By Daled Amos
On October 17, Natalie Hopkinson -- an associate professor at Howard University -- wrote a glowing opinion piece in The New York Times on antisemite Louis Farrakhan. Entitled The Women Behind the Million Man March, the article recounts the role played by Cora Masters Barry, wife of then DC Mayor Marion Barry, in mobilizing the women who played a significant role in the success of the march.
Hopkinson notes that
A key supporter of the event was Marion Barry, who had just returned to the Washington mayor’s office after a stint in federal prison. [emphasis added]Nothing, however, is mentioned of Farrakhan's Jew-hatred and homophobia.
If you read the oped and knew nothing about Farrakhan, you would think he was a gentleman.
When criticism was made of this whitewash of Farrakhan, Hopkinson responded by reminding her critics that she is a 'scholar':
But Hopkinson was just warming up, falling back on Black oppression and negating the oppression of others:
Rafael Medoff, the founding director of The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, compares Hopkinson's depiction of Farrakhan with the New York Times interview that Anne O'Hare McCormick did in 1933, Hitler Seeks Jobs for All Germans.
Medoff points out that Hitler did not waste any time persecuting Germany's Jews once he took office:
During Hitler’s first months in power, there was extensive coverage in the American press of his anti-Jewish policies, such as the mass firing of Jews from their jobs, public burnings of books by Jewish authors, and sporadic anti-Semitic mob violence. To counter this negative attention, Hitler in July 1933 granted Anne O’Hare McCormick of the New York Times his first exclusive interview with an American reporter since becoming chancellor of Germany.
To her credit, McCormick did in fact take the opportunity to ask about Germany's treatment of its Jews -- but did not follow up when her subject replied:
"It is true we have made discriminatory laws, but they are directed not so much against the Jews as for the German people, to give equal economic opportunity to the majority.
"You say the Jews suffer, but so do millions of others. Why should not the Jews share the privations which burden the entire nation?
According to Medoff, unlike Hopkinson's devotion to Farrakhan, there is no indication that McCormick was actually sympathetic to her subject and his views.
But the fact remains that in both cases, favorable pieces in The New York Times contributed to positive images for their subjects -- and only McCormick bothered to attempt a balanced article.
These days, whitewashing hate -- especially hatred of Jews -- seems to be in style.
These days, whitewashing hate -- especially hatred of Jews -- seems to be in style.
This month, Jordan deported terrorist Nizar Tamimi, husband of Hamas terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the Sbarro massacre. He is now in Qatar. Meanwhile, Ahlam Tamimi, whom Jordan has refused to extradite to the US despite their extradition treaty, risks the possibility of being apprehended and being turned over to the US if she leaves to join her husband.
What is a terrorist to do?
You turn to the media -- in this case, the always obliging BBC, whose program 'Trending' featured a whitewashing of the terrorist couple by BBC Arabic’s Rania ‘Attar:
Not once during the entire 6 minutes of broadcast could one detect the slightest hint of criticism towards either of the two from BBC Arabic. The social media solidarity campaign supporting them was uncritically portrayed as a matter of freedom of speech for the weak and persecuted. No less notable were the selective omissions from the couple’s violent history: the programme referred to Ahlam as though she was merely “accused of involvement” in the Jerusalem bombing (despite her own public admission of the crime) and failed to mention the reason for Nizar’s imprisonment at all.While the program was first broadcast on October 8th, protests against the program finally led to its being removed from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on October 16th and from the BBC Arabic website itself on October 19th.
The programme, entitled “#Jordan: Ahlam_Tamimi_Your_Voice_is_Loud_and_Clear”, was hosted by BBC Arabic’s Rania ‘Attar; one of Trending’s regular presenters. Describing the Tamimis as “freed detainees from Israeli prisons”, ‘Attar told her audience how the two met in the halls of an Israeli military court, got engaged while in prison and married once they were both released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, against a background of sentimental pictures of their newfound life in Amman, Jordan.
The BBC host continued with the latest developments in the couple’s story, explaining that Jordan had not renewed “detainee” Nizar’s permit to reside in the kingdom with his wife (herself a Jordanian citizen), resulting in his expulsion to Qatar earlier this month. She then quoted Nizar’s brother Mahmoud who claimed that the decision to expel the husband was related to the American extradition request currently pending against his wife and that the family considers it an indirect Jordanian acquiescence to American dictates.
Next it was explained what had triggered the social media campaign which gave the programme its hashtag-style name. Last Tuesday a radio host was supposedly documented censoring Tamimi as she was on air, making her plea to King ‘Abdullah II to let her husband back into Jordan. The Jordanian-Palestinian solidarity campaign which followed used the hashtag “#Ahlam_Tamimi_Your_Voice_is_Loud_and_Clear”. Among the many comments shown, ‘Attar featured those that praised Tamimi as a woman “of great value” and “honour”, whose story should be heard by “everyone”.
