Anti-divestment talking points: Avoid the facts and claim victimhood

on 65 Comments

The following talking points were distributed on UC Berkeley’s campus in the days leading up to last night’s debate over divestment. Several sources on Berkeley’s campus have confirmed that they had seen them on campus, and that they were adhered to closely by anti-divestment advocates during the debate itself.

Anti-Divestment Bill: Unifying Strategies for Our Jewish Community

The message: The bill is an attack on our Jewish community. It silences our voices.

DO include in your speech

**End your speech with "Don’t Silence Me" This will have a powerful, unifying impact.**

Keep it very short, about a minute

Unfairly choosing a side, under false pretense, is to shut down a productive and meaningful discussion. This can only cause more tensions and conflict. It takes away OUR voice.

Make it personal, include personal experiences and emphasize feelings of personal attack.

BE EMOTIONAL. Don’t be afraid to show how you feel (angry, sad, etc.)

There will always be dissenters; they don’t represent the voice of the Jewish community.

WE are the voice of the Jewish community at Cal (can refer to all the Jewish student groups that are against the bill – which collectively represent over 500 Jewish students on our campus).

If the issue is so clear, why is it so divisive? This may be one of those occasions when it’s not appropriate for you (the ASUC senators) to decide something for everyone on campus.

The Bill is out of context and based on questionable sources (no need to go into detail). Thus, the bill is in fact an attack on the JEWISH COMMUNITY.

An unjustified attack on Israel is an attack on my Jewish identity. It is attacking ME.

The ASUC and our university have been hijacked by an extremist agenda, through this bill.

A small group of partisans are trying to leverage the reputation of UC Berkeley for their own narrow political purposes. These partisans have NO concern for the bitter divisiveness they have caused on campus.

The voices of the general student body are telling you (through thousands of emails, etc.) – loud and clear – that there is no student consensus outside of these partisan supporters for this bill. The supporters of the bill are demanding that you choose between them and the other 99% of the students you (the ASUC senators) represent.

The ASUC Senators didn’t campaign on this issue so they cannot claim to have an electoral mandate, and every source of data (news stories and opinion pieces in the paper and associated comments, the e-mails they have received, the high-pitched debates) attests to the fact that they cannot claim to be representing a campus consensus or majority.

DO NOT include in your speech

DON’T mention that Israel is being singled out (don’t mention crimes committed by other countries). Don’t suggest divesting from other countries. It is a weak argument and implies that Israel has committed war crimes.

DON’T try to deconstruct the bill. DON’T focus on addressing the fallacies/specifics of the bill.

Instead, focus on how it is an attack on the Jewish community.

AVOID a debate on the Middle East. Supporters of the bill would like to argue on this platform.

65 Responses

  1. Cliff
    April 15, 2010, 8:44 pm

    Wow. Definitely not conspiratorial though, right Zionists?

    • thankgodimatheist
      April 15, 2010, 8:48 pm

      Definitely not conspiratorial though, right Zionists?
      “Fix your country first!”

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 15, 2010, 9:11 pm

        I forgot to sign my comment above:
        ZZZ (z for zionist)

    • potsherd
      April 15, 2010, 9:48 pm

      It seems that they recognize the weakness of the “everybody sucks” argument. Some people here haven’t gotten this message.

  2. RoHa
    April 15, 2010, 8:53 pm


    “An unjustified attack on Israel is an attack on my Jewish identity. It is attacking ME.”

    My instinct is to say “Tough”, but we now know that Israel is part of Jewish identity. Right, Mooser?

    “The ASUC and our university have been hijacked by an extremist agenda, through this bill.”

    Is bad punctuation part of Jewish identity?

    “AVOID a debate on the Middle East. Supporters of the bill would like to argue on this platform.”

    They think they might lose such a debate.

