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February 6, 2013 4

House of Cards Uses Anti-Semitism As Plot Line

For us at the Anti-Defamation League, the old Madi­son Avenue line “as long as they spell my name right” par­tially applies to the new mini-series “House of Cards,” being aired on Net­flix.  The series stars Kevin Spacey as the schem­ing and con­niv­ing Demo­c­ra­tic whip of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.  In two scenes ADL is briefly mentioned.

Credit: Reuters/Melinda Sue Gordon/Neftlix/Handout

In the first, Spacey’s char­ac­ter calls ADL after it is revealed that the president’s choice for Sec­re­tary of State crit­i­cized Israel’s “ille­gal occu­pa­tion” of Pales­tin­ian land in an edi­to­r­ial 30 years ago when he was the edi­tor of his col­lege stu­dent newspaper.

In the sec­ond scene, the fic­tional head of ADL is shown telling a press gag­gle that “he’s an anti-Semite” for say­ing those words.

On one level, we see it as a form of flat­tery that the cre­ators of the pro­gram thought of ADL for such a theme.  This reflects well as to recog­ni­tion of our out­spo­ken­ness regard­ing unjust crit­i­cism of Israel and tes­ti­fies to our wide name recognition.

On the other hand, it plays into an image of ADL which dis­torts who we are. It sug­gests, as some do, that ADL will call any­one who crit­i­cizes Israel an anti-Semite with the con­nected impli­ca­tion that we are try­ing to sti­fle legit­i­mate crit­i­cism of Israel.

The truth is that we would be sharply crit­i­cal of some­one who refers to Israel’s sit­u­a­tion in the West Bank as “ille­gal occu­pa­tion” but would not refer to such an indi­vid­ual as anti-Semite unless there were other things he had said, whether dele­git­imiz­ing Israel or com­par­ing Israel to Nazis or accus­ing Israel of crimes that fall under the cat­e­gory of blood libels and conspiracies.

Crit­i­cism of Israel some­times may be legit­i­mate, some­times not. When it is not, it may or may not rise to the level of anti-Semitism.

We under­stand that “House of Cards” is fic­tion so we have no inter­est in protest­ing.  But the more nuanced view that we have just described is the real ADL, an orga­ni­za­tion to whom cred­i­bil­ity is every­thing and one that makes sure that the term anti-Semitic is used when it is truly warranted.

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November 16, 2012 1

Anti-Semitism and Legitimization of Terror Abound in Reaction to Israeli Operations in Gaza

Anti-Israel activists are using var­i­ous social media plat­forms to express their oppo­si­tion to Israel’s ongo­ing mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Gaza and com­ment on the unfold­ing sit­u­a­tion. These remarks fre­quently con­tain extreme lan­guage. Sev­eral state­ments tend to legit­imize Hamas and rocket attacks tar­get­ing Israeli civil­ian com­mu­ni­ties. Oth­ers com­pare Israel to Nazi Germany.

The ban­ner at right, for exam­ple, which has been widely cir­cu­lated on Face­book, calls the oper­a­tion, “the Holo­caust in Gaza.”

Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Move­ment, com­mented on her Face­book page: “Oper­a­tion Israeli Gestapo is under­way in Gaza.” Another anti-Israel activist who posted on Face­book almost imme­di­ately after the strike that killed Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari yes­ter­day wrote: “Jew­ish Zion­ist ‘moral­ity and brav­ery’ on dis­play in Gaza is no dif­fer­ent than that which was dis­played by the Nazis in the Con­cen­tra­tion Camps.”

George Gal­loway, a for­mer mem­ber of the British Par­lia­ment and leader of Viva Palestina, used extremely caus­tic and vir­u­lent lan­guage on a pro­gram he hosts on Press TV, an English-language Iran­ian satel­lite sta­tion. Gal­loway called on view­ers advo­cat­ing for non­vi­o­lent resis­tance and/or diplo­macy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict to “get off their knees” and acknowl­edge that diplo­macy won’t be use­ful against Israel’s “blitzkrieg of death and gas.”  He also claimed that Pales­tini­ans in Gaza are being “gassed” and “roasted” by Israel.

Attempts to legit­imize or min­i­mize Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israeli civil­ians have also appeared. A stu­dent at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity who is involved with Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine on cam­pus wrote, “The Resis­tance has reached Tel Aviv! Long Live the Resis­tance.” The com­ments appear to cel­e­brate that an Iran­ian rocket launched by Islamic Jihad in Gaza had landed in Tel Aviv. After a com­ment appeared ques­tion­ing his sup­port for vio­lence, the stu­dent responded, “Vio­lent resis­tance is our right” and com­pared the sit­u­a­tion to a raped woman strik­ing her assailant in self-defense.

