Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 41 (since 2010-06-02 03:40:42)

university professor who has lived and done research in the West Bank of the O.T. Very interested in this blog; started reading it a few years back when the My Name is Rachel Corrie brouhaha occurred in New York city.

Showing comments 41 - 1

  • Struggling for justice at San Francisco State University
    • Have you considering suing SF State on Title VI grounds? It seems like all Palestinian student activism is always on the defensive in these kind of legal charges, yet time and again, what we see is that it is Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students who are being discriminated against. Where is Palestine Legal? I appreciate their work immensely, but at this point, students and their staff need to think about the possibility of greater pushback rather than simply "defending" students against false charges.

  • Open Letter: Against the blacklisting of activists and writers
    • Let me correct myself. Oz's tactics are psycho-pathological.

    • No. The solution is to have Khalek speak without prophylactics. If those who find her views beyond the pale, then should follow up by having SJP invite another speaker to counter. The "debate" format can be seen as a form of censorship in and of itself, because unless every speaker is required to debate, it's an extra burden on certain speakers. That's why the tactic of insisting on debate is only ever used against "pro-Palestinian" speakers. It's an effort to apply a different standard to a speaker based on content of his or her expression and it is always a product of political pressure.

    • As someone in academia, it is not true that blacklisting is limited to firings or denials of being hired. Only a student group could "dis-invite" a speaker, because at every university I've taught at, you don't "dis-invite" speakers without serious concern for physical safety of your students, faculty, staff, etc. That is you don't do it unless you're concerned that the speaker will "incite" an immediate threat. And the standard of "incitement," as any campus attorney will tell you, is very high per the US Constitution.

      This is why when they do create roadblocks for groups wanting to bring speakers to campus, requiring that they pay for "extra security," etc., that it always smacks of political pressure coming from someone to which administrators think they have to accede. Typically, when administrators instrumentalize the security of the campus when they want to keep some political pressure group happy.

      That use of campus security is almost always met with protest, leaks re: the political pressure and backlash.

      In general, universities are not places that like to even appear as though they're censoring speakers, because they receive federal and state funds and don't want to end up in a court on constitutional issues and they're sometimes smart enough to know that their efforts to stop a speaker almost always become the story itself. Administrators hate being exposed.

      They tend to leave student groups alone, however, because students are assets rather than debits from the point of view of administration. However, in this case, the campus attorney at UNC should have advised SJP against this withdrawal of an invite, simply because Khalek in theory could have gotten a lawyer and sued.

    • "Oz Katerji was begging Khalek to defend the rebels and refugees." Oz Katerji is a psychopath.

    • I agree with you re: the tactics of "vetting" that sometimes go on within support for Palestinian rights.

      I also think the kind of "vetting" that goes on re: Syria smacks of a fascist will to power in which anyone who, for example, defends the right of Khalek to speak is subject to interrogation on grounds that they have no say in-the above comment being a good example of this. It's a deflection from the signers and what is at stake for them to argue over whether Khalek is an "apologist," for Assad.

      Khalek wasn't going to speak about Syria. Those who wanted to disinvite her could have gone to her talk and then ask questions (even hostile ones) about Syria. They could have grilled her, but instead they chose to act like they were incapable of that and were being victimized by the invitation.

      That's infantile. And I'm glad some political adults have stepped up to not simply let these kind of tactics exist without acknowledging their effects.

    • Agreed.

  • Rev. Graylan Hagler disinvited to speak on Palestine, sent death threats
    • It's up to the faculty and those who invite speakers to organize and go to the media when these things occur, if only the higher ed media. We cannot depend on administrators to stand up for academic freedom; that's the faculty's role in the institution.

  • The growing ties between #BlackLivesMatter and Palestine
  • Iymen Chehade fights Chicago school's cancellation of his class
    • Because if it doesn't make such concessions, it will end up being treated as South Africa was. Also, the areas of Israel that the current Israeli Knesset are most interested in "cleansing" or disciplining in various ways are those with heavily Christian populations such as Nazareth.

    • He doesn't have an ethical obligation to teach "both sides," whatever those two sides might mean, since there are actually many many sides. No one is obliged to teach a mythical "whole" of any subject. It's impossible to do.

