Jacob Weisberg sees the power of BDS, and is scared

Israel/Palestine
on 39 Comments

“Don’t boycott Israel,” says the headline in Newsweek.

Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief at Slate and author of the piece calls a boycott a “repellent idea” with consequences that are “intrinsically vile.” But pointing out the “sheeplike, liberal opinion” of celebrities like Meg Ryan is unlikely to break up the flock. Indeed, Weisberg must vastly overestimate his own degree of influence in Hollywood if he imagines that his protestations will have more effect than do celebrities influence each other.

His appeal is perhaps not an effort to shepherd celebrity opinion but a reflex expression of alarm as he witnesses the boycott movement rapidly acquiring critical mass. Support from politically uninformed but socially influential celebrities is important because it signals the point at which the Palestinian cause rises above its regional, ethnic, religious and historical boundaries, and is being adopted as a humanitarian cause.

Weisberg, in a chaotic effort to marshall his arguments claims:

The stronger case against a cultural boycott of Israel is based on consistency, proportionality, and history. That supporters of this boycott seldom focus on China or Syria or Zimbabwe — or other genuinely illegitimate regimes that systematically violate human rights — underscores their bad faith.

The bad faith that proponents of an Israel boycott are supposedly exhibiting is that they are singling Israel out; that Israel as a target of a boycott is a target of victimization. Any fair-minded person would see how much Israel, China, Syria and Zimbabwe have in common and treat them similarly… Oh, but maybe that isn’t exactly what Weisberg’s trying to say.

As a good liberal, Weisberg isn’t eager to play the anti-Semitic card and he doesn’t see an anti-Semitic trend in Hollywood, but he goes ahead and makes the accusation anyway by saying that the boycott movement “is hard to disassociate from anti-Semitism — even if Ryan and Costello intend nothing of the kind.”

There is an issue here that I suspect touches a raw nerve for Weisberg and many others and it’s not thinly disguised anti-Semitism; it’s the power of social exclusion.

The boycott — at least a particularly ugly form of boycott — is the Israel lobby’s favorite weapon. Attacks on critics of Israel are invariably ad hominem attacks — the campaign against Judge Richard Goldstone being among the most vociferous of such denunciations. This isn’t about vigorous opposition to ideas; it’s about the effort to destroy people — their reputations, their careers, and their social standing.

Weisberg sees the same spirit in the boycott movement:

What they’re saying is, “We consider your country so intrinsically reprehensible that we are going to treat all of your citizens as pariahs.”

The subtext: It’s not about what we do; it’s about who we are.

This is how Israel washes away its sins — and it’s a way of refusing to face the charge upon which the boycott movement rests: that Israel continues to deny the Palestinians their fundamental rights for freedom, equality and self-determination. If this denial of human rights leads to Israel’s increasing isolation, this is a path that Israelis have chosen. Israel is not a victim of an unjust world or an ill-conceived boycott movement.

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

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39 Responses

  1. Avi
    July 25, 2010, 3:41 pm

    Unless he’s an agent of a foreign country, what does HE care? He’s living comfortably in the US.

    Oh, what’s that you say? He’s Jewish? HE’S a ZIONIST?

    Shouldn’t someone like Weisberg who supports war crimes be deported?

    Demjanjuk was deported, despite an Israeli court finding him not guilty. AIPAC wanted to make an example of him so they got him deported on flimsy charges. I think Weisberg should be shackled and deported.

    • Danaa
      July 25, 2010, 5:14 pm

      But if you deport Weisberg (say, to his “real” country, Israel?), can Jeffrey Goldberg be far behind? and what of Derhowitz? or the multitude who encouraged, arranged and/or condoned the deaths of hundred of thousands of Iraqis? and where do we send the non-Jews among them? the isle of man perhaps (I like the name)? old australian penal colonies?

      That’s the problem, too many guilty parties – the immigration department would likely have its hands full…..and on such a small budget too!

      Maybe though, instead of deporting them they can be sentenced to community service – say on one of BP’s oil rigs – one drilling really really deep beneath the ocean? I must say that the idea of turning a weisberg or a goldberg or a schumer (another favorite) into expert BOP yeomen* give me shivers of pleasure**? all the better for being [slightly] guilt ridden….

      ____
      * watched a few too many BP hearings lately – there are some darn good workers on them oil rigs (if not their higher management…..)
      ** lazy guilt-ridden Sunday with work piling up – good day for fantasy! yes, I know there are better ones to be had…..where’s Mooser when you need him anyways?

      • Citizen
        July 25, 2010, 5:19 pm

        Yeah, the American zionists could relieve some of those jailed Louisiana blacks who’ve been doing all the BP dirty cleanup work in the blazing sun for peanuts.

      • Avi
        July 25, 2010, 5:20 pm

        Maybe though, instead of deporting them they can be sentenced to community service – say on one of BP’s oil rigs – one drilling really really deep beneath the ocean?

        I can’t say you’re not creative. That’s a great idea. I like it.

      • lareineblanche
        July 26, 2010, 2:46 am

        Maybe though, instead of deporting them they can be sentenced to community service – say on one of BP’s oil rigs – one drilling really really deep beneath the ocean? I must say that the idea of turning a weisberg or a goldberg or a schumer (another favorite) into expert BOP yeomen

        Excellent idea, they’d certainly be more beneficial to society this way.

    • hophmi
      July 26, 2010, 5:42 pm

      “I think Weisberg should be shackled and deported.”

      Again, an example of why I find the people on this site more interested in nonsense than substance.

  2. Bumblebye
    July 25, 2010, 3:47 pm

    For a Zionist American, Israel is simply the 51st state. It’s indivisible from their sense of self. Despite all the crazy contradictions.

    • Citizen
      July 25, 2010, 5:24 pm

      Sounds reasonable. What’s the largest white ethnic group in the USA? Germans. For them Germany can be the 52nd state; for the next largest, the Irish; they can have Ireland as the 53rd state. African Americans can take their pick of any country in Africa. Iranian Americans have Iran; Palestinian Americans, Palestine. Mexican Americans have Mexico. And so on.

  3. Berthe
    July 25, 2010, 4:09 pm

    The Israeli court had to clear him because the Russians released old KGB documents that proved Demjanjuk was framed. But there was a parade of survivors who swore he was the person they remembered. I don’t suppose anything more will be written or said about that (and the people who went on TV during the 80s saying Demjanjuk was “Ivan the Terrible” have kept mum when it was proven he was not “Ivan the Terrible”). I suppose it will be attributed to some kind of survivor PTSD that they claimed to remember him. I’m skeptical. We’ve seen Israelis and Israel supporters behave with absolute viciousness and hatred for a long time now and they seem to feel entitled to it and triumph in it.

    re Meg Ryan – I guess she didn’t go to one of the poison ivy league schools so we shouldn’t take her thoughts seriously at all. No, she must be dumb if she doesn’t have those great credentials from Hahvahd and Yale where they teach you how to be OK with starving people, shooting people, drone bombing people, torturing people. In fact, its humanitarianism; its REAL humanitarianism. Its peace, even.

    re antisemitism – sorry to say but Zionists have such absolute control over our media and politicians that I can see a kind of antisemitism coming as what else can people do? I’d like to see a poll of the “Tea Party” on whether they are more concerned about Obama’s race than they are about the foreign wars for Israel. I can see where political contributions from AIPAC, J Street, the whole cabal of pro Israel lobbies could become stigmatized. Make politicians as wary of the public thinking they are Zionists as they are of the public thinking they might support reparations for slavery or amnesty for illegal immigrants. OR, American Jews can detach themselves from Israel and the Jewish owned US media can integrate non Jews with SOME semblance of proportion to the population so that those non Jews aren’t always thinking they have their jobs on sufferance and must watch what they say. Etc.

