A global influence campaign linked to Russia uses spoofed versions of legitimate news websites to misinform the public about the war between Hamas and Israel.
According to a report in Haaretz, this “Doppelgänger campaign” spreads disinformation using “replicas of websites of respected legacy media outlets across the world,” including the French newspapers Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Le Parisien; Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt and Bild in Germany; the Israeli sites Mako and Liberal in Hebrew; and the English-language Jewish Journal, a prominent Jewish American outlet.
The Dec. 17 Associated Press article, “Black American solidarity with Palestinians is rising and testing longstanding ties to Jewish allies,” left this CAMERA researcher wondering whether the storied AP had also fallen victim to the Doppelgänger campaign.
But a careful examination of the link, along with the fact that the article appears on the Lexis-Nexis news database, confirms that the piece’s provenance is authentically the AP. The piece’s reporting, on the other hand, is as detached as could be from AP’s vaunted journalistic standards. Inverting the Doppelgänger campaign, this real AP story masquerades as fake news.
Indeed, a second CAMERA researcher reacted after reading the piece: “Is this an Op-Ed? Does AP publish Op-Eds? Because it reads like one. A really terrible one.”
Intent on shoehorning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (and the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre) into the struggle of Black Americans against racism, it’s no wonder that AP video journalist Noreen Nasir and race and ethnicity editor Aaron Morrison ignore the shocking video of the final terrifying moments of the life of Joshua Mollel.
Mollel was a Black, Tanzanian agricultural intern who came to Israel in September to study farming. Hamas terrorists brutally murdered him, gleefully capturing the barbaric attack on video, and kidnapped his mutilated body to the Gaza Strip. (Warning: the difficult, very graphic video of Mollel’s murder is available here.)
Mollel was not Hamas’ only Tanzanian victim. Clemence Felix Mtenga, also a cohort in the agricultural internship, was also murdered by Hamas.
The video showing a Black man brutally slaughtered for the crime of studying in Israel fails to conform to the baseless narrative promoted by those who “see the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank and Gaza reflected in their own fight for racial equality and civil rights” — a narrative that the AP writers platform without challenge. Freely editorializing as if they are op-ed as opposed to news writers, Nasir and Morrison continue: “The recent rise of protest movements against police brutality in the U.S., where structural racism plagues nearly every facet of life, has connected Black and Palestinian activists under a common cause.”
But what common cause does Palestinian brutality, which did not spare the life of even non-Israeli Africans, have with Black Americans’ fight for racial equality and civil rights?
Indeed, the insistence on molding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into the image of the American civil rights movement is a known ploy of anti-Israel activism, falsely casting Israelis as white oppressors.
As Einat Wilf wrote in Sapir Journal in 2021 (“How Not to Think About the Conflict“):
And so, in an act of blatant neocolonialism, the American story is viewed as the universal prism through which all societies should be understood and analyzed. Blithely ignorant of the specificity of their own experience, the neocolonialists fit the square peg of the conflict into the round hole of American history. Jews are bizarrely cast as “white,” and Zionism as a movement of “white supremacy,” while Arabs, who look exactly like Jews (Fauda, anyone?), are cast as “people of color.” The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is cast as a mirror of race relations in America, but without the relevant local context of slavery, Jim Crow, or any of the specificities of Jewish, Arab, or Middle Eastern history.
The AP writers depict the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the Middle Eastern version of the American civil rights movement through the eyes of Cydney Wallace. The AP reports that the Black Jewish activist recently returned from a West Bank trip that reinforced her view that Palestinians are fighting the same civil rights battle as Black Americans. “Back home in Chicago, Wallace has navigated speaking about her support for Palestinians while maintaining her Jewish identity and standing against antisemitism. She says she doesn’t see those things as mutually exclusive,” recount Nasir and Morrison.
The AP gives no indication that Cydney Wallace’s Jewish identity is anything but mainstream. In fact, she is very much on the fringes of the widest definition of what constitutes Jewish community.
Wallace is a member of Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, which serves the Black Israelite community and does not represent the mainstream Jewish community including Black Jews who adhere to American Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform Judaism. While Judaism recognizes as Jewish those born within the Jewish community, or converted to Judaism under the auspices of recognized rabbinic authorities, the Black Israelite community is based on self-identification.
An in-depth Anti-Defamation League backgrounder on the very diverse Black Hebrew Israelites community explains: “The Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) movement is a fringe religious movement that rejects widely accepted definitions of Judaism and asserts that people of color are the true children of Israel.”
