Mazin Qumsiyeh: Assault On Truth
- Assault On Truth
Mazin Qumsiyeh - mazin @ al-awda.org
Information delivery to the public is key to establishing power. This
is just as true in totalitarian regimes as it is in progressive and
democratic states. It follows that information dissemination is
relevant to social reform (see for example importance of media in
ending the war on Vietnam, civil rights, anti-Apartheid movement,
women's right to vote etc.). That is why attempts at misinformation is
also accompanied by attempts at silencing free speech. In this
section we will focus on issues of attempts to silence free speech
which alert the public to lies, anomalies and corruption. For
propaganda and lies click on Lies and Truth
If the public had the full range of information they would not go
along with spending 30% of our foreign aid budget to support ethnic
cleansing of Palestine of its native people (Christian and Muslim).
Israel's population currently is 0.1% of the world population which
means that the average Israeli is getting orders of magnitude more of
our foreign aid than an average world citizen. So far over $250
billion dollars were spent (some estimates adding interests, free
deliveries of weapons, economic losses to the US go as high as 2
TRILLION). This aid is also intended to retard development for peace.
60% of all US arms exports go to the Middle East, our support of
Israel against the will of over 140 countries resulted in 6 million
Palestinian refugees and displaced people. That is why Alison Wier,
the founder of If Americans Knew, was sent death threats. Many of us
who are active in trying to speak the truth are similarly "targeted"
for silencing. 60 million dollars was spent just in one year by the
Zionist movement to influence American perceptions. This excludes
tens of millions on sending "decision makers" and youndg students on
free trips to Israel for programmed schedules of indoctrination. It
also excludes all the free legwork done by sympathizers around the US
(but apparently not in Europe which is considered not important).
The attempts to silence the truth and spread propaganda do not merely
come from rogue or extremist Zionists but from many groups thought by
some Americans to be "mainstream." These are well funded, organized
campaigns intended pn preserving the status quo of US support for
oppression and colonization in Palestine. In this assay, we
illustrate just few of the examples. A far more descriptive and
thorough analysis is found in Congressman Paul Findley's book They
Dare to Speak Out.
The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to defend Jews against
acts of anti-Semitism and guard "Jewish interests" here and abroad. In
1980, the ADL covertly distributed a twenty-one-page booklet
containing "background information on pro-Arab sympathizers active on
college campuses" who "use their anti-Zionism as merely a guise for
their deeply felt anti-Semitism." In the 1980s the ADL was fined and
signed a statement pledging not to engage in spying and collecting
information after federal investigators found that ADL had paid
investigative police officers to gather information on Arab Americans
and African Americans active in the movement against apartheid South
Africa. This has become well known as the ADL Spy Case. Some agents
working for Zionist organizations will also claim support of Arabs and
Arab causes. Their attempts to divide the movement by planting seeds
of dopubt among activists have become known techniques. An example
maybe cited of Mark Richey.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee was founded in In 1979,
AIPAC formed a Political Leadership Development Program enlisting
hundreds of college students in order to: "to collect information on
pro-Palestinian professors and student organizations." By 1983 the
program had attracted more than 5,000 students on 350 campuses in all
fifty states... the findings were published as The AIPAC College
Guide: Exposing the Anti-Israel Campaign on Campus."
Daniel Pipe established the group "Middle East Forum" (MEF) with eth
explicit idea of promoting Israeli agenda couched as an American
agenda to combat what he terms anti-American and anti-Israeli trends
on US campuses. One of the most controversial projects was that this
group set up a website to "monitor" academics. The website
http://CampusWatch.org was considered a witchhunt (Scott Smallwood,
"Web Site Lists Professors Accused of Anti-Israel Bias and Asks
Students to Report on Them," Chronicle of Higher Education - web daily
- September 19, 2002). The Nation had a report and in part it said:
Based in Philadelphia and headed by anti-Arab propagandist Daniel
Pipes, CampusWatch unleashed an Internet firestorm in late September,
when it posted "dossiers" on eight scholars who have had the audacity
to criticize US foreign policy and the Israeli occupation. As a
gesture of solidarity, more than 100 academics subsequently contacted
the Middle East Forum asking to be added to the list. In response,
Pipes has since posted 146 new names, all identified as supporters of
"apologists for suicide bombings and militant Islam." Kristine
McNeil, The War on Academic Freedom, The Nation, November 11, 2002
Pipes was undetterred. He wrote a defamatory article titled
"Professors who hate America" listing people Like Noam Chomsky,
myself, Glenda Gilmore (Yale), Thomas Nagy (George Washington Univ),
and others all because we criticized US foreign policy in the Middle
East. Many of us subsequently received threatening letter (Gilmore
was threatened with rape). George Bush had the temerity to nominate
Pipes for the US Institute for Peace. When people around the nation
complained (Senators, academics, civil rights groups etc), Bush went
around this by appointing Pipes without Senate approval (a loophall
called Summer appointment which means Pipes would serve one year
without need for Senate Confirmation). Senator Edward Kennedey
thought that such an appointment was extremely harmful to the
reputation of the US government and its "Institute of Peace" to
appoint such a figure. Prof. Tom Nagy subsequently left he United
States writing a letter explaining why he would not stay in country
that allows such demagogue as Pipes to intmidate and pressure professors.
Following on that heel, political Zionist were instructed to find
anything they can to attack any such professors. To the credit of
major newspapers, defamatory articles were rejected. Occasionally
such lackeys put their articles in gossib newspapers dominated by
Zionists. Those newspapers ofcourse refuse to publish corrections or
even letters to editors from anyone who may not tow the (Zionist)
line. A good example of this is an attack on me in the Sun Newspaper
for which Sun Editors did not allow a rebuttal. Martin Kramer is part
of Pipes' organization (MEF) and is the editor of its "Middle East
Quarterly." He, Pipes and Kunz were not happy about experts in Middle
East Studies not towing the party line they wanted. So theyt
advocated federal oversight. The only leverage they could find was
money the federal government spends as part of Title VI of the Higher
Education Act. Since the 1960's Title VI provided federal funding for
area studies and the study of underrepresented languages and cultures.
With the neoconservatives and Likudnick Zionists entrenched in both
executive and legislative branches of the US government, the stage was
set for such an attack on academic freedom. With pressure from the
Israeli lobby, the House of Representatives passed resolution 3077
which sets an "advisory board" to monitor what educational
institutions do and insure they fit with perceived US governmental
interests. There is a challenge to this now in the US Senate and the
ACLU is getting involved. But people like Pipes keep pushing the
limits of decency.
Following writings and attacks by Pipes and others like "Yale Friends
of Israel" (including one Zionist editor and one Zionist journalist
working in Yale undergraduate newspapers), many of us received
hundreds of messages ranging from the bizarre to the highly offensive.
