Tag Archives: antisemitism

UConn Student “Shocked” by Anti-Semitic Comment

University of Connecticut student Nathan Schachter describes his Jewish faith as “a part of me since I was born.”

The West Hartford-born junior communications major grew up in a tight-knit Jewish community, and said that he is “proud” of practicing Judaism, participating in UConn Hillel events as a member of the student board and wearing a UConn-embroidered kippah– a traditional religious head covering worn by practicing Jews.

“In Israel, [where everyone is Jewish], people don’t wear a kippah,” Schachter said. “But when you’re in a predominantly non-Jewish population, it’s not so much a religious thing as an identity thing. When I came to UConn, I decided I wanted to wear it wherever I go.”

Schachter was wearing his kippah on the evening of August 31st when he was walking with a friend to the Towers dining hall on the way back from a Hillel meeting. As the two walked, a car passed by.

“The back windows opened,” Schachter said. “The girl sitting in the back seat yelled out, ‘Go to the fucking ovens!’ and just… [drove] on. It was being said because I was there, wearing my kippah.”

Schachter said that it took him a moment to process what had happened to him, and called Hillel staff shortly afterwards, who directed him to Community Standards.

Hillel is the center for Jewish life at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. (Courtesy/University of Connecticut)

“[Hillel staff] just stayed and talked with me. I was with friends. I was safe,” Schachter said.

Shortly afterwards, Schachter posted about his experience on his Facebook page, which generated over 1,000 likes, 240 shares and dozens of comments.

“I [wrote] the post to kind of get some closure. For my whole life, including my years at UConn…[,] never could I have imagined this would be said to me,” Schachter said. “In that moment it’s where it hit me: This was said to me, and it bothers me.”

Schacter said he created the post in order to make people aware and didn’t think it would be read past his friends and family.

“I think it’s important that people in my community know that this happened,” Schachter said.“I think it was a moment of awareness for both the greater UConn community… and people all over.”

UConn Hillel has stated its support of Schachter, and that they are working with UConn administrators to address the incident.

“We appreciate the care and commitment that the University of Connecticut has provided in investigating the event and supporting Nathan and the Jewish community on campus,” Scott Selig, executive director of UConn Hillel, said. “UConn Hillel takes the security and safety of all students seriously and is confident that UConn is a safe and welcoming environment.”

The Dean of Student’s office, as well as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Institutional Equity have been notified of the incident, according to UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

“UConn has no tolerance for discrimination, harassment and intimidation based on bigotry or bias. We want our campuses to be welcoming and inclusive for everyone, and any behaviors that contradict those values are taken very seriously,” Reitz said. “The information that was shared with the university about this incident has been provided to UConn Police, who are investigating.”

In the meantime, Schachter said that he is both trying to move on from incident and reflecting on it.

“This happened on the day after the [Charlottesville] Vigil, which shocks me,” Schachter said “Literally less than 24 hours beforehand, I was standing with students and faculty… against discrimination.”

Schachter said that he will continue to speak out against discrimination, in light of what he has experienced.

“I think my role is to… speak up against what has happened to me, so that others can be aware that it can happen right on our campus,” Schachter said. “I think it’s important to remind [others] that, [they] are not alone. It’s happened all over. I think it’s important for people to know that, instead of hiding in a corner, continue to be proud of who you are, and continue pushing on. One thing that one person says about your outside appearance doesn’t define who you are.”

Schachter said that if he had the opportunity to meet with the person who harassed him, he would try and communicate his feelings about the incident.

“I think I would want to sit down [with the perpetrator] and express what I felt when I went through it, and somehow find a way to make her aware, what this kind of speech does,” Schachter said.

Overall, Schachter encouraged his fellow students to remain aware of the discrimination close to home.

“It’s not just big events, like Charlottesville,” Schacter said. “It can happen in Storrs, Connecticut, in the same regard.”

If you have faced harassment or discrimination, contact UConn Community Standards at 860-486-8402 or community@uconn.edu.

