“Basketball Ireland informed FIBA Europe yesterday that as a direct result of recent comments made by Israeli players and coaching staff — including inflammatory and wholly inaccurate accusations of antisemitism, published on official Israeli federation channels — that our players will not be partaking in traditional pre-match arrangements with our upcoming opponents,” the organization said in a statement. “This includes exchanging of gifts, formal handshakes before or after the game, while our players will line up for the national anthem by our bench, rather than center court. Basketball Ireland fully supports our players in their decision.”
“Rising” is a popular online news program produced by The Hill, which features hosts and commentators from across the political spectrum discussing current events at home and around the world.
Since Hamas’ brutal invasion of Israel on October 7, and the subsequent Israeli war against the Gaza-based terrorist organization, the Middle East has been a consistent topic of discussion on Rising, with some defending the Jewish State and others opposing its military activities.
One of the most vocal anti-Israel commentators on Rising over the past few months has been Jessica Burbank, one of the program’s co-hosts.
In various segments, Burbank has spread a litany of falsehoods and misrepresentations of Israel, the IDF, and Hamas, that are based on unfounded statistics, misleading statements, and absurd analyses.
In a recent Rising piece about a New York Times article that chronicled the use of sexual violence by Hamas during the October 7 attack, Jessica Burbank quipped that the report “feels like intentional propaganda,” as the Times amplifies these claims against Hamas but doesn’t do the same for “very well-documented accounts of sexual abuse and violence by Israelis on Palestinians.”
According to Burbank, “One in 10 women in Gaza have experienced some kind of abuse from Israeli soldiers. And it’s even higher in younger age women, where it’s as high as 23 percent [who] have experienced sexual abuse from Israeli soldiers in the occupied territory.”
While Burbank presents these statistics as established fact, a Google search for the source of these numbers was unable to turn up any reference to these specific claims at all.
What did turn up were several articles on the rarity of sexual violence between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian women.
This is not the only time that Jessica Burbank has represented unfounded statistics as fact.
Later in that same segment, she claimed that “43 babies died in the [Al Shifa Hospital] NICU when Israeli forces decided to raid and attack that hospital.”
This seems to be based on mid-November reports that 39 premature babies were at risk as the IDF prepared to enter Shifa hospital in order to rout the Hamas fighters who were using it as a base. However, only days later, it was announced that 31 of these babies had successfully been moved from Gaza City to a safe hospital in the southern city of Rafah, with 12 being further moved to Egypt for treatment.
Not only did the vast majority of these babies not die, as Burbank claims, but the precise number of 43 seems to be entirely made up.
In another segment, Jessica Burbank repeatedly made the outlandish claim that Israel killed “31,000 civilians” during the Great March of Return in 2018. At one point, she even referred to those partaking in the March as “peaceful protesters who were protesting their land being stolen by Israel.”
In fact, according to the UN’s high estimate, between March 2018 and April 2019, 279 Palestinians had been killed. And, despite Burbank’s presentation of these Palestinians as “peaceful protesters,” it is believed that between 50% to 80% of those killed were members of Hamas or another Gaza-based terror organization.
However, it’s not surprising that Burbank might consider a Hamas member to be a “peaceful protester.”
After all, in her analysis, Burbank is dismissive of Hamas’ genocidal intent, preferring to view Israel and the IDF as the much greater enemy of peace in the region.
In one segment, Burbank put it as bluntly as saying that, “The current Israeli government is a terrorist organization. If you want to call Hamas a terrorist organization, the Israeli government is that times 10.” Further in the piece, she doubled down by claiming that “The IDF is far worse as a terrorist organization [than Hamas].”
It should be clear to any viewer that any opinion by Jessica Burbank on the issue of Hamas should be taken with heaps of salt, as she is dismissive of the brutality of Hamas’ terrorism and rationalizes the October 7 atrocities.
In reference to October 7, Burbank remarked, “Yes, they have killed 1,400 innocent people. Violence is always bad. But we have to understand it in the context of the Israeli government committing acts of terrorism.”
In another piece, she expanded on this, claiming that “What we have now is the culmination of many years of an apartheid state, of an occupation, and of peace not being present.”
Alongside her rationalization of Hamas’ terrorist activities, she has also shamelessly diminished the weight of this terrorism, claiming that, in contrast to Hamas, Israel is holding the “entire population of Gaza hostage.” To put it in Burbank’s cruelly simplistic words, “You want to talk about the 50 hostages that Hamas took versus the 1.1 million people living in Gaza right now…”
Burbank’s general understanding of Hamas and Israel seems to be so flawed that she once claimed that “Hamas doesn’t even operate” in the West Bank, something that any amateur analyst of the region could tell you is factually incorrect.
And Hamas is not the only organization whose violence Jessica Burbank prefers to whitewash.
Regarding harassment of international shipping in the Red Sea by the Yemen-based Houthi movement, Burbank remarked, “When I think about what the rebels are doing, I mean, Israel has the support of the US military. You know, Palestine does not. And so, Yemen seems to be one of the only countries that is actually supporting Palestine on this side of the war.”
She then went on to compare the Houthis to anti-Israel protesters who attempted to block Israel-bound ships in US docks, finishing with “I can see anyone interested in peace wanting to prevent weapons from getting in the hands of the people who are using them the most.”
Aside from her soapbox on Rising, Jessica Burbank also spreads her misinformation and derogatory view of the Jewish state on social media.
Two days after the October 7 attack, Burbank tweeted, “US propaganda machine doing a hell of a job convincing people it’s justified to condemn Russian expansion and support Ukrainian resistance while simultaneously supporting Israeli expansion and condemning Palestinian resistance,” falsely comparing Israel to Russia.
A few weeks later, she tweeted that the sole purpose of putting up posters of Israeli hostages around the world is for “drama” and to record people tearing them down.
For Jessica Burbank, it is unreasonable to assume that the posters are for awareness purposes, and there must be some nefarious reason behind it.
A week later, she tweeted that Israel was committing a “genocide” in Gaza and that she was “sick of hearing ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ while not affording that same moral permission to Palestinians,” grossly equating a state army with an internationally-recognized terrorist organization.
I’m sick of hearing “Israel has a right to defend itself” while not affording that same moral permission to Palestinians. Thousands of people dying and leaders call for a pause. Not an end. A pause in a genocide. This statement is not brave nor just. It’s sad. And it’s complicit. https://t.co/wp0OUBTGGO
— Jessica (Ka) Burbank (@JessicaLBurbank) November 4, 2023
In late December, Burbank also retweeted a post which spread the unsubstantiated claim that Israel was engaging in organ harvesting of Palestinians in Gaza.
On TikTok and in her substack, Jessica Burbank has also perpetuated a conspiracy theory tying the 1956 Suez War (which Israel fought in order to erase the threat of Egyptian-backed Palestinian terrorists crossing over and killing Israeli civilians — a fact that Burbank ignores), and the current Gaza conflict to a 1960s US plan to build a canal through Israel, connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
As Fathom Journal has pointed out, the plan was rejected in the 1960s and this notion of Israel acting on behalf of a 60-odd-year US imperialist scheme has sprung up recently as just another anti-Israel conspiracy. This has not stopped Burbank from spreading it as fact online.
There is nothing wrong with a news program sharing multiple points of view on a topic as contentious as the current war between Israel and Hamas.
However, by providing a platform to Burbank, The Hill is legitimizing the spread of her disinformation, which is propped up by blatantly false statistics and misleading analysis.
As her popularity on Rising grows and she becomes more influential, Burbank’s alternative view of reality becomes all the more dangerous.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.
The post ‘The IDF is Worse Than Hamas’: Jessica Burbank’s Anti-Israel Disinformation Campaign first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
‘I’m Speaking Up Against Evil’: Israeli Columbia University Professor Addresses Smear Campaign
Columbia University professor Shai Davidai, a Jewish Israeli, defended his right to condemn Hamas’ atrocities on Thursday after learning that an anonymous group of graduate students has accused him of anti-Palestinian racism and demanded a professional association of which he is a member to publicly censure him.
