Former Israeli ambassador calls for legislation to impose ‘penalties’ on promoters of academic boycott

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 59 Comments
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren. (Photo: USC Public Diplomacy/Flickr)

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren. (Photo: USC Public Diplomacy/Flickr)

The backlash against the American Studies Association (ASA) for endorsing an academic boycott of Israel has come in fast and hard, with opprobrium pouring in from high-level Israeli officials.

Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who recently stepped down from his post, is the latest to attack the ASA.  This morning, he wrote on his Facebook page:

Much outrage has been expressed about the academic boycott of Israel by the ASA–that it singles out the world’s only Jewish state, the Middle East’s only democracy, undermines academic freedom, and defies Abu Mazen’s opposition to such boycotts. More needs to be said about fighting back. The United States has long imposed strict penalties on companies complying with the Arab boycott of Israel. Similar measures should be enacted denying state and Federal funding for any activities associated with the promoters of this racist anti-democratic measure.

Oren is referring to decades-old laws that impose penalties on companies who adhere to foreign government-sponsored boycotts.  While the American provision was written broadly, the law was meant to discourage companies from adhering to the Arab League boycott of Israel.  First enacted after 1948, the Arab League boycott has little bite today due to peace treaties Israel signed with Jordan and Egypt and a general disregard among Arab governments for enforcing the state boycott.

Zionist groups like Shurat HaDin, which has links to the Israeli government and Mossad, have pointed to such laws on boycotts to threaten legal action against BDS advocates. But since the BDS movement is a response to civil society, and not governments, advocating for boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel does not run afoul of the law.

Oren’s reaction was published after the new Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, also harshly criticized the academic boycott of Israel.  “The singling out of the Jewish state for boycott is no different than the many attempts throughout history to single out Jews and hold them to a different standard,” Dermer wrote on his Facebook page.

The Israeli government has become heavily involved in efforts to counter the BDS movement.  In 2010, the Israel Action Network, the Jewish establishment’s main vehicle for combatting the movement, was formed at the urging of the Israeli government. Earlier this year, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had met with a group of “Jewish millionaires” to enlist their help in pushing back against BDS.

Israeli legislators have also taken up measures to impose penalties on those advocating for boycotts from within the country.  In 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed a law stipulating that anyone calling for a boycott of Israel could be sued in court by a party who may be damaged by such a statement.  The measure was frozen by the Supreme Court in 2012 while justices hear challenges to it.

And earlier this week, an Israeli committee passed a law that would heavily tax organizations funded by overseas donors who call for a boycott of Israel. The law was blasted as “unconstitutional” by the Attorney General.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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59 Responses

  1. talknic
    December 18, 2013, 4:38 pm

    Israel’s brainwashed apologist trolls all carry the same broken schtick. Claiming racism, when Israel/Israelis are not a race. Claiming Israel is being singled out, when in fact Israel is the only Occupying Power in breach of hundreds UNSC resolutions.

    • Krauss
      December 18, 2013, 4:49 pm

      But, but, but!!!

      I thought were supposed to “engage” those we disagreed with, you know, “discuss”.

      Interesting to note that the Israel lobbyists believe in boycotting organizations they don’t like, but they want to forbid boycotts against Apartheid at the same time.

      • Bumblebye
        December 18, 2013, 6:57 pm

        Engage? Discuss?? More but but but! BDS is only going to get stronger as people see the only people ‘qualified’ to discuss I/P in the msm seem to be all zionist, or all Israeli, or all Jewish! Where, they’ll start (finally) to wonder, is the Palestinian voice, where is the ordinary tax-paying American voice, why is this conversation so limited, why can only a rather select few be permitted into the conversation?!

        PS – thank you MW gremlin buster, thank you for repairing the comment section! Have a very merry solstice this weekend!

      • MRW
        December 19, 2013, 3:55 pm

        Moreover, they want to forbid American boycotts against Apartheid at the same time.

    • Citizen
      December 19, 2013, 5:12 am

      @ talknic
      Not only is the term “Israeli” inapplicable to the concept of race, it’s also inapplicable to the concept of nationality. Under the laws of Israel, the state itself belongs to “the Jewish nation,” which means, if anything, that every Jew in the world is a national of Israel. While, for example, Arab Israelis, about 25% of green-lined Israel are not nationals of Israel, even their families have lived therein from time immemorial. Compare: “American.”