Nathan Shachter is a member of CAMERA-supported group UConn Huskies for Israel.

Contributed by Marlese Lessing.

This article was originally published in UConn’s campus paper, The Daily Campus.

 

Uphold The Student Code

Brian Bauer/Graffiti on a bathroom stall in Altgeld Hall.

CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg

“I hate Jews.”

These were the words found carved on the door of a bathroom on our campus this week.

“There is no room for … Zionists at UIUC.”

This statement came on a post by Students for Justice in Palestine, written publicly on Facebook for anyone and everyone to see.

These words do not belong on our campus, nor anywhere else.

Calling into question, let alone vilifying someone’s identity based on religious reasons, ideological reasons, ethnic background or any other identity is entirely unacceptable.

Moreover, these words are a blatant violation of the University’s Student Code.

The Student Code states that “Registered Organizations and Registered Student Organizations shall not practice discrimination against a member or prospective member on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation …”

The Student Code also requires each member of this University community to live up to a set of values, stating, “These values include the freedom to learn, free and open expression within limits that do not interfere … with respect for the dignity of others, and personal and institutional openness to constructive change.”

Beyond these standards, the Student Code states that students may be disciplined for “inciting, aiding, or encouraging others to engage in a behavior which violates the Student Code.”

Hateful words on social media often lead to hateful words in person, and hateful words often lead to hateful, intolerant action: actions like two swastikas being found scrawled on the doors of the bathroom in Altgeld Hall.

Yes, this also happened this week — in the same building where the inscription on one door stating “I hate Jews” was found.

None of this information was presented to the student body when it was known; and yet faculty were made aware of the swastikas and anti-Semitic scrawls via an email sent to the math department.

Our University’s leadership and certain students have bred an environment where words and actions like these have become acceptable.

There are thousands of new freshmen walking around campus, meeting new people and learning what this campus stands for.

Words of hate and acts of intolerance should not be a part of new student orientation.

Words of hate and acts of intolerance are not what this campus stands for.

Very little is spoken about the Student Code on this campus. I can’t recollect being asked to sign off that I would live up to the guidelines set forth in that Code, yet that is my responsibility as a student. So, I have taken the time to learn what is expected of me and what is not allowed. Clearly, some other students, and possibly administrators, have not taken this responsibility upon themselves.

This is not the first time that hateful, anti-Semitic language or symbols have been found on social media pages of campus organizations or on our school grounds. Our administration’s failure to address these matters has fostered a culture of intolerance and prejudice.

Furthermore, failing to share with the student body the occurrences of these disgraceful acts makes the administration complicit in accepting this hate.

Both the students and administration need to revisit the guidelines of this University and uphold their responsibilities to this campus and to every student who calls it home.

Contributed by ’15-’16 CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg.

Originally published in UIUC’s campus paper, The Daily Illini.

Anti-Semitism: Social Justice’s Blind Spot

At 3:45 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 22, a heinous, racially-charged vandalism was committed against the Islamic Center of Davis, with bacon laid across the door handles. Several days later, tires of vehicles were slashed outside the center. The Davis community banded together to show its solidarity with the center, holding rallies and shows of support, while social media accounts of student and local leaders swiftly and righteously condemned the attacks.

Photo: Diana Li/The Aggie

The Jewish community in particular — no stranger to hate crime, with 52 percent of all religious hate crimes committed against Jews — mobilized to support the Islamic Center. The Jewish sorority Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, for example, delivered baked goods to Epsilon Alpha Sigma, the Arab sorority, and Hillel at Davis and Sacramento, the main Jewish cultural organization on campus, delivered letters of support.

Six months later, in July, the Islamic Center invited the inflammatory Imam Ammar Shahin to give a sermon. In English, he spoke about the end times when Muslims will kill all Jews as inanimate hiding places like trees and houses reveal the Jews’ location. Then in Arabic, among other anti-Semitic attacks, Shahin called to “annihilate [the Jews] to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.”

