US university defeated BDS by hiring three Israeli soldiers to talk up ‘love’ for Israel

US Politics
on 32 Comments

Everything you need to know about the Jewish community’s marriage to Israeli is in this piece by former Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence in the Jewish Week, explaining how he managed to put down the burgeoning Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) at that Massachusetts school with roots in the Jewish community. Bring in Israeli soldiers, bring in lots of Israeli students, and invite “participation by anyone who cares about Israel… regardless of political views.” But all in the “context of love” for Israel.

Note that not one Palestinian is mentioned by Lawrence. They’re not stakeholders in the Jewish community’s view.

Here’s the part about the Israeli soldiers:

But perhaps the most significant event that evolved was what came to be called “b-VIEW” — Brandeis Visions for Israel in an Evolving World. This program, a campus-wide, broad-based Israel discussion group with a yearly multi-university conference, was started by three IDF vets whom we had recruited to Brandeis, and two American students. They created a forum for sharing a wide range of views on Israel in the context of love and determination for Israel’s survival and future. I was privileged to support it and help make it happen.

Speakers at b-VIEW conferences have included Mideast expert Aaron David Miller, Israel’s consul general in New York, Ido Aharoni, and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. Most important were the breakout sessions where students from colleges up and down the East Coast wrestled together with the situation confronting Israel.

Whereas many campuses find themselves hosting a confrontational and adversarial discussion of Israel, Brandeis’ b-VIEW revolutionized the process because it goes beyond simplistic rhetoric and polarized debates. It invites participation by anyone who cares about Israel and the region, regardless of political views, and encourages engagement in constructive and mutually respectful conversation…

The Bronfman Brandeis-Israel Collaborative Research Initiative provided research grants to faculty for projects done together with Israeli academics.

Now a scholar at Yale Law School, Lawrence says the “surest way to defeat BDS” is to promote Israel, not to be negative about BDS. But his Rx is essentially racist. Again: he mentions no Palestinians. And at the same time that he was torpedoing BDS, Lawrence was ending the school’s relationship with Al Quds University because its president Sari Nusseibeh failed to condemn in strong enough terms a rally at the school of masked militants carrying fake guns and giving a Nazi style salute. So Nusseibeh deplores the rally, but not loudly enough, and meantime his more powerful American partner hosts soldiers from an Israeli force that massacres children.

Lately I had a discussion with a friend about Who lost Israel? Israel is clearly in jeopardy right now as the “Jewish democratic state”; you can see the desperation in all J Street and New Israel Fund’s year-end communications. Help us get back to the Israel we love, by getting rid of Netanyahu, and Bennett, and Shaked, and Lieberman, and everyone else in the Israeli political establishment, tomorrow. Aren’t they speaking out a little too late? Yes, they’re too late. Israel has gone too far right to be redeemed, IMHO; and the American Jewish groups were complicit in this process because they kept feeding Israel rope, preventing any accountability in the States. As Frederick Lawrence preserved Israel’s impunity by shielding it from the nonviolent BDS movement. And anyway, my friend said that the American Jewish community lost Israel in 1980 when it forced the resignation of Andrew Young as the US ambassador to the UN because he had had a brief meeting with the PLO over the Palestinian state issue. You weren’t supposed to talk to the PLO; and in an election year under tremendous pressure from Jewish organizations, Jimmy Carter accepted the resignation of a man very close to him. A sad chapter. And all we can say is that Barack Obama knows all this, and is fighting back against the lobby.

About Philip Weiss

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

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32 Responses

  1. Sycamores
    December 31, 2015, 12:25 pm

    kumbaya moment around the campfire for pro-Israel Jewish community in Massachusetts. more of an act of desperation on behalf of the community rather than a defeat of the BDS.

    • ritzl
      December 31, 2015, 2:59 pm

      Yup. To loosely paraphrase Alice, things keep getting shriller and shriller-er.

  2. David Doppler
    December 31, 2015, 12:29 pm

    “And all we can say is that Barack Obama knows all this, and is fighting back against the lobby.”

    Surely he knows all this, and doesn’t agree with it, but he isn’t doing much fighting. He doesn’t know how to fight. He’s the POTUS, with more power at his disposal than anyone, and exceptional native rhetorical skills, yet he is chronically afraid to use his power, chronically reluctant to offend anyone, chronically willing to forgive and overlook, and give a pass. Unable to wear the mantle of him who must be feared.