      Same values?

      • Citizen
        December 19, 2013, 5:34 am

        Israel’s supreme court has recently reaffirmed that that there is no Israeli nationality. Here’s a good take on the subject by a Libertarian guy who’s telling his readership why he changed his mind on BDS, which he was originally against because all he knew about the subject was the usual hasbara lingo–he now says one should join BDS because it’s the only right thing to do: link to original.antiwar.com

        He also tells you why BDS should boycott all of Israel, not just the settlement industry.

      • Citizen
        December 19, 2013, 6:02 am

        Justin Raimondo took seven months to recant his original article against BDS, which was full of all the usual boilerplate hasbara. That’s depressing. He says, basically when he wrote against BDS he knew nothing at all about the facts on the ground in Israel and OT, and he didn’t learn about that until he read Max’s Goliath. Interesting window into just how thick the hasbara remains in the American air–even high up there.

      • Denis
        December 19, 2013, 10:12 am

        “Interesting window into just how thick the hasbara remains in the American air–even high up there.”

        Is it the hasbara that is thick, or the nincompoops who buy into it without knowing what they’re supporting?

      • Shingo
        December 19, 2013, 4:13 pm

        Justin Raimondo took seven months to recant his original article against BDS, which was full of all the usual boilerplate hasbara. That’s depressing.

        It shouldn’t be. Raimondi is a libertarian and opposed to boycott agaibst anyone as a matter of principal.

        He’s also a fierce critic of Israel.

      • MRW
        December 19, 2013, 4:25 pm

        Raimondo’s article is a game-changer. Mark my words.

  2. pabelmont
    December 18, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Oh boy! McCarthyism on the run again, but the evil is not Communism this time but anti-Zionism. Loyalty oaths (again) in America, but this time to Israel!

    I think it is time to roll repeal the old laws against (German) Nazism and against the old Arab League boycott. I mean, the old Nazis are mostly dead and would (if 20 in 1945) be 88 years old today! But Bogeymen die hard! And electoral money is money.

    Of course, with Congress the lap-dog of AIPAC I wouldn’t be surprised to see a law passed requiring every institution or person who receives federal funding (student loans, anybody?) to swear allegiance to Israel.

  3. LanceThruster
    December 18, 2013, 4:43 pm

    It’s so nice to be in the role of bully big brother.

  4. ritzl
    December 18, 2013, 5:07 pm

    So a foreign official calls for laws in the US to limit individual political choice? Keep talking. Please.

    I believe the US law against compliance with the Arab Boycott was very specific (not to quibble). It outlawed contractual compliance (included clauses) with the Arab Boycott of Israel as the arbiter and quid pro quo of doing business with Arab states. It did NOT outlaw boycotts in general. People, and businesses, in the US are still free to do what they want to do, as dictated by personal/business sensibilities/opportunities, absent the coordination/compulsion factor. I think the US anti-boycott law wrt to Israel was modeled after US anti-boycott labor law in its narrowness (no coordination).

    So Oren desperately conflates the two concepts, as usual. One distinctly rights-based, and the other contractual. He emphasizes, yet again, why Israel and the US are two vastly different (yet narrowing, sadly) political cultures. We have at least the writing in the Constitution to refer to to protect us. They do whatever/repress whoever they want based on whim and/or self-interest.

    Butt out, Oren. Heal thyself. … Problem solved.

    PS. As was raised in another thread by BillM (MW post by Doerfler), the “special relationship” construct works against Israel in deflating their “why only Israel?” whining. If only someone in media would ask just that question.

    Thanks Alex.

    • Hostage
      December 18, 2013, 10:16 pm

      So a foreign official calls for laws in the US to limit individual political choice?

      He should just keep his mouth shut and pray his allies don’t repeal the Hague invasion act and leave him rotting in jail one day in the not-to-distant future.

    • Citizen
      December 19, 2013, 7:08 am

      The “special relationship” means what President Johnson said it does when he personally got on the phone and told the anxious navy brass hat to pull back the aircraft carrier jets that had been sent to aid the crew of the USS Liberty, which was, to paraphrase, they could drown right along with the damn ship before he, POTUS, would jeopardize his ally, Israel. Now, to quote the Church Lady, “Now, isn’t THAT special?”

