Noa Tishby’s spin fails to obscure horror at Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral procession

Two women stand before crowd

Noa Tishby (L), now an official Israeli propagandist, is joined by Alma Hernandez, who is on a Democratic Majority for Israel board with a member who in 2018 made a genocidal call against Palestinians.

Chris Kleponis CNP

Noa Tishby, the actor named in April as “special envoy for combating anti-Semitism and the delegitimization” of Israel has falsely claimed that Palestinians used the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh to “riot and attack Israel.”

This was a crude effort to distract attention from what everyone saw: a horrifying assault by baton-wielding Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem against the pallbearers carrying the murdered Al Jazeera correspondent’s coffin.

Credible evidence, including eyewitness accounts from the journalists who were with Abu Akleh when she was fatally shot in the head in Jenin on 11 May, points to Israel being responsible. Despite its usual lies and spin aimed at deflecting the blame, Israel has been edging closer to accepting that reality.

Yet if Tishby is to be believed, it’s not Shireen Abu Akleh, her family, her colleagues at Al Jazeera or Palestinians more generally who are the victims, but the state which almost certainly killed her in the context of a brutal military occupation it refuses to end.

“Why is Israel ALWAYS guilty until proven innocent?” Tishby whined. “No one else is judged this way.”

On the contrary, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have been quickly judged by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. US human rights abuses in Iraq were similarly judged, even if many war criminals got away with their actions. In fact, if anything, it is African leaders who could raise the question of double standards when it comes to the International Criminal Court.

Tishby then resorted to what seems to be Israel’s one and only rhetorical weapon: She claimed that people are treating Israel “differently than the rest of the world” and that this “is the definition of ‘double standard’ and yes, it’s anti-Semitic.”

Then, just preceding a barrage of anti-Palestinian bigotry, she sheds some crocodile tears, writing “RIP Shireen.”

That Tishby would make such out of touch comments amid the widespread shock and distress at Abu Akleh’s death and the Israeli attack on her funeral suggests she is not the silver bullet to Israel’s image problem that her handlers might have hoped.
Notwithstanding her unconvincing first tweet on the subject last week, Tishby doubled down on Wednesday to again suggest that those concerned were guilty of an “anti-Semitic double standard.”

Citing a study by the International Federation of Journalists that showed 2,658 journalists were killed worldwide between 1990 and 2020, Tishby allowed that “each one of these deaths is horrific, but you can’t name the other 2,657 [sic] journalists.” This, she said, indicated a “double standard” and “anti-Semitism.”

Tishby disregarded that the IFJ just last month went to the International Criminal Court with “legal submissions alleging that Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers amount to war crimes.”

The IFJ notes that it “has repeatedly condemned the deliberate targeting of journalists and media facilities by Israel. At least 46 journalists have been killed since 2000 and no one has been held to account” – a fact omitted by Tishby.

In any event, at the moment, the Israeli army doesn’t even intend a further whitewash of the Abu Akleh case as the criminal investigation division for the military police does not plan to investigate the fatal incident.

Even some members of the US House and Senate voiced their distress at the violent images, though hundreds remained silent.
Ruth Marks Eglash, the former Washington Post reporter hired for a brief period by Israel’s ambassador to the US and UN, also spoke out about her experience with the misrepresentations of the Israeli police.
Nevertheless, some Israel apologists are trying to exonerate the Israeli police by citing The Washington Post to claim her family did not want Abu Akleh’s coffin carried on shoulders to the church.

They ignore the enormous pressure brought to bear against the family prior to the funeral procession and the reality of anti-Palestinian oppression that pervades life under Israeli occupation.

Abu Akleh’s brother Anton refuted the desperate defenses of Israel’s actions during an interview with the BBC.

History of attacks

Before taking on her new role as an official Israeli propagandist, Tishby had been doing the job freelance, so to speak. She attacked critics of Israeli policy, principally members of Congress Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both Muslims, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish.

When Tlaib tweeted to express alarm about Israeli settlers chanting for the “death of Arabs” in April 2021, Tishby falsely claimed Tlaib was accusing “the entire Israeli population” of committing “hate crimes.” Tishby also attempted to diminish Congresswoman Tlaib’s standing by calling her “Mrs. Tlaib” rather than Congresswoman Tlaib.

Tishby further expected immediate condemnation from Tlaib and Omar for Hamas rocket fire. Non-Muslims did not incur the same wrath she directed at the only two Muslim women in Congress.
Later in 2021, weeks after the Israeli assault on Gaza that killed Palestinian families in their homes, Tishby blamed Sanders for anti-Jewish violence.

She claimed without evidence that his “supporters and surrogates have taken the anti-Israel rhetoric to dangerous levels which ARE causing anti-Semitic attacks all over the US.”

When Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid announced Tishby’s appointment, she was sporting a necklace depicting Israel as extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and including the occupied Golan Heights.

According to human rights organization Amnesty International, and preceded by Palestinian human rights groups, Israel practices the crime against humanity of apartheid in the territory under its control.

Her brief includes fighting “delegitimization” of Israel – the term Israel uses for accurate descriptions of its violations of Palestinian rights.

But it is precisely Israel’s violent suppression of the rights of millions of Palestinians that delegitimizes it.

With the necklace and her words, the Israeli-American activist now working for the Israeli government is signaling a profound disregard for international law and the rights of Palestinians.

But that is exactly what she was appointed to do. So is conflating criticism of Israel and its racist state ideology Zionism, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other.

Earlier this month, she agreed with Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt when he announced that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

The ADL boss asserted that his organization would “act against anti-Zionist extremists just as we have against other extremists from the right and the left.”

In other words, Greenblatt and Tishby regard Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine – advocates for equal rights in one state – as on par with those promoting white supremacy and neo-fascism.

This places Palestinians and advocates for Palestinian human rights in increasing legal and physical danger, especially if members of Congress further take up the ADL’s anti-Palestinian cause as can be expected.

JVP and SJP, along with a third advocacy organization for Palestinian rights – the Council on American-Islamic Relations – have pushed back vigorously.

They note: “For the Palestinian community, Zionism is the political ideology that has enabled their violent subjugation and systematic dispossession. People must be able to discuss and debate these issues without being falsely smeared as anti-Semites.”


Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune,, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.