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Head of Free Gaza Movement: Anti-Semitic video in question is 'disgusting'

After being accused of promoting a video which places the blame for the Holocaust on the Zionists, Greta Berlin tells her side of the story.     

I just finished about a 20-minute phone interview with Free Gaza Movement spokeswoman Greta Berlin, who spoke from Los Angeles. I exchanged some e-mails with her, I asked her several questions, I read quite a bit of the criticism and condemnations of her from left and right, and the bottom line is that I find her defense to be completely credible. She is not, to my mind, any kind of anti-Semite or wacko. Even if I find some of her terminology about Gaza (“slow-motion genocide” and “extermination camps”) to be awfully exaggerated and dangerous, I see no evidence that she’s the monster she’s been made out to be. She’s a self-described anti-Zionist, but I see nothing she’s done or said that I, at least, would consider beyond the pale.

To recap in brief: Berlin has been accused of promoting a video by a crazy, dead Jew-hater, Eustace Mullins, who says the Zionists were behind the Holocaust. The accusation is that Berlin promoted the video on Sunday by tweeting it on the Free Gaza Movement’s Tweeter account. On its website, the FGM apologized for the tweet, condemned the video’s content and said it “came from Greta’s private Facebook page and was shared with a group of people who were discussing propaganda and racism, and this link was an example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.” Berlin stated on the website:

I am not a Holocaust denier. And I am not a supporter of the video that I posted, nor would I ever have been. It was, in fact, an example of propaganda that is EXACTLY what I and others are horrified over. The video (although I didn’t watch it then) seemed like the kind propaganda that our group was discussing. And I passed it on because of the title.

Ironically I am caught in the same propaganda hysteria that I was trying to fight. It was my mistake that I didn’t post to the small private group on Facebook and the video ended up on my wall. Greta

It seemed the easiest way to determine if Berlin was telling the truth or lying would be for her to publish the Facebook group discussion of the video, in whole or at least in part. On Friday night, Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada wrote that he had just spent several hours on a discussion group where the video was posted (though, he noted, not by Berlin):

[I]t was neither preceded nor followed by any interactions that would fit the description that it “was shared with a group of people who were discussing propaganda and racism, and this link was an example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.” This context does not exist.

I asked Berlin if she would publish the group discussion, in full or in part, and she reiterated what she wrote on FGM’s website – that the video never made it to her discussion group. She said the group discussion Abunimah monitored has over 1,000 members, while the group she meant to send the video to has 37. In other words, she said, the  group discussion for which she’d intended the video never took place, so there’s no discussion to publish. (See statement from group members in UPDATE below.)

I saw part of the Facebook discussion that Abunimah evidently referred to, and from what I saw, his description was right – but it’s not the group Berlin says she meant. She said the smaller group has been together for nearly a year, and in the last month some of its discussion topics included  “homophobia in the Middle East,” “the tragedy of the Jews from Arab countries – it’s an inseparable part of the Zionist story,” the Israeli 12th grade draft resisters, Pamela Geller, and a Tel Aviv historical exhibition on “Nakba perpetrators.”

She says she didn’t watch the Mullins video when she tried to send it to her group – which she did on the basis of its title, “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews” – but said she has watched it since. “It’s disgusting!” she exclaimed. “This is what upsets me more than anything [that such a video could be associated with her and FGM]. The man is a nut.”

I asked about her endorsement of Gilad Atzmon’s book “The Wandering Who?” which is widely considered anti-Semitic (and which I haven’t read). She said she’s “not a big fan of what he writes,” but that as she wrote in her endorsement, she found the book fascinating, funny, sad “and by the end I was exhausted. When I wrote that after reading all that I was ‘glad I’d been brought up a Methodist,’ that was meant to be funny.” I asked if she thought the book expressed hatred of Jews, and she said, “I found nothing anti-Jewish in that book,” adding that she felt Atzmon had been “demonized.”

I asked about the FGM tweet of a 1943 Nazi propaganda movie, and she  said she didn’t recall seeing the movie or sending the tweet. Regarding an FGM tweet about the infamous film “The Innocence of Muslims” that mentions “An Israeli film maker, 100 Jewish donors,” she said those details were taken from the early reports in the New York Times and other mainstream news agencies, but that since then, of course, the story had changed. “The New York Times was fooled, too,” she said.

I asked her about an FGM tweet of the “slow-motion genocide” in Gaza. She said: “That’s a term I’ve been using for a long time, I use it in my presentations. That is my view of what’s happening.” I asked her about the FGM tweet regarding the “extermination camps” in Gaza. She said: “I think if something isn’t done about Gaza pretty quickly, I think that is what’s going to happen. There are lots of reports, UN reports, that say Gaza is going to become uninhabitable. I am pretty upset by the situation in Gaza.”

Berlin, who’s 71, apologizes for hitting the wrong button on Sunday’s tweet, but not for anything else, certainly not for anything she’s said with FGM. She doesn’t strike me as a person who scares easily, or who would disown something she believes in to stay in anyone’s good graces. If she genuinely believed in crackpot, anti-Semitic ideas, I think she’d say so and stick by it. But she says she doesn’t believe in such ideas, in fact she finds them disgusting, and there’s nothing remotely close to any definitive proof that she does believe them, and I think the reason for that is because she doesn’t.

UPDATE: Statement by members of Berlin’s FB discussion group:

In the past few days there have been a flood of attacks on Greta Berlin, based on an incident that was blown out of proportion, a reaction to an innocuous post that was taken completely out of context. When Greta saw the originalpostpublished in one Facebook group, she intended to share it with our group in the context of an ongoing discussion. Unfortunately, she forgot to change the setting on the Facebook sharing feature, bringing the post to her wall instead of landing in our closed group. Since Greta’s wall was linked with the Free Gaza Movement Twitter account, the post found its way to Twitter. Isolated from our discussion, the post was understood completely out of context, leading readers to believe that Greta herself was endorsing the content of the post.

