Debating BDS at Princeton

This is a post from Blumenthal’s site.

On December 15 I participated in a debate at Princeton University on the “ethics and efficacy” of BDS. The debate was held as a bookend to the battle over a resolution calling for adding an alternative in the campus cafeteria to Sabra Hummus, an Israeli brand produced by a company which has sponsored the IDF’s Givati and Golani brigades (the resolution was defeated). In my opinion, though the students from the Princeton Committee for Palestine who initiated the effort to sideline Sabra were not successful, they won anyway by forcing an open and honest discussion about Israeli war crimes, occupation and discrimination. And the students who voted against the alternative hummus resolution were simply stupid, not necessarily because they obstructed a campaign targeting a military unit that has been implicated in hideous crimes, but because they resigned themselves to a brand of hummus that contains the preservative known as sodium benzoate, which has been directly linked to everything from cancer to Parkinson’s to a variety of degenerative diseases.

The debate was not only an opportunity for Princeton to hear the arguments for BDS, which I and Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson introduced, but to see the supposedly “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization J Street showcase its opposition to the BDS movement, which it has labeled on its website as “a convenient mantle for thinly disguised anti-Semitism.” The group dispatched Daniel May, who serves as director of J Street’s campus wing, J Street U, to argue against BDS at Princeton. He was joined by a Princeton senior also named Daniel May, who filled in as the second debater against BDS because none of the major pro-Israel organizations invited by Princeton’s Whig-Clio debating society were able to, or were willing to, participate. (I have heard rumors from multiple sources that AIPAC has adopted an official policy of refusing to engage in public debates on BDS).

I have embedded two videos here: at the top is my opening statement, and the second contains highlights of each speaker’s presentation. While Rebecca focused her arguments on rights and results (see her excellent presentation here), I tried to outline the history of how Israel engineered its “Jewish and democratic” system through force, and why it relies on increasingly horrific levels of force to ward off the encroaching threat of real democracy. Daniel May of Princeton hammered on the notion that there are much worse human rights violators in the world than Israel, and that Israel is a longstanding ally of the U.S. that “doesn’t deserve to be boycotted.” I thought he did a pretty good job of presenting his case, though of course I disagreed with him, and said so.

The presentation by Daniel May of J Street was the most significant of the evening, simply because it revealed how far J Street is willing to go to stop BDS. I have nothing personal against May. In fact, I know him and like him a lot. He is a decent, enormously talented guy. But he is also an employee of J Street and that means that he had to recite the talking points that Jeremy Ben-Ami and his inner circle had crafted for him based on their own focus groups and polling.

Tragically, May’s case — and by extension, J Street’s case — against BDS boiled down to the Bible and the Holocaust: BDS undermines the 2000-year-old dream that Jews supposedly have of “returning to Israel,” he said, and it denies the persecution Jews have suffered “everywhere they went,” especially in Europe during the Holocaust. Aside from a few token nods May made to the Palestinian popular struggle (which ironically is linked the BDS movement), his case against BDS seemed contrived to trigger the most base emotional responses from Jewish-Americans, especially those who had been subjected to sustained Zionist conditioning. What that says about J Street’s long term political strategy and the case against BDS will be the subject of a much longer piece I plan to post in the coming days. And I will be posting complete video of (J Street U director) May’s entire opening statement as well.

About Max Blumenthal

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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  1. Sorry if OT but this is important(and bad) news..
    Mazin Qumsiyeh arrested..
    Need to start action now.

  2. Mazin Arrested *** Call Now

    Mazin Qumsiyeh former of the faculty of Duke and Yale and now teaching at Bethlehem University has been arrested for objecting to an exapnding settlement in a Palestinian town. (details below)

    The best time to make contact on arrests is immediately, before anything goes too far. Note from Jesse Qumsiyeh that they’ve already thrown water on the prisoners.

    CALL

    the U.S. office in Jerusalem for the Territories is

    011-972-2-622-7221 or 011-972-2-622-7207

    from 1 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time

    at all other times for emergencies like arrests use this number

    011-972-2-622-7250

    [ I just called so they do know the facts. What they need to see is that lots of people are behind Mazin ]

    ask to speak to a duty officer

  3. Citizen says:

    As between Jews it really does seem to boil down to whether the lesson Never Again is only for the benefit of Jews (no matter what they do), as distinguished from a lesson to benefit all humans. Arendt, who, if memory serves, coined the term “the banality of evil,” spoke about the double standard at issue during the trial of Eichmann. She thought it should be taken as a universal lesson applicable to all of humanity. J Street is very disappointing. Whatever power it has obtained is due to its I Can Market Israel Brand Better Than AIPAC source of power.

    • Good point Citizen on the use of the term “never again”, whether it is only applied tribally or including more expansive usage.

      I believe that J Street does adopt “never again, to anyone”. I don’t hear that from Hamas, or from Israel Beitanhu.

      BDS as applied and as argued for, seems more to me to resemble the Palestinian militant logic, and does NOT apply the usage “never again, to anyone”, but seems to apply a willingness to apply the usage to Palestinians tribally, at least in ignoring the parts of the history that support humane Zionist assertions. (Refugees from holocaust, early attempts at cooperation with Arabs in 20′s by people like Ben Gurion, active terror campaigns against civilian settlements from early on – mostly snipering and “petty” sabotage, Mufti alliance with nazis – not insignficant, 1947 and 48 civil war – not unilateral ethnic cleansing, but mutual)

      Its not that the assertions of Zionist excesses aren’t accurate. Its just that they are not alone. They occur in a context of conflict, former and continuing.

