ZOA: Article In UPenn Paper Filled With Jew-Hating, Israel Hating Lies/Omissions About Palestinian Conference There
By Morton A. Klein, President, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Liz Berney, Esq., ZOA Director of Research & Special Projects
The “Palestine Writes” event at University of Pennsylvania this past Yom Kippur weekend was not a “celebration of art and culture,” as claimed in a recent Daily Pennsylvanian article. Rather, as we feared and predicted would occur, a stream of speakers who have called for “Death to Israel” and Intifadas (anti-Jewish terror wars), incessantly libeled and incited hatred against Jews and Israel.1
Mocking Jewish Students Concerns While Attacking Jews and Jewish Students: It was evident that “Palestine Writes” could engender antisemitic attacks and harassment against Penn’s Jewish students and Jews across the country. This was unfortunately immediately borne out: Penn’s Hillel center was vandalized twice near the time of the event. We will be contending with the aftermath of the anti-Jewish hatred fomented at Palestine Writes for years.
Yet, disgracefully, in the event’s opening speech, Palestine Writes executive director Susan Abulhawa mocked and derided Jewish students’ legitimate and unfortunately well-founded concerns about the presence of many documented terrorism supporters and even a convicted terrorist at Palestine Writes. Abulhawa called these appropriate Jewish student concerns “hysterical and racist accusations that our presence here poses a threat to Jewish students on campus, making them feel unsafe and fearful of wearing their kippas. Again, this is an old, well- worn colonial script of the violent, dark, irrational and savage [Negro/unclear], which I will not dignify with a response.” Wild applause ensued.
But Abulhawa was not finished with directly inciting against Jewish students at Penn. Abulhawa also declared in her opening salvo: “So many of us in this room have had to watch our elders die in refugee camps that aren’t fit for rodents. All so they [Jews] can have an extra [sic] country that they want, the violence of which is on full display on this campus every year when Zionists have their so-called Birthright trips, propaganda tools to recruit young American Jews to become our colonizers, tormentors and lords.”
Abulhawa further attacked Israeli Jews on Penn’s campus as “actual Israeli war criminals, who have come to speak on this campus.”
Notably, even though Abulhawa’s speech was full of such hateful propaganda and incitement against Jews on Penn’s campus, and against the one Jewish state [there isn’t an “extra” one, as Abulhawa implied]; and even though Abulhawa attacked named Jewish organizations (including ZOA, Hillel, and Jewish Federations) and attacked powerful major donors (meaning Jewish donors) for trying to prevent anti-Jewish terror-supporters from appearing on campus, Abulhawa had the temerity to then deny that any of this was antisemitic.
In the same vein, Abulhawa lambasted “Zionists” [Jewish organizations] for pressuring “financial platforms like PayPal . . . to disallow Palestinians even the most mundane of transactions.” It turns out that those “mundane transactions” were apparently payments to support Palestinian terrorism and antisemitic boycotts: PayPal closed the account of BDS group Samidoun, which is closely linked with designated terrorist organization PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).2
Abulhawa’s other opening pleasantries included referring to the Israel’s Jews (the majority of whom are native Middle Easterners) as “European colonizers [who] stole an entire country where we [Palestinian Arabs] are deeply rooted”; absurdly asserting that Palestinians are the real victims; accusing “Zionists” of perpetrating “unrelenting violence and racism” against Palestinians; and accusing “Zionists” of “destroying and building over [Palestinian’s] ancestral villages, cemeteries and archeological heritage.” In other words, she repeatedly accused Israel of exactly what Palestinian Arab terrorists are guilty of: unrelenting violence, racism and destruction.
Annihilating All of Israel: Abulhawa and the entire event moreover made it clear that their intent is to replace all of Israel with “Palestine.” Abulhawa spoke of “all parts of Palestine – Haifa and other parts of ‘48, the West Bank, and from our exiled diaspora all over the world,” and of Palestinian Arabs’ “unbroken belonging to that singular patch of land, between the River Jordan and Mediterranean Sea.” A large map showed all of Israel as “Palestine.”
There was never the slightest mention of living together in peace with Israel. Instead, Abulhawa condemned “normalizers,” and she and other speakers stood next to a giant “Handala” symbol of Palestinian “resistance” (a.k.a. terror).
The “Palestine Writes” event was permeated with invented Palestinian “histories” and stunning reversals of actual history, designed to incite anti-Jewish hatred.
