Norman Finkelstein supports Iranian and Hizbolla terrorists and thinks that Jews exploit the Holocaust for financial gain and for propaganda reasons. He even exploits the Holocaust suffering of his parents to delegitimise Israel. He is invited here by one of the pro-Palestinian organisations.

Why do the PSC, the Islamists and the Left organise so many anti-Israel events on campuses? Simple. Because they want to recruit students. It’s not for nothing that Israel has been called “the recruiting sergeant of the Left” (by Robin Shepherd in his great book “A State Beyond the Pale”). The Palestinians have long been seen by the Left as an instrument of revolution in the Middle East.  Since the collapse of Communism, Israel as a whipping-boy has become even more important to the cause of the Left.

Demonisation of Israel is now the glue that holds the Left together. To persuade students of their cause, they lie through their teeth. They make false ‘apartheid’ analogies about Israel. They lie that those who defend Israel from their calumnies do it by accusing Israel’s detractors of antisemitism.

We could argue about the best way to advocate for Israel at these meetings. Should you stay silent and hope to be called on in the Q+A, or should you heckle and interrupt, in the knowledge that only people hostile to Israel will be called upon to ask a question? (My strong preference is to heckle and interrupt, because the chance of being called is very low).

One thing I hope we can agree on is that defenders of Israel should be outside the meetings before the start and after the end, handing out fliers which tell the truth. And that they should make themselves available when the meetings are over, to talk: sometimes there is just one person who mistrusts the certainty of what he has heard in the meeting and wants to know more. Some of my biggest successes have been in such 1-on-1 discussions after meetings.

Yes we could argue about the best way to advocate for Israel at these meetings. But we surely all agree that it is folly for Israel advocates to stay away from these meetings completely. Because that leaves the door wide open for a new generation to be indoctrinated by the delegitimisers.

But in many cases that is what UJS is doing – staying away and standing aloof. Not all cases. There have been some great victories and I have been the first to acknowledge them. Getting Birmingham students to vote to accept the EUMC Definition of Antisemitism in May 2010 was a great victory. So was the defeat in January 2008 of a motion at LSE calling for a boycott of Israel and calling Israel an apartheid state, raised at the student union general meeting.

But against this have been some horror stories. When Danny Ayalon spoke at the LSE in October 2009, we knew there would be a hostile demonstration so we organised a counter-demo, to support Ayalon. It was in Lincolns Inn Fields which is a public street. We asked Ben Grabiner – who was at that time head of the LSE I-Soc – if he would put the word round his members to join the counter-demo. We were horrified by the response.

He did not get back to us but the then UJS Campaigns Officer did. She was furious that we had dared organise a demo to support an Israeli Minister. She felt it would just be provocative! She tried to tell us it was an internal LSE matter and that UJS should handle it. It was not ‘internal’, Ayalon happened to be speaking at LSE but that was it. And our proposed demo was in the public street. So we held the line. She then called the Chairman of the ZF to try to get him to put pressure on me. Ben Grabiner sent a text to his members warning them not to join our counter-demo. He said – absurdly and slanderously – that it was being organised by a ‘right wing organisation’. I know because one of the LSE students joined our demo despite being warned off by Ben Grabiner, and showed me the text.

More horror stories. In February 2010 Cambridge Israel Society capitulated to pressure and cancelled a meeting with Benny Morris on the grounds that he is a racist. Benny Morris is no racist. In April 2010 under pressure from the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, UJS cancelled Douglas Murray at short notice, having invited him to speak in Gateshead. Douglas subsequently wrote a blog entitled “How to lose friends and alienate people. A lesson from Islamist-cowed Jewish students”.

Douglas wrote:

“But what of the UJS? If the Union of Jewish students wants to take dictation for their events from the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, one wonders what they think FOSIS will ever do in return. Does the favour get reciprocated do we think? Are they going to vet any speaker that Jewish students don’t like? Or are these students just going to have to learn the hard way that in this matter, as in so many others, “tolerance”, “openness” and a respect for free speech are currently very much a one-way street.”

And most recently there was UJS’s proposal to give out Palestinian flags.

No, no, no. The Hamas Charter urges the genocide of Jews, the Palestinian Authority does not recognise Israel’s right to exist as a state grounded in Judaism. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, wrote a doctoral thesis in which he described the Holocaust as “the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed.” To have the Union of Jewish Students giving out the Palestinian flag is something that most Jews would regard as obscene.

And I have been to many hostile meetings on campus where there is no sign of Jewish students whatsoever.

