In the run-up to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conference at the University of Pennsylvania in early February, at which I will be speaking, the defamation and fabrication machines of anti-Palestinian groups have gone into over-drive.
And just yesterday, my colleague Ben White was subjected to prominent smears that he is an “anti-Semite” in the Israeli press. That in turn is part of an escalating campaign against human rights and equality champion Haneen Zoabi.
The latest smear against me comes in a column by Emily Schrader in The College Fix which slyly accuses me of “incitement to violence against Israelis.” Schrader is identified only as “a senior at the University of Southern California.” Here’s what Schrader writes:
Among the presenters scheduled to speak are Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat, Jewish-American author Anna Baltzer, and the keynote speaker, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah. Abunimah in particular is highly controversial, having repeatedly condemned a two-state solution, and having gone on record with comments that sound a great deal like incitement to violence against Israelis.
In 2002 he told the Washington Post, “If Israel is going to maintain a military occupation over millions of people by nothing but brute force, then no power on earth is going to stop some of these occupied people responding in kind. The only way to end the violence is to end the occupation.”
It is assumed that by “occupied territories” Abunimah is referring to the land acquired by Israel in the 1967 war. But he ignores the fact that there were a remarkable number of terror attacks against the Jewish state prior to Israel’s acquisition of the “occupied” territories.
This quote is taken from the transcript of online chat I did with Washington Post readers on 8 May 2002, at the height of the second Intifada. It makes me chuckle to think that the writer had to go back ten years to find a quote that she could distort into a smear. Seriously Emily, 2002?
Here’s the first exchange in the transcript:
Minneapolis, Minn.: Don’t suicide bombers prevent any prospect peace process from being successful?
Islam forbids suicide – then why do suicide bombers commit this act in the name of religion?
Ali Abunimah: I think that all violence against innocent civilians diminishes the prospects of peace, and this is certainly true of suicide bombings like the one we just saw. Such bombings are horrific and need to stop. What we need to add however is that most of the violence directed against innocent civilians has come from Israel. While several hundred innocent Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, five times as many innocent Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Israel says that this is merely an “accident” and that it is acting in self-defense. Every human rights group that has examined Israel’s actions, however, has found very deliberate targeting of civilians, wanton and deliberate use of force, and other grave abuses, such as torture. We will never know the full truth of what happened in Jenin because Israel blocked the UN Security Council-mandated inquiry, but both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found evidence of Israeli war crimes. All of this Israeli violence which is designed to maintain Israel’s military occupation of 3.5 million Palestinians is what is provoking and producing the violence. As long as Israeli chooses violence as its only way of addressing the Palestinians, then there will always be some Palestinians who choose violence in response. The only way to break this devastating cycle is a political process that quickly ends Israel’s occupation and gives the Palestinians their freedom.
Does that sound like “incitement” to you? If you read through the rest of the transcript let me know if you find anything else that fits the description.
Who is behind this?
Schrader it turns out, learns from the best. Here she endorses the “Israel Advocacy Mission” of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a group founded and run by the fanatically Islamophobic Pastor John Hagee.
Why do they do it?
It has become more and more clear that as the message is getting out that BDS is a tactic to help bring about universal human rights, it is very difficult for anti-Palestinian groups to defame us using the standard stereotypes of violent, angry terrorists that Israel has relied on for so long.
So increasingly pro-Israel advocates must resort to outright fabrications and laughable distortions in the hope that if a lie is repeated enough it will become the truth.
But the amateurish way these lies and fabrications are done and the speed with which they are exposed only discredits their authors and strengthens us.