    He just needs to take Netanyahu on directly, on any one of the many issues where Israel’s policies and actions are totally unacceptable under international law and western democratic values. He just needs to draw a line in the sand on one outrageous crime, and make Netanyahu and his right-wing government, embraced by an increasingly racist and fascistic society, bend, or forfeit substantial US support. He’s got a year left. He’s accomplished a lot on the economic and policy fronts, but he hasn’t impressed as a fighter, as one who can deal with a bully.

    He’s still the emperor marching around in invisible clothes, wearing a s***-eating grin, deserving of history’s contempt as a weak president.

    • Atlantaiconoclast
      January 1, 2016, 10:36 am

      What has he accomplished on the economic and policy front? The country is up to its eyes in debt, both personal and government debt. The percentage of Americans working is lower than ever. Real income is down. The underlying malinvestment that brought us the crash in 2008 has never been cleansed from the stystem. Obama continued the bailouts that served the top 1 per cent. Without the reserve currency status, this nation would have been done already.

      And what policy? The AHCA? Really? Have you seen the cost of premiums? Obama is a failure at the same level as Bush.

  3. Marshall
    December 31, 2015, 2:41 pm

    Notwithstanding its essential racism, that is an interesting piece. It shows that the Zionist establishment knows exactly how to modulate its rhetoric and tactics for the audience, all with the end goal of insulating Israeli policy from an existential threat.

    The problem for the Zionists is that Sheldon Adelson isn’t nearly this subtle or tolerant of the notion that tactics and rhetoric must be varied for the audience. Ergo his $50 million anti-BDS fund will be nowhere near as effective as what’s described here.

  4. italian ex-pat
    December 31, 2015, 5:11 pm

    @ David Doppler

    President Obama has been and is a great disappointment for his total failure in asserting the US’ position of supremacy viv-a-vis Israel, a totally dependent client state that however acts as if it were the more powerful of the two, especially under the government of Netanyahu.
    Obama may have had his heart in the right place at the beginning of his presidency, although the fact that his first official speech as President was to reassure the various American Jewish organizations of the continuing US’ support for Israel speaks volumes about how his agenda had already been highjacked by the powers that control the American government.

    What’s puzzling is that now, nearing the end of his second and final term, he still seems to be incapable of escaping the yoke that’s been around his neck from day one. I mean, if he really cared about resolving the I/P conflict, what’s stopping him now from applying pressure to Israel and force a fair and just settlement? He certainly would have the backing of most of the world.
    He obviously had the strength to dig in his heels when the issue was the Iran deal, but not when it comes to Palestinian rights, it seems. Will we ever know what’s the weapon pointed at his head – as well at all previous US Presidents since Truman – that keeps them kissing Israel’s butt in spite of our military superiority? What else could it be other than their threat of opening up those ‘secret’ silos and unleashing a nuclear Armageddon upon the world?

    • Stephen Shenfield
      December 31, 2015, 7:42 pm

      There may not be any weapon pointed at his head. After all those years of sucking up he may simply not be able to kick the habit when circumstances no longer force him to do it. I feel pity for him rather than contempt.

      • Atlantaiconoclast
        January 1, 2016, 10:39 am

        I feel contempt for any smart and powerful person who wastes opportunities to do the right thing.

      • Froggy
        January 1, 2016, 1:10 pm

        Stephen, I have heard many Brits remark that Obama reminds them of Tony Blair, the much loathed former PM. I saw the resemblence, though Obama has always reminded me of Eddie Haskell.

        It will be fascinating to see what Obama does after he is out of office. Whom sucks up to…. Which people and organisations give him the many millions of dollars. I believe that a massive post-presidency enrichment similar to what Blair has done, has been Obama’s goal all along which explains why Mr Hope and Change never stood up to Big Pharma and the Medical-Industrial Complex, the banksters, Israel and the zionistas, and the other criminal hyenas of the modern world.

        Just my take on the man….

  5. JWalters
    December 31, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Brandeis has chosen to sacrifice intellectual integrity for its donors, under the pretense of “love”. Fortunately for the world, most people have not suffered the youthful brainwashing of this community. Their fantasy and delusion will eventually be overwhelmed by reality.

  6. Steve Macklevore
    December 31, 2015, 6:16 pm

    Brandeis students – you know exactly what to do.

    When you return to your university this January, you’re going to set up a BDS Israel campaign and not fall for any of the “dialogue” “It’s complicated” “there are two sides to every story” and “you’re making Jewish students feel uncomfortable” hasbara shit that you’ll be faced with.

