‘NYT’ connects the dots on the Israel ‘litmus test’ (or how the Dersh jumped the shark)

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 16 Comments

Today the New York Times has an editorial on the Brooklyn College BDS event and calls out the Lobby from K Street to Borough Hall. From “Litmus Tests“:

One dispiriting lesson from Chuck Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary is the extent to which the political space for discussing Israel forthrightly is shrinking. Republicans focused on Israel more than anything during his confirmation hearing, but they weren’t seeking to understand his views. All they cared about was bullying him into a rigid position on Israel policy. Enforcing that kind of orthodoxy is not in either America’s or Israel’s interest.

Brooklyn College is facing a similar trial for scheduling an event on Thursday night with two speakers who support an international boycott to force Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories. While this page has criticized Israeli settlements, we do not advocate a boycott. We do, however, strongly defend the decision by the college’s president, Karen Gould, to proceed with the event, despite withering criticism by opponents and threats by at least 10 City Council members to cut financing for the college. Such intimidation chills debate and makes a mockery of the ideals of academic freedom.

Pro-Israel McCarthyism has become the story in Brooklyn, and the farce of the Hagel hearing has overtaken any criticisms of Hagel’s lukewarm performance. Here’s Walter Pincus in today’s Washington Post:

There were several obvious answers on Thursday when Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel to “name one person, in your opinion, who is intimidated by the Israeli lobby in the United States Senate” during the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.

One answer could have been “the two of us”: Graham, for example, by asking such a silly gotcha question, and Hagel for not standing up for his past words that reflect the belief of many who have watched the Senate over the years.

That lobby would include the most prominent of the pro-Israeli lobbies, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which immodestly acknowledges its own power over Congress, boldly claiming on its e-mails that it is “Consistently ranked as the most influential foreign policy lobbying organization on Capitol Hill.”

What was most disappointing about Hagel’s lackluster performance was his backing away from his previously stated, utterly rational views on many subjects, often in the face of hectoring from fellow Republicans who were clearly playing to conservative constituents.

When Graham asked Hagel to “name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing because of the pressure from the Israeli or Jewish lobby,” the answer should have been “a good part of today’s eight-hour hearing.”

The lobby night flower is being fully exposed and thanks to Alan Dershowitz’s bloviating BDS has now been discussed in a Times editorial. Back to “Litmus Tests”:

In the Brooklyn College case, critics have used heated language to denigrate the speakers, Omar Barghouti, a leader of a movement called B.D.S., for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, that espouses “nonviolent punitive measures” to pressure Israel, and Judith Butler, a philosopher at the University of California, Berkeley, who is a member of the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that supports divestment and boycotts. Alan Dershowitz, a Brooklyn College graduate and Harvard law professor, has complained that the event is unbalanced and should not be co-sponsored by the college’s political science department. On Monday, Ms. Gould said other events offering alternative views are planned.

The sad truth is that there is more honest discussion about American-Israeli policy in Israel than in this country. Too often in the United States, supporting Israel has come to mean meeting narrow ideological litmus tests.

While newspaper articles are nice, the real test will be whether Thursday’s event takes place, and Hagel withstands the lobby’s frontal assault. Both seem likely to happen, and while neither represent a groundbreaking victory, they will serve as a bellwether that the traditional gatekeepers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are losing the cultural and political power they once held.

Towards this end, Jewish Voice for Peace has started a campaign to “fire” Dershowitz and Dov Hikund as the “the Official Spokesmen for The Jewish People.” From firealandershowitz.org:

No one appointed professional bully Alan Dershowitz or bigoted extremist Dov Hikind the Official Spokesmen for The Jewish People and Gatekeepers of Academic Freedom. But as long as they continue to act as though they own those job titles, we will continue to try to fire them.

Their attack on free speech at Brooklyn College and the nonviolent Palestinian-led movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is just the latest in a long series of destructive acts, built on smears and untruths. They promote violence and bully academics and students who don’t agree with them, all to help promote policies that are killing Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

As Jewish Voice for Peace supporters, we say, You’re Fired!

Sign here.

(h/t Ilene Cohen)

16 Responses

  1. Donald
    February 5, 2013, 5:14 pm

    “Enforcing that kind of orthodoxy is not in either America’s or Israel’s interest.”

    Or the interest of Palestinians either, not that anyone on the editorial page at the NYT would think of that. This was a good editorial by NYT standards and it is a sign of changing times (I hope), and I don’t want to be too churlish about it, but you can still see the blinders they’re wearing.

  2. BillM
    February 5, 2013, 5:48 pm

    And yet the intimidation works, even at the New York Times itself. The Times’ news story on the issue can’t bring itself to use the words “Palestine” or even “Occupied Territories.” Instead, it uses the painfully awkward phrasing “disputed territories where Palestinians live.” Whatever the editorial page says, the reporters are still getting the message to shy away from anything resembling honest reporting.

    link to nytimes.com

    • Woody Tanaka
      February 6, 2013, 7:01 am

      ” And yet the intimidation works,even at the New York Times itself.”

      The NYT isn’t intimidated, it is the Pravda of American zionism. It volunteers to align itself with the bad people.

  3. Chu
    February 5, 2013, 6:37 pm

    The Graham thing was odd in general – his demenor, his tone. He forgot that he was a senator during the questioning. He lost any dignity people may have previously seen in him. Graham seems trapped in the closet and he’s angry about it, being lonely can make you sour.

    I checked this today and it seems that CNN is pedaling for a Hagel story. CNN claims that ‘Graham calls for Obama to withdraw Hagel’. No doubt CNN is part of the conspiracy, trying to get a snowball to roll downhill with their capitan at the helm senor Blitzer – always ready to clean up for Israel. No one else has echoed the story except the Federal Times.

