(Israelly Cool) The Greta Berlin controversy just won’t go away, with uber leftist Larry “the Eagle” Derfner interviewing her in light of Ali Abuminah’s damaging claims.
It seemed the easiest way to determine if Berlin was telling the truth or lying would be for her to publish the Facebook group discussion of the video, in whole or at least in part. On Friday night, Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada wrote that he had just spent several hours on a discussion group where the video was posted (though, he noted, not by Berlin):
[I]t was neither preceded nor followed by any interactions that would fit the description that it “was shared with a group of people who were discussing propaganda and racism, and this link was an example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.” This context does not exist.
I asked Berlin if she would publish the group discussion, in full or in part, and she reiterated what she wrote on FGM’s website – that the video never made it to her discussion group. She said the group discussion Abunimah monitored has over 1,000 members, while the group she meant to send the video to has 37. In other words, she said, the group discussion for which she’d intended the video never took place, so there’s no discussion to publish. (See statement from group members in UPDATE below.)
I saw part of the Facebook discussion that Abunimah evidently referred to, and from what I saw, his description was right – but it’s not the group Berlin says she meant. She said the smaller group has been together for nearly a year, and in the last month some of its discussion topics included “homophobia in the Middle East,” “the tragedy of the Jews from Arab countries – it’s an inseparable part of the Zionist story,” the Israeli 12th grade draft resisters, Pamela Geller, and a Tel Aviv historical exhibition on “Nakba perpetrators.”
She says she didn’t watch the Mullins video when she tried to send it to her group – which she did on the basis of its title, “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews” – but said she has watched it since. “It’s disgusting!” she exclaimed. “This is what upsets me more than anything [that such a video could be associated with her and FGM]. The man is a nut.”
I asked about her endorsement of Gilad Atzmon’s book “The Wandering Who?” which is widely considered anti-Semitic (and which I haven’t read). She said she’s “not a big fan of what he writes,” but that as she wrote in her endorsement, she found the book fascinating, funny, sad “and by the end I was exhausted. When I wrote that after reading all that I was ‘glad I’d been brought up a Methodist,’ that was meant to be funny.” I asked if she thought the book expressed hatred of Jews, and she said, “I found nothing anti-Jewish in that book,” adding that she felt Atzmon had been “demonized.”
I asked about the FGM tweet of a 1943 Nazi propaganda movie, and she said she didn’t recall seeing the movie or sending the tweet. Regarding an FGM tweet about the infamous film “The Innocence of Muslims” that mentions “An Israeli film maker, 100 Jewish donors,” she said those details were taken from the early reports in the New York Times and other mainstream news agencies, but that since then, of course, the story had changed. “The New York Times was fooled, too,” she said.
I asked her about an FGM tweet of the “slow-motion genocide” in Gaza. She said: “That’s a term I’ve been using for a long time, I use it in my presentations. That is my view of what’s happening.” I asked her about the FGM tweet regarding the “extermination camps” in Gaza. She said: “I think if something isn’t done about Gaza pretty quickly, I think that is what’s going to happen. There are lots of reports, UN reports, that say Gaza is going to become uninhabitable. I am pretty upset by the situation in Gaza.”
Berlin, who’s 71, apologizes for hitting the wrong button on Sunday’s tweet, but not for anything else, certainly not for anything she’s said with FGM. She doesn’t strike me as a person who scares easily, or who would disown something she believes in to stay in anyone’s good graces. If she genuinely believed in crackpot, anti-Semitic ideas, I think she’d say so and stick by it. But she says she doesn’t believe in such ideas, in fact she finds them disgusting, and there’s nothing remotely close to any definitive proof that she does believe them, and I think the reason for that is because she doesn’t.
UPDATE: Statement by members of Berlin’s FB discussion group:
In the past few days there have been a flood of attacks on Greta Berlin, based on an incident that was blown out of proportion, a reaction to an innocuous post that was taken completely out of context. When Greta saw the original post published in one Facebook group, she intended to share it with our group in the context of an ongoing discussion. Unfortunately, she forgot to change the setting on the Facebook sharing feature, bringing the post to her wall instead of landing in our closed group. Since Greta’s wall was linked with the Free Gaza Movement Twitter account, the post found its way to Twitter. Isolated from our discussion, the post was understood completely out of context, leading readers to believe that Greta herself was endorsing the content of the post.