      It means, if you want to be a big time operator in the US government, everyday is Valentine’s Day for that lady, even if she looks like Golda Meir. JFK was the last POTUS to directly tell the PM of Israel that US interests are not always the same as Israel’s.

  5. Ira Glunts
    December 18, 2013, 5:19 pm

    The Native American and Indigenous Studies Assoc. has joined the academic boycott of Israel.

    How appropriate. Cool. Who’s next?

    link to insidehighered.com

    • Krauss
      December 18, 2013, 5:43 pm

      Yeah, I saw that. Amazing! So fast.

      Also, the next one? The Modern Language Association in America. It has six times as many members as ASA, at around 30,000 so it is significant.

      They are doing their internal deliberation in January next year. Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev is already freaking out.

      link to haaretz.com

      There’s a lot of myths he peddles, there are ways to debate the motion, but I’m too tired/busy right now to go through all the lies/myths/hasbara.

      Nevertheless, the ASA seems to have been a clarion call.
      2014 is going to be very interesting.

      • lysias
        December 18, 2013, 5:53 pm

        I wonder if the Middle East Studies Association might join in in their annual meeting in D.C. next November. I mention them because I know Bernard Lewis led a breakaway group in protest against the support they were giving to scholars like Edward Said several years ago.

      • ritzl
        December 18, 2013, 6:04 pm

        @Krauss Heh. Title from your link: “One-sided, anti-Israel panel to ‘debate’ next U.S. academic boycott”

        I never cease to be amazed at the total lack of self-awareness of these whiners/would-be framers.

        How many times have we seen laments about “One-sided Panels” as we’re discussing options to bomb Iran [for Israel]? Never.

        Wait until the major Protestant denominations (millions) come back to this topic.

        Snowballing, it is.

      • just
        December 18, 2013, 6:17 pm

        Perfect time of year for “snowballing”………….fa la la la la, la la la la!

      • ritzl
        December 18, 2013, 6:28 pm

        :) Happy Holidays! (To everyone?)

        Hope. ‘Tis the season, and all that…

    • markrcca
      December 18, 2013, 9:41 pm

      So, does this Native American Association boycott the US academic institutions as well, or are they OK with their own occupation by the non-native immigrants?

      • Hostage
        December 18, 2013, 11:56 pm

        So, does this Native American Association boycott the US academic institutions as well, or are they OK with their own occupation by the non-native immigrants?

        Not to put too fine a point on it, but an occupation is when a territory and its inhabitants are placed under the effective control or jurisdiction of the military. So the Native American Association isn’t under occupation. In fact it probably has quite a few members who are veterans.

    • Shingo
      December 19, 2013, 8:15 am

      The Native American and Indigenous Studies Assoc. has joined the academic boycott of Israel.

      Now brave yourself for the streams of racist invective by Isrseli apologists.

      On the bright side , it will only educate more Americans to realize the extent of racism in Israel.

  6. Krauss
    December 18, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Also, this is anxiellary, but there’s a mini-debate in the wake of the boycott vote in which Claire Potter, who became something of a canary in a coalmine, is debating David Hirsh, a liberal Zionist from the UK.

    link to chronicle.com

    It’s interesting to note she is linking to Mondoweiss. Her only other link to a news blog is to the EI by Abuminah but that’s logical; she was interviewed there. I think that says a bit about the added profile and increased credibility of scholars and academics among the left.

    • ritzl
      December 18, 2013, 6:39 pm

      Great link Krauss. Glad she outlined her personal deliberations on this. It draws people in. Very important, imo. Thanks.

  7. Balfour
    December 18, 2013, 6:17 pm

    I thought it telling that that the most popular comment under Tom Freidman’s 12/18/13 piece was mysteriously deleted by the New York Times. The comment was written by David Underwood, a pre-approved New York Times commenter. The essence of Mr. Underwood’s comment was that 1) the Palestinians “are the nig**ers of Israel, and that Israelis are dumbfounded that after some 46 years of Israelis seizing Palestinian lands, water rights and destroying donated foreign equipment that Palestinians are filled with hatred of the oppressors. Mr. Underwood went on to point out that it takes two [countries] to create obstruction of the peace process and that Palestinians deemed terrorist were only copying the terrorist techniques of the Jewish Irgun terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to call attention to their plight. A fragment of Mr. Underwood’s text remains- if one looks under the “Times Selected Comments” one will find a response to Mr. Underwood’s original post. Unfortunately, the Times has killed the link that generated the response.

    • pabelmont
      December 19, 2013, 9:25 am

      Balfour:

      Thanks. Maybe David Underwood will see this and re-publish his COMMENT here on this thread.

      Good old dependable NYT — never changes its stripes or its spots. Some opinion (and quite a few FACTS) are too hot to handle for NYT and must be suppressed. “All the news that fits our editorial and censorship position we print.”

      Chomsky has said that NYT was so determined to suppress mention of Sadat’s early peace offer to Israel that it did not print it when made (1970?) (before the 1973 war, which ultimately resulted in a better deal for Egypt) and ALSO did not mention it in its hugely laudatory two-page obituary for Sadat. I guess NYT didn’t want to call attention to Israel’s refusal to respond to the earlier outreach and also did not want to point (obliquely, to be sure) to its own earlier suppression of the same.

      “Down the memory hole” in Orwellian terms. Never happened. Not on the pages of the NYT.

      Sick. A sick idea of the function of a newspaper in a democracy. Or an admission that USA is not a democracy,. don’t know which.

  8. just
    December 18, 2013, 6:25 pm

    Mr. Bornstein– your threats are hot air. It’s not “anti- democratic” nor is it “racist”. In fact, it is very democratic and just. See, people VOTED based on facts. The facts that Israel has created “on the ground”.

    ” it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”

    (Macbeth)

  9. American
    December 18, 2013, 8:14 pm

    ”that it singles out the world’s only Jewish state””>>>>

    who cares

    ”the Middle East’s only democracy”>>>>

    hahahahaha

    Thats all I can summon for Mr Oren.
    But I would love to see congress try to pass a law against private citizens forming orgs to boycott Israel.

    • Hostage
      December 18, 2013, 10:34 pm

      ”the Middle East’s only democracy”>>>>

      Lately there have been many examples of Israeli government officials and experts on Israeli constitutional law who posit that Judaism is incompatible with democracy. Free speech on 60 Minutes had the same effect on Oren as kryptonite on the Man of Steel. It robbed him of his unnatural powers.

      The mental midgets in Israel have spent half a century trying to figure out the meaning of the words “Jewish and democratic state” in their own Declaration of Independence. They’ve even established a government committee to try and sort it all out and write a definition. That’s something any middle school civics student ought to be able to do on short notice. But the smart money says the Israeli bureaucrats never will get the job done.

      • piotr
        December 19, 2013, 2:40 am

        I would cut Israeli some slack. Our officials had more than 200 years to figure what types of searches are legal and that time was not used as productively as it could be. Mind you, they did not have to use the Declaration of Independence which is not a law but, well, a declaration, but Bill of Rights which is Law of the Land.

      • Hostage
        December 19, 2013, 3:02 am

        I would cut Israeli some slack. Our officials had more than 200 years

        I don’t see it that way. Some of the most reprehensible Israeli officials, including folks like Ambassador Michael Oren and Supreme Court President Shimon Agranat were born and raised in the USA, not to mention the fact that many others, including Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Judge Theodore Meron received their higher education here in the USA.

      • yonah fredman
        December 19, 2013, 3:09 am

        Hostage- Given your knowledge of law, I assume you have some court decision in mind when referring to Shimon Agranat as reprehensible. Could you specify. (I only know the name Agranat because of the commission that passed judgment on the mishandling of the Yom Kippur War by Golda Meir and her government and the army at the time.)

      • Hostage
        December 19, 2013, 3:37 am

        P.S. Attorney General Livni (who admittedly hates the law) picked Prof Ruth Gavison to draft a Basic Law that would resolve the Israeli ‘Jewish-Democratic’ issue. link to ynetnews.com

        Everyone else thought that the Knesset had already done that in Articles 1,2,4, 8, & 10 of the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation (1994). link to knesset.gov.il

        It allowed the Knesset to adopt laws that deliberately violate the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation and provided a method to legitimize and confer upon them a renewable constitutional license that the Supreme Court can’t even overturn. Just so long as they embody Jewish values befitting the State of Israel, they can still be enforced.