    • Avi
      July 25, 2010, 4:31 pm

      If Holocaust denial ever becomes punishable by law in the US, then all other forms of denials should be punishable, including the denial of the Armenian genocide, denial of the Native American genocide, Nakba ethnic cleansing denial, Rwanda genocide denial and so on.

      • hophmi
        July 26, 2010, 5:43 pm

        I’m sure, Avi, if you ran the show, you’d outlaw all speech you didn’t approve of.

  4. rmokhtar
    July 25, 2010, 4:41 pm

    “In the case of Israel, shunning writers like Amos Oz and David Grossman, who serve as national consciences”

    National consciences?

    Huh.

    Who needs Ghandi?

  5. Citizen
    July 25, 2010, 5:32 pm

    I hope Jacob Weisberg is reading the 300 or so (so far) comments to his juvenile article on Newsweak. If you can find the time and patience, those comments are well worth reading–over all, they clearly reveal the American sheeple are waking up, and doing their homework on Israel and our “special relationship” with it.

    • Citizen
      July 25, 2010, 5:34 pm

      Weisberg starts off with a nose joke on a shiksa and ends up by slyly tying BDS to anti-semitism. In between he shows us how illogical he is.

  6. Citizen
    July 25, 2010, 5:45 pm

    Weisberg explained why he would not vote for a Mormon as Prez; it’s interesting to mirror his arguments to show why you would not vote for a Zionist: link to slate.com

  7. Avi
    July 25, 2010, 5:46 pm

    The subtext: It’s not about what we do; it’s about who we are.

    This is how Israel washes away its sins — and it’s a way of refusing to face the charge upon which the boycott movement rests: that Israel continues to deny the Palestinians their fundamental rights for freedom, equality and self-determination. If this denial of human rights leads to Israel’s increasing isolation, this is a path that Israelis have chosen. Israel is not a victim of an unjust world or an ill-conceived boycott movement.

    The reason Jacob makes these ridiculous claims is simple. He is incapable of taking off and shedding the Perpetual Victim © costume which he dons on so well like many Zionists. If he did, he might notice that Syria, Zimbabwe, Timbuktu and Alpha Centauri don’t enjoy the same Our-best-ally-and-the-only-Democracy in-the-Middle-East status.

    • hophmi
      July 26, 2010, 5:46 pm

      “If he did, he might notice that Syria, Zimbabwe, Timbuktu and Alpha Centauri don’t enjoy the sameOur-best-ally-and-the-only-Democracy in-the-Middle-East status.”

      So wait, if a country is not a strong ally of the United States, it should escape your opprobrium?

      Sorry, but that makes no sense. Either a country should be boycotted or it shouldn’t. Its standing in the US should make no difference to a principled person.

      But the boycotters are not really principled people.

  8. munro
    July 25, 2010, 6:17 pm

    Newsweek editor Jon Meachem: “US Media is pro-Palestinian”
    Bill Maher: “I agree.”

    • potsherd
      July 25, 2010, 6:27 pm

      Would that it were so!

    • Citizen
      July 26, 2010, 5:25 am

      I’m sure Bill Maher can tell how often the word occupation, let alone the details of it, are mentioned in the US Media. Bill Maher, the Big Debunker of Religion, has his own sacred cow. He’s still pissed because
      he didn’t find out he was half-Jewish until late in his teens. The Pals need to pay, and keep paying for this personal clich, and the US taxpayers need to keep paying for Zionism.

  9. munro
    July 25, 2010, 9:28 pm

    Dustin Hoffman cancelled his appearance at the same event as Meg Ryan but for some reason Weisberg doesn’t mention it…
    link to foreignpolicyjournal.com

    • Avi
      July 25, 2010, 11:17 pm

      That’s due to the fact that Hoffman is Jewish. Meg Ryan isn’t Jewish. Mentioning Meg Ryan gives him an excuse to claim that those goy gentiles are at it again; those darned anti-Semites, just look at how they’ve ganged up on us AGAIN.