Ours is a small and secret Facebook group, 37 members strong, consisting of a very diverse set of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and opinions. Many of us know each other personally; our mutual trust allows discussions to involve subjects that are not appropriate for public consumption, sometimes simply because our opinions are not fully ripe; we experiment with them and bounce them off each other in an attempt to understand the issues at hand, developing a better and more coherent argument.
One such topic involves the role of the Zionist movement during the Holocaust. Numerous historians before us made the claim, that leaders of the Zionist movement gave higher priority to the realization of their national project, sometimes missing opportunities to save European Jews. These priorities were made explicit in a famous quote by David Ben-Gurion, their consequences analyzed by historians such as Tom Segev and others. In this context Greta wished to highlight that anti-Semitic remarks have exaggerated and distorted this argument, claiming that Zionists have actively “run the concentration camps”.
Naturally nobody in his or her right mind would adopt such a claim, least of all Greta Berlin. Greta is highly respected and trusted by a large community of human rights activists, a co-founder and one of the leaders of the Free Gaza Movement. She’s faced down the IDF on the high seas a number of times, and is obviously no coward. If she hated Jews and denied the Holocaust, she would not be afraid to say so in public. But that’s not what she thinks, and her personal courage is a matter of record. So there is no reason for anyone to doubt her word.
Many in the media accused Greta of actually endorsing this false claim. Being familiar with the relevant discussions, we attest that understanding the context makes it plain that she does not endorse it, nor are we aware of her ever suggesting that she does.Others accused Greta of failing to provide the required context that supports her position. In the paragraphs above we tried to shed more light on this context, explaining the technical glitch that resulted in the publication of an isolated fragment of discussion, decontextualized from the rest. We hope that this will contribute to the clarification of this unfortunate affair.
Members of the Facebook group:
Adam Rawat, London, UK
Fadwa Othman, Nablus, Palestine
Ian Raven. Leicester, UK
Kyle O’Laughlin, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Mary Hughes Thompson, Manchester, UK
Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine
Mike Burch, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Moe Tamim, Montreal, Canada
Mona Affaneh, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Nadia Mansour, Los Angeles, California, USA
Ofer Engel, London, UK
Rim Selmi, Tunis, Tunisia
Robby Martin, Dublin, Ireland
Sam Siddiqui, Mumbai, India
Walid Jabari, Bethlehem, Palestine
Yani Haigh, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Again, I call BS on Berlin’s latest explanation.
- If publishing discussions from this so-called private Facebook group would provide context and potentially exonerate her, why won’t Berlin provide screenshots as proof?
- Even if Berlin mistakenly posted it to her Facebook wall, why did she leave it up there, along with the comment in support of the antisemitic video’s contention?
- What about the explanation for the link to the Nazi propaganda film?
Tellingly, Berlin’s explanation of the Atzmon endorsement, actually demonstrates her antisemitism. As mentioned, “The Wandering Who?” is widely considered antisemitic, and for good reason. Berlin’s explanation, in which she tells of finding the book “fascinating, funny, sad”, coupled with her lame “I was being funny” excuse for her “Methodist” comment, as well as denying there was anything anti-Jewish in that book, should be seen to be the final nail in the coffin.
Update: Grab your popcorn, folks.@AliAbunimah @engelo Are you refusing to apologize to me for your mistakes, Ali? I gave you ample opportunity. Greta@AliAbunimah infighting is not helping anybody, please leave this & forget. You are keeping this misunderstanding in the limelight.@SazzleUk Sadly, it is those who think they can mislead and lie there way out of a serious situation that perpetuate damage.
