against the jewish nazis

Did Emgage get Palestinian activist blacklisted by Florida Democrats?
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Oct 22 2020

Florida activists say the Democratic Party in the crucial swing state nixed a Muslim voter mobilization event this month because it included Palestinian American speaker Rasha Mubarak. Some see this episode as fall-out from the actions taken two years ago by Emgage, the controversial Muslim American group facing a growing backlash over its Israel lobby ties and support for hardline pro-Israel candidates. Some view it as a stark example of the pitfalls of putting visibility and proximity to politicians above building up grassroots leverage that can then be used to hold the powerful to account and advance community demands. The activists say that in 2018, Emgage undermined a collective effort in which Mubarak was to play a leadership role to push Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate to take a less hostile stance towards Palestinian rights. Mubarak tweeted on Sunday that the Florida Democratic Party “canceled” the recent event because “they refused to include me, a Muslim Palestinian woman, in the speaker line-up.” She added that this “extends the establishment’s violence against Palestinians.”

Mubarak is a long-time political activist in Florida. She serves as national committeewoman, a leadership position, for the Florida Young Democrats. The event organized by the Muslim Delegates and Allies Coalition did in fact go ahead as planned on Oct 17, but without the sponsorship of the Florida Democratic Party. It was supported instead by the American Muslim Democratic Caucus of Florida and the Democratic Party of Seminole County.

Mobilize event created by Florida Democratic Party omitted name of Rasha Mubarak.

Nadia B Ahmad, one of the organizers, shared with the Electronic Intifada a series of emails between her and Matt Jones, the Florida Democratic Party’s “deputy municipal victory director.” Jones wrote to Ahmad on Oct 5:

I wanted to follow up regarding the Day of Action on the 17th. Do you have a list of suggested/potential speakers? Let me know what else you need from me.

Ahmad responded the next day with a list of 11 speakers, noting that several still needed to confirm. Jones responded:

Okay great I will follow up with our team to create a Mobilize event and share the Zoom link with you.

Mobilize is an app the party uses to organize volunteers. On Oct 7, Ahmad sent Jones a confirmed list of 10 speakers. Jones also brought Lisa Peth, the party’s “municipal victory director,” into the email thread. Peth wrote to Ahmad, suggesting they also set up a phone call:

I am excited to work with you and your team for the Day of Action next weekend.

Ahmad told The Electronic Intifada that she did not notice until days later, when Mubarak brought it to her attention, that the Florida Democratic Party’s event description on Mobilize listed only nine of the ten speakers whom Ahmad had confirmed. Mubarak’s name was missing. Ahmad wrote to Jones on Oct 12 asking:

I wanted to know if I can update the speaker list as follows.

She again sent Jones the names of 10 speakers along with their photos, so the party could advertise the event. Peth responded:

Hi Nadia, We can discuss the list of speakers on our call at 3pm today.

When they spoke, Ahmad said she asked Peth why Mubarak had been left out. Peth said she was “sorry this had happened,” according to Ahmad, but provided no explanation. Later that afternoon, Ahmad wrote to Peth and Jones:

Please let me know what you decide about the event. It seems like you all are not that interested.

Jones responded to Ahmad the next day, inviting her to talk by phone. When the two spoke on Oct 13, Ahmad said she asked whether Mubarak had been left off intentionally. Jones’ first “lousy excuse” was that he didn’t know how to use the Mobilize app very well, Ahmad recalled. She told him that it was easy to update the event, unless Mubarak was left off deliberately, in which case she wanted to know why. Ahmad said:

He never gave me a reason. His exact words were, “Then maybe we need to eighty-six this.”