Inverting and Inventing History: Abulhawa called the facts that Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel, and that Israel is a small nation surrounded by a sea of hostile actors a “mirage,” “malevolent mythologies,” “ahistorical tales,” “invented fairy tales,” and the creation of “narratives [to] legitimize their [Jews’] conquest and occupation of Palestine.” By contrast, Abulhawa repeatedly called the event’s invented “ancient” Palestinian histories “undeniable.”
Palestine Writes’ opening video poem, “We Never Left,” also by Susan Abulhawa, absurdly claimed that Palestinian Arabs were continuously in Palestine for 10,000 years (!) – but that Palestine is now “under a foreigner’s boot” [Israeli Jews] who are “burning her trees with their hate”; and that Palestine’s body is now “scarred and siphoned dry.”
In fact, it is the Jews that were in Israel for thousands of years; established Jerusalem as their capital over 3,000 years ago (in fact, the Jews have been the majority of the people living in Jerusalem since the first census in the mid-1800’s); established and lived in Jewish kingdoms; built the holy Temples on Mount Zion; buried their dead in the 3,000-years-old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives; built synagogues and mikvahs and yeshivas and communities throughout the land from the Golan to Gaza; and “never left.” There were always Jews who continued to cling to the Jewish homeland despite the forced exiles.
By contrast, Palestinian Arab history is in fact brief. There has never been a Palestinian Arab state, nation, kingdom or king. In the late 1800s to mid 1900s, Arabs from Egypt, Syria, the Arabian Peninsula, Algeria and elsewhere in North Africa arrived in pre-state Israel, attracted by the prosperity engendered by the Jews who returned and drained the swamps and irrigated the desert. In pre-state Israel, the term “Palestinian” referred to Jews. The concept of a distinct Palestinian Arab people was first invented in the 1960s.
It is also extremely well documented by multiple contemporaneous, independent and hostile-to- Israel British and Arab sources, that the Jews did not force the Arabs out in 1948. Rather, the Jews implored local Arabs to remain and live together in peace, while the Arab League ordered local Arabs to leave for safety, before six Arab nations invaded and attacked Israel in 1948.3
In fact, the hate-filled arsonists are the Palestinian Arab environmental terrorists and Hamas launchers of incendiary helium balloons and kites, bearing flammable materials and explosives. These West Bank, local and Gazan Arabs have burned thousands of acres of Israeli farms, national reserves, forests and trees that Jews and the Jewish National Fund lovingly planted on Israel’s once-barren soil.4
“Nakba” Blood Libels: The Palestine Writes event also repeatedly promoted “Nakba” blood libels, starting with the event’s opening screening and director’s discussion of the film “Farha.” “Farha” states that it is based on true events in 1948, but actually grotesquely reverses reality, by turning Jews into the perpetrators of atrocities and Arabs into innocent victims. The film’s “Jews” (including a Jewish woman soldier) are shown threatening and throwing peaceful Arabs out of their homes; shooting to death an Arab family including young children; ordering the murder of a crying newborn Arab baby without wasting bullets on it; and destroying 14-year-old Farha’s dream of getting an education. By contrast, Arabs are depicted as defenseless victims, worried that they only have a few old rusty guns to defend themselves with. Farha later leaves her now empty village with a knife in her hand – symbolizing that violence is now justified and/or that the Arabs are the ones who need to defend themselves.
The film’s inversion of the realities of 1948 is an outrage. In fact, the Arabs invaded and killed over 6,000 Jews in 19485; expelled Jews from their ancient homes in Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter, Gaza and Judea-Samaria6; destroyed 58 synagogues; massacred the Jews of Kfar Etzion after the Jews surrendered7; massacred a convoy of 78 doctors and medical personnel traveling to Hadassah hospital8; etc., etc. In addition, in 1921, 1929, 1936-1939, Arabs murdered hundreds of Jews in pogroms in Hebron, Jerusalem, Tiberias and elsewhere. And Arabs have murdered and maimed thousands of Jews since then. Further, in 1948, the departing British gave their arms to the Arabs; and six well-equipped Arab armies invaded Israel. It was the Jews who were woefully under-equipped, and who needed to defend themselves.
