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  • Pulitzer winners Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, Alice Walker join over 100 writers in calling for PEN American Center to reject Israeli sponsorship
    • Of course not partnering is not the same as boycotting. I find it hard to believe that PEN would not reject offers of sponsorship from the embassy of Russia or China (to cite 2 countries that feature heavily in PEN campaigns). The pat explanation offered by PEN to its members that it is against subscribing to "cultural boycotts of any kind" is thus rather insulting. PETA events are not sponsored by National Beef, and Greenpeace campaigns aren't "brought to you by Shell".

      Does anyone know if PEN has ever supported cultural boycotts in the past -- e.g. of Apartheid South Africa?

      I was also wondering exactly how the logic of the PEN explanation works. I understand how barring participants from Israel would constitute cultural boycott, but what's "cultural" about taking money from an embassy?

  • Obama to sign AIPAC-promoted trade bill that legitimizes Israeli occupation and fights BDS
    • introduces new U.S. policy language by including all “Israeli-controlled territories” as part of Israel

      OK, so it's not occupied. It is a single territorial unit, in which the only relevant frame of reference is "control". Within that territorial unit, different rights and freedoms are accorded to different groups on the basis of ethnicity or religion. It is apartheid. Can we boycott it now? I believe there's a precedent.

  • Jewish West Bank settlers are as smug as white South Africans in 1980
    • First of all, last time I looked you advocated a single state solution, so this is news, that you are only advocating a change of attitude.

      Look again.

      For example: link to or link to

      Recently, you’ll excuse me if I don’t specify with a link, there was a suggestion here on mw, that South Africa gave up apartheid because of rugby and cricket. Just from my knowledge of human nature, I doubt it, but if that is the case, then there is nothing that can be learned from the South African experience to help us undo the current Palestine versus Israel conflict, because nothing less than real pressure is going to change the situation and this fear of being treated like a pariah, “the world is no longer behind us” is not going to change anything.

      The "rugby-cricket" theory was not invented at MW, and the idea is that the actual impact of sanctions on South Africa (undoubtedly "real pressure") was not sufficient, in and of itself, to convince white South Africans to give up their privileges. No one suggests that simply being barred from international sporting events, in and of itself, would have been sufficient either, but the psychological impact of international isolation, combined with the feeling that impunity ("Because America will never stop supporting us") was no longer an option, may very well have been what brought the self-assurance on which Apartheid relied crashing down.

      The theory may or may not be correct (there are indeed those who reject it), or its significance may be exaggerated, but not because it is somehow inconsistent with human nature.

      Transfer rugby-cricket to academia-culture-business-tourism -- not necessarily impacting Israeli GDP in any significant way, but making it more difficult for Israeli academics, students, artists, athletes and just ordinary tourists to interact with their western peers and be accepted by them. Large parts of Israeli society are very "international", and being a part of the "enlightened" west is a central part of Israeli identity.

      Israel and its supporters often complain about Israel being negatively "singled out", while obsessively engaging in trying to get Israel singled out in a positive sense. Israel doesn't want to be treated just like any other country. It wants to be loved -- and not by Djibouti or Vanatu. How could a withdrawal of moral support (obviously combined with real pressure) from Europe and the Anglosphere not deeply affect Jewish Israelis?

  • African asylum seekers fear for safety with racism on the rise in Israeli society
    • Philemon,

      "Forever" is a long time. I don't know if you've read Michael Sfard's latest column in Haaretz (posted at MW in one of the comments). I don't share Sfard's optimism that Israeli apartheid will suddenly collapse, but I think he's right that (if and) when it does happen, everyone will have "been in the resistance".

      A while ago, we had a couple of friends over, both Italian university professors (history and geopolitics), and they were discussing the oath of loyalty to the Fascist regime, required of all Italian university professors beginning in 1931. The question was: Do you think you would have signed (of some 1200 professors, at the time, only 15 refused -- and lost their jobs)? Both profs were pretty sure they would have (although both are leftists, one a very convinced and politically-active communist).