A leading Arab American group dropped a prominent Syrian-American musician from performing at their annual convention in a dispute over a freedom-tinged song that he was set to perform.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a longtime Washington civil rights group, repeatedly asked the German-born Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali to reconsider his piece choice, Jandali told POLITICO. When he refused, Jandali was told today that he couldn’t perform at this weekend’s event.Jandali’s “Watani Ana: I am my Homeland” doesn’t specifically mention Syria or the broader Arab Spring uprisings, but is heavy on the themes of freedom and liberty. Jandali calls it a “humanitarian song.” But lyrics include “oh my homeland, when will I see you free” and “When the land is watered with the blood of martyrs and the brave/ And all the people shout: Freedom to mankind.”Jandali himself declined to speculate why he wasn’t allowed to perform “Watani Ana,” and an official at the ADC, Nabil Mohamad, refused to explain its decision.“Is is it the words? The scale of the music? Was the rhythm too slow? Did the melody maybe bother them?” Jandali asked POLITICO. “I really would love to hear their answer. It would have been a perfect song.”“It doesn”t mention the word ‘Arab’ or ‘Syria’ or anything,” he said. “It”s a humanitarian song.”However other observers speculated that the song’s implications might have troubled the Syrian government, which is in the midst of a bloody crackdown on its citizens, or its allies. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has defied international calls to end the crackdown and ordered security forces into the streets to quell unrest. He has also ratcheted up tensions with neighboring Israel, allowing Palestinian and Syrian protesters to approach the sealed Syrian-Israeli boarder. Twenty-three of those demonstrators were later killed by Israeli forces after they tried to rush the border.“We are just saddened by the atrocities and the killing of innocent children,” Jandali, an American citizen who was born in Germany but raised in Syria, said.The chairman of the ADC board, gynecologist Safa Rifka, is aligned with Syria’s ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha. In a blog post, Moustapha called Rifka one of his three “best friends” in Washington D.C. The ADC describes itself as the largest Arab-American grassroots advocacy group and vows to end “discrimination and bias against Arab Americans wherever it is practiced.”
“I have nothing to say on that,” said ADC Vice President Nabil Mohamad on charges that politics were the reason. The ADC cited logistical problems in canceling Jandali’s performance. “You should get the facts,” said Muhamad in a brief interview with POLITICO before declining to comment further. via myemail.constantcontact.com
Who should be held accountable? Let’s start with the most obvious associated with this controversy:
- Ray Hanania, board member (unilaterally appointed by Safah Rifka) who has a history of irresponsible rants and self-hating tirades (http://bit.ly/k1D8xF)via kabobfest.com
apparently Hanania and Electronic Intifada don’t get along. Ray just tweeted…
I’m conflicted over the controversy involving Syria. On the one hand, the government of Bashar al-Assad has been brutal towards the protestors. On the other hand, I don’t know who these protestors really are. Most American Arabs feel the way I do about Syria. They are conflicted. Why fan the flames of one side over the other, just to make Israel and the rightwing U.S. Congress happy? via rayhanania.wordpress.com
With President Obama’s anti-Israel hostility becoming an increasing liability for Democrats, the administration finally decided Wednesday to pull out of the U.N.’s upcoming Israel-bashing extravaganza known as “Durban III.” Believe it or not, the notorious U.N. world summit on racism is coming to New York City in September with the purpose of “commemorating” the ten-year anniversary of the racist “anti-racism” conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
Mr. Obama’s latest lead-from-behind foreign policy move comes seven months after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government first declared “we will not be part of this event, which commemorates an agenda that promotes racism rather than combats it.”
The decision appears to be a clear reaction to the negative political fallout surrounding Mr. Obama’s recent veiled attempt to shove indefensible borders down Israel’s throat.
During Obama’s speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC on May 22, he specifically referred to his decision not to attend the “Durban II” or “Durban review conference,” which was held in Geneva in 2009. But he made no mention of of U.S. participation in the 2011 Durban III event, though it would have been an ideal audience for such an announcement had he already reached a decision on it.
In 2009 President Obama decided — just 36 hours before the meeting began — that there was something wrong with a conference on xenophobia and intolerance headlined by Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
It was a costly delay, which saved the U.N. from even more embarrassment, as many other states would have acted in tandem with the United States and boycotted Durban II with sufficient planning.
Evidently, on May 22 the president still thought he could pull the same dawdling stunt again.
But with Democrats scrambling to recover from the president’s profound alienation of large numbers of voters deeply sympathetic to Israel, the June 1 announcement was made and dressed up as a response to a letter “from Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.” The old letter from last December was actually signed by 9 Democrats, 8 Republicans, and 1 independent, and post-dated a boycott call of the racism summit made by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in November.
The better-late-than-never decision is not as simple, however, as it seems.