Nevertheless, the AP simply ignores Wallace’s noteworthy affiliation, falsely casting her religious identity as mainstream Judaism.
Exploiting Wallace’s “Jewish identity” without disclosing the atypical nature of that identity, the lengthy article ostensibly explores the dynamics between antisemitism, the Black experience in America, and the supposed intersectionality with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In doing so, the AP writers entirely ignore antisemitism within the Palestinian population. Indeed, a 2014 global survey carried out by the Anti-Defamation League found that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are among the world’s top antisemitic “hot spots,” with 93 percent of the population harboring antisemitic views.
Sky-high Palestinian antisemitism, just like Hamas’ brutal murder of Tanzanians, belie the tale of Palestinians as the Middle Eastern equivalent of oppressed Black Americans. The same dynamic is at play as the journalists blandly downplay Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities as “the unprecedented Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.”
In exactly what way was the Hamas attacks were unprecedented — was it the “historic win for the Palestinian resistance,” as anti-Israel campus groups put it, or the sheer number of civilian victims; the deliberate targeting of children, women, and elderly; the widespread rape, torture, mutilation, beheadings, burning alive, murder of children in front of parents and vice versa; the kidnapping of hundreds of Israelis and foreigners, including children and even a nine-month-old baby?
Nasir and Morr don’t say. By contrast, regarding “Israel’s ensuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip,” the duo suddenly locate “shocking images of destruction and death.” It is as if, through the authors’ eyes, there were no shocking images of destruction and death from Hamas’ attacks on Israel.
Indeed, Nasir and Morrison simply can’t shake the compulsion to withhold adjectives when it comes to the Hamas atrocities, even as they extend adjectives highlighting the severity of Israel’s response. In this vein, they persist: “None of the members of [Wallace’s] ‘Black Jerusalem’ trip anticipated it would come to a tragic end with the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in which some 1,200 people were killed in Israel and about 240 taken hostage. Since then, more than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s blistering air and ground campaign in Gaza, now in its third month.” [Emphasis added.]
The pattern downplaying Palestinian violence manifests again with respect to the hostages and Palestinian prisoners released in prisoner exchanges. The AP reports:
During a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas as part of the recent deal to free dozens of hostages seized by Hamas militants, Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Many were teenagers who had recently been picked up in the West Bank for minor offenses like stone-throwing and had not been charged.
Strikingly, the reporters take care to note that many of the released Palestinian prisoners were teenagers held for “minor offenses” and were not charged. (Unmentioned are the released Palestinian prisoners convicted of attempted murder, and others charged with stabbings. In addition, the “minor” offense of stone-throwing has been known to kill and seriously injure.)
In contrast, the partisan pair provide zero details about any of the 105 released hostages of all ages — from toddlers to octagarians — whose only crime was to be Israeli (whether Jewish or Arab) or associating with Israelis (as in the case of the Tanzanian students, along with dozens of Thai and Nepali workers). Almost all of the Israeli hostages released so far have been elderly women, mothers, and children. They are guilty of no offenses and “had not been charged.”
Silence on Black Antisemitism
Palestinian antisemitism is not the only anti-Jewish bigotry which gets a pass. “The 39-year-old said she had plenty to focus on at home, where she frequently gives talks on addressing anti-Black sentiment in the American Jewish community and dismantling white supremacy in the U.S.,” the AP duo report about Wallace.
But they gloss over existing anti-Jewish sentiment in certain pockets within the Black community, including within elements of the Black Hebrew Israel movement, while expanding on Black support for Palestinians:
From Black American groups that denounced the U.S. backing of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory to Black protesters demonstrating for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, some Jewish Americans are concerned that support could escalate the threat of antisemitism and weaken Jewish-Black ties fortified during the Civil Rights Movement.
The journalists also under-report the grotesque antisemitism embedded in Black Lives Matter movement, stating:
In 2016, when BLM activists formed the coalition known as the Movement for Black Lives, they included support for Palestinians in a platform called the “Vision for Black Lives.” A handful of Jewish groups, which had largely been supportive of the BLM movement, denounced the Black activists’ characterization of Israel as a purportedly “apartheid state” that engages in “discrimination against the Palestinian people.”
But the Movement for Black Lives did not stop at false apartheid charges; it also accused Israel of genocide, which, according to the widely-accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition, constitutes antisemism. As CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander previously reported: “One section, headlined ‘Invest-Divest,’ accused the US, through its alignment with Israel, of complicity in what the authors called the ‘genocide that is taking place against the Palestinian people’ and Israeli ‘apartheid.’”