      Back to Sfard. I don't know whether his assertion regarding the "rhinoceros not being in danger of extinction" came through in English, but the common Hebrew expression "lehitkarnef" (to become a rhinoceros) refers to Ionesco's play, in which all of society, with the exception of one man (and not a particularly brave or deep one at that) eventually "joins the herd". There is nothing easier, and nothing more "natural". The current dynamics in Israel (bad to worse) shows exactly how it happens (e.g. the Council for Higher Education's catering to and anticipation of Education Minister Bennett's every whim) . I don't see a swing in the other direction on the horizon, but if and when it happens, it will be hard to imagine that things were ever different.

      link to

  • Israel detains and deports American Jews because they are Black
    • To put it another way, if someone failed the "pencil test" in Apartheid South Africa, was the problem with not recognising that person as white, or with the very concept of white privilege?

  • Reconstructionist Jewish site censors rabbi's essay because he supports BDS and one state
    • PS It’s not the Jews or Judaism that is at stake, it’s conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons.

      It's both, although not in that order (obviously, "conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons" come first).

      PPS Why should Jews seek allowance to support BDS? Allowance from whom?

      No allowance from anyone. Wider acceptance, like any movement or idea -- especially at the source (or source of inspiration) of the greatest opposition to that idea.

      Is there any hidden totalitarian agency that a Jew must be concerned about?

      Yes. God.

  • AIPAC-backed legislation targeting BDS movement advances in Congress
    • The wording "in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories" is straight out of Israel's own anti-boycott law.

      I suggest "occupying" that phrase to highlight the apartheid practised in an area that is treated by Israel (and apparently by the US Congress) as a single entity.

  • NY rabbi implores those in her congregation who are joining Israel's enemies to love the country
    • Israel as the “beating heart” of Judaism

      It is not a heart, beating or otherwise, but a modern polity rooted in a modern ethno-nationalist ideology. Rabbi Buchdahl's misrepresentation of Zionism not only as equivalent to Judaism, but as its "beating heart" is the crux of the debate within the Jewish community that she has sought to shut down with her rallying-round-flag rhetoric. We will not rally round the flag of racism, torture, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and we refuse to believe that these things are part and parcel of the "beating heart" of Judaism.

      she urges Jews to put aside their criticisms of Israel and love the country, as they would have loved the U.S. during the time of slavery.

      Judaism is not a country, and were I a US citizen at the time of slavery I would by no means have "put aside my criticism" for love of country -- quite the contrary.

      I live with questions of Jewish identity and texts and history, in which Israel is central to everything.

      Precisely because you are a scholar and are familiar with questions of Jewish identity and texts and history, I would expect you to recognise the differences between myth, history, eschatology and modern political ideology (including religious ideology) and constructs.

  • Defending Apartheid: Then in South Africa, now in Palestine
    • It’s not the Zionist ideology that’s responsible for Palestinian apartheid, as this author claims, but rather the band of racist, bombastic idiots currently running Israel

      A few highlights of severe discrimination against non-Jews in Palestine/Israel, long before the arrival of the current "band of racist, bombastic idiots":

      Ethnic cleansing (1947-48)
      Absentee Property Law (1948)
      Nationality Law (1952)
      Martial law (for Palestinians only) until 1966
      Annexation of East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank (1967) - "max. territory; min. Arabs"
      Jewish settlement in OT - beginning with Eshkol's approval of return to Kfar Etzion in 1967.

      Every Israeli government since 1967 has actively contributed to creating the facts on the ground that amount to apartheid. So either they have all been "racist, bombastic idiots" and there is some form of pure Zionism that no one has ever tried, or there's a problem with the basic ideology (which is Israel's state ideology) that has guided all Israeli governments and the Yishuv leadership before that.

  • Being Palestinian got me barred from visiting Palestine
    • what’s going on in Area-C is not occupation but internal development and management.

      That would make the differential treatment of Palestinians in that area analogous to apartheid (or "de-facto" apartheid, if you prefer) rather than administration of an occupied population supposedly denied civil and other rights pending a political solution.

  • The Banality of Religion: 'Prayer summit' at the Vatican fails to inspire
    • I was encouraged by the Pope praying at the apartheid wall. Unfortunately, his joint prayer meeting and urging that both sides try to look work for a reasonable solution attached a moral equivalency to the issue that it doesn’t deserve.

      I saw the gesture at the wall (together with the visit to Mt. Herzl) as little more than a giant exercise in moral equivalence, until I read Peter Beinart's take on the far-reaching moral and political significance of the pope's coupling of peace with justice. I also failed to consider the religious significance of the gesture (and completely misunderstood the invitation of Peres and Abu Mazen), until yesterday's ceremony in Rome. It was not a political event at all, but a profound expression of faith in prayer -- where politics and diplomacy have failed miserably.

  • Palestinian Refugees Welcome The Pope: The story behind the iconic photo at the Separation Wall
    • You start off by saying the situation if different than the Warsaw ghetto so I read your comment expecting at least some support for your assertion. But you gave us nothing. Can you list a reason or two as to why such comparisons are false.

      From Wiki (sorry, but in this case, I think it will do):

      The Warsaw Ghetto ... was established in the Polish capital between October and November 16, 1940, in the territory of the General Government of German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity residing in an area of 3.4 km2 (1.3 sq mi). ... During the next year and a half, thousands of Polish Jews as well as some Romani people from smaller cities and the countryside were brought into the Ghetto, while diseases (especially typhus), and starvation kept the inhabitants at about the same number. Average food rations in 1941 for Jews in Warsaw were limited to 184 calories, compared to 699 calories for gentile Poles and 2,613 calories for Germans. … Hundreds of four- to eight-year-old Jewish children went across en masse to the "Aryan side," sometimes several times a day, smuggling food into the ghettos, returning with goods that often weighed more than they did. Smuggling was often the only source of subsistence for Ghetto inhabitants, who would otherwise have died of starvation. … Over 100,000 of the Ghetto's residents died due to rampant disease or starvation, as well as random killings, even before the Nazis began massive deportations of the inhabitants from the Ghetto's Umschlagplatz to the Treblinka extermination camp during the Grossaktion Warschau, part of the countrywide Operation Reinhard. Between Tisha B'Av (July 23) and Yom Kippur (September 21) of 1942, about 254,000 Ghetto residents (or at least 300,000 by different accounts) were sent to Treblinka and murdered there.

      Stating that this is a "different situation" hardly minimises Palestinian suffering and the injustices they continue to endure. I can understand why a Palestinian living under occupation would scribble something like that on the Apartheid Wall (particularly in Bethlehem), but that doesn't mean that the comparison is apt or serves the Palestinian cause in Europe or America.

    • Do we have to wait until a people is gassed in ovens to act to protect them? Did we do that for the black South Africans under apartheid? Did we do that for those suffering in the Jim Crow South?

      How does objecting to a specific comparison on both historical and pragmatic grounds amount to inaction or indifference? Was the Warsaw Ghetto comparison a sine qua non for the two struggles you mention?

      I don’t get the point of what you are saying.


  • Apartheid label will stick
    • The headline of Haaretz' unsigned editorial yesterday was "Apartheid in Planning" (אפרטהייד תכנוני), referring to the extreme discrimination in construction planning between Jews and Palestinians in Area C (where Israel should not even be settling its citizens in the first place). It's no big deal any more.

  • Haaretz joins Rush Limbaugh and company in trying to link Max Blumenthal to KC shooter suspect
    • Israel is not in any way an ethnically exclusive state. It is multiethnic and multiracial. Its representative body is not exclusively Jewish. Its Supreme Court is not exclusively Jewish. Its universities are not exclusively Jewish.

      Apartheid South Africa was also multi-ethnic and multiracial. It all depends on how the "multis" are treated. The granting of significant political and civil rights -- including representation -- to some of the non-Jews under its jurisdiction, is what makes Israel within the Green Line an ethnocracy (with a charter ethnic group), rather than a Herrenvolk regime. The other side of the Green Line is, of course, another story.

  • 'Can you tell who is an Arab?' appeal is tax-deductible
    • Apparently all we had to do to make our point was quote from “Learn and Live” about the “tens of thousands” of Jewish girls trapped in Arab villages. Mahane seems to accept their garbage without hesitation.

      It all depends on what aspect of Israeli policy or society he happens to be defending at a given moment. When it's settlement apartheid, there are no Jews in Arab towns. When it's marriage laws, there are thousands of Jewish women who have married Muslim men (a figure for which he has no source other than the racist propaganda of organisations like "Learn and Live"). When it's anti-miscegenation campaigns, it must be all about misrepresentation.

  • Israel and apartheid: a response to Hirsh Goodman
    • Shalom,

      How do you think BDS "de-legitimizes" Jewish Israelis? What sort of non-violent resistance do you support (that would not "de-legitimize") and do you think it stands a chance of being effective (considering the fact that the situation on the ground is one of brutal occupation, apartheid and ongoing ethnic cleansing)? What importance do you ascribe to Palestinian agency in leading their struggle against oppression?

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