(December 8, 2021 / JNS) “Jewish leaders,” The Washington Times reported on Nov. 26, “say they are on edge about a rise in anti-Semitism from the political left.” And they should be.
In a lengthy report for the Times, correspondent Kery Murakami delved into the growing problem. Murakami and the Times deserve credit for highlighting the issue.
The Times quoted Alyza D. Lewin, the president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights and an eloquent opponent of anti-Semitism. “Anti-Semitism,” Lewin told the Times, “seems to be something the groups on polar opposite ends, the far-right and the far-left, can seem to agree on.”
Lewin also noted that anti-Semitism is spreading in institutions of higher learning—a troubling fact that groups like CAMERA on Campus are doing much to combat.
The report also singled out Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
As CAMERA and others have documented, SJP is a hate group with a long history of members making anti-Semitic, and even threatening, statements. Rhetoric used by SJP often meets the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by the U.S. State Department and several countries.
SJP activists have, among other things, assaulted Jewish students and called for an intifada in the United States. The Second Intifada was a five-year-long terror war, in which U.S.-designated terrorist groups like Hamas murdered and wounded more than 1,000 Israelis.
The Times, however, errs in describing SJP as merely a “left-wing group” that is simply “opposed to Israeli policies.” In fact, SJP is opposed to the existence of the Jewish state itself—as statements by its founders, leaders and supporters make clear.
Importantly, Murakami did note that “antisemitism from the left is taking a subtler form of stigmatizing Jewish people but couched in seemingly acceptable arguments for ‘social justice.’” This important point goes far in explaining how anti-Semitism has been allowed to permeate college campuses.
Elsewhere, however, the Times’s report fails to offer important—and relevant—details about the institutions that have led to a rise in anti-Semitism. For example, the newspaper highlights how the Anti-Defamation League, among others, has criticized Human Rights Watch (HRW), an NGO that Murakami simply refers to as “left-leaning.”
The report even uncritically quotes Eric Goldstein, the acting director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, who rebukes the ADL’s contention that HRW has been engaged in an anti-Israel campaign.
But HRW is anti-Israel—and worse.
As NGO Monitor has documented, HRW has a history of virulent anti-Semitism, having expressed sentiments that extend well beyond good-faith criticism of Israel.
HRW’s own founder, the late Robert Bernstein, repudiated the group in an Oct. 19, 2009, New York Times op-ed that noted the nonprofit organization was guilty of “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The organization has had employees who were caught making anti-Semitic comments, such as Matthew Myers, who once said, “If you can’t laugh about the hair room at Auschwitz, get out.”
Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s executive director of the Middle East and North Africa section, solicited funds in a May 2009 speech to an audience in Saudi Arabia on the very basis of the NGO’s work targeting Israel. Whitson has also used the anti-Semitic blood libel, celebrating Israel’s strict efforts to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. In a since-deleted tweet, Whitson wrote that Israelis were now getting a “tiny taste” of what Palestinians supposedly endure, albeit one that is “missing a tablespoon of blood.”
Given this animus toward Israel, it should come as no surprise that HRW has supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. As NGO Monitor has documented, HRW has called for banks, businesses and countries—indeed, even sports leagues like FIFA—to boycott the Jewish state and its entities, either in part or in whole. Attempts to single out Israel—and Israel alone—for economic boycotts meets the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and clearly show HRW’s obsessive fixation with the Jewish state.
Unfortunately, the Times omitted this pertinent information about HRW’s troubling history.
The Times also failed to provide readers with essential details about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who, the newspaper reported, has “suffered criticism for antisemitic rhetoric” after suggesting “that Jewish people are not fully loyal to the U.S. because of their ties to Israel.” Omar apparently declined to comment for the Times’s report.
Omar’s anti-Semitism and transgressions extend far beyond the comments that Murakami highlighted. As CAMERA has documented, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tried to go on a trip to Israel that was sponsored by Miftah, an NGO that has published claims that Jews consume Christian blood and which praised suicide bombers. The trip’s itinerary referred to all of Israel as “Palestine” and included meetings with organizations that have links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.
The Washington Times deserves credit for highlighting anti-Semitism, a virus that has murdered millions in living memory and which should be confronted irrespective of the political ideologies of its proponents. The newspaper’s report included important information but omitted key details about the organizations and individuals that have helped spread the virus.
Sean Durns is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
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