Meaning cancel the event. Reached by phone on Monday, Jones said he was not authorized to speak directly to the media and would have the party’s spokesperson reach out to The Electronic Intifada later that day. The Electronic Intifada never heard back. Though the party refuses to explain its actions, it is notable that Rasha Mubarak has been smeared by pro-Israel extremists for her Palestinian rights advocacy. In August, she was targeted by FrontPage Magazine, the publication of racist agitator David Horowitz, who is notorious for harassment and intimidation campaigns against activists and educators. In June last year, Mubarak also reported being harassed and photographed by the consul-general of Israel while at a convention for Democratic grassroots activists. Mubarak did not respond to a message requesting comment.

The Florida Democratic Party’s shunning of Mubarak may be connected to the state’s gubernatorial campaign two years ago, longtime Florida activists told The Electronic Intifada. Media reports in Sep 2018 cited an unreleased campaign document indicating that the Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum was going to take a very pro-Israel line. The reports claimed Gillum would support legislation against BDS. According to the activists, this caused concern among politically engaged members of the Palestinian and Muslim communities who were considering throwing their weight behind Gillum in the close race. They formed a group to approach Gillum, a progressive who garnered the endorsement of Bernie Sanders. They hoped that at the very least, Gillum could be persuaded to oppose anti-BDS legislation because it would violate the First Amendment. Manal Fakhoury, one of the activists involved in the effort, said:

A lot of us felt maybe he just doesn’t know, or doesn’t understand BDS. We agreed to have the Palestinian voices take center stage and appointed Rasha to be the contact rather than having multiple people calling the campaign. We were also very clear that we did not want Emgage to interfere.

Hatem Fariz, who directs an Islamic center in Tampa, was also involved in the effort to show a united front. Fariz explained:

Our issue with Emgage was the normalization and the trip with Khurrum Wahid.

Wahid, a Miami attorney, is Emgage’s national co-chair. In 2015, Wahid went on a junket to Israel with the Muslim Leadership Initiative, the trip Fariz referred to. MLI is an Israel lobby project to co-opt up-and-coming Muslim “leaders” in the US under the guise of interfaith dialogue. It is run by the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute, an organization with close ties to the Israeli army. MLI shares a major funder with some of the most Islamophobic agitators in the US. Electronic communications seen by the Electronic Intifada corroborate the accounts of Fakhoury and Fariz about the unified strategy in which Rasha Mubarak was to take the lead in addressing the Gillum campaign over its anti-Palestinian stance. The communications show that Emgage’s Wahid also agreed to the strategy and to letting Mubarak take the lead. The Electronic Intifada has also learned that well-known figures from outside Florida, including activists Linda Sarsour and Noura Erakat, were involved in and endorsed the strategy. According to Fakhoury, there were discussions among the activists about what would be their “minimum ask” on BDS that would allow them to help mobilize support for Gillum. Yet according to both Fakhoury and Fariz, Emgage leaders undermined the strategy Wahid had endorsed. Fakhoury said:

Later we found out that Khurrum was still speaking with the campaign on his own, making sure he is pulling, or controlling or being involved in that conversation.

Mubarak found herself frozen out of a meeting with Gillum campaign staff, which an Emgage leader attended without disclosing their Emgage affiliation to Mubarak and other organizers. Fakhoury and Fariz cited the role of Afifa Khaliq, an official with the Florida branch of the public employees union SEIU. Khaliq, according to Fakhoury and Fariz, delivered the message to Mubarak that she could not be involved in meetings with the Gillum campaign, citing a “technicality.” Fakhoury and Fariz told The Electronic Intifada that they did not know at the time that Khaliq was also involved with Emgage. They and other activists only learned of Khaliq’s affiliation with Emgage later. Fakhoury said:

We would have had a problem with that if we’d known it at the time.

