Daily Israel Report

Amira Hass: I've Had it With the Jews

Radical left journalist Amira Hass not only doesn't like the Israeli government, she doesn't like a "purely Jewish environment," either.
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/9/2011, 4:32 PM

While most Jews were busy celebrating Rosh Hashana, far-left journalist Amira Hass was regaling an audience in Vancouver with chilling tales of “the occupation” - the horrors that Hass claims Israel has been perpetrating against Arabs in Judea and Samaria for decades.

But besides talking politics, Hass also talked about Israeli society – and how she no longer sees herself as a part of it. Accusing Israel of being an “apartheid state” that was carrying out an “ethnic cleansing against Palestinians,” Hass told attendees at the event sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East – a far left “activist” group that supported the illegal Turkish flotilla and the attempted lynch of IDF soldiers – that she had felt far more welcome during the several periods she lived in Gaza and Ramallah than she did in the country of her birth.

And in an interview with Paul Weinberg of the Canadian site Rabble, Hass, the daughter of Holocaust refugees, said “To tell you the truth I cannot see myself living in a purely Jewish environment. I will not be able to move back to Israel if I had to, and to live in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.... I told my Palestinian friends, who are Israeli citizens, okay if I am kicked out of Ramallah, I will go and live in a Palestinian neighborhood, in Israel itself.”

Hass is currently in Canada on a speaking tour. Hass espoused in person the solutions she has for years presented as a columnist at Ha'aretz; the need for a binational state, how Israel is the only party that is standing in the way of peace, the need for more international action against Israel, Israel as an “apartheid” state, etc.

Besides the Rosh Hashana talk in Vancouver, Hass had already spoken, or is scheduled to speak, to audiences in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, Halifax, London, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. That talk took place last Friday night, the night of Yom Kippur. Jewish community officials in both Vancouver and Winnipeg expressed sadness and shock that Hass was holding her events on the holiest days of the Jewish year, denying observant Jews the opportunity to come hear her speak, if they were so inclined.

Hass is not speaking for free; Kairos, a group that represents Christian churches and is a co-sponsor of the tour, said that tickets to the Canadian events cost $15 ($10 for students). The fee is to “offset the expenses of the tour and is not a fundraiser,” the Kairos website says.

Hass has written hundreds of columns over the years accusing Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria of almost every ill under the sun – but her allegations have often been called outright lies by those she accuses. And in at least one case, an Israeli court agreed with them, when members of the Hevron Jewish community sued Hass and Ha'aretz for claiming that they had defiled the body of a dead Arab, kicking it and spitting on it. The 2001 incident occurred, Hass claimed, when IDF soldiers chased down and killed a terrorist in a Jewish neighborhood of Hevron. After the terrorist was killed, Hass said, Jews kicked the body and otherwise defiled it, before being shooed away by soldiers.

Jewish residents of Hevron denied the charges, and demanded that Hass retract the story. She refused, and the community sued – with the court agreeing, after seeing evidence in the form of television video, that Hass had made the story up out of whole cloth. Ha'aretz was forced to pay NIS 250,000 in damages for the story that the court ruled had been libelous, with “malice aforethought” - an extremely rare decision for an Israeli court, where libel charges are usually too difficult to prove. Hass, in her defense, said that she had simply been “reporting the facts” as they had been supplied to her by local Arabs, and that it was the job of the paper's editors to check facts.