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Because Israel mocks the peace process, we need BDS, ‘Salon’ writer explains

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A strong sign of how the discourse is changing. Salon is firmly on the left, and the left now has both feet in Palestinian solidarity. (Though it’s easier for the left on the left coast. In New York, The Nation is still a battleground). Steven Salaita, an English prof and grandson of a refugee, explains why the American Studies Association’s national council has supported BDS and in doing so says Israel has never tried to find a viable solution to the conflict and it is the only colonial-settler project to receive an American blessing.

He gives a clear explanation of the issue:

These days, Israel is an extremely difficult state to defend.

It should be so. Israel continues to make a mockery of the “peace process” by constructing new settlements and insulting American leaders. It tolerates politicians who routinely make racist statements. And it continues to be in violation of at least 77 United Nations Resolutions and numerous provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The latest challenge to these violations comes from the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement, which has attracted the attention of pro-Israel advocacy groups and the Israeli government itself, thus validating the efficacy of the tactic..

Salaita defends the use of academic boycott and makes implicit reference to the lobby.

Academic boycott, quite simply, is a rejection of complicity in the Israeli government’s brutalization of Palestinians, a form of nonviolent resistance at the nexus of the globe’s greatest confluence of geopolitical power….

Of all the world’s settler colonial projects, Israel is uniquely protected from wholesale condemnation in the United States…

What sets Palestine apart is the persistent notion that the colonizers, those with nuclear weapons and land and resources and legislative power and the full support of the United States, are the oppressed party, that they largely suffer the pain and indignity of the conflict, that BDS is furtively anti-Semitic, that Israel is a special case in history. Remove this duplicitous reasoning and most rationalizations for rejecting boycott go away.

Here are the facts: No evidence has ever been presented that the Israeli government is interested in a viable solution to the conflict.

Salaita provides an explanation of the importance of the right of return, as a spiritual necessity.

My maternal grandmother lost her home in Ein Karem, outside of Jerusalem, in 1948. She has never been compensated. Her loss has never been acknowledged by Israel. She refuses to visit an artsy, upper-class, Jewish suburb of Jerusalem that was once a Palestinian village — her ancestral home. She has neither forgotten nor forgiven. I haven’t forgotten, either. I am perfectly willing to forgive, but only in the presence of justice.

Beautiful statement about the potential for forgiveness. To understand the right of return, you must remember that Netanyahu proudly tweeted a foto of his expensive German car some months ago (below). Palestinians see that the Israelis and Germans overcame the legacy of the Holocaust through a truth and reconciliation process a long ago. 65 years and counting and there’s never been an Israeli acknowledgment of the Nakba– an obduracy assisted by the official American Jewish community.  Owly Images


Philip Weiss

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10 Responses

  1. pabelmont on December 5, 2013, 10:47 am

    The BDS on track to be fully adopted by ASA is (only) an “academic boycott” — although this is the type of BDS boycott perhaps most relevant to ASA. I myself do not accept Salaita’s apparent distancing of himself and ASA from an all-out BDS boycott of Israeli goods-and-services-and-institutions, but I can see that ASA is acting within the limited purview of an academic organization.

    Salaita points to the seemingly-permanent criminal character of Israel very well. Israel does indeed continue, with USA’s enabling, its oppression and continues to reject any meaningful peacemaking.

    Some people may see nothing criminal about the means adopted by Palestinian Jews to create a super-majority-Jewish state in 1945-50. Others may admit that they’d not like their own homes to be taken over by foreigners as the Palestinian homes (and homeland) were taken away, but argue that the creation of Israel was necessary and the criminality of 1945-50 — if such it was — can and must be excused.

    But, either way, that was then.

    What we all see is that the criminality never stopped. The terrorism, racism, land-theft, water-theft, oppression, exile, murder, torture, house-demolition, imprisonment without charge or trial, and all the horrible rest, has never stopped. In many ways it has increased.

    And indeed, all this horror is carried forward by Israel with such enthusiasm that it seems part of the goal, part of the “ends” of the Israeli project, and not merely — as some might have it — part of the “means” chosen in 1945-50 for the limited goal of state-creation. For if criminality were merely “means” chosen to achieve legitimate goals, one would expect those means to be abandoned (and might hope that their use would be apologized for). But none of this has happened.

    If the question “do the ends justify the means” be asked about Israel, I believe one will find that the answer is (or has become) “no” because the (criminal) means have become ends (the criminal means have become permanent features of the Israeli state and are, thus, purposes of Israeli policy rather than its tools for some benign purpose), and one can never say that (criminal) means justify the (criminal) means themselves.

