Anna Baltzer -- apparently neither a Fulbright Scholar, nor a descendant of Holocaust survivors, nor an alumna of the Birthright Program -- appears to be just a fraud and a fabulist. So why is Oxford having her speak January 31st?
Anna Baltzer, a pretty lady who heads the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) in Washington, DC., has developed a platform for herself going about the world lecturing as a Jew who once supported the State of Israel, but who had an epiphany and discovered that Israel and "Zionists" were exploiting and abusing the Palestinian people. The USCEIO is, in fact, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) renamed for the purpose of lobbying Congress in Washington. It was created by Huwaida Arraf, one of the co-founders of the ISM who alsoserves on the group's steering committee.
Placing Anna Baltzer as the titular head of the Campaign was intended to convince both Jews and non-Jews that opposition to Israel's existence is fine because even Jews such as her believe in the necessity of destroying the Jewish state, especially through boycotts and divestment. Anna Baltzer is a modern day Tokyo Rose for the ISM against Israel: she speaks at anti-Israel events and promotes boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel, in support of terrorist groups such as Hamas in its plans to destroy Israel any way it can. She has participated or helped at demonstations staged by Code Pink, Global Exchange, the Gaza Flotilla, Viva Palestina and other anti-Israel groups that make up the ISM.
USCEIO has been frantically sending out fundraising email blasts and announcing on its website that Ms. Baltzer will appear in a debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be presented by the distinguished Oxford Union in England on January 31st. According to the Oxford Union's website, "The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe."
The Oxford Union has delivered these debates by distinguished academic, religious and national leaders from ex-President Ronald Reagan to the Dali Lama. The purpose of the debates is the furtherance of education and knowledge. The subject of this debate will be: "This House Believes That Israel is a Force for Good in the Middle East."
The announcement of the three debaters for the anti-Israel point of view, however, disturbingly advertises propagandists and fabulists such as Ilan Pappe, Ghada Karmi and most importantly, Anna Baltzer, who is billed on the Oxford Union's website as head of the USCEIO and who will apparently speak in opposition to Israel's right to exist.
Ilan Pappe has already been proven to be bankrupt as a scholar after it was proven in court he was involved in fabricating a phony massacre by Israeli forces of the Arab village of Tantura in 1948. In a defamation and libel lawsuit brought by veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade in Israel, Pappe's PhD student under his advice admitted on the witness stand that he fabricated the entire massacre with his supervisor's knowledge and that he was paid $6,000 by the PLO to do so.
The other speaker alongside Anna Baltzer will be Ghada Kharmi, a Palestinian academic at the University of Exeter, Britain, and the author of Married to Another Man: Israel's Dilemma in Palestine. Her writings are merely polemics devoid of any history or facts with which to back them up. She claims, incredibly, for example, that Israel has never made a peace offer to the Palestinians, along with standard slanderous Palestinian propaganda and claims that masquerade as facts -- such as that Israel violates "international law" by the building of settlements, which are completely legal per UN Resolution 242, and the stopping of the Gaza Flotillas that was completely legal by international maritime law. Karmi encourages war by proxy, such as writing in support of the British boycott of Israeli academics and Israeli universities.
What is Karmi's intellectual solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which she also claims is the reason for al Qaeda? She says Israel must become one state called Palestine; must withdraw to the 1949 borders; must give the Palestinians half of Jerusalem, and then allow seven million Palestinians to move inside Israel, creating a flood of Muslims that would demographically overwhelm the current Jewish population there. As for terrorism, she glosses over it as the desperate actions of some extremists who are fighting "colonialism." Her writings hardly reflect anything in the way of solid research or intellectual balance.
Stephen Stotsky of CAMERA.org has written an excellent exposé of Baltzer's lies about Israel. However, new information has arisen about Baltzer's background and history as a Jew.
In her Wikipedia entry and various speeches she has presented, mostly to Christian churches, Ms. Baltzer has claimed she comes from a Jewish family in which her grandparents were Holocaust survivors; that she was a Fulbright Scholar from Columbia University, and that at first she was pro-Israel. After touring with Fulbright in 2003 in Turkey, she alleges she visited "Palestine," Syria and Iran and met "friends" who "educated" her on the suffering of the Palestinians at Israeli hands, so that today she is a dedicated anti-Zionist. She included a cry at the end of an interview recorded in Ireland in 2010 on an anti-Israel radio station that it is her hope "Inshallah, to one day bring down Zionism" -- meaning to end the Jewish state.
