Juan Cole, jihad apologist

Juan Cole

How can it be that, in all the time Useful Stooges has been around, we’ve never written about Juan Cole? How could we have managed all this time to overlook one of America’s most credentialed “experts” on – which is to say, one of its most shameless apologists for – Islam?

This is a man who, after the Boston bombings, denied that the Tsarnaev brothers could be Muslims because “[b]eing a fanatic is, contrary to the impression both of Fox Cable News and some Muslim radicals, not actually the same as being a good Muslim; in fact, the Qur’an urges the use of reason and moderation.” To get away with writing such things, of course, you have to assume that most of your readers have never so much as glanced at the Qur’an.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: not a real Muslim!

“If the motive for terrorism is religious,” Cole added, “it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people.” On the contrary, it could be argued that the main point of the Qur’an is to explain to believers that their primary obligation as Muslims is to spread Islam to the infidels. “Islamic law forbids aggressive warfare,” Cole insisted. Oh, is this why the Qur’an refers to the non-Muslim part of the world, which the faithful are urged to conquer by the sword, as the “House of War”?

Cole was equally quick to try to de-Islamize Omar Mateen’s massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. “I don’t think it probably was terrorism in any useful sense of the term,” Cole said. “To put all this on Muslims and Islam in general is frankly absurd.”

Omar Mateen: Not a real terrorist!

This is a man who has routinely blamed Islamic terrorism on America – and, secondarily, Israel. If terrorists attack the U.S. it’s because “the United States is a superpower and is always sticking its nose in other people’s business.” But why, then, do terrorists attack pretty much every country in Western Europe? Why do they attack targets in Thailand and India and even in the Muslim world? He relies on ad hominem nonsense to discredit his opponents: in one lecture, he “insinuated that [Rudy] Giuliani had no standing to use the term ‘Islamic fascists’ because he was an Italian-American” and that Charles Krauthammer “probably doesn’t even know a Muslim and therefore is not credible on Middle East issues.”

Rudy Giuliani: no right to speak about Islamofascism

A writer who attended another Cole lecture noted that if one didn’t know any better, “one would have departed the lecture believing that Iran justifiably protects its own interests; that America is a malignant and aggressive force and Israel its trigger-happy satellite; that Turkey’s Islamist Freedom and Development Party (AKP) is headed by a practical and liberal Prime Minister Erdogan who promotes ‘Middle Eastern multiculturalism’; and that a moderate Islamist party in Tunisia called Ennahda does the same.” While arguing that the term “Islamic terrorism” is offensive, and “Islamo-fascist” even worse, Cole regularly uses the phrase “Zionofascism.”

The Ivy League colleges have hired a great many anti-Americans, anti-Semites, apologists for Islam and Communism, you name it – and we’ve written about several of them on this site. But Cole was a bridge too far even for Yale. When Cole – who has spent most of his career at the University of Michigan – was considered for a teaching job at New Haven, the appointment committee found him too “divisive.”

Cheney-Lippold: fellow Israel-hater

Given all this (and much more), it’s hardly any surprise that, after his UM colleague John Cheney-Lippold was disciplined for refusing to write a recommendation letter for a student who planned to spend a summer term at Tel Aviv University – a case we covered in October – Cole wrote a letter supporting Cheney-Lippold. In defense of Cheney-Lippold’s hard-line support of the BDS movement, Cole noted that that position has been “adopted by the Democratic Socialists of America, an increasingly significant caucus in the Democratic Party.” He proceeded to pile on to Israel, cataloging the ways in which it has supposedly violated UN rules, calling its occupation of conquered territories “criminal,” likening the Israeli system to apartheid, and comparing Palestinians to “slaves.” In other words, more of the usual. Juan Cole may be many things, but he’s certainly not unpredictable.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, American patriot?

Ammar Campa-Najjar

After the November 2016 elections, the Washington Post ran an op-ed designed to console Americans who had been traumatized by the triumph of Donald Trump. The author, Ammar Campa-Najjar, began his piece by explaining that he was a “Hispanic-Arab-American” and arguing that the prospect of Trump in the White House represented “not only a challenging time for diversity in America but also an empowering one.” He went on to celebrate America as a country where “our individual differences don’t outweigh our common humanity,” and as proof of this statement cited his own life story, which he summed up as follows: “Only in America can the son of a Hispanic woman from the barrio and an Arab man from an occupied territory have the freedom to reimagine his life and pursue his dreams.”