Other BLM manifestations of antisemitism include at least one documented riot organized by a BLM leader in Los Angeles targeting a historic Jewish neighborhood.
And, as our colleagues at CAMERA UK have noted, “BLM groups in Los Angeles, Chicago and DC issued statements . . . literally supporting Hamas’s barbarism. BLM Chicago tweeted an image of a Hamas paraglider with a Palestinian flag attached to his parachute and the caption ‘I stand with Palestine’ before evidentially deleting the tweet following criticism.”
The far left are showing their true colors. Here Black Lives Matter Chicago are celebrating the butchers who arrived on paragliders at a music festival and brutalized and murdered hundreds of defenseless young people at a music festival. Difficult to comprehend. pic.twitter.com/lduVCnzgdj
— Eoghan McCabe (@eoghan) October 10, 2023
Critically, some Black Hebrew Israelites completely reject Wallace’s notion that the Palestinian experience is analogous to the Black American experience, and argue that Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre underscores the commonalities between the Jewish and Black stories. But AP, which boasts that it seeks to “expand the reach of factual reporting,” silenced voices and facts which contradict its predetermined narrative.
— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) December 18, 2023
The AP’s effort to pass off the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the Middle Eastern doppelgänger of the civil rights movement, with the Palestinians playing the part of Black Americans battling against racism, is nothing short of a parody of journalism. In short, it’s a real news outlet playing at fake news.
With research by Adam Levick.
Tamar Sternthal is the director of CAMERA’s Israel Office. A version of this article previously appeared on the CAMERA website. See also “Black Lives Matter, JVP’s Deadly Exchange, and Israel” and “The BLM Movement and Antisemitism“
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South Dakota Passes Bill Adopting IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
South Dakota’s state Senate passed on Thursday a bill requiring law enforcement agencies to refer to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when investigating anti-Jewish hate crimes.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) already adopted the definition, which has been embraced by lawmakers across the political spectrum, via executive order in 2021. This latest measure, HB 1076, aims to further integrate the IHRA’s guidance into law and includes the organization’s examples of antisemitism. It now awaits a vote by the state House of Representatives.
“As antisemitism continues to rise across America, having a clear and standardized definition enables a more unified stance against this hatred,” the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), said in a statement. “We appreciate Governor Kristi Noem for making this legislation a policy goal of hers, strengthening the use of the IHRA Working Definition in South Dakota through legislation, following the December 2021 adoption via executive proclamation.”
CAM called on lawmakers in the lower house to follow the Senate’s lead and implored “other states to join the fight against antisemitism by adopting the IHRA definition, ensuring the safety and well-being of their Jewish residents.”
First adopted in 2005 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes a list of illustrative examples ranging from Holocaust denial to the rejection of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The definition is used by hundreds of governing institutions, including the US State Department, European Union, and the United Nations.
Widely regard as the world’s leading definition of antisemitism, it was adopted by 97 governmental and nonprofit organizations in 2023, according to a report Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Antisemitism Research Center issued in January.
Earlier this month, Georgia became the latest US state to pass legislation applying IHRA’s guidance to state law. 33 US States have as well, including Virginia, Texas, New York, and Florida.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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Columbia University Sued for Allowing Antisemitic Violence and Discrimination
Columbia University allowed for antisemitism to explode on campus endangering the welfare of Jewish students and faculty, StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice and Students Against Antisemitism (SAA) alleges in a lawsuit announced on Wednesday.
Filed in the US District Court of Southern New York, the complaint recounts dozens of reported antisemitic incidents that occurred after Oct. 7 which the university allegedly failed to respond to adequately because of anti-Jewish, as well as anti-Zionist, bias.
“Columbia refuses to enforce its policies or protect Jewish and Israeli members of the campus community,” Yael Lerman, director of SWU Center for Legal Justice said on Wednesday in a press release. “Columbia has created a pervasively hostile campus environment in which antisemitic activists act with impunity, knowing that there will be no real repercussions for their violations of campus policies.”
“We decline to comment on pending litigation,” Columbia University spokesperson and vice president for communications told The Algemeiner on Friday.
The plaintiffs in the case accuse Columbia University of violating their contract, to which it is bound upon receiving payment for their tuition, and contravening Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. They are seeking damages as well as injunctive relief.
