Brooklyn church crowd goes with the idealists on BDS

Israel/Palestine
on 56 Comments

I went to the ‘Jewish Perspectives on the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement’ event in Park Slope last night. It was at the Church of Gethsemane, an appealingly humble Presbyterian Church on 8th avenue. The lady who’d arranged the event said they’d asked for space at several synagogues and other churches, no luck, then Gethsemane stepped forward. The place was full but not overflowing.

Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace went first. She said the boycott-divest-sanction movement was nonviolent, a good way for individuals to get involved in the issue, a proven strategy in that it had worked before in the South and in South Africa, and had wide support internationally.

Kathleen Peratis of J Street was next. She stood to recite her ‘opening statement.’ She said there were four reasons BDS wouldn’t work: the Israeli economy is booming and it would have zero impact; it would make things worse in Israel by triggering a circle-the-wagons defensiveness; only direct action in the US government and American Jews are capable of effecting a policy change in Israel; and, finally, because it amounts to the progressive left ‘giving up’ on the idea of a Jewish democratic state.

Hannah Mermelstein of Adalah-NY is young, soft-spoken but persistent. She said that the BDS movement was launched in 2005 not by politicians but by Palestinian ‘civil society’–170 civic groups that agreed on three principles: an end to the occupation and the dismantling of the wall, equal rights for Israeli Arabs, and the right of return for all Palestinians. The latter didn’t mean ‘throwing Jews into the sea,’ she argued, but simply an end to ‘anti-democratic practices.’  ‘We’re all Jews,’ she concluded, looking at her fellow panelists, ‘but ultimately this isn’t up to us–it’s a Palestinian movement.’

Gil Kulick is another J Street stalwart, and formerly some kind of deputy counselor to the US consulate in Jerusalem (and former communications director of the New Israel Fund). If we fail to end the occupation, he said, we’ll have a militarized apartheid state. But BDS isn’t the answer. Instead of forcing Israelis to reexamine their policies, it would simply kick them further down the road to right-wing extremism. What is the answer? Obama needs to put the old ‘Clinton parameters’ on the table, he said, and threaten ‘real consequences’ if one side or the other doesn’t sign.

The J Streeters were older and more polished. They had written speeches. They tried to position themselves as pragmatists who were just stating the obvious: ‘we all know the solution; it’s not rocket science’ (Peratis) and ‘everyone knows that the [Palestinian] right of return will have to be relinquished’ (Kulick). Vilkomerson and Mermelstein went the other way, towards idealism, and the crowd went with them. The best exchange of the night came when Peratis asked Mermelstein what she obviously thought was a ‘gotcha’ question: ‘Do you believe a democratic Jewish state is possible?’

‘That was going to be my question to you,’ Mermelstein replied.

And of course that’s what it comes down to. What IS a Jewish democratic state? What makes it better or more desirable than a regular democratic state? And if it’s not better, why would any citizen of this country ultimately believe in it or want to support it?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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56 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 12, 2010, 10:51 am

    If the USA is to use force (in all this I/P matter) it should use force (and ASAP) to end Israel’s violations of I/L by requiring Israel to remove the settlers, the settlements, the wall, and to end the siege and end water-cutoffs. First things first.

    No law requires Israel or the Palestinians to make peace, no law specifies the terms of such a peace, and USA strong arming is inevitably merely arbitrary and may fail to achieve a “just and lasting peace”. BY CONTRAST, I/L has long been read quite specifically to call for removal of settlers and dismantling of settlement (UNSC 465 (1980)) and removal of the wall (ICJ July-9-2004). There is no argument about this, and USA action to require Israel to take these actions would not be arbitrary, merely untimely (as far too late) had the USA any interest whatever in enforcing International Humanitarian Law.

  2. seafoid
    November 12, 2010, 11:04 am

    She said there were four reasons BDS wouldn’t work :

    The Israeli economy is booming :

    So far. But is is a very open economy and the GDP depends on the euro goys buying Israeli products.

    and it would have zero impact; it would make things worse in Israel by triggering a circle-the-wagons defensiveness;

    And what difference would that make ? The wagons circled are in the DNA of Zionism.

    only direct action in the US government and American Jews are capable of effecting a policy change in Israel;

    bukra fi mishmish

    and, finally, because it amounts to the progressive left ‘giving up’ on the idea of a Jewish democratic state.

