Right-wing news outlets attack U. Mich’s divestment drive

ActivismUS Politics
on 30 Comments
A screenshot of the Washington Free Beacon website.

A screenshot of the Washington Free Beacon website.

Right-wing news outlets and Israel lobby groups have mounted a concerted campaign over the past few days to attack students leading the call for divestment at the University of Michigan (UM).  The vote on a resolution to divest from corporations complicit in the Israeli occupation failed two nights ago, but the smears have kept up.

The latest is from the neoconservative Washington Free Beacon‘s Adam Kredo–no stranger to gutter journalism. 

Yesterday, Kredo published a report claiming to have uncovered evidence that backers of divestment at the University of Michigan are prone to violence.  He uncovered a Facebook photo showing Yazan Kherallah, a member of the UM Palestine solidarity group Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, standing with a keffiyeh over his face and holding a knife jammed into a pineapple. Yazan

Kredo’s report, which claimed that the image raised concern among “civil rights leaders,” was picked up by the lobby group The Israel Project.  The organization, run by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee spokesman Josh Block, encouraged Facebook users to share their post in an effort to show “the hate and violence of the Israel divestment movement.”

The “civil rights leader” Kredo quotes is Kenneth Marcus, a pro-Israel activist who runs an outfit dedicated to filing Title VI claims against universities where pro-Palestine activism occurs. Kredo quotes Marcus’ explanation of why the pineapple is significant:

“The knife is held in an overtly threatening way [and] coupled with a keffiyeh, it appears to be a gesture of warning or a threat towards Zionists.”

Marcus said that the use of a pineapple could have significant meaning as it has been used in recent months by the anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala.

“The use of a pineapple may be arbitrary. But in recent months, in France, the comedian Dieudonne has associated the pineapple with Zionists and Holocaust denial, especially with his use of the term ‘quenelle,’” a gesture similar to the Nazi salute, Marcus said.

“The pineapple may also be the closest one can get in a Michigan grocery store to a sabra,” a fruit associated with Israel and Jewish people, Marcus said. “Rather than speculating on who exactly this student was threatening, the university should find out as soon possible.”

While posting the photo arguably showed poor judgement, Kredo did not wait for Kherallah’s explanation of what it meant.

In response to the report, Kherallah said on Facebook (quoted below the Israel Project post) that the photo had nothing to do with Israel and was posted in January–well before the divestment debate at his school. He said it was a joke between friends who played basketball.  The opposing team he was facing was called Ananas–the Arabic word for pineapple. In an e-mail, Kherallah told me that “this was a photo shared between friends, who were all Arabs and Muslims, [and] the photo was a clear satire of the stereotypes of Arabs as terrorists.  The image of a violent Arab man was juxtaposed with a pineapple to express the ridiculousness of the categorizations that people like Adam Kredo engage in.”

Facebook users who opposed divestment slammed The Israel Project’s attack on Kherallah. “As a CSG representative at the University of Michigan and a proud supporter of Israel who voted NO to last night’s resolution(a resolution to boycott companies that do business in Israel), I can attest that the accusations made in this article are untrue,” wrote Jacob Abudaram. “This article is blatant bigotry and does not speak to who Yazan is and what he stands for.”

Earlier in the week, Kredo authored another report claiming that pro-Israel students have “allegedly been called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews'” and had received “death threats” by backers of divestment.  But the allegation did not come from a student.  Kredo’s source was Marcus, who claimed he had “been informed” of the threats. Kredo also quoted a “senior pro-Israel leader” in Washington, D.C. who claimed, with no evidence, that “the University of Michigan has allowed known pro-Hamas activists to openly organize riots on their campus.” NBC education reporter Nona Willis Aronowitz had this to say about that report:

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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30 Responses

  1. seafoid
    March 27, 2014, 2:49 pm

    They wouldn’t do it if they weren’t afraid of BDS.

    • Krauss
      March 27, 2014, 3:37 pm

      This Kenneth Marcus guy does sound pretty hilarious, though.
      Unintentionally as well. (The best kind of hilarity).

