Michael Berenhaus

Vandalism and defilement are not a ‘makeover’

George Washington statue defiled on GW University campus.
George Washington statue defiled on GW University campus.
In “Washington’s makeover for GWU protest” 5/4/2024, the Washington Post article refers to the vandalism and defilement of our founding father, George Washington, as a “makeover.”
Philip Kennicott, author of the article, waxes poetically that “what is most striking is the symbolic incorporation of the statue into the wider messaging of the protest.” Kennicott calls the desecration “repurposing of an American symbol.” His remark was not meant as satire.
The author emphasizes that Washington was “an enslaver and plantation owner.” That is no doubt true. But he doesn’t mention the overriding fact that Washington was the leading founding father of our nation. Without Washington, we very possibly would not have a United States. And then where would we be today? What other nation would have introduced humanity to the ideals of freedom and equality inherent in a democracy divorced from monarchical rule? George Washington was the legendary figure who led the formation of the first country dedicated to those ideals. But you will never read that in the Washington Post, which bashes him at every turn. Reading the Washington Post seems like studying a manual of Russian disinformation.
The article says Washington “is no doubt a controversial figure among many of the people who are protesting American support for Israel.” He omits the reason why. Is it because they are anti-American and Washington is the greatest human symbol of our nation? That is precisely it, and that obvious fact is missing from the article.
Kennicott says “Washington has been symbolically appropriated as a defender of the Palestinian people.” Says whom? Not the protestors. He quoted not one protestor to support his claim. It seems this article is just a vehicle for Kennicott, a “senior art and architecture critic,” to project his personal views on those of the protesters.
Kennicott goes on to say that the pro-Hamas encampments are a “place of invention.” Place of invention? Hardly. These college protests, with their matching tents, signs, and chants, are merely following a blueprint carefully drawn by pro-Palestinian operatives at the national level. Politico uncovered this stunning truth in their expose.
The article further states that “the students are creating communities.” It would be more accurate to say they are destroying communities. Jewish students are harassed. Classes are on hold. Graduation proceedings have been canceled. Property has been vandalized and/or demolished.
While Kennicott is out of his depth when writing about campus protests he clearly knows nothing about, he should look at the symbolism of the American flag being taken down and replaced by the Palestinian flag. That stunt has been performed throughout the country at many pro-Hamas college encampments. That is what he is glorifying. And that is the cause he has shamefully chosen to support.
About the Author
Dr. Berenhaus has worked tirelessly as a watchdog for anti-Israel bias in the media. His efforts monitoring and responding to false media reports on Israel have compelled several news organizations to retract inaccuracies and publish letters clarifying the truth about Israel. He has been published widely in highly distributed newspapers and online publications including The Washington Post, The NY Times, The Economist, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Jewish Week, and The American Thinker. He is a crusader in online/social media working to educate the general public as an advocate of Israel and against anti-Semitism. Dr. Berenhaus is a co-founder of ‘Boycott The Post’ and of ‘Eye on the Post’ - two non-profit organizations that monitor media coverage to ensure accuracy, fairness and truth as it relates to Israel. He is also a founder of The Pakistan Israel Peace Forum, an organization dedicated to creating peace between Muslims and Jews. Although many people in the Washington Jewish community know Dr. Berenhaus for his work in journalism, most don't know how generous he is to the Jewish community with both his time and money. Dr. Berenhaus has spent countless hours throughout the years volunteering for Israel and Jewish organizations. He went to Ethiopia and worked with the last remaining Ethiopian Jews. He has lectured to Interns and community groups providing direction and techniques for Israel Advocacy in the media. Currently, Dr. Berenhaus is working with JSSA to coordinate and donate eye glasses to the entire Washington DC region of needy Holocaust Survivors. That effort has now been expanded nationally.