Daniel Margolis

Jenna Ortega did the right thing. Will others?

Courtesy Walt Disney Television, under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license

In December, two articles appeared here asking which type of antisemitism was more dangerous for Jews: the kind promoted by Kanye West or Jenna Ortega. The comparison surprised many. The fallen-from-grace hip hop artist Kanye openly loves Hitler, while Ortega, star of Netflix’s Wednesday, seems a nice person who genuinely wants to help those in need. Judging by the controversy that ensued, the question was entirely warranted. The argument was never that Ortega’s an antisemite, but that antisemitism under the social justice guise of anti-Zionism is at least as dangerous as its other forms, because it is so easily accepted. The online outrage entirely validated the point.

The original article argued that Ortega was doing damage to Jews, especially young Jews on college campuses, by pinning a link to the “Decolonize Palestine” website to her Twitter profile. That site has the look and feel of a progressive social justice advocacy page, but the veneer masks a series of talking points completely aligned with Hamas’s.

As it turned out, Hamas agreed and began featuring Ortega’s words on its Quds News Network.

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Importantly, the intent was never to demonize the actress. As both articles note, she seems to be a decent person who would honestly tell anyone who asked that she deplores Jew hatred; that’s what made “her hate” so terrifying. The hate was “hers” only because when you post something on social media, it’s yours. That Ortega is actually a good person fooled by slick propaganda made her post all the more frightening.

With the previous articles, the aim was that maybe only a few thousand people would read them and that someone on Ortega’s publicity team would take note. The hope of the second article was more specific, that someone from a Jewish organization would reach out and explain to Ortega, first, that Decolonize is a hate site and, second, the amount of harm this type of propaganda does, especially on college campuses, where anti-Zionists often protest any Jewish organizations, political or not.

For example, someone should have explained to the Scream star that, due to ideology like this, Dyke Marches, like the one in D.C. and the one in Chicago, barred Jewish pride flags, causing LGBTQ Jews to fear for their safety. Or that this ideology caused the Washington, D.C., Sunrise Movement, an environmental organization, to boycott a national demonstration for voting rights due to the participation of liberal Jewish groups, including the Religious Action Center. RAC is the Reform Jewish movement’s political action arm, which advocates for almost all the issues Ortega supports and routinely criticizes Israel. Or perhaps she could have been educated on how American Jewish youth often hide all signs of their Jewishness for fear of being harassed on college campuses.

Hollywood unfriendly to open friends of Israel

What happened behind the scenes is unknown, but, as it turns out, Ortega did the right thing. Or, at least, the closest to the right thing she could do that wouldn’t also be career suicide: she unpinned the tweet from the top of her Twitter feed, meaning that anyone who wanted to see it would have to scroll back to March. This effectively consigned the tweet to oblivion without causing anti-Zionist pages that embedded her tweet to become filled with “tweet deleted” messages, which would have led to outrage from a well-organized, powerful movement that would immediately turn on her. Despite the antisemitic trope, it is hard to support, or even openly not hate, Israel in Hollywood. Gal Gadot was nearly canceled simply for saying during a recent war initiated by Hamas that she wants Israel and its neighbors to find a way to live in peace.

Calls for peace are “propaganda” for “ethnic cleansing.” That’s how these people think. Clearly, the anti-Zionist left/Hamas extremist grouping is dangerous to an actor, especially a rising celebrity.

Confirming the above, just after Ortega did the right thing, Twitter user Amir Amini posted a screen grab of the “Ortega vs. Kanye” article, dishonestly suggesting that the Times of Israel (the article and its headline are solely my own) was attacking Ortega for saying “Palestinians deserve to live.” Obviously part of a media campaign, his tweet was viewed 11.3 million times and retweeted 49 thousand times, creating such a controversy that Newsweek and others covered it, associating Ortega with Kanye not for a few thousand people who read the articles, but for millions who didn’t. This is an injustice to the actress, who took a step to right her mistake.

The Co-Founders of “Decolonize” Let the Truth Slip

The Decolonize Palestine website is slick and convincing propaganda for someone who doesn’t know much about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, couching its call for the destruction of Israel in flowery, social justice language about ending “colonial projects” between “the river and the sea.”

There are no names on the website, because learning about the co-founders, Rawan Eid and Fathi Nemer, makes the website’s intent glaringly obvious.

Nemer, in the interview linked above, argues, “When somebody insists on Israel having a right to exist, then they’re insisting on the right of Palestinian society to cease. It’s as simple as that.” He went on to add that not all nationalism is wrong; Israel’s is bad, but the Cuban dictatorship’s is good. As for what “decolonized Palestine” would look like, Eid argues Palestinians need not worry: most Israeli Jews would leave, and for those who would stay, “there has to be a lot of re-education.”