      • bilal a
        March 27, 2014, 10:27 pm

        It is getting funny:

        Vandals slash tires of 34 cars in hate crime in East Jerusalem
        The slogan ‘Goyim in Israel = Enemies’ was spray-painted on a bus in the Beit Hanina neighborhood; Jerusalem police investigating.
        http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.581633#

      • seafoid
        March 28, 2014, 11:08 am

        Goyim who keep Israel going economically are presumably kosher.
        the funny thing is they write most of their hate in Hebrew- like most Palestinians can read it.

  2. Sycamores
    March 27, 2014, 2:51 pm

    it’s worth mentioning the VP of the CSG the same pro-Israel student that said that students were called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews’” also said that Muslims, Arabs and #UMDivest community were threaten.

    as shown here
    3:42:33 to 3:43:40
    http://new.livestream.com/csg/events/2868309

  3. Cliff
    March 27, 2014, 3:03 pm

    This is the organized Jewish community.

    Pathologically paranoid and dishonest.

    They take a photo of a Arab/Muslim/Palestinian (presumably), holding a knife to a PINEAPPLE and say he’s ‘threatening’ and that the photo is hateful.

    Seriously, WHAT the **** is wrong with these people?

    And it’s these groups that that lameass student president succumbed to (probably happily).

    In the end, Zionists have money and fear. That’s it.

    And these spineless imbeciles (you have to be one to get into politics) continue to bow down to them.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 27, 2014, 4:43 pm

      The opposing team he was facing was called Ananas–the Arabic word for pineapple.

      i love this! what a great sense of humor. go Kherallah!!!

    • seafoid
      March 27, 2014, 5:10 pm

      Fear is the oxygen of Zionism.

    • Sumud
      March 27, 2014, 11:14 pm

      He’s just tiresome – why doesn’t he go back to AIPAC?

      When all is said and done there’s little difference between AIPAC and J Street and the impossible construct, the “liberal zionist”, they’re all in favour of denying Palestinian rights and perpetuating Israeli jewish privilege over Palestinians.

      • ToivoS
        March 27, 2014, 11:35 pm

        I have too much respect for MJ to dismiss his worries as they’re all in favour of denying Palestinian rights and perpetuating Israeli jewish privilege over Palestinians.

        What he is worried about (and I think we could include Finkestein is this worry) is that many of the Palestinian activists that are working in the BDS campaign have given up on the peace process and its two state solution and have opted for the one state solution. This means, a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea with equal rights for all inhabitants.

        If that happened, then logically, the Zionist construct of the State of Israel would be impossible. There is no way that once the Palestinian people achieved a majority that they would accept Zionist ideology to guide their new Palestinian state. Very simple logic. That is why many progressive Israelis and their American supporters (MJ and Finklestein included) have so strongly opposed annexation of the West Bank to Israel.

        Unfortunately for them they are a minority. The most powerful Zionist (and they have majority support) continue in their goal of West Bank annexation. The decision is being made by these forces and not the liberal Zionists like MJ and others.

        Somehow if Israel wants to commit suicide it is not for me to stop them. It is painful to watch MJ turn his anger against the inevitable reaction to Israeli policies and blame that reaction for what is going to happen to Israel. Namely, one state will be the end of the Zionist experiment.

      • Sibiriak
        March 28, 2014, 11:52 am

        ToivoS:

        The most powerful Zionist (and they have majority support) continue in their goal of West Bank annexation.

        1) West Bank annexation would create TWO states, not one. No Zionist supports annexing Gaza, and you can’t leave Gaza out of your analysis.

        2) Most Zionists support annexing only a portion of the West Bank. Bennett, for example, proposed annexing 60% of the West Bank, leaving large numbers of Palestinians outside of Israel. Most Zionists aim at a considerably smaller percentage. Only a small minority on the extreme extreme-right aim at annexing the entire WB.

        3) Even if the West Bank were annexed in its entirety, that would still leave Jewish Israelis as a majority in Israel. Of course, the Jewish majority would no longer be so dominant, which is why most Zionist do not aim at absorbing the entire WB.

