Young Turks fall for Israeli hasbara

Ever feel vicariously embarrassed for someone? Watch this and you soon will:

Not embarrassed for Cenk and Ana yet? Maybe a little supplementary reading is in order, then:

The pro-Israel group accusing Chicago’s Dyke March of anti-Semitism for asking several people, including its Midwest manager, to leave, has a history of fabrications about attacks against Jews.

A Wider Bridge made global headlines this weekend with its claims about the incident in which several individuals were asked not to display “rainbow Jewish flags” at the Dyke March in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood on Saturday.

The flags had blue stars similar to those on Israel’s flag, on a rainbow background.

The group is demanding that the Dyke March “issue a full public apology for dismissing LGBTQ Jews,” and that it engage in “a constructive dialogue about how anti-Semitism and calls for the disappearance of the Jewish state are creating an unsafe environment for LGBTQ Jews and allies.”


This is not the first time A Wider Bridge has made false accusations of anti-Semitism against Chicago activists expressing solidarity with Palestinians.

Last year, A Wider Bridge was at the center of fabrications that protesters had disrupted Shabbat prayers during the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference.

In fact, the activists protested a reception for A Wider Bridge – an Israel lobby group.

Although the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, one of the media organizations that spread the false claim, later retracted it, the damage was done.

A Wider Bridge itself helped to fan misinformation and hyperbole about what happened.

This story is taking on a familiar pattern, where A Wider Bridge’s distorted version is making headlines and setting in place a false narrative.

And that’s where Cenk and Ana come in…blundering in, sadly. They completely overlooked the fact that these are not just “LGBT Jewish flags”, carried by random queer Jewish women to show pride in their dual, queer-Jewish identity. This hasbara troll group is a front for something else entirely. They ARE a pinkwashing organization, and the Turks fell for the pinkwash by denying that it could possibly be that.

However, as the EI piece I linked and excerpted shows, this group has a history of disrupting Chicago Pride events and using them to shoehorn apologia for Zionism in, to the dismay of other queer Jews:

Caleb Wagner, a queer anti-Zionist Jewish activist, was also part of the discussions. He rejected the claim that the individuals were asked to leave because they were Jewish, noting that most of those opposing the display of the flags were also Jewish.

The objections to the flag, he insisted, were also based on its use in Israel’s pinkwashing.

Pinkwashing is the public relations strategy that deploys Israel’s supposed enlightenment toward LGBTQ issues to deflect criticism from its human rights abuses.

It often involves gross exaggerations of Israel’s progressive policies, accompanied by outright lies about Palestinians.

A recent example was the national US tour of Israel’s “first trans officer” which aimed to present the Israeli army in a favorable light to LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer – communities, neglecting to mention the officer’s role in Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouins.

Wagner said those carrying the flag refused to acknowledge that the symbol could have any association with pinkwashing. “They refused to acknowledge how that association with Israel – not Judaism – is not welcome in this space that is anti-colonial and pro-Palestine.”

A Wider Bridge’s Midwest manager Laurie Grauer insisted on putting forward pro-Israel arguments, Wagner said. “But that’s like coming into this space and saying you want to have a dialogue about anti-gay marriage or anti-trans,” Wagner said. “You coming into this space and trying to have a dialogue about the merits of Zionism is wrong and immoral in this space that is designed for queer people of color.”

“From my perspective, she came in there with a particular agenda to open up a dialogue about Zionism and be pro-Zionism,” Wagner said of Grauer.

None of this gets a mention in the Turks’ video, however. They only heard one side of the story…the side the hasbaratchiks wanted them to hear. The possibility that there were Palestinians in the march, or even just other Jews (who happen to be the main group objecting to Zionist crapaganda) completely eludes them. These people also exist in Chicago, and if a group looking to insert Israeli hasbara into what’s supposed to be a non-partisan event alienates them, that group MUST be removed. There is such a thing as bending too far over backwards to avoid looking like an anti-Semite, and that’s just what the Bridge of Lies group was hoping the media — and make no mistake, the Turks ARE media — would do.

It’s an easy mistake to make, but ultimately, it’s one that’s going to cost them. Especially since they’ve been leaning kind of hard on the whole “gotta be fair”, “both sides” fallacy lately. No, guys, you don’t have to be “fair and balanced”. You have to be HONEST, and tell the real story. Otherwise, you won’t be beating the mainstream media; you’ll just be yet another (yawn) mainstream media outlet. Which is not what you set out to be, is it?

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