Yasser Arafat: family crony

If you’re curious about his reference to “occupied territory,” Campa-Najjar went on to provide details: his father, Yasser Najjar, saw “both his parents gunned down right in front of him when he was only 11 years old.” Najjar then moved to America, married a Chicana woman, and fathered Campa-Najjar. He then took his family back “to the Middle East…so that he could help Yasser Arafat lead a secular unity government.” Hence Campa-Najjar “spent my early years with my family under siege by American-made helicopters and F-16s that leveled entire buildings on the block where we lived.” But he survived, ending up back in America, where he ended up working in the Obama White House. This, he says, “is nothing short of an American miracle.”

Barack Obama: former boss

Campa-Najjar’s backstory raises more questions than it answers. Exactly why were his grandparents “gunned down”? What’s the deal with his father’s ties to Arafat, whose apparently not inconsiderable role in the family’s story Campa-Najjar glides past quickly, innocuously representing that vile terrorist, anti-Semite, Soviet tool, and cynical profiteer as the head of a “secular unity government.” Arafat is the main reason why the Palestinian territories are now a failed culture, their people so inculcated with hate and lies that there seems to be little if any possibility of them ever being able to enjoy anything resembling peace, prosperity, and true civil society. How, one wondered, did somebody with family ties to the man who created this nightmare of a non-state ever get a coveted job in the Obama White House? 

A screenshot of the faked al-Durrah video

Besides, the more one looked at Campa-Nijjar’s Post article, the more one found oneself asking: What kind of a cockeyed tribute to America is this, anyway? Campa-Najjar, and the Post, offered his article up as a tribute to America. But just beneath the surface was something very different. For example, Campa-Nijjar mentioned that while he was living in the Middle East, he “watched a boy my age, Muhammad al-Durrah, get shot and killed while hiding behind a barrel.” The al-Durrah case, in case you missed it or forgot about it, was an infamous fabrication – a fake child-killing, supposedly committed by the Israeli Defense Forces, that was invented out of whole cloth by Palestinian “news” cameramen and their allies with the sole purpose of defaming the IDF. Why was Campa-Najjar still trying to sell this lie as fact?

Duncan Hunter: the Republican incumbent and opponent in the 50th district election

There’s more. In his Post op-ed, Campa-Najjar mentioned 9/11 –but he brought it up  for one reason and one reason alone: so that he could let us know that he wasn’t able to attend his “Islamic school” in the U.S. that week because it “was vandalized and declared unsafe to study or pray in.” Is this a lie, too? Where was this school? Who, exactly, declared it unsafe? In any event, the Post piece, all in all, was most curious document indeed: while Campa-Najjar kept fervently asserting that he adores, worships, and cherishes America, the parts of his text between these fervent assertions read as if they would fit a lot better into an article savaging America as the Great Satan.

Flash forward two years. Campa-Najjar is now the Democratic candidate for Congress from California’s 50th district, which includes parts of San Diego County and Riverside County. in the earliest part of his campaign, he sailed along smoothly enough, buoyed by his twofer identity as an Arab and a Latino. But the truth will out. And out it did soon enough. The people of San Diego and Riverside were told the real story about Campa-Najjar and his family. And as we’ll see on Tuesday, it’s quite a story.

Michigan’s recommendation-letter Nazi

John Cheney-Lippold

First of all, let’s make it clear that when we say “recommendation-letter Nazi,” we’re using “Nazi” in pretty much the same sense that it was used in the “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld. In this case, the individual in question is a University of Michigan professor named John Cheney-Lippold. A few weeks ago, when one of his students, a young woman named Abigail, sent him an e-mail asking for a recommendation for a study trip to Israel, he agreed to provide one, only to send her an e-mail some time later rescinding his agreement.