The reticence to engage with the Israel-bashers is, I believe, a contributory factor to the rise in antisemitism on campus. Antisemitism includes the vilification of Israel – see the EUMC Definition – if it is expressed in certain ways. To say that Israel is a racist state is antisemitic. So is holding Israel to higher standards than other nations. So is making Nazi comparisons when speaking about Israel. So is holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.

The recent JPR Report said that just over two out of five (42%) respondents had experienced an antisemitic incident since the beginning of the academic year (7 months at that time). Confining the sample to respondents who were ‘very positive’ about Israel takes the figure up to 48%.

Almost one in two?  – That is simply not acceptable.

And as an aside, the Report’s attempt to downplay the figure is a disgrace. We are told that students are half as likely to express any concern about

‘Anti-Israel sentiment at university’ (38%) as they are about ‘Passing exams’ (76%) – the obvious implication being that worries about antisemitism are minor.

Worrying about exams is natural. Worrying about antisemitism is not and must never become so.

So what kind of UJS do I want? I want a UJS that is proud, not cowed. I want to see Jewish students going in to hostile meetings and making their presence felt, heckling if necessary. I want to see them handing out fliers before and after a hostile meeting so that students who are new to the subject can get the truth – to offset the lies they are fed at the delegitimisation meetings.

Of course I want to see proactive events as well as reactive activities. Proactive events celebrating all aspects of Israel, from science through culture through food through openness and tolerance. The ZF can – and does – help, providing speakers like Khaled Abu Toameh – an Israeli Arab journalist – for campus meetings. And proactive events putting Israel’s case: explaining why the security fence is necessary and why Israel had to do ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in Gaza three years ago.

StandWithUs and Britain Israel Coalition are also great pro-Israel organizations that are active on campus. If any of you can get to London on Sunday 6th November, please go to the StandWithUs Conference with the Ambassador and Louise Mensch MP. Then on December 11th it’s the ZF Advocacy Day.

Every lie about Israel has a killer response founded in truth. If you want me to give examples, ask me in the Q+A. (I hope to soon publish a pamphlet of lies and how to respond to them).

Jewish students are intellectually inquisitive and seek the truth. Yet when it comes to rebutting lies about Israel they are strangely reticent. I don’t understand why.

Advocating for Israel is cool, very stimulating intellectually and can be incredibly rewarding personally. It has made me some great friends.

I think it’s the duty of Jewish students to be ambassadors for Israel on campus and to rebut the lies, but it’s a very pleasant duty – it’s fun, too.

I really don’t see why a Jewish student should not want to be an advocate for Israel.

UK Foreign Office Tweet recommends British rap artist who collaborated on antisemitic video

H/T Israelinurse

The official Twitter account of the UK Foreign Office, deciding to weigh in on hip hop, linked to a video by an anti-Zionist British political rapper named Shadia Mansour.

Here’s the Tweet:

Mansour is widely known for her role in the production of Lowkey’s ‘Long Live Palestine’ (and has collaborated with Lowkey on other projects).

The video consists of hateful anti-Zionist propaganda, through both lyrics and images, and includes still frames of cartoons from the notorious Carlos Latuff suggesting that Israel is a Nazi like states which intentionally targets Palestinian children.

As Harry’s Place has commented, the video further asserts that the profits from various non-Israeli global companies (who were founded or believed to be currently run by Jews) goes directly to Israel, evoking conspiracy theories about international Jewish domination:

‘Every coin is a bullet, if you’re Marks and Spencer,
And when you’re sipping Coca-Cola,
That’s another pistol in the holster of them soulless soldiers,
You say you know about the Zionist lobby,
But you put money in their pocket when you’re buying their coffee,
Talking about revolution, sitting in Starbucks’

It claims that Israel is a genocidal state:

‘How many more children have to be annihilated
Israel is a terror state, they’re terrorists that terrorise,
I testify, my television televised them telling lies,
This is not a war, it is systematic genocide’

And it further states that:

‘We curse every Zionist since Theodore Herzl’

‘Nothing is more anti-Semitic than Zionism.’

Here’s the video:

Turning to Lowkey, here are some 9/11 conspiracies of his, published by the StWC:

One day I was running from the truth,
To speed me up they gave me these shoes,
So tie my feet with Nike’s,
Tell me lies about the 11th of September,

It was the planes.
Not controlled demolition,
The BBC didn’t report the explosion of Building 7,
20 minutes before hand, on my television,
They found passport’s and plane flying manuals belonging to terrorists in the rubble.
That all makes perfect sense

Naturally, a Guardian Music review of rap artists, in Nov. 2010, included this commentary by :

 For current UK sounds, I’d go for the political punch of Lowkey’s Long Live Palestine.