Unlike the response to the vandalism of the Islamic Center, the response to this vicious anti-Semitic hate crime was a muted one at best. The Chancellor’s office issued a cautious statement, as well as Congressman John Garamendi’s office — and that was largely it. Even after Shahin apologized for his statements, a group of Davis students continued to defend his words, attributing the hate to a Zionist or right-wing conspiracy intended to make the Islamic Center look anti-Semitic (forgetting that many of those same Zionist Jews across the political spectrum were at the mosque in solidarity just months earlier).

In addition, many of those same students harassed Jewish students, many of whom are still dealing with the trauma and pain that the imam’s statements caused, calling them Islamophobic and further invalidating their trauma.

Arguments began circulating that the quotes were taken out of context and that the translation was not entirely accurate. Any and every other type of theory emerged as the Davis community collectively stuck their heads in the sand. They refused to acknowledge one of the longest-running and most deadly types of racism the modern world has seen: anti-Semitism. Today, in the progressive city of Davis, this form of racism receives a pass.

It’s easy for the typical progressive to condemn a neo-Nazi when they say, “death to the Jews.” Problems arise when extremist elements on the left begin uttering dog-whistle (and, in this case, very blatant) anti-Semitic rhetoric. The problem is when one of the most marginalized groups in the world is still largely kept outside of the intersectional umbrella and held to a different standard than any other marginalized group, with our struggles inherently not as important.

It really boils down to this: When the right wants to stir up anti-Semitism, white-passing Jews stop being white, becoming our own Jewish race.  But when the left wants to do the same, we become white, part of the oppressing class and therefore not subject to the sympathy and solidarity all other marginalized communities receive.

This is what we see at modern Nazi rallies, when they chant, “blood and soil” and “death to the Jews.”  It’s what we see from the extreme left when symbols of Jewish pride are banned for fear that they may “offend” someone. We, the entire Davis community, must loudly and unequivocally stand up for every marginalized community. We must do so even when it’s uncomfortable, even when another historically marginalized community is the one being problematic and even when the victims are the sometimes white-passing Jews. Racism is racism and we cannot allow anti-Semitism to be driven into the blind spot of social justice with our inaction.

This article was written by Michael Gofman, member of CAMERA-supported group Aggies for Israel at UC Davis.

This article was originally published at The Aggie.

After UCI Sanctions for SJP, LA Times Gives Voice Only to Those Who Drowned Out Other Voices

On May 10, Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted a pro-Israel event at UC Irvine with hateful shouting and vitriolic chants, preventing IDF reservists from continuing with the panel until the group left. As a result, the campus administration slapped SJP with a two-year probation and affirmed the university’s commitment to “protect everyone’s right to express themselves without disruption.”

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Times article about the university’s decision to sanction the group for its attempts to drown out others’ voices in violation of university policy gave voice to only one side: Students for Justice in Palestine.

 

The one-sided Sept. 4 article (online only) entitled “Pro-Palestinian UCI students appeal sanctions after Israeli event protest” dedicated three out of seven paragraphs to statements provided by SJP. It reported:

In a statement, representatives for the group said that their clapping and chanting at the event — sponsored by Students Supporting Israel — was in response to aggressive behavior by a member of the soldiers’ group.

“It’s outrageous that the university is punishing us, students, instead of protecting us from aggressive foreign military agents on campus,” Daniel Carnie, a Jewish UCI students, said in a statement. “We’re a diverse group of Palestinian, black, Latino and Jewish students who attended the soldiers’ speaking event and asked critical questions.” . . .

Students for Justice in Palestine said its members have been harassed and cyber-bullied since the event; the group said it has filed a discrimination complaint.

