In 1505, a Moravian Jew named Joseph Pfefferkorn renounced his faith and undertook a campaign to get the Talmud banned by claiming it blasphemed Christianity. Pfefferkorn was unschooled and a criminal, but that didn’t stop the Dominicans in Cologne, who at the time were eager to cast aspersions on the Jews, from employing him. They recognized the value of a Jew accusing other Jews.
The practice of finding Jews to bear false witness against other Jews has been repeated in many venues. Today, in America, some mainline Protestant churches have eagerly adopted this practice in an effort to demonize Israel. In November, the Wyoming Presbyterian church in Millburn, N,J., invited Jewish anti-Israel activist Anna Baltzer to speak and present her slide show alleging Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.
Baltzer is an acolyte of the International Solidarity Movement, a cult-like group that recruits naÃ¯ve Westerners to interfere with Israeli anti-terror operations. Its founders have spoken approvingly of suicide bombings. Baltzer boasts a busy schedule of speaking engagements at churches, universities, and even an appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Her message consists mostly of rehashed accusations against Israel made by Palestinian speakers. But Baltzer uses her Jewish heritage to accrue credibility before predominantly non-Jewish audiences who often fail to see through her deception.
In her appearance at the Presbyterian church, Baltzer told the audience that they were responsible for alleged Israeli transgressions on the west bank because “if the Israeli government does it, in fact it’s really U.S. taxpayers doing it.” Settlers carry U.S.-made weapons, she said. Her attempt to conflate the privately owned small arms of Israeli citizens with American support for Israel’s national defense is typical of her deceptiveness.
Baltzer’s core message is to delegitimize Israel.
She foists upon her audience absurd claims, like her assertion that the Arab armies that invaded the Jewish state the day after its founding were merely reacting to Israel’s expulsion of 350,000 Palestinians from their homes. Aside from sanitizing the stated Arab intention to eliminate Israel, she also misrepresents the impetus behind Palestinian flight. Noted historian Efraim Karsh demolished the myth of Palestinian expulsion. His book, “Fabricating Israeli History,” documents how most Palestinians’ flight was stoked by their own leadership and that relatively few were compelled by Jewish forces.
Baltzer analogizes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with South African apartheid, contending that the reason there is no Palestinian Nelson Mandela is that Palestinians are not allowed to organize because Israel jails potential leaders. In reality, most Palestinians sitting in Israeli jails are tied to terrorist acts against Israelis. Moreover, Palestinians have their own governing institutions. In her zeal, Baltzer can’t even get Mandela’s story right. In fact, the famed South African leader spent much of his adult life sitting in a South African jail.
Despite her accolades as a peace activist, Baltzer is an apologist for Hamas, whose founding charter invokes Islamic doctrine to sanctify killing Jews. The most Baltzer can admit to is that Hamas is “more aggressive” than the secular Palestinian group, Fatah. Proclaiming that it has agreed to a long-term ceasefire if Israel will withdraw to its recognized borders, Baltzer ignores Hamas’ repeated affirmation it will never accept Israel’s right to exist.
Baltzer mocks Israel’s attempts to protect its population and reveals a contempt for the lives of Palestinians too. She decries Israel’s decision to build the “Wall,” rhetorically asking, “Does segregation bring peace?” The facts are clear. In the year prior to the decision to build the security barrier, 452 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, mostly in suicide bombings. Since the building of the barrier, that figure has gone down by more than 90 percent, and in 2009 there were no successful suicide bombings in Israel.
Baltzer promotes blood libels against Israel. In her talk at the Wyoming Church an attendee challenged her as to why she published on her blog for months a false story spread by one of her colleagues accusing Israeli soldiers of shooting several Palestinian children in front of their mother. Baltzer retorted that she removed the story prior to her appearance on the Daily Show in October upon learning it was false. She added that although this case turned out not to be true, “I don’t think it’s hateful to hold a nation accountable for targeting civilians.” So while admitting one story was a lie, she continues to promote another unsubstantiated accusation.
Baltzer urges on the Palestinians to further intifadas. This ultimately reflects back on the churches, like the Wyoming Presbyterian Church, that invite her to speak. According to a community newspaper’s account of the event, when an audience member questioned why the church repeatedly invited speakers with an anti-Israel message and none to present the other side, a church member responded, “[A]ny time you want to put together such a meeting, the minister reports to us.” The interim pastor, Lou Kilgore added, “I’ll make the same offer,” but indicated since he’s temporary, you’ll have to hurry.
Pastor Kilgore’s response reveals the depth of the problem. While providing a platform for Baltzer’s anti-Israel advocacy, the church leaders absolve themselves of the responsibility to provide a balanced educational perspective. They leave it up to the Jewish community to supply a speaker to rebut the anti-Israel speakers. When it comes to incitement against Jews, how little has changed.