Here are just two examples of messages I received:
"..your people (those who have not lifted their hand against the
Israelis (with rock, sling shot, Molotov, knife, or rifle) are still
guilty of harboring violent criminals in their midst and if not
harboring then at least tolerating and for this you suffer the
punishment from the Israeli army....I charge your people collectively
with inciting us to this level of behavior and the results will
unquestionably be your collective fault. I mentioned in the beginning
that I don't want you to misunderstand. I do not hate your people as
you do ours. Many of the Arabs I have met have been fine people of
outstanding character and despite the way some of your Sheiks have
twisted the observance of Islam, I also have respect for your religion
and your peoples adherence to its values. Despite all of the good,
the bad is bad and cannot be tolerated. I had hoped for better. I now,
not only don't want any new refugees but for practical and nationalist
reasons, I want all the current Arab residents out of Israel. I think
this would be best not only for us but for all of you as well."
BBK in Maon, ISRAEL (bbk@...)
And this one from xbenzion@... (copied to the JDL Discussion
list, apparently originating from Ben Zion, Chief of operations for
JDL in South Africa):
"Dear Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.
I am so glad that your hometown was bombed!! However, I see that your
cousin was not killed. What a great pity....The life of a Palestinian
is not worth the cuttings from my toenail. You have no virtues to
speak of. You are nothing - not a people, not a country, not a nation.
You don't have your own language or culture, and even your
anti-Semitic diatribes (which is the essence of your national being)
are not original. You are a pathetic bunch of weaklings.
Actually, there is one thing that you Palestinians are okay for. You
make good targets for Israelis who need to practice warfare conducted
within towns. Your children are also good targets for Israeli
sharpshooters, who need to practice their aim when firing specifically
at eyes and knees. Furthermore, Palestinian victims provide good
training for Israeli medics, who would not know how to treat such
casualties if it wasn't for the steady supply of injured "guinea pigs"
that you provide.
Perhaps you guys should consider pulling out of Israel. You don't
belong there, are not wanted there, and are not really having an
enjoyable stay there either. You must go!"
This was also followed by Email Spam and Forgeries.
Media and other Pressures
Zionist group with deceptive names are well funded to intimidate,
coerce, and muzzle media coverage. A good example is the so-called
"Committee on Accuracy on Middle East Reporting" (CAMERA) which not
only boasts of its ability to inundate newspapers with letters and
articles but also puts advertisements in such papers as the New York
Times spouting Israeli Government propaganda (including that
Palestinians are violent and sacrifice their children) and insisting
that the media has not covered things "fairly" for the "only democracy
in the Middle East." CAMERA is not shy about describing its tactics
and organizational structure and how they pressure the media to adopt
pro-Israel lines. Even organizations such as the Anti-Defamation
League (supposedly interested in rights of Jews living in America),
has a concerted media campaign for support of traditional Israeli
Because the US media is so overwhelmingly supportive of Israel there
are few cases of mistakes or bias that can be cited by the well-funded
Zionist groups like CAMERA and "Honest Reporting". Thus, they try to
get the maximum noise generated per incident of perceived bias or
error with the goal of ensuring that no cracks in media support of
Israeli policies become evident. This noise can be daunting as
illustrated and as still is being used in the case of a mislabeling of
a photograph by the Associated Press. Here is FAIR's description of
this mountain from a molehill scenario:
On September 29, the first day of the al-Aqsa uprising, the Associated
Press sent out a photograph of an injured man in Jerusalem, crouching
near an Israeli soldier holding a nightstick. AP's caption identified
the wounded man as a Palestinian, but he turned out to be an American
Jew named Tuvia Grossman, who was studying at a Jewish seminary in
An AP editor in the Jerusalem office had received garbled information
from the Israeli photographer who took the picture, and hastily
assumed the wounded man was a Palestinian hurt in the day's
demonstrations. In fact, Grossman had been beaten by a crowd of angry
Palestinians as he tried to make his way to the Western Wall to pray.
The AP photo and the erroneous caption were picked up by seven or
eight U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times (9/30/00), which
printed it alongside several photos on page 6. When relatives of
Grossman saw the photograph and recognized him, they called the AP to
ask for a correction. The AP corrected the mistake, and almost all of
the newspapers promptly printed corrections as well.
To the untrained eye, the Grossman affair might seem like the sort of
routine journalistic error that occurs every day in the news business.
Corrections to erroneous stories appear all the time. No one alleged
any deliberate falsification in the Grossman case; the vast majority
of injuries in Jerusalem the day the Grossman photograph was taken
were sustained by Palestinians, so the assumption that the wounded
man was Palestinian was plausible, though careless.
But the pro-Israel media critics cried bias. Newspapers across the
country carried angry commentaries and letters by supporters of Israel
brandishing the mislabeled photograph as palpable proof of their
long-held suspicions. The New York Post (10/5/00) and Wall Street
Journal (10/6/00) each ran op-eds on the photo. In commentaries, the
mislabeled photo was proof that pro-Palestinian "misreporting by the
media has been rampant" (Albany Times-Union, 10/25/00), and that
"Anti-Israel Bias Warps American Minds" (Providence Journal-Bulletin,
10/13/00). Daily Oklahoman columnist Edie Roodman (10/13/00) accused
the media of "indirectly stimulating riots" by Palestinians.
When Ted Koppel arrived at the East Jerusalem YMCA to produce a
television special, he was "assailed by indignant American expatriates
who complained to him about the mislabeled AP photograph" (Jerusalem
Post, 10/13/00). "We've gotten a flood of emails and a number of phone
calls about the photograph," the editor of a Jewish newspaper in
Boston told the Boston Globe (10/7/00).
The New York Times went to unusual lengths to remedy the error. After
printing an initial correction setting out the facts (10/4/00), the
Times published a second correction a few days later (10/7/00) to
further explain that the officer in the photo was "not beating Mr.
Grossman," but rather telling angry Palestinians to move away from the
man--even though the original caption had not accused the officer of
doing anything to Grossman. (The caption had simply said "an Israeli
policeman and a wounded Palestinian.") the correction apologized for
having "omitted an explanation of the scene" of the photograph.
Apparently even these two corrections were not sufficient. The Times
also ran a 670-word news article about the incident (10/7/00), tracing
the caption error from its genesis in the AP's Jerusalem newsroom to
the New York Times and the other newspapers. The Times reprinted the
original photo beside the article, this time with an accurate caption.
Yet, literally thousands of mistakes, inaccurate and biased coverage
that villify Palestinians, ignore facts of the brutal colonization and
occupation go unchallenged (see http://ifamericansknew.org.
