Flush With Cash, Right-Wing Extremists Train the Future Zealots of Pro-Israel Campus Activism
By Max Blumenthal and Julia Carmel, AlterNet
When David Horowitz appeared in Rancho Palos Verdes, California for his lavish annual West Coast Retreat on March 6, the launch of the shadowy Canary Mission website was just weeks away. Speaking before hundreds of ultra-conservatives, Horowitz set the tone for the weeks to come: “It’s kind of obvious [that] the Jews are the canaries in the mine,” Horowitz proclaimed. “The canaries were taken by miners, as you know, into the mines, and when the canary died you knew there was gas in the mine and you’d better get out. So the Jews are there to identify the threat.”
Horowitz described for the assembled activists what he saw as the greatest threats to Jews. The danger, he said, started with the Muslim Students Association (MSA), a campus group he described as “a recruitment organization for the Muslim Brotherhood” with secret ties to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign through her aide, Huma Abedin, whom he called “a Muslim Brotherhood operative.” According to Horowitz, the MSA and another student group composed largely of Arab and Muslim-Americans, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), were behind a supposed epidemic of anti-Semitism that had put Jewish college students at risk across America.
Funded to the tune of $10 million by right-wing foundations, the David Horowitz Freedom Center is a key financial conduit to extreme anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic organizations. Among those who have received funding through the Horowitz Freedom Center is Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative. Geller, an aggressively self-promoting Islamophobic Zionist who was named in a recent FBI report as an ideological catalyst of far-right extremism, has spent much of this year waging court battles to allow her to purchase advertisements on public buses and subways that read, “Islamic Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran.” (In order to keep Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” ad campaign out of the city, Washington DC’s Transit Authority banned all political advertising).
More than perhaps any other conservative activist, Horowitz has revived the tactics most familiar to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy in order to undermine progressive political movements. “McCarthy was right about the presence of Communists posing as liberals…virtually all of McCarthy’s victims were Communists (and lied about being Communists),” Horowitz wrote in “Left Illusions,” a book-length defense of McCarthyism. His error-laden book, “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America,” amounts to a blacklist of left-wing and liberal professors who supposedly “say they want to kill white people,” “support Osama bin Laden,” “advocate killing ordinary Americans,” and “defend pedophilia,” according to Horowitz. Horowitz’s website, Discover The Networks, published dossiers of progressive public figures and linked them to “Jihad” and the Muslim Brotherhood. His lurid allegations of a dark alliance between American progressives and radical Islamists have formed the basis for the tactics he is now using to demonize the Palestine solidarity movement. And his extreme “Jew Hatred on Campus” initiative has received promotion from Canary Mission.
Horowitz is a former radical leftist who emerged as a leading conservative organizer during the Reagan era. A former Stalinist raised without any connection to Jewish religion by Communist academics blacklisted by McCarthy, Horowitz became an ardent promoter of the North Korean Communist regime before turning hard right. His dogmatism was unaffected by his conversion. His transformation, meanwhile, has been wildly profitable, earning him millions of dollars from conservative donors including the Koch brothers. He showed little interest in the Middle East or Israel before the terrorist attacks of September 11. Afterward, in an autobiographical reflection on his own sense of mortality, Horowitz likened his deceased father to Mohammed Atta, one of the suicidal hijackers. In the post-9/11 era, Horowitz has focused his energy on whipping up the conservative movement with Islamophobia through campus-based initiatives like “Islamofascism Awareness Week,” where he attempted to explain how “the Left is in league with Islamofascists.” His Islamophobia campaigns have gained him and his groups millions more dollars from right-wing funders, some of which he funneled to the Dutch neo-fascist politician Geert Wilders. Despite his self-proclaimed fervent devotion to Israel, Horowitz has never bothered to visit the country.
Early this year, Horowitz introduced an initiative that would join the smear tactics that had earned him so much notoriety — and money — with the campaign to crush BDS, or the international grassroots campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until it abides by international law. Calling it “Jew Hatred on Campus,” Horowitz introduced a project that aimed to blacklist colleges with “the worst anti-Semitic activity” while painting Students for Justice in Palestine as a hate group. At the same time, Horowitz’s organization plastered campuses with posters depicting a public execution by Hamas of prisoners accused of spying for Israel’s security services. The posters read: “Students For Justice in Palestine #JewHaters.” (Horowitz only took credit for the campaign after the posters ignited a furor).
