J Street seeks to undermine BDS

Israel/Palestine
on 120 Comments

We’ve been following J Street’s attempts to counteract the growing BDS movement. First there was its aborted release of a public letter criticizing the Toronto Declaration. Then there was the workshop at its student conference called “Reckoning with the Radical Left on Campus: Alternatives to Boycotts and Divestments." The workshop didn’t go quite as planned either as many students who attended actually offered their support for divestment campaigns targeting the Israeli occupation. You would think these two initial missteps would lead J Street to reconsider which way the wind is blowing. Nope.

J Street is now working to undermine the National Campus Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Conference that will be held this weekend at Hampshire College. The conference is being called to build "a coordinated national BDS campaign," and J Street seems to feel threatened by this. Yesterday the organization sent the following email out to its student wing:


From: "Tal Schechter, J Street U" <[email protected]>
Date: November 19, 2009 2:49:07 PM PST
Subject: Invest, Don’t Divest!

Invest, Don’t Divest!

This weekend, a bunch of students espousing that same, tired old narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a zero-sum game will converge on Hampshire College (my campus) — and I’m pretty concerned.

The upcoming conference promotes the misguided Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This movement is spreading like wild fire on campuses across the country and we’re all going to get burned unless we speak out now.

We should be investing – not divesting – in our campus debate, in our communities and in the people who will bring about change in the region.

That’s why J Street U is launching an "Invest, Don’t Divest" campaign today to raise money for two organizations — LendforPeace.org, a Palestinian microfinance organization set up by students like us, and The Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, which promotes Jewish-Arab Economic Cooperation in Israel.

We’re setting a goal of recruiting 500 students like you by the end of the semester to pitch in $2 each (2 bucks for 2 states!) to support economic stability for all Israelis and Palestinians. Will you do your part right now and ask your friends to do the same?

Donating just $2 might not seem like much – but if hundreds, maybe thousands, of students like us make this "$2 for 2 states" statement together, we’ll really show the media and campuses around the country that there is a strong and growing alternative on campus to the tired debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And it’s exactly the right amount to ask for from cash-strapped students like us.

Let’s be honest: we have already divested from this issue too much.

When debate becomes too heated, we divest from each other and stop listening. When we feel at odds with our traditional institutions’ message, we divest from our communities and tune out. When the conflict seems too confusing, we divest from the issue entirely and leave the conversation to the extremists.

Divestment defies common sense: Not only are the Israeli and Palestinian economies deeply intertwined, but so too are the fates of both peoples and their prospects for real peace and security.

If it is peace through a two-state solution and security for both Israelis and Palestinians that we want, divestment won’t get us there.

To Jewish Israelis, divestment only reinforces the notion that they are constantly under attack, creating an environment in which it is harder to achieve peace, not easier. [1]

For Palestinians who already suffer from a weak economy, divestment only puts their society more at risk. [2]

Investing in economic stability and cooperation will help set the context for a sustainable peace, but it won’t lead to a two state solution in and of itself. That’s why we need to invest in a campus movement that advocates for peace and social justice in Israel, the future state of Palestine and across the Middle East.

Check out our website to find out the many ways you can invest in this issue on your campus.

* Table on campus and ask other students to donate 2$ for two states
* Write an op-ed to your campus paper about why we need to invest, not divest
* Organize a discussion with other groups on campus about why a broad debate is important
* Turn a push for divestment into a drive for socially responsible investment
* Enter our t-shirt design contest. If you win, we will order t-shirts with your design from Israeli and Palestinian companies for students to sell on their campuses.

Thank you for helping us build a movement that takes constructive steps towards a peaceful and sustainable two-state solution.

- Tal

Tal Schechter
J Street U National Board Member
Co-Founder of Students Promoting Israeli Culture and Information (SPICI) at Hampshire College
November 19, 2009

[1] http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1251547904

[2] http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/fd807e46661e3689852570d00069e918/bb544ccfd6f4d6968525762c004869ac?OpenDocument
———-

J Street U is the campus address for Middle East peace and security.

Lots to comment on here, but I’ll leave it at a few thoughts. This campaign is pretty indicative of the liberal Zionist take on BDS – it’s dismissive and condescending towards the strategy without making a real argument against it or offering a meaningful alternative. There is a debate to be had over whether BDS is an effective strategy towards peace, but simply labeling the movement "misguided" without saying why, or using cute puns on the word "divest" don’t really cut it. Some are trying to have this debate in a meaningful way. Hopefully J Street will follow that example and present its case in a more substantial way in the future.

It is also odd how much this campaign seems to mirror Benjamin Netanyahu’s "economic peace" proposal, which puts off forming a Palestinian state in favor of building the Palestinian economy. Divestment is about holding Israel accountable because no other body is willing to do so. Investing in Palestinian businesses is a nice idea, but does not do anything to shift the equation or provide the political pressure needed to create change. J Street seems to acknowledge this itself: "Investing in economic stability and cooperation will help set the context for a sustainable peace, but it won’t lead to a two state solution in and of itself. That’s why we need to invest in a campus movement." Frankly that gives this email the tone of an alarmist fundraising campaign for J Street–stoking the fear of marauding hordes of divesting students ("This movement is spreading like wild fire on campuses across the country and we’re all going to get burned unless we speak out now.")

J Street says it wants to promote an "alternative on campus to the tired debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Good luck to them. From where I’m sitting it seems like BDS is that alternative. But maybe holding a t-shirt contest will suffice.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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120 Responses

  1. potsherd
    November 20, 2009, 8:39 pm

    Invest in Bantustans as cheap-labor workshops for Israel. This is Netanyahu’s plan, to fence off a few West Bank Gazas as slave labor plantations. The “negotiations” that he and Obama keep insisting on instead of true Palestinian sovereignty and independence are nothing more than Palestinians locking themselves inside.

    No wonder at all who’s running J Street.

    • yonira
      November 20, 2009, 9:25 pm

      That’s exactly what a bi-national state would become also. The Pals would be doing the manual labor for the Jews. Why not give them their own state where they can decide if they want to succeed or fail on their own instead of integrating them w/ a group of people who are more educated and better equipped for success in a globalized world ;)

      • Cliff
        November 20, 2009, 9:31 pm

        Spoken like the Nazi you are.

        You hold down and bully people like the Palestinians to know who you are – a fucking parasite.

        Let them have their own State. Leave the territories, at least. And then we’ll see how they are without you fucking leeches all over them.

      • yonira
        November 20, 2009, 9:37 pm

        I pray that Israel will leave the territories, everyday Cliff.

        Ever settlement makes me pray even harder.

      • Richard Witty
        November 20, 2009, 10:04 pm

        How is it possible to reply civilly to one who shoots words like “nazi” every other post?

        By actual commitment non-violence.

      • Chaos4700
        November 20, 2009, 11:30 pm

        Like the way you supported that protest against the fundraiser that was staged to raise money for violent Hebron fanatics, right, Witty! Oh… wait… that’s right. You defended the fundraiser that was staged to raise money for violent Hebron fanatics.

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 12:35 am

        not a big deal, i take solace in knowing cliff is an angry old man, twice my age who acts like a child.

      • James
        November 21, 2009, 12:36 am

        study closely yoniras reply… some individuals are capable of rising above the surface fluff…

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 12:39 am

        what does that even mean?

      • James
        November 21, 2009, 12:54 am

        in response to Richard Witty November 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm

        How is it possible to reply civilly to one who shoots words like “nazi” every other post?

      • aparisian
        November 21, 2009, 8:41 am

        Chaos4700 please they settlers of Hebron are terrorits, not just fanatics! Lets call them the Hebron jewish terrorists!

        Yonira your comment is so patronizing!

      • James Bradley
        November 20, 2009, 10:36 pm

        A bi-national state would not allow the slave camps that Netanyahu’s “economic peace” promotes.

        Why? Because under a bi-national or single state solution such predatory economics would be illegal because everyone living in the state would be equal under the law and more importantly would have a VOTE.

        Under the 2 state solution that every Zionist has proposed, the Palestinians are forced to relinquish almost all their territory and somehow squeeze themselves into tiny ghettos from which the Israelis can then exploit them as cheap labor.