Anti-Zionist TikTok influencer Jessica Burbank first reported the accusations the graduate students lodged in a letter to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), an organization founded in 1974 to promote the social psychology field and its usefulness to society. Comprising over 7,500 student and faculty members, it provides invaluable funding and networking opportunities.
Accusing Davidai of “targeting individuals — especially Palestinians and students of color,” the students’ letter describes his efforts to hold pro-Hamas student groups accountable for harassing Jewish students and defending terror as “decolonization” as “blatant dereliction of duty with respect to his responsibilities and ethical standards as a professor and faculty member of SPSP.” The students additionally accused him of promoting “doxxing” and “misrepresenting” the views of pro-Hamas groups, all of whom have defended Hamas’ atrocities on Oct. 7 while calling for a ceasefire, a strategy they have employed to portray themselves as a pro-peace movement.
On Thursday, Professor Davidai told The Algemeiner that the man depicted in the letter is not someone his community, students, and peers would recognize, and he accepts that enduring assaults on his character is a consequence of defending the Jewish people wherever they are, be it Israel or New York City.
“Look, I’m speaking up against evil, and against the support of evil,” he said. “I’m willing to take the reputational hits because people that won’t like me for saying what I’m saying — I don’t need them to like me. This isn’t about the performative virtue signaling that is en vogue right now. This is about having a moral compass and standing up for what’s right.”
Davidai went on to express concern that his colleagues in the field have not defended him, a silence which suggests that criminating pro-Israel activists with baseless accusations will not be denounced or resisted even by moderates holding nuanced views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s war against Hamas.
“If I have to pay the price, I’ll pay the price. Thousands and thousands of Jews and non-Jews contact me to say that calling out pro-Hamas support on US college campuses is the right thing to do,” he continued. “And the irony is that I won’t be silenced. They might take away my reputation. They might take away my job and my career. But I’m not the kind of person who will be quiet now that there’s a personal cost for telling the truth. They’re just proving my point.”
Davidai first achieved national notoriety after delivering a thunderous speech before a crowd of students and others gathered on campus in which he called the school’s president a “coward” for refusing to condemn Hamas apologists and anti-Zionist demonstrations on campus.
“I’m talking to you as a dad, and I want you to know we cannot protect your children from pro-terror student organizations, because the president of Columbia University will not speak out,” Davidai said to the students, whom he asked to film and send the remarks to their parents. “Citizens of the US are right now kidnapped in Gaza, and yet the president of the university is allowing — is giving — her support to pro-terror student organizations.”
In many ways, becoming a public figure has been a detriment, Davidai said. His email is flooded daily with notes from antisemites accusing him of being an “Elder of Zion” and a “genocidal baby killer.”
His colleagues, furious that his exposing antisemitism and left-wing radicalism at Columbia University has caused important donors to pull their support from the school, have never commented on the hate mail even though they are always copied as recipients of it, he alleged.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post ‘I’m Speaking Up Against Evil’: Israeli Columbia University Professor Addresses Smear Campaign first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
‘We Have Lost All Confidence’: Bipartisan Letter Urges Blinken to Demand Top UN Officials Resign
A bipartisan group of 12 US legislators sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week urging him to demand that United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the head of UNRWA — the UN agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees — Philippe Lazzarini resign over the recent revelation that UNRWA employees were involved in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack.
“We have lost all confidence in Secretary-General António Guterres’ ability to ensure that the U.N. is not actively supporting terrorism or giving refuge to known terrorists. Therefore, we ask you to demand that Secretary-General Guterres and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini immediately resign from their posts,” the letter states.
The signatories were Democratic Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Don Davis, Jared Moskowitz, Brad Schneider, Haley Stevens, and Ritchie Torres — along with Republican Representatives Don Bacon, Anthony D’Esposito, Brian Mast, Max Miller, Michelle Steel, and Claudia Tenney.