      • Citizen says:

        It wasn’t that the assertions of Nazi excesses were not accurate, it’s just that they were not alone, both before the Nazis came to power and while they were in power. Versailles Treaty anyone? How about Dresden? They occurred in a context of conflict, former and continuing.

        • I had a dream last night in which I was a Palestinian facing a checkpoint, then woke up abruptly, crying.

          I agree with you that there is Israeli apartheid in the West Bank that is inexcusable and retained for a very long time.

      • Shingo says:

        I believe that J Street does adopt “never again, to anyone”. I don’t hear that from Hamas, or from Israel Beitanhu.

        What an incredibly stupid thing to say!

        Did Jews say “never again” while the Holocaust was happening? No, they said it when it finally ended.

        You’re so obsesessed with your own tribe that you expect the Palesrinians to express compassion for Israelis while the Israelus are killing them.

        • I do expect Palestinians to express compassion, as I expect an Israeli soldier that is being pelted with rocks at a “non-violent” demonstration to express compassion. Don’t you?

  4. J Street Daniel May was more convincing to me.

    The two-state is clearly a preferable solution to the single state that BDS harbors.

    It is deceptive for Max to speak in terms of a peace process at his concluding statement, but a single state in the body of his talk and implications.

    The reason that the J Street thesis is more accurate, and therefore more applicable, is that it is TRUTH that the hostilities are mutual, that are decisions that all parties can make that can improve the conditions for Palestinians and the security for Israelis.

    Max also conspicuously ignores the near civil war between Fatah and Hamas, and similar highly inflammatory statements about Fatah (but rarely about Hamas) by advocates for BDS.

    It is NOT a two-side conflict. There is triangulation. It is more Orwellian than that (Orwell representing a triangulated constant war structurally)

    The Orwellian thesis was that in a triangular setting, propaganda is the prevailing communication in ALL of the parties’ societies, employed to divide and conquer.

    The agitation towards Israel is an attempt to sympathize with the united Palestinian cause (that is not united).

    Of the four prominent voices expressed (right-wing Israeli, J street Israeli, Fatah Palestinian, Hamas Palestinian), J Street and Fatah articulate a live and let live platform and approach.

    Live AND let live.

    In contrast, both the right-wing Israeli and the far left solidarity and Hamas articulate a live OR let live approach.

    BDS currently invests in the OR approach, particularly as articulated by Max, as much he feigns humility “this the only option that we can conceive of working currently”.

    It would be humane for him to acknowledge that BDS does intend to harm Israelis as a means (and possibly as an end), and it would be wonderful if he even extended crocodile tears in some reticence.

    The citing of Israeli history also was negligently incomplete, in not siting the mutual hostility on the ground directed at pre-1948 Jewish residence in the region. In essence, that a state of conflict was most characteristic of that time, NOT of solely one-sided ethnic cleansing. I would also hope that Max would acknowledge that ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages occurred tactically, and NOT universally, that the Arab population of Israel is currently 20% of the population, slightly less at Israel’s founding in 1948. (I had innaccurate figures in an earlier post on population, exagerating the proportion of 1949 Arab population).

    What is an alternative proposal? An IMPORTANT question.

    Electoral, on the ground, based on J Street’s appeal to mutual humanism.

    External movements of force, as Max presented, are that, impositions of force.

    Does he feel good about using force to impose from outside? Even some acknowledgement of that tension would be more effective.

    What happens after? After BDS succeeds in achieving a single state by attacking the dream of “enough Zionism” (maybe a revision from Herzl’s fantasies, maybe not), what then?

    How practically does peace emerge from that?

    One lesson of the realist analysis, is that if a goal is not in fact achievable, a fantasy (the single state magically peaceful – like Lebanon?) then pursuit of that goal will worsen the world, not improve it.

    In this case,

    • Citizen says:

      For Richard Witty:
      The two-state solution as painted by Israel to date and what that harbors is not clearly a preferable solution to the single state that BDS harbors.

      Re moral equivalency–turn on your Way Back machine:

      “It is TRUTH that the hostilities are mutual, that are decisions that all parties can make that can improve the conditions for Jews and the security for the Jewish people.” (Circa 1932-1945)
      Same re China versus Imperial Japan in the old days.

      Live AND let live. I’ll take my gallon of water and you take your full thimble full. I will take your home, and you get to keep your house keys, fair enough?

      It would be humane for Israel to acknowledge that it does harm Palestinians as a means (and possibly also as an end), and it would be wonderful if Israel even extended crocodile tears in some reticence.

      The near civil war between Fatah and Hamas has been instigated by Israel with US support since inception, and greatly enhanced by the same dynamic duo since HAMAS was democratically elected.

      Better check your demographic figures regarding the population in the land when Israel declared itself a state. You might even consider the demography when Balfour made his unilateral and conditional promise to Lord Rothschild.

      Take judicial notice of the employment of economic force by Israel over the years, and take a look at what the US is doing in this area AGAINST Iran under Stuart Levey.

      What happens after? And what happens after 2-state succeeds with Netanahu’s proclaimed limits on the sovereignty of the rump Palestinian state?

      How practically does a reasonably lasting peace emerge from that?

    • kim says:

      What happens after the BDS struggle, as one small piece achieves one state? How about them hosting the World Cup 16 years later?

      This has been done before.

    • seafoid says:

      Witless

      There already is a single state and it is called Erez Israel.
      Zionists count all the Jews in that state but only 30% of the Arabs.

      If you don’t want a single state where everyone counts then you have to fight to have YESHA dismantled. And every single Jew sent back behind the Green Line.

      Otherwise you’re a fraud.

