Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hatem Bazian: The Mossad Planted a Chip in My Brain

UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian's recent blog posting smacks of "They're coming to take me away" as he tells us of a secret Mossad operation at UC Berkeley to monitor and discredit him. "Psy-Group", he calls it.

Perhaps we should have seen the signs of paranoia when Bazian created his silly Islamophobia Research and Documentation Center at UCB several years ago. They hold a conference every year complete with "call for papers" and the whole nine yards dedicated to the proposition that for some unknown reason, Muslims are being picked on in America. Of course, he has nothing to say when Muslims "pick on" others in Muslim-majority countries.

To make one of his points, Bazian points to an article  in the New Yorker in February by Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow, who wrote of the alleged activities of Psy-Group, who they termed as some sort of private Mossad. Bazian also refers us to another article written in Febrarury by Entous which specifically talks about Bazian. In the latter article, Entous states:

"Although it is unclear who left the fliers, internal documents from a private Israeli intelligence firm called Psy-Group show that, at the time of the incident, the company, and possibly other private investigators, were targeting Bazian because of his leadership role in promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, known as B.D.S."

Yes, and about that same time, Fousesquawk was also criticizing Bazian. So what?

Even though Entous puts Bazian's photo on the article and begins its first paragraph with the professor, he himself fails to document the link with Psy-Group.

And just what is a "private Israeli intelligence firm" by definition?  Is the Investigative Project on Terrorism, for example, a "private American intelligence firm", and if so, what is the connection to the American government? And who are those "possibly other private investigators"? Not only does it appear that Bazian is jumping to conclusions, it also appears that at least one of his sources (Entous) is also jumping to conclusions. 

In his own article, Bazian ominously quotes an Israeli intelligence official as saying:

“Social media allows you to reach virtually anyone and to play with their minds…You can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want. It’s a place where wars are fought, elections are won, and terror is promoted."

Imagine that. Social media as formers of opinion. Who knew? 

Bazian continues:

"The documents provide a clear indication that the Psy-Group targeted all aspects of my social media and internet profiles as well as pursuing any criminal records.  After I read the documents, I believe that the Psy-Group did break into my Twitter account and post despicable anti-Semitic messages to shift the discussion around away from my work on BDS and Palestine activism."

Leaving aside the semantic difference between the words, "clear" and "indication", is Bazian really claiming that this Psy-Group broke into his Twitter account and posted anti-Semitic material in his name? One assumes he is referring to this incident which happened in 2017 when he was accused of  re-tweeting anti-Semitic images. At that time, Bazian claimed:

"Bazian then offered one of the least convincing apologies in a season that has been full of them. “I did not realize or read the full text in detail,” he claimed, as though the material he shared was subtle and required careful analysis to determine that it was insanely bigoted. He then proceeded to insist that he has Jewish friends (citing “the anti-racist work that I do fighting anti-Semitism with progressive Jewish groups”) and that he is only anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic, despite obvious evidence to the contrary (”my issue is with Zionism … not with Judaism or Jews”).
-Tablet Magazine

To be fair, maybe Bazian (in his own article) is referring to some other time when anti-Semitic material showed up on his Twitter account. Who knows? 

But if the Mossad or this Psy-Group hacked in to his Twitter account and planted anti-Semitic images in his name, did they also manufacture that famous 2004 video where Bazian is speaking to a crowd and calling for an intifada in the US? Is it the Mossad or Psy-Group that put words in his mouth when he reportedly told a campus audience to look around the campus and count the number of buildings with Jewish names on them? Was it the Mossad or Psy-Group that put the words into his mouth when he reportedly mouthed that quaint little refrain from the hadith that tells of the Day of Judgment when Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, which will call out, "Oh Muslim. There is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him"?

To be fair, I have not seen or heard any videotape of Bazian saying the latter two quotes, but I did pointedly ask him about them in 2010 when he spoke at UC Irvine. I never did get a straight answer out of him.

