[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt. To read the entire article, please click here.]
Reflecting a total lack of self-awareness, the trite headline to Michelle Alexander's 2281-word op-ed, online yesterday and in print today, in The New York Times says it all: "Time to Break the Silence on Palestine." The notion that the Palestinian issue is ignored, that a "silence" currently surrounds it, or has surrounded it in years past, and that pro-Israel advocates muzzle opposing views, is a common canard of anti-Israel activists.
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Along with claiming that anti-Israeli activists are fearful, are cowed into silence by supporters of Israel, and therefore must act with courage, Alexander also repeatedly falsely asserts that those who oppose Israel's right to exist are penalized for their "support of Palestinian rights." For instance, "[m]any students are fearful of expressing support for Palestinian rights because of McCarthyite tactics of secret organizations like Canary Mission," she writes. (Canary Mission publishes open source material that anti-Israel activists have themselves posted or said. It does not have the means to "blacklist" anyone.) "Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for giving a speech in support of Palestinian rights that was grossly misinterpreted as expressing support for violence." The Birmingham Civil Rights Insitute in Alabama "rescinded an honor it bestowed upon the civil rights icon Angela Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Israel's treatment of Palestinians and supports B.D.S."
But Lamont Hill was fired not for his support of "Palestinian rights," but for calling for "resistance," which in the parlance of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups is a clear call for violence, including for terrorism. He also called for "a free Palestine from the river to the sea," which is tantamount to the elimination of the Jewish state.
Alexander's depiction of Angela Davis's anti-Israel activism is likewise a whitewash. Davis has called for the release of all Palestinian prisoners, including terrorists convicted of multiple murders, such as the aforementioned Marwan Barghouti. Davis also came out to support Rasmea Odeh, convicted for her role in a 1969 terror bombing which killed two Hebrew University students, and deported from the United States for having lied about her conviction.
Just as pro-Israel activists aren't silencing those who speak out for "Palestinian rights," neither are they calling criticism of Israeli actions antisemitism. But this is exactly the straw man argument that Alexander raises, arguing:
it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end. There seems to be an increased understanding that criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government is not, in itself, anti-Semitic.
With smoke and mirrors, Alexander aims to confound, falsely claiming that defenders of Israel are claiming that criticism of Israeli practices is antisemitic. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, adopted by multiple countries, does not define criticism of Israeli policies as antisemitic, but it does include the type of speech expressed by Lamont Hill and Davis but which Alexander concealed. The widely-accepted definition includes "Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion." Lamont Hill clearly did just that, and Davis, with her embrace of murdering terrorists and calls for their release, is also likely guilty on this count.
Calling for a "free Palestine from the river to the sea" also falls under the IHRA definition, which states: "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor."