i24 News – On the eve of the International Holocaust Memorial Day, the U.S. State Department published a report on an issue that has deep historical links to the mass murder of Jews by the Nazi regime: the antisemitic conspiracy theories issuing out of Russia for over a century, including those that helped ignite the murderous Nazi obsession.
.@EinatWilf: Equating Israel and the star of David with colonialism, racism, Nazism, apartheid etc and then laundering the libels through international instutitions is an old Soviet strategy that has deep continuities with the antisemitic fabrications produced by Tzarist Russia. pic.twitter.com/LvU2vc2TAO
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) January 11, 2024
“For over a century, Tsarist, Soviet and now Russian Federation authorities have used antisemitism to discredit, divide, and weaken their perceived adversaries at home and abroad,” the report’s executive summary opened, pointing to the rarely interrupted continuity between the Tzarist regime that produced the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Soviet Union’s “anti-Zionist” propaganda campaigns and the rhetoric of Vladimir Putin’s government.
Mahmoud Abbas’s long record of Holocaust denial & distortion relies on age-old tropes. Yet the conspiracy’s modern day iteration, where ‘Jew’ is swapped for ‘Zionist,’ hails from Soviet Russia, couched in a language progressives find irresistible, @IzaTabaro tells @laura_i24: pic.twitter.com/O4NQaiRkYT
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) November 20, 2023
“Today, Kremlin officials and Russia’s state-run or state-controlled media spread conspiracy theories, fueling antisemitism intended to deceive the world about its war against Ukraine. These tactics build on a long tradition of exploiting antisemitism to create division and discontent,” the report reads.
A chapter in that dark history that remains uniquely pertinent today is the Soviet demonization of the world’s only Jewish state, which took gained momentum following the defeat of Soviet client states Egypt and Syria in the Six Day War of 1967 against Israel. An entire pseudo-academic discipline — known as “Zionology” — was forged, devoted to rebranding an ancient hatred in a way that would make it palatable to the progressive left.
Unbeknown to the dimwits who recite it today, leftist word salad re ‘imperialist Nazi Zionist colonizers’ is lifted wholesale, with virtually no innovations, from a deeply sinister Soviet propaganda campaign shot through with the basest antisemitism, @IzaTabaro tells @laura_i24 pic.twitter.com/hjVFOfiCkL
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 18, 2023
“During the 1960s-1980s, the Committee for State Security (KGB) implemented several antisemitic active measures, a Soviet term for covert influence operations, to discredit its perceived adversaries — the Catholic Church, West Germany, the United States — as antisemitic,” the State Department report reads. “The KGB also targeted the Zionist movement and Soviet Jewish dissidents.”
According to writer Dara Horn, “The Soviet Union thus pioneered a versatile gaslighting slogan, which it later spread through its client states in the developing world and which remains popular today: it was not antisemitic, merely anti-Zionist.”
The premier expert on the topic today is Soviet-born U.S.-Israeli historian Izabella Tabarovsky, who has shown in great detail the pertinence of the propaganda tropes spread by a long-dead regime to current events. One prominent example is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a leader with a long record of minimizing, inverting or outright denying the Holocaust; his PhD from Moscow is a vital clue for understanding the kind of antisemitic rhetoric that thrives in Palestinian society, Tabarovsky argues.
When the Palestinian Authority issued a statement denying the Hamas massacre, the parallels with its president’s rich record of Holocaust denial jumped out. The Soviet origins of Abbas’s lies merit closer scrutiny, @IzaTabaro tells @laura_i24: https://t.co/T68s2WHqJV pic.twitter.com/GFkjlcPedv
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) November 21, 2023
Today much of the Kremlin’s antisemitic propaganda targets Ukraine and its leader, often through bizarre insinuations, such as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s reference to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s alleged Jewish heritage.
“The Kremlin falsely portrays Ukraine and its supporters as Nazis, antisemites and Russophobes, demonizes Ukraine’s Jewish president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, accuses Jews of being the worst Nazis, and manipulates the history of the Holocaust for political purposes,” the State Department report states.
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ACLU Threatens Lawsuit Against Columbia University
The New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a far-left nonprofit, is threatening to sue Columbia University unless the school nullifies disciplinary sanctions which temporarily suspended anti-Zionist groups that staged unauthorized demonstrations on campus.
“The referenced ‘unauthorized event’ was a peaceful demonstration and temporary art installation advocating for the end of Israel’s current military campaign in the Gaza strip,” the group wrote in a letter to Columbia University president Minouche Shafik. “Columbia’s actions suggest impermissible and pretextual motives for sanctioning the student groups.”
The ACLU also accused the university, which is being sued for allegedly standing by while pro-Hamas students beat up Jews and screamed antisemitic slogans, of perpetuating “already pervasive dangerous stereotypes about Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims” and other minority groups.
“These student groups were peacefully speaking out on a critical global conflict, only to have Columbia University ignore their own longstanding, existing rules and abruptly suspended the organizations,” ACLU executive director Donna Lieberman said in a press release issued on Friday. “That’s retaliatory, it’s targeted, and it flies in the face of the free speech principles that institutes of higher learning should be defending.”
Columbia University suspended Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) in Nov., explaining in a statement that the groups had “repeatedly violated university policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation.” Both SJP and JVP have been instrumental in organizing disruptive anti-Israel protests on Columbia’s campus since Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7 and killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
“Lifting the suspension will be contingent on the two groups demonstrating a commitment to compliance with university policies and engaging in consultations at a group leadership level with university officials,” a campus official said at the time, adding that the groups will be ineligible to hold events on campus or receive university funding for the duration of the punishment.
Even after being disciplined, however, SJP members continued their activities in front groups — such as Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), a non-campus affiliated group that supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement — staging more protests in flagrant violation of the terms of its suspension.
ACLU’s portrayal of pro-Hamas students as peaceful and artistic victims of racism is in tension with how Jewish Columbia students have described their behavior and the university’s response to it.
“F— the Jews,” “Death to Jews,” “Jews will not defeat us,” and “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” they have chanted on campus grounds since Oct. 7, violating the school’s code of conduct, a lawsuit filed against Columbia University by last week says. In other incidents, they beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library and attacked another with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger.
Anti-Jewish violence and hatred became so common, the lawsuit alleged, that Columbia told Jewish students that campus security could no longer guarantee their safety.
SJP insisted in Friday’s press release that its members are the victims and suggested that those claiming to be advocates of social justice are beyond reproach.
“Columbia University likes to showcase itself to the world as a champion of student protest, equality, justice, and free speech — but the university’s actions in the lead up to our suspension, and its targeted punishment of our student groups, showed that it is all a farce,” SJP member Safiya O’Brien said. “As students of conscience, we know injustice when we see it. The university’s priorities are not with its student body — certainly not with its Palestinian students and the overwhelming number of those that advocate for them.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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Low Expectations Ahead of Palestinian ‘Unity’ Talks in Moscow Convened by Russian Regime
Representatives of Palestinian factions are traveling to Moscow this week for talks aimed at forging a greater degree of unity, but analysts remained skeptical that the Russian initiative is likely to register progress.
The talks, which are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, will bring together officials of the Islamist terrorist organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) with representatives of PLO factions including Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Announcing the talks last week, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov told pro-regime media outlets that “all Palestinian representatives who are located in different countries, in particular in Syria and Lebanon, other countries in the region,” would be invited to the Moscow parley, emphasizing at the same time that Russia’s rulers continue to regard the PLO — the main power in the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) — as “the sole legal representative of the Palestinian people.”
Several regional policy analysts argued that expectations from the talks should be necessarily limited, especially as Russia has failed in past efforts to bring rival Palestinian factions closer together.
“Russia does not have any road map for the Palestinian file, especially for the Gaza Strip as it would be necessary to have mediation functions and maintain good contacts with both Israel and the paramilitary wing of Hamas in Gaza,” Ruslan Suleymanov — an independent Middle East expert based in Baku, Azerbaijan — told the German broadcaster DW on Monday.
Suleymanov said that the talks were primarily an opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to showcase Russia’s geopolitical clout amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine and with elections — which Putin is expected to win easily — on the calendar in March.
“It’s really just dialogue for dialogue’s sake,” Suleymanov remarked.
Hugh Lovatt — senior policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations — offered a similar perspective.
“This Russian summit is a way to show that Russia has the diplomatic capacity to play a hands-on role in supporting Palestinian national unity,” he told DW. However, previous reconciliation talks that were hosted in Moscow, Algiers and Cairo have “also not succeeded in brokering a lasting reconciliation deal between the rivals,” he said.
A potential obstacle to the talks emerged on Monday with the resignation of the PA’s Prime Minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh, who had enthusiastically backed the Moscow talks in a speech at the Munich Security Conference earlier this month. The PA has been under increasing pressure from the US to form a more representative government that would be in a position to manage the Gaza Strip once hostilities end.
“The decision to resign came in light of the unprecedented escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the war, genocide and starvation in the Gaza Strip,” Shtayyeh told PA President Mahmoud Abbas in a formal letter.
“I see that the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in Gaza and the need for a Palestinian-Palestinian consensus based on Palestinian unity and the extension of unity of authority over the land of Palestine,” he added.
A Hamas spokesman told the Saudi channel Al Arabiya on Sunday that the terrorist group wants to form “an impartial national government based on the consensus of the Palestinian factions,” adding that the talks in Moscow would focus only on “a certain period and clear tasks.”
Separately, Hamas politburo member Muhammad Nazzal told the pro-Hamas website Middle East Monitor that the Moscow meeting was necessary because there had been “no official communication” with the PA on the subject of post-war planning.
Nazal claimed in the same interview that Hamas remained a powerful force in the Gaza Strip, where it continues to hold hostage more than 100 of the 240 people seized during its pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7. “Rumours of Rafah in the south of being the last stronghold of Hamas are false; the resistance exists across the entire Gaza Strip,” Nazzal said. “Moreover, the movement is fighting a fierce political negotiating battle, no less than the battle it is waging on the ground.”
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Harvard Professor Resigns From Antisemitism Task Force
Internal tension and disagreement have caused a member of Harvard University’s Presidential Task Force on Antisemitism to resign as co-chair, The Harvard Crimson reported on Monday.
Raffaella Sadun, a Harvard Business School professor, reportedly left the group —which was formed to issue recommendations for addressing anti-Jewish hatred on the campus — because the university would not guarantee that the task force’s guidance would be implemented as official school policy. Her aggravation has been mounting for “some time,” the paper added, but she declined to cite conflict as the reason for her departure.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help advance the vital work to combat antisemitism and believe that [interim Harvard University] President Garber has assembled an excellent task force,” Sadun said. “I will continue to support efforts to tackle antisemitism at Harvard in any way I can from my faculty position.”
In a statement, interim president Garber told The Harvard Crimson that Sadun had “expressed her desire” to get back to “research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities.”
“I am extremely appreciative of Professor Sadun’s participating in the task over the past few weeks,” Garber said. “Her insights and passion for this work have helped shape the mandate for the task force and how it can best productively advance the important work ahead.”
Announced in January, the Presidential Task Force on Antisemitism is Harvard University’s response to years of antisemitic incidents that earned the school the distinction of being labeled the most antisemitic campus in American higher education by education watchdog AMCHA Initiative. A now defunct group had been created by former president Claudine Gay, the Antisemitism Advisory Group, amid an explosion of antisemitic activity on campus following Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Gay eventually resigned from her position after providing controversial answers to a congressional committee about her efforts to manage the problem and being outed as a serial plagiarist. In her absence, Garber pushed ahead with forming task forces for addressing both antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Since then, the antisemitism group’s membership have stirred controversy and speculation. In January, Jewish community activists and nonprofit leaders criticized its naming history professor Derek Penslar as a co-chair because, in his writings and public remarks, he had described concerns about rising antisemitism at Harvard as “exaggerated” and blamed Israel for fostering anti-Zionism. According to the Crimson, Penslar considered resigning but decided against doing so. In Jan., Rabbi David J. Wolpe stepped down from the group, saying in a statement on X that “both events on campus” and Gay’s congressional testimony “reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped.”
Last week, the school issued a statement denouncing another antisemitic outrage, a faculty anti-Zionist group’s posting on social media an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David containing a dollar sign at its center dangling a Black man and an Arab man from a noose. The group’s leader, professor Walter Johnson, has since resigned as a member.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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