        Namely, one state will be the end of the Zionist experiment.

        One state–Israel/WB/Gaza– would indeed be the end of the Zionist experiment. Which is why Zionists will avoid it at all costs.

        And who is going to force Israel to annex Gaza?

  4. The JillyBeans
    March 27, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Another good reason to not put photo’s on facebook. Or better yet, not have a facebook account at all. More professional lives get ruined by facebook posts and photos than not. It’s just not a safe medium for people to share. There’s always a rat who will take the opportunity to malign or exploit you.

  5. DaBakr
    March 27, 2014, 4:01 pm

    yes-sefoid. Israel has definitely taken notice as have American supporters of Israel that the bds movement as made gains in the US based media. I am ot sure why that is so shocking to you. We all know the conflict is boiling down to one huge PR campaign by both sides with major funding on BOTH sides and major exaggerations on both sides.

    As for the photo? Its ridiculous. He’s a kid. But its no more ridiculous then posting a video of another drunk-ass Jewish American kid spouting of his drunken bigoted ideas in a TA street. Beware of anybody claiming that their semi-insidious pics are only meant for friends. I’m sure said drunk-ass Jewish kid didn’t intend for entire world to see his foolish video.

    And a pineapple being as close to a sabra as possible? the author is hysterical. What American kid-even if their Arab-knows what a sabra is let alone thinks about using a pineapple as a close substitute in symbolism. In the US a pineapple is the symbol of welcome placed on many gate=posts and door-knockers. Its just dumb and yes-maybe this guy is showing the strain of dealing with bds on certain US campus’s

    as your beloved MW moniker states: “war of ideas…” And a war usually implies some kind of victor. Israel would be remiss if it were to bury its head about a campaign started by a Barghouti and touted as a ‘grassroots’ based idea

    • Sumud
      March 27, 2014, 11:37 pm

      The plant is considered a pest species in parts of the Mediterranean Basin due to its ability to spread rapidly beyond the zones it was originally cultivated. In Hebrew, the plant is referred to as “sabres.”[10] Kishkashta, a main character on a 1970-80s Israeli children’s show, “Ma Pit’om”, was a large, talking felt puppet of the Opuntia cactus.

      Wikipedia: Opuntia ficus-indica

      Not only in the Mediterranean, in Australia in the late 19th/early 20th century what we called “prickly pear” caused massive problems, an introduced species that took over large tracts of farming land and was finally brought under control by an insect:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prickly_pears_in_Australia

      Possibly not a great choice for a nickname.

      • seafoid
        March 28, 2014, 1:58 am

        Possibly chosen in a rush , like the rest of the building blocks of their “legitimate culture”.

    • Walid
      March 28, 2014, 1:35 am

      DaBakr, the cactus has nothing to do with it. It started back in 2009 when Dieudonné, after a few condemnations for his anti-Jewish comedy sketches was hit with a 30,000 euros fine payable to the French holocaust memorial. He asked the public to chip-in to help him pay it and teasingly said he’d also make a musical video clip to raise funds to pay the fine. His said the song would be based on another old song “Chaud Cacao” or hot cocoa sung decades ago by Annie Cordy about exotic animals and fish on an island. Dieudonné said he’d call his song “chaud ananas” or “hot pineapples”, because pineapples are also exotic. It was actually a play on words implying “Shoah nanas”. In French, nanas are hot chicks so put bluntly, Shoah Nanas implies holocaust hot chicks and an even bigger affront to the holocaust that he claims is nothing short of big business.

      The sample of his idiotic song is at 4:10 after his detailed explanation and plea for donations:

      • yonah fredman
        March 28, 2014, 2:06 am

        Walid-

      • yonah fredman
        March 28, 2014, 2:08 am

        Walid- You seem to write approvingly of Dieudonne, or am I mistaking your tone? I suppose you call his song idiotic and this is not approval, but you are not quite condemning it either.

      • Walid
        March 28, 2014, 2:24 am

        You are mistaking my tone, I was simply providing the background to the story that has everyone guessing all over the place. I was never a fan of such jokes.