CAMERA still uses this picture in its web page and in its fundraising
efforts. The sensationalism and emotionalism is intended to obscure
the facts of coverage and which direction is bias in the media. These
remained little investigated. In short its is not an issue of
fairness but an issue of taking a media that is 98% supportive of
Israel to be 100% supportive. This also provides some cover for some
editors who instead of looking objectively at the coverage argue that
since some complaints come from both sides, it must be that they are
doing a fair job. Of course, an independent investigation could
easily ascertain what is covered and how it is covered.
Israeli apologists have found ingenious ways of getting their way.
Only in Europe is such pressure tactics challenged. These interesting
excerpts from an article by David Leigh in the Guardian (Thursday
February 22, 2001):
Why would the Guardian provide moral and medical justification for the
multiple murder of innocent Israeli civilians?
It's a pretty bizarre question, but we found ourselves being asked it
over and over again this week. Emails clicked in to the letters page
by the hundred, all making the same weirdly alliterative points. This
followed publication of a Guardian article trying to understand the
motivations of the Palestinian bus driver who ploughed into a queue
this month, killing eight Israelis (soldiers).
The mysteriously similar emails - from all over the world - started
coming in, too, to our foreign editor; to our website; and to the
personal email address of our Middle East correspondent, Suzanne
....This global blitzing was tending to crowd out genuine expressions
of opinion from our readers. Our suspicions aroused, we tried to
discover what was going on. It wasn't straightforward. But eventually
we discovered the trick. A website calling itself HonestReporting.com
was set up in London last autumn.
It has recruited 12,000 subscribers to its database, it claims, all
dedicated to fighting anti-Israel "bias" in the media. The aim was to
recruit a total of 25,000. Every time someone writes something they
don't like, details of the offending article are circulated round the
world, together with a handy form of protesting words, ready to be
lightly embroidered and electronically dispatched at the push of a
...Their first success, HonestReporting boasted, was with the London
Evening Standard. Its columnist Brian Sewell wrote last autumn calling
on Israel to "become a multicultural society" and cease exploiting the
Holocaust to justify unacceptable behavior.
"The next day, (we) sent out a letter to subscribers." Standard
articles recorded "a wave of complaints... hundreds of Jewish readers
have written in". Then "after more pressure" there followed a
pro-Israel article by Simon Sebag-Montefiore. "This is an example of
what we can do."
...Who was behind this Internet harassment? the website gave no
address. It had been registered last October under a London name and
phone number that seemed not to exist. Eventually, it transpired that
it had been set up by a 27-year-old Jewish web-designer from north
London called Jonathan.
...But the operation was now being funded and run from the US by an
organization concerned with media fairness, Media Watch International.
And who were they? "We're pretty new," says their director, Sharon
Tzur, speaking from Manhattan. "It's a group of concerned Jewish
business people in New York."
Yet a bit more inquiry reveals that this is not quite the whole story
either. For this week's bulletin denouncing the Guardian was in fact
composed in Israel by a man named Shraga Simmons.
And when he is not working for HonestReporting, Mr. Simmons is to be
found employed at another organization altogether - Aish HaTora. This
is an international group promoting Orthodox Judaism. "I do some work
for Aish," Mr. Simmons says, from Israel. And Jonathan, the web-
designer who started it all in London, also concedes: "I go to the odd
class at Aish."
Aish verge on the colorful in their antics. Founded by Rabbi Noah
Weinberg, who complains that "20,000 kids a year" are being lost to
Judaism by marrying out, Aish invented speed-dating - eight-minute
sessions in cafes to help New Yorkers find compatible Jewish partners.
They're widely regarded as rightwing extremists. And they're certainly
not people entitled to harass the media into what they would call
While the Guardian obviously mocked such tactics and where less
susceptible to them, many have been more susceptible. Robert Fisk
reported in the Independent 14 November 2000 in an article titled "the
biased reporting that makes killing acceptable":
"Then we have that old bugbear the "clash". Palestinians die "in
clashes" - as if they are accidentally shot rather than targets for
Israeli snipers. The use of that word - and the opportunity it affords
journalists of not stating that Israelis killed them - is little short
of a scandal. Take Reuters' report from Jerusalem on 30 October by
Howard Goller, which referred to five Palestinians "wounded in
stone-throwing clashes" and the funerals of Palestinians "killed in
earlier clashes". Yet, in a report on the same day, Goller wrote of an
Israeli shot dead by a "suspected Palestinian gunman", while his
colleague on Reuters, Sergei Shargorodsky, referred to "Palestinian
shooting attacks on Jewish settlements" and an Israeli man stabbed to
death, "presumably by Palestinians". Funny, isn't it, how the
responsibility for the killing of Israelis tends to be so explicitly -
and rightly - apportioned, while blame for the killing of Palestinians
is not? .... Such journalism is already leading - despite the
extraordinary casualty figures - to a public view that the
Palestinians are solely responsible for the bloodbath, that they are
generically violent, untrustworthy murderers. I think this kind of
reporting helps to condone the taking of human life."
Affecting coverage can and has been done on some occasions by
intimidation and in other times by overwhelming and persistent pushing
which resulted on occasion in loss of jobs. Debbie Ducrocq was
managing editor of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle. She received an
unsolicited opinion letter by another Jewish American (Judith Stone)
and published it on November 10, 2000. She was promptly fired. Not
much was said about the travesty of justice or freedom of speech to
these two Jewish women. Perhaps these excerpts from Stone's article
had something to do with this:
"Where are the Jews of conscience? No righteous malice can be held
against the survivors of Hitler's holocaust. These fragments of
humanity were in no position to make choices beyond that of personal
survival. We must not forget that being a survivor or a co-religionist
of the victims of the European Holocaust does not grant dispensation
from abiding by the rules of humanity.
Poland is a vast graveyard of the Jews of Europe. Israel is the final
resting place of the massacred Palestinian people. A short distance
from the memorial to the Jewish children lost to the holocaust in
Europe there is a leveled parking lot. Under this parking lot is
what's left of a once flourishing village and the bodies of men, women
and children whose only crime was taking up needed space and not
leaving graciously. This particular burial marker reads: 'Public Parking'.
Two years ago I drove through Palestine and watched intricate
sprinkler systems watering lush green lawns of Zionist settlers in
their new condominium complexes, surrounded by armed guards and barbed
wire in the midst of a Palestinian community where there was not
adequate water to drink and the surrounding fields were sandy and dry."
Everything Stone stated was factually correct. Her language was
somewhat strong but that is understandable considering the anguish
that many decent Jews feel for the plight of the Palestinians at the
hands of Jews who claim to represent Jews all over the world. Also, it
is obviously simply an opinion (not news).
