After noticing a rather inflammatory “Prager U” video on social media, I decided to construct a response. The video in question, which I have hyperlinked above, is a sloppy and misleading piece of anti-Arab, Zionist propaganda that attempts to whitewash the vast crimes of the Israeli government. Throughout his monologue, narrator Kasim Hafeez makes many statements that are either naive, ignorant, or just plain inaccurate. Beyond this casual disregard for reality, it is also worth noting that this xenophobic material was posted online in the wake of recent attacks against American Muslims.
Hafeez mentions his seemingly utopian visit to Israel, where he “didn’t see apartheid.” This could be because he didn’t bother traveling to the West Bank, where he would have witnessed segregated roads, segregated buses, Arab-only military checkpoints, discriminatory distribution of water and other resources, forced evictions, and demolition of Palestinian homes. Here is a very brief introduction to Israeli apartheid:
Here is a more detailed explanation. Here is another. After reviewing these reports, it should be clear that apartheid exists in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but even within Israel itself, not all citizens are equal. Another crucial point regarding the inaccuracies of Hafeez’s monologue is that, contrary to his assertion, Israel did create the refugee crisis, according to this first-hand account of a former Israeli prime minister (see below):
There are myriad additional sources documenting the Nakba. Denying this atrocity does a profound disservice to the hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who were either massacred or displaced indefinitely. The Jewish Voice for Peace video below depicts is a more accurate portrayal of the Israel/Palestine conflict:
Regarding the source of the original video
Just like “Trump University”, “Prager University” is not an actual university. It is a right-wing Zionist propaganda operation founded by Dennis Prager, a conservative pundit who has used an oversimplified worldview based on centuries-old Eurocentric and white supremacist notions to paint an entire group of people as savages. Even the Anti-Defamation League, which usually has a pro-Israel bias, has sharply condemned Prager for his outlandish bigotry.
Aside from the pro-Israel sentiments, another major theme of the video seems to be anti-Semitism, which has been a horrific scourge on human civilization for many centuries. One of the most prominent anti-Semites in history, Martin Luther, who greatly inspired the ideology of the Third Reich, advocated burning Jewish synagogues and schools, destroying Jewish homes, driving Jews out of their cities, and seemed to advocate murder when he said, “We are at fault in not slaying them.” He used words like “whore”, “devil”, and “swine” to describe members of the Jewish community in Germany circa 1546. Luther justified his views with the simple retort, “If they could kill us all, they would gladly do it.”
Dennis Prager made a strikingly similar statement when he said in 1985 that most Arabs would destroy Israel if given the opportunity (and has made many similar statements over the years).
Luther and Prager, separated by many centuries, employed hateful rhetoric to demonized an entire population of people. Although their respective targets were different, both were instances of religious extremists promoting tribalism and fear. It is also true that various Wahhabi clerics and fanatics of all stripes are guilty of the same. Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry are plagues in our society and around the world, and are cut from the same xenophobic cloth. When pressed to “choose sides”, it seems we can choose the side of human dignity by refusing to paint groups with a broad brush, and by choosing love and openness over hate and fear.