Barefaced Hasbara: Tufts “Friends of Israel” exploit name of Palestinian writer to brownwash the Nakba

The following is a guest post by Budour Hasan, a Palestinian anarchist and a fourth year law student originally from Nazareth.

In their ongoing bid to portray Israel as a peace-loving, multicultural, and progressive state and in an attempt to camouflage its war crimes, human rights abuses and atrocities, pro-Israel lobbies and student groups in United States campuses use several hasbara (propaganda) tactics, such as blackwashing – recruiting black and minority students to stifle critics of Israeli apartheid – and pinkwashing.

A similar tactic that has been repeatedly used by the Israeli government is “brownwashing” or as Palestinian blogger Abir Kopty called it, “Arabwashing”.

A host of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, audaciously and unashamedly boast about Israel’s treatment of Palestinian citizens, claiming “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full civil rights.” Never mind the racist Citizenship and Entry Law that was recently upheld by Israel’s “liberal” High Court of Justice, nor the equally racist Law of Return, the Present Absentees Law, the mass expropriation of Palestinian land, the glaring economic and social inequality that plagues Palestinian citizens of Israel, the persecution of Palestinian political dissidents and the Prawer plan that threatens to uproot nearly 300,00 Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev (Naqab) who are “unrecognised” on their own land and denied access to water and electricity. For it appears that family life, equality, freedom of expression, property and human dignity don’t qualify as “rights” according to Israel and its supporters.

Tufts “Friends of Israel” and the Hillel Cultural Arts and Education Committee, organizers of “Israeli Independence Week”, took “brownwashing” to a whole new level – or more precisely, hit a new low.

In the event’s Facebook page, (which has now been changed) Tufts “Friends of Israel” falsely claimed that among the speakers in the week-long celebration of Israel’s “independence” would be Palestinian author and journalist Sayed Kashua, known for his satirical sitcom “Arab Labor.” I was utterly shocked when I read yesterday that a prominent Palestinian writer and critic of Israeli racism was supposedly due to give a lecture at an event that celebrates the ethnic cleansing and catastrophe of the Palestinian people.

Therefore I, along with other Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists, started a petition calling on Mr Kashua to cancel his lecture.

Following the publishing of the petition, I got in contact with Mr Kashua in an interview with journalist Zuheir Bahloul in this morning’s show on Radio Ashams, a Nazareth based radio station. Mr Kashua declared he had no idea that he was scheduled to speak at Israeli “independence” week.

Kashua was invited by the Tufts University rather than pro-Israel student groups, and the event, which has been scheduled for some time, is a reading of his book and has nothing to do with Israeli “independence” week in any way, shape or form.

And after Tufts “Friends of Israel” deleted Kashua’s name from the speakers’ list on their Facebook page, it became clear that that they have deceitfully used his good name, reputation and event to brownwash the Nakba.

Moreover, Kashua pledged that if he finds out that the event has anything to do with celebrating Israeli “independence”, he will immediately cancel it, as he refuses to be an accessory to re-branding Palestinian ethnic cleansing as a celebration.

I am truly sorry that Mr. Kashua has been subjected to this type of shameful deceit by the Tufts “Friends of Israel” and that he had to face criticism over such misleading allegations. Because of this, we demand that Tufts “Friends of Israel” both publicly clarify their actions and apologize for them.




As a Tufts student and member of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine, I'm disgusted and appalled that any student group on my campus, despite their notoriety for this sort of agenda, would commit such a low and deceitful act of brown-washing. Thank you for calling attention to this. Mr. Kashua is thankfully delivering his original lecture at Tufts (one that obviously does not endorse the hurtful message of FOI "I-week") despite this shameful misunderstanding and act of dishonestly.


Mr Kashua is an admirable author, and has made an important contribution to revealing from within, the conflicts that Palestinians in Israel have to confront.
Since his lecture at Hillel occurs within Israel Independence Week as advertised, even if Kashua rejects that it has any part of the celebrations, the fact that it occurs within that week, in conjunction with other linked events will be read by some that it is part of Independence week. Perhaps a good idea would be for him to re-arrange the timing to be well out of the range of events that could be exploited to Israel's advantage, even better still to cancel the event.

Linah Alsaafin

Linah Alsaafin's picture

22 years old, from both Gaza and the West Bank. Writer and editor based in Ramallah. 

Twitter: @LinahAlsaafin