Ours is a small and secret Facebook group, 37 members strong, consisting of a very diverse set of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and opinions. Many of us know each other personally; our mutual trust allows discussions to involve subjects that are not appropriate for public consumption, sometimes simply because our opinions are not fully ripe; we experiment with them and bounce them off each other in an attempt to understand the issues at hand, developing a better and more coherent argument.

One such topic involves the role of the Zionist movement during the Holocaust. Numerous historians before us made the claim, that leaders of the Zionist movement gave higher priority to the realization of their national project, sometimes missing opportunities to save European Jews. These priorities were made explicit in a famousquotebyDavidBen-Gurion, their consequences analyzed by historians such as Tom Segev and others. In this context Greta wished to highlight that anti-Semitic remarks have exaggerated and distorted this argument, claiming that Zionists have actively “run the concentration camps”.

Naturally nobody in his or her right mind would adopt such a claim, least of all Greta Berlin. Greta is highly respected and trusted by a large community of human rights activists, a co-founder and one of the leaders of the Free Gaza Movement. She’s faced down the IDF on the high seas a number of times, and is obviously no coward. If she hated Jews and denied the Holocaust, she would not be afraid to say so in public. But that’s not what she thinks, and her personal courage is a matter of record. So there is no reason for anyone to doubt her word.

Manyinthemedia accused Greta of actually endorsing this false claim. Being familiar with the relevant discussions, we attest that understanding the context makes it plain that she does not endorse it, nor are we aware of her ever suggesting that she does.OthersaccusedGreta of failing to provide the required context that supports her position. In the paragraphs above we tried to shed more light on this context, explaining the technical glitch that resulted in the publication of an isolated fragment of discussion, decontextualized from the rest. We hope that this will contribute  to the clarification of this unfortunate affair.

Members of the Facebook group:

Adam Rawat, London, UK

Fadwa Othman, Nablus, Palestine

Ian Raven. Leicester, UK

Kyle O’Laughlin, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Mary Hughes Thompson, Manchester, UK

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine

Mike Burch, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Moe Tamim, Montreal, Canada

Mona Affaneh, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Nadia Mansour, Los Angeles, California, USA

Ofer Engel, London, UK

Rim Selmi, Tunis, Tunisia

Robby Martin, Dublin, Ireland

Sam Siddiqui, Mumbai, India

Walid Jabari, Bethlehem, Palestine

Yani Haigh, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Gil Franco

      She has said she didn’t post it, that she posted it without realizing what it was, that she posted it because she disagrees with it and you find no reason to disbelieve her. Did you ever meet PT Barnum?

      Reply to Comment
    2. On Sept. 21, Greta Berlin posted on her Facebook wall a Nazi propaganda film called “Im Wald von Katyn” which Goebbels ordered produced to generate an anti-Semitic response to the Katyn massacre. This post in turn was tweeted on the @freegazaorg feed. When I wrote about this, Berlin falsely claimed in a comment on my Facebook wall that she had posted the Nazi propaganda film as part of a purported private discussion of a book on the subject (by an odd coincidence, the book I had cited in my post to describe the film). Now, two days later, she claims to Larry Derfner that she has no memory whatsoever of posting this film. Her false and inconsistent alibis regarding this aspect of the story speak volumes about Greta Berlin’s lack of trustworthiness and about the lengths to which those who support her will go to cover up the truth.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      Like the brohaha with Romney’s tax returns aren’t really about his personal tax situation (though where he makes his money is a relevant political issue), as much as what they reveal from a policy standpoint.

      I’d like to shift the discussion to points that are made rhetorically in support of Palestinian solidarity often, too often.

      That is, that quotes of Ben Gurion in particular, but many others, is often invoked by the solidarity left to claim that Zionists cared more about settling Israel than about saving Jewish lives in the holocaust, and even more directly that the assertion that a few deals were made between Eichman and other officials and Zionist organizations for release to emigrate to Israel, indicated support for that contention, that Zionists cared more about settling Israel, than about the genocide of their people.

      It’s made often. I don’t know if Greta herself has made it. Even the description that she found the movie itself repugnant, is NOT the same as declaring that that thesis, that Zionists were fundamentally complicit in the holocaust, is untrue. In fact, that she picked the title supporting that thesis, is itself over the line of my sense of respect or even safety, let alone confidence in Palestinian commitment to Israelis human rights.

      Ali Abunimah’s statements gave me more confidence in him though, that he considered it a relevant concern, the story of Jews’ validity on the planet, beyond the lens of an enemy.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ted

      Dear Mr. Derfner,

      I am a supporter of the mission of Free Gaza. I also frequently appreciate your writing, but feel that in this instance you are being naive and failing to recognize the constantly changing stories. Nor are you carefully researching the information that has already been collected and including it in your analysis of Greta Berlin’s atatements.

      For instance, this tweet and linked screenshot include information contradicting part of what Greta Berlin told you:

      Adam Holland‏@adamhollandblog

      Greta Berlin told @972mag she can’t remember posting the Nazi film “Im Wald von Katyn”, but she told me otherwise. http://twitpic.com/b1pdfb

      When one tells so many stories, it becomes hard to keep them consistent.

      It’s also pretty hard to believe that this newly revealed 37 person facebook group must remain anonymous. What could possibly be the vital reason why none of their discussions can be revealed or captured in a screenshot? And if something finally materializes from them more than a week after the fact, why should we believe it is not manufactured?