He had, he explained, “missed out on a key detail,” namely the fact that the country she was planning to study in was Israel. This was problematic, because he supports the BDS movement. “As you may know, many University departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” he wrote. His boycotting of Israel, he told Abigail, “includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”

His book

Cheney-Lippold teaches in the Department of American Culture and has written a book called We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of our Digital Selves. He is considered an expert on the way in which we represent ourselves online. If there is anything positive about the way in which he represented himself to Abigail in that e-mail, it is that he was polite and apologetic. Nor did he try to upbraid her or guilt-trip her for studying in Israel. In the present climate, we suppose, he should get points for that, at least.

Still, anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism.

In any event, his e-mail to Abigail spread quickly on the Internet after a pro-Zionist group at U of M posted it on Facebook on September 16. One fact that emerged soon afterwards was that Cheney-Lippold was wrong in stating that many academic departments at the U of M were involved in the BDS movement. The university’s PR office issued a statement affirming that it opposed any boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education, and that none of the academic departments at the univeristy was officially involved in any such boycott. “It is disappointing that a faculty member would allow their [sic] personal political beliefs to limit the support they [sic] are willing to otherwise provide for our students,” read the PR office’s statement. “We will engage our faculty colleagues in deep discussions to clarify how the expression of our shared values plays out in support of all students.”

Another picture of Cheney-Lippold

Peruse that last sentence again. We will engage our faculty colleagues in deep discussions to clarify how the expression of our shared values plays out in support of all students. It is nearly beautiful in its near-meaninglessness, its riot of vague abstraction. Clearly, this is one university where communications with the outside world are in charge not of students of Chaucer and Shakespeare but of people who have proven themselves to be past masters of PR lingo.

For his own part, Cheney-Lippold, after being hunted down by an intrepid staffer for the Michigan Daily, provided the following comments. “I support the boycott because I support solidarity,” he said. “I follow the idea that people who are being discriminated against or people who need help … I feel compelled to help them. I was following a call by representatives of Palestinian civil society to boycott Israel in a very similar tactical frame as South Africa.” (Does he write like this? Or just talk like this?) “The idea is that I support communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights, freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

He had more to say. “As a professor, I’m not just a machine writing things for people.” No, you see, when you ask him for a letter of recommendation, you’re initiating a “dialogue,” which involves “talking through differences and really figuring out where each other stands, not expecting something or assuming something, but really trying to get into what is the key difference. Seeing what can we do more, how can we have a larger campus-wide discussion. I want to push it beyond the horse-race politics of what John did or did not say.” Horse-race politics? Don’t ask us, we don’t get it either.

Lana Del Rey: another showbiz coward

 

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey, the singer, has won a shelfful of prizes: two Brit Awards, a GQ Award for Woman of the Year, the MTV Europe Music Award, a Trailblazer Award from Billboard, plus four Grammy nominations. We’re also hereby presenting her with a perhaps less enviable accolade: we’re adding her to our Hall of Infamy for celebrities who have refused to perform in Israel. Among those who’ve already earned a place on the scroll of honor: Natalie Portman and Roger Waters.

Roger Waters

As we’ve seen, Waters has stooped so low as to equate Israel with Nazi Germany – a comparison that led Rabbi Schmuley Boteach to issue an angry correction:

…the Nazis were a genocidal regime that murdered 6 million Jews. That you would have the audacity to compare Jews to monsters who murdered them shows you have no decency, you have no heart, you have no soul. The Jews of Germany did nothing to invite the aggression against them. Indeed, they were loyal citizens of a country that many of them had fought for courageously just 20 years earlier in the First World War. They did not blow up buses for political purposes. They did not send terrorists into schools to murder children. They did not preach that killing German children would get them virgins in heaven. They lived lives of humanity and decency and were murdered for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews.

Far from being shamed into silence, Waters stayed on his high horse, preaching self-righteously about the purported evils of Israel, haranging both Robbie Williams and Dionne Warwick for agreeing to sing in Israel. 

