College-Invited Speaker Ties Jewish Student Journalist to “White Nationalists,” Calls NYT “Pro

During a question & answer session at Pomona College following a film screening of Gaza Fights For Freedom, a pro-Palestinian documentary, film director Abby Martin accused a Jewish student journalist with the Claremont Independent, who asked a question about Hamas’s activities against Israeli civilians, of being associated with “white nationalists” and insisted that the New York Times was “pro-Israeli Propaganda.”

When Independent staff writer Jordan Esrig asked a question about Hamas’s activities against Israeli civilians, Martin responded by stating that Esrig, who is Jewish, is associated with “white nationalists,” drawing cheers and laughter from the crowd consisting mainly of Claremont Colleges professors and students. One audience member also yelled out “white nationalist” at the student journalist. Martin also assailed the journalist as being “tied to an organization [the Independent] that is tied with Breitbart.” The Independent is not affiliated with Breitbart or any external national media outlets. Co-director Mike Prysner also lashed out at mainstream media, saying that “the New York Times [is] a media organization that in fact tells, that only tells, really just tells the Israeli propaganda side of the story.” 

As the Independent previously noted, both speakers have a history of controversy.  Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance (CPIA), released a statement condemning the event. Martin, a former contractor and anchor for Russian state news agency RT and Venezuelan state news agency Telasur, is a self-proclaimed “radical” and conspirator. Until recently, she claimed that the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job by the government, and recently stated on the Joe Rogan Show that the CIA is responsible for a string of assassinations, including those of Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, and John F. Kennedy. Both Martin and Prysner have made antisemetic comments previously. Both have attempted to demean the Holocaust by comparing it to the ongoing political crisis in Israel, and by comparing Jewish Israelis to Nazis. 

During the Q&A session, Martin defended Hamas and placed sole blame on Israel for the lack of peace between both states.

The event at Pomona College, an elite liberal arts college in California, and a member of the Claremont Colleges Consortium, was hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a student organization funded by student governments of the colleges. SJP listed the cosponsors for the film showing as the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as Anthropology departments at Scripps College, the Institute for Global Local Action Studies, Munroe Center for Social Inquiry, and Campus Life Committee at Pitzer College, and the Anthropology, Religious Studies, and Gender & Women Studies departments and program at Pomona College. 

In the Q&A session, Martin also added that “it is the US Empire and its criminal proxies that are preventing international justice and Israel from being held accountable.” Prysner also called Israel an “attack dog” of the United States. 

One Pomona student, who spoke to the Independent on condition of anonymity, opined that “I think the speakers were a little biased towards Palestine, in fact they seemed quite obsessed with the idea that Israel is bad. [I’m] not Jewish but I’d be quite upset if I was.” The student added that it was “inappropriate” to call the Independent staff writer a “white nationalist.”

 

Will Gu and Alec Sweet contributed reporting. 

 

This story is developing and will be updated accordingly. 

Update 1: This story was updated to include reporting on CPIA’s statement and clarify which Independent staff writer was targeted.  

Correction: In the second paragraph, Martin’s name was written as “Martins.” This error has been corrected.

Update 2: The title of the article has been amended to more accurately reflect Martin’s comments. 

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