      Ask any student, as well, and they'll tell you the worst courses in universities are the kind of "survey" course on a topic that sweeps too broadly, doesn't go into anything in any depth, and isn't anymore neutral or "fair" in its content than any other course, but appears to be so, simply due to calling it a "survey."

      Five Broken Cameras is not some "terrorist screed," nor it is particularly controversial. What's going on at this university is an inept department chair and inept administrator made a poorly thought out decision without considering all of the consequences, including push back from those who disagreed with their decision. Now, they have to put up with that pushback and the national media attention it's getting. They have to account for their inane decision making process. So what?

    • I'm a tenured faculty, and at least at my university, being a faculty advisor to a student organization, any student organization, is not considered activism but service to the institution. Service of just that kind is an expectation of all full time faculty; when adjuncts do it, it's considered something positive for them, a sign of their commitment to the institution, above and beyond the usual.

  • 'Nobody knew where I was, nobody… I was simply disappeared': An Italian tourist's Ben Gurion nightmare
    • And they're all work extremely slowly at the bridges, both Israelis and Jordanians. Unless you pay for VIP passage. That's the only way to make life easy on yourself--m-o-n-e-y, which shows you what can trump "security" at a moment's notice.

    • If you're a US citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Israel. I don't know about Italy. But Israeli bureaucracy is certainly one of the most byzantine by any standards.

    • Ironic that you call people here a "cult."

    • Are you assuming that there is some kind of explanation for what different people encounter and that the harassment isn't in some very real ways random, because the security people at Ben Gurion can do it? Either out of boredom, hostility toward people for whatever reason, unspoken policy, or simply the will to power?

    • A foreign country is not a "home," and you are not a "guest." If it's true that you do not have a right to visit a foreign country, it is also the case that countries like Italy who have relations with said country that you do not have a right to visit, can and should intervene on behalf of their citizens in cases like these. Because Italy does not have an embassy in Tel Aviv without its citizens, not the other way around. It is absolutely the case that Israel does not owe Pesce entry. But the Italian government, on the other hand, as long as it claims to be a democracy, does owe Pesce many things. One of those is to intervene with and protest to the Israeli government when incidents such as the above occur. If Israel's allies put their foot down, Israel would start treating such allies' citizens better at its non-declared "borders." It's up to Western countries that are supposedly democratic to do a better job of representing their own citizens vis a vis Israel. The US government, the British, the Italians, the French, all could do a much better job of protecting their own citizens from harassment and nonsense at Ben Gurion or at the King Hussein Bridge, since Israel while not declaring the West Bank as "Israel," stands at that border, harassing people, mostly but not exclusively Palestinians, denying them entry, holding them forever, claiming to operate security on behalf of some undeclared entity or at most the "P.A."

      And while we're at it, if the US govt had any respect for its own citizens without whom it doesn't exist, it would not be talking about Israeli citizens being "fast tracked" through the visa program. Reciprocity is the rule in foreign relations among democratic states when such relations are equal. If Israel wants to harass US or Italian citizens, those countries have no business allowing Israeli citizens to come and go across their borders with ease.

      That is, IF we apply the logic you've rested your argument on above.

  • New York Senate leader wants to cut off cash to colleges involved in American Studies Association
    • If this is all they have in their arsenal, members of the ASA will easily endure this. It's difficult to imagine Deans denying faculty travel support to attend ASA conferences. I just don't see it happening. But even if it did, faculty will pony up their own funds to attend. Most public universities, which are not exactly swimming in money these days, do not provide much financial support for faculty to attend conferences, although Research I universities provide more. To withdraw an institutional membership simply means non-renewal the following year, which for the ASA totals all of around $170 dollars per institution. There aren't that many institutions with membership in the ASA, so this is chump change. I'm not saying what they're trying to do to the ASA isn't chilling; I'm simply saying that these people have the time and funds to fight on behalf of Israel and will do so, but that the outcomes aren't predetermined, nor are they financial ruin.

