Last week, Stanford student senator Gabriel Knight caused a campus firestorm when he claimed that saying "Jews control the media, economy [and] government" was "not anti-Semitism." Knight's remark was forcefully denounced on campus, the student paper withdrew its endorsement of his campaign, and a day later, Knight ended his bid for reelection to the student senate. But an article that appeared in Salon on Monday suggests this was not an isolated incident of anti-Jewish prejudice on campus.
In an ostensibly anti-Israel piece entitled "9 things you need to know about the Israeli occupation of Palestine," Stanford professor of comparative literature David Palumbo-Liu, a strident supporter of academic, cultural, and economic boycotts of Israel, recommended that readers eschew the "mainstream media" in favor of an anti-Semitic hate site.
"Here's what you can do," he wrote. "Find out more on your own from multiple sources—do not rely solely on the US mainstream media for your information. Look at Mondoweiss, the Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, Electronic Intifada, If Americans Knew."
Several of these outlets have been credibly accused of publishing anti-Semitic content. But one of them has been so blatant in its anti-Jewish invective that it has even been denounced by other members on Palumbo's list. If Americans Knew (IAK), a non-profit founded by activist Alison Weir, has the rare distinction of being condemned for furthering anti-Semitism by the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation.
Weir earned this remarkable wall-to-wall opprobrium by promoting anti-Semitic myths, working with white supremacists, and publishing anti-Jewish content on IAK's web site. Among other exploits:
• Weir published an original blog post on her personal site which justified anti-Semitism by labeling the Jewish "race" as "an object of hatred to all the peoples among whom it has established itself," In the words of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, the piece "effectively blam[ed] Jews for anti-Semitism."
• Weir has not only promoted the conspiracy theory that Israel harvests the organs of Palestinians—an update of the medieval blood libel—but has actually assertedthe accuracy of the original blood libel itself, which accused Jews of ritually murdering Christian children to use their blood in Passover matzo. (Weir cited the discredited and since withdrawn research of a Jewish writer.)
• Weir has worked repeatedly with white supremacists, while never challenging their bigoted claims. For instance, in a series of appearances on the radio show of white supremacist and Holocaust denier Clayton Douglas, Weir dismissed allegations that he was a racist, did not challenge his repeated assertions of Jewish control of the world, and did not protest when he played a speech by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. Writes the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, "Weir made little to no effort to challenge, confront, or rebut any of these views; on the contrary, she continued to appear on the show."
For these actions and others, both Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation severed ties with Weir in July 2015. (Though the same cannot be said for many other anti-Israel activists, who continue to defend and even honor Weir.)
This did not deter If Americans Knew from spreading anti-Jewish content. On March 16, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unsurprisingly, Garland's Jewish background immediately provoked upset among anti-Semites. Said David Duke:
Look at the Jewish control of this country. You already have three open Jewish members of the Supreme Court. Thirty-three percent. They're only two percent of the population. You can count on those Jews to do whatever the Jewish agenda is, whatever the Jewish establishment wants...
And now Obama, who is totally under the power of the Jewish control, he's been, in fact there's a reason why the Chicago Tribune calls him the first Jewish president. And why the New Yorker magazine had him as the first Jewish president, alright? He's appointed a Jewish supremacist to be the guy on the Supreme Court, which basically gives Jews total veto over the Supreme Court.
At the same time, If Americans Knew was echoing this anti-Semitic attack on Garland's nomination on its Facebook page:
In other words, even if Palumbo-Liu, a key activist in anti-Israel circles, somehow missed the major controversy in that community over Weir's views last year, one need only review If Americans Knew's contributions in the last month to find its latest anti-Semitic outburst.
And perhaps Palumbo-Liu did finally get the memo on Weir's views. Soon before this article was slated to be published, Palumbo-Liu posted the following update to his Salon article, over a day after it was initially posted:
While the organization If Americans Knew, which was previously listed here, provides much useful information from reliable, neutral sources, I disagree with many of the public comments of its director. I have removed the original reference to prevent any confusion.)
Palumbo-Liu did not condemn the site's anti-Semitism, or explain how an outlet rife with anti-Semitic content could be in any way considered to be disseminating "useful information from reliable, neutral sources." One wonders if such a pseudo-retraction would satisfy anyone if the site being promoted trafficked in anti-black or anti-Muslim content, rather than anti-Jewish material.