In contrast, Los Angeles Times reporter Hillary Davis devoted not one sentence to panelists representing Reservists on Duty, or to representatives from Students Supporting Israel, which hosted the event. Nor did she convey the views of pro-Israel students who attended. Had she done so, she might have spoken with panelist Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli Arab from Reservists on Duty, who reported to CAMERA:

We were yelled and cursed at, and one of our female delegation participants was spat on by an SJP member. They came to our event to shut it down, an SJP representative said it herself while yelling into a microphone the next day. We had to have them escort us off campus because the SJP students made it impossible for us to leave the class safely.

[Full disclosure: CAMERA has brought Elkhoury on campus tours in the past. Also, CAMERA joined up with other several other organizations to urge the university to take action against SJP.]

 

Moreover, Davis failed to give readers any information about the nature of the vitriolic chanting by SJP members. Plenty of video documentation of the disruption is available exposing the ugliness of the SJP’s chants (“These colonizers and occupiers! You should not be on our f****** campus”; . . . “F*** you!” . . . “Israel, Israel you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” . . . “Long live the intifada!” . . . “Israel, Israel what you say? How many people did you kill today?”)

CAMERA has contacted The Times, urging editors to add comment from representatives from Reservists on Duty, from Students Supporting Israel and/or pro-Israel students who were subjected to the hateful SJP demonstration. CAMERA also called on The Los Angeles Times to add video of the demonstration, enabling readers to decide for themselves who exactly engaged in “aggressive behavior.”

Contributed by Director of CAMERA’s Israel office, Tamar Sternthal.
This article was originally published at CAMERA.org.

SJP UIUC Calls Zionists “White Supremacists” in Promotional Materials

CAMERA on Campus unequivocally condemns SJP UIUC​ (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) for its blatantly antisemitic action of calling Zionists, and therefore the majority of Jews, Nazis in this disturbing promotional post for their rally, happening today on campus:

“Join SJP and other amazing, radical organizations on campus at this rally next week. There is no room for fascists, white supremacists, or Zionists at UIUC. Tuesday, September 5th @ 11:30am, Alma Mater”

Post on the SJP UIUC Facebook page.

We continue to see the co-optation of the struggle for Jews to have the right to live in their national homeland in peace.

Illini Public Affairs Committee – IlliniPAC released a statement, seen below, in response to this disgusting development.

We are in contact with students at UIUC and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

 

 

 

Statement by IlliniPAC.

Contributed by CAMERA Staff

Ryerson Contract Lecturer Promotes Anti-Semitism Through Social Media

In December 2016, the Israeli Students Association at York University received numerous complaints from Israeli students at Ryerson concerning the social media use of a Contract Lecturer within Ryerson’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies.

After a thorough investigation, it was concluded that the lecturer is in fact using her publicly-accessible Twitter page to spread anti-Semitism. She repeatedly uses the anti-Semitic slur “Zio”. “Zio” is an ethnic slur that has been popularized by David Duke and the American Klu Klux Klan. She calls members of the public “zio-trolls” and uses the pejoratives “zio-murderer” and “zio-fanatic”. Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, a human rights advocate and member of the House of Lords, says that “Zio” is a “modern-day racist epithet” and “a term of abuse, pure and simple”. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says “the use of the word ‘Zio’ has become a racist term against Jewish people in the way ‘homo’ was used in the 60’s and 70’s”.

Furthermore, the lecturer makes xenophobic generalizations about Israelis and shares links to infamous neo-Nazi websites. For example, one article that she shared features classic anti-Semitic imagery and asserts that the “Rothschilds and their minions” are engaged in a “planetary hostile takeover operation”.

The lecturer’s apparent anti-Semitism and xenophobia appear to be in violation of Ryerson’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. Given her public promotion of anti-Semitism, Jewish and Israeli students at Ryerson may quite reasonably feel unsafe, unwelcome, or intimidated in her classes.

The Israeli Students Association, in conjunction with Ryerson students, submitted a complaint on December 12th, 2016. Despite acknowledging the complaint and forwarding it to the Office of Vice Provost Faculty Affairs and Human Resources, Ryerson University has made no further efforts to engage with students on this issue. Ryerson University must act immediately to correct this egregious oversight.

