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Trump’s anti-Semitism envoy’s main target is ‘ancient scourge of anti-Zionism’ aimed at ‘strangling Jewish state’

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This is astonishing. On Thursday, Elan S. Carr was sworn in as the new envoy on anti-Semitism for the State Department and the 50-year-old attorney met with the press that afternoon. He then said in essence that his portfolio is taking on the left more than the right.

When you read this, you will see that the Trump administration has officially lost its mind, and it is playing into the hands of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. This screwball obsessive focus on anti-Zionism can only serve those who have not been heard, criticizing Israel and seeking to reform it (as Asad AbuKhalil suggests).

Carr stated his mission is to combat the growing anti-Semitism in the world, Jewish insecurity in Europe and “the indoctrination of anti-Semitic hate.” But

[W]e are going to focus relentlessly on eradicating this false distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The Secretary could not have been clearer. He stood before 18,000 activists at the AIPAC Policy Conference just two weeks ago and he declared, I quote, “Let me go on [the] record: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” That will be our rallying cry as we go forward to fight this ancient scourge that sadly is on the rise today and must be combated, and we’re very proud that this department and this administration is focused in unprecedented fashion on doing that.

Matt Lee gets the first question:

Welcome aboard…. [O]ne of the founders of the BDS movement has said that he was denied entry into the United States [Omar Barghouti]. I presume, but I want to ask you, is this something that you support? Do you equate the BDS movement with anti-Semitism, not just as – and regard it as something more than criticism or an attempt to change the policies of the Government of Israel?

Carr says that the effort to “strangle” the Jewish state is hatred of the Jewish people.

So an individual has a right to buy or not buy what they please. However, if there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is anti-Semitic, and the administration has gone on the record for – as being opposed unequivocally to the BDS movement and the idea that somehow there can be movements organized to deny Israel its legitimacy and not to allow Israel to participate in economic commerce in the world – sure, that is. Hatred of the Jewish state is hatred of the Jewish people, and that’s something that’s very clear and that is our policy.

Let’s go over that one more time for the short sighted. Lee: “So you’re convinced that BDS is actually hatred of the Jewish state and not just opposition to the government of the Jewish state’s policies?”

So like I said, a person can decide what they want to buy, but if there is a movement that is dedicated to strangling the Jewish state out of existence, that is anti-Semitism.

Lee: “So it’s okay for one person to decide that he doesn’t – he or she doesn’t want to buy, but if two people talk about it together, that’s a – or more, that’s a conspiracy and that’s bad and then it becomes anti-Semitic?”

Carr talks about how organized a campaign BDS is.

Well, the BDS movement is well known. This isn’t a ragtag group. I mean, there are international organizations, there are websites, it’s organized, and the stated goals are clear, and the stated goals on the website of the BDS movement is to deny the state of Israel economic prosperity and to deny legitimacy. And that is anti-Semitism…

Another reporter asks whether there is not a distinction between anti-Semitism and the criticism of and opposition to policies of the Israeli Government?

So that’s a very different question. And yes, absolutely, criticism of a country… Criticism of the policies of any country, whether it’s the state of Israel or of the United States, is entirely proper and can’t be regarded as being inappropriate. However, as you may know, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism gives as a specific example the application of double standards to the state of Israel. And so if Israel is criticized in a way that no other country in a similar circumstance is criticized, yes, that is anti-Semitism.

Now, by the way, we’re not talking about censorship here. We’re talking about calling it what it is. Nobody is suggesting that simply because something is anti-Semitic people don’t have a right to say it. Sometimes people have a right to say – depending on context, depending on place – sometimes people have a right to express hate speech. Right, the Nazis marched in Skokie. But we have to call it what it is. And if it is anti-Semitism, then it’s anti-Semitism. And we are going to be unequivocal in calling it what it is when we see it. Because you can’t fight something unless you’re willing to define it and to call it out for it, and we’re going to be calling it out wherever we see it.

A BBC reporter asks about the distinction some boycotters make: illegal Jewish settlements right alongside occupied Palestinian villages.

Carr says, You have to wait for the peace plan, don’t boycott the fifty year old settlements….

Well, as you know, there is a peace plan being worked on currently, hasn’t been unveiled. The United States has long cared about this issue and on resolving the issues between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in a way that’s fair for everybody. Resolution of those issues is not going to come about by attempting to strangle the Jews out of existence in their communities. That’s not how you’re going to get peace. And so I want to thank the administration for focusing on this issue, and all the work the White House is doing to try to really promote a plan that would finally have – get us to an agreement where the Israelis and the Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace.

