After weeks of silence from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Hamas’s October 7 terror attack that killed more Jews than any event since the Holocaust, the SPLC employee’s union released its own statement via X, formerly known as Twitter, claiming to stand “strongly in solidarity with the Palestinian people.” The statement may cause the SPLC union to meet SPLC’s own criteria for an anti-Semitic hate group.
“What we see in Gaza is the violent imperialist desecration of a people — the beginnings of a genocide,” alleged the SPLC union, which claimed to stand for “anti-oppression and decolonization” and accused Israel of “occupation” and “apartheid.”
“How is Israel occupying Gaza? They’ve turned the keys over to them. There aren’t any Jewish people living in Gaza,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, host of “Washington Watch.” “They were forced out. They had to leave their homes, their businesses, and they gave complete control lock, stock, and barrel to Hamas — well, to the Palestinians, who elected Hamas as their leaders.”
“They’re simply rewriting history,” responded Jewish Rabbi Yaakov Menken on “Washington Watch.” “There are no Jews in Gaza except for [dozens of] hostages, right? Those are the only Jews allowed in the country.” The SPLC union made no mention of the hostages taken captive by Hamas.
While no Jews are allowed in Gaza, Arabs are allowed in the rest of Israel. In fact, Arabs comprise approximately 20% of Israel’s population, and they enjoy full rights as citizens. The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip “had their own government [Hamas], and they’re the ones that have facilitated this terror that is now running Gaza and has spilled over into Israel, attacking innocent civilians,” said Perkins. If there is a system of “apartheid” — race-based segregation — it isn’t carried out by Israel.
“Palestinian Lives Matter. Palestinian families matter. Palestinian histories matter,” the SPLC union protested.
“Just calling Arabs Palestinians is racist and exclusionary,” Menken replied. “It says that Jews are not Palestinians, where that’s kind of inverting 2,000 years of world history. Ever since the Romans applied that European, colonialist name [‘Palestine’] to the Land of Israel, it was primarily Jews who were known by that title. So, the whole thing is fiction from beginning to end.”
“We support the ongoing call for a ceasefire and an end to the occupation,” continued the SPLC union. “We hope to move toward peace and freedom.”
“Exactly what does a cease fire mean in this context?” asked Menken. “It means allowing Hamas to regroup and rearm without releasing the hostages — so that further atrocities can happen. It’s very clear that what they’re after is not peace, but actual barbarism.”
In a speech Friday, President Biden stated, “Hamas — its stated purpose for existing is the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.” A note found on the body of Hamas terrorist encouraged him that “the enemy is a disease that has no cure, except beheading and removing the hearts and livers.” Since Hamas will never accept peace, the SPLC union’s call for a ceasefire implicitly applies only to the nation of Israel.
By denying Israel the right to self-defense against an adversary devoted to their destruction, the only peace the SPLC union can “hope to move toward” would be one succeeding the destruction of the state of Israel. This is also implied in their use of the word “freedom,” evoking the chant at pro-Palestinian rallies, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” National Review Online Editor Philip Klein argued that anyone who utters this phrase “is advocating genocide,” as it implies the elimination of Israel and the killing of millions of Jews — half the world’s Jewish population, in fact.
Biden went further, “Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and innocent Palestinian families are suffering greatly because of them.” Yet when the SPLC union chanted, “Palestinian Lives Matter,” “Palestinian families matter,” they were blaming the nation of Israel, not Hamas.
“Anybody who really cares about Palestinian Arabs would not want them under totalitarian rule,” urged Menken. “In Gaza, they can’t choose what to believe. They can’t choose what to say. They can’t choose whom to marry. Everything is controlled for them by Gaza’s rulers.” He said Hamas is “not promoting the rights of Palestinian Arabs or anything good for them. They’re just promoting further killing of Jews and Christians.”
The SPLC union added one final absurdity to their statement, “Already, the horrors of Gaza have fueled aggression in our own country in the forms of attacks against Muslims and Sikhs, and outbursts of antisemitism.”