Robbie Williams

Anyway, back to Lana. In her case, it started off well enough. Del Rey, who is touring the world to promote her latest album, Ultraviolence, originally agreed to play at the Meteor Festival, which took place at a kibbutz near Tel Aviv on September 6-8. When she first began to take heat for this move – from, among others, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which compared Israel to apartheid South Africa – she stood by her decision, saying “I believe music is universal and should be used to bring us together” and promising to perform “with a loving energy” and “a thematic emphasis on peace.” She added: “If you don’t agree with it I get it. I see both sides.” She further pointed out that she did not mean to make “a political statement” by doing a show in Israel. “We don’t always agree with the politics of the places we play within or in our own country,” she said.

Abraham Riesman

That didn’t last long. On August 31, Del Rey backed down. Her excuse: she was postponing her appearance at the festival until she could “schedule visits for both my Israeli and Palestinian fans, as well as hopefully other countries in the region.” We look forward to seeing her take the stage in Saudi Arabia, burka and all. In any event, as Abraham Riesman commented at Vulture, it’s unfortunate that people around the world are increasingly being introduced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through these crude pressure campaigns against showbiz figures, which are orchestrated by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. “Fifteen years ago,” wrote Reisman, “there was little to no stigma attached to a gig in Israel. Now, it seems inevitable that every musician who chooses to play there will face at least some degree of condemnation for doing so.”

Well, that’s how so much of the left operates these days: if it finds it doesn’t have truth and logic on its side, it resorts to lies and threats. And the more successful this strategy is, the more they’ll use it. It’s unfortunate that they managed to turn Lana del Rey, whose original instinct, as it happens, was the right one. 

Climbing to success by dragging Israel down: Peter Beinart

 

Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart’s 2012 book The Crisis of Zionism, which we examined last week, made headlines with its severe anti-Israeli line. But Beinart, as it turned out, was just getting warmed up. In a speech given in 2015 at a Los Angeles synagogue, he accused Israel of encouraging Palestinian violence – essentially suggesting that the Jewish state was asking for it. “Hard as it is to say,” he told his audience, “the Israeli government is reaping what it has sowed.” He even extended his logic to 9/11, describing it as a “response to American foreign policy, a foreign policy of support for Arab dictatorships and Israeli policies which produced tremendous suffering in the Arab world.”

Benjamin Netanyahu

Earlier this month, Beinart made headlines again when he was briefly questioned at Ben-Gurion Airport – an incident that led to apologies by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Oren. Writing in the Forward, Sandra Tamari, a Palestinian officer at the radical group Adalah Justice Project, expressed outrage at his hour-long detention. “Beinart’s account of his experience,” Tamari wrote,” sparked outrage from many liberal Jewish Americans who wondered why Israel would treat a Jewish supporter like Beinart with suspicion.” It was curious to see Beinart described simply as “a Jewish supporter” when the reality, of course, is somewhat more complicated than that.

Sandra Tamari

Tamari cited Israel’s treatment of Beinart as the latest proof of the intolerance and injustice at the heart of Israel, which, she maintained, “has always been discriminatory, anti-democratic, and illiberal when it comes to Palestinians.” Tamiri welcomed “the anxiety that Israel’s heavy-handedness against Jewish critics” such as Beinart had supposedly catalyzed. At no point in her article, which made numerous accusations against and demands of Israel, did Tamiri criticize any Palestinians for any action whatsoever or call on them to alter any of their philosophies, policies, or practices. But then again, Beinart never makes such criticisms of the Palestinians, either.

Caroline Glick

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick took a very different line. Noting Beinart’s support for the BDS movement, his “crass insensitivity towards Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria,” and his efforts to mainstream “anti-Israel activists who reject Israel’s right to exist,” she recalled a July 2016 stunt by Beinart and other “radical Jewish anti-Israel activists” who staged “a confrontation with the IDF in Hebron.” Entering a closed military zone, they

trampled the land of a Palestinian farmer to film themselves looking brave. The farmer called the army to have them removed. A group of soldiers answered his call and removed Beinart and his comrades. They filmed themselves looking brave as they were being ejected from the land they trespassed on.