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 16, 2010, 5:02 am

      RE: “Is bad punctuation part of Jewish identity?” – RoHa
      MY: And if so, does that, mean I’m Jewish? Birthright, here I come! I demand that both The Rainbow Room and Tavern on the Green reopen for my groundbreaking, split-level Bar Mitzvah rave. For the entertainment, I want the defunct indie rock band Silver Jews to reunite for a Rockin’ up top da Rockyfella extravaganza in the Rainbow Room. Meanwhile, Rick Berman and the Astroturfers will ‘hold down the fort’ at Tavern on the Greenby providing the best “champaign music” since Lawrence Welk rigor mortised!

  3. Chaos4700
    April 15, 2010, 8:57 pm

    AVOID a debate on the Middle East. Supporters of the bill would like to argue on this platform.

    Seriously, is that called the “Yonira maneuver?” :)

    • yonira
      April 15, 2010, 9:52 pm

      what do you want to debate Chaos? you’ve never debated a thing in your life.

      • Chaos4700
        April 15, 2010, 10:38 pm

        Let’s debate your inability to use the ‘shift’ key and punctuation markers, for starters. Then maybe reading your posts won’t be so much of an eyesore to the rest of us.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 2:48 pm

        Let’s debate your debasing of the Jewish race with Lamanite blood, Yonira! What some people won’t do for a free countertop!

    • Pamela Olson
      April 16, 2010, 12:46 am

      LOL! This is truly classic. “Don’t get mired down in a debate about actual facts. Act mad and sad and righteously indignant! That’ll learn ’em!”

      Dude, their days of hegemony are soooooo numbered…

      • Sumud
        April 16, 2010, 12:32 pm

        In other words – just chuck a tantrum and employ some emotional blackmail.

  4. Chu
    April 15, 2010, 9:18 pm

    This their playbook strategy? “Don’t silence me”?

    I read a comment recently of someone who said that antisemitism is their sword, the holocaust is their shield…

    These talking points are corrupt politics at best. These activists are defending criminal acts of a foreign nation, that is in violation of international law for decades, who seek to oppress and occupy another nation in a multitude of disgusting fascist tactics.
    This stale tune (An unjustified attack on Israel is an attack on my Jewish identity) has been playin’ for way way too long – posing to speak for the Jewish community and representing the worst side that politics has to offer.

    Even if they eek this victory out, there are not enough of these students to cover the leaks that continue to pass right through the dam(n) wall. They should come clean and say what they really believe, not what a series of talking points tells them to do. Talk about rigging the show… unbelievable behavior. Guess they may need a new strategy, or well see who the lackeys really are at Berkeley.

    • Taxi
      April 16, 2010, 12:51 am

      Every time one of them used the phrase: “Don’t silence me”, the Palestinian supporters should have broken out into song:

      Oh give me land, my old land under starry skies above
      Don’t fence me in
      Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
      Don’t fence me in
      Let me be a Falesteen in the evenin’ breeze
      Listening to the murmur of the olive trees
      Shout me down if you must but I ask you please

  5. hughsansom
    April 15, 2010, 9:19 pm

    Meanwhile, we have the admission from AIPAC soldier Jonathan Kessler:

    “How are we going to beat back the anti-Israel divestment resolution at Berkeley?” said Jonathan Kessler, leadership development director for AIPAC, at a recent conference of the lobbying group. “We’re going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote. This is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.”

  6. VR
    April 15, 2010, 9:26 pm

    “There will always be dissenters; they don’t represent the voice of the Jewish community.”

    Clearly, they are saying – the “Jewish community” wants the occupation, that is the entire message. To confound everyone with the occupation, don’t mix me in with your cult-like fanatical position, Holocaust exploiting, land stealing, murderous settler state to yourself. I reprobate it completely.

    • Chaos4700
      April 15, 2010, 9:40 pm

      Sardonically amusing that they have to body check and trample Judith Butler and Hedy Epstein in order in their zeal to “protect” the Jewish community.

