The Hill Fires Jewish Journalist Katie Halper After Defending Rep. Tlaib’s ‘Apartheid Israel’ Claim
21:32 GMT 30.09.2022 (Updated: 05:40 GMT 30.04.2023)
US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and other progressive lawmakers have aroused condemnation for criticizing Israel’s policies toward Palestinians under its rule, including accusations of antisemitism from pro-Israel Jewish colleagues.
Last week, US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the only Palestinian-American in the US Congress, spoke at an event hosted by American Muslims for Palestine. She described the links between the Palestinian struggle and others, such as Black Lives Matter
, and called upon activists to be consistent with their political beliefs.
“I want you all to know that among progressives, it becomes clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel‘s apartheid government, and we will continue to push back against this idea that you are ‘progressive, except for Filastin
,’” she said in the livestreamed event
, using the Arabic word for Palestine.
The comment aroused fury from some American Jews, drawing condemnation from American Defamation League (ADL) CEO Johnathan Greenblatt
, US Rep. Jerry Nadler
(D-NY), and several other prominent figures. However, it also saw some rally to her defense, including journalist Katie Halper, who until Wednesday co-hosted “Rising” on The Hill’s digital news channel, Hill TV.
As Halper related on a Thursday livestream, she presented a 12-minute video for a political soapbox segment of a show called “Radar,” in which she elaborated on Tlaib’s talking points using quotations from United Nations treaties and even former Israeli leaders to bolster the claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” akin to pre-1994 South Africa.
Normally, these videos receive little editing or oversight, according to The Intercept’s Ryan Grim
, who once also served as a “Rising” host. However, Halper’s got kicked back, and when she tried to suggest changes, was told on Wednesday that “we will not be needing you to appear on Rising tomorrow am.”
Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which owns The Hill, is the largest owner of television broadcasters in the United States, owning 197 different television stations
, most of which are affiliates of major news networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.
‘I Am a Jew and I Am Outraged’
“The bad news: I was censored and fired by The Hill over defending Rashida Tlaib & labeling Israeli apartheid ‘apartheid.’ The good news: I shot the censored video with an actually independent media outlet,” Halper tweeted on Thursday. That video was then hosted by New York-based news outlet BreakThrough News.
“I’m not a Jewish colleague of Tlaib, but I am a Jew and I am outraged. Not by Tlaib, but by the attacks on Tlaib. Rashida Tlaib is saying that Israel is an apartheid state and that people who claim to have progressive values cannot support an apartheid state. No matter how loose a definition of progressive we use, it certainly excludes supporting a racist apartheid system,” Halper said in the video.
“To my friends in the Democratic Party who want to support Israel and who want to be progressives, it is important to listen to what international law, Israeli politicians and South African leaders and apartheid survivors say about the apartheid system in Israel. But we would all do well to look at what South Africa did with its apartheid system. Simply put, it left apartheid behind,” she said.
“So the question we should be asking ourselves as progressives and Americans and some of us as Jews is not how to excoriate Rashida Tlaib for pointing out the obvious, or how to turn all criticisms of Israel as challenges to Israel’s right to exist or as expressions of antisemitism. Rather, the question to ask is how an apartheid-free Israel would look.”
Censorship of Israel Criticism
There has been an attempt in recent years to censor the speech of those critical of Israel’s policies, especially in the Palestinian-majority areas of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The rise of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, initiated by Palestinian activists and modeled on the global anti-apartheid boycott used to pressure South Africa to change its anti-Black policies in the 1980s, has been met by accusations that such demands are antisemitic.
In February, journalist Abby Martin, who directed the 2019 documentary “Gaza Fights for Freedom,” about the Great March of Return, told Sputnik that Georgia state lawmakers
were attempting to keep alive a law banning state contracts with people engaged in a boycott of Israel. A state court struck down the law last year
, but 35 other US states have similar laws.
Tlaib’s colleagues, including Reps. Ilhan Omar
(D-MN) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
(D-NY), have also attracted criticism and antisemitism accusations for criticizing Israeli policies.