I wrote this morning about a controversial tweet sent by the co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, Greta Berlin. I learned later that a writer who I’ve long respected, Larry Derfner, has written in defense of Berlin, calling attacks on her “slander,” and when Derfner writes something, I listen. The heart of his defense was that:
All these stories referred to Berlin’s apology on the Free Gaza Movement website—but only to one part of it: the part where she explains that she didn’t mean for the tweet to go out on the Free Gaza Movement’s Tweeter [sic] account, but only to a group of people on her personal Facebook page. Reporting this and only this as her “apology” naturally made Berlin look even more evil.
…Berlin’s full explanation… is that her tweet was not a statement of her views, but a headline for the video she was sending to a discussion group on “propaganda and racism” as an “example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.”
Initially, I didn’t agree with Derfner. I had seen the statement to which he refers, and it was actually written in the third person as an organizational statement, and the one comment with Berlin’s own name behind it repeated the tone she had taken on Twitter in which she repeatedly apologized for a technical snafu, but not the content of the tweet, or even the impression it might have made.
In the last few hours, however, Berlin issued the following statement:
I am not a Holocaust denier. And I am not a supporter of the video that I posted, nor would I ever have been. It was, in fact, an example of propaganda that is EXACTLY what I and others are horrified over. The video (although I didn't watch it then) seemed like the kind propaganda that our group was discussing. And I passed it on because of the title.
Ironically I am caught in the same propaganda hysteria that I was trying to fight. It was my mistake that I didn't post to the small private group on Facebook and the video ended up on my wall. Greta
I know that for some, this will not be enough, because it came after a series of non-apology apologies, or because Berlin has failed in the past to create much daylight between herself and old-school anti-Semitism. I believe that if she and Free Gaza want to genuinely put this story behind them, they will need to produce some proof of the private group discussion to which they refer, beyond a statement made well after the fact with nothing to corroborate it.
For me, however, as one of the writers who has positively slammed her in the past few days, Berlin’s fresh statement is enough: She has said unequivocally that her intent in sharing that deeply disturbing video was not to support its content.
It would be nice if she might indicate that she understands why people were horrified, and sought both clarification and apology. I would also disagree with her suggestion we who took issue with her unexplained sharing of a video claiming that Zionists ran the concentration camps rise to the same level of “propaganda hysteria” as the video itself—but I’m sure that’s not the only thing on which she and I would disagree.
I was careful in writing my piece to speak up for those who are falsely accused of being anti-Semitic simply because they support Palestinian rights—I am among those people, as are many beloved friends. The point of my post was that in spite of what I see as a troubling over-use of the anti-Semitism accusation, real, honest-to-god Jew hatred does still exist, and pro-Palestinian activists who employ it not only hurt the Jews against which it is directed, but also the cause they claim to defend: Palestinian rights, and a just resolution of the conflict.
I am sorry that in writing about a real problem, I used Greta Berlin as the example around which my thesis was built. With her new statement, I now understand that my reading of her earlier comments was absolutely inaccurate.