Jewish writers who advocate Human Rights are targeted for daily
attacks (e.g. Norman Finkelstein, Marc Ellis). They survive on
shoestring budgets as they are excluded from the Jewish Federation
systems. Leaders of those Jewish Federations are mostly ardent
Zionists who meet regularly to "coordinate" efforts. Since their
membership is diverse, the only things they really want to coordinate
are actions common to all and Israel tops the list.
By contrast, Jewish newspapers and magazines under the control of the
Jewish federations refuse to publish opposing views and when they
accidentally do (as in the case illustrated above of the Kansas City
Jewish Chronicle) they overreact by firing people or rearranging their
staff. The Connecticut Jewish Ledger published an article that called
me an "apologist for terror" without addressing the substance of my
messages and published articles elsewhere. Yet, they refused to even
allow me to put in my rebuttal. Alas truth is very hard to deal with.
Amy Pagnozzi lost her job as a columnist in the Hartford Courant after
some Zionist Rabbis exerted pressure on the editor. Yet, these
pressure tactics are have failed to remove Charlie Reese from his job
at the Orlando Sentinel. More and more this issue is less important
but journalists and editors still try to "not rock the boat" too much
and so practice what many call "self censorship."
Many editors, commentators, journalists and owners of media outlets in
the US work feverishly to suppress the truth. Such folks are groomed
early as University newspaper editors and journalists, suppoted many
times by grants from some of teh same organizations as discussed
above. They practice their skills at local events and local
individuals (e.g. writing negative about certain individuals who do
not "tow the party line"). A more significant factor is the trend of
media concentration and consolidation in the US. The Nation magazine
published an analysis on Jan 7, 2002 that showed that the ten largest
media "oligopolies" (AOL/Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, News
Corporation, Viacom, Vivendi, Sony, Bertelsmann, AT&T and Liberty
Media) disseminate most of the information arriving to average
consumers. The Nation then concluded:
In short, certain news divisions of the media cartel appear to work
against the public interest--and for their parent companies, their
advertisers and the Bush Administration. The situation is completely
un-American. It is the purpose of the press to help us run the state,
and not the other way around. As citizens of a democracy, we have the
right and obligation to be well aware of what is happening, both in
"the homeland" and the wider world. Without such knowledge we cannot
be both secure and free. We therefore must take steps to liberate the
media from oligopoly, so as to make the government our own (The
Some of thousands of experiences with attempts to silence free speech
and suppress the truth:
The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) at Housatonic
Community College organized a panel that included two Jewish
Americans, one Palestinian American (myself) and Prof. Dimitri Gutas
(an expert on Islamic and Arabic culture) to talk about events in the
Middle East and the role of the US. The college administration
decided to cancel the event and the speakers were informed as they
came in to give their talks. The given reason was that the students
did not follow the protocols for holding events. We decided to hold
the event outside of the University building and room designated and
went ahead with it as a matter of principle of free speech.
Investigation later revealed that the administration was under
pressure from those who did not like the tone of the flyer that was
used to advertise the event and also disagreed with the whole concept
of critical examination of US support for Israel. John Lugo, the
vice-president of ALAS wrote and complained and requested an
explanation from the dean. No reply was received.
When professionals at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in
New Britain and Tunxis Community College in Farmington offered
lectures on Islam and the Islamic World, certain Jewish community
leaders started a campaign of distortions and pressure against the two
colleges. The Connecticut Jewish Ledger wrote an article titled "
CCSU, Tunxis institutes for teachers lack balance, Jewish leaders say"
( Adam N. Schupack, June 28, 2002).
A similar attack occurred against the Western Connecticut State
University in Bridgeport because of a panel that included a Jewish
American Professor and two Palestinian Americans addressing issues of
peace in the Middle East. The faculty member who organized this as
well as moderated the talks (Carina Brandhauer) received copies of
many letters sent to her president asking for a range of requests from
her dismissal to organize a different panel with a Zionist perspective.
A Palestinian Theater group called Al-Kasaba ("The Straw") was invited
to present at the New Haven Arts and Ideas Festival. They had already
performed a play called "Stories under occupation" and received great
reviews in Europe. This was to be their premiere show in the US. The
Connecticut Jewish Ledger wrote an article highly critical of the
decision to bring this "biased" play to Connecticut and asking all
readers to call the Governor to complain. The Anti Defamation League
also complained. The Governor's office declined to support this call
at censorship of the art. When the Festival failed to cancel this
performance, demands shifted to having a panels to "discuss" and "put
in context" the play. Under this pressure an in an unprecedented
fashion, the artists agreed but only if the discussion is not
political and centers on the art itself. Many in the community
thought the idea of a discussion following an art show like this is
harmful. A handful of letters to the editor attacking the play (and a
few responses) were published in local papers. About 20 demonstrators
showed up to demonstrate on the first night and their numbers dwindled
to 1 by the third night. The "controversy" probably helped increase
ticket sales and the all five nights of performances in New Haven were
Human rights activists including myself have received occasionally
threatening letters or verbal attacks. Campaigns to target people by
asking listserves to write employers complaining about a certain
employee are common place. Some activists have complained to the FBI.
For example, after the attacks of 9/11/2002 in the US, I and other
activists received a number of threatening messages. The thought was
that those who send emails directly are more likely to be mere talkers
and not "doers". However, after many activists continued and
accelerated their activities for human rights, there was increased
attempts at shutting down these activities. The American Jewish
Committee (AJC.org) for example created a task force in Connecticut to
"deal with" the activities of human rights advocates in Connecticut.
My name among others surfaced on several Zionist Web sites as someone
who is advocating positions at variance with Israeli government
positions. Some of the sites went on to make the absurd and
slanderous claims that we are "anti-Semitic" or "hateful" or "support
terrorism" etc. Sites ranged from mainstream Zionist sites like the
Anti-Defamation League to the Connecticut Jewish Ledger (where I was
slandered as an "Apologist for terror"]), to the American Jewish
Committee (AJC.org , see under activism in Connecticut), to rabid
Zionists with Jewish Defense League mentality like Masada2000.org (see
[http://www.masada2000.org/petitions.html] where they had an action
alert for people that included my picture and asking their members to
write to my chairman).
Soon after, some other strange things started to happen effecting me
and other activists (including Jewish human rights activists).
Letters that I or other human rights advocates published in newspapers
were strongly attacked using aggressive language (calling us liars,
"apologists for terror", "anti-Semites," "self-hating Jews",
"extremist", "un-American" etc). Then on June 4th, 2002 a hacker sent
an email to thousands on the internet with a forged "from" field
showing falsely that it came from my Yale email account (falsely
appearing to come from me). This email was generated through an
insecure server in Taiwan ([http://dehwa.com.tw]). As soon as I
discovered this (due to hundreds of bounced messages "returned" to me
for incorrect addresses of recipients flooding my email inbox), I
contacted the administrator of that server and alerted them about the
use of their site for spamming/hacking. The same day, emails were sent
to many in Yale using forged messages. The forger took a message I
had posted to a private list and added to it my academic affiliation
and then sent it to, what later investigation by Yale Information
Security shows to be, over 1500 Yale email addresses (including deans,
chairman, and even the president).
