Controversy simmers nearly a week after Rutgers students hosted Never Again for Anyone, an international speaking tour that compares modern Israel to the Nazi regime. Hundreds of protesters were turned away from the event, and one student subsequently received violent threats in response to his account of the evening.
Never Again for Anyone will visit DePaul University this Friday. Scheduling an event purporting to “honor” Holocaust victims on a day when most Orthodox Jews can’t attend (or protest) is a glaring example of the tour’s thinly-veiled true intent of minimizing and exploiting the Holocaust in an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state.
One video posted by the organization to promote the event features two clips, one from Hajo Meyer and one from another speaker at the event, Hatem Bazian, Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine and Senior Lecturer at UC Berkeley. The following is a transcript of the entire clip of Hatem Bazian’s remarks, that the event organizers chose themselves to represent the viewpoint of Never Again for Anyone (emphasis is my own):
“Who is producing Islamophobia? Now we need to distinguish between producing Islamophobia and using Islamophobia. Production is different than use, because people can use Islamophobia terms and so on, but who is producing Islamophobia? Pro-Israel activists have been the major contributors to the financing, the production, the distribution, and usage of Islamophobia in the American context. While other persons are present and do employ Islamophobia in the US, nevertheless the pro-Israel activists have set up the structural backbone of the Islamophobia operations in the United States.”
With the words “structural backbone” and “operations,” Dr. Bazian is referring to the myth of the shadowy “Israel lobby”–the myth that a coordinated group of Zionist activists have schemed to use unimaginable wealth and political clout to dupe average Americans into supporting Israel, purchase the votes of politicians, and crush protests or dissent (apparently, according to him, by systematically scapegoating Muslims). The myth of the all-powerful “Israel lobby” can only be believed by people firmly removed from reality: the overwhelming American and international press bias against Israel, the proliferation of anti-Zionist organizations in America (perfectly within American tax law), the diversity of views on Israel found among American lawmakers, and the very existence of the Never Again for Anyone tour make it abundantly clear that there is no Zionist bogeyman in America pulling the strings and shutting down critics behind the scenes. If the cause of Israel is passionately defended, it is because it has earned its place intellectually in the opinions of informed people.
The myth of the puppeteer “Israel lobby” is simply the Americanized euphemism for “Zionist conspiracy”–the very same conspiracy theory fabricated in the nineteenth-century forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The Protocols were used to exploit people’s ignorance and intellectual laziness. The Protocols gave these people an easy way to replace a nuanced understanding of history and current affairs with unbridled anti-Semitism–belief in a Jewish plot to rule the world. In much the same way, opponents of Israel try to change the terms of the debate by claiming that an irresistibly potent “Israel lobby” is controlling information and policy–so the only trustworthy sources of information and analysis must be Israel’s enemies. Any signs favorable to Israel must be fabrications of the “lobbyists.” It is the laziest way for an opponent of Israel to try to defend his views when he’s been backed into an intellectual corner. But it is also one of the most pernicious and baseless lies he can promulgate.
By attempting to delegitimize Israel’s supporters in this manner, he delegitimizes the state of Israel. If the “Israel lobby” is a worldwide conspiracy, Israel must be its home. And if one tiny nation has forces controlling the minds and pocketbooks of men and women around the world, depriving them of intellectual and economic freedom, it ought to be wiped off the map, just as the Third Reich was. This is the true message behind the rhetoric of events like Never Again for Anyone, which explicitly compares modern Israel to the Nazi regime. Such a comparison is not about justice. It is not about peace. It is about systematically delegitimizing Israel in order to clear the political ground for its destruction.
Never Again for Anyone capitalizes on the ignorance of those already disposed to hate Israel, and exploits the empathy or those who know little about it. Never Again for Anyone has consistently responded to attacks by claiming to promote causes any reasonable person would want to defend: justice for the oppressed and an end to genocide. The problem is, the “justice” demanded is the destruction of the Jewish state by Islamo-political factions such as Hamas that jubilantly express their desire to annihilate the entire Jewish people. And the “genocide” alleged is a combination of atrocities equally mourned by Israelis and Palestinians, which nonetheless represent outlying examples of bad behavior by rogue soldiers and the lawful occupation of hostile territories to ensure the safety of both Israelis and Palestinians. The greatest number of Palestinian deaths can be traced to terrorist groups from within Palestine that provoke Israel and then use innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields when Israel responds. Not only is this a staggering instance of cowardice and depravity; it is a strategy calculated to maximize international public disapproval of Israel.
Countless millions of people felt the first spark of hate kindled on the bales of their ignorance by “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Today, it is kindled by rhetoric that flatters listeners’ empathy while ruthlessly demonizing the state of Israel. Anyone can go into society flicking that flint, hoping the spark will catch. But you can deprive it of the fuel of ignorance–dampen that fuel by spreading knowledge of the true motivations of Never Again for Anyone and other organizations advocating Israel’s delegitimization and destruction. Turn these hateful events into ever-so-many flashes in the pan. Below is the tour schedule for the remaining stops of Never Again for Anyone. Keep returning to RIGHT TO EXIST for more information on the people and organizations behind the tour, and updates on the story at Rutgers. Gather your people and let your voice be heard.
February 3: Milwaukee
Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts
2419 East Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI
February 4: Chicago
DePaul University, Student Center
Room 314 AB
2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
February 5: Chicago
Grace Episcopal Church
637 S Dearborn St Chicago IL, 60605
February 8: Twin Cities
John B. Davis Lecture Hall,
Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center,
Macalester College 1600 Grand Avenue St. Paul, MN 55105
February 6: Detroit
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church
23925 Northwestern Avenue
Southfield, MI 48075
February 10: Atlanta
American Friends Services Committee building
60 Walton Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30303
February 13: New Orleans
Time and venue to be announced
February 16: Sacramento
4541 College Oak Drive
Sacramento, CA 95841
February 17: SF Bay Area
First Presbyterian Church of Oakland
2619 Broadway Oakland, CA 94612
February 19: Los Angeles
First Unitarian Church
Channing Hall (Ground Floor)
2936 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005