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August 24, 2022 11:12 am
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The Philadelphia Inquirer Hides Antisemitism — Again

avatar by Sean Durns

Opinion

A view of Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Antisemitism, The Philadelphia Inquirer warned in 2018, is “rising.” But the newspaper is doing its best to hide what it once acknowledged was a growing problem. Indeed, the Inquirer has launched nothing short of an advocacy campaign on behalf of a woman who once said that “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist.”

On August 23, 2022, the Inquirer filed a dispatch entitled, “She was fired for being publicly pro-Palestine. One year later, no one is hiring her.” However, in more than 1,600 words, reporter Massarah Makati failed to inform readers that Natalie Abulhawa, a one-time private school teacher, was fired for not only saying that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist, but for attending rallies where signs read “Jews control the U.S. Senate.” That seems like an important detail.

Instead, the Inquirer portrays Abulhawa as being fired for purely being “pro-Palestinian.” The newspaper posits her dismissal as being part of a dastardly plot to silence “pro-Palestinian” voices.

But Abulhawa isn’t “pro-Palestinian.” Nor can it be fairly said that she is merely critical of Israel. Her own statements, readily available to the Inquirer, show otherwise.

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Abulhawa’s own words deny Israel’s right to exist, and seem to condone violence against Israelis. Canary Mission, a website that catalogues antisemitic statements and organizations, has a publicly available list of the one-time teacher’s troubling comments.

For example, on August 5, 2016, Abulhawa tweeted: “Fk each and every single Zionist on this planet. I hope they rot in f*king hell. Fking cts.”

Zionism, which the Inquirer misleadingly describes as simply “the national ideology of Israel,” is actually the belief in Jewish self-determination in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland. It is a view held by an overwhelming majority of American Jews — some of whom could find themselves as students in a classroom led by a teacher who hopes they “rot in hell.” Framed this way, it’s not hard to see why a private educational school was reluctant to freely employ a teacher who so openly expresses hatred for a belief held by most American Jews and many others. Or, for that matter, a teacher so willing to use profanity in public forums.

What is hard to explain, however, is why the Inquirer ran a story ostensibly about Abulhawa being fired, only to omit the details connected to her dismissal. In nearly 2,000 words, the newspaper, contravening standard journalistic practice, failed to report the facts. And this is the second report in less than six months that the Inquirer has filed on the exact same story.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has previously pointed out, the Philadelphia newspaper published a March 17, 2022, article entitled, “Former athletic trainer says Agnes Irwin school illegally fired her for social media posts critical of Israel.” That report, while noting that Abulhawa was fired “after parents complained about years-old social media posts criticizing Israel,” was also a whitewash of the wannabe educator’s hatred.

Abulhawa’s own statements show that she’s not merely “critical” of Israel. In fact, calling to end the Jewish state of Israel meets the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which has been widely adopted by numerous governments, as well as the US State Department. But this too is omitted by the Inquirer, which obfuscates some of Abulhawa’s other troubling statements and actions.

On August 4, 2016, Abulhawa said that “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist.” The wannabe educator has even made several tweets suggesting that she would physically assault Israelis. For example, on July 15, 2016, she tweeted: “Israeli soldiers are in my neighborhood yay lemme go stock up on some rocks.” A few weeks later, on August 10, she lamented: “bruh I didn’t get to throw any rocks this year” — calling it a “Palestinian problem.” These comments seem to call into question her judgement and her ability to teach and provide a safe learning environment. Yet, this aspect is glossed over by the Inquirer. Ditto for Abulhawa’s actions and associations.

On March 16, 2022, Abulhawa and her mother participated in a protest at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington DC. Signs present at the rally included: “JEWS CONTROL U.S. SENATE.” Among the speakers were Brother Nathanael and Abbas Hamideh. The former has called Judaism “a death cult.” Hamideh is an ardent supporter of Hezbollah, the US-designated terrorist group that seeks Israel’s destruction. He has praised the deceased arch-terrorist and child-murderer Samir Kuntar, and has called Jews “Scholomos” and advocated for their ethnic cleansing.

Yet, instead of noting these highly relevant details, the Inquirer calls Canary Mission a “Black List.” Abulhawa is presented in sympathetic terms and even framed as the victim. Her disturbing history and associations — which include having a mother who is a prominent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — are omitted. For good measure, the newspaper even uncritically quotes the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization with its own troubling history of employees making antisemitic remarks.

That the Inquirer could run not one, but two, lengthy articles on the firing of a private school teacher, devoting thousands of words to the matter and having both be riddled with omissions, indicates that the newspaper isn’t engaged in journalism, but advocacy. And contra to the pretensions of Abulhawa and her stenographer, it can’t be said to be “pro-Palestinian” advocacy.

As CAMERA has highlighted, both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, the two entities that rule over most Palestinians, are repressive dictatorships. Indeed, in the last two years, the PA has engaged in a massive crackdown, imprisoning and torturing critics, dissidents, and journalists. CAMERA has chronicled many of these instances.

The same can’t be said for Abulhawa or, for that matter, the Inquirer which has a penchant for running anti-Israel agitprop masquerading as news but is curiously silent when the Jewish state can’t be blamed. There’s a word for that.

Antisemitism is skyrocketing. And the Inquirer has displayed a noteworthy tendency to whitewash some of its most vile perpetrators.

The writer is a Senior Research Analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis 

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