      • yonira
        November 20, 2009, 10:56 pm

        For those of you in love with the South African apartheid comparison, is this what you want a bi-national state to become:

        link to capmag.com

      • Chaos4700
        November 20, 2009, 11:25 pm

        Oh you’re so right, yonira! Those silly black people just can’t be trusted to run themselves, can they? Guess it’s back to the “white man’s burdern” for you and yours, huh? I guess social justice and equality was the wrong answer — if they’d just built concrete walls around the Africans and bombed them every so often, like Israel does to the Palestinians, that would have been a much better solution. Thanks for your input, yonira!

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 12:37 am

        no the better solution would be to accept Israel and the two state solution, then the world would actually give a shit about the Palestinians and force Israel to stop settlement building and withdrawal to the ’67 borders.

      • DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells
        November 21, 2009, 1:14 am

        “no the better solution would be to accept Israel and the two state solution”

        Hamas already offered that.

        What now?

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 1:17 am

        they could change their charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

      • James
        November 21, 2009, 1:59 am

        isn’t it ironic the ones who have the fucked up charter are the ones experiencing the destruction from the ones who claim to have no such charter….. this irony isn’t lost on many either… but we must have everything politically correct while the murder and theft continues according to some….

      • James Bradley
        November 21, 2009, 2:37 am

        Hamas has had a new charter for several years now. In this new charter, there are ZERO calls for the destruction of Israel nor are there any anti-semetic rants like their first one.

        link to guardian.co.uk

        Second of all, if Hamas has been so lenient to observe a new charter, why has not Likud? In the Likud charter it explicitly states that Israel will NEVER ever accept a Palestinian state WEST of the Jordan River.

        Next, Hamas agreed to the 67 borders as a BASIS for a FULL peace.

        link to haaretz.com

        And Finally, but not least, Hamas renounced suicide bombing.

        link to guardian.co.uk

        If the most extreme group amongst the Palestinians is willing to settle for less than 22% of historic Palestine, what is Israel waiting for?

      • DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells
        November 21, 2009, 2:45 am

        Do you suppose the likud/irgun would alter theirs, that explicitly forbids a Palestinian state ?

      • Shingo
        November 21, 2009, 4:37 am

        “they could change their charter calling for the destruction of Israel.”

        Arafat tried that already. All it did was get him killed.

      • James Bradley
        November 21, 2009, 5:58 am

        Hamas did change their charter:

        link to guardian.co.uk

        What now?

      • Shingo
        November 21, 2009, 6:01 am

        “Hamas did change their charter”

        Great. So now the Palestinians can have their state, or so we keep being told.

      • Julian
        November 21, 2009, 9:57 am

        What nonsense. The Israeli Jews are not surrendering their country to live as Dhimmis in an Islamic State. It’s never going to happen.
        As far as what the Zionists offered, Olmert made a very fair offer.
        Washington Post:
        “In our meeting Wednesday, Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank — though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees — something no previous Israeli prime minister had done — and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert’s peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it’s almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.”
        link to washingtonpost.com

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 10:20 am

        Conclusion from the article on 2002 S Africa that yonira points to:
        “The tragic fact of business is that ordinary Africans were better off under colonialism.”

        No doubt about it, the test of virtue is power. David Duke would applaud
        yonira’s POV. Now that the the Jews have power in Israel, what do you think?
        Maybe Truman acted too quickly? Let’s all look at the facts in Israel’s domain, and the facts in the former Palestine Mandate’s domain. What do we see?

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 10:26 am

        You think this would change anything? Israel would just draw another meaningless line in the sand that they’d have to step over.

        The Hamas charter is just another zionist excuse for keeping Palestinians oppressed.

      • former coMMenter
        November 21, 2009, 12:01 pm

        They will, just as soon as Israel changes its ethnocratic law of return, calling for the permanent expulsion of the Palestinians.

      • James Bradley
        November 21, 2009, 2:27 pm

        Dhimmi State? What is this the Ottoman Empire? Are you going to actually refer to medieval Ottoman law to justify your bullshit insane argument?

        Oh… wait… right now Palestinians living in Israel live in a far worse position than the Dhimmis of the Ottoman Empire 400 years ago. At least Dhimmi’s were a “protected people,” where as the Palestinians are being ethnically cleansed as we speak.

        Furthermore, there are plenty of states in which a large Muslim minority or a slight Muslim majority live side by side with their coreligionists in peace without any trace of legal discrimination. Something that cannot be said about the state of Israel, in which Jews have a ridiculous amount of privileges over non Jews.

      • Chaos4700
        November 20, 2009, 11:31 pm

        You have a fantastic lack of faith in the Israeli capacity to adhere to Jewish concepts of social justice. It’s maybe the one thing you share with the majority of other commenters on this site!

      • paljustice
        November 21, 2009, 7:52 am

        Israelie concept of social justice? Where have you seen that in Israel, except maybe for other Jews at the beginning. If you read the Talmud, you might find the racism and utter contempt the Jews hold for the goyim as shocking as I did. They want the goyim out. It is as simple as that. They have been doing this for 60 years and still going strong. That the US can support this ethnic cleansing of non-Jews from Palestine and their tratment as subhumans without rights by their Jewish Lords, is as close to Nazism as one can get at this time in the world. The world should be placing crippling sanctions on Israel. Justice has become a dead concept is Israel and in Judism as well. They are morally bankrupt.

      • Shmuel
        November 21, 2009, 9:56 am

        Most Zionists wouldn’t know a volume of Talmud if it hit them in the face. As a matter of fact, there is a strong anti-Rabbinic current in secular Zionism (the dominant stream of Zionism, without which there would be no Israel), as the Talmud and Rabbinic literature in general (as opposed to the Bible) were identified with the weak, landless “diaspora Jew”.

        Check out most texts written 1500 years ago, and you’ll find lots of stuff that will shock your 21st century sensibilities. which is not to say that they have nothing of value in them.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 10:36 am

        What you say is true Shmuel. Certainly the Zionists are not paragons of
        endless debate about the details of the proper interrelationship between jews and non-jews. And, what you can do and not do, and why, on the Sabbath is of interest to some jews, for example–but certainly not many secular Zionists. OTH, paljustice’s comment on how the Other is viewed in the Talmud very
        much parallels secular Zionist thinking. The key is that jews are viewed as a higher life form. Their needs always come first. Nothing could be more un-American according to the USA’s official beliefs.

      • Shmuel
        November 21, 2009, 11:12 am

        It’s a nice theory, Citizen, but:
        1) This approach is not representative of the spirit of the Talmud or Rabbinic literature as a whole (just as ideas of Greek superiority over “barbarians” are not representative of ancient Greek culture as a whole).
        2) The Talmud is not a part of Israeli culture, but is in fact a foreign culture for most Israelis.
        3) There are other, far more direct sources for Zionist views of the Other (mainly the writings of Russian, Polish and German Zionists swept up by ideas of blood-and-soil nationalism and disappointed by the failures of emancipation and assimilation), tempered by fear, paranoia and manipulation, in light of 20th-century Jewish history (especially the ideology of “victimism”), as well as classic colonial, fortress mentality.

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 11:19 am

        Imbecile, the Talmud influences current political thought in Israel about as much as Britney Spears affects US foreign policy. The levels of ignorance exposed on this blog are something worthy of documentation.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 11:29 am

        There are enough rabbis in the settler movement that they can cherrypick through the Talmud and come up with plenty of citations that meet their racist needs. Some of these propagate through the society as memes, still glowing faintly with the sanctity of their origins.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 11:40 am

        Hi
        Shmuel
        Thanks for responding. You do have a point with your analogy to the Greek culture that I had not sufficiently considered. I will. OTH, the Talmud is part of
        Israeli culture at least as much as any notion (including ancient writing support) of Greek superiority is part of current Greek culture. I don’t know the extent of either. I do know that Greek Americans are brought up with a sense of their superiority in the same way many Jewish Americans are. I’ve had significant relationships with both types of people. That does not mean
        that they are not both true believers in the USA’s highest values. They are. Of course any possible inconsistency is not much dwelled upon in either case. Need I point out that Greek Americans do not have much say in what our government does in the hot bed of the world? I of course totally agree with your point # 3.