    Israel gave up on democracy many years ago. I’m sure the Afrikaners had similar moans in the 1970s. And that the Southern Democrats had too in the 1960s.

    Jews in the US need to be more forceful in telling Israel that current orthodoxy is a disaster. YESHA has to be dismantled. Otherwise the contagion is going to spread to Israel.

    • Walid
      November 12, 2010, 11:32 am

      I’m still not convinced about J Street and can’t help feeling that whatever it is doing is to protect Israel’s backside. We saw it again in their coming to the Brooklyn church to counter the BDS message. Their objective about the Palestinians doesn’t seem to differ from AIPAC’s but they are more polite in their going about it.

      • seafoid
        November 12, 2010, 11:50 am

        Walid

        I agree. J Street want to tweak Israel and think that will make a difference. I think they are enchanted by the notion that there is some sort of magic bullet that will bring peace and an end to the conflict that won’t involve any challenge to the Israeli elites who are generating so much in terms of money and influence from the YESHA project.
        That is just deluded.

        Israel has to be reformed from the ground up. Existing power structures are no longer fit for purpose. Israel is facing a civil rights disaster and JK Street want to change some PR aspects.

      • Walid
        November 12, 2010, 12:21 pm

        Seafoid, you’re saying the same thing but using more polite terms to describe them. To me it’s another AIPAC but with lots and lots of vaseline.

      • seafoid
        November 12, 2010, 12:46 pm

        Walid

        I subscribe to a few American magazines (I live in Europe) and what strikes me is the quality of the writing . Except on Palestine. They can’t do it. They never interview ordinary Palestinians.

        I consider a lot of the insight on here to be top notch. But I never get it in the Progressive or Utne Reader. Or the LA Times. And I started to wonder why this is. And my conclusion is that Palestinians are silenced in the US media. It’s an extension of the Zionist narrative about a defeated people. All of the memes are Zionist.

        And I don’t buy that narrative or those memes. Because something is changing in the Palestinian community. And those people are not going to be stopped by a lobby group or Ameer Makhoul being imprisoned on trumped up charges.

        And the fight is going to be taken to the US media. Because those stories have to come out. And if Israel won’t change by itself it will be made change. Because there is no future for Israel in the oppression of the Palestinians.

        I watched a Zochrot video last night about the ethnic cleansing of al Manshiyeh which was a town that existed side by side with Jaffa and was cleared and destroyed in 1948. And now hosts the Hilton. On top of the graveyards. And I was listening to 2 old people talking in palestinian arabic about what happened. And what caught me were the words. Bijeeb. Ishi. And those words and those accents link Palestinians everywhere. Whether J Street approves or not. This silenced people.

        So for me the current shifting is very significant. It is so heartening to see the coming together of Arabs like you and young Palestinian Americans and people of conscience like Annie and Kathleen and the shabaka network and the people in Bil’in and the BDS crowd and Mustafa Barghouti and the various young US Jewish activists and the others. Because the Palestinian people are not going to be silenced for much longer. And there is no amount of PR that is going to stop them.

      • Walid
        November 12, 2010, 2:39 pm

        You have it 100% right, Seafoid. The Palestinians are a beautiful very industrious people and perhaps the reason why they are kept down by Israelis and some of the Arabs. No matter how hard it tries, Israel will never succeed in getting rid of all 7 or 8 million of them.

      • David Samel
        November 12, 2010, 5:54 pm

        Walid and seafoid, my reaction to the two J Street speakers yesterday was pity rather than contempt. I saw them as genuinely distressed by Israel’s conduct, and hopeful of changing it. They appeared to be intelligent people who simply cannot abandon a clinging attachment to the ideal of a model Jewish State. They did their best with a losing hand, although these were not cards dealt to them but a position they decided to embrace. I thought they were soundly beaten in the debate, but I entered the auditorium with strong feelings of my own. My reaction to them, for what it is worth, was very different from when I see Israeli or American politicians, or Dershowitz, Pipes, Horowitz and the like spew their rehashed hate-filled garbage.

