[News] US activists' homes targeted in pro-Israel intimidation campaign

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 17 18:18:30 EDT 2017


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/us-activists-homes-targeted-pro-israel-intimidation-campaign 



  US activists' homes targeted in pro-Israel intimidation campaign

May 17, 2017
------------------------------------------------------------------------

An anonymous campaign has targeted two leaders in the Palestine 
solidarity movement at their homes in New York and California.

University of California, Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hatem-bazian> left his house on the 
morning of 10 May, to take his daughter to school. He grabbed a flyer 
that was tucked under his car’s windshield wiper and threw it in his car.

It was only after he dropped his daughter off that he took another look 
at the flyer and realized it featured a color photo of himself and the 
claim, “he supports terror.”

His picture was next to one of Rebecca Vilkomerson 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/rebecca-vilkomerson>, the executive 
director of Jewish Voice for Peace 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/jewish-voice-peace>, a national 
group that organizes for Palestinian rights.

Bazian is the chair of American Muslims for Palestine 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/american-muslims-palestine>.

Underneath their photos was printed the hashtag “#SketchyAliance.”

“When I got back home I realized that every car on my street had one of 
these flyers,” Bazian told The Electronic Intifada.


    Sowing fear of “terror”

Bazian is familiar with campaigns of harassment and intimidation. He has 
been the target of similar poster campaigns on campus and has received 
hate mail and emails for years. But this was the first time that his 
opponents hit him at his home.

The back of the flyer calls Americans for Muslims for Palestine a 
“smokescreen for a violent movement” and claims that Bazian called for a 
“violent uprising here in America.”

It also accuses Jewish Voice for Peace 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/jewish-voice-peace> of “supporting 
terrorists” and claims that American Muslims for Palestine’s ideology is 
“deeply rooted in terrorist organizations like Hamas.”

In bold letters, the flyers warn, “Today terror abroad. Tomorrow terror 
at home!”

Bazian contacted Vilkomerson, and found out her home in Brooklyn had 
also been flyered that morning.

Vilkomerson told The Electronic Intifada that her entire block and two 
surrounding blocks had been plastered with the same flyer. Her husband 
and neighbor tried to collect the hundreds of flyers before her children 
returned home from school.

The flyers were also spotted in different parts of Manhattan as well as 
downtown Berkeley. One person forwarded to Vilkomerson pictures said to 
show a man handing out the flyers in Berkeley.

Only a few Twitter accounts have used the hashtag #SketchyAlliance.

The first was created in April this year. The user, who claims to be a 
Berkeley graduate student, used the hashtag the day before the flyers 
appeared.

The only others using the hashtag were two editors of the pro-Israel 
blog /Israellycool/.

Brian Bishko, who tweets and writes under the pseudonym Brian of London 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/brian-london> is a contributing 
editor at /Israellycool/, according to his Linkedin profile 
<https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianbishko/>.

David Lange, who works under the pseudonym Aussie Dave, is the publisher 
of the propaganda website.

Lange and Bishko have been associated with online harassment campaigns 
against Palestinians and Palestine activists in the past.

Lange has ahistory of using online aliases 
<https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2011/12/30/aussie-dave-jidf-forge-fake-facebook-accounts-identities-on-behalf-of-hasbara-jihad/> 
to infiltrate Palestine forums. Bishko, or Brian of London, has a 
history of overt online incitement and racism 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/blog-linked-israeli-army-calls-murder-palestinian-children> 
against Palestinians.


    Harnessing Islamophobia

Bazian is also the founder and co-editor of /Islamophobia Studies 
Journal/ and director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation 
Project. He sees the flyer’s invocation of terrorism and fear of Islam 
as part of pro-Israel groups’ strategy to consolidate support for Israel 
in the United States and Europe.

“Specifically, these groups are trying to say that Israel’s war with 
Hamas is the same as the US’ and Europe’s war with terrorism in the 
Muslim world,” Bazian said.

This line of argument appeared in a recent opinion article 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/opinion/the-truth-about-the-palestinian-hunger-strike.html> 
in /The New York Times/ by Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gilad-erdan> against the 
Palestinian hunger strikers 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hunger-strike>.

Erdan asserted that European capitals are becoming more sympathetic to 
Israel’s war against “terrorism.”

“As I was told recently by the ambassador of a northern European country 
facing a growing terrorist threat, ‘Now we get you,’” Erdan claimed.


    Israel’s “black ops”

Erdan also leads Israel’s ministry of strategic affairs, which 
spearheads the country’s effort to thwart the growing Palestine 
solidarity movement. The ministry is reportedly engaged 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-using-black-ops-against-bds-says-veteran-analyst> 
in secret “black ops” which, according to a veteran Israeli analyst, may 
involve “defamation campaigns, harassment and threats to the lives of 
activists” as well as “infringing on and violating their privacy.”

Neither Bazian nor Vilkomerson know who is behind the flyers. Bazian 
says the posters embody an attitude promoted by a number of pro-Israel 
groups.

The tactic closely resembles a poster campaign by anti-Muslim agitator 
David Horowitz, targeting students and professors 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/racist-group-launches-national-offensive-us-campuses> 
involved in Palestine solidarity on campuses.

Horowitz’s posters which appeared last October also attacked Bazian and 
contained unsupported claims attempting to tie American Muslims for 
Palestine to Hamas.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, says 
<https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/david-horowitz> 
Horowitz has “become a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant 
and anti-Black movements.”


    Undeterred

“This is not new to target American Muslims for Palestine or to use them 
to target others by using these guilt-by-association tactics,” 
Vilkomerson said.

Bazian filed a report with Berkeley police, who he says initially wanted 
to categorize the flyers as an attack on free speech. Bazian objected, 
insisting it be labeled an Islamophobic incident.

He says he is also installing a security system at his home.

But Bazian and Vilkomerson are not deterred. A day after the flyers 
appeared, they reaffirmed 
<https://twitter.com/RVilkomerson/status/862722208053039104> their 
commitment to working together: “Our two organizations represent a 
hopeful future horizon for Jewish-Muslim partnerships grounded in social 
justice, deeper understanding and opposition to all forms of racism.”


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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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