US Jewish groups pan California event featuring speaker accused of anti-Semitism

US Jewish groups pan California event featuring speaker accused of anti-Semitism

Local community college says inviting Alison Weir to address anti-Israel event part of a wider effort to ‘explore, explain and expose’ the Mideast conflict

Alison Weir, founder of If Americans Knew, an organization seeking to delegitimize US support for Israel. (YouTube screenshot)
Alison Weir, founder of If Americans Knew, an organization seeking to delegitimize US support for Israel. (YouTube screenshot)

US Jewish groups and local politicians are criticizing an event scheduled to be held on a local college campus in Fresno, California, with a speaker who is critical of Israel and who frequently uses anti-Semitic tropes.

The program scheduled for September 18 is titled “Uncovered: Israel’s Occupation of Palestine,” and features Alison Weir, director of If Americans Knew and the Council for the National Interest, two grassroots anti-Israel organizations. Weir has accused American supporters of Israel of fomenting wars and involving the United States in them, has said that Nazi and Zionist leaders colluded during World War II, and has claimed that Israel harvests Palestinian organs.

The event, which will be held at Clovis Community College in Fresno, is being hosted by the local media outlet GV Wire, whose publisher Darius Assemi told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that “the mission of GV Wire is to explore, explain and expose. We are bringing Ms. Alison Weir to Clovis Community College as part of our ongoing speaker series. Our hope is that audience members will listen and weigh what she has to say about Israeli and Palestinian relations and decide for themselves the best path to peace.”

Assemi said he is reaching out to Jewish groups to schedule a speaker with a countering viewpoint to Weir’s.

Among the groups who have criticized GV Wire for hosting Weir are ADL, American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, and the Progressive Zionists of California.

Clovis Community College in Fresno, California. (CC BY-SA WIkimedia Commons)

Dr. Lori Bennett, president of Clovis Community College, noted that the college is not co-sponsoring the talk and that the college is not associated with the speaker in any way. She said GV Wire is renting the college’s facilities and that the college does not automatically endorse such speakers.

“Clovis Community College does not endorse hate speech or anti-Semitic remarks.” Bennett told the Journal.

The ADL called on the leadership of the college and on other leaders to condemn Weir.

In a letter addressed to Dr. Carole Goldsmith, president of Fresno City College, part of the same State Center Community College District within the California Community Colleges system, Los Angeles city council member Paul Koretz wrote of his “concern” about the “blatantly anti-Semitic event.”

“I strongly believe this event should not be taking place at a city college. While I support free speech and debates on Israel and the Palestinians, this propaganda must be taken seriously in terms of the potential for inciting violence and targeted acts of hate. As we work to increase security at Los Angeles Jewish Community institutions in light of the Poway shooting and Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, we should all remain vigilant to stop giving hate a platform,” he wrote.

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