The host concluded the programme with a full, uncensored video of Ahlam Tamimi addressing the King for a second time. Only afterwards were viewers made aware of what ‘Attar referred to as “the main landmarks of Ahlam’s life”, with the following statements being used to elaborate on her terrorist activity:“First woman to join al-Qassam battalions, Hamas’s military wing […]
“She was accused of involvement in the ‘Sbarro’ restaurant bombing in Jerusalem […]
“In 2013, American Department of Justice ranked her on the list of ‘most dangerous wanted terrorists’, under the accusation of conspiring to kill Americans in the ‘Sbarro’ restaurant bombing in Jerusalem”
Following an editorial review we found that this segment was in breach of our editorial guidelines and we removed the clip from our digital platforms last week. We accept that the segment should not have been shown and apologise for the offence caused.
This example of BBC moral deafness is matched only by Sarah Montague, the presenter of BBC’s Radio 4 Today program. Back on August 12, 2001, Montague called Arnold Roth -- whose daughter was one of Tamimi's victims. The family was sitting Shiva.
Montague asked whether Roth would be willing to come onto Radio 4 Today by phone the following morning to be in a two-sided interview with a man called al-Masri, the father of the human bomb [who carried out the Sbarro massacre]. This would enable the audience to hear “the two sides” of the atrocity. [emphasis added]
Only if you believe that a terrorist who targets children in a pizzeria is another man's freedom fighter.
But how about if you just hijack airplanes?
On August 29, 1969, Leila Khaled was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the terrorist group that hijacked TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv, diverting it to Damascus.
On September 6, 1970, Leila Khaled and an accomplice, attempted to hijack El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York City as part of a series of almost simultaneous hijackings carried out by the PFLP:
Soon after takeoff, [pilot Uri] Bar-Lev and his co-pilot got word that two terrorists were hijacking the plane. They had shot and gravely wounded an El Al flight attendant and had put a gun to the head of another, demanding to be let into the cockpit, which Bar-Lev had immediately locked.Bar-Lev saved the passengers by putting the plane into a steep dive. Khaled was captured -- and later released by Great Britain in a hostage exchange.
Fast-forward to 2020.
On September 23, Leila Khaled was scheduled to give a talk at San Francisco State University, entitled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance.” Khaled was helpfully described as a "Palestinian feminist, militant and leader."
In the end, the talk was stopped by Zoom and Facebook, right at the point where Khaled said "people have the right to fight those who occupy their land by any means possible, including weapons," and despite multiple attempts to hold the talk online since then, so far it has continued to be (mostly) blocked.
Associate professor Rabab Abdulhadi, director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) was to be the moderator -- and at this point, Abdulhadi's comments defending having a terrorist speak to the students is predictable:
Abdulhadi claimed the outrage over her invitation to Khaled was manufactured by the "Israel Lobby Industry," and said opposition to her was "catering to donors, catering to the right-wing agenda and catering to Islamophobia." Abdulhadi doubled down on her comments later on in the video, stating that the university president "only talked to Zionists, only talked to one brand."
"The university is participating in a very discriminatory, racist, defamatory, smearing campaign by the Zionist bullies and their right-wing, neoliberal and wealthy allies," Abdulhadi said. She also claimed the talk with Khaled was only canceled because of the university's desire to retain wealthy Jewish donors, alleging the school's president told donors she would "crush the Palestinians" and "crush AMED studies."
The reason for the opposition to giving a podium to a terrorist is stated in a September 17 letter from 86 organizations, a letter Abdulhadi avoids addressing:
We fully acknowledge that faculty members like Prof. Abdulhadi have every right, as private citizens, to express anti-Zionist views and engage in anti-Zionist activism. However, we believe Abdulhadi's continuous and intentional use of her SFSU position and the name and resources of the University to indoctrinate students with her own personal animus towards the Jewish state and its supporters and to promote anti-Israel activism, does not constitute a legitimate use of academic freedom, but an abuse of it.
The full letter points to a few of Abdulhadi's AMED activities, such as:
In 2013, AMED co-sponsored an on-campus event that involved students using stencils to create placards and T-shirts with the image of a keffiyeh-clad Leila Khaled holding an AK-47 rifle accompanied by the message, “Resistance is Not Terrorism,” and other stencils with the message, “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers.” In the wake of public outrage over the event’s unambiguous lionizing of a convicted terrorist and promotion of terrorism against Israel, Prof. Abdulhadi defended the event as a legitimate use of academic freedom. [emphasis added]
The BBC's fawning coverage of Hamas terrorist Ahlam Tamimi and Abdulhadi's manipulation of terrorist hijacker Leila Khaled as a resistant icon is reminiscent of the episode of Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted in 1970 and imprisoned in Israel for 10 years for the supermarket bombing in Jerusalem which killed 2 Hebrew University students -- Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
Odeh later lied about her conviction when she entered the US and was eventually convicted of immigration fraud and deported from the US -- but not before she became a cause celebre and described by The Rasmea Defense Committee as an “icon of the Palestine liberation movement.”It is one thing to give Hitler a pass, or to whitewash Farrakhan -- but in the case of Ahlam Tamimi, BBC Arabic deliberately hid facts from its audience, such as Tamimi's pride when she actually admitted to the murder of innocent schoolchildren.
And in the cases of Leila Khaled and Rasmea Odeh, there is an attempt to go a step further and to not only use terrorists to energize protest against Israel but also use their public appearances to encourage outright hatred.
Taken in the context of the increase in antisemitic rhetoric from within the progressive wing of the Democratic party and the rise in the number of antisemitic attacks by radicals on both the right and the left, Jews will continue to be a target in the US.
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