      Ted

      Reply to Comment
    5. Kat

      It seems to me that you desperately WANT to believe her. It is in such desperation that people are quick to overlook damning evidence which would quickly make them disbelieve.

      I think you need to dig deeper. It’s not that hard to do. I easily found many, many instances where Ms Berlin has taken on an anti-Semitic persona. Maybe a few independent interviews with others who have born witness to her inflammatory remarks, or those who have had public presentations disrupted by her. I understand her former step-daughter has borne witness to her hateful indictment of Jews in general.

      Reply to Comment
      • Frigga Karl

        this is too much, this is witch hunt statement “former step daughter said… it is horrible!
        All these hysterical reaction about nazi propagandafilms 70 years ago! All this materal belongs to the people’s research (academically or not) I find so much fearfulness and timidity about this historcal subject; but this is a result of the oppression of this specific free speach engendered by the Israeli politicians. We are now fighting each other in a very petty way and weaken the energies we need. Each person has its own approach to free energy for the battle for justice and peace in Palestine and we have to go forward in this labyrinth, were it is hard to be clear in that speed of facebook and twitter.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Tom P.

      she told Derfner she’s “not a big fan of what he [Atzmon] writes”, but her actual words were “his book is one of the best reads of 2012.” http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/endorsement-of-the-day-greta-berlin.html

      Larry, everyone knows you’re a serious journalist. Please don’t take lies at face value.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Larry Stillman

      If Berlin found Atzmon’s book “funny”and ” “I found nothing anti-Jewish in that book,” and that she was being somehow ironic, then she is engaged in double talk.

      To not be able to see through Atmon’s bigotry is akin to taking Pam Geller or Daniel Pipes on Islam seriously. Thus, adding that she felt Atzmon had been “demonized” shows that she is trouble.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Piotr Berman

      Adam Holland: “On Sept. 21, Greta Berlin posted on her Facebook wall a Nazi propaganda film called “Im Wald von Katyn” which Goebbels ordered produced to generate an anti-Semitic response to the Katyn massacre. ”

      This seems to be a very strange claim. Namely, this propaganda film is not anti-Semitic but anti-Soviet, namely, it documents the claim that Soviets murdered Polish officers who were POWs. Moreover, this propaganda happened to be true! It was convenient for Nazi regime to drive a wedge between Polish government in exile and Soviet government, but they happened to uncovered a true massacre perpetrated by NKVD.

      For many years Soviet government was resolutely denying the story claiming that the massacre was made by Germans. Actually, Nazis were very legalistic about conventions concerning POWs. If you were a German POW from a country that signed the respective Geneva convention, your survival chances were quite good. My uncle survived WWII as a French POW even though Germans sorted away Jewish prisoners for harsher treatment. Prisoners from countries without the convention were in hell (Soviet or Italian).

      Reply to Comment
    9. noam

      Oh my god, Mr Derfner is such a buffoon, it’s embarrassing. he has always been the least sharpest knife in 972′s drawer. But this is really… where to begin? she doesn’t remember a Nazi film, she is not a fan of Atzmon but wrote on it as a top recommendation. She did see that video but didn’t but her

      Reply to Comment
    10. noam

      my comment broke off. Stupid smartphone. My point was, I’ve often agreed and disagreed with stuff here. But this is a new low for the level of journalism here. Kaufman scratched the floor here and there, but Larry hit rock bottom.

      Reply to Comment
    11. So, let me summarize. A country with millions of Nakba-deniers, conducting an ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by means of imprisonment, torture, dispossession and assassination, will decide what those who oppose the Israeli crimes can and cannot read, hear, or watch?
      You, Larry, are just following the party line here. This is what Daniel Kahneman calls ‘emotional framing’. The suggestion is that there is a pure, innocent entity called Israel that has to defend itself against immoral lies.
      You, as a journalist, should know that the opposite is the case.

      You could just read the foreword to The Wandering Who? to get an idea about Atzmon. Please explain to me what is so terribly anti-semitic in this?
      In 1984 Atzmon visited the internment camp Ansar in South Lebanon as a member of a militairy band. When he asked the officer about small, concrete cubes of little over 1 cubic meter in volume, with small metal doors as entrance, the guy replied: “These are our solitary confinement blocks; after two days in one of these, you become a devoted Zionist!”
      That’s when Atzmon concludes: “This was enough for me. I realised that my affair with the Israeli state and with Zionism was over.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Merica First

        You’re the first person to address the issue as it should be addressed. Supporters of apartheid crying racism and suppressing information by calling anyone who opposes their racism as “antisemites” have zero credibility themselves – and they want others to justify posting a link from youtube? How ironic. The fact that they are being entertained and pandered to is the biggest issue in the US today. When will we clean house?

        Reply to Comment
        • yes, today another airstrike on the Gaza strip. 11 people injured.
          “Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that the airstrike targeted a motorcycle traveling in a busy neighborhood of Rafah. Two of the wounded were in a critical condition and one person required both legs to be amputated, al-Qidra added.”
          And here they are discussing some stupid video. If the rest of the press in Israel is disappearing, one would think that it’s a golden opportunity for 972 to address things that matter.

          Reply to Comment
          • daniel

            Wow, the antisemites and holocaust deniers here seem to really enjoy your writing, Larry. Think about that.

            Reply to Comment
          • It must be reassuring to have a worldview consisting of only two words.

            Reply to Comment
          • daniel

            and what 2 words are those?”
            to quote another comment: “Hi – you’re clearly one of Atzmon’s acolytes. I’ve found that there’s little point in arguing the substantive points with them, and so if you don’t mind, I won’t be doing so with you.

            However, you should be aware that in the United Kingdom, the leading anti-fascist campaign group, Hope not Hate, has campaigned against his public appearances. They’ve been backed by the same Trade Unions which also support various Palestinian Solidarity work.

