On May 26, Dr. Fidaa Wishah made a powerful statement against Israeli censorship of the massacre of Palestinian children on her personal Facebook page. Almost a month later, on June 21, “stopantisemitism.org,” a website known for smearing pro-Palestinian activists, made a post accusing Dr. Wishah of anti-semitisim for publicly criticizing Israel. It suggested her firing from Phoenix Children’s Hospital as a pediatric radiologist. Almost immediately, Phoenix Children’s Hospital responded publicly to declare that they were investigating the issue. Less than 48 hours later, the hospital fired Dr. Wishah.
Instead of looking at Wishah’s record as a medical professional, with patients of all backgrounds, genders, nationalities and religions, Phoenix Children’s Hospital succumbed to a right-wing Zionist smear campaign — and they are not the first.
Smear campaigns, a tried-and-true Zionist tactic
Zionists repeatedly use smear campaigns against pro-Palestine activists. In fact, despite their simplicity, smear campaigns have proven to be one of the most effective tools in the Zionist toolbox. It is the same strategy every time. First, an activist criticizes Israel online — in response, of course, to the real crimes that Israel has committed against the Palestinian people. Then, a Zionist group posts the activist’s information online, harrasses them and their employer, targets their social media presence, paints them as an anti-semite, and does their best to tear apart their life.
A central goal of these smear campaigns is to strike fear into all activists. Also important is to get the target censured, punished, or in the case of Dr. Wishah, fired. These campaigns are, understandably, overwhelming for most places of employment. A manager or supervisor who might not be able to point to Palestine on a map is suddenly swamped by hundreds or potentially thousands of phone calls, emails and in-person confrontations. In the U.S. capitalist system, these managers have few legal obligations to defend their employees, so Palestinian activists and critics of Israel can and do lose their jobs.
Canary Mission’s drive to kill free speech
Canary Mission is infamous for deploying this strategy against critics of Israel — in particular, Palestinian activists. Canary Mission is a website that manages a “blacklist” containing the names of hundreds of activists who have criticized the Israeli occupation of Palestine, condemned Israeli violence and war crimes, or supported Palestinian liberation. The website specifically targets college students and staff. The stated objective of their blacklist is “to ensure today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.” “Radicals,” in this context, means pro-Palestine activists exercising their First Amendment rights.
Specifically, this website arose to combat the rise of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement. This movement, which mirrors the boycott against apartheid South Africa in the 1990s, has been a significant part of the student movement for Palestinian liberation.
The tactics of Canary Mission were originally used to target academics critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Now, its aim is much wider, set against a variety of activists and Palestinians in various careers, such as Dr. Wishah.
StopAntisemitism.org strives to stop Palestinian activism
StopAntisemitism.org is an organization similar in purpose to Canary Mission. Its founder, Zionist “activist” Liora Rez, explictly states that StopAntisemitism.org has a “name and shame approach” which focuses on “[contacting activist’s] employers, spouses,” or in the case of very young students, even their parents. Rez takes pride in the fact that she “was often successful in getting [activists] fired,” such as in the case of Dr. Wishah.
Despite claiming to be “bipartisan” in nature, Rez almost exclusively targets left-wing critics of Israel and Palestinians. In an interview where Rez claims to be “bipartisan,” she names as targets prominent left-wing critics of Israel such as Illhan Omar, Jeremy Corbyn, Roger Waters and Rashida Tlaib alongside her only right-wing target — Richard Spencer, a neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier.
Despite feigning a “bi-partisan” opposition to anti-semitism, the website and Rez are truly focused on assassinating the character of young left-wing and Palestinian activists. Stopantisemitism.org features an “antisemite of the week” column, regularly targeting young and vulnerable Palestinian activists.
Fighting back with solidarity
Of course, the fatal flaw in these smear campaigns is their repeated and ridiculous attempt to equate pro-Palestinian activism with anti-Semitism. In reality, the pro-Palestinian movement opposes Zionism and all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-semitism. Activists around the world, including both Jews and Palestinians, reject Israel’s anti-semitic conflation of their violent settler-colonial occupation of Palestine with the Jewish people as a whole. And all of these people are fighting back with solidarity.
If you wish to support Dr. Fidaa Wishah, please send an email of support to Phoenix Children’s Hospital at [email protected] or call them at 602-933-1000 to tell them you support Dr. Wishah. You can also participate in ongoing days of action in Phoenix for Dr. Wishah.