Pro-Israel and Jewish groups criticize Fresno event featuring vitriolic anti-Semitic speaker

“A robust debate on Israel and the Palestinians is important and welcome. But in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh and Poway killings, it is disturbing that someone with a blatantly anti-Semitic history would be given a platform,” said the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles.

Front entrance to the main parking lot at Clovis Community College in Fresno, Calif., Sept. 16, 2017. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Front entrance to the main parking lot at Clovis Community College in Fresno, Calif., Sept. 16, 2017. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish and pro-Israel groups have rallied against an upcoming event at Clovis Community College (CCC) in California featuring Alison Weir, an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activist and writer that even anti-Israel groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation have disassociated from.

Jewish Journal first reported on the Sept. 18 event, titled “Uncovered: Israel’s Occupation of Palestine,” hosted by Fresno-based media outlet GV Wire, which highlights issues in the Central Valley.

The event’s supporters include organizations and local politicians.

GV Wire publisher Darius Assemihas posted anti-Israel content on Twitter, including calling Israel’s self-defense against Hamas rioters along its border with Gaza a “massacre.”

Weir, the co-founder and executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest, has an extensive history of making anti-Semitic and anti-Israel claims, such as accusing the Jewish state of harvesting Palestinians organs and claiming that “Israel’s core identity is based on ethnic and religious discrimination by a colonial, immigrant group.”

She has also been a frequent guest on the radio show of white supremacist Clay Douglas called “The Free American.”

CCC president Lori Bennett said in an Aug. 30 statement that the school condemns hateful speech, including that which is anti-Semitic, and is not sponsoring the event.

“While external organizations pay to rent facilities at Clovis Community College, it does not mean an endorsement of the speaker and/or organization. Clovis Community College is committed to maintaining a safe campus of inclusion and equity for all,” she said. “Clovis Community College does not endorse hate speech or anti-Semitic remarks.”

‘She’s not a dialogue lady, she’s a propagandist’

The Anti-Defamation League said in an Aug. 30 statement that while it supports free speech, it called on Bennett to “explicitly reject the bigoted views of Alison Weir.”

“Offensive, hateful speech is protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment. While we do not question Weir’s right to express her noxious ideas, people of conscience have a responsibility to use our own rights to challenge and confront anti-Semitic and otherwise bigoted invective,” said ADL Central Pacific regional director Seth Brysk. “In addition to embracing free speech, we urge the leadership of Clovis Community College and other community leaders to explicitly reject hate.”

“We are shocked that GV Wire would organize a talk with someone who seeks airtime on white-supremacist shows and has promoted the medieval blood libel that Jews ritually murdered Christian children,” said the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles in a statement. “A robust debate on Israel and the Palestinians is important and welcome. But in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh and Poway killings, and countless other attacks on Jews throughout the country, it is disturbing that someone with a blatantly anti-Semitic history would be given a platform by this media organization.”

Alison Weir. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Simon Wiesenthal Center associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal that Weir “hates Israel, slanders Israel, devoted her life to doing this in word and in writing. She is even too much for people who still feel there’s still spaces for dialogue on the issue. She’s not a dialogue lady, she’s a propagandist.”

In a statement, StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein said “this event features a speaker notorious for spreading vicious hate and wild conspiracy theories about Jews and Israel. While CCC may be legally required to allow this event to go forward, GV Wire and the organizations listed as cosponsors have no such obligation. If they do not withdraw support from the event, they will be complicit in promoting anti-Semitism, an increasingly deadly form of racism.”

The Progressive Zionists of California told the Journal, “As a group whose members have experienced her vitriolic attacks firsthand, we are shocked that anyone would platform her and her reprehensible views. In 2019, as hate crimes against Jews in California continue to skyrocket, it is irresponsible to endorse such hate.”

GVWire did not respond to a request for comment from the outlet.

Weir told the Journal in a statement that she was “shocked” that the ADL and AJC “are going to such trouble to try to impede my talk at a small college in Clovis, California. As I write here, I think the purpose is to prevent people from learning the facts about Israel-Palestine.”

“The ADL has tried to bully the college, intimidate me, and scare off Fresno/Clovis citizens,” she continued. “But the college hasn’t canceled the event, I’m going to be speaking there, and, I hope, people who live in the Fresno-Clovis area will come to hear me for themselves and make their own decisions.”

She added:

“I have written a multitude of articles on Israel-Palestine (some of them are here). Two of them were detailed, thoroughly cited articles about Israel’s connection to organ trafficking. A number of my sources were Israeli news media. You can read them here and here. Both were published by respected, progressive news organizations… I have been interviewed on a multitude of news media, most often liberal or left-wing ones. In my appearances, I provide facts about Israel-Palestine and speak out against all racism, bigotry, and violence. I feel all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, or political perspective have the responsibility and need to be fully informed about Israel-Palestine, since all of our tax money is going to the over $10 million per day that American politicians give to Israel. You can see our mission statement and principles here.”

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