Emgage’s own website is opaque about who is involved with the organization. However, Khaliq was recently identified by another group whose event she took part in as board chair of Emgage Florida. Because of her SEIU position, Khaliq would likely have had relatively easy access to the Gillum campaign. The activists say she used this affiliation to gain their trust while leveraging access to the Gillum campaign for the benefit of Emgage. Khaliq did not respond to a request for comment. Fakhoury and Fariz say that Emgage undermined the collective leverage that the activists hoped to gain through a unified stance. Fakhoury said:

It basically diluted that whole issue, because now you have two different people trying to speak. If I imagine myself being the campaign director, if I’ve already met with Khurrum, I’m not as interested in meeting another person. Emgage was not an honest player. It was them trying to do perhaps what I’ve seen they’ve done a lot: self-enhancement, always opportunistic, looking for inclusion at a higher level at the cost of the community. I believe that the blacklisting of Rasha Mubarak in 2020 goes back to some of that work. Basically, Emgage lied to us and played us.

What is clear is that Gillum came out with a strongly pro-Israel position. Gillum affirmed:

I do not support BDS, though I’ll always support the right to free speech and peaceful protest.

He then directly undermined that position: Gillum’s campaign confirmed he would not move to repeal or undercut Florida’s 2016 law forcing the state to divest from companies that support a boycott of Israel. When that law was passed, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida urged Governor Rick Scott to veto it for violating the First Amendment and “imposing retribution for the content of speech.” Yet a campaign spokesperson affirmed that if elected governor, Gillum “wouldn’t support any changes and would enforce that law.” Gillum nonetheless secured the enthusiastic backing of Emgage, which had endorsed him during the primaries.

On Oct 28 2018, Gillum and his running mate Chris King spoke at a campaign event sponsored by Emgage. That happened to be the day after a neo-Nazi gunman massacred 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. While warming up the crowd, King publicly thanked both Emgage and “Afifa from SEIU,” the kind of accolades that allow Emgage leaders to claim they have the ears of those in power. The Republican candidate Ron DeSantis wasted no time attacking Gillum for speaking “at an event hosted by an anti-Israel organization the day after the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.”

Citing an article from the right-wing website Daily Caller, DeSantis also claimed that Emgage co-chair Khurrum Wahid “has an extensive history of defending individuals that the US government has tied to Islamic terrorism.” It was an outrageous smear even by DeSantis’ standards: Wahid has acted as a defense lawyer in terrorism cases, an essential and appropriate role in the US legal system where everyone has a right to counsel. It demonstrated however that Gillum’s pandering to the Israel lobby and Emgage’s willingness to offer its support in exchange for mere token acknowledgement of Muslims did nothing to spare the Democrat or Emgage from the most vicious smears. Gillum lost to DeSantis by less than half a point, and Palestinian and Muslim organizers lost an opportunity to push the Democratic Party towards a less anti-Palestinian position and to show that their support could not be taken for granted. Wahid did not respond to a request for comment from the Electronic Intifada. Instead, Emgage sent a statement from its CEO Wa’el Alzayat, refusing to respond to any inquiries before next month’s US election. Alzayat said:

You’re spending an inordinate amount of time undermining work that needs to be done to win.

He did however offer these excuses about the 2018 debacle:

Disunity, a circular firing squad, and a better ground game on the other side lost Democrats a governor’s race they could have won in Florida.

Alzayat insisted that until election day, his focus was “removing Donald Trump from office.” But at the grassroots, it is the mistreatment of activists like Rasha Mubarak that hampers those efforts. Organizer Nadia Ahmad said:

The party’s attempt to exclude me from last week’s online event made it seem like they think our votes don’t matter. They don’t want us to be part of this process for a Biden victory in Florida. It’s hurtful for me as someone who was born and raised in Florida, that the Florida Democratic Party wants to silence people within our own community.

Keith Ellison’s flawed understanding of Rabin and apartheid
Michael F Brown, Electronic Intifada, Oct 22 2020

211020-keith-ellisonKeith Ellison. Photo: Anthony Souffle/ZUMA Press

Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general, was wrong to attend the Americans for Peace Now memorial event for Yitzhak Rabin. By speaking in honor of Rabin, he stepped on fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswoman from New York City, who had initially accepted the invitation, but then in response to constituents’ concerns reconsidered and decided to withdraw. Whether Ellison has aspirations to higher office or not remains to be seen. Perhaps he thought this event would help him fight off false accusations of anti-Semitism against him. What is clear is that he disregarded the deep concern the event engendered among Palestinians and Palestinian Americans.