First, the U.N. General Assembly is currently negotiating a resolution on the “modalities” of Durban III. In plain English, there has been a difficult and protracted debate behind-the-scenes about the organization of the summit. The European Union, in particular, is looking for procedural dodges that will help it avoid the split that occurred during Durban II, when some EU states boycotted and others did not.Unfortunately for EU pencil-pushers, there is no escaping that the substance of the meeting is irrevocably poisoned.
By virtue of a 2010 General Assembly resolution, the purpose of Durban III is to celebrate a world conference that reveled in anti-semitism and to adopt a final declaration that reaffirms the original Durban Declaration. That’s the Declaration supposedly to combat racism, xenophobia and related intolerance but that somehow manages to charge just one of the 192 UN members with racism, namely, Israel.
The Obama administration has given no indication that it will encourage EU allies to break ranks and boycott Durban III, by insisting on a vote on this resolution and voting against.
Second, the U.N. Human Rights Council is poised to hold an event in Geneva on June 15 also “in the context of the tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration.” With the Obama administration on the Council it appears set to attend events over there hoping nobody will notice over here.
But the Council and U.N. High Commissioner Navi Pillay – a native of Durban and chief champion of the Durban Declaration – have planned a three-hour panel discussion featuring seven carefully-selected speakers. They include, for instance, extremist Mireille Fanon-Mendes. As recently as April 25 of this year, Fanon-Mendes told the “Electronic Intifada” that Israel was an apartheid state and she supported the first and second Palestinian intifadas as well as blockade-running flotillas and the international prosecution of Israelis as war criminals.
The Durban illness runs deep. The U.N. human rights system, led by the High Commissioner and Human Rights Council, has perverted the fight against racism into a fight against the Jewish state, a democratic freedom-loving home to more than a million Arabs and a bulwark against the ravages of anti-semitism for all Jews.
Remember that the streets of Durban pulsated with signs reading “for the liberation of Quds, machine guns based on FAITH and ISLAM must be used” and “the martyr’s blood irrigates the tree of revolution in Palestine,” while the gross intolerance inside the Durban meeting halls ended on September 8, 2001. Given the inextricable connection between hate and violence, shunning Durban III on September 22 in New York City just days after the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was a no-brainer.
Now comes the hard part. U.N. demonization of Israel serves to justify Palestinian rejection of negotiations and coexistence, which in turn fuels U.N. support of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
The cycle will only be broken if Palestinians and their U.N. enablers are made to face real consequences for attempting to reap the rewards of hate-mongering.
U.S. pulls out of Durban III: Behind the story: This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on Fox News. via daledamos.blogspot.com
The role of “civil” society in Durban I is best remembered for producing out-of-control NGO mobs. These gangs broke into the one NGO session on combating anti-Semitism, forcing it to end. After threats of violence, they necessitated the closure of the Durban Jewish Community Center, which had been the meeting place for Jewish NGOs attending the conference. They disrupted a press conference of Jewish NGOs who were seeking to raise alarm bells. They required Jewish representatives from all over the world to flee the final session with a police escort because their safety couldn’t be guaranteed if they remained. In the end, the alleged “anti-racism” NGO community deleted from their declaration multiple references to combating anti-Semitism and added that the self-determination of the Jewish people, or Zionism, was a form of racism.
The United Nations is planning to hold “Durban III” in New York City in September 2011, marking the tenth anniversary of the 2001 Durban conference, and the non-governmental forum which preceded it, held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
Durban I produced the infamous Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), which charges Israel with racism but names no other state in the world. Durban II, held in Geneva in April 2009, was headlined by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who saw the occasion as ideal for issuing another denial of the Holocaust and an endorsement of genocide against the Jewish state. Timing Durban III for the annual opening of the General Assembly is meant to guarantee the extensive involvement of presidents and prime ministers, most of whom eluded organizers of Durban I and II.
The U.N. will now be marking the 10th anniversary of Durban I at the same time and place as the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Durban I, the platform for violent, pro-terrorist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric that included such speakers as Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro, ended just three days before 9/11.
The intergovernmental working group charged with preparing next year’s commemoration session just wrapped up its first planning meeting in Geneva. It adopted a series of “conclusions and recommendations” and indicated that Durban III is intended to “reaffirm that the DDPA provides the most comprehensive UN framework for combating racism.” The U.N. General Assembly is now occupied with the delicate matter of finalizing “the modalities” of Durban III, and New York-based diplomats are hard at work negotiating the details.