29, 2010

In advance of my speech tomorrow in Port Townsend, Washington, anti-Palestinian activists have been privately circulating a 12-page dossier on me, and on how to “counter” and “expose” me.

The document is being circulated by Rob Jacobs, Northwest Regional Director of StandWithUs. StandWithUs is an extreme pro-Israel hasbara group supported by funders with a clear anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim agenda.

The StandWithUs dossier (attached below as a PDF) is a mishmash of biographical information about me, much of it taken from my own writing, but wildly distorted and wrapped in hostility. Its main purpose it to advise anti-Palestinian activists how to “expose” me. Parts of it are quite complimentary though: “When Ali Abunimah comes to your campus, be prepared for a sophisticated, smooth advocate of radical Palestinian positions.” It warns that my “calmness, highbrow style and constant references to international law and human rights cannot conceal [my] intense hostility about the very founding of Israel… .”

The most interesting part is the advice on what questions to ask to confound me:

Though Abunimah seems calm and even reasonable, he is extremely radical. When countering him, maintain your own composure and be as rational as he is. He has written many article [sic] and made many public statements. Use his own words to expose and challenge him.

But none of the questions designed to “expose” me are particularly difficult to answer — I answer them at almost every lecture I give and I am more than happy to do so again. Mr. Jacobs is welcome to come and ask them in person and need not circulate them secretly to encourage others to do so as if they were spontaneous and not part of a well-funded and planned hasbara operation.

It’s worth recalling that StandWithUs has worked closely with the Israeli government and acted as a public relations arm for the Israeli army to help prettify it following the war crimes and crimes against humanity it committed in the Gaza Strip in early 2009 and thoroughly documented by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict chaired by Judge Richard Goldstone.

Activists at a recent StandWithUS sponsored rally in San Francisco also shouted ugly anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian slogans and threats at members of the peace and justice groups Bay Area Women in Black and Jewish Voice for Peace.

What the StandWithUs dossier reveals is that in the absence of any credible arguments to defend Israel’s occupation, violent ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestinian land, war crimes and crimes against humanity, its rank racism and apartheid, and the growing religious extremism motivating its politics, Israel’s defenders must rely on a strategy of ad hominem attacks.

Many of StandWithUs’s tactics would appear to come straight from the “sabotage” and “attack” playbook of Israel’s Reut Institute. These include a StandWithUs produced video that personally targets me and other advocates of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel in an attempt to discredit BDS.

The video and the dossier also fit the strategy advocated by several anti-Palestinian outfits of “naming and shaming” so-called “delegitimizers” of Israel.

But here is the problem. There is no shame in standing up for universal human rights for everyone in historic Palestine, international law, equality and peace. It is those who deny the Nakba, defend colonization, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and offer apologias and lies to justify war crimes and crimes against humanity who should be ashamed.

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