            Hope not Hate spends most of its time campaigning against anti-Black and anti-Muslim racist groups, and puts Atzmon in the same category as them.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Merica First

            You’re obviously unaware that freedom of speech/expression refers not to speech that you agree with but speech but speech that you disagree with. The fact that your society will pander to those who would censor what you read and discuss and debate is a sign that you are no longer free

            Reply to Comment
          • daniel

            you obviously don’t understand that free speech does not mean you can spread hatred.

            Reply to Comment
          • orit

            The point is not free speech. The woman can Tweet whatever she wants. It is about the real reason behind the Free Gaza movement. Hint: probably not human rights. And where’s the flotilla to Syria?

            Reply to Comment
    12. Andrew

      Emily Hauser is bending over backwards to defend Berlin, and I just cannot figure out why. Berlin’s long-held positions (Gaza is a concentration camp; the Gazans are being exterminated) constitute a deliberate evocation of the Holocaust, as a way of trying to equate Zionists and Nazis. Of course she may well not have believed in the historical assertions in the Na-Zi video…..I think it’s more likely she was passing it around her little group as a kind of joke, but not a well-intentioned one. I can only guess at what kind of giddy pleasure she and that group took from watching the video……and they don’t need to believe in it as literally true in order to derive pleasure from it.

      I note that one of the FGM’s “Points of Unity” (to which, the FGM website assures us, “all” supporters of FGM subscribe) is number 9. That “Point of Unity” calls for the end of the state of Israel (by means of the so-called one state “solution”), because it denies any legitimacy in the Jewish people having a state in Palestine. This is a form of “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” politics……she must know that the inevitable outcome of Point 9, were it to be implemented, would be the end of the Jewish state.

      Over the years, her rabid antipathy towards Jews having a state in a part of their ancient homeland has led her to wild excesses of rhetoric, including but hardly limited to repeated endorsement of Atzmon, and turning a blind eye to the terror imposed on Gaza by Hamas.

      This latest episode (the video) doesn’t particularly surprise me. She was already long-ago discredited. By her snide denigration of the Holocaust (through equating the situation in Gaza with the Holocaust), her endorsement of vicious anti-semitism in the mouth of Atzmon and her long support of Hamas, I think she should be considered an embarassment to Palestinians, who have real grievances and in their quest for nationhood, a just cause that I support. On that point, I am firmly in favour of establishment of a Pal state (including E Jerusalem) and dismantling the colonies/settlements in the WB, and have been for years. But support for Pals shouldn’t require one to sup with the devil, as Berlin seems to enjoy doing.

      Reply to Comment
      • “That ‘Point of Unity’ calls for the end of the state of Israel (by means of the so-called one state ‘solution’)”

        This is a lie, of course, which I trust surprises nobody.

        http://www.freegaza.org/en/about-us/mission

        Reply to Comment
    13. noam

      Andrew I couldn’t have possibly put it better. Every single word.

      Reply to Comment
    14. I am seeking any independent confirmation of the real life existence of these signatories on the statement published on 972mag.com:

      Adam Rawat, London, UK
      Fadwa Othman, Nablus, Palestine
      Ian Raven. Leicester, UK
      Kyle O’Laughlin, Chicago, Illinois, USA
      Mike Burch, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
      Moe Tamim, Montreal, Canada
      Mona Affaneh, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
      Nadia Mansour, Los Angeles, California, USA
      Ofer Engel, London, UK
      Rim Selmi, Tunis, Tunisia
      Robby Martin, Dublin, Ireland
      Sam Siddiqui, Mumbai, India
      Walid Jabari, Bethlehem, Palestine
      Yani Haigh, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

      In addition, I am looking for verification of
      “Maysoun Nablussi” who is @nablussi on Twitter.

      If you can verify that you have know that these people have a real life existence, please get in touch with me.

      My PGP key is available: http://bangpound.org/user/1

      Contact form: http://bangpound.org/contact

      Reply to Comment
      • Merica First

        Could you first provide evidence that you are Benjamin Doherty as you claim in your profile?

        A photostat of your national identity card with a photo ID and proof of residence MAY be sufficient

        Biometric data will be appreciated. Fingerprints are optional

        Reply to Comment
      • Curious George

        I’m curious as to why you’re interested in whether or not they exist. I may or may not be one of those members – in any case, how is that relevant? You going to add them to some “watch list?” You gonna do some “detective work?” Give me a break.

        Reply to Comment
    15. Naftali

      And the lies continue. Larry, I sent you a copy of an email Greta sent to me claiming SOMEONE else posted this on her FB page. Now she claims SHE posted it to this select group (Mike Birch, a well known Jew hater among them) based on a specific discussion her own but did not view the content. Are we all morons?

      Now, if in fact this was a discussion on Zionism and the Holocaust, she posted this to PROVE how Zionists were involved in it. No one at all buys that nonsense she spouts about posting it to show how this topic can lead to outrageous accusations as per the video.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Mihai-Robert Soran

      The video is really disgusting. And that’s why Greta Berlin wanted it shared with her anti-Jewish groupies ….
      —–
      Wow! Wow, wow! She said she didn’t watch it before sharing it. I don’t think she would have done it after sharing it: she was (she claims …) heading for the airport and had for hours no chance to do so. And we know that the shitstorm was already waiting for her to land… Therefore she was too busy to wipe out not only the download link, but also all other communication that took place based on her video offering in the group(s) she was feeding with Katyn and “Zionist-Jewish managed concentration and extermination camps” ….
      Thus the question is: How did she discover that Mullin’s video was DISGUSTING? And if it was disgusting, why did she disseminate it among a small (she says: 39) group of loyal anti-Diaspora Jewish and Jewish-Israeli followers?
      The answer? She already knew prior to downloading and sharing it why it was worth doing it: because it backed her own views on Jews and Zionism …

      Reply to Comment
    17. daniel

      If you have access to this “secret group” why not publish a screenshot from the group WITH the context? How do these names help anyone decide on the truth?