One of Horowitz’s chief funders, the Boston-based tech baron Robert Shillman, also helps bankroll Pamela Geller’s Islamophobic poster campaign and her deliberately provocative road show. A trustee at his alma mater of Northeastern University, Shillman has attempted to leverage his multi-million dollar donations to pressure the school into banning its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Through his Shillman Fellowship, he has sponsored the careers of many of the zealots nurtured in Horowitz’s hothouse.
One of the most prolific Shillman-backed writers is Ben Shapiro, a would-be pundit and founder of the far-right online outlet called Truth Revolt, which is operated and funded through the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The website’s stated aim is to “unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases.” It has become a center for attacks on student BDS activists and liberal pro-Israel students, publishing material by right-wing students being groomed by the Israel lobby for advocacy careers.
Back in 2003, when he was still a student at UCLA, Shapiro called for the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. “If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper,” Shapiro wrote. More recently, Shapiro dedicated a column to a theme he would return to repeatedly in his tirades against the Black Lives Matter movement: “The racism of the black community.”
While other conservative organizers have attempted to recruit minorities into the ranks of the Republican Party, Horowitz has instead provided a sympathetic forum at his FrontPageMag for Jared Taylor, a leading white nationalist who argues that blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior to whites. Horowitz has editorialized that African-Americans owe white America a debt of gratitude for ending slavery and granting them “the most thoroughly protected rights anywhere.” This year, as protests against police brutality erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, Horowitz declared that “there’s no community in America that’s more racist than the black community.”
At his West Coast Retreat last March, Horowitz announced his “guerrilla campaign” against Palestine solidarity activism on campus. Complaining that conservatives too often shy from “very dirty warfare,” he declared that “negative advertising works. By focusing the conversation on their negatives, it takes attention away from ours.”
Our request for comment on Horowitz’s activity did not receive a response. An email to Elizabeth Ruiz, David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Assistant to the President, regarding the organization’s involvement in Canary Mission was not returned.
Canary Mission has partly relied on misinformation churned out by the myriad websites associated with Howoritz’s Freedom Center. More importantly, Horowitz has had a direct hand in backing many of the campus activists spying on their classmates, labeling them as terrorist sympathizers and smearing even pro-Israel students who disagree with their slash-and-burn style as anti-Semites. The Center for Constitutional Rights documented over 70 accusations of anti-Semitism in 2014 by pro-Israel forces on campus “based solely on speech critical of Israeli policy.”
Featured at David Horowitz’s West Coast Retreat alongside fellow activists on a panel titled “The War on Campus” was one of the most assiduously groomed, reliably confrontational zealots in the country. Daniel Mael, a recent graduate of Brandeis University, wreaked havoc during his time at the traditionally Jewish institution. A member of the Jewish fraternity AEPi, Mael provoked highly publicized feuds with college classmates, aggressively rebuking them for any criticism of Israel’s right-wing government. Heavily funded pro-Israel groups have supported Mael’s exploits, but his smears of fellow Brandeis students were met with scrutiny from the university’s administration. He retaliated by leveling personal accusations at Brandeis faculty members, receiving reams of positive coverage from right-wing media.
After two years at Washington University, where he played for the school’s baseball team and began participating in pro-Israel activism, Mael transferred to Brandeis, citing his desire for more “access to more Orthodox [Jewish] infrastructure,” according to the Boston Forward. He immediately made his presence felt on the traditionally Jewish campus, siccing himself on students and faculty he considered anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, including liberal pro-Israel students from the campus wing of J Street.
Last year, Mael gained access to the archives of “Concerned,” a private listserv that had been set up by Brandeis faculty during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He then provided emailed exchanges between the listserv’s professors to Charles Jacobs, a founder of CAMERA and the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance, who promptly accused the faculty members of “hate speech” and anti-Semitism for their criticisms of Israel. Mael’s friend, a fellow pro-Israel activist named Chloe Valdary, reproduced carefully selected excerpts from the list at the right-wing Daily Caller, presenting them as evidence of their resentment of “conservatives, Jews, Christians, and anyone who views America as a force for good in this world.” The salacious reports ultimately prompted Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence to issue a public letter denouncing the “Concerned” members.
