Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) speaking during a seminar on anti-Semitism hosted by Jewish Voice for Peace. Source: Screenshot.
by Shiryn Ghermezian
(JNS) — Antisemitism watchdog groups called out “disingenuous efforts” to address hatred against Jews displayed this week by anti-Israel panelists on a webinar.
A virtual event on Dec. 15 — titled “Dismantling Anti-Semitism: Winning Justice” and hosted by the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace — featured Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.); Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill; journalist Peter Beinart; and writer, historian and activist Barbara Ransby.
Nearly 1,000 viewers tuned in to watch the panelists discuss their thoughts on combating anti-Semitism, yet in a twist that didn’t go unnoticed, many antisemitic and anti-Zionist remarks were made during the 90-minute event.
Tallie Ben Daniel, JVP’s director of special projects, opened the discussion by stating that the “true targets” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism are not Jews, but “Palestinians.”
Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism.org, told JNS that the event was “a new low.”
She said “Lamont Hill lost his job with CNN over his antisemitism. Tlaib is currently being called out by fellow Congressmen over her continued antisemitism. Ransby openly supports a terrorist that murdered two Jewish students. These people are not allies of the Jewish people, but rather, identifiable threats posing as social-justice warriors.”
During the discussion, speakers repeatedly stated that “all types of antisemitism,” such as Islamophobia and anti-black racism, “are all interconnected.” They also denied that pro-Palestinian activism, including support for boycotting Israel, is equivalent to antisemitism.
Ransby, who has previously accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, said, “Palestinians that advocate for Palestinian rights are not the enemy, those of us who advocate for BDS as a strategy to advance the rights of disenfranchised and exiled Palestinians are not the enemy.”
Beinart, the only Jewish member of the panel and currently a CNN commentator and columnist for The New York Times, claimed that “it’s critically important that we fight for the right of anti-Zionist Jews and anti-Zionist non-Jews to be part of the Jewish community and part of these conversations.”
He also accused Israel of having a hierarchy of putting “Jews above Palestinians.”
Beinart tried to defend his fellow panelists, who have all been criticized for their antisemitic views on Israel, telling viewers, “I know that there are probably a lot of people who are watching this who came to watch it because they don’t like the folks on this panel… Listen to the folks on this panel and what they said. Do they sound like people who hate Jews to you? Trust your gut. Do they sound like antisemites to you?”
Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, director of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, told JNS, “The idea that those who themselves have contributed to the growth in antisemitism can define Jew-hatred is absurd.”
‘A tool used to manufacture fear and division’
Lamont Hill and Tlaib both previously expressed support for Palestinian freedom “from the river to the sea,” which is commonly used as a call to destroy Israel. As the last panelist to speak, Tlaib, who supports the BDS movement, cried on-screen when talking about how she has been “demonized” and accused of being antisemitic.
“Tell everybody, I don’t hate you. I absolutely love you,” she said. “If anybody comes through my doors or through any forum to try to push antisemitism forward, you will hear me being loud with my bullhorn to tell them to get the hell out.”
She added, “I hope all our Jewish neighbors know we’re in this together.”
The night’s moderator, JVP’s deputy director Rabbi Alissa Wise, told viewers that she is “instinctively repulsed” by the idea that Jews need Israel “as somewhere to go” when they are next at risk of genocide. She also said that a “free Palestine is required if we want a free world for everyone, including Jews.”
She later stated that those who want to call solidarity with Palestinians anti-Israel are “using antisemitism to manufacture hate.”
“People who want to maintain Israeli government control over Palestinian lives and land play a very dangerous game when they call solidarity with Palestinians a form of anti-Jewish hatred. It’s not antisemitism to see that Israel has its boot on Palestinians,” she stated. “Antisemitism is a tool used to manufacture fear and division.”
Roytman-Dratwa said “this event was an attempt to turn reality on its head. It is nothing short of dangerous hypocrisy by those who have stoked antisemitism to claim that they themselves are serious voices in tackling Jew-hatred. Nobody, including self-styled progressives such as Representative Tlaib and Professor Hill, should be allowed to dictate to Jews what constitutes antisemitism. They simply would not treat any other minority group in the same way.”