|Expressions of Anti-Semitism
Alison Weir’s criticism of Israel has, at times, crossed the line into distortions customarily found in the literature of anti-Semites.
In response to a controversial article advancing theories about alleged Israeli organ harvesting, published in August 2009 in a Swedish daily newspaper, Weir penned multiple articles in which she highlighted a series of organ harvesting accusations that have been made against Israel, dating back to Israel’s first heart transplant in 1968.
In the articles, Weir asserted that Israeli organ traffickers “coerce people into giving up their organs,” that the Israeli government has enabled a “transplant tourism” industry that exploits poor and needy individuals overseas, and that Israeli authorities have “targeted” Palestinians for autopsies and organ harvesting performed without permission. She asserted that Israel and supporters of Israel responded to the 2009 organ harvesting allegations by attempting to “suppress all debate and crush those whose questions and conclusions they find threatening,” and noted that “it is difficult to conclude that [Israel] has nothing to hide.” In addition, Weir cited a theory introduced in 2008 in which Nancy Scheper-Hughes, founder of an organ transplant watchdog organization called Organ Watch, alleged that Israelis traffic organs as a means of “revenge, restitutionóreparation for the Holocaust.”
Weir’s articles, titled “The New ‘Blood Libel’? Israeli Organ Harvesting” and “Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine,” appeared respectively in CounterPunch, a radical anti-Zionist newsletter, in August, and in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, an anti-Israel publication that frequently serves as an apologist for Muslim American groups advocating anti-Semitism and support for terrorism, in October.
In an April 4, 2008, opinion piece she wrote in The Greenwich Citizen entitled, “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding,” Weir hand-picked quotations from Jewish religious texts and from a writer who has been debunked widely by scholars. Weir used the quotations erroneously to define and defame Judaism, which she described as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”
The opinion piece, which followed two speaking engagements at the GreenwichPublic Library in Connecticut in February, presented a misleading and false picture of Judaism and the contemporary state of Israel. “If Americans are going to continue showering Israel with millions of dollars per day, I think we are obligated to investigate to what degree our money is being used to further the kind of supremacist, racist violence that most of us oppose,” Weir wrote.
In an open letter to the ADL published in her blog in February 2009, Alison Weir objected to ADL’s description of her opinion piece in The Greenwich Citizen, denying that she hand-picked quotations from Jewish texts and used them erroneously to define and defame Judaism. Weir pointed out that she excerpted the passages from Jewish texts from materials by Israel Shahak, “a renowned scholar of Judaism.” However, Weir mischaracterizes Shahak as a “scholar of Judaism.” As far back as 1966, the Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, subjected Shahak’s writings on Judaism to a withering critique, and we are not aware of any mainstream Judaic studies scholar who has accepted any of Shahak’s conclusions. Shahak was celebrated in his life as a chemist and as an anti-Zionist activist, not as a scholar of Judaism.
In response to a February 2008 New York Times article about her Greenwich appearances, which among other things highlighted a video she showed likening Israel to Nazi Germany, Weir attributed what she viewed as a pro-Israel slant of the article’s author, Peter Applebome, to his Jewish upbringing.
Weir has previously described Israeli power in language traditionally used by anti-Semites. In her 2003 letter to Israel and Israel’s “frenzied defenders,” published in CounterPunch, Weir claimed that Israel imposed its “uni-cultural nation, ridding yourself of hundreds of thousands of human beings who did not fit your national vision of purity.” Weir added, “In this country…you’ve killed careers. You’ve killed businesses. You’ve killed hope. You’ve weeded out sprigs of integrity from our Congress, journalists of principle from our press.”
In characterizing Israel as such a powerful oppressor, Weir has also drawn upon Holocaust imagery and compares Israel to Nazi Germany. At a July 13, 2005, lecture at Newbury Park Library in Thousand Oaks, California, for example, Weir said that the U.S. media doesn’t tell about “the Holocaust going on now [in Palestine],” and that proposing a Palestinian state that would be divided into four non-contiguous population clusters is “ghettoization” that she likened to the creation of “concentration camps.”
In September 2006, Weir appeared via phone on Hesham Tillawi’s weekly cable television show, Current Issues, which is a sounding board for Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists seeking to broadcast their hatred and anti-Semitism into American homes. During the interview, she called the U.S. an “accomplice” in Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and called the American media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “Israeli-centric” and “enormously distorted,” especially in its reporting of injuries and deaths. She also accused the Israeli government of trying to transfer all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to other countries, calling this “ethnic cleansing,” and agreed with Tillawi’s charge that Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel do not justify Israel’s continued aggression in the Palestinian territories.
Another outlet for Weir’s message is the The Final Call, the Nation of Islam's (NOI) publication. In a December 2007 interview with anti-Semite Ashahed Muhammad (pictured), Weir discussed the struggle of Palestinians living under Israeli control. “The Palestinians are being treated with far more barbarity than people know…The fact that is that everyone in Palestine is basically a prisoner.” She further criticized the American media for “covering up” what she believes is the truth about the U.S.’ bankrolling of Israel: “the source of Israel’s power is the American public through our tax money and our elected representatives.”