Egyptian Presidential Candidate’s Guide to the Morally Perplexed: ONLY 60% of Jews are evil!

The following is a MEMRI translation of an Egyptian TV Broadcast by Egyptian presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha which aired on Al-Faraeen TV , a station Okasha owns, on October 31, 2011:

While his eight minute campaign speech included tried and true classic antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories regarding Jewish control of the monetary system (in conjunction with Global Freemasonry naturally), and indeed the world, I guess such hate emanating out of the Arab world ceases to shock anymore,  and the gallows humor of his no doubt empirically driven data on the percentage of Jews in the world who he’d classify as supernaturally evil gave me a rise. 

Don’t worry, he also morally breaks down the remaining 40% for us.  

Click on image to view video

I think you’ll agree that his bold belief in the far less than absolute evil of the Jewish people makes him a genuine Egyptian moderate.

See video here, or by clicking the above image, and see transcript here.

#anti-racism: 27 years ago, 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were welcomed as new Israeli citizens.

Per the IDF website:

On this date, 27 years ago, a historic operation was conducted that brought over 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, to the place that had been the subject of their longing for so many years.

In the 1970’s, the Israeli government made the decision to authorize the use of the IDF to enable the immigration of thousands of Jews who were living in Ethiopia, a country that at the time prohibited its citizens from emigrating to Israel. The operation was particularly challenging and risky especially since Ethiopia and Israel did not then have diplomatic relations. The operation consisted of Ethiopian Jews first reaching Sudan, then being transported by sea from there to Israel with help from the Israel Navy. Between 1977 and 1984, about 5,000 Ethiopian Jews reached Israel this way, until the IDF command decided that the transport posed too much of a risk for the new immigrants.

In a secret cabinet meeting held on November 1984, it was decided to conduct a secret operation, held far from the public’s view, using an IDF airlift to bring Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel in a mission came to be known as Operation Moses. During the operation, over 8,000 Ethiopians Jews were safely brought to Israel, until its existence leaked to the international media, precipitating a political crisis in northeastern Africa.

The thousands of Jews left in Ethiopia and Sudan found their way to Israel in subsequent operations such as the “Operation Joshua” and “Operation Solomon”.  As of 2010, over 110,000 people of Ethiopian descent were living in Israel, with thousands of them joining the IDF every year. 

These soldiers serve in combat positions in every division of the IDF and many are selected for the prestigious officer’s course, after which they return to their units as commanders.

CiF Watch @ ‘Big Tent for Israel’ conference in Manchester, Nov. 27th

The aim of The Big Tent for Israel conference, in Manchester on Nov. 27, is to mobilize more grass roots activists who are willing to take on the challenge of combating the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, and to ensure Israel’s image is honestly projected to those continually exposed to anti-Israel propaganda and media bias.

The event has the backing of Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Zionist Federation, Manchester Zionist Central Council, UJIA, StandWithUs UK and the political Friends of Israel Groups, as well as many Christian groups who passionately stand up for Israel.

report by the Reut Institute identified London as the international “Hub of Hubs” of the campaign of Boycotts, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) whose express purpose is to challenge and undermine the legitimacy and existence of the State of Israel. This report identifies the five areas of public life in the UK where this campaign is focused: politics, trade unions, churches, academia and the media.

I’ll proudly be representing CiF Watch at the event, and hope to provide insight, gathered in conjunction with my fellow CiF Watchers, into the Guardian’s disproportionate role in providing intellectual succor to those who assault Israel’s legitimacy.

Per the Big Tent Press Release:

The Big Tent is now really taking off, with registrations growing daily, and an impressive list of invited speakers including  Eran Shayshon of the Reut Institute, Itamar Marcus of Palestine Media Watch, Yakov Triptou’s, Histadrut Chairman, Chief of Staff, Lorna Fitzsimons, CEO of BICOM, Adam Levick of CIF Watch, and Andrew White of Beyond Images.

Israel’s new Ambassador, Daniel Taub, will be the main keynote speaker.

Also confirmed is Marcus Sheff of the Israel Project, top advocacy trainers, a strong representation of Christian supporters of Israel including well known activist Dr. Denis MacEoin, MPs, trade unionists, academics, student leaders  and media personalities.

