Shaped largely by its co-founder and “Executive Director” Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada (EI) is described on its own website as an award-winning and widely recognized “news publication and educational resource focusing on Palestine.” While the site caters mainly to anti-Israel activists like proponents of BDS campaigns calling for boycotts against Israel, it is sometimes cited by well-placed journalists like Robert Mackey of the New York Times.
Supposedly, the content offered by EI reflects “the commitment of its cofounders and editors to universal principles of human rights, international law, anti-racism and equal justice.” However, the EI does not hide that when it comes to Israel and its Jewish citizens as well as supporters of the Jewish state, these laudable principles are replaced by a truly Orwellian definition of antisemitism that reflects Abunimah’s preposterous view that “Zionism is one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today” and that support for Zionism “is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.” Given these views, it is hardly surprising that Abunimah sometimes finds it difficult to conceal his enthusiasm for the kind of murderous “resistance” practiced by terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It is equally unsurprising that Abunimah would now refer to the three recently kidnapped Jewish teenagers as “settlers” and to the security forces searching for them as “occupation gangs” – which, in the context of Abunimah’s ideology, implies that the three yeshiva students were legitimate targets of the “resistance” that Abunimah supports. A few hour after this tweet, Abunimah referred to the kidnapped teens as “Boers” and mocked Israeli statements reminding the Palestinian Authority of its responsibility to prevent terrorist activity. However, compared with his EI colleague Rana Baker, Abunimah was almost restrained. Baker could not control her joy when she heard the “wonderful news” of the kidnapping of three “settlers.” But Abunimah presumably shared Baker’s sentiments, since he supported her in the thread that developed from her jubilant “wonderful news” tweet. It is of course also revealing that Baker felt that the kidnapping of three Jewish teens would be cheered by everybody except for “Zionists.” Baker proceeded to post several additional tweets that provide a glimpse of the deeply rooted bigotry that is so characteristic of the material offered by sites like EI that cater to anti-Israel activists. Apparently reluctant to concede that the kidnappers targeted minors, Baker focused on the oldest of the three kidnapped teens, arguing that a 19-year-old could no longer be considered a child. But since Palestinians usually insist that their teens are regarded as children up to the age of 18, she firmly rejected any “comparison between Palestinian and Israeli boys” as “very very ridiculous, not to say disgusting altogether” and pleaded against equating “the children of the oppressor” with “the children of the oppressed.” Baker’s tweets reveal the dehumanization that comes all too easily with generalizations and labels: Israelis, or, in the preferred terminology of the EI, “Zionists” are “oppressors”, and therefore their children are “the children of oppressors.” If some of the despicable “price tag” perpetrators kidnapped Palestinian teens and somebody justified this as kidnapping “the children of terrorists,” Baker would immediately understand what’s wrong with this.
Stereotyping, bigotry and fanaticism exist in every society, and all too many people – Israelis and their supporters included – use the social media to vent offensive views. Abunimah and other anti-Israel activists love to document such outbursts. While I have no doubt that for every instance of an inappropriate posting by an Israeli or an Israel supporter one could find a similarly offensive posting by a Palestinian or a supporter of the Palestinian cause, I prefer to leave such games to the likes of Abunimah who apparently feel they have to grasp at every straw to try to make their point.
But obviously neither Abunimah nor Baker are just some barely known bloggers with a few readers. Baker has almost 20,000 Twitter followers, and while she has apparently started her writing career at Abunimah’s EI, her work has also been published by Al Monitor and The Guardian; and during Israel’s campaign against terror groups in Gaza in November 2012, the BBC, Al Jazeera English, CNN, The Sunday Times, and The Guardian seem to have relied on her input as “citizen journalist”.
It is also noteworthy that Baker’s EI profile claims she is “a master’s degree student of Migration and Diaspora Studies at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies,” while she emphasizes in the post on her experience as a “citizen journalist” that she has always lived in Gaza: “I have never stayed out of this tiny, densely-populated enclave for longer than a month.”
This post also suggests that Baker’s support for terrorism is nothing new. Israel had launched the campaign in November 2012 in response to incessant rocket attacks from Gaza; yet, Baker declared that Gazans were simply “an occupied people doing everything to liberate their land.” From several other EI posts by Baker, it is clear that Israel is part of the land she wants to see “liberated.”