  2. German Lefty on December 5, 2013, 12:06 pm

    Palestinians see that the Israelis and Germans overcame the legacy of the Holocaust through a truth and reconciliation process a long [time] ago.

    That’s strange phrasing. Israelis didn’t even exist when the Holocaust happened. Your choice of words equates Israelis with Holocaust survivors. So, you make the same mistake as German politicians. They view Israel as the representative of Holocaust survivors. Therefore, giving submarines to Israel counts as reparation to Holocaust survivors. That’s a very Zionist way of thinking. Please don’t adopt it.

    Besides, most (Jewish) Israelis only have nothing against (non-Jewish) Germans because they assume that most of us support Zionism. If we spoke out against Zionist crimes, they would immediately hold the Holocaust against us. As long as we do everything they want, they tolerate us. As soon as we dare to disagree with them, they hate us.

    Zionism makes it impossible to leave the Holocaust behind because Zionists keep (mis)using the Holocaust as a tool for their purposes.

  3. American on December 5, 2013, 12:31 pm

    BDS is still a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done to Israel.

    I remember the wiki leak cables that came out in which Isr officials talked about their plan to reduce Gaza to collapse and that is just what they have done.
    Earlier this week I noticed Amnesty, Red Cross and UN press releases saying Gaza was once again on the brink and this time it was ‘going over the cliff.’
    Gaza had like 3 days worth of emergency fuel left to power their generators at hospitals and etc since their one power plant was out of commission, and then even that had be rationed. Which also means no way to pump out sewage or water facilities either so it just overflows and floods in the streets while they have no clean water to drink. Egypt aligning itself with Israel and closing down Gaza was the final death knell for Gaza.

    United Nations Radio

    Gaza becoming uninhabitable as blockade tightens, says UN
    Gaza is facing a power crisis as a result of a shortage of fuel, with blackouts lasting 12-16 hours a day, according to Oxfam. Raw sewage has flooded streets in some areas of Gaza City following the closure of Gaza’s only power plant on 1 November, which made pump stations inoperative. ‘

    And the zionist filth is lapping up this horror by putting out hasbara on how it’s all the result of internecine warfare.

    Another Twist in the Palestinian Tragedy: Gaza on the Brink of Fitna ……‎
    Another Twist in the Palestinian Tragedy: Gaza on the Brink of Fitna (Internecine Warfare) — and of Large-Scale Preventive Action by Israel

    Is this where Netanyahu’s money for his fancy car came from?

    Palestinian Authority loses $300m in trade taxes a year to Israel
    3 Sep 2013:
    UN report defines as ‘fiscal leakages’ the customs, purchase and value-added taxes destined to the PA but retained by Israel….

    Shall we apply the means justifies the end? Fine, then turn these zionist nazis to dust.

  4. Egbert on December 5, 2013, 12:35 pm

    The Germans certainly produce high performance cars popular with leaders.

  5. Krauss on December 5, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Max Blumenthal was also interviewed in Salon yesterday:

    The title is an inside joke. Because, lo’ and behold, who is it that is frantically emailing Lennard to demand she and her editors “update” the article with his long-winded rant?
    Ah yes, that guy. Again. The tenth attack against Blumenthal. I think we can officially call Alterman a stalker now.

    But, aside from a nutter like Alterman, it’s also a reminder how the book is slowly gaining currency. The New Inquiry, a neo-Marxist/socialist magazine which was formed a few years ago, did a very positive review. They’re aspiring to be high-brow(and they’re New York-based! With a Jewish editor-in-chief, too).

    The Apartheid-apologists at TNR will be the last holdout. Hughes will inevitably make a decision at some point: either fire most of the bigots like Chortiner et al, or pay an increasingly heavy price to support, so unflinchingly, a state which so much of the rest of the left no longer does.

    Finally, given this new consciousness of the left, which we already saw at the DNC convention in 2012, I wonder how the next DNC convention will be? Most likely the party apparatchiks will not even allow a vote; they know they’ll lose it next time. But will the grassroots force onto the party a different agenda?

    • Krauss on December 5, 2013, 3:26 pm


      There’s a parallel in American domestic politics here:

      In the last few days, the Wall Street-funded “Third Way” has been flailing around after having attacked the progressive wing of the Democratic party for being ‘unrealistic’ in their insistance to keep Medicare/Social Security and fund the gaps with taxes on the ultra-rich as well as deepening the government role in health care, just like most other Western countries who spend way less on health care.

