It’s this time of year – and it seems that even the anti-Israel activists from the Electronic Intifada (EI) don’t want to miss out on the holiday season’s charitable spirit: they are currently soliciting donations from their readers with the goal of raising $150 000 by the end of December.
Founded in 2001, when the bloody Al-Aqsa Intifada launched by Palestinians in response to Israel’s offers at Camp David was raging, EI describes itself as “an independent online news publication and educational resource focusing on Palestine, its people, politics, culture and place in the world.”
Judging from the content offered by EI, Palestine’s “place in the world” is defined first and foremost by the relentless demonization of Israel. Yet, the strident “anti-Zionists” who write and read the EI don’t have to worry about straying into antisemitic territory – whatever internationally renowned experts on antisemitism like Professor Robert Wistrich may think about the obsessive hatred directed against the world’s only Jewish state, the EI’s very own expert on antisemitism knows better: Meet Ben White, a young writer with a BA in English Literature, who started his career as an anti-Israel activist with an article belittling antisemitism as being “unpleasant towards Jews” and arguing that it was understandable for “a number of reasons.”
The current call for donations proudly features a quote from a critic who described EI as “central…in the anti-Israel propaganda war.” EI readers are told that supporting the site will make them “influential,” because supposedly, the EI-propagated “truth about Palestine” reaches an ever-expanding audience and “journalists from major and independent media all over the world [are] eager to get our perspectives.” Revealingly, EI co-founder Ali Abunimah will happily put out the opposite message when it better suits his purpose to claim that the media are terribly biased against the Palestinians: here is a recent tweet where he complains bitterly that “not one ‘mainstream’ US media org called me during #GazaUnderAttack.”
Already a few years ago, the widely respected Arab-American analyst and commentator Hussein Ibish noted that Abunimah “tailors his statements to appeal to different audiences in different media at different times.” Ibish also rightly highlighted Abunimah’s enthusiastic cheerleading for Hamas:
“He has defended the most recalcitrant elements in Hamas and encouraged its most obstructionist and counterproductive attitudes, with sentiments like, “‘Hamas: We will never recognize the enemy.’ Let’s hope they keep their word.” A March 2009 article by Abunimah and his father Hassan [a former Jordanian diplomat] accused Hillary Clinton of “sabotaging” Palestinian reconciliation talks […] and urged Hamas not to agree to the conditions of the Middle East Quartet. This is hardly surprising, given that he is opposed to both peace and negotiations, instead endorsing, “Liberation through resistance not ‘peace’ through ‘negotiations.'”
His admiration for Hamas leaders is often gushing: “Nothing better than a live interview on Aljazeera with a top Hamas official. They are always so eloquent and clear.” As for the leadership of the even more extreme Islamic Jihad organization, his enthusiasm seems to go beyond the political. In one of his earliest and perhaps most unguarded tweets, Abunimah wrote, “I think [Islamic Jihad leader] Ramadan Shallah is super intelligent, eloquent and hot.” Yes, hot.”
Given these views, it is hardly surprising that among EI’s current offerings, an article that worries mightily about a potential “moderation” of Hamas and Islamic Jihad was warmly recommended by Ali Abunimah as an “important analysis.”
This “important analysis” boils down to the argument that Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza achieved a major “victory” over Israel in the recent fighting that might be easily squandered “[w]ithout a clear and uncompromising roadmap to engage the West Bank in the resistance project and end the Palestinian Authority’s stranglehold over it.”
One can’t ask for a more open call to transform the West Bank into another Gaza-style Hamastan, where residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, sport facilities and mosques all serve as storage, training or launching facilities for weapons, explosives and rockets.
However, what is arguably most revealing is the contrast between, on the one hand, EI’s constant lament about the poor, defenseless, helpless and destitute Gazans who suffer endlessly from Israeli oppression and brutality and, on the other hand, the boasting about the mighty “resistance:”
“There is no question that Israel’s latest attack on Gaza enhanced the resistance’s deterrence capacity. The coordinated and consistent launch of an average 200 rockets a day and the unprecedented strategic depth of the attacks (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) reflected a highly disciplined and developed resistance force.”
Ali Abunimah and his fellow activists at the EI know of course full well that the rockets shot from Gaza at Israeli civilians are war crimes – indeed, as Alan Dershowitz has emphasized:
“Every rocket fired by Hamas from one of its own civilian areas at a non-military Israeli target is a double war crime that should be universally condemned by all reasonable people.”
But since the EI claims to have raised $192,000 in 2011, it seems that there are quite a few people who will happily pay to support a site that cheers Hamas and Islamic Jihad while pretending to care about human rights.