In fact, soon after the complaint was filed, the lecturer made her Twitter page and the offending posts inaccessible to the public. This suggests that the Ryerson administration notified her of the complaint and counselled her to make her social media accounts private. In lieu of any communication from the Ryerson administration, we can assume that their solution to this complaint was to simply sweep it under the rug.

B’nai Brith Canada has since contacted Ryerson University and is pursuing the complaint.

Contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow and member of CAMERA-supported group Israeli Students Association at York University Ben Shachar.

Teen Magazine Promotes Conspiracy Theory from Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Affinity Magazine is a publication written by and for teenagers. Its Editor-in-Chief, Evelyn Woodsen, is nineteen, and its Senior Editor Alex Brown is in high school.

Its website gets between 200,000 and 600,000 views per month, and it claims that it “serves a purpose of showcasing the voices of aspiring teen journalists.” The publication aims to “mix pop culture with social justice and politics….”

Affinity Magazine (Affinity Magazine)

The young age of its writers and editors, however, does not excuse its promotion of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. In January, the magazine published an article titled, “Money and Israel Control the Media: Who Cares?” (January 8, 2017) Seventeen year-old author Zoya Wazir, relying on the antisemitic Rense website, wrote that:

Israel has political and economic ties to America of such necessity that they control the majority of the media. In fact, the big six corporations mentioned earlier all have Israeli ties and are headed by powerful Jewish families within the United States.

Given the publication’s left-wing bent, Affinity‘s editors might be dismayed to learn that in promoting this myth, they are joining former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who made the same claim last fall. One can also find similar content on the neo-nazi sites Stormfront and Daily Stormer, and in the /pol/, or “politically incorrect,” section of 4chan. (Ironically, a June 15 4chan thread asked, “If the Jews control the media (which they do), then why do they take such an anti-Israeli stance?”)

According to the ADL, the origin of the myth of Jewish control of the media can be traced back to the antisemitic forgery, the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”

The document known as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, said to be the secret plans of Jewish leaders for the attainment of world domination, is, in fact, the most famous and vicious forgery of modern times. Though thoroughly discredited, the Protocols have succeeded time and time again in stirring up hatred and racism in the twentieth century. …

The seventh Protocol tells of Jewish control of the press: ‘It is in the Press that the triumph of freedom of speech finds its incarnation. But the goyim States have not known how to make use of the force; and it has fallen into our hands. Through the Press we have gained the power to influence while remaining ourselves in the shade.’

The ADL’s booklet about the Protocols cites many authorities that have concluded that the document is a forgery, including, in 1964, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is not only a forgery, but a plagiarized forgery, with large portions copied from the 1865 work “Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.” Other claims made in the Protocols are that Jews control the world’s economy, and that Jews are planning to put in place a “world government,” controlled by a despotic Jewish king.

Jewish control of the media, Ms. Wazir continues, “is evidenced in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a conflict that most seem to know of, but know little to no accurate information about. … While there is suffering occurring on both sides of the conflict, the Palestinian side is highly underreported because of the United States’ ties to Israel.” She then – unbelievably to many CAMERA members (and notwithstanding the commentary on 4chan) – cites an article from the New York Times as an example of pro-Israel bias.

Members and regular readers of CAMERA’s website and blogs might be scratching their heads at such a claim. CAMERA has documented countless instances of media bias against Israel, including at the New York Times.

The article was widely condemned in the comments section, though one man seemed to praise it (Screenshot)

Of course, individual Jews have been extremely successful in media as well as other businesses, and there is nothing antisemitic about acknowledging that fact. The implicit or explicit assertion, with no evidence, of collusion among them, or of a shared nefarious purpose, is the touchtone of an antisemitic conspiracy. As (Jewish) lawyer and commentator Alan Dershowitz has written,

Yes, there are many individual Jews in positions of influence in Hollywood, in network television, in sports and entertainment, and in many other areas of American public life. These individuals, who happen to be Jewish, do not act together in any kind of conspiratorial manner. There is no “Jewish control” of any of these areas — or of the many other areas, such as medicine, law, academia, finance — where there are large numbers of individual Jews in high positions. Many of these individuals are Jewish only in the sense that their parents or grandparents happen to be Jews. They do not live Jewish lives or support Jewish causes. They certainly do not conspire to exercise any sort of “Jewish control” over the areas in which they work.