      Reply to Comment
      • Anonymous

        I would just like to point out that screenshots aren’t that reliable as proof because they are very easy to fake with some very basic knowledge. A better solution would be to invite one of the high profile skeptics to this group and let them verify the information and pass it on to the rest of us.

        Reply to Comment
    18. Dear Larry,

      I read your follow-up piece with great interest. It seems that the main proof being offered that there was nothing untoward about Greta Berlin’s post is a statement signed by other participants in this discussion. Most of them, however, are not likely to be familiar to your readership. Since we are, in effect, being asked to take their word for it, it would be nice to know a little more about them. What, for example, do you know about the anti-racist credentials of one Yani Haigh?

      I am sure that you have already done your due diligence, and that they are all utterly free of racist, anti-semitic, or other white supremacist ties, and are thus reliable witnesses, and would thank you for sharing what you know.

      Thank you in advance,

      Élise Hendrick

      Reply to Comment
      • Elise, the whole dispute is over whether Berlin intended to post that video with approval to an approving audience, or with disapproval to a disapproving audience. She says the latter and now the audience confirms it.

        Reply to Comment
        • I see that Larry Derfner has not seen fit to revise or follow up in any way on what is now public knowledge of the list of trolls who signed the “Nothing to see here” letter he reproduced without comment in his second piece on the Greta Berlin debacle.

          He was on notice about that list days before Benjamin Doherty published this article on the collection of sockpuppets, racists, and other dubious characters who signed the letter, and has nonetheless let his articles, which are contradicted by overwhelming evidence, stand unrevised. The silence speaks volumes.

          Reply to Comment
          • Elise, I read Doherty’s article and I’m really, really not convinced that he proved anything at all. Of all the 16 signators to the letter, there is one, Yani Haigh, about whom there is evidence of anti-Semitiism – that screenshot of some of his FB posts in the EI comments, and because of comments on Mondoweiss by “akayanni” that may well be from the same person. I still can’t “convict” him of anti-Semitism, but I certainly suspect him. About the rest – I haven’t seen one statement from any of them that I would consider anti-Semitic, and I HAVE seen private FB posts from at least a couple of them that are plainly anti-anti-Semitic.

            Reply to Comment
          • “Elise, I read Doherty’s article and I’m really, really not convinced that he proved anything at all.”

            It appears you no more read Benjamin Doherty’s article than you did your due diligence on the signatories in your article, several of whom turn out to be nonexistent. And the racism in the troll group in question is not veiled in any way. It’s out in the open. I gave you a small sampling (an antisemitic thread by Jon “Yani” Haigh on Greta’s wall, which elicited no criticism from her) to give you a chance to look into this a bit further. Alas, you did not.

            “Of all the 16 signators to the letter, there is one, Yani Haigh, about whom there is evidence of anti-Semitiism – that screenshot of some of his FB posts in the EI comments, and because of comments on Mondoweiss by “akayanni” that may well be from the same person.”

            That’s actually not true, as you would have found out quite quickly if you did even elementary research. Haigh is the one I sent you a screenshot on. I did not release anywhere near the entirety of the material I have in my possession, because it’s not hard to come by, and I hoped you might act like a journo rather than a publicist.

            “About the rest – I haven’t seen one statement from any of them that I would consider anti-Semitic, and I HAVE seen private FB posts from at least a couple of them that are plainly anti-anti-Semitic.”

            How hard did you look?

            Reply to Comment
    19. Larry D., the “secret group” has revealed itself on your post. That is about all you can do. The industry of mutual hatred and suspicion is so well developed that these names will undoubtedly be vented in the internet. Maybe they are legit, maybe not. I don’t care that much. What matters, in my view, is that you have provided a journalistic service through the first post and update. You did your job. The rest is out of your hands.

      Reply to Comment
    20. For those of us who care about Palestinian rights and Israeli war crimes, the word “Zionism” is a four letter word. A few years ago, I actually unfriended Greta Berlin because I thought she was too soft on Zionists. I have not seen the video in question, but this slandering of because off it is just absurd. Her work on behalf of human rights speaks for itself. What should be in the media should be Israeli violatio

      Reply to Comment
      • Mitchell Cohen

        And how exactly was/is Gretta too “soft on Zionists”. By not calling for the expulsion of all Jews from “Palestine”?

        Reply to Comment
      • kimberly amatullah

        Becky Dent… as we know you, please elaborate on her work and how it has effected the movement. How did her taking a bullet help anyone? Please tell us how her silence with regard to Ken O’Keefe (along with her acolytes who are themselves involved in scandal after scandal) help anyone?

        At least you hinted to something true; that you are more a rabid Jew-hater than Greta and would slink back to endorse her… naturally when it comes down to hating Jews, you’d not miss that for the World over!

        You guys are such aggressive amateurs, and plenty are onto you.

        Reply to Comment
    21. The current witch hunt against Greta Berlin is absurd. I haven’t seen the video in question, but I do know that for those of us who care about Palestinian rights, the word “Zionism” is a four letter word that represents land theft, bigotry, and colonization. Greta’s work in defending human rights for the Palestinian people speaks for itself. Zionist history and ideology should be the real “story”, here, not some silly video that may or may not have had an element of truth. There will come a time when the state of Israel will be held accountable for the atrocities it has committed for the past 60 plus decades. I applaud Greta Berlin’s efforts in exposing them.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Witty

        AND, Zionism is a seven-letter word that represents self-governance to the Jewish people.

