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!
(h/t Ilene Cohen)