There's a free speech controversy brewing in the land of Mount Rushmore and George McGovern over the speaking tour of a virulent anti-Israeli advocate who has made a career employing hateful anti-Semitic representations to argue against the American alliance with Israel.
The issue revolves around whether an anti-Israeli advocate who is accused of consistently stepping over the line in employing both hateful anti-Semitic phrases and symbolism and racially inciting disinformation against Israel should be allowed to speak at both publicly funded institutions and a club sponsored by a local South Dakota Democratic Party.
The controversy surrounds the planned appearances of Alison Weir, who calls herself a
"human rights activist" for the Palestinian cause and heads a group called "If America Knew," an organization that claims the goal of providing misinformed Americans the "full and accurate information" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She will be making speaking appearances at the State University campus, a VFW, and a local Democratic club later this month.
The Anti-Defamation League says that in "her discussions of Israel's influence, Weir employs anti-Semitic imagery and portrays Israel and its agents as ruthless forces that control American policy through brutal intimidation and deception."
For example, in a 2009 article called The New 'Blood Libel' Weir laid false accusations of Israeli theft of body parts from Palestinians for organ harvesting, arguing that the Israeli government and IDF were involved and that this trade in human organs had its roots in Jewish religious traditions involving ritual murder of gentiles.
The blood libel, the charge that Jews ritually murdered gentiles and used their blood to cast spells, was a mainstay of medieval European anti-Semitism and in modern times a dangerous accusation that incited programs and violence against European Jews.
"The kind of information that Weir offers to her gullible audience is built on visions of Israeli ethnic cleansing and brutality towards Arabs," says Lori Lowenthal Marcus, US correspondent for the jewishpress.com.
Weir's planned appearances has spurred Dan Lederman, a Jewish South Dakota State Senator, to question whether Weir should be given a forum at both a publicly funded university and at a political club sanctioned by the Democratic Party:
"While I am a strong advocate of free speech, both as representative of the people of South Dakota and as a Jew, I find it offensive that both the State University and the Democratic Party as public institutions are allowing this hateful, and even dangerous, advocate of anti-Semitism to speak," said Lederman
Lederman further argued that when it comes to Weir, "Her writing illustrates that she's not only hateful toward Israel, but all Jews. And there's a big difference between being "anti-Israeli" and "anti-Semitic"… It is nothing but shameful that anyone would provide her a forum and opportunity to churn out such hate-speech disguised and packaged as a "lecture" in our state."
It seems that Weir has some prominent backers in South Dakota that approve her messaging on Jews and Israel. She was invited to speak by former South Dakota Senator and Congressman James Abourezk, a prominent Democrat in South Dakota who was the leading voice in Washington against Israel and co-founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Abourezk is also vice-chairman of the Council for the National Interest, another anti-Israeli organization.
In recent years, there's been a huge divergence in terms of political correctness between unacceptable speech and phrases (and even words that can't be spelled out) that can be perceived as racist or sexist and hypocritical tolerance, if not outright acceptance of anti-Semitic terminology and rhetoric, much of it guised as anti-Israeli propaganda-and it's particularly true on college campuses across the nation.
So "social activists" like Weir take the liberty of masking anti-Israeli rhetoric in anti-Semitic banter that plays very well in an Arab world and Jew haters in leftist intellectual circles with impunity.
And that in turn allows mainstream Democrats like Abourezk to sponsor anti-Semites like Weir to speak at public universities and Democratic clubs.
Given that we live in a society that measures the significance and acumen of political rhetoric solely in terms of its shock value, the acceptance and promotion of Weir's hateful speech and writing by Palestinian sympathizers like Abourezk and other far leftists in the Democratic Party reflects the hypocritical ease in which anti-Semites are given a green light to push centuries-old hate and propaganda.
And while Weir's bigoted shocking speech and thoughts may be protected by the 1st Amendment, her anti-Semitism should not be disregarded in light of a public policy of the state and nation that seeks to promote equality and tolerance of minorities in this country.
Giving Weir the opportunity to speak at a public university or a Democratic club does nothing more than condone the same messaging that Nazi Propagandist Joseph Goebbels perfected in the Third Reich's almost successful attempt to cleanse Europe of Jews in the 20th century. Lederman is right-public institutions shouldn't condone or serve as sounding boards for such bigoted and hateful rhetoric.