One of the faculty members targeted by Mael, Brandeis Professor of Computer Science Harry Mairson, remarked, “I have an odd admiration for Mael, even if I’m repulsed by his politics. Every college student is looking for their niche, and he’s found his — a youthful, shameless ambition, [pro-Israel super lawyer Alan] Dershowitz in larval form. He’ll probably end up as a big shot at AIPAC.”
According to Aya Abdelaziz, a former Brandeis student who helped lead the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, Mael once attempted to stage a mock lynching of a mannequin in the center of campus to dramatize the human rights record of Iran, where gay men have been publicly executed, and to promote the comparatively gay-friendly atmosphere of Israel. Shocked classmates told Abdelaziz that before bringing the crane, rope and gay dummy onto campus, Mael attempted to pressure Brandeis’s Muslim Students Association and the school’s LGBT club into endorsing his stunt.
“When the students refused his demands and erupted in outrage about the hanging, [Mael] went after them personally, confronting them and calling them anti-Semitic and accusing Jewish students of being self-hating,” Abdelaziz recalled to us. “It was something few on campus had ever dealt with before. It was crazy and very hurtful.”
Mael’s antics were consistent with directives outlined in the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” guidebook. “To highlight Israel’s comparatively stellar record on human rights,” the 35-page pamphlet reads, “we encourage you to hold a mock hanging, mock stoning or mock whipping on your campus.” The pamphlet assures student agitators, “The Freedom Center will provide you with the materials to carry out these protests.”
“Mael was involved with painting SJP and everyone involved with us as terror sympathizers,” Abdelaziz said. “He was keeping constant tabs on my Facebook statuses and profile pictures.”
(Full disclosure: One of the writers of this article, Max Blumenthal, had an encounter with Mael. Blumenthal spoke at Brandeis March 4, 2014, where he received a warm and respectful reception his book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. A few students expressed their differences, but did so in civil terms, and stayed after the event to debate. At the time, Mael was away with fellow student activists at AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington DC. Before he left town, however, Mael had plastered the campus with crudely made fliers painting Blumenthal as “anti-Semitic” and demanding that the school cancel his appearance.)
Mael has hardly limited his antagonism to anti-Zionists, non-Zionists and BDS campaigners. In fact, he seems to have focused much of his energy on targeting students involved with J Street U, the campus arm of the liberal pro-Israel organization, J Street. When he was a student at Washington University, Mael attacked Elisabeth Housman, a former J Street U National Co-chair who led Washington University’s chapter of the group at the time. He accused her of “anti-Semitism” simply because she organized a screening of Five Broken Cameras, an Oscar-nominated documentary that showcases Palestinian non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation.
“I always regarded and treated him as a potential ally in my pro-Israel activism, until he made it clear that he had no interest in working together, preferring instead to demonize me and my J Street U peers,” Housman told us. “He works through intimidation and manipulation – to put it mildly – which just was not conducive to what my peers and I were working to accomplish in promoting US political leadership to achieve a two-state solution.”
After transferring from Washington University in St. Louis to Brandeis, Mael continued his ugly confrontations with fellow students, leading to charges of harassment and negative publicity for the university. In November 2013, a former Israeli military spokesperson Barak Raz visited Brandeis on a hasbara tour. During his lecture, Raz claimed that no checkpoints existed in the West Bank, prompting Eli Philip, an Israeli-American J Street U member, to protest that Palestinian freedom of movement was routinely obstructed by checkpoints like Qalandia, which separates the West Bank from occupied East Jerusalem.