  7. potsherd
    April 15, 2010, 9:46 pm

    An insightful piece in today’s Ha’aretz by Zeev Sternhell link to also made this point:

    In this context it is worth noting a fact that was published at the beginning of the week. One of the institutes studying anti-Semitism reported a dramatic increase, in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, of incidents defined as anti-Semitic. It is highly doubtful whether in all the cases, or even most of them, the motives were indeed anti-Semitic. It is reasonable to assume that part of the incidents were caused by growing anti-Israeli feelings. One of the characteristics of anti-Semitism is that it is not conditional on objective acts on the part of Jews or even on their presence. Anti-Semitism existed even in places where they did not see Jews. On the other hand, there is a clear and consistent connection between hostility toward Israel and Israel’s actions.

    It is no coincidence that “anti-Israelism” is a phenomenon of this generation and its source lies in the intensification of the occupation and the feeling that is taking root, even among veteran supporters of Zionism in the world, that Israel does not have the desire or the capability of putting an end to the control over the lives, freedom and independence of another people.

  8. UNIX
    April 15, 2010, 10:02 pm

    Jewish people need more positive guides like this. We will fight divestment tooth and nail. We will fight against ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem. I applaud this guide.

    • Shingo
      April 15, 2010, 11:03 pm

      “. We will fight divestment tooth and nail. We will fight against ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem”

      Really? That’s great news UNIX. It’s about time you gave up this inhane policy.

      • aparisian
        April 17, 2010, 6:57 pm

        Shingo UNIX bugs as usual. I assume he meant he will fight against ethnic cleansing of the Zionist ghosts!

      • Shingo
        April 17, 2010, 7:23 pm

        The only ethnic cleansing taking place in Jerusalem is against Arabs. What other ethnic cleansing could UNIX possibly be poising?

    • Citizen
      April 16, 2010, 5:42 am

      In accord with UNIX, let’s recap the postive guide:
      1. Don’t argue on the facts.
      2.) Don’t argue everybody sucks, so why pick on Irael?
      3.) Say (with deep emotion) that somebody gave you a dirty look and it really hurt your feelings as a Jew.
      4.) Conclude divestment is an attack on the entire Jewish community.

      • UNIX
        April 17, 2010, 7:46 pm

        Divestment is an attack on the entire Jewish community.

        Don’t Silence Me!

    • Oscar
      April 16, 2010, 7:07 am

      I’m surprised UNIX didn’t end his post with a *DON’T SILENCE ME!* shriek. Yeah, that’s the ticket. You can refute everything Judith Butler said so eloquently, and justify using US-made white phosphorus weapons to incinerate children in Gaza simply by saying it hurts your feelings as a Jew to hear about it.

      • Citizen
        April 16, 2010, 9:05 am

        LOL. Don’t taser me Bro!

  9. Taxi
    April 15, 2010, 10:47 pm

    Didn’t know robots could play violins and produce human tears at will.

    Gotta be that cool Israeli hi-tec wiring behind these gizmos.

    Do they also groan orgazmic relief when they burn Gaza children alive with White Phosperous?

    Any other party tricks they can perform? Where can I get me one and how much?

  10. Shingo
    April 15, 2010, 10:59 pm

    Wow, it sounds as though Witty had prepared these talking points. Sounds exactly like him.

    • Citizen
      April 16, 2010, 5:43 am

      Many of us noticed this Shingo.

    • Chu
      April 16, 2010, 7:23 am

      these are the likely talking points they provide freshman congress in the House.

      • Citizen
        April 16, 2010, 9:08 am

        They also more subtly provide them to freshman congress person wannabes–any deviation from the script, they will never get into congress.

  11. Avi
    April 15, 2010, 11:45 pm

    How are these talking points and similar ones regarding the conflict, in general, disseminated to the Jewish American community?

    What I’m asking is, how come the Jewish American community seems to speak with one voice (however misinformed) about Israel’s actions?

    Chain e-mails? Newsletters? Word of mouth?

