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WHAT WE THINK
Israel's boosters try to discredit Palestinian rights activists
We won't be silenced!

May 24, 2002 | Page 3

ISRAEL'S SUPPORTERS understand the truth behind the old saying that the best defense is a good offense. That's why they're trying to label supporters of Palestinian rights as anti-Semites.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went so far as to accuse those who said Israel's April assault on Jenin was a massacre of committing the anti-Semitic "blood libel." In the U.S., Israel's supporters are echoing this charge as part of a conscious counteroffensive against anyone who organizes solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

The issue loomed large in the Bay Area last week. After a pro-Israel rally at San Francisco State University (SFSU), a Jewish Studies professor claimed that counterdemonstrators from the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) shouted anti-Semitic slurs.

A GUPS representative denied that any member of the group said any such thing--and the group declared in a public statement that it opposes all racism. But this didn't stop the media from tying the charge of anti-Semitism at SFSU to another dispute across the Bay--at the University of California-Berkeley, where graduate instructor Snehal Shingavi was attacked because of a sentence in his description of a course on Palestinian poetry that suggested conservative students seek other classes.

Shingavi deleted the sentence. But the reason that the controversy became headline news in the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers is because he's a leading member of the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

These attacks are attempts to discredit supporters of Palestinian rights--and deflect attention from Israel's war crimes. But what's really stunning is the hypocrisy of the Journal's right-wing hacks when it comes to flinging around the accusation of anti-Semitism.

Do they think that the 60,000 Israelis who marched in a peace demonstration earlier this month--behind a banner that read "Stop IDF Terror" and "End the Occupation"--are anti-Semites?

And how about the anti-Semites in their own ranks? Bet the Wall Street Journal didn't take House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) to task for declaring that the U.S. is a Christian nation--or for endorsing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories last month.

What about right-wing columnist and equal opportunity racist Ann Coulter? "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity," she wrote of Arab nations in the wake of the September 11 attacks. And in David Brock's tell-all expose of the U.S. right, Coulter is quoted as saying that she was glad to get out of the New York City law firm where she worked because so many Jews worked there.

Apparently, anti-Semitism is forgivable--as long as you're pro-Israel.

The real racists are the right-wingers attacking pro-Palestinian organizers. They couldn't care less about anti-Semitism. But the charge is a useful way of trying to silence opponents of Israel--and the U.S. political and economic interests that Israel is a watchdog for in the oil-rich Middle East.

Our side will always oppose anti-Semitism--and Israel's racist war on Palestinians. We won't be stopped from standing up for what's right.

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