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 11:40 am

        Ok, I’ll try again, since some people here are obviously not strong in reading comprehension or general knowledge:
        Most of Israeli society is not religious and has never seen a Talmud. The settler movement is a small faction. Much of the support for Bibi’s policies comes from non-religious people who base their reasoning on security considerations (whether rightfully so or not).

      • Shmuel
        November 21, 2009, 11:41 am

        @ potsherd – The rabbis in the settler movement have virtually no influence on mainstream Israeli society, and the memes come from elsewhere – perceptions of anti-Semitism, security, western superiority – colonialist disdain for “primitive natives”, etc. Believe me, the influence of racist memes from the Talmud count for next to nothing in a society that, on the whole, hates rabbis and religion and relates to settler-rabbi-nutjobs as settler-rabbi-nutjobs.

        @ carnas – You have such a way with words, it’s a wonder you have not won over more hearts and minds here.

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 11:44 am

        Shmuel, you’re just more patient. I can’t stand ignorance, particularly when it’s denied. And I’m not going to change potsherd’s mind – he can’t admit he’s wrong even when it’s clearly he’s talking nonsense.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 11:44 am

        Always a telltale sign when someone calls the messenger names, rather than respond to the messenger’s carried mail. Perhaps it might be better to document why it is that the presentation of the Other in the Talmud no Zionist reads is yet presented manifold, more aggressively, by Zionist ideology?

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 11:47 am

        Always a telltale sign when someone calls the messenger names, rather than respond to the messenger’s carried mail. Perhaps it might be better to document why it is that the presentation of the Other in the Talmud no Zionist reads is yet presented manifold, more aggressively, by Zionist ideology?

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 11:48 am

        I’d say a stronger telltale sign is when someone discusses an issue he knows very little about yet refuses to acknowledge this. It’s a matter of what’s more important to you – truth and accuracy or being polite. Obviously, you and the others around here prefer the latter.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 11:48 am

        Yes, postherd, that is exactly what I was driving at.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 11:54 am

        Well, I agree with you to this extent carnas, the Israeli people are manipulated by their leaders by scaring the crap out of them about their country’s security same as the American people are so manipulated. I think this is not good for either, nor has it been for a long time now. And in both countries, the status quo continues to the benefit of the respective elites, and the detriment of the respective masses–this reality in each case totally ignores the peoples who get
        the pipe up the butt, e.g., the Pals and the Iraqis. (And next stop, Iran)

      • Shmuel
        November 21, 2009, 12:07 pm

        Citizen, I will rephrase my first 2 points:

        1) The Talmud is a vast collection of texts that includes both ethnocentric approaches that we would call “racist”, and broader, more universal values that we might call “humanistic” (both terms being anachronistic, of course). It is simply not true that there is a prevailing negative approach to the Other in the Talmud, even without taking these ancient texts in their historical context. I have not done a specific study on the matter, but my opinion is based on 35 years of study of hundreds if not thousands of pages of Talmud, and similar quantities of other Rabbinic texts and commentaries.

        2) The racist elements found in the Talmud are not present in Israeli society, which has been virtually purged of Rabbinic thought – the good as well as the bad. Again, I have not done a study, but I know Israeli society intimately, and you are barking up the wrong tree.

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 2:22 pm

        Citizen, the problem is you have nothing to base your claim of manipulation on. The Israeli people have years of wars, rockets, and suicide bombers to tell them that they are under threat. Who are they going to believe?

      • James Bradley
        November 21, 2009, 2:33 pm

        Carnas, Israel has started virtually every war it has ever fought, except for the 1973 war which was merely a response to the 67 war that Israel started.

        It is Israel that began ethnically cleansing Palestine, and because of that it was only logical that they would face resistance.

        The day Israel ends the occupation and grants equal rights to all of its people is the day Israel will see peace. Hate does not come from a vacuum, hate is created when people commit injustices to one another.

      • Chaos4700
        November 21, 2009, 2:33 pm

        Double standard much? Palestinians have endured Israeli terrorism as well as ethnic cleansing for longer than Israel has been an independent country. And most of the people who are in Israel now were trucked in by the Israeli government from other countries after the fact. I think if we’re going to get into comparing who has years of suffering and violence, the Palestinian experience trumps the Israeli one, both in terms of duration and intensity.

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 2:40 pm

        “Hate does not come from a vacuum, hate is created when people commit injustices to one another. ”
        Sorry, wrong. Hate can stem from many sources which have nothing to do with actual injustice. Misplaced blame, for example, fanned by religious ideology. Sound familiar?

      • bigbill
        November 21, 2009, 7:32 pm

        Shmuel, that religious-are-wussies attitude is changing. The Nahal dudes have shown themselves willing to kick @ss with the best sabras out there. As long as y’all are willing to bend a little on religion and let them be a little more observant in the IDF it seems like they would happily cleanse Israel of all the Amalekites. Their fundamentalist rabbis have gone or record preaching that preemptive extermination of sheigetz men, women, and children is OK, haven’t they? Including that rabbi in Minneapolis a few months ago.

      • Citizen
        November 22, 2009, 7:55 am

        Right, carnas, and 9/11 had nothing to do with USA foreign policy; they did it because they hate us and are jealous of us, pure and simple.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 12:06 am

        Your chauvinism is showing, yonira, but it fails to take into account the incompetent Israeli educational system.

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 12:33 am

        compared to whose educational system potsherd?

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 12:41 am

        Compared to the rest of the world, as measured by annual tests. Israel is down in the cellar.

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 12:48 am

        got any proof of that?

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 12:56 am

        potsherd, your doomsday predictions about the Israeli education system are about as reliable as the rest of the bs you come up with. Whatever its problems, it’s still light years ahead of all the neighboring countries.
        Here’s an honest assessment of the situation:
        link to blog.gale.com
        “Forty-four percent of Israelis are college graduates as compared to 29 percent of Americans”. Might want to work on education in the US rather than talking about other countries.

      • James Bradley
        November 21, 2009, 2:39 am

        You mean the educational system in Israel in which Arab students get only 1/10 of the funding that Jewish students receive?

        Our tax dollars fund this broken Israeli system.

        And I agree, we in the US could use all that money we give Israel to fix our educational system as well.

      • Shingo
        November 21, 2009, 4:39 am

        “Forty-four percent of Israelis are college graduates as compared to 29 percent of Americans”

        And 90% of those are leaving Israel for good.

      • Cliff
        November 21, 2009, 4:54 am

        Israel is a small country. The United States is vastly bigger and that changes the context of the results.

        But of course a moron, like carnas will grasp at straws whenever he can. Zionists are such tools.

      • Chaos4700
        November 21, 2009, 5:01 am

        Although as far as tools go, unfortunately, they tend to be rather blunt instruments, don’t they?

      • carnas
        November 21, 2009, 9:14 am

        The size of the country doesn’t change the “context” of percentages of college graduates in the population.
        Cliff, you might want to finish high school before talking about morons. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about a low IQ.

      • Julian
        November 21, 2009, 10:03 am

        Every major high tech company opens up a branch in Israel because of the abundance of skilled workers. Exactly the reason they don’t put branches in Israel’s neighbors.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 10:35 am

        Israeli pupils rank poorly on international test for literacy
        By Or Kashti and Shahar Ilan
        Tags: Israel, literacy, Arabs, Jews

        Israeli pupils came in 31st place on a literacy test administered last year to fourth-graders in 45 countries, raising calls by 40 MKs, including some from the ruling Kadima party, for the firing of Education Minister Yuli Tamir (Kadima).

        The top three spots on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) went to Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively.

        The test results, published Wednesday, showed almost no improvement in Israel’s achievements since the previous test in 2001. They also underscored large gaps between pupils at Jewish and Arab schools.

