Today from The Free Press: U.S. troops know Iran is already at war with us, an update on school library censorship, and an interview with the director of Yad Vashem.
But first, our lead story: another scoop from our very own Francesca Block.
Meet Amin Husain. Amin is an adjunct professor at NYU, where he has taught a course on “art and activism.” He also gave a talk last month at The New School, where he denied some of Hamas’s recent atrocities in Israel.
Video obtained by The Free Press shows Husain speaking at a “teach-in” organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at The New School. “We know it’s not true,” he says of evidence that women were raped and babies were beheaded on October 7. During his speech on the “Palestinian liberation struggle,” Husain also declares that New York is a “Zionist city” and jokes that he has “won the honors of antisemitic multiple times.”
In other words, Husain is exactly the sort of person who should be molding young minds at $60,000-per-year NYU.
Watch Husain’s speech here:
And read Francesca’s exclusive story here:
American troops know: Iran is already at war with us
When it comes to Iran, there’s a strange disconnect between what Washington says about our relationship with the Islamic country and the facts on the ground.
In the months since Hamas’s attack on Israel last October, U.S. forces in the region have found themselves under sustained attack, mostly from groups who are backed by Iran. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy estimates that there have been 100 drone attacks and close to 50 rocket attacks against U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria since October 18. In the previous 12 months, only one drone attack and one rocket attack were reported.
Earlier this month, two Navy SEALs perished in a mission to intercept an Iranian weapons shipment for the Houthis, the terror group disrupting shipping in the Red Sea.
In some cases, the U.S. is responding with force. Yesterday, the U.S. launched a round of air strikes that targeted the Iranian-backed group Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called a “direct response” to attacks against American forces. U.S. jets have also struck the Houthis in Yemen.
And yet, the mood in Washington is surprisingly calm. The death of U.S. troops have barely made headlines, while Biden administration officials talk of avoiding escalation. And in the State and Treasury departments, hope of another nuclear deal with Iran springs eternal.
What’s up with the disconnect?
To answer that question, Eli Lake talks to Americans who know the cost of Iranian aggression. Americans like Tricia English, whose husband Shawn, an Army captain, was killed by an Iranian weapon in Iraq in 2006. “We are funding our enemy and sending our service members to be their victims,” English told The Free Press.
Read Eli’s full report here:
From our newsroom: Digging deeper on school library bias
Last week, for his Free Press investigation “The Truth About Banned Books,” James Fishback scoured the library catalogs of the 35 largest school districts in America and found that most carry books that give only one side of the story: the progressive side. For example, James found that Dreams from My Father, the memoir by former Democratic president Barack Obama, is found in 75 percent of sampled districts, and Becoming, by his wife Michelle, is found in 65 percent of school districts—but memoirs by Republican politicians Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pompeo, Tim Scott, and Ron DeSantis are not found in a single one of the 4,600 individual schools he sampled.
James’s piece prompted some interesting responses from readers. Most of the correspondence involved good-faith and thought-provoking engagement with James’s research on the important subject of censorship.
And then there was this message a librarian sent to James:
Like I said. . . most of the responses were good faith.
Meanwhile, Larry Silver was one of several readers to argue that comparing books by the Obamas to current Republican presidential candidates is apples and oranges. “How many former Republican presidents and First Ladies have books in school libraries?” asked Larry.
Sarina Moore made a similar point: “I would be more interested to see if those school districts had memoirs by John McCain and Mitt Romney, who are the true peers of the Obamas.”
To address that criticism, James did a bit more digging and now offers a few more direct examples from his research.
Here’s the percentage, out of the 35 school districts, that stock the books by each person.
Bernie Sanders vs. Nikki Haley (one is a senator, the other is a two-term governor and a former UN ambassador; neither was ever president, but both have run for president):
Bernie Sanders’ Guide to Political Revolution: 40%
Nikki Haley’s If You Want Something Done: 0%
Or how about a Democratic vice president versus a Republican vice president?
Kamala Harris’s memoir, The Truths We Hold: 57%
Mike Pence’s memoir, So Help Me God: 6%
Or Obama versus the Republican president who immediately preceded him:
Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: 75%
Decision Points by George W. Bush: 37%
Others conducted a similar study of their own school districts. We heard from Amanda Dunagan-Price, a Moms for Liberty chapter chair in Wilson County, Tennessee. She recreated James’s catalog search in her school district and found that “none of the books on his list that might offer alternatives to progressive orthodoxy are available in Wilson County Schools.” She also researched how easy it was to read books about or by recent former presidents and First Ladies:
I included the names of all presidents and First Ladies from Biden all the way back to Bush Sr. This should offer a natural balance, as these administrations alternate equally between Republican and Democrat with comparably prolific writers on each side, minus Joe Biden and Melania Trump. Of all the books available with the name of a president or First Lady as the subject, 34% are Republican and 66% are Democrat. Of all the books available that were written by a president, 20% are Republican and 80% are Democrat. Of all the books available that were written by a First Lady, 29% are Republican and 71% are Democrat.