Almost immediately, Philip became the target of Mael’s wrath. Mael excoriated him for airing his disagreements with Israeli policy in public, accused him of rupturing Jewish unity, and circulated petitions on campus calling on him to apologize. Philip claimed that Mael routinely sat in the back of J Street U meetings, feverishly jotting notes for files he kept on his adversaries. When Philip filed a harassment complaint against Mael with university administrators, Mael went to the Emergency Committee for Israel, a pro-Netanyahu lobbying group in Washington funded by the neoconservative casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The Emergency Committee hired an attorney at Covington and Burling, a major corporate law firm, to threaten to sue Brandeis, which intimidated the university into dropping the charges against Mael. As soon as Mael was in the clear, a neoconservative activist and Wall Street Journal editorial writer, Sohrab Ahmari, conducted an interview with him glorifying his bravery for attacking his classmates and his university. “The problem: Mr. Mael is a pro-Israel man of the right on a campus increasingly hostile to conservatism and the Jewish state. The other problem: The Brandeis administration, as at so many colleges, is more committed to shielding students’ political sensitivities from ‘harassment’ than challenging their minds.”
The following Spring, Mael targeted Talia Lepson, a Jewish student who was among the leaders of the Brandeis chapter of J Street U. Mael accused Lepson of berating him at the center of campus, calling him a “shitbag” and claiming, “Jews hate you.” Though Mael’s account of the incident remained unsubstantiated, he quickly relayed his story to his neoconservative allies, prompting a flurry of articles on right-wing websites accusing Lepson of harassing and threatening Mael, who was painted as a blameless honor student and pro-Israel victim-hero. He told the neocon Free Beacon that Lepson was guilty of “hate speech.” The Free Beacon concluded, “The incident also appears to run against Brandeis’s own code of civility…”
But was Mael telling the truth? According to four Brandeis students who stated they had witnessed the incident, his version was a fabrication. “Talia saw Daniel Mael, said a brief hello to him, and continued walking towards upper campus, exchanging no further words with or about Mael,” the statement read, signed by the four witnesses who were present during the alleged incident. “No one else in the group had any interaction with Mael. Talia never called Mael a ‘shit bag,’ nor did she say that ‘Jews hate him.’ As a witness in the situation, I can unequivocally state that these assertions have no basis in reality and are fictitious.”
Perhaps no incident crystallized the toxic role that Mael played on campus so much as the campaign he waged against an African-American classmate named Khadijah Lynch. Lynch had become a regular participant in the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted nationwide after a spate of police killings of unarmed black men. In December 2014, after the police officer who had choked Eric Garner to death in New York City was cleared of all wrongdoing, Lynch’s simmering anger rose to the surface on her personal Twitter account. Later that month, a mentally deranged African-American man murdered two NYPD officers in Brooklyn, prompting conservative pundits and politicians to blame Black Lives Matter protesters, claiming that the movement had cultivated an atmosphere that endangered cops.
Lynch took to Twitter in anger, declaring, “I have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today.” She added, “lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist fucking country.”
At the time, Lynch had only 81 Twitter followers. Her comments — as raw and impulsive as they were – might easily have passed unnoticed. But to Mael there was a problem with Lynch that went beyond her remark. She happened to be the undergraduate representative for Brandeis’s African and Afro-American studies department as well as a student senate candidate backed by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.
When Mael took to TruthRevolt to sensationalize Lynch’s comments about the murdered NYPD officers, the story spread rapidly in conservative and mainstream media. Reports in the Boston Globe, Inside Higher Ed, and the usual suspects in right-wing media, including Fox News, which hosted Mael on air, prompted a wave of denunciations and demands for harsh punishment. A Facebook Page titled “Expel Khadijah Lynch from Brandeis” became a repository for right-wing bile. Meanwhile, Lynch’s email inbox was suddenly flooded with threats and racist tirades.
“Fucking nigger bitch,” an emailer named Philip Barnett wrote Lynch on December 21. “I hope you get shot, raped and butchered.”
“If you ever get a job I will post your tweets to every public venue implicating your employer, [y]ou will be a liability and you will be fired…” promised an emailer named Cody G. “If you don’t want to stand behind our police, then feel free to stand in front of them you animal.”
“You are just a Hypocrite Racist Bitch!” someone named Marshall Brinson wrote to Lynch. “Get Out of Our Country!”
Lynch was ultimately forced to resign as the undergraduate representative of Brandeis’s African and Afro-American Studies Department, which issued a statement distancing itself from her Twitter remarks. She was unwilling to discuss her interactions with Mael on the record with us, citing her fear of being targeted all over again. “It’s been hard for me to go to class and continue being a normal student,” was all Lynch would say.