Glick observed that fanatical anti-Israeli groups supported by Beinart had not just encouraged criticism of certain Israeli policies at American universities, but had stirred up hatred toward Jewish students who did not share their politics. Beinart, in short, was empowering campaigns that sought “to trample the basic freedoms of Jews who support Israel.”

Owing to Beinart’s anti-Israeli antics, he had been barred – quite properly – from entry into Israel. He knew that he was. But he flew to Israel anyway, with the explicit intention of publicizing Israel’s response, whatever it might be, to his attempt to enter the country. “Israel’s apologies and hand-wringing were out of place,” argued Glick, noting that Beinart “is no mere ‘critic’ of Israel” but rather an activist out to “constrain the freedom of American Jewry and cause lasting harm to the Jewish state.” Indeed.

With self-hating Jews like this, who needs anti-Semites?

Peter Beinart

On Tuesday, we saw how Peter Beinart struck out at Israel in a rather sensational 2010 article for the New York Review of Books. Two years later, he expanded his attack to book length in The Crisis of Zionism, which established him, once and for all, as a leading opponent of the Jewish state.

Sol Stern

Where to begin with The Crisis of Zionism? Beinart celebrates then-President Barack Obama as a model liberal Zionist. In a review for Commentary, Sol Stern noted that Obama, far from being a pal of the Jewish state, had in fact “cultivated friendships with notorious haters of Israel, such as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and University of Chicago professor and one-time PLO official Rashid Khalidi.” Beinart’s other hero is the American Jewish leader Stephen Wise (1874-1949), whose notorious betrayal of the Jews of Europe, Stern observed, goes without mention in Beinart’s book. At bottom, pronounced Stern, The Crisis of Zionism “is nothing more than a bald political tract designed to advance President Obama’s agenda on the Middle East conflict”; it’s a work in which Beinart “willfully ignores just about any testimony or source that might undermine his uncomplicated narrative of good liberal Zionism versus bad reactionary Zionism.”

Alana Newhouse

In a review for the Washington Post, Alana Newhouse, editor of the Jewish periodical Tablet and herself a liberal critic of Israel, described Beinart’s book as and “a political stump speech for an attractive young candidate who is seeking the job of spokesman for liberal American Jews.” Newhouse criticized his take on Palestinians (whom he depicts as “just the passive and helpless victims of Israeli sadism, with no historical agency; no politics, diplomacy or violence of their own; and no responsibility for the miserable impasse of the conflict”) as well as his dismissive view of other prominent American Jews (which, she surmised, allows Beinart to present himself as the only natural leader of Americans “who want to think of Israel as a decent place but who can’t stomach the conflict with the Palestinians and who of course don’t want anyone to think they are anti-Semites”).

Bret Stephens

Describing Beinart as “the self-appointed anguished conscience and angry scold of the Jewish state,” another reviewer, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, noted that a recent study had shot Beinart’s whole thesis to hell: “A whopping 82 percent of American Jews feel that U.S. support for Israel is either ‘just about right’ or ‘not supportive enough’ —and that’s just among those Jews who describe themselves as ‘liberal’ or ‘very liberal.’” As Stephens describes it, Beinart’s book is largely a mishmash of familiar anti-Israel arguments and glib belittling of the evil of Hamas and Hezbollah. “The real problem for Beinart’s argument,” Stephens writes, “is that, in word and deed, Palestinians have repeatedly furnished good reasons for the Israeli (and American) right to argue against further territorial withdrawals, at least until something fundamental changes in Palestinian political culture.” Alas, to Beinart, “no Israeli misdeed is too small that it can’t serve as an alibi for Palestinian malfeasance. And no Palestinian crime is so great that it can justify even a moment’s pause in Israel’s quest to do right by its neighbor.”

More on Tuesday.

Those awful Israelis: Peter Beinart’s world

 

Peter Beinart

His CV could scarcely be more stellar: he studied at Yale and Cambridge; he teaches at CUNY; he’s been a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor of the New Republic; he writes regularly for National Journal, Haaretz, and the Atlantic website, and has contributed to Time, The New York Times, and other top-drawer publications; he’s published three books; in 2012, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 global thinkers.