I will be participating on two panel discussions:

  • Media Delegitimization: Fact or Paranoia?
  • Countering Delegitimization: Strategies and Tactics

As the organizes of the conference wrote: EVERYONE who believes in Israel is welcome inside “The Big Tent for Israel”.  

If you believe in Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and the absolute and unqualified right of all Israelis to live in peace with their neighbors, you will be most welcome.

Registration information is here.

Oh, Mehdi Hasan, feel free to tell us to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

This is cross posted by Richard Millett

New Statesman Editor, and CiF commentator, Mehdi Hasan

Last Friday Luke Bozier, a Labour blogger, said of Mehdi Hasan, the embattled Senior Editor (politics) at the New Statesman magazine:

“Wouldn’t it be good if he just buggered off to Tehran.”

It was in response to Hasan’s [‘Comment is Free’] article the previous day If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb? which some commentators have interpreted as a call by Hasan for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.

Yesterday Hasan posted a response to the criticism of his article and made the following curious remark about Bozier:

Can you imagine the media reaction if a British Jew wrote a column about Israel which prompted the response of “bugger off to Tel Aviv”?

I can’t see the parallel myself. Hasan isn’t Iranian and neither does Bozier’s remark seem to be an attack on Hasan’s Muslim identity.

It might be in dispute as to whether Hasan’s article amounts to a call for an Iranian nuclear bomb, but what is not in dispute is his coming to the defence of the vile Iranian regime, describing it as “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies” and he doubts whether Iran is looking to create a nuclear bomb when he gives credence to the regime’s rhetoric that its “goal is only to develop a civilian nuclear programme, not atomic bombs”.

And so Bozier’s comment is not so different from those by people who tell apologists for Hamas to move to Gaza if they love Hamas so much. It’s the same with telling Hasan to go to Tehran. It isn’t a racist slur.

And in reality, and Hasan must know this, the equivalent far-left racial slur against British Jews is for us to bugger off to Russia. I, myself, was once told to go back to Poland at an anti-Israel event in London.

So what a nice change it would be for British Jews to be told to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Implicit in such a suggestion would at least be a recognition of the Jewish connection to Israel, a connection which both the Palestinian leadership and the far-left refuse to make.

But it wasn’t like that before 1948 when the common refrain of racists in the UK was for Jews to go back to Palestine. After 1948 it became politically inconvenient for the racists to suggest Jews go back to Israel, so Poland and Russia are now the new hot spots designated for us by the far-left, irrespective of the fact that Jews got slaughtered there in their millions by the Nazis.

And how ironic that Hasan now chooses to employ British Jews in his defence when he has previously shown us such disregard with his casual attitude to anti-Semitism.

In an echo of Ben White’s article in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism? in which White wrote “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” Hasan wrote in his article Does Israel “cause” anti-Semitism?:

“Nothing justifies anti-Semitism…But I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel…through its actions today…provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews who have nothing to do with the actions of the IDF or the policies of Netanyahu, Olmert and Sharon.”

As The CST‘s Dave Rich wrote in the comment section of that post:

“The people who are primarily responsible for racist hate crimes are the racists who perpetrate them; the “cause” is their bigotry and hatred for a chosen ‘other’…You would not write an article lamenting that fact that Muslim immigration “caused” the recent arson attack on the Luton Islamic Centre…Don’t make excuses for racists, and don’t use racism as an excuse to score political points.”

And anyway, Hasan and President Ahmadinejad do have similar ideas which suggests that Hasan might actually feel at home in Tehran. For example, they both wish for Israel to be wiped off the map. In his article I’ve changed my mind about a two-state solution Hasan describes his own solution as being:

“a single, secular and binational state for Israelis and Palestinians. No longer ‘two states for two peoples’, but ‘one person, one vote’.”

And in mid-July 2009 he wrote of the Iranian regime’s Press TV that “not a single critic so far has claimed that his or her views were ever censored”.

However, two weeks earlier Press TV interviewed Hossein Mousavi in his prison cell in Iran asking him questions prepared by the Iranian regime with Mousavi reading his answers from a script also prepared by the regime. (OFCOM recently upheld the complaint of unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in making the programme containing Mousavi’s interview.)

So, Mehdi, by all means hate Israel, excuse anti-Semitism and support the Iranian regime if you are that way inclined but please don’t try to use British Jews in your defence when it suits you politically.

And if anyone does tell me to “bugger off to Tel Aviv” I will be happy that, finally, they will have stopped trying to force me back to Poland.

