Anna Baltzer

individual

Overview

  • Frequent speaker at events sponsored by the Muslim Students Association, the Muslim Student Union, and other “pro-Palestinian” groups
  • Author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories
  • Apologist for Palestinian terrorism
  • Has worked with the International Solidarity Movement

Born in 1979, Anna Baltzer is a Jewish American woman who graduated from Columbia University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics. In August 1992, she was hired as the administrative director of Camp It Up, Inc., a California-based summer camp for the LGBT community.

Baltzer is best known as an anti-Israel activist who depicts the Palestinian people of the West Bank and Gaza as victims of relentless Israeli oppression, brutality, and human-rights abuses. Baltzer uses her website, A Witness in Palestine, to disseminate her denunciations of the Jewish state. Moreover, she speaks frequently to “pro-Palestinian” organizations all over the U.S. (and occasionally in Europe), and is especially popular with the Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Student Union. Over the years, Baltzer has had hundreds of speaking engagements at universities, schools, churches, mosques, and synagogues. She claims to have been raised as a pro-Zionist.

Baltzer’s real name is Anna Judith Piller. “Baltzer” is a false surname that she made up, probably to prevent her late Jewish grandmother, who was a strong supporter of Israel, from knowing about Anna’s anti-Israel activism. Occasionally since December 1998, Baltzer also has used the alias Carrolle Corsuy.

Baltzer has stated that her maternal grandparents, Maurice and Ida Piller, were Holocaust survivors who spent some time suffering in a Nazi death camp in Poland. But investigative journalist Lee Kaplan writes that this is untrue, though “they did endure 13 months of being on the run in western Europe as Belgian Jews until they made it to neutral Portugal.”

Though Baltzer claims to have been a Fulbright scholar at one time, her name does not appear on the Fulbright Scholar Program’s list of past scholarship recipients. She is listed under the name Anna Judith Piller as a former teacher’s assistant who received Fulbright funding to teach English in Turkey, but there is no evidence that she ever received a Fulbright scholarship under either surname.

Baltzer says that in January 2000, when she was still favorably disposed toward the Jewish state, she participated in the first tour ever sponsored by Birthright Israel—a pro-Israel program that provides free trips to that nation for Jewish college students and recent graduates. Sensing that she was being “indoctrinated” during that tour, Baltzer subsequently researched the Arab-Israeli conflict and concluded that Israel was guilty of egregiously mistreating the Palestinians.[1]

After completing her formal education, Baltzer lived for awhile in Turkey, where she was a Fulbright Fellow at Heceteppe University in 2002-03 and an English Language teacher at Middle East Technical University in 2004. During that period, she visited Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank. According to Baltzer, her experiences in those places—particularly the West Bank—further opened her eyes to the injustices of the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands.

In 2006 Baltzer published the book Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, which is a compilation of photographs that purportedly give visual evidence of Israelis mistreating Palestinians in Gaza. Baltzer often likens the current Palestinian “struggle,” to that which American blacks undertook during the civil-rights movement of the 1960s.

Adamantly opposed to Israel’s existence as an independent Jewish nation, Baltzer favors a “one-state solution” where Jews would be a minority living among millions of Arabs overwhelmingly sympathetic to groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Baltzer claims that according to international law, Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegally situated on land that is “internationally recognized as Palestinian.” But as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America notes: “None of this is true; in reality, UN Security Council Resolution 242 (and official United States policy) characterizes the West Bank and Gaza as disputed territories subject to negotiation.”

In an article she wrote in March 2007, Baltzer condemned“the so-called ‘Land of Israel’” for subjecting Palestinians to “ethnic discrimination” in many forms, including “forced mass transfer,” “mass imprisonment,” “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “apartheid.” “Apartheid and segregation,” Baltzer emphasized, “failed in South Africa and the United States and they will fail in Israel and Palestine. Ethnocentric nationalism failed in Nazi Germany and it will fail in Zionist Israel.”