    • Yes, we will see. What we'll likely see is an escalating contest over who is permitted to have academic freedom and who is not. The Palestinians don't have it (and you're right the PA is a partner, albeit a very junior one, in the Israeli occupation as well as the entire Oslo edifice), and there will be efforts to punish those who are in solidarity with those who do not have that freedom. Whether Hikind will "win" and what it would even mean for him to "win" this particular tangle isn't clear, but part of it will be an increasingly open and likely intensified battle within the US Jewish community over its relationship to Israel, because like it or not, there are prominent academics who happen to also be Jewish, playing central roles in this boycott.

    • Even if that's true, you're assuming that New York is the only state in the US where academics who support BDS reside. That's not true; there's strong support for BDS on the west coast as well as in Research I universities in the midwest. And this kind of action on the part of someone as controversial as Hikind is likely to create a lot of pushback as has been the case previously.

  • What Comes Next: Unlikely, unrealistic, or unimaginable?
  • The face of young Israel: Palestinians shouldn't be in the Knesset, or in relationships with Jews
    • I agree with you that the situation or condition is sick, and that there is sickness in both societies and among both peoples as a result. But there's a danger in moralizing a political problem, which is one reason why Israel has been permitted to become an apartheid regime. The danger lies in the urge to always normalize what Israel is and has become, knee jerk defense of its aggression, etc. This is the role that the US takes on in terms of Israeli public relations--to moralize political subjugation and dress it up in different terms at different historical moments, so that Israel's racism stays central to its existence even as its form changes over time. The problem though is that the US public cannot just change its government's policies, largely because the US is going through a process of de-democratization. This is a result of a kind of hyper-securitization of the world in which the nation-state exists increasingly as a series of walls and walled off populations, aimed at convenying national sovereignty when in fact sovereignty has disappeared with the traversing of borders in commerce and belief. These walls hide dependency on cheap and foreign labor but also on those deemed "threats." Israel's problem lies in thinking of "Jewish" as a kind of wall that will protect, when at this moment in time, "Jewish" is not functioning as protection but rather as the vehicle for obscuring how much Israel is founded on and depends on the "other" it has negated. A "Jewish" state at this point in time and with the meanings attached to it that this website documents cannot be separated from the people it continues to pretend don't really exist. Palestinians don't have the luxury of denial. And US citizens have to re-democratize their society in order to break down the increasingly global political isolation that the US and Israel find themselves within.

  • Major 'NYT' piece calls two-state negotiations 'phony'--and catastrophic
    • For better or worse, Israel is an apartheid state, so it is already not a Jewish state. To say that Israel is a Jewish state is to enter the realm of delusion if not hallucination. It is to deny the one state that already exists. Separation is not possible, therefore the question is how to transform the colonizer/colonized relationship that exists today, albeit in different forms in the Occupied Territories and inside the Green Line.

    • Yes, that is true. The socio-economic disparities alone would require a very robust civil rights movement, and that could also include disenfranchised Israeli citizens, including sectors of the Mizrahim.

    • Not just Lebanon but Iraq and potentially Syria in the future suggest multiple problems with confessional states. In addition, in a unitary state, one thing that is likely, not even might but likely, to happen, albeit over time, is that people's identities which are never reducible to one thing--there are gender, social class, educational levels, degrees of religiosity, urban centers vs more rural areas--would create allliances as well as oppositions that would not be "Palestinian Muslim" (to be honest, I find this one dismissive of the prominent role Christians have always played in Arab and Palestinian nationalism) vs "Israeli Jew." We can already seen nascent niches of the social processes in everyday life where this potential lies. It's just not part of official political discourse in which everything about society is reduced to a singular sense of who the subjects "are."

  • Spy on mosques, stay away from synagogues: NYPD surveillance differs based on religion
    • I couldn't agree with you more when ou say "those who conceived terror as a tool to achieve political goals by frightening others have actually succeeded as you can judge from the reactions..." Israel's attacks on Gaza have been frightening, so frightening that those terrorist acts were turning points in international civil society activism to support boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

  • The most rational political course in Israel is also the most immoral -- Noam Sheizaf
  • Covering Hamas and Palestinian society: A response to Peter Beinart
    • "Rather than being truly concerned for the well being of Palestinian women, Beinart is policing the Israel/Palestine debate and determining whose rights matter and when."