Following his appearance at the event, we must examine the substance of his remarks. Were they sufficient? Yes and no. And the no outweighs the yes. Yes, Ellison was right to ask questions about Rabin. But from there Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, pivoted quickly to answering his own questions. Ellison said:

He did things which I think are human rights abuses, including ordering breaking the bones of Palestinian protesters. And so you might think, “Why are we honoring him?” It’s brave to fight and risk your life in defense of your country and your people, but if you want to demonstrate true great bravery you have to be able to go to your own people and say to them, “Unless we make peace with the other side, this crisis will never end and our children and our grandchildren and our children’s grandchildren will go through this crisis that we face right now.” Transcendent courage is facing your own people, who you love, and telling them, “We’ve got to try something different.”

These words would be beautiful if true of Rabin. But they profoundly misrepresent Rabin and what he had in mind for Palestinians. They ignore Rabin’s failure to ever really reckon with and take moral responsibility for his part in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the policy of “force, might and beatings” to which he subjected a later generation of Palestinians. Yes, perhaps had his life not been cut short by a Jewish extremist he would have more fully grappled with his earlier self. But this is speculation. It’s propaganda that Americans for Peace Now is conveying about what might have been. It feels good, but it ignores the reality that what Rabin had in mind for Palestinians was a “state minus.” Bantustans didn’t work in apartheid South Africa and there’s no reason to think a “state minus,” essentially noncontiguous Bantustans, would have been at all acceptable to Palestinians pursuing the transcendent overcoming of a second-class legal standing in occupied territory. That Ellison, supposedly a strong voice on the left, spoke to honor a man whose view of peace was a dressed-up vision of apartheid is deeply troubling. There are Palestinians and Jews worth honoring for their work to advance equal rights for all people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Rabin is not among their number.

Jewish Chronicle lied about Green Party “anti-Semitism”
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Oct 22 2020

Former Green Party deputy leader Sharar Ali. Photo: Sian Berry

The UK’s press regulator ruled on Thursday that The Jewish Chronicle misled its readers in a story about “anti-Semitism” in the Green Party. The paper falsely claimed last year that the Greens’ former deputy leader Shahrar Ali had compared Israel’s 2008-2009 war against Palestinians in Gaza to the Holocaust on Holocaust Memorial Day. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) ruled that the claim had breached the first clause of their editors’ code of conduct, accuracy. Not only had Ali not made such a comparison, his Jan 24 2009 speech had not in fact taken place on Holocaust Memorial Day (which is Jan 27). IPSO said in its ruling:

The publication had failed to take care over the accuracy of these statements, which are significantly misleading.

As required by IPSO, the paper published a correction on its website on Thursday. It is also due to be published in the weekly print version on Friday. Ali said in a video that he was “absolutely delighted” at the ruling.

He said it was “good news for all those Green Party candidates and politicians who want to continue to speak up for the rights of Palestinians against their daily oppression by the state of Israel.” The Jewish Chronicle deleted the article from its website soon after publication without explanation, a further breach of the code, IPSO ruled. In the emotional 2009 speech, Ali had addressed a demonstration in London against Israel’s war on Gaza. Israel killed more than 1.4k Palestinians during that offensive. Most were civilians. They included 313 children. In the speech, Ali called for former Prime Minister Tony Blair, former US President George W Bush and the then Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to face a war crimes tribunal. Ali said:

Listen up, warmongers, just because you observe the niceties of Holocaust Memorial Day, does not mean that you have learned the lessons of history.