    You’re an elite university – set up an elite BDS campaign on campus, no matter what forces are arranged against you. Let us know here how you get on and what support we can give you.

    Happy new year.

  7. Atlantaiconoclast
    January 1, 2016, 10:29 am

    If Obama is fighting against the lobby, then why does Israel get more aid than ever? Why does it still heavily influence our foreign policy in Syria and towards Iran? Why has it faced no consequences over its continuing illegal occupation and Jews only colonization of Palestine? The Iran deal is a lone exception.

    I am so tired of illusions about Obama. He has been a cruel hoax.

  8. Kay24
    January 1, 2016, 11:18 am

    Did the IDF soldiers even refer to the last massacre in Gaza, where they killed over 2000 Palestinians, mostly women and children?

  9. rkthomas13
    January 1, 2016, 11:27 am

    Those who are so impatient with Obama’s handling of Israel should study how Lincoln slowly but surely brought a nation only slightly opposed to slavery in principle but unwilling to do anything about it over to a war policy of total abolition. Lincoln bore the scorn of so many zealots patiently and ultimately won.
    Israel is deeply imbedded in American religious culture. Obama is right to proceed slowly in hopes that public opinion can be changed. It may take decades more and we had all be best prepared for this.

  10. James Michie
    January 1, 2016, 11:33 am

    Sorry, Mondoweiss, but I think you are far too charitable in stating that Barack Obama is “fighting back”, when he, a recipient of the “Nobel Peace Prize”, stood by in the summer of 2014 as Zionist Israel massacred more than 2,200 Palestinians, at least 500 of them children, in that 51-day merciless, indiscriminate war on defenseless Gaza, Zionist Israel’s concentration camp holding prisoner 1.8 million Palestinians, Christian and Muslim.

    Outstanding in Barack Obama’s response to this unbridled barbarism: “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Moreover, Barack Obama even replenished Zionist Israel’s supply of bombs, rockets, bullets and other munitions as Zionist Israel’s IDF (Israel Destruction Force) bombed and shelled thousands of homes, mosques, hospitals, schools, farms, manufacturing plants, Gaza’s only power plant, sewage treatment plant and other infrastructure. “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Indeed! Recipient of a “Nobel Peace Prize”? Indeed!

    Barack Obama stands out in my mind as a disgrace to any thought or semblance of human rights in the face of Zionist Israel’s brutal racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing forced military occupation of what remains of Palestine, after Zionist Israel’s destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, farms, businesses and continued theft of Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past five decades.

    Adding to his galactic hypocrisy, Barack Obama reportedly is increasing “foreign aid” to $5 billion annually for Zionist Israel.

    Would that Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi could speak from their graves, need anyone wonder what they might say about Barack Obama and his “fight” for human rights?

    • eljay
      January 1, 2016, 1:55 pm

      || James Michie: … Barack Obama stands out in my mind as a disgrace to any thought or semblance of human rights in the face of Zionist Israel’s brutal racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing forced military occupation of what remains of Palestine, after Zionist Israel’s destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, farms, businesses and continued theft of Palestinian lands … over the past [almost seven] decades. ||

      Human rights only matter to Barry “Nobel Peace Prize” O. when they favour the U.S. or its interests around the world. He is a truly American president.

      • James Michie
        January 1, 2016, 6:24 pm

        A bit of a correction, eljay: “Human rights” only matter to “Barack Obama” when his boundless lip service only serves himself!

  11. Froggy
    January 1, 2016, 12:43 pm

    “Now a scholar at Yale Law School, Lawrence says the “surest way to defeat BDS” is to promote Israel, not to be negative about BDS.”

    Liars and bullsh1tters the lot of them.

    If anything will defeat the zionistas it is that they go about their machinations behaving as if the rest of us are stupid. Do they really think that people are so obtuse that we can’t see their propaganda for what it is?

    Y’know… it isn’t 1935 anymore, or 1950, or even 1980. Ordinary people are no longer in the position where their sole sources of information are limited to whatever slanted ‘information’ they hear on local radio and television, read in available newspapers and magazines, and whatever they can find at the local library.

    With universal access to the Web and the Internet people now can find out what is happening throughout the world, with the result that the TRUTH is as close as one’s notebook, tablet or mobile phone. Modern communications make ignorance in a individual an act of will.

    On the flip side, in the modern world it’s so easy to identify the liars and propagandists for what they are.