      • Citizen
        July 26, 2010, 5:26 am

        Yeah, let’s focus on Ryan’s upturned, twitching blonde shiksa’s NOSE. She’s got mail!

  10. hayate
    July 26, 2010, 1:51 am

    “Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief at Slate and author of the piece calls a boycott a “repellent idea” with consequences that are “intrinsically vile.”

    Ah, gee, another 21st century nazi.

    • hayate
      July 26, 2010, 1:51 am

      It’s not like the u.s. media isn’t full of the disgusting things…..

    • Citizen
      July 26, 2010, 5:28 am

      Yeah, Jacob is really disgusted at the US congress’s incessantly increasing boycot of Iran.

  11. Rowan
    July 26, 2010, 6:11 am

    I’m interested in the terminology these people use: here I notice straight away the words “repellent” and “vile”. Recently we had our hotheaded but harmless friend Salman Hossain described by Bernie Farber as a “horrible, disgusting person”. There are two angles to this terminology that seem relevant: a freudian angle, and a specifically jewish angle to do with kashrut. My idea is that the universal tendency to think of certain substances as “repellent”, “vile”, “horrible”, “disgusting”, etcetera, and to apply these terms to people, is somehow amplified in the jewish mind by the system of kashrut, which superimposes an extra layer of purity between the jew and the possibility of contact with such substances, implying that the rest of humanity, which lacks this extra layer of protection, is necessarily “unclean” even at the best of times. It seems logical that this psychic mechanism would be triggered especially strongly by people who offend against the “jewish idea”, a happy phrase the gush emunim dreamed up, if I recall correctly, but here meaning anything to do with jewish sanctity, untouchability, or privilege.

  12. Jeffrey Blankfort
    July 26, 2010, 10:45 am

    What is curious in this instance is that Jacob Weisberg’s opinion is
    consistent with the position of his landsman, Noam Chomsky,
    who believes the boycotting of Israel is not only “hypocritical” but also immoral. See here: link to pulsemedia.org

  13. hophmi
    July 26, 2010, 5:50 pm

    A boycott is, of course, an intrinsically vile idea.

    It is selective; there are many countries with much worse human rights records.

    It is antisemitic; the Jewish state came about largely because Christian European states and Muslim Arab states were unwelcome places for Jews. These states are far more homogeneous than Israel is because of centuries of ethnic cleansing, social engineering, and colonialism. This is ignored by the boycott movement. If they were concerned about racism, they would insist that every European state immediately open their doors to unfettered immigration and every Arab state immediately democratize, guarantee minority rights, and forswear Islam as the state religion.

    It is stupid; it will be counterproductive and only hurt the Palestinians.

    It is illegal under British law and American law.

    It is wholly immoral.

    • Bumblebye
      July 26, 2010, 7:50 pm

      Hophmi,
      I want to insult you, to turn the air blue, but you’re so not worth it. What utter tripe.

      • hophmi
        July 26, 2010, 7:55 pm

        That’s OK Bumblebye, I wouldn’t care anyway. I’m used to the nastiness here. You’re not special.

  14. Jeffrey Blankfort
    July 26, 2010, 7:39 pm

    Actually, I find Israel to be intrinsically vile as well as immoral and more so by the day. (I’m a moderate since I might have said, by the second).

    The truth of the matter was that for the most part the Muslim Arab states were largely hospitable to Jews until the European Zionists came along and then did everything they could to turn the inhabitants of those states against their Jewish citizens, such as setting off a bomb in a Baghdad synagogue and running a clumsy terrorist operation directed against the US and the UK in Egypt that came to be known in Israel as the Lavon Affair. Peddle your papers, elsewhere!

    • hophmi
      July 26, 2010, 7:53 pm

      “Actually, I find Israel to be intrinsically vile as well as immoral and more so by the day. (I’m a moderate since I might have said, by the second).”

      You do, Jeffrey? I hadn’t noticed.

      “The truth of the matter was that for the most part the Muslim Arab states were largely hospitable to Jews ”

      If by largely hospitable you mean granting them second-class citizenship.