        Which do you choose to consider more important, or dismiss entirely, or perhaps value both.

        Reply to Comment
      • Jeff

        All you’ve proven Rebecca is that you are one close minded bigot supporting another.

        Reply to Comment
      • Antony

        How is zionism a 4 letter word?

        Reply to Comment
    22. Commenter

      My favourite bit of the letter from the activists is where they say:

      “our mutual trust allows discussions to involve subjects that are not appropriate for public consumption, sometimes simply because our opinions are not fully ripe; we experiment with them and bounce them off each other in an attempt to understand the issues at hand, developing a better and more coherent argument.”

      What this means is pretty clear. If you were to publish some of these guys discussions, you’d find that they said far FAR worse that Greta Berlin’s video.

      So, they’re setting it up for the possibility that this group’s conversations will get out… their pre-excuse is that “our views are not yet fully formed”.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Richard Witty

      “She’s faced down the IDF on the high seas a number of times, and is obviously no coward. If she hated Jews and denied the Holocaust, she would not be afraid to say so in public.”

      That is an odd gullible blind faith. Free Gaza is a political movement, that must retain some public credibility to function (even if hated by the IDF). Deniability remains a plausible motive, even if Greta “faced down” the IDF on high seas.

      Again and again, the content of the original discussion deserves scrutiny, not for the purpose of discrediting one person after another, but for addressing (and hopefully discrediting) a contention.

      The critical contention is “Zionists were complicit in the holocaust”. It is certainly true that parts of the internal administration of ghettos and camps were conducted by favored individual Jews. It is certainly true that Zionists negotiated the release of few Jews often at the apparent expense of many (more an extortion than a consented contract), as the reality in almost all cases was the effort to save some rather than none.

      One could start from anger, review that combination of events and selectively conclude that “Jews were complicit in the holocaust”. Among many Palestinian solidarity, that assertion is accepted, promoted, in support of the second contention that “Zionism is racism” and was/is racism since day one, strategic, conspiratorial, deceptive.

      Self-talk in fact though.

      Neither contention is accurate. The Nazis (and many allies) orchestrated the holocaust (all of them). The most that can be said of Zionists (even the Ben-Gurion quote), is that they were committed to their goal of settling Israel, and sought opportunities to.

      If for a displaced and persecuted people, settling a home space is racism, then racism becomes not a bad word. (It should be a bad word, and those that conclude that Jews desiring to settle in Israel is evil, should review their assumptions, so that real racism can be confronted.)

      Reply to Comment
    24. Adam

      Derfner– Your credibility as a journalist is less than zero. Anti-Semites on both the left and right have argued for years that Zionists/Jews were complicit in the Holocaust. You can see for yourself that the leftist ant-Semites have been endorsing that slander on this and other threads. Of course Greta Berlin supported the link that she posted; radical Israel haters have been arguing that Zionists were complicit with the Nazis for years. But she gets some of her friends to tell you a lie and you believe it. Shame on you. Have a little integrity and admit that you fucked up.

      Reply to Comment
    25. klang

      Larry, have you considered proposing marriage to Ms berlin. Might help your cause

      Reply to Comment
    26. Gene St.Onge

      I’ve known Greta personally for several years, particularly as co-participants in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. While I have had some differences with her in the past regarding some of her opinions of others in the movement, and have not always agreed with her strategy for bringing justice to the Palestinians, I would vouch for her honesty, her integrity and her respect for all peoples, including the Jews. She was once married to a Jew. As for her support of Gilad Altzmon, I share her opinion on this as well. I have met Gilad on a couple of occasions and have read his book, “The Wandering Who”. I have also read “The
      Invention of the Jewish People” by Israeli Prof. Shlomo Sand, on which much of Gilad’s basic premise is based. I can agree with Greta that Gilad has been misunderstood and unfairly demonized. My Jewish wife, Jan, and share the opinion the Gilad is not a self-hating Jew. He has simply dared to ask questions about ‘Jewishness’ that have been considered off limits up till now, but are essential to raise and discuss if we are to understand the root causes of the Zionist mentality from which the Israeli/Palestinian conflict derives.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tom P.

        Gene, please find within you the courage to call out bigotry, once and for all. When someone writes “” I am suggesting that the only way to internalise the meaning of the Jewish Holocaust is to teach Jews how to start looking in the mirror, to teach Jews to ask themselves why conflicts with others happen to them time after time. Rather than blaming the Goyim, the Germans, the Muslims, the Arabs, it is about time the Jewish subject learns to ask the 6 million $ question: “why do they pick on me?” http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2007/10/gilad-atzmon-open-comment-to-jsf.html

        he is blaming Jews “rather than” the Nazis for the Holocaust.

        when someone boasts that “when we studied the middle age blood libels, I again wondered out loud how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matzo out of young Goyim’s blood were indeed empty or groundless.

        http://hurryupharry.org/2011/09/17/gilad-atzmon-wont-say-whether-the-holocaust-happened-because-hes-not-a-historian/

        he is repeating a medieval slander against Jews without any proof.

        When someone wishes that the “goyim, the gentiles, basically — find within ourselves the powers to contain this sinister ideological collective.
        http://adamholland.blogspot.com/2011/09/mearsheimer-continues-to-defend-anti.html

        that isn’t meant as a compliment. Shame on you for standing up for hatred. Shame on you.

