My Daily Beast piece: I Was Canceled for Criticizing Israel

I contributed to The Hill TV’s “Rising” for three years. But one monologue defending Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Palestinians cost me my job.

On Monday, September 26, I delivered a video monologue as part of my job as a rotating co-host for The Hill TV’s political commentary show, Rising. I’d been a weekly guest on the show for three years, and this was my first “Radar”—an op-ed delivered straight to the camera. It was also my last. On September 28, I was fired.

In my years as a contributor on the show, there were no complaints about my performance. I had recently begun guest-hosting and even shot a pilot for another show that I had pitched to The Hill TV (the video arm of the D.C.-based political website, The Hill).

Rising is—or is supposed to be—a show where hosts and guests from both the right and the left can say the things that are verboten on other corporate media outlets. On several occasions over my years at Rising, I had criticized Israeli government policy and the corporate media’s whitewashing of its mistreatment of Palestinians—both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. And so I assumed this would be a good, thought-provoking topic when I co-hosted last Monday.

read the rest here.

Read & Watch My censored video

The bad news is that I was censored and fired. The good news is that I was able to release the video which got me censored and fired.

I’ve been appearing on The Hill’s Rising show as a weekly guest contributor for three years. Recently I started doing some guest hosting as well. Hosts deliver something called “radars” which are video opinion pieces delivered straight to the camera. On Monday September 26 I recorded one I had written about the attacks lobbed against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) who had described Israel as an apartheid state. The Hill refused to publish my piece on their youtube channel. When I pushed back and respectfully urged them to reconsider they not only fired me as a guest host but told me I was no longer needed as a weekly guest. The producers I worked with wanted to do the right thing but the higher ups at The Hill and at Next Star media, which recently bought The Hill refused to. I went to an actually independent media outlet, Breakthrough News, and shot the video. Below is the video as well as the script.

I’ve been appearing on The Hill’s Rising show as a weekly guest contributor for three years. Recently I started doing some guest hosting as well. Hosts deliver something called “Radars,” which are video opinion pieces delivered straight to the camera. On Monday September 26, I recorded one I had written about the attacks lobbed against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who had described Israel as an apartheid state. The Hill refused to publish my piece on their Youtube channel. When I pushed back and respectfully urged them to reconsider, they not only fired me as a guest host but told me I was no longer needed as a weekly guest. The producers I worked with wanted to do the right thing but the higher-ups at The Hill and at Next Star Media, which recently bought The Hill, refused to. I went to an actually independent media outlet, Breakthrough News, and shot the video. Below is the video as well as the script.

Representative Rashida Tlaib has been condemned by some over comments she made about Israel. Here’s CNN’s Jake Tapper reporting on what the Michigan Democrat said and the response it prompted.

Jake Tapper: “Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from Michigan facing criticism today for what several of her Jewish colleagues have deemed antisemitic comments. Here’s what Tlaib, the first Palestinian woman to serve in congress said at a virtual event yesterday.”

Rashida Tlaib: “I want you all to know that among progressives it has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government. And we will continue to push back and not accept this idea that you can be “progressive except for Palestine.”  

Jake Tapper: “The CEO of the Anti Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, slammed the comments, saying that Israel does not have an apartheid government and said she should not be imposing a ‘litmus test,’ tweeting that Tlaib “tells American Jews that they need to pass an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive spaces.’ Some of Tlaib’s Jewish colleagues agreed. Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz called her comments ‘outrageous’ and ‘nothing short of antisemitic’.”

Debbie Wasserman Shultz is right. It is outrageous. It’s outrageous that Rashida Tlaib is getting attacked. Tlaib is merely stating that Israel is an apartheid state and that people who claim to have progressive values cannot support an apartheid state. No matter how loose a definition of “progressive” we use, it certainly excludes supporting a racist apartheid system. What’s outrageous is attacking Tlaib for pointing out that “progressive except on Palestine” is an intrinsically contradictory position.

What’s also outrageous is that the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt would claim that Israel is not an apartheid government. What’s outrageous is that Jake Tapper would accept Greenblatt’s judgment as the truth and not propaganda that needed to be pushed back against. 

I understand that Greenblatt and perhaps Tapper feel like Israel is not an apartheid state but unfortunately for them, Apartheid isn’t about your feelings. It’s about facts. 

In 1973, the UN defined “the crime of apartheid” as any “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defined apartheid as “inhumane acts of a character” that are “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” 

These inhuman acts include, among others

infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups… 

Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including… the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

I’d encourage Jake Tapper to look this up sometime.

