Trending Topics:

Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 7 (since 2009-08-04 23:31:56)



Showing comments 7 - 1

  • Ash responds to critique of Finkelstein on BDS
  • New petition challenges Horowitz smear invoking Nazi holocaust to attack BDS
    • Oleg is under the impression that what is wrong with the Horwoitz Ad is that it "invokes the holocaust." Therefore, the ad above is guilty of hypocrisy since it is also invoking the holocaust.

      1. There is nothing inherently wrong in invoking the holocaust. I take for granted that political analysis can be sharpened by the good use of historical analysis. The holocaust happened and therefore a good analysis of why and how it happened and what could have prevented it from happening can be (there is no guarantee here, plenty of rotten historical analysis exists) useful for a contemporary political debate.

      2. The problem with Horowitz is not that it invokes the holocaust, but that it misuses the holocaust. Horowitz builds and analogy between the Nazi boycott of Jewish business and BDS. The analogy encapsulates an implicit argument (two actually) that can be restated thus:

      (Now, i'll skip mathematical formalization, but it is easy to see that these are fallacies. Add modals and qualifiers as necessary. But the basic logic is easier to see in its strong form.)

      1. The Nazis used boycott against Jews
      2. people who support BDS use boycott against Jews
      3. Ergo: (1,2) people who support BDS are (like) Nazis

      4. Some boycotts against Jews (specifically, the Nazi one) contributed to a holocaust.
      5. BDS is a boycott against Jews
      6. Ergo: (4,5) BDS contributes to a holocaust

      Setting aside the (huge) fact that the minor premise in each argument is wrong (BDS is not a boycott against Jews), both arguments suck.

      The first is an example of the fallacy of the undistributed middle:
      1. cats are mammals
      2. dogs are mammals
      3. Therefore cats are dogs.

      And so is the second, example:
      1. Some humans are good mathematicians
      2. Sheila is human
      3. Sheila is a good mathematician

      In contrast, the petition does not make any grand analogy in the passage you quote. It lumps together a series of boycotts, including both BDS and the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany and other boycotts, in a category that could be named perhaps, "examples of legitimate boycotts". The Nazis were boycottable, as is Israel today, as were the landlords who paid Charles Boycott's keep. There is no equivalence set between Nazi Germany and Israel. If there were, it would imply that Mr. Boycott's bosses were also "like Nazis." That is absurd in any general sense. It is not absurd only in the very restricted sense that both the Nazis and Mr. Boycott's bosses (and Israel as well,) are boycotable.

      Of course, the Nazi boycott of Jews is not included because it doesn't belong to this category of legitimate boycotts. It was an illegitimate boycott. The task of finding out why is left for the reader. If the reader is grumpy, let him or her explain what fair criteria would create a different division between legitimate and illegitimate boycotts.

      3. The holocaust is invoked again, as a basis of a lesson that some Jews, specifically, those who agree with the petition, learned from it. Obviously, some other Jews did not learn that lesson. Some learned other lessons, and some would strongly disagree with this lesson:

      When people are demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly, we must stand in their defense.

      Those who disagree with this lesson are welcome to make their case.

      That lesson does, in its application here, draw an analogy. The analogy is between those who were "demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly" in Nazi Germany (Jews), and those who are now in Palestine (Palestinians). Feel free to challenge both sides of this analogy, if this is your wish, as long as you note that no equal sign is assumed, only that in both cases, certain people were "demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly".

      Here they are again as syllogisms.

      1. When people are demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly, all people must stand in their defense.
      2. During the holocaust, Jews were demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly.
      3. (1,2) During the holocaust, all people should have stand in the defense of Jews.

      2a. Now, Palestinians are demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly.
      3a.: (1, 2a) Now, all people should stand in the defense of Palestinians.

      4. boycotts that responds to a situation when people are demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly are legitimate boycotts.
      5. BDS now/ Jewish boycott against Germany then responds/ed to a situation when people are demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly.
      6. (4,5). BDS now/ Jewish boycott against Germany then is/was legitimate boycott

      Hope this helps.

  • An unemployed ex-NGO worker, union activist, and labor sociologist discuss capitalism, labor organizing and the 'NGO-ization' of Israeli civil society
    • Very interesting dialog. Particularly the analogy to the supply chain. I hope this is an indication that more articles from Haoketz will be translated.