        Gavison has served as a Professor of Law at several Universities here in the USA, including Yale, Princeton, and University of Southern California. She has written extensively on the subject in the past, e.g. Can Israel be both Jewish and democratic?, Moment Magazine, (December 2000, Number 6, Volume 25). In the 1st paragraph she answered in the affirmative, but in the 2nd paragraph she admits we’ll have to redefine the accepted meaning of the word democracy:

        My argument in this essay is that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic, and that in important senses it is just such a state. Moreover, I shall argue that it is justifiable that Israel continues to combine its democratic nature with a distinct Jewish nature, and that this combination may justify some modifications of the liberal, neutral conception of democracy advocated in many Western democracies.

        link to members.ngfp.org

        So whatever the f*ck Israel is, it’s not merely the only one in the Middle East, it’s very likely the only one anywhere – and it surely isn’t the conception of democracy advocated by the rest of the world.

      • Hostage
        December 19, 2013, 4:05 am

        I assume you have some court decision in mind when referring to Shimon Agranat as reprehensible

        Sure, here’s a doozy. It’s one of the black letter Judge-made laws which comprise the control framework of apartheid. It has been employed to exclude the indigenous Palestinian Arab minority, while including all extraterritorial and alien Jews in a two-tiered system of municipal laws that grant superior rights and privileges to persons of Jewish (Israeli) nationality:

        “the wish of a handful of Jews to break away from the nation and create a new concept of an Israeli nation was not a legitimate aspiration. . . . There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish people. . . . The Jewish people is composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of Diaspora Jewries.”

        See CA 630/70 Tamarin v. Israel 26(1) IsrSC 197, 225 [1970] (Isr.)

      • marc b.
        December 19, 2013, 9:04 am

        So whatever the f*ck Israel is, it’s not merely the only one in the Middle East, it’s very likely the only one anywhere – and it surely isn’t the conception of democracy advocated by the rest of the world.

        this is your area of expertise hostage, but it appears to a non-expert that Israel has many of the features of what would be called a theocracy, e.g. religious authority to determine citizenship and the relationship of an over- class of citizens to an underclass; religious authority relied upon to establish borders; religious authority determining immigration; etc. I know that it is not a simple as a label, however theocratic authority seems completely incompatible with any ‘liberal, neutral conception of democracy advocated in many Western democracies.’

      • American
        December 19, 2013, 9:57 am

        piotr says:
        December 19, 2013 at 2:40 am
        I would cut Israeli some slack.
        >>>>>

        For what?…for spending their time trying to make Jewish = Democracy like 2 x 3 =10?
        Isr claims it a ‘democracy like the US’ so what difference does it make if Isr is 200 yrs old or 65 years old—– even monkeys can learn by imitation.

      • pabelmont
        December 19, 2013, 10:34 am

        We have a supreme court to figure out these important questions. Aren’t we lucky? And although corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution, the dear, dear S/C has decided that the corporations can spend their shareholders’ money enlisting the services (“buying, “renting”) Congressmen, etc., and directly making (“Citizens United”) presentations to the American people on political issues. The S/C seems to have decided that if the whole government (Congress, administrative and regulatory agencies, president) are “owned” by the big corporations, why shouldn’t the court act as if it, too, were similarly “owned”.

        But please don’t call it democratic. Call it a people living under oligarchic occupation.

      • Hostage
        December 19, 2013, 5:19 pm

        The S/C seems to have decided that if the whole government (Congress, administrative and regulatory agencies, president) are “owned” by the big corporations, why shouldn’t the court act as if it, too, were similarly “owned”.

        But please don’t call it democratic. Call it a people living under oligarchic occupation.

        The Supreme Court has left the barn door open just a bit, by merely claiming that corporations are persons. At one and the same time it has upheld laws which even deny natural persons, who happen to be foreigners, the right to participate in our national polity or make campaign contributions, e.g. link to fec.gov

        The IRS has just requested public comments in connection with proposed rulemaking for tax exempt 501s, like AIPAC. Comments are being accepted online at Regulations.gov
        link to regulations.gov

        They are asking for online comments on political activities related to candidates that should not be considered activities to promote social welfare.