Here are a few examples of Israel’s apartheid policies. The Law of Return of 1950 allows any Jew, which means anyone with one Jewish grandparent, the right to move to Israel and automatically become citizens of Israel. It gives their spouses that right too, even if they’re not Jewish. Palestinians, of course, lack that right. 

The Israeli Citizenship Law of 1952 deprived Palestinian refugees and their descendants of legal status, the right to return and all other rights in their homeland. It also defined Palestinians present in Israel as “Israeli citizens,” without a nationality and group rights.

These laws together obviously fit into the International Criminal Court’s apartheid criteria: The Israeli laws prohibit “members of a racial group… the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence.”

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law of 2003, which was reauthorized in March of this year, bars most Palestinians who marry Israelis from receiving permits to live with their spouses in Israel.

More recently, the controversial Nation State Law established that “The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It demoted Arabic from an official language to a language with “special status.” It also stipulated “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.” 

These are just some of the reasons that human rights organizations have declared Israel an apartheid state: Al Haq, Al Mezan’s Center for Human Rights, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have all documented Israeli policies enacting apartheid policies. 

Israel’s own Human Rights organization B’Tselem has declared,  “The Israeli regime enacts… an apartheid regime.” B’tselem divides the way Israeli apartheid works into four areas:

Land – Israel works to Judaize the entire area, treating land as a resource chiefly meant to benefit the Jewish population. Since 1948, Israel has taken over 90% of the land within the Green Line and built hundreds of communities for the Jewish population. 

Citizenship – Jews living anywhere in the world, their children and grandchildren –and their spouses – are entitled to Israeli citizenship. In contrast, Palestinians cannot immigrate to Israeli-controlled areas, even if they, their parents or their grandparents were born and lived there. Israel makes it difficult for Palestinians who live in one of the units it controls to obtain status in another, and has enacted legislation that prohibits granting Palestinians who marry Israelis status within the Green Line. 

Freedom of movement – Israeli citizens enjoy freedom of movement in the entire area controlled by Israel (with the exception of the Gaza Strip) and may enter and leave the country freely. Palestinian subjects, on the other hand, require a special Israeli-issued permit to travel between the units (and sometimes inside them), and exit abroad also requires Israeli approval. 

Political participation – Palestinian citizens of Israel may vote and run for office, but leading politicians consistently undermine the legitimacy of Palestinian political representatives. The roughly five million Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, cannot participate in the political system that governs their lives and determines their future. They are denied other political rights as well, including freedom of speech and association.

Again, that is the Israeli Human rights organization, B’Tselem, not Rashida Tlaib. 

I was born in New York City. My great grandparents were from Eastern Europe. I could move to Israel today, buy a house, get a job, travel around with no problem. So could Jake Tapper and Jonathan Greenblatt. But a Palestinian like Rashida Tlaib can’t even visit her family home in what is now Israel. 

This demographic tension is recognized by Israeli officials and politicians, who have described their own country as an apartheid state. 

Former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair wrote in 2002, “we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.”

Zehava Galon, former chair of Israel’s Meretz party, said in 2006, Israel was “relegated” to “the level of an apartheid state.”

In 2007, Israel’s former education minister Shulamit Aloni wrote, “the state of Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of apartheid with the native Palestinian population.”

In 2008, Former environment minister Yossi Sarid wrote “what acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck – it is apartheid.”

In 2015, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said then-president Benjamin Netanyahu’s “policies are leading to either a binational state or an apartheid state.” 

Even Israel’s prime ministers have used the A word. In a recently published 1976 interview, assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin said, “if we don’t want to get to apartheid…I don’t think it’s possible to contain over the long term, a million and a half [more] Arabs inside a Jewish state.”

In 2007, yet another prime minister, Ehud Olmert, warned, “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.” Well Israel isn’t finished, but they do face a South African style struggle.”

Prime Minister Ehud Barak said in 2010, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

But there is no other other standard more universally respected in defining apartheid— not the U.N., Not the International Criminal Court, not human rights organizations, not Israeli Prime Ministers— than the people of South Africa who lived under the system of Apartheid.

After all, apartheid is an Afrikaans word.  It means apartness. It was the official policy in South Africa from 1948 to 1994, allowing white South Africans, in the minority, to rule over and discriminate against the vast majority of Black South Africans. The definitions from the United Nations and the International Criminal Court come out of their experiences.

