Former deputy assistant to President Trump and recently named Fox News security analyst Sebastian Gorka came to campus Monday to discuss U.S.-Israel relations and Middle Eastern foreign policy at the invitation of UNC’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) chapter. Gorka’s lack of real expertise and experience in the field, as well as his ties to pro-Nazi white nationalist groups and his overt Islamophobia, make him an awful candidate to discuss any of these issues.
Prior to serving in the White House, Gorka was fired from his post at the FBI for his extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric. Those who attended his lectures at the FBI said Gorka instructed them that every Muslim is either radicalized or waiting to be radicalized. In May this year, 55 members of Congress urged President Trump to immediately dismiss Gorka from his counterterrorism advisory role, saying Gorka “is clearly unfit to serve in any position of responsibility in your administration,” due to his “public support and membership in several anti-Semitic and racist groups in Hungary.”
Ironically, when you google ‘Sebastian Gorka on Israel,’ you will find articles of him defending himself against accusations of antisemitism followed by articles of him accusing liberal Jews of being antisemites.
The fact that a political figure with longstanding ties to a fascist, Nazi-associated organization is able to be deemed ‘pro-Israel’ simply by being anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-liberal is mystifying. Unfortunately, Sebastian Gorka’s beliefs reflect those of a far larger group of politicians on the right, both at home and abroad, who seek to exploit fears rather than offer solutions.
These fears feed a dangerous narrative perpetuated by the Israeli right-wing government and are pervasive in many powerful American institutions and now our own campus. Ensuring Israel’s security means supporting never-ending occupation and the erosion of democratic norms. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has portrayed his far-right coalition as representing the beliefs and values of not only Israelis but Jews around the world. He has attempted to convince Americans, liberal and conservative alike, that he and he alone is acting in the best interest of the Jewish people and that those who dissent are both anti-Israel and antisemitic.
Being truly pro-Israel is not about blindly aligning with the Israeli right. Rather, it’s about fighting for a safe, secure and democratic Israel. It means advocating for the rights of refugees, defending the accomplishments of the Iran nuclear deal, fighting for a two-state solution and actively opposing the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Likewise, it means talking about the fact that a vast number of Palestinians want to live peacefully alongside Israelis via a two-state solution, and recognizing that the mistakes and failures of the Palestinian Authority do not detract from Palestinians’ right to self determination.
The majority of American Jews, and the majority of the American pro-Israel community, understand these dynamics. It’s unfortunate that Gorka has been embraced by CUFI and other far-right organizations in the name of pro-Israel advocacy. For too long, these organizations have accepted alienating and reductive views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the status quo.
Those of us who care about Israel need to actively oppose the extremist views of Gorka and his allies not just because we disagree, but because these views present a real danger to Israel’s future and to our own.
Chair of J Street UNC
Member of J Street UNC
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