        Similarly disturbing gaps appear in the results of last year’s national standardized assessment tests in four core subjects, which the Education Ministry released on Wednesday. However, the Jewish students scored poorly overall.

        link to haaretz.com

        Israel achieved only the 40th place in reading and maths in the last PISA exams, which test 15-year-olds in all of the world’s industrial democracies) and 55 per cent of school leavers qualifying for the national matriculation certificate.

        link to thejc.com

        The state of Israeli mathematical education: in the 1964 international tests (held every few years), Israel came first. In 1999 it came 29-th out of 38 – the last among the industrialized countries. In the Pisa exams of 2003 it came 31-st out of 41 – again last in the Western world.

        link to math.bgu.ac.il

        The failure of the Israeli educational system is commonplace knowledge in Israel. It really points out how uninformed you are that you’re not aware of this, that you think Israeli students are anything like the typically studious Jewish students in the US. Israeli students, like the rest of the country, are bullies and thugs – no surprise in a nation that ranks its high schools on the percentage of graduates who volunteer for combat units in the IDF.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 10:40 am

        Except that then the religious fanatics picket the high tech companies and drive them out of the country.

        Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox arrive at Intel’s Jerusalem plant for second weekly protest against its operation on Sabbath. Rioters attack driver, passengers of vehicle traveling on road nearby, police intervene to prevent injury

        Efrat Weiss
        Latest Update: 11.21.09, 14:31 / Israel News

        A few hundred members of the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem gathered near the city’s Intel plant Saturday in order to protest its operation on the Sabbath. Police awaited them on the scene.

        The protestors attacked the driver and passengers of a vehicle traveling on a road near the plant, prompting police to hold them back. No injuries were reported in the incident.

        The hundreds of protestors yelled “Shabbos” near the plant’s gates. Eyewitnesses said security guards kept them from entering Intel’s grounds while police unsuccessfully attempted to disband the group.

        link to ynetnews.com

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 10:42 am

        yonira – unfortunately I presented too much proof and the system rejected my comment. Here is one part of it:

        The state of Israeli mathematical education: in the 1964 international tests (held every few years), Israel came first. In 1999 it came 29-th out of 38 – the last among the industrialized countries. In the Pisa exams of 2003 it came 31-st out of 41 – again last in the Western world.

        link to math.bgu.ac.il

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 11:30 am

        “honest” from carnas – pardon me while I laugh my ass off

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 11:59 am

        Come on now, carnas, you have to admit the USA is much more diverse than Israel. That may be why Norway is number one? Much less diversity? Anyway,
        the USA is still first in college education rate if you look at the older population, OTH when you look at the younger generation, the USA has been slipping down on the list for quite a while. Gee, I wonder why that is?

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 12:01 pm

        USA College Graduation Rate Became Flat in 1980
        From 1940 until 1980 the college graduation rate went up at a significant amount each year. But college completion rates stopped growing in 1980 and have barely moved since then. The number of college grads is up because of growing youth population, but not the rate of growth. Seven countries have surpassed the USA in percent of college graduates in the age 25-34 population. Despite these trends I still hear from the media and college leaders that the US has the best higher education system in the world, but k-12 stinks.
        The US needs to wake up and understand the causes and extent of this problem.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 12:23 pm

        Maybe so. Of course you realize, carnas, that Israel does not have an affirmative action policy, right? Actually, it has the reverse policy, one David Duke would understand and applaud if it were implemented in the USA. It seems you are advocating for the USA to adopt Israel’s policy. That way, the USA could again take over the top of the college grad list, currently headed by Norway, if memory serves. Last time I looked, Norway has nothing even close
        to 20% of its citizens being not classically Norwegian. This means, Israel is
        much more offensive in its lack of affirmative action than any other nation claiming to be part of Western Civilization. I know, I know, Israel is surrounded by tons of rabid anti-semitic Arab states, and they all have nukes, and the latest USA cutting edge military arms, and the most foreign aid from Uncle Sam, and they all can count on USA UN security council vetoes, and certainly the vast power of the Arab and Persian community in the USA and Brit diaspora.

      • Chaos4700
        November 21, 2009, 1:03 pm

        Julian — actually, they open in Israel because of favored trading arrangements, tax sheltering and loopholes in the charitable donation laws. But thanks for playing!

      • Shingo
        November 21, 2009, 4:34 pm

        “Every major high tech company opens up a branch in Israel because of the abundance of skilled workers. ”

        Some are closing down and what’s more, most of Israel’s skilled workers are deserting Israel and moving overseas to work in real economies. All that wil be left are the poorly educated religious nuts.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 4:52 pm

        A lot of these workers (as in the Intel plant) are Haredi women whose rabbis make them work for substandard wages under substandard conditions, lest they get uppity. The nearest thing going to a captive workforce.

      • Citizen
        November 22, 2009, 8:05 am

        Sounds like the same modus operandi the Scientologists employ in their Sea Org.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 9:57 am

        The Pals would not be left to manual labor if the USA would help them financially as the USA has helped Israel for scores of years. The academic intelligence of Pals is proven. And they did this despite being forced into a secondary citizenship in Israel and an indentured servant status at best on the OT. In short, the Jews in Israel get all the system’s benefits, the Pals, the, at best leftovers. Despite this, they have shown they are the equal of the Jews in the area in terms of human capital potential. It’s just ignored.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 11:32 am

        There are also the Palestinian students, most of them in Gaza, who are awarded scholarships to study abroad but remain trapped behind Israeli barbed wire.

  2. Richard Witty
    November 20, 2009, 8:48 pm

    The J Street approach is distinct from the likud approach in that it actively seeks a healthy Palestine, not a suppressed one. Perhaps you missed that.

    Again, the criticisms of the BDS orientation include:

    1. It is essentially negative in tone, and appeals to those that seek to harm Israel rather than those that seek to improve the status of Palestinians

    2. It is imprecise, using language like “occupation” as its criteria of objectives. “We seek to end the occupation”, stated both by individuals that regard ANY Israel as an interloping occupation, as well as just settlements in the West Bank.

    3. When accompanied by ANY support or even acceptance of violence, and particularly of terror, as a political means, it is impossible to succeed, as that violence shifts the sentiments of potential sympathizers.

    But, tommorrow morning in Amherst, you can meet Ali Abunimeh, Anna Balzer and others, and hopefully ask them some difficult questions, rather than fluff that usually gets asked at “movement organizing” events.

    • yonira
      November 20, 2009, 9:18 pm

      Tell me about it Richard.

      I listened to Ali Abunimeh a couple years ago after he released his book. The only guy who asked him a difficult question was heckled by the crowd.

      • Chaos4700
        November 20, 2009, 11:26 pm

        Oooh, wow. Witty is in total accord with the right-wing Zionist Islamophobe. Total shocker.

      • yonira
        November 21, 2009, 12:34 am

        a couple to many beers at the high school kegger you crashed Chaos? You are making no sense at all dude…..

      • Chaos4700
        November 21, 2009, 4:38 am

        Don’t you have some Zionist terrorism fundraisers to attend at Citi Field?

    • Cliff
      November 20, 2009, 9:29 pm

      Witty, present some questions then. That’s a challenge. Present questions here that you’d like Phil or Adam to pass along to Baltzer, Abunimeh, et al.

      1. It is essentially negative in tone, and appeals to those that seek to harm Israel rather than those that seek to improve the status of Palestinians

      Equivocation. False paradigm.

      This is a conflict. The conflict itself is negative. The occupation is negative. The human rights violations is negative. 1400 dead Palestinians, mostly civilians, in 22 days is negative.

      This is not a dispute. This is one group (Israeli government and a majority of Israeli society) oppressing another group (the Palestinian people).

      Israel’s apartheid has been called worse than SA’s apartheid by SA activists.

      Your use of the word ‘harm’ is emotional blackmail. It’s also completely insane. The Palestinians are the victims in this conflict. Not the companies profiting off the Occupation. Not the war profiteers and the religious crazies. Not the corporate hacks.

      Palestinians depend on international support for their cause. Israel has diplomatic immunity, virtually endless economic support, and superior arms as a result of the former 2 variables.