    Graham calls for Obama to withdraw Hagel
    link to politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

  4. eGuard
    February 5, 2013, 6:44 pm

    NYT, opening line: … the political space for discussing Israel forthrightly is shrinking. How great it was?

    I note that the threatening Lewis Fidler letter was sent Tuesday Jan 29. And now a whole week later NYT knows what the temperature is. They stepped in just right in time right for the right party. How brave they are.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    February 5, 2013, 10:45 pm

    RE: “Brooklyn College is facing a similar trial for scheduling an event on Thursday night with two speakers who support an international boycott to force Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories.”~ N.Y. Times

    PETITION: “Support Academic Freedom at CUNY”

    We the undersigned write in support of the decision by Brooklyn College’s political science department to co-sponsor a panel discussion with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. We urge CUNY President Karen Gould to resist attempts by those who have attempted to intimidate CUNY into canceling, changing, or withdrawing its sponsorship for the panel. We are especially concerned that the New York City Council has threatened to withhold further money for CUNY if it does not either cancel the event or withdraw its sponsorship. This is a grave threat to academic freedom and sets a terrible precedent for the future.

    TO SIGN THE PETITION - link to ipetitions.com

    P.S. I have signed many ipetitions over the years. There is no charge for signing one of their petitions. After you “sign” the petition, they do make a pitch for a voluntary contribution (as do many sites), but it is strictly voluntary. When you get the pitch for the voluntary contribution, just close the tab/page without making a contribution.
    Usually I decline to make a contribution, but every once in a while I do make a small contribution.

  6. Citizen
    February 6, 2013, 3:59 am

    Done

  7. marc b.
    February 6, 2013, 8:41 am

    adam, how does this

    One dispiriting lesson from Chuck Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary is the extent to which the political space for discussing Israel forthrightly is shrinking.

    lead to this

    While newspaper articles are nice, the real test will be whether Thursday’s event takes place, and Hagel withstands the lobby’s frontal assault. Both seem likely to happen, and while neither represent a groundbreaking victory, they will serve as a bellwether that the traditional gatekeepers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are losing the cultural and political power they once held.

    i don’t follow your train of thought.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 6, 2013, 12:10 pm

      marc, not sure if adam is around but my 2 cents is..the first part in italics was from the nyt editorial and it goes on to say: they weren’t seeking to understand his views. All they cared about was bullying him into a rigid position on Israel policy

      following, adam statement responded to nyt saying all the discussions surrounding BC-BDS and the hagel confirmation (like the times article from yesterday) do not (in and of themselves) represent a groundbreaking victory but (according to adam) he thinks they serve as a bellwether indicating the gatekeepers are loosing ground.

      the rigidity re israel @ hagel’s confirmation was so obvious it helped generate discourse instead of silencing people it.

      • marc b.
        February 6, 2013, 12:21 pm

        thanks, annie. i understand that the first quote is not attributable to adam, i just don’t see how the ‘Times’ and ‘Post’ articles he quotes led him to the conclusion that the ‘gatekeepers are losing their power’. it seems to me, as the articles suggest, that their power has never been stronger, although it is being discussed more openly than in the past.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 6, 2013, 1:33 pm

        marc, if there were not pushback articles against the hagel confirmation farce i would have to agree with you. one sign (my interpretation anyway) was the claim, repeated ad nauseam, that aipac was not involved with lobbying against hagel. and who could believe that? read alex’s ‘Israel advocates with past ties to AIPAC are all over the smear Hagel campaign’
        link to mondoweiss.net

        do they really think if the media repeats over and over ‘aipac is not involved’ it will occur to no one they just want to be invisible? they want their agenda pulled off without anyone mentioning them. but people are mentioning them, and that’s an indication they are loosing their gatekeeper status. like calling on the emperor’s nakeness. the nightflower dies in the daylight.

        it wasn’t that long ago even acknowledging the power of the lobby on mainstream sites like dkos could get you canned.so take a look at the sh*tstorm that happened in the comment section here: link to dailykos.com

        and as i result this is the crash and burnout of the leader of ‘team shalom’, the leader of dkos’s zio gatekeeping (sent to me by a MW reader, it’s explosive don’t miss the comments on either thread, if you have all day!) link to dailykos.com

        and by all means notice his ‘proof’ of aipac/lobby non-involvement was the continued claim they weren’t involved. they want to be in the shadows and they are being exposed, big time.

      • marc b.
        February 6, 2013, 1:46 pm

        and by all means notice his ‘proof’ of aipac/lobby non-involvement was the continued claim they weren’t involved. they want to be in the shadows and they are being exposed, big time.

        agreed. there is great potential.

      • dbroncos
        February 6, 2013, 9:05 pm

        Annie,

        Thanks for the dkos link. Wow! A real fight over I/P going on over there. The explosive resignation/farewell letter from the person you describe as dkos I/P ‘gatekeeper’ is a priceless piece of work.

      • lysias
        February 7, 2013, 2:07 pm

        They’re not involved in the same way they were not involved in the push to the Iraq war.

  8. Les
    February 6, 2013, 11:14 am

    How is is that the Times missed the firing of Norman Finkelstein by DePaul University, at the instigation of Alan Dershowitz, as well as the firing of Joel Kovel by Bard College.

    • piotr
      February 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

      This was a smallish omission, the editorial covered more ground than the role of Dershowitz. At the end of the day Derschowitz is just a loudmouth and the true intimidation is conducted by politicians and administrators (and when the administrators refrain from the intimidation politicians gang on them).

      What is more needed is a separate editorial or opinion piece why there is any need for a “wider scope of opinion” on Israel. Namely, the absurdities of the reigning orthodoxy.

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