It’s wonderful that Affinity‘s editors want to give young writers experience and exposure. As a magazine that serves to inform the teen community, however, the publication needs to do a better job at setting and enforcing standards that will weed out such falsehoods.

Contributed by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker

This article was originally published at camera.org.

Statement on Anti-Semitic Fliers Distributed at University of Illinois

(Photo Credit – Eva Zeltser, Facebook)

This week, a horrifying flyer was distributed in the University of Illinois, Chicago. Aviva Slomich, International Campus Director of CAMERA, made the following statement in response to this horrendous anti-Semitism.

“My grandfather fought the Nazis and their fascist allies in WWII, my father stood up against the Neo Nazis and extremist radicals through the 80s and 90s and now I, through leading CAMERA’s campus department, refuse to stay silent against targeted attacks against Jewish students. Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest hatred, and it appears in different forms. But make no mistake – even when it is dressed up in the contemporary language of privilege, anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism.

CAMERA on Campus calls upon the administration of the University of Illinois to fully investigate this matter, in order to find the perpetrator of this act, and to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken in response.”

The Guardian Whitewashes Charges of Antisemitism Against Malia Bouattia

An article in the Guardian, written by their education correspondent , focused on recent reports of hate crimes targeting Jews at Exeter, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex and University College London.  Among the people interviewed in the article (UK universities urged to a tackle rising tide of antisemitism, Feb. 18th) was NUS President Malia Bouattia.

Here are the paragraphs pertaining to Bouattia:

The National Union of Students has just completed a national survey of Jewish students’ experience of university life, details of which will be released later in the spring. Commenting on the incident at Exeter this week, the union’s president, Malia Bouattia, said it was another example of the spike in hate crime students had witnessed in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election.

“This kind of blatant antisemitism should not be tolerated in our universities and colleges, and institutions need to do more to combat it. Students must be at the forefront of tackling racism and fascism in all its forms which is why NUS’s current programme of work exploring hate crime could not be more timely.”

Remarkably, the Guardian reporter completely ignored the ongoing scandal involving accusations of antisemitism against Bouattia herself – information that had previously been reported by the Guardian and elsewhere in the British media.

National Union of Students (NUS) President Malia Bouattia.

In fact, just a day before the Guardian article which quoted Bouattia, The Telegraph published an article titled ‘NUS in turmoil after internal report rules its President should not be punished despite making anti-Semitic remarks’. The article noted that, despite the NUS’s determination that Bouattia should not be punished, their report found that she did make comments that “could be reasonably capable of being interpreted as anti-Semitic”.

Here are some of the comments in question:

  • Bouattia ‘accused’ the University of Birmingham of being “a Zionist outpost in British higher education”, citing her concerns about their “large Jewish Society”.
  • Bouattia condemned “Zionist-led media outlets”.
  • Bouattia (beginning at 1:10 of this video) seemed to characterize Zionism as a form of “white supremacy”.
  • Bouattia expressed support for Palestinian terrorism and was critical of those who support ‘merely’ non-violent forms of resistance to occupation.
  • Bouattia claimed that the Government’s anti-terror programme was fuelled by “Zionist and neo-con lobbies”.

The journalist’s decision to quote Bouattia expressing her view that “blatant antisemitism should not be tolerated in our universities” without even mentioning the current row over her own use of antisemitic tropes is a classic example of how the Guardian can whitewash antisemitism even when putatively taking such hatred seriously.

Contributed by Managing Editor of CAMERA’s UK Media Watch, Adam Levick.