The Jewish Chronicle did not bother to quote these words, instead asserting as fact that Ali had “compared” the Israeli war “to the Shoah on Holocaust Memorial Day.” The paper’s editor has been contacted for comment. The article was only the latest in a long line of misleading stories the paper has published about alleged anti-Semitism on the left and among the Palestine solidarity movement. A number of activists in Britain’s Labour Party have sued the paper and won libel damages, the most recent being Nada al-Sanjari, an elected representative in Wokingham, an area west of London. Ali is the home affairs spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales. He has twice ran for leader of the party. In the most recent leadership contest, which took place last month, he won almost a quarter of the vote. The Greens automatically hold a leadership election every two years. This year Ali ran on a platform of “a radical socialist Green vision.” One of the arguments he made during the contest was that the Greens should firmly reject the definition of anti-Semitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Ali has described the IHRA definition as “intellectually bogus,” stating:

It is designed to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.

The definition could prevent the party from campaigning in favor of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The Green Party has so far refused to adopt the IHRA definition, an anti-Palestinian document pushed by Israel and its network of lobbyists. Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s only member of the House of Commons, has an ambivalent attitude toward the pro-Israel definition. But the party’s co-leader Sian Berry supports it, telling pro-Israel lobbyists earlier this year:

I have been trying to push the IHRA definition through. I see no problem with signing up to it.

According to a Green source, two opposing motions on the IHRA definition were placed on the agenda of the online conference they held earlier this month. One, backed by Berry and her co-leader Jonathan Bartley, supported the definition. But the other, supported by Ali, would have committed the party to actively campaigning against it. But no formal vote was held on either motion as the plenary session of the conference ran out of time. Straw polls held at “workshop” debates earlier in the conference indicated that the anti-IHRA motion would have narrowly passed, while the other motion (if unamended) would have lost with 55% voting against it.

Palestinian directors say no to UAE-Israel “colonial cinema” deal
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Oct 21 2020

Mohammed Assaf. Photo: Shadi Hatem/APA

Palestinian filmmakers are calling for a boycott of Emirati film institutions that work with the Israeli government. This comes after the Abu Dhabi Film Commission signed a cooperation agreement last month with the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School and the Israel Film Fund, both founded by Israel’s culture ministry. The deal paves the way for joint training programs, film festivals and creating content to promote “tolerance” and “cultural understanding between the Emirati and Israeli people.” Mohamed Khalifa al-Mubarak, chair of Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism, welcomed the agreement, saying it will strengthen “cultural ties” between the two industries. By rebuffing the long-standing Palestinian call for a boycott of Israel, the agreement signed by the Emirati film body is akin to crossing an international picket line. Almost 100 Palestinian directors, performers, producers and other film industry workers signed a statement rejecting the agreement and urging their colleagues to abide by the Palestinian call. Signers include internationally acclaimed filmmakers Annemarie Jacir, Hany Abu-Assad, Salim Abu Jabal, Najwa Najjar and Mohammad Bakri. They write:

We were deeply disappointed and shocked by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s normalization agreement to work with Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid. As Palestinian filmmakers, we have been severely affected by this colonialism and military occupation, which often forces us to depend in our film productions on mostly foreign funding. We call on filmmakers in the UAE and other Arab states to renounce the partnership with colonialist cinema, and to refuse any work with any film institution in Abu Dhabi or the Arab world that concludes agreements with the Israeli government.

The agreement follows the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel through the US-brokered Abraham Accords. Israel’s Knesset approved the normalization deal last week and the UAE cabinet followed suit on Monday.

On Tuesday, an official Emirati delegation landed in Israel to sign agreements on tourism, aviation and technology. Israel and the UAE also agreed to allow visa-free travel between them for their nationals. This follows a one-day visit by an Israeli-US delegation to Bahrain on Sunday, led by Israel’s national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. Israel and Bahrain signed agreements on healthcare, technology, tourism, trade and cooperation between their foreign ministries. None of the agreements mentioned the issue of Palestine, according to Israeli media. However, a joint statement by Israel, Bahrain and the US said the “parties will continue their efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Ben-Shabbat said:

We started the day as friends and we’re concluding it as family members, members of the family of Abraham.