Ben White, a promi­nent anti-Israel activist and author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide,” wrote on his Face­book page: “Israel’s has­bara says con­text for assault is rocket fire. Well, con­text for rocket fire is 64 years of expul­sion and occu­pa­tion.” (As a side note, Israel’s occu­pa­tion of the West Bank began in 1967. White’s ref­er­ence to “64 years” of occu­pa­tion sug­gests that he con­sid­ers all of Israel to be occu­pied Pales­tin­ian land.)

Noura Erakat, a fel­low at George­town Uni­ver­sity and for­mer orga­nizer with the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion, expressed frus­tra­tion with what she deemed to be a response from Israel that was wholly unpro­voked. She wrote on Twit­ter: “#Hamas has observed cease­fire, Shalit returned, now what?” [Con­trary to this claim, Hamas did not observe the cease­fire and was respon­si­ble for launch­ing more than 100 rock­ets into Gaza in the days pre­ced­ing Israel’s response.]

Other extreme com­ments include state­ments by:

  • Julio Pino, a pro­fes­sor at Kent State Uni­ver­sity who infa­mously shouted “Death to Israel” dur­ing a pro-Israel pre­sen­ta­tion on cam­pus last year. Pino called the action a “geno­cide” on his Face­book page.
  • Ali­son Weir, the direc­tor of the Coun­cil for the National Inter­est and If Amer­i­cans Knew, who referred to Israel’s actions as a “slaughter.”
  • Remi Kanazi, an anti-Israel activist and rap­per based in New York who wrote, “Dear Zion­ists: You have never ‘defended your­selves.’ You came in, stole land that wasn’t yours & main­tained a racist state through mas­sacres and brute force.”
  • Sherry Wolf, a Jew­ish anti-Zionist and mem­ber of the Inter­na­tional Social­ist Orga­ni­za­tion, who wrote: “The homi­ci­dal racists who run Israel have launched an all-out bomb­ing cam­paign on Gaza…#FuckIsrael.”

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October 5, 2012 5

Free Gaza Founder Embraced by Jewish Groups Despite Recent Anti-Semitic Tweet

Update, Octo­ber 10, 2012: Jew­ish Voice for Peace issued a state­ment on Octo­ber 7 announc­ing that it  is “dis­as­so­ci­at­ing our­selves from spon­sor­ship of Berlin’s cur­rent book tour in the U.S.” and would no longer endorse Free Gaza Movement-related activ­ity. The state­ment described Berlin’s expla­na­tions and apol­ogy as inad­e­quate, say­ing “We unfor­tu­nately don’t think her responses ade­quately address our con­cern about cir­cu­lat­ing anti-semitic materials.”

Greta Berlin, the co-founder of the Free Gaza Move­ment (FGM), is plan­ning to visit the West Coast next week to pro­mote her new book, Free­dom Sailors, which is about the tra­vails of the Free Gaza Move­ment and its boat cam­paigns to Gaza. Two Jew­ish anti-Zionist groups based in Los Ange­les, Jew­ish Voice for Peace–LA and LA Jews for Peace, are spon­sor­ing one of her appear­ances, which will take place next Thurs­day, Octo­ber 11, at the Lev­an­tine Cul­tural Center. 

Last week, Berlin posted a vir­u­lently anti-Semitic tweet to the FGM Twit­ter account, which she oper­ates, that claimed that Zion­ists “oper­ated the con­cen­tra­tion camps.” The tweet has since sparked sig­nif­i­cant media atten­tion and out­rage, even from some anti-Israel activists. Berlin and FGM sub­se­quently apol­o­gized, claim­ing that the tweet was an acci­dent and was only intended for Berlin’s Face­book page.

Berlin ini­tially claimed that she had not watched the video, which was titled “Zion­ists oper­ated the con­cen­tra­tion camps and helped mur­der mil­lions of inno­cent Jews,” and was unaware of its con­tent. Later, FGM issued an apol­ogy on its web­site offer­ing a dif­fer­ent rea­son for the alleged over­sight. The state­ment claimed that the post was intended to be received by a group of peo­ple on her Face­book page who were in the midst of a dis­cus­sion about “pro­pa­ganda and racism.” There is no evi­dence of this dis­cus­sion on Berlin’s Face­book page.

In fact, Berlin’s Face­book page con­tains sev­eral other recent hate­ful post­ings. On the same day Berlin posted the offend­ing tweet, she posted a pic­ture to her Face­book page of Iran­ian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad shak­ing the hand of a mem­ber of the anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta. Berlin added the fol­low­ing com­men­tary: “if he hated jews so much, as he is often accused of, would he be warmly greet­ing some of them? what he hates is zion­ism, and so do i!”

Berlin is also sched­uled to make sev­eral other speak­ing appear­ances next week to pro­mote her book, includ­ing an appear­ance at UCLA, and var­i­ous stops in the Pacific Northwest.

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