Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ali Abunimah's Twitter Tirade following U of Penn's BDS rejection

Our story so far:
The University of Pennsylvannia has issued a formal statement distancing itself from the BDS conference scheduled to be held on its campus the first week in February.
In a press release, issued by StandWithUs, conference participant Ali Abunimah from the Electronic Intifada is quoted as saying “Ending the occupation does not solve the problem. The Jews do not view all human beings as equal. The 1948 borders were calculated to harm Christians, Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims.” (Chicago Sabeel Conference, October 7, 2005)."
In a very public Twitter tantrum, Ali takes offense at this quote. Is he retracting his lies? Its hard to tell.

From StandWithUs:
December 24, 2011

Ali Abunimah has denied he ever made the 2005 statement we attributed to him in our recent release about the extremism of speakers scheduled for the upcoming national BDS conference at the University of Pennsylvania in February, 2012. It is unclear which part of the statement he is retracting.

Members of a few organizations, including StandWithUs, the American Jewish Congress, the David Project and others attended the 2005 Sabeel event in Chicago, heard Abunimah’s talk and some took notes on the presentations. Three quarters of the time, the speakers told the audience stories about why they should despise Israel, and in the remaining time, encouraged them to initiate divestment campaigns in their churches. There was another speaker, George Rishmawi, who even told participants that the Israelis have a new gas that slows down the muscles of the Palestinians. These speakers did not support the Jewish and Palestinian national movements. Rather, they opposed the very existence of the Jewish state and wanted to contribute to its destruction through false accusations that lead to campaigns like BDS.

If Mr. Abunimah is retracting the statement attributed to him by those who attended the Sabeel conference in 2005, we welcome his recognition that his remarks are unacceptable and categorize him as an extremist. According to those who attended the Sabeel event, Abunimah is quoted as having said:

“Ending the occupation does not solve the problem. The Jews do not view all human beings as equal. The 1948 borders were calculated to harm Christians, Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims.” (Chicago Sabeel Conference, October 7, 2005).

We would like him to explain how the statement we quoted differs from what he actually said at the time, or why he no longer subscribes to these views.

We hope that Mr. Abunimah also retracts or distances himself from other, similar statements he has made, which are public record, such as:
“.....From its inception, the Zionist movement set out to turn a country where the vast majority of people were not Jewish into a country that gives special rights and privileges to Jews at the expense of non-Jews.....”(5/14/07)
“...In Palestine-Israel, this means abrogating all laws in Israel that systematically privilege Jews and harm non-Jewish citizens....” (10/16/07)
“Zionism’s hatred of diaspora Jews and its desire to see them removed from Europe and other places they live persists to this day.” (12/1/11)
“That is something Zionism shares with anti-Semitism, a disdain for actual Jewish culture and life as it existed.” (12/15/10)
“Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.” (10/25/10)
“It is precisely this basic insistence on equality that is perceived by Zionists as an existential threat to Israel, undermining its inherently discriminatory foundations which privilege its Jewish citizens over all others.” (12/30/07)

We hope that Mr. Abunimah confirms that he no longer subscribes to these views either.


Anonymous said...

The comment that SWU posted is still contested. No one has produced any proof that Abunimah said it.

And the quotations you cite on the bottom of the article are not racist, anti-Semitic or incendiary. Please do not equate Judaism and Zionism.

Dusty said...

From the reporter than first published the quote: Update: 12/26/2011]

To Alex B. Kane, purported journalist

On 12/26/2011 05:54 PM, Alyssa A. Lappen wrote:

Dear Alex [B. Kane] —

This afternoon, it was brought to my attention that Ali Abunimah now
claims his quotations cited in my Oct. 12, 2005 piece were
“fabricated,” and does so based on a twisted and incomplete version of
my reply to your late Friday Dec. 23, 2011 inquiry to me. In other
words, you misrepresented yourself to me as a journalist. You acted in
this instance as a go-between and ally of Mr. Abunimah, not a
journalist. Clear enough.

This is a preposterous claim, particularly at this late juncture.

I never fabricated any quotation of Mr. Abunimah — or anyone else — as
I most certainly indicated to you. Nor for that matter have I ever
previously been accused of fabricating a quotation. I am astounded
that you gave an incomplete version of my response to Mr. Abunimah,
who therefore concluded that I “fabricated” the quotation, when I
clearly indicated that my follow-up investigation would continue into
this week.

The piece in question was published in FrontPage Magazine, a widely
read online journal, more than six years ago. Since then, the speaker
Ali Abunimah never contacted me. Nor did I receive an inquiry from the
magazine regarding these quotations — or any content of my Oct. 12,
2005 piece. Had Mr. Abunimah contacted the magazine, or retained legal
counsel to do so for him, the editors would undoubtedly have asked me
to respond and I would have so responded in my usual timely and
complete fashion. Let there be no doubt as to my longstanding
professional record, or veracity.

Several First Amendment attorneys who served as counsel to two major
U.S. print magazines that I long served on staff notably advised
journalists that we need not retain written notes for more than five
years after publication dates to which they pertained. Again, it has
been more than six years since the article in question first appeared.

Nevertheless, subsequent to your inquiry late Friday afternoon on
Christmas 2011 weekend, I discovered in my electronic archives an
email exchange in which I arranged an interview pertaining to the Oct.
7, 2005 event at which Mr. Abunimah served as keynote speaker — as I
also so informed you in a response on Dec. 23.

Still later on Dec. 23, 2011, I found electronic notes from interviews
pertaining to the same Oct. 7, 2005 conference. It is now clear that I
interviewed at least two people who were present at that Oct. 7, 2005
Chicago conference and probably three. My electronic notes further
corroborate that quotations in my article were given to me exactly as
I cited them by a witness or witnesses present.

Based on the records I have already located, I stand by my story.

There is no doubt whatever that Mr. Abunimah made the statements that
now embarrass him so deeply he has claimed that they were fabricated.
He made those statements before a public audience, and witnesses heard
him and noted his comments. Repulsive though they are, those comments
do not differ entirely from others Mr. Abunimah has either written or
stated in other public venues. On the contrary, they are quite

Best regards–
Alyssa A. Lappen
Investigative journalist