    Personally I receive enough e-mails calling for activism on issues like movies or plays about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I am encouraged to send letters voicing my displeasure with such events. I am repeatedly updated and reminded of political issues concerning Israel, encouraged to write to my representatives and remind them that I am displeased with this bill or that bill. I receive these “updates” because I once made the mistake of giving out my e-mail address to a Sunday school at which I worked.

    • Taxi
      April 16, 2010, 12:56 am

      It’s called email ‘list-sharing’ between small organizations, adding to one giant walloping club outing.

  12. sherbrsi
    April 16, 2010, 12:06 am

    Well, this strategy of the Hasbara campaign did work to some extent. This logical fallacy that the anti camp is engaging is called an appeal to emotion. The proof of that came soon enough, when one of the Vietnamese senators actually began crying and screaming really loudly that the bill would “alienate Jewish” students.

    But, I doubt it had any more mileage than that.

    Funnily enough, the anti-divestment speakers adhered to this campaign so closely, that one of the pro-divestment speakers actually commented that all the talk of the silencing the community (in what was the most popular theme of rebuttal from the anti-divestment camp) was coming across as being “talking points.”

    Here we have confirmation of that.

  13. VR
    April 16, 2010, 12:29 am

    Actually it is not too hard to understand the infantile mentality that acts like a big Simon Says, the hasbara train. Simon says do this or that in the hermetically sealed and mentally stunted community which cannot speak as individuals even if they tried. Too bad it is not just a game and people are dying and an entire nation is filling with the rot of corruption.

    • Chu
      April 16, 2010, 7:29 am

      I wonder if they think of the families they will cause to wait at checkpoints, or how many more people will be shot protesting the occupation, with their cry of “don’t silence me”. Pretty shameful behavior for any group of individuals.

  14. eGuard
    April 16, 2010, 2:54 am

    Didn’t listen to the night. Were there any anti-BSD speakers who had not received or followed this advice?

    • sherbrsi
      April 16, 2010, 8:14 pm

      I followed the Tweeted comments and IMHO the answer is a resounding no.

      It was exactly what I was looking for. None of anti-divestment speakers even challenged the content of the bill, not on humanitarian grounds, not on legal grounds, not on moral grounds.

      At least one of the speakers, from the Jewish Greek Council, toed this AIPAC line to the letter.

      Most of the anti-divestment speakers were fixated on the imagined impact of the passing of the bill, predicting devastating consequences of anti-semitism befalling the Jewish community, with varying degrees of severity. Some provided the same hyperbolic rhetoric (this bill is against Israel’s “right to exist”), though mostly the theme of the night was that the fate of the bill would determine whether Jews remain friends or enemies (much of it focused on the bill creating enmity in the community).

      The anti-camp was based squarely on appealing to the emotion. That’s why they came across as excessively phony and objectively unconvincing. One of the pro-divestment speakers, Laruder (if I recall the name correctly) even identified that the anti-camp was engaging in repeating the same “talking points.”

      Those who did divert from the talking points, engaged in Hasbara from the far right. Someone quoted a Kahanist. Another that Hamas was responsible for Israel’s crimes. Nothing substantial and nothing that hasn’t been refuted ad nauseum before. There was one professor of law in the anti-camp who came close to challenging the legal content of the bill, but even then he acknowledged that it was his own personal opinion when he disagreed with it’s legal basis.

      If anyone wants to verify these observations, I worked at all of this from Jewish Voice for Peace’s Twitter feeds linked to in the original Berkeley divestment article posted on the site.

  15. MRW
    April 16, 2010, 3:19 am

    A profound dishonesty. So typical of Americans, Jewish or otherwise; but older, whiter, richer Americans, Jews included. This is how they think they can get away with existing in the 21st C.
    Full disclosure: I am a member of this group; however, they repulse me. It’s visceral. I can hardly wait until the Millennials (born 1982-2003) grow up enough to tell all of us to go fuck ourselves, and denigrate the paucity of our humanity.