What the Guardian won’t report: FBI Hate Crime Stats again disprove claims of rising Islamophobia

To be clear, anti-Muslim hate crimes, as with such crimes against any group, are always indefensible, but it’s important to note that claims made by many at The Guardian of a “rising tide of American Islamophobia” have no basis in fact.

Contrary to the popular narrative, Muslims are not under siege in the U.S., and indeed enjoy economic prosperity, religious and civil rights which would be unimaginable in most other countries.  

Indeed, a 2007 Pew Study determined that “Muslim Americans generally mirror the U.S. public in education and income levels, with immigrant Muslims slightly more affluent and better educated than native-born Muslims”, and that are there is a “concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.”

A 40 page report by the Center for Security Policy, which looked at, among other factors, FBI Hate Crime Statistics over the past 9 years, demonstrated that Jews are far more likely to be victims of hate crimes in the US than Muslims.

Yet, the mere dearth of evidence has never been a barrier for the Guardian and CiF columnists in advancing a narrative of a Muslim community in the U.S. under siege.

Here’s an essay by CiF’s Sarah Wildman on July 28, 2011.

And, here’s the headline from a CiF essay on Aug. 26, by .

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, in an essay on the 10th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, wrote that he was more worried about the “rampant Islamophobia” which was “on the rise” in the U.S. than the threat of Islamist terrorism.

Well, adding to the realm of data disproving the argument that there’s anything approaching a rise in Islamophobia in the U.S. is the latest FBI Hate Crime Data for 2010, which shows, once again, that hate crimes against Muslims remain rare and are far outnumbered by attacks on Jews.

In 2010, only 13.2 percent of religion-based attacks were directed at Muslims. By comparison, 65.4 percent of such crimes were directed at Jews.

Moreover, the far greater number of attacks on Jews is, by no means, evidence that the United States is a country dangerously antisemitic.  By any reasonable standard or observation, Jews enjoy more freedom and prosperity in the U.S. than anywhere else in the diaspora.   

So, how can anyone rationally argue that the far fewer number of assaults on Muslims prove that Islamophobia is rampant?

If the question of whether there was a rising tide of Islamophobia in the U.S. was dictated by facts, reason, and data – that is, if it wasn’t driven by ideology – the debate would have ended long ago.

As such, you can certainly expect more intellectually unserious charges of rampant anti-Muslim racism in the U.S. by commentators at the Guardian. 

The latest CiF Watch newsletter has hit the stands!

Message from Managing Editor, Adam Levick

Friends,

The recent admission by Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott, “On averting accusations of antisemitism, Nov. 6, was quite astonishing, and stands as a clear vindication of CiF Watch’s efforts.

Elliott’s post, which received a considerable amount of press coverage (including reports and commentary at Ha’aretzThe Commentator, Harry’s Place, and The Jewish Chronicle) sought to address “complaints that [the Guardian] is carrying material that… lapses into language resonant of antisemitism or is antisemitic”, citing “organisations monitoring their coverage”.

While the post didn’t go nearly far enough in acknowledging the degree of antisemitism found at the Guardian, the fact that they evidently felt the need to respond to the criticisms which our blog, and many other concerned parties, have leveled demonstrates that they take our critiques seriously.

Moreover, Elliott specifically addressed Guardian “reporters, writers and editors”, imploring them to be “more vigilant to ensure our voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished.”

Acknowledging the important role of CiF Watch in shining a spotlight on The Guardian, political commentator Robin Shepherd commented that “with the alarming increase of anti-Jewish racism and bigotry emanating from The Guardian, a newspaper which styles itself as the world’s leading liberal voice, the work of media monitors like CiF Watch becomes all the more invaluable to hold The Guardian to account.”

However, as I noted in a CiF Watch post on Elliott’s admission, our work monitoring the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ for antisemitism, dedicated to the proposition that hatred against Jews is never justified, (and is inherently inconsistent with genuine liberal thought) continues unabated.

Featured posts

The Guardian vindicates CiF Watch
While the Guardian media group is a long way from taking the steps necessary to truly change a culture which tolerates outright antisemitism, and is viscerally and disproportionately hostile to the Jewish state, their Readers’ Editor’s recent admission that their reporters, editors and writers need to be more careful about employing Judeophobic narratives represents a remarkable mea culpa from an institution which has shown itself to be remarkably thin skinned, and resistant to true introspection.

