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The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook


From the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Journalist Alison Weir has tirelessly investigated and reported on the history and realities of Israel’s dispossession and occupation of Palestine through her organization and website, If Americans Knew.  Now, she has come under guilt-by-association attack by two umbrella organizations of the Palestinian Solidarity movement, Jewish Voice for Peace and US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, for granting interviews to “white supremacist, anti-Semitic” and “vile” radio shows, specifically Clayton Douglas and American Free Press.  Judged as tarred by a common brush for not using her limited air time to challenge their objectionable ideologies, her offenses include being called a “patriot” by her defenders.

Alison’s politically incorrect policy has been to disseminate salient facts to anyone, anywhere to achieve the broadest possible reach among American citizens, without political discrimination.  The expelling organizations undoubtedly fear that the knowledge will feed anti-Semitism. Maybe it will, but the appropriate remedy would be a collective demand by the Jewish diaspora to end the Zionist project, make reparations to its victims, and establish a democratic state, not to withhold information from people who might use it to make Jewish Americans uncomfortable.

The complaint itself is strongly bigoted against the presumptively “white” political “right-wing” of America and the evidence is extremely thin, so what might really – and so suddenly – be behind this?  Unlike the two organizations attacking her, Alison has always taken an unequivocal and uncompromising position against the legality and morality of the entire Zionist project, focusing on the 1948 Nakba and UN-established right of return, not just the Israeli occupation. So-called “liberal” or “progressive” Zionists evade the former and pretend that the crimes began in 1967. Why this adamant denial of honest history and Palestinian human rights?

Fully honoring the right of return would threaten or eliminate Israel’s Jewish majority and any defensible claim to be a “Jewish state.” Survey data from Israelis and occupied Palestinians show this as the largest disparity between them and the most insurmountable obstacle to resolution. Hand-wringing Jewish Israelis and their US enablers see establishment of an integrated, multi-ethnic, Western-style constitutional democracy as an “existential threat” to be fought tooth-and-nail.  Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street says, “One-state is not a solution. One state is a dissolution.”

This is pure segregationist racism, not simply annoying discourtesies but the kind of racism that really counts, imposed by armed violence for 67 years upon helpless victims by a self-declared “Jewish state” with a Jewish religious symbol on its flag and emblazoned on the wings of its Hellfire missile-equipped, US-supplied F-16s murdering whole families in Gaza. How can this not inevitably generate some anti-Semitism? And how does it differ in spirit from the Jerusalem Cross of Crusaders that remains a mark of shame upon the history of Christianity?  Emotional reactions are not finely parsed, however sometimes unfair to the innocent, and are less likely to be nuanced when Israeli atrocities remain uniformly unopposed by the 50+ Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.  Jews everywhere are put on the spot by Israeli arrogance and outlawry to collectively stand up, declare “not in my name,” take sides, and choose the side of international law and justice.  If they don’t, they have themselves largely to blame.  Given awareness – which is readily available, however ignored – silence becomes complicity.

And equally disturbing, it is our country that protects these outrages in violation of our declared principles and our own laws, so why should “patriotism” not be evoked?  And why should American WASPs not be prominent among opponents of the government for which they are responsible?  And why should organized and politically influential Jewish Americans who march in lockstep defending Israel, as well as those who remain silent, not be held accountable by all US taxpayers who involuntarily support this? And who are the USCEIO and JVP to tell Americans of any political persuasion what to think, to what information they are entitled, or what to conclude from the evidence?  Until the righteous critics find effective ways to end Israeli oppression of people suffering under it daily, who are they to judge the attitudes or strategies or political outreach of others?

Those of us firmly supporting justice for Palestinians have observed JVP for many years as compromised by Zionist colonial sympathies but improving recently by endorsing the full BDS campaign. We also found ourselves suspicious a while back when USCEIO convened conference calls, highly controlled in format and content, concerned with “anti-Semitism” – the threadbare fallback complaint of Israel and its US lobby to change the subject and regain the offensive from attention to Israeli state crimes. Curiously, “Zionism” was omitted from their statement on racism while generically condemning “other racist or bigoted  behaviors, practices and structures,” an undefined subjective net that could sweep up almost anyone deemed objectionable. Why were putative Palestinian human rights advocates echoing Israeli propaganda themes?

Setting aside the possibility of infiltration, both Alison-attacking organizations have mixed memberships of people scattered along the learning curve of knowledge regarding international law, human rights and documented history, and at different levels of readiness to give up attachment to Israel and its mythologies. Alison would inevitably make many of these members very nervous.  And to make matters worse, she has been spreading inconvenient facts widely and very democratically, providing these, inter alia, to people from whom we “liberals” may choose to ideologically distance ourselves.  But they too are voters, with a right to know how and where their tax money is spent, to draw their own conclusions, and to exert political influence. Political influence is what is desperately needed against AIPAC power, and many of our federal legislators who bow to AIPAC are also “right-wing.”

The timing of the excommunication is not random. I suspect that it is publication and Alison’s promotion of her book, Against Our Better Judgment, that has released long-stockpiled ammo against her, however flimsy – especially her revelations of arguably treasonous conduct by our first two, widely revered Jewish Supreme Court justices, both pledged to Zionism above loyalty to country as members of a secret Zionist organization, the Parushim.  If Justice Louis Brandeis was instrumental, as the evidence suggests, in persuading President Wilson to betray his 1916 campaign promise and declare war on Germany (as a quid pro quo for the Balfour Declaration, with or without his knowledge) – a decision costing over 116,000 American lives (double those killed in Vietnam) – this is explosive information indeed. In addition, Alison’s research indicates that future Justice Felix Frankfurter was instrumental in preventing an early WWI peace treaty with the Ottomans that would have obviated the Balfour Declaration, terminating or seriously restricting the Zionist movement and the havoc that has followed.  This information had been published elsewhere but remained obscure.

Some would like to keep it obscure. Blackening the reputation of Justice Brandeis in particular, an iconic figure with a university bearing his name, is undoubtedly intolerable in the realm of “Jewish identity politics” (the real criteria, it would appear, defining Alison’s “anti-Semitism”). It also drives another nail in the coffin of Israel’s proclaimed “right to exist” on land stolen from others.  Alison had to be discredited and silenced.

These attacks are serious and malevolent, threatening both Alison’s influence and her livelihood, intended to reduce or extinguish her book sales and speaking engagements. Both expelling organizations are national in scope with many JVP chapters and USCEIO member organizations that may fear inviting her to their communities with her opposition now freshly armed to harass her events and their sponsors.

Readers wishing to oppose this muzzling attempt can endorse a petition supporting Alison here.


Jack Dresser, Ph.D. is National vice-chair, Veterans for Peace working group on Palestine and the Middle East and Co-Director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene, Oregon  

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