      • I’m certainly not a fraud. I’m just not a believer in BDS, its proponents, the language that is used to advocate for it (including frauds), nor hopeful that it will result in good.

        From those that prominently profess a single state, people like Ali Abunimeh, they respectably and I believe sincerely express a desire that the single state proposed be a fully democratic one with all majorities and minorities subject to the rule of law and beneficiaries of color-blind application of the rule of law.

        The problem is that the features that would make that possible are NOT the features that are publicly presented in BDS advocacy, particularly strong and realistically confident assurances that suppression of Jews’ individual and collective rights would not be trashed in a pendulum swing.

        BDS is non-violent as a tactic, but still externally coercive and many proponents state that they would be willing to use violent tactics if they felt it would be effective.

        “Every single Jew sent back behind the green line” is ethnic cleansing. You didn’t notice that?

        • Donald says:

          ““Every single Jew sent back behind the green line” is ethnic cleansing. You didn’t notice that?”

          I wish you would think before you type. But why break a pattern?

          Seafoid gave two choices. In one, there is a single state with equal rights for all. In the other, there is Israel and there is a Palestinian state and the Israeli Jews who have been illegally settling the West Bank for decades are thrown out. You call this “ethnic cleansing” without noticing that Israeli Jews can move to the West Bank and lord it over the Palestinians but the reverse can’t happen. How many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have moved to Israel and made the lives of Israelis a living hell?

          Basically you think that in a two state solution Israelis should be able to benefit from ethnic cleansing and any hint of a situation where Israeli Jews are forced to give up some of their ill-gotten gain is what you call ethnic cleansing.

        • Expelling all of a population based on their ethnicity is by definition “ethnic cleansing”.

    • Shingo says:

      J Street Daniel May was more convincing to me.

      I suspect that based on your later comment, you posted this before even watching the presentations.

      The two-state is clearly a preferable solution to the single state that BDS harbors.

      BDS has nothing to do with a two-state or single state. As Max explained (and you woudl have realised had you watchined the clips), the BDS movement is supported by participants from both camps.

      <blockquote The reason that the J Street thesis is more accurate, and therefore more applicable, is that it is TRUTH that the hostilities are mutual, that are decisions that all parties can make that can improve the conditions for Palestinians and the security for Israelis.

      If ýoud bothred to wtch the clips, you would have realized that there was no accuracy in what J Street had to say, because they either lied abou what the BDS web site claims as it’s goals, or they made no reference to facts at all.

      Max also conspicuously ignores the near civil war between Fatah and Hamas, and similar highly inflammatory statements about Fatah (but rarely about Hamas) by advocates for BDS.

      What was conspicuous about it? Fatah atatcked Hamas, in a coup attemnpt that was backed by Tel Aviv and Washington. Are you arguing that the case against Israel was not already damning enough?

      What about the cable that revealed Fatah’s compoicity in Cast Lead? Is that the fault of BDS suppoters too?

      You are seriously too dumb for words.

      It is NOT a two-side conflict. There is triangulation.

      True., it is Israel and the US against teh Palestinians.

      BDS currently invests in the OR approach, particularly as articulated by Max, as much he feigns humility “this the only option that we can conceive of working currently”.

      As opposed to you, wgho simply feigns ignorance and delusion. Liek J Street, your prescriptuion is to do nothing and not unpset Israelis, which has been the failed stratergy for 43 years.

      The citing of Israeli history also was negligently incomplete, in not siting the mutual hostility on the ground directed at pre-1948 Jewish residence in the region. In essence, that a state of conflict was most characteristic of that time, NOT of solely one-sided ethnic cleansing.

      The ethnic cleansing and colonisation aspirations of teh Zionists was the bases of the conflict.

      Did you not know that?

      I would also hope that Max would acknowledge that ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages occurred tactically, and NOT universally, that the Arab population of Israel is currently 20% of the population, slightly less at Israel’s founding in 1948. (I had innaccurate figures in an earlier post on population, exagerating the proportion of 1949 Arab population).

      What idiocy! How does that change anything? Is the Holocuast any less of a crime beasue not all Jews were exterminated?

      You haev a truly sick mind Witty.

      What is an alternative proposal? An IMPORTANT question. Electoral, on the ground, based on J Street’s appeal to mutual humanism.

      That’s not an alternative, thta’s simply empty rhetoric. As Max pointed out, J Street are good at talking, but like you, are not prepared to do anything or support any actions.

      Does he feel good about using force to impose from outside?

      BDS is not force. It is based on voluntary descision making. No force has ever beeen advocated, and no one is arguing that BDS be neforeced.

      Stop lying Witty.

      Even some acknowledgement of that tension would be more effective.

      Based on what Witty? What historical evidence is that of this being “effective”?

      After BDS succeeds in achieving a single state by attacking the dream of “enough Zionism” (maybe a revision from Herzl’s fantasies, maybe not), what then?

      Forst of all, your lies abotu the single staet are failing, so give it up.

      When the goals do BDS are achieved (ie. ISrael obeving interntational law), BDS will end, as boycott of apartheid South Africa ended when apartheid ended.

      One lesson of the realist analysis, is that if a goal is not in fact achievable, a fantasy

      What do you know about realism Witty? Your arguments always follow the idea that facts whoudl be ignoerd or put to the side in favor of vague and incoerent rhetoric.

  5. yonira says:

    The debate was held as a bookend to the battle over a resolution calling for adding an alternative in the campus cafeteria to Sabra Hummus, an Israeli brand produced by a company which has sponsored the IDF’s Givati and Golani brigades (the resolution was defeated)

    LOL, talk about a losing team.

    • Frances says:

      And yet, here you are, day after day after long day.

