Hen Mazzig is a former officer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who after touring American college campuses in the Pacific Northwest says he is “shocked” by the anti-Israel bigotry and hostility he encountered where professors and students compared him to a Nazi and called him a rapist. In one case he calls “absurd,” he says one professor even accused Israeli soldiers of being racist, because according to the academic they don’t want to touch – and therefore rape – Palestinian women.
In an op-ed for the Times of Israel, Mazzig describes himself as a “very liberal” member of the left-wing Israeli party Meretz, but says that his views changed dramatically when he saw what American students and professors had to say about the Jewish state.
After speaking with more than 16,000 Americans earlier this year on Northwest college campuses including Berkeley, Stanford and University of Washington, he found those who were supportive but “sadly, far too many were not.”
When I served as a soldier in the West Bank, I got used to having ugly things said to me, but nothing prepared me for the misinformation, demonization of Israel, and the gut-wrenching, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hostility expressed by many students, professors, church members, and even some high school students right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Like other Israel supporters, Mazzig calls it a “new form of bigotry against Israel” and the “’new anti-Semitism,’ with ‘Israel’ replacing ‘Jew’ in traditional anti-Semitic imagery and canards, singling out and discriminating against the Jewish state, and denying the Jewish people alone the right to self-determination.”
“The new anti-Semitism is packaged in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), which claims to champion Palestinian rights though its real goal is to erode American support for Israel, discredit Jews who support Israel, and pave the way for eliminating the Jewish state,” he writes.
“One of BDS’ central demands is the “complete right of return” for all the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees, subtle language that means the end of Israel as the Jewish homeland because it would turn Israel into a Palestinian-Arab majority state,” Mazzig adds.
Here is a description of some of the “viciousness” Mazzig encountered. Case one:
At a BDS event in Portland, a professor from a Seattle university told the assembled crowd that the Jews of Israel have no national rights and should be forced out of the country. When I asked, “Where do you want them to go?” she calmly answered, “I don’t care. I don’t care if they don’t have any place else to go. They should not be there.” When I responded that she was calling for ethnic cleansing, both she and her supporters denied it.
Case #2 which occurred during a Seattle event in which Mazzig expressed his “longing for peace” between Israel and the Palestinians:
When I was done, a woman in her 60’s stood up and yelled at me, “You are worse than the Nazis. You are just like the Nazi youth!” A number of times I was repeatedly accused of being a killer, though I have never hurt anyone in my life.
And the accusations got worse [emphasis added]:
On other occasions, anti-Israel activists called me a rapist. The claims go beyond being absurd – in one case, a professor asked me if I knew how many Palestinians have been raped by IDF forces. I answered that as far as I knew, none. She triumphantly responded that I was right, because, she said, “You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that you won’t touch them.”
Mazzig characterizes the “irrational accusations” as being “symptomatic of dangerous anti-Semitism.”
The op-ed Mazzig wrote is getting attention in the pro-Israel community, including from Glenn Beck who on Tuesday morning tweeted this article describing Mazzig’s experience.
— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) October 15, 2013
Mazzig says he believes that the American Jewish community is “completely oblivious” to the threats the BDS movement poses, which is “often deceptively camouflaged in the rhetoric of human rights.”
While serving in the military, Mazzig’s job was with the IDF’s office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) which acts as a liaison on civilian affairs between the IDF, Israeli government offices and the Palestinian Authority.
TheBlaze has written extensively about the BDS campaign which is supported by former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters and novelist Alice Walker. Its activists have harassed vendors and pressured American businesses and universities to stop doing business and investing with Israel.
As TheBlaze reported just last week, Students for Justice in Palestine distributed mock eviction notices to more than one thousand Rutgers University students to try to gain sympathy for the Palestinian cause, a stunt that was considered by pro-Israel students to be “bullying,” “harassment” and “intimidation.”
Mazzig titled his op-ed “An Israeli Soldier to American Jews: Wake up!” He expresses concern that American Jews need to take the BDS challenge seriously.
“Unfortunately, this repeats a pattern of Jewish communal groups failing to unite in a timely way to counter threats against us individually and as a community,” he writes, adding that some vocal members of BDS are Jewish themselves.
“My experiences in America have changed me. I never expected to encounter such hatred and lies. I never believed that such anti-Semitism still existed, especially in the U.S. I never knew that the battlefield was not just Gaza, the West Bank, and hostile Middle Eastern countries wanting to destroy Israel and kill our citizens and soldiers. It is also here in America, where a battle must be waged against prejudice and lies,” he writes.
Today, Mazzig is Campus Coordinator for StandWithUs’ Pacific Northwest chapter, a non-profit group that does pro-Israel outreach work on college campuses.