      “until the European Zionists came along and then did everything they could to turn the inhabitants of those states against their Jewish citizens”

      By what? Setting up their own states? So if a Jew does something in Palestine, and Arab can do something to a Jew in Egypt?

      The Lavon Affair and alleged Baghdad Affair aside, none of this justifies the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands through a campaign of harassment and property confiscation.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        July 26, 2010, 10:43 pm

        To call the exodus of Jews from Arab lands “ethnic cleansing” is a hoax. Jews throughout the region were encouraged to emigrate in order to provide a source of cheap labor for the Europeans who like their counterparts of today were allergic to hard labor, hence the term, “Arab work” to describe working on a farm or construction and thus must be done by others. When the Palestinians were banned, they imported Rumanians, Poles, etc.

        Now, let’s look at the stats. From 1948 to 1962, the number of immigrants to Israel from the Middle East and No, Africa was 575, 755, not the 800,000 figure we hear today.

        In 1948, at the time of the Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee, only 12,931 arrived from the Arab Middle East. In 1949, the number increased to 110,780, another 82,296 in 1950, and 123,449, in 1951, the single biggest year.

        In two other years through 1962, 1956, in the aftermath of the Suez war, and 1962, the number was over 40,000.

        What these figures, based on the official Israel census, indicate is rather than being forcibly expelled in one fell swoop as were the Palestinians and other peoples in different historical times, the exodus of Jews from Arab lands to Israel was extended over a period of years and under the circumstances, hardly qualifies as “ethnic cleansing.” In fact, the comparison of the movement of the Arab Jews to Israel with the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is of relatively recent vintage and was first proposed, as far as I am able to find out, by the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane. Until then, the subject wasn’t raised because taking in Jews, “the ingathering,” making aliyah, was what Israel was supposed to be all about.

        In fact,the book from which I take my statistics, “Israeli Society,” by S.N. Eisenstadt, published in 1967, makes no reference whatsoever to these Arab Jews being refugees. This is just another example of the duplicity inherent in the creation of the Zionist mythology and the founding of Israel.

      • hophmi
        July 27, 2010, 12:05 am

        “To call the exodus of Jews from Arab lands “ethnic cleansing” is a hoax. ”

        Yes, I understand that for pro-Palestinian propagandists like yourself, the idea that Jews could experience ethnic cleansing from Arab lands is a hoax. Unfortunately, it’s very much true.

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        Of course, it has not been mentioned as much as the Naqka, because most of the refugees were taken in by Israel, not left in squalor by their brethren as the Palestinians were.

        Sorry you’re incapable of seeing the other side of the story.

        Try using a source that is a little more up to date than a book from 1967. Most of the academic work on this issue has been done since then.

    • Richard Witty
      July 26, 2010, 7:54 pm

      Your comment is what I describe as “anti-Zionism is racism”.

      Although you probably rationalize that you are not saying this, but my understanding is that you regard self-governance as relevant for everyone except for Jews.

      “Until Zionists came along” (“those uppity niggers”)

      • Chaos4700
        July 26, 2010, 10:58 pm

        Oh, don’t you dare compare yourself to what African Americans have to live through, you dishonest shill for the most profitable real estate scam in modern history. You don’t have a clue what it’s like to actually suffer discrimination.

      • rmokhtar
        July 27, 2010, 1:01 am

        Right, because the Palestinians killed 6 million of them, Wittiless.

  15. Jeffrey Blankfort
    July 26, 2010, 10:19 pm

    I just wish they would get their foot off of the neck of our Congress, Witty, and allow us to have self-governance here.

    Also, in case you didn’t know it, dim-Witty, in Israel people are classified by their religion so Jews there are identified as Jews, not as Israelis,* and since when do religions have self-government?

    *There is no Israeli citizenship, per se, and no Israeli constitution either, and the last time I looked there were no fixed borders. Hmmmmmm. Doesn’t sound like its ready for statehood.

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