Photo illustration by John Lyman



Donny Deutsch Needs to Dial it Back

Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted following the October 7th attacks, numerous American cable news pundits have disparaged the Palestinian people and their resistance to occupation, drawing inflammatory comparisons to the Nazis. One notable example is Donny Deutsch, a Jewish-American advertising mogul who frequently appears on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” hosted by Joe Scarborough.

On June 10, Deutsch made a particularly contentious statement, claiming on air that the Palestinians killed in the recent Israeli hostage rescue mission were essentially Hamas emissaries, an assertion he made with unwavering conviction.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the details, the Israeli operation aimed at rescuing four hostages resulted in the deaths of 274 Palestinian civilians. Close to 700 were wounded in the operation, including 153 children and 161 women according to figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry. Yet, American media personalities like Deutsch have echoed the narrative of the Israeli Defense Forces, suggesting these victims were not civilians. According to my late mentor, Fuad Suleiman, every single Palestinian alive today has lost at least one friend or family member to Israeli forces, highlighting a tragic reality faced by the 15 million Palestinians living today.

Donny Deutsch’s history of controversial remarks fit a larger pattern. In May 2014, during an appearance on “Morning Joe,” he drew a dubious link between Asperger’s syndrome and mass shootings in the wake of Elliot Rodger’s terrorist attack in Santa Barbara. Deutsch stated, “Supposedly, he was on the spectrum. He had Asperger’s, and supposedly, that was the syndrome of the last horrific mass killing. Sometimes there are problems without solutions.” As an autistic man who has faced significant challenges in the realm of dating and relationships, I found Deutsch’s comment not only inflammatory but deeply dehumanizing.

Moreover, Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism advocacy organization, failed to condemn both the sensationalist media coverage linking autism to violence and Deutsch’s misguided remarks. This negligence exacerbated my struggles as a young autistic adult, particularly in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting and the Toronto terrorist attack, both of which involved autistic individuals identified with the incel movement. Following the Parkland shooting, Autism Speaks reluctantly acknowledged that autistic people are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators but remained silent regarding the Toronto incident. As a result, I experienced increased discrimination in my previous job, facing prejudices I would not wish on anyone.

Since the Toronto attack, a growing number of articles and websites spreading awareness about the incel movement have frequently referenced the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization criticized for its anti-Palestinian stance under the guise of combating antisemitism. The ADL has accused pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist Jewish groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, of being fronts for Iran. The ADL has also been implicated in spying on Muslim-American civil rights organizations and collaborating with some of the most aggressive police departments in the U.S. to organize exchanges with Israeli forces. These exchanges have introduced occupation-style tactics that American police have employed against unarmed Black individuals in the U.S.

The climate of fear and discrimination against Muslims, autistic people, and those associated with the incel movement has only intensified in recent years, particularly with the rise of Andrew Tate, a social media influencer notorious for his misogynistic views and advocacy of traditional masculinity. Unlike most figures in the manosphere, Tate has expressed a surprisingly favorable opinion of Islam, albeit one rooted in an ultra-patriarchal interpretation of Islamic law akin to that of extremist groups like ISIS and the Taliban. He has even suggested to his followers that they should date and marry Muslim women, whom he sees as the last bastion of traditional femininity and family values.

Andrew Tate’s views and widespread popularity have had a profoundly negative impact on my personal life as an autistic individual. Whenever I share my aspirations of moving to an Islamic country and marrying an Arab Muslim woman, people often misconstrue my intentions, labeling me a misogynist incel who has failed to succeed in America. This misunderstanding has led to job terminations and accusations of inappropriate behavior whenever I discuss my future plans with colleagues. The discrimination I face is compounded by the lingering effects of the media coverage surrounding the Parkland and Toronto attacks, which led to the most distressing police encounter I have ever experienced.

Pundits and television talking heads like Donny Deutsch and others have built careers defaming Palestinians and autistic people on national television, diverting attention from Israel’s ongoing actions in Palestine. They exploit national tragedies, particularly those involving Muslim and autistic perpetrators, to distract the American public and protect the U.S. and Israel from scrutiny. It is imperative that we hold these individuals accountable for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.