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January 29, 2016 0

McCarthyism and the Latest Im Tirtzu Campaign

As Amer­i­cans, we remem­ber the crit­i­cal moment that turned around the cam­paign of intim­i­da­tion by Sen­a­tor Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s. As the Sen­a­tor was bad­ger­ing another young Amer­i­can, this time a sol­dier, accus­ing him of com­mu­nism and smear­ing his rep­u­ta­tion, the coun­sel for the defense, Joseph Welch, sud­denly blurted out: “Mr. McCarthy, have you no decency?”

That com­ment, seen by the nation in those early days of tele­vi­sion, seemed to break the spell that the Wis­con­sin sen­a­tor had held over sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of Amer­i­can soci­ety, ruin­ing count­less lives in the process.

It is our hope that Im Tirtzu’s lat­est assault on the good name of some of Israel’s cul­tural icons — Amos Oz, Chava Alber­stein, A.B. Yehoshua, David Gross­man, to name a few — is the one step too far that awak­ens Israeli soci­ety to the dan­gers posed to demo­c­ra­tic val­ues from such assaults.

Im Tirtzu Campaign

Im Tirtzu Campaign

Israel faces many real secu­rity chal­lenges, as evi­denced by the hor­rific mur­ders and attacks tak­ing place almost daily, and the inter­na­tional assaults against Israel’s good name. Exactly because there are real threats is why pro­tect­ing Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic val­ues becomes even more impor­tant. Respect­ing the right to free expres­sion, despite moments of dis­com­fit, ensures a full exchange of views on what’s best for the coun­try and offers the best chance of bring­ing peo­ple together. And inter­na­tion­ally, it is Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic ethos, unique to the Mid­dle East, which gains Israel respect despite the hos­tile cam­paigns that are waged against it.

It is good to see that a num­ber of Israeli gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, includ­ing the Prime Min­is­ter, have con­demned the lat­est Im Tirtzu cam­paign. And it was appro­pri­ate that Im Tirtzu even­tu­ally issued an apol­ogy for their cam­paign malign­ing Israel’s cul­tural icons.

Now we can hope all sides, left and right, will take a step back and recom­mit to the fun­da­men­tal pro­tec­tion of and respect for free­dom of expres­sion as at the core of Israel’s val­ues and well-being.

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January 26, 2016 3

Outpouring of Anti-Israel Tweets After NBA Coach David Blatt Fired

After the fir­ing of the NBA’s Cleve­land Cav­a­liers head coach David Blatt, some social media users responded by post­ing vehe­mently anti-Israel, and some anti-Jewish, per­sonal attacks against Blatt, who holds both Israeli and Amer­i­can citizenship.

Hos­tile ver­bal attacks on indi­vid­u­als for being Israeli cit­i­zens or sup­port­ers of Israel appear to have become more com­mon­place in recent years both online and offline as well as some look to demo­nize the Jew­ish state in any way possible.

Below are just a few exam­ples from the dozens of social media posts per­son­ally attack­ing Blatt regard­ing his cit­i­zen­ship or reli­gious iden­tity rather than dis­cussing his abil­i­ties as a coach:

anti-israel-david-blatt-tweets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not the first time such open hos­til­ity against Israelis or Jews in sports has been expressed in such an ugly fash­ion on social media. After Israeli bas­ket­ball team Mac­cabi Tel Aviv beat Real Madrid in the Euroleague final in 2014, there was an out­pour­ing of anti-Semitic mes­sages on Twit­ter. Twit­ter also erupted with anti-Semitic com­men­tary after Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers out­fielder Ryan Braun was sus­pended from Major League Base­ball in 2013.

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January 22, 2016 2

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still…..A Jew

Saud Al Shureem anti-semitic Tweet

Saud al-Shuraim’s anti-Semitic tweet about the Jewish-Iranian alliance

Over the past month, esca­lat­ing ten­sion in the Mid­dle East between Iran and the Arab Gulf States helped fuel a resur­gence of anti-Semitic state­ments and con­spir­acy the­o­ries about a sup­posed link between Israel and Jews to Iran.

