General Antisemitism

Fake Mandela quote gets past 8 Presbyterian Church USA forums debating anti-Israel resolutions

Cross posted by CAMERA

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is currently holding its biannual General Assembly (GA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The GA committee charged with dealing with issues related to the Middle East is faced with 14 proposals, most of them dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Violence against Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria does not feature prominently in the resolutions before this committee. A list of the resolutions before this committee can be found here. (Click on “Committees” and then click on Committee 15 – “Middle East and Peacemaking Issues” and you will see links to all the overtures before the committee.)

One overture (15-01) before this committee accuses Israel of practicing apartheid. This resolution, introduced by the Presbytery of Muskingum Valley in Ohio includes a damning quote attributed to former President of South Africa, Nobel-prize winning Nelson Mandela. According to the resolution, Mandela said:

“Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.”

There’s just one problem. Mandela never said it. The quote was in fact written by Arjan El Fassed, an activist affiliated with Al Awda, which the ADL describes as a “grass roots organization that opposes Israel’s right to exist.” The original article in which the quote appears can be seen here. For more background about how this quote falsely attributed to Mandela, has been used by anti-Israel activists, see this brief report by Richard Landes.

Despite the inclusion of a fake quote in the text of the overture, the resolution was approved by four other PC (USA) presbyteries in the run up to the General Assembly.

It was also approved by the PC (USA)’s Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns. Two other committees commented on, but did not explicitly endorse the resolution. Neither of these two committees – the General Assembly Mission Council nor the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy– warned the GA about the presence of a fake quote in the overture.

In other words, the fake quote made it past a total of eight PC (USA) voting bodies (five presbyteries and three committees) before it appeared on the agenda of the denomination’s General Assembly.

The overture will presented to the General Assembly’s Committee on Middle East issues on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 [today].

31 replies »

  1. Duvidl remembers the former British Priime Minister, Gordon Brown, is a Scottish Presbyterian, who is quoted in Tom Bower’s biography as having learned a love of Israel at his father’s knee. His late father was a Presbyterian Minister in Kirkaldy, Fife. Brown then spent his two-year abortive premiership passing anti-Israel legislation and condoning anti-Israel policy and remarks from Ministers and MPs in his Labour Party.

    Just a thought.

    • passing anti-Israel legislation

      You made that up.

      condoning anti-Israel policy and remarks from Ministers and MPs in his Labour Party.

      When ? Where ?

      • I have to say, Duvidl, that I am with RZ on this one. Brown may not have been Israel’s greatest friend, but I don’t recall any anti-Israel legislation, and the worst offenders in his time in Downing St were either ex-Labour (Livingstone) or LibDem (Tonge). Of course, that is not to say that no member of the Labour party has ever said anything anti-Israel, but just that I don’t think Brown or his cabinet were particularly bad on this point.

    • Duvidl has been diving back into his long memory on the subject and, off-hand recalls those Brown-enforced Universal Jurisdiction laws which prevented MK Tzipi Livni and numbers of senior IDF personnel entering the UK for so long. Delving even further, Duvidl remembers, apart from various later Isra-hate TV appearances by the oliaginous and £700 table expenses-claiming Sir Ian McCartney, the following:

      ” In February 2004, Ian McCartney, chairman of the British Labour Party, attacked the Conservative economic spokesman in Parliament, Oliver Letwin, a Jew. He labeled him a “21st century Fagin,” a Jewish character described in extreme anti-Semitic terms in Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist.64

      In spring 2003 the veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed that a “Jewish cabal” was operating in both the United States and Great Britain, driving the governments of both countries into war against Syria. He mentioned Lord Levy, Peter Mandelson, and Jack Straw as the Zionist advisers…” (Jewish Political Studies Review – Jerusalem Centre of Public Affairs)

      • OK Duvid.

        1. Universal Jurisdiction is an international legal priniciple. As far as I am aware, no law has been passed enshrining it in England & Wales.

        2. Arrest warrants were issued against Livni in December 09. This was during Brown’s term, but it was an action brought by private individuals through the coutrts – not an act of the Labour Party or the government. In fact, the Attorney General of the time made great efforts towards stopping such abuses of the legal system taking place.

        3. McCartney’s comments, though disgusting, are in no way anti-Israel (as you allege in your original post).

        4. you allege that Brown spent his time as PM “condoning anti-Israel policy and remarks”. Dalyell is a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Israel/antisemite. I am sure he and others made anti-Israel comments/speeches during Brown’s premiership, but when did Brown “condone” them?

        • 5. Dalyell left the House of Commons in 2005. Brown became PM in 2007. It’s a bit unfair to hold Brown responsible for Dalyell’s comments in these circumstances, let alone his comments made in 2003, when Brown was just Chancellor of the Exchequer. Similar timing problems go for the McCartney comments (made in 2004).

          • Gooner, how about the ’emergency’ recall of Parliament during Operation Cast Lead? A standard Parliamentary procedure to a foreign conflict, or one reserved mainly for Israel?

            BTW, this is a genuine question.