        I don’t suggest that their prescriptions for resolving the conflict have any legitimacy, or that J Street is presenting a constructive alternative to AIPAC. But I do think that people like Kathleen and Gil have traveled part of the way, and should be pushed and prodded to go further. They do not srike me as devious plotters, trying to do AIPAC’s work in a more acceptable fashion. They really think they present a genuine alternative.

      • Citizen
        November 12, 2010, 7:28 pm

        J Street just doesn’t see that the notion of the US government and American Jews changing the status quo is denied by the very reality of the gross power J-St is fighting; US gentiles are needed too and there’s no way to get them than via the US MSM, hence the vital imporance of BDS, geared to break the news, the real facts, to the whole American public. The MSM is increasingly vulnerable to the internet; that media is already starving slowly. BDS, circumvention of the PTB is the way to go. J-ST better wake up or soon it will be passe too.

      • LeaNder
        November 13, 2010, 6:45 am

        And what caught me were the words. Bijeeb. Ishi.

        Much too late to ask this question. What do the words mean?

        Or more generally, are you alluding to a specific Palestinian Arabian dialect or to Palestinian words coined as a reaction to the history? Palestinian neologisms their use and meaning?

      • seafoid
        November 13, 2010, 8:41 am

        LeaNder

        “Bijeeb” means “I bring” and “ishi” means “thing”. In Egypt they either use different words eg “hagah” for “thing” or else use different pronunciation . Lebanese arabic has a French sounding j whereas the Palestinians don’t. The words themselves are banal but they are linked to the landscape and the people and as long as Palestinians use those words the game is still on.

        I’m interested in dialects and accent and I often wonder what East Prussian German sounded like. Now that accent has disappeared since there no longer is a German speaking people in East Prussia.

    • Shingo
      November 12, 2010, 2:57 pm

      “The Israeli economy is booming”

      That’s the point isn’t it? It would not be booming if BDS increased.

      It’s like arguing against the boycott of SA because it was a wealthy country.

      “it would make things worse in Israel by triggering a circle-the-wagons defensiveness”

      So what’s new? Israel have a permanent bunker mentality.

      “only direct action in the US government and American Jews are capable of effecting a policy change in Israel”

      He wants us to leave it to Israel’s lawyer and the family rosier it out.

      “and, finally, because it amounts to the progressive left ‘giving up’ on the idea of a Jewish democratic state.”

      Is this what a Jewish democratic state is supposed to look like?

      “Jews in the US need to be more forceful in telling Israel that current orthodoxy is a disaster.”

      Won’t that cause them to circle the wagons?

      What a bunch of frauds.  They all sound like Witty.

      • seafoid
        November 12, 2010, 5:06 pm

        Shingo

        “The Israeli economy is booming” is a total non sequitur. Sanctions would hit Israelis where it hurts. I also think the phrase says a lot about the lobby mindset that places greed over human rights.

        In my ideal scenario Israel would be attacked by bond vigilantes with The Goldman Sachs Squid playing both sides as usual.

      • Citizen
        November 14, 2010, 8:28 am

        Ah, love that squid analogy for GS.

  3. seafoid
    November 12, 2010, 11:53 am

    I also think that Yank indulgence of Israel for the last 62 years has been incredibly damaging to Israeli society’s sense of responsibility for its actions.

    Foxman and the Dersh have delivered the houses of Congress but more careful parents would have exposed the child more to the real world. Israel isn’t ready for the real world.

    • wondering jew
      November 13, 2010, 12:34 am

      The 62 year figure is bogus. America’s recognition of Israel in 48 was an act of indulgence according to you, but really the next act of indulgence occurred in the aftermath of 67, or once LBJ came into power in 63 and no longer was “worried” about the Israeli nuclear program. America’s support for Israel began officially in 1967, which was 43 years ago.

      • Avi
        November 13, 2010, 7:11 am

        The 62 year figure is bogus.

        No, it’s actually spot on.

        Professor Avi Shlaim wrote:

        The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

      • Citizen
        November 14, 2010, 8:29 am

        Johsnson’s decision to ignore the USS Liberty crew?

