Sunday, November 28th 2021   |

OP-ED: ADL speaker attacks Israel

By MOSHE PHILLIPS

The Anti-Defamation League’s upcoming international conference on combatting hate will include a speaker who has publicly accused Israel of perpetrating “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinian Arabs.

Was she the only speaker available in the whole world? Couldn’t the ADL find anyone else?

Sara Yael Hirschhorn, Ph.D. (Screenshot from Shalom Hartman Institute video)

The ADL says that the conference, titled “Never is Now” and scheduled to take place (via Zoom) on November 7-9, will be “the largest annual summit on antisemitism and hate” ever held.

If the event will indeed be that large, that makes it all the more urgent that the featured speakers not include anybody who has engaged in hateful smears against Israel.

Yet Sara Yael Hirschhorn, Ph.D., who has repeatedly circulated such anti-Israel slurs, will be one of the featured speakers. Hirschhorn, who teaches at Northwestern University, has repeatedly criticized Israel on Twitter.

One particularly extreme and troubling string of accusations appeared in a series of Hirschhorn tweets this past January 12:

— Hirschhorn wrote: “The Palestinian case shares some common features with South Africa—population transfer/ethnic cleansing, restriction of movement, lack of citizenship rights (beyond the Green Line), continued second class citizenship and technocracy.”

Isn’t it remarkable to hear Israel accused of “transferring” and “ethnic cleansing” of an Arab population which has constantly grown over the years?  Where were the Palestinian Arabs all “transferred” to, exactly?

— Hirschhorn declared that Israel is guilty of “daily violations of human rights.” That’s the kind of vicious smear I would expect from Arab propagandists, not from a speaker at an ADL conference.

— Hirschhorn blamed Israel for the fact that Palestinian Arabs in Judea-Samaria have “no citizenship rights,” a smear which perpetuates the false image of Israel as a colonialist oppressor. The reason those Arabs are not Israeli citizens is that they previously chose Jordanian citizenship, and today they choose to be citizens of the Palestinian Authority. Israel is not depriving them of citizenship.

— Hirschhorn called Israel’s Nation-State law—which is supported by a wide range of Israelis from right to left and has been upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court— “the horrific Nation-State law.”

It’s one thing to express respectful disagreement with this or that Israeli law or policy. But to call the law declaring Israel a Jewish state “horrific”? It’s a “horror” that Israel wants to identify itself as Jewish? That kind of extremist language is deeply disturbing.

[To see Hirschhorn’s tweets for yourself, visit: https://twitter.com/sarahirschhorn1/status/1348859729662119936]

Professor Hirschhorn has acknowledged in her tweets that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs is not “completely parallel” to South African apartheid, and that “apartheid” should not be used as “a blanket term” concerning Israel (although her wording implies that she sees at least a partial parallel, which is a lie).

She has also written that Israel is not guilty of genocide.

But, so what? Saying Israel is not totally identical to South Africa and has not systematically murdered millions of people is like acknowledging that the earth is not flat. She doesn’t deserve any special applause for that.

And she doesn’t deserve to be speaking at ADL conferences against hate when she promotes so many false and hateful smears of Israel. Hirschhorn’s hateful words will provide Israel’s enemies with powerful new ammunition. The last thing we need is for other critics of Israel to go around accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and citing, as their source, “a professor at the ADL summit.” The ADL can and should do better when selecting its expert speakers.

(Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press. He was a U.S. delegate to the 38th World Zionist Congress in 2020. His views are his own.)

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