        Reply to Comment
        • daniel

          +1

          Reply to Comment
    27. pelsar

      what makes the “progressive left” so damn naive?….you guys seem to have an incredible ability to be “outsmarted” by a few simple words:

      you say shes not a “crackpot etc”

      heres the problem that you need to ignore: she does stand by her ideas, shes just packages them nicely for you:

      she claims of gaza:
      1 slow motion genocide
      2 extermination camps
      ____

      so who’s the ignorant one here? Gaza for those who dont know, has a distribution problem not a supply problem, as they have new hotels, shopping centers, new cars on the road etc.

      Larry, did you not know this? or is it the lady how doesnt know this? perhaps in your emails you should explain that to her and then see if she still sticks by her story.

      then we’ll know who is the willfully blind…

      Reply to Comment
    28. pelsar

      i need to revise my last post..its not willful blindness. Larry you and her progressive friends are very well aware of her views. But just as the progressive left joins in with Hamas and indirectly (and directly) supports the religious fantatics in their bid for nationalism, so too does so many support the “progressives”.

      Bascially its comes down to two primary goals: supporting nationalism (a Palestinian state – civil rights-NOT being a primary value), and the ends justifies the means.

      within those two values which the lady represents, clearly you are supporting her goals and hence give her a pass on her views.

      nothing more than right wing nationalism disguised as “progressiveness”

      Reply to Comment
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    30. Threads and conversations between GB and EG:
      EG
      Four months ago, I was added to a Facebook group called “Our Land” much of which, when I finally looked at the content, immediately struck me as anti-Semitic in nature, so I complained to the person who had added me.

      That person was Greta Berlin. The “Our Land” page currently has 13 administrators, including Greta, and is a combination of posts from legitimate sources such as Ma’an News Agency and Al Jazeera on current events in Palestine, along with anti-Semitic rants and comments. The video of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins that Greta tweeted out on the Free Gaza Movement’s Twitter account on September 30 originated in this group.

      Some people have come to Greta’s defense, accepting her assertion that this was a technical mistake, that she did not support the content of the video, and that those who have criticized her response to the “mistake” are on a witch hunt. I’d like to acknowledge that the Free Gaza Movement was not synonymous with Greta Berlin; some of my good friends and people I deeply respect were leaders of that movement and their work and commitment should in no way be minimized by this.

      Setting aside Greta’s woefully inadequate explanations for the tweet (of which there were several), the fact remains: Greta is an active administrator of a Facebook group that is full of unabashedly anti-Semitic rhetoric and has been called out before by activists for it but has never done anything to challenge or stop it. Since the controversy broke, the “Our Land” group has attempted to cover some of its tracks. The fact that Greta remains an active administrator of a Facebook group that accommodates this kind of bigotry raises serious issues about her commitment to building an anti-racist movement committed to justice and equality. Moreover, her unprincipled, vicious and Islamophobic attacks on the Palestinians who have called her to task for her behavior should alarm all of us who are committed to Palestine solidarity work.

      While I am personally disappointed in Greta the stakes here are much higher than one person’s lack of judgement. This moment is a challenge to the Palestine solidarity movement and for us to define the movement we want to be, and the rhetoric and ideas we are willing to embrace. I hope by writing this, I can explain what led me to address these concerns, and what I hope we can all learn from the experience.

      A History of Anti-Semitism

      On July 11, 2012 I started poking around “Our Land”. I found this article, with a personalized introduction posted by Greta, about Zionist-Nazi collaboration:

      At the time, the group had just begun, and it included a wide range of voices. While the issue of Zionist leaders having some level of coordination with the Nazi government is well-established, someone immediately took issue with the introduction, which did not come from the article itself but was added by Greta. Particularly, the idea that “The H” was “to a large degree created” by Zionists.

      Here is part of the discussion that followed:

      Greta’s assertion that the introduction was not hers but was a comment her “Jewish friend” wrote could not be verified, as the comments on this article had been turned off by countercurrents.org due to “racism”. This excuse, however, once again reeks of the same rationale she used about the tweet: these aren’t her words, yet she still chooses to disseminate them, without qualification.

      After I began to engage in the discussion, challenging the anti-Semitic claim that Jews orchestrated the Holocaust, I was immediately attacked by a prolific poster to the group: Joachim Martillo. He posted to the group often; his area of interest seemed to be the inherent viciousness and evilness of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. When I challenged both his outrageous bigotry, and his penchant for posting pseudo-scientific rants on Facebook, this is what he said to me:

      “Bekah Wolf is expressing the same sort of bigotry that Jews commonly express when they claim non-Jews can’t write about Jewish history or the Holocaust because they are not sufficiently in touch with the Jewish experience.[…]

      For the record, I tend to comment here in the morning to get my mind working — sort of like calisthenics.

      At one time I was trying to focus on becoming a scholar of modern Eastern European and Jewish historical political economics.

      But it is really hard to obtain a university position if one does not write what rich Jewish donors want to read.

      Then I moved into packet switching technology (cash flows in an economy are mathematically indistinguishable to packet flows in an Internet) and invented one of the key building blocks of the Internet.”

      I then, in a private direct message to Greta, complained about him, and the group in general, for its content, questioning why she had added me to it in the first place. She had this to say:

      July 11
      Greta Berlin
      I just posted this to the idiots ganging up on you in Our Land. I have not been online or I would have stopped it much sooner. …….Sorry Bekah, the page is not mine. I belong to it just like you do. And, for everyone else in here, Bekah has more cred in her little finger than many of you do in your entire body. She lives in Beit Ommar, a Palestinian village in the Hebron District where PSP is based and puts her feet where her mouth goes. She’s too modest to tell you these things, but she is an amazing women who works nonstop for the Palestinians…….