        • Gooner, you are really a lame duck splitting hairs on the back foot and making a meal of digging yourself into a hole “on this one,” to mix a few metaphors. So Duvidl will keep you digging. Try a bit of research on formerLabour MP Mike O’Brien’s Newsnight comments “back in the time.” Then, of course, there is Duvidl’s co-religionist former Foreign Secretary David Milliband and the Mossad in Dubai. Tell Duvidl again, Brown is and was an Israel lover.

          Duvidl’s moral to learn from all this – if you aim to be a former politician, start by hating Israel (not counting Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (Lab) who is a passed over for Foreign/Home Secretary and former shadow minister continuing as a backbencher, having claimed £5,000 for a rug on expenses.

          • Duvid. I am not saying that all Labour politicians are Israel-lovers. Neither am I saying that Brown was Israel’s best friend as PM. I am saying it is totally unfair to say that he “spent his two-year abortive premiership passing anti-Israel legislation and condoning anti-Israel policy and remarks from Ministers and MPs in his Labour Party.”

            You have yet to provide any evidence of either of these two allegations.

  2. The part about the “racial discrimination” myth, that is being propagated everywhere, and now in the PCUSA(not for the first time, either), is most egregious. Israeli Arabs, often work, and do business in the West Bank(Judea & Samaria) unimpeded, and/or are subject to the very same restrictions an Israeli Jew would be, under the circumstances.
    There’s certainly a question of citizenship, and self-determination(for the Pals.); but racial/ethnic theories are drivel, reminiscent of some of the basest anti-Semitic concoctions regarding “Jewish supremacy”. This church’s resolution(even if it isn’t adopted) should be treated as such.

    • RZ – we’ve had this argument before. This is NOT a question of race/ethnicity. Israel is extremely cosmopolitan and people of all religions, colours and ethnic backgrounds can be found in all walks of life. The question is simply one of nationality – yes, Israel treats Israeli citizens differently than non-Israeli citizens. So does every single country in the world.

      Why should Israel be expected to meet standards no other polity in the world should have to meet?

    • Proof, chump(that Israel discriminates in the West Bank solely(or even mostly) on racial/ethnic divides, reminding you that there ARE Arab citizens of Israel)?

  3. Well. you can’t blame the church for this error when Geoffrey Alderman a historian who you would think would check his sources before publishing anything, cited this Mandela quote in his JC column in 2007 thinking it was authentic. When I wrote to correct him, inviting him as a scrupulous historian to publish a correction, his only response was to ask me if Mandela had ever repudiated this statement. I wrote to the JC as well, but no retraction was ever published, So our community is complicit in the perpetuation of this canard.

    Here is part of my letter to Alderman:

    Here is Arjan on electronic intifada very recently:

    “Joel Pollak wants people to believe comparisons between Israeli
    policies and apartheid are nothing but a fraud, The trouble with the
    apartheid analogy (March 2). He castigates former US president Jimmy
    Carter for quoting a six-year-old letter from Nelson Mandela to New York
    Times columnist Thomas Friedman making the apartheid comparison, and
    accuses me of perpetrating a hoax and admitting I made the whole thing

    There is no possible basis for Pollak to say I intended people to
    believe the memo was written by anyone other than myself. At the time,
    Friedman, a staunch defender of Israel, was famous for writing mock
    memos in the voice of the US president. In a clearly labelled spoof,
    under my byline, I published a mock memo from Mandela to Friedman on
    March 28 2001. Unfortunately, someone forwarded it on the internet
    without my byline, as I explained to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

    The point is: although the Mandela memo was only a piece of satire, it
    is not necessary to believe it to understand the Israel-apartheid
    comparison is grounded in an ugly reality.”

    Arjan goes on to say it does not matter whether Mandela said this or
    not, as many other anti apartheid figures have said similar things.

    But this defence of “truthiness” which antisemites and conspiracists
    often use, is wholly spurious, and I am sure you would not wish to rely
    on it to say, well Mandela might have said something similar.
    As an historian, you will want to be scrupulous and issue a correction.

  4. Arjan goes on to say it does not matter whether Mandela said this or not, as many other anti apartheid figures have said similar things.

    And if they didn’t, they should have, so that’s all right as well…

  5. Amie, thanks for the article.
    I just googled it and your totaly correct.
    The fact that Jimmy Carter is quoting these Pallywood lies shows his hatred of Israel. This is the same Carter who for years has been saying Assad is a moderate. Jimmy Carter probably get his lies from the zionist keyboard brigades.
    March 09, 2007
    Jimmy Carter quotes fake Mandela latter to prove Israeli “apartheid”

    From South Africa’s Business Today:
    IS ISRAEL an apartheid state? Apparently Nelson Mandela thinks so. In a recent letter to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Mandela lays out the case against Israel with unusual candour. Mandela’s words are now being quoted all over the world. Last month, former US president Jimmy Carter cited the letter in a speech at Brandeis University. And who’s going to argue with Madiba?