      To disabuse us of our notions, no doubt.

      • Citizen says:

        If yonira had an extra life preserver, which one would he save? Oh wait, I’m faintly reminded of the story of Barrabas (sic?). Well, at least we know there was a clear choice in that story, yes? Just asking.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      Is this just a game to you, sicko?

    • Citizen says:

      So, yonira, now that you have that sports analogy off your chest, do you have a problem with anything Mr. Blumenthal says in the video clip outlining the history of how Israel engineered its “Jewish and democratic” system? If not, say so. If so, say so, and specifically; otherwise, it’s obvious you’d be more at home on an NFL forum. How about those Bears? Or, you like the Seahawks or Falcons?

  6. VR says:

    This was an excellent debate, and Mr. Blumenthal is correct when he says that the very introduction of the debate is a victory. It exposed the same tired old arguments from the opposition, and just showed how hackneyed the so-called arguments are in a setting where facts are produced. BDS shined in this debate and it needs to be broadened and joined by all who can say not in my name.

    • Walid says:

      J Street had a funny smell about it from the start and that smell is getting stronger every time BDS comes up.

      • Sumud says:

        I think you’re right, still it’s a good thing that there is an alternative to AIPAC. J Street may not be what we want but it demonstrates there is no unified jewish position on Israel, and what comes after J Street will almost certainly be more progressive.

  7. Max Blumenthal’s presentation unfortunately included falsehoods and innuendo. Falsehoods- The Israeli (Zionist) offensive which ultimately kicked out Palestinians did not begin in December 47, but in April 48. He implied that there was no reason for this attack by the Zionists, because Arab armies did not invade Palestine until May whereas in fact Jewish communities in Jerusalem, the Negev and the Galilee were under attack or siege both by Palestinian irregulars and also by Arabs from outside Palestine (ALA).

    Innuendo- Indeed if the Palestinians had called Israel’s bluff and agreed to partition, the Zionists would have faced a difficult situation with a population which was approximately 45% Arab (Palestinian), but to imply that the reaction to this difficulty would have been military is purely innuendo. In fact the Zionists assumed that the Palestinians would reject the partition and they did.

    The peace process itself has not uprooted a single settler, was another Blumenthal claim. But in fact 8,000 settlers were removed from Gaza. Technically it was not the peace process which demanded this removal, but to separate the removal from the peace process would be mere pretense.

    Those that deny that the BDS movement is designed to delegitimize Israel were ill served by Max Blumenthal’s opening statement which was an attempt to do precisely that.

    • seafoid says:

      “In fact the Zionists assumed that the Palestinians would reject the partition and they did.”

      And bears shit in the woods. What Israeli today would partition Israel ?
      Why should the Palestinians have assented to the loss of half of their country ? Who else would give up their land to a crowd of thugs from Poland?

    • mig says:

      “”Max Blumenthal’s presentation unfortunately included falsehoods and innuendo. Falsehoods- The Israeli (Zionist) offensive which ultimately kicked out Palestinians did not begin in December 47, but in April 48.””

      ++++ Sorry WJ, it did start in Dec. 1947 as Max told. Only few weeks after UN GA res. 181.

      “”He implied that there was no reason for this attack by the Zionists,””

      ++++ Oh, but there was. About 50 % of population, coming Israel state was non-jewish. Namely arabs. Try there then establish “jewish state” when half of your population is non-jewish…..

      “”Innuendo- Indeed if the Palestinians had called Israel’s bluff and agreed to partition, the Zionists would have faced a difficult situation with a population which was approximately 45% Arab (Palestinian), but to imply that the reaction to this difficulty would have been military is purely innuendo. In fact the Zionists assumed that the Palestinians would reject the partition and they did.””

      ++++ Again, and again. What did King-Crane commission report say 1919 ?

      “”The peace process itself has not uprooted a single settler, was another Blumenthal claim. But in fact 8,000 settlers were removed from Gaza. Technically it was not the peace process which demanded this removal, but to separate the removal from the peace process would be mere pretense.””

      ++++ And where do these “Gaza settlers” live today mainly ? In west-bank….pretense moves to west-bank….

      • mig- Name one Arab (Palestinian) village or town that was uprooted in December 47, January 48, February 48, March 48. You can’t. There were none.

        • annie says:

          Name one Arab (Palestinian) village or town that was uprooted in December 47, January 48, February 48, March 48. You can’t. There were none.

          February 15, 1948, Qisarya

        • mig says:

          Im gonna save some space, time and you name it. Go ahead and go through these :

          link to palestineremembered.com

          And other thing ( that usual ), how do you know was there any which was cleansed Dec. 1947 – 15.5.1948 ?

          Have you read IDF archives ? You cant….its classified information.
          Just lately Israel government extended classification time up to 20 years about archives about those issues. So, how do you know ?

        • Thank you, Annie, for correcting me. I got carried away claiming something that I didn’t know. Max Blumenthal seemed to be implying that the violence was one way from the Zionists against the Arabs (both were Palestinians), which is a falsehood. After the partition decision by the UN the country was filled with violence. It was certainly not a one way street.

        • Shingo says:

          mig- Name one Arab (Palestinian) village or town that was uprooted in December 47, January 48, February 48, March 48. You can’t. There were none.

          There was a time when you sounded almost reasonable wondering jew, but the Zionism has taken over and made you into a Witty with the ebility to formate a sentence.

        • MRW says:

          WJ,

          Check out the editorials and other articles in the Sunday edition NYT Feb 22, 1948. You’ll have to pay to find out you’re wrong. I can’t link to them. The UN was meeting in upstate NY that week(end) to figure out what to do about the destruction.

