‘Progressive Except for Palestine’: A new label for an old hatred

A lie is a lie, no matter who tells it.

Noura Erakat. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Noura Erakat. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Andrew E. Harrod
Andrew E. Harrod, a Middle East Forum Campus Watch fellow, freelance researcher and writer, is a fellow at the Lawfare Project. Follow him on X @AEHarrod.

Rutgers University assistant professor of Africana studies Noura Erakat demands that self-professed progressives share her Israel-hatred, lest they carry the taint of “Progressive Except for Palestine” (PEP). She made this point laboriously during a March 3 webinar with Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell Plitnick, whose recent book, Except Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics, is dedicated to Erakat’s terrorist cousin, Ahmed Erekat, killed last June by Israeli border security after committing a car-ramming attack that injured a guard.

Hill, professor of communications at Temple University, and Plitnick, former co-director of the radically anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and former vice president of the anti-Israel Foundation for Middle East Peace, spoke with Erakat as part of a book talk presented by Chicago’s leftist Haymarket Books bookstore. The trio invoked the tired litany that the State of Israel racially oppresses Arabs, whether its own citizens or their Palestinian relatives. Hill claimed absurdly that PEP is just as unacceptable as “Progressive Except for Slavery.”

Erakat praised the infamous 2001 Durban, South Africa, United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which degenerated into a hate-fest against Israel. She had had a tangential conference connection as a researcher for a conference paper titled “The Forgotten ‘ism’: An Arab-American Woman’s Perspective on Zionism, Racism, and Sexism.”

“Global, grassroots coalitions” went to Durban, she boasted, “intent on holding up the banner that Israel is an apartheid state.”

The U.S. Durban delegation, led by America’s first black Secretary of State, Colin Powell, thought differently. Disgusted by the conference’s anti-Semitism, the delegation withdrew. Erakat asserted without evidence that the “United States was using Israel to protect itself because it was going to be held to account for reparations for people of African descent in the United States.”

For Erakat, Palestinians are always victims, never violent perpetrators. Last summer, she fantasized that Israeli border guards shot her Palestinian cousin during a tragic car accident and not a car-ramming attack, as video proved conclusively (all the more reason for Hill and Plitnick to honor him).

Like Plitnick, who denigrated Zionism as a “European construct” akin to other previously accepted colonialisms, Erakat dismissed the Jewish national liberation movement as imperialistic. Rather than fulfilling millennia-long Jewish desires to return to their indigenous homeland, Zionism repeats the “colonial denial of peoples’ sovereignty beginning in the fifteenth century and the conquistadores’ exploration and conquest of the Americas.” Despite massive historical and archeological evidence substantiating and complementing Jewish biblical claims to Israel, she asserted that this Jewish “biblical right” is merely a “stand-in with an indigeneity.”

That Zionism “is predicated on the removal of Palestinians” also appeared on Erakat’s rap sheet against Israel. She did not explain how then some 600,000 Arabs in the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, created in 1922 for the establishment of a Jewish national home, grew to about 1.2 million at Israel’s independence in 1947. Furthermore, Israel’s own Arab citizenry today numbers almost 2 million, in addition to more than 4.7 million Arabs in the Palestinian-ruled territories.

Not even the Holocaust was sacred for Erakat, who relativized the Nazi genocide of 6 million innocent Jews by comparing it with the nakba, the “catastrophe” that was the establishment of modern-day Israel. According to Palestinian myths, during its 1948 independence war, the Jews ethnically cleansed perhaps 750,000 Arabs from what became Israeli territory. In reality, most of these anti-Israel Arabs fled combat zones, often under directives from Arab authorities who wanted to destroy Israel without worrying about Arab civilian casualties. Without explaining how the flight of a relatively small number of Arabs equals the systematic extermination of European Jewry, she declared that the Holocaust and nakba should be Arab-Jewish “traumas that we hold together.”

Hill attempted to substantiate Erakat’s demonization of Israel by stating that “to be Palestinian in the State of Israel means that I am less likely to get a high-quality education.” Yet Israeli Christian Arabs are more likely than Jews to qualify for university admission—a fact that disproves his simplistic analysis. His Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-like appeal that “our Jewish brothers and sisters can’t get free until everyone is free” will surely fall on the deaf ears of Israeli Jews (who Dr. King, a Zionist, supported) who reject the charge that Israel holds Palestinians in bondage. Plitnick, despite his self-description “as a Jew,” likewise will win little Jewish sympathy with his statement that, given the “crimes that Israel has committed,” it “has become a victimizer and that is very hard for people to accept.” A lie is a lie, no matter who tells it.

The panelists, each with long records of anti-Israel activism that, in the cases of Erakat and Hill, frequently spill over into anti-Semitism, have established their reputations by recycling anti-Israel propaganda as fact. That Erakat and Hill are professors in good standing and represent commonly held views on Israel epitomizes the intellectual and moral decadence of the contemporary university. They should be recognized as the toxic purveyors of lies that they are.

Andrew E. Harrod, a freelance researcher and writer, is a Campus Watch Fellow and a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at: @AEHarrod.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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