The cause-and-effect hypothesized here is pure fantasy. The triggering event for increased threats against Jews and Muslims was not “the horrors of Gaza” but “the Hamas attack on Oct. 7,” as the left-wing New York Times said earlier this month. (Sikhs, meanwhile, are a religious group based in India, with no connection to the land of Israel, and recent anti-Sikh attacks bear no particular relation to the events in Palestine.)
A review of recent anti-Semitic incidents further undermines the SPLC’s theory. Left-wing activists glorified Hamas’s terrorist paratroopers. Activists tore down posters showing the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas. Mainstream media immediately accused Israel of bombing a hospital, when the U.S. intelligence community now assesses “with high confidence that Israel was not responsible for the explosion at the hospital and that Palestinian militants were responsible.” Most anti-Semitic incidents seem to be inspired by radical Islamic militants, including a former Hamas chief who called for a worldwide “Day of Jihad [Holy War].”
Much of the anti-Semitism was expressed on university campuses.
Ironically, the SPLC defines anti-Semitism as a feature that “undergirds much of the far right,” although university campuses are often hotbeds of radical leftism. “The same people who are oppressing Jews on campus are the ones pushing Christian organizations off of campus,” said Menken. Perkins agreed, “Anti-Semitic behavior is the canary in the coal mine … when it comes to religious freedom.”
Speaking of the SPLC, their definition of “anti-Semitism” includes “efforts to subvert and misconstrue the collective suffering of Jewish people,” as well as “racialize” and “vilify” them. Surely their employee union qualifies under this definition.
The SPLC union’s Palestinian solidarity statement made no mention of a brutal terrorist attack against Jewish people in Israel that involved more than 1,400 lives lost, more than 200 hostages captured, and untold amounts of burning, rape, destruction, and suffering. “Over here you have people justifying rape on a mass scale that also included crimes like beheading, not only beheading soldiers, but beheading babies,” said Menken. That sounds like subverting and misconstruing Jewish suffering.
Adding insult to injury, the SPLC brands Israel as oppressors, imperialists, and occupiers — not to mention committing genocide — all because they dared to respond to this unprovoked barbarity and fought back against an extremist group pledged to annihilate them. That sounds like a vilification campaign.
Why did the SPLC union side with Palestine — actually, Hamas — instead of Israel, when any honest observer knows Israel is the aggrieved party? According to their statement, because “SPLC Union is and will always be rooted in the legacy of anti-oppression and decolonization led by Black and Indigenous leaders.” (On a side note, do Jews not count as indigenous to Palestine, having been there 3,500 years?) In other words, it comes down to skin color, and Arabs have a slightly darker tint. That sounds like an effort to “racialize” the Jewish people.
Elsewhere, SPLC defines a “hate group” as an “organization that … has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” It sounds like their employee’s labor union attacks and maligns the nation of Israel solely for being Jewish.
Not that the SPLC’s hate group definitions or designations should be taken too seriously. It’s notorious “hate map,” which lists mainstream conservative organizations and just about anybody it hates, has been linked to at least one anti-religious terrorist attack of its own — against Family Research Council in 2012. And the organization lost even more credibility in 2019 when its founder Morris Dees faced “complaints of workplace mistreatment of women and people of color” — a discrimination scandal which led to the ousting of all its (predominantly white) top leadership.
“Logically, a ‘hate group’ should be defined as one whose members 1) actually say that they hate a particular group of people; and/or 2) engage in or condone violence or other illegal activity toward such a group,” an FRC issue brief explained in 2012. “The SPLC, however, uses much broader criteria,” acknowledging that “alleged ‘hate group’ activities include constitutionally protected activities such as ‘marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.’” Furthermore, SPLC “do[es] not distinguish between racist or violent groups and legitimate organizations that participate peacefully in the political process — tarring all with the same label.”
The SPLC union’s Palestine solidarity statement was constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment. In America, people have the right to be wrong, and to let others know how wrong they are. The fact that the SPLC union’s constitutionally protected statement could conceivably be grounds for putting the organization on their employers’ own “hate group” list — if they were so inclined — only serves to further undermine the organization’s credibility and expose its bizarre definition of “hate” for the fraud that it is.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.
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