        The document also requests comments from the public regarding the standard under current regulations that considers a tax-exempt social welfare organization to be operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is ‘‘primarily’’ engaged in activities that promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the community, including how this standard should be measured and whether this standard should be changed.

        link to gpo.gov

      • LeaNder
        December 19, 2013, 7:13 am

        Hostage, this is a really odd document:

        Nationality and Religion in Judaism At this point the Jewish-Arab debate connects with the internal Jewish debate about the nature of Judaism and its effect on the characteristics of the Jewish state. All agree that the Jewish people maintained its distinctness over the years because of its religious commitments, and because of the tendency of Jews to an insulated way of life, which was dictated to a large extent by religious commands. Yet Zionism emerged as a political movement when Jews started being secularized and sought new ways to maintain Jewish identity in the face of modernity. The new challenges created both religious pluralism, and a stream of secular Judaism, which maintained Jewish distinctness in terms of national, historical and cultural identity.

        This diversity of attitudes created many internal debates, such as ‘who is a Jew’, and who can marry and convert. It also created heated debates about the proper role for religion in general, and Jewish religion in particular, in Israel’s public life. Finally, it created a debate about the foundation of the right of Jews to settle in Israel. While all Zionists believe that the historical roots of Jews in Zion are part of the reason justifying Jewish self-determination there, messianic religious Jews also believe that all of eretz Yisrael belongs to Jews because of His promise. Secular Jews, on the other hand, see the foundation of the right of Jews to self-determination in Zionism’s success to create a critical mass of Jews in Israel, and its success in settling it, developing it, defending it and securing international support for its recognition.

        So the extreme right over here had a point about the “state within the state”? If what she writes is correct then the history of antisemitism has to be slightly rewritten? In other words “the Jews” always wanted to live in Ghettos, or apart from everybody else?

        Apart from that Palestinian dispossession apparently cannot be addressed ever.

        Did the judge Hadassa Ben-Itto ever surface in a legally relevant context? And where could I look for it?

        **********************
        aside:

        Hatim Kanaaneh’s book was much more difficult to read than either Susan’s or Michelle’s. But no doubt the desire to read it was triggered by reading the novels first. Interestingly in the “average” (?) reader’s minds ideology seems to trumps the little glimpse into Palestinian realityCohen Corasanti has given her reader:

        * The story also shows some biographic background of others, like the brother, who had an accident and now sees the Israelis as being responsible for all bads that happen. I could feel with him and understand his hate, and realize that it is not easy to overcome such hate.

        Of course “the Jews” are always irrationally blamed, but in spite of the fact they are always very, very emphatic. Shoot an cry?

      • LeaNder
        December 19, 2013, 7:20 am

        This diversity of attitudes created many internal debates, such as ‘who is a Jew’, and who can marry and convert. It also created heated debates about the proper role for religion in general, and Jewish religion in particular, in Israel’s public life.

        Entry 24: Who is a Jew? And Who is not?

        To my mind, the Jewish mission, the covenant of Jewish obligation to cultivate the sensitivity and skillsets to make whole what is disparate is critical to continue. I will and do “teach my children”, both racially through mother’s genes and culturally through pragmatic compassion, prayer and good deeds.

  10. RoHa
    December 18, 2013, 9:29 pm

    “the world’s only Jewish state”

    Why is this such a big deal? There are lots of features which states can have to make them “the world’s only [insert feature] state. (For example, the Republic of the Philippines is the only state which has Filipino as an official language.) And so what?

    • piotr
      December 19, 2013, 2:50 am

      You know, in America, USA are by far not the only American state, and we even have an entire Organization of American States. There is also a large number of Arab countries, a few Persian countries.

      I think that your puzzlement suggest that we need a new information resource, a table of all UN countries, comparing each with Israel and concluding if Israel or the other country is superior and listing the reasons.

      • pabelmont
        December 19, 2013, 10:43 am

        piotr:
        Good idea, but not a table of which state is superior to Israel, but merely a table of various (degrees of) uniqueness. Petaluma, Calif., where my father grew up, called itself, “the egg basket of the nation”. That’s something, hunh? Anyway, many countries would love to point to their own uniqueness. For example, the USA is the only country to be located, geographically, BOTH south of Canada (for the most part, omitting Alaska) AND north of Mexico (for the most part, omitting part of Texas and I suppose Hawai’i). NOT JUST ONE. BUT BOTH !!!! there’s uniqueness for you.