The same technique was used spamming tens of thousands with messages
that appear falsely to come from dozens of other activists. Some of
the activists were Jewish (who obviously oppose Israeli policies) and
the messages disseminated had things like "I am a really sick $%$%",
from activists with American sounding names saying things like "I am a
sociopath", and some from activists with Arabic or Muslim sounding
names had messages like "I enjoy killing children". Most included
deceptive subject lines and many included articles that supposedly
buttress the Israeli government position.
In the days to follow, these tactics continued. In total, three
forged messages were sent to Yale staff and faculty. The second one
sent through the open relays at Dina-graphics in California was sent
to 1947 email addresses at Yale (per the research done by Yale ITS) .
But for outside, literally dozens and perhaps hundreds of messages
were sent to perhaps tens of thousands of addresses (numbers and
extent of this unknown). On June 12, 2002 (a few days after the
initial large wave of spams) and within 24 hours of the second forged
message sent to Yale addresses, I contacted the FBI in New Haven and
reported this to them. I met June 13 in my office at Yale with two FBI
officers assigned to the case. See also Email Spam and Forgeries.
From June 13 onward, I supplied the FBI with a steady stream of
additional information, links, tips from fellow activists, and other
material I deemed useful to their investigation. On June 18, I
contacted the ACLU and asked them to see if there is anything else
that can be done especially since such hacking/spamming infringes on
civil right. I also continued to contact any server I found being used
for such hacking and asking them to secure their servers. Nothing
came out of this and it seems that such things are very low or absent
from FBI's "to do" lists. Many human rights activists of all faiths
feel that we must not allow such attacks to achieve their goals to
intimidate, cause fear and confusions, and silence free speech among
human rights advocates. In this sense such cyber-attacks become a
form of cyber-terrorism. Yet, this is very painful and distressing
especially since the law enforcement authorities fail to take such
In Connectiut, we had a mass demonstration in front of the ADL offices
to protest their repeated attempts at silencing free speech in
academic institutions. Every major media outlet showed up. Media
coverage was surprising to us (used to be ignored by local media;
perhaps this was due to the exxtreme controversy and the visual
effects employed). ADL transiently became more subdued and careful in
how they approach institutions in Connecticut (although they continue
to be very aggressive in other states). They also now do it through
front extremist groups (one called Kol Israel at Wesleyan University)
or just using individual faculty or students (sometimes giving them
scripted letters). A good example of this is the reaction towards our
Activism 102 workshops held at Wesleyan. The conference and many of
the participants were labeled "anti-semitic".
Many of us who criticize Israel's apartheid system and its ongoing
ethnic cleansing of Palestinians are labeled "anti-Semitic" or
"self-hating Jews." I was reminded of the passage from the Old
Testament about Prophet Elijah and King Ahab:
"When he (Ahab) saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler
of Israel?" "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied.
"But you and your father's family have " Bible 1 King 17-18
That is precisely what many dictators and despots fall into: insisting
that they represent the country and the people. How dare prophet
Elijah "trouble Israel" and I am Israel. Hence, any criticism of
policies is deemed anti-this or that: Anti-Israel/anti-Semitic (label
used by Zionist defenders of Israel like the ADL), anti-American
(label used by right wing zealots), anti-Russian (label used by Stalin
and his government to quell dissent).
Literally thousands of such incidences and such bigotry are
experienced by human rights activists. Some lost their jobs (I knew
at least seven including Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney; but she is
coming back). My contract at Yale is not being renewed due to this
kind of pressure (but I am in a field with great shortage and I have
lots of other possibilities).
The stories, letters and coverage of an activism conference at
Wesleyan University are good examples of this phenomenon. They
illustrate what I think is a typical trend these days: human rights
activists doing great work being attacked by shrieking, hysterical
Zionists tossing defamatory names and labels for lack of a better
argument and refusing to engage in public debate. Dr. Schwarcz, one
of those who lied about this conference, turned down our challenge for
a public debate. The conference was a great success resulting in
formation of student networks, activism skills development etc. An
example of the call to attack and "disrupt" the conference is found at
this racist website:
[http://www.dafka.org/NewsGen.asp?S=4&PageId=726]. Below appeared at
Wesleyan University student newspaper (the Argus).
Respect the conference
By Students for a Free Palestine
On Saturday, Students for a Free Palestine(SFP) will host the Middle
East activism conference, "Activism 102." The goal of the conference
is to teach students and non-students how to be effective activists
concerning Middle Eastern politics. "Activism 102" assumes a
`pro-Palestinian' stance; while it is not intended to tackle political
issues, the conference will undoubtedly touch on them. SFP has held
numerous events in the past that were meant to be educational in
nature concerning Palestinian issues. This conference will not
directly address such issues, but will focus its energies on teaching
methods to be an effective activist.
Disparaging remarks regarding the conference vocalized by certain
Wesleyan faculty members and students have recently been brought to
SFP's attention. We had assumed the conference would be held without
coming under fire from the Wesleyan community: the conference is not
intended to be a debate, but a learning experience. However,
unfounded, racist charges have been made against SFP's intentions in
holding "Activism 102. " We are not writing this Wespeak to defend
ourselves, as we find all the accusations to be reactionary, false in
nature and wholly unworthy of response.
Rather we would like to take this opportunity to explain the
ground-rules SFP has decided upon for Saturday's conference. In the
spirit of education, all questions are welcomed and encouraged;
however, given the undercurrent of reactionary racism that has been
expressed by members of the Wesleyan community, SFP would like to make
clear that no disrespectful disruptions will be tolerated.
We are holding the event to foster learning among those who are
dedicated to enriching themselves as activists of Middle Eastern
politics, and we will not have it reduced to a venue for racist or
Zionist rants. If we find attendees to be disruptive, the disruption
will be addressed immediately. Again, we hope "Activism 102" will be a
learning experience for those attending, and expect everyone to remain
respectful at all times throughout their participation in the
conference. We hope the conference will be a positive experience for
the Wesleyan community, and that all who attend will respect the
purpose of this conference and participate wholly.
Students for Free Palestine is a student group.
Conference in conflict with our community of learning into a
By Vera Schwarcz
Dear Doug, (Doug refers to the University President!)
All day I was hoping we had it wrong--that this "program" for Saturday
is a mistake, another Wesleyan, another time. Now, we are faced with a
great sullying of our collective mission as a community of learning.