      Greta Berlin
      I was laughing at Joachim though. He has his good moments but his head is sometimes up his ass…ertions. And they have no idea who you are, so I just had to smack them a bit

      What was shocking to me was the fact that she in no way addressed the issue I was bringing up: that Martillo was habitually making virulently and anti-Jewish postings in the group. And she just plain lied, she wasn’t just a member of the group, she was an administrator who had been added as one in June:

      Take a look at that list of administrators, by the way. Eight of the 12 besides Greta are the same people who signed a letter on her behalf as members of another “secret” Facebook group in which she claims she intended to post the Eustace Mullins video.

      I left the group in July, but when I heard about the tweet she posted, and her claim that it was just a mistaken posting intended for a Facebook group, I was reminded of Our Land. On September 30, I requested to rejoin the group. Greta approved me within 15 minutes of my request, clearly still an active administrator. At the same time, I notified a couple of Palestine solidarity activists, including editors at The Electronic Intifada, about the existence of the group and my belief that it was probably involved. Sure enough, there, on Sept. 28, was the video posted by another of the administrators. This is the posting Ali Abunimah referred in his October 6 post on The Electronic Intifada, (“Greta Berlin’s statement is not correct“).

      Unabashed Anti-Semitism

      As I looked through the posts of the group, my suspicions that anti-Zionism was consistently confused with overt anti-Semitism was confirmed. For example, another video posted on the same day as the one Greta tweeted was entitled: “The Holocaust Hoax.”

      When one contributor posted an article with the introduction “we must never generalise about Jews and Zionist Jews” Joachim Martillo came back with this explanation of why we, in fact, should:

      This is the same man who Greta told me “had his good moments”. She also welcomed him back after he was banned from the forum for the week.

      What needs to be understood and emphasized is that this kind of virulently racist material was common in the group, and, as far as I could see, never challenged by the administrators, including Greta.

      A Guilty Mind?

      After it became clear that The Electronic Intifada had gained access to the group, there was a belated attempt at a cover-up. On October 9th, several prominent members of Greta’s support network, along with the most racist contributor, deleted their Facebook pages, eliminating their previous posts to the group. When administrator Sam Siddiqui deleted her Facebook profile, she took with it a post in which another member of the group wrote that she did not support Greta because she too had confronted Greta about her anti-Semitic rhetoric on Facebook (in one example I saw, Greta blamed bad coverage of Israel/Palestine in the Economist on the fact that it is “50% owned by the Rothchilds.” Besides playing into tropes of Jews running the media, this is also factually inaccurate).

      In addition, Joachim Martillo also deleted his Facebook profile, taking with it all traces of his previous posts.

      What is perhaps even more disturbing is that while Greta refused to condemn these posts (let alone exercise her authority as an administrator to remove them and ban the contributors), she is totally unapologetic. When someone posted one of the articles in an Israeli newspaper about the tweet, she said about her detractors, “I find them hysterical. What they don’t seem to realize is that, like Gilad Atzmon, people are now buying the book. What morons.”

      Greta Berlin continues to defend and openly participate in a Facebook group that posts videos exactly like the one she tweeted two weeks ago and reportedly finds “disgusting.” She is unapologetic about it now, and has been in every interaction I’ve had with her about it. I do not think that Greta is a Nazi-sympathizer, but I have seen her engage, accept, and encourage anti-Semitic rhetoric, and this is incredibly damaging to the Palestine solidarity movement. What she, and this group, represents is dangerous to our movement in solidarity with Palestinians: a complete disregard for the basic principles of anti-racism and anti-bigotry most of us hold dear.

      Lessons Learned

      Several people, particularly Palestinians in Palestine, have criticized the amount of attention Greta and her tweet have gotten. Some have criticized her for making this about her and drawing attention away from the people who are actually suffering. Others have criticized those in the movement who have tried to hold Greta accountable. What people seem to be missing, however, are two key reasons why we cannot tolerate this rhetoric in our movement.

      First, as a movement based on universal principles of human rights, freedom, and dignity, we should not allow any bigotry, racism, Islamophobia or anti-Semitism in our midst. This was a point eloquently made in recent days in a statement signed by more than 100 Palestinian activists, academics and cultural workers.

      Secondly, there are some utilitarian reasons why we should avoid this kind of rhetoric. Every time a Palestine solidarity activist takes on the issue of Holocaust and its connections to Zionism, every time they conflate Judaism with Zionism, they are making an inherently Zionist argument. The horrific historical reality of the Holocaust does not, and never can, trivialize or justify the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people. But Greta and others, by insisting on making such topics a primary concern are tacitly conceding a key Zionist claim that the legitimacy of Zionism and its past and present deeds in Palestine stems from the Holocaust.

      As an anti-Zionist Jew who has been active in Palestine for 10 years, Greta Berlin’s statements and the content of “Our Land” not only offend me, but they have damaged my ability to combat Zionist rhetoric by claiming that I cannot be both religiously Jewish and anti-Zionist. Zionists routinely argue that to be Jewish is to be Zionist and the kind of rhetoric displayed on “Our Land” concedes this important point and supports this fundamental Zionist claim. In addition, this episode regarding Berlin’s tweet has damaged our movement as a whole and has shown deep short-sightedness by opening us up to attack and dismissal by Zionists who are desperately trying to paint us as a movement as anti-Semitic. Palestinians have not asked the solidarity movement to concern itself with notions of Jewish identity, authenticity, and the Holocaust, but to offer active and effective solidarity in restoring their rights in their country.

      I am hopeful, however, because of the principled stances prominent members of our movement took against this offensive and misguided rhetoric. In my experience, a majority of Palestine solidarity activists are genuinely anti-Zionist and desire to combat a modern-day political movement, not an ancient religion or group of people. To paraphrase what a fantastic Palestinian activist once said, there were Jews in Palestine long before Zionism, and there will be Jews there long after Zionism as well.

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