After remaining silent on the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and the rising antisemitism in the U.S. for three weeks, the Southern Poverty Law Center finally commented on the issue, only to stealth-edit its statement days later.
SPLC President Margaret Huang had suggested that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians, including children, for airstrikes. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and a group that represents Orthodox Jewish rabbis slammed the SPLC for the statement.
“Earlier this month, we watched in horror as Hamas led an unconscionable attack against Israeli civilians, killing more than 1,000 people and kidnapping hundreds,” Huang noted. (Hamas terrorists intentionally killed more than 1,400 Israelis, including civilians and even babies.) “The tragedy has only continued as Palestinian civilians in Gaza—many of whom are children—have been targeted with airstrikes and cut off from food, clean water, medical care and lifesaving supplies.”
Sometime between 11:52 a.m. Monday and 9:54 a.m. Tuesday, the SPLC changed the statement to read, “The tragedy has only continued as Palestinian civilians in Gaza—many of whom are children—have been killed by airstrikes and cut off from food, clean water, medical care and lifesaving supplies.”
The SPLC swapped the words “targeted with” for “killed by.” This small change altered the moral aspect of the sentence — turning an accusation that Israel had targeted civilians into a statement of fact that airstrikes had killed children.
The SPLC did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment Tuesday about why it altered the statement. It also did not respond to questions about why Huang suggested that Israel had “targeted” Palestinian civilians, despite the fact that the Israel Defense Forces not only urged Palestinian civilians to flee Gaza, but routinely warns civilians about airstrikes in advance, dropping leaflets on the targeted buildings.
The Daily Signal had publicly noted the SPLC’s accusation on Sunday, the day after the SPLC issued the statement.
Huang’s statement seeks to explain why the SPLC remained silent on the massacre for three weeks before finally issuing a statement.
“While the SPLC supports the advancement and protection of the human rights of all people, we focus our work within the Deep South and the United States,” she writes. “It is outside of our purview and expertise to comment on international events. But let me be clear: We condemn hate and violence in every form. We denounce all acts of terrorism. And we reject any attempt to prejudice or persecute communities pushed to the margins.”
The SPLC showed no such restraint when a terrorist killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019. On the same day of the shooting, the SPLC rushed up an article claiming that “the type of racist rhetoric found in the [terrorist’s] manifesto is promoted heavily by Americans with large platforms, like Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Tucker Carlson of Fox News.” (King is no longer in Congress, and Carlson is no longer on Fox.)
Huang’s statement does mention the increasing harassment of Jews in the wake of Oct. 7, but it lumps in antisemitism with attacks against Muslims and makes no mention of the pro-Palestinian student groups that harass Jewish students on campus.
“Where we can—and indeed, must—use our voice is when violent extremism and hate devastate families and communities within our borders,” Huang writes. “The SPLC tracks organizations that promote hate and extremism, and recently we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the targeting of Jewish and Muslim communities. In the two weeks following the attack on Israel, we documented at least 12 violent incidents related to demonstrations, two acts of violence against Palestinian Americans, including the tragic murder of a child in Illinois, and five bomb threats to Jewish synagogues.”
The SPLC did not respond to a request for comment about the groups that reportedly harass Jewish students on campus. Critics have long faulted the SPLC for failing to condemn Students for Justice in Palestine, for example, which not only supported the Hamas terrorist attacks, but said it is “PART of this movement” with Hamas.
Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist massacre of 1,400 Israeli civilians, the Anti-Defamation League (often an SPLC ally) has recorded a spike in antisemitic incidents across the U.S. The ADL Center on Extremism reported that incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault increased by 388% over the same period last year.
ADL counted 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23, 190 of which were linked to the war in Israel and Gaza. During the same period in 2022, ADL counted 64 incidents, four of which involved Israel. ADL has also found that at least 109 anti-Israel rallies since Oct. 7 included explicit or strong implicit support for Hamas and/or violence against Jews in Israel. These rallies are included in the 312-incident tally.
“The SPLC is entangled with racism, sexual harassment, domestic terrorism, and outright hate,” Sen. Cruz told The Daily Signal in a statement Tuesday. As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC fired its co-founder amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal in 2019. An SPLC lawyer faces domestic terrorism charges for his role in an antifa protest in Atlanta earlier this year.
“It’s no surprise they would take the side of Hamas and downplay the extremism of terror-supporting groups like Students for Justice in Palestine,” Cruz added.
Other critics also slammed the SPLC statement and urged it to add Students for Justice in Palestine to its list of “hate groups.”
“It took the SPLC three weeks to utter a peep about the horrific attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists, and the schizophrenic 770-word statement Margaret Huang finally issued barely touched on the attack,” Gregory Angelo, president of the New Tolerance Campaign, told The Daily Signal in a statement Tuesday. “This isn’t a case of better-late-than-never, but better-never-than-late.”
He also slammed the statement as being “riddled with hypocrisies.”
“The assertion that the SPLC only comments on issues within the United States is ludicrous on its face,” Angelo added. “And suddenly it’s OK to take the ‘all lives matter’ position in response to a targeted attack—a position the SPLC has derided in the past. If the SPLC is remaining true to its mission, the least it could do is add Students for Justice in Palestine to its ‘hate map.’”
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, which represents more than 2,500 Orthodox Jewish rabbis in U.S. public policy, also condemned the statement.
“SPLC’s initial attempt to equate the worst pogrom since the Nazi Holocaust with its necessary and measured response is typical,” Menken told The Daily Signal in a statement Tuesday. “The reason SPLC is unable to declare SJP an antisemitic hate group—even after SJP declared itself a local affiliate of Hamas—is because SPLC is an antisemitic hate group itself.”
While the SPLC took three weeks to publish a statement, SPLC staff appeared to support the Palestinians, if not Hamas itself.
U.S. Capitol Police arrested 305 people for illegally protesting inside a congressional office building on Oct. 18. The protesters demanded a cease-fire in Gaza, despite the fact that Hamas still holds more than 200 hostages. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., took a screenshot of a “Global Intifada” chat involving organizers. Katrina Bleckley, whose LinkedIn profile shows her as a “lead attorney” at the SPLC, appeared in the chat, suggesting SPLC involvement. The SPLC did not respond to requests for comment on the incident.
That group behind that protest, Jewish Voice for Peace, has not just demanded a boycott of the state of Israel, but also demonized supporters of Israel, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL warns that the group has “created a hostile environment for many progressive Jews,” extending “its boycott agenda to include not just Israel, but its American supporters as well.”
Amid that protest on Oct. 18, the SPLC’s labor union put out a statement condemning Israel and subtly rebuking the SPLC for remaining silent.
“SPLC Union stands strongly in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” the union wrote. “What we see in Gaza is the violent imperialist desecration of a people—the beginnings of a genocide.”
“Already, the horrors of Gaza have fueled aggression in our own country in the forms of attacks against Muslims and Sikhs, and outbursts of antisemitism,” the union added in an implicit rebuke to the SPLC’s silence.
The union omitted any mention of the 1,400 Israeli victims and any condemnation of Hamas’ terrorist attacks.
As I explain in “Making Hate Pay,” the SPLC took the program it had used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare its donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents. It plots conservative groups on a red-and-black map of the U.S., alongside Klan chapters.
Amid the 2019 racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal, a former employee called the “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”
The “hate map” includes a category for antisemitism, but does not include Students for Justice in Palestine or other such groups.
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