Update: StandWithUs “source” denies hearing words attributed to me
Alex Kane, staff reporter at Mondoweiss, has said he was in direct contact with Alyssa Lappen, the FrontPage Magazine contributor who quoted me allegedly making comments about “The Jews.” Lappen denied she was even present at the 2005 conference.Helena Cobban has also denied ever making the statements attributed to her by StandWithUs – which also provided no evidence for them. See Alex Kane’s write-up at Mondoweiss.
StandWithUs, the anti-Palestinian group that works closely with the Israeli government to smear, sue and censor the Palestine solidarity movement, attempted to smear me today but instead ended up with egg on its face.
StandWithUs issued a press release containing alleged quotes from a speech I made in 2005 to prove that I am a bigot. The press release was meant to attack and smear the national conference on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) at the University of Pennsylvania next February at which I am speaking.
Press release alleges statements against “The Jews”
StandWithUs claimed that the “line-up of scheduled speakers indicated that this event would be filled with age-old bigotry and prejudice to incite hatred against Israel and foment bitter divisions on campus.”
Their press release states:
Another invited speaker, Helena Cobban, has claimed that Israelis are “incapable of empathy and compassion for other people.” (January 2009, Georgetown University) Keynote speaker Ali Abunimah has declared that “Ending the occupation does not solve the problem. The Jews do not view all human beings as equal. The 1948 borders were calculated to harm Christians, Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims.” (Chicago Sabeel Conference, October 7, 2005) Speaker Susan Abulhawa resurrects blood libels, claiming that: “Palestinians are killed as if insects not because of Hamas or Yasser Arafat before them… Palestinians burn and bleed because they are the non-Jewish natives of that land. There is no other reason.”
No evidence for its claim
When I asked StandWithUs via Twitter to provide and publish the source for the quote, which is not included in the press release, they eventually provided a link to an article by one Alyssa Lappen on FrontPage Magazine, the website of Islamophobic agitator David Horowitz.
I challenged StandWithUs repeatedly (the tweet conversation between us is reproduced below) to publish a recording of my remarks. I asked them if they had even heard such a recording. They never answered whether they had and claimed that the “reporter” must have one and said I should ask her myself.
But the quote went out in a press release bearing the name of StandWithUs. It’s obvious from their statements that they don’t have any recording, they haven’t heard one, and made no effort to verify the alleged quotes.
StandWithUs claimed to have been present at my 2005 talk but hasn’t identified who was there, nor even claimed that the person or persons representing them had heard me utter the words that appear in their press release between quotation marks.
Notorious racist is StandWithUs “source”
For those who have forgotten who Horowitz, the editor in chief and owner of FrontPage Magazine is, he has engaged in continuous campaigns against Muslims and African Americans. Ten years ago Horowitz notoriously ran ads in college newspapers across the country saying that black people should be grateful that their ancestors were slaves in America and in fact owed America a debt for slavery. The ads caused an outcry on campuses all over the United States.
No wonder StandWithUs was too embarrassed to identify their “source” in the press release!
Desperate for smears
Anyone who knows my work, would also know that I never make statements blaming “The Jews” for anything, and am always insistent on distinguishing between Jews and Judaism on one hand, and Israel and Zionism on the other, that claim to speak in the name of all Jews. Jews must never be held collectively responsible for Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians and other Arabs, and we must not confuse Judaism with Zionism as Zionists constantly try to get us to do.
Moreover, given that there are literally hundreds of videos of me speaking around the country available on YouTube alone, isn’t it odd that StandWithUs would need to resort to a fake source from 2005 to prove my alleged bigotry? I’m assuming that StandWithUs has been trawling through these videos for years.
StandWithUs: a record of bigotry and violence
I haven’t looked into the sources of the other alleged “quotes” from other speakers in the StandWithUs press release but given this organization’s record of dishonesty, fabrication, collusion with the Israeli government, intimidation and violence against Jewish activists and others, everything they say should be treated with suspicion.
Claiming a fake victory against BDS conference
While smearing me and others was one purpose of StandWithUs’ farcical press release, the main purpose was to declare a victory:
We are pleased to report that just a few hours ago, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) officially announced that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) national conference, scheduled to be held on their campus in February, 2012, does not have the university’s imprimatur. Penn also stated unequivocally that it “does not support boycotts or sanctions against Israel.” (See the university’s official statement below.)
The fact that UPenn president Amy Gutmann has declared her University’s opposition to BDS is no great victory. Many US university presidents have previously spoken out against BDS – just as they did against BDS when it targeted apartheid South Africa.
What is a victory is that the conference will be held at UPenn despite the university’s opposition to BDS and despite efforts by groups like StandWithUs – working hand in glove with the Israeli government – to stifle this movement. It is above all a victory for the students and activists who are doing the work on the ground to make this happen.
I’m looking forward to the conference, and grateful to StandWithUs for the added publicity.
If any of these tweets don’t appear, here is an image.