The UAE, Bahrain and Israel have extensively used claims that they are promoting religious and cultural tolerance as a cover for their march towards political, economic and military normalization. Painting conflict in the region as stemming from a lack of understanding among religions or cultures is also a way to obscure its true origin: Israel’s violent and ongoing dispossession and military occupation of Palestinians and theft of their land. A striking example of how culture and religion are deployed to blur these realities is Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, which markets itself as the first kosher caterer in the Emirates. It is run by Elli Kriel, whose company website describes her as “born and proudly raised in South Africa by Greek parents.” She and her husband Ross Kriel arrived in the UAE in 2013, where her husband is head of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, a group established by Jews living in the country. Elli got her start informally making kosher meals for visiting businesspeople and rabbis attending “interfaith” conferences in the UAE. This turned into Elli’s Kitchen, a business that played a part in facilitating the normalization between Israel and the Emirates, including feeding Jared Kushner and various Israeli leaders on their first visit to the UAE following the normalization deal. Elli told the JPost:

It was a thrilling moment to be included in this historic event and I was extremely proud to be able to welcome the delegates to the UAE with my kosher food.

Elli’s Kitchen has also been celebrated on Israel’s Arabic-language propaganda Twitter account.

Elli and an Emirati partner are now developing a food concept called “Kosherati,” and her business expansion plans include a cookbook and a café. Meanwhile, Ross Kriel announced recently that the Jewish Council of the Emirates plans to affiliate with the World Jewish Congress. The WJC is, however, not merely a religious grouping but a political one that lobbies for Israel and defends its crimes against Palestinians. For example, the WJC grotesquely justifies Israel’s massacres of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip as “operations” to “protect its border towns from waves of terror and incitement.” The WJC asserts:

The global Jewish community must work together to activate the prodigious wealth of Jewish talent in the field of public relations to counter adverse images of Israel and its people.

Ross Kriel appears only too happy to see the Jewish Council of the Emirates recruited into this lobby for Israel. In a video made for the WJC, he is visibly moved to tears when talking about the first Israeli flight openly to cross Saudi Arabia on its way to Abu Dhabi. He also describes the relationship between Emiratis and Israelis as a “romance.” As for Elli Kriel, according to the JPost, she sees her business as a way to show that “Israelis and Emiratis have a lot in common.” she said:

We share the values of togetherness, warmth and hospitality. It helps us to see each other’s humanity and embrace each other’s culture.

But while culture is allegedly capable of building bridges and breaking down barriers between Israelis and Emiratis, it apparently holds no such power for Palestinians. Israel is currently seeking to bar Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf from entering his homeland. Assaf, who is from the Gaza Strip, gained international mega-stardom as the winner of the 2013 Arab Idolcontest. He now lives in Dubai with his wife and children. Avi Dichter, the head of the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee, is seeking to bar Assaf from entering Israel, and possibly get him deported from the UAE. Dichter alleges that an Israeli research center found videos of Assaf inciting against Israel, according to Israeli media. In a letter to the research center, Dichter wrote that “it is not possible to prevent him” from entering the occupied West Bank, but Assaf’s permit to enter Israel would be revoked. Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet secret police, said that he is looking into how “diplomatic channels with the UAE” could be used to prevent Assaf from “continuing his incitement campaigns.” In a Facebook post, Assaf said that “what is being reported about preventing me from entering occupied Palestinian land” is “a continuation of the policies of oppression” that all Palestinians face.