“I’ll take the white supremacists any day”
Seated next to Mael on Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred On Campus” panel last March was another zealous student activist who also represents one of the Israel lobby’s special projects. Chloe Valdary, an African-American Christian Zionist, has emerged as one of the most vehement — and heavily promoted — activists against Palestine solidarity on campus.
A recent graduate of the University of New Orleans, Valdary has received favorable profiles from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the neoconservative Tablet Magazine, and the Times of Israel, a digital news publication that has hosted Canary Mission’s paid advertisements on its site. Although she has remained conspicuously silent about Canary Mission, Valdary has been involved in similar intimidation campaigns against academics who have voiced support for Palestinian rights. In the wake of Canary Mission’s public launch this May, Valdary urged her followers to call for the University of Missouri to cancel an honors course on Zionism, which was scheduled for the upcoming Fall semester. The call to censor the course, echoed by Horowitz’s FrontPageMag, was based on claims that the course’s prospective instructor, Professor George P. Smith, had been critical of Israel’s occupation in the past. “Settlements undermine peace process,” ran the headline on one of his articles.
Valdary has proven adept at using racial identity politics, making her a key asset to the almost uniformly white pro-Israel lobby. Her “letter from an angry black woman” accusing the Students for Justice in Palestine of having “pilfered” the civil rights struggle for a “repugnant agenda” was widely disseminated. In the Horowitz-run TruthRevolt, Valdary denounced the critically acclaimed production at the Metropolitan Opera of John Adams’ “The Death of Leon Klinghoffer,” depicting the murder by Palestinian militants of a disabled Jewish man on a cruise ship in the context of the Palestinians’ grievances, to the lynching of a black man by white supremacists. And in a video produced by Aish, which appears to play a direct role in administering Canary Mission, Valdary called Islamic extremism “the New Racism,” casting its most ardent opponents as modern day MLK’s.
During her college years, Valdary received thousands of dollars in funding from CAMERA, a right-wing advocacy organization that brands itself as a media watchdog. AIPAC, the political core of the Israel lobby, paid for Valdary to attend its annual conference in Washington in 2012, and afterward sent her to Israel on an all-expenses paid tour, which she described as “life-changing.” But even before her visit, Valdary was a hardcore advocate of what she calls a “Jewish one-state solution” — of total Jewish dominion over all of historic Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. She has claimed that Arabs are the real occupiers of Palestine and that they had historically “subjugated” Jews, who represent the authentic indigenous people of the region.
Valdary’s far right Zionism may be a product of her affiliation with the Intercontinental Church of God, a tiny denomination founded by the late TV evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong. Max Valdary, Chloe’s father, is a minister in the congregation. On the Jewish holiday of Sukkot this year, he delivered what he titled “An Uncle Tom Sermon,” praising Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom slave character as a model Christian.
“When I read about this man, this Uncle Tom,” the elder Valdary proclaimed, “I don’t see weakness, I see strength…for those who call us Uncle Toms, for those who call us weak, who call us pushovers, they’re doing it because they see Christ in us. Smile! Rejoice!”
Intercontinental Church of God congregants imitate aspects of traditional Jewish worship and adopt their own biblical-based vision of Jewish history that bears resemblance to fire and brimstone sermons. “‘You are the sons and daughters of former slaves in Egypt, of warrior poets, and kings who slayed giants, and queens filled with courage, and prophets and dreamers,” Valdary bellowed out to a rally of 100 or so right-wing Zionists in New York City. ‘Rise, Zion, rise!’”
Valdary’s mentor, Pastor Dumisani Washington, has delivered anti-Arab diatribes before mostly white audiences at numerous pro-Israel campus organizations, including a group within Columbia University’s Hillel. Washington is a pastor of The Congregation of Zion, a small evangelical church inspired by Hebrew Roots theology. This relatively new theological trend claims that modern Christianity has strayed from its origins in First Century AD Rome, when Jesus supposedly adhered to traditional Jewish practices. For her part, Valdary observes the Hebrew calendar, including the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish holidays, within a distinctly Christian framework. Her theology emphasizes the importance of a religiously exclusive Jewish state in all of historic Palestine.