      The Palestinians are a people under occupation. Israelis are not under occupation.

      If you want to equate the two sides, let’s just compare more and more. You lose that argument. Your attempt to humanize a policy (the Iron Wall) is transparent and disgusting.

      Israel is not a human being. It does not get ‘harmed’. Israel is a political entity. Political entities should be subjected to law. If they break the law and continue to do so knowingly they should be pressured in the only ways we have available present. BDS is that answer. More should be done. But for regular people who care, this is the way.

      2. It is imprecise, using language like “occupation” as its criteria of objectives. “We seek to end the occupation”, stated both by individuals that regard ANY Israel as an interloping occupation, as well as just settlements in the West Bank.

      Israel refuses to end the occupation. Israel is continuing to colonize Palestinian land. In defiance of even the corrupt American vision for ME peace.

      Everyone wants peace. You only deal in superficial arguments because going further then that exposes your ideology as a complete fraud.

      3. When accompanied by ANY support or even acceptance of violence, and particularly of terror, as a political means, it is impossible to succeed, as that violence shifts the sentiments of potential sympathizers.

      Tell that to yourself when you whitewashed those racist Jewish colonists being welcomed recently the Mets.

      You are a pathological liar. A dishonest snake. The BDS advocates do not support suicide bombing. They do not support rockets on S’Derot.

      On the other hand, your side supports the IDF. The IDF which regularly carries out war crimes and abuses on both larger scales and more frequently than Hamas.

      • Richard Witty
        November 20, 2009, 10:02 pm

        Cliff,
        You didn’t really address the questions, so much as justify your advocacy for militancy over mediative approaches.

        The only bases of appeal for dissent are to appeal to the compassion of potential dissenters, or to appeal to the angers of potential dissenters.

        Those that would be motivated by compassion, would NOT seek to go to war already. They would seek to find peace, to find win-win solutions, to mutually humanize the other.

        If there was an approach that included truth-telling about Palestinians’ experience, that did not require harmful pressure and harmful emotion to realize, they would prefer that. They seek peace, not what you call “justice”.

        Those that are motivated to dissent by primarily anger, RISK becoming exactly what they criticize, highly motivated suppressors in a pendulum swing.

        You are innaccurate in describing BDS as not including those that are angry enough to actually advocate (either overtly or functionally, by rationalizing that Hamas “had to” shell Sderot, Ashkelon, Beersheba last December).

        It scares compassionate people away. And should.

        It takes leadership that is COMMITTED to non-violence to actually conduct a non-violent campaign. The leadership assembled at Hampshire that I’ve read and heard speak, have seeds of non-violence, but have rejected it in ways.

        This is not the anti-Vietnam War movement. This is remote to the US, remote to most Americans’ lives, remote to most Jews’ lives.

        The majority of the rational world seeks a two-state solution. The presence of one-state advocate Ali Abunimeh in the highlight, betrays that core sentiment, illustrates a potential (likely) hidden agenda for something that is a spin of “equal rights for all”, but not in practice.

        As a two-state approach optimizes self-governance, while a single-state minimizes it by all Israeli and Palestinian polling on their preferences and conditional preferences.

      • lyn117
        November 21, 2009, 2:58 am

        If there was an approach that included truth-telling about Palestinians’ experience, that did not require harmful pressure and harmful emotion to realize, they would prefer that. They seek peace, not what you call “justice”.

        (italics mine)
        Says it all. Richard Witty would rather have Israel kill 1000 innocent people, not to mention have his army smear human excrement and write “kill all the arabs” grafitti on the homes of Gaza residents, than have J-street (I guess that’s who he’s talking about) risk having a harmful emotion.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 12:55 pm

        Witty,

        You didn’t really address the questions, so much as justify your advocacy for the status quo, and all the while Israel keeps putting more “facts on the ground” which you say you are against.

        The only bases of appeal for dissent is not mere compassion or anger, but reality, something that never touches you in your secure environment that has lasted your whole life in the USA, the very place where you worry constantly about an impending pogrom–but not so much you will hat up and go live in Israel.

        Those that would be motivated by compassion, would NOT seek to go to war already. They would seek to find peace, to find win-win solutions, to mutually humanize the other–the first sign of that would be to freeze the settlements; have you contacted the Obama regime to suggest it suspend foreign aid to Israel
        until Israel suspends all Israeli settlement activity?

        If there was an approach that included truth-telling about Palestinians’ experience, wouldn’t it include a call for justice, the same as what Jews asked for from Hitler?
        Those that are motivated to mischaracterize dissent as primarily anger, RISK becoming exactly what they criticize, highly motivated suppressors in a pendulum swing that went from Nazi Germany to the Palestine Mandate; two wrongs don’t make a right.

        You are innaccurate in describing BDS as not including those that are mainly interested in “Never Again” in the universal sense, rather than a merely Jewish sense; and you are misleading if you argue that Hamas is not the patriotic rebel.

        You scare compassionate people away. And should not. You have not learned the lesson of the Shoah for all humanity.

        It takes leadership that is COMMITTED to non-violence to actually conduct a non-violent campaign. The leadership assembled at Hampshire that I’ve read and heard speak, have seeds of the humanitarian wave of the progressive future, moving beyond S Africa to Israel, the last colonial power.

        The anti-Vietnam War movement defied the domino theory of the cold war;
        now we are engaged in a new, equally stupid domino theory, that of a war on “terrorism,” a war of civilizations, of Islam v West; yet in fact this model is equally ridiculous; unfortunately it has been an effective sale thanks to the
        neocon milking of the 9/11 incident, which will take the place in history of the Reichstag fire in Germany.
        This is not remote to the US, remote to most Americans’ lives, remote to most Jews’ lives. We are paying the price, and will continue to do so until it gets so bad our USA congress has to break their whore contract with AIPAC et al.

        The majority of the rational world seeks a solution that will entail equal rights for all, whether by two equally sovereign states in every way, or within one state.

      • MRW
        November 20, 2009, 11:13 pm

        Cliff, you’re wasting your time.

      • Chaos4700
        November 20, 2009, 11:36 pm

        MRW’s right, after a fact. If Witty can keep deadpanning the phrase “non-violence,” while making actual non-violent protest movementss out to be criminal, and then turning around and making a spirited defense for violent settlers on the West Bank, whom Witty claims he doesn’t support yet blithely defends their right to harvest money and support from the US… there’s just no confronting him on a rationale wavelength.

        Then again, don’t stop posting, Cliff. I appreciate your posts and I think, unfortunately, you’re dead on. You’re simply just more blunt about it even than me.

      • VR
        November 21, 2009, 7:05 am

        The perfect analogy of Witty is like Dershowitz, who stated he did not support the settlements on Democracy Now, and than later in the month went to buy products at Lev Leviev jewelers that helps to build the settlements. There is no difference, one just gets more publicity than the other –

        LIARS ONE AND ALL

        It is useful to converse with either of them.

      • aparisian
        November 21, 2009, 9:08 am

        Witty your arguments are very disgusting, Why don’t you value Pals lives as equal? Irrespective of religion? i would say both!

      • Cliff
        November 21, 2009, 12:31 am

        Witty, I do not advocate militancy. It’ not me, who whitewashes Hamas suicide bombing. It’s not me who whitewashes Hamas’s rocketing of S’Derot. It’s not me who whitewashes the antisemitism (not European flavor) within the Arab world.

        It’s you who whitewashes the significance and sincerity in protesting the Mets hosting of the racist Hebron Jewish supremacists and colonists.

        It’s you who whitewashes the Gaza massacre. The siege of Gaza. The vastly disproportionate civilian casualties. The terrible destruction of civilian infrastructure in both Lebanon and Palestine.

        It’s you who whitewashes a very repetitive but effective (and transparent) strategy carried out by your Jewish country club. Israel intentionally kills civilians and destroys civilian institutions.

        It’s you who whitewashes the daily abuse and humiliation of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli army, the Israeli government, the Jewish colonists and by and large Israeli society.

        Palestine is not occupying Israel.
        Israel is occupying Palestine.