Consequently, Israel’s former finance minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Farha’s “whole purpose is to create a false pretense and incite against Israeli soldiers.” Israel’s former culture minister, Hili Tropper, said Farha depicts “lies and libels.”9
Lack of Integrity: The Palestine Writes event’s lack of basic integrity was also illustrated by Abulhawa’s refusal to remove the Pennsylvania Arts Council [PAC] logo from the Palestine Writes website, after the PAC demanded that Palestine Writes must do so. Abulhawa bragged about her refusal, mocked PAC for threatening to sue over the unauthorized use of its logo, and called the PAC “racists,” while the crowd applauded.
In sum, “Palestine Writes” lacked any semblance of historical, cultural or academic integrity. The event sullied the good name of our beloved University of Pennsylvania. Abulhawa bragged about gathering “in a center of power, in an ivy league school.”
To paraphrase Israel’s former culture minister, Palestine Writes “depicted lies and libels” – and put University of Pennsylvania’s Jewish community at risk.
|Morton A. Klein
ZOA National President
|Elizabeth Berney, Esq.
Dir., Research & Special Projects
1 An Open Letter to the University of Pennsylvania Leadership from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) details many Palestine Writes speakers’ and supporting organizations’ lethal statements and support for anti-Jewish terror. Available at: https://zoa.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/ZOA-Open-Letter-to-UPENN-Leadership-re- Palestine-Writes-Hate-Fest-letter-as-of-9.18.23.pdf Documentation of many of the speakers’ dangerous statements, etc. is also available on the CanaryMission.org website.
2 See “PayPal Shuts Down Services to BDS Group With Terror Links,” Israel HaYom, May 16, 2019, at https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/05/16/paypal-shuts-down-services-to-bds-group-with-terror-links/
3 See, e.g., multiple sources listed in “Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine,” by Samuel Katz, Taylor Publishing, April 2002 edition, at pages 12-37, available online at https://refugeeacademy.org/upload/library/battleground_-_fact_and_fantasy_in_palestine.pdf ; and in “The Palestine Delusion,” by Robert Spencer, Bombardier Books, 2019, at pages 77-86.
4 See, e.g., “Environmental Terrorism,” by Prof. Gregory L. Rose, University of Wollongong, Faculty of Business and Law Papers, 2022, at https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1124&context=balpapers ; “Israeli Forests ‘Burned Again and Again’ by Gaza Fire Balloons,” by Sharon Wrobel, Algemeiner, July 4, 2021, at https://www.algemeiner.com/2021/07/04/as-israeli-forests-burned-again-and-again-by-incendiary-balloons- algorithm-helps-satellites-see-through-smoke/ ; “Hamas’ Wave of Environmental Terrorism,” IDF, Sept. 8, 2020, at https://www.idf.il/en/mini-sites/hamas/hamas-wave-of-environmental-terrorism/ ; “The use of weaponized kites and balloons in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” by Joanna Zych, Security and Defense Quarterly 2019;27(5):71–83 https://securityanddefence.pl/The-use-of-weaponized-kites-and-balloons-in-the-Israeli-Palestinian- conflict,108677,0,2.html; “Battling Incendiary Kite Fires on the Gaza Border,” JNF-KKL, https://www.kkl- jnf.org/forestry-and-ecology/fire-prevention/incendiary-kites-balloons-fires-gaza-border/
5 See “Israel’s Major Wars,” by Eli E. Hertz, Myths and Facts, at http://www.mythsandfacts.org/media/user/documents/Israel%20Wars.pdf
6 See “Jewish Communities Lost in the War of Independence,” Israeli Embassy, at https://embassies.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/Maps/Pages/Jewish%20Communities%20Lost%20in%20the%20War%2 0of%20Independence.aspx
7 See “Remembering the Kfar Etzion Massacre,” Int’l Fellowship of Christians and Jews, May 12, 2020, at https://www.ifcj.org/news/stand-for-israel-blog/remembering-the-kfar-etzion-massacre
8 See “Hadassah Mount Scopus Marks 1948 Massacre of Medical Convoy,” Hadassah website, April 21, 2022, at https://www.hadassah.org/story/hadassah-mount-scopus-marks-1948-massacre-of-medical-convoy
9 “Ministers Condemn ‘Terrible’ Jordanian Film,” Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2022, at https://www.timesofisrael.com/ministers-condemn-terrible-jordanian-film-about-1948-war-slated-to-hit-netflix/