Finally, a reporter brings up white nationalism. Isn’t that a problem? “Are you also going to be focused on that? Is that also a growing problem when you talk about growing anti-Semitism?”

Certainly. It is a growing problem. And in fact, while some of the attacks on Jews in the world are coming from the left or from radical Islam, many are coming from the extreme right as well. And we’re seeing that, by the way, here in this country, and we’re seeing that elsewhere. Of course, we just had a despicable massacre of worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and that was from someone who came from a place of, one can say, supremacism.

Look, Jew hatred is Jew hatred, and it doesn’t matter if it’s clothed in the language of the left or clothed in the language of the right. We’re going to be calling it out for what it is, and we’re going to be fighting it. And we’re going to be fighting it fairly and in equal measure, regardless of the ideological spectrum from which it comes.

Wait are you saying these are two “mirror images,” this extreme left and extreme right? Carr says well, yes.

I think every kind of anti-Semitic manifestation is different. There is also anti-Semitism among radical Islam. They’re all different. But what they have in common is they threaten the safety and the survival of the Jewish people, and that is unacceptable from the standpoint of the United States.

Carr, 50, is a former LA District Attorney and Iraq war veteran who has run unsuccessfully as a Republican for federal and state office. According to Wikipedia, his mother left Iraq for Israel before moving here. His mother’s father was prosecuted in Iraqi show trials after the founding of Israel. His  stepfather was a Holocaust survivor.

This is just what the BDS campaign needs: rightwing fools who equate it with white supremacism. It’s pure hysteria: equating crazed murderers with civil rights activists. That’s going to make people curious. They will find out BDS is about human rights. When reasonable people see what Trump is saying about Israel, they can’t help but be moved by the BDS campaign. (And by the way, last night David Brooks of the New York Times endorsed reparations to blacks as a policy idea. He will move on this issue, too.)

H/t Donald Johnson.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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14 Responses

  1. David Green on April 13, 2019, 12:44 pm

    If David Brooks supports reparations, then you know that the idea has been completely pacified and tamed in the context of mainstream debate. See Adolph Reed’s criticism on this issue. Does Brooks support reparations for the Palestinians?

    • JWalters on April 13, 2019, 11:15 pm

      Best prediction – David Brooks will wave his hands, say “it’s different”, and dodge any true discussion. Mark Shields, whose meek comment on Israelis shooting unarmed press and medics at a protest was, “Israel has a right to defend itself”, will again offer some mental pablum. The NewsHour so far has not even mentioned Israel’s takeover of the oil in the Golan Heights, nor Netanyahu’s promise to take over the land with so-called “settlements” in the West Bank. This silence is golden to the PBS “generous donors”, and a betrayal of the American public. The “donors” are applying the pressure on all fronts, trying make as much predatory progess as possible with Trump in office. Everybody possible will be crucified.

      • Misterioso on April 15, 2019, 10:44 am

        Guaranteed to enrage Netanyahu, Adelson, et al:

        April 12, 2019
        “To Be or Not to be a Zionist?” counterpunch, April 12/19, by Yoav Litvin

        “Jewish American progressives are falling for the oldest trick in the Zionist playbook: the conflation of Zionism with Judaism. The ultimate victims of this propaganda ploy are always Palestinians.

        “Sheldon’s Party”
        “Last Sunday, Sheldon Adelson’s Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) welcomed President of the United States, serial sexual harasser and inspiration to murderous white supremacists worldwide – Donald Trump – as a god.

        “Members of the audience brandished ‘Trump’ -embroidered Kippahs, enthusiastically clapped at the President’s overt incitement against Rep. Ilhan Omar and swallowed whole his anti-Semitic reference to Benjamin Netanyahu as ‘your Prime Minister’ – a clear suggestion of dual loyalty.

        “In an act comparable to the ancient Israelites’ worshipping of the Golden Calf, Senator Norm Coleman, who once called Trump: ‘A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully,’ led a Passover Dayenu chant in which he replaced ‘God’ with ‘Trump.’

        “Moses, where art thou?”
        “Still, a drama unfolded during Trump’s speech. Ten members of If Not Now, a nonviolent American Jewish organization aimed at ending US support for the 1967 Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, stood up and chanted in protest: ‘Jews are here to say, occupation is a plague.’