What is scheduled is nothing less than naked hatred of Jews and
misinformation about Israel. As a historian, you know that we cannot
ignore the context of the "text": the groups affiliated with the
speakers and their funding is known for anti-Semitic work. In light of
the rising hate crimes in the United States and abroad--what is
Wesleyan doing? Why are we giving space, voice and legitimacy to acts
of vicious defamation? Just last week, we heard a young German-born
scholar give a talk about the new anti-Semitism. Wesleyan students
asked explicitly whether anti-Zionism is always/invariably
anti-Semitic? This thoughtful Cambridge-trained historian gave the
tough answer: "Sure, in the abstract, anti-Zionism can be
distinguished from Jew hatred. In fact, in our current historical
circumstances it is not very likely." He concluded by begging students
to avert the tragic possibility that the State of Israel will cease to
exist in our lifetime. The students there were shocked--and sobered.
It was the first of a very long overdue campus discussion of rising
anti-Semitism. And now, this! To call Saturday's program "free speech"
is to lace its vindictive mission with a human rights agenda--which is
brutally challenged daily by terrorists in the Middle East and elsewhere.
As a China historian--I see echoes of the student-propelled violence
of the Cultural Revolution. Wesleyan is already soiled by an
undercurrent of anti-intellectualism. Solid, tough-minded learning is
seen as "elite" somehow. As the daughter of survivors of the
Holocaust, I shudder to think that the educational institution that I
have built for three decades could be filled with such hate of who I
am, and what I stand for. Doug, we have a weighty task ahead. If we
cannot clarify what is truly at stake here, as Bill Firshein asks,
Wesleyan will become known as the place where lies and truth are all
the same. I hope there is time--and some avenue--for preventing disaster.
Schwarcz is a Professor of East Asian Studies
Conference calls for violence
By Kol Israel
This Saturday, a "Students for a Free Palestine"-sponsored conference
entitled "Activism 102: a day of skills workshops for Middle East
activism" will take place at Wesleyan. We write this letter out of
fear and concern that this event will promote hatred, ignorance, and
anti-Semitism on a campus that greatly values tolerance and equality.
While we fully support the right of free speech, there are a number
of factors that lead us to believe that this event will not promote
education and tolerance, but rather incite half-educated and
For one, the sponsor organizations and speakers notoriously preach the
destruction of the State of Israel. One sponsor, Al-Awda, bears the
motto, "INTIFADA! Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea,"
and carries a logo depicting a key over the state of Israel. The
motto and logo, which mimic that of various Palestinian terror groups,
imply that Israel is an illegitimate state and deny its right to
exist. They are not interested in a peaceful or two-state solution.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, one of the cofounders of Al-Awda and a facilitator of
the conference, was charged last spring with committing Anti-Semitic
acts at Yale. Qumsiyeh was accused of falsely implicating Yale's
"Friends of Israel" (a Jewish Activist group) as pro-war activists in
an attempt to incite animosity towards them amongst the highly
anti-war student body. Another featured speaker, Adam Shapiro,
co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a movement
that "unconditionally supports Palestinians' human right to resist
occupation and oppression by any means necessary." Any means indeed:
ISM has been directly linked to a recent terrorist bombing in a Tel
Aviv bar that killed 3 and injured over 50!
Are these the kinds of speakers we want at our University? Wesleyan
is an institution devoted to academics, education,
thought-provocation, and scholarly pursuit. The sponsors and speakers
of this conference directly contradict these aims by inciting hatred
and violence, providing half-truths and misinformation. While we
personally may not agree with the political views driving the
conference, we respect every individual's right to their own opinions.
However, the motives of these groups are antithetical to the academic
discourse required to come to sound political conclusions, whatever
they may be. Although everyone has a right to their views, we are not
obligated to provide anyone a forum to promote hatred.
Furthermore, the conference has been advertised throughout New England
with Wesleyan's name attached to it. It is not limited to one or two
speakers and our student body, but is a full-day affair attracting
participants from around the country. Other prestigious and liberal
schools have refused the same speakers a forum for the very reasons we
should. By refusing to associate ourselves with these promoters of
ignorance, we would join the likes of Columbia and Harvard, who have
chosen not to dirty their names and reputations. To quote our
illustrious website "At Wesleyan we aim high we work to free our
students to make choices through their lives that will allow them to
be effective leaders." Freedom is achieved through education and
dialogue. Let's live up to this ideal and prevent the spreading of
intolerance through one-sidedness.
P.S. Don't take our word for it, look it up yourself:
[http://www.yaleherald.com/article.php?Article=2377], (MQ adds: see
also [http://www.yaleherald.com/article.php?Article=2472] both highly
distorted and libelous)
Kol Israel is a student group.
Middle East workshops teach activist skills
by Katey Rich News Editor
Despite protests from students and faculty, the Activism 102
conference was held Saturday. Titled "A Day of Skills Workshops for
Middle East Activists," the event gathered between 70 and 80 students
and others involved in Israel-Palestine issues. It took place without
incident, to the relief of many community members who feared
conflicting opinions would escalate to unsafe levels.
The conference was organized by Wesleyan's Students for a Free
Palestine (SFP), New Haven organization Middle East Crisis Committee
(MECC), and the Conn.-based Palestine Right to Return Coalition
(Al-Awda). Representatives from each group and many other local and
national organizations were present to lead workshops and lectures.
"It [was] for Middle East activists to develop various skills, like
media work and organizing and how to run a political organization,"
said Stanley Heller, chairperson of the MECC. "We don't like the words
`pro-Palestinian' or `pro-Israeli'-- we're trying to create dialogues
The all-day conference was divided into four sessions featured two
workshops each. Topics ranged from "Influencing Government" to
"Protest Art," and each focused on means for Palestinian activists to
join together to affect change.
"I think it's important for us to organize and be together and feel
like we can make a change," said SFP member Javier Gaston-Greenberg
'05. "One of our main issues is to make sure that we branch out.
That's where we find power."
The morning began with opening statements from Ady Ben Israel '96 of
Jews Against the Occupation (JAO) and Patrick Connor of the
International Solidarity Movement (ISM), both pro-Palestinian groups.
Israel told the audience of her work in "direct action" in Palestine,
meaning activism that directly affects the lives of Palestinians, such
as physically stopping soldiers or assisting Palestinian farmers.
"`Go home and tell our stories,'" Israel said, quoting the
Palestinians she met. "`Your work is in the U.S.' "
As a Jew with strong connections to Israel, she also stressed the
prevalence of many opinions on the conflict among Jews.
"I think it's incredibly important that we stand up as a voice of
opposition in the Jewish community," Israel said. "It's really
important for us to show that there's not a monolithic point of view
on this issue."
