* Contends that Israel is an oppressor nation whose “racist” policies are largely to blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict

A project of Deir Yassin Remembered, RighteousJews.org (RJO) was founded in 2003 to honor Jews “who have worked for the human rights of non-Jewish Palestinians.” By RJO’s telling, the Palestinian people “have been, and continue to be, depopulated, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured, and murdered in the name of political Zionism and its quest to create a Jewish state in the lands between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.” “The root cause of bloodshed and conflict” in the Middle East, RJO elaborates, has been the “racist endeavors” of Zionists “to ‘pump in’ Jews and ‘pump out’ Palestinians from this land.”

RJO says that in order to qualify for recognition as a “Righteous Jew,” an individual must “consider himself or herself to be Jewish” (though “non-practicing Jews and even atheists” are eligible); must have “demonstrated solidarity with Palestinians as human beings, deserving of being treated equally with all other people in the lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, one country with equal citizenship for all”; and must have “faced disparagement, discrimination, or even death as a consequence of his or her standing up for the rights of Palestinians.” Emphasizing actions more than motives, RJO states that “it is not important why a ‘Righteous Jew’ has defended Palestinian rights or whether his or her actions were based on friendship, altruism, religious belief, humanitarianism, or simple human decency.”

Among those whom RJO has honored as ‘Righteous Jews” are such notables as Anna Baltzer, Joel Beinin, Phyllis Bennis, Lenni Brenner, Marc Ellis, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Jeff Halper, Tony Judt, Joel Kovel, Naomi Klein, Jennifer Loewenstein, Ilan Pappe, and Howard Zinn.

The RJO website features the writings of Gilad Atzmon, Haim Bresheeth (who describes Israel as a “racist, illegal and brutal society”), Avraham Burg (who says that “Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centers of Israeli escapism”), Paul Eisen, Peter Hirschberg (who has praised Hamas while condemning Israel for attacking that organization’s “shopping malls, schools, medical centers, charities, orphanages, [and] soup kitchens”), Sabine Matthes (who refers to Israel as a land of “discriminatory laws” and opposes its existence as a Jewish state), John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Rich Siegel (who views Israel as “a society that is racist to the core”), Cecilie Surasky (who condemns “ongoing Israeli repression of Palestinians, and U.S. culpability for that repression”), Virginia Tilley (who accuses Israel of having sunk into “the particular moral abyss of an apartheid state”), and Stephen Walt.

RJO identifies the following as its “related organizations”: Americans for Peace Now, the Free Muslims Coalition, Holocaust Heroes, the Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Peace in Palestine, the Movement for One Democratic Secular State, and Not in My Name.

RJO was founded by Daniel McGowan, a former professor of economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who refers to Israel as “a racist, apartheid state” that has established a host of “concentration camps” and “illegal settlements in occupied territory.” A contributing columnist for Counterpunch, McGowan authored the 1999 book The Saga of Deir Yassin: Massacre, Revisionism, and Reality, which promotes the libel that, in April 1948, Jews engaged in the systematic murder of innocent civilians in Deir Yassin, a Palestinian-Arab village near Jerusalem. McGowan remains RJO’s director to this day.

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