Pastor Washington’s organization, the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI), which has previously employed Valdary, claims its mission is to “strengthen solidarity with the Jewish state among Black Americans and other communities of color.” Yet IBSI has little record of organizing outside the mostly white audiences cultivated by top-heavy, pro-Israel lobbying organizations. Washington also works as the “Diversity Outreach Coordinator” for Christians United For Israel (CUFI), a Christian Zionist group founded by the ultra-conservative Republican Pastor John Hagee, who once hosted a mock slave auction to raise money for evangelical high school students.
IBSI appears to owe its existence to the need to provide an almost entirely white, billionaire-backed movement with a veneer of diversity and a dash of black history. As IBSI’s mission statement explains, the group aims to “expose the hypocrisy of anti-Israel Arab Islamists (such as Hamas) who condone and benefit from the trafficking and sale of African slaves, while feigning solidarity with Black people.”
Despite their appeals to fellow African-Americans, Washington and Valdary are unlikely to win many over with their vehement condemnations of the black-led protests against police violence. In a video produced by the right-wing Jewish radio jock Dennis Prager, Valdary proclaimed that the black protesters at Ferguson and their white progressive allies are a greater threat to the United States than the Ku Klux Klan. “I’ll take the white supremacists any day [over black rioters],” she declared. “First, there are very few of them and they have no power. Second, I can easily prove them wrong. But how do I shake off the condescenders, the patronizers?”
For his part, Washington has repeatedly taken to Twitter to inveigh against the protests in Ferguson and other cities against police brutality. In one instance, Washington promoted an editorial published by American Renaissance, an openly white nationalist organization whose founders consider blacks to be genetically inferior. “Most blacks are unable to speak English well,” the piece read. “They cannot conjugate verbs…[Blacks] show a complete lack of empathy and are unable to conceal a morality based on the satisfaction of immediate, base needs.”
When later asked on Twitter why he promoted this racist screed, Washington deflected the question with personal attacks. Valdary, for her part, has described an author of this article, Blumenthal, as an anti-Semite in commentary co-authored by Daniel Mael. She responded to questions about Canary Mission with deflections. “I am so beyond you,” she wrote. Her Twitter cover features an Israeli soldier holding an automatic rifle above a caption that reads, “Nice Jewish Boy.”
Despite their penchant for embarrassing gaffes, Valdary and Washington maintain their value to the pro-Israel lobby through their sheer presence. As Morton Klein, president of the far-right Zionist Organization of America, said of Valdary to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Because so many prominent black leaders are hostile to Israel, it makes it even more powerful to have someone who’s black supporting Israel.”
Upon graduating this year, Valdary’s pro-Israel fervor was rewarded with an editorial fellowship, now reporting directly to Bret Stephens, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, who suggested on the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima that the US should also nuke Iran. There, she would work alongside WSJ assistant books editor Jessica Kasmer Jacobs, the daughter of Charles Jacobs, who first promoted Valdary through his pro-Israel outfit.
Mael joined Valdary in New York City, where he went to work for the Gatestone Institute, a neoconservative online media outfit funded by the heiress Nina Rosenwald who extensively finances the Islamophobia industry and serves as a board member at CAMERA.
Meanwhile, another budding activist was dispatched to Boston for a special project. He was at least as ideologically extreme as Valdary and Mael, and even more aggressive.
The “Fighting Jew”
On a CAMERA-sponsored trip to Israel this June, a young man named Elliott Hamilton visited the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. When he came across a group of parked United Nations peacekeeper vehicles, Hamilton fantasized about vandalizing them. “Surprised I didn’t slash the tires before ditching [the UN truck],” Hamilton mused on Twitter.
Though not as prominent as Mael and Valdary, who each earned profiles in pro-Israel publications, Hamilton was at least as belligerent during his time at Pitzer College in California, from which he recently graduated. “Canary Mission definitely fits his personality and that of the all the various organizations he’s affiliated with,” a former classmate of Hamilton’s told us. “It goes perfectly with his history of trying to excommunicate people and target pro-Palestine activists.” (Hamilton refused to reply to questions we sent him about Canary Mission. He has an extensive record of leveling invective against both authors on Twitter.).