      • piotr
        December 19, 2013, 2:10 pm

        I am pleased that you grasped the idea. Whatever the difference is can be used to conclude that X is superior to Y, so Petaluma is superior to Gilroy because Petaluma is “the egg basket of the nation” and Gilroy is merely “garlic capital of the world”. Both are clearly superior to “Shédiac (Nouveau-Brunswick) [...] la capitale mondiale du homard”.

        Or the other way around. Shediac is No 1, lobster being a noble creature, then the eggs, then the garlic.

        Israel, the most Jewish state in the world, seems unique because it seems that they take that crap seriously, always best at this or that. Recently, “most sexy”. At least, lobsters in Shediac are really good. I highly recommend as a tourist destination, and no one will search you on the way. Even border control on Maine-New Brunswick crossings seems to be super-nice. And if you are not afraid of lobster overdose, you can also eat in Maine.

    • Talkback
      December 19, 2013, 8:14 am

      “the world’s only Jewish state”

      Why is this such a big deal?

      He’s singling out Israel. It is not a normal state. It is more. It is Jewish. Therefore it needs special treatment.

  11. piotr
    December 18, 2013, 9:50 pm

    Basically, Oren shows that while Israel is an OK democracy in the context of Middle East, their understanding of the concept and benefits of free speech is sketchy at best.

    My impression that to Mr. Oren, like to many former and current American, Bill of Right is a well meaning but misguided piece of crap that should be circumvented whenever inconvenient. However, it is a peculiarity of American civic life that such sentiments are a hard sell if they cannot be sufficiently obfuscated.

    Recall recent bruhaha about when some Congressmen and members of NYC council were aghast against Brooklyn College (a part of City University system) and proposed cuts in the budget of that College. It did not go well.

    By the way, I like the reverence with which Oren cites Abbas. ASA “defies Abu Mazen”! So does GoI on hundreds of occasions, like expansion of settlements, withholding revenue, shooting Palestinians etc. Suddenly, Abu Mazen is cited as an authority! Wow!

  12. Hostage
    December 18, 2013, 10:06 pm

    The United States has long imposed strict penalties on companies complying with the Arab boycott of Israel. Similar measures should be enacted denying state and Federal funding for any activities associated with the promoters of this racist anti-democratic measure.

    But the federal courts have already dismissed suits filed under Title VI which were based upon Zionist claims that criticizing Israel or calling for a boycott can be construed as racist or anti-democratic. Ambassador Oren and his employer probably had a hand in getting the ball rolling in those now-failed test cases.

    Much outrage has been expressed about the academic boycott of Israel by the ASA–that it singles out the world’s only Jewish state, the Middle East’s only democracy, undermines academic freedom, and defies Abu Mazen’s opposition to such boycotts.

    But Abbas dismisses Israeli accusations that the Palestinian boycott campaign amounts to incitement of hatred against Israel: link to haaretz.com

    I think its a mistaken view to say that Abbas is against all BDS actions against Israel per se. For example, Abbas is all for applying criminal “sanctions” against Israeli officials, and has said as much over 450 times in letters addressed to the 10th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly and the Security Council:

    This letter is in follow-up to our previous 450 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 15 January 2013 (A/ES-10/577-S/2012/23), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
    I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.
    (Signed) Riyad Mansour
    Ambassador
    Permanent Observer
    of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

    link to un.org

    It isn’t clear that Abbas was discussing the academic or cultural boycotts. After all, there are 650,000 Israelis and Israeli academic institutions squatting in the settlements located on Palestinian territory. Elected Palestinian officials who have supported the cultural and academic boycotts of Israel in the past, stated that it was also the policy of President Abbas, e.g. Bethlehem mayor calls for cultural boycott of Israel link to jpost.com

  13. ToivoS
    December 18, 2013, 11:23 pm

    M.oren’s statement “Much outrage has been expressed about the academic boycott of Israel by the ASA–that it singles out the world’s only Jewish state, the Middle East’s only democracy, is repeating a theme that I have been hearing more and more from Israel’s defenders.