Lobby displays double standards toward Holocaust deniers
David Cronin, Electronic Intifada, Oct 20 2020

The AJC displays double standards toward Holocaust deniers and the far-right. Celebrating three decades as CEO of that pro-Israel group, David Harris has heaped praise lately on Facebook and on Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor. Facebook is being applauded because of an announcement that it will remove content that tells lies about or trivializes the Nazis’ crimes. A summary of Harris’ career published by the AJC indicates that Kurz is among Europe’s politicians to have impressed him most. Two years ago, Harris asserted that Kurz had shown “courage and conviction” by declaring Israel’s “security” to be in Austria’s highest national interest. At that time, Kurz was heading a coalition that included the Freedom Party, founded in the 1950s by former Nazis. Despite attempts to rebrand itself, the party has never shed the baggage of its past. Jörg Haider, its leader from the 1980s until the year 2000, claimed that the Waffen SS, which controlled the concentration camps, deserved “honor and respect.” Just last year a leading figure in one of the party’s branches had to resign because he shared material questioning the Holocaust on the internet. Israel and its supporters used to express concern when Austria’s far-right were doing well in opinion polls or elections. In 2008, Israel’s foreign ministry accused Haider and his allies of promoting “hatred of foreigners and Holocaust denial.” Three decades after starting his current job, David Harris has found it politically expedient to overlook how the Freedom Party is still comprised of neo-Nazis, who scapegoat Muslims and refugees in the way their forebears scapegoated Jews. Harris was prepared to embrace a government involving those thugs because it struck a pro-Israel pose.

The hypocrisy of Harris must spark questions about how the AJC has been putting pressure on Facebook. In a new AJC video, Harris makes clear that the agenda he is pushing is not limited to erasing posts that deny the Holocaust. He intimated that he wishes to muzzle “anti-Zionist voices.” In Harris’s view, these voices “only deny one nation its very right to exist and that happens to be the one Jewish-majority nation.” Zionism is the ideology used as a pretext to expel Palestinians from Palestine in their hundreds of thousands. No state has the right to exist based on the mass expulsion of an indigenous people. The irony here is that the AJC was against the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine during the early years of the 20th century. Jacob Schiff was among a small number of men who formed the AJC in 1906. He contended that Zionism would lead to a “separateness which is fatal” for Jews. Schiff’s warning was prescient. Donald Trump has implied that American Jews are separate by telling them that Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is “your prime minister.” Yet by opposing the creation of a Jewish-majority nation, Schiff would be considered anti-Semitic if David Harris’ “logic” was applied. In June this year, the AJC tweeted it was “proud to have helped draft” the definition of anti-Semitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Once again, the AJC has concealed some inconvenient facts. The IHRA definition was originally drawn up as part of an exercise sponsored by the European Union around 15 years ago. The AJC did indeed take part in that exercise and, therefore, did help to draft the definition. But the key AJC participant in those discussions, Kenneth Stern, has subsequently criticized how the definition is being used to stifle free speech. The definition conflates criticism of Israeli racism with anti-Jewish bigotry. Helping to draft a code which shields an apartheid state, like Israel, from accountability is not something to be proud of. The AJC and other pro-Israel groups are advocating that the definition should be invoked when assessing what it is permissible to say and write on the internet. They want guidance on using the definition to be incorporated into the European Union’s Digital Services Act, legislation now under preparation. Facebook is working closely with the AJC to determine what material it will delete. Jordana Cutler is representing Facebook in these efforts; she was previously an adviser to Netanyahu, a campaign strategist with his party Likud and a senior official in Israel’s Washington embassy.

Cutler has called the IHRA definition “valuable” for her deliberations. Cutler’s role in these deliberations warrants more attention than it has received. Cutler is a professional Israeli diplomat and spindoctor pushing a definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by Zionist pressure groups with the aim of smearing Palestine solidarity campaigners. She is by no means the only Israeli establishment figure hired by Facebook. Emi Palmor, previously a top-level civil servant in Israel’s justice ministry, now sits on Facebook’s oversight board. These recruitments have taken place against a backdrop of censorship. Numerous Palestinians have been blocked by the social media giant. Facebook has been using algorithms to ensure that fewer people see posts from left-wing media outlets. Like all corporations, Facebook undoubtedly needs some kind of oversight but that task should be carried out by people who can prove their impartiality. There is nothing impartial about the pro-Israel lobby.

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