    • MRW
      April 16, 2010, 3:47 am

      The UC Berkeley student senators who caved should be ashamed of themselves. I will remember their names (courtesy of Mondoweiss) and make sure they never — not ever — get hired in any endeavor I am involved with: the world does not need moral failures like this anywhere near the corridors of power. They failed their first test in the big world. They are Robert McNamara clones.

      • Citizen
        April 16, 2010, 5:56 am

        That’s a good analogy, MRW, Robert McNamara clones. It’s hard to believe the minority of senators who voted against divestment after hearing the full debate; any details of which they could have fact-checked on the internet–I’m sure pro-divestments would have given them a web map of relevant sites if asked, so they could bone up on the I-P conflict.
        The biggest tool was the president, who declined to sit in and hear the 6 hour debate before the senate, after which the original vote was cast–he couldn’t spend the time, yet he vetoed the outcome. Further, at one point
        the senator holding the swing vote to overdie the veto displayed herself as an emotional basket case obviously out of touch with the reality of decades of Palestinian life in the OT.

      • Citizen
        April 16, 2010, 5:59 am

        Oops: change “pro-divestments” to pro-divestment advocates.
        change “overdie” to override

    • Mooser
      April 16, 2010, 11:14 am

      “Full disclosure: I am a member of this group; however, they repulse me.”

      It’s just so horrible how the rigid class system, and official ethnic identities system keeps Americans locked in a close embrace with those who repulse them. It makes me plotz with self-righteous indignation! And what’s worse, the affluence and education which brings a much broader choice of lifestyles somehow only binds you all the closer. You poor schmuck!

  16. Chu
    April 16, 2010, 7:53 am

    I pray that some of the opposition has a strong rebuttal to
    “don’t silence me”.

    I hope that they can visualize all the Palestinians who wait for hours at checkpoints, are subject to constant abuse, and have families that are broken apart every day in the name of right of return.

    Perhaps they can speak against these Oblomovs, from the perspective of the oppressed Palestinians. What would Palestinians say if they were offered a similar platform at Berkeley?

    • Citizen
      April 16, 2010, 9:16 am

      Oblomov’s legacy:
      The effects of unqualified support of any particular class, whether it be nobility or the welfare poor – the tendency to become unproductive and a burden to the rest of society.
      A Bailout for Arms dealers: US Aid and the Israeli Budget:
      The economic and political elites of both the US and Israel have vested interests in continuing Israel’s militarization, occupation and choice of warfare. Personally, we believe that it’s left to us as citizens of both these countries to make maintaining those policies too costly for both regimes.
      link to

      The US Congress has shamefully abdicated its oversight role in US foreign policy and has become an apologist for the worst policies of the Israeli Government, all the while sending Israel billions of dollars in aid. Fortunately activists are not waiting for the US Congress to act. They are staging their own investigation, a first of its kind event.
      The Chicago Hearing is modeled after a Congressional hearing and will be webcast live from a link on the home page. The Chicago Hearing will bring together witnesses to tell seldom-heard stories from Israel-Palestine that raise critical questions about the effects of U.S. policies in the region. Does Israel’s explanation of security legitimize its violations of international law? Does the U.S. government condone Israeli policies and practices that would not be tolerated if replicated in America by the U.S. government?
      Live 30 minute webcast, April 18, 2010, from 1:15 PM to 5:30PM:
      link to

      • Chu
        April 16, 2010, 9:47 am

        good news it is. I see John Mearsheimer on the list. This would be great if it would be covered by c-span. This is what the tea party should do if they want action also – they might learn something here.

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2010, 11:17 am

        “or the welfare poor

        Ah, of course, the “unqualified support” that leaves them on welfare? Yeah, that’s what I call “unqualified support”.
        Try again Citizen, maybe you can squeeze another cup out of that bag.

      • Citizen
        April 17, 2010, 3:09 pm

        And maybe octomom can squeeze out another baby.