      I think this is key, and I very much appreciate the point--using women's rights as a means for other ends is called exploitation.

  • Endless 'debate over two-state solution' is cover for the real story, annexation of West Bank
    • It's occupied, and Israel was not ever supposed to transfer population into occupied territory.

  • Obama gets backup from broad center-left group to defy neocons and nominate Hagel
  • UC's new chancellor endorses the falsehood: Criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic
    • Well clearly the writers of the post were at Columbia and intimately involved in the political circus that an off campus group in alliance with a few students created for that institution. What they're seeing is how Nick Dirks is rewriting history now that he's a Chancellor to distort what happened at Columbia as he enters the current fray at UC.

      Also, you're parsing his statement in ways that he may or may not intended, but in the context in which he spoke, it's clear that he's presenting himself in an entirely different light than his role at Columbia or his relationship to what went on there. That is, when he was at Columbia he clearly came down on the side of academic freedom, whereas now he's not.

    • Ah, but if she does speak, it will be to confess the error of her ways. That's how Dirks has positioned her, and that will be the role she'll play. Wait and see.

  • In 'Dissent' debate, Walzer hints that leftists who focus on Israel are anti-Semitic
    • If Michael Walzer is jarred, well he might have to just get over it. Maybe he really is afraid for Jews in America, or maybe he's afraid that the monopoly his position has enjoyed in liberal American intellectual life has been broken. The difference matters.

  • Tapper grills Carney on special relationship: 'There’s no consequences. They’ll do whatever and you’ll–'
    • I completely agree with this. There are plenty of Jewish people who have been stalwart allies to the Palestinians and are just as concerned as gentiles who oppose the US support for Israel. This is true in the US as well as Europe.

  • Following poll on Israeli support for apartheid, Gideon Levy says 'making peace would be an almost anti-democratic act'
    • How do you explain the large percentage of Israelis who find "population transfer" acceptable? Also, why wouldn't the Palestinians be rebelling, including violently, if they don't have the same rights as Israeli Jews--i.e. the right to self-determination? I think you're confusing cause and effect--the violence toward Israelis civilians is an effect of the occupation.

  • Eric Yoffie says Jewish leaders can criticize the settlements, but nobody else
  • Free Gaza's Col. Ann Wright disinvited from Swedish Boat to Gaza
    • I agree. It's an incredibly stupid thing for the board of the "Estelle" to do this, believing that this will placate those who are calling them anti-Semitic. It will do the opposite. It always incites further not diminishes charges of anti-Semitism, when "pro-Palestinian" activists throw each other under the bus, when those activists are not anti-Semites. Ann Wright in no way, shape or form is an anti-Semite and to be complicit with those who practice guilt by association, to feed false charges of anti-Semitism is not just disgusting politics. It's also counter-productive. When you bow to opponents believing that you won't be targeted or tainted, because you've acquiesced (it's a version of the "battered woman syndrome"), the exact opposite occurs. You've emboldened your opposition and undermined yourself.

      There's only one way of thinking about this kind of self-destructiveness on the part of the organizers of the Estelle--it's politically stupid.

    • Good question.

  • US cancels Gaza scholarship program because Israel won't let students travel
    • Abunimah's point is crucial. Some people and groups who have opposed an academic boycott of Israeli institutions have said virtually NOTHING over the years about Israel's denial of academic freedom to Palestinians. They have stood up for Palestinian academic or educational freedom, have not commented on the fact that Israel's occupation forecloses the possibilities of Palestinians even claiming "rights" to begin with, let alone academic freedom.

  • The cycle of violence-- set to 'Exodus' anthem
    • I disagree that this video represents the kind of "two sides" or the state of Israel and the Palestinians are political equivalents of each other. I suppose that's one way to read it, but I think that's tendentious. I read it about how Palestine has been claimed and conquered by many historical forces, and that the kind of heady nationalism founded on exclusive claims to the land has left a very bloody history.

      After all, the PLO's original vision as well as Arab vision, going back to WWI, was of Palestine as composed of Muslims, Christians and Jews, since all three had been there for centuries.

  • A documentary guide to 'Brand Israel' and the art of pinkwashing

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