        “A press release soon followed:”
        “10 young American Jews disrupted Trump’s speech at the National Jewish Republican Coalition (RJC) Pro-Israel Rally at the Venetian Ballroom in Las Vegas. As soon as Trump began to speak, they stood up and chanted, ‘Jews are here to say Occupation is a plague. Jews are here to say white nationalism is a plague,’ a reference to the 10 plagues remembered in the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover. They then sang the Hebrew song Olam Chesed Yibaneh, ‘We Will Build This World With Love’ as they were removed from the auditorium.

        “The Twitterati ask the wrong questions”
        “Progressive American Jewish Twitter was abuzz about Sheldon’s party and If Not Now’s intervention. Several examples:

        “Yonah Lieberman (@YonahLieberman): ‘Going after both #Birthright and Trump in 24 hours has got the Jewish right using Nazi rhetoric to try and intimidate the new Jewish Future.’

        “Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev): ‘there [sic] is nothing as contemptible to me as a jewish [sic] fascist. Nothing as myopic, as malleable, as cruel and shosrtsighted [sic]’

        “Rafael Shimunov (@RafaelShimunov): ‘Between Sheldon Adelson putting Trump’s name on his kippa [sic], and the @RJC replacing God with Trump in one our holiest prayers as Jews, Republican Jews have officially ______________?’

        “The responses to Shimunov’s quiz included: ‘sold out, Gone meshugganah and embraced extremism, among others.’

        “However, these progressive American Jews do not implicate the real culprit. In spite of its name and best efforts, the RJC is not a Jewish organization, but a Zionist one. Its members are not ‘the Jewish right’ or ‘Jewish fascists,’ but simply ‘Zionists.’

        “Only Zionists would worship an anti-Semite like Trump in return for unconditional support of Israeli apartheid, much like the vast majority of Zionist Israelis who adore Trump within the supposed ‘Jewish state’ itself.

        “It is not Republican Jews who have ‘sold out’ or have suddenly ’embraced extremism,’ but Zionists since the very inception of the movement, well before the establishment of the state of Israel and until today. In logical confluence, Neo-Nazis have been inspired by Israel’s policies and the term ‘white Zionism’ has been used to describe the emerging ‘alt-right’ neo-fascistic movement, the very one Trump spearheads.

        “Unsurprisingly, Ben Shapiro, a Zionist Republican who also happens to be Jewish, has inspired far-right Islamophobes, including the Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.

        “Yet crucially, Zionist collaboration with anti-Semites and white supremacists crosses the aisle. For it was a Democrat, liberal Zionist Jew – Batya Ungar-Sargon of The Forward – who instigated the fallacious smear campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar which The Forward then used as a marketing tool to fundraise under the guise of a Jewish vanguard against anti-Semitism.

        “Ungar-Sargon’s smear was picked up by establishment Democrats, overtly racist Republican Zionists, the President’s son and Trump himself numerous times, including as a means to mock Rep. Ilhan Omar at the Sheldon Party.

        “The UK as a case study”
        “The conflation of Zionism with Judaism serves to distract from the plight of Palestinians by focusing on a manufactured crisis within the ‘Jewish community,’ downplaying the role of empire and other capitalist supporters of the Zionist project. The distinction between ‘Jewish’ and ‘Zionist’ here is crucial, and one only needs to glance across the pond at the United Kingdom to learn why.

        “Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has consistently shown solidarity with Palestinians and conveyed criticism toward Israeli apartheid in tune with socialist ideals, has been hypocritically vilified by Zionists for supposedly tolerating and even inspiring ‘anti-Semitism’ within the Labour Party.

        “The campaign against Corbyn relies on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) highly controversial and flawed definition of anti-Semitism which in its examples, erroneously and opportunistically conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

        “What’s more, Jewish party members who support Corbyn and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, such as Jackie Walker, have been abused, suspended and even expelled. Meanwhile, Ella Rose, who was featured in the Al Jazeera documentary ‘The Lobby’ threatening Jackie Walker with physical violence is still a member and was recently elected by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) as its new ‘Network officer.’

        “Unsurprisingly, the Zionist smear campaigns in the UK against politicians and activists who convey support for Palestinians and BDS and resist Zionist settler colonialism, apartheid and genocide show a striking resemblance to the recent defamation of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and members of the women’s march and as part of a larger effort against Senator Bernie Sanders.

        “Much like Ungar-Sargon’s The Forward claim of progressive Judaism yet real loyalty to Zionism, the UK Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) is supposedly affiliated with the UK Labour party supporting ‘labour values,’ yet it is truly a liberal Zionist organization.

        “It does not require its members to be either Jewish or from the Labour Party, yet has recently passed a no confidence motion of Jeremy Corbyn based on discredited charges of ‘anti-Semitism.’