    Someone here at MW (sorry can’t remember the name) had a nice essay on singling out Israel at least with respect to US actions. If Oren’s argument has gone out to the haspbara brigades, then maybe whoever wrote that counter argument should polish it up and present it as a major counter argument against any Israeli or agent that tries to use argument.

    I know my tipping point arrived in 2002 when it became clear that it was Israel and her American supporters that led us into war in Iraq. I am an American citizen and I do not much influence in this world but I do theoretically at least have influence over the actions of the US government. Given Israel’s disproportionate influence inside the US then it is not only logically necessary but politically imperative for me to single out Israel as part of our problem.

    I have said this before. If you Zionists do not want us Americans singling out Israel then please, oh please, just let the US withdraw from your unending war with the Arabs and fight it out by yourselves. Once that happens I will be happy to sit back and watch the carnage as we all do with respect to Eastern Congo, Southern Sudan or any number of horrible civil wars going on.

  14. Hostage
    December 18, 2013, 11:46 pm

    Former Israeli ambassador calls for legislation to impose ‘penalties’ on promoters of academic boycott . . . ADL Director Abraham Foxman denounced the move in the strongest terms. This shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom . . . should be soundly condemned by all who are committed to the ideal that open exchange of ideas is the most effective way to achieve change”.

    Do we really need to look any further than the systematic Israeli persecution of students in Gaza to find an example of shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom that should be the subject of legal penalties?

    The 2005 BDS Call to action came about because nothing had been done for over a year in the wake of the ICJ finding of fact (see paragraph 134) that the State of Israel was violating the fundamental human rights of non-Jews in the occupied territories, including their “the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living”.

    • pabelmont
      December 19, 2013, 11:01 am

      Hostage refers to para, 134 of the July 9, 2004, ICJ advisory Opinion on the Wall:

      134. To sum up, the Court is of the opinion that the construction of the wall and its
      associated régime impede the liberty of movement of the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (with the exception of Israeli citizens and those assimilated thereto) as guaranteed under Article 12, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They also impede the exercise by the persons concerned of the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Lastly, the construction of the wall and its associated régime, by contributing to the demographic changes referred to in paragraphs 122 and 133 above, contravene Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Security Council resolutions cited in paragraph 120 above.

  15. Justpassingby
    December 19, 2013, 5:05 am

    This man is so brainwashed is tragic, why is he living in America at all?

  16. Shingo
    December 19, 2013, 8:11 am

    Oren has no problems with calling for sanctions against the world’d only Persosn state.

    What hypocrisy and double standards!!

    • piotr
      December 19, 2013, 9:49 pm

      One can argue that Tadjikistan is a Persian state as well, Tadjik language being a dialect of Persian, and Afghanistan is quite a bit Persian too — Dari language, which is the same as Tadjik, is one of the official languages and it is indeed almost co-equal with Pashto. Moreover, there was a First Persian Empire, Second Persian Empire and so on. I guess is long overdue to recognize that the First Persian Empire was bad when it attacked 300 Spartans, so we should impose sanctions on them as well.

      Historically, sanctions were imposed predominantly on states that have this “not the only” status: Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Iran, communist China. There were some exceptions, of course.

  17. Shingo
    December 19, 2013, 8:50 am

    …defies Abu Mazen’s opposition to such boycotts.

    Umm, Mazen also opposed Israeli occupation and settlements you hypocrite!!

    Why are you defying him Mr Oren?

  18. pabelmont
    December 19, 2013, 11:03 am

    Abu Mazen (a/k/a Abbas) , although seems to NOT call for boycott against Israel as a whole does favor boycott on settlement products. Not enough, and obviously done under pressure.

    • piotr
      December 19, 2013, 2:22 pm

      Also, while Abu Mazen has Ph.D., professors who voted are also qualified to make their own conclusions. Strangely enough, Oren modestly skipped the fact that he is a professor studying those issues so he could offer himself as an authority. “I have proved in my book X that all those claims are b…t so the DoJ of USA should take care of the idiots who do not agree”.

  19. Talkback
    December 20, 2013, 10:18 am

    Thank you for promoting the boycott in the best way someone like you can, Mr. Oren.

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