        • annie says:

          you’re welcome WJ.

          After the partition decision by the UN the country was filled with violence. It was certainly not a one way street.

          it was certainly a one way street out for hundreds of thousands of palestinians WJ, that wasn’t the case for jews.

          Max Blumenthal seemed to be implying that the violence was one way from the Zionists against the Arabs (both were Palestinians), which is a falsehood

          he didn’t seem to imply anything of the sort. he stated (my memory of it sans review) the arab armies didn’t just all of a sudden invade w/no provocation in may 48. there were months of refugees flowing out of the country. hundreds of villages were destroyed. that was the plan and that is what happened. so yes, it was a one way street. was their fighting? yes. was there any balance in power prior to the arab armies engaging? none whatsoever. to believe otherwise is delusional. and there also was no balance once they invaded. many in of the ‘troops’ fighting for jordan were barefoot bedouin.

        • It certainly was in an environment of conflict. Wondering did characterize Max’s inferences accurately though.

        • annie says:

          fine, then you should have no problem finding the part of the video (by minute/ second) where those implications begin. are you denying refugees were flowing into the neighboring states for months prior to the arab engagement?

        • annie- Beginning at 4:49 of the recording Max B. states, “so they initiated a campaign of ethnic cleansing… beginning in December of 1947.”

          This is misleading- contrary to the facts. In fact the campaign of ethnic cleansing began at the end of March. Even the residents of Qisarya that you cited did not go fleeing outside the boundaries of Palestine, but to the next door village.

          The campaign of ethnic cleansing began on March 31st 1948. That was when the exodus of Palestinians began, and to be more specific- in the first days of April of that year is when the exodus truly began. I don’t own Benny Morris’s “Birth of the Refugee Problem” but his assessment was that until the beginning of the implementation of Plan Dalet (D), the warfare in Palestine had not resulted in a clear dominant force and in fact the Arabs (Palestinians) controlled the roads and had isolated many Jewish settlements. It was only with the implementation of Plan Dalet, which began on March 31st that the Zionist predominance and the Arab exodus began. This essentially means that during the months of December, January, February and for 30 days of March, the war was essentially a draw.

          The statement by Max B. that the campaign of ethnic cleansing was initiated in December is disingenous.

        • He’s saying that there was violence directed at innocent Jews AND violence directed against innocent Palestinians in 36-39, 47, and 48.

          I’m not sure what of that is so difficult to take in.

        • tree says:

          WJ.read my excerpt from Pappe, at 3:38am. The Hagana were invading defenceless villages and blowing up houses as early as December 1947, at a time when the Arab irregulars were only attacking convoys (which carried weapons among other things). And the Irgun and Stern Gang had been committing terrorist acts against Arab civilians for over 2 years prior to then.

          I left this out, for brevity, from my transcription but perhaps its necessary to quote it.

          Two weeks later, in January 1948, the Palmach used the momentum that had been created to attack and expel the relatively isolated Haifa neighbourhood of Hawassa. This was the poorest quarter of town, originally made up of huts and inhabited by impoverished villagers who had come to seek work there in the 1920s. all living in dismal conditions. At the time there were about 5000 Palestinians in this eastern part of the city. Huts were blown up, and so was the local school, while the ensuing panic caused many people to flee.

          There were Zionist attempts at expulsions( some completely successful, some only partially so) in December, January, February and March of 1948. Max did not lie.

        • tree says:

          More examples of ethnic cleansing from Pappe, from December and January.

          Social life in Lifta revolved around a small shopping centre, which included a club and two coffee houses. … One of the coffee houses was the target of the Hagana when it attacked on 28 December 1947. Armed with machine guns the Jews sprayed the coffee house, while members of the Stern Gang stopped a bus nearby and began firing into it randomly. This was the first Stern Gang operation in rural Palestine; prior to the attack, the gang had issued pamphlets to its activists: “Destroy Arab neighbourhoods and punish Arab villages.”

          The involvement of the Stern Gang in the attack on Lifta may have been outside the overall scheme of the Hagana in Jerusalem, according to the Consultancy, but once it had occurred it was incorporated into the plan. In a pattern that would repeat itself, creating faits accompli became part of the overall strategy. The Hagana High Command at first condemned the Stern Gang attack at the end of December, but when they realised that the assault had caused villagers to flee, they ordered another operation against the same village on 11 January in order to complete the expulsion. The Hagana blew up most of the houses in the village and drove out all the people who were still there.

          page 67

        • tree says:

          This essentially means that during the months of December, January, February and for 30 days of March, the war was essentially a draw.

          No, what you leave out is that the British were still in the country and to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the area and timing, still somewhat in control. This, and the fact that the countries of the UN were still seeking a compromise in Palestine, kept the Zionists partially in check. There never was a “draw”, and the forces were never evenly matched. The Zionists just had to be a little bit more circumspect in their actions until the British had left.

          If you would think about it, you would realize that it makes no sense that the “war” would be a “draw” until March 31st and then miraculously, within a day, the tide had turned so suddenly that over a quarter of a million Palestinians had been expelled or fled by the end of April. The number of refugees was already in excess of 100,000 Palestinians prior to the implementation of Plan Dalet. as I pointed out, expulsions had already taken place in December through March, and villages had been terrorized.

          Please consider reading Pappe. He goes into great detail of the meetings by Ben-Gurion’s Consultancy, where all this was discussed, well before Plan Dalet took effect.

      • tree says:

        And again:

        Innuendo- Indeed if the Palestinians had called Israel’s bluff and agreed to partition, the Zionists would have faced a difficult situation with a population which was approximately 45% Arab (Palestinian), but to imply that the reaction to this difficulty would have been military is purely innuendo. In fact the Zionists assumed that the Palestinians would reject the partition and they did.

