Op-Ed: A New Tactic: Library BDS
Note from Librarians for Fairness (a Pro-Israel Librarians' group): We are posting this article by our friend and consultant, investigative journalist Lee Kaplan, as our 11th Salvo Directed to Librarians and Archivists to Palestine (and we're not finished):
Are you sitting down?
A delegation of eighteen librarians and archivists travelled to Israel, including Judea and Samaria, on June 22nd. They were led by Hannah Mermelstein, a leader of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
Mermelstein, a librarian herself and almost full-time ISM anti-Israel activist, was deported from Israel years ago after it was determined that she was altering road signs to read "Palestine", among other subversive ISM activities, including smuggling potential terrorist Arabs past checkpoints
Mermelstein founded Birthright Unplugged, a program designed to take visitors to Israel on propaganda tours that claim to show how Israel is abusing the Palestinians, focussed on targeting Birthright participants to turn them against Israel.
These recent “delegates” were, in part, from the American Library Association in the US, but in particular they represented a roundtable of radical communists and anti-Semites in the Association who hate Israel. Still others are librarians in Canada and EU countries. All were due to return to their respective countries on July 5th. They vaunted themselves as great humanitarians, but their goal was to give support to and conduct propaganda for the terrorist groups that would end the Jewish state. Their purpose was to found yet another way to delegitimize Israel, by gathering “evidence” that Israel destroys Palestinian books and has stolen Palestinian “literature” and should be shunned by the world’s library systems.
In the U.S., Librarians for Fairness, a group of pro-Israel librarians who try to prevent false propaganda against Israel in the American library system, has presented some immediate, preliminary questions for this group. They stem from the group's close ties with the American Library Association's so-called Social Responsibilities Roundtable, which, in turn, has a long history of Israel-bashing, and promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel:
1. Do you accept Israel's right to exist as a state with a Jewish majority ( a country of 6 million citizens, it now includes some 1.2 million Arab citizens, plus other minorities)?
2. You have voiced complete support for the BDS Movement, which even leftwing Professor Norman Finkelstein has condemned as a "cult" and as a group that seeks to bring about a non-starter: the annihilation of Israel. Do you agree with that genocidal BDS goal?
3. Are you really objective observers, or have the members of your delegation expressed hostility to Israel, even before you began your visit? (They have done this repeatedly in the US and encouraged American libraries to follow suit.)
4. Why have you uncritically accepted the statements made by Palestinian Arab and anti-Israel Israeli sources that you met on your trip? Did you do any research to check on the veracity of their statements?
5. Even before your trip began, you falsely accused Israel of practicing apartheid. But isn't it really true that while Israel is not an apartheid state by any definition, some Arab League states do practice gender, religious, and racial apartheid?
What is it like to be a person of color in some Arab nations? In Arab states, a Black person is often referred to as abed, which means slave. And since the death of Mohammar Qadaffi, Black Libyans have been butchered in huge numbers by the Arab majority. Slavery still exists in the Arab League states of Mauritania and the Sudan.
So how can you call Israel an apartheid state when an Arab Muslim judge sits on Israel's Supreme Court, Arabs serve in the Knesset (Israel's legislature), an Arab physician heads the Department of Emergency Medicine of Hadassah Hospital, Arabs (including Arab women!) have full voting rights, and that there are Israeli affirmative action programs that favor Arabs for judicial appointments and university seats?
In Israel, not long ago, an Arab judge had no fear about sentencing former Israeli President Moshe Katsav to seven years in prison for the crime of rape, a Druze Arab has already served as the interim President of Israel, Arabs sit next to Jews on Israeli buses and in Israeli restaurants, and Arabs and Druze even serve in the IDF, some of them attaining high rank?
Is Israel really an apartheid state, or is that charge, which you have uncritically accepted, just total nonsense? Librarians for Fairness has stated they feel that writer, Professor Phyllis Chesler, was completely correct when she referred to such criticisms as "Israel's nonexistent apartheid." And Professor Chesler knows what real apartheid is. She lived in a Muslim country, Afghanistan, in an Afghan home.
6. Why have you not once condemned Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israeli men, women children and even babies?
7. Have some of your actions and statements encouraged violence against Jews? Will innocent people die because of them?
8. Why have you not issued any statements that encourage peace between Arabs and Israelis?
9. Why have you not condemned the blatant hate literature, such as the spurious "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", which are so prominent in Arab libraries, and are widely read by the Arab populace? Arabic translations of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" are also widely read by Palestinian Arabs.