Guardian contributor Gail Simmons’s tweets about the Nazism of Zionism
In researching the background of a new Guardian contributor, writing about her experiences in the Palestinian Territories, we came across Simmons’s tweets, one of which leveled the odious charge that Zionism was morally similar to Nazism. It says a lot about the politics of the Guardian Left that a commentator possessing such malevolence would even be considered for a position writing for “the world’s leading liberal voice”. CiF Watch’s post on Simmons’s tweet was noted in a report by the UK Jewish Chronicle.

The empathy-evil continuum and Hamas’ treatment of Gilad Shalit
A guest post by Medusa explores the appalling lack of basic human empathy which informed Hamas’s abduction and appalling treatment of Gilad Shalit.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report on rocket attacks from Gaza redefines the word “sporadic”.
A guest post by Akus comments on Guardian Jerusalem Correspondent Harriet Sherwood’s Orwellian use of the word “sporadic” to characterize Gaza rocket fire – which, in the month of August alone, included 170 deadly projectiles fired at Israeli communities.

Jonathan Freedland’s intifada delusions
Israelinurse adeptly dissects the erroneous characterization, by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, of the mythical “non-violent” first Intifada.

CiF Watch in the news

CiF Watch post wins political essay contest at popular political website, The Propagandist.

The post, ‘Better Jews. The Moral Vanity of Israel’s Leftist Jewish Critics, won first prize at The Propagandist’s 2nd Annual Political Essay contest.

Adam Levick’s essay on the Guardian’s admission regarding antisemitism was published by the UK Jewish Chronicle.

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The Arab Spring, ‘double-think’, and Palestinian Statehood

This is cross posted by Benjamin Lazarus at The Commentator

A rare sight in Palestine: Elections

In George Orwell’s, 1984, he coined the term‘double-think’, which refers to the idea that an individual can hold ‘two contradictory beliefs’, whilst simultaneously accepting and believing both opposing convictions.

Despite the dismay of much of the new liberal establishment, the likely failure of the Palestinian bid to become the 194th member state of the United Nations would be wholly correct. Quite simply, to support the birth of a Palestinian state as it stands politically today, and to simultaneously support the Arab spring would be to commit the action of ‘double-think’.

The Arab Spring is essentially the spread of democracy throughout the Middle East; allowing the populations of each oppressive regime to overthrow their autocratic rulers, and to attain the very basic principle of the vote.

Thus, if one is to support this movement how can one then possibly justify supporting the official birth of an un-democratic regime in the very same region?

Mahmoud Abbas, the man presented as a supposed moderate to the Western world, has no democratic right to his position.

He was elected in 2005 for a four year term but this expired in January 2009. He then decided to extend his reign for a further year – until January 2010. This extension has now quite clearly expired – and yet Abbas still refuses to leave his post, despite his actions being in sheer disregard to the Palestinian constitution.

Indeed, Article 65: ‘The Basic Law’, grants presidential legitimacy to the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Therefore, under the Palestinian constitution, Hamas’s Deputy, Abdel Aziz Dweik has been robbed of his democratic position by Mahmoud Abbas.

Furthermore, the imaginary nation presented to the UN general Assembly did not have the aptitude to hold either presidential or legislative elections as required by Article 47 of its Basic Law. This is because competing Palestinian rulers will not permit it.

Whilst Abbas’s term has expired, the PLC legislatures are also over-due an election, since their period of legality expired on the 25thJanuary 2010. Indeed, Article two of The Palestinian Elections Law no.9, which is recognized by Hamas as legally binding requiresan election – so where are the ballot boxes?

A government also needs to have the capacity to function – to legislate. But this unfortunately is not the case in the Palestinian territories today.

Since January 2006, the PLC has not legislated once, neither has it conducted any meetings in the last four years, nor passed on any ministers. It is essentially an impotent, undemocratic and constitutionally corrupt administration, and one that surely no serious person could advocate was actually ready for statehood (In this sense, it is actually similar to the Arab spring states – there is simply not enough civil life to make it ready for democracy).

Those who advocate hacking away at the UN – Palestine umbilical cord would do well to think twice about why democracy should be starved from the Palestinians, but not their Arab brothers and sisters across the region.

Unfortunately, one suspects the liberal-left’s anti-Israel hysteria plays a prominent role here; the overthrowing of Mubarak’s pro-American government, with the seemingly inevitable replacement of the Muslim Brotherhood will create a rabidly visceral anti-Israel government in Egypt.

The likelihood of the Arab spring resulting in several more Islamist anti-Israel regimes is very great (as already seen in Tunisia with the recent electoral success of Ennahda).

