David Horowitz and the Art of Slander — An Analysis (29 April 2012)

Part I – Slander

On 24 April 2012 the New York Times (NYT) lent its editorial page to the propaganda of right- wing Zionist David Horowitz, thereby taking the “newspaper of record” down into the gutter for only the price of a quarter-page advertisement. The ad , which was placed “as a public service” by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, told the following libelous story:?

“The Holocaust began with boycotts of Jewish stores and ended with death camps. The calls for a new Holocaust can be heard throughout the Middle East and Europe as well. In the wake of the murders of a rabbi and three children in Toulouse, it is time for the supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel movement (BDS) to ask themselves what they did to contribute to the atmosphere of hate that spawned these and other murders of Jews.”?

What is wrong with this story??

1. The analogy of BDS with “boycotts of Jewish stores” is (no doubt purposely) misleading. The Boycott movement is directed against Israel as a racist state and the economic and social agents (Jewish and non-Jewish) who support it. If you want a proper analogy to BDS, it is the effort by Jewish and other groups before and during World War II to organize boycotts of Nazi Germany. The notion that the BDS boycotts lead to death camps is fantasy. Whatever the crazy logic of the Nazis on the one hand and David Horowitz on the other, the BDS movement is an effort to prevent persecution and not to promote it.?

2. The notion that the BDS movement either “calls for a new Holocaust” or is associated with those supposedly doing so, is nonsense. In reality it is the right-wing Israeli fanatics who are not only calling for, but actually carrying out their own version of a holocaust against the Palestinians. In the place of concentration camps they have created ghettos and Bantustans. In place of gas chambers they have promoted homelessness, cultural genocide and periodic pogroms. Indeed, the same week Mr. Horowitz placed his ad, Israel launched 57 military raids into Palestinian territory resulting in multiple injuries and death, destroyed at least 13 Palestinian shelters while beginning construction on 20 illegal settler houses. Yet the perpetrators of these crimes persist in portraying themselves as victims because once, under completely different historical circumstances, their ancestors were victims. But that was in the past. In the present the Zionists are the culprits and BDS seeks to bring out this tragic and ironic fact.?

3. It is a gross misrepresentation to accuse those supporting BDS of contributing to “the atmosphere of hate that spawned…murder of Jews.” The BDS campaign has nothing to do with this atmosphere, but the actions of the Israeli leadership has everything to do with it. With the Zionist persecution of the Palestinians on-going one needs no boycott movement to explain the upswing of anger. Some may unfortunately fail to make the proper distinction between political Zionists and Jews in general, just like Horowitz and his ilk fail to make the distinction between terrorists and Palestinians in general. Yet, if the Israeli leaders and their supporters want to know where this anger is coming from, they need look no further than their own behavior.?

However, they refuse to look. Instead they attempt to confuse matters and shift the blame from fanatic Zionist settlers and racist Israeli politicians onto those who would publicly expose the viciousness of Israeli policies. That is the aim of the Horowitz ad in the New York Times and it pursues it in very specific ad hominem fashion. When in November 1938 the Nazis launched the pogroms which became known as Kristallnacht, they painted Jewish stars on the sites to be attacked. In a similar way Horowitz seeks to identify and label those he wishes to be “publically shamed and condemned.” What does that mean? Should they lose their jobs just like the Jews who were forced from their occupations by the Nazis? Should they be segregated out and impoverished like Palestinians? Perhaps Mr Horowitz would applaud physical attacks? Just how Nazi-like does he wish the situation to get??

Part II – The New York Times 

William Thomson of the University of Michigan, one of fourteen academics slandered by the Horowitz advertisement, notes that “groups and individuals will resort to unfounded character assassination and ad hominem attacks when reasoned discussion is beyond their abilities.” However, the country’s major national newspaper is not suppose to be an accomplice in such attacks. Yet, that is the case.?