Angered by Iran’s increas­ing influ­ence in the region, promi­nent Arab fig­ures includ­ing politi­cians, reli­gious lead­ers and jour­nal­ists have accused Jews and Israel of secretly sup­port­ing Iran and Shi’a Mus­lims in their war against the Sunni Mus­lim world.

Just last week, promi­nent Saudi scholar, Saud al-Shuraim, an Imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca wrote the fol­low­ing state­ment on his Twit­ter account: “It is no won­der the Safavids [Ira­ni­ans] ally with Jews and Chris­tians against Mus­lims because his­tory tes­ti­fies that this is the case. What is strange are the minds which took too long to under­stand this fact.”

Some went as far as accus­ing “the Jews” of orches­trat­ing Iran’s war against the Sunni Mus­lim world. Jor­dan­ian online news agency Ammon News pub­lished an arti­cle on Jan­u­ary 19, titled “Iran started its holy war on the Sun­nis with the bless­ing of the Jews.”

The online pub­li­ca­tion, Al Khaleej Affairs, which spe­cial­izes in Arab Gulf States’ Affairs, inter­viewed Iraqi Sunni activist Falih Al Shi­bly on Jan­u­ary 21 to talk about the Iran­ian involve­ment in Iraq. In the inter­view Al Shi­bly claimed, “Unfor­tu­nately, there is igno­rance in the region about the Jew­ish sup­ported Per­sian plot.” He added that “This plot is against all Arab coun­tries from the Ara­bian West to the ‘Ara­bian’ Gulf.”

Other anti-Semitic accu­sa­tions included con­spir­acy the­o­ries that the Jew­ish lobby in the U.S. is respon­si­ble for dri­ving America’s pol­icy in Iran’s best inter­ests. Dubai Police Chief, Dahi Khal­fan, whose bizarre state­ments in the past included accus­ing the Jews of being linked to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, claimed on Jan­u­ary 18 that Pres­i­dent Obama is of Shi’a roots and “the sons of Zion” [the Jews] helped him  reach pres­i­dency to “bring Iran and Amer­ica closer.” Khalfan’s state­ments were widely cir­cu­lated in the Arab world.

Such a claim about Jew­ish sup­port for Iran was the sub­ject of sev­eral tweets by for­mer Man­ager of the Dubai Gov­ern­ment Media Office, Dherar Bel­houl Al Falasi, on Jan­u­ary 11. He claimed that Jews revere Iran because it is con­sid­ered a “holy” coun­try in Judaism. He wrote “Jews revere Iran more than ‘Palestine.’”

The ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion ISIS is cap­i­tal­iz­ing on this anti-Semitic trend as well. The fea­tured arti­cle in their most recent English-language mag­a­zine Dabiq issue included a 14-page screed link­ing Jews and Shi’as. The back cover of the mag­a­zine also fea­tured a full page image of Jews pray­ing in a syn­a­gogue with a clear ref­er­ence to the Jews of Isfa­han in Iran.

This anti-Semitic rhetoric is more than just a delu­sional per­spec­tive. It is a tool that has been used time and again to gal­va­nize Arab pub­lic opinion.

These con­spir­acy the­o­ries also fail to rec­og­nize both the very real threat Iran rep­re­sents to the Jew­ish state and the cen­tral­ity of anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda in the ide­ol­ogy embraced by Iran’s rul­ing regime. It is ironic that such accu­sa­tions emerge while Iran is orga­niz­ing  an inter­na­tional car­toon contest–on the Holocaust.

Ten­sion between Iran and the Arab world has a long his­tory, but it has esca­lated notably over the past few months as a result of the Iran nuclear agree­ment and grow­ing con­cern among Arab Gulf States about Iran’s expand­ing regional influ­ence and its involve­ment in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Arab world. Both sides have used the media to prop­a­gate anti-Semitic accu­sa­tions against the other through the lens of their own agen­das. It seems that  Shi’as  and Sun­nis can agree on one thing: blam­ing the Jews for their problems.

In the past, ADL doc­u­mented a num­ber of sim­i­lar con­spir­acy the­o­ries in the Arab world includ­ing that ISIS has Jew­ish roots and that Israel and Jews are linked to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

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