By Sara Ben-Nun
Natan Sharansky responded on Wednesday to Tuesday’s “Dismantling Anti-Semitism: Winning Justice” panel, which made headlines for being hosted by individuals with well-documented anti-Zionist claims.
“For the so-called progressives, all the world is the fight between ‘oppressors’ and ‘oppressed.’ ‘Oppressors’ are always wrong and ‘oppressed’ are always right,” Sharansky said at a panel created in order to respond to that of the criticizers of Israel, titled “Dismantling Antisemitism: Jews Talk Justice.”
“Jews are accused as a group and Israel is accused as a Jewish State,” he said.
US Congresswoman Rep. Rashida Tlaib participated in the initial panel on Tuesday, joined by Prof. Marc Lamont Hill and Peter Beinart.
“Tell everybody, I don’t hate you. I absolutely love you,” Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Democrat from Michigan, said. Tlaib is also a well-known supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The panel drew high criticisms from various Jewish commentators.
Back in 2018, Lamont Hill was fired from his position as CNN’s political commentator for stating to the UN that there should be “a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” a phrase commonly used to delegitimize Israel’s right to statehood. He’s since apologized.
Tlaib recently came under fire for retweeting a tweet that featured that phrase on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, November 29.
“Rashida Tlaib is not just opposed to Israeli control of the West Bank — this slogan means she sees the entire State of Israel as illegitimate and wants it eliminated,” Democratic Majority for Israel tweeted at the time. “That’s an immoral and reprehensible position.”
The event was organized by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and Tel Aviv Institute. Sharansky was joined by Ellie Cohanim, The US Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, in addition to other Jewish activists and leaders, to amplify “the voices of actual Jewish leaders to provide an accurate account of antisemitism,” according to a press release.
Many “decried the false contradiction too often presented between being both progressive and Jewish.”
“It is so harmful to feel that our identity is being challenged, that we must choose between our progressive values and the fight against antisemitism,” said Hen Mazzig, a Senior Fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute.
“It is not the struggle for human rights, it is not the struggle for individual freedom,” concluded Sharansky. Rabbi Sandra Lawson, Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life summed it as follows, “Antisemitism is a problem, which is not a left or right problem.”