10. Why have you not condemned damage done to Israeli libraries and archives by Palestinian Arab terrorists? This includes the murder of eight Israeli students in a yeshiva library and the partial destruction of Al-Ittihad, a Haifa-based Arab newspaper’s historical archive by Hezbollah rockets.
Dr. Ahmed Saad, the newspaper’s editor said: "When I heard that our historical building was hit, I felt a lot of anger. This is a place [where] we all grew up, which contains real treasures." Isn't the very existence of that newspaper archive a refutation of your false charge that no Palestinian Arab archives exist in Israel?
11. Why has your group not condemned the destruction of priceless Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount, which is currently being done with the approval of the Muslim Waqf?
12. Why has at least one extremist Aryan white power group (please google Aryan Update + Josh MacPhee) sold anarchist-archivist Josh MacPhee's book? Mr. MacPhee is a member of Hannah Mermelstein’s library delegation. Is there collaboration between him and any extreme rightist groups? Apparently the library delegation enjoys collaboration and support from American Neo-nazis through at least one delegation attendee.
13. What is the connection between this group and the terrorist-supporting International Solidarity Movement? We note that you use emotional terminology identical to that used by the ISM ("bearing witness" is but one example of this). We also note that a very prominent ISM member, who goes under the false identity Anna Baltzer in the U.S., has voiced strong support for you. And Hannah Mermelstein has been an ISM apparatchik for years.
14. Isn't it a fact that the Israelis have allowed you to do your thing, completely unhindered? Is that not a testament to the tolerance of Israel?
15. Why are you so concerned about so-called "Palestinian refugees" (deliberately kept as "refugees" for the last sixty five years, by their fellow Arabs), when you don't say a word about the plight of the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from Arab lands, and in the process, had their property sequestered?
This is a much larger figure than the 560,000 Arab refugees, who in 1948, left Israel at the urging of their Arab brethren in the five attacking Arab states. Indeed, a report of the Haifa-based British High Police Commissioner, mentioned that the Jewish leaders were making every effort to get the Arabs to remain in Israel.
16. Why Is Israel the only nation in the Middle East with a growing Christian population?
17. If a group, just like yours, was pro-Israeli and travelled through any Arab nation, how long do you think it would be allowed to continue its activities? How long would its members stay alive?
Of special interest is one of the delegates with this group, a man named Josh MacPhee. MacPhee photographed Arab books that featured classic Nazi propaganda, including the virulently anti-Semitic image of a Jewish octopus, which were then posted on Flickr.
In one, the octopus is devouring the world. In another, the octopus is entwined in a Star of David. He didn’t do this to condemn the subject matter, but rather to promote it. The photos were posted without even the slightest bit of criticism. A book he wrote is selling on a Neo-Nazi website in the U.S., White Aryan Resistance, which started hawking it, circa 2005. Moreover, there is bizarre Australian group, which claims to be neither left nor right, but is actually on the radical right, that has also been selling MacPhee's book.
Anarchist/archivist Josh MacPhee is the co-founder - with Molly Fair (who joined him on the trip Librarian and Archivists to Palestine) - of the Interference Archive, in Brooklyn, NY. The Archive they co-established, is devoted to anarchism, with an emphasis on its history and art. MacPhee’s anarchist leanings go along with the ISM’s anarchist agenda.
What harm does all of this do? The Israeli government lets the ISM run amok in Judea and Samaria all the time and even permits it to have an office in Israel to promote the interests of Palestinian Arab terror groups.
But the reality is that this delegation will soon spread propaganda in libraries all over the world, claiming that Israel burns Arab literature and tries to obliterate it.
At the same time Arab propaganda books against Israel will also be made available to “readers” who might be persuaded to join the boycott.
Hannah Mermelstein wrote back to friends in the U.S, she had a marvelous time running around the "West Bank" again working on her project to de-legitimize the Jewish State around the world and consulting with fellow ISM activists on how best to do it. And the Israeli government facilitated her doing so.
And now, the virulently anti-Israel blog Mondoweiss has begun promoting a new campaign suggesting Israel is destroying books and Palestinain Arab educational material.
When will Israel begin using common sense when it comes to the ISM?