Video: Chicago Jew gets called Hitler for supporting Palestinian rights

Jewish activists have been kicked out of an Illinois synagogue for supporting Palestinian rights.

On Sunday, a conference on how to combat the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement was held at Temple Beth-El, in Northbrook, a suburb of Chicago.

During a panel discussion, Michael Deheeger, a 32-year-old member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, interrupted the speakers, expressing his support for Palestinian rights.

The mostly older audience responded with a staggering degree of hostility. Deheeger compared the audience to racist whites in the Jim Crow South.

“It was a throwback to pictures I’ve seen of white protesters in the South trying to uphold segregation,” he told The Electronic Intifada.

Three other activists had disrupted the conference before Deheeger – video of their action is below. “If there had been one person after me, I don’t know what would have happened,” he said.


In the video at the top of this post, Deheeger, who is filming, can be heard repeatedly declaring, “I am Jewish, I support Palestinian human rights.”

As Deheeger is carted out by police, camera in hand, one enraged person after another jumps out of their seat to taunt and curse at him.

“You support killing Jews!” says one man. “Get the fuck out of here!” says another.

Near the end, a woman shouts, “Hitler! Hitler!”

“They were so unhinged,” Deheeger said. “One guy even came up and punched me in the arm.”

The rage is striking given that Deheeger’s statement was hardly controversial. He was simply stating that Palestinians are people worthy of human rights.

“I’m not even sure if they see us as people any more when we stand up and do this stuff,” he added, referring to the hatred for anti-Zionist Jews espoused by Zionists who remain deeply invested in Israel’s colonial project. “They see us as race traitors.”

“It really just highlighted the amount of racism and violence that’s intertwined with the issue of Israel and Palestine in the Jewish community. And it’s passed down to kids,” said Deheeger, recalling his own support for Zionism when he was still in high school.

JVP-Chicago disrupted the event, said Deheeger, to show that “all these organizations claiming to represent American Jews and conflating anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism – they don’t speak for us.”

Wrong side of history

Chaired by the Republican congressman Bob Dold and Democratic state lawmaker Scott Drury, the panel at the conference included representatives from nearly every major Jewish communal organization across the political spectrum.

Dold is a chief sponsor of the Combating BDS Act of 2016, a piece of federal legislation that would authorize local and state governments to punish authorities that take measures against Israel or firms that abet its abuses of Palestinian rights.

A similar bill, which passed in Illinois last year, has been proposed in several state legislatures across the country.

Before being kicked out, Deheeger filmed this video of part of the panel discussion.

Assaf Grumberg, a former communications officer in the Israeli military now working for the Israel-funded pressure group StandWithUs, can be heard advising Jewish students to “build relationships with other groups on campus besides what you feel comfortable with.”

“If you have a friend who’s African American, who’s a member of Black Lives Matter and you’re genuinely interested in their movement then you need to go to your friend and have a conversation” about Israel, Grumberg says.

Grumberg echoes concerns raised by Zionist organizations in recent years about Palestine solidarity activists forging ties with other progressive organizations, particularly Black Lives Matter and immigrant rights groups.

Among the topics addressed in the panel were the growing efforts to push universities to divest from Israel or firms profiting from Israeli apartheid.

Bemoaning the “emotional strain” BDS campaigns have exacted on pro-Israel students, one panelist concludes that the best way to break campus divestment coalitions between Palestinians and other non-white student groups is to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

The panelist was a student at Northwestern University, where the student government voted in favor of an Israel divestment resolution last year.

“The debate in our student government became not about Israel, it became about race privilege,” the speaker says.

“Senators in our student government will say, ‘we’re not anti-Jewish’ … but they’ll be convinced that they shouldn’t be Zionist because Zionism is a form of colonialism,” the speaker states. But “if it’s a new form of anti-Semitism then I think many student governments will not be so swayed by the tactics of BDS.”

As the audience applauds, the panelists are interrupted by Jews who strongly disagree.