        Again you are wrong and speaking without knowing.From Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’, in early January 1948:

        …These operations were accompanied by acts of terrorism by the Irgun and the Stern Gang. Their ability to sow fear in Haifa’s Arab neighbourhoods, and in other cities as well, was directly influenced by the gradual but obvious British withdrawal from any responsibility of law and order. In the first week of January alone the Irgun executed more terrrorist attacks than in any period before. These included detonating a bomb in the Sarraya house in Jaffa, the seat of the local national committee, which collapsed leaving twenty six people dead. It continued with the bombing of the Samiramis Hotel in Qatamon, in western Jerusalem, in which many people died, including the Spanish consul. This last fact seems to have prompted Sir Alan Cunningham, the last British High Commissioner, to issue a feeble complaint to Ben-Gurion, who refused to condemn the action, either in private or in public. In Haifa, such actions were now a daily occurence.

        … In the last meeting he [Cunningham] had with Ben-Gurion in March 1948, he told the Zionist leader that to his mind, while the Palestinians were trying to maintain calm in the country, the Hagana did all it could to escalate the situation. This did not contradict Ben-Gurion’s assessment. He told the Jewish Agency Executive, shortly after he met Cunningham: “I believe the majority of the Palestinian masses accept the partition as a fait accompli and do not believe it is possible to overcome or reject it… The decisive majority of them do not want to fight us.” From Paris. the Jewish Agency representative there, Emile Najjar, wondered how he could pursue an effective propaganda policy given the present reality.


        The picture would not be complete without mentioning here the overall nature of the Arab activity up to the beginning of January 1948. During December 1947, Arab irregulars had attacked Jewish convoys but refrained from attacking Jewish settlements. In November the Consultancy had already defined its policy of retaliating for each such attack. But the feeling among the Zionist leaders was that they needed to move on to more drastic actions.

        pages 60-61

        According to all the New Israeli Historians, the consensus is that both the Zionists and the British believed that, despite the initial flare-ups of violence with the announcement of the Partition Plan, the Palestinians would probably have, as Ben-Gurion said, accepted Partition as a fait accompli. It was due to the massive Zionist violence and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Palestinians that the war with the underpowered Arab States occurred in May.

        Max’s history is not wrong. I’d urge you to read Pappe’s book.

    • Sumud says:

      The “delegitimisation” of Israel is a great big red herring. All of BDS’ aims can be satisfied within a two-state framework, even the Right of Return. Recognising the right and negotiating a settlement over it are two distinct issues:

      ‘Palestinian Right of Return – Dr. Finkelstein’

      • If BDS worked towards that and clarified that it assertively did NOT intend the destruction of Israel, it would have many more adherents, add a 0.

        • annie says:

          If BDS worked towards that and clarified that it assertively did NOT intend the destruction of Israel

          why? why should anyone have to go on the defensive and state our goal is not the destruction of israel? this is the trap. those who make the bogus allegation are the ones who need to support it, not us.

        • Don’t if you don’t think its relevant, Annie.

          Its the difference between civil disobedience that desires war, and civil disobedience that desires assertion of human rights.

          Even for the goal of a single state, to accomplish it by threat and force is the oppossite of a democratic movement that by definition is constructed by consent.

          If you want to argue to the Israeli public that association in a single state is desirable and they ratify that, then there is no question to ask.

          If you seek to accomplish it by blackmailing Israeli Jews specifically, racially, that if you don’t accept the single state, we will isolate you from all international commerce, then you can call that persecution.

          I get that that is parallel to what Gazans experience. Why attempt to right a wrong by a second one?

        • Citizen says:

          So, Witty, we didn’t know you were protesting the economic boycot of Iran and so resented such abuse of our American tax dollars. Did you complain to Stuart Levey yet?

    • tree says:

      WJ,

      You insisted to me that you would check your facts more intensely before posting, and yet you go ahead with this:

      Falsehoods- The Israeli (Zionist) offensive which ultimately kicked out Palestinians did not begin in December 47, but in April 48. He implied that there was no reason for this attack by the Zionists, because Arab armies did not invade Palestine until May whereas in fact Jewish communities in Jerusalem, the Negev and the Galilee were under attack or siege both by Palestinian irregulars and also by Arabs from outside Palestine (ALA).

      You’ve already had to retract that statement, but for your further edification, here are excerpts from Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Notice that the timeline for ethnic cleansing starts in December 1947, exactly as Max stated.

      December 1947:Early Actions

      The Consultancy not only rejected the idea of incorporating more collaborative “Arabs”, but they also went so far as to suggest putting behind them the whole notion of “retaliation”, as adopted at the time on the advice of Orde Wingate. Most of the participants in the meeting favoured “engagement” in a systematic campaign of intimidation. Ben-Gurion approved. and the new policy was implemented the day after the meeting.

      The first step was a well-orchestrated campaign of threats. Special units of the Hagana would enter villages looking for “infiltrators” (read “Arab volunteers) and distribute leaflets warning the local people against cooperating with the Arab Liberation Army. Any resistance to such an incursion usually ended with the Jewish troops firing at random and killing several villagers. The Hagana called these incursions ‘violent reconnaissance”. … In essence the idea was to enter a defenceless village close to midnight, stay there for a few hours, shoot at anyone who dared leave his or her house, and then depart.