Perhaps, this is actually what the liberal-left wish to see. A Palestinian state, whether democratic or not, will be a serious threat to the existence of the state of Israel, and thus, such an action of ‘double-think’ may not actually be ‘double-think’ after all.

Benjamin Lazarus is a political analyst with a particular interest in the Middle East and Islamic extremism.

The Tweets +972’s Joseph Dana didn’t want you to see

A pretty sure way of determining if you win a Twitter war is when one of the parties finds it necessary to delete a series of Tweets in the exchange.

The row began in reaction to a CW post on an anti-Zionist blogger named Joseph Dana, and his recent appearance at a SOAS event (“Palestine: Resistance and Occupation), as reported by Richard Millett, which we titled, +972’s Joseph Dana successfully freed himself from the “Zionist Indoctrination Program”.

No, the title wasn’t at all an exaggeration, as it represented Dana’s precise words at the conference, and seems to accurately reflect the activist’s understanding of Zionism – per professor Jacqueline Rose – as something approaching a mental disorder.

Though declining to directly respond, during the Q&A, to the pressing question posed by an audience member as to whether Zionism is, indeed, “the work of the devil”, Dana did clearly suggest, following a query from Millett, a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel.

This was the basis of the Twitter conversation between Dana, CiF Watch, Richard Millett, and myself.

And:

Here, Dana’s referring to a passage from our post, in which we cited his comments regarding Hamas, which can be heard clearly in this audio, and this video, which Millett provided.

“Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel.”

“The racism of Israel is on an equal platform [with Hamas]”

I then Tweeted the following:

Dana’s reply, while completely ignoring my challenge to his reference to the “Zionist Indoctrination Program”, which he claimed to have boldly broken free from, was as follows:

Actually, regarding the first Tweet above, Dana never used the word “absurd” in response to a questioner who seriously asked him if Zionism was the work of the devil.  Rather, Dana casually noted (again per this video provided by Millett), that Zionism should be relegated to the 20th century’s other failed ideologies, should be “left aside like an old coat”, but that he simply was “not going to comment on [that] terminology.”  

He didn’t laugh at the absurdity of the question, nor express anything approaching anger or disdain for the explicit suggestion that Zionism represented some sort of supernatural evil, but simply refused to comment on the “terminology”.

We again challenged Dana to listen to the audio and video, at which he point, clearly frustrated, he descended into name calling.

But, clearly still perturbed, Dana added:

Then, finally:

Oh, that’s why he deleted his Tweets!  

It couldn’t possibly have been because every claim we made regarding Dana’s comments on Israel, Zionism, and Hamas was substantiated by a video or audio clip, now could it?

Oh well, back to paid trolling. 

Fight or flight? CiF Watch, David Yehuda Stern & Ben White

David Yehuda Stern

I have no doubt that David Yehuda Stern is a decent, honorable, committed activist and proponent of social justice.  

Nor, based on his resume and a quick search of his writing, is there any question that he’s passionate about both his Jewish identity and Israel.

However, though I’ve only just come across Stern’s blog (Cartoon Kippah: The voice of animated British Jewry), there’s something in the title of his latest post alone which gets to the heart of the skewed political reasoning which informs the views of many well-intended leftist Jews regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Here’s the title of Stern’s latest blog entry.

Words that destroy, words that build: CiF Watch and Ben White

Stern opens his post thusly:

For those of you not familiar, CIF Watch is an online blog, “Combating the assault on Israel’s legitimacy in the UK Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ blog.”

On an altogether different mission is writer and activist Ben White, who has dedicated his professional life to advancing the rights of Palestinians.

Both CIF Watch and Ben White have admirable goals but it is their aggressive, often intimidating rhetoric, that disengages the majority of the public from their important messages leaving all but the bitter taste of hate in the mouths of many who come into contact with their work.

So, immediately, there’s a suggestion that  CiF Watch and Ben White are both pursuing admirable goals but are compromised by hyperbolic rhetoric.

Perhaps Stern can be forgiven for such a comparison, as he’s evidently not aware of White’s record

So, here’s a snapshot.

White is the author of the book “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”, an obsessive anti-Zionist and supporter of the one-state solution. He also routinely accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing, and has even used language suggesting parallels between Nazi Germany and Zionism.

White also recommended an essay by a prominent Holocaust denier.

Further, in an article entitled Is It ‘Possible’ to Understand the Rise in ‘Anti-Semitism’?, for the radical anti-Zionist site CounterPunch, White stated, “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”.