      What is missing however is going beyond the question of the status of the NGO worker as worker to general question about the political role of NGOs. What do NGOs do to the struggle that they promote? What do they do to the society in which they operate? What is the class position of NGO workers and how do NGOs structurally affect class and race conflicts in general? The problem with these questions is that they cut across the question of unions. We have seen how reformist unions have slowly become supporters of capitalist interests. Environmentalism is a well known case.

      Now, there are different forms of NGOs. There are those who simply provide services, like adult education or job training or monitoring that the state used to provide or should provide. This is a form of privatization, and the workers there are similar to garbage collectors who have been privatized.

      But there are explicitly political NGOs who strive to lead social movement. There is an ongoing critique of these entities that they in fact destroy social movement as much as build them. See, for example, The Revolution will not be funded . It is amazing and perhaps there is an intention behind it that this book is out of print after so few years and so expensive, but here is the comment left on Amazon by an activist I know:

      Kiyoko (New Orleans, LA USA) -
      As an organizer working in and out of the confines of non-profit organizations, I give my highest recommendations for this extremely important collection of essays. I often wonder how I've gotten to a point where I spend less time in the community, and more time sitting in front of my computer writing grant proposals, calculating budgets and writing final reports for foundations and government agencies. As many of the authors in the book suggest, shouldn't we be accountable to our constituents rather than foundations, which serve as little more than tax shelters through which "white capital is circulated among white people and works to maintain systems of white supremacy"? Through the proliferation of non-profits and foundations, radical social movements in the US have been co-opted to a point where the movement eerily resembles the oppressive capitalist social order we claim to be challenging, giving rise to the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

      Collaboration is stifled when fierce competition for funding and stringent, narrow grant guidelines divide groups that are working towards the same goal. Perhaps most disheartening is the NPIC's power to shape our approaches and tactics for social change. As Dylan Rodriguez points out, "[m]ore insidious than the...constraints exerted by the foundation/state/non-profit nexus is the way in which [it]...grounds an epistemology--literally, a way of knowing social change and resistance praxis--that is difficult to escape or rupture." This epistemology is responsible for the belief that activists must conform to 501(c)(3) status for legitimacy and funding and that social services serve a greater need and purpose than the arduous task of social change.

      Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osayande warn that "philanthropy never intends to fund revolutionary struggle that demands the just seizure of wealth, resources, and power that has been gained by exploiting the bodies, lives and land of people of color worldwide." The NPIC's tentacles reach far beyond the US. Movements in the Global South are already under the threat of becoming non-profitized and co-opted. As activists in the US, we have an obligation to continue this discourse, learn from one another's mistakes and organize beyond the NPIC.

      PS. this article and the amazing number of comments it solicited is yet another example showing that the articles on this site that generate the greater amount of light also generate the least amount of heat.

  • Two cheers for Beinart
    • Adam, Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel and Gabriel Ash have largely focused on Beinart's dream of redeeming the Jewish state as a democracy inside the green line.

      Just to point out that I have, in fact, NOT focused on that point. It's sad to respond to an article that engages in a debate without reading what it is debating.

      I support campaigns that take any step, even a baby step, in the right direction.

      I oppose being lax about campaigns that set out quite explicitly to undermine the Palestine solidarity movement in the US. Anybody is welcome to come and pitch. just don't take aim at my foot. How hard is that?

  • Beinart's 'Zionist BDS' will only help entrench the occupation
    • Annie, Eva and Newclench make an important point that I overlooked, that Beinart is popularizing and legitimizing the boycott and that is welcome. Annie also used Dalit Baum to make another good point, that in itself, a targeted boycott of settlements is welcome and falls within the BDS principles of local adaptability and tactical diversity.

      My point, however, is that Beinart's proposal is for a campaign that, in addition to targeting the settlement, targets BDS as well. If that part of his campaign were to catch, it would not only undermine those who disagree with him on "solutions", it would also undermine the struggle against the occupation that is supposed to be the goal of his campaign.

    • No, that is not called progress, that is how progress is contained and stopped. The key difference is not the strategy but the energy. Fear drives social change towards reaction.

      As for the band of (often non-Palestinian) brothers you refer to, let's just say that Reut most likely wrote another set of counter-insurgency recommendations, that was not made public. We shall overcome!

Showing comments 7 - 1