This article was originally published at UKMediaWatch.org.

PBS Hosts Extremist Miko Peled on Talk Show

On February 2, PBS’s Tavis Smiley hosted Miko Peled on his talk show. Peled is a radical anti-Israel activist who has, in the past, falsely described Israel as an apartheid state, referred to Israeli airport security officers as the “Smiling Gestapo,” and defended terrorists.

On Smiley’s program, Peled:

  • called Jewish history a myth,
  • called Israel an illegitimate state, saying Jews have no right to self-determination there,
  • called the Haganah a terrorist group, but justified terrorism against Israelis, and
  • perpetuated falsehoods about Israel, including the ubiquitous water libel.

Yet, his host failed to aggressively challenge his assertions.

Miko Peled (left) during his interview with Tavis Smiley on PBS.

When Smiley asked Peled how he responds to allegations that he is antisemitic, Peled responded, in essence, that he can’t be antisemitic, first, because he is Jewish, and second, because he is not racist against African Americans or other racial minorities. Peled then claims that opposing the State of Israel – not its policies, but the State itself – is not antisemitic. In fact, the Obama State Department declared that it is. This, too, is ignored by his host.

Neither Smiley nor a second guest, apparently brought on in an attempt at “balance,” unraveled the falsehoods promoted by Peled. Real journalism requires real facts, not narratives spun by advocates. PBS should do better.

If Tavis Smiley had researched his subject prior to the interview, he would have found that Peled has falsely described Israel as an apartheid state, and called Israeli airport security officers the “Smiling Gestapo.” In the anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada, Peled wrote that “Israel is an illegitimate creation brought about by a union between racism and colonialism,” and that “criticizing Palestinian resistance [i.e., terrorism] is unconscionable.” He has described terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons – some for murder – as “political prisoners.”

The Obama State Department defined antisemitism to include “justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion),” as well as “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” Prior to appearing on Smiley’s show, Peled had engaged in all three of these behaviors. Yet, during the program, Smiley failed to aggressively challenge Peled when he continued his open delegitimization of the State of Israel, when he dismissed historical fact as a “mythical narrative,” or when he promoted a narrative that is not based in fact at all.

Peled began the discussion by calling “the return of the Jewish people, the building of a Jewish state after 2,000 years” a mythical narrative. He continued,

Legitimizing the idea that Jews have a right to come from Europe, take over a land that is inhabited by other people, kick those people away and establish their own state there, I don’t see how you legitimize that. But these were different times.

These were times where Europeans thought they could come to the countries of people who are not white and do whatever they wanted, and that’s what really Zionism was about. The idea was for white European Jews to go to go to Palestine that was inhabited by Arabs, which means they’re probably just Bedouins and poor people and who cares, and establish a state for the Jewish people.

There are numerous problems with this statement. First, Peled ignores the ample historical evidence that Jews are in fact indigenous to the land of present-day Israel, and ignores that Jews have maintained a continuous presence in Jerusalem since 1004 BCE. Second, referring to Jews simply as “white Europeans” ignores the history of Jewish oppression in Europe, as well as the fact that many Jewish Israelis arrived in the country as refugees from Arab lands. And, as CAMERA has shown before, “many of those who today identify as Palestinians descend from relatively recent migrations from surrounding territories.”

It’s also inaccurate to generally describe the Arabs living in Mandatory Palestine as having been “kicked away.” While there were some instances in which the Arabs of Palestine were forced from their homes during the 1948 War of Independence, in most cases, those who became refugees fled from actual or anticipated fighting.

In one of his more disturbing comments, Peled refers to the Haganah as a terrorist group. In fact, the Haganah was formed for the defense of the Jewish communities of Mandatory Palestine, after British forces failed to protect those communities from attack. A few minutes later in the interview, however, Peled justifies terrorism when it is committed against Israelis, saying “if they’re Palestinians and they live there and you come and declare that it’s a Jewish state, what are they supposed to do, you know? They’re going to resist. They’re going to fight. You’re going to put them in prison, you’re going to call them terrorists.” Again, Smiley fails to challenge either the inaccurate characterization of the Haganah, or the defense of the murder of civilians.