In August 2007 Baltzer was the featured speaker at a Sabeel-sponsored conference in Berkeley, California. Claiming that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was mostly a dispute over land, rather than a consequence of Islamic Jew-hatred, she explained that Muslim Arabs do not despise Jews per se, but only resent them for having stolen their real estate. Baltzer also denounced the security barrier (which she dubbed an “Apartheid Wall”) that Israel had erected in the West Bank to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from continuing to murder Israeli civilians. Yet she made no mention of the persistent terrorism that had convinced the Israeli government that a barrier was necessary in the first place.In the course of her speaking engagements over the years, Baltzer has been known to occasionally fabricate tales of Israeli atrocities. For example:

  • In a 2007 presentation which she gave at St. Joseph’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California, Baltzer told the story of a pregnant Palestinian woman who had gone into labor and was being rushed by ambulance to a hospital, when Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint blocked her passage and detained her long enough to cause her to lose her twin babies. Evoking Nazi imagery, Baltzer alleged that the soldiers had repeatedly told the expectant mother that they “were just following orders.” When Baltzer was subsequently asked to provide details about the woman in question, the location of the checkpoint, the time of day at which the incident had occurred, and the names of any individuals who may have witnessed it, she conceded that the story had been told to her by Lamis Deek—an Arab propagandist associated with the International Solidarity Movement and Al-Awda—and that she could provide none of this information.[2]  On later occasions Baltzer claimed, variously, that: (a) Deek herself was the pregnant mother who had lost her twins at the checkpoint; (b) the unfortunate mother was someone named “Hessa, from Deir Balut”; and (c) she (Baltzer) had once interviewed the pregnant woman, though Baltzer now provided no names, dates, or locations.
  • In a November 2009 talk at a Presbyterian Church in Wyoming, Baltzer told the congregation about a Palestinian mother who supposedly had been forced not only to choose which of her own children she would permit Israeli soldiers to gun down, but also to subsequently witness this atrocity. Baltzer later recanted the story.

In January 2008 Baltzer said that the Palestinians’ frequent use of violence was necessary because Israel—through its “army brutality, checkpoints, roadblocks, invasions, curfews, house demolitions, and mass imprisonment”—had denied them the right to exercise any political power within the framework of legitimate government. Objecting to critics who depicted the Palestinians as extreme, Baltzer declared that the late “Martin Luther King was also called an ‘extremist’” for rightfully criticizing “the status quo,” and that “prophets have always been scorned in their own time.”

In May 2009 Baltzer spoke to the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine, where she again denounced Israel’s “Apartheid Wall”—again without placing its creation in the context of the Palestinian terrorism. When one attendee asked Baltzer to comment on those acts of terror, Baltzer replied that they needed to be understood in the context of Palestinian helplessness and suffering.

In 2009 as well, Baltzer co-founded the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, whose mission is to “organiz[e] against Israeli Apartheid and the Israeli occupation,” and to “suppor[t] the struggle for equal rights, freedom, and security for all peoples of historic Palestine.”

Also in 2009, Baltzer received the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee‘s annual Rachel Corrie Peace & Justice Award. In 2011, she received the Inspiration for Hope Award from the American Friends Service Committee.

In February 2012 Baltzer issued an “urgent call” for people to “exert all possible influence and pressure on the Israeli Authorities to immediately release detainee Khader Adnan,” a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member who supported suicide bombings, had a long criminal record, and was waging a hunger strike to protest his incarceration.

In 2013, Baltzer was trained in the Midwest Academy‘s “Organizing for Social Change” program.

Since 2013, Baltzer has posted numerous tweets in support of the infamous terrorist/murderer Rasmea Odeh, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operative who in 1969: (a) killed two people when she bombed a Jerusalem supermarket, and (b) set off a bomb at the British consulate in Israel. In her tweets, Baltzer characterizes Odeh as an “icon” who “should be honored, not imprisoned.”

In a July 25, 2014 interview during Operation Protective Edge, Baltzer denied reports that Hamas was using Palestinian civilians as human shields to prevent Israeli military strikes against certain sites — contrary to Hamas’s recent acknowledgment that it did in fact employ such practices.

On July 19, 2015, Baltzer tweeted that Israel was engaged in the “ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians” in the South Hebron village of Khirbet Susiya.

On January 28, 2016 Baltzer tweeted: “@Israel tortures & sexually assaults Palestinians as means to facilitate colonization of #Palestine #Justice4Rasmea.”