        It’s not 1400 Jews, mostly civilians, mostly children who died in 22 days. It’s Palestinians. It’s Arabs.

        It’s not Jews, it’s not Israelis, who are being abuse and humiliated and treated like animals daily. It’s Palestinians. It’s Arabs.

        This is not a dispute. This is not a misunderstanding.

        Israel has not ‘lost it’s way’ – this is a purposeful strategy meant to slowly colonize more Palestinian land while the Western civilian society sleeps. While people are still intellectually cowardly and lazy.

        You can use the word ‘mutual’ all you want – but it is just a diversion.

        Unless someone can honestly look at what is being done to the Palestinian people versus the Israeli people – and compare – and then arrive at conclusions. NOTHING will change.

        The only conclusion is that antagonistic pressure. Forceful, and exclusionary force must be applied. There is an arc of justice to this conflict and it is NOT with the Israelis.

        You are just a yuppie Jewish fascist and racist. You have absolutely converted no one to your point of view.

        Plenty of Jews have WOKEN up and realized that what the MSM and what the majority of the America Jewish community has been telling them is utter bullshit.

        Who do you Zionists have on your side? You have mental midgets and intellectual crooks like Wafa Sultan. You have mysterious “ex-Muslims” (whatever the hell that means) or “ex-Palestinians”.

        If we put people on our side in a debate against your side – you always lose. ALWAYS.

        That’s why no one challenges Finkelstein (watch his latest YouTube lecture vids).

        In any debate, an honest debate – which is in front of an audience – you’d be LAUGHED out of the room. I could get away with saying Nazi Nazi Nazi, cuz then I’d just be as hysterical as a Zionist Jew.

      • Richard Witty
        November 21, 2009, 3:24 am

        Of course you do whitewash Hamas shelling, and anti-semitism, in the same way that you accuse me of whitewashing.

        You might not intend to, nor want to (hard to know what you want), but you do functionally. As, I do not intend to provide rationalization for Israeli over-reaction, but appear to to some.

        And, still Israel is a big fish within a little sea, and a little fish in a big sea. The formula of “Israel is only victimizer, not threatened” is false in many ways, historically in more ways than presently.

        It is a truth that in response to Israel’s existence (not to wrongs done to Palestinians), Israel was historically embargoed, blockaded, coordinately militarily assaulted on multiple occassions, culturally and academically boycotted.

        Israelis perceive the current dissent as an unending continuous stream. The young that the current dissent appeals to, weren’t around to see the continuity of it historically. That makes them either fresh young committed, or dupes.

        The intent and tone of dissent IS important. If you have gone through your whole life and not distinguished between the outcome of dissent that seeks a mutually consented resolution at the oucome, and dissent that seeks punishment of the “oppressor” as its outcome, then you haven’t reflected much or morally sufficiently.

        I’ve never personally been motivated sufficiently to war. I’ve not seen horrors from occupations, and I don’t know how that would motivate me.

        I have seen general horrors from poverty and corruption that are independant of colonialism (though leftists blamed anyway. It was interesting to hear Bengali communists rant about colonial oppression in the state that they controlled for 40 years, and undertaken NO community development.)

        And, I have seen metropolis’ denude hundreds of square miles of land, and noted how that has motivated me to advocate for sustainability, though still hesitantly. I certainly don’t do so in terms of “evil”, as many of my more radical ecological friends do.

        I am skeptical, more than skeptical, of approaches that are chosen to be expressed in radical rhetorical, name-calling terms.

        Aren’t you?

      • Chaos4700
        November 21, 2009, 4:42 am

        Yeah, keep trashing the entirety of left-wing American philosophy over and over again, dumb-ass. Does wonders for your liberal credentials. In case you were worried any of us were wondering just why your job at Hampshire College is just one in a number you no longer occupy… we’re not.

      • Cliff
        November 21, 2009, 4:43 am

        Of course you do whitewash Hamas shelling, and anti-semitism, in the same way that you accuse me of whitewashing.

        Prove it. Prove I have ever whitewashed Hamas’s rocket fire. Or suicide bombing or terrorism in general.

        You have no proof, because like everything else you say you just rely on the most superficial and purely rhetorical arguments.

        I have always either said directly or implied that Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Palestinians – nothing more than that. I have always condemned the suicide bombing and the rocket fire (not shelling, that is dishonest, just as calling what happened in Gaza a ‘genocide’).

        And, still Israel is a big fish within a little sea, and a little fish in a big sea. The formula of “Israel is only victimizer, not threatened” is false in many ways, historically in more ways than presently.

        Straw man. You’re taking concrete statements I’ve made about the relationship between Palestinian and Israeli and conflating it w/ all things Israel.

        The point you make about ‘only victimizer, not threatened’ is predictably superficial. There are certainly threats, but you don’t take threats seriously unless they are serious.

        When people say Iran is going to nuke the Jewish State – that’s not a serious threat. It’s propaganda.

        Israel is the victimizer. The Jewish State would not exist w/o the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. And that ethnic cleansing has slowed down some but is still continuing to this very day.

        None of your rhetoric is valid. The realities of the occupation are too much. Too much to deal w/. It’s a daily oppression.

        So my language to you, is in outrage against you because A) you’re intellectually dishonest B) your lack of ANY evidence to support your arguments C) your utter failure to accept challenges when posed to you (furthermore, you slither away like the coward you are when Phil does a article on some heinous crime Israel committed – you’re no where to be seen, because even a serpent like you can’t whitewash pure horror) and D) your picture of the condition of the Palestinians is completely warped – you bend over backward for Israel when it’s the Palestinians who are suffering VASTLY more.

        You always equate both sides. Which implies you like to compare. But if it were any serious comparison in any meaningful and relevant context, you’d look like a clown for trying to imply both peoples’ are suffering the same or even remotely close within each other.

        You are not going to accomplish anything and this blog is proof of that. No one here likes you except your fellow Jewish racists like yonira.

        Now, whatever happens w/ I-P – I think you can kiss your Jewish country club goodbye.

        If you even gave a damn about being a racist Jew, you’d be much more ‘militant’ (as u say I am) than you are now (now you’re just a desk job Nazi).

        Because what is going to happen is the Jews in Israel will become a minority and things will return to the way it was before the Zionists came in and fucked it all up.

      • Shingo
        November 21, 2009, 5:26 am

        Ac Chaos advised, you’re wawsting your time Cliff.

        For months, Witty has been insisting that Obama’s gently softly approach was the only optinos capable of yielding results, even while Netanyahu was spitting in his face. Even as settlement expasion is racing ahead, Witty is declaring Obama’s policies and approach a victory.

        This is the mentality you are trying to reason with.

      • homingpigeon
        November 21, 2009, 11:19 am

        Just curious, where would you stand on the flow of taxpayer dollars to the state of Israel? Is it an act of hostility to call for it to end? (And yes, I’ll call for an end to the taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian authority, now and in the future). But should we continue the welfare check to Israel? If so what is the justification? One tenth of one percent of the population of the world is receiving between one quarter and three-quarters (depending on how the numbers are crunched) of US foreign aid. Is this disturbing in any way? Personally, I’d go after aid money first, but I’d like to hear a justification for it from the liberal-don’t-hurt-their-feelings people.

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 1:22 pm

        Witty, of course you whitewash the Gaza turkey shoot with Uncle Sam’s weapons, and you wrap yourself in anti-anti-semitism, in the same way that you accuse others of whitewashing.

        You might not intend to, nor want to (hard to know what you want), but you do functionally. You ask us to allow Israeli over-reaction. Let Israel set up their spring gun traps to take care of some Pal kid who inadvertently strays from the security of Jim Crow confines.

        And, yes, Israel is a big fish within a little sea, and a little fish in a big sea. The formula of “Israel is only victimizer, not threatened” is false in many ways, historically in more ways than presently. Gee, how nice of you to
        admit that Israel is a very powerful force in this world, and can we get you to admit that maybe it’s constant bleating of being the victim is not honest?

        It is a truth that in response to Palestinian existence (not to wrongs done by Palestinians), the Palestinians have been historically and are now embargoed, blockaded, coordinately militarily assaulted on multiple occassions, culturally and academically boycotted.

