Ever since the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson this summer, Palestinians have drawn parallels between the oppression of African Americans and the military occupation of Palestine. However, an outrageously racist editorial published on Friday by the Times of Israel blames “bloodthirsty” Palestinians and African Americans for their own oppression, demonstrating the similar bigotries between Israel’s right wing and those denouncing the Ferguson protestors.
The article, entitled “Nine Parallels between Palestine and Ferguson,” has since been deleted from the website. In it, writer Robert Wilkes, a member of the advisory board for pro-Israel organization StandWithUs, compares Palestinians and the black protestors in Ferguson this way:
Both have permanent, deep-set anger and rage and are looking for anything to set it off. Anger defines them, and anger keeps both mired in failure. Rather than make better choices they prefer to ride the “victim” train to nowhere. Both must have an “oppressor” to rage against; a white cop defending himself or an Israeli Jew wanting to pray on the Temple Mount serves their purposes. Rage is the only path they know to gain honor and prestige among their peers.
Wilkes continues by making bigoted comments about Palestinian and African-American leaders:
Both have perfectly wretched leaders. Black leaders in America are con artists and a disgrace. They are race-hustlers in a “business” fueled by anger. As long as blacks remain angry their “leaders” will continue to have a lucrative career. Similarly, the corrupt, undemocratic Palestinian leadership is equally unconcerned about the human aspirations of their own people.
This isn’t the first time that the Times of Israel has had to take down an editorial after it caused a public uproar. During Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, the publication posted an op-ed titled “When Genocide Is Permissible” defending Israel’s operation in Gaza. The article was so offensive some Israel supporters publicly denounced it. (It should be noted that the content of the article mirrored most mainstream Israeli talking points regarding Israel's operation in Gaza. The only difference is that the Times of Israel op-ed used the term “genocide” when defending Israel’s actions.)
Wilkes’ article contradicts the message of larger pro-Israel organizations that have challenged any comparison between Ferguson and Palestine. After a grand jury decided last week not to indict the white police officer who shot Brown, NFL running back Reggie Bush posted a picture on Instagram of a Palestinian man holding a sign reading, “The Palestinian people know what mean to be shot (sicc) while unarmed because of your ethnicity #Ferguson #Justice.” The Anti-Defamation League responded that Bush’s post “demonstrates a severe lack of understanding of both issues. He should stick to football.”
Besides being an advisory board member for StandWithUs Northwest, Robert Wilkes is also a member of the group’s media response team and has given several public presentations with the organization’s director. Their website also links to 14 articles written by Wilkes, which give greater insight into his politics and positions.
In one article, Wilkes said that settlements in the West Bank will “hasten peace” between Israelis and Palestinians. He writes: “The longer the Palestinians delay, the more territory they may have to forfeit when the lines of a future state are drawn, as they eventually will be.”
In another article, Wilkes describes a conversation he had with a Palestinian high school student about Israel’s occupation. Wilkes writes that American children have been taught “to distrust the powerful and successful, who they believe, a priori, must have robbed some ‘oppressed’Â underdog in some colonial enterprise (how else did they get rich?). Life should be fair, and if it’s not, somebody must do something about it.”
Wilkes cites Israel booster Alan Dershowitz and expresses approval of David Mamet’s book The Secret Knowledge, in which Mamet compares affirmative action with chattel slavery and writes that “the Israelis would like to live in peace within their borders; the Arabs would like to kill them all.”
Due to an editing error, Richard Silverstein was incorrectly listed in this article as a booster of Israel — AlterNet has updated the story, and apologizes to Silverstein whose progressive views are polar opposite of what the article originally asserted.
Happy Holidays from all of us!
It's that time of year when we all give thanks, and we want to extend that thanks to you. All of us at AlterNet are honored by your readership and support. We hope you and your family enjoy a cozy, joyful Thanksgiving.
AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.