Towards the end of the video, three young JVP-Chicago activists pop up from their seats to declare their support for Palestinian rights and BDS. Before they can get a word in, the crowd starts booing. A few seconds later a police officer shows up to escort the protesters out.

“As young Jewish progressives we support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in bringing about human rights and equality for Palestinians,” said 22-year-old JVP-Chicago activist Eli Massey in a statement following the protest.

“We are here to say that organizations like the Jewish United Fund and StandWithUs do not speak for all Jews, and on this issue are on the wrong side of history,” Massey added.




Congratulations to the young volunteers who refused to let their Jewishness be high-jacked by these schemers.

Interesting to note that Assaf Grumberg advises students- though encouragingly very few seemed to be in attendance- to cultivate "relationships" with progressive classmates in order to neutralise their affinity for Palestine. Pretending to be someone's friend in order to persuade them not to criticise Israel sums up one aspect of the hasbara campaign on campus. The moral emptiness, as well as dishonesty at work, speaks volumes.



"Ali Abunimah replied on Thu, 02/25/2016 - 19:12

The case is called

NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co 458 U.S. 866 (1982)"

The "Combatting BDS Law of 2016" and similar acts are
unconstitutional. AA has given the Supreme Court
reference elsewhere in the last few days.

I commented at that time and repeat here that while such
laws may be OK in Israel, they are not in the USA and the
House Representatives are supporting legislation which is
against the Constitution (which they are incidentally sworn to
uphold). Note that in the Court decision, other Court
decisions are referenced as well. Advocacy of boycotts
is constitutional. (Justice Thurgood Marshall recused himself
from the decision, of course.)

---Peter Loeb, Boston MA USA


There is a bill entitled "THE UNITED STATES-ISRAEL
2015" which essentially says the same thing as
" Controlling BDS Act of 2016".

The U-Israel Enhancement Act etc." was introduced
by Rep Peter J. Roskam. It had 69 co-sponsors
and was referred to many committees.

(It too would be unconstitutional according
to the Supreme Court's decision "NAACP v...")

I have not been able to find the bill using its
number (HR 825) on the Congressional Internet
( ---perhaps because it is
no longer 2015???---but it is there clear as
day when you use "Advanced Research"
and type in code words "United States-Israel".

Then the HR 825 number plus bills from 2016
naming BDS are named. (The BDS bill has at this writing
7 co-sponsors).

I advise every advocate to read the summary of
this bill with great care. Is it still pending? Was
it enacted? Or...??? What is its status.

7 co-sponsors in the House is manageable for
BDS advocates. 69 co-sponsors for the "United
States Israel Trade and Enhancement Act of
2015" can be a horror story for BDS.

It should be noted that AIPAC (like other large
lobbies) is a master at legislative trickery.
Is the 2016 anti-BDS a diversionary tactic?
Why is it there?

If someone at EI could find out it would be
of great assistance to all of us and, of course,
to those who support BDS.

PS: Suggest reading statements introducing
legislation cited in info. Discriminatory
rhetoric in the extreme!)

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA


The panelist states that equating anti- Zionism with anti-semitism will hinder BDS. This is true enough - but the difficulty with this tactic is that BDS is essentially a rights driven movement. I would say its impossible to equate support for human rights for people who have been occupied for nearly fifty years with anti-semitism. This is a dead end argument. As for recommending that young American Jews reach out to others re Israel/Zionism; this may be a double edged sword as young American Jews are exposed to reasonable intelligent students who actually support BDS for reasonable intelligent reasons. Let's hope so. Finally, cheers to the Jewish students who protested.


The People of Whom I Was Once A Member have surrendered any moral authority possibly conferred by the suffering of those who endured and died in the Shoah. Were I to still consider myself a Jew I would be too ashamed of the behavior of my fellow Jews to show my face in public. These videos are, in Yiddishe parlance: "A shande fur de velt!"

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek's picture

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.