Smiley gives Peled an opening for the delegitimization of Israel when he asks, “tell me why you no longer believe that a two-state solution is even viable.” Peled responds at some length, but never mentions that Palestinians have turned down Israeli offers to withdraw, allowing them to create their own state, three times since 2000. Instead, he absurdly claims that the fact that people refer to the region as “Judea and Samaria” somehow prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state. In discussing the close proximity in which Jews and Palestinians live in the West Bank, he also relies on the assumption that Jews won’t be able to live in a future Palestinian state, without questioning whether or why, this is so –namely, that they would likely be targeted with violence. Finally, he cites the descendants of Palestinian refugees, without questioning why they are the only refugee group that passes down refugee status from one generation to the next, rather than being resettled in their host countries.

During the interview, Peled says explicitly, “I don’t accept that there’s a need for a Jewish state…. You cannot have a Jewish state in an Arab country unless you are going to infringe upon the rights of the local people. You have to kick them out because they won’t have rights.” Peled – and Smiley – both ignore the fact that two million Arabs live in Israel with full and equal rights. Here, however, Peled does get a little bit of push-back from his host, when Smiley asks, “why are Jews not entitled to their own homeland, to their own state, to their own borders? Why are they not entitled to that?” Peled’s response is telling: “Because Jews have their states. They have American Jews in America. They’ve got French Jews in Germany. You’ve got, you know, Australian Jews in Australia.”

Peled’s claim that Israel is unnecessary because they’ve “got French Jews in Germany,” ignores the fact that for most of the history of European Jewry, Jews were persecuted, culminating in the Holocaust. It ignores that in the Middle East, Jews lived in second-class, or dhimmi, status. It ignores the current flight of French Jews into Israel, to escape anti-Jewish violence there.

Smiley misses those points in his response, in which he asserts “that’s like saying Americans, we shouldn’t have a US of A because there are Americans all around the globe.” His comparison to America is specious. European colonists who came to the US were not indigenous to this land, as Jews are to Israel, and there was no American nation living in exile for 2,000 years.

Finally, Peled repeats the thoroughly-debunked water libel, saying, Palestinians “get 12 hours of water per week,” and implying that this is Israel’s fault. As CAMERA has noted before, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) has dispelled this canard:

Water shortages in the Palestinian Authority are the result of Palestinian policies that deliberately waste water and destroy the regional water ecology. The Palestinians refuse to develop their own significant underground water resources, build a seawater desalination plant, fix massive leakage from their municipal water pipes, build sewage treatment plants, irrigate land with treated sewage effluents or modern water-saving devices, or bill their own citizens for consumer water usage, leading to enormous waste.

At the same time, they drill illegally into Israel’s water resources, and send their sewage flowing into the valleys and streams of central Israel. In short, the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is not interested in practical solutions to solve the Palestinian people’s water shortages, but rather perpetuation of the shortages and the besmirching of Israel.

CAMERA’s Tricia Miller has written:

Israel supplies Palestinian communities with water from Israeli wells and has laid hundreds of kilometers of new water mains and connected hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns to the newly built water system. Villages and towns not hooked up to the new system have refused the service for political reasons, believing that acceptance of Israel’s offer of a new water supply would legitimize the “occupation.”

The guest that followed Peled on the program, Rabbi Steve Leder, was presumably intended to give an appearance of balance. Rabbi Leder did disagree with Peled about the need for a two-state solution and for Jewish self-determination, and did note that, according to former US envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Martin Indyk, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has “checked out.” Rabbi Leder did not, however, debunk any of Peled’s falsehoods and he did not note that the Palestinians have rejected three Israeli peace offers. Thus, many of Peled’s claims went unchallenged.