To reiterate: “decolonized Palestine” would be depopulated of most Jews, and the remaining would be subject to forced “re-education.”

Decolonize Palestine Founder: Revenge is a “Moral Right”

“They know they f*****g deserve violent reprisals,” Eid said of Israelis living in the “West Bank,” stating also that “revenge is a moral right.”

For Eid, championing violence is habit. On Twitter, she openly supported the notion that not only Jews, but Arabs visiting from countries who have signed peace agreements with Israel, should be beaten while praying at the Temple Mount.

Eid also supports Leila Khaled.

Khaled’s actions are so monstrous that Zoom even refused to let her use its platform to hold a conference. There is good reason: Khaled was a member of the communist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, responsible for dozens of highjackings, suicide bombings, and murders of children and adults. Khaled’s work for the PFLP included highjacking civilian flights. In 1970, Khaled actually tried to take down a flight and kill everyone on board with a grenade. It was only by way of a miracle that the grenade, which Khaled pulled the pin out of and threw, didn’t explode.

Another member of the PFLP Eid idolizes is Rasmea Odeh.

Odeh, who caused Eid to cry because of how “inspirational she’s been and continues to be,” participated in at least two bombings, one of which targeted a supermarket, killing Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe, university students around Ortega’s age. Eid is also apparently a supporter of George Habash, who plotted the 1972 massacre of two dozen people at David Ben Gurion International Airport.

The Decolonize founder’s love for terrorists is not limited only to those of the past. Eid openly admires Hezbollah, a terrorist organization funded (like Hamas) by Iran, that has spilled gallons of blood, including that of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Eid reportedly tweeted in April 2017 that “My extremely complicated and nuanced opinion on Hezbollah is them f*****g with Israel makes my d**k really hard.”

In just one instance in 1994, Hezbollah carried out a car bombing at the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring 300. Apparently killing Jews at community centers in Argentina makes Eid’s “d**k really hard.”

This is normal on college campuses and in progressive circles

Everyone, including the vast and overwhelming majority of Zionists, feels a profound sympathy for the very real human suffering experienced by Palestinian Arabs. But instead of alleviating their suffering, the corrupt Palestinian Authority and Hamas profit from it. Propagandists like Eid and Nemer, who spout their talking points, as well as the people they’ve fooled, actually worsen that suffering by pushing off any real negotiations toward a solution. Hamas, the PA/PLO, and their propagandists harm everyone: Jews in America, Israelis who deal with ongoing violence from the territories and Gaza, and the regular, everyday Palestinian Arabs.

Sadly, the people behind Decolonize Palestine are not unique, nor are they shunned in campus and social justice circles, as noted above. In fact, before moving to Ramallah, both Nemeh and Eid were students at one of the U.S.’s top universities. The couple, now married, first met when they were students at the University of Southern California (current tuition: $61,503 per year). That’s the same university the federal Department of Education opened a 2022 investigation into after a Jewish student was bullied by anti-Zionists out of her student government position.

Eid was the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine while at USC, and she was a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. The once reputable DSA is now mired in a factional fight over who is more anti-Israel, but each side agrees on resisting “normalization” of Israel and that Palestine is the “top priority.” “Each of these organizations has branches on campuses across the country, and each has propagandists like Eid and Nemer.

Is it really any wonder that with people like this infiltrating campuses across America, posing as social justice advocates, Jews across the United States, from Vermont to Berkley, feel vulnerable on college campuses, and that half of those surveyed feel the need to hide their Jewish identity?

Jenna Ortega tried to minimize harm; will others?

Ortega obviously recognized the error of posting such a link, and did the best she could to minimize the harm. Now, her account wont’ expose each new follower she has on Twitter to this propaganda. And she, while she bears responsibility for posting it, is also a victim of the deception, and she’s not alone. On campuses across the U.S. and Canada, students are signing up every day to organizations that publicly espouse “justice,” but really advocate terrorism and intimidate and harass Jews. Sadly, even some young Jews fall for this and join the movement’s offshoot aimed at them, “Jewish Voice for Peace.”

Jenna Ortega did the right thing, the best thing she could do in the glare of the limelight, by unpinning her tweet. She’s no Kanye, nor is she an Eid or a Nemer. People like Eid and Nemer are simply bad actors who appear to dream of a day when all of Israel is judenrein. Ortega’s a decent person who fell for their propaganda.

That’s an example of why that kind of Jew hatred is so dangerous, more insidious and more likely to win over masses of people than Kanye’s open hate.

About the Author
Daniel Margolis is a US-based journalist, writer, educator, and fundraiser. He now works in the private sector and writes on a freelance basis. His work has been published in various publications, and he contributed to the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, published by Oxford University Press. Margolis is also a member of the board of his synagogue and of the governing board of the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts.
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