Connor and Israel conducted an exercise in which they asked audience
members to consider certain situations involving pro-Palestinian
protesters and judge for themselves whether the actions were violent
or non-violent. Both speakers focused on the importance of non-violent
direct action in the Middle East, despite its potential ramifications.
"It's for participating in this type of peaceful protest that I'm not
being allowed back into Israel," Connor said afterwards.
Participants signed up for one of two workshops given during each of
the four sessions during the day. Most focused on general activism
tactics, but often included items specific to pro-Palestinian activists.
"I think a lot of the stuff at the conference could have been useful
to activists from other groups on campus," said Zach Strassburger '06,
who attended the workshops. "[However] I think that the people who
were there benefited from the specificity of it."
One workshop, titled "Networking and Outreach," featured facilitators
who had worked in both the Middle East and the United States on
"Do not lose opportunities to get your message out," said facilitator
Fatma Ahmed, a member of the multi-faith group We Refuse to be Enemies
and the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford. "I think we tend to
generalize if we do not know. Education is the key issue."
Another workshop, which focused on means to influence government
through activism, received a positive response from some attendees.
"I loved it," said Walter Zielinksi of Staffordville, Conn. "This is
great information. I think what it's teaching me is how to become more
active in government."
One of SFP's major goals was to network with other pro-Palestinian
groups on local college campuses.
"I think it was a successful event in that many more students from
surrounding schools were able to attend the conference," said SFP
member Angela Saad '04.
Mike Butterfield '06, an SFP member who led the student-networking
workshop, also appreciated the chance to meet with other student
"I wanted to get a student network going," Butterfield said. "The time
that we had to build an idea of what we wanted was pretty productive I
thought. We're planning to go to some other people's events and meet
again to have further discussions."
Several Wesleyan students, some from pro-Israel organizations like Kol
Israel, attended the conference with the intention of questioning and
possibly opposing the speakers and viewpoints presented. Fears had
been raised before the conference that the speakers may present
anti-Semitic statements, prompting President Bennet to send a
campus-wide email on Friday stating his confidence in Wesleyan to host
the conference in a civil manner. (For more information on the
controversy surrounding the conference, see "Conference goes on,
despite controversy" page 4.)
Other students from outside Wesleyan attended, skeptical of the
"As someone who leans a little more toward Israel, I get to view the
other side," said Sarah Mossberg, a first-year student at Smith
College. "I think that that's part of being any kind of activist or
any kind of educated person."
The day ended with a lecture by Adam Shapiro, a leader of ISM who had
recently spent time in Iraq filming a documentary about the issues
surrounding U.S. occupation of Iraq. Shapiro compared his experience
in Iraq to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
"We have a responsibility to Iraq, whether we are for the war or
against the war," Shapiro said. "Resistance to the occupation has to
"I thought he made some good connections to the war in Iraq,"
Strassburger said of the lecture.
The lecture drew about 150 people, some of whom attended it, like the
conference, expecting to be critical.
"Adam Shapiro dodged the difficult questions, and I was frustrated
that he did not answer the controversial questions about terrorism,"
said Jewish University Chaplain David Leipziger. "I thought for
someone who's a Ph.D candidate speaking to bright college students and
educated people, there should have been more."
Despite the criticism that sprang up around the conference, organizers
and participants believed the day was a success.
"Everyone in SFP will take something from this and do something with
it," Saad said.
News Editors Laura Goldblatt and Josh Brandstadter contributed to this
Schwarcz, this is my education
By Bayard Love
Dear Prof. of History Vera Schwarcz,
Restraining from a defense of this weekend's conference, (where I
learned how to run efficient meetings, make phone trees and four-foot
puppets) I think it necessary to show how the tone and language of
your Wespeak contributes to silencing a variety of voices. The tone of
the text attempted to legitimize your own comments by speaking above
the students and to Bennet, as if anyone else reading was sitting in
on a conversation between two marble statues. Addressing Bennet, you
wrote, "As a historian, you know that we cannot ignore the context of
the `text' " Then, in an attempt to validate a debated opinion you
leave a source unnamed while stressing his scholarly Cambridge
training. Finally, without any evidence or incorporation of differing
perspectives you write, "Wesleyan is already soiled by an undercurrent
Perhaps we have differing views of what intellectualism means. To me
it means constantly challenging the idea of a singular hegemonic
history that is validated through the positionality of those who
construct that history. As a historian, your Wespeak, and the idea
that you and Doug have control over this `educational institution' are
complicit in this.
Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, Michel-Rolph
Trouillot writes, "in most of Europe and North America: the role of
the historian is to reveal the past, to discover or at least,
approximate the truth. Within that viewpoint, power is
unproblematic At best, history is a story about power, a story about
those who won." It is in resistance to this objective history and
education that multiple histories and stories develop. Often, these
are never encouraged within the educational institution because, for
whatever reason, they are not seen as, "Solid, tough-minded learning."
(How was X-House established? Why is there such a reluctance to bring
in Ethnic Studies?) In fact, most of those narratives act in direct
opposition to the idea of a `historian' or `history' specifically
because those voices, experiences and languages are being erased by an
objective history and the educational institution.
I would question how the reaction to organization around Palestinian
struggle is related to rising hate crimes against Arabs and South
Asians in the U.S, blindness to targeted violence against Muslims in
Gujarat, or the current war in Iraq. How does an educational system
run by predominately `objective', `tough-minded' white people
contribute to oppression and violence? (How much does Alan Dachs, the
chairman of the board, stand to profit from Bechtel's involvement in
To end with, I look to your concluding comment, "Doug, we have a
weighty task ahead." Personally, I'm not concerned with your weighty
task of educating the young students, I'm concerned with educating
myself. History is never dead and the ideas presented here don't
disappear outside ivory walls. That's why I went this weekend, because
this education is mine to create, not yours to give.
Love is a member of the Class of 2005.
Rock Throwing 101 class
By Aaron Sussman
I am SUPER-PSYCHED about Saturday's "Skill(z) Workshop for Middle
Eastern Activists"! I've always LOVED shawarma and HATED oppression,
so this looks like the perfect workshop for me! I really don't know
too much about the Israel vs. Palestine situation, but I am hoping to
learn and find out what team I should be backing. Right now I'm
leaning towards Palestine, `cause they have Yassir Arafat he won the
Noble Peace Prize! Also, when I was 13, one of my Jewish friends had
his Bar Mitzvah party and the theme was "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"
and the MC was DJ AraPHAT it was rad! We played this game called "Coke
and Pepsi," but this time they called it "Bulldozers and Palestinian
Homes." DJ AraPHAT kept on yelling "holla!" and then holding up this
Jewish bread and people laughed. I didn't get it though.
