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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

EoZ regarded as "controversial" by Israeli/American writer at AllAfrica

From Joel Schalit at AllAfrica.com:
On May 23, Hatikva had the dubious distinction of hosting the worst race riots since Israel's founding. Egged on by politicians from Israel's governing Likud Party, local Jewish residents brutally assaulted migrants and looted their stores.

For followers of Israeli politics, none of this was surprising. In the preceding weeks, right-wing activists and politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had been attacking African migrants, repeatedly calling them a threat to Israeli society and security. It was just a matter of time before something like this happened.

In the wake of the violence, conservative media activists-accustomed to going on the offensive to support Israel's policies toward the Palestinians-found themselves with an entirely new kind of problem. They had to defend the government against charges of supporting anti-African racism. Ill-prepared, they relied on media normally used for other purposes, like flyers that had been intended for Apartheid Week.

Featuring a black and white photo of a group of laughing Ethiopian Jewish kids, one flyer highlights an old headline quotation from the late New York Times columnist William Safire that reads: "For the first time in history, thousands of black people are brought into the country not in chains but as citizens." In larger bold type appears the word "Apartheid?"

The work of the pro-Israel organization Stand With Us, the flyer was distributed by the controversial Elder of Ziyon blog. As an Israeli journalist, I received an emailed copy from someone who thought I would find it useful. A right-wing activist I know similarly plastered Reddit with links to it in the days immediately following the rioting. There was nothing especially unusual about the activity. It was the flyer itself that was noteworthy.

As propaganda, it's relatively straightforward: How can Palestinians and leftists argue that Israelis an apartheid state if it officially encourages black African immigration? Never mind that these Falashim, or Beta Israel as they are also called, happen to be Jews (or, at least, recently Jewish, according to religious authorities).
I never heard of Schalit, but I am disappointed that he didn't have enough confidence in his thesis that the refused to link to, or post, the poster that got him so hot and bothered:


He is also factually wrong in saying that StandWithUs made the poster and I distributed it - it was actually the other way around.

I was intrigued that he referred to me as "controversial." As I wrote in a comment to his article,

I was not aware that my blog was "controversial." Is there a controversy I am unaware of (or have forgotten about) or do you just consider opinions you disagree with to be "controversial"? I hope you will admit that using a term like that is prejudicial; you could have said "well-regarded" or "popular" and been at least as accurate, I suppose.

His main point in the article - which seems to be that Israelis are inherently racist - is just as sloppy as his fact checking.

Not to mention that someone on Reddit using my poster as an argument against Israeli racism is hardly the work of the organized Zionist community as he implies.

But he is apparently above such concerns. After all, he is a former editor of the nutty-left journal Tikkun and current editor of equally far-left European-American webzine Souciant. Which I suppose is "mainstream" in his opinion.