        “The Question”
        “The focus must remain on Zionist criminality. And the only relevant dilemma for progressive American Jews remains – are you a Zionist or an anti-Zionist? As veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy recently wrote: ‘If you remain a Zionist, you can no longer be of the left; if you’re of the left, you can no longer be a Zionist.’

        “All those who claim to care about Palestinians, including progressive Jews and organizations such as If Not Now who in their broad umbrella avoid implicating Zionism or directly supporting BDS cannot continue to claim left-wing universalist values while simultaneously serving as the ‘liberal’ wing of the apartheid Zionist regime.

        “Only a consistent and unapologetic anti-Zionist framework is effective and congruent with leftist values.”

        Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience.

  2. bcg on April 13, 2019, 12:48 pm

    I’m interested in that last sentence – “last night David Brooks of the New York Times endorsed reparations to blacks as a policy idea.”. Brooks has the conservative creds to be a leader on this issue but don’t hold your breath – his son served in the Israeli army ( ). Yesterday I heard him on the radio saying that “Israel tried to be a liberal multicultural society but the Oslo peace process failed..”, as if Israel had nothing to do with it.

    • JWalters on April 13, 2019, 11:21 pm

      Brooks is such a weasel on Israel it’s either embarrassing or infuriating to watch him. Especially when he prattles on about “morality” and “decency” in OTHER contexts.

  3. Keith on April 13, 2019, 4:09 pm

    PHIL- “This screwball obsessive focus on anti-Zionism can only serve those who have not been heard, criticizing Israel and seeking to reform it (as Asad AbuKhalil suggests).”

    At the time, I am sure there were those who said the same thing about the “excesses” of Hitler’s Brown Shirts. Things are rapidly going from bad to worse. Do you think that the blatantly illegal arrest of truth teller Julian Assange will lead to rebellion? Intimidation usually works. The fat-cats have taken the gloves off and will likely crush any and all resistance. This is all part of the endless war at the end of the present era to determine who rules in the new era, assuming there are survivors.

    • JWalters on April 13, 2019, 11:33 pm

      “The fat-cats have taken the gloves off and will likely crush any and all resistance. “

      They will certainly try. Trump is giving them lots of opportunity to go whole hog on their crimes. They also must be spooked by a couple of court cases in the works. One is a lawsuit against Adelson, et. al. for financing numerous crimes against Palestinians (thanks Misterioso). The Zionists obviously never expected that kind of case to make it to a courtroom. The second is a lawsuit for which a special grand jury is being impaneled to review the evidence regarding 9/11 collected by a professional organization of architects and engineers. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bush-Cheney official report “fixed the facts to fit the policy”. And a lot of evidence points to Israeli involvement. These two cases are potential nuclear bombs that the oligarchs must be desparate to fend off.

      • Misterioso on April 15, 2019, 10:20 am


        If one steps back, absorbs what is taking place today regarding the now over 70 year struggle between Zionists and Palestine’s native Arab inhabitants and compares it to the situation in 1948 and subsequent years, the undeniable truth is that Zionism is in free fall, rotting within and increasingly seen as the racist, fascistic ideology it most certainly is.

  4. JWalters on April 13, 2019, 11:42 pm

    Trump kisses Adelson’s ass for thirty million dollars, and doubles down on the absurd claim that “Zionism equals Judaism”. Trump is really shoving Israel’s crimes and absurdities into America’s face!

    • James Canning on April 15, 2019, 11:27 am

      Trump apparently wants to suppress free speech in the US, to benefit Adelson’s campaign to get rid of the Palestinians.

  5. eljay on April 14, 2019, 7:39 am

    Carr wants to make it perfectly clear that the blame and responsibility for the injustice and immorality of Zionism and its “Jewish State” project – for the colonialism and the decades (and counting) of deliberately-committed (war) crimes and the supremacism – lie squarely on the shoulders…
    – not of the Jewish Zionists and non-Jewish Zionists who advocate it, engage in it, justify it and/or defend it; but, rather,
    – all Jews.

    Why do Zionists insist on hating Jews and on holding all Jews responsible for their (Zionist) evil?

  6. James Canning on April 15, 2019, 11:25 am

    So, Carr in effect encourages Israel to engage in further oppression of the Palestinians, and wants to do his best to prevent any criticism of that oppression. Crikey.

  7. Vera Gottlieb on April 15, 2019, 2:56 pm

    Why this constant talk of “anti Semitism”??? The Ashkenazi are not and never were Semites – Jews yes.

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