In 1997, Nelson Mandela said,

The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and, over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

In 2013, Desmond Tutu recalled being struck by the similarities between what he experienced in apartheid South Africa and what he observed in Israel, saying,

I visited the occupied Palestinian territories and have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinians at Israeli check points. The inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured, farmers tend their land, or children attend school. This treatment is familiar to me and the many Black South Africans who were corralled and harassed by the security forces of The Apartheid government.

Listen to South Africa’s Minister for International Relations Naledi Pandor,  addressing the United States General Assembly:

While we work to address contemporary conflicts, we should not ignore longstanding conflicts such as that of the people of Palestine, which has been on the United Nations agenda throughout the seven decades of existence of this organization. We cannot ignore the words of the former Israeli negotiator at the Oslo Talks, Daniel Levy, who addressed the UN Security Council recently and referred to the increasingly weighty body of scholarly, legal and public opinion that has designated Israel to be perpetrating apartheid in the territories under its control. Israel must be held accountable for its destructive actions that have significantly impaired the possibility of a two-state-solution.

To my fellow Jews, to my friends in the Democratic Party who want to support Israel and think of themselves as progressive, it is important to look at what Israeli law today does, what the lived experiences of Palestinians today mean as defined under international law, and what our friends from South Africa have long pointed out. But we should not stop there. South Africans didn’t just define apartheid. They dismantled it. Instead of attacking Rashida Tlaib for her candor, her critics should ask themselves how Israeli apartheid could be dismantled. What would a post-apartheid country look like?  

L’Shanah Tovah 

[END OF MONOLOGUE]

More links

  • the video in which I announced what happened.
  • The Intercept article by Ryan Grim, who broke the story
  • My interview with Counter Points, hosted by Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky
  • The Jacobin article by Branko Marcetic which looks at who funds Next Star, the company that owns The Hill.
  • An article by Juan Cole and Informed Comment
  • An article by Phillip Weiss and Michael Arria at Mondo Weiss
  • An article by Jake Johnson at Common Dreams
  • post at Robert Scheer’s Sheer Post

Piece on NY Times Bias!

Here’s a piece I wrote for FAIR on the infuriating NY Times bias

Sydney Ember’s Secret Sources

NYT reporter hides corporate ties of Sanders critics she highlights
New York Times depiction of Bernie Sanders

Ember is supposed to write reported articles, not op-eds, but she consistently paints a negative picture of Sanders’ temperament, history, policies and/or political prospects in the over two dozen pieces she’s done on him. This makes sense, given the New York Times’ documented anti-Sanders bias, which can be found among both editors and reporters alike.

The paper was caught making significant changes, without acknowledging them, to a 2016 article on Sanders hours after it went up:  It changed the headline (from “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors,” to “Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories”); deleted a positive quote from a campaign advisor; and added two negative paragraphs. Even after the paper’s public editor chastised the Times for the practice known as stealth editing, the editors defended the changes because they “thought [the article]  should say more about his realistic chances.” In its original form, the article didn’t cast enough doubt on Sanders’ viability and ability to govern, in other words.

Sydney Ember (photo: Twitter)

Ember came to the New York Times with a resumé limited to the finance industry: She was an analyst for BlackRock, the biggest global investment management corporation, and the largest investor in coal plant developers in the world. (Her husband, Mike Bechek, is also in the investment business; he was a senior associate consultant at Bain Capital, where his father was CEO.)

Ember was hired by the Times in 2014 to cover advertising and marketing for the paper’s business vertical Dealbook. She startedcovering politics in May 2018, and immediately got the enviable assignment of covering one of the leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Ember has a multi-prong approach to undermining Sanders: She went to great lengths to avoid calling him the frontrunner until he was “no longer” one;  she attributes his political positions to attention-getting, self-serving ulterior motives; frames even his victories and the popularity of his ideas as weaknesses; cherry-picks polls; presents opinions as facts (claiming he’s “outflanked on the left by rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Beto O’Rourke”); and creates false equivalency between Sanders and Donald Trump.

READ THE REST HERE

My piece at FAIR: how Ilhan Omar’s critics proved her right

I wrote a piece about how Ilhan Omar’s critics just prove her point for FAIR,

Ilhan-Omar (1)

Bonus podcast: how Rania got her groove & facebook page back

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https://www.patreon.com/posts/how-rania-got-25084293