    Unfortunately for Israel’s critics, the letter is a hoax. It is the creation of a man named Arjan El Fassed, who runs an anti-Israel website called The Electronic Intifada. El-Fassad has admitted that he made the whole thing up, but the Mandela letter has now entered the anti-Israel canon alongside countless other fictions. Yet, much like the Israel-apartheid comparison itself, it is completely spurious.
    Read the whole thing.

    While it appears that Fassed did not push this hoax, it shows volumes about Jimmy Carter’s devotion to truth that he quotes a fake letter that would only exist on anti-Israel websites.

  6. Syria runs 27 torture sites.
    July 3, 2012

    And just think Carter thinks Assad is some moderate.
    No wonder Carter thought Yasser Terrorfat was a peacemaker.
    Assad’s Emails Hacked: Jimmy Carter Embraced Syria Regime before Obama [incl. David Lesch]
    Gianluca Mezzofiore
    February 9, 2012

    Former US president Jimmy Carter sought to boost diplomatic links with Syria and improve image of President Bashar al-Assad after Bush administration.

    In a heated email exchange between a Carter representative and Assad’s spin-doctor, Bouthaina al-Jaafara, details of the plan have emerged.

    David Lesch wrote to Jaafara in November 2008 to organise a visit by Carter. His email reveals US plans to boost ties with Syria before Barack Obama, who had just been elected president, entered office.

    “I also wish you the best of luck in finding some funding for the PR/communication firm we spoke about so that we can have the adequate mechanism to prepare coverage for the event in December, but also to improve US-Syrian relationship at a crucial time before the next administration comes into office, to improve the image of Syria and President Bahsar in the United States, and help with other form of cooperation,” he wrote.

    Under the Bush administration the relationship between the US and Syria was dire. Washington described Damascus as a pariah, imposed economic sanctions and recalled its ambassador. But in 2008, an email hacked by the Anonymous group show how Professor Lesch urged Assad’s representatives to carefully plan Carter’s visit.

    Abstracts of the emails show Lesch extremely concerned about the lack of support by Syria’s Ministry of Tourism. “As we discussed in our last meeting together on October 20th, we have been less than satisfied with the assistance of the Ministry of Tourism, although we consider it to be a friendly and necessary partner in all of this,” he wrote. “As I told you, the Ministry has not even replied to our e-mails or helped us arrange our past visits to begin to establish the SCWT [ [Syrian Cultural Walking Trail] . If this lack of help continues in this way, I do not think the December event will be a success for anyone.”

    In another extract, he wrote in capital letters: “We really need a note from you to the ministry of tourism strongly urging their cooperation and having authorization to plan this event accordingly. We really need our team on the ground led by Mr. Daniel Adamson and Osama al-Nouri to have the freedom to plan this event and make decisions and not wait for permission for every little thing from the ministry of tourism.”

    At a private meeting on October 19, 2008 between Lesch and Assad, the Syrian President confirmed that he and Carter would inaugurate the Syrian Cultural Walking Trail by walking together into the historic town of Maalula.

    As recently as March 2011, Lesch wrote in the New York Times:

    “The crackdown on protesters doesn’t necessarily indicate that he [Assad] is tightening his grip on power; it may be that the secret police, long given too much leeway, have been taking matters into their own hands.”

    In his 2008 visit to Middle East, Carter also met with the political leaders of Hamas in Syria.

    • First, no, it’s not true. It is bullshit.

      Secondly–seriously? You really think it’s OK to make up a self-serving quote and insert it into the mouth of an international dignitary? You’ll defend someone who does such a thing and gets caught with the idea that truth is an absolute defense, and Nelson Mandela MIGHT have said that if he’d thought of it?

      How about the viciously nasty quotes that are circulated in the name of Begin or Sharon? It’s OK to gloss over that they didn’t actually say that, because you know they were THINKING it?

      Come on. You are not that dumb. This is shameless deceit for political purposes, and the liars got caught and shamed.

    • Sanity: “Whoever said it doesn’t matter. It’s true. What’s the problem?”

      And that’s why you are not worth engaging on a political level. Dogma trumps intellect and knowledge. You live in a delusional bubble where the truth is anything you want it to be. This is your own admission.

  7. Yeah, I read what I write before I hit the “Post Comment” button The fact that people like you don’t like uncomfortable truths doesn’t make them “rabid”–and just as a friendly tip, it’s not a great idea to falsely accuse others of doing what you seemed to do here, which is talking out of something other than your mouth.

  8. Makabit, exactly. The person on here who, like Alderman ask if Mandela has repudiated the statement, as if that were the killer argument, astound me.
    Does that mean every IIsraeli or Jewish public figure has to hunt down and go round repudiating every fabricated statement that every loony extremist has attributed to them, and if not, that statement stands, even where, as in this case, the very person who made the statement has very publicly announced time and again, that he is the one who made the statement, and that it was never even intended to represent a statement actually made by Mandela.

    That is even more tricky when the figure like Ben Gurion is dead. On that logic, you can make up whatever you like and that will stand as a true statement of Ben Gurion because he can never repudiate it. Open season on Shamir now!

  9. realzionist; “you paranoid rabids”.

    Jews eh? Don’t you just despise them! Always moaning about something, y’know like being exterminated n shit.