From March 2015 through June 2018, Baltzer was a member and trainer affiliated with the St. Louis Anti-Racism and Organizing Committee. 

Over the years, Baltzer has worked with both the International Solidarity Movement and its close ally, the West Bank-based International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS). The latter group is a communist organization that grew out of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and condemns Israel’s “brutal and illegal military Occupation.” In addition, Baltzer has had close working relationships with groups like Amnesty InternationalGlobal Exchange, Code Pink, the American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Voice for PeaceWheels of Justice, and Activist San Diego. Moreover, she has written numerous articles for the anti-Israel websites Uruknet and Electronic Intifada.

Baltzer is a staunch supporter and leader of the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative that aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state:

  • In 2008 at UC Irvine, Baltzer called for divestment from Israel as a means of showing support for the Palestinian cause.
  • In 2010 Baltzer spoke out in favor of a divestment resolution at UC San Diego.
  • In 2012-13, Baltzer supported the UC San Diego chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine when it tried to persuade the university’s Associated Student Council to boycott and divest from Israel.
  • Baltzer promoted the cause of BDS at the 2012 and 2014 General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  • In December 2010 Baltzer became a national organizer with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights—formerly known as the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation—overseeing, among other things, the group’s BDS-related campaigns. She held this post until June 2019.
  • In 2015 Baltzer visited the notoriously anti-Semitic nation of Malaysia, where she characterized BDS as “an amazing gift to us in the international community.” She also lauded Malaysia for its “extraordinary” decision to reject any diplomatic ties with Israel, a position that she hoped the U.S. would someday emulate.
  • Extremely active in church divestment campaigns, Baltzer has traveled the world promoting these and other BDS initiatives.

Baltzer has falsely accused Israel of denying the Palestinian water rights that were negotiated under the Oslo Accords. Moreover, she has falsely asserted that Jews and Palestinian Arabs historically lived in harmony prior to the creation of Israel, when in fact the Arabs of the region had a long history of attacking Jewish communities before 1948.

Footnotes

  1. In 2013, investigative journalist Lee Kaplan performed a background check on Baltzer and wrote: “According to my research, Anna Baltzer never went on a Birthright tour of Israel in the year 2000 or any other time. Inquiries to the New York and Israel offices to ascertain if she went with Birthright revealed absolutely no record of any Anna Baltzer attending the program ever, let alone in year 2000. In short, it seems that Anna Baltzer lied about her participation in Birthright to convey the false impression that she was once a loyal Jew who supported the Jewish homeland but had discovered the justification for Palestinians’ goals to overthrow Israel.” It was later learned that Baltzer may have used her original surname, Piller, on her Birthright trip.
  2. Deek later became a board member of CAIR‘s New York chapter.

Additional Resources

Further Reading:About Anna Baltzer” (AnnaInTheMiddleEast.com); “Anna Baltzer” (CanaryMission.org, Linkedin.com); “The Truth About Anna Baltzer: Defaming Her Grandmother’s Legacy” (by Lee Kaplan, 2-24-2013); “Exposing Anna Baltzer” (by Lee Kaplan, 1-29-2013); “A Case of ‘Catch Me if You Can’?” (by Lee Kaplan, 2-9-2013); “Will the Real Anna Baltzer Please Rise?” (by Lee Kaplan, 2-27-2013); “Chomsky Lite: Anna Baltzer Joins Anti-Israel Campaigns” (CAMERA.org, 10-10-2008); “The Crime of Being Born Palestinian” (by Anna Baltzer, Uruknet, 3-28-2007); “Anna Baltzer at the Berkeley Sabeel Conference” (by Lee Kaplan, 8-30-2007); “Anna Baltzer: Jewish Defamer of Israel” (CAMERA.org, 1-25-2010); “Anna Baltzer’s Campaign of Fabrication” (by Lee Kaplan, 1-31-2013); “Direct Action from Birmingham to Gaza: Uncomfortable but Inevitable” (by Anna Baltzer, 1-23-2008); “BDS Activist Finds Sympathetic Audience in Malaysia, Where Jews Are Hated” (CAMERA.org, 9-30-2015).

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