Republicans Aren’t Done with the “Stabbed in the Eye” With a Palestinian Flag Hoax Just Yet!

The Speaker of the House just can’t let go of the stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag hoax, which I’ve detailed here. In fact, he’s doubling down on it. In case you missed the original viral story, a Yale student, Sahar Tartak, claimed she was “stabbed in the eye” with a Palestinian flag by a protestor on the campus of Yale University. She went on a media tour to promote the claim, with her eye looked uninjured, but then video of the incident surfaced, revealing it to be a hoax, similar to previous incidents of “antisemitism” she invented. Fox News and many Republicans have been promoting the hoax like crazy! 

Mike Johnson just can’t let go of this hoax. He used it as exhibit A in a speech on the campus of Colombia University to “prove” that antisemitism is supposedly exploding on college campuses, and now this week, he’s amplifying the hoax yet again. “The very campuses that were once the envy of the international academy have succumbed to an anti-semitic virus,” he said in a Holocaust Remembrance Day speech.  “Students who were known for producing academic papers are now known for stabbing their Jewish peers in the eyes with Palestinian flags.” Not only is he repeating the hoax, he’s doubling down on it by pretending as though it wasn’t just one incident but a common thing. Right—Jews are getting stabbed in the eye with flags all over the place, right  Mike?  Just so dishonest.

Of course, he’s not the only one conjuring up antisemitism hoaxes in order to justify a broad crackdown on speech critical of Israel. How about Elise Stefanik, who could be our next Vice President? She claimed in a Congressional hearing that 40-50 students at a Brooklyn High School chanted “kill the jews” and “death to Israel.” This week in another Congressional hearing, the Chancellor of NYC schools, said that this incident was extensively investigated and they found no evidence whatsoever that these chants occurred.

What’s going on here? Republicans and around half the Democratic Party want to abridge our right to free speech, particularly our right to criticize Israel, and they need a pretext to do so. Any pretexts will do, even if they are Jussie Smollett-style hoaxes apparently. The House also just passed a bipartisan “Antisemitism Awareness Act,” that will mandate that when the Department of Education enforces federal anti-discrimination laws it uses a definition of antisemitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. It passed 320-91, with all but twenty-one Republicans voting for it.

These are very troubling times. Some pro-Israel students feel fearful. But most of the reason why is because the media and pro-Israel politicians are stoking fear and panic with ridiculous comparisons to 1930s Germany. Just as the Al Sharpton’s of the world gain power by amplifying racist incidents and hate crime hoaxes and claiming that racism and police brutality are rising so too does the ADL and the rest of the Pro-Israel lobby gain by insisting that a wave of antisemitism is washing over the country. This desire to censor criticism of Israel is also the primary reason why politicians want to ban TikTok. Chinese control is just one concern. But I think their motivating concern is that young people are digesting too much pro-Palestinian content on the app. You may disagree with me but I hope you’re as alarmed by the push to restrict free speech as I am.