Ali Abunimah has pointed out that the New York Times has “advertising acceptability guidelines” which require advertisements to “comply with its (the NYT’s) standards of decency and dignity” and not be “misleading, inaccurate or fraudulent.” Horowitz’s offering is blatantly all of this. Yet there it was, in the April 24th edition of the “paper of record.” Of course Horowitz’s propaganda was placed on the editorial page and not identified as an ad. What are we to make of this? It seems clear that the editors actually believe that the piece passes the their standards of acceptability. But is the NYT also telling us that this libel is an acceptable editorial? The entire affair calls into question (not for the first time) the judgment of the people who run this famous newspaper.?

Paper IV – Conclusion?

David Horowitz probably wrote this propaganda piece not only to shift blame, but also to scare people. To frighten those named and scare off others from getting involved in the BDS movement. Yet he may well have overstepped and made himself the subject of critical attention rather than those he rails against. That is what happens when your message reflects a viewpoint that is ideologically driven and fanatical. Cast this viewpoint in a more normal light and it looks weird and distorted.?

The 19th century English essayist William Hazlitt once remarked that “prejudice is never easy unless it can pass itself off for reason.” That is also what David Horowitz tries to do here. He displays the prejudice of a fanatic and tries to pass it off as reason. Hopefully, when it comes to Israel/Palestine, it is too late for that sort of gambit to work.

One Response to “David Horowitz and the Art of Slander”

  • All ~ joelsk aparpes to be grossly overstating the number of Gaza rockets and just plain makin’ stuff about West Bank rockets:So, a “tiny band of extremists” have managed to fire some 10,000+ rockets into Israel from Gaza and perhaps thousands more from the West Bank. I tend to believe those living in Sderot, who have witnessed over 10,000 Qassem rocket launches into their general neighborhood. 1. : There have been several attempts by Palestinian groups to fire rockets at Israel from the West Bank, though none of these have been successful. 2. Gaza rockets: according to a table on the of numbers of casualties and rockets fired, which is populated with Israel MFA information, the number of rockets is nowhere near 10,000. The updated version of the table (footnoted as the source of the wiki table), current to January 2011, is .When I total up the numbers I get a total of 4,968 rockets fired. Not 10,000+ fired at Sderot’s general neighbourhood , but 4,968 in total – all of Israel. Recall, this is Israel MFA information.What is your source for claiming 10,000+ rockets have been fired at Sderot joelsk?The lead paragraph of the wiki article states: Between 2001 and January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched, leading to 28 deaths and several hundred injuries The footnoted source is a BBC article from the end of the Gaza Massacre two years ago, and I can find no prior mention of that number, but plenty of later quoting of it, even in a November 2009 letter by the Israeli delegation to the UN whinging about how unfair the Goldstone Report was.So where have the other 3,600 rockets come from? How does the BBC get from Israel MFA’s under 5,000 to 8,600 rockets and joelsk to 10,000+?- – -At first I thought the discrepancy was to do with Qassam vs other rockets. Hamas uses Qassam, other groups make and use their own rockets, which have such as Quds, Nasser and even Sumud. (There has also been sporadic reports of imported Katushya and Grad rockets, but the number that appear to have been fired of those is in the tens, not thousands, that I can find.)The , which I totalled to 4,968 above, claims to represent Qassam Rockets Fired Per Year . The other footnoted source of the is a May 2008 Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report (it’s a PDF, link available on the wiki page). It uses the same numbers as the Jerusalem Policy Centre but labels them only as Rocket Shell Fire . I’m more incline to trust the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centerthan the Jerusalem Policy Centre on knowing their stuff’, and I presume the JC are using the name Qassam in a generic sense to describe all Gaza rockers.So that still leaves a deficit of thousands of rockets. Anyone? Is this just another great big Israeli lie, or have I missed something? After the incredibly PR fabrications that came out after the flotilla I believe Israelis have no problem whatsoever just making things up.

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