      They did this in…the Wall Street Journal! The epicentre of Wall Street, which isn’t really hard to find out, just look at the name. But quite telling, after all, and not exactly lost on the progressive wing of the party.

      The progressive left then starting to pass around stuff like a great list where they looked at all the names mentioned in the bios of the ‘Third Way’ staff and board of directors. They found names of over 30 Wall Street institutions. Not a single union name.

      To compound this, Sen. Warren stepped in with the sledgehammer after sitting on the fence for a few days and finished them, but she also called out Allison Schwartz, who is a hopefuly in the Pennsylvania Governor election.

      Now they are trying to be conciliatory, the director of the ‘Third Way’ is saying that Republicans are driving people out of the party, but Democrats shouldn’t. Of course; this has always been the Democratic weakness, the failure to hold the leadership accountable, especially on socio-economic issues. It’s still too early to tell who will win, but it’s still a sign of how strong the progressive left is these days on socio-economic issues and how moribound Clintonism truly is; as Beinart wrote about a few months ago. Of course, he left out Israel out of his essay, he only wrote about economic issues, but the lesson extends to foreign policy. I believe the 2011 attack on CAP was a watershed moment for many on the left. I think people will remember it for a long time, a lot of those folks are still around.

      So in the coming few years, we’re already seeing seeds of a more independent/skeptical Democratic base on economic issues, much to the chagrin of Wall Street tool Hillary Clinton. But what about foreign policy? Interventionism is dead. Foreign policy is typically not an area most primary voters think or vote on, but it’s more influenced by activists and the educated parts of the liberal base. Especially in the left-leaning media. And we’re already seeing this shift happening now.

      One sign that the lobby knows this is that when discussing the candidacy of a possible Warren presidential run, Israel is the first topic they raise. She hasn’t been good on the issue, but just like Mitt Romney was forced to go right on immigration by an amnesty-skeptical base, could Warren and/or a potential challenger from Hillary’s left be forced to go to the left on I/P? My immediate guess is no; immigration is a domestic issue after all, even if it has an international aspect. I/P is still far removed, on the other hand, Americans have become very sensitive to foreign policy. Look at Ron Paul, who got a LOT of support from large parts of the left due to his foreign policy; non-interventionist stances.

      A lot of the chattering classes didn’t see that coming, nor could they explain it. It’s a shared feeling among both bases now, and the American people are increasingly seeing Israel as the country trying push America to war, first against Syria(to deal a blow against Iran; Israel doesn’t care about the people killed) and now against Iran, both of which blew up in their faces.

      As people get more educated about these issues, there could well be a strong undercurrent of displeasure at the foreign policy stance of the Democratic establishment, just the same sentiment Paul tapped into in the GOP primaries.

  6. Shuki on December 5, 2013, 7:09 pm

    Stop the press!!! “the left now has both feet in Palestinian solidarity”!!!

    This is evidenced by the fact that a writer of Palestinian descent who writes for a liberal “news outlet” that has an existing partnership with this site supports BDS.

    It’s not as though you’re operating in reality during the other days of the week either so this absurdity shouldn’t be surprising.

  7. RoHa on December 5, 2013, 8:55 pm

    “No evidence has ever been presented that the Israeli government is interested in a viable solution to the conflict.”

    This bears repeating.

  8. DICKERSON3870 on December 6, 2013, 1:59 am

    RE: “To understand the right of return, you must remember that Netanyahu proudly tweeted a foto of his expensive German car some months ago (below).” ~ Weiss

    MY SNARK: Egads! Why in the world does Netanyahu need a twelve cylinder, German-made* automobile?
    Oh, now I see, “problems in the bedroom”!

    * AUDI A8 L W12 quattro Security –

    P.S. And, what about those German Shepherds* Israel uses to terrorize the Palestinians? What’s that about? Some type of philo-Teutonism?

    * FROM Dog Law Reporter:

    (excerpt) . . . In World War I, German shepherds were mobilized by a number of countries and served in national and colonial armies. Between the wars, the breed so quickly dominated law enforcement that in many places it is still just called the “police dog.” The “Germanness” of the dog obviously appealed to the Nazis, who made it into an icon of the Third Reich. They were picking up on the views of [Max von] Stephanitz himself [who is credited with perfecting the breed around 1900], who as noted above had seen the dog as reflecting the character of the Volk and described it, despite its mixed origins and recent breed status, as having an ancient and intimate relationship with Germans. Hitler named his first German shepherd “Wolf.” Shepherds were used by the Nazis to control prisoners of war and guard concentration camps.”. . .

    SOURCE –

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