Another criticism of James’s research was that by focusing only on the largest school districts, he was looking only at large urban areas—and therefore a left-leaning portion of the country. Here’s James’s response to that, again with some fresh research focused on his home state of Florida:
The five school districts in Florida in the survey are hardly liberal enclaves in an otherwise red state. Three of the five went for Ron DeSantis in the 2022 gubernatorial race. And yet, three out of five carry Vice President Harris’s memoir. None carry Vice President Pence’s memoir.
Back-to-back vice presidents. Both best-selling books. Only difference? One book advances progressive orthodoxy. The other rejects it. (Plus: not a single one carries a copy of the NYT bestseller by the state’s own governor.) What gives?
Across the titles surveyed, red states weren’t any better than blue states in carrying books that pushed back on progressive orthodoxy. Moreover, the issue of one-sided libraries transcends the red/blue divide.
From our newsroom: Olivia Reingold on her Chicago migrants story
We’ve been thrilled by the reaction to Olivia’s brilliant feature on the black Democrats in Chicago who are suing the city over its handling of the migrant crisis. Watch Olivia discuss her story on Fox Business:
And if you haven’t read the piece yet, you can do so here.
‘Antisemitism is again becoming a terrible scourge.’
Whether it’s today’s exclusive on the NYU professor praising Hamas or her recent scoop on the elementary school that wiped Israel off the map, Free Press reporter Francesca Block has thrown herself at the grim, but vitally important, story of metastasizing antisemitism in education. It’s an issue she, like the rest of us at The Free Press, is keen to understand from all angles. And so, with International Holocaust Remembrance Day coming this Saturday, she spoke to Dani Dayan, chairman of Jerusalem’s World Holocaust Remembrance Center (also known as Yad Vashem). Here’s Frannie:
This Saturday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the date Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated after WWII. And it comes at a time when we are seeing a new kind of Holocaust denial: 32 percent of my peers deny that Hamas’s attack against Israel on October 7 even happened.
This despite the fact the terrorist group filmed its own murder spree. Journalists worldwide have watched and reported on a 45-minute film of Hamas’s invasion that shows burned babies, bloodied corpses, and indiscriminate death.
I recently spoke to Dani Dayan as he made a trip to the U.S. in the wake of Hamas’s rampage. I started our conversation by asking him about what the past can teach us about the present.
What parallels are you seeing between the Holocaust and today?
We are already seeing people denying the atrocities of October 7. . . although they are quite well documented by the perpetrators themselves.
Antisemitism is again becoming a terrible scourge. So I came here to speak with college administrators, especially with Ivy League college presidents and provosts, to alert them. And also to meet with students, to encourage them. Antisemitism is a phenomenon that, if it is not confronted when it starts, can develop into a monstrosity. Empirically, it is the most lethal, the most deadly, form of racism humanity ever knew.
It’s time to ring the bells. It is time to say, especially to academics, that institutions have crossed the line, that it is becoming very dangerous. If antisemitism is not reined in, not defeated on campus, it will be bad for the Jews, but it will be disastrous for the university. It will ruin academia in this country. It will become, instead of a source of pride, a source of shame.
Yad Vashem’s aim is to archive, in every way possible, proof of what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. Can you describe the lengths you go to?
We are approaching, unfortunately but inevitably, the post-survivors era. Even those that are alive today were children during the shoah. I’m quite sure that when that point in time arrives, when there are no survivors, that will be the “happy hour” of the deniers and the distortionists.
We are in a race against the calendar to take more and more testimonies—and we have tens of thousands of testimonies. But I never forget for a moment that there were six million Jews that never had the privilege of being seated in front of a camera or a tape recorder or a typewriter, and so the documents we can find about them are their memories. The Nazis took the persona away from the Jews. By collecting or registering the evidence about every aspect of life of the victims, we get them back.
Have you seen how you’ve been able to change people’s minds as a result of your work?
One of the relatively good pieces of news is that outright Holocaust denial is not on the rise. On the contrary, it is diminishing. In the ’80s and the ’90s, there were pseudo-intellectuals that denied the Holocaust. I think that today, except for leaders in Iran and probably a few other places, no serious person will deny that the Holocaust happened.
But I think the very serious problem today is Holocaust distortion and trivialization, much more than outright denial. Holocaust distortion is so dangerous because in most cases it is promoted either by governments or by very strong political and social forces. And it goes like this: “Of course the Holocaust happened, and it was terrible, but in my country the entire population helped the Jews.” And obviously that’s a fallacy.
That is why we invest so much in registering the names of the victims. You can’t imagine how painstaking the process was to register almost five million individual names of victims of the Holocaust. Only half of them come from full pages of testimony. But the other half comes from research, from searching archives all over the world, from taking precarious aircrafts to remote Russian archives to find two more names and things like that. That’s the way you confront denial.
The way to confront denialism is by showing the facts. There is no magic.
Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman.
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