      • American
        March 28, 2014, 3:19 pm

        ” Dieudonné said he’d call his song “chaud ananas” or “hot pineapples”, because pineapples are also exotic. It was actually a play on words implying “Shoah nanas”. In French, nanas are hot chicks so put bluntly, Shoah Nanas implies holocaust hot chicks and an even bigger affront to the holocaust that he claims is nothing short of big business”…Walid

        Where did you get that from? …sounds a little too code conspiracy to me. Hot holocaust chicks? as a way to put down the holocaust doesn’t really compute.

    • Peter in SF
      March 28, 2014, 4:04 am

      DaBakr says:

      We all know the conflict is boiling down to one huge PR campaign by both sides with major funding on BOTH sides and major exaggerations on both sides.

      What exaggerations on the pro-BDS side are you thinking of? And what evidence or rumors of evidence do you have of “major funding” on the pro-BDS side?

      As for the photo? Its ridiculous. He’s a kid. But its no more ridiculous then posting a video of another drunk-ass Jewish American kid spouting of his drunken bigoted ideas in a TA street.

      That would be actual bigotry. This is self-mockery. Not parallel examples.

  6. amigo
    March 27, 2014, 4:16 pm

    I wonder if they would print these photos of Israeli Jewish children signing rockest destined to kill Lebanese Children.

    http://www.abbc.net/lebanon/jewish-gifs/index.htm

    • ritzl
      March 27, 2014, 5:30 pm

      @amigo- Avatar magic. I wish it didn’t affect every one though.

      Thanks, Dickerson. This is helpful.

  7. K Renner
    March 27, 2014, 10:15 pm

    It’s an odd photo if you see it out of context, and especially if you have no intention of asking the guy who posted it anything about it, but the leap in logic to “it’s a threat” and “the guy in the photo is a bigot who wants to threaten to murder Israelis” is absolutely astounding in how idiotic it sounds, although it is pretty predictable.

    The “you anti semite/you want to kill all the Jews” shtick isn’t exactly a new one, to say the least.

  8. ckg
    March 28, 2014, 12:02 am

    A powerful and well-written editorial in the student Michigan Daily: http://www.michigandaily.com/opinion/03daily-divestment27

  9. seafoid
    March 28, 2014, 2:17 am

    From divestment to investment

    Israel has a housing bubble and the Government is now pumping it up even more.
    G-d will surely make sure it doesn’t crash.

    http://www.haaretz.com/business/real-estate/.premium-1.582498

    “Everything you need to know about Lapid’s zero VAT plan for new home buyers
    A primer on Yair Lapid’s proposals to help first-time home buyers, which just took their first steps toward legislation.Although many of the details have yet to be worked out, one program backed this week by the ministerial housing committee would give certain first-time home buyers an exemption for the 18% value-added tax on new residential construction. “

    • Walid
      March 28, 2014, 4:23 am

      “The plan would eliminate the 18% Value Added Tax for new apartments purchased by a couple who have not previously owned an apartment and have at least one child. One of the applicants must have completed either IDF or national service, and the couple must reside in Israel and agree not to sell the apartment within five years of purchase, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday.” (Times of Israel)

      seafoid, the plan doesn’t mention whether or not the male partner has to be circumcised. Whatever became of Israel’s plan of about 4 or 5 years ago to encourage Palestinian Israelis to enlist in the national service to offset not serving in the IDF and still remaining eligible for the usual vet benefits?

      • seafoid
        March 28, 2014, 4:54 am

        Walid

        The boom appears to be concentrated in mustawtanah Tel Abib and Al Quds and Palestinians are not welcome to buy in either city.

        Israel is a such a racist mess, isn’t it? The most banal phenomena are infused with bigotry.

  10. Woody Tanaka
    March 28, 2014, 10:23 am

    Oh my goodness!!!! Cooking while Arab!!! What a crime is being committed here. No wonder the Zionist organizations are losing their minds. Next thing you know, he might STEAM VEGETABLES while, with malace aforethought, still remainging an Arab!!!! Will the horrors never cease!??!!!??!

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