More recently, Anna Baltzer, back in the United States, lent her name and prestige to an attempt by the Students for Justice in Palestine at UC San Diego to prompt the entire student body association there to boycott and divest from Israel. The appearance, presumably intended to be a springboard to spread the boycott and divestment to other campuses, failed. While the event was being debated at UC SAN Diego, Anna Baltzer made a video, which appeared on You Tube, in support of boycotts and divestments from Israel, and directed to the anti-Israel campaign at the UC Campus. In this video, she claimed that she went on a Birthright tour -- a program that provides free trips to Israel for Jewish college students and recent graduates -- in the year 2000 as an enthusiastic pro-Zionist Jewish girl. She claims that after finishing the tour, she researched the suffering of the Palestinians and became a supporter of the anti-Israel movement.
There is just one problem with this scenario: According to my research, Anna Baltzer never went on a Birthright tour of Israel in the year 2000 or any other time. Inquiries to the New York and Israel offices to ascertain if she went with Birthright, revealed absolutely no record of any Anna Baltzer attending the program ever, let alone in year 2000. In short, it seems that Anna Baltzer lied about her participation in Birthright to convey the false impression that she was once a loyal Jew who supported the Jewish homeland but had discovered the justification for Palestinians' goals to overthrow Israel.
Further, after researching Ms. Baltzer's claims of being a Fulbright Scholar from Columbia in 2003, it has been determined from both Columbia's and the Fulbright websites, as well as Fulbright officials, that Anna Baltzer was never a Fulbright scholar either. A list of Fulbright Scholars at the Fulbright website contains the names of all Fulbright scholars from the United States and abroad from the late 90's to the present. Ms. Baltzer's name is nowhere to be found.
Anna Baltzer's claims about her personal and academic background should come as no surprise: it has gained her entrée to speaking engagements at colleges across the US and abroad where she spreads lies against Israel. At her presentation at St. Joseph the Worker's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California in 2007, Anna Baltzer recounted a tale of a pregnant Palestinian mother who, in an emergency, was taken by ambulance, but forbidden to pass a checkpoint manned by Israeli soldiers, who had told her that her ambulance could not pass through the checkpoint until 7 am, although she had arrived in an a Code 3 state at 6:30 am. Baltzer claimed -- drawing gasps from the audience -- that due to this delay, the woman miscarried twin fetuses. In an implicit comparison of Israeli soldiers to Nazis, she alleged the IDF soldiers kept telling the poor woman that they "were just following orders" -- a veiled reference to the Nazis' excuses, at the Nuremberg trials after the World War II, for their role in the death camps. There was no mention that the checkpoints had been erected in the first place to stop what had been incessant terrorist attacks and suicide bombings.
When asked the name of the woman who had miscarried, the location of the checkpoint, the time of day, the names of reliable witnesses and the outcome of any military investigation of such cruelty, she said that she did not know, that she had not been there. She even said she was surprised to hear that the Israeli army would have received a formal complaint if such an event had actually occurred. Pressed still further about the authenticity of her tale, in a book she was selling that supposedly contained her personal eyewitness accounts of Israeli atrocities against Arabs, Baltzer admitted she did not know the details because the story had been told to her second hand by Lamis Deek, a well-known Arab propagandist from the ISM. In the 2010 radio interview in Ireland, however, Anna Baltzer changed the story and said, after recounting the same tale, that she interviewed the poor Arab woman who had lost the two babies -- again with no names, dates or places.
The ISM with which Baltzer works regularly uses the imagery of Holocaust survivors who see the need to end the Jewish state. Hedy Epstein, in her eighties, is paraded around by the ISM at their boycott and divestment events in California colleges. Epstein also appeared on the ISM Flotilla Boats to Gaza, and has always been presented as a "Holocaust survivor" who is against Israel. Research has shown that as a child Ms. Epstein spent the war in the safety of England, and was never in a concentration camp or even on the European continent. Rather, in her youth, Ms. Epstein was party to several pro-Soviet communist movements, whose Stalinist leanings were anti-Zionist, and she even supported Pol Pot's regime of mass murder.
Using the same "Holocaust survivor" imagery, Baltzer claims she is the descendant of Holocaust survivors who instilled in her a need to support Palestinian aims against Israeli persecution. After researching her grandparents through the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel, as well as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to see if her family were actually in concentration camps, nothing could be found. This, too, appears to be a fabrication by Baltzer, or at best an embellishment, like Hedy Epstein's, of being a Holocaust survivor.
The Oxford Union's President was distressed to learn these facts about Ms. Baltzer's academic fraud and said she would share such information with the faculty advisers with the possible outcome of her being removed from the debate.
An educational debate, especially at a university as august as Oxford, should feature academics or speakers who are genuine, not imposters or fakes planted to distort facts and slander and demonize a fellow democracy. Anna Baltzer seems to be neither a Fulbright scholar, not a descendant of Holocaust survivors nor an alumna of the Birthright program. She appears to be just a fraud and a fabulist. So why is Oxford having her speak?