        Israelis perceive the current dissent as an unending continuous stream. The young that the current dissent appeals to, weren’t around to see the continuity of it historically. That makes them either fresh young committed, or dupes, mostly dupes–first things first, the Palestinians were there first, and they had nothing to do with the Shoah. We need to start from there.

        The intent and tone of dissent IS important. If you have gone through your whole life and not distinguished between the outcome of dissent that seeks a mutually consented resolution at the oucome, and dissent that seeks punishment of the “oppressor” as its outcome, then you haven’t reflected much or morally sufficiently. Your first instruction should be by way of study of the Nuremberg trials after WW2 and the ongoing hunt for Nazi
        supporters, right down to the least of them.

        I am skeptical, more than skeptical, of approaches that are chosen to be expressed in humanistic terms, especially by those who confuse their own bigotry with humanism.
        Aren’t you?

      • Citizen
        November 21, 2009, 1:27 pm

        Witty will not answer you on your cogent question, this I predict.

    • James
      November 20, 2009, 9:55 pm

      witty quote “1. It is essentially negative in tone.”

      i guess you thought the opposition to south africas apartheid was negative in tone too…

      witty quote “2. It is imprecise, using language like “occupation” as its criteria of objectives. ”

      the wording isn’t politically correct enough for ya hey?? that is a good reason to be upset!!!

      witty quote “3. When accompanied by ANY support or even acceptance of violence…”

      let yer imagination run rampant… i bet you do this when you are showing unfailing support for the idf as well…. hypocrisy is one of your real talents.. don’t let it go to waste!!

  3. VR
    November 20, 2009, 10:06 pm

    There are a number of things wrong with these proposals (let me count the way). Primarily is the idea that Israel is in ANY way trying to bring some form of equality into the equation between Israel and the Palestinians, in either Israel of the Occupied Territories. I do not know what to chalk up Mr. Schechter’s directions to – it is either gross ignorance or a deliberate attempt to paint Israel in this wonderful light of fantasy (“we love Israel”). Also, this cannot be chalked up – the Palestinian condition inside and outside of Israel to just the Likud party, where they find themselves is in this horrific position due to all sorts of administrations with both the liberal and conservative tag on them. The one thing we can say regarding the Nutty Yahoo administration is that it wishes to do nothing but worsen the condition of the Palestinians – continue the course, that has been followed by a myriad of administrations.

    What the Palestinians face is not merely a lack of opportunity inside of Israel, but a process of retardation and future deterioration. So there are no valid attempts to do anything to achieve equilibrium in the state of Israel. This is why the Palestinians themselves wrote their Vision document –

    THE FUTURE VISION OF THE PALESTINIANS ARABS IN ISRAEL

    If you read it carefully, you will see the deliberate systematic targeting of the Palestinians in Israel, in every area of their lives. The areas of concern are obvious, they are summed in this manner –

    1. The relation between the Palestinian Arabs and the State of Israel.
    2. The legal status of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel
    3. Land and housing.
    4. Economic development.
    5. Social development.
    6. Strategic vision for Arab Education.
    7. Arab Palestinian culture in Israel
    8. Institutions and political work.

    In other words, every area of life has been hampered. I would not call it a” second class” citizenship that the Palestinians have in Israel, I would call it a “last class.” It is not merely something that is just happening to the Palestinians, but deliberate state of Israel policy. So you are not merely looking at something which must be enhanced with investment, but that which is deliberately harmful – being done to the Palestinians.

    Second, in regard to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, I do not need to go into the atrocities that occur (as an example, see Hebron posts). Lets just look at one of the portions of the economic in regard to the development and sale of products, in just a Palestinian supermarket in the Occupied Territories. The government of Israel subsidizes and directs the products from come from the settlements making them readily available and much more affordable. In some instances it takes the products from the settlements to Israel, re-packages them as from Israel proper and sells them into the Palestinian store. All this does is help the Palestinians in the OT pay for their own demise by buying the goods, it just strengthens the colonies – while Israel claims it is being benevolent, trying to develop business in the OT –

    ISRAEL COLONIES PRODUCTS IN PALESTINIAN STORES

    So essentially J Street either has no idea what it is talking about, or it deliberately misleads its people with simplistic explanations that makes them feel like they are doing something, while they are doing nothing of consequence with “investment.” As if Israel is some big bumbling dope that does not know what it is doing, and does not know how to be helpful to the Palestinians – when in reality they wish to not only undermine but crush under foot their indigenous population, so they will never rise to parity.

  4. MRW
    November 20, 2009, 11:09 pm

    that same, tired old narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    the tired debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    What profound ‘white man’ arrogance. The jingoism of the jejune. And leave it to beaver here to ask for cash.

  5. Chaos4700
    November 20, 2009, 11:28 pm

    No offense, Mr. Weiss and company, but some of us predicted that this is where J Street was headed. Total waste of time — like Witty, it’s just a Zionist fifth column masquerading as a “moderate.”

  6. Cliff
    November 21, 2009, 1:51 am

    Controlled opposition is what J Street has ALWAYS been.

    • James Bradley
      November 21, 2009, 2:42 am

      Precisely.

      But I do believe given the type of people that J Street attracts, it could become a force for real lobbying against the brutality of the Israeli occupation.

      But then again I’m super optimistic, and they won’t be receiving one cent from me until they advocate just half of what Phil advocates.

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 10:44 am

        Only if they kick out the management.

  7. syvanen
    November 21, 2009, 4:29 am

    This doesn’t sound good to most of us but J Street remains a positive force in the debate over American ME foreign policy. They speak the language that is understood inside the center of power. BDS is the language of the outside opposition, of a radical minority that will eventually, we all hope, be a spearhead for progress and justice for the Palestinians. J Street, in order to be heard, must adopt certain positions or they would frozen out of the debate inside Washington. What they are doing, which is something we have not succeeded in doing, is to bring out in the open that Aipac and the Israeli government is not interested in a two state solution because they are dedicated to seizing more and more land inside the WB. They are helping to expose the fraud of the “peace process”. At the same time they are trying to control or contain a more militant movement that is expanding amoung younger Jews. In this I think they will fail. But in trying they will maintain their credibility inside Washington. It might not be a pretty sight, and for those with delicate constitutions perhaps you should just look away. Little is accomplished railing against J Street just because they are working inside the sausage factory. I am not worried that they will coopt the Palestinian civil rights movement to act against it’s interests.

    In the long term the Palestinians and their friends in the west will win or lose independently from J Street. But in the short run J Street is changing the debate in ways that will make it easier for the Palestinians to get their message out.

    • VR
      November 21, 2009, 6:03 am

      syvanen, you imply that accepting J Street is a matter of maturity and sophistication, and that we must understand that it is primarily a force for good. I would submit that it is made of the same stuff as the Obama administration, and the “hope” that it holds out for a supposed better tomorrow. Just like we feel people are waking up to the Obama administration which brings no substantive change, so we identify J Street as the same genre. People can follow the Obama administration till their children are begging for bread on the streets, or people can follow J Street until there is no Palestinian left standing. This has little to do with “delicate constitutions” and everything to do with survival, in the meantime J Street can feel vindicated that they are opposed like AIPAC – so they can look at each other and smile (AIPAC and J Street).

      There are one of two choices people are going to have to make, it is the old paradigm of either reform or revolution – will the correct course arise from the people or from the corrupted womb of the status quo. The assumption in your argument syvanen is that nothing is getting progressively worse, and that the movement of J Street does nothing ostensibly toward the success or the failure of the “Palestinians and their friends” – it is the failure to acknowledge that J Street deflects and co-opts the talent and energy which could otherwise be used in a more productive course. The J Street “leadership” is light years behind its halting constituency, it is like the democratic hopefuls that come out of the democratic party, who when it becomes apparent that they are unelectable they set about doing their real job (not they ever arose to be elected) – bringing in the “strays” into the smothering fold of the two-party joke. In other words there is nothing new about J Street, it is merely the same old “alternative” – no alternative.