But Peter Beinart is best known for his unusually harsh criticism of Israel. Yes, he is Jewish himself, and, according to his Wikipedia page, attends an Orthodox synagogue, keeps kosher, and sends his children to a Jewish school. But for countless readers, his name is synonymous with a degree of hostility to Israel that may be common enough in the countries surrounding Israel but that is rather unusual in an American Jew living in New York City.

Beinart first spelled out his views on Israel at length in a 2010 article for the New York Review of Books entitled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” The article began with the assertion that American Jews, who at one time had been both liberal and Zionist, were breaking up into two distinct camps: “Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal.”

Avigdor Lieberman

In Beinart’s view, most American Jewish Zionists were now increasingly possessed of a “naked hostility to Arabs and Palestinians.” He criticized then Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for wanting “to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who won’t swear a loyalty oath to the Jewish state.” (Is it outrageous for a country to expect its citizens to be loyal? Don’t new American citizens swear an oath?) “He said Arab Knesset members who met with representatives of Hamas should be executed.” (If cetain Knesset members consort covertly with terrorists who’ve sworn to destroy Israel, isn’t that treason?)

Part of Beinart’s message was that Israel and its defenders should lighten up. He chided them for their “obsession with victimhood.” Young Jews in the U.S., he pointed out, simply can’t relate to all that victim rhetoric. It didn’t occur to Beinart that perhaps the reason for this inability to relate lay in those young people’s historical illiteracy, their ignorance of current geopolitical realities, and/or their lack of imagination. No, to him, the takeaway was that the victim rhetoric is overblown.

A gathering of Hamas members

“Yes, Israel faces threats from Hezbollah and Hamas,” he acknowledged. “Yes, Israelis understandably worry about a nuclear Iran.” But for young Jews growing up in pleasant, leafy places like Scarsdale, New York, or Brentwood, California, the rhetoric about Jewish victimhood “simply bears no relationship to their lived experience.” A remarkable argument: as if the cushy lives of American Jews somehow made concern about the perilous position of Israel invalid!

Another part of Beinart’s message was that Israel needs to treat Palestinians better, withdraw from the West Bank, and make more serious efforts to establish a lasting peace. In short, in a world where Israel is one of the most democratic and peaceable of countries, and where a hundred-odd nations – including most if Israel’s neighbors – regularly commit atrocities against their citizens that would give you nightmares for the rest of your life, Beinart was, in effect, joining the anti-Semites in the UN’s Human Rights Council in piling on Israel.

Abraham H. Foxman

In a reply to Beinart’s article, Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League pointed out that the Israelis had, in fact, made repeated good-faith efforts to end the Palestinian conflict. At Camp David in 2000, Israel had offered to pull out of 90% of the territories and eliminate most settlements. In response, it “got a big no and suicide bombs.” In 2005 Israel “withdrew unilaterally from Gaza with the intent to do likewise in the West Bank because they saw no partner for peace.” The response that time? Rockets fired at civilian targets. Much the same happened in 2008. Repeatedly, in short, Israel’s enemies have replied to honest overtures for peace with violence. And yet Israel has kept coming back, hat in hand, trying once again to get along.

Beinart answered Foxman’s charges by doubling down on his condemnation of what he called “the growing authoritarian, even racist, tendencies in Israeli politics.” And he wasn’t done: in 2012, he expanded his indictment of the Jewish state to book length. We’ll get to The Crisis of Zionism on Thursday.

Standing with Hamas: Richard Falk

Richard Falk

UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk’s ban from Israel – and from the Palestinian territories under its control – didn’t prevent him from submitting so-called reports about the human-rights situation in those territories. In a 2009 report, he called Israel’s Gaza offensive a war crime – a judgment that was dismissed by the U.K. government as partisan. In a 2010 report, he accused Israel of committing apartheid. In 2011, he used the term “ethnic cleansing.” In 2012, he criticized Israel for its military response to rocket attacks from Gaza. Repeatedly, he called on international bodies to condemn, investigate, and prosecute Israel for its purported crimes – and repeatedly he turned a blind eye to the barbaric terrorist actions by Hamas and others to which Israel’s “crimes” were a thoroughly defensible defensive response.

