Rima Najjar

I have been trying to normalize anti-Zionist, anti-Israel speech through my writing and social-media activism for many years now. It hasn’t been easy (see my account of suing Quora for muzzling anti-Zionist speech here).

In today’s climate of right-wing vigilantism, it has just gotten worse.

I am now the target of a campaign to cancel my Medium blog, where I frequently write about Palestine, Zionism and Jewish supremacy. The website stopantisemitsm.org posted an article yesterday calling for readers to pressure Medium to remove my account, equating my writing about Palestine with anti-Semitism.

They wrote, “We need YOUR help to remove Rima Najjar’s account from Medium. Email Medium’s executive team and demand her hateful, antisemitic account is removed immediately,” and included a link to the emails of three apparent members of the executive team.

I then also received harassing messages from individuals, one from Jenny Davis-Lenchner saying, among other things, “You are about to be flagged by a host of millions that think your hate is not welcome unlike the 111 of few that agree with you.”

The second message was from Bob Fritch on Facebook Messenger. He wrote, “Praying that your blog will be taken down as hate speech.”

Fritch is active with groups that are trying to push the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism on US law. His Facebook page also shows him supporting the “rise up patriots.” Fritch describes himself as: “Messianic Bible Teacher at Personal Ministry, Pastoral member at National Black Robe Regiment and Certified Chaplain at FCA.”

Based on what they post on Facebook, both these individuals come at this from an evangelical “Christian Zionist” perspective, the Christian far right, which has long backed Israel on the basis of a doctrine of Evangelical Protestantism called the Rapture that is not found in historic Christianity and disputed among theologians:

Along with the epistles of Paul and the Revelation to John, apocalyptic literature and millennialist thinking have long maintained a hold on the Christian imagination, even when they have been variously interpreted or — in the case of millennialism — even rejected by some of the major figures in the history of Christian theology.

Paul the Apostle ‘s First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the Bible states that believers in Jesus Christ will be “seized” or “snatched away” from earth into the air at an end-time event, which is “Christ’s visible and triumphant return to end this present evil age.”

A Slate headline recently asked, “How many Republicans believe the Jews attacked California with a space laser?” Well, the answer to that is: Not as many as Republicans who believe that (as an end-times-truth site explains) “the rejection of Jesus by the Jews” must be atoned for, that “it is vitally important to believe in Jesus and turn away from sin before God’s judgment falls upon the Earth,” that “the fulfillment of the final ingathering of all the scattered Jews back to the land” and “the rebirth of Israel” will be signaled by “numerous wars that the Jews would fight as the world moved further into the Last Days.” The Messianic vision also includes, as a sign, the building of the Third Temple on the Haram al Sharif and Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, as called for also by Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau.

The above religious beliefs begin to take on aspects of Q-Anon-type conspiracy theories when its followers move from the realm of spiritual belief to organized political activities into which a lot of money is poured. In criticizing Joe Lieberman’s “cloying speech to Pastor John Hagee’s cult” in the run-up to Lieberman’s appearance at the Republican Convention in 2008, Joe Klein has this to say:

A few questions for Senator Lieberman: Hagee’s flagrant support for Israel has its basis in Scripture, to be sure, but in weird Scripture–namely Revelation, the strangest book of the New Testament. Revelation is the source of the phantasmagoria known as the Rapture, in which the battle of Armageddon is fought (against the Arabs, one expects), Israel triumphs, Jesus returns in celebration, lifts all Believers to heaven…and everyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is incinerated.

So, Senator, what do you think of all this? I suspect you’re following an, ummm, short-term strategy here: the enemy of my enemy etc. etc… But are these the sorts of “allies” you want to associate with and encourage? What does your embrace of Hagee say to Roman Catholics and relatively sane people everywhere? Is Hagee’s “support” for Israel that important?

Eleven years later, an article in The New York Times titled “The Rapture and the Real World: Pompeo Mixes Beliefs and Policy,” Edward Wong speculated on how then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s approach toward Israel is influenced by his religion. In 2015, then-Congressman Pompeo told a religious audience that humanity faces “a never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.” Commenting on the NYT article, Richard Ostling wrote:

Yes, think “Left Behind” books and movies.

The move of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, and U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights, were thought to boost both President Donald Trump’s evangelical support and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s April 9 election prospects. Analyzing those decisions, the Times explained that “white evangelicals,” Pompeo included, believe “God promised the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.”

In my view, Q-Anon, which “Thinks Trump Will Become President Again on March 4” according to Vice, and which has started to merge with even more extreme conspiracy theories, including the “sovereign citizen” movement, is functioning in the same way as an influencer on Republican politics as Christian evangelists have been doing to the detriment of the Palestinian cause for a long time now.

What groups like Watchman for Zion and Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) are doing in the media (pushing anti-BDS legislation and smearing people falsely with accusations of antisemitism) is no different than what the “stop the steal” group on Facebook had been doing. When Facebook shut down the latter group on Nov 5, 2020, it cited the following as a reason for the removal: “We have removed the group which was creating real world events. The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”

Christian and Jewish Zionist groups are creating real policies in this country. They are organized around the de-legitimization of the Palestinian people and the denial of the justice of our cause for liberation and self-determination. Their campaign of silencing won’t work because just as Palestinians are resilient, those of us advocating for justice in Palestine are powerful as a collective, and we will not allow ourselves to be silenced. Nor will we engage in attempts to silence sinister groups such as the ones I mention above; instead we will call them out for their bigotry and tyranny and not allow them to appropriate our message.

For more on Zionist “cancel culture,” see:

What’s behind Zionist Cancel Culture? Turning ‘Racism’ Upside Down
Tim Anderson, December 15, 2020
https://ahtribune.ca/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/palestine/4497-zionist-cancel-culture.html

The Real Cancel Culture: Pro-Israel Blacklists: When it comes to Israel-Palestine, full-blown authoritarian coercion, like the blacklisting carried out by Canary Mission, is a part of life.
Murtaza Hussain, October 4, 2020
https://theintercept.com/2020/10/04/israel-palestine-blacklists-canary-mission/

__________________
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.


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One Comment

  1. David Anderson says:

    Mike Pompeo has talked about the rapture. He said in 2015 at a “God and Country Rally” “We will continue to fight these battles” because there is a “never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.”