    Happy 2016.

    • echinococcus
      January 1, 2016, 1:58 pm

      Do they really think that people are so obtuse that we can’t see their propaganda for what it is?

      With universal access to the Web and the Internet people now can find out what is happening throughout the world

      Can. Do they?

      Modern communications make ignorance in a individual an act of will.

      When there is a will to ignore what may be even slightly inconvenient, there’s always a way.

  12. Ossinev
    January 1, 2016, 1:24 pm

    Totally fatigued by the endless repetition of “Israel/Israelis have the right to defend themselves”. No doubt we will hear the same mantra repeated over and over again in 2016 to justify Israeli Fascism.

    Don`t recall any US or European mainstream politician ever saying “Palestinians have a right to defend themselves”. Perhaps this is a mantra which should be adopted and repeated at every appropriate moment by those of us who support the Palestinians.

    BOYCOTT UGLY APARTHEID ISRAEL
    SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF PALESTINIANS TO DEFEND THEMSELVES

  13. oldgeezer
    January 1, 2016, 1:49 pm

    No divided loyalties on his part. He even threw his professionalism under the bus let alone his integrity, students, and position.

  14. italian ex-pat
    January 1, 2016, 6:37 pm

    This is in response to those who are dumping all the blame for the continuing – even increasing – support for Israel on Obama’s lap. You seem to forget he is only the latest in a long line of American presidents (and Congress-people) to be toeing that line, even if admittedly no other has been the object of such contempt by the country who owes its very existence and security to his government.
    I asked before and never got an answer: why has every successive American president been unable or unwilling to stand up to the arrogance and ingratitude of this small, UN created state, which since its inception has been killing and displacing the native population in total disregard of the world condemnation, and in fact has been rewarding its crimes with billions of taxpayers’ money?

    If the American Jewish community, which statistically comprises only 2% of the total population, has such political power as to bring the collective US government to its knees when it comes to unconditional support for Israel, we should all be very concerned about the direction we and the world are heading for, if this power ends up in the hands of the fanatical Zionists currently buying up presidential candidates.

    • Eva Smagacz
      January 2, 2016, 7:45 am

      “I asked before and never got an answer: why has every successive American president been unable or unwilling to stand up to the arrogance and ingratitude of this small, UN created state, which since its inception has been killing and displacing the native population in total disregard of the world condemnation, and in fact has been rewarding its crimes with billions of taxpayers’ money? ”

      Google “jobs lost because of Israel Lobby in US” and “Jeremiah Wright controversy” and the destructive force of Israel Lobby and its ability to destroy people’s livelihoods, jobs, prospects and futures , will become clear.

      pro-Israel Lobby removes all and any contrarian voices from the public domain before they become significant, while at the same time offering many financial (scholarships, internships etc,) to young people who can be moulded to understand that there are some points of view that are career suicides.

      Look up also “Manufactured Consent” & “limits of acceptable discourse” in writings of Noam Chomsky

  15. hophmi
    January 4, 2016, 2:21 pm

    Lol. All it proves is that when people actually learn about Israel from something other than a BDS extremist, they tend to reject BDS for the extreme, bigoted approach that it is. BDS depends on ignorance. Most students who subscribe to BDS know next to nothing about Israel except the propaganda that BDSers feed them.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 4, 2016, 2:28 pm

      hops, it’s disingenuous to make generalizations about what students tend to reject based on what happened at one university.

    • eljay
      January 4, 2016, 2:46 pm

      || hophmi: Lol. All it proves is that … ||

      …Zio-supremacist propaganda is effectively disseminated and disturbingly powerful.

      The successful promotion of injustice and immorality should not be considered amusing.

    • amigo
      January 4, 2016, 6:04 pm

      “BDS depends on ignorance”.Hopknee

      How right you are hop,s and they can always rely on you and your fellow travelers to provide ignorance in unfettered and copious amounts.

      Keep up the good work hopples , you are doing a bang up job.You are one of the cornerstones in the BDS battle .

      Perhaps we will dedicate a song to you in years to come.

      The man who shot “Liberty Zionism “, in the back.

      • Mooser
        January 4, 2016, 9:43 pm

        “The man who shot “Liberty Zionism “, in the back.”

        Great! “The Man Who Shot Liberal Zionism”! I would recommend that for a title of a Mondo article, but I don’t think you can pin it on any one guy. It was more of a drive-by. They all got in the car and shot each other.

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