  4. Bill in Maryland
    November 12, 2010, 12:20 pm

    Thank you Rob for your excellent reporting. J Street seems to offer only a slick veneer for maintaining the status quo, while BDS holds the promise of (finally) moving the ball forward. Besides, YoungJewishProud/JVP just pushed J street off the stage in New Orleans.

    Seafoid, what the heck does “bukra fi mishmish” mean?

    • seafoid
      November 12, 2010, 5:02 pm

      Hi Bill

      It is an arabic phrase used by Palestinians. Literally it means “there will be apricots tomorrow”. It translates as “pigs will fly”
      Which I what I think when I see J Street saying

      “only direct action in the US government and American Jews are capable of effecting a policy change in Israel”.

      I think what J Street want to do is to work within the parameters of K Street or whatever that Beltway insider thing is.
      The beauty of BDS is its inclusivity and unpredictibility.

      • Bill in Maryland
        November 12, 2010, 10:36 pm

        Thanks Seafoid. Got it.

        J Street wants to keep everyone playing the same game with the same (corrupt) referees, and then they get a pat on the head by AIPAC. Meanwhile YoungJewishProud/JVP bloodies AIPACS nose. And BDS is a total game changer.

  5. MHughes976
    November 12, 2010, 12:39 pm

    Unpretentious churches being mentioned, may I once more (and no more) mention, in case there are others from my part of the UK, the forthcoming meeting this Monday, Nov.15, 7pm, in St. Michael Northgate, Oxford, on Israel and the Territories?

  6. Chu
    November 12, 2010, 1:17 pm

    It’s refreshing to see the crowd support the alternative to the status quo. Since it was not in a synagogue, were many attendees non- Jews? Typically the support is more mixed (40/60+/-).

  7. David Samel
    November 12, 2010, 2:17 pm

    I was at the program last night, and it was quite fascinating. Our very own Adam was a perfect impartial moderator, and the four panelists were very articulate in presenting their points of view. Of course, I arrived inclined toward the Rebecca-Hannah side, and they were both very impressive. I do disagree with Rob Buchanan to the extent that he calls them “idealists.” It was Kathleen and Gil who placed their hopes in achieving a 2ss by appealing to the Israeli conscience and to Obama to get tough with Israel. Neither of these options have a very good track record. I know Rob did not intend to use “idealist” in a disparaging manner, but I think the word does fit the anti-BDS side in that negative sense.

    For me, the most interesting dispute was over one-state/two-state. Kathleen appeared agitated, and Gil absolutely appalled, at Hannah’s explicit call for replacing the Jewish State with a state that shows no preference for any ethno-religious group (a position that Rebecca also took, more subtly, and not on behalf of JVP). Kathleen and Gil saw the disingenuous Ben-Gurion declaration of May 15, 1948, which guaranteed equal rights for all, to be a blueprint for what could be a genuine Jewish and democratic state. (That’s another reason to cast them as the unrealistic “idealists.”) When Gil asked Hannah if she thought that the Jewish State eventually would cease to exist, she answered, “Yes,” unequivocally. Gil especially seemed shocked, and he and Kathleen both felt that this was an extremist position that would, could, and should never be realized.

    Chu, the crowd appeared to be 80 or 90% Jewish. The church venue was entirely incidental. I thought the pro-BDS side was favored by the crowd, but not overwhelmingly. Kathleen and Gil got their share of enthusiastic applause. They did, of course, clearly condemn Bibi & co. and the occupation and the worst aspects of Israeli rule, but the differences between them and Rebecca and Hannah were quite sharp anyway.

    • Avi
      November 13, 2010, 1:22 am

      When Gil asked Hannah if she thought that the Jewish State eventually would cease to exist, she answered, “Yes,” unequivocally. Gil especially seemed shocked, and he and Kathleen both felt that this was an extremist position that would, could, and should never be realized.

      Gil probably thinks of himself as a guardian, a shomer of Israel, much in the same way some TSA employees think of themselves as the Jack Bauers of the United States, therefore justifying the stripping naked of travelers, patting them down, examining their every orifice, and essentially making their lives miserable. Of course, by no means am I implying that what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people is in anyway comparable to what airport security often does to passengers. If Desmond Tutu has already characterized the conditions in the occupied territories as, “Worse than Apartheid”, then I’m inclined to trust him.