Susan Rice

He also called for boycotts of Western companies – such as Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Volvo – that had even the remotest ties to Israeli West Bank settlements, and even threatened to initiate lawsuits against them. The then U.S. representative at the UN, Susan Rice, reacted with anger to Falk’s high-handed nonsense, describing his call for a boycott as “irresponsible and unaccceptable” and saying that his “continued service in the role of a UN Special Rapporteur is deeply regrettable and only damages the credibility of the UN.” Israel agreed, calling Falk’s report “grossly biased” and demanding his dismissal. Canada’s Foreign Ministry weighed in too, describing Falk’s report as “biased and disgraceful” and saying that if he did not withdraw it, he should resign.

Hamas: victims

But he didn’t quit. And he didn’t withdraw any of his reports or alter any of his conclusions. He stayed on the job, and kept using it as a platform from which to bash Israel – and to paint Hamas and other terrorist groups as victims. For good measure, he also demonized UN Watch, an independent human-rights NGO that monitors the lies and outrages that are daily fare at a Human Rights Council run by countries that don’t know the meaning of the term.

Ban Ki-moon

Even as Richard Falk was systematically savaging Israel, he continued to shift the blame for 9/11 from its jihadist perpetrators to George W. Bush and, perhaps, unnamed others in Bush’s political orbit. These comments not only brought more criticism from Susan Rice, who again called for his dismissal. Even Ban Ki-moon, the then Secretary-General of the UN (and a man who was usually restrained, often maddeningly so, on such matters), spoke up, calling Falk’s claims “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.” But Ban added that he was in no position to fire Falk – only the UNHRC itself could do that.

John Baird

Falk also offered his opinions on later terrorist acts. After the Boston Marathon murders, he described them as “blowback” from U.S. actions – an implicit defense of the Tsarnaev brothers and an affront to their victims. This obscene remark drew angry criticism from Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who said that the UN “should be ashamed to even be associated with such an individual,” and, once again, from Susan Rice, who said that it was “[p]ast time for him to go.” In 2011, Falk posted online an anti-Semitic cartoon depicting a dog in a yarmulke (although he later insisted it was not a yarmulke but an IDF helmet). There ensued yet another round of calls for his resignation. This time even Falk’s supervisor at the UNHCR, Navi Pillay, recognized the cartoon as anti-Semitic, but she didn’t fire him – because, she said, he had apologized. Any questions?

AP: propagandizing for Kim and Hamas

Matti Friedman

Yesterday we discussed a fascinating piece by former Associated Press reporter Matti Friedman about that news bureau’s systematic practice of collaborating with tyrannical regimes in exchange for access. Friedman offers other examples: in 2014, a “detailed exposé on the AP’s bureau in North Korea” showed that it was staffed by “North Koreans who were paid by AP but answered to the regime.” Under an agreement between the AP and the Pyongyang government, AP could “sell propaganda images, like those lovely choreographed rallies, outside the country, while the North Korean ‘staffers’ studiously avoided subjects like mass starvation and prison camps.”

One hand washes the other: Hamas

Meanwhile, in Gaza, where Friedman himself worked as an AP correspondent from 2006 to 2011, the AP is involved in “both passive and active cooperation with Hamas.” He offers a striking anecdote: during the Israel-Hamas war that began in late 2008, an AP reporter called Friedman, who was working the service’s news desk in Jerusalem, and told him “that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll.” Some hours later, the reporter “called again and asked me to strike the detail from the story.” Friedman suspected at the time – and it was later confirmed – that his colleague had made the second call on orders from Hamas, which had threatened his life should the AP go with the full story.

“From that moment on,” writes Friedman, “AP’s coverage from Gaza became a quiet collaboration with Hamas….Our coverage shifted accordingly, though we never informed our readers. Hamas military actions were left vague or ignored, while the effects of Israeli actions were reported at length, giving the impression of wanton Israeli aggression, just as Hamas wanted.” Ironically, in 2014, when an AP reporter filed an article about Hamas censorship, it was shelved.

“We were trading truth for access,” writes Friedman, “and providing an illusion of ‘coverage’ that was actually propaganda.”