“F— the Jews,” “Death to Jews, “Jews will not defeat us,” and “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” students chanted on campus grounds after the tragedy, violating the school’s code of conduct and never facing consequences, the complaint says. Faculty engaged in similar behavior. On Oct. 8, professor Joseph Massad published in Electronic Intifada an essay cheering Hamas’ atrocities, which included slaughtering children and raping women, as “awesome” and describing men who paraglided into a music festival to kill young people as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”
300 faculty signed a letter proclaiming “unwavering solidarity” with Massad, and in the following days, Students for Justice in Palestine defended Hamas’ actions as “rooted in international law.” In response, Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, opting not to address their rhetoric directly, issued a statement mentioning “violence that is affecting so many people” but not, the complaint noted, explicitly condemning Hamas, terrorism, and antisemitism. Nine days later, Shafik rejected an invitation to participate in a viewing of footage of the Oct. 7 attacks captured by CCTV cameras.
The complaint goes on to allege that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.
More request to the university went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while Students for Justice in Palestine held demonstrations. The school’s powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events whole no one explained the inconsistency.
Virulent antisemitism at Columbia University on the heels of Oct. 7 was not a one-off occurance, the complaint alleges, retracing in over 100 pages 20 years of alleged anti-Jewish hatred at the school.
“Students at Columbia are enduring unprecedented levels of antisemitic and anti-Israel hate while coping with the trauma of Hamas’ October 7th massacre,” SWU CEO Roz Rothstein said in Wednesday’s press release. “We will ensure that Columbia University is held accountable for their gross failure to protect their Jewish and Israeli students.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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University of California-Los Angeles Student Government Passes BDS Resolution
The University of California-Los Angeles student government on Tuesday passed a resolution endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as false accusation that Israel is committing a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.
“The Israeli government has carried out a genocidal bombing campaign and ground invasion against Palestinians in Gaza — intentionally targeting hospitals universities, schools, shelters, churches, mosques, homes, neighborhoods, refugee camps, ambulances, medical personnel, [United Nations] workers, journalists and more,” the resolution, passed 10-3 by the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC), says, not mentioning that UN personnel in Gaza assisted Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.
It continued, “Let it be resolved that the Undergraduate Student Association of UCLA formally call upon the UC Regents to withdraw investments in securities, endowments mutual funds, and other monetary instruments….providing material assistance to the commission or maintenance of flagrant violations of international law.
The days leading up to the vote were fraught, The Daily Bruin, the university’s official student newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“Non-UCLA students” sent USAC council members emails imploring them to vote for or against the resolution and USAC Cultural Affairs Commissioner and sponsor of the resolution, Alicia Verdugo, was accused of antisemitism and deserving of impeachment. The UCLA Graduate Student Association and University of California-Davis’ student government had just endorsed BDS the previous week, prompting fervent anticipation for the outcome of Tuesday’s USAC session.
Before voting took place, members of the council ordered a secret ballot, withholding from their constituents a record of where they stood on an issue of monumental importance to the campus culture. According to The Daily Bruin, they expressed “concerns” about “privacy” and “security.” Some members intimated how they would vote, however. During a question and answer period, one student who co-sponsored the resolution, accused a Jewish student of being “classist” and using “coded” language because she argued that the council had advanced the resolution without fully appreciating the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of antisemitism.
“As a Guatemalan, …my country went through genocide,” he snapped at the young woman, The Daily Bruin’s reporting documented. “My family died in the Guatemalan Mayan genocide. I understand. I very well know what genocide looks like.”
Other council members voiced their support by co-sponsoring the resolution, which was co-authored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group that has held unauthorized demonstrations and terrorized Jewish students across the country.
Responding to USAC’s decision, Jewish students told the paper that they find the campaign for BDS and the attempts of pro-Palestinian students to defend Hamas’ atrocities myopic and offensive.
“How can anyone dare to contextualize since Oct. 7 without acknowledging that the Jewish people are victims of such a cataclysmic attack?” Mikayla Weinhouse said. “BDS intentionally aims to divide a community. Its supporters paint a complex and century-old conflict in the Middle East as a simplistic narrative that inspires hate rather than advocates for a solution.”
University of California-Los Angeles denounced the resolution for transgressing school policy and the spirit of academic freedom.
“The University of California and UCLA, which, like all nine other UC campuses, has consistently opposed calls for a boycott against and divestment from Israel,” the school said in a statement. “We stand firm in our conviction that a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty and to the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on this campus.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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