Hamilton has been among the activists featured in Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” initiative. At Horowitz’s West Coast retreat this year, Hamilton delivered a frenetic, almost hyper-ventilating performance that blended denunciations of pro-Palestine evildoers with unsubstantiated tales of anti-Semitic persecution on American college campuses. As he built his jeremiad to a shrieking conclusion, the self-styled “Fighting Jew” demanded an iron fist to hammer what he called “a cancer, festering, metastasizing on our campus.”
“If someone’s attacking you, you don’t wait for the punch to come to you. If someone’s gonna strike you, you block the strike and then you counter!” Hamilton boomed. Affecting the menacing tone of a hardboiled action film vigilante, Hamilton pledged that Students for Justice in Palestine “will be faced with the humiliating force that is the pro-Israel community.”
In the same speech, Hamilton mentioned that he had been consulting with his “really good friend” Frank Luntz on crafting his language to appeal to moderates on campus. ?One of the most widely recognized Republican public relations consultants and pollsters, Luntz earned renown in 1996 when he crafted a memo for Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the House, called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” Luntz went on to get lucrative contracts with Enron, ExxonMobil and, later, the financial industry, which hired him to help undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement. He has been a regular presence on Fox News. In 2010, Luntz produced a 116-page manual on hasbara for the The Israel Project. Throughout the document, Luntz urges activists to lead attacks on their enemies by “start[ing] with empathy for both sides first,” feigning humility and concern for Palestinian children before attacking opponents as sympathizers of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Despite his admiration for a self-styled PR wizard like Luntz, Hamilton has not learned to emulate Luntz’s nuance. Hamilton claims he suffered from “bullying in Hebrew school” and “the question of identity in an interfaith family.” His sense of Jewish belonging, he says, stabilized only after he thrust himself into full-time Israel advocacy. At Pitzer College, Hamilton joined the strongly pro-Israel fraternity AEPi and began gravitating towards the local chapter of Chabad, a messianic ultra-Orthodox group that is closely affiliated with the settler movement in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Hamilton also kept close ties with Armageddon-ready Christian Zionists. He was filmed cheering on evangelicals as they danced a hora at the Christians United For Israel summit held in the midst of Israel’s war in Gaza in July 2014.
Back at Pitzer, Hamilton quit Hillel , the leading Jewish organization on American college campuses, rejecting the group’s refusal to boycott liberal Jewish supporters of Israel. Hamilton founded Claremont Students for Israel, a CAMERA-backed activist group that was well to the right of the three pre-existing pro-Israel clubs on campus. And like Mael, he attacked Jewish classmates who criticized Israel.
According to a former classmate of Hamilton’s who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, Hamilton “has a history of obnoxious ad hominem attacks.”
In one instance, Hamilton lashed out at a Jewish classmate who posted on her Facebook wall a fact sheet on Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. “Stop being an anti-Semitic Jew and actually support your people’s right to self-determination instead of acting as an apologist for Jew-hating terror,” Hamilton demanded. “Try not to be more of a disgrace to the Jewish community than you have been already.”
In April, Hamilton delivered his final address as a campus pro-Israel advocate. Speaking before an audience convened in partnership between his Claremont Students for Israel and Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” initiative, Hamilton took aim at liberal Jews. “It’s the self-proclaimed liberal zealots who revise Zionism’s history in order to fit a ridiculous narrative that perpetuates Jew-hatred,” he proclaimed. ‘Even Jews have taken part in this anti-Zionist blacklist, using their Jewish identity as a justification for acquiring a moral high ground.”
At the end of his speech he triumphantly announced that he had just been hired by Charles Jacobs, the ultra-Zionist founder of CAMERA and co-founder with Daniel Pipes of the blacklisting website, Campus Watch.
This May, Hamilton began work at Jacobs’ Boston-based lobbying outfit, which calls itself Americans for Peace and Tolerance. There, he would learn at the knee of one of the pioneers in blacklisting Palestine solidarity activists, a figure whose dossiers have formed a substantial part of Canary Mission’s glossary.
Julia Carmel is a freelance writer. You can find her on Twitter at @JuliaCarmel_WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
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