      J Street is the choice of those who have been relatively unscathed by the actions of the government proper, or by the foreign policy which is merely the continued enabling of Israeli atrocities. It exists to assuage consciences of those who know something is terribly wrong, but empowers them to do nothing substantive. It is like the petty bourgeoisie which exists to provide a layer of fat to protect the moneyed elites so the status quo remains intact to the detriment of the people. It appeals to people who are comfortable and can afford to imbibe an air of sophistication, seeming maturity, like some gnostic vanguard that “really” understands what is going on – it calls people to sit down for tea in a burning house.

      • Shingo
        November 21, 2009, 6:11 am

        VR,

        I must say that your posts have been an outstanding example of insight and eloquence. It’s an privelage to read you.

      • syvanen
        November 21, 2009, 9:16 am

        VR I am not suggesting that people follow J Street. What I suggest is that they are changing the terms of the debate. By themselves they will accomplish very little. A militant struggle on behalf of the Palestinians, which for those in the west today means backing and expanding the BDS movement, should continue. This, plus civil (and hopefully nonviolent) resistance by the Palestinians themselves, has a chance of succeeding. Simply attacking J Street will accomplish nothing. I really believe that a changed climate that J Street is working for, will make the BDS movement practicable.

        I understand that J Street’s primary goal is to help the zionist cause — they are acting under the belief that annexation of the WB will eventually destroy Israel as a Jewish state. As a means of achieving their goal they also believe that the Palestinians must be free from Israeli oppression and given independence. Even if you disagree with their larger goals, it does not seem unreasonable to ally with them to achieve what they see as means for their own ends. Though I am quite partial to Israeli culture and have respect for much of what they have built, it is not clear that either path will save the Jewsih state of Israel. But what J Street advocates certainly seems less likely to lead to catastrophic war.

      • former coMMenter
        November 21, 2009, 12:44 pm

        One thing I question syvanen is whether Israel could exist without the military orientation and expansionism that the wars and occupation exemplify. Phil scoffs when Dershowitz uses the term “Auschwitz borders” (and it is absurd) but maybe Dersh knows something, namely that the Jewish settler colony, at most what, 3 generations old, doesn’t have a sustainable future without the combination of territorial growth, arms commerce, and special subsidies and remittances that bolster its economic outlook. My question to you is this: even if J Street were so “respectable” in Washington that it were 100% successful on every one of its initiatives for say the next five years, what would be the end result, the difference, in Israel? Would Israel actually be less militarized? Prohibit settlements? Receive less money from afar?

      • potsherd
        November 21, 2009, 12:53 pm

        syl – the problem with J Street is that it masquerades under the guise of a progressive, pro-justice organization when it is in fact another zionist supporter promoting the Netanyahu agenda of preventing a sovereign Palestinian state.

        As such, it will attract people who are gulled by its appearance and who might otherwise join a genuinely pro-Palestinian movement. The purpose of J Street is to blunt the force of the true progessive movement.

      • Chaos4700
        November 21, 2009, 1:00 pm

        Potsherd has it nailed right on the head. If you need any sort of practical demonstration of how J Street is set up to operate, it’s reflected in Witty’s rhetoric. Everyone remember how he fought tooth and nail to drag unequivocal support out of Mr. Weiss and company for J Street before and during the conference? And how he keeps framing protest and BDS and sanctions against international crime to be “anti-progressive” and not part of the liberal toolbox of non-violent strategies? That’s the game. It’s an attempt to subvert and neutralize American progressivism. That’s why I object so vehemently to Witty. In a way he’s a worse threat to progressivism than outed neocons. Kind of like how we’ve screwed up in Iraq and led people there to yearn for the days of Saddam Hussein — our false version of American democracy we’ve “imported” there has left the Iraqi people with a tainted impression about what real democracy is supposed to be.

      • syvanen
        November 21, 2009, 2:05 pm

        Answer to coMMenter: I don’t know if any of this could work. You could be right and that nothing they do will change Israeli policy. It is quite possible that Israel cannot change itself and that the colonization of the WB is irreversible. If that is the case then the one state solution is the only option. And if this course cannot work then it is possible that the ground work will have been laid to begin a real political movement to get the US to begin a real military withdrawal from the ME — not just Afghanistan and Iraq but Israel as well.

      • Frankie P
        November 21, 2009, 9:26 am

        VR,

        “The J Street “leadership” is light years behind its halting constituency, it is like the democratic hopefuls that come out of the democratic party, who when it becomes apparent that they are unelectable they set about doing their real job (not they ever arose to be elected) – bringing in the “strays” into the smothering fold of the two-party joke. In other words there is nothing new about J Street, it is merely the same old “alternative” – no alternative.”

        Brilliant!!! And if you have watched syvanen’s posts over time, for example from when Bush was still in office, you will realize why this paragraph is such a strong indictment of him a Democrat cheerleader, one of the “Obama believers”, those blind punters who believed that “the man” ever had a chance of making a “change we can believe in” in the present corrupt sewer that is two-party American politics.

        Bring on the fucking revolution!!!

        FPM

      • syvanen
        November 21, 2009, 2:24 pm

        OK bring it along, I will not stand in your way. In the meantime I am interested in seeing some changes in US ME policy. Unending war is going to collapse our economy, if it hasn’t already.

      • VR
        November 21, 2009, 4:57 pm

        syvanen, there is something that keeps gnawing away at me, and I hope my fears are unfounded – but what is the purpose of this Israeli escalation of assault on the Palestinians both inside Israel and the OT? The Israeli government continues it march to officials now in government who are patently fascist.

        I see all of the precursors to the attempted extermination of our community during the Nazi era enacted against the Palestinians. This last assault on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) carries with it the distinct markers of a lost conscience of the Israelis, who range from being oblivious to what is taking place under their nose and the polls taken which reflected a 90% plus approval of the massacre.

        I am beside myself, what scares me is the accuracy of my calls both domestic (USA) and foreign (Israel as well as elsewhere). I am desperate to be wrong in what I see as an inevitable march toward further atrocities, to reach to an immoral climax. If we do not stop Israel dead in in tracks now, and allow them to continue with impunity, it will be beyond tragic. The Goldstone report was the watershed, its dismissal is the signal of worse to come.

      • syvanen
        November 21, 2009, 6:55 pm

        I share your fears. I wish we had the ability to stop Israel dead in its tracks but unfortunately we do not. It remains official US policy to back Israel. This policy can only be changed slowly. It appears that Israel is now escalating its land seizures and increased oppression for the reason that they fear US policy could change. It is better, from their perspective, to seize as much as they can now before it is too late. These efforts by Israel are also exposing their true intentions and may, let us hope, help accelerate the discussion here in the US. There are many plausible scenarios where this will end very badly for the Palestinians but there is only so much we can do for them now.

  8. MRW
    November 21, 2009, 7:18 am

    Watch Finkelstein:
    link to pulsemedia.org

  9. Rehmat
    November 21, 2009, 9:01 am

    No matter what J-Street or any other ‘street’ says – the matter of the fact is that the Zionist regime has never been interested in resolving the “Jewish Problem” in the Middle East peacefully.

    Even Henry Seigman in column “Israelis and Obama” (The New York Times, November 1, 2009) admitted: “Israeli do not oppose President Obama’s peace efforts because they dislike him; they dislike him because of his peace efforts. He will regain their affection only when he abandon these efforts”.

    link to rehmat1.wordpress.com

  10. Citizen
    November 21, 2009, 1:38 pm

    BDS is the only way. Witty has only forsaken it because of who is the target. Just another case of who’s ox is being gored.

  11. Victor Kermit
    November 21, 2009, 10:21 pm

    Has anyone mentioned that Walter Williams is one of the biggest Uncle Toms in the history of the United States? He’s right up there with Clarence “Uncle” Thomas, “Uncle” Thomas Sowell, Larry “Tom” Elder, Armstrong “Shine” Williams, LaShaun “Aunt Jemima” Barber, and other “prominent” so-called “Black Republicans”. Of course they can support the indentured servitude of a race of people – they advocate it every day for African-Americans!

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