Sally Buzbee

Friedman quotes AP’s side of the story, as proffered by AP editor Sally Buzbee. “It is essential to cover tyrannical regimes and other undemocratic movements, when possible from within the borders they control, in order to accurately relay what is happening inside,” she said recently. But as Friedman observes. “if you’re inside the borders of a tyrannical regime, you can’t ‘accurately relay what is happening inside.’” He suggests that instead of having Hamas-controlled reporters inside Gaza, AP would be better off “working sources on the inside and making use of external players (Egyptian intelligence, Israeli intelligence, Palestinian reporters in the West Bank) to give a more accurate picture of events.” Similarly, “instead of paying for an illusory ‘bureau’ in Pyongyang and getting in bed with Kim Jong-un, why not devote that money to hiring the most knowledgeable people in South Korea and developing information from dissidents, refugees, and spies, which, in expert hands—and there are plenty at the AP’s disposal—might actually be able to yield an approximation of the truth?”

Lying about Israel: Saree Makdisi

Saree Makdisi

Today we’re continuing our look at Saree Makdisi, a nephew of slimy academic fake Edward Said and a vicious UCLA anti-Semite in his own right. Yesterday we glanced at a Los Angeles Times op-ed in which he served up a stunning defense of the unvarnished Jew-hatred of veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas. But Makdisi has actually been a fount of mischievous L.A. Times contributions. In another one of these propaganda tidbits, he complained about “attacks on academic freedom” and “the intimidation of students” on U.S. campuses.

Edward Said

Was he referring to the widespread harassment of Jewish students (and faculty!) by Muslims and their ideological allies? As the Honest Reporting website noted, “it is Jewish and pro-Israel (or even just neutral) students who are intimidated, delegitimized, harassed, excluded, discriminated against, held responsible for Israel’s actions, targeted with anti-Semitism, have had to hide from a violent anti-Israel mob and be extracted by the police, and been disrupted and shouted down and silenced to stop them speaking the truth to defend Israel against BDS lies.” But no, Makdisi wasn’t referring to any of this. He was referring to the fact that the torrents of anti-Semitic rhetoric churned out by himself and other academics in American universities were now being monitored and reported on by their critics. Never mind that Makdisi’s writings about Israel and the Palestinians are often riddled with lies, and that his critics quote him with meticulous accuracy.

Milan Chatterjee

The specific concern of Makdisi’s op-ed was a course at Berkeley that, as Honest Reporting put it, “distorts the history of the Jewish connection to Israel, denies Israel’s right to exist, and explores how Israel might be destroyed, no doubt making things feel even more uncomfortable and unsafe for Jewish and pro-Israel students.” Honest Reporting also quoted a student leader, Milan Chatterjee, who actually left UCLA because of the intense level of harassment he endured at the hands of Makdisi’s BDS thugs. But Makdisi expresses no concern for such kids – on the contrary, if they’re feeling discomfort it’s because they’ve been exposed to a truth. The real victims, those who are really being intimidated, according to Makdisi, are him and his fellow pro-Palestinian heroes. The Honest Reporting site had a cogent reply to this nonsense: “Tell that to the Jewish students at the UC Irvine who had to barricade themselves to escape a BDS mob trying to violently disrupt an event.”

Tamar Sternthal

In yet another oped, published in January 2016, Makdidi called for an academic boycott of Israel. Replying to it, Tamar Sternthal of CAMERA complained that the lies in his L.A. Times op-eds “would earn a failing mark on a high school paper.” As an example of his falsehoods, Sternthal cited Makdisi’s claim that “there is not a single high school in the Palestinian communities in the Negev desert in southern Israel.” Sternthal replied: “In fact, there are more than 40 high schools for Bedouin students in the Negev.” Another Makdisi lie: “Israeli universities systematically fail their Palestinian students.” On the contrary, wrote Sternthal, Israel’s Council for Higher Education runs an undergraduate scholarship program for 650 Arab students: “Why would Israel allocate millions of shekels just for Arab students simply to systematically flunk them out?” Lies, lies, lies. Somewhere up there, Makdisi’s deceit-ridden uncle Edward is smiling.