It is quite problematic when college campuses allow themselves to be used to propagate myths, falsehoods, and the blatant fabrication of history. Yet, this is currently what is taking place with the “Never Again for Anyone” tour as it makes its rounds from coast-to-coast with the core agenda of delegitimizing the Jewish state of Israel by comparing it to Nazi Germany. The tour is sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance on each stop. On Friday, February 4, I attended this event at DePaul University, in Chicago. Although I knew what I was getting into before I walked in, I had not mentally prepared for what I would see and hear that evening. About 150 people were present - most sympathizers with the speakers. They cheered the lecturers on, eating up every word said, as if comparing Israel to Nazi Germany was cause enough for a celebration.During the presentation at DePaul, Hajo Meyer, a survivor of the Holocaust, and Hatem Bazian, one of the chairmen of American Muslims for Palestine, spoke. Sarah Kershnar, a co-founder of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, was the “moderator.” In this role, Kershnar introduced the speakers and also led the question and answer session at the end of the presentation. She clearly was not interested in fairness in moderating the presentation though. When a pro-Israel question was asked, instead of allowing the question to be fully stated, Ms. Kershnar raised her voice and talked over the audience member effectively cutting the question short. Unfortunately, none of this could be captured because an announcement was made at the beginning that recording was prohibited and that anyone found to be in violation would be made to leave.
Hatem Bazian started the presentation by quickly fabricating the history of Israel to make it seem as if ethnic cleansing and genocide was part of the Zionist ideology. He used quotations without sources from early Zionist thinkers and leaders, such as David Ben Gurion, Theodore Herzl, and Ze’ev Jabotinsky in an attempt to characterize the Zionist ideology as unjust and racist. By doing this, Bazian was trying to make Israel seem like Nazi Germany where there actually was a public policy enforced to exterminate every Jew alive. It was of no surprise that Bazian did not make an attempt to balance his presentation and did not mention any of the Arab leaders during the period that led up to the 1948 War of Independence. It would have been quite relevant for the audience to learn about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who began the Arab nationalist movement in 1921 and who during the Holocaust traveled to Germany in order to meet and make alliances with Hitler. This unfortunately was ignored by Bazian purposely because he did not want to distract the audience from learning the fallacies being presented about the Zionist movement and would not have wanted to show the audience how anti-Semitic the Arab nationalist movement was from the start.Hajo Meyer was introduced next and immediately went into a hateful rant against Zionism and Israel, going as far as to admonish Bazian for not being critical enough of Zionism. Meyer explained that he spent 10 months in Auschwitz and that IDF soldiers remind him very much of SS soldiers. He made no effort to explain his rationale for this, but the statement brought about a strong response from the crowd who were quite enthused by what he was saying. What was even more disturbing to me was his exclamation that the Jewish people are not a distinct group of people and that it is a fallacy to think of them this way. It is also peculiar that he would make such a statement, since he clearly considers himself a Jew and member of the fringe International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. For Meyer, I guess Jews only count if they hate Zionists. Two days after the “Never Again for Anyone” tour in Chicago, the event turned up at a local church in Detroit. Hatem Bazian was not present for this event so Hajo Meyer was left on his own with Kershnar and another moderator. Many Jewish community members and representatives of the ZOA Michigan chapter were present. They truly made their presence felt by asking tough questions of Meyer, which were mostly left unanswered. Although Kershnar tried to prevent it, one of the members of the pro-Israel contingency was a Holocaust survivor who was very disturbed by the statements being made. After he gave a rebuttal to Meyer’s slanderous presentation and asked for an explanation, “Meyer wouldn’t look at him or address him and he looked sullen with tears in his eyes” said Eugene Greenstein, the director of the ZOA Michigan chapter.
It is frightening that students in my generation and any people of good will can actually want to listen to this type of hatred ideology from groups like the American Muslims for Palestine and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. It is also shameful that this speaking tour has been openly accepted in so many cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and more. Personally, I cannot help but to wonder how much money Hajo Meyer is making from these speaking engagements, as I assume that is what keeps him motivated to take part in such a tour. It is known that Bazian is an anti-Semite, who once called for an intifada to start in the US, but for a Jewish Holocaust survivor to say such things as he did, he must either be senile or getting paid a large sum. Hopefully, the truth will arise soon and people will wake up to really stand for the justice that has come about with the formation of the State of Israel.