KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle mayor silent as tax dollars used for anti-Semitic propaganda

Nov 26, 2023, 5:45 PM | Updated: Nov 27, 2023, 9:19 am

Weekend pro-Palestinian demonstrations, Seattle. Insert: Local activist Luna Reyna. (Photo: Jason R...

Weekend pro-Palestinian demonstrations, Seattle. Insert: Local activist Luna Reyna. (Photo: Jason Rantz/Insert: Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods)

(Photo: Jason Rantz/Insert: Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods)

The city of Seattle is unabashedly funneling taxpayer dollars to support an anti-Semitic screed by local activist and Israel critic Luna Reyna. What’s as appalling is Mayor Bruce Harrell’s disturbing, but predictable, silence on the matter. He only reluctantly condemns anti-Semitism publicly — when it’s politically advantageous.

With anti-Semitic incidents in Seattle on the rise, Harrell’s Department of Neighborhoods saw fit to enlist Reyna for a project supposedly aimed at honoring Native American Heritage Month. It became an exercise in anti-Semitism. Among her contributions is an essay “Land Back from Turtle Island to Palestine,” where she brazenly uses the “Land Back” movement to justify Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on Israeli civilians this October 7th. Reyna describes the “Land Back” movement as “a literal reclamation of stolen land to its original stewards.”

Reyna doubles down on her propaganda, accusing Israel of genocide and illegal occupation, effectively providing a disturbing justification for Hamas’s unconscionable violence against Jews, which included rape, kidnap, and murder. It’s a narrative that not only distorts reality but emboldens local hate mongers to continue their assaults on Jews, all under the guise of activism.

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Historically ignorant analysis to justify terrorism

Bereft of any historical or religious aptitude, Reyna argues that Palestinians are victims of Israel. She describes the only Jewish state as “a settler colonial state that has embraced erasing the people who inhabited the pre-colonized land through violent resource extraction, environmental desecration, displacement and genocide.”

Her language is meant to parallel her observations of the United States and its treatment of Native Americans. It helps explain the supposed solidarity between Native Americans and the Palestinian people, a manipulative comparison meant to engender more local animosity towards Jews.

To Reyna, Israel is “occupying” Palestinian land. She doesn’t believe Israel has the right to exist. She even goes as far as to claim 120,286 Palestinians were “murdered by the Israeli government and settlers in just the last 15 years,” a reference to all deaths, including terrorists with Hamas and other violent criminals.

Israeli Defense Forces killing an actual terrorist is a “murder” to Reyna.

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Defending Hamas

Reyna does not expressly condemn Hamas violence, merely saying “being in solidarity with Palestinians… does not equate to condoning” Hamas actions. But she does expressly justify Hamas terrorism in the next several sentences.

“Context is also important. Hamas was created after decades of violence by the occupying Israeli government. The cruelty, violence and bloodshed of Palestinian people by the Israeli government has been unconscionable for over 75 years. It’s this occupation, the tactics of a colonial military backed by world powers, and now the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people in Gaza, that many Native people connect with. There is a direct correlation with the tactics used by the occupying Israeli government and the U.S. government to the Indigenous people of what is now the United States.”

In the context of the “occupation” and “oppression” of Gazans, Reyna concludes the Land Back movement “has begun to transform into a phrase used in solidarity with all people impacted by settler colonialism.”

Defending Hamas

A spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods defended the posting in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. Susie Philipsen said that the essay was part of the city’s work “to amplify the voices of the communities we serve, sharing diverse viewpoints of people who live here.”

Philipsen claims the office doesn’t “direct, dictate, or censor article content.” This is not merely false, but in direct conflict with her full statement. Indeed, it reads like a parody.

The content, supported by taxpayer dollars, was specifically directed to express “stories reflecting on their [contributors’] experiences as Indigenous people.” And it’s not censorship to reject content the government is paying for if it doesn’t meet agreed-upon standards. If, for example, the essay was about embracing white supremacy and the genocide of Native Americans, the city would have rejected it, not printed it.

The spokesperson would not reveal how much taxpayer dollars Reyna was paid to contribute anti-Semitic propaganda for the city.

There’s more vicious content supported by taxpayers

Reyna’s anti-Semitic screed isn’t the only offensive commentary hosted by the city and supported with tax dollars.

Reyna gave activist and comedian Howie Echo-Hawk space to promote hate in a lazy video further explaining the Land Back movement. It was little more than complaining about white people.

The video, posted to the city’s YouTube page and Department of Neighborhoods website, starts with Echo-Hawk declaring, “I’m a Native American person. We’re still alive, f*** you” before degenerating into an unhinged diatribe.

Echo-Hawk demands “white people go back to Europe,” complains about Seattle’s “white people who are ruining my life every single day,” and explains that Israel stole its land from Palestinians. The self-proclaimed “indigequeer” jokes about being paid by the city to put little effort into the Land Back stand-up routine.

 

Mayor Harrell silent as usual

The mayor’s office, in typical fashion, ducked out of commenting. This aligns perfectly with Harrell’s playbook: dodge questions his office fears might ruffle the feathers of the Progressive and Socialist activists in Seattle.

Harrell’s approach to controversial issues? Do the absolute least. Publicly, he’ll throw a bone of condemnation against anti-Semitism, but only when it’s politically expedient. It’s why he waited so long to condemn the Hamas terrorist attack. Behind closed doors, his office offers a different tune. It’s meant to mollify Jewish groups and activists, staving off public backlash or pressure campaigns to weigh in. Harrell hopes not to weigh in, so his office doesn’t take positions when asked. Sadly, it’s a clever, if disingenuous, game of political maneuvering.

Harrell’s office grants access to reporters who offer the mayor favorable coverage. And he knows he can ice out journalists covering controversial decisions he’s making. His silence can kill a story. Indeed, local media outlets will not cover this anti-Semitic essay, even though it shows Harrell’s previous belated statement against anti-Semitism to have been hollow. Some local reporters have done their best to defend the anti-Israel rallies calling for violence and the destruction of Israel. Though they’ve been caught several times, local reporters continue to carry water for Hamas and its supporters.

One local activist, however, isn’t staying silent, joining a growing a chorus of local Jewish community members speaking out.

Speaking up, but don’t expect apology

Randy Kessler, regional director for Stand With Us Northwest, believes the mayor cares about the Jewish community, but notes that he is aware of brazen anti-Semitism and threats being on the rise in Seattle.

“Despite that, these posts demonstrated not just a lack of not just sensitivity, but of common sense. I cannot understand why anyone would consider these comments acceptable to publish on a city website,” Kessler said in a statement to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Isn’t the role of a city to improve the quality of life for all its residents? Howie Echo-Hawk’s words do nothing to help. They only hurt.”

Kessler said the city “owes the city’s Jewish community not just an apology, but a commitment that harmful and divisive posts like these will not be seen again on city websites.”

But the city doesn’t appear to find this essay problematic. The Department of Neighborhoods spokesperson notes that the essay is not intended to represent city beliefs, just those of the author. But she also argues it fits into the city’s theme of uniting Seattleites from different backgrounds.

The spokesperson promised the department would “continue to use our platforms to uplift experiences of community members representing a wide array of backgrounds in order to build a welcoming community.” The only people uplifted by this essay and video are anti-Semites and their enablers.

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