The letter laments what the legislators say was an inappropriate response to October 7 by the UN, pointing out that “While innocent blood was still fresh on the ground, the UN’s first response to these atrocities was to draw a moral equivalency between the Hamas terrorists and Israel, who acted in her own self-defense and the defense of innocent civilians, including Americans.”
“UN Women,” the letter continued, “also failed to condemn the heinous attacks on women in a timely manner — even after widespread, well-documented cases of sexual assaults, rape, and genital mutilation.”
It then turned its attention to UNRWA, the UN agency dedicated solely to Palestinian refugees. Recent reports have revealed that at least twelve UNRWA employees — including teachers — took part in Hamas’s October 7 attack. Seven infiltrated Israel itself along with Hamas terrorists, others helped to kidnap Israelis and provide ammunition.
Not only that, but the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza has exposed that “Hamas has stored weapons in UNRWA buildings, used UNRWA resources for terrorist activities, and built tunnels under UNRWA facilities,” the letter says. The reps ask: “How long before we acknowledge the truth and label UNRWA as a tool for Hamas and others to recruit and train?”
A recent Wall Street Journal report estimates that around 10% of UNRWA employees are terrorist-linked — about 1,200 of the 12,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza.
Blinken has not yet responded to the letter. But after the initial allegations against UNRWA were made, he wrote in a statement that The United States is extremely troubled” by them and that “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
The reports, based on evidence gathered and shared by Israel, caused more than a dozen countries to pause funding to the agency.
However, the statement also noted that “UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures.”
The post ‘We Have Lost All Confidence’: Bipartisan Letter Urges Blinken to Demand Top UN Officials Resign first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Irish Women’s Basketball Team Refuses to Shake Hands with Israelis Before Losing by 32 Points in Qualifying Match
Israel’s women’s basketball team secured a resounding 87-55 victory over Ireland at their Thursday afternoon EuroBasket 2025 qualifier in the Latvian capital Riga as amid palpable tensions between the two sides off the court.
Most notably, the Irish team refused to shake hands with the Israelis before the contest began.
Ireland has been one of the least sympathetic of the EU’s member states towards Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom and Israel’s military response, with the government demanding a ceasefire and public opinion firmly on the side of the Palestinians.
Widespread calls within Ireland for a boycott of the game with Israel were held off by Basketball Ireland CEO John Feehan, who warned in an interview with national broadcaster RTE on Wednesday that the sport would lose a “generation of players” if the fixture failed to go ahead.
According to Feehan, Basketball Ireland was told by governing body Fiba Europe that they would be fined 80,000 euros ($86,000) if they did not play on Thursday and a further 100,000 euros ($107,000) fine if they did not fulfill the return game in November. Ireland would also face expulsion from the Fiba Women’s EuroBasket 2025 competition.
“I’m pretty sure we’d be hit pretty hard because we did actually ask was there an alternative to playing this game and all the rest of it, and from that perspective there isn’t,” Feehan said. He added that “the really big issue for us is we’d be effectively getting rid of a generation of players. We’d be out of international competition for the next five years effectively.”
Following Feehan’s comments, a fresh controversy arose over comments made by one of the Israeli players on Wednesday to an Israeli sports website accusing the Irish team of “antisemitism.”
“It’s known that they [Ireland] are quite antisemitic, it’s not a secret, so we are expecting an intense game,” the player, Dor Saar, said. “We need to show that we’re better than them and to win. We speak about it between ourselves, we know that they don’t love us so we will leave everything on the court, as always. And especially in this game.”
Basketball Ireland seized on Saar’s comments as an excuse to avoid pre-match greetings and other sporting protocols with the Israeli team.
In comments reported by the Irish Times, Israeli captain Eden Rotberg described the situation as “not easy.”
“I personally had friends who were murdered [on Oct. 7] and it has a very big impact, but in the end this is our job, sport heals, we are coming prepared and each of us know what she has to do here. There is no reason that we will not win,” she said.