"Moreover, I believe that my UC Berkeley courses on Islam in America and Deconstructing Islamophobia were subject to this intelligence gathering operation.  The annual Islamophobia conference at UC Berkeley was subject to intense surveillance which sought to record and intimidate participants and those attending as an audience.  The harassment and surveillance included the blanketing of the campus with posters referring and labeling me as a terrorist as well as putting flyers on all the cars on my street and in downtown Berkeley parking lot that is a block away from city hall."

I don't know who these people are Bazian is referring to. Are they Mossad agents? CIA officers? I am also not certain how open to the public these events are that Bazian hosts, but if they take place on the UCB campus, a public university, then there's a good chance they are open to the public. As one who has attended countless such events at UC Irvine (including hearing Bazian speak twice), I videotape and record many of the speakers because I have the legal right to ( I actually did not videotape either Bazian event.) And it is not surveillance because I do it openly. And just for the record in case Bazian is wondering: I am not employed by Mossad (or anybody else). Nor have I called him a terrorist.

"The university and the City of Berkeley leadership provided the air space and the hospitable environment for all of this targeting to become normal and acceptable since it includes all these a activities as falling under the Palestine-Israel conflict.  Rather than condemning this foreign intelligence intervention into the campus and city life; they issue statements that speak of a need for civility without ever mentioning who is doing all of this targeted harassment, spying and who is the target.  One comes to consider the spying and campus organizing to be on the same level and what we are dealing with is the hostilities from the “Middle East” coming to campus. The university and City of Berkeley leadership want to play the “peace process” mediator on campus and the City rather than coming to the defense of academic freedom, freedom of speech and defending the safety and well-being of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim faculty, students and community members."

Nonsense. Both Berkeley and the university are left-wing bastions with little tolerance for any expression in favor of Israel. In contrast, it is the pro-Palestinian narrative that is favored. Pro-Israel events and speakers run the risk of being disrupted while campus police stand around like potted plants.

"At UC Berkeley and the UC System, the university adopted a student group and a project, Olive Tree Initiative ( after the UC Irvine 11 case and used it to frame a counter-narrative and strategy directed at isolating and neutralizing the work of SJP and the BDS movement.  This means that the university, as an institution, was actively working as a front for the interest of a foreign government and targeting faculty and students who are exercising their academic and constitutional rights to speak and organized against what they consider it to be an injustice.  You can also see the case of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi at San Francisco State University and how the university leadership coordinated its actions with the local ADL, JCRC and the Israeli consulate to disrupt her academic program and cancel two lines of faculty to be hired to assist in building the AMED program in Ethnic Studies."

More nonsense. I am quite familiar with the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) since it was inaugurated at UC Irvine. It was and is a thinly-disguised program to take students of various backgrounds to Israel and the West Bank and supposedly expose them to both sides of the conflict. However, even though students have met with Israeli Knesset members and residents of the controversial settlements, it was and is slanted in favor of the Palestinian narrative. In addition, the University worked in concert with activists affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement, who served as tour guides in the West Bank. It may very well be that members of the Muslim Student Association or Students for Justice in Palestine (the latter co-founded by Bazian) had no desire to go because they couldn't stomach the idea of meeting pro-Israel voices, but it doesn't change the fact that OTI is slanted in favor of the Palestinian narrative. I knew of four Jewish students at UCI and UCLA who made the trip and came back only to join SJP. And let us not forget that in 2009, the students were shepherded into a meeting with Aziz Dweik, a Hamas official in the West Bank.

As for Rabab Abdulhadi, Bazian is defending a figure who for years has brought national embarrassment to SFSU through her agenda-driven (Palestinian) "scholarship" and mentorship of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), who made news a few years back when they were spreading murderous expressions of wanting to kill Israeli soldiers across the SFSU campus.

Hatem Bazian is an activist with two agendas, Israel and Islamophobia. He has chosen to enter the public arena. He travels the country giving speeches attacking Israel and plenty of individuals. He has been accused of making several anti-Semitic expressions. Of course, he, like anyone else in America, has the right to express his views. However, he is not immune from criticism. That means that others are free to challenge what he says in public. His opponents are free to show up when he speaks in public and document what he says. He need not worry. Nobody is going to haul him off to jail. But this latest posting tells me that he is becoming very paranoid. Even by Berkeley standards, he is a joke and an embarrassment.

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