Anyway, I can't wait for this active(iz)ism-filled day of fun! The
first workshop I am going to is called "Trajectory and Velocity: The
Mechanics of Rock Throwing." Then I'm going to one called "Arab
Leaders: Profile on Edward Said and Paula Abdul." That one should be
fun, but what about Tony Shalhoub?! He was HILARIOUS on Wings! Maybe
they'll mention him. The third workshop is called "Developing
Tank-Destroying Sling-shots." I hope they stop for lunch at some
point. All of that zany activism makes me hungry! It can also stress
me out, which is why I was super-excited when I heard that you can get
a free full body Mossad!
I don't want to brag or anything, but I got an email from President of
Wesleyan. Doug Bennet, about Saturday's event. Apparently there have
been concerns about anti-Semitism! That's DEF not cool. My roommate
told me that the term "anti-Semitism" doesn't make sense, `cause
"Arabs are Semites, too." I told him that was a really awful thing to
say and I walked to another room. See, conflict averted! It is wrong
to discriminate against Jewish people, especially when TONS of Jews
have contributed so much to society, like: Albert Einstein, Barbara
Streisand, Sigmund Freud, Lenny Kravitz, Dick Cheney, Woody Allen,
Keiko the Whale, Justin Timberlake, John Wayne, Serena and Venus
Williams, Hank Greenberg, Hank Aaron, John Stamos, three members of
Wu-Tang, I.M. Pei, Gwen Stefani, Moses Malone, Pat Robertson, Pikachu,
Bob Dylan (before he converted to Wahhabism), Karl Marx, Ralph
Macchio, Aaron Sussman, Jackie Chan, Ben Stiller, Michelangelo (the
Turtle), Lance Armstrong, Adam Sandler, Bishop Desmond Tutu, A.C.
Slater, Alan Dershowitz, and Mel Gibson. That's A LOT of culture!
People think that Jews are just good at accounting and finance and law
and that stuff, but they can also do stuff like sports or music or
even construction just look at the Pyramids or that huge Security Wall!
In Prez Bennet's email, he said, " and Wesleyan students can become
leaders in the quest for peace." Where do I sign up for that!? I would
be SO PSYCHED about being one of them. I'd call my mission PeaceQuest.
We'd have theme music. Kinda like the Star Wars theme, but Klezmer
style. PeaceQuest! I think that this Workshop should include other
issues, like animal rights. They could call it "From PETA to Pita"!
That'd be so cute!
In conclusion, I just want to say that if we all try to look at
situations from another person's shoes (or makeshift, inadequate
footwear), we will reach a level of understanding and love and realize
that we are all the same, and fighting just leads to more fighting,
but love leads to more love. And sometimes babies. Enough babies to
start an army! PeaceQuest!
Sussman is a member of the Class of 2007.
Prof. Schwarcz changed my mind
By Sasha F. Chavkin
As a Jewish member of the Wesleyan community, I was deeply troubled by
Professor Vera Schwarcz's Wespeak condemning Students for a Free
Palestine's conference as "nothing less than hatred of Jews." In her
Wespeak, Schwarcz takes her place alongside Abraham Foxman, Alan
Dershowitz and numerous others in a broad intellectual movement that
seeks to redefine anti-Zionism. For them it includes almost all
criticism of Israel, as an expression of the rising tide of a new
anti-Semitism. The truth is that it is their intellectual leap, and
not the agonizing and age-old reality of violence and hatred toward
Jews, that conjures up the frightening specter of anti-Semitism
lurking in every corner of our society, and in doing so detracts from
the real meaning of the word.
As well as being logically flawed, this argument opens the door to a
brand of religious McCarthyism in which everyone who is not with
Israel at all times must be against the Jews. I can remember very few
experiences as infuriating as being called a self-hating Jew for
criticizing Israel's actions on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as if
the lessons about racism and abuse of power that I drew from my own
family's painful history in the Ukraine and Germany were somehow
unacceptable. I had not been planning to attend Saturday's conference
because of my reservations about the International Solidarity
Movement, but after reading Professor Schwarcz's Wespeak, I decided to
change my mind.
Chavkin is a member of the Class of 2005.
Conference given bad rap
By Stanley Heller
As chairperson of one of the sponsoring organizations of "Activism
102," I'm outraged by the false characterizations of our conference by
Professor Vera Schwarcz and the student group Kol Israel. They hurl
slurs like "vicious defamation," "hate," and "anti-Semitism" without
mentioning a single true fact. The conference to Schwarcz echoes
"violence" of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I suppose learning how
to write a press release is just a short step away from parading
professors with dunce caps.
A Jewish Israeli-American opened the event, and the main talk, which
was open to the public, was given by Adam Shaprio, who leads an
organization that is dedicated to non-violence even though it has had
members murdered by the Israeli army. I'm an American Jew, too, as are
some members of the Wesleyan Students for a Free Palestine, not that
it should matter.
In Israel we have a ethnic supremacy state which has destroyed 10,000
Palestinian homes since the `67 occupation. It administers collective
punishment and torture routinely. It puts millions of people under
siege conditions and humiliates them whenever they attempt to cross
checkpoints in their own land. And to call attention to this is "hate"
and "defamation". Give me a break.
Stanley Heller is the Chairperson of the Middle East Crisis Committee
based in New Haven, CT.
Anti-Semitism labels are Defamation
Two lengthy letters published in Argus (one by Dr. Vera Schwarcz and
one by "Kol Israel") attacked a human rights conference at Wesleyan
using labels such as "anti-Semitism" and "hate mongering." I am one of
the organizers who was specifically "targeted" by one of those two
articles. Hosted by Wesleyan Students for a Free Palestine, this
conference was a chance for activists to exchange experiences and
ideas about how to reach out to advance human rights, equality, and
justice. The campaign attacking this conference included a website
and an email "alert" encouraging some to attend and "disrupt the
conference." Fortunately most people are not that uneducated or
unintelligent and the conference was extremely successful. Adam
Shapiro's public lecture in the evening was attended by 150. Most
people could see that Adam and several of the speakers and workshop
facilitators at this conference were themselves Jewish and thus the
absurdity of the claims. Several of our most active members
advocating human rights for Palestinians are themselves Jewish.
This "anti-Semitic" label is not only not true but is also dangerous.
Before I explain the danger let me state that I prefer the more
accurate term "anti-Jewish" rather than "anti-Semitic" for the obvious
reason that many Jews are not Semites (e.g. European white Ashkenazi
Jews or Ethiopian Jews) and many Semites who are not Jews (e.g.
Palestinians). But the term (BTW initially coined by a racist German
anti-Jewish man) is now so Common so let us use it here. Why is
labeling human rights advocates, including anti- and post-Zionists,
as anti-Semitic dangerous? Zionists always claimed that they represent
"the Jewish people". The reality is that Zionism is a colonial
political movement with adherents among people of vari<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)