      In December 1947, two such defenceless villages were chosen for the revival of Wingate’s tactics, Deir Ayyub and Beit Affa. … (A)t ten o’clock at night a company of twenty Jewish troops entered the village-which, like so many villages in December, had no defence mechanism of any kind – and began firing randomly at several houses. The village was later attacked three more times before being evacuated by force in April 1948, when it was completely destroyed. Jewish forces made a similar attack in December against Beit Affa in the Gaza Strip but here the raiders were successfully repelled.
      ….
      [Khisa]
      …Jewish troops attacked the village on 18 December 1947, and randomly started blowing up houses at the dead of night while the occupants were still fast asleep. Fifteen villagers, including five children, were killed in the attack. The incident shocked The New York Times’ correspondent, who closely followed the unfolding events. He went and demanded an explanation from the Hagana, which at first denied the operation. When the inquisitive reporter did not let go, they eventually admitted it. Ben-Gurion issued a dramatic public apology, claiming the action had been unauthorised but, a few months later, in April, he included it in a list of successful operations.

      [Haifa]
      …From the morning after the UN Partition Resolution was adopted, the 75,000 Plestinians in the city were subjected to a campaign of terror jointly instigated by the Irgun and the Hagana. As they had only arrived in recent decades, the Jewish settlers had built their houses higher up the mountain. Thus, they lived topographically above the Arab neighbourhoods and could easily shell and snipe at them. They had started doing this frequently since early December. They used other methods of intimidation as well: the Jewish troops rolled barrels full of explosives, and huge steel balls, down into the Arab residential areas, and poured oil mixed with fuel down the roads, which they then ignited. The moment panic-stricken Palestinian residents came running out of their homes to try and extinguish these rivers of fire, they were sprayed by machine gun fire. In areas where the two communities still interacted, the Hagana brought cars to Palestinian garages to be repaired, loaded with explosives and detonating devices, and so wreaked death and chaos. A special unit of the Hagana, Hashahar(“Dawn”), made up of mistarvim-literally Hebrew for “becoming Arab”, that is Jews who disguised themselves as Palestinians- was behind this kind of assault. …

      [Balad-al-Shaykh]
      …A local commander, Haim Avinoam, was ordered to “encircle the village, kill the largest number of men, damage property, but refrain from attacking women and children.” The attack took place on 31 December and last three hours. It left over sixty Palestinians dead, not all of them men. But note the distinction still made here between men and women. in their next meeting, the Consultancy decided that such a separation was an unnecessary complication for future operations. At the same time as the attack on Balad al-Shaykh, the Hagana units in Haifa tested the ground with a more drastic action; they went into one of the city’s Arab neighbourhoods, Wadi Rushmiyya, expelled its people and blew up its houses. The act could be regarded as the official beginning of the ethnic cleansing operation in urban Palestine. …

      ( transcribed by me from pages 55-61)

  8. seafoid says:

    Thanks for the update, Max. It’s all about chipping away at the dam day after day, breaking down the arguments, weakening the hasbara. Israel had a bad 2010 and things are only going to get worse for it.

  9. Shingo says:

    Brilliantly done Max,

    You wiped the floor with those guys. The J Street speakers were abismal. Nothing but lies and conflation and run of the mill talking points. Like you said, none of them was able to use facts or argue their case from an objective standpoint.

    They lied about what the stated aim of BDS was.
    Their argument essentially comes down to this – don’t call it apartheid, or colonialism or ethnic cleansing, don;t call it what it is becasue it’s not helpful.

    Their formula for success? Don’t offend Israel and do nothing.

  10. Every time the lobby is forced to bring its arguments out into the daylight we see how threadbare and dependent on mythology they are. I can only assume AIPAC and the like know this only too well, and thus are loathe to confront articulate speakers in the public arena. Their prejudices and racism are too easily exposed and their appeals to propaganda and recycled hasbara are poor substitutes for detailed eye witness arguments. Typical how the defenders can only come up with biblical mythology, the Holocaust and ‘look, they’re worse than us’ lines of defence, while trying to bury the factual accounts of the Israeli daily crimes against Palestinian civilians.
    The more they are exposed the better, and the public will start to hear the facts behind the myth, and in that sense progress is made every time an event like this happens. Which is why BDS is a good thing – if it sparks debate like this then that alone is worth it.

    • seafoid says:

      They are losing the argument on Youtube. They aren’t going to win the young generation of Yanks. I think the ship of Zionism will founder on the rock of racism.

      People need to think about bringing the argument to Wall St. If you bring along some salient political analysis and throw in some economics stats Israel is not the place you want your pension fund to invest in. Not because Israel is wrong but because the numbers aren’t going to work.

  11. MRW says:

    On the other side of the pond, trouble in paradise:

    Minister Braverman threatens to quit, says Israel turning into Iran

    Braverman demands Labor to tell PM Netanyahu that if he doesn’t renew talks with Palestinians, party will quit coalition. ‘If they reject ultimatum, I’ll quit the government,’ he says

    by Attila Somfalvi 12.22.10, 23:06

    Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman demanded Wednesday that his party, Labor, give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an ultimatum: Either he renews the direct talks with the Palestinians within a month, or Labor quits the coalition.

    “Either we save the Labor Party now, or we join Kadima,” Braverman said during a student gathering. “We have an opportunity to save the party. If my ultimatum proposal is rejected, I will quit the government and fight from the opposition to create a new Labor.”

    Later Wednesday, associates of Labor Chairman Ehud Barak said party activists and leading field activists approached Barak with a demand to fire Braverman over his remarks.

    Braverman also addressed the escalating incitement against Arabs and illegal immigrants. “There is a hatred of foreigners,” he said. “The nation is turning into Iran following the rabbis’ letter.”