      Besides, does Gil reside permanently in the U.S., Israel or somewhere else? What I’m asking is, where does Gil call Home?

      • bijou
        November 13, 2010, 6:23 pm

        Bingo. I think what really makes the difference is when people live there through Palestinian eyes and come to fully grasp what the current reality is. Then they “get it” that it’s completely unsustainable. But from afar, or from the perspective of someone who has only been to Jewish Israel and seen the country through that lens, “Jewish and democratic” sounds plausible and appealing.

      • bijou
        November 13, 2010, 6:30 pm

        When Gil asked Hannah if she thought that the Jewish State eventually would cease to exist, she answered, “Yes,” unequivocally.

        Also, perhaps she should have answered the Zionism would cease to exist, not the state. It’s a subtle difference, but I would guess that talk of the “state ceasing to exist” triggers all those terrifying existential fears that seem to be just beneath the surface with many Jews. In fact it is Zionism that is the crux of the problem, because it privileges Jews throughout the world over all the other non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. Without Zionism, the state could become “a state for all its citizens” and, using its right to self-determination, determine a new more equitable identity for itself.

  8. Richard Witty
    November 12, 2010, 3:08 pm

    Got a video?

    • Antidote
      November 12, 2010, 5:22 pm

      How to reach the Israeli conscience – here’s a video:

      • thankgodimatheist
        November 13, 2010, 3:55 am

        “here’s a video:”

        Excellent! Some reaching..

  9. Shmuel
    November 12, 2010, 3:53 pm

    the Israeli economy is booming and it would have zero impact;

    BDS is not about economic pressure. It is about moral pressure and solidarity. Cultural and academic BDS are thus far more important than economic BDS – although the latter also has a role to play if is sufficiently high profile (regardless of actual economic impact).

    it would make things worse in Israel by triggering a circle-the-wagons defensiveness;

    Or not. Neither Ms. Paratis nor I know how Israelis will react if and when BDS really starts to proliferate. It is already obvious that they don’t like it, and it is making them nervous (again, nothing to do with economic pressure). As someone who lived in Israel for most of my life, I think a sense of real international isolation (well beyond “the whole world is against us” mantra Israelis are taught from birth) could engender a real shift – especially among members of the cosmopolitan, intellectual elite. Besides, anyone who talks about “making things worse” doesn’t fully appreciate the extreme gravity of current reality for Palestinians.

    only direct action in the US government and American Jews are capable of effecting a policy change in Israel;

    And the chances of that happening any time in the foreseeable future are? The Palestinians can’t wait another generation or more, and deserve to have
    their rights recognised immediately. They also deserve our solidarity and concrete support. They have asked us to support BDS.

    it amounts to the progressive left ‘giving up’ on the idea of a Jewish democratic state.

    There are (at least) two aspects to this statement.

    The first is Palestinian, as expressed by Omar Barghouti, who said: This is not a Palestinian problem and Palestinians should not be expected to resolve it. Palestinian (and Israeli) human rights must be respected. If this interferes with narrow, Jewish aspirations, that is not our concern. It is not a valid argument against BDS.

    The second aspect is the liberal-Zionist one. What do you mean by “Jewish and democratic”? A confessional Jewish state, in which Halakhah is the law of the land? That wouldn’t be very liberal, would it. A state in which “democracy” is primarily a matter of majority rule, and a specific ethno-religious majority is artificially maintained (by ethnic cleansing, discriminatory immigration policies, and even “peace processes”)? That wouldn’t be very liberal either. A state with a sizeable Jewish population and vibrant Jewish culture with full equality for all citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity? That’s exactly what the BDS movement advocates.

    • Richard Witty
      November 12, 2010, 4:15 pm

      And the moral argument of selective academic BDS is then lost when the selection of who is invited versus who is offensively boycotted is arbitrary.

      Amira Hass is invited, even as she acknowledges that the majority of pioneer settlers were refugees not colonialists, or criticizes Hamas fairly intensely.