He then linked the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”.

Stern, in his blog post, writes:

Ben White’s attitude to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict may be the mirror opposite to that of CiF Watch but his tone is practically identical. Like CiF Watch his tweets present only one side of a very complicated situation, resulting in the dehumanization of Israeli citizens and Israel’s supporters.

He then concludes:

Legitimate frustration seems to fuel both CiF Watch and Ben White’s aggressive tones and they certainly have the freedom to tweet as they see fit. But will their current approach best serve their causes? I think not.

And, herein lies the heart of the matter.

While Stern admirably condemns White’s dehumanizing vitriol towards Israelis, he suggests that employing passionate, uncompromising rhetoric to combat such moral assaults on Jews is out-of-bounds.

As an Israeli citizen, I’d really like to know how I’m supposed to civilly respond to those, like White, who don’t think my nation deserves the right to exist under any circumstances – within any borders.

And, similarly, I’m at a lost to understand how to calmly, respectfully exchange views with those who find antisemtism an understandable reaction to Israeli behavior.

The degree to which CiF Watch aggressively refutes anti-Zionist and antisemitic commentary – both by posts on our blog, and within the necessarily less expansive rhetorical parameters of social media such as Twitter – is informed by a quite sober understanding of Jewish history, and an intimate familiarity with the limits of reasonableness and the assumption of good intentions.

This blog certainly believes in what’s known as “Big Tent Zionism”, and we’ll certainly continue to civilly debate those who don’t necessarily share our views on how best to defend against the assaults on Israel’s legitimacy – and, similarly, how most effectively to fight antisemitism – but, of course, the key word in the phrase “Big Tent Zionism” is, “Zionism”.

I won’t engage in a calm tête-à-tête with those who defend, rationalize or excuse antisemitism, nor those who find my nation’s existence morally abhorrent, not worth fighting for, or in any way expendable.

In psychology there’s a phrase called “fight or flight response”, which refers to the human capacity, or lack thereof, to accurately identify threats and respond accordingly.

There is a time for compromise and a time to fight.

Jewish history – indeed world history – is replete with the injurious effects of the failure of just, sensitive souls to discern the former from the latter.

Jews – especially Israeli Jews – simply do not have the luxury of making such mistakes again.

Amazon.com customers praise truths of ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’

Evidently, there’s a new edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious antisemitic forgery which warns of a secret plot by Jews to take over the world, and is available at Amazon.com for under $15 (and may be eligible for super-saving free shipping).

While, in fairness, Amazon.com is a mega online shop which sells political books ranging from the extreme left to the extreme right, and is further protected by the U.S. First Amendment to continue doing so, some of the reviews (and publisher book description) are worth noting.

First, look at how the book cover incorporates Zionism into the equation, though the book was first translated into Russian, in its current form, in 1872, 25 years before the First Zionist Congress.

 

Amazon does includes, just below the product image, this message from the Anti-Defamation League:

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, circulated by the Czarist secret police at the turn of the 20th century, is plainly and simply a plagiarized forgery. “The Protocols” has been a major weapon in the arsenals of anti-Semites around the world, republished and circulated by individuals, hate groups and governments to convince the gullible as well as the bigoted that Jews have schemed and plotted to take over the world.

But, following the ADL quote, there is this publisher synopsis:

When the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion were first discovered, Freemasons and Zionist Jews everywhere screamed and complained that these 24 Protocols are a hoax, a forgery, even a blood taint against the Jews. But then came the brutal and barbaric Communist Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and its captive republics, led by covert Masonic Jews Lenin, Trotsky, Kaganovich, and others. The cruel and sinister crimes of the crypto-Jew revolutionaries seemed to have jumped off the pages of the Protocols. The Red Terror, with its torturous massacres of innocent people, its monstrous gulag concentration camps, and the setting up of a Jewish dictatorship, also followed the agenda of the Protocols as did the persecution everywhere of Christians and churches. The entire world witnessed horrors that were a direct result of the heinous prescriptions laid out earlier in the Protocols. Find out how the Protocols are still being worked in our day and how our freedoms, even our very lives, are in jeopardy.

Then we get to the reader reviews, such as these contrasting view points. Note which one garners more favorable reviews.

First, there’s this comment which 10 of 13 people found helpful.

Click on image to read full review

This comment was critical of the book, and only garnered one positive remark.

As the positive reviews are thus far leading considerably over the negative reviews, we ask that you consider visiting this Amazon page and offering a negative review of the book.