    The Knesset minister has recently announced his bid for the position of Labor chairman, currently occupied by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He will run against Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, as well as other possible contenders like Amram Mitzna and MK Shelly Yachimovich, who are yet to announce their candidacies.

    Braverman said on Saturday that “Mitzna is a worthy person, but his ‘shopping around’ attempts within Meretz and leftists movements raises doubts about his desire and his abilities to head the party that will conquer the center of the political map.”

    link to ynetnews.com

  12. MRW says:

    Excellent, Max.

    For Mr. May of Princeton to claim an equivalence between the Roma in Italy and the Palestinians as his opening gambit was stunning, unless he thought his audience would assume the recently arrived Roma were, I dunno’, tomatoes. That he could do it with a straight face as a student of Princeton was even more amazing. But Mr May of J Street ought to have been better prepared. He was completely devoid of any logic whatsoever unless you buy the claim that 2000 years of persecution in over a dozen areas worldwide, serially, as the exclusive justification to get, or do, whatever you want. It was just ‘shake your head’ stuff. If he’s a director of J Street….

  13. joer says:

    That was an effective presentation, except for the bit about Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney at the end. Even though they were brave, they had a very bad ending. Who wants to end up shot and buried in a swamp? Besides, the kids at Princeton are just being asked to change their brand of hummus, not take on the Ku Klux Klan. Maybe a more optimistic example he could have chosen would have been Joe Slovo who fought for the ANC in the struggle against apartheid.

    • kim says:

      Joe Slovo’s wife, also Jewish, was assassinated by a mail bomb while she was in exile- not a good outcome. At least he lived to see the struggle succeed. And he was an anti-Zionist who equated the “Jewish” state to the gov’n he was fighting.

  14. I did think Max made an effective presentation.

    Aside from the factual details and specific scope of interpretations that we differ, I did come away with clear wrong that Palestinians have experienced, continue to experience and need remedy.

    And, that endless discussion of the best alternative callously delays that remedy.

    On the other hand, that the form of remedy IS important to clarify, to position realistically, and to communicate in a way that is not either/or, but allows for the humanity of each (the Jewish refugees needing a home NOT as demon, but as respected – even the Zionist ideologs that spoke in their behalf, respected – even if fundamentally differed).

    • joer says:

      “the Jewish refugees needing a home”

      Please clarify, are you talking about the refugees from Long Island or the refugees from Miami?

      • Good joke.

        The refugees from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Rumania, Balkans, Ukraine, Russia (those that could get out of the Russian zone).

        Just a few.

        • joer says:

          I think most of the people from those places you mentioned would have preferred to go somewhere else. Most of the people who i have known personally who are really into Israel are rich Jews trying to find some meaning in their lives. I’m just saying. If they were poorer and Christian they’d be seeing Elvis in 711′s.

        • Most preferred to go to the US, but it was closed because of immigration restrictions.

          For many Israel was their first choice, a repetition of the Exodus traumas (which why the movie and boat were so poetic and effective).

          Staying in Romania, Poland, Hungary, Balkans, Czechoslavakia, Lithuania, Ukraine was not a viable option.

      • seafoid says:

        The future Jewish refugees of New York need a second home- isn’t Florida good enough?

    • Shingo says:

      Aside from the factual details and specific scope of interpretations that we differ, I did come away with clear wrong that Palestinians have experienced, continue to experience and need remedy.

      The reason you differ on “the factual details and specific scope of interpretations “, is that Max’s interpretation are based on facts, and you’re are based on your own myths

  15. MRW says:

    Everyone watch this interview of Max on RT News. It’s great:
    “The Axis of Islamophobia”
    link to pulsemedia.org

    • MRW says:

      As an aside, I remember during an April/May or June debate in 2008 (could it have been 2007? Nah…) that either Tom Russert or another reporter mentioned that the anti-Muslim email campaign was coming out of Brooklyn. Didn’t get any traction in the news, but it pinged my ear immediately.

  16. Shingo says:

    The explanation about Arnon Soffer’s call to kill, kill, kill each and every day does explain Cast Lead and why Israel cannot tolerate ceasefires.

  17. seafoid says:

    The JStreeter was very poor. Impossible to travel in Israel without meeting someone who knows someone who died in terrorism is just bollocks.

    It’s impossible to travel in Israel without meeting an occupation footsoldier.
    His other point about 2000 years of oppression was a non sequitur. How many years qualify for the white phosphorous ? These people are talking to their bases and have nothing to say otherwise.

    The other dude’s argument boiled down to Israel is an ally of the US. It’s not insane like Iran . Pathetic.

    And there’s no attempt to link the situation to the Jewish tradition of justice.

    • Shingo says:

      The JStreeter was very poor.

      Yes, I was astounded at how poor they were. If this is the best that J Street can deliver, then they are not only a waste of time, but part of the problem.

    • lyn117 says:

      Apologies to Max, but I think the J-street guy’s delivery was a little better. Certainly his (& the Whig guy’s) lines were straight out of the hasbara book, e.g., “of course Israel isn’t perfect” and “we just need to put ourselves in the other sides shoes” (I paraphrase). If I hadn’t actually read the hasbara book and knew nothing I might actually have been lead along. (I think I played the PROPAGANDA game when I was younger, too. It helps).

      It’s not like the J-street guy’s “sympathy” for the Palestinians actually prevents Israel from imprisoning them, or stopped its apartheid and ethnic cleansing. It’s maybe an improvement (in terms of propaganda technique) over claiming moral superiority because when Israel commits mass murder it’s sorry, but along the same vein.

      Factually & logically, Max kicked b**t.

  18. annie says:

    max, you totally rock. GO GO GO MAX