      Gideon Levy is invited, even as he acknowledges that in the sense that the WW2 refugees needed a haven that he is a Zionist, but in the sense that Israel oppresses Palestinians he is an anti-Zionist.

      Bradley Burston is untested.

      Akiva Eldar is untested. Rasheed Khalidi invited him to speak at the University of Chicago program that he supervises.

      Pete Seeger is hated for being PEP, described here, an irony of ironies. Cross-nationality environmental conferences are boycotted.

      Arbitrary. And arbitrary dissent is understood as a precedent to arbitrary governance.

      • Citizen
        November 13, 2010, 3:01 am

        Witty, why don’t you directly address what Shmuel said? Because you cannot do so without agreeing with him. There is a place where you, Witty, can have what you want for yourself and people who think and feel just like you, a place where you and yours can live up to their very utmost reason for being: Antarctica. Why? Because it is the only place on earth no human group claims as their homeland. Enjoy! And take a few jackets.

      • Shingo
        November 13, 2010, 3:20 am

        “And the moral argument of selective academic BDS is then lost when the selection of who is invited versus who is offensively boycotted is arbitrary.”

        What do you mean by offensively boycotted? Is there a way to boycott someone without offending them?

        “Amira Hass is invited, even as she acknowledges that the majority of pioneer settlers were refugees not colonialists, or criticizes Hamas fairly intensely.”

        Where did she make that disctinction? How can someone be a refugee if they are an immigrant? And as an immigrant, how could they not all be colonialists?

        “Gideon Levy is invited, even as he acknowledges that in the sense that the WW2 refugees needed a haven that he is a Zionist, but in the sense that Israel oppresses Palestinians he is an anti-Zionist.”

        a haven inside the 1967 borders yes, not in the occupied territories. And giving someone a haven doesn’t come with a right ot steal land and murder the residents of that land.

    • yourstruly
      November 12, 2010, 10:53 pm

      “A state with a sizeable Jewish population and Vibrant Jewish culture with full equality for all citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity.”

      Anything more than this would be privileging Jews. wouldn’t it? Damn, what is there about the words, a Jew is no better (also no worse) than anyone else, that’s so dificuolt to understand? Or are the egos of Jewish supporters of Israel really so fragile that, lest life lose all its meaning, the dissolution of the Zionist state (not its people) is an outcome too painful for them even to contemplate? So for their peace of mind justice in Palestine is to be delayed how long? And during this time how many Palestinians must die or be injured, how many homes destroyed? Come on, Jewish supporters of Israel, get a real life!

      • Antidote
        November 13, 2010, 9:26 am

        “Or are the egos of Jewish supporters of Israel really so fragile that, lest life lose all its meaning, the dissolution of the Zionist state (not its people) is an outcome too painful for them even to contemplate?”

        I’m afraid it is to a large extent a collective ego and collective identity problem: As long as we have our state, we are as safe, as good, as strong as everyone else. A nonsense, to be sure, sooo 19th century. But it must be addressed.

        Note how much the restoration of Jewish honor and pride played a role in early Zionism (Herzl especially). One major reason why they cannot admit to having done anything dishonorable, from the Nakba right up to present violations of Palestinian rights. In the Palestinians, the Israelis have created their very own Jew, assigned to them the subordinate role Jews were supposed to play in the Diaspora. The stereotypes and power plays are very much the same, including the belief that the Palestinians conspire to destroy the Jewish state , and pay lip-service only in recognizing its existence and legitimacy.

    • seafoid
      November 13, 2010, 9:08 am

      “it would make things worse in Israel ”

      Like white phosphorous is already an acceptable Israeli form of communication.

  10. wondering jew
    November 13, 2010, 12:39 am

    The issue here and that raised by the Bibi 5 are more or less the same: an attempt to change Israeli society, what will change it and what are “we” aiming for. J street is not aiming to reform the right of return and the BDS’ers are. This is an essential difference, rather than a difference of tactics. The tactical questions can be raised even if the only goal is to undo 67, but the BDS’ers wish to undo 48 and thus the tactics serve a different role with the revolutionary attempt to undo 48.

    • Shmuel
      November 13, 2010, 5:23 am

      1948 is the heart of the conflict, whether liberal Zionists and Serious People around the world like it or not. ’48 must be addressed, even in the context of a 2ss, or it will be no solution at all.

    • seafoid
      November 13, 2010, 9:11 am

      YESHA wiped out the Green line, WJ. The Israel of 1966 no longer exists. Israel n ow runs a binational state from the Jordan to the Med in which only half of the people have full civil rights. 67 was undone by YESHA. And YESHA is a one way street.

      • Avi
        November 13, 2010, 10:55 am

        For those who are unfamiliar, Yesha or Yesha’ is the pronunciation spelling of the Hebrew acronym for “Judea, Samaria and Gaza” (Yehudah, Shomron, Ve (and) Azza).

        It is the regional council of the colonists of the occupied West Bank, and — until 2005 — Gaza, as well.

        Yesha has existed since 1967, initially under the Gush Emunim banner.

  11. thankgodimatheist
    November 13, 2010, 4:17 am

    BDS
    Major Dutch pension fund divests from occupation

    The major Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), which has investments totaling 97 billion euros, has informed The Electronic Intifada that it has divested from almost all the Israeli companies in its portfolio.

    PGGM, the manager of the major Dutch pension fund PFZW, has adopted a new guideline for socially responsible investment in companies which operate in conflict zones.
    In addition, PFZM has also entered into discussions with Motorola, Veolia and Alstom to raise its concerns about human rights issues. All three companies have actively supported and profited from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip.
    link to electronicintifada.net

  12. Richard Witty
    November 13, 2010, 5:43 am

    The heart of the conflict is the present.

    That is that Palestinians have no homeland, no free movement, no citizenship, very restricted economy, less than equal due process (military law in the West Bank, isolation in Gaza, Jim Crow in Israel).

    There is no “origination” to any conflict. Every action is a response to something before it.

    Peace however is the reconciliation of the present, towards the design for a viable and healthful future.

    Present->future.

    As important as it is to name the chain of current relations, it is the current relations that are what is to be addressed.

    Palestinians are human beings and deserve a good life. Israelis are human beings and deserve a good life.

    The past is already gone, already changed, EVERYBODY’s.

    • Antidote
      November 13, 2010, 9:53 am

      1. “The heart of the conflict is the present.”

      Why, then, are we constantly being reminded of the Holocaust by Israelis and Jewish organizations around the globe when it comes to the I/P conflict?

      2. “There is no “origination” to any conflict. Every action is a response to something before it.”

      German chancellor addresses Knesset (fictional and ridiculous account):

      ‘German anti-semitism right up to Auschwitz was the response to something before it.’

      3. “Peace however is the reconciliation of the present, towards the design for a viable and healthful future.”

      Merkel addressing the Knesset in 2008, Israel’s 60th birthday:

      “The Shoah is a source of great shame to Germans. I bow to the victims. I bow to the survivors and to all those who helped them survive.”

      Shmuel is right, 48 is at the core of the conflict, and it must be addressed, or there will be no peace. Replace Shoah with Nakba, Germans with Zionists/Israelis.

      4. “The past is already gone, already changed, EVERYBODY’s.”

      Start again at 1. Repeat as often as necessary

      • Citizen
        November 14, 2010, 9:03 am

        Great response to Witty’s Zioncaine abstractions, Antidote. Why doesn’t Witty open the damn door for once, instead of looking and speaking through the keyhole? Does he fear some townie is hiding behind a tree out there, waiting to pounce on him if he takes a walk in that nice New England landscape?

  13. Richard Witty
    November 13, 2010, 6:13 am

    link to haaretz.com

    Academic objectivity rises above assaults by Europe’s left and Israel’s right
    After endless boycott attempts accusing Israel’s universities of cooperating with the occupation, now Israel’s right is waging a totalitarian campaign against what they term ‘anti-Zionism.’
    By Carlo Strenger Tags: Israel boycott Israel education

    Recent years have seen a number of attempts, primarily out of Britain, to boycott Israel’s universities. Sometimes the justification is that the universities are collaborating with the occupation of the West Bank; sometimes simply that this is an easy way to put pressure on Israel to finally stop the occupation. I have in the past argued that boycotting Israel’s universities goes against the spirit of academia, and that it is politically unwise, because it actually achieves the opposite of what it aims to achieve by weakening one of the institutions most identified with universalist values in Israel.

    Paradoxically, the simultaneous campaign against Israel’s universities waged by Israel’s right wing actually lends credibility to the assertion that these academic institutions are actually bastions of enlightened ideals of objective neutrality. In accusing the academia of promoting anti-Zionist ideas, the direct opposite of what the European boycotters are claiming, Israel’s right, of all groups, is actually proving the universities’ neutrality.

    • Citizen
      November 14, 2010, 9:12 am

      Sadly, the article writer does not identify even one european leftist message directed at Israeli academic institutions, nor even one european leftist messenger.

      • MHughes976
        November 14, 2010, 10:47 am

        In 2006 the British Association of University Teachers, since merged into the University and Colleges Union, passed a vote for academic boycott, which I must admit I thought at the time was premature. The vote has been repeated since but the results have been negated every time by what is called, maybe euphemistically, legal advice.
        The vote elicited a huge Zionist reaction in name of academic freedom. It was this reaction that made me think that Zionism is not inherently a friend of academic or general intellectual freedom – this was one fo the things that pushed me into examining the whole subject in a way that I never done had before.
        An organisation which existed before then but gained prominence afterwards, called the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, BRICUP, has pursued the matter since.

  14. JLWarner
    November 13, 2010, 5:28 pm

    The answer to the question that closes the post – “What IS a Jewish democratic state? What makes it better or more desirable than a regular democratic state? And if it’s not better, why would any citizen of this country ultimately believe in it or want to support it?” is that a Jewish state alongside a Palestin9ian state is the world-wide consensus of everybody including and U.S. and Israel (although Israel is not moving to implement it) and the Palestinians (including Fatah and to some extent Hamas). Any other resolution of the conflict has to change world opinion. In other words, any other solution will take years to organize, and hence condemns Palestinians to many more years of suffering and Jews to many more years of anguish at Israel’s occupation and dispossession of Palestinians.

    A Palestinian state alongside Israel is the art of the possible.

    That is why I support it.

    • bijou
      November 13, 2010, 6:24 pm

      Actually if you know the true situation on the ground, you will know that it is precisely the opposite – impossible at this point.

      • Avi
        November 13, 2010, 7:18 pm

        On the face of it, it seems to me that JLWarner is attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of those he/she perceives to be uninformed or gullible. In that regard, his/her claim is an insult to one’s intelligence.

        Furthermore, warner suggests that the world consensus supports a two state. What consensus and what world, is anyone’s guess.

        Besides, who cares what world opinion is at this time? International law is the standard according to which the situation must be examined and the parties involved are the one’s who have the ultimate say on the matter.

      • MHughes976
        November 14, 2010, 8:48 am

        There’s a review in NYRB Jan. 2009 by Malley and Agha drawing attention to the widespread support in principle for 2s between Israelis and Palestinians over the years and to how absolutely nothing ever comes of it.
        I would think that a kind of consensus in favour of 2s does exist internationally and is part of the problem. It is a consensus that tolerates, indeed encourages endless talk amid endless Israeli acquisition, the famous pizza process. It’s based on ignorance, wishful thinking (I well remember this in myself in the 90s) and a desire not to be bothered, still less frightened.

    • wondering jew
      November 14, 2010, 1:51 am

      Resolution 242 is a two state solution resolution and this backs up JLWarner’s assertion.

      • Avi
        November 14, 2010, 4:37 am

        Have you ever actually bothered to read the text of UN Resolution 242?

        Show me where it makes any mention of this alleged two-state solution.

    • Sumud
      November 14, 2010, 4:50 am

      Any other resolution of the conflict has to change world opinion. In other words, any other solution will take years to organize, and hence condemns Palestinians to many more years of suffering and Jews to many more years of anguish at Israel’s occupation and dispossession of Palestinians.

      Rip Van Winkle, time to wake up.

      Nearly twenty years have elapsed and the two-state solution – promised to end years of suffering for Palestinians – has resulted in: years of suffering for Palestinians. To continue on the same track would be insane, unless you’re Israel which is doing a tidy business out of it all.

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