“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking ‘anti-Semitism!” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared in 1968. Dr. King’s admonishment is as relevant today as it was almost 50 years ago, stoked by self-described “resistance” groups and assorted other practitioners of leftist intersectionality.
Under the guise of human rights and equality, social justice warriors recently gathered at a bookstore in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood to discuss “Freedom-Fighting Under State Repression.” At the very heart of the evening’s conversation was the evil of Zionism and the Zionist perpetrators. If there was ever any doubt that Dr. King’s words were prophetic, doubt no more.
The blame-the-Zionists conversation included disdain for America, law enforcement, and capitalism. Of course, no progressive conversation taking aim at Zionists is complete without advocating the demise of Israel, a favorite perspective among leftist pundits and academics.
The History Of Verso Books
To understand the thinking behind the event, it’s important to understand who is hosting the conversation. Verso Books is a self-described “radical publishing house” that regularly hosts speakers that, to put it mildly, don’t think too highly of America or anything remotely aligned with Western democracy. Verso’s authors page includes Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-Tung and Leon Trotsky.
Among Verso authors who are still breathing is Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the current leader of Hezbollah. Funded and supported by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah has been labeled a terrorist organization even by the Arab League.
The Brookings institute reports, “Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group before 9/11. Even today, it is still far ahead of the Islamic State on this score.” Their 1985 manifesto states, “Our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no ceasefire, and no peace agreements.”
Nasrallah’s hatred for Jews is undeniable, telling the New Yorker in 2002, “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”
Speakers Who Lead The Anti-Semitism Movement
So it comes as no surprise that on this particular spring evening, Verso Books welcomed two prominent leftist voices that happen to be fiercely anti-America and anti-Zionist.
Omar Barghouti is the co-founder of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against the Jewish state. Born in Qatar and raised in Egypt and the United States, he moved to Israel after marrying an Israeli-Arab woman. Barghouti enjoys Israeli permanent residency status, and despite advocating for the international boycott of Israeli academics, he holds a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University.
While Barghouti exemplifies the hypocrisy of “do as I say, not as I do,” the BDS campaign he promotes has served as a catapult to the growing anti-Semitism crisis that exists today in academia and on college campuses.
Nyle Fort is a Ph.D. student at Princeton University and a prominent organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. Fort’s contempt for Israel and Zionism began as early as 2012 when he stated, “Zionism has become a euphemism for conquest and colonization and removal, that is, of Muslim land and its people. And thus, Zionism and Islamophobia share a symbiotic relationship. Islamophobia feeds Zionism and Zionism reinforcing Islamophobia.”
During the Verso Books event, Fort talks about his work with the Black Lives Matter offshoot “Dream Defenders” and their 2016 trip to the Palestinian territories. A December 2016 investigation by the Haym Salomon Center exposed the Dream Defenders’ embrace of anti-Semitism and its collaboration with a State Department-designated terror group.
Fort and his Dream Defenders were led around East Jerusalem by convicted terrorist and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Mahmoud Jedda. Jedda served 17 years in Israeli prison for planting bombs. In 2015, PFLP claimed responsibility for a killing spree in a Jerusalem synagogue, leaving four worshippers dead. This is the repository of wisdom from which Fort and his fellow Dream Defenders are learning “resistance.”
During the trip, Dream Defenders produced an educational series that lionizes the PFLP. The curriculum, titled “Blacked Out History – Rebellion Curriculum Toolkit,” justifies violence and terrorism under the euphemism “struggle.” The “common core-compatible” curriculum mentions various violent PFLP strategies such as “hijackings, assassinations, car bombings, suicide bombings, paramilitary operations against civilian and military targets.”
Their Goal: The Eradication Of Israel
Considering the perspectives and alliances shared by Barghouti and Fort, it’s only natural that the vitriol spewed during the nearly two-hour event bore little resemblance to the sermons of Dr. King.
For example, “People grow. Two years ago, I would say stuff like: ‘I am not anti-police, I’m anti-police brutality.’ Umm, I don’t believe that anymore. I’m both anti-police and anti-police brutality!” Fort declared.
Fort also compared modern-day Israel to slaveholders of ancient Egypt. This is a tactic commonly used by progressive advocates. Comparing Israel and Zionists to those who throughout history have murdered Jews is part of the social justice warrior’s playbook. Signs at anti-Israel rallies commonly equate Zionism with Nazism and refer to Gaza as a concentration camp.
If there was ever a doubt that the goal is not a two-state solution but rather the eradication of Israel, Barghouti dispelled it. Asked about Israel’s right to exist, he said, “Does a slave-owner have a right to exist? As what? As a slave-owner? No! Hell no! No they don’t have a right to exist!”
“I do not buy into the two-state solution,” Barghouti said in 2009. “It is not just pragmatically impossible, it was never a moral solution. The first issue would be the right of return, but if the refugees were to return you cannot have a two-state solution like one Palestinian commentator remarked, you will have a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state rather than a Palestinian state next to Israel.”
Not to be outdone by Barghouti’s intellectual dishonesty, Fort cited “injustice across the board” such as “what is happening in Syria, and what’s happening in Libya and what’s happening in Flint [Michigan].” But it’s curious that he never mentions the atrocities committed against Middle East Christians by Islamic extremists and ISIS or the subjugation suffered by women in Saudi Arabia or the torture and executions of the LGBTQ community in Iran.
Could it have to do with their commonality with those brutal entities against the Zionists?