    • Shmuel
      April 16, 2010, 9:25 am

      I pray that some of the opposition has a strong rebuttal to
      “don’t silence me”.

      Like pointing out which side employed a veto to suppress a democratic decision it didn’t like? Or the faulty logic that equates making a decision with silencing all other views?

      • Chu
        April 16, 2010, 9:54 am

        No irony here…well it seems they got their win, but they must feel this wasn’t a real victory. I would like to see who caved on the vote, and what led them to change.

      • Shmuel
        April 16, 2010, 10:03 am

        Chu: I would like to see who caved on the vote, and what led them to change.

        Whatever it was, I’m sure it wasn’t the and pony show put on by the anti-BDS crowd; that was for the benefit of the media and anyone contemplating joining BDS – that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear!

      • Shmuel
        April 16, 2010, 10:05 am

        I’m sure there was a dog in that “dog and pony show”. Must have gone out to piss on reason and fairplay.

      • Chu
        April 16, 2010, 10:26 am

        where has that dog gone anyway!?
        The vote was pretty darn close, they must have spotted the weak senate votes and twisted their arms, AIPAC style. Perhaps it was, we’ll cut the endowment if this gets passed.

        On another note:I see that the green party is puts their support behind the Berkeley movement.
        The Berkeley students’ bill calls on the university to divest its assets from two General Electric and United Technologies for “materially and militarily supporting the Israeli government’s occupation of the Palestinian territories” and to advocate that the UC, with about $135 million invested in companies that profit from Israel’s illegal actions in the Occupied Territories.

        link to

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2010, 11:07 am

        They don’t have fairplay in Israel? No wonder the girls want to date Arabs. Of course, everybody loves Arab dates, of course.

  17. Mooser
    April 16, 2010, 11:03 am

    Jeez, I hope my nutty neighbor doesn’t see that list. He’ll make it the basis of his legal onslaught. So far it’s gained him a permanent restraining order and a whopping big suit, but is he discouraged? No way!

    • Chu
      April 16, 2010, 11:30 am

      fyi: link to
      nyc biker blog…

    • Avi
      April 16, 2010, 11:43 pm


      It sounds like you’ve got a charming neighbor.

      Have you considered installing a camera or two with a 24/7 recorder to monitor the front yard or backyard? It could save you a lot of headache should you need to take the case to court again.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 3:00 pm

        Avi, that’s completely unecessary, he has done everything he needs to do to catch a case of criminal trespass and extortion, not to mention perjury, filing flase reports, etc. etc. It’s all documented in police reports (Jeez, about 7), we just got the restraining order sustained for a year in a contested hearing during which he condemned himself out of his own mouth. (We found out later that the Judge we appeared before has a reputation of being very, very reluctant to sustaining restraint orders if there’s any other possible avenue. It took him two questions to the guy, and the Judge sustained.
        He’s also condemned himself in written terstimony over his own signature!
        Look, this is a guy who comes to a hearing on sustaining the restraint order with a six-page essay about what terrible people we are, and letters from our dumber neighbors telling who they have hated us for years. The very definition of harassment. And he’s more than happy to say he will stop harassing us when we give him the land “we owe him”!

        I am just waiting for somebody to notice he’s not right in the head, but the county and/or state doesn’t want him on their hands any more than I do.
        Monday, Avi, I see my lawyer on Mon., and he tells me what we do next. And I think my neighbor’s wife has given us a “deep pockets” to go after.

      • Citizen
        April 17, 2010, 3:14 pm

        Mooser, why does he think you owe him land? Is it a boundary line dispute?

  18. Rowan
    April 20, 2010, 4:41 am

    They are definitely stepping up their “anti-zionism is anti-semitism” drive. The Izzy Embassy in Deutschland came up with an identical line a few days ago